This week’s must-reads:
- Take care of your teeth and gums. Your brain will thank you.
- Do you still love me? The challenges of relationship anxiety.
- Sepsis nearly killed her. This is what it was like.
- Hooked on a favorite snack? You may have Big Tobacco to thank for that.
The anxiety of toilet emergencies
We’ve been writing a lot lately about the anxiety of toilet emergencies — and readers have responded.
Our comic on the challenges of finding a public bathroom generated more than 1,000 comments. We heard from readers who found the need for bathroom access had become more urgent because of a range of medical issues.
“It would be great if we could have more public toilets in America. In theory it’s a human rights issue, but in practice the biggest problem with public toilets in America is the majority of the American public.” — Drone Strike
“Inconceivable that ‘somewhere to go,’ let alone safe and clean, is so elusive in most American cities.” — CT of NJ
“Bravo for educating the public, and law makers, about the human right to sanitation — a toilet!” — Jill Christianson
“Thank you!!! I have overactive bladder and have to plan out every step of every journey. Living in London, I knew every single public toilet in the center of town and along the tube lines I used frequently. When I first visited New York, I hated it. I spent most of my time consumed with anxiety about not being able to find one. I love camping, but have to go several times/night; and it’s not as simple for a woman.” — Concerned_Citizen_320_M
Not everyone was sympathetic.
“I own a retail store, and at one time my bathrooms were open to the public. This was until my bathrooms were being used for drug deals and injections. With people marching in and out of the store to use, buy or sell drugs, I had to shut down the parade.” — James Kraskouskas
“While I am sympathetic to the people with conditions that make for urgent trips to the bathroom, I am a huge NO on forcing businesses to open their employee-only restroom to a customer. Employee bathroom is usually in a backroom area where there is stock not yet tagged with antitheft devices, employee shelves, lockers, coat racks, etc. And there is the ever-present danger the customer will make a horrific mess and not clean it up. Hard no.” — Reg Morgan
This summer, hundreds of readers also responded to our Ask a Doctor column about bowel incontinence. Physician Trisha Pasricha noted that it’s more common than you might think and affects about 8 percent of U.S. adults. Increasing fiber in the diet may help, she wrote.
In case you missed our earlier reporting, you can find the stories here and here.
Find your fat-burning zone
While it may sound intimidating, finding the pace at which your body burns the most fat is probably easier than you think.
There are many good reasons to want to find your fat-burning zone, and they have little to do with weight loss and appearance, Gretchen Reynolds wrote. Fat tissue, even in people of normal weight, can have undesirable metabolic consequences. Fat cells often release substances linked to inflammation and insulin dysfunction that contribute to diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, one expert said.
Whether you burn primarily fat or carbohydrates during exercise depends mostly on your workout’s intensity. In broad terms, the harder you exert yourself, the more your body relies on carbs.
What may surprise some people is that the lighter the workout, the more your body uses fat to fuel it, making easier exercise the key to your fat-burning zone.
To learn more, read the full story.
Why aren’t breast self-exams recommended anymore?
This week a reader asks why doctors don’t recommend breast self-exams. It may surprise many readers that the exams aren’t viewed as a way to lower breast cancer mortality. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act if you notice a change in your breasts.
“It’s important to recognize important breast changes people may detect in their routine lives while showering, shaving, applying deodorant or putting on a bra,” Pasricha wrote. “Around 1 in 5 breast cancer survivors report having found their breast cancer “by accident” this way.”
To learn more, read the full article. Pasricha is a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. And she’s ready to answer your questions! Use our Ask a Doctor form to submit a question, and we may answer it in a future column.
Here are a few things that brought us joy this week.
- Enjoy some of this week’s best photographs from The Washington Post. See an early Christmas in London, a Hail Mary pass at the perfect moment and a U.S. Capitol sunrise.
- Discover “everything bagel” seasoning mix, and add it to your salad.
- This squirrel whisperer will make you smile.
- Buy yourself some flowers. Now learn to arrange them like a pro.
Want to know more about joy snacks? Our Brain Matters columnist Richard Sima explains. You can also read this story as a comic.
Dr. Debi Johnson is a medical expert and health journalist dedicated to promoting well-being. With a background in medicine, she offers evidence-based insights into health trends and wellness practices. Beyond her reporting, Dr. Debi enjoys hiking, yoga, and empowering others to lead healthier lives.