Dear Dr. Solomon: I've just finished reading an article that deals with malnutrition, and I felt I had to write to you. The article says that malnourished people can be found among all of us, regardless of our economic status. What do you think? -- Sanford, Richmond, Va.
Dear Sanford: I don't know the article to which you refer, but I believe you may be confusing malnutrition with calorie intake. A person can have an adequate or even an above-average calorie intake and still be malnourished if the diet is not well balanced and if it does not provide the nutrients needed for good health.
Malnutrition is, indeed, a problem among the financially rTC disadvantaged. However, it can also be a problem for elderly individuals who may find it difficult to shop for food or to prepare adequate meals, or for anyone, regardless of income, who consumes a diet high in fat, sodium and calories, but one that lacks sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
In this context, even a markedly obese person may actually be malnourished.
Dear Dr. Solomon: My husband was taking some medication, and he developed a rash. I called his doctor to tell him that the medication was causing a side effect. The doctor said it was not a side effect, but an allergy. What's the difference between them?
Can an allergy be dangerous? -- Mrs. L.G., Silver Spring, Md.
Dear Mrs. G.: All medications have the potential for causing side effects. The most common ones are nausea, diarrhea and drowsiness. If these side effects become severe, the dose of the medication may have to be decreased, or the medication may have to be discontinued.
An allergic reaction to medication often takes the form of a skin rash or difficulty in breathing. Anyone who is having a true allergic reaction should discontinue taking the medication and notify the physician.
L Allergic reactions can be very serious and, at times, fatal.
Dear Dr. Solomon: Do you see any objection in letting a young child run around in his bare feet on the lawn? -- Mrs. E.C., Philadelphia, Pa.
Dear Mrs. C.: The main reason for wearing shoes is to protect the feet. If your lawn includes sharp rocks, broken glass and pieces of metal, then the child, of course, should wear shoes. If your lawn resembles the greens on a golf course, then shoes are not necessary.
For Leroy, Lancaster, Pa.: Angina refers to pain due to an insufficient flow of blood to the heart. A cardiac arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat.
Dr. Neil Solomon will answer questions from Baltimore area readers in his Tuesday column in Accent on Health.
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