Saturday, April 22, 2023

Gardening Safety

Watch out for children and pets.

Several types of plants commonly grown by gardeners are poisonous if eaten. Brightly colored berries are especially attractive to children. Poisonous garden plants include azaleas, bittersweet nightshade (Solanum), castor bean, Chinese lantern, Easter lily, foxglove, hydrangea, lantana, lily-of-the-valley, poinsettia, and rhododendron.

Small children and pets can drown in garden ponds.

Non-releasing plastic garden ties should not be used as toys. Children playing with them can strangle themselves.

Avoid plant and animal pests.

Plant pests include poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. These can invade your garden, so learn to recognize them.

Be sure you know the first aid for stings from bees, hornets or wasps. Be alert for signs of an allergic reaction, which requires emergency treatment. If you or a family member are severely allergic to insect stings, your doctor may encourage you to carry injectable epinephrine.

Bees are attracted to yellow and white flowers, and to flowers that create lots of nectar or pollen. Bees are not attracted to flowers such as carnations, daisies, geraniums, marigolds, red dianthus, roses, strawflowers, and zinnias. These may be safer to plant.

Be cautious with pesticides.

Pesticides are used to kill unwanted plants, animals or fungi in the garden. Be sure the pesticide you buy is labeled as approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Don’t open the container until you have read the entire label. Follow instructions carefully when mixing to get the right dosage.

Here are some tips for using pesticides safely.

  • Don’t spray pesticides when it is windy.
  • Don’t eat, drink or smoke when applying pesticides.
  • Never mix or store pesticides in food or drink containers.
  • Store pesticides in their original containers. Lock them up and keep them out of the reach of children and pets.

Handle tools properly.

April is National Safe Digging Month. Notify utilities before you start digging. In the US, 811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number.

Read labels and instruction manuals for tools and extension cords. Be sure they are safe for use outdoors. Check for Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certification. 

When using power tools such as trimmers or saws, always wear safety glasses and take off your jewelry.

Clean and put away garden tools after every use. This will prevent them from being stolen or used by children, getting damaged, or becoming a tripping hazard.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Pain and Stress Are Connected

Chronic pain can be stressful, and that can lead to mental health issues. For example, many adults with arthritis experience anxiety and clinical depression.

Pain can lead to stress when your quality of life is affected. You tend to focus on the negative changes in your life, the things you can’t do or can’t do well. You may find you have difficulty accomplishing simple life tasks. This can cause negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression or frustration.

Conversely, stress can lead to pain. When you feel stressed, your muscles tense up, or may even spasm painfully. Cortisol levels increase, which can cause inflammation and pain.

You can make lifestyle changes that will help you control stress and reduce your pain.

  • Distract yourself. Taking your mind off stress and pain will make you feel better. Anything that you enjoy doing can help you cope better. Perhaps coffee and a chat with a friend, a walk in nature, watching a comedy on TV or at the movies, phoning a supportive family member, or working on a hobby.

  • Be active. Low-impact activity can improve your mood and reduce stiffness. Try biking, swimming, or simply taking a walk through the neighborhood or at a park. Gradually increase the time you spend on the activity so that it stays comfortable for you.

  • Get adequate sleep. Good quality sleep improves both your physical and emotional health. Try to get to bed and wake up at the same time every day of the week; don’t stay up late and sleep in on weekends. Avoid drinking caffeine late in the day. Rearrange your bedroom for maximum sleep hygiene.

If these lifestyle strategies don’t improve both your pain and your stress, consult your healthcare professional. Treatment plans can be developed to address your specific medical condition and symptoms. Don’t be surprised if you are referred to a mental health provider. You can learn new coping skills that will help you manage both pain and stress.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Healthinfo Island Displays and Exhibits for April 2023

April poster sets on Healthinfo Island include several related to special months.

April is oral cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and Sjögren's syndrome awareness months, and includes World Malaria Day.

You can also learn about symptoms of heart disease, a hip bone destruction disease, and why walking is a healthy exercise.

Get the facts on milk and a big cool drink.

Lots to do this month, no kidding.

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the links in this blog entry. 

When you get there, click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images. 

If you click each poster, you will get a message with additional information and live links.

To go directly to Healthinfo Island, click on either the URL or the picture of the poster.

Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island

Check out the calming breathing exercise on the back wall!

World Malaria Day

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness

Heart signs and symptoms you should not ignore

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

Walking is a healthy exercise

April is Sjögren's Syndrome Awareness Month

Facts About Milk

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Houseplants Remove Toxins from Indoor Air

Potted rubber plant

Did you know that many of your home’s furnishings, including carpeting, cleaning supplies, furniture, and paint, emit toxic gasses into your indoor air? These gasses are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In smaller amounts, VOCs can irritate your eye, nose and throat. In larger amounts they can cause fatigue, headache, memory problems, and nausea, and even damage your organs and possibly cause cancer.

If you have houseplants, you’re protecting yourself from VOCs. Plants absorb VOCs out of the air, and so do microorganisms in potting soil.

Here are some easy-to-grow houseplants that are among the best at air purification:

  • Dwarf date palm
  • English ivy
  • Ficus
  • Lady palm
  • Peace lily
  • Rubber plant

One precaution though: If you have mold allergies or asthma, ask your healthcare provider before creating a jungle in your living room. The soil houseplants grow in can harbor mold, so don’t grow too many plants, and be very careful not to overwater them.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Nutrition Tip - The Name of a Dish Can Have a Dietary Impact

Cooked vegetables on a white ceramic plate

Are you having trouble getting the recommended 2-4 cups of vegetables in your daily meal plans? Do your children (or you) reject anything green on your plate except Jello?

The reason may be the descriptive name applied to the food.

Research reported in JAMA Internal Medicine states that “labeling vegetables with indulgent descriptors significantly increased the number of people choosing vegetables and the total mass of vegetables consumed compared with basic or healthy descriptions, despite no changes in vegetable preparation.”

What are indulgent descriptors? Instead of emphasizing what is missing in the food (e.g., “low calorie,” “low salt,” or “low fat”), try describing the vegetables with positive words. These could be flavor descriptions such as “jalapeno and garlic,” “citrus-infused,” or “tangy,” or information about the preparation method, such as “glazed,” “roasted,” or “seasoned with.”

This research can also remind us that preparing vegetables does not need to result in bland food. Try some of the following techniques:

  • Oven roast veggies, then sprinkle with a little Parmesan.
  • Sauté veggies just until barely soft in a little olive oil, then sprinkle with minced garlic or chopped herbs such as basil, chives, oregano or thyme.
  • Steam veggies until cooked but still crisp or quickly blanch shredded greens, then squeeze citrus juice over them.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

How to Tame Your Cough

The best way to deal with a cough is to use the right strategy for the type of cough (wet/productive or dry/hacking) and the time (night or day).

Night coughs are problematic because you can’t sleep, and sleep is often important for recovery. Set your bedroom up for cough prevention by adding a few pillows and a vaporizer. Elevating your head allows mucus to drain rather than go down your throat and initiate coughing. Vaporizers or humidifiers moisten your airways, which soothes a dry cough. It also thins mucus, making it easier to get rid of.

Before bedtime you could try gargling with warm salt water to loosen thick mucus and calm your irritated throat. Use ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Gargle then spit. You can also try a teaspoon or two of honey, alone or in tea, to soothe your throat.

Nighttime cough medicine that you can get over the counter usually contains an antihistamine that will make you drowsy. That may help you to sleep when you have a cough.

Daytime coughs can also be treated with a vaporizer. It is important to stay hydrated, so drink lots of water, or chicken soup. Warm beverages such as tea (perhaps with honey?) also soothe the throat.

Cough drops do help, but so does any hard candy to suck on. This increases saliva flow and helps prevent a dry cough. An over-the-counter cough suppressant with dextromethorphan can also block the reflex that causes a dry cough.

Wet or productive coughs are bringing up mucus. To aid this process, over-the-counter expectorants containing guaifenesin will help by thinning the mucus and making it easier to bring up.

However you treat your cough, be sure to see your healthcare provider if you are wheezing or sort of breath, or if you also have a fever or pain in your chest.