THE CHANGE OF weather patterns and the start of flowers blooming can cause havoc on many people who suffer allergies. These allergies can be caused by hay, pollen or contaminants in the air. Allergy sufferers dread this season because of the consistent symptoms that happen year after year. The typical watery and itchy eyes to the constant sniffle and sneezing. To deal with allergies and these symptoms, it is recommended is to maintain that healthy diet by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Exposing our bodies to more natural foods can help combat allergies because our body will be better equipped to naturally detect and fend off these allergens. While allergies are unpleasant and annoying, they are not normally life threatening, unless there is a severe reaction called anaphylactic shock. Fighting allergies If there is one rule for coping with all types of allergies, it is “If something irritates you, avoid it.” That is often easier said than done, but avoiding allergens avoids allergic reaction and all the accompanying symptoms. Of course, before you can avoid something, you must find out what are you allergic to. There is a range of tests, from skin to blood tests, that your doctor can perform in order to help you find out what triggers your allergy symptoms. It can be very difficult to know exactly what you are allergic to, so it is often necessary to do a bit of detective work yourself. If you suspect that you are allergic to some food, start writing in fine details exactly what you are eating, and eliminating one by one potential allergens. Once you know that you are allergic to peanuts, for example, it is a matter of avoiding anything that contains peanuts, and your problems are solved. Allergens and treatments The most difficult allergies to treat are the ones that are difficult to avoid, and they are the most common as well. Allergies to pollen, dust mites, mold spores, animal dander and insect stings often require some drastic measures, such as changes in geographic location, home, furniture, even giving up loved pet. There are several types of medications available, and their job is to help with the symptoms. Some of them are available over-the-counter and other by prescription. They can be antihistamines, steroids, decongestants and combinations. Be careful with antihistamines, some of them will make you drowsy and can make work and driving impossible. Decongestants may raise your blood pressure, so if you have glaucoma or high blood pressure, stay away from decongestants. Allergy shots gradually decrease sensitivity to allergens, and are the only long-term solution, but the treatment takes a long time and requires persistence. They are the best solution for people with severe allergies. Common sense solutions Many people are allergic to their own homes, mostly due to the presence of dust mites, mold spores and pet dander. Regular cleaning is the first rule for them. There are very effective mattress and pillow covers that prevent contact with dust mites and avoid allergic reaction. Lower humidity at home also helps getting rid of dust mites. Get a dehumidifier and change the filter regularly. Get rid of carpets and curtains or clean them regularly. Try using non-toxic cleaners, because some cleaners make problems worse. Allergies to insects can be avoided by wearing long sleeves and pants and wearing insect repellents. Bee allergy is one of the most common causes of very serious and potentially deadly anaphylactic shock. People allergic to pollen should consult online pollen information databases and avoid their morning jog on the worst days. This type of allergy is often linked to plant pollen and some people are forced to relocate to areas without that trigger.
STRESS CAN BE found in myriad forms, but the effects might create lasting damage to your body. Whether it’s positive stress (like planning a wedding) or negative stress (such as getting laid off), everyone has felt the effects of stress at one point in their lives. Stress often manifests as physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches and muscle tension and can even lead to serious health issues, such as cardiovascular disease. According to multiple studies, 77 percent of American report they experience physical symptoms as a result of stress. Additionally, 33 percent feel they are living with extreme stress and 48 percent blame stress for negatively impacting their personal and professional lives. April is National Stress Awareness Month, and while stress is unavoidable for most people, there are many ways to help prevent and manage it. Look at these seven tips for preventing and managing stress in your life. Eating a diet full of fresh, whole foods helps the body combat stress naturally. It also might be wise to avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine that can amplify stress, interfere with sleep and worsen the effects stress has on the body. Getting the recommended amount of exercise lowers blood pressure and provides a healthy outlet to relieve stress. Rhythmic exercise such as walking, jogging and swimming has proven to be especially effective. Aim for 20 minutes of moderate activity, five days a week. Allowing the heart rate to increase will help reduce a level of stress. There is a reason sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Not getting a proper amount of sleep makes it difficult to deal with stressful situations and can increase anxiety and depression. To establish a healthy sleeping routine, try turning off all electronics prior to going to bed and try to establish a calming nighttime ritual, such as reading or meditating. This ritual will signal your mind to relax and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. There is a reason that eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep are recommended to help reduce stress. These habits are the cornerstone to a happy, healthy life and their impact on stress is no different. But if they do not work for you, try these tips instead: Learn how to relax Relaxing while stressed is no easy task. It is important to find what works best for you and what fits into your lifestyle. The easier it is to do, the more likely you are to stick with it. Meditation and deep breathing are great ways to feel more relaxed and are also easy to do just about anywhere. If you are looking for a good way to get started, try the 4-7-8 deep breathing technique. Inhale for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, exhale for eight seconds. Continue for as long as you need to feel relaxed. Put your feelings on paper Have thoughts running through your head on repeat? Try writing them out. Getting the thoughts out of your mind and onto paper will signal your brain that the thought is safe, and it no longer needs to hold onto it. Be proactive You are your own best advocate. If you are feeling overloaded and worn down, look at everything that is going on in your life and see if some things can take a backseat until you feel up to tackling them. Make a list of situations that could cause potential stress and then figure out which situations you can avoid or improve to manage the outcome. In a word, simplify. Talk about your problems Sometimes talking through a problem is all you need to work through a stressful situation. Confiding in a trusted friend or family member can go a long way in combating stress. A licensed professional can also provide helpful tools to help you positively process through stressful scenarios. Do something you enjoy Always wanted to take a cooking class? Considering an herb garden? Learning new skills and taking the time to do something you love creates an outlet to relieve stress. Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of picking up something new – it can be as small as playing a game of Solitaire. Just make sure it’s something you enjoy. Smile It might feel silly, but simply smiling can help improve your mood. Laughing is also a great way to beat stress and is clinically proven to be good for your health. Take some time for a laugh break – watch a funny show/movie or find a funny video online and enjoy the instant mood lift.
DRINKING TOO MUCH alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. The good news? We can all take steps to help prevent alcohol misuse or abuse. Spread the word about strategies for preventing alcohol misuse or abuse and encourage communities, families, and individuals to get involved. How can Alcohol Awareness Month make a difference? We can use this month to raise awareness about alcohol abuse and take action to prevent it — both at home and in the community. Here are just a few ideas:
- Encourage friends or family members to make small changes, like keeping track of their drinking and setting drinking limits.
- Share tips with parents to help them talk with their kids about the risks of alcohol use.
- Ask doctors and nurses to talk to their patients about the benefits of drinking less or quitting.
HOW MANY STEPS did you get in last month? Did you know that the average person walks between 5,000 to 7,000 steps per day? Rain, snow or shine, people walk, job, race along without thinking about how it affects their feet. They bear our weight every day and even endure more stress when we run, jog or jump. We shove them into shoes that may be too tight or too worn out, with heels that are too high. Feet are marvelous miracles of engineering. They have 33 joints, 19 muscles, 107 ligaments and 26 bones – fully one-quarter of the total bones in the body. Good foot care is essential to keeping our feet healthy and active. To celebrate April as Foot Health Awareness Month, and to keep your feet in good running condition, here are some tips to keep those feet healthy:
- Keep them clean. Wash feet in warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes.
- Keep them moisturized. Apply a rich foot cream or lotion to keep skin smooth and supple. Avoid the areas between the toes.
- Keep them dry to help avoid fungal infections. Always put on clean socks and change them during the day if they become damp. Alternate your shoes to air them out. Choose breathable materials like leather and canvas.
- Check daily. Inspect your feet. Look for any changes like a blister, bruise, cut, nail problem, crack or sore. Be alert to red, sensitive pressure points that may indicate poorly-fitting shoes. Those with diabetes must be extra-cautious in their daily foot examination.
- Trim your nails carefully. Always use a toenail clipper and cut straight across – don’t round the corners – to avoid an ingrown toenail.
- Smooth calluses and corns. Use a pumice stone to smooth out these areas. If you have diabetes, please come see us for this type of foot care.
- Assess your footwear. Are your shoes or boots tight? Is there ample room in the toe box so that you can wiggle your toes? Is the tread on the bottom wearing evenly? This could cause balance issues. If you see any problems, it’s time to go shoe shopping.
- Just like your muscles need a rest day in your workout routine, so do your feet. If you’ve been walking, running or even just standing more, your feet can get sore. Make sure you take the time to put your feet up and relax when you need to. You can simply prop your feet up on a cushion, or you can go a little more lux and pamper yourself with a foot soak.
Screens: They're at work, at home and even in the palm of your hand. But stare too long at them and your eyes -- and mind -- could pay a price, experts warn. For example, too much screen time can lead to problems such as eye strain, dry eye, headaches and insomnia, the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns. The average office worker spends 1,700 hours a year in front of a computer screen, according to a recent study. That doesn't include time spent using smart phones and other digital devices. Here, the academy offers tips for preventing eye problems: Keep the screen at arm's length, about 25 inches away (eyes work harder to see close up) and position the screen so that your gaze is slightly downward. Use a matte screen filter to reduce glare that can aggravate your eyes. Be aware that if a screen is much brighter than the surrounding light, your eyes work harder to see. Adjust your room lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen. Remember to blink and follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help your eyes relax. Lubricate your eyes with artificial tears when they feel dry. In offices with dry air, desktop humidifiers can be beneficial.
Take care of your health Protecting your overall health can go a long way toward keeping your eyes healthy! It’s important to make healthy choices and take good care of yourself. Keep in mind that healthy habits like eating well and being active can lower your risk for diseases and conditions that can lead to eye or vision problems, like diabetes or high blood pressure. Follow these tips for healthy vision:
- Eat healthy foods. Be sure to have plenty of dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens. Eating fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids — like salmon, tuna, and halibut — is good for your eyes, too.
- Get active. Being physically active helps you stay healthy. It can also lower your risk of health conditions that can cause eye health or vision problems — like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
- Quit smoking. Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs — it can hurt your eyes, too! Smoking increases your risk of diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts — and it can harm the optic nerve. If you’re ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support.
- Every day, you can take simple steps to keep your eyes healthy. Use these tips to protect your eyes from things that can harm them:
- Wear sunglasses. Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses — even on cloudy days! Be sure to look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation.
- Wear protective eyewear. Safety glasses and goggles are designed to protect your eyes during certain activities, like playing sports, doing construction work, or doing home repairs. You can buy them from most eye care providers and some sporting goods stores. Get tips to protect your kids' eyes when they play sports
- Give your eyes a rest. Looking at a computer for a long time can tire out your eyes. Rest your eyes by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- If you wear contacts, take steps to prevent eye infections. Always wash your hands before you put your contact lenses in or take them out. Be sure to disinfect your contact lenses and replace them regularly.