Saturday, September 16, 2017

Combat Allergies, Room by Room

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Allergies are your body’s reactions to allergens, specific items in your environment. To avoid having to deal with symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes, keeping your house allergen-free is the best solution.

Bedroom and Living Room

The main sources of allergens in these two rooms are animals- your pets, and dust mites.

Pet dander from many types of animal pets can cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you are one of them, keep the pets away from where you spend most of your time in the home. To sleep allergy-free, keep your bedroom door closed with the pets on the other side.

Dust mites are tiny pests that live deep inside carpets, furniture cushions, mattresses and pillows. Wall-to-wall carpet will harbor more dust mites than will smaller throw rugs. Bare floors will have the least number of dust mites. Remove dust from the floors regularly with a HEPA vacuum.

Enclose your bed and pillows in dust-proof zippered covers. Launder bedding and washable carpets in hot water weekly.

Consider getting a free-standing HEPA filter for these two rooms where you spend so much time.

And don’t forget to change the filter in your furnace/air conditioner monthly.

Bathroom, Laundry, Basement

These three rooms are usually the dampest in the house. Dampness allows mold and mildew, a very common allergen, to thrive. Check for plumbing leaks regularly in these rooms, and get them repaired immediately.

Mold likes to hide, so don’t use wallpaper in these areas; instead, paint the walls. Mold lives on soap and body oil scum, so scrub the sink, tug, tiles and grout at least monthly to get rid of it. Launder washable shower curtains with bleach or replace them regularly. Always turn on the exhaust fan when showering to remove excess moisture.

Keep the floor and all hard surfaces in the laundry clean and dry. Be sure all laundry is completely dry before folding it and putting it away. Damp fabric can promote mold growth.

If your basement is humid, consider using a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. Seal stored items in plastic containers to keep out moisture.

Kitchen

Although some people have allergic reactions to various foodstuffs, scented cleaning products, and even to smoke or particles emitted by cooking food, the most common allergen in kitchens is cockroaches.

Keep your kitchen spic and span to deny the roaches a food source. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Wipe down appliances and counter tops with unscented natural cleaning products daily, and sweep the floor. Mop the kitchen floor weekly to remove all roach attractants. Never leave food or garbage uncovered. Check the refrigerator for “expired” food weekly and throw it out.

Following the above housekeeping strategies will cut down on the number of allergens in your home and make for a safer and healthier life.

Image Sources:
Dust Mite - Pixabay
Tumble Dryer - Pixabay
Dirty Kitchen - Pixabay
Allergy - Pixabay

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is Your Doctor Listening to You?

Contributing Author: Alice Krueger

Research into doctor-patient communication has shown that the average time a doctor listens to a patient before interrupting is between 12 and 23 seconds. That’s not enough time for anyone to express their concerns about their health and wellness.

What can you do to address this situation? Part of the answer lies in your preparation, and the rest in how you act while in the doctor’s office.

Before the date of the office visit, write down your concerns and questions. Update your note to yourself as more thoughts come to you that you might want to share. Prioritize everything on your list. You probably won’t have time to go through the whole set of concerns in one visit, so be sure the most important issues are addressed first.

When the doctor enters the exam room, offer a handshake and friendly short greeting. This helps make an honest human connection. Doctors generally respond well to common courtesies.

It is important that you understand everything the doctor is saying to you. Don’t hesitate to ask her to repeat what she said, or you can say it back to her in your own words and ask if that is correct. You also can ask her to put it in writing, especially is she’s using specialized terminology.

Many doctors have email accounts, so ask yours for the address where you can send questions that you think of after the appointment ends.

You always have the right to a second opinion, of diagnoses and of suggested treatments. Ask your doctor if he would recommend someone to provide a second opinion. Be suspicious if he says you don't need one, or only suggests others in his group practice.

It’s important to be honest with your doctor. Let her know if you can’t afford the suggested treatment. She may have options that would be more affordable. Also, tell her if for some reason you can’t follow her directions. If she’s recommending three sessions a week and transportation is an issue, speak up. If she says you should quit smoking, and you’re tried and failed several times before, admit it.

Last but not least, be sure your doctor is aware of your Advance Directive. Ask him if he has a copy in your file. If he’s not sure, hand him another printed copy. And then give the receptionist another copy on the way out and ask him to put it in your record.

With these preparations and actions, your doctor is more likely to hear what you have to say.

Image Source: Pixabay - Patient Care and Pixabay - Patient Care 2


Friday, September 1, 2017

September is National Yoga Month


Yoga is a mind-body exercise that combines both active (moving) and passive (held) poses and stretches with specific breathing and relaxation techniques. Yoga exercises can be done individually or as a class.

Yoga originated in India in the 6th or 5th centuries BCE as a meditative spiritual practice and philosophical discipline. Many styles or schools of yoga exist: hatha, iyengar, kundalini, bikram, etc. You will want to try different styles to see which one best meets your needs.

Simple yoga exercises are a great way to calm your nerves from daily stress.
Calm your nerves with relaxation exercises: http://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/mini-relaxations.aspx?pos=1&xid=nl_EverydayHealthWomensHealth_20160810.

Yoga can stretch and strengthen muscles, and may be used as part of recreational therapy following hospitalizations.
Pain rehabilitation: http://www.mayoclinic.org/pain-rehabilitation/art-20208636?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pain-management.

Yoga can be part of an integrated therapeutic approach to chronic pain. It allows you to have more control over your response to pain, because it is an active therapy that you can use whenever it is needed.
Integrative Approaches to Pain: http://www.mayoclinic.org/integrative-approaches-to-treating-pain/art-20208637?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pain-management.
Beyond Opioids: Other options for treating chronic pain - http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/health-answers/beyond-opioids-other-options-treating-chronic-pain/?xid=nl_EverydayHealthLivingWithChronicPain_20160908.

Yoga can even help you sleep better! It is an effective relaxation exercise to try before bedtime.
Remedies for sleep problems due to aging: http://www.everydayhealth.com/sleep/insomnia/tips/seniors-dont-take-sleep-woes-lying-down.aspx?pos=1&xid=nl_EverydayHealthWomensHealth_20160821.

Yoga has been recommended in the treatment of health conditions as disparate as:
Your local library may have books or DVDs about yoga. You can find many articles and videos describing various yoga exercises online. Here are a few to get you started.

For more potential benefits of yoga, please see:
11 Unexpected Health-Promoting Benefits of Yoga

As with all physical activities, please check with your healthcare professional to be sure you are ready to begin doing yoga.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Humpday Hint: How Sharp is Your Hearing? As Sharp as Your Mind?

Contributing Author: Alice Krueger

Maybe you think that hearing loss is inevitable with aging. Did you know that maintaining your hearing as you age can protect your brain health?

Older adults with good hearing were found to be more mentally fit than older adults with hearing loss in research conducted around the world 1. However, the causal link between hearing loss and dementia is not yet understood 2.

In terms of quality of life, older adults who sought treatment for hearing loss had a higher level of satisfaction than those who did not 3. This may be due to improved social and emotional functioning and communication capabilities 4.

There is little to be risked by getting assessed for age-related hearing loss, and treating it has definite health benefits 5.

What are you waiting for?

Resources

  1. Davies, H. R., Cadar, D., Herbert, A., Orwell, M. & Steptoe, A. (2017). Hearing impairment and incident dementia: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, prepub; Deal, J. A., Betz, J., Yaffe, K., Harris, T., Purchase-Helzner, E., Satterfield, S., et al. (2017). Hearing impairment and incident dementia and cognitive decline in older adults: The Health ABC Study. The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 72(5), 703-709; Heywood, R., Gao, Q., Nyunt, M. S. Z., Feng, L., Chong, M. S., Lim, W. S., et al. (2017). Hearing loss and risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia: Findings from the Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 43(5-6), 259-268.
  2. Lin, V. Y. W. & Black, S. E. (2017). Linking deafness and dementia: Challenges and opportunities. Otology & Neurotology, 38(8), e237-e239.
  3. Manrique-Huarte, R., Calavia, D., Huarte Irujo, A., Giron, L. & Manrique-Rodriguez, M. (2016). Treatment for hearing loss among the elderly: Auditory outcomes and impact on Quality of Life. Audiology & Neuro-otology, 21 Suppl 1, 29-35; Yamada, Y., Svejdikova, B. & Kisvetrova, H. (2017). Improvement of older-person-specific QOL after hearing aid fitting and its relation to social interaction. Journal of communication disorders, 67, 14-21.
  4. Fortunate, S., Forli, F., Guglielmo, V., De Corso, E., Paludetti, G., Berrettini, S., et al. (2016). A review of new insights on the association between hearing loss and cognitive decline in ageing (in Italian). Acta Otorhinolaryngologica Italica, 36(3), 155-166.
  5. Golub, J. S. (2017). Brain changes associated with age-related hearing loss. Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head & Neck Surgery, prepub.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons