Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Learn to understand and interpret your body’s language (holiday stress example included)

 

From KevinMD.com article  by SUSAN BIALI, MD on September 9th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was brought in to speak to the staff of a local university. I gave a two hour workshop, which is even more fun for me than giving a keynote as I get to interact personally with the audience and draw their stories out. One of the sections of the workshop was about listening to your body. Every person’s body “speaks” to them in a different way; it’s important to pay attention to and learn to understand and interpret your body’s language.

 

When your life is off track, your body will let you know. It starts small, whispering to you through minor ailments such as suddenly developing a rash like eczema, or getting mild tension headaches. If you don’t pay attention and make adjustments it will get louder. You might start catching every cold that’s around, or end up with pneumonia.

This isn’t to say that you necessarily caused any and every medical condition you might end up with; there will always be some health situations that we have no explanation for. Yet there’s no question that when you’re out of balance in your life it’s perceived by your body as a stressor, and that can lead to all kinds of secondary consequences (and physical alarm bells). It’s essential to pay attention to this.

While speaking at that university, I asked the audience members if they had any examples of a time their body let them know that something in their life had to change. A small, pleasant-faced woman raised her hand.

“I got diabetes,” she told us. “There’s absolutely no history of it in our family. It was purely due to stress.”

Chronic excess stress could trigger diabetes in a variety of ways: reaching for sugary snacks or other poor food choices to temporarily calm and comfort; lack of time to exercise and maintain a healthy weight; being chronically sleep-deprived (even brief sleep deprivation triggers a pre-diabetic state); or having constantly elevated stress hormones that raise blood sugar.

I asked her what the circumstances were that had made her life so stressful.

“I’m a victim of the sandwich generation,” she said. “I was taking care of my kids, my parents, and everybody else. When I got diagnosed with diabetes, I knew something had to change. I was the person who everyone else came to for Thanksgiving, Christmas, everything. The year I got my diagnosis I told them that if they wanted to eat turkey they could make it themselves, I wasn’t lifting a finger. They didn’t like it at first, but I had no choice. Everything’s so much better now. I made lots of positive changes that were way overdue, and my blood sugar has gone back to normal.”

 

 

 

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Surviving the Holiday Blues

From the December 17 Health Day news item by Randy Dotinga

FRIDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) Christmas and other winter holidays are supposed to be a happy time of year, which makes it all the more stressful when they are anything but joyous.

This is the time of the year when people are especially vulnerable to depression, Dr. Angelos Halaris, a psychiatrist with the Loyola University Health System, said in a university news release. Shopping and entertaining can be stressful, while reflecting on lost loved ones can renew feelings of grief. Add to that the turmoil caused by the poor economy. All these things can help depression gain a foothold in certain individuals.

What to do? If you’re feeling extremely depressed and unable to function, consult a mental health professional immediately. Danger signs include two or more weeks of mood problems, crying jags, changes in appetite and energy levels, overwhelming shame or guilt, loss of interest in daily activities, difficulty concentrating and grim thoughts about death or suicide.

If you feel like your symptoms aren’t severe but still make you miserable, Halaris has these suggestions:

“Exercise works. Having replenishing relationships matter. Doing things that you find rewarding and fulfilling is helpful, as is attending religious services,” Halaris said in the news release. “Getting plenty of sleep and taking care of yourself works. We all have our limits, and learning to live within those limits is important.”

Be aware that depression, exhaustion and lack of interest in life could be a sign of seasonal affective disorder, caused by the lack of sunlight. One frequent symptom is a desire for sweets.

“The most common type of this mood disorder occurs during the winter months,” Halaris said. “SAD is thought to be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain, brought on by lack of light due to winters shorter days and typically overcast skies.”

What can you do about SAD? “If at all possible, get outside during winter, even if it is overcast,” Halaris said. “Expose your eyes to natural light for one hour each day. At home, open the drapes and blinds to let in natural light. SAD can be effectively treated with light therapy, antidepressant medication and/or psychotherapy.”

If you feel the blues because you’re lost in grief, Loyola bereavement counselor Nancy Kiel suggests that it’s important to acknowledge your loss.

“Start a new tradition to honor and remember your loved one,” Kiel said. “Light a special candle or at dinner, have everyone share a favorite memory or all can take part in a loved ones favorite holiday activity. Do something that would make your loved one smile.”

She also suggests that you avoid shopping at the mall — go online instead — and focus on being around people who are caring and supportive.

SOURCE: Loyola University Health System, press release, Dec. 10, 2010.

 

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lead Hazards in Some Holiday Toys

Parents should be aware of potential lead hazards associated with some holiday toys and toy jewelry. Review these important facts to keep your loved ones safe this holiday season.

From the CDC Web Page

The holiday season is here, and that means many children will be given toys as gifts. While new toys are a holiday tradition, parents should be aware of potential lead hazards associated with toys, including toy jewelry. Review these important facts to keep your children safe this holiday season. Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell. Children may be exposed to it from consumer products through normal handling of the product. They often place toys and other objects, as well as their fingers that have touched these objects, in their mouth, which exposes them to lead paint or dust. Lead in Toys Toys that have been made in other countries and then imported into the United States, or antique toys or collectibles passed down through generations; often contain lead that puts children at risk for such exposure. To reduce these risks, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issues recalls of toys that could potentially expose children to lead. Learn more about preventing lead exposure. Lead may be used in two aspects of toy manufacturing. Paint: Lead may be in the paint on toys. It was banned in house paint, on products marketed to children, and in dishes and cookware in the United States in 1978. However, lead is still widely used in other countries and therefore can be found on imported toys. Lead may also be found on toys made in the United States before the ban. Plastic: While regulated, the use of lead in plastics has not been banned in the United States. It softens and stabilizes the plastic; however, when the plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air, and detergents, the plastic breaks down and may form a lead dust. How can I test a toy for lead? Only a certified laboratory can accurately test a toy for lead. Although do-it-yourself kits are available, they do not indicate how much lead is present, and their reliability at detecting low levels of lead has not been determined.

What should I do if I am concerned about my child’s exposure to lead?

If you suspect that your child has been exposed to a toy containing lead, remove the toy immediately. The only way to tell if your child has been exposed to lead is to have the child’s blood tested. Your health care provider can advise whether such a test is needed and also can recommend treatment if your child has been exposed to lead.

Lead in Toy Jewelry

 

 

 

If jewelry containing lead is swallowed or put in a child’s mouth, the child can be poisoned.

What should I do if I believe my child has put lead jewelry in their mouth?

See your health care provider. He or she can perform a blood test to see whether your child has been exposed to lead and recommend treatment if necessary. Most children with elevated blood-lead levels do not have any symptoms. However, there is no safe level of lead in blood. As blood-lead levels increase, a larger effect on children’s learning and behavior will occur. A blood-lead test is the only way to know if your child has an elevated lead level.

What are the effects of wearing toy jewelry?

Just wearing toy jewelry that contains lead will not cause your child to have a high level of lead in their blood. However, small children often put things in their mouth. You should make sure that all children in your household do not have access to jewelry or other items that may contain lead.

Recall Information

The CPSC asks parents to search for possible recalls of toys their children have and take the toys away immediately if they have been recalled. Parents should search their children’s toys for metal jewelry and throw it away. Photos and descriptions of recalled toys and toy jewelry are available on the CPSCExternal Web Site Icon Web site. CPSC can be contacted also by telephone at 1-800-638-2772.


 

 

 

December 15, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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