Your Health in the Headlines

High Heels for Little Girls
Suri Cruise, 3-year-old daughter of celebrities Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, kicked off a media frenzy when she was photographed in half-pint pumps.

“It used to be a rite of passage. You used to have to get to be a certain age to wear heels,” OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. “Let’s let little girls be little girls.”

Children who wear heels risk damaging their epiphyseal plates, or growth plates, which are growing tissue located at each end of all the long bones in children and adolescents. The plates, which determine the final length and shape of the mature bone, do not finish growing until some point in adolescence. When bone growth is complete, the growth plates close and are replaced by solid bone.

Because of their malleable nature, growth plates are the weakest part of a developing skeleton and are susceptible to injuries. “Pressure on the epiphyseal plates, or if you fall, you can [cause a] serious fracture,” plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says. “You’re putting extra tension on the Achilles tendon; you’re putting extra tension on the plantar fascia. You really can get into trouble with your feet at an early age wearing those shoes.”

“I’m absolutely disturbed by the fact that 3-year-old girls are wearing high heels,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. “Medically speaking, these are growing bodies, and you’ve got to take care of those growing bodies.”

Viewers, weigh in! Would you allow your young daughter to wear high heels, or do you think she should wait until she’s older? Share your thoughts.

Hair Hazards

Dr. Ordon demonstrates the potential dangers of hair extensions.

Ultrasound Safety
Ultrasound procedures are commonly performed in prenatal care to check the health and well-being of a fetus. However, people who purchase ultrasounds to perform at-home tests are discouraged to do so.

“We don’t know, in the long term, how it can affect the baby if you get multiple ultrasounds,” Dr. Lisa cautions. “It should be in the hands of a medical professional.”

Too Fat to Fly
Recently, Southwest Airlines asked filmmaker Kevin Smith to disembark a flight allegedly because his weight violated safety regulations. An angry Smith fired back publicly against the airline, saying that “he broke no regulation, offered no safety risk and was wrongly ejected from the flight.”

Smith’s outrage sparked controversy. How will the Customer of Size travel policy affect the two-thirds of the American population who are obese?

Ali Vincent, 34-year-old winner of The Biggest Loser in 2008 and author of Believe It, Be It, struggled with her weight for years. At her heaviest, she weighed 234 pounds but lost 112 pounds on the popular reality show. Her journey inspired her to help others who struggle with obesity, and she weighs in on the “too fat to fly” protocol.

“I understand that airlines have to have policies,” she says, “but to let someone on an aircraft, if you think they’re not going to fit – it’s just humiliating. People who deal with weight, we already want to hide ourselves,” she continues. “That’s why we’re so heavy. There are so many emotions behind that.”

Ali suggests that the travel industry “figure out a way to not punish the people who are already dealing with their own battles.”

Do you think there should be rules regarding weight and safety when it comes to passengers who fly? Share your thoughts.

New Treatment for Hemorrhoids

Dr. Ordon explains a new treatment for internal hemorrhoids and offers prevention tips:

• Eat high-fiber foods
Use laxatives or stool softeners if constipated, and don't strain
Apply over-the-counter creams and ointments can help with discomfort

Toilet Troubles
Recent studies indicate that wooden toilet seats and abrasive chemicals used to clean all toilet seats may cause dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin. Experts recommend replacing the wood with plastic or ceramic seats and avoiding cleaning with harsh chemicals.

A new technology currently used in major American airports and public restrooms, doctors offices and health clubs around the country is the Sani Seat toilet seat, designed to keep users germ-free.

Another risk associated with using the restroom is sitting on the toilet seat too long. Extended pressure can cause the development of hemorrhoids, which are swollen or inflamed veins in the anus and outer rectum.

“When you’re going number two, you don’t want to camp out on the toilet,” Dr. Travis says. Increased pressure on the veins in your anus can increase the chance of hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids can occur either internally or externally and can be extremely painful. The engorged veins are essentially varicose veins and can be caused by genetics, constipation, straining during bowel movements, anal intercourse, pregnancy, obesity and/or sitting or standing for long periods of time.

Symptoms of hemorrhoids include pain, itching or discomfort, swelling around the anus, painless bleeding during bowel movements and leakage of feces. “If you’re having bleeding, it might be a hemorrhoid, but it also could be colon cancer,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears warns. “You’ve got to get it checked out.”

Treatments for hemorrhoids include warm baths, over-the-counter creams, ointments and pads, hydration, exercise and a number of minimally-invasive procedures. In more extreme cases, rubber band ligation is used to cut off the hemorrhoid’s blood supply.

How to Prevent Hemorrhoids:

• Stay hydrated
• Increase intake of fiber
• Exercise regularly
• Maintain an ideal body weight
• Improve posture
• Reduce bowel movement time and strain
• Use moist or wet toilet paper
• Keep the anal area clean

Perfume Perils
Most shoppers are always on the lookout for a bargain. Discount food, clothing and cosmetics are popular purchases, but The Doctors caution that consumers should beware of discount fragrances. Recent reports state that fake or counterfeit fragrances may contain urine, bacteria and antifreeze.

How to Detect Counterfeit Perfume:
  • Cellophane wrap that is loosely or sloppily applied to the box 
  • Excessive glue or adhesive tape on interior or exterior packaging 
  • Poor box or construction quality 
  • Misspelled or uneven printing on packaging 
  • Barcodes that are anywhere other than the bottom of the box

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