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Friday, March 30, 2018

How Can Office Fruit Boost Your Immune System?

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/food-fruit-healthy-nature-grow-3262808/

We have all heard of the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ but how much truth is really in this? Employers across Ireland are considering a new approach to offering staff perks – a free fruit basket each week which is full of different fruits to keep staff hunger at bay throughout the working week. The latest idea is fuelled by the notion that offering fruit in an office setting will help staff stay healthier, encouraging them to avoid ‘bad’ foods like chocolates and crisps, and instead dose up on some much needed vitamins and minerals contained in fruits. What could be better?

There are many benefits to offering office fruit to your staff. The first is that naturally your staff will likely crave something sweet around 11am. Rather than fuelling up on a chocolate bar which is going to give them a quick high followed by a sluggish feeling later on, fruit will encourage the body to stay fuller for longer (especially with fruits like bananas) but will also satisfy that sweet craving. Healthy Eating states that if you just feel a need for something sweet, you could choose fresh or dried fruit instead of chocolate. Not only is fruit naturally high in dietary fiber, which can help you feel fuller for longer, it is also an important part of a healthy diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you eat between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of fruit per day. Most people don’t manage this but with office fruit right there on offer, it is much easier to eat more of what your body needs.

Let’s not forget one of the main benefits of fruit – it is good for you. According to Fruitful Office, who deliver office fruit to offices around Ireland, fruit has a whole host of benefits. Many are rich in vitamin C which boosts the immune system. Over time, it is likely that with vitamin C in your diet, you will experience fewer colds, flu and general bugs. With a stronger immune system, you are less likely to be taking sick days in the office. For employers, this means a more productive workforce overall. Each fruit comes with its own benefit, too. For instance, cherries – a perhaps underrated fruit, can offer a lot to staff members who suffer headaches. Researchers believe that 20 cherries are 10 times as potent as an aspirin. "Anthocyanins" – which are found in cherries, block inflammatory enzymes, helping to reduce general pain.  This is a natural way to cure a headache in the office. 

Providing office fruit is good for your staff’s immune systems, but it also helps them to feel more valued as an employee – because it shows that you care. Not having to buy their own fruit may seem like a small perk, but it can mean a lot over time. In many cases, this could equate to free tea and coffee, which we all know is something that staff love to have!

This is a guest blog post.

A Guide To The Dangers Of House And Yard Pests


Know Your Enemy

You’ll come into contact with unpleasant, creepy crawlies every day, and most are completely harmless. Some of them, however, are not, and it’s best to keep your distance from the pests that can do you harm. For the sake of your health, you should find out which pests are dangerous and know how to avoid them and eradicate them if needs be. Some pests are mildly annoying, others troublesome, and then there are ones that can cause serious health problems. You need to watch out for pests that sting repeatedly at will, hose that are aggressive will attack even when not provoked, and those that can transmit deadly diseases and even kill.

Wasps

Wasps are the usual plight of summer and can be a particular hindrance if you’re outside enjoying a sweet treat of a beer or family picnic. If they do sting, the sting caused by a wasp is painful, however, is unlikely to manifest itself into something more. The site of the sting should be kept clean and dry to prevent infection and a medicated cream should be applied when necessary. In the worst-case scenario, a wasp’s sting can have far more serious complications if the person stung suffers a severe allergic reaction to the sting, and as a result, goes into anaphylaxis. A wasp’s sting has the potential to be lethal so avoid being stung by them if you can. If you are experiencing problems with wasps and can’t seem to eradicate them yourself, then you will need to call upon the professional help of Pest Control Services to have them safely and effectively removed.

Rats

The nesting behavior of rats can affect how you enjoy your house and yard since they are keen to make your premises their own. Rats can live in places including but not limited to, the foundation of your house, in your shed, and under the floorboards and cupboards in your home. Most commonly, rodents spread disease through their saliva and urine. The fleas that live on rats pose a potential hazard to human health also. A flea can pass any disease that an infected rat or mouse might have through the means of a bite.

Ticks
 

Ticks are attracted to the warm flesh and blood of both humans and our four-legged friends, dogs and cats. Ticks can move easily between the two and can latch onto the skin and begin extracting blood. A tick will usually remain burrowed in the flesh and can secrete toxins into the body. Tick borne diseases include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever which are both ones to steer clear of. Some ticks can have fatal consequences for your pets, as paralysis affects the nervous system and will systematically paralyze the dog or cat it infects.  Eventually, the tick will cause the animal’s airways to constrict, resulting in probable death.

Spiders

Some venomous spiders cause a huge risk to humans. The risk will greatly depend upon where you live, as many dangerous spiders are indigenous to certain parts of the world and are not often found elsewhere aside from here. Spiders can dwell in both your home and your yard, so it is crucial to know which dangerous species to keep an eye out for.

This is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Healthy eating tips for the prevention or control of diabetes

Once you have developed type II diabetes it does not go away, although it may go into remission. This is why the best idea is to try and prevent it from developing in the first place. Some people do have a genetic disposition to developing this type of diabetes; but it is still possible to take action to reduce the risk of being diagnosed.

Healthy eating is an important preventative measure. It is also a vital aspect of improving your condition if you are diagnosed with type II diabetes. It is at this time that you need to determine the way forward, with the help of your doctor; click here for advice about the testing supplies you will need, in order to help control your diabetes. It's important to remember that everyone who suffers from diabetes has dietary needs that suit them best. You should speak to your doctor about your nutritional needs, but there is some general advice that is useful for alleviating the problems of type II diabetes and preventing it from happening in the first place.

What you should eat more and what you should eat less

Unless you are advised otherwise by your doctor, a healthy diet can include most foods in moderation. But, if you have been diagnosed with type II diabetes, or want to reduce the chances of you developing the disease, you should eat more:
  • Fat that is healthy, such as that from nuts, fish oils and avocados. 
  • Fruit and vegetables. 
  • Whole grain foods that are high in fiber. 
  • Fish.
  • White meat such as chicken.
  • Good quality protein such as that which can be found in low-fat dairy products. 
You should also eat less:
  • Deep fried food. 
  • Processed and packaged foods, especially if they are high in sugar and salt. 
  • White bread and rice.
  • Red meat and processed meat. 
  • Low fat but high sugar products.
Choosing the right carbohydrates

Much is made of how carbohydrates can have an adverse effect on blood sugar levels. When you eat carbohydrates, the blood sugar levels in your body increase and the pancreas produces insulin which instructs the cells in the blood to use the sugar to produce energy. Problems occur when the demands on the insulin become too great and insulin resistance occurs, leading to type II diabetes.

This is more likely to happen if refined carbohydrates are involved, such as those found in white bread. These carbohydrates are easier to digest than those found in wholegrain products, putting more pressure on the insulin to convert blood sugar quickly.

Addressing the sugar issue 

You do not have to remove sugar from your diet completely if you want to reduce your chances of developing type II diabetes. Most diabetics can also eat reduced amounts of sugar; but you should always speak to your doctor if you have any doubts. There are several methods you can use to help make it easier for you to eat less sugar.
  • Gradually cut down on the amount of sugar in your diet.  
  • If you want a dessert with your meal cut down on the carbohydrates in the main course. 
  • Eat sugary foods with a meal and not as a snack. 
  • Take time to savor the dessert you are eating; do not rush the experience.
Understanding saturated fats

Having saturated fat in your diet is not necessarily unhealthy. It depends on the source of the fat. Healthy sources of saturated fat include, unprocessed meat, dairy products, nuts, seeds and avocados. Unhealthy sources of saturated fats include, cookies, cakes, chips and pastry products. This does not mean you cannot eat saturated fat from all sources, but you do need to be sensible about how much you eat, and choose healthy sources most of the time.

A healthy diet is one of the best ways to deal with type II diabetes, whether you are trying to cope with having the condition, or prevent it from developing.

This is a guest blog entry.

Top Five Health Monitoring Tools Everyone Should be Using


Despite being familiar with the old adage that knowledge is power, when it comes to their health, most people are completely in the dark about what’s going on in their bodies on a daily basis.

By monitoring various aspects of your health on a regular basis, you can proactively address issues before they turn into serious medical problems.

If you’re not interested in monitoring because you think it’s too time-consuming or difficult, you might want to consider investing in these five tools to make tracking your health easier than ever.

1. Fitness Tracker

The latest fitness tracking watches do a lot more than just count your steps (although that’s still an important feature that can help you make sure you’re moving enough throughout the day).

Many watches can also monitor your heart rate and sleep. Some even have a feature that monitors your body’s recovery and lets you know how long you should wait before your next workout!
 
2. Oral Thermometer

A simple oral thermometer isn’t just for proving to your mom that you’re too sick to go to school.

You can also gather a lot of important information about your body by taking your temperature on a daily basis. For example, a consistently low body temperature is associated with conditions like a slower metabolism or underactive thyroid.

You can also learn the following from tracking your temperature:
  • Whether you’re recovering or coming down with an illness
  • When you’re ovulating and most likely to conceive
  • Whether your body has recovered from an intense workout (low body temperature  is a signal that you need more recovery time)
3. Digital Scale

Of course, when it comes to measuring health, weight is not the be-all end-all. But, when combined with information about your body fat percentage and muscle mass, the scale can be an important tool for measuring progress.

Digital scales that track body fat and muscle mass percentages typically are not as accurate as body scans that can be performed in a lab. But, they’re better than using nothing at all.

These scales are more affordable and accessible than a lab scan and, if used on a regular basis, they can be “consistently inconsistent.”

This means that, while they may not be totally accurate, you can still see downward or upward trends and use that information to make educated decisions about whether or not you need to modify your lifestyle.

4. Blood Pressure Monitor

If you only get your blood pressure checked once or twice a year at the doctor’s office, you’re not getting a very comprehensive picture of your health. Your blood pressure can fluctuate quite a bit throughout the day based on your activity level, your emotional state, and even the fullness of your bladder!

To truly understand your blood pressure, measuring it on a daily basis is essential.

There are lots of digital blood pressure monitors that can import data directly to your smartphone. Some can even take things a step further and send this data to your physician.

A blood pressure monitor isn’t a substitute for regular visits to your doctor, of course. But, if you’re diligent about tracking your blood pressure, you’ll have more data to present to your doctor during your visits, which will improve the quality of care they’re able to give you.

5. Medication Adherence Tools

Medication non-adherence is a serious issue, and between 25 and 50 percent of patients are guilty of it.

Whether you or a loved one is consistently forgetting to take your medication, it is important to stay on top of your prescriptions if you want to see actual improvement in your health and wellness.

Lots of pill reminder and pill tracking apps are available to download on your smartphone, tablet, or other digital device. Some of the tops ones are MediSafe, CareZone, and Pillboxie. The most common feature among these apps is an alarm that reminds patients to take their medication. Some also take things a step further by alerting a family member or caregiver if the user hasn’t taken their medication by a predetermined time.

Don’t remain in the dark when it comes to your health. Start using these tools today to gather important data about yourself before other symptoms start to appear.

This is a guest blog entry.

What You Can Eat And Do To Speed Bone Repair

Whether you fall off your bike or are injured in an Uber accident, a bone fracture or other injury not only means lots of pain in the short-term but potential issues in the long-term if you don’t properly attend to them. This starts with making sure that you get proper medical care and see a doctor shortly after your accident, but this isn’t how the situation ends. You also need to make sure that you combine following a doctor’s instructions along with other important factors.

Two of the most important things to think about are making sure you get the proper nutrients and create the proper physical stage for your body to do its work in terms of healing. This may help speed up your recovery process, not necessarily directly, but by making sure the parts of your body that actually control your healing have all the fuel they need.

A Bone-Friendly Diet

The process of repair after bone fractures isn’t necessarily that different than repairing muscle or tissue. Your body needs fuel to power the processes that lead to healing, as well as the materials to actually create what is being repaired, bone in this case.

You probably already know one example of this: the classic calcium. But there are several different other factors that you need to keep in mind when it comes to eating right for bones. For example, calcium isn’t limited to dairy foods, and if you are thinking about overall health, there may be even more foods you want to consider. Examples include:
  • Sea vegetables (seaweed, etc)
  • Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach)
  • Salmon
In addition, if you have certain dairy sensitivities, you may want to look at unsweetened, cultured dairy products, like kefir and yogurt.

There are several other vitamin components. Some of these include nutrients that help calcium reach its maximum potential, like magnesium. Others play roles of their own. Good examples include vitamin K, lean protein, zinc, and vitamin C.         

In addition, there are some foods you may want to avoid, like alcohol, excessive salt, or caffeine.

These have their own issues, but eating too many of these foods mean it’s likely you’re not getting the nutrients your bones need.

A Bone-Friendly Lifestyle


Now, when your bone first breaks and is set by a doctor, you already know about having a cast over the next few months. However, these don’t actually help your bones heal, merely keeping it stable so your body can do its job. This means that you want to make sure that you perform proper cast maintenance to make sure that this good environment stays as a good environment. Avoid contact with water or moisture. What you might also want to do is invest in a cast protector. There are other things that can interfere with the healing process as well. These can include:
  • Movement of the bone fragments or doing weight-bearing exercise too soon after recovery.
  • Smoking. This interferes with recovery in general by constricting the blood vessels and decreases circulation
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, hormone-related problems or vascular disease
  • Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and other immunosuppressants.
Some of these are within your control, some are not. Keep an open dialogue with your doctor and be prepared to be patient during recovery.

In time, we may be able to add experimental treatments and medicine to your list of possible bone support options as well. When it comes to aging, this attends to a major issue. Of the roughly 5.6 million fractures in the United States each year, between five and ten percent (up to 560,000) will heal slowly or incompletely. Aging is a major factor here, not only because the fractures take longer to heal, but also because falls are a major cause of fractures among the elderly.

“The skeleton loses the ability to repair itself as we age,” said Regis J. O’Keefe, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Orthopedics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. In one study that he worked on, studies showed that an experimental drug designed to treat levels of COX-2 in mice helped bones regenerate faster, even in older mice.

When it comes to treating your bones right, it’s important to remember that things go way beyond just drinking your milk. Your body has tremendous recovery capacity, but you need to do your part to help it along.

This is a guest blog entry.

Understanding Scoliosis

Scoliosis is defined as an abnormal curvature of the spinal column. More often than not, doctors detect the abnormality during adolescence. Scoliosis has been around since the ancient times. It was, in fact, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, who discovered the condition and looked for a cure.

At least seven million Americans develop scoliosis between the ages of 10 to 15 and it's more prevalent among young girls. Nearly half a million people visit the doctor each year for problems linked to scoliosis and at least 29,000 patients per year choose to undergo surgery to correct the problem.

Despite how long this health issue has existed, doctors still cannot determine the exact reason why this abnormality develops or if it can be fully prevented.

Classifications of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is classified into two types:
  • Idiopathic scoliosis develops as a childhood condition. Experts are still exploring if this might have ties to genetics.
  • Degenerative scoliosis arises due to disc degeneration of the spine. Experts attribute this to aging.
Both types of scoliosis progress over the years and may become physically noticeable when the spine curves to about 30 to 40 degrees. The rounder the curve, the more health problems arise.

Symptoms of Scoliosis


Children with idiopathic scoliosis won’t normally complain of any problems. Their spine might have an unusual curve, but this won’t affect their physical activities at this point. When they get older and as the curvature becomes more obvious, the pain and discomfort can start manifesting. It’s the same case for people with degenerative scoliosis.

The most common signs and symptoms associated with scoliosis include:

•    Recurring or persistent pain in the back, neck, and shoulders as well as the buttocks near the lower back
•    Uneven length of the shoulders, hips, arms, and legs
•    Clothes might not fit snugly
•    Breathing and cardiac problems, especially for people with about 80 degrees curvature
•    Prominence of the ribs
•    Constipation when the curvature impacts the location of intestines
•    Pitch-forward posture
•    Inability to stand up straight
•    Weakening of the legs and spinal nerve irritation, in some cases

Treating and Managing Scoliosis


The treatment and management of scoliosis are usually individualized since each case is different from one patient to another. Doctors have to assess properly the spine's curvature, its location, growth, and progression.

It is essential to manage the pain and discomfort that comes with the disease as these can affect your daily life. Aside from taking pain relievers, you can apply a warm compress on your back or neck as the heat can help relax your muscles. You can also use portable pain management devices such as a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit which releases low-voltage current to relieve pain from muscle spasms.

Doctors can recommend bracing or spinal surgery. For adults with scoliosis, doctors usually aim to reduce pressure on the nerves and stop the progression of the curvature through a fusion procedure.

People with mild scoliosis, regardless of age, normally do not need treatment but might be required to visit the doctor two to three times a year for monitoring and check-up. X-rays might be necessary every five years as well.

A visit to the doctor might be needed as soon as possible if:
  • The curvature is quite noticeable
  • The posture is uneven and unbalanced
  • There's a recommendation following a screening from the school
  • The back pain won't go away
If detected early, scoliosis can be a manageable and livable condition. Children with body braces can still go about their lives normally and participate in regular activities like any other kid.

Debunking Common Scoliosis Myths 

For some patients, scoliosis does not prevent them from doing sports or dance. In fact, there's even a study that showed dance therapy had positive effects for scoliosis patients. Plenty of ballerinas and professional athletes who have scoliosis have also managed to thrive in their chosen profession despite the abnormality on their spine.

Regular exercises and physiotherapy are always recommended as these will help ease the pain and improve the flexibility of the back. It won't, however, decrease the size of the curvature or slow down its progression.

Carrying heavy bags does not cause scoliosis, even with kids who have to fill their school bags with books. It can, however, aggravate back problems in adults, so avoid this as much as possible.

Having scoliosis won't get in the way of conceiving a baby or giving birth. You might, however, want to advise the doctors, nurses, and midwives during labor so that they can help lessen your discomfort during the delivery, especially if you want to get an epidural.

There's a little chance that a spinal surgery for scoliosis will result in paralysis. Surgery, however, is only recommended if the curvature is more than 40 degrees.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

3 Great Ways To Improve Your Posture And Breathing

While most modern humans consider breathing and posture as an afterthought, it's also true that many people today suffer from pain and anxiety that can be traced to poor posture and breathing. People spend thousands of dollars on therapy, yoga classes and alternative treatments when the answer is often much simpler than that: stand up straight and breathe from your diaphragm.

While this idea hasn't fully caught on in the mainstream medical community, there is an immense amount of research coming out showing that by improving your breath and your posture, you can lead a much more comfortable, happier life. Indeed, working on these areas could solve complicated problems that you assumed were worlds apart from your physical habits.


"Great," you say, "I would love to improve my posture and breathing, but how?" While training yourself to stand up straight and breathe from the bottom up can be challenging, there are certain activities that promote these unconscious skills. In this post, we'll suggest three activities that promote deep breathing and good posture – otherwise, we recommend reading up online and creating your own practices.

1. Singing/ Playing Music

In the respective arts of singing and public speaking, it is of the utmost importance to breathe from the diaphragm and keep the oxygen flowing while you are doing your thing. While most of us don't have ample opportunities to practice oration, singing is a completely different matter. Getting together with musical friends to sing a bunch of your favorite songs is a great way to stimulate deep breathing; if you feel left out because you can't play an instrument, enroll in music lessons today and join in the fun! Otherwise, consider joining an adult choir – adult choirs are very hip these days, and not necessarily affiliated with any specific religion. If you are religious, however, join the choir at your church – whatever you need to do to dust off those pipes and move away from shallow breathing!

2. Walking

It may sound way too simple, but after twenty minutes of walking, your body will automatically switch to deep breathing to get all of the oxygen it needs. Some people doing in depth workout regimens will think that these elaborate exercises are relieving their stress, when really they could achieve the same results by taking a long walk – we are so accustomed to the stress that goes along with shallow breathing that we are amazed when it dissipates. So rather than driving or taking transit, put on a podcast and take the heel-toe express to your next destination, you'll feel great when you get there.

3. Tai Chi


That funny karate dancing that you see people doing in the park sometimes? The people you make fun of? They're doing Tai Chi, and Tai Chi is actually awesome. While there are certain applications of Tai Chi in the martial arts world, many alternative health practitioners in the west promote it as movement meditation, which can be especially helpful for people who are too restless for sitting meditation. The combination of breath and movement and the soft focus of attention is meant to align your breath with your body and lull you into a state of harmony. Often there are free classes offered in parks all over the city, you've got nothing to lose (except for your stress!). 

This is a guest blog entry.

Supporting a Loved one with Drug Addiction

Do you have a loved one in your life that’s struggling with drug addiction? This can be difficult for the addict and their loved ones, as you want to help but don’t know how. It is essential to be able to support this person without alienating them.

Talk without Judgement

Oftentimes, those struggling with addiction don’t want to talk about it because they are afraid of being judged. This can be frightening for an addict and it will ultimately make them feel more isolated. If you can, try to chat with this person about their issues without taking a judgemental tone.

Attempt to be a person that they can talk to about their problems openly, without fear of reprimand. This doesn’t mean you have to condone everything that they do in the course of their addiction, but don’t admonish them for actions they have taken in the past.

Encourage them to get Treatment

This can be a tricky tip to follow, as you don’t want to make the person feel like you’re making this decision for them. Only the addict themselves will be able to make the decision to get clean, but you can help them with information about the options out there. Often short term addition treatment programs can be a good place to start, as they’re not quite as frightening as a long term stay.

If the addict has tried to get clean in the past then they may be discouraged by the fact that they weren’t able to do so alone. These supportive programs can be helpful for addicts that find they can’t go it alone.

Don’t Give them Money

Although you may think that you’re helping your friend or family member, giving them money is not a good idea. They could end up using this to fuel their addiction with drugs they would not otherwise be able to afford.

If you want to help them, it is better to give them food or items which they can’t use for drugs. It is difficult to feel that you cannot trust this loved one, but it is possible they will use the money for all the wrong things.

Give them Emotional Support

Emotional support can be anything from a shoulder to cry on to a friendly chat, as you want to keep this person in your life. They may make it difficult, but if you want to be able to keep an eye on them then you have to be supportive. Remember it is the addiction and not the addict that can push you away at times.

This can manifest in a group intervention if there are a lot of people concerned about the person’s drug use. Again, in this setting you cannot be judgmental or else the person with the addiction may end up trying to escape the situation with more drugs.

Drug addiction is a tricky subject for many people to talk about, but supporting your loved one is essential. Don’t let them walk all over you, but do continue to love the person they are.

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Five Commons Signs of Early Dementia and How to Respond to Them


Dementia is a frightening condition that affects approximately 47 million people all over the world.

Nobody wants to think about someone they love possibly experiencing this debilitating condition. But, it’s important to know what the early signs are so that you can get your loved one the help they need as soon as possible.

Listed below are five common signs of early dementia, along with some tips for appropriately addressing them.

1. Poor Short-term Memory

One of the first signs that a person is experiencing dementia is changes in their short-term memory.

If someone’s short-term memory is failing, they won’t have much trouble recalling events that took place years ago, but they may struggle to remember things that happened recently.

For example, they might forget why they got up to go to a particular room or have a hard time remembering what they had for breakfast.

Everyone’s short-term memory fails them on occasion. However, if you notice a sudden increase in forgetfulness, it could be a cause for concern.

2. Changes in Mood

People in the early stages of dementia are also more likely to experience changes in their mood and personality.

They may suddenly go from being outgoing and cheerful to pessimistic and reserved. They might also lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy or no longer want to spend time with their friends or family.

3. Poor Sense of Direction

Another early sign of dementia is a poor sense of direction and/or spatial orientation. Examples of this include an inability to recognize landmarks that were once familiar to them or getting lost traveling somewhere they’ve frequently visited.

Some people who are experiencing dementia may also have trouble following directions when they’re trying to get somewhere or complete a task.

4. Frequent Falls

Frequent falls, slips, and stumbles also often occur when someone is struggling with dementia.

This increase in falls has to do, in part, with the visual-spatial difficulties that typically accompany dementia. People with early dementia may also fall more often because they forget about and trip over items in their home that they were once in the habit of stepping over or around.

If a loved one is falling down more often, they’re also at risk for serious injuries and fractures. This is especially true for people who suffer from progressive supranuclear palsy, a movement disorder that can affect their balance and ability to catch themselves as they fall.

5. Repetitive Behavior and Resistance to Change

People with dementia may also start repeating the same behaviors over and over again. They might forget that they already shaved first thing in the morning and end up shaving again. Or, they may continue to buy crossword puzzle books every time they go to the store, even though they have stacks of them in their living room already.

In addition to these repetitive behaviors, it’s also common for people struggling with dementia to resist changes to their routine. They might be afraid of new experiences, especially if they’ve recently gotten lost or had another scary experience related to their memory starting to fail.

How to Respond to Signs of Dementia

If you notice any of these common signs of early dementia in a parent or loved one, it’s important to respond appropriately to limit frustration and make things easy for them and yourself.

Some things to do include:
  • Help them establish a daily routine
  • Give them plenty of time to accomplish tasks
  • Give them choices and let them be involved in their care
  • Remove extension cords, loose rugs, and other potential fall hazards
  • Invest in a fall mat to prevent injuries from falls
  • Keep lighters and matches out of reach and make sure smoke alarms are working
  • Install in an alarm system with a wearable medical alert button
  • Invest a GPS tracker in case they wander away and get lost
It’s easy to feel helpless when a parent or loved one starts acting strangely. But, if you’re aware of these common signs of early dementia, you can get them the treatment they need, slow the progression of their disease, and prevent serious accidents.

This is a guest blog entry.

Aging Knees: How to Treat Them With Surgery, Therapy, and Exercise


As people age their bodies age right along with them. Parts that once worked well and held up strong now feel aches and pains often and start to lose their resilience. Just a few wrong moves can lead to painful joints, particularly in the knees. Aging knees become a serious problem for many people.

Through exercise, therapy, and surgery, they can get treated, although they’ll never be quite as strong as they once were.

Surgery

A minimally invasive knee surgery may be required for those who have done serious damage to their knees. The surgical procedure will change slightly depending on what the cause of knee damage is, such as arthritis, a damaged kneecap, damaged cartilage, or the need for removal of inflamed tissue. It’s important to find the right doctor to handle this procedure. Look for one who has performed many surgeries of the same nature in the past and is extremely knowledgeable about knees in general. They should use a minimally invasive technique that will only require a couple of short months’ recovery time.

Therapy

If minimal damage has been done to the knee and surgery is still not a viable option, then physical therapy might do the trick. The physical therapist will use various techniques and exercises to help the patient regain use of their leg while minimizing pain. The therapist will perform several evaluations and measurements that help determine the source of the problem and allow them to create a proper treatment plan. Through balance exercises, straight leg raises, short arc quads, and even some simple stretches for the lower body, patients may start to gain back some range of motion and feel less pain in their knees than they have in a long time.

Exercise

Perhaps physical therapy is not yet needed either. Those who recently started experiencing knee pain, particularly after an injury, may be able to alleviate their pain with some simple exercises at home. Quad sets are one exercise to try. Sit on the floor and place the sore leg straight in front of you. Keep the other leg bend with the foot flat on the floor. Press the knee toward the floor as much as possible and hold the thigh muscle tight for a few seconds before releasing. Laying back and raising the leg up is another way to help strengthen it.

Products That Limit Knee Pain While You Recover


While you’re waiting for a treatment option to work on improving the knees, there are some products available that may help ease some pain while you recover. If aches come and go and the knees still bend and move as necessary, some simple knee braces could be worn during activities to help provide stability and prevent further injury to the area.

Many people with knee problems experience pain at night when sleeping on their sides. The knees touching do not allow for ideal blood flow and keep the body improperly aligned. Using a knee pillow could greatly help improve the spine’s alignment, keep the knees apart for better blood flow, and lessen the pain felt. Over-the-counter pain relievers may also be necessary to reduce tenderness.

Aging knees are bound to happen to everyone. Whether arthritis sets in and causes pain or an injury occurs that leaves the knees weakened and sore, several treatment options may be required to help reduce aches and bring the knees back to at least some resemblance of their former selves. Knee pain can be debilitating, so getting it treated as soon as possible is the best bet to restore walking abilities.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Friday, March 23, 2018

3 Important Advantages of Vaping Over Smoking


The number of adult cigarette smokers in U.S. is dropping dramatically. The Centers for Disease Control report the rate has gone from 20.9% in 2005 to 15.5% in 2016. In New York City where officials have been active in reducing tobacco use recent reports show the rate of smoking has dropped from 21.5% in 2002 to 14.3% in 2014. They hope to get that number down to 12% in the next few years.

Everyone who knows me knows that I can’t tolerate smoking in public. The health risks associated with second-hand smoke alone should be enough for people to refrain from smoking around other non-smokers. At least millions of smokers are switching to vaping. While I’m not an advocate of smoking anything, vaping seems to be a better option all around.

Flavors (and Smells) Beyond Tobacco

Don’t like the flavor of tobacco or menthol? Vaping e-liquids come in more flavors than you can imagine. Seriously, I checked it out once after coming across someone vaping what smelled like strawberry shortcake. That’s probably because the e-liquid was strawberry shortcake flavored. There are others like dulce dream and salted caramel macchiato that make me want to visit the local coffee shop more than smoke.

Few things are worse than the pungent ashy smell of cigarette smoke. The different flavors and lack of tobacco leaves means that vaping smoke doesn’t have the same offensive odor that clings to everything. In other words, vaping doesn’t leave you and everyone else around you wreaking of cigarette smoke.

Fewer Fire Hazards

Did you know cigarettes are to blame for a large percentage of residential fires in the U.S.? There are some scary statistics out there about the fire hazards associated with smoking cigarettes and cigars.

Nearly two decades ago UC Davis researchers found that smoking was the leading cause of fire disasters. Worse still, those fires killed 300,000 people a year worldwide. In the U.S. it was determined 30% of all fire deaths were associated with smoking.

Today the risks are just as great. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) notes that smoking materials caused around 17,200 home structure fires in 2014 alone. Although smoking only accounted for 5% of all fires, it leads to 21% of fire-related deaths.

Like smartphones, there’s a risk of battery-related fires with electronic cigarettes, but it’s far from a common problem. Between January 2009 and December 31, 2016 the U.S. Fire Administration recorded 195 electronic cigarette fires and/or explosions. Those accidents resulted in 133 injuries but no deaths. It’s also reassuring for vapers that only 60 incidents happened while the device was being used.

Cheaper Habit

If you’re going to have a vice you might as well choose one that’s cheap. Friends that vape instead of smoking have told me they’ve saved thousands of dollars by making the switch. Over the years, lawmakers have increased federal, state and local taxes on cigarettes to help dissuade people from smoking.
  • Today the average cost of a pack of cigarettes including federal and state taxes is $6.16.
  • The state of New York charges $4.35 a pack in taxes, which is the highest in the country. The average is $.1.72 per pack.
  • Cities can also tack on additional taxes. Chicago charges the most in state and local taxes at $6.16 a pack. That means a pack of cigarettes with all taxes cost $12.32.
  • And don’t forget about the $1.01 federal excise tax.
Over $10 a pack is a lot to pay for 20 cigarettes that may get smoked in a single day. To be fair, vaping cost more initially because you have to buy an e-cigarette and additional equipment. Many starter kits are around $40-50, but there are also ongoing costs and the device you use affects the overall price.

A survey from e-cigarette forum found that over half of vapers consume between 2-6 milliliters of e-liquid a day. You’ll also need additional cartridges to heat up the e-liquid. All said and done vaping costs as little as $1,473 a year whereas smoking is $2,248 a year on average.

There you have it. Three important reasons why, if you have to smoke, vaping is a better alternative to cigarettes.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Knee Health Tips for Hikers


While knee pain is more common among athletes, dancers, and runners, hikers are no stranger to common overuse injuries associated with the knee either. Consciously taking care of your knees early on, especially if you are an avid hiker, will lower the risk of musculoskeletal problems later in life and improve your body’s ability to scale more challenging terrain. It will also lessen knee problems once old age kicks in, or when your body's muscles, ligaments, and joints work less efficiently compared to your younger years.

As a hiker, you can ward off knee pain and accompanying complications by being proactive about injury prevention. You’ll need to take the necessary steps to build knee strength and flexibility so you can continue to do what you love for many years.

Wear the right shoes

Invest in a good pair of shoes that fit comfortably and have a few pairs to use alternately.

Hiking Boots Vs. Hiking Shoes (Trail Runners)
  • Boots pros: Some hikers prefer to wear hiking boots because they’re usually made of waterproof materials. With thick soles that can support the feet best when walking on an uneven, muddy, or slippery terrain, this type of footwear is also good to use if you're carrying heavy loads.
  • Boots cons: Hiking boots are heavy, which can make running difficult and put more strain on your knees. You'll need a break-in period for these types of shoes and they may take longer to dry out if soaked.
  • Runners pros: Some hikers want to wear trail runners since it offers more mobility and provides excellent traction. Though not usually made of waterproof materials, this lighter type of shoe allows better feet ventilation and dries faster when soaked.
  • Runner cons: Trail runners are great for mild terrain but offer little support when hiking on wet or muddy trails. They may wear out quicker than boots and offer less ankle support.
Use protective equipment

Consider wearing a sports knee brace made of breathable and elastic materials that will help with joint compression. A knee brace can reduce knee stress when walking and provide support and alignment. You might also want to bring a hiking or trekking pole so that your weight can be distributed evenly to your knees, arms and shoulders.

Lose weight


Carrying extra weight puts more stress on your knee joints. According to experts, your knee supports one and a half times your body weight when you walk. Hiking on an inclined and uneven terrain adds more pressure and force by as much as three times your body weight.

Lose the extra pounds with a smart diet and lots of physical activity. For exercise, consider low-impact exercises such as yoga and swimming to lessen the strain on your knees.

Do strength and flexibility exercises


Your knee muscles become stronger if you regularly do weight-bearing workouts that also involve the hamstring, thighs, and calves. Before heading out, do lunges and stretches first to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for the impending stress and pressure of a hike.

Supplement your diet and cut your vices

Increase your intake of vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, and calcium to boost bone health and keep your knees stronger. Add more lubricating foods rich in Omega-3 to help lessen friction in your knee joints. And know that smoking depletes the nutrients in your body as well as can cause shortness of breath when you hike.

Be conscious of how you move


A downhill hike poses more risks to your knees compared to walking on a level or even ground or going uphill. Some hikers move as if they’re resisting the pull of gravity while going down to avoid falling or rolling over. The better approach to a downhill hike is to let gravity work with your movements.
  • Downhill hike, smooth slope: If you’re going hiking downhill on a smoother slope, resist the urge to stop too often or too much. Braking causes frequent knee jerks and you may end up with swollen knees afterward.
  • Downhill hike, uneven surface: It’s so easy to lock your knees if you’re not being careful, especially when declining from a steep, rocky, or muddy surface. Take a slow and steady pace only and if possible, go downhill in sideways or zigzag motion to lessen the impact on your knees.
If possible, plan a downhill hike when you’re near the end of your route and have had spent most of your energy and resources like food or water.

After your hike, see to it that your body gets the rest it needs to fully recover. If your knee pain can’t be relieved with pain medication or home remedies, see a doctor as soon as possible.

This is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

What Type of Massage is Good for Fibromyalgia?

As a therapeutic practice, massage has had its place as an alternative medicine for centuries. Tactile manipulation of the body’s soft tissues including muscles, tendons, and fascia can relieve muscle tension, loosen joints, trigger neurotransmitter activity, and promote stress relief.

When it comes to widespread pain brought on by fibromyalgia, many sufferers find themselves asking after the benefits of massage and what type is a good fit for their treatment. Don’t miss this quick guide to fibromyalgia and how massage can complement existing treatment plans:

What Causes Fibromyalgia Pain?
In addition to persistent muscle fatigue and sleep, mood and memory issues, widespread musculoskeletal pain is a hallmark symptom of the disorder known as fibromyalgia. Researchers still can’t pinpoint an exact cause of the condition, however, they have been able to conclude that fibromyalgia changes the way the brain perceives pain.

Often triggered by significant psychological stress or an event like a surgery, physical trauma, or infection, fibromyalgia symptoms appear more frequently in women than in men. Researchers have also found that fibromyalgia patients also often suffer from anxiety, depression, temporomandibular joint disorders, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Fibromyalgia pain affects both sides of the body and persists as a chronic, dull ache which lasts more than three months. A handful of factors may play an important role in triggering fibromyalgia including genetics, certain illnesses, and emotional or physical trauma (i.e. from an accident). Researchers are coming to a stronger understanding of how increases in neurotransmitters can amplify pain signals as can the memory of pain in patients with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia pain can also be exacerbated by the accompanying day to day struggles of simply having chronic pain interfere with daily life.

Does Massage Address Fibromyalgia Pain?
In addition to integrative therapies like acupuncture, physical therapy, yoga, tai chi, and stress reduction, massage can definitely play an important role in treating fibromyalgia pain. There are myriad types of massage, however, so knowing which are best suited towards chronic pain can come in handy.

Swedish Massage
A 2017 study published in the journal Complementary Practices in Clinical Practice found that Swedish massage proved beneficial in addressing fibromyalgia pain. Twenty-four female study participants with fibromyalgia who were not taking medicine received two 40-minute Swedish massages a week over a period of three months. Researchers found that the Swedish massage therapy regimen helped to improve overall quality of life and reduce the perceived stress index and pain reported by participants.

Swedish massage is widely popular and involves the use of the hands, elbows, and forearms in gentle, sweeping strokes, kneading, and tapping to manipulate the superficial muscle layers and promote joint fluidity. Even if you have fibromyalgia and can’t book a luxury spa session, you can achieve basic massage techniques at home and improve range of motion with a massage pillow or a massage ball.

Connective Tissue Massage & Myofascial Release

Results from a 2017 study published in the journal Rheumatology International found that routine exercise coupled with connective tissue massages over a 6 week period had superior benefits in improving pain, sleep problems, and fatigue in participants with fibromyalgia syndrome (when compared with exercise alone). Connective tissue massage focuses intense manipulation of myofascial tissue, or the fibrous and thin (but strong) tissue that protects and supports muscles and bones. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that relieves painful trigger points and can also improve fatigue and musculoskeletal stiffness.

Deep Tissue & Shiatsu Massage
More focused manipulation of deeper tissues in the body may also aid fibromyalgia pain, though deep tissue massage can leave lingering soreness so fibromyalgia patients should check with their doctor first. This type of massage is best achieved by a licensed and experienced massage therapist who is familiar with tailoring therapy for chronic pain patients.

Shiatsu massage, also known as acupressure, is characterized more by forceful manipulation of targeted pressure points with narrower instruments like the fingers, thumbs, knees, feet, and elbows. It is based on the same framework used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (involving meridians and qi) but has been shown to improve pressure pain threshold, quality of sleep, and fatigue symptoms in fibromyalgia patients. Shiatsu massage techniques are also believed to boost the body’s lymphatic drainage system and restore the body’s energy.

This is a guest blog entry.

Five Great Reasons to Become a Nurse-Midwife

Have you been considering making a career change? Or perhaps you are just starting out in the world and looking to start your first career. Obviously, you want to pick an industry that is robust and filled with job opportunities and yet still appeals to and challenges you.

The healthcare industry is one that can tick all the boxes, and with the baby boomers aging and many of them leaving the workforce to retire, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

While there are all kinds of careers within the medical community, one that may prove to be especially exciting and rewarding is that of a nurse-midwife. In this position you'll be focused on women's obstetrics and health, offering a specialized level of care for women, new mothers, and even newborn babies. Let’s take a closer look at what a nurse-midwife is and five great reasons to pursue the career.

What Does a Nurse-Midwife Do?

A nurse-midwife is very similar to a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. You will be able to work with women during pre-conception, pregnancy, the delivery stage, and then post-partum. If you happen to already be a registered nurse, you can gain more knowledge and obtain your nurse-midwifery registered nurse's degree, which will allow you to further your career within nursing.

As far as the job outlook, as mentioned this one is growing exponentially. According to statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor the fields of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is expected to grow by 31% between now and 2026. That is much faster than the average rate of overall job growth in the country.

When it comes to the actual job duties, you’ll be responsible for providing primary and specialty health care to women. This can include conducting a physical exam, diagnosing the patient, treating the patient, and helping the patient to manage medical conditions. You will also be responsible for educating and counseling patients, providing support during menopause and perimenopause, and caring for a newborn during the first 28 days. Of course, pregnancy care is the cornerstone of this specialized nursing career as well as assisting during the labor and delivery process.

Now let’s take a closer look at the benefits in becoming a nurse-midwife.

Excellent Salary Outlook

While it would be great to take a job simply because it seems interesting, at the end of the day everyone has bills to pay and they need to know their job will allow them to do so. The top paying roles are located in outpatient care centers where the average yearly salary is $115,070. Some areas in the United States pay higher than others. There is also a higher concentration of job opportunities and higher wages in California, Iowa, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Oregon.

To learn more about salary details for a career in midwifery visit: https://onlinenursingms.com/nurse-midwifery/

Being Able to Care for Patients

Another big reason that people enter into this field is their desire to help others and offer care and support. Each patient you work with is bound to be a personal and special experience. You will be supporting that patient through pregnancy and childbirth, the most important time of their life. Your support, advice, and care will forever be remembered by them.

The Ability to Work in Various Industries and Locations

With a nurse-midwife degree you'll also have the ability to work in a variety of industries and locations. This allows you to pick and choose and find something that appeals to you. If you plan on relocating to another state at some point, you also have the peace of mind in knowing that your career can be relocated across the country and you’ll be able to find employment easily.

You'll be Working with Babies

If you're the type of person who just loves babies and can't get enough of them, what a perfect way to combine what you love with what makes you money. You'll be working with babies on a regular basis, helping them to come into the world and adjust in those all-important first few weeks.

It’s Not Your Typical Desk Job

While desk jobs are perfect for some, for others it’s enough to cause nightmares. If you’re the type of person that can’t picture yourself tied to a desk performing the same tasks day in and day out, then the excitement and variety that midwifery can offer may be perfect. Each and every day will be unique and it will never feel like a “typical desk job”.

This truly is an exciting time for anyone who has been interested field of nurse-midwifery as the industry is booming and the nursing shortages are clear. Job opportunities exist across the nation, making the salary is competitive and the rewards it can offer are incredible.

This is a guest blog entry.

4 Reasons For Bad Breath

Bad breath can be an embarrassing problem which is difficult to solve for some people. No matter how much toothpaste and mouthwash they use, that halitosis remains. There can be a number of reasons why bad breath persists, even if you have brushed your teeth and flossed, and once you know what they are, it is far easier to do something about it and have the fresh-smelling breath you’ve always wanted.

Dehydration
After poor dental hygiene, dehydration is the leading reason why someone might have persistent bad breath. If you don’t drink enough water, the food you eat will stay in your mouth for longer because saliva alone is not enough to wash it away. When food remains, it rots, and that means bacteria are feeding on it. The breeding bacteria and rotting food combine to make a nasty odor. The problem will go away when you have more to drink though, so always make sure you are getting enough water every day. Water is by far the best thing to drink, better than tea or coffee, and far better than soda.

A Serious Illness
Although for most people bad breath is just bad breath, and there is nothing to distinguish it from anything else, scientists have noticed that there are lots of different types of bad breath – lots of different ways for it to smell, that is. Some of these stenches can actually indicate a far more serious problem, and if you experience constant halitosis, it may be a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor.

If your breath has a hint of ammonia to it, for example, that could indicate renal failure. High acetone levels can mean diabetes. Nitric oxide could mean asthma. There are many different smells, but they usually can’t be noticed just by sniffing; tests will need to be carried out.

Smoking
Smokers often suffer from bad breath. There are a variety of different reasons for this, but the main one is that tobacco products lead to gum disease; the chemicals within the gums pull away from the teeth, and bad breath follows. Smoking also causes bad breath because the nicotine and other chemicals linger in the mouth causing bacteria to form there. The solution to this is very simple; stop smoking. That is, of course, easier said than done which is why e-cigarettes from Vapeshop can be a great alternative for smokers to consider.

Too Much Outdoor Air

The great outdoors is good for us, and breathing in a big lungful of fresh air can’t be a bad thing. However, it can lead to bad breath when we exercise outdoors. This is because during intense activity human beings tend to breathe through their mouths, and this dries the mouth out. Just like when you’re dehydrated, this can cause bacteria to thrive, and therefore bad breath happens easily. Being outdoors also means that pollen and other allergens can stick to your dry mouth and cause all sorts of problems. Drinking water will cure this problem, but so will moving some of your exercise to an indoor space if you can.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How To Invest In Your Mental Health

If you are going to live life to the fullest, it is important that you invest in your mental health. You need to be aware of any issues that are standing in the way of you having a good time and achieving your goals. You also need to be brave enough to confront these issues head-on, as opposed to burying your head in the sand.

In this modern age, there should no longer be a stigma around talking about mental health and working through your problems. If you are determined to invest in your mental health, you will need to pay close attention to the following six steps.

Speak with a professional

If you are seriously concerned about your mental health, it is vital that you speak with a professional as soon as possible. Regular therapy sessions will provide you with a great opportunity to work through your issues and focus on a brighter future. Even if you are fairly confident in your mental health, you could still benefit from sharing your problems with an expert. Perhaps they could offer you a new way of looking at a situation or an unusual approach to living your life. You might also find that there is an unresolved issue in your past that comes up during your therapy sessions. Instead of allowing it to fester, this could be the ideal chance for you to achieve closure.

Carry out plenty of research

Although it is important to place your trust in the experts, it is also essential that you do your own research. Of course, you need to avoid suspicious looking websites that could lead to an unfounded self-diagnosis. However, reading up on mental health is never a bad idea. Understanding the way in which your mind works will make it far easier for you to navigate the world around you. That is why you should be on the lookout for interesting advice columns, self-help guides, uplifting blogs, and inspirational talks. There are also plenty of YouTube channels to choose from when it comes to dealing with mental health. Whatever your problem, there is sure to be a solution available. For instance, if you struggle with self-confidence, you could benefit from an online tutorial on dealing with social situations. Or, if you find it hard to embrace a positive attitude, you could select a channel that focuses on a glass half full philosophy.

Confront your bad habits head on

As you learn more about your mind, you may discover that there are certain aspects of your life that are extremely unhealthy. If you are going to conquer your bad habits, it is important that you act fast. Instead of allowing the situation to spiral out of control, you should deal with the situation immediately. Why not explore the best rehab centers available? This is a fantastic opportunity for you to escape the stresses and strains of daily life and  to focus your attention on the recovery process. It is also the perfect chance for you to benefit from expert advice, without being judged for your choices. Taking this step may seem intimidating, but it could be the greatest decision you ever make.
 
Monitor your mood

During your journey to improved mental health, it is important that you closely monitor your mood. This will help you to celebrate your successes and re-evaluate your choices when you hit a rough patch. Whatever you do, don’t just follow the crowd. You need to find a method that works for you. One option is to write in a journal every evening. Another idea is to start a sketchbook and fill it with images that reflect your emotions. Or, if you are a big fan of technology, you could download a wide range of useful apps to help you stay on top of your emotions. Getting into a solid routine will allow you to keep moving forward, even when you feel like standing still or going backward.

Evaluate your diet

You can also establish a clear routine when it comes to evaluating your diet. Instead of taking things one meal at a time, you should create a food plan that you can enjoy throughout the week. You could even start a food diary and use it to hold yourself accountable. Just make sure that you are focusing on deeper issues than your appearance. Although it is a great thing to look your best, it is more important that you feel your best. That is why you should steer clear of counting calories and giving up your favorite dishes. Instead, you should fill your diet with plenty of mood-boosting ingredients. It is also important that you have fun with the meals that you are creating. Why not sign up to a culinary course or treat yourself to a new set of recipe books? Not only will eating well provide you with the energy you need to make it through a long day, but it will also help you to enjoy a positive relationship with your mind and body.

Take up regular exercise

Another way of achieving this is by taking up regular exercise. Whenever you complete a successful workout, you will be hit with a rush of endorphins. This is an immediate way for you to improve your outlook and embrace a positive mindset. Signing up for a gym membership or attending an exercise class could also be a great opportunity for you to meet new people. If you are going to feel good about yourself, it is vital that you are surrounded by like-minded individuals who are also looking to embrace a positive lifestyle and outlook. Even if you decide exercise alone, you will still be benefiting from a natural stress relief that will lower your levels of anxiety and help you to work through any pent-up aggression. Don’t worry about your existing fitness levels or a lack of coordination; the most important thing is that you are out there giving it your best shot.

This is a guest blog entry.

Endometriosis Awareness Month: Understanding a Common Condition


Endometriosis is a common condition plaguing women around the world, with an estimated one in every ten experiencing the disease. When endometriosis takes place, the tissue normally found in the womb grows elsewhere, from the pelvis to the abdomen and even the lungs. The growing womb tissue can cause severe pain in women, along with infertility and other debilitating effects. Although it is prevalent among women of reproductive age, endometriosis is often misunderstood and widely misdiagnosed at its onset. For that reason, March is deemed Endometriosis Awareness Month each year. Throughout the month, individuals of all ages are encouraged to increase their understanding of what endometriosis is, how it is diagnosed, as well as the treatment options and support available to women living with the condition.

Symptoms and Warning Signs


Endometriosis comes with a variety of symptoms and warning signs, with the most common being pain during menstruation that leaves women unable to function normally. In addition to period discomfort, often referred to as dysmenorrhea, that exceeds normal levels of pain, women with endometriosis may also experience the following:
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Discomfort with bowel movements or urination
  • Excessive bleeding, either during or in between periods
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Back and abdomen pain 
While these symptoms are common, they often range in severity for women with endometriosis. Depending on how large the tissue growth is and where it is located, women may also experience shortness of breath or trouble breathing.

Endometriosis does not have one singular cause, which makes it a complex and difficult to understand condition. Some women who experience retrograde menstruation may ultimately be diagnosed with endometriosis. Others may have hormones transform into embryonic cells which then implant in other areas of the body, or problems with an immune disorder that leads to tissue growth outside the reproductive organs. In any case of endometriosis, there is a high probability that it will be misdiagnosed initially given the complexity of its symptoms and causes.

Diagnosis of Endometriosis


The reason endometriosis is so often misdiagnosed for another condition, or no condition at all, is just as complex as the condition itself. High rates of misdiagnosis and medical negligence claims occur with endometriosis because of the stigma attached to menstruation pain, explains a solicitor that works with these type of cases. Some medical providers simply connect the symptoms of endometriosis with made-up or exaggerated period discomfort – something women are encouraged to work through alone. In other cases, endometriosis may be incorrectly diagnosed as a sexually transmitted infection, a urinary tract infection, or irritable bowel syndrome.

These issues with endometriosis misdiagnosis often mean women wait more than eight years to receive the correct information and education about their disease. When this takes place, endometriosis patients are left feeling hopeless, with no real recourse for their pain or other debilitating symptoms. For some, a course of treatment for another condition is suggested, which provides no respite for the underlying problem. This is why getting the right diagnosis is critical to help women with endometriosis, no matter how severe their symptoms. Currently, the disease is only diagnosable through laparoscopy from a trained specialist, to which many women are never referred.

Treatment and Support

Women who are properly diagnosed with endometriosis have several options for treatment, including surgery to remove the tissue growth outside the reproductive organs. Some doctors suggest less invasive approaches to treatment first, however, such as lifestyle changes to cut out dairy and gluten, increased physical activity, and stress reduction strategies at home. Pain medication may also be recommended when women are unable to function as they normally would.

One of the most helpful aspects of endometriosis treatment, however, is support from friends, family members, and members of the medical community who understand that the disease is a real issue that has impacts on a woman’s life. Throughout Endometriosis Awareness Month, there are several events and educational sessions put on by charitable organizations, designed to not only support and encourage women living with the disease, but also to help supporters recognize the best ways to provide help when it is needed most.

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, March 19, 2018

10 Simple Swaps to Improve Your Health


You’re probably in a rush right now, wondering who has the time to change their lifestyle or the patience to abstain from the luxuries they enjoy? The pace of modern life barely seems to allow for healthy living! Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case, and by swapping certain elements rather than completely altering your lifestyle, you will be amazed at how much your life can improve. Check out these 10 quick tips:

1. Swap the Office Chair for an Exercise Ball
The evolution of the body is yet to catch up with the threat of endless hours straining over a desk, which is why you need to give it a fighting chance. One highly recommended option is to use an exercise ball as a chair because they keep the lower body engaged, realign your spine, and can even burn a few extra calories throughout the day.

2. Swap the Dinner for a More Active Date

Going out for a big meal with loads of drinks or watching a film with a huge tub of popcorn isn’t exactly the ideal definition of fitness, which is why you should surprise your date by suggesting something more interesting, such as ice skating, miniature golf, or even a romantic hike. These physically active options are not only fun, but they will also impress your date with just how uniquely exciting you are.

3. Swap the Forks for Chopsticks
Eating too fast has been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome, which means a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. Force yourself to slow down by learning how to master the chopsticks, allowing your stomach to work at much easier pace, while you’ll look very fancy with your proficient East Asian skills.

4. Swap Couch Gaming for Exergaming

Keep playing your video games, but do so in the name of health! Connect up your Wii Fit or Just Dance and then jump around the living room, shaking those calories right off of your body. You will still experience that rewarding sense of achievement as you reach new levels and unlock bonus content, except in these games, the achievement is actually real.

5. Swap Rubbing for Patting Yourself Dry

After a shower, your warm damp skin is at its prime level for absorbing moisture, including any creams or oils you should be applying. However, if you’re rubbing yourself dry, you are eradicating these moisture benefits while risking a skin irritation. Be kind to your outer surface and pat yourself dry with a clean towel, preferably one which is extra soft and fluffy.

6. Swap Butter for Avocado
While the butter health debate rages on, rather tune out by venturing down the avocado path. You will consume around a quarter the number of calories, all saturated fats are replaced by the good fats, and you’ll receive an additional 20 vitamins and minerals for good measure. It also tastes much better, some may say.

7. Swap the Television for a Book

Of course, it’s far easier to collapse on the couch and turn your brain off by turning your TV on, but a book engages with much deeper regions of your mind, stimulating your imagination by playing the story in your head and improving your overall language skills at the same time. Not to mention that a book will also help you fall asleep in a snap.

8. Swap Driving for Walking or Cycling
This may be a difficult order for some people, but if you can ride your bike to work instead of using a car or a train, give it a try! You may find you arrive at your destination much faster as you skip traffic and take shortcuts, all the while burning your calories, upping your heart rate, and breathing in so much fresh air that you won’t even need your morning coffee.

9. Swap Beer for Wine

As much as certain people consider beer to be a holy beverage, it’s worth noting that the term “beer belly” exists for a reason. The carbohydrates in this drink are infamous for halting the fat burning process, which is interesting when comparing these figures to the relatively low carbs and sugar content in wine (dry white or red). Of course, to reach the maximum health level it is good to limit alcohol intake overall.

10. Swap Salad Dressings for Balsamic Vinegar or Olive Oil

Nothing says “healthy salad” quite like a bottle of goo loaded with saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. Stop! Clear out your fridge of such detrimental condiments and replace them with some balsamic vinegar and/or olive oil, which work together to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, using vitamin K, vitamin E, and healthy unsaturated fats, all to bless your meal with love.

This a guest blog entry.

Friday, March 16, 2018

8 Reasons to Get an Online Nursing Degree


Many people today are opting for an online nursing degree for many reasons. There are several benefits of getting into an online nursing program when compared to traditional programs. Not only that, but online nursing degrees are being accepted by the most prestigious healthcare facilities. Here are eight reasons why you should get an online nursing degree.

1. Convenience and Flexibility

With an online nursing program, you have much more flexibility when it comes to scheduling the time and duration of your lessons. With an online nursing degree, you’ll be able to continue to work while learning, which makes it very convenient, especially when you’re not able to enrol full time. You can also decide on the entire length of the program depending on your preference. An online nursing program from an institution such as Kaplan University (which has 11 different nursing programs currently) will give you the option to choose from multiple start dates making it that much more convenient.

2. Numerous Specialization Options

Online nursing programs offer many different specialization options depending on your interests. You’ll get the opportunity to specialize in either types of treatments, organs you deal with, specific health conditions or body system types. It is also possible to combine two or three specialization areas when you opt for an online program due to flexibility. Not only that, but registered nurses that want to further their studies find online degrees to be the best options in many cases, since they already have the foundation needed and can fit their school time with their busy schedules more easily. This allows them to seek higher positions or choose to go into a more specialized field if they want to add more feathers to their cap.

3. Reduced Expenses

With an online degree you’ll be able to cut down on several expenses, like transportation and lodging for instance. Online learning is often cheaper when compared to on-campus education since universities don’t have to deal with all the overheads. Unlike on-campus students, you won't have to worry about additional payments like activity and treatment fees. As a result, you’ll have reduced student loans that will be easier to repay once you secure employment.

4. Guaranteed Quality of Education

Contrary to popular belief, online schools receive just the same accreditation as traditional campuses. You don't need to worry about getting a poor quality education once you enrol in an accredited online school. Online nursing programs have a lot of resources that you’ll be able to access if you need assistance. Most online institutions will also give you exclusive access to the teaching staff which will make it easier for you to get assistance with a particular topic.

5. You Could Take Your Degree to a Higher Level

With an online nursing program, your education doesn't need to stop at the bachelors or associates level. Many online nursing schools will give you the option of upgrading to a doctoral or master's degree program at a time of your choosing. A bachelor's degree doesn't necessarily have to be the end of the nursing program for you.

6. You Can Create Your Learning Environment

Not everyone is comfortable with classroom learning due to several different reasons. Some, for instance, do not cope well with the distractions in a normal learning environment. When you decide to take an online class, you’ll be able to create your own learning environment to suit your particular needs. Learning will be much easier once you can control the type of setting that best suits you. You could decide to take your classes outside in an open space, in your favorite coffee shop or library, or from home according to your preference.

7. Ease of Interaction Between Students


It’s quite easy to interact with fellow students and share ideas when taking an online course, mainly due to the convenience technology offers. Traditional programs may limit interactions because students are usually too distracted by other activities after classes. Online platforms have made it easy for students to hold discussions and you could also refer back to the conversations should you encounter any difficulties.

8. Job Security

There is a massive shortage of nurses mainly due to the rising need for quality healthcare. Nurses are in demand, and the demand is expected to go even higher in the coming years due to the ‘baby boomers’ generation having more healthcare needs. And there are sectors where nurses are in much higher demand, such as prenatal care for instance. Once you complete your online nursing program, you will almost be guaranteed to get employment from either the private or public sector.

An online nursing degree is an excellent career choice that can open up a wide variety of employment options. All you need to do is find the right program for you and fully dedicate yourself to your studies.

This is a guest blog entry.