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Are You Taking Risks with Your Health?

From teeth to toes, we unwittingly abuse our bodies through habits that can cause injury, illness or permanent damage to our health from everyday behaviors that most people consider merely a part of daily living. We've asked doctors around the Rogue Valley to share the benefit of their experience about what they commonly see in their practices that could be avoided.

Bare Feet

Dr. Rick McClure, DPM, podiatrist

Medford Foot and Ankle

Have you ever been to the gym or a public pool and seen folks walking around the locker room with bare feet? These are areas where foot infections that cause plantar warts and athlete's foot can be passed on to you. If you come in contact with these nasty "bugs" it may cost you a visit to the podiatrist. In public areas, such as locker rooms and public pools, I advise wearing sandals as much as possible to avoid contact with these potentially infecting organisms.

Too Many Carbs

Dr. Daniel Smith, ND, naturopathic physician

Bear Creek Naturopathic Clinic

By far the riskiest choice people make is consuming too much carbohydrate, meaning gluten grains, sugar, potatoes and rice. Just by eliminating these carbohydrates for as little as three days, people will notice a tremendous difference in terms of energy, vitality, libido and sleep. Of course, this also eliminates almost all prepared and packaged foods! Eat regularly. Skipping a meal can lead to wild fluctuations in insulin levels that ultimately lead to weight gain and added metabolic stress.

Missed Meds

Cory L. Bergey, DO, emergency medicine

Providence Medford Medical Center

A very risky behavior that is seldom seen as such is noncompliance with medications or therapies prescribed to a patient. Sometimes it is because patients never got their antibiotic prescriptions filled, then two days later, they are in septic shock. Or they need admission to the intensive care unit because they have not been taking their diuretic or diabetic medications for the past day. Following your medication plan is very important for long term health maintenance and avoiding the need to visit the emergency department.

Teeth as Tools

Bruce P. Mitchell, DMD, PC, dentist

Family Dentistry

One common risky behavior I see on a daily basis is the use of your teeth as a "tool." Patients commonly place objects in their mouths (plastic bags, bottles, fishing line, thread) and use their teeth to tear, crush, cut and hold objects that are not food. This leads to chipping, fracturing, pain, embarrassment (from damaged front teeth) and the sudden loss of money from their checkbooks (to fix their new tooth problem). A common phrase that I use in my practice is, "Use your teeth for their intended purpose, which is food, not as a tool!"

Bare Eyes

Dr. Benjamin Taylor, OD, optometrist

Group Eyecare Center

When people do not wear eye protection when doing certain chores around the home, it can lead to injury. For example, when mowing the lawn or weedeating, eye protection should be worn because objects can get into the eye. Also, people do not wear protection when working with metal and can get metal shavings in their eyes. Eye doctors remove a lot of small pieces of metal from the ocular surface because people don't wear protective eye wear.

Raw Dough

Jason Kuhl, MD, medical director and family practice

Providence Medford Medical Center

Eating raw cookie dough or cake batter is a common cause of food-borne salmonella infections from undercooked or raw eggs, causing an estimated 1.4 million cases of food-borne illness and more than 500 deaths annually in the United States. Another risk is not having a carbon-monoxide detector at home. Carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for up to 40,000 emergency department visits and 5,000 to 6,000 deaths per year, making it one of the leading causes of poisoning death in the United States.

Bare Skin

Dr. Elliott E. Meyerding, MD, surgeon

Meyerding Surgical Associates

I see risky behavior with regard to sun exposure. Just as when you put on protective rain or snow gear, you would be helping your skin if you put on sun gear. We've been led to believe that a "healthy tan" is fashionable, but ultraviolet injury to the skin is accumulated over a lifetime. In our 30s and 40s, we begin to see things we don't like; sun spots, wrinkles and then crusty things that are pre-cancers. Once you reach that level, I tell my patients that his or her skin is at the limit of what it can take of UV radiation.


Dr. Felicia Cohen, MD, obstetrics/gynecology

Women's Health Center of Southern Oregon

I see women who may not recognize smoking as a problem during pregnancy. However, it is a risk factor that can cause complications, including pre-term birth, heavy bleeding in the third trimester and even fetal growth restriction. Not everyone has these outcomes, but statistically, you're at a much higher risk if you smoke. Locally, the incidence of smoking is relatively high, especially among the younger population. It's also important to know that even secondhand smoke is a danger and to keep your unborn baby away from that as well.

Poor Posture

Dr. Jared L. Dance, DC, chiropractor

Active Health Chiropractic and Massage

With most jobs and other activities during our busy days, we tend to forget about proper posture. Bad posture weakens the spine and creates constant tension in the muscles. We see a lot of patients with poor posture habits that wonder why they are always tight and hurting during the day without connecting the two. We also see many that slouch all day and then expect their bodies to perform more physical activities afterwards, which is a risk for a more serious injury.

Sugary Juice

Dr. Michael Davis, MD, pediatrician

Providence Medical Group Medford PD

I wish my patients would consider how much sugar is in foods that they believe to be healthy, specifically juice and flavored yogurt. Each cup of apple juice has six teaspoons of sugar and each cup of a popular blueberry yogurt has more than four teaspoons of added sugar. We have far too much added sugar in our diet. The American Heart Association recommends that adult women get no more than six teaspoons of added sugar daily and adult men get no more than nine teaspoons. I believe that children should have even less than that.

Are You Taking Risks with Your Health?