Your Health

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Operation Starvation
When patients have elective surgery, they're often not just anxious but also famished. That's because in almost 90% of cases, according to a new study, they've been instructed not to eat or drink after midnight before surgery. What's wrong with that? Plenty. Three years ago, the American Society of Anesthesiology declared that prolonged preoperative fasting was no longer recommended. Fasting doesn't prevent vomiting or other complications, and it can lead to headaches, irritability and even dehydration. So what are the latest guidelines? Most people can eat a normal meal if the procedure is eight hours away, or a light meal like tea and toast if it's six hours away. Caffeine addicts, meanwhile, needn't forgo their fix: clear liquids, such as black coffee, are permitted two hours before an operation.

Playing Footsie
When you hand your hands--or feet--over to a nail salon, the last thing you expect is to end up looking and feeling worse. Yet last year more than 100 customers of a California salon wound up with large, painful scarring boils after soaking their legs in the salon's whirlpool bath. Now researchers have traced the outbreak to bacteria that grew behind a water vent and lodged in tiny cuts in the women's skin. Such problems are not common, but you can minimize your risk by not shaving your legs right before a pedicure.

Sources: American Journal of Nursing; New England Journal of Medicine