Ask Our Doctors: Safety Zone or Danger Zone?

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The Doctors reveal the risks of what you put in your body and let you know whether you’re in the safety or danger zone.

Cough Syrup Concerns
Whether it's too much or too little, parents don't always give their children the correct dosage of cough syrup.

"If they're giving a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon, that's a big difference," pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. "Studies show that children are given an inaccurate dose of over-the-counter medications more than half the time by parents. That's a lot!

"Sometimes it's an overdose, and you risk side effects like heart rhythm problems, high blood pressure, things like that," he adds. "If it's an underdose, then it's not going to work."

Oftentimes, children's over-the-counter medications recommend doses by age rather than weight. The AccuDial rotating dosing label is a weight-based system with a rotating label on the bottle that gives specific doses by weight. "It's a specific type of bottle," Dr. Jim says. "I would imagine you're going to see some of the major brands starting to use this bottle, and it will come with its own dosing spoon so it's accurate."

Fast Food

Fast Food Dangers

The Doctors reveal four health problems caused by eating too much fast food. 

Fast food restaurants have long served high-fat, high-calorie foods. Some chains, however, have begun to incorporate healthier options on their menu.

Taco Bell, for example, has created the Drive-Thru Diet that features the healthier Fresco Menu. The menu offers lower-calorie options such as the Fresco Soft Taco, which has 180 calories and 7 grams of fat, compared to the regular menu Soft Taco Supreme, which has 240 calories and 11 grams of fat.

"Sixty calories less, and it's [often] going to be double, because you're usually eating two [tacos], so that meal is going to be 120 calories less," Dr. Jim says.

"If you go to a restaurant, you want to know, number one, what are the healthy options, what are the healthiest options," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "Healthier doesn't always mean that it's healthy; it just means that it's healthier than the other options."

While it offers lower-calorie options, Taco Bell has a disclaimer that reminds consumers that the Drive-Thru Diet is not a weight-loss program

Subway is another fast food chain known for its healthier menu options. Spokesman Jared Fogle, who once weighed more than 425 pounds, ate Subway sandwiches to help him lose 245 pounds and become internationally known for his weight loss efforts.

"I had developed a severe case of sleep apnea. I developed edema. My body was literally beginning to shut down on itself," Jared says. "I was only 20 years old, a college student, at that point, in 1998. I finally said, 'Enough is enough. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I need to finally actually do something,' and it just so happened to involve eating Subway sandwiches."

Jared's diet included low-fat sandwiches without cheese, oil or mayonnaise, and baked potato chips as a side.

"I started walking as well," Jared says. "I had such a sedentary lifestyle back then. I would literally take a campus bus an hour out of my way just to avoid a 10-minute walk. It was absolutely crazy. I had to finally start walking, get off the couch, and that really allowed me to lose 245 pounds in a year.

"You've got to work hard, you've got to really get focused, you've got to have goals and you've got to find what's going to work for you," he adds.

To keep the weight off, Jared continues to eat healthily, enjoying Subway sandwiches, and exercise. He is training for the ING New York City Marathon in November. Inspired by his personal transformation, Jared started the nonprofit Jared Foundation to help fight childhood obesity.

Tanning Pills

Are tanning pills a safer, sunless tanning alternative to tanning booths and spray tans? Find out the best ways to get color without putting your health at risk. 

"Our whole mission is to try to fight childhood obesity and develop programs that we can put into schools that will make sure kids don't go down that same road that I went down myself," Jared says.

Contact Lens Dangers
Chelsea, 23, experienced pain in her eyes from wearing contact lenses. Doctors discovered that she had corneal scarring, and she had a custom Lasik surgery to fix the problem. Watch the procedure, and find out how to keep your eyes safe.

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OAD 1/21/10