Dry-mouth solutions, heel-pain relief, memory-saving steps

Q. I’m 75. Seven months ago, I suddenly developed “Sjogren’s-like” symptoms. I take prescription lozenges for my severe dry mouth, but the relief is only temporary. Is there a cure?

— Estelle, Colorado

A. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for Sjogren’s, an autoimmune disease that causes dryness in the body — especially in your eyes and mouth. About 4 million Americans, mainly women, have it. Lozenges will get your saliva going, but just for a while. If you’re not already taking one of them three times a day, talk to your doc about more-frequent use. And these six simple steps should help you feel less like you’re in the desert without
a water bottle.

  1. Sip (don’t gulp) water or unsweetened drinks all day.
  2. Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy.
  3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol; both can be dehydrating.
  4. If you smoke, quit immediately. It’s more dangerous to your mouth than to most people’s, not to mention what it does to your heart and lungs.
  5. Keep a humidifier humming in your bedroom at night.
  6. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss at least once. Dry mouth makes you much more vulnerable to both decay and gum inflammation and disease, which can spread to your whole body.

Q. I have been battling plantar fasciitis for a few weeks. How can I combat the heel pain?
— Juanita, via email

A. This is one battle you don’t want to charge into. In fact, the more you rest your foot, the better, at least for a week or so. Your plantar fascia — the thick ligament connecting your heel to your toes — needs a timeout, since inflammation (the “itis” in “fasciitis”) is often from overuse. Running, a tight Achilles tendon, a high arch, wearing shoes with high heels, poor arch support or worn soles, or being very overweight can take a toll on your
sole, too.

Giving your foot a break doesn’t mean you have to sit around. Switch to activities like swimming or rowing, or use weight machines at a gym that don’t press on your feet. Meanwhile, these remedies will ease that hot-coals feeling in your heel:

  • Give yourself a 10-15 minute ice massage twice a day. Roll your foot back and forth over a can of frozen juice to increase blood flow and help break down adhesions from the inflammation.
  • Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, for pain relief.
  • Place drugstore heel pads in your shoes, and save the stilettos for weddings and parties.
  • Do foot stretches before you get out of bed. They’ll reduce the pain, which usually is worse when your feet hit the floor in the morning. How? Sit up, bend forward and try to touch your toes, curling your toes toward your knees. Or just put one leg over the knee of the other, grasp the toes on the upper leg, pull them toward you and hold for five minutes.
  • Stretch during the day. Put the ball of the sore foot on a step, hold the railing, and let your heel hang down.

Q. My ability to recall information and think quickly on my feet is no longer very good. I’m only 46. How can I improve my mind?
— Susan, via email

A. Many of us are at that stage in life where we walk into a room and ask, “Why am I here?” And it’s not a philosophical question. Around 40, we all begin to notice a decline in some brain functions, like how fast we process information. Do all you can to avoid brain drain — getting more sleep, doing more crossword puzzles and taking these key steps:

  1. Start walking. People who walk 40 minutes a day, three days a week not only improve their recall, but the brain area that governs memory actually grows by 2 percent!
  2. Lose weight if you need to. Flab is linked to cognitive decline. Start by cutting back on fat and sugar. Diets high in them help form a protein in the brain linked with Alzheimer’s.
  3. Take a deep breath. Or meditate. Or do yoga. Anything that reduces stress and brain-damaging stress hormones will help keep you saying, “Thanks for the memories” for a long time.
  4. Floss, add DHA (900 mg daily), vitamin D-3 (1,000 IU daily) and eat turmeric dishes frequently. Things that decrease inflammation in your arteries are good for your brain.

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.

SF Examiner
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