Beliefnet
A Prescription for Healthy Living

 “Do you want to look like an alligator handbag when you grow up?” If you have fair skin and a tendency to burn, chances are you were probably asked this question by your mom at some point in your sun-worshiping life. Truth is, most of us don’t think about what we will look like after the age of, say, 30, so we park ourselves on a sheet of aluminum foil, grease ourselves up with some Crisco oil and spend the next 12 hours in the direct sunlight because, boy, do we look great with a tan when we are 18! The downside is that we don’t stay 18 forever, and eventually we will turn 40 and 50. It is then that the oil and foil come back to bite us on our wrinkly behinds. There is nothing attractive about a tan wrinkled woman who is probably no older than 40, yet looks about 60 because she continually exposed herself to damaging UV rays without wearing the proper protection (sun visor, hat, sunglasses) and sunscreen.

As women, our dream is to have a face and body that is completely free from any evidence of aging. As a result, we will try every single product on the market in the search, and with the hope that we will find the perfect combination of chemicals that will stop the aging process and delay the development of wrinkles.

Naturally every square inch of our skin is prone to aging; however, the area(s) most often exposed to the sun will age prematurely. While small amounts of exposure to the sun can be good for you, you literally open yourself up to all sorts of skin-related problems when you spend too much time in the sun without proper sunscreen. Some specific developments associated with too much sun exposure, and the resultant damage may include dryness (actually roughness), saggy appearance, keratoses (liver spots), and wrinkles. Wrinkles can be classified into two categories: Fine surface lines and deep furrows. Wrinkle treatments are generally more effective when treating fine lines. Deeper creases may require more aggressive techniques such as Botox injections and even plastic surgery. Wrinkles are found primarily on the parts of the body where sun exposure is greatest. These areas include the face, neck, backs of the hands, and tops of the forearms.

Factors that promote wrinkles include:

– Smoking

– Genetics

– How much skin has been exposed to the sun, as well as how much time you spend in direct sunlight

– Skin type: People with light-colored skin are more susceptible to sun damage.

Obviously, some of these factors are beyond our control, but we can control our exposure to the sun, as well as whether or not we smoke. It is likely that the exposure to harmful UV rays used in tanning beds and spending lots of time outside, even while wearing a maximum protection sunscreen, could contribute to the development of wrinkles. Some sunscreens contain ingredients such as Parsol 1789 which provides UVA protection, but these are only partially effective.

Treatment

There are several topical creams and cosmetic techniques available to improve and minimize the appearance of wrinkles:

Vitamin A Acid (Tretinoin)

This topical agent is very effective in improving such signs of aging as pigmentation distribution, rough patches and the overall wrinkling of the skin. This cream should be used on a continual basis. This particular medication may initially produce redness and peeling, but these side effects are essential in order to notice marked improvement. This medication is available by prescription only. Consult your healthcare provider or dermatologist to see whether this medication is the most effective form of therapy to meet your needs.

Alpha-Hydroxy Acid

Otherwise known as the fruit acid, this treatment contains glycolic and lactic acid. These topical treatments are considered safe and effective and at the worst, may cause some mild irritation.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants include Vitamins A, C and E, as well as beta-carotene. These topical treatments may provide a certain amount of sun protection, as well as a mild improvement of wrinkles.

Moisturizers

Over-the-counter creams and moisturizers will keep the skin looking well hydrated, minimizing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

 Cosmetic Procedures

There are a number of other cosmetic procedures that may be performed in order to minimize the signs of aging. These other procedures include glycolic peels, deeper peels, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, non-ablative laser resurfacing, Botox injections and plastic surgery.

Protection

The best way to avoid premature aging as a result of sun exposure is to minimize the time you spend in direct sunlight. Make sure that your moisturizer contains an SPF. Make sure to wear sunscreen when outdoors, no matter how long you plan to stay outside. You should not be exposed to direct sunlight for more than 20-30 minutes. Believe it or not, this is more than enough time to develop a healthy glow without turning into an alligator handbag.

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Imagine walking through the front door of your home and discovering that a burglar has ransacked your living room. Naturally such a dramatic event would leave a person wracked with feelings of anxiety and fear. The impact of such an event may trigger off several physical symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms. Anxiety can spark an adrenaline rush so strong that you may feel like you have the strength of ten men. Anxiety can actually give you the energy to perform certain tasks. Sometimes, however, anxiety can become completely consuming and destroy a person’s quality of life. Often anxiety can fill a person with an overwhelming sense of fear and dread that seem unshakeable.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is an ongoing type of anxiety that is unrelated to a particular situation, circumstance, or event. Additionally, anxiety can cause a person to grossly exaggerate whatever it is he or she may be worried about in the first place. For instance, a mother may worry to the nth degree about a child who is actually quite healthy.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

There are many symptoms associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Listed below are the most commonly reported symptoms. This is not an exhaustive list; therefore, if you experience an onset of any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms not mentioned herein, contact your family physician immediately.

-Muscle tension

-Trembling

-Shortness of breath

-Rapid heartbeat

-Dry mouth

-Dizziness

-Nausea

-Irritability

-Inability to concentrate

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is another type of anxiety that occurs when a person experiences repeated episodes of extreme panic. These episodes are also known as panic attacks. Some panic attacks can be so strong that they have the power to emotionally cripple a person. These attacks can last anywhere from seconds to minutes, and the aftershocks can be just as paralyzing.

As mentioned, panic attacks can come from out of nowhere and strike at any time. You could literally be doing something as benign as driving in your car when all of a sudden you feel a tightness in your chest. You may feel dizzy, your heart is sure to race, and you almost feel like running as far away from yourself as humanly possible.

Symptoms of a Panic Attack

If you experience any of the following symptoms, or any other persistent or worsening symptoms associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder, contact your healthcare provider. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

– Choking sensation

– Feelings of chest pressure and/or pain

– Pounding heartbeat

– Rapid pulse

– Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

– Shortness of breath

– Tightness in the throat

– Sweating

– Trembling and/or shaking

– Nausea

– Tingling and/or numbness of the extremities

– Hot flashes and/or chills

– Feelings of unreality

– Fear of losing control, going “crazy,” and/or dying

Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks

Science and medicine have come a long way during this century in that we have so many medications available to help alleviate–even eradicate–these symptoms. There are other ways besides medication that can be used in order to get your feelings of anxiety under control.

Learn different ways to relax. The modality you choose is obviously unimportant–the only thing that matters is that it works for you. Muscle relaxation, yoga and deep breathing techniques are easy ways to help different parts of your body to relax. Muscle relaxation is very simple: Simply start with the muscles located in the feet and work your way up, isolating and squeezing and releasing each muscle.

Exercise on a regular basis. Many people who deal with anxiety and panic disorder quit exercising altogether, but exercise can actually improve your sense of well being and put you in a better frame of mind.

Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. You may think that alcohol and drugs will relax you, but they can actually worsen anxiety and even cause worse problems.

Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. Stimulants and feelings of anxiety do not mix very well; therefore, it is best to switch to decaffeinated beverages, at least until your anxiety or panic disorder is under control.

Confront the things that made you anxious in the past. Begin by first confronting these things. The more often you role-play, the easier it will be when the time comes to face your fears.

When you begin to develop feelings of anxiety, practice a relaxation technique, or focus on a specific task, such as counting backward from 100 to 0.

Episodes of panic and anxiety can cause a person to become fearful, but you do not have to be a prisoner of this condition. Although these feelings are real, they cannot actually hurt you. The next time you feel an attack come on, rate your fear on a scale of 0 to 10. Keep track of your ratings and write down in a journal what was going on in your life when you experienced the attack.

Anti-anxiety medications. Many, many people have found relief from taking an anti-anxiety medication. Never feel ashamed if your doctor suggests putting you on a medication to help with your anxiety, as this may only be for a season in your life.

If you have had trouble finding a medication that works for you, take heart: there are many medications available on the market today to help get you through this time in your life.

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The thought of being incapacitated for weeks on end suffering through the various effects of the flu is never an appealing prospect. But fortunately, before every flu season you can minimize your chances of becoming ill by getting the influenza vaccine, otherwise known as the “flu shot”.

The earlier in the season you are vaccinated the better your chances of preventing the virus from infecting your body. Flu season can start as soon as October and continue through May, therefore, the ideal time for vaccinations is early during October or November.

Remember, it will take approximately two weeks for the vaccine to become effective so you will still be vulnerable during that time. Of course, you can get vaccinated as late as December, or even later on, but naturally the sooner you are protected the easier prevention will be.

Types of Flu Vaccines

There are two types of vaccinations available for children and adults newly available each year. The vaccines contain various strains of the virus researchers deem most likely to be prevalent that particular season.

The first type is the traditional flu shot administered subcutaneously via a needle. The shot contains an inactive form of the virus but cannot cause the illness.

The second type of vaccine is administered quite differently than the first one. The FluMist influenza vaccination is a nasal spray which is used just like any other nasal spray. FluMist also contains a weakened form of the flu virus but is unlikely to cause flu-like symptoms although nasal congestion or fatigue sometimes occur.

The FluMist vaccine is recommended for healthy, non-pregnant adults up to the age of 50 and healthy children over the age of two.

Both types of vaccines cause the body to develop antibodies which provide protection from the virus. For some, this process may cause temporary fatigue and muscle aches but still does not actually cause influenza.

The flu vaccine is highly recommended for anyone prone to serious flu complications such as pneumonia or anyone at a high risk of getting the illness.

High risk groups include:

• Adults with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart or lung problems
• Anyone over the age of 50
• Anyone who lives in a nursing home
• Caregivers coming in contact with infants, young children, or others in high risk groups
• Children ages six months to 18 years
• Healthcare workers
• Women pregnant during flu season

There are some people in high risk groups that may not be able to be vaccinated without the chance for complications caused by certain medical conditions. For example, those who have or have had immune disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system, may not be able to get the vaccination.

Anyone with severe egg allergies should not get a flu shot as the vaccination is grown within eggs.

If you are unsure as to whether or not the vaccine is the right choice for you it is important to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider before making any decisions. They can answer questions and will be familiar with your medical history.

If you have had an allergic reaction to the influenza vaccination in the past you should talk to your doctor about your options this flu season. Also, if you are sick and have a fever you should wait to get the flu shot until you are feeling better. However, if you are mildly ill without a fever it is safe to get the shot as soon as necessary.

Side Effects

After the flu shot it is not uncommon to have some pain and or swelling in the arm. There may also be cold like symptoms such as body aches, headaches, sore throat, or a slight fever to contend with for a day or two afterward.

Side effects caused by the FluMist vaccination may vary from person to person and children may be affected differently than adults.

Children who use FluMist nasal spray may experience side effects including:

• Fever
• Headaches
• Muscle aches
• Nasal drip, congestion
• Vomiting

Adults using FluMist may experience symptoms such as:

• Headaches
• Nasal drip, congestion
• Sore throat

Keep in mind that the potential symptoms from the flu shot are far outweighed by the many benefits of being protected from the ravages of influenza with its many side effects. Also, the chances of experiencing serious symptoms and side effects is rather rare and if they were to occur, it would be evident within minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.

Talk to your doctor and use your medical history and circumstances to determine whether or not you should be getting an annual influenza vaccination and when.

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 Parents of children afflicted with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder understand full well how this condition impacts day to day life. While the condition was relatively unknown a decade ago ADHD is now being diagnosed in school aged children who demonstrate severe behavioral problems. Currently there are several treatment options available to children suffering from the disorder which comes as a relief to their parents, teachers, and classmates.

What is ADHD?

Simply put, ADHD prevents the child from being able to sit still and focus. At one point in time children experiencing ADHD symptoms were simply dismissed as misbehaving. Now a day with the advance of medicine, these misbehaving children are now recognized as suffering from ADHD.
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  Symptoms of ADHD in children may include:

• Constant fidgeting
• Extreme restlessness
• Excessive talking/unable to remain quiet
• Interrupts at inappropriate times
• Inability to sit still and quietly

If left undiagnosed a child afflicted with this condition will find it very difficult to advance in school and will continue to act out. Of course, it has been said that some of the best drama students suffer from ADHD but treatment should still be administered.

Treatment for ADHD

Luckily, there are several prescription medications that alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. For children that suffer from the condition these medications are often the only opportunity for a normal life. These drugs are classified as psychostimulants and are designed to balance brain chemicals. This allows children to find a balance when it comes to their ability to pay attention and curb impulsive and reckless behavior. Parents often find that birthday parties and sleep overs are a bit more manageable after their child begins taking psychostimulants.

These stimulant drugs are considered controlled substances and should only be taken as directed.

Other medications that have been shown to help with the treatment of ADHD include:

• Atomexetine
• Clonidine
• Buproprion
• Imipramine
• Desipramine

What to Know about Treatment

It is important for parents and their children to understand that there are possible side effects to ADHD treatment. Possible side effects include:

• Insomnia
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Headache
• Stomach ache
• Difficulty sleeping
• Rapid heart beat
• Vomiting
• Chest pain

Parents should weigh possible side effects against the benefits gained by their child taking the stimulants. Many believe that having a child with the ability to stay in control with a possibility of an upset stomach is better than watching their child struggle with ADHD.

To help avoid possible side effects parents should make sure that their child is taking the medication in a safe and responsible manner. Always follow the doctor’s instructions when it comes to giving the medication to your child. If your child is old enough to take their own medicine make certain that they understand the importance of taking the proper amount.

It is recommended that the medication be taken with food to help avoid an upset stomach. Parents often inquire if their child can ‘take a break’ from the medication on the weekends. This decision is best left to the doctor who will determine if it is safe for the child. If it is many parents find that overnight parties at the skating rink or a weekend trip to the grandparents’ are in order. Of course, if these options are not possible just remember that your child has a medical condition and needs your love and understanding.

Additional Information

There are two forms of medication that may be prescribed to a child demonstrating ADHD symptoms. The typical medication is taken twice daily; before breakfast and at lunch. However, if your child is unable to take the medication during school hours your doctor may prescribe the long acting form of the medicine. This form stays in the child’s system longer and is taken before breakfast.

While ADHD medication has been proven to improve a child’s concentration and focus it is still unknown whether or not other life skills such as relating to others, reading skills, and the ability to retain information are improved.

A Final Thought 

Many parents do not like the idea of putting their child on medication believing that they will be forced to stick with the medication for a life time. The fact is, ADHD medication improves the quality of life for the child. Better grades, an ability to socialize easier, and the ability to behave are just some of the benefits. Parents soon find that their child is happier once the ADHD treatment has started and in the long run that is all that a parent could ever want for their child.

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