It is bound to get hotter, sooner or later.
So in the event that it's sooner, here's the annual cool collection of useful oddments:
* Allergic to bees? Keep your perfume off and your colors cool. Bright colors and certain perfumes will enrage the busy bumble. Ask your doctor about kits that can provide instant lifesaving stimulants to those having severe sting reactions. Ask about immunizations, too.
* Even a little air conditioning each hot day can provide protection against heatstroke, says the Harvard Medical School Health Letter. Any genuine break from the heat apparently lessens the risk of the condition in which the body becomes dangerously dehydrated and the temperature soars. If you have no air conditioning at home, try to spend time in a movie, at a grocery store or even at the library. Fans may make you more comfortable, but they only create the illusion of coolness.
* Do your feet get hot and sore? Woman's Day magazine suggests you sit back and roll a couple of cans of frozen juice around under your tender toes. Sounds great for the feet, but whatever your reaction to that idea, it would speed up the thawing . . .
Remember the stories about people who used Preparation H to shrink large pores? For a while it was the "in" new use for an old nostrum.
There's a new one. According to the current issue of Science 83, a 75-year-old emollient for chapped cows' udders is the hottest thing going for all sorts of problems--be they animal, people or even things.
"Bag Balm," available by the can at most farm supply stores, is a mixture of pine oil, lanolin, petroleum jelly and an antiseptic called 8-Hydroxyquinoline Sulfate. All of the ingredients are found in many common and usually more expensive "people" medicines, but not necessarily together.
According to the Science 83 article, Bag Balm's manufacturer, John L. Norris Jr. of Lyndonville, Vt., has letters praising it for preventing blisters on runners' toes, windburn on a skier's face, for treating acne and hemorrhoids, curing a persistent diaper rash, lubricating a 105-millimeter howitzer (in Vietnam) and ending the squeak in a bedspring. When Norris became worried about all the people using it, he wrote the Food and Drug Administration asking if he could add to the label something like "see your doctor if irritation results."
But, he told Science 83, he never heard from them.
Watch out for "health" products.
Prevalent beware-the-doctor attitudes may or may not be justified. But relying on the advice and products of the health and natural foods industry is a pretty risky business.
Two recent examples:
A case study published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association described a woman who was hospitalized for severe menstrual bleeding. After a series of evaluations and treatments failed to help, it was discovered she was drinking large quantities of a home-made herbal tea. The brew included "natural" ingredients well known to pharmacologists as sources for coumarin, a strong anticoagulant. She also was taking other medications including acetaminophen and large doses of Vitamin A, both of which in large quantities either increase the effect of anticoagulants or block other clotting factors. In addition, she was taking an enzyme derived from pineapple because a friend told her it would remove fat deposits from her hips. It too enhances an anticlotting effect. When her physician persuaded her to give up the tea and the other self-medications her bleeding problem disappeared.
Investigators for the American Council on Science and Health approached salespeople in 105 health food stores in New York and New Jersey. They inquired about specific health problems, including common symptoms of genuine medical disorders--for example, glaucoma. In response, only 25 percent suggested seeing a doctor; 50 percent attempted a diagnosis (without coming close) and a hair-raising 71 percent recommended products, none of which would have helped a case of glaucoma.
* Seventy percent of those queried recommended bonemeal or dolomite tablets to pregnant women looking for a calcium source. The FDA has warned against their use for pregnant women and children because of potentially dangerous levels of lead, but only 10 percent of the health-food personnel mentioned this.
Addenda: Both George Washington University and Georgetown University Medical Centers have medical facilities for travelers that were not included in a recent Healthtalk on travel medicine. For information call 676-8466 (George Washington) or 625-7379 (Georgetown). Georgetown also has a newsletter for travelers at 10 cents each.