Airbag alone is insufficient
A study of more than 15,000 facial-fracture patients injured in motor vehicle accidents found that victims who were not protected by both an airbag and seat belt were more than twice as likely to experience serious cuts and trauma as riders who had used just a seat belt. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health group's research also shows that victims who skipped even the seat belt, apparently relying only on their vehicles' airbags, received little to no protection from facial trauma. Noted one researcher: "When an airbag deploys, you get more impact to your face."
Differentiating colds, allergy
It's hard to tell sometimes what makes your child feel under the weather, particularly in the early summer when there is plenty of pollen around, and children are also in and out of pools and air-conditioning. Both colds (which are caused by viruses) and allergies result in runny noses, watery eyes and sneezing. But there are ways to tell the two conditions apart: The discharge from allergies is typically clear, while a cold often ends up with thick yellow or green discharge. And you rarely get body aches or a fever from an allergy.
Don't ignore vision problems
Seeing stars? Get to an ophthalmologist quickly if you see any of the following, which could signal a detachment or tear in your retina:
• "Floaters'' that drift in your vision as your eye moves (they may look like dots, veils, cobwebs or strings).
• Flashing lights, especially in peripheral vision. They may ripple or flicker.
• A shadow or "curtain'' that comes down across your field of vision.
Low sodium level common in seniors
Your sodium level naturally drops as you age. Signs of the condition, termed hyponatremia, can range from a headache to struggling with crossword puzzles to losing your balance. According to Dr. Joseph Verbalis, chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Georgetown University Hospital, "Mild hyponatremia often goes untreated or undiagnosed because many patients believe the symptoms are part of the normal aging process." Adults over age 50 who have been diagnosed with mild hyponatremia are eligible to participate in a study in the Tampa Bay area. Your doctor may need to do a simple blood test to see if you can join. To learn more about the study, go to www.insightsaltstudy.com or call (727) 584-6368.
Compiled from Times staff, wires