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Wellness Library- Prevention
5 Home Safety Threats You Might Overlook
5 Home Safety Threats You Might Overlook You're a careful parent who steers children away from things that could harm them. But hidden threats lurk in every house—sometimes where you least expect them. For safety's sake, look through your home often. Keep an eye out for not-so-obvious hazards. Here are five of them: Scalding tap water It is common for a home's water heater to be set above 120 degrees, and this can cause a scald burn to a child in seconds. Scalding hot tap water causes 3,800 injuries and...
5 Ways to Avoid Colds and the Flu
5 Ways to Avoid Colds and the Flu You don't want to spend this winter battling a runny nose, a nagging cough, or a fever. But colds and flu come with the season, right? They don't have to. Try this advice from the CDC. Get a flu shot The best time to get the flu vaccine is when it becomes available in your community, but getting the vaccine later is better than not getting it. The young, those older than age 65, and the chronically ill are most at risk for complications from seasonal flu. The CDC recomm...
6 Vital Nutrients Women May Be Missing
6 Vital Nutrients Women May Be Missing Women's diets often fall short in vital minerals and vitamins. A woman's physiology can make it harder to hang onto some nutrients, too. Women also are more likely than men to develop an eating disorder, which makes it difficult to maintain healthy nutrition. Here are six nutrients that women are often deficient in, either because they lose too much of a nutrient, don't get enough of a nutrient, or both. Calcium Why you need it Calcium builds teeth and bones, curbs...
A Good Walk Can Make You Young
A Good Walk Can Make You Young What would you do to take 20 years off your age? The answer may be as simple as walking, says Barry A. Franklin, Ph.D. "Starting at the age of 20, we lose about 1 percent of our aerobic fitness each year," Dr. Franklin says. "A walking program can improve that fitness from 10 to 20 percent in three months. That's the same as 10 to 20 years of rejuvenation." Dr. Franklin runs a cardiac rehabilitation program in Royal Oak, Mich. "Walking is one of the best and easiest exerci...
A Must-Know Guide to Drug-Drug Interactions
A Must-Know Guide to Drug-Drug Interactions Drug-drug interactions can occur when you are taking more than one medication or drug. One medication can interfere with or alter the effects of one or more of the other medications you take. Such interactions can be dangerous because they can alter the way one or both of the drugs act in the body. They can also cause unexpected side effects. Interactions can increase the action of medications, decrease their actions, or result in a different and less predicta...
A Prescription for Good Health
A Prescription for Good Health Many people have a prescription for long-lasting health and well being. It goes like this: Stay physically active, challenge your mind, and stay involved with others. Studies show that people who exercise their body and mind with hobbies, classes, and other social and intellectual interests live longer. They are also less likely to have minor depression. Here are some activities to keep you in top form: Maintain your brain. Like a muscle, your brain grows when you use it a...
A Prescription for Health in Menopause
A Prescription for Health in Menopause The best approach to menopause is to follow a healthy regimen. That includes dealing with smoking, nutrition, exercise, weight management, and stress reduction. Smoking Smoking is a leading cause of preventable illness and premature death. It increases the risk for heart and lung disease and osteoporosis, as well as lung and cervical cancer. It increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease. Smokers also may experience menopause up to two years earlier than nonsmokers....
A Simple Way to Keep the Flu Away
A Simple Way to Keep the Flu Away You can avoid the flu this season by taking one simple step: Get a flu vaccination. Unfortunately, some people think that getting a flu immunization is too much trouble or costs too much. Or, they swear that a flu immunization will make them sick or make them more likely to catch the flu—or even colds. Seasonal influenza—the flu—is caused by one of several strains of influenza viruses (type A or B) that infect the nose, throat and lungs, making life miserable for a week...
A Winter Cold: Not Inevitable
A Winter Cold: Not Inevitable For most people, catching the common cold is a common part of winter. Children have three to eight colds a year; adults get two to four. Although colds cannot be prevented--or cured--you can take precautions to reduce the chance of infection. What is a cold? A cold is a viral infection that affects the mucus in the lining of the nose and throat. A cold can last from a few days to a few weeks. Five types of viruses can cause colds, but at least one-third of all colds are cau...
Adult Immunizations: Are You Up To Date?
Adult Immunizations: Are You Up to Date? Although children receive the majority of the vaccinations, adults also need to stay up to date on a range of vaccinations, from the flu to tetanus to varicella. Here's why: Adults who have never received childhood vaccinations can have serious complications from these diseases. And for adults who did receive all the recommended vaccines as children, immunity against some diseases can gradually fade away over the years, meaning that booster shots are needed. Vacc...
Air Filters, Dehumidifiers, and Humidifiers
Air Filters, Dehumidifiers, and Humidifiers Here are some tips for understanding the air in your house and the air-quality appliances that can alter it. Air filters Purpose: Air-filtration systems pull most mold, pollen, dust mites, and other particulates out of household air. The best systems use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorption) filters that have multiple pleats that trap tiny particles. Such a filter can be installed in the duct adjacent to the furnace fan. They also are available as port...
Air Pollution Can Break Your Heart
Air Pollution Can Break Your Heart Most people know air pollution can hurt your lungs and make it tough to breathe. But a growing body of research shows air pollution can be as bad or worse for your heart. "The groups of people who are most vulnerable are those already at risk for heart disease. This would include elderly individuals and also people who have other risk factors for heart disease, including people who are overweight, smoke cigarettes, people who have a poor diet -- particularly high in fa...
All About Sunscreen
All About Sunscreen Summertime. Beach time. Long hours in the sun. Before you head out to the white hot sand, you'll want to pick up some sunscreen. But should you buy SPF 15? SPF 30? How about 45? Should you get a sun block? A sunscreen? Something that's waterproof? If you're confused by the numbers and types of sunscreen, welcome to the club. Many Americans, it seems, are so confused by sunscreens that they don't even use them. An adult should use enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass to cover arms, l...
Answers to Questions About HPV
Answers to Questions About HPV The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, with more than 20 million Americans currently infected, according to the CDC. HPV is most common in women and men in their late teens and early 20s. HPV is so common that at least 50 percent of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. Learning about HPV can help you avoid infection and seek treatment, if necessary. What are the symptoms of ...
Anti-Aging Hormones: Do They Work?
Anti-Aging Hormones: Do They Work? Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could look and feel years younger just by taking a supplement? The makers of "anti-aging" hormone supplements would like you to believe that this is possible. But before you accept their claims and open your wallet, see what medical researchers say. With the exception of severe dietary restriction, no treatments have been clearly demonstrated to decrease the rate that humans age or extend lifespan. Genetic manipulation in a frequently st...
Are You Frenetic About Genetics?
Are You Frenetic About Genetics? The headlines that greet every genetic advance can split people into two camps: Those who use the news to support a fatalistic view that healthy living isn't worth it because their genes point to an early demise. Those who anxiously await the test or treatment that will spare them the ravages of disease. But the best course, doctors say, is to balance your interest in the latest findings with tried-and-true treatments. In 2003, scientists finished the blueprint for the h...
As You Age, Be Aware of B12 Deficiency
As You Age, Be Aware of B 12 Deficiency Are you short on stamina? Is your memory fuzzy? Don't assume it's just part of aging. Feeling tired, in a funk, or confused can point to problems you can solve. One of those problems lies in your nutrition. You could be low on vitamin B 12 . This essential nutrient helps make DNA, the genetic material in your body's cells. You also need the vitamin to maintain red blood cells and nerve cells. Along with mental cloudiness, getting too little vitamin B 12 may lead t...
Aspirin and Your Heart: Should You or Shouldn’t You?
Aspirin and Your Heart: Should You or Shouldn’t You? In addition to taking aspirin to relieve pain and fever, millions of Americans take a low-dose or “baby” aspirin daily to reduce their risk for heart attack and stroke. Should you join in? Probably not, unless you have your physician's OK. That's because the benefits may not outweigh the increased risk for bleeding in people what are at low risk for heart attack or stroke. The answers to the following questions can help you understand the risks and be...
Assess Your Goals Year-round
Assess Your Goals Year-round If you set professional goals for yourself at the beginning of the year, don't forget to take a look at what you have and haven't accomplished as the year progresses. Consider the following suggestions on how to coach yourself to a strong finish in the months ahead. Make adjustments It's halftime; make sure you're still in the game. What matters is what you do for your customers this week, this month, and this year. Now's the time to make the necessary adjustments in order t...
Attention Men: Doctor Knows Best
Attention Men: Doctor Knows Best Men who think they're too "macho" to seek medical help could end up making more trips to the doctor's office in the long run. By waiting to see a physician, a man's problem may become more severe, requiring medical attention for a longer period of time. Although the life-expectancy gap between men and women has shrunk, men still need to pay more attention to their bodies. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, men tend to: Smoke and drink more tha...
Avoiding Fall Allergy Triggers
Avoiding Fall Allergy Triggers Many people associate allergies with springtime, but ragweed pollen and outdoor molds that arrive in the fall bring just as much misery. More than 35 million Americans endure burning, itchy eyes; sneezing; sniffles; and chapped nostrils caused by allergic rhinitis or hay fever, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). People who have asthma often have allergies that trigger asthma attacks. If allergies bother you in the fall, you’re most...
Avoiding Joint Injuries
Avoiding Joint Injuries Most sports-related injuries involve damage to the joints. Common joint injuries include a twisted ankle, sprained wrist, overextended elbow, and damaged knee ligaments. Fortunately, you can take steps to help prevent joint damage. When exercising for health and fitness, you can be more at risk for overuse injuries, experts say. Fortunately, you can build strength in your joints and avoid joint injuries by stretching and exercising correctly. Common injuries A sprain is a stretch...
Babies Need 'Tummy Time'
Babies Need 'Tummy Time' Nearly 15 years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first recommended that parents put their babies to sleep on their back. That simple piece of advice cut the death rate from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by more than half. An unexpected result has occurred, however: flattened heads. The flattening—a result of babies' spending so much time on their back—most often occurs on the back of the infant's head and is usually more pronounced on one side. This flattening...
Brush Up on Toothpaste
Brush Up on Toothpaste Selecting toothpaste can be confusing. With different brands promising everything from whiter smiles and fresher breath to fewer bacteria and less tartar, how do you know which one is best for you? Choices in toothpaste have expanded, with manufacturers adding new detergents, abrasives, and other ingredients to enhance products, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Selecting a toothpaste is largely a matter of personal preference, but all adults should use a brand w...
Build Your Bones with Exercise
Build Your Bones with Exercise Your bones contain about 99 percent of the calcium in your body. Every day your body also uses calcium to help nerves and muscles function, and to help blood clotting. Your body doesn’t produce calcium—it must come from the foods you eat. When your body doesn’t get enough calcium through food, it takes it from your bones. Bones are living tissue and are constantly changing. Old bone continuously breaks down and is replaced by new. When you're young and growing, your body m...
Cancer Screening: Beating Your Fears for Good
Cancer Screening: Beating Your Fears for Good Many people, it seems, avoid cancer screenings, even if they schedule yearly physical exams. One reason is inconvenience. Another reason is fear. However, many cancers can be treated successfully, or at least kept in check, if caught early enough. And the screenings represent the best route to early detection. The longer the cancer is in the body, and the longer it remains untreated, the more likely it will move to another part of the body through the circul...
Childhood Immunizations: Get the Facts
Childhood Immunizations: Get the Facts If you are the parent of a young child, you may be confused about the safety of immunizations. You may have heard that vaccines cause life-threatening side effects or can lead to other diseases. Or you may have read that vaccines are not necessary anymore. According to the CDC, the United States has the most effective and safest vaccines. U.S. law requires that several years of product testing for effectiveness and safety occur before a vaccine can be licensed. Onc...
'Choose My Plate' Shapes a Healthier Senior Diet
'Choose My Plate' Shapes a Healthier Senior Diet What do bananas on your cereal, onions in your chili, and pears for your dessert have in common? They're great ways to get the fruits and vegetables you need to help you live a healthy, active life. Choose My Plate, the federal government's food guidelines, encourages you to eat only the calories you need for your activity level. The calories should come from nutrient-rich foods, those with plenty of vitamins and minerals and relatively few calories. For ...
Contraception: Many Options
Contraception: Many Options About half of all pregnancies in this country are unplanned, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For a woman who wants to plan when she becomes pregnant, however, there are many choices. Contraception -- also called birth control -- refers to methods or devices that prevent pregnancy either by preventing a woman’s egg from being fertilized by sperm or by preventing a fertilized egg from being implanted in the uterus. Which method or methods y...
Curb Antibiotic Abuse in Children
Curb Antibiotic Abuse in Children Your child has a runny nose, a cough, a sore throat, and a fever, so you go to the pediatrician. The doctor knows a virus caused this infection, which will just run its course. You're worried, so you push the doctor to give your child an antibiotic. The doctor gives in. Who's wrong? Both you and the doctor, experts say. Children have the highest rates of antibiotic use and they also have the highest rate of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens, but antibi...
Debunking 10 Aging Myths
Debunking 10 Aging Myths Many older Americans lead healthy, interesting, and productive lives well into their later years. But that’s not what we usually hear about. Instead, the emphasis is often on the limitations people experience as they get older from problems as varied as falls, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The result is that we tend to have a bleak picture of getting older. Fortunately, the future can be far brighter. Myth 1: Old people are lonely. In actuality, older adults are less l...
Digital X-Rays Give Dentists the Big Picture
Digital X-Rays Give Dentists the Big Picture For years, an X-ray at the dentist's office went pretty much the same way. The dentist or an assistant would put a wooden or cotton block in your mouth, tell you not to move and disappear. You'd heard a quick clicking sound, and then you would wait for someone to return with tiny films that could be displayed on a lighted box or board. Those days are fading. Digital technology has spread to the dentist's office. From 10 to 30 percent of dentists have forgone ...
Don't Get Burned by Tanning Salons
Don't Get Burned by Tanning Salons Looking for a great tan this summer but hoping to play it safe? Many sun-worshippers who know the dangers of unprotected sun exposure want healthier options. But if a tanning salon is your answer, think twice. "Tanning salons are as dangerous as tanning outdoors," says James M. Spencer, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Spencer says tanning beds use ultraviolet (UV) A and UVB light. Dermatologists blame both types ...
Don't Take Your Eyes for Granted
Don't Take Your Eyes for Granted Imagine what life would be like if you couldn't see well. Reading might not be possible. Watching a movie could be tough. Focusing on the face of a loved one could drive you to tears. The number of people losing their vision is growing, yet experts say much of this vision loss could be prevented. Don't put off regular eye exams because your eyes feel fine or you don't wear glasses or contact lenses. Signs of some eye diseases, such as glaucoma and age-related macular deg...
Drinking Water Quality and Safety
Drinking Water Quality and Safety When you turn on the tap for a glass of water, do you ever wonder about the quality or safety of that water? With drinking water, it's important to consider not just the water itself, but how that water gets to you. The reality is, naturally pure water doesn't exist. Water is an excellent solvent, dissolving and absorbing impurities as it flows in streams, sits in lakes or filters through layers of soil and rock in the ground. Some of these substances, such as certain n...
Drugs: Read Fine Print to Avoid Side Effects
Drugs: Read Fine Print to Avoid Side Effects Pat awoke one recent morning with cold symptoms. She reached into her medicine cabinet for a well-known over-the-counter cold remedy she had often used in the past. An hour later, Pat was on the phone to her doctor, describing in a panicky voice the heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and blurry vision she was experiencing. It turned out that Pat, whose doctor had recently put her on a prescription antidepressant, was experiencing the frightening results...
Easy Ways for Older Adults to Prevent Falls
Easy Ways for Older Adults to Prevent Falls Each year thousands of older men and women are disabled, sometimes permanently, by falls that result in broken bones. Yet small changes in homes and lifestyles can prevent such falls. The changes associated with aging include a decrease in visual acuity, hearing, muscle strength, balance, coordination, and reflexes. These changes can make people more likely to fall. Older people also are more likely to have disorders that may affect their balance, such as diab...
Easy Ways You Can Safeguard Your Sight
Easy Ways You Can Safeguard Your Sight Every year, thousands of Americans injure their eyes or damage their vision. Follow these guidelines to help protect yourself and your family. Everyday eye care precautions Following these suggestions will help protect your eyes while following your daily routine: Wear plastic safety goggles when working with household cleaning products, weed-killers, fertilizers, and other chemicals or with power tools such as electric drills, saws, sanders, and yard equipment. We...
Essential Eye Protection
Essential Eye Protection Nearly one million people in the United States suffer eye injuries each year. Ninety percent of these injuries could have been prevented by wearing the proper protective eyewear. Special eyewear is needed even if you wear glasses. The following guidelines from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Optometric Association can help you protect yourself and your family. At home Household cleaning products, power tools, fertilizers, weed killers, power yard equipment...
Exercise Ideas for Older Adults
Exercise Ideas for Older Adults Finding ways to get exercise as you get older is a smart and easy way to stay fit and improve your health. Exercise is just as important in your older years as when you were younger. Research shows that an exercise regimen offers a wealth of health benefits. One study found that adults ages 75 and older who exercised lived longer than older adults who didn't exercise. Another study discovered that older women who squeezed in resistance, or strength, training workouts each...
Explore Your Genes: Create a Family Health History
Explore Your Genes: Create a Family Health History You have your grandmother's eyes, your father's nose, and your mother's quick wit. But will you also get Aunt Linda's cancer and Grandpa's heart disease? A family health history can help you assess your risk—and take action to prevent diseases you're prone to developing. Does it run in the family? Families share more than last names and traditions. Genetics can contribute to the risk of many common diseases, including: Heart disease High blood pressure ...
Eye-Care Essentials for Computer Users
Eye Care Essentials for Computer Users If you spend hours each day working at a computer screen, you may experience eyestrain, blurred vision, itchy eyes, and occasional double vision. However, studies have found no indication that working on a computer screen causes permanent vision problems. Short-term problems, such as tired, irritated, or watery eyes, do bother the majority of people who work at computers, but these problems can usually be corrected by wearing a special pair of glasses for computer ...
Five Minerals We All Need
Five Minerals We All Need In the mineral world, iron tends to be featured in the nutrition limelight. But these five minerals deserve to shine as well. Chromium Chromium appears to be involved in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism and it may enhance blood sugar control in individuals with diabetes. Chocolate and almonds are good chromium sources. The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), part of the National Institutes of Health, suggests about 35 micrograms a day for men up to age 50, and 20 micr...
Five Ways to Age Gracefully
Five Ways to Age Gracefully In recent years, an increasing amount of scientific evidence has supported the idea that people can do quite a lot on their own to lengthen their life span and to enhance the quality of life as they age. Here are five steps to take every day that can promote healthy aging and boost longevity: 1. Eat healthy foods to help prevent diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke. In addition, maintain a healthy weight. To maintain a healthy weight, maintain strength and help p...
Focus on Keeping Your Spirits Up
Focus on Keeping Your Spirits Up You know that you should eat healthy foods and get some exercise to feel good and live longer. Another key part to living longer is your mental health. Good mental health is just as important as good physical health. But we all face changes in life that can challenge our emotional well being. For example, even if you always looked forward to retirement, you might miss working. Or, maybe you've moved and you miss your old friends. Whatever happens in your life, make your ...
Focusing on Folate
Focusing on Folate The B vitamins are a group of important nutrients you should include in your diet each day. If you're a woman of childbearing age, one of those B vitamins—folate—is especially critical. That's because folate helps prevent certain common serious birth defects called neural tube defects. Getting adequate folate can reduce the risk for neural tube defects by 70 percent. If you are a woman of childbearing age and able to become pregnant, you should get at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of fol...
For Healthy Eyes, Take the Long View
For Healthy Eyes, Take the Long View Keeping your eyes healthy is important ,and if you follow basic rules for your general health, it is possible to avoid long term problems. Here are some tips: Eat right, stay at a healthy weight and exercise. Eye doctors back a diet that helps control blood pressure and blood sugars and helps maintain a healthy weight. Patients should stay fit and avoid the types of fast food that can fuel obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Any of these conditions can reduce blood ...
For Older Adults: What Screenings Do You Need?
For Older Adults: What Screenings Do You Need? One important component to living a long and healthy life is to get preventive health screenings for serious diseases. If your doctor finds a disease early, the problem is often easier to treat and may cause less damage. In addition to celebrating milestone birthdays, consider them reminders for certain important health checks. Here's a timeline for health screenings through the decades: Breast cancer. This screening uses X-rays to look for breast cancers w...
For Parents: Treat at Home or Call the Doctor?
For Parents: Treat at Home or Call the Doctor? When a child complains of a sore throat, stomachache, or a headache, a parent naturally worries. You want to do whatever you can to help your child feel better quickly. Sometimes, the illness seems severe enough to call your pediatrician or even take your child in for a checkup—just in case. For parents of a newborn, first-time parents, or any anxious mom or dad, it may be hard to tell a true health threat that needs a doctor's attention from a frightening,...
For Seniors: Don’t Brush Off Dental Care
For Seniors: Don’t Brush Off Dental Care Older adults may have dental concerns that can’t be totally taken care of with just brushing and flossing. Your dentist may have talked with you about the dental health issues that arise later in life, such as dentures or dry mouth. You can keep your teeth and gums in fine shape by continuing good dental care, no matter what concerns you have, the American Dental Association (ADA) says. Dentures Dentures may make your mouth less sensitive to hot foods and liquids...
For Seniors: You Can Beat the Heat
For Seniors: You Can Beat the Heat After age 65, your body can't adjust to changes in air temperature—especially heat—as quickly as it did when you were younger. That puts you at risk for heat-related illnesses. You also may be at greater risk for heat-related illnesses if you have a chronic health condition or take certain medications that interfere with normal body response to heat. Some medications also restrict the body's ability to perspire. Fortunately, you can enjoy a safe summer by taking a few ...
For Women: Take This Risk to Heart
For Women: Take This Risk to Heart Cardiovascular disease is women's top killer. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLB), eighty percent of women between the ages of 40 and 60 have at least one risk factor for heart disease, but many do not realize it. And fewer than 60 percent of women even realize that heart disease is the top killer of women. Women also don't know about the sometimes subtle signals of a heart attack. Why the disconnect? In general, heart disease has been per...
For Your Heart's Sake, Lower Your Cholesterol
For Your Heart's Sake, Lower Your Cholesterol There's a lot of news about cholesterol these days, and with good reason. High cholesterol contributes to heart disease, which kills more Americans than all cancers combined. What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy, fatlike substance that your body – mainly the liver – produces. Cholesterol is used to make some hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids, which help to digest fat. Cholesterol also is used to build healthy cell membranes (walls) in the brain, nerv...
Free Your Home of Asthma Triggers
Free Your Home of Asthma Triggers Many of the things that trigger asthma symptoms can be found in your home. So the first step to controlling asthma is finding and removing these triggers. This will help you feel better. You may even need to take less medicine. Common asthma triggers are dust mites, pets and pet dander, cockroaches, mold, tobacco smoke and pollen, according to the American Lung Association (ALA). With a little detective work, you can identify triggers in your home and get rid of them. C...
Genetics and Illness: What's Your Fate?
Genetics and Illness: What's Your Fate? If you have a parent or sibling with heart disease, cancer, or some other serious and possibly inherited ailment, does that mean you're doomed to the same fate? Growing volumes of research underscore the role that genes -- the inherited material that forms your body's blueprint -- play in some diseases. Often, your lifestyle and environment -- including what you eat and breathe -- can join with disease-prone genes to make a potential disease a reality. Know your f...
Get to the Heart of Oral Health
Get to the Heart of Oral Health Did you know that research shows a link between gum disease and heart disease and stroke? It’s true. Evidence is mounting that people with periodontal (gum) disease, a bacterial infection, may be more at risk for heart disease and stroke. In fact, gum disease may also worsen existing heart conditions. The inflammation caused by gum disease may contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits inside heart arteries. Although gum disease is not an independent risk factor for hear...
Good Oral Health Practices
Good Oral Health Practices You know the drill--it's what you hope to avoid with regular brushing and flossing. Brushing twice a day will help get rid of plaque, the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque is a sticky film that is deposited on your teeth. It is made up of bacteria, mucus, and minerals in the saliva. Bacteria in the plaque break down the sugars and starches from foods into acids, which attack the enamel on your teeth, causing tooth decay and other problems. Clean white teeth, he...
Good Sources of Antioxidants
Good Sources of Antioxidants Antioxidants are substances found in food. They may help block damage to cells in the body caused by free radicals. Free radicals are substances formed during normal body processes. If not blocked, free radicals may contribute to the development of certain diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants are found mainly in fruits and vegetables. The most important antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids, including beta carotene. Vitamin C is thought...
Grow Older in Good Health
Grow Older in Good Health No pill or potion can guarantee you a long life filled with good health. Modern science has discovered, however, that people who follow certain commonsense health practices tend to live longer, healthier lives than those who don't. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has outlined a list of diet, exercise, and health objectives for Americans. Get a jump on the rest of your life by committing yourself to making the following changes in your lifestyle today. Eat a var...
Guard Your Baby from Rotavirus
Guard Your Baby from Rotavirus A vaccine can protect babies from rotavirus, the most common cause of severe diarrhea in infants. Before the rotavirus vaccine, rotavirus accounted for up to 272,000 emergency room trips (one out of 17 sick children) and up to 70,000 hospital stays a year (one out of 70 children end up in the hospital), according to the CDC. Twenty to 60 children died of the disease each year before the introduction of the vaccine. Very contagious The highly contagious virus can live a lon...
Guarding Against Medical Scams
Guarding Against Medical Scams From television infomercials touting the latest medical "cures," to mail-order schemes and newspaper and television ads that promise better health and a longer life with specific, but unproven, products, medical scams are everywhere. And with the Internet, health fraud is spreading fast and siphoning billions of dollars from consumers' pockets each year. The Internet has given medical scams an effective distribution method. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F...
Habits to Help You Look Good and Feel Terrific
Habits to Help You Look Good and Feel Terrific You can help reduce the effects of aging by following this simple advice: Take care of yourself. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), habits that keep your body functioning at its best are the same things that promote an active, confidant bearing physique. Here are some ideas to help aid in shaping healthy behavioral patterns to help produce and maintain a positive outlook on life. Eat a healthy diet A diet high in saturated fat an...
Health Precautions When You Travel by Air
Health Precautions When You Travel by Air Q. How can I improve plane travel? A. Most people don't have any problems when they fly, but it's possible to make airplane travel safer and more comfortable. Here are some tips: Carry all your medicines in your carry-on luggage. Ask your doctor if you should change your dosages if your eating and sleeping times will change at your destination. Bring enough medicine to last your whole trip in addition to packing extra medicine in case your return trip is delayed...
Healthy Changes for Staying Young
Healthy Changes for Staying Young Time takes its toll on a body, but you don't have to sit back and let the effects of aging take place without a fight. There are things you can do to control the aging process and even reverse some of the damage that's already been done. Part of the aging process is caused by oxidation, the breakdown of cells and tissues as they mingle with oxygen. You can fight that process by adopting healthy lifestyle habits that: Help your immune system fight disease Build up reserv...
Healthy Secrets: Avoiding the Ravages of Age
Healthy Secrets: Avoiding the Ravages of Age The process of aging is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Although your genes seem to be the most important influence, there are some changes you can make that can help you age in a healthy way. The following strategies can help you avoid the aging fast track. Eat less red meat Red meat contains saturated fat, which increases the LDL ("bad") cholesterol and total cholesterol levels in your blood, two factors associated with an increased ri...
Help Your Children Breathe Easier
Help Your Children Breathe Easier Here's something that can take your children's breath away: the air they breathe. Air pollution hurts infants and children more than adults, studies show. Kids' lungs are still developing, they breathe faster and they spend more time outdoors. Problems crop up at pollution levels once thought safe, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Trouble can start at birth or even in the womb. Bad air can worsen asthma and cause more asthma-related hospital stays. Studies...
Help Your Mate Stay Healthy
Help Your Mate Stay Healthy Kathy's doctor recently told her she should lose weight or she would be at risk for health problems. Her husband, Joe, has been at his wits' end because Kathy continues to ignore her doctor's instructions -- she loads butter on her toast, visits fast-food restaurants for lunch and sits around all day instead of getting the exercise she needs to drop the extra pounds. So what does Joe do? What nearly everyone in his position does -- he nags. "Why are you doing that? You'll kil...
High Blood Pressure Glossary
High Blood Pressure Glossary High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a complicated disease. Studies have shown that people who understand the condition are more likely to stick with their treatment plan. Knowing the definitions of terms your doctor may use when talking with you about your blood pressure is important. The following words refer to high blood pressure and medications often prescribed for the condition. ACE inhibitor. A medication that inhibits ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme), which is...
HIV Prevention Is Still Important
HIV Prevention Is Still Important True or false: Now that drugs are available to treat HIV infection, AIDS is not much of a threat for most Americans. The answer is false. HIV/AIDS experts worry that too many people believe otherwise, and have become less careful about protecting themselves. Research shows that those who believe new drugs will keep them well if they do become infected with HIV may choose not to practice safe sex. And that is a dangerous choice. Truth about AIDS After HIV infection occur...
Home Remedies: What Works? What Doesn’t?
Home Remedies: What Works? What Doesn't? You might like the idea of treating common health problems with home remedies. In some cases, such as putting cool cucumber over your eyes as a beauty treatment, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. But if you're looking for relief from a serious and painful condition, like an ulcer or a urinary tract infection, it's a good idea to know whether that home remedy has any evidence behind it. Read on to learn about home remedies that could help—and those ...
How Much of a Threat Is Bird Influenza?
How Much of a Threat Is Bird Influenza? Influenza, with its fever, aches, fatigue and threat of complications, seems a uniquely human illness. But the flu, caused by a virus, can infect animals and birds, as well. The good news is that many strains of the flu virus don't cross over to humans. The sobering news is that the few strains that do make the crossover tend to be virulent, with the potential to cause widespread illness. That's what happened in 1918, when the "Spanish flu" swept around the world,...
How Safe Are Cosmetics and Personal Care Products?
How Safe Are Cosmetics and Personal Care Products? You may be choosy about your moisturizer, hair color product, and makeup brand—but how much time do you spend checking out the safety of those products? Cosmetics and personal care items include foundation and mascara, face and body lotion, soaps and shampoos, hair styling products, deodorant, toothpaste, hair dyes, and nail polish. And, they’re considered safe. But that doesn't mean that there aren't risks associated with their use, particularly if you...
How to Assess Your Risk for Chronic Disease
How to Assess Your Risk for Chronic Disease It’s good to step back now and then and ask yourself: Are my habits reducing or increasing my health risks? Is there more I could be doing to reduce my risk for diabetes, cancer, or heart disease? The following answers can help you fine-tune your lifestyle to promote optimum health. How much should you weigh? If you are overweight, losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your current weight can help you increase your lifespan and lower your risk for obesity-rel...
How to Avoid Sports Injuries
How to Avoid Sports Injuries Sports injuries happen when you exercise or play sports. Although not every sports injury can be prevented, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) says that injury rates could be reduced if all athletes—professionals and amateurs—followed essential safety, conditioning, and preventive strategies. Most people who experience sports injuries have one or both of these in common: A history of injury. Previous injuries often develop into ...
How to Keep Bugs From Bugging You
How to Keep Bugs From Bugging You Does your picnic turn into a swat-fest? Is your fishing trip a mosquito-infested nightmare? Then brace yourself for summer's sting. Although most insects are just nuisances, some can threaten our health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that mosquitoes and ticks can be two of the most dangerous pests. Mosquitoes worldwide transmit diseases from malaria to dengue fever---two tropical illnesses that can show up in the United States because of chan...
How to Make Heart-Healthy Food Choices
How to Make Heart-Healthy Food Choices Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease and other heart conditions. Assuming most Americans are familiar with this fact, why is heart disease still the number one killer among adults? A major reason is that most Americans eat too many high-fat, high-calorie foods. These steps will help you reduce your risk for this condition: Eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2½ to 3 cups of vegetables every day. Produce is packed wi...
How to Make the Move from Crib to Bed
How to Make the Move from Crib to Bed Moving your child from the crib to a first bed is a milestone event. But more than the bittersweet emotional concerns, your priorities will be safety and a healthy sleep routine. When to stop using the crib Sooner or later your child will simply be too big for his crib. Most children will move to a bed by age 2. Here are some signs that your child is ready to leave the crib: You have the mattress at its lowest setting and the height of the top rail is less than thre...
How to Manage Prehypertension
How to Manage Prehypertension Prehypertension is a new term that alerts people to the very real risk of developing chronic high blood pressure if they don't take timely steps to improve their lifestyle habits, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Prehypertension is defined as a blood pressure with the top (systolic) number between 120 and 139, or the bottom (diastolic) number between 80 and 89. Someone who ends up with full-blown high blood pressure may, in time, develop heart dis...
How to Prevent and Relieve Digestive Problems
How to Prevent and Relieve Digestive Problems Just as simple things can upset your digestive system, simple changes can help. The following tips can help prevent or relieve digestive ills. See your health care provider if symptoms persist. Diarrhea Although diarrhea can make you feel miserable, it is rarely cause for concern. Bacteria, viruses, emotional upset, stress, and certain drugs can cause diarrhea, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Most of the tim...
How to Prevent and Treat Ingrown Hairs
How to Prevent and Treat Ingrown Hairs An inflammation or infection of the hair follicles, called folliculitis, can occur anywhere on the skin or scalp. Folliculitis, also known as ingrown hairs, resembles pimple-like eruptions or crusty sores. Folliculitis occurs when the hair follicles are damaged by shaving, waxing or hair plucking, or by friction from clothing, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD). The inflammation can be acute or chronic. The acute infection usually i...
How to Prevent Back Pain at Work
How to Prevent Back Pain at Work People who work in certain occupations, such as nursing, are likely to have back pain. But so can folks who work in an office every day if they don’t take proactive steps to protect their backs. “Most adults have some spinal degeneration, a drying out of the discs and arthritic changes in their spines due to age,” says Alan Hilibrand, M.D., a spine surgeon at the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia and vice chairman of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons communica...
How to Prevent Osteoarthritis
How to Prevent Osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis (OA), sometimes called degenerative arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis. In OA, the cartilage that covers the bones in a joint thins and, in some cases, wears away entirely. This leaves bone rubbing against bone, which can cause inflammation. The inflammation causes swelling and pain, and eventually distorts the originally smooth surface of the joints. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space. This causes pain and i...
How to Reduce the Effects of Aging
How to Reduce the Effects of Aging No need to search for a secret formula to erase the effects of getting older. You already have the power to keep yourself feeling young for years. Keep moving Inactivity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other conditions, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Regular exercise also helps with weight control and keeps your bones, muscles and joints healthy. People who exercise regularly require fewer...
How You Can Avoid Aggressive Drivers
How You Can Avoid Aggressive Drivers Incidents of road rage—those times when drivers act out their anger behind the wheel by trying to hurt another driver or a pedestrian—are becoming more frequent. The following tips can help you avoid incidents with aggressive or violent drivers—and help you avoid such behavior yourself. Drive nice Being a courteous driver can help you avoid being a victim of road rage. To be courteous: Signal every time you merge, change lanes or turn. Use your horn only when needed ...
How Your Child Can Live Well with Asthma
How Your Child Can Live Well with Asthma If you have a child with asthma, you know how frightening wheezing, coughing, and other asthma symptoms can be. Some children eventually outgrow asthma, but it’s usually a long-term disease that requires a long-term treatment plan. With the right asthma action plan, most children with asthma can live full and active lives. Asthma action plan An asthma action plan is a strategy for treating and living with asthma that you and your child's health care provider crea...
Immunization Update for Older Adults
Immunization Update for Older Adults Vaccines aren't just for children. Every year, thousands of American adults become ill, are disabled, or die of diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines. Although infectious diseases are no longer the most common causes of death for older Americans, pneumonia and influenza remain among the top causes of death for seniors, according to the CDC. The following guide can help you determine if you need to be immunized. If you have a chronic health condition or ...
Influenza Shots Urged for Young Children
Influenza Shots Urged for Young Children Each fall, you hear that influenza threatens older adults and folks with chronic ailments. Most years, it's true that the death rate from the flu peaks in those older than 65, and that the rate of hospital stays is highest in people ages 85 and older. But children younger than 2 years have more severe complications from seasonal influenza and may require hospitalization. According to the CDC, about 20,000 children younger than 5 are hospitalized each year because...
International Travel Quiz
How Much Do You Know About International Travel and Health? Test your knowledge of how to stay healthy when traveling abroad. 1. International travel may require prophylactic medicines and vaccines. How long before departure should you see your doctor? You didn't answer this question. You answered The correct answer is Some vaccines must be given in a series over several days or weeks. You should see your doctor as early as possible before your departure to find out what medications or vaccines are reco...
Is It a Virus or a Bacterium? Know the Difference
Is It a Virus or a Bacterium? Know the Difference In general, most colds and other respiratory infections are not serious for adults in good health. It's just the hassle of dealing with runny noses, coughing, sneezing, fever, headaches, aching muscles, and fitful sleeping. But knowing whether your infection is caused by a virus or a bacterium makes a difference in how it is treated. Which is it? Bacteria are one-celled organisms that multiply by simple division. They are linked to such respiratory infec...
Keep an Eye on These Symptoms
Keep an Eye on These Symptoms If you're constantly worried that every headache or spot on your skin means you've been stricken with a dreaded disease, get your facts straight so you can stop panicking unnecessarily. On the other hand, it’s important to be aware of a number of signs that can alert you to a serious health problem. Want to know what you should really be worrying about? Check out these symptoms that shouldn't be ignored. Chest pain This is really a no-brainer—chest pain should always get yo...
Keep Kids Safe from Bugs
Keep Kids Safe from Bugs Lyme disease. Rocky Mountain spotted fever. West Nile virus. Flying fiends and crawling critters can spread such diseases with a bite. Few cases put kids' lives at risk, say experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Still, some insects can threaten children's health, and you'd be wise to take precautions. Many products seek to prevent bug bites, but one that can be applied to skin is very effective: DEET (usually listed on labels as N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide). The AAP...
Keep Your Kidneys Working Well
Keep Your Kidneys Working Well Your kidneys are your body's filters. They remove waste and excess fluid from your blood. People who have high blood pressure and diabetes are at higher risk for kidney disease because of the way these conditions damage the blood vessels and other parts of these vital organs. An important job The kidneys work by cleaning your blood as it passes through tiny filtering units known as nephrons. These filters process important chemicals and nutrients, and they remove wastes su...
Keep Your Noggin Fit with Brain Exercise
Keep Your Noggin Fit with Brain Exercise The dog ran. The dog barked. The dog raced. What else did the dog do? That many seem like a silly question. But the act of thinking up verbs to go with nouns pumps extra blood into your brain, according to brain scans. Getting more blood to the brain is an important way to counteract the effects of aging. The increase in blood flow nourishes the neurons, which are the main communicators in the brain. Try a variety of mental exercises There are various mental exer...
Keeping an Eye on Your Bones
Keeping an Eye on Your Bones Many of us start to think about osteoporosis as we approach our senior years. After all, that's when bone loss occurs, right? Wrong. Doctors tend to treat patients with osteoporosis in their 60s, 70s, and older -- but bone loss begins much earlier. Our bone mass peaks around age 20. Bone loss can begin once peak bone mass is reached. Those at high risk are more likely to lose bone mass early. When bone loss goes unchecked for years, the result is fractures -- often of the hi...
Keeping Your Liver Healthy
Keeping Your Liver Healthy Some parts of your body provide constant reminders that they're on the job. You can feel your heart beating and your lungs filling with air when you take a breath. One of your largest internal organs, however, is more of a silent partner in your health. It's the liver. Your liver is located behind the lower right area of your ribs. Weighing in at about three pounds, it's the size of a football, but soft and smooth. It is part of the digestive system and is connected to the sma...
Know Your Family's Health History
Know Your Family's Health History You have mom's hair and dad's height. That's great, but genes can also pass down chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Learn your family health history to help gauge your risk for disease. Then do all you can to head it off. If you know your grandfather died of a heart attack, for example, you might want to quit smoking. If your aunt had breast cancer and you're a woman, you might want to get a mammogram. Environment, culture and lifestyle...
Little League Goes to Bat for Safety
Little League Goes to Bat for Safety Baseball is known for timeless traditions, but some modern retooling may help keep young players safer. That's why Little League Baseball has amended the rules for its participants. The changes began with the fall 2008 season with mandatory pitch count limits. Pitchers ages 7 to 8 can throw no more than 50 pitches a game. That pitcher can't change to the catcher position for the rest of that day. Pitchers ages 15 to 18 throwing 31 to 45 pitches must have a day of res...
Maintain a Healthy Weight for a Lifetime
Maintain a Healthy Weight for a Lifetime How do some people lose weight and keep it off? How do some people avoid the natural tendency to gain weight as they age? If you have achieved your weight loss goals, or if you didn't but want to keep your weight in a healthy range, consider these recommendations from the National Weight Control Registry, a program of the National Institutes of Health, for weight management over a lifetime. Focus on health, not weight Which is more important to you—being able to ...
Making Changes to Avoid Heart Disease
Making Changes to Avoid Heart Disease Your heart is a vital organ that keeps your body functioning. Unfortunately, many people don't treat it that way. They may not realize that their daily habits and lifestyle can overwork and damage their heart. So, take care of your heart and yourself. Start by making the following lifestyle changes. Get smoke-free Nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow. This makes it hard for blood to reach your heart muscle. Nicotine temporarily raises blood pressure and the carbo...
Making Your Lifestyle Heart-Healthy
Making Your Lifestyle Heart-Healthy The millions of Americans diagnosed with heart and cardiovascular diseases can benefit from making healthy choices in their day-to-day lives. Follow a healthy diet Eating a nutritious diet is a proven way to reduce the risk for heart disease. These are the elements of a heart-healthy diet (amounts listed are for adults): Eat 2 cups fresh fruits and 2-1/2 to 3 cups vegetables every day. Limit saturated and trans fats by using olive oil or other vegetable oils instead o...
Mammograms: What Every Woman Needs to Know
Mammograms: What Every Woman Needs to Know Mammograms can detect many breast cancers before anyone can feel them. When breast cancer is found in its earliest stages, the majority of patients survive for at least five years. The benefits and limitations of mammography vary based on factors like age and personal risk. Experts have different recommendations for mammography. Currently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (UPSTF) recommends screening every two years for women ages 50 to 74. The American ...
Men’s Health Essentials
Men’s Health Essentials Many men like to think they’re invincible, especially when their health is concerned. The facts tell a different story. The leading causes of death for American men are heart disease and cancer—two diseases that can largely be prevented by adopting a few essential healthy habits, the CDC says. Don’t use tobacco That means in any form. Not smoking or chewing tobacco is one of most important self-care actions men can take. Smoking triples the risk of dying of heart disease. If you ...
Migraines: Should You Take Preventive Medication?
Migraines: Should You Take Preventive Medication? What if you could stop a migraine before it even started? For some people, taking medication every day can help prevent migraines and make them less painful when they do occur. Although these medications may not eliminate your migraines entirely, they can provide some relief from chronic migraine pain. According to the American Headache Society, you may benefit from taking a preventive migraine medication if you: Have two or more migraines a month that k...
Milestones in Medicine
Milestones in Medicine A visit to the doctor often calls for routine procedures to prevent, diagnose, or treat an illness. The doctor might check our pulse, draw blood for analysis, give us a flu shot, prescribe an antibiotic, take an X-ray, or even perform minor surgery. These treatments are familiar to us, but to a person living in Colonial America, or even a century ago, they would be cause for wonder. Like so much else, medicine has advanced more rapidly in the past two centuries than in all its pri...
Mold Can Affect Your Health
Mold Can Affect Your Health Indoor molds can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or bathrooms. When mold is present: Walls and ceilings are discolored and show signs of mold growth or water damage. Mold comes in many colors. The air in the room has a musty, earthy smell. Health effects People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold. Mold can cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to it, and can irritate the eyes, ski...
No Sweat? No Good!
No Sweat? No Good! In the heat of summer, it's important to exercise with caution and pay attention to your body. Even if you're fairly well conditioned, overdoing it may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke, causing the body to lose its ability to sweat. Age plays an important role in heat-related illnesses. Because older adults and people with chronic illnesses aren't able to sweat as easily as healthy younger adults, they are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illn...
Nutrition's Role in Disease Prevention
Nutrition's Role in Disease Prevention Evidence is mounting that a healthy diet can help protect you from some diseases. What you eat -- or don't eat -- may help prevent heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. With this in mind, here's how to use your diet to help reduce your risk of disease. Beat heart disease To help prevent heart disease, you need to keep your blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight under control. Healthy eating habits can help you accomplish this, as well as ...
Older Moms, Healthy Babies
Older Moms, Healthy Babies If you are older than age 35 and planning to have your first baby, you may have concerns about becoming pregnant later in life. You may have heard that a woman's risk for complications during pregnancy goes up after age 35. The fact is that most women in their 30s and 40s have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, you should do what any woman should do: Prepare for your baby with healthy lifestyle choices. Talk with your doctor about your risk ...
Olympian Advice on Preventing Sports Injuries
Olympian Advice on Preventing Sports Injuries Neither Olympians nor weekend warriors are immune to tendonitis, ankle sprains, low back problems, and knee pain. Although common, these injuries often can be prevented with proper conditioning. "Activities like tennis, softball, cycling, volleyball, or basketball can cause people to exert a lot of pressure on their muscles and joints," says Scott A. Rodeo, M.D., a former competitive swimmer who was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Committee medical staff. ...
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Coronary Heart Disease
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Coronary Heart Disease Most Americans eat too much fat--and too many calories. That, along with a lack of exercise, has led to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes and contributed to keeping heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. But what about omega-3 fatty acids? Omega-3s are a beneficial and essential form of fat, one that your body needs but can't make. Although your body needs two forms of omega fatty acids--omega-3 and omega-6, it is the omega-3s t...
On the Barbecue, Charred Is Barred
On the Barbecue, Charred Is Barred Many foods seem to taste better hot off the grill. But there's a dilemma facing those of us who love to barbecue in warm weather. Researchers have found that cooking muscle meats—beef, pork, poultry, and fish—at high temperatures may pose a risk for cancer. The cooking process can cause amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and creatine, a chemical in muscles, to react and form heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Seventeen different HCAs from the cooking of muscle meats...
Optimize Your Health and Happiness
Optimize Your Health and Happiness Staying healthy mentally and physically isn't simply a matter of good genes. It's a proactive project that lasts your entire life. Like a finely tuned machine, your body needs preventive maintenance. Experts offer the following suggestions to help you keep your body and mind running like a well-oiled machine. Use the right fuel To stay healthy over the long run, tune-up your diet. Every day, you have numerous opportunities to give your body good nutrition for preventiv...
Oral Health and Asthma
Oral Health and Asthma If you have asthma, does your dentist know? This is important for good oral health, especially if you use a corticosteroid inhaler. Corticosteroid inhalers are medications used to treat asthma. Also known as controller medications, they help prevent attacks by reducing swelling in the lining of the airways of your lungs. Corticosteroids also make the airways less sensitive to triggers. Over time, asthma symptoms improve. When corticosteroids are used daily as prescribed, the resul...
Osteoporosis: Evaluate Your Risk
Osteoporosis: Evaluate Your Risk Osteoporosis is a disease that causes rapid thinning of bones. Over time, this weakens the bones and can make them more likely to break. About 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and 80 percent of them are women, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) says. About 34 million more have below-normal bone density that hasn't reached the level of osteoporosis. Women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, in part because men have larger, stronger bones. Both...
People with Asthma Need Yearly Flu Shot
People with Asthma Need Yearly Flu Shot Getting the flu can be serious business for people with asthma. The flu can leave you susceptible to serious illnesses, such as pneumonia. That’s why it’s important to take steps to prevent it. The good news is that you can help prevent the flu. Here's how: Get a flu shot every year. Wash your hands often. Stay away from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth since germs spread this way. The ideal time to get the flu shot is as soon as it i...
Pets and People: The Health Connection
Pets and People: The Health Connection Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, loved dogs, yet he never mentioned them in his research. Only recently have scientists begun to analyze the way we humans relate to other species. Perhaps that's because we need to make sense of the close connections so many people have with their pets, from pythons to parrots, and from German shepherds to Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. Here are some of the most common questions people ask about their pets: Is a dog's mou...
Pets Fill a Special Role in Seniors' Lives
Pets Fill a Special Role in Seniors' Lives Having a pet can be a boon to body and soul—especially as we age. Seniors can benefit greatly from pet ownership Pets offer companionship, something to nurture, unconditional love, and a sense of security in new situations. And pets can relieve stress, which may help explain why studies have found that pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The nurturing role Taking care of an animal that cares about you and responds to you can help with l...
Planning Ahead for Travel Emergencies
Planning Ahead for Travel Emergencies Whether you're headed for the beach, the outback, or the big city for your summer vacation, you should add a few more items to your to-do list so that you are fully prepared to travel. Taking time before your departure to plan ahead for possible medical emergencies and everyday health and medication needs is just as important as making plane and hotel reservations. The following suggestions can help ensure you and your family have a healthy and happy vacation. Road ...
Play It Cool in the Hot Tub
Play It Cool in the Hot Tub What's more relaxing than a good soak in a hot tub? Hot water sure makes you feel great, but hot tubs and whirlpools can sometimes be dangerous—and even deadly. Let's take Joe, who's just finished a grueling workout on the stair climber. He jumps straight into his hot tub and cracks a cold beer to relax. What's wrong with this picture? Plenty. Your body can't cool itself when it's immersed in water that's hotter than body temperature. So Joe, already hot from his workout, has...
Posture Pointers for Preventing Pain
Posture Pointers for Preventing Pain Good posture can help your body function at its best. It promotes movement, efficiency and endurance, and contributes to an overall sense of well-being. It can also help prevent chronic aches and pains that can require medical attention. The following suggestions will help you avoid posture-related aches and pains. Sitting right At your desk, keep your feet flat on the floor with your hips bent slightly forward. Sit with your back firmly against the chair and keep yo...
Pregnancy and Oral Health
Pregnancy and Oral Health Throughout pregnancy, women may worry about their waistlines and fret about food. You take prenatal vitamins, see your doctor frequently, get regular exercise, and avoid alcohol and smoking—all in the name of a healthy pregnancy and, ultimately, a healthy baby. Something you might not associate with a healthy pregnancy is dental care. But regular dental checkups and cleanings, along with frequent brushing and flossing, are important for a healthy mouth and a healthy pregnancy. ...
Pregnant? Why You Should Know About Lead
Pregnant? Why You Should Know About Lead Along with a new crib and new toys, many expecting parents get their baby's room ready with a new coat of paint. But before you strip the walls of the old paint, you should find out if your home has lead in it. If you're pregnant, it's just as important for you to stay away from lead as it is to protect your children from it. Exposure to high levels of lead can pass to your baby and lead to miscarriage, preterm delivery, low birthweight and developmental delays i...
Preparing for Severe Winter Weather
Preparing for Severe Winter Weather Severe winter storms can be dangerous, even deadly. They can include blizzards, freezing rain, ice, sleet and dangerously low temperatures and wind-chill factors. Knowing how to prepare for a storm, and what to do during and after one, can help keep you and your family safe. Advance planning Take the following steps before a winter storm moves into your area: Make sure your home is properly insulated. Insulate walls and attics. Caulk and weather-strip doors and window...
Preventing Falls One Step at a Time
Preventing Falls One Step at a Time Although it's impossible to prevent all falls, you can help keep yourself safe as you grow older by improving your balance and employing "fall-proofing" behaviors in and around your home. According to the CDC, one out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year. The CDC estimates that up to 30 percent of adults who fall injure themselves seriously enough to impair their independence and increase their risk for premature death. Change your home To help prevent fal...
Prevention of Heart Disease Starts in Childhood
Prevention of Heart Disease Starts in Childhood You may think of heart disease as a problem for adults, not your young children. But diet and exercise habits started in childhood can begin a lifetime of heart health . . . or a lifetime of heart damage. Some of the preventable causes of adult heart disease that begin in childhood are: Obesity Buildup of plaque (or fat deposits) in the arteries Unhealthy changes in cholesterol levels Although it’s true that heart disease risk can run in families, a health...
Primer: Smokeless Tobacco
Primer: Smokeless Tobacco Many people think using smokeless tobacco is safer than smoking. Just because there's no smoke, doesn't mean it's safe, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says. A person who uses eight to 10 dips or chews a day receives the same amount of nicotine as a heavy smoker who smokes 30 to 40 cigarettes a day. Spit tobacco is placed inside the mouth, which gives the user a continuous high from the nicotine. It's made with a mixture of tobacco, nicotine, sweeteners, abrasives, salts and ...
Protect Your Child from Medical Errors
Protect Your Child from Medical Errors Medical errors are one of the leading causes of death and injury for American adults, according to a study by the Institute of Medicine. A medical error can occur when something that was planned for medical care doesn't work, or when the wrong plan was used in the first place, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. While hospitals, doctors, and government agencies are working to decrease errors, there is much parents can do to protect their ch...
Protecting Yourself Against Medical Errors
Protecting Yourself Against Medical Errors Every year, thousands of Americans die because of medical errors. Such errors can occur anywhere in the health care system and can involve medicines, surgery, diagnosis, equipment, or lab reports. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) says that errors also happen when health care providers and their patients have problems communicating. The following suggestions can help you protect yourself and your family from such errors. Take an active role ...
Put a Stop to Nerve Injuries Called Stingers
Put a Stop to Nerve Injuries Called Stingers Body-jarring moves are part of the game for football players, wrestlers, and others who play contact sports. They're also the most common cause of stingers , painful electrical sensations radiating through one of the arms. These painful injuries affect the nerves in the neck and shoulders, or those in the neck that branch off from the spinal cord, according to the North American Spine Society (NASS). Stingers occur when the shoulder and head go in opposite di...
Put Up a Food Fight Against Disease
Put Up a Food Fight Against Disease You can't change your family medical history, which may put you at increased risk for chronic disease, heart disease, or cancer. But you can fight back against such conditions by altering your lifestyle, particularly your diet. Nutrition is a critical component to promoting good health, and if certain diseases run in your family, you'll want to make your diet as preventive as possible. Here's food for thought on dietary changes that can help you prevent several seriou...
Putting Disease Risk into Perspective
Putting Disease Risk into Perspective Are you terrified you might get mad cow disease? Does news of E. coli outbreaks make you swear off spinach salads for life? True, a few people will get those illnesses. But most of us never will. The things most likely to make us sick seem less dramatic: heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, to name just some of them. Even when we think about these real threats, we may conclude our risk is far higher or lower than it is. Risk perception The way we gauge the p...
Recognizing a Partner's Emotional Abuse
Recognizing a Partner's Emotional Abuse Physical violence is just one form of domestic abuse. If you have a partner who verbally humiliates you, demands all your attention, blames you for everything that goes wrong or threatens to harm you or your children, you’re also being abused. Emotional abuse can be subtle at first and may consist of name-calling, ignoring your feelings or cursing at you. However, over time it usually escalates to repeated put-downs, ordering you to account for every minute of you...
Recognizing Domestic Violence
Recognizing Domestic Violence Domestic violence is behavior someone uses to control a spouse, partner, date, or elderly relative through fear and intimidation. It can involve emotional, sexual, and physical abuse, as well as threats and isolation. In most cases, men are the abusers. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. It can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. ...
Recognizing Medication Tampering
Recognizing Medication Tampering Over-the-counter and nonprescription medicines are packaged so you can easily notice signs of tampering. Improved packaging includes the use of special wrappers, seals or caps on the outer and/or inner containers, or sealing each dose in its own pouch. Even so, no packaging system is completely safe, so it's important that you check for signs of tampering whenever you buy or use a medicine. The following guidelines can help you detect possible signs of tampering. How eas...
Reducing Your Risk for Breast Cancer
Reducing Your Risk for Breast Cancer Common myths about breast cancer abound, relayed through word of mouth and the Internet, often frightening women unnecessarily. Despite the rumors, you can't get breast cancer from electric blankets, deodorant, microwave oven use, or underwire bras, says the American Cancer Society (ACS). The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has found no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer, dispelling another popular myth. That's not to say your lif...
Relaxation Techniques That Really Work
Relaxation Techniques That Really Work Everyone experiences stress and its effects. Short-term effects of stress include headaches, shallow breathing, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and upset stomach. Long-term chronic stress can increase the risk for heart disease, back pain, depression, persistent muscle aches and pains, and a weakened immune system, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Chronic stress can affect your emotions and behavior by making you irritable, impa...
Retired? It's Time to Join the Club
Retired? It's Time to Join the Club Congratulations! You're retired, the kids are grown and at last you can do what you want. So what are you going to do with all that spare time? "We encourage people to plan financially for later life, but do very little to help them plan their 'life portfolio,' which includes their time, energy, interests and ambitions," says Jim Hinterlong, Ph.D., associate professor of social work at Florida State University. "Ironically, there is plenty of current research showing ...
Save Your Child From Injuries
Save Your Child From Injuries Every day, injuries send 25,000 children to emergency rooms. Simple precautions could head off most of those trips. "The biggest thing is prevention," says Rick Blum, M.D., president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "You can't prevent most medical emergencies, but you can prevent many injuries." At routine visits, your pediatrician can offer safety tips that fit your child's age. Here's some general advice: Use safety seats or seatbelts in the car. Make sure...
Senior Centers: A Range of Opportunities
Senior Centers: A Range of Opportunities Did you know that senior centers offer much more than a hot meal and bingo? "Today's senior centers are changing, and many place a strong emphasis on healthy aging and lifelong learning," says Constance Todd, director of civic engagement for the National Council on the Aging. Senior centers enrich the lives of older adults with a range of opportunities for socialization, learning, travel, volunteerism, and physical and mental challenges. So why haven't you visite...
Seniors: Keep Key Documents Handy
Seniors: Keep Key Documents Handy If someone asked your adult children when you last saw a doctor, could any of them answer? What if you were asked for a list of specialists you've seen in the last five years or the results of hospital tests you've had in that period? Can your spouse find your birth certificate? The time to pull all that together is now, when you have time, experts on aging say. If you need admission to a long-term care facility, for instance, having the right documents gathered togethe...
Shake the Salt Habit
Shake the Salt Habit Too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems. But salt, or sodium chloride, is hard to avoid. It’s in just about every processed or packaged food in the supermarket aisle. The American Medical Association (AMA) is concerned about the high rate of cardiovascular disease in the United States. It is urging food manufacturers and the government to help Americans shake the salt habit. Americans consume two to three times more sodium than is healthy...
Six Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Six Symptoms You Should Never Ignore Some people rush to the doctor's office every time they feel a little ill. Others try to tough it out and hope the problem will go away. In either case, there are some symptoms no one should ignore. Many health problems do take care of themselves over time, but some symptoms may indicate the possibility of a serious condition and should be evaluated immediately by a health care provider. To determine if something could be serious, look for changes in the way your bod...
Skin, Eyes and the Sun
Skin, Eyes and the Sun Along with warmth, the sun also produces light and an invisible ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation can cause sunburn, wrinkles, sunspots, cataracts and skin cancer, and probably contributes to macular degeneration. The tan was once a symbol of health, but now has been shown to be the result of exposure to UV radiation. You can protect yourself from skin cancer and other sun damage by using sunscreen, covering up and wearing sunglasses that block UV rays. Some UV radiation, h...
Sleep and Your Child
Sleep and Your Child A good night's sleep is as important to your child as a hearty breakfast. Without enough shut-eye, children are more likely to struggle with their school studies, do poorly on the playing field, and suffer depression, studies show. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), children are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep over a 24-hour period. This can make it tough for your child to solve problems and memorize lessons, which can lower grades and self-esteem. S...
Smile! Are You Eating Healthy?
Smile! Are You Eating Healthy? If you're not eating right, you may be at risk for problems with your teeth and mouth. Bad eating habits can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Children's teeth are at special risk because they are still developing. Here's how foods cause tooth decay: When you eat, food meets germs that live in your mouth. When you don't clean your teeth after eating, germs use sugar and starches found in many foods to make acids. These acids destroy the tooth's hard surface (the enamel) b...
Sound Advice for a Healthful Pregnancy
Sound Advice for a Healthful Pregnancy So, you're having a baby! Once the shock of that news begins to wear off, it's important to think about your lifestyle and health habits during pregnancy. Following these guidelines can help keep you and your developing child healthy in the months to come: Visit your health care provider regularly throughout your pregnancy. Don't take any medications without your doctor's OK. Both prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause birth defects. Don't smoke. ...
Sound Advice for MP3 Users
Sound Advice for MP3 Users As teens and preteens plug in their earphones and crank up the volume, "Can you hear me now?" threatens to become more than an ad catch phrase. Experts say today's small music players pose a big risk of hearing loss. One reason: The "earbuds" used with iPods and other MP3 players fit into the ears, not over them. That makes the sound more intense than old models. Their digital songs are distortion-free, too. That invites kids to dial up the loudness with no loss of clarity. Mo...
Stay Awake Behind the Wheel
Stay Awake Behind the Wheel Would you ride in a car with a driver who’s been drinking alcohol? No way. How about riding with someone who just pulled an all-nighter? If you’re not sure, consider this: Every year, sleepy drivers cause about 100,000 automobile accidents in the United States. According to a recent poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of Americans have driven while drowsy in the past year. You may believe that you can stop yourself from falling asleep, but you can’t. Y...
Steps Women Can Take to Reduce Their Diabetes Risk
Steps Women Can Take to Reduce Their Diabetes Risk Type 2 diabetes can be deadly for women, especially minority women. The prevalence is two to four times higher among women who are African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian/Pacific Islander, says the CDC. Over the last 30 years, death rates associated with heart disease have decreased 27 percent in women without diabetes, while women with type 2 diabetes have seen an alarming 23 percent increase, according to the American Diabetes Associatio...
Stop the Spread of Germs at Work
Stop the Spread of Germs at Work Illnesses such as the flu and colds are caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. They’re usually spread from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes. They also can spread when a person touches cold or flu viruses deposited from another person on a desktop, doorknob, desk, telephone receiver, or handrail. Some viruses and bacteria can live for two hours or more on hard surfaces. If the person then touches his or her eyes, mouth, or nos...
Straight Talk on Posture
Straight Talk on Posture Need more energy? It could be as close as the top of your head. If your head is held high, and you lengthen your spine by standing straight, it helps open your chest to create space for all your internal organs. Your entire body benefits, and you can use this "found" energy to pursue activities you love. Studies show good posture can enhance your appearance, confidence, and self-esteem. It also relieves overcrowding of internal organs caused by slouching. We've all tried to stop...
Strategies to Living the Life You Want
Strategies to Living the Life You Want You may have a profession at which you excel and a nice house in a good neighborhood. But if you still wonder when the fun starts or what you'll be when you grow up, it may be time for a serious reevaluation. Success doesn't necessarily lead to fulfillment. Unless you take time to formulate your own definition of success, you can reap many rewards in life but still have a sense of hollowness associated with them. Here are some suggestions on how you can develop you...
Stress Can Increase Your Risk for Heart Disease
Stress Can Increase Your Risk for Heart Disease Stress is a normal part of life. Stress can come from physical causes, such as not getting enough sleep or having an illness. It can come from mental causes, such as not having enough money or death of a loved one, or less dramatic causes, such as everyday obligations and pressures that make you feel that you are not in control. Your body’s response to stress was designed to protect you, but if it is constantly activated it can harm you. Studies suggest th...
Stroke Awareness for All Ages
Stroke Awareness for All Ages Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease, cancer, and lower respiratory disease. It is also a leading cause of adult disability. Although more strokes occur in the elderly, stroke is also a major cause of disability and death among middle-aged people. What causes stroke? Strokes occur when something interferes with the normal flow of blood to the central nervous system. Ischemic strokes are caused by blood clots or cholesterol pla...
Take Action to Beat Heart Disease
Take Action to Beat Heart Disease If you’re at risk for heart disease, we have good news for you. Many people can take steps to significantly reduce their chances of developing it. Even if you already have atherosclerosis or have had a heart attack, there’s a lot you can do to prevent future heart problems. Cardiac catheterization, bypass operations, angiography, stents and statins are helping many people with heart disease live longer. Even so, heart disease is still the most common cause of death in t...
Take the Bite Out of Spring
Take the Bite Out of Spring Mosquitoes can be more than a nuisance--they can ruin your outdoor plans and threaten your health. So it’s a good idea to protect yourself and your family as the weather heats up. Mosquitoes rest during the day in dark, humid areas, then come out at dusk to feed on animals and humans. The skin irritation you feel after a bite is your allergic reaction to their saliva. Mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile Virus (WNV), can be passed through just one bite. Still, the chan...
Taking Care of Yourself After Childbirth
Taking Care of Yourself After Childbirth After you've had your baby and returned home from the hospital, you are not yet finished with the physical transitions that pregnancy brings. Your body continues to change after delivery. Your breasts fill with milk and your uterus shrinks back to its regular size. Coping with these changes while you adjust to caring for a new baby can present a challenge. To stay in good health, you need to recognize which symptoms are normal and which require medical attention....
Taking Care with Lyme Disease
Taking Care with Lyme Disease Lyme disease is a tick-borne bacterial infection that most often targets the skin, joints, brain, and heart, although any part of the body can be affected. Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria transmitted through tick bites. According to the CDC, most Lyme disease infections in the U.S. occur in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, from northeastern Virginia to Maine; in the north-central states, mostly in Wisconsin and Minnesota; and the West Coast, particularly in n...
Taking Good Care of Your Eyes
Taking Good Care of Your Eyes You should see your eye doctor regularly to help avoid or minimize vision problems. Common eye problems include blurred vision, halos, blind spots and floaters. Blurred vision refers to the loss of sharpness of vision and the inability to see small details. Blind spots, called scotomas, are dark "holes" in the visual field in which nothing can be seen. Floaters are small bits of protein or other material that drift in the clear gel-like portion of the eye. The source of the...
Taking Time for Tea
Taking Time for Tea The spotlight is on tea, with questions about whether it may be the ultimate health drink. Drinking this age-old beverage has been reported to potentially protect the body from ailments as serious as cancer. Do these claims hold water? For now at least, scientists are taking a wait-and-see approach, as research continues. Antioxidant power True tea—black, green, white, and oolong—all come from the leaves of the same plant, Camellia sinensis. What interests researchers are the chemica...
The ABCs of Safer Sit-Ups
The ABCs of Safer Sit-Ups Doing sit-ups or crunches can strengthen your abdominal muscles. But you have to do them correctly to achieve good results. Well-toned abdominal muscles, which run from the lower margin of the rib cage down to the pubic bone, keep your spine aligned and protect internal organs. They also transfer force between your upper and lower body more efficiently so you can easily perform everyday movements, such as bending, lifting, squatting, walking and reaching. To tone your abs effec...
The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth
The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth If you are what you eat, that's particularly true for your teeth and gums. When you drink and munch starchy or sugary foods, you're not only feeding yourself, you're feeding the plaque that can cause havoc in your mouth. Plaque is a thin, invisible film of sticky bacteria and other materials that covers all the surfaces of all your teeth. When sugars or starches in your mouth come in contact with plaque, the acids that result can attack teeth for 20 minutes or mor...
The Healthy-Bones Diet
The Healthy-Bones Diet Adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D in your diet help maintain your bone strength, reducing your risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak because of the loss of bone density. Although you can take supplements that provide calcium and vitamin D, the best way to get adequate calcium is by eating calcium-rich foods. One in every two women and one in four men older than 50 will have a bone fracture caused by weak bones in their lifetime. Fortunately, followi...
The Many Causes of Insomnia
The Many Causes of Insomnia Anxiety and stress are thought to be the most common causes of insomnia. About 35 percent of people with chronic insomnia suffer from depression or anxiety. But sleeplessness can also be caused by a variety of medical conditions, medications, and environmental factors. If you suffer from insomnia and have any of the following medical conditions, ask your health care provider to discuss possible treatments. Respiratory conditions Allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema ca...
The Myths and Facts About Donating and Receiving Blood
Myths and Facts About Donating, Receiving Blood Many myths are associated with donating and receiving blood, including the threat of catching HIV, hepatitis, and other communicable diseases. According to the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), less than 10 percent of the U.S. population donates blood each year, although 38 percent of people are eligible to do so. Let's dispel some of the myths by examining the facts about donating and receiving blood. Donating blood It's not possible to contract...
The Threat of Metabolic Syndrome
The Threat of Metabolic Syndrome Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that greatly raises your risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Risk factors If you have three or more of these factors, you are said to have metabolic syndrome: A high level of triglycerides, or more than 150 mg/dL A low level of HDL ("good") cholesterol, or below 40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women Abdominal obesity, or a waist circumference of greater than 40 for men, or greater than 35 for women High bl...
The World's Best Anti-Cancer Diet
The World's Best Anti-Cancer Diet In your quest to reduce your cancer risk, don't overlook the obvious: Improving your diet can play a substantial role in preventing the disease. Helpful lessons can be learned from other countries that report lower levels of nutrition-related cancers than in the United States. If you are in doubt, consider the following examples. Choose plant power Eating a variety of plant-based foods—fruits and vegetables—is the number one rule for cancer prevention because such foods...
Tips for Driving After Age 60
Tips for Driving After Age 60 Although we can get around by bike, bus, train, or sidewalk, most Americans rely on their car when it comes to getting from one place to another. Driving is a key to independence. As you get older, you should be able to continue to drive. A person's ability to drive isn't based on age alone. Age or disease-related changes in vision, physical fitness, problem-solving abilities, and reflexes, however, may be reasons to reevaluate your abilities behind the wheel. If any of the...
Tips for Preventing an ACL Knee Ligament Injury
Tips for Preventing an ACL Knee Ligament Injury The knee is a joint where three main bones join: the femur, or thigh bone; the tibia, or shin bone; and the patella, or knee cap. Several ligaments attach to the femur and tibia and give the joint strength and stability. One of these, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), is in the center of the knee and limits rotation and the forward movement of the tibia. Recent studies estimate that nearly 250,000 ACL injuries occur annually in the United States. The A...
Traveling With a Chronic Condition
Traveling With a Chronic Condition Any trip requires advance planning so you can be comfortable and lower your risk for worsening symptoms. Use this checklist to create a smart travel plan for a safe and enjoyable trip. Bon voyage! Involve your health care providers Arrange a consultation with your doctor at least four to six weeks before traveling. Get written instructions for how to handle problems while away. If you are crossing time zones, be sure to ask your doctor how to take your medicines on sch...
Trouble Flossing? Help Is at Hand
Trouble Flossing? Help Is at Hand Are you one of those people who don't floss because you find it awkward to maneuver the floss between your teeth? If so, a number of products can help you get the job done. "There's no debate: You must floss," says Richard H. Price, D.M.D., a consumer spokesman for the American Dental Association. "You cannot just rely on brushing your teeth." To prevent decay and gum disease, the two almost universal dental problems, you must remove plaque—the microscopic film of bacte...
Turning Prediabetes Around
Turning Prediabetes Around According to 2011 data from the CDC, more than 28.5 million people, or 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes. This puts them at increased risk for heart disease, limb amputation, blindness, and other serious health conditions. Fortunately, type 2 diabetes—the most common type of diabetes—can be prevented. You may be able to reverse its course if you make the right lifestyle choices. Before type 2 diabetes sets in, a condition known as prediabetes usually occurs. If...
Twelve Weeks to a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
Twelve Weeks to a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Heart disease is a killer, but you can do plenty to reduce your risk and prolong your life. Research shows that making lifestyle changes can decrease your risk of cardiovascular heart disease. Adopting heart-healthy habits over the next 12 weeks will start you on the road to better health and a longer life. Twelve-week plan Week 1: Commit to get fit. The American Heart Association reports that up to 250,000 deaths each year result from a lack of regular physical...
Understanding Alcohol's Effects
Understanding Alcohol's Effects What happens when you drink an alcoholic beverage? Although alcohol affects different people in different ways, in general, it is quickly absorbed from your digestive system into your blood. The amount of alcohol in your blood reaches its maximum within 30 to 45 minutes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Alcohol is metabolized—that is, broken down chemically so it can be eliminated from your body—more slowly than it is absorbed. ...
Understanding Cocaine and Crack
Understanding Cocaine and Crack Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. Cocaine generally is sold on the street as a fine, white, crystalline powder derived from the dried leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine is also known as "coke," "C," "snow," "flake," or "blow." Street dealers usually dilute it with inert substances, such as cornstarch, talcum powder or sugar, with active drugs, such as procaine (a chemically related local anesthetic), or with amphetamines. The powd...
Understanding Prehypertension Prehypertension is a new term that alerts people to the risk of developing chronic high blood pressure if they don’t take timely steps to improve their lifestyle habits, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Someone who ends up with full-blown high blood pressure may, in time, develop heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, or dementia, and may have to stay on prescription drugs for life. The numbers to remember are 120 over 80—the bl...
Use Your Medications Wisely
Use Your Medications Wisely You don't have to look past your medicine chest to find prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies that can make you feel better, improve your health, and even save your life. We use more medications, supplements, and herbal therapies today than ever. A survey found four out of five U.S. adults take at least one medication each week. More than one in four adults takes at least five medications. That's no surprise when you think of what medications can do. They help trea...
Use Your Sun Smarts
Use Your Sun Smarts When the weather is nice and the sun is out, you can't wait to spend time outdoors. But before you do, play it safe and protect your skin. If you don't, you risk a painful sunburn and worse—skin cancer. Skin cancer can strike at any age, but it is more common in older people because they've had more years of sun exposure. Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce your chance of getting skin cancer, even if you haven't been careful about the sun before. The power of the sun Most skin ...
Vaccine Offers Hope for Children’s Earaches
Vaccine Offers Hope for Children's Earaches Earaches are common during childhood, but a vaccine can ease the pain for thousands of kids. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, marketed under the brand name Prevnar, was approved by the FDA in 2000. An improved form of the vaccine, Prevnar 13, was approved in 2010. Prevnar 13 targets the most common strains of pneumococcus, one of the bacteria that causes ear infections, but that also cause many cases of serious illness in infants, such as pneumonia, bacterem...
Ways to Take a Bite Out of Your Dental Bills
Ways to Take a Bite Out of Your Dental Bills The most effective way to lower your dental bills is to take care of your teeth, and to make sure your children do the same. Every dollar you spend on preventive care such as brushing and cleaning can save you anywhere from $4 to $50 in restorative care, according to a dental industry report. The following strategies can help you make further cuts in your dental spending. 1. See a dentist regularly. Doing so will help ensure that problems are taken care of be...
Wellness Made Easy: The Real Basics of Better Health
Wellness Made Easy: The Real Basics of Better Health Wellness has three basic components: a balanced diet, regular exercise, and wise lifestyle choices. Incorporating all three into your daily routine can help you live a longer, healthier life. Adopting even one of them can improve your well-being. Eating healthy A healthful diet can reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other nutrition experts, a healthy diet is: Hi...
What Are the Health Effects of Air Pollution?
What Are the Health Effects of Air Pollution? Air pollution is the black cloud belching from an industrial smokestack. It's the smog that settles over certain cities, dimming the skyline. It's the smelly exhaust of an old car that burns oil. Air pollution also can be invisible, causing lung damage, cancer, or other serious health problems in people who may not realize the potential danger of the unseen gases or particles suspended in the air. What are you breathing? The U.S. Environmental Protection Age...
What Can My Pharmacist Do for Me?
What Can My Pharmacist Do for Me? Pharmacists are a critical part of the health care team. Many supervise pharmacy technicians, who prepare medicine to fill your prescriptions. But today's pharmacists do much more. They counsel you on how to use your medicine correctly. They may work beside your doctor in the hospital to help make the best medication choices for you. And they help prevent overdoses and dangerous drug interactions by tracking the amounts and combinations of the drugs you take. Many state...
What Every Parent Should Know About Vaccinations
What Every Parent Should Know About Immunizations Watching your child get a shot isn't easy. It's even harder if the fearful one is you. Millions of parents immunize their kids each year without concern. Yet some parents have heard rumors that vaccines can cause serious health problems. So, who can parents turn to for the facts about vaccine safety? Your child's doctor is your first resource for reliable information. Health care providers are bound by law to provide you with written information on both ...
What Is Exercise-Induced Bronchospasm?
What Is Exercise-Induced Bronchospasm? Exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) used to be called exercise-induced asthma. The term bronchospasm means tightening and narrowing of the tubes that bring air in and out of your lungs. Up to 90 percent of people with asthma have EIB. But EIB also affects some people who don’t have asthma and some who have allergies rather than asthma. If you have coughing, wheezing, or tightness in your chest that begins after you start exercising, you could have EIB. This type of...
What to Look For in a Toothbrush
What to Look For in a Toothbrush Finding a toothbrush isn't rocket science. Even so, it's important. The wrong toothbrush can damage your gums and lead to tooth decay. Lucky for you, finding the right one is easy. "The best toothbrush for you is one that you will use," says Kimberly Harms, D.D.S., consumer adviser for the American Dental Association (ADA). "Using your toothbrush every day will take away harmful plaque from your teeth. Brush and floss your teeth at least once a day." Dr. Harms suggests y...
What You Can Do About Dog Bites
What You Can Do About Dog Bites Dogs are more than pets; they are family. But, even well-behaved dogs can bite. In fact, half of the dog bites that occur every year are by the family pet, according to National Library of Medicine (NLM). Dogs are responsible for most animal bites. And most of these biting dogs are pets belonging to family and friends. But, many incidents can be avoided. Teaching children how to stay safe is especially important, because they’re most likely to be bitten. Warning signs Som...
What You Can Do to Prevent Atherosclerosis
What You Can Do to Prevent Atherosclerosis Your good health has an enemy: atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is common, and its effects can be devastating, causing strokes, heart attacks and death. The good news is that you can take steps to protect yourself from this disease. What is atherosclerosis? Healthy arteries are like the pipes in a new house. Their inside walls are smooth and clean, making it possible to easily transport the blood your body needs. But arteries, like pipes, can become clogged. Fa...
What You Must Know About Suicide
What You Must Know About Suicide In 2007, over 34,000 Americans committed suicide, making it the tenth leading cause of death. At one person every 16 minutes, it’s a national tragedy, but one each of us can help prevent. Depression is the major underlying cause of suicide. Understanding and recognizing the warning signs of depression, and suicidal behavior, are helpful in preventing suicide. The following answers to important questions can help you understand suicide and take steps to stop it. The reaso...
What You Need to Know About Burn Prevention
What You Need to Know About Burn Prevention Hot water Scalding burns are the most common ones in younger children, the Burn Institute says. These burns often occur when a toddler knocks over a coffee cup, grabs the handle of a pot of boiling water on the stove, or is exposed to hot water. These are steps you can take to prevent hot water burns: Set the temperature on your hot water heater to 120 degrees F. Test bath water before putting your child in the tub. Don’t carry hot liquids or foods near your c...
What You Need to Know About STDs
What You Need to Know About STDs When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), you may not have any warning signs. If you are sexually active, find out the facts about STDs, and learn how to protect yourself. Myth: If you or your partner had an STD, you would see signs. Fact: Many STDs have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, especially in women. Some STDs may have symptoms that go away for a while but then come back. STDs can damage your body, and you can spread them to your partner even if you...
When to Call 911, Your Doctor, or the Hospital
When to Call 911, Your Doctor, or the Hospital When a medical emergency occurs, it's not always easy to think clearly. But a crisis means that you need to act quickly. Learning about your choices in care ahead of time will help you when an emergency does happen. You should know what's an emergency if you are in a consumer-directed health plan, such as a medical savings account. These plans place more responsibility for health care decisions on your shoulders. When you need immediate medical help, you ha...
Why Childhood Immunizations Are Important
Why Childhood Immunizations Are Important Childhood vaccines or immunizations can seem overwhelming when you are a new parent. Vaccine schedules recommended by agencies and organizations such as the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians cover about 14 different diseases. Vaccinations not only protect your child from deadly diseases, such as polio, tetanus, and diphtheria, but they also keep other children safe by eliminating or greatly decreasing dangerou...
Why Physical Activity Is Important
Why Physical Activity Is Important If you’re like many Americans, your average day consists of driving a half hour or more to work, sitting at a desk for six or seven hours, and then driving home. Your typical evening consists of four hours of watching television before turning in. If this describes you, you may be paying the price—physically, mentally, and emotionally—for living a sit-down life. “The human body is designed to move, and when it doesn’t do what it was meant to do, it can start to be less...
Why Real Men See the Doctor
Why Real Men See the Doctor It's easy to get most men to a ball game or a hardware store. But for a lot of guys, a trip to the doctor is about as high a priority as a day of shoe-shopping. One reason is pride. In a culture that equates being male with being healthy and strong, a hint of vulnerability to illness might be seen as a sign of weakness. This is dangerous thinking. Waiting until you are ill before you see your health care provider can put your health in jeopardy. If you let shortness of breath...
Why the Doctor Gives You an EKG or ECG
Why the Doctor Gives You an EKG or ECG An electrocardiogram--abbreviated as either ECG or EKG--is a test that records the heart's electrical activity and turns it into a graph that can be read and analyzed. The electrical impulse that travels through the heart is what causes the heart muscle to contract and pump blood. It is one of the many important tests in medicine because it provides clues to your heart health. It is used to determine if the electrical activity is normal. These recordings can tell y...
Why We Need to Wash Our Hands
Why We Need to Wash Our Hands So, you washed your hands this morning? Bravo! Because you don't want to spread potentially dangerous germs. And because experts remind us that our hands can hold from a million to a billion invisible bacteria. But think back to those few minutes -- or were they mere seconds -- before the wash basin today. Did you use hot water? Did you lather up for 15 to 30 seconds? Did you get under the fingernails -- a prime spot for germs? It seems like such a simple task. But hand-was...
Why Your Doctor Uses Medical Imaging
Why Your Doctor Uses Medical Imaging Imaging techniques, such as X-rays, MRIs and ultrasound scans, provide reliable and detailed pictures of the inside of the body. Today, most of these techniques use computer technology to create high-resolution images with little risk and discomfort to patients. If you're scheduled for an X-ray or imaging test, here are some things you should know about various procedures, what they're used for and any risks involved. X-rays are beams of high-energy radiation that pa...
Winter's Cool Advice: Watch Out for Hypothermia
Winter Advice: Beware Hypothermia Winter can be fun. Think of skiing, sledding, and snowboarding. Winter can be annoying. Think of dead car batteries and shoveling the walk. And winter can be dangerous. Think of, and be prepared for, hypothermia and frostbite. It's not just the back country hiker or winter fisherman who's at risk for cold-weather problems. Anyone who doesn't dress warmly enough or gets overheated then chilled while outside risks developing hypothermia. Hypothermia, or abnormally low bod...
Women's Guide to Staying Healthy
Women's Guide to Staying Healthy Women can't always stay healthy and prevent disease. But by having certain screening tests and practicing healthful behaviors, they are more likely to live long, healthy lives. Review the following guidelines for women at average risk and discuss them with your health care provider. If you have risk factors for a disease or a diagnosed condition, these recommendations may not apply to you; talk to your provider about when you should have these tests. Screening tests Scre...
Working Mom? Aim for Less Stress
Working Mom? Aim for Less Stress When Marie gets home from her full-time job as a Seattle nurse administrator, her workday is only half over. Next up is driving her two boys to band practice, soccer, and art lessons, supervising homework, taking them to the mall for supplies—and sitting up with them all night when they're sick. "I didn't want to miss out on any bonding time," she says, "so despite my husband's availability, I took on the heavy lifting of child care." It's a choice that has a price, Mari...
You Can Choose to Have a Healthy Life
You Can Choose a Healthy Life Each year, two out of every three deaths in the United States are caused by cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. That figure could be significantly reduced if Americans made healthier food choices, got more exercise, and stopped smoking, according to the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association. In fact, these organizations feel so strongly about the importance of everyday choices that they have sponsored a joint initiati...
You Can Head Off Stress Fractures
You Can Head Off Stress Fractures Whether you're an avid basketball player or a weekend hiker, you may be at risk for a stress fracture if you overdo it. A stress fracture occurs when you increase the length or intensity of your workout too quickly. Your muscles become so fatigued by the extra work that they transfer the stress to the bones—most often in the lower leg—and a tiny crack appears. A stress fracture can also occur when you workout on a different surface or use improper equipment, says the Am...
You Can Sleep Better as You Age
You Can Sleep Better as You Age A good night’s sleep is as important to your health as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. As we age, however, it can become more difficult to get deep sleep. Sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are sleep disorders more likely to affect older adults, says the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that causes you to stop breathing briefly many times a night while you sleep. If your spouse complains about your heavy snoring ...
Your Child and Vitamin D
Your Child and Vitamin D Does your child come home, grab a soda, and plop down in front of the TV or computer? Shunning milk and the sun is more and more common for children, and the result is a lack of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and keeps bones strong. Research indicates that even a mild vitamin D deficiency can stunt growth and decrease the ability for children to meet their peak bone density - which can increase their risk for osteoporosis later in life. A true deficiency can ...
Your Lips Need Protection
Your Lips Need Protection Unprotected lips are prone to a variety of ailments. Men, for example, run a higher risk of getting lip cancer, research suggests, because their lips usually have nothing on them to block ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Although your skin contains oil that protects it from drying out and from extreme temperatures, your lips do not. Your skin also has melanin, a pigment that colors your skin and offers some protection from the sun. But your lips don't. Lips are full of blood...
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