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Tying up the week's loose ends -- broken noses, antigens and more

December 18, 2009 |  7:13 am

Context may be everything when it comes to news coverage, but sometimes, the health and medical specifics are fascinating on their own. Just this week for instance, you might have asked yourself the following questions... 

Berlusconi- What should I do if my nose and teeth are broken by a hurled statuette? (Relevant story: Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi attacked at rally)

Here's what WebMD has to say about the former. Best tip: "Take an over-the-counter nasal decongestant to aid in breathing through the nostrils."

And here's an offering from eMedicineHealth on the latter, complete with explanation of the Ellis classification of tooth fractures. Best tip: "If a tooth is completely knocked out, it should be quickly rinsed off with water, but never scrubbed. The tooth should be held by the crown (top), not the root, so you do not damage the ligaments. In a cooperative adult, the tooth should be put back in the socket." The operative word is "cooperative."

Neither site mentions souvenirs of cathedrals as possible causes, but the advice should hold nonetheless.

- What can I do about this inability to see the bedside clock in the middle of the night? (Relevant story: Distance vision is all a blur to more of us)

Here are facts on myopia (nearsightedness) from the American Optometric Assn., complete with an explanation of refractive surgery and orthokeratology, in which rigid contact lenses are used to reshape the cornea.

Best tip: "People who do an excessive amount of near vision work may experience a false or “pseudo” myopia. Their blurred distance vision is caused by over use of the eyes’ focusing mechanism.... The symptoms are usually temporary and clear distance vision may return after resting the eyes. However, over time constant visual stress may lead to a permanent reduction in distance vision."

This is something you may have wanted to know before you spent a couple of decades at the computer.

Also of note, from the Mayo Clinic. "If you're significantly nearsighted, it's possible that the retina of your eye is thin. The thinner your retina, the higher your risk of developing a retinal tear or retinal detachment. If you experience a sudden onset of flashes, floaters or a dark curtain or shadow across part of your eye, seek medical assistance immediately."

- Just what is a flu antigen anyway and how is it relevant? (Relevant story: 800,000 doses of swine flu vaccine recalled)

Check out this glossary of flu-related terms from the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Don't stop with antigen. Learn about adjuvants. Hemagglutinin. Reassortment.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi waves from his car Thursday after leaving a Milan hospital.

Credit: Associated Press