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A Prescription for Healthy Living

A Prescription for Healthy Living

Why Can’t I Sleep?

posted by Ranya Elguendy

Nothing sounds better than taking a hot shower and going to bed after having a long, nerve-wracking day at work. Likewise, nothing sounds worse than going to bed and not being able to slumber knowing that you have to wake up in only a few hours to go right back to work. About one out of every five patients have a sleeping disorder. For some reason, the ratio seems to keep getting higher all the time. The most common sleeping disorder of all is Insomnia.

 

There are many reasons for not being able to sleep enough or even to sleep at all. In fact, some of the more usual reasons that people cannot get to sleep can emerge as medical troubles.

 

– Depression is one of the main factors that’s always related to Insomnia.

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– Medical problems like pain and neurological troubles

– Heart disease and breathing problems.

– Urinary troubles with a frequent urge to void.

– Stomach disease might make it hard to fall asleep.

– Nasal congestion and sinus pain with other symptoms.

– Bipolar disorders and anxiety

– Stimulants like Caffeine of Theophylline

– Smoking affects sleep just like caffeine because of the Nicotine.

– Chronic distress

 

No matter what reason, Insomnia could have consequences that include being irritable, feeling tired or fatigue and memory problems. Going through all this before the doctor finally prescribes the magic sleeping pills makes it very easy to become dependent upon. But the side effects of sleeping aides could outweigh the benefit. Some of the side effects are amnesia or memory problems, dizziness, headache, nausea, and depression. Sometimes though a sleep-aid could be the only thing helping the patient, there are some goals that could be set to improve sleep habits such as:

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– Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day

– Avoid all stimulants during the day like Caffeine and Nicotine.

– Exercise regularly

– Don’t make it a habit to drink alcohol to help you sleep

– Don’t go to bed unless you are ready to sleep. If you are still up after 30 minutes, then get up and do something like reading or listening to music for 20 minutes before you go back to bed. You can do this as many times as it takes until you feel sleepy.

 

There are some over-the-counter sleep aids that’s proven to help many people like antihistamines, especially Diphenhydramine. It’s used mainly for allergies, but it’s also used as a sleep aid. Do not take any pills until after talking with a health provider to make sure it does not interact with any other medication. Also, the aid could affect a pre-existing health condition, especially in elderly people.

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Another over-the-counter supplement is Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone in the brain that controls sleeping activities.Taking Melatonin has helped many Insomnia patients, but it interacts with some medications like blood-thinners, immunosuppressant, some diabetes medications and birth control pills. Also,some patients complained of retina damage after taking too much of it. Valerian is another supplement used to help Insomnia patients.

 

Valerian is a plant that is used to help treat many diseases one of which is insomnia. It seems to help many people with sleep disorders and it doesn’t have the” hang over effect” that other sleep aids have. It’s believed to help with anxiety. Patients with liver disease should be very careful taking it and should consult with a physician before taking it. Valerian interact with some medications like allergy medications, Cholestrol medications, some anti-fungal medications and some cancer medications.

 

It’s always advisable that you try to adjust your sleeping habits before trying any medicines.

Have a good night!

 

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Enjoy The Sun, Skip The Burn!

posted by Ranya Elguendy

This weather sure does call you to the beach! There’s no better time to basque in the sun, laying out, soaking up the rays to get that bronze tan… Nothing beats a refreshing swim when it’s hot outside. The downside is when you get that sunburn and it ruins everything. In fact, even the tan you were going for isn’t especially healthy.

A Sunburn is, as the name suggests; a burn. It’s caused by the ultraviolet radiations (UVA and UVB). Your skin has a protective pigment called Melanin. When the melanin in the skin cannot adequately keep up with protecting you from the UV rays, you get burned. The darker your skin, the more melanin you have, so more fair skinned folks are at higher risk for burn.

The common symptoms of a sunburn include:
– Redness and swelling
– The area with the sunburn feels warm or hot
– Pain
– The skin starts to peel
– Sometimes fluid-filled blisters appears
– In severe cases, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting , fainting could happen

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The complications from sunburn, don’t end at the red skin. Sunburn can increase your risk for skin infections. Sunburn is also a primary factor in premature aging, and worse of all skin cancer.

I see some raising eyebrows asking: so how can we protect out skin from sunburn?

– Avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 am till 2 pm
– Always wear a hat and a sunglasses
– Use sunblock between 15 to 30 SPF. The higher the SPF the better protection it gives you. Choose a waterproof sunblock to avoid losing your protection from swimming or sweating, and reapply every 2 hours.
– Always use a lip balm with at least SPF 15
– Some medications increase your sun sensitivity like certain antibiotics, even over-the-counter herbs may cause photosensitivity, such as St John’s Wort.

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Tanning beds are not as innocent as you might think. Recent studies shows that they could cause skin cancer.

Finally, even if it doesn’t seem to be sunny outside you should take all the above precautions. In fact, the clouds may block many of the sun’s rays, but the UV rays still get through.

If it should happen that you get a sunburn, there are few things that you can do to help your skin heal sooner and hurt less.

– Over-the counter anti-inflammatory and pain medications such as Ibuprofen and Aspirin could help with the pain.
– Cool compresses of milk and water can soothe and moisturize the skin.
– Aloe-based lotions or gels can improve healing and even avoid peeling.

Definitely avoid any perfumes or bath salts when you have a sunburn as it may sting or even make it worse. Also, do not use topical anesthetic medications.

Enjoy the sun! Just remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry, and don’t forget your sunblock, hat and sunglasses before you go to the beach! Have a nice time!

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Have A Good Memory!

posted by Ranya Elguendy

What did you eat last night?

 

Did it take you a minute to remember? That’s alright! It doesn’t  mean that you’re having memory problems. It’s pretty normal to forget things like the name of a phone representative who wakes you up early Saturday morning. How about forgetting where you put your car keys? I know, they’re right where you always leave them, which is…. where again?

 

It’s very normal to blank once in a while and forget a restaurant name even though you eat there all the time.

Many people think that memory loss is inevitable as they grow older. Say it isn’t so! It might be more difficult to learn something new, but you don’t have to lose what you already know.

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There are some things that you can do to prevent memory loss such as:

 

Exercise: It maintains good blood flow to all the body including the brain, and it reduces the risk for disorders that could contribute to memory loss like Diabetes or Cardiovascular disease.

 

Eat Healthy: Especially choosing live foods like fruits and vegetables. Avoid saturated and trans fats. Also eat foods rich in Omega-3, and protein.

 

Reduce Stress: Stress causes us to produce Cortisol, the stress hormone, it can damage the brain over time.

 

Get plenty of sleep: It’s obvious that you can’t think when you are tired. But what is new is that sleep deprivation could reduce the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus which can lead to memory problems later in life.

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Quit smoking: Smoking can constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain and so, affect some of the brain functions including memory.

 

Have fun: It’s noticeable that isolated people are always at a higher risk for memory problems than people who have strong social relations. Having fun helps to keep your mind engaged, and stimulated.

 

Brain exercise: Play chess, word puzzles, learn something new like a foreign language or a musical instrument. Take a project that involves planning.

 

There are also some things that could contribute to memory loss like:

 

Medications: Memory loss could be a side effect of many medications such as sleeping aids, some antihistamines, some blood pressure medications, some antidepressants, some anti-anxiety medications and narcotic painkillers.

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Vitamin B12 deficiency: B12 deficiency can affect the memory and may even lead to permanent damage to the brain. You can find vitamin B12 over-the-counter or get a monthly injection from your local pharmacy as directed by your doctor.

 

Alcohol abuse: It leads to memory loss and may even increase the risk of dementia.

 

Head injury or trauma

 

Depression or anxiety

 

Now that you get the idea, it might be time for more chess practice and some Sudoku!

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Avoiding Bone Enemy Number One – Osteoporosis

posted by Ranya Elguendy

“You have to take care of your bones!” How many times did you hear this? I’m sure you have heard it enough to realize that it’s important to eat enough spinach and broccoli even though you don’t like them, and to take this gigantic vitamin tablet every day because if you don’t then you are giving an opportunity to one of the star bone enemies to pay you a visit!

 

A very common bone enemy is Osteoporosis, a condition that happens when the bones suffer from a loss of Calcium decreasing the density of the bones. This weakens the bones and makes them more fragile and more susceptible to fractures. Many people could go for years with undiagnosed Osteoporosis because in most cases it’s detected when a fracture happens. Women are more likely to develop Osteoporosis than men because the rate of bone loss speeds up after Menopause.

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Here are some of the risk factors for Osteoporosis:

– Eating disorders

– Family History

– Smoking

– Alcohol abuse

– Early menopause

– Long-term use of some medications such as Corticosteroids, Heparin and some anti-seizure medications like Phenytoin and Phenobarbital

– Thyroid problems

– Not getting enough Calcium

– Lack of exercise

– Caucasian or Asian race

– Poor nutrition and poor general health

– Low estrogen levels in women due to early surgical removal of both ovaries

– Vitamin D deficiency

 

Now that you are familiar with the common risk factors, it’s easy to determine what you need to do to protect yourself. We could probably all agree that we need enough Calcium every day. If you don’t think you are getting enough from your diet then you need to take Calcium over-the-counter. Before menopause, you need to take about 1000 mg of Calcium every day. After menopause, you need 1500 mg every day unless you are taking Estrogen. If you are taking Estrogen then 1000 mg should be enough. I always prefer Calcium and Vitamin D combinations because Vitamin D helps the body absorb more Calcium.

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Medications used to treat Osteoporosis:

Alendronate and risedronate: These medicines are used to help prevent and treat Osteoporosis. They decrease the rate of bone loss and reduce the risk of bone fractures. They are taken orally. Their most common side effect is upset stomach this is why it’s advised to stay in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after taking the medicine.

Biophosphonates: They help reduce the risk of fractures and increase bone density in the hips and the spine. Side effects include irritation of the esophagus. People with kidney disease cannot take these medicines.

Calcitron: This is a hormone that helps slow the breakdown of bones. It’s available as a nasal spray. Most common side effects include irritation of the lining of the nose and headache.

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 Raloxifene: This medicine is used to prevent and treat Osteoporosis in women by increasing bone density. It resembles some of the effects of estrogen.

Teriparatide: This medicine is a synthetic form of parathyroid hormone and helps bone to grow.

 Ibandronate: This medicine helps to slow bone loss and increase bone density.

 

Always remember that your life style can directly affect your bones. Establishing a daily exercise regimen, eating a well-balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption and reducing or stopping smoking are major ways you can protect your bones.

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