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Drs. Oz and Roizen: Appendicitis now easier to diagnose

  • Published Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, at 11:29 p.m.

Knowing that you have appendicitis can be tricky; the initial discomfort mimics many other ailments, from stomach cramps to the flu. But if it goes undiagnosed, the risks are real. The guitarist for the metal band Slipknot, Jim Root, dodged a bullet last year when he waited a week to go to the hospital after his appendix burst. The resulting spread of infection causes life-threatening peritonitis.

He could have spared himself serious peril if he’d opted for the latest quick and noninvasive ways to diagnose appendicitis. Ultrasound, in experienced hands, can now be used in place of a radiation-intense CAT scan to get a clear image of what’s going on with the tube-shaped sac attached to the large intestine. Doctors say it is particularly important for children, who can then avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.

And if that isn’t available, docs in England discovered that driving yourself over a speed bump (we kid you not) will give you a pretty good idea of whether your discomfort is appendix-related. The physicians found that 95 percent of their patients with appendicitis said coming into the hospital parking lot over the speed bumps had caused them acute pain. And those who reported pain but didn’t have appendicitis turned out to have ruptured ovarian cysts, diverticulitis and other serious abdominal conditions.

Miles to go before you burn it off

Here are findings from an interesting study: On a menu with no nutritional data, people ordered meals totaling 1,020 calories; put the calorie count next to each menu item, and folks ate only 927 calories; add how many minutes of walking it would take to burn off the calories, and the total was 916; post how many miles you have to walk to burn off the calories – well, orders fell to 826 calories.

So next time you sidle up to a menu board, consider that if you weigh 150 pounds, you’re burning around 90 calories per mile regardless of speed.

• A Big Mac with medium fries (930 calories) takes 10.3 miles to walk off.

• An Original Boca vegan burger (70 calories), 100 percent whole-wheat bun (100 to 200 calories), yellow mustard (9 calories in three teaspoons) and 3 ounces of broccoli carrot slaw (25 calories): just 3.3 miles to walk off 304 total calories.

• KFC mashed potato bowl (680 calories): You’re hoofin’ it for 7.5 miles.

• Subway chopped salad with turkey breast (110 calories) and packet of honey mustard dressing (80): Gone in 2.1 miles.

One more tip: It turns out that trading 1 mile a day of car travel for 1 mile of walking is an effective way to lose weight, and, the researchers say, it could save billions a year in health care costs.

Veggies’ secret powers

Whether you eat your seven to nine servings a day of vegetables or, like 77 percent of Americans, you can’t find a veggie anywhere on your dinner plate, here are five little-known powers of vegetables, for the New Year and a new you.

• A vegetable-rich diet makes it easier to quit smoking: People who eat the most veggies are three times more likely to quit smoking and stay smoke-free than the veggie-deprived.

• Asparagus prevents a hangover: Phytonutrients in asparagus help metabolize chemicals that produce the morning-after headache. That’s the spear-it!

• Kids who eat their veggies have higher IQs: Breast-fed young-uns who went on to eat legumes, cheese, fruit and vegetables at 15 and 24 months had IQs that were an average of two points higher by age 8.

• Veggie-eating adults have bigger brains: Getting plenty of plant-based vitamins C, D, E and the Bs plus omega-3 fatty acids (we always recommend algal DHA-omega-3s) protects against Alzheimer’s-associated brain shrinkage – and that strengthens memory and thinking skills.

• Veggies make you happier. So eat your seven to nine servings a day and smile.

Cold-weather workouts

Here’s how to make winter workouts more fun, less bone-chilling and less expensive than the gym.

For indoor workouts:

1. Start a new activity: Try a workout video; put your bike on a stationary stand in front of your TV (never watch without pedaling); or put on tunes and dance for 20 to 30 minutes – and do it regularly.

2. Find a mall-walking group.

3. In an apartment building or at work, climb the stairs from lobby to top floor and back. (Do it with a friend, and you’ll do it more often.)

For outdoor activity:

1. Layer for warmth to wick away chilling moisture. On your torso, wear a synthetic material that draws sweat off the skin and keeps you warm. The next layer should insulate – fleece works nicely. The outer layer should be wind-resistant and waterproof, but breathable. Leggings that provide a light wicking layer and fit easily under wind-resistant, insulating outer pants are toasty. And a head cover that protects ears, neck and cheeks does wonders for your stamina, as do double-layered foot cozies – a water-resistant shell over a standard running/walking shoe. If you’re warm, it’s more likely you’ll do it again tomorrow.

Now you’ll be able to enjoy striding out for your 10,000 steps a day.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

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