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HEALTH WATCH

BODY WATCH : A Connection Between Dizziness and Depression?

July 26, 1994

Doctors diagnosing dizzy spells shouldn't discount the patient's psyche.

A study of patients suffering from dizziness shows that almost half also experienced depression or anxiety, says Dr. Michael R. Clark, a Johns Hopkins psychiatrist. When treated with anti-depressants, therapy or both, the patients said their dizziness cleared up or became less severe.

Dizziness is the ninth most common reason people of all ages go to a doctor. It ranks third among people over age 65 and first among those over 75.

Traditionally, dizziness is sorted into four types:

* Vertigo--the world seems to be spinning out of control.

* Meniere's syndrome--pressure in the inner ear causes severe pain and imbalance.

* Labyrinthitis--a viral infection of the ear affecting hearing and balance.

* Non-specific dizziness. Many patients whose symptoms were non-specific had a history of depression or panic attacks.

Pelvic Exercise Can Help Incontinent Children

The National Institute of Mental Health says about 4% of children age 4-12 suffer from urinary incontinence. A pelvic exercise can help bed-wetters and children who wet themselves during the day, say researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

Children were taught Kegel exercises, tightening for five to 20 seconds the muscles that control urinary flow. The technique was developed by Los Angeles physician Arnold H. Kegel.

Out of 79 children, average age 7 1/2, 47 were cured of daytime incontinence within two months, 11 improved, and 21 did not benefit. For some children, the technique could eliminate the need for medications, urine alarms and surgery.

Aquatic Creatures Can Cause Health Problems

Go for a swim in an ocean or lake and you will bump into aquatic organisms. Among the problems caused by waterborne creatures are:

* Swimmer's ear, an infection of the ear canal. Moisture and temperature allow microorganisms to multiply, resulting in inflammation and pain. Alcohol drops evaporate the moisture. Less irritating medication is available.

* Skin punctures from sea urchins with protruding spines. Waders are apt to touch or sit on the small animals, which respond with a stinging splinter. Pull it straight out and see a doctor for an oral antibiotic and a tetanus shot.

* Jellyfish stings. Tentacles release a toxin into the skin. Do not touch the area. Rinse it with saltwater (not fresh water). Apply an antibiotic cream. Jellyfish can get you on the beach too.

Briefly . . .

Acetaminophen doesn't reduce pain during or immediately following circumcision, and circumcised newborn boys do experience great and persistent pain, researchers conclude. . . . The majority of malpractice claims against physicians result from neurological and other birth-related injuries, cancer, fracture and spinal problems, cardiac arrest and heart disease. . . . Precocious puberty disorder (before age 8 for girls, 9 for boys) is treatable with a hormone that inhibits the pituitary gland, delaying puberty until a more appropriate age.

* This health roundup, compiled by C.A. Wedlan from wire service reports, appears in Life & Style on Tuesdays.

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