The 2-Minute Checkup

Q:  I’m a victim of the country’s recent bedbug epidemic. I’ve gotten rid of my bed and had the house fumigated, but there are still bite marks all over my body. How can I keep the bedbugs away?

Bedbugs, which at one time were all but eradicated by the use of the pesticide DDT, are again becoming a problem in the United States. Because the little critters feed on the nutrients in your blood, they bite to break the skin and get their dinner and can cause itchy, red spots anywhere on the body. Some people have significant reactions to the bites and require medical attention.

Try vacuuming your new mattress and washing your bed linens and pajamas in hot water (at least 122 degrees Fahrenheit), since all bedbugs can be killed at this temperature. Alternatively, you could dry your bedding on high heat for a short time to kill the bugs. If these things fail, you may need to call the exterminator again.

Q: No matter how many pounds I lose, I can’t seem to get rid of my muffin top. Short of liposuction, what can I do? Please help; I need to look good in my skinny jeans.

The truth hurts, but this truth will set you free—of your muffin top. There’s just one way to lose weight: sustained caloric restriction and increased aerobic exercise. Period. If you carefully evaluate any diet program, you will find that at its core is caloric restriction. The best programs will also require that you increase your exercise. Beware the advertisement that says you can lose fat “without lifting a finger.”  Such a claim can’t be true because it violates a law of physics. Honestly, if I knew of an effective, alternative way to lose fat, I would be a gazillionaire! The good news is that anyone can lose weight. What makes the task difficult is the psychological transformation that has to occur before one can shed the pounds. This transformation requires a change in mindset, which most find hard to achieve.

Many people tolerate muffin tops because they don’t realize how toxic fat around the midsection is. In fact, it’s the most toxic fat because it contributes to an increase in weight-related diabetes, heart disease and dangerous blood clots. So, my friend, this is about more than looking good in your clothes. Eat less, move more, and you will live a healthier and happier life—all while rocking your skinny jeans.

Q: My eyes always look bloodshot, and no, it has nothing to do with too many cocktails. What can I do to whiten my eyes?

If it matters, I believe you, because alcohol is just one reason your sclera (the white part of the eye) can become red. Bloodshot sclera result from swelling or irritation of the tiny capillaries. Treating your red eyes begins with determining the cause, since treatments can differ significantly.

The good news is that most causes of chronic red eye aren’t dangerous. Dehydration, irritation from contact lenses and fatigue are common causes. Seasonal allergies or reactions to pet dander, dust or pollen can also make your eyes red. And keep in mind, some people have year-round allergy symptoms, while others have symptoms that worsen at certain times of the year.

If your red eyes are associated with itching, discharge, changes in vision or pain, call your doctor; these are signs of something serious if not treated in a timely and appropriate manner.