Ask Our Doctors: How Much is Too Much?

Pet Health

Suzanne is concerned her dog, Ozzie, isn't getting enough exercise and asks how she can help boost his energy. Veterinarian Dr. Bernadine Cruz of the Iams Pet Wellness Council gives tips on how to keep your pet healthy and active!

Tooth Care
Heidi brushes her teeth up to seven times a day because she wants to make sure they are as clean as possible. But is she scrubbing them too much?

"Brushing that [often], that long, with that much pressure is too much of a good thing," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "Your enamel, which coats your teeth, you're wearing that away. Also, you're wearing away your gums and you potentially will need a graft for those gums.

Dr. Travis suggests chewing gum to maintain a clean feel throughout the day. Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears explains how to care for children's teeth.

Brushing Tips
• Brush two times a day
Brush for two minutes at a time
Use 150 grams of pressure

Tampon Troubles

• Can cause vaginal dryness or irritation
Dryness increases risk of abrasions
Abrasions raise the chance of infection

Tampon Dangers
Leaving a tampon inside your body for an extended period of time can be toxic, but changing it too often can be harmful, as well. It can lead to abrasions, infections and even toxic shock syndrome.

"You really should change tampons every four to eight hours," OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. "There are different sizes for different flow, because there are different flows during your cycle. There's the light, the medium, the extra. And toward the end, use a panty liner or something like that.

"If you're actually going through an extra or a super [tampon] every hour, then [you] need to see your doctor," Dr. Lisa adds.

Spa Overuse
Steven visits steam rooms and saunas nearly every day. He asks The Doctors if his spa habit could be dangerous.

"Spas and saunas can be relaxing, but you can overuse them," Dr. Travis says. "It's not so much that you're overusing them because you're using them daily. It's how much time you're spending in them at one sitting."

Spa Tips

• Limit steam room time to 12 minutes or less
Limit sauna time to 15 minutes or less
Hydrate before and after use to replenish fluids

Dr. Travis explains that you can become dehydrated if you stay in the sauna and steam room too long.

If you take medications that may induce drowsiness or affect heart rate, blood pressure or circulation, speak to your doctor before using a spa. Also, if you suffer from circulatory system problems, diabetes, high or low blood pressure; are obese, pregnant or at risk for heart disease, avoid the sauna and steam room or consult a physician.

"The temperature dilates your blood vessels and can drop your blood pressure, so if you're on certain medications, this can be very, very dangerous," Dr. Lisa says.

Dr. Jim adds that children should be carefully monitored because they can become dehydrated faster than adults.

"People go into the sauna or the hot tub thinking that it's good for their skin, when in fact, it's dehydrating [their] skin. [It] can aggravate certain skin conditions; eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis can be made worse," plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says. "You're not doing your skin a favor if you stay in the sauna or hot tub too long. And whenever you do steam or sauna, make sure you do put moisturizer on your skin."

Plucking Problems
Katie likes to keep her eyebrows nice and trim, but wonders if her tendency to over-pluck could permanently damage her brows.

The Choking Game

A dangerous game is becoming increasingly popular among kids, and it's known as the choking game. It involves achieving a high by strangulation or self-induced fainting and black outs, which causes cerebral hypoxia, or deprivation of oxygen to the brain. The Doctors discuss the dangers of this so-called game and tell you the warning signs to look for in your children.

"You definitely can over-wax and over-pluck your eyebrows," Dr. Lisa says. "What you want to do is you want to pluck in the direction that the hair grows. It takes about six months for the hair to grow back, and if you're really doing it a lot, you may wind up with no eyebrows or really sparse eyebrows.

Over-plucking can cause the hair follicle to develop scar tissue, rendering it unable to re-grow hair. Dr. Lisa advises going to a salon for professional care, if you do tend to pluck too much. If you damage the hair follicles to the point that they won't grow back, you can undergo an eyebrow transplant.

"What you can do in between [tweezing] is use an eyebrow pencil, because the shape and the arch really make a difference for how you look," Dr. Lisa continues

Free of Fat?
Eating fat-free food is supposed to be good for you, but ingredients can be deceptive and not all fat-free foods are made the same.

"We all want to avoid fat," Dr. Jim says. "Each gram of fat has about 9 calories, so if a food has about 10 grams of fat, that's almost 100 calories, and certainly it's great to avoid that. But, fat tastes good, so if they're going to take the fat out of food, they've got to make it taste good somehow, and it's usually by adding more sugar, or corn syrup or extra sodium, so there's usually a tradeoff for getting that fat out."

If you do buy fat-free foods, don't overeat just because there is no fat. "Fat, in and of itself, is not bad," Dr. Travis says. "The problem can be the type of fat. So don't be afraid to get products that have fat in them, but we're talking about the unsaturated fats. There's a big difference between the [good] fat you'll find in an avocado, versus [bad fat found in] potato chips."

Fat: Everything You Need to Know

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OAD 12/15/09