Health & Fitness

August 9, 2014

Don’t let hot weather kick in kidney stones

Death Valley gets less than 2 inches of rain a year, and summer temperatures can soar to 120 F or higher. Chances are that’s one place you’d be sure to drink plenty of water.

Death Valley gets less than 2 inches of rain a year, and summer temperatures can soar to 120 F or higher. Chances are that’s one place you’d be sure to drink plenty of water.

But if you’re in towns like Portland, Ore.; Cleveland; or New York City, where average highs are in the mid or upper 80s, you might not think hydration is much of a worry.

Gulp! That would be a mistake. Kidney specialists have discovered that in addition to all the standard symptoms of dehydration (cramping, heart palpitations, dizziness, infrequent urination and dark yellow urine), when temperatures jump to 86 F or higher, so does your risk of kidney stones.

So how much water should you drink when you’re active on a hot day? Start with 16 ounces about an hour before you head out, and another glass 15 minutes right before you get going. Then drink 16 ounces every 30-60 minutes, depending on the temperature, your age, weight and activity. And you should urinate copiously 3-4 times a day; less indicates you’re taking in too little liquid. Also, replace electrolytes: Take a break to eat a banana (400 mg of potassium) and add a pinch of salt to your water if you’re out for more than 90 minutes. Take in added calcium with nonfat, sugar-free yogurt, and at all times (except after you take a multivitamin) your urine should be a pale, light, clear color. If it’s dark and cloudy, start drinking cool water immediately. Stay clear of kidney stones in hot weather.

Getting your prescription right

Have you ever gone to the pharmacy to fill a prescription and been completely unable to read what the doctor wrote? (Both of us have perfect handwriting, of course!) But when you hand the mystery message to the pharmacist, she says: “No problem. You can pick it up in an hour.” How can she possibly know what the doctor ordered, you wonder?

Well, fortunately, most of the time, pharmacists get it right, but even when totally legible printed prescriptions are used, mistakes happen – 51 million a year out of 3 billion medications dispensed, says Pharmacy Times. And while that’s a small percentage, it’s a huge number. So when you get a prescription, ask the doctor or his staff member what it says, and then write the info down on a separate piece of paper so you can double-check what you know to be correct with what the pharmacist says. But don’t stop there.

According to a new Canadian study, it seems that a lot of mistakes get made once the right med with the right dose comes home with you. Labels on medication bottles can be hard to read, so instead of taking one pill every four hours for three days, you may take three pills every four days or some other mix-up, and either fail to get the treatment you need or overdose yourself. Check that you can easily read and understand the label before you leave the pharmacy. If you can’t, ask for a do-over with clearer, cleaner, bigger type.

Treatment for C. diff and chemo

Tomatoes were once considered poisonous (even in Italy), and early pioneers were convinced that bathing was an open invitation to catching a deadly disease. But even today, there are commonly held prejudices that doctors and researchers are working to knock down. One example: Fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) – or transferring a bacteria-rich stool from one person to another – still strikes most people as a cross between a gross joke and an invitation to horrendous diseases.

But we know that properly administered FMT can cure many intestinal problems, and new research extends its usefulness. Scientists have discovered that using FMT to treat diarrhea caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is safe for anyone who is immune compromised, such as everyone receiving chemotherapy. In fact, for them, it is a great way to KO this life-threatening and difficult-to-treat infection.

Using FMT to cure C. diff when someone is immunocompromised has an astounding 89 percent cure rate and no negative side effects. This is great news for over 45,000 people every year who are receiving chemo and also have to battle C. diff (up to 7 percent of people going through chemotherapy contract this devastating and sometimes fatal diarrhea).

Current treatments with antimicrobials can be effective, but recurrence is a problem; taking big doses of antibiotics (which destroy the healthy bacteria in the gut, too) may create another set of challenging problems. So if you or a loved one is battling cancer (and diarrhea), ask your oncologist about trying this innovative treatment.

Keeping sports fun

It seems LeBron James has found out, maybe the hard way, that playing sports in a place you love is much more fulfilling. (That’s one big reason why Dr. Mike in Cleveland forgave him in a microsecond for ever leaving.) Recently, when the 29-year-old basketball superstar decided to head back to northeastern Ohio, he declared: “It’s where I walked … ran … cried. It holds a special place in my heart.” Clearly, returning to the Cleveland Cavs is going to make playing professional basketball a lot more fun for King James.

Interestingly, LeBron’s decision coincides with a recent study showing that 70 percent of kids drop out of organized sports by the time they reach middle school – and never play again – because they aren’t having fun. The kids told researchers that what they wanted from their experiences were team members who were good sports, a focus on playing your best and good coaching.

So, to keep your kids physically active and interacting with friends (it fights obesity, boosts self-confidence and improves grades) we suggest:

1. Help them find sports/activities they like by being aware of what kids can do emotionally, physically and socially at different stages and ages.

2. Help them set attainable goals that build confidence.

3. Find a coach who can motivate (not intimidate) kids, so they enjoy playing their best.

And teach your kids at 9 what it took LeBron 29 years to learn: What matters isn’t just whether you win or lose, it’s how (well, fairly and with whom) you play the game. That’s the real fun.

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

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