Cape Gazette
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Healthy Geezer

Traumatic brain injuries should be taken seriously

By Fred Cicetti | Nov 14, 2013

Q. What is the leading cause of brain injuries?

About 1.4 million people suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury each year in the United States. Half of all TBIs are caused by accidents involving automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. These accidents are the major cause of TBI in people under age 75.

Falls cause the majority of TBIs in people 75 and older; this group has the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and death.

[A note to older people who suffer a blow to the head: If you are taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin, get immediate attention from a healthcare provider to check for internal bleeding.]

Symptoms of a serious head injury may include: headaches, vomiting, nausea, sleepiness, convulsions, dilated pupils, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, loss of coordination, confusion, agitation, bloody or clear fluids emanating from ears or nose, blurred vision or seeing double, dizziness, respiratory failure, paralysis, slow pulse, ringing in the ears, inappropriate emotional responses and loss of bowel or bladder control.

Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Because little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, medical personnel try to stabilize an individual with TBI and focus on preventing further injury.

Q. How much lovemaking is going on among seniors?

A recent survey of 3,005 U.S. adults between 57 and 85 published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that there’s a lot of love after the bloom. Here’s a breakdown of those reporting that they were sexually active:

• 73 percent between the ages of 57 and 64

• 53 percent between the ages of 65 and 74

• 26 percent between the ages of 75 and 85

But, hey, the sex wasn’t always easy. Half of the survey respondents reported at least one problem.

The leading obstacle for women was low sexual desire (43 percent). The top problem for men was erectile dysfunction (37 percent).

But there’s more. As a woman ages, her vagina becomes thinner, less flexible and drier, so intercourse can be painful. Older men suffer from reduced libido, too. Both men and women can have trouble climaxing.

Fortunately for seniors today, there is better sex through chemistry. Men can treat their erection problems with drugs such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. Women can make sex more comfortable with over-the-counter lubricants, vaginal inserts and hormone supplements.

Q. Can you get cancer from eating fish that contains mercury?

High levels of mercury exposure can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system of people of all ages.

There isn’t enough human data available for all forms of mercury to conclude that it causes cancer.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that methylmercury is a possible human carcinogen.

Mercury, a liquid metal also known as quicksilver, combines with carbon to make organic mercury compounds; methylmercury is the most common one. Methylmercury is made primarily by microscopic organisms in water and soil.

Methylmercury builds up in the tissues of fish. Larger and older fish tend to have the highest levels of mercury. Research shows that most people’s fish consumption does not cause a health concern.

Contact your local health department to check local advisories about the safety of fish caught in nearby waters.

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