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Snoring solutions... daily aspirin... low red blood cell count.

Q Do those nasal strips and over-the-counter sprays that claim to stop snoring really work?

A There's no shortage of products that claim to stop snoring. Some work, some don't. It all depends on why a person snores. The sound is created when something blocks air from freely flowing. Inflamed sinuses, deviated septum, being overweight, and sleep apnea are just a few of the reasons why blockages, and hence snoring, occurs. Treating the cause of the blockage can reduce or eliminate snoring. As for nasal strips, studies have shown that they can work because they open nasal passages. The strips are lined with an adhesive that lifts the skin around the nasal passage, allowing air to pass through more easily. So, if the problem is due to colds, allergies, or deviated septum, the nasal strips can provide some relief from snoring. Snoring sprays claim to work by lubricating the throat to reduce throat vibration or by reducing mucous. It is possible that snoring can be resolved with sprays if it's due to a dry throat or excessive mucous. If snoring is accompanied by excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, or changes in attention, concentration or memory, see a physician, as these can be symptoms of sleep apnea. It's a serious but treatable sleep disorder hallmarked by excessive snoring.

Q What's the right dose of daily aspirin to take to protect my heart without upsetting my stomach?

A That's a good question because studies have shown that regularly taking aspirin can increase gastrointestinal bleeding among some people,

including seniors. While taking an aspirin can have a protective effect, not everyone needs to do so. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued new guidelines regarding the use of aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke. The main message is to weigh the risks and benefits of taking the drug on an individual basis. The recommendations state that people age 50-69 who have a 10 percent or greater risk for heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years, as well as life expectancy exceeding 10 years, are the most likely to benefit from aspirin therapy. To gain the benefit, a low-dose aspirin (81 mg, such as baby aspirin) needs to be taken daily. A 10 percent or greater risk for heart attack or stroke is defined as having two cardiovascular risk factors, which include your age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and smoking. GI bleeding risk is higher if you take other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, Motrin, Aleve), or other blood thinners, including herbal supplements like gingko biloba. Symptoms of a bleed include stools that appear darker, lightheadedness upon standing, and vomiting blood. See your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Q I recently had a panel of blood work done and found out that I have a low red blood cell count. Can you shed some light on what might be causing this?

A Anemia, also known as low red blood cell count, can have a number of causes. Blood tests can reveal the source of anemia by measuring iron, folate and vitamin B12. Anemia can be mild or severe, and both should be treated. In older adults, a vitamin B12 deficiency is common. If that is the reason for your low red blood cell count, be sure to include foods such as fish, shellfish, lean meat, poultry, eggs and low-fat dairy--all of which are good sources of vitamin B12. Vegetarians are especially vulnerable to this deficiency as B12 comes mainly from meat sources. Some vegetarian foods are fortified with B12, but typically not enough, making B12 supplements necessary. Folate is another important nutrient for red blood cell production. High-folate food sources include leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and mustard greens. Anemia can also be caused by not getting enough iron. Foods rich in iron include leafy greens, tofu, chickpeas, and prune juice.

Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Wanagat, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Division of Geriatrics
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Title Annotation:ASK THE DOCTOR
Author:Wanagat, Jonathan
Publication:Healthy Years
Date:Feb 1, 2017
Words:661
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