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Ask The Doctor featuring Dr. Laura E. Henderson

October 16, 2007

What can be done about nervous, excessive underarm sweating?

Excessive sweating, medically known as hyperhidrosis, can not only be a nuisance but also socially embarrassing. Hyperhidrosis is caused by overactivity of the sweat glands, which can be the result of anxiety or nervous conditions, hormonal changes (i.e. menopause) or underlying medical disorders (i.e. overactive thyroid). Of course if an underlying disorder exists, treatment by your physician is recommended. Oftentimes just treatment of the source of your anxiety or nervousness can cause improvement. One option to try on your own, however, is the purchase of a deodorant with a higher antiperspirant level. Applying it twice a day if needed can be helpful. If this fails, there are prescription strength solutions that are applied at night with occlusive dressings that can be very beneficial.




Dr. Henderson, can you give some suggestions to those who experience trouble sleeping? When it gets close to bedtime, I feel sleepy and ready for bed. When I get into bed, I just lie there feeling tired, but not able to sleep. Any suggestion(s)? Whatever remedy you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

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Many people at some time or another experience episodes of difficulty sleeping and/or sleeplessness. When it happens for short periods of time, it's often annoying but eventually passes. Long-term sleep issues have a great impact on your daily activities and can pose a problem on your job and in personal relationships. The first step to addressing this problem is the practice and maintenance of good sleep hygiene techniques. For example, try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning regardless of the night you have had. Avoid taking naps during the day. If you are unable to sleep, get out of bed and do something else such as reading or a relaxing hobby. This way, your bed is only used for sleeping. Make sure you get rid of any distractions in your bedroom like a TV, radio or too much outside light. Don't do aerobic-type exercises before bed; nevertheless, relaxing exercises such as yoga may be beneficial. Last but not least, avoid evening caffeine intake.

If you have followed these suggestions and still have difficulty sleeping, short-term use of sleep aids can be helpful. The safest way to use these is to take them for two to three nights in a row, then stop. This will allow your body to get back into its normal sleep cycle and prevent future dependence on sleep aids.




My grandmother has osteoporosis. Just recently my mother went to the doctor with extreme back pain (she's 63). The doctor told her that she has three broken vertebrae, and she was diagnosed with osteoporosis as well. Upon hearing this news, I wonder if this is something that can be passed down from generation to generation and is there something that her children (ages 32, 38 and 48) can do to prevent this from happening to us? Both my grandmother and mother smoke. Can smoking cause the development of osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, simply defined, is a loss of bone mass. All individuals lose bone mass with age, however, some lose an amount above what's expected, giving the diagnosis of osteoporosis. This condition makes you more susceptible to fractures, particularly in the hip, pelvis and vertebrae. Multiple studies have shown that osteoporosis does have a genetic component in that multiple generations, specifically women, in a family can be affected. Nevertheless, certain lifestyle habits make individuals more susceptible. Some examples are cigarette smoking, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. Because of your family history, you should speak with your physician about having a screening Bone Density Test performed. This will give a better idea of your current bone status, and if your current results are in the borderline range, early treatment can be initiated. In the meantime, there are some daily activities that you can do to help prevent severe bone loss. Adequate nutrition, especially Vitamin D (400 I.U. /day) and Calcium (1200-1500mg/day for perimenopausal women) is essential. Weight bearing and/or resistance training exercise is important. Above all, avoid cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol intake.




I've recently decided to become a vegetarian. Everyone is asking how I get my protein and all the nutrients I need. I was wondering what you would recommend to ensure I get all the vitamins and nutrients I need for a proper diet.

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