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Millcreek Journal

Health Fair Highlights: 5 common medical misconceptions cleared up by professionals

Oct 24, 2019 02:45PM ● By Hannah LaFond

The Utah Pride stand at Christ United Methodist Church’s Fall Health Fair. (Hannah LaFond)

By Hannah LaFond | [email protected] 

The Christ United Methodist Church in Millcreek hosts an annual community health fair, where anyone is welcome to meet with doctors and other health professionals.

This year’s fair took place on Oct. 6. Upon entering attendees were greeted by a welcoming community and booths full of information and services. They could get flu shots, take a bone density test, get their blood pressure tested and have an eye screening. They were also able to ask questions and have conversations with health-care professionals in a more comfortable setting than a doctor's office.

Experts at the event were happy to help answer any questions and clear up any confusion or misconceptions about their field. If you couldn’t make it to the health fair here are some common misconceptions: 

BMI might not be the best indicator of health. 

Diann Stewart ran a booth measuring people’s BMI and percent body fat. She also offered advice on exercise and healthy living to convert body fat into muscle.

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is an international scale that takes into account weight and height to gauge if a person is underweight, overweight or healthy. But according to Stewart, this measurement doesn’t work for everyone. Some people have a bigger bone structure and may have a higher BMI, but still be healthy. On the flip side, she said some people, especially the elderly, weigh very little, giving them a low BMI, but they have almost no muscle.

Because of this Stewart believes measuring percent body fat is much more telling of someone’s overall health than the BMI alone. 

Stewart as well as David Wetzel, a physical therapist, recommended exercising in a pool as a great way for elderly patients to build strength and muscle.

You should get your teeth fixed before they hurt. 

Dr. Rich Fisher, a dentist who has attended the health fair the last five years, talked about the importance of getting teeth fillings sooner rather than later.

“Some people think I don’t have to get a tooth worked on until it hurts. But that’s where things like X-rays can help to discover things before they cause you pain.”

According to Fisher, that's the best time to get a tooth filled. If you wait until the tooth is hurting there will be more damage, which will only lead to more expensive procedures.

Start thinking about advance directives early.

Advance directives are written statements of someone's wishes regarding medical treatment. They are made to ensure their directives are followed even if they are in a state unable to communicate. Often people may not think of these until they are much older, but Wes Wilde, who answered questions on the subject, said he would advise starting the process in your mid-thirties.

Obviously it’s something you hope not to use, but Wilde said it’s important to know what the patient wants to do if the worst should happen knowing, which absolves the family of guilt and indecision. 

Never call pills candy.

Elizabeth Hiol and Nosheen Hamid, with poison control at the University of Utah, said many parents call vitamins or other medication “candy” to convince their child to take them. However, this understandably confuses the child. It often leads to children taking medication they shouldn’t or take too much of their own thinking it is candy.

Hiol and Hamid even had a visual aid with side-by-side pictures of candy and medications that looked similar. They asked people to guess which was which to show how easily a child would get the two mixed up. 

You don’t need a prescription for Naloxone.

Naloxone is used as an antidote for opioid overdoses. According to Hiol and Hamid, many people think you need a prescription, but you can get it over the counter at a pharmacy.

“Our concern is that if people are on multiple opioids or multiple pain medications they should have Naloxone,” Hamid said.