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Archive for the ‘Healthy Living Newsletter’ Category

Coping with Seasonal Allergies

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

May 2014

allergies

For the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, the arrival of spring means the release of pollen from trees, grasses and weeds which trigger the sneezing, congestion and other symptoms that can make them miserable.

These tips can help reduce exposure to seasonal allergens and may minimize allergy symptoms:

  • Check local TV or radio stations, the newspaper or online (www.pollen.com) for current pollen levels and pollen forecasts. Stay inside and keep windows and doors closed when pollen counts are high. If the home has an air conditioning unit, equip it with high-efficiency particulate absorption (HEPA) filters and replace them regularly.
  • Use a portable HEPA air cleaner in the bedroom.
  • Clean carpeting often with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter.
  • Pollen counts tend to be highest in the morning, so avoid outdoor activities early in the day.
  • Have others do lawn mowing and gardening chores. If that is not possible, wear a dust mask when working outdoors.
  • Remove and launder clothes that have been worn outside.
  • Take a shower to remove pollen from hair and skin, especially before going to bed.
  • When driving in the car, keep the windows closed and use the air conditioning.

See a physician for diagnosis and treatment of seasonal allergies. For severe cases, a referral to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of allergies may be necessary.

Over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal decongestants can relieve allergy symptoms and there are products that combine the two types of medications. Keep in mind that some antihistamines can cause drowsiness.

Friday, February 28th, 2014

February 2014

Is it a Cold or the Flu? Understanding the Differences

 

It’s cold and flu season, and while both illnesses share some symptoms, it is the differences in their severity that can help you determine which one you have:

Fatigue - The flu usually hits with exhaustion that can last up to three weeks. You may feel tired when you have a cold, but you can generally carry on with your normal activities.

Fever - It’s rare to experience a fever with a cold, but it is a common flu symptom. Fevers with the flu can be high and persist for a few days.

Headache - While headaches occur rarely with colds, they are a common symptom of the flu.

Body aches - These are common with the flu and often severe, but they rarely occur with a cold.

Sore throat - A cold can include a sore throat but it is not a common flu symptom.

Tightness in the chest and/or cough - These symptoms tend to be mild to moderate with colds, but they can be severe with flu.

What to do if you suspect the flu

If you think you have the flu, contact your physician right away and ask if you should get an antiviral medication. They can help, but must be taken in the first couple of days to really be effective. Both colds and flu are caused by viruses so antibiotics are useless. See your physician if you have a high fever, experience difficulty breathing or if symptoms worsen.

 

Prevent the flu

It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine and they are widely available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.

 

January 2014

Understanding Congestive Heart Failure and How to Manage the Condition

 

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart cannot adequately pump oxygen through the body.

It is estimated that close to six million people in the United States have CHF and more than 650,000 are diagnosed each year.

CHF is caused by medical conditions or events that weaken the heart such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes and others.

Symptoms of CHF can vary in intensity and frequency and include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough or wheezing
  • Swelling in the arms, ankles and feet
  • Fatigue, weakness and/or dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Confusion or memory problems
  • Nausea and/or lack of appetite

While some of the conditions that cause CHF cannot be reversed, CHF can be controlled with treatments that can manage symptoms and lifestyle changes that can improve quality of life:

  • Have all medical conditions monitored by a health care team
  • Carefully follow medication orders
  • Quit smoking
  • Be physically active
  • Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet
  • Track fluid intake
  • Monitor blood pressure
  • Manage stress
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine

 

 

December 2013

Less Daylight Can Lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression people experience at the same time of year, typically in the winter months. While the exact cause of SAD is unknown, many experts believe that what triggers this condition is the lack of exposure to sunlight.

Less daylight tends to interrupt the body’s natural clock (circadian rhythms) and disrupt wake/sleep cycles (in winter months, people tend to wake in the dark and darkness returns many hours before normal bedtimes). SAD is more common in people in northern regions where winter days are much shorter than those of other seasons.

 

As in other forms of depression, there are a range of symptoms associated with SAD that can vary in duration and severity. Common SAD symptoms include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or anxiety
  • Fatigue/oversleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of interest in activities, hobbies and social opportunities
  • Inability to concentrate

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, evaluation by a physician is critical. While SAD is usually short-lived, people with depression of any kind should see a physician for treatment.

 

For mild cases of SAD, there are lifestyle changes that can help improve or alleviate symptoms:

  • Get outdoors during the daytime, within two hours of waking is optimal. Exercise regularly.
  • Bring as much sunlight indoors as possible. Open all blinds and curtains. Sit closer to windows at home and at work.

Make efforts to engage in social activities. See friends as often as possible

October 2013- Aim for a Flu-Free Year

Monday, October 21st, 2013

 

While coming down with a cold can certainly be an unpleasant experience, contracting influenza (flu) can make you feel miserable. For some, the flu is a serious illness and may lead to life-threatening complications.

Like common colds, the flu is caused by a virus and is contagious. It is a respiratory illness that infects the lungs, nose and throat. Its symptoms include:

Fever

Chills

Cough

Sore throat

Runny or stuffy nose

Muscle or body aches

Fatigue

Take steps to protect yourself and your family from the flu with these prevention measures and improve your odds of enjoying a flu-free year.

Vaccinate!

While there is no vaccination to protect ourselves from colds, there are vaccinations for flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.”

The CDC recommends everyone, aged six months and older, be vaccinated, especially people in certain populations such as the very young, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma or cardiovascular disorders. Consult your physician if you have questions about receiving a flu vaccination.   Vaccines are available through physicians, pharmacies and local health departments.

Cleanliness is Critical!

Personal care and healthy habits are important to avoiding the flu. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially before eating. If you have small children, help them wash up and teach them how to do so properly to instill a lifelong habit. Use antibacterial wipes to disinfect commonly-touched items such as door knobs, faucets and shopping cart handles.

Take Care of Yourself!

Keep yourself in good general health by eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and seeing your physician for well checks and recommended health screenings.