August 2013

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BRUSH FOR HEALTH: The dental and physical wellness connection HEAD CASE On the hunt for the culprit of your headaches? Dr. Susanne Seeger, clinical assistant professor of neurology at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health reveals common triggers STRESS: The letdown after a hectic event, workday or workweek. ESTROGEN LEVELS: Ebbing levels of estrogen—like before and during menstruation or after delivering a baby. BOTHERSOME HEADWEAR: High ponytails, tight headbands and snug hats. TEMPERATURE SHIFTS: Moving from a cool building into hot air and vice versa. STRONG SCENTS: Overpowering odors, even pleasant varieties. FOODS: Dark alcohols, artificial sweeteners, tyramine (found in aged cheeses) and nitrate (present in processed meats). 3x The likeliness that a woman will get migraines over a man. –UW Health. On the Spot Rather skip the aspirin? Try these acupressure methods for headache relief Lend a hand: Pinch the meaty corner where your forefinger and thumb meet Use your head: Press on your temples, massage in slow circles The nose knows: Pinch the bridge of your nose or the outer corners of your eyebrows If your eyes are the windows to your soul, your teeth are the windows to, well, just about everything—your heart, your bones—even your baby. "If oral hygiene isn't meticulous, it can lead to several problems," Madison dentist Dr. Patricia Richardson says. Indeed, studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis—a severe form of gum disease—might play a role in several diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic, including endocarditis (an infection of the heart's inner lining), cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and even premature birth or low birth weight. Those with diabetes must be particularly mindful, as the disease reduces the body's resistance to infection, putting the gums at risk. Women in particular face a few distinct challenges, Richardson says. For example, oral contraceptives can cause inflamed gums, as can hormonal changes due to puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Plus, a staggering 90 percent of those diagnosed with Sjögren's Syndrome, an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth, are women. (Saliva is good. It helps keep harmful bacteria at bay.) Bottom line? Keep that dentist appointment, brush twice a day and floss daily. And inform your dentist of any medical condition or medications you take. "Women need to be extremely thorough with oral hygiene," Richardson says. "It helps keep them out of trouble." –Marni McEntee The Good, the Bad, and the Sneezy Pollen allergy sufferers have a lot to grumble about—but a few things to rejoice as well. If your eyes stop itching long enough to read this, here's the latest from Dr. Katherine Gonzaga, an allergist and immunologist with Meriter Health Services the bad news the good news This year has been one of the worst for allergies. Thanks to the weather, "this spring was really insanely busy in the office," says Gonzaga. And for those with late summer allergies the itchy fun has just begun! There are tons of treatments to try. From antihistamines to decongestants, nasal sprays, eye drops and even natural remedies such as neti pots, there are myriad ways to get your symptoms under control. Allergies are a major drag. For many, the symptoms—including rapid-fire sneezing; itchy, watery eyes; a contested or perpetually runny nose and more—are not only a nuisance, they're downright debilitating. When all else fails, try the mother of all treatments. It's a time commitment— once a week for six months, then monthly for up to five years—but allergy shots can decrease immune sensitivity and pull you off other medications. Climate change is making allergy season worse. Thanks to warmer temps, the growing season for trees and grass that produce common allergenic pollens is getting longer. Those sneezes might not be allergies! It could be a common cold or another issue. A quick test from an allergist can tell you if you have allergies and if positive, help you anticipate when symptoms will strike. Madison is one of the worst cities in the country for allergies…and moving away won't help. "Even if you go somewhere else, you might become allergic to their grass. It's just hard escape allergies," says Gonzaga. Other tricks can help. Keep windows closed, limit outdoor activities from 5-10 a.m. when pollen is highest, don't hang clothes outside to dry, and wipe down pets with a damp cloth after they've been outside to wash off pollen. August 2013 33

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