Yes. When you pass 70 years, you double the chances of fainting. And the odds triple after 80. Fainting is common. About one in three people faint at least once in a lifetime.
Syncope (Sink-o-pea) is the medical word for fainting or a temporary (a few seconds) loss of consciousness. Fainting happens when your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen from your blood supply. Syncope is often foreshadowed by “premonitory symptoms” that include nausea, feeling lightheaded and irregular heartbeats.
Q. If I have a fever, at what temperature should I go to the doctor?
An oral temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit or a rectal or ear temperature above 101 F is considered a fever in the majority of adults. If your temperature reaches 103 F, you should contact a physician. Another “alarm bell” is a fever that lasts more than three days. Get to a doctor immediately if you have a fever with any of the following:
Q. I was at a party recently when a nurse told a friend of mine to see a doctor because his fingernails were kind of white. He went to the doctor and found out he has a liver problem. Were the two events just coincidental?
The condition of your fingernails can tell medical professionals a lot about your health. Most doctors include a nail examination during a physical checkup. Common problems that produce symptoms in the nails are:
White nails - liver diseases
Thick, pitted nails - psoriasis
Nails that are half pink-half white - kidney diseases
Second of Two Parts
Many of the causes of our illnesses are inherited from our ancestors. Almost 33 percent of known diseases have genetic links, including colon cancer, heart disease, alcoholism and high blood pressure.
A medical genealogy or medical family tree can reveal patterns. If you have prepared a medical genealogy and found that a disease seems to run in your family, you might want to consider genetic testing. This form of testing can help you plan.
First of two parts
Q. My grandson asked me to participate in a family tree about our medical conditions. He wants to ask me questions about my health, but I’m a pretty private person. I don’t know about this. What do you think?
I respect your reluctance to discuss personal matters with your grandson. However, the information you have to share with him would benefit your entire family and future generations. Perhaps your grandson could submit questions in writing and you could answer them in the same way. That might help avoid uncomfortable moments.
Q. Are hiccups dangerous?
Hiccups, sometimes called hiccoughs, are not dangerous and are rarely a sign of a health problem. However, if hiccups persist for more than 48 hours, you should see a doctor. Hiccups can be a sign of kidney failure, pneumonia, lung tumors, digestion problems and heart attack.
If hiccups are so severe that they interfere with your life, see your doctor. If your hiccups last for more than three hours and you are experiencing severe abdominal pain, or you spit up blood, you should get emergency medical attention.
Q. A friend of mine said you can get epilepsy when you get old. I always thought this was something that came on you when you were a child. What’s the story?
Epilepsy, which is sometimes called a seizure disorder, can strike at any age, but it usually starts during childhood and after age 65.
People with epilepsy suffer from abnormal signals in the brain that can affect the senses and emotions. These faulty signals can also generate convulsions, muscle spasms and loss of consciousness.
Q. What exactly does “environmental health” mean?
Environment health is a catch-all term that encompasses how your environment impacts your health. It includes how you are affected by social issues such as water pollution, and personal habits such as smoking. The subject of environmental health covers just about everything but the influence of genes on your health.
Q. I know I should wear sunglasses to protect my eyes, but what should I look for when I buy them?
This is a question with year-round relevance. The sun is around every day of the year. The most important feature in sunglasses is the ability to protect your eyes from invisible ultraviolet (UV) light, which also causes sunburn.
Long-term exposure to the high-energy ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is linked to eye disease. Buy sunglasses that block 99 percent or 100 percent of all UV light. Look for a label that lists protection.
Q. My uncle used nicotine gum to get off cigarettes. Now he chews the gum all the time. Do you think he’s hooked?
Over-the-counter nicotine gum, which is sold under a variety of brand names, was introduced in the United States in 1984. Since then, there have been many reports of gum addiction. There are chewers who’ve been consuming in excess of 10 pieces a day for more than a decade.