During a visit to the doctor, we almost always grab a waiting-room magazine to take our mind off what's to come. But health officials say those very periodicals could pose a health risk and actually make people sick, particularly if they're left out for a lengthy period of time and handled by multitudes of people.

A British dentist, Monica Symes, was recently warned by the National Health Service that her waiting-room magazines—some of which date back to 2004—could be spreading germs. The NHS worker also warned her that adhesives like Blu-Tack could pose a risk if reused.

But Symes, a dentist for more than 30 years, was unconvinced there was any danger. "I can’t believe the magazines would pose any risk to patients," she said.

Still, health officials fear that dog-eared magazines could "compromise" patients. They recommend that waiting-room materials be thrown out or recycled after a week.

"There is no specific requirement for practices to remove magazines within a specified period," said an NHS spokesperson. "However, practice owners, as part of a regular cleaning schedule, should ensure that the magazines are in good condition and free from obvious contamination."

More From WQCB Brewer Maine