Health Tips for Seniors

Archive for November, 2005

Problems of the scalp

Examination of the Scalp

Stand under a bright light, before a close-up mirror and observe the hair and scalp closely.
1. Note that the hair is lightest where the scalp is thinnest, on top, in the temples, and just back of the very top. The normal scalp has 1,000 hairs per square inch. Baldness be gins from this number on down to no hairs at all.
2. Gently scratch the scalp between the hair shafts. A loosening of snowy skin scale from the scalp or under the finger nail, without doubt, means dandruff.
3. Fix the palm on top of the scalp and move it in all directions. It should be freely movable and entirely painless. A painful swelling on the scalp, especially in back, may mean boils or carbuncles.

Scalp difficulties

Common Baldness. More than ninety-six percent of all baldness is found in men. Hardly a disease, baldness nourishes a mil-lion-dollar-a-year business for checking, preventing or curing this malady.

Two interesting facts about baldness are known. 1. A strong inherited tendency influences hair growth, and most men can predict their hair life from their father’s and grandfather’s hair. 2. Male sex hormones are important in baldness because they stimulate scalp oil secretion, usually associated with loss of hair. We see also that the time of greatest hair loss occurs when the male sex hormones flow in the blood stream at the highest level, and if castration should occur before maturity, baldness would be rare. A bald man, therefore, can be comforted with the thought that the loss of his hair is proof of his virility.

Baldness as a Disease. Only about 4 percent of baldness results from disease. Scalp disease and high temperature from bodily disease are most frequently the cause of this baldness. Most of these disease types of baldness are only temporary and therefore, curable. The best-known and most often cured baldness is the patchy, moth-eaten type called alopecia-areata. This baldness difficulty always clears up regardless of the treatment.

Dandruff is a flaking off of dead skin. It is not serious, and appears to some degree in everyone. Further difficulty however, results when a lack of routine cleaning of the scalp, allows these small flakes to accumulate and form crusts that irritate the scalp, and cause it to itch. This condition with an over-supply of oil, dandruff and crusted lesions about the hair line is called seborr-hea. Prevention of seborrhea demands an effective routine scalp cleaning, for removing excess oil and crust accumulation, plus a diet regulation best prescribed by the physician or skin doctor.

Boils and Carbuncles. These infections usually occur on the neck, and occasionally the scalp. The neck is an ideal region for bacteria to establish infection, because collars and clothing so often erode this skin area and allow bacteria to enter under the skin surface to start boils. If bacteria from boils tunnel in several directions under the skin and start an accumulation of numerous small boils, a carbuncle is formed. This is often very difficult to cure whether in the neck or scalp.

Covering the infection with a clean bandage gives some protection against further infection but opening and draining a boil is usually necessary for complete recovery. Mother Nature herself often performs this operation by a heading and bursting process, but when pus accumulation is too deep, an incision and drainage may be necessary. Carbuncles, much more than boils, require a thorough incision and drainage operation of the many infected tunnels in the surrounding skin. Only a doctor should attempt to incise and drain so serious an infection.

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Different types of dizziness


Dizziness is a common difficulty after fifty. It may mean a faint or unsteady feeling, but usually means a sensation of motion in our surroundings and can be sensed either in daylight or total darkness.

Meniere’s Syndrome, disease of the balancing mechanism within the ear, is the most common cause of dizziness. The inner ear is our main organ of balance, and tells us even in the dark, when we are going straight, turning, or falling. Our balance mechanism may be compared to a glass filled with water. When the glass, like the head, is tilted, the water stays horizontal with the earth’s surface though not with the glass, and a reflex within the brain tells us we are not level. Without such a mechanism as this, it would be impossible for us to stand or walk.

Fig. 5. The balancing mechanism in the head is similar to water in a glass. Changes in fluid level are determined within the brain as changes of position.

Severe cases of Meniere’s Syndrome, can last minutes, hours, weeks or days and may be accompanied by severe nausea and vomiting which force the sufferer to lie motionless in bed to prevent a recurrence of dizziness. Hardening of the Arteries, or arteriosclerosis of the blood vessels in the brain causes about one third of all dizziness. In this disease, blood intended for the brain and certain special nerves, is temporarily decreased because these arteries have too much arteriosclerotic “rust” in them, and the resulting temporary un-dersupply of blood to the brain produces dizziness.

Physiologic Dizziness commonly occurs when we stand up after sitting or lying. It is due to slower reflexes of age and can be explained as follows: in relaxed positions our blood pressure is at a low level, but in suddenly arising, as to answer the telephone, the blood in our bodies tends to run down hill like water in a pan. This may mean a slight reduction of blood for the brain, resulting in temporary dizziness. It usually clears up as soon as the body’s reflex mechanisms equalizes the blood pressure throughout the body.

Many of us have experienced small episodes of dizziness at some time, but severe episodes, especially after fifty, suggest the possibilities of disease in the blood vessels, blood or brain and difficulties with diabetes or thyroid disease. This difficulty should prompt us to seek out our physician for his examination, diagnosis and treatment, if necessary.

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