DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Will you please tell me about head lice? My granddaughter has them and passed them to her mother. They are devastated, since they bathe every day and shampoo, too. How do you get them? How do you get rid of them? – K.H.
ANSWER: Nothing destroys the peace of a home more than discovering a child has head lice. They’re not evidence of poor hygiene or lax housekeeping. They usually don’t cause serious illnesses. They’re a nuisance. Outbreaks of lice happen every year when children go back to school.
Lice are transmitted from one head to another through direct contact or by sharing hats, combs, brushes or earphones.
They cause itching and, most often, nothing more. Lice eggs are glued to the shafts of hairs and look like oval pinheads. They’re called nits.
Permethrin can almost always eliminate lice. One brand name is Nix. Follow directions on its application. If over-the-counter permethrin doesn’t work, a stronger version, the 5 percent product, is available by prescription. Its brand name is Elimite. Other products also work.
Combing the hair with a finetoothed comb dislodges the nits. Those combs are part of the kit that comes with the medicine.
Mothers don’t have to shift into overdrive to de-louse the home. A louse lives only a few days off the head. It’s only necessary to vacuum the carpets and furniture. Wash in hot water all clothing and bedding that has come in contact with the head, and dry them on high heat in the dryer. Soak combs and brushes for an hour in rubbing alcohol or Lysol, or wash them in hot water whose temperature is 130 F (55 C).
Lice do not live on pets. Pets don’t need any treatment.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Suddenly I was stricken with unbelievable dizziness. It has waylaid me. I can hardly walk 10 steps without having to hang on to something or someone.
The ear, nose and throat doctor says I have labyrinthitis. How long will it last? – T.D.
ANSWER: The labyrinth is part of the inner ear, and the inner ear contains our balance organ. Inflammation of the labyrinth – labyrinthitis – not only makes people dizzy and unsteady, but it leaves them sick to their stomach and often having to contend with bouts of vomiting. It’s seasickness in the extreme.
Quite often, the inflammation comes from a viral infection.
The first few days are the worst. Then the dizziness begins to subside. It can take several weeks before you get your balance back, and full recovery returns in one to three months.
If you can get by without medicines, fine. Too much dependence of medicine slows the brain’s return to equilibrium. People who are severely nauseated and are vomiting need medicines to control those consequences of labyrinthitis.
Dizziness is a common complaint of older people. The booklet on that topic explains its many causes and treatments. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 801W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./ $6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
©2008 North America Synd.