To Your Good Health
Why Is Traveling So Tiresome?
~ By Keith Roach, M.D. ~
Dear Dr. Roach: Traveling for a length of time say, six hours or more on a train, bus or plane makes me rather tired. Others I discussed this with have had similar experiences. I find this strange, because for most of the travel time I am sitting doing nothing but reading or daydreaming. My question is: Do physiological changes taking place in the body brought on by the long period of sitting while in transit account for the fatigue, or is it simply mental boredom? – R.S.
Answer: I think it’s both mental and physical. Prolonged sitting recently has been shown to put people at increased risk for heart disease, as well as the known risk of blood clots. Getting up and walking around is always a good idea physically, and might help mentally as well.
More than simple tiredness, chronic fatigue syndrome is all-encompassing. The booklet on it explains the illness and its treatment. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Roach – No. 304W, 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.
Dear Dr. Roach: Orange juice was a staple for breakfast when we were growing up. Mom would say, “Hurry up and drink your orange juice before it loses its vitamins.” I’ve noticed that when a carton of OJ is left out for even five minutes, it swells up, apparently due to some pretty volatile organic compounds. I’ve learned through the years that Mom was usually right. Was she right again? – M.E.K.
Answer: Mom was partially right. Orange juice will lose its vitamins over time, especially if it gets warm. But that doesn’t happen in five minutes. Products that sit on the shelf for a long time lose their vitamins. As a student in organic chemistry, I did an experiment to find how much vitamin C was in certain products. Fresh fruits and vegetables (especially red bell peppers) had a great deal. A canned juice purportedly high in C had none at all. Even vitamin C tablets had lost 20 percent of their stated value even before their expiration date. Orange juice containers will swell if bacteria in the juice release gas, at which point it should (obviously) be discarded. However, I wonder if the swelling in five minutes has to do with the air in the carton expanding due to the relative warmth of the air compared with the refrigerator.
Dear Dr. Roach: I keep getting little black splinters under my fingernails that disappear on their own. I also have little black splinters under both of my big toenails that have not disappeared and have been there for a while. What is this? – D.F.
Answer: These sounds like splinter hemorrhages. The most common cause of these is trauma to the nail bed, but some dermatologic conditions can cause this as well, such as psoriasis and lichen planus. However, the most worrisome (but unusual) condition is infective endocarditis, an infection of the heart valves. Any fever or fatigue should be promptly evaluated by an internist.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu. To view and order health pamphlets, visit www.rbmamall.com, or write to P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
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