Posted by: yourhealthradio | February 9, 2012

House Calls – Computer Screens & Light; Lactose Intolerance

House Calls from the Carrboro Citizen 02.09.12

Dear HOUSE Calls, I spend a lot of time in front of the computer. Is it better to have the lights on or off?

We are all spending more and more time in front of the screen. Because of this there is more information than ever regarding eye strain and a number of ergonomic problems related to computer use. There is even a new syndrome called Computer Vision Syndrome, which gives people headaches, blurred vision and neck pain from being on the computer a lot. We do recommend that you keep the lights on while using the computer. The contrast between the bright screen and the dark room tends to place more of a strain on your eyes. Make sure you use a comfortable chair at the right height and a keyboard best designed for your needs. Elevating the screen off the desk will take tension off your neck. Take breaks for your eyes and your body.

Dear HOUSE Calls, I’d like to know more about lactose intolerance in adults, the best ways to get tested for it and the best products to help deal with it.

Lactose intolerance is when people get belly pain, bloating and sometimes gas or diarrhea that is related to dairy or lactose-containing foods because they are missing an enzyme that is needed to digest this lactose (called lactase). Lactose intolerance is something that is both relatively overdiagnosed and relatively common. It is especially common in people of African descent. The best treatment for lactose intolerance is reduction or avoidance of lactose-containing foods (dairy). That can be really difficult. Some people will use soy substitutes or lactose-free dairy products (such as those made by Lactaid). Many foods in restaurants will contain dairy, making it hard to avoid. There are lactase supplements (also known as Lactaid), which can be really helpful. Many people are diagnosed with lactase deficiency based on the results of a self- or doctor-imposed elimination diet. One example is to eliminate all dairy for three days to see if symptoms improve, followed by three days with a lot of dairy. There are three tests we know of for lactose intolerance. There is a blood test for glucose after ingesting a lactose load (if you can’t digest lactose, your glucose should not rise) and there is a breath test after a lactose load that measures hydrogen. If you don’t metabolize lactose, it ferments and makes hydrogen. The last test, used for infants, measures stool acidity, which increases in a person who can’t digest lactose. Work with your primary-care provider to get more information and possibly testing before you restrict something from your diet.


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