Look out! It’s licorice and dec­o­ra­tive con­tact lenses

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That’s the Hal­loween mes­sage from health­care ex­perts about two com­mon but lit­tle-dis­cussed po­ten­tial haz­ards as­so­ci­ated with the hol­i­day.

Specif­i­cally, black licorice is a pos­si­ble dan­ger for peo­ple at risk for heart ail­ments, ac­cord­ing to the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion. Big kids over 40 years old, ac­cord­ing to an FDA ad­vi­sory, could re­quire hos­pi­tal­iza­tion for an ir­reg­u­lar heart rhythm or ar­rhyth­mia if they eat as lit­tle as 2 ounces of black licorice daily for two weeks. The health risk stems from the sweet­en­ing com­pound from the licorice root, gly­cyrrhizin, which can drop potas­sium lev­els and lead some peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence ab­nor­mal heart rhythms, high blood pres­sure, swelling, lethargy and con­ges­tive heart fail­ure. The FDA rec­om­mended trick or treaters of all ages avoid eat­ing “large amounts” of black licorice at one time. If they do con­sume mass quan­ti­ties and de­velop an ir­reg­u­lar heart rhythm or mus­cle weak­ness, stop eat­ing it and con­tact their health­care provider. An­other scary health warn­ing was is­sued by the Amer­i­can Academy of Oph­thal­mol­ogy re­gard­ing the use of dec­o­ra­tive con­tact lenses as part of Hal­loween cos­tumes. The med­i­cal group is­sued state­ments in the weeks lead­ing up to the hol­i­day that de­tailed the dan­gers of wear­ing non­pre­scrip­tion cos­tume lenses, such as se­ri­ous eye dis­or­ders and in­fec­tions.

This par­tic­u­lar Hal­loween dan­ger led Congress to ban the sale of such lenses in 2005 and es­tab­lish civil penal­ties of up to $11,000 per il­le­gal sale.

There is no such thing as “one-size-fits-all” con­tact lenses, warned the med­i­cal group. Con­tacts that are not prop­erly fit­ted may scratch the eye or cause blood ves­sels to grow into the cornea.

And that’s some scary stuff. de­mand­ing bet­ter care?’” Miller says. “So then, Oc­cupy Wall Street started go­ing and I jumped on it: We’re not re­ally ask­ing enough of our health­care sys­tem.”

Miller makes clear that the blog is not meant to be his plat­form alone by any means. The con­trib­u­tors’ page in­cludes six other au­thors, and Miller says he wel­comes any­one who wants to con­trib­ute to the de­bate.

“The web­site is meant to be a place where providers, pa­tients, pol­i­cy­mak­ers and pay­ers can all come to­gether and share ideas,” Miller says. “We’ve all got blogs and Twit­ter ac­counts and things to share. We want to have ro­bust pol­icy dis­cus­sions and get peo­ple con­nected to have these dis­cus­sions.”

Be­sides the im­pe­tus from the Oc­cupy protests around the world, the full roll­out of the health­care re­form law in 2014 also should en­cour­age de­bate about what the health­care sys­tem should look like, Miller says. And the ex­plo­sion in so­cial me­dia pro­vides the tools to do so, he adds.

De­mand­ing more from the health­care sys­tem is only half of what pa­tients need to do, Miller says: Com­mu­ni­ties must be­come more in­volved in their health as well. “We have to take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity,” he says. “Pre­ven­tion is go­ing to have to pre­vail.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.