Categories
Heath and Medicine

Summer Cold or Allergies? The Number One Tell-tale Sign

A sudden onset sore throat.  Fine one minute, and just like that, your next swallow feels weird.  You think maybe you imagined it so you swallow a few more times and confirm, it definitely hurts. A little while later you notice your nose is getting stuffy, your ears feel plugged, and come to think of it – you are feeling run down. Crap – a summer cold! Or is it?

Your average cold (viral rhinitis) and seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis/hay fever), have similar symptoms:

  • sore throat
  • congestion
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • post nasal drip
  • ticklish cough

Except for one tell tale sign…

the itch factor

Generally the key in distinguishing whether your crappy symptoms are a cold verses allergies is that itchy feeling of the throat, nose or eyes.  That itch is a tingling or irritation of the skin or mucosal lining that compels you to scratch, rub, or make annoying rumbling hisses and growly sounds that drives your mates and coworkers batcrap crazy.

itchy=allergies

That nasty itch is caused by a protein in pollen produced by grasses, plants, and trees. Other culprits include cat and dog saliva, dander, mold, and dust mites.

The allergic reaction is actually an inflammatory response by your mast cells and basophils. When triggered, these cells produce histamine, which causes the uncomfortable symptoms.  Over several hours, the histamine activates other inflammatory cells and this cycle repeats until the allergen is removed or the histamine release is blocked.

Allergies can make you feel miserable. The good news it they are highly treatable, depending on how severe your reaction is, you can do several things,

  • Avoid trigger allergens: If you know what you are allergic to, do your best to avoid exposure. Pollen counts high? Wear a mask.  So what if you look like a doofus –  it beats sneezing and feeling miserable. Other things that might help: shower before bed and use air-conditioning.
  • Antihistamines: Most are now available over-the-counter. Talk to your friendly neighborhood pharmacist if you need help deciding which one to try.  Side effects are possible (sedation with some), and if you take prescription meds you need to talk to your primary care provider before adding on another med due to potential drug-drug interactions.
  • Prescription nasal sprays: If your allergies last a season or all year round, prescription sprays such as fluticasone or mometasone are a great treatment option.  They control symptoms and are less likely to cause serious side effects.
  • Allergy Shots: Certainly the underdog, allergy shots are something to be considered. If you want to get to the root of your allergy problem and have the patience to do allergy testing and immunotherapy, treat your allergies using this route.

Allergies are not just kid’s stuff.  Some allergies take years of exposure before they finally develop, which explains why adults surprisingly become allergic when they never were before.

If that “cold” seems to be lingering, you are overly tired, and you can’t stand that itchy throat or nose, your problem just might be allergies.

As always, your healthcare provider is your best source of medical information for questions and concerns related to your health.

Categories
Health and Wellness

The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to never get sick – no more colds, stomach bugs, or other nasty viruses?

Close to $40 billion a year is spent treating the common cold. But what if there was a simple solution to avoid sickness? Imagine how much more you could do, and the money you’d save if you never got sick.

In his book, The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, author Gene Stone interviewed everyday people who claimed to never get ill.

Some of the secrets were unique, others weren’t that obscure. But, would these secrets work for anyone? Gene tried them all, and tells how the secrets worked for him. He also includes any science that might support some truth to the “secrets”.

Is the claim backed by science?

Meet Patricia, a native New Yorker who eats dirt. She washes her hands no more than 3x’s a day, and barely rinses her garden vegetables. That way she feels she is dosing herself with all the microorganisms that can cause disease.

Patricia says, “I think exposing myself to a little bit of sick allows my body to create its own defense against passing germs, dirt, viruses, or whatever.”

Then there’s Phil, a teacher who claims detoxification cured his cancer. He explains that the fattier, more processed and more adulterated our diet, the greater amount of toxins we retain. Organs are stressed by their efforts to eliminate the toxic molecules. By keeping the concentration of these toxins in our body low, the toxins are more easily eliminated, and less likely to be retained in our cells.

Eating brewers yeast, living in the blue zone, calorie restrictions, cold showers, yoga, vitamin C, probiotics.

But does it really work?

The author is not promoting snake oil remedies. Rather, he shares a peek into the lives of regular people, who do a little something extra – eat fresh garlic, consume only plant based foods, take a daily nap, and balance their PH.

They all swear their routine keeps them healthy.

I prefer prevention to cure, defense, to offense, and am game for any common sense practice that doesn’t require more money or time than I can afford.

I consider myself in overall good health. I do get sick from time to time, so I don’t have any big secrets for not getting sick. Instead, I believe the secret to good health is simple: a commitment to healthy living.

Eat a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. Get good sleep. Have a pet and give it a beautiful life. Keep positive thoughts. Don’t smoke anything. Drink wisely, if at all. Walk every day. Have faith. Love big. Find your purpose. Take nothing for granted.

I enjoyed reading about what these folks do to stay healthy. There is always more to learn, and it’s fun when you tell me a secret!

How about you. Are you someone who never gets sick? What’s your secret?
But if you tell me, I can’t promise it will stay a secret

Categories
Education Heath and Medicine

Super Simple Tips for a Healthy, Happy Life!

Nearly everyone has heard of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. He taught that disease had a natural cause (as opposed to a supernatural), and that clinical observation was an essential aspect of “do no harm” medical care.

Hippocrates teachings were revolutionary at the time (400 BC), and while he may be the father of modern medicine, he has legions of sons/brothers/daughters/cousins and such who continue to build on his ideas.

One Roman fellow, Aulus Cornelius Celsus was a huge fan of Hippo and translated Hippocrates and other Greek writings to Latin. Celsus wasn’t a physician – yet he had a major influence on medical thinking and is known as having coined,

accurate diagnosis must precede treatment

Aulus was a wise man – see below for a link to his most famous work, the De Medicina.  I like his simple tips for staying healthy and happy. You won’t need to buy organic ancient seeds drenched in glacier mineral water, no special supplements or aloe vera cranberry infused gluten free goat milk smoothies, just no fuss stuff. Sounds like exactly what I tell my patients!

Super Simple Tips For A Happy, Healthy Life

  • Make your home bright and cheery, keep it clean and free of clutter. 
  • Get regular and varied exercise – include long, brisk walks.
  • Do not overeat! (George Burns followed this rule: he attributed his longevity to his practice of eating only half of whatever was on his plate).
  • Start your meals with greens. Eat apples, dates, or other fresh fruit for dessert.
  • Drink wine only in moderation. If you are indulging nightly, take a break.
  • Get massages whenever you can.
  • Get plenty of fresh air all year round. 
  • Treat your digestive tract kindly: don’t overdue it with fatty, fried, processed, or junk food in general. Stay hydrated! 
  • Make sleep a priority. 
  • Surround yourself with friends, loved ones, and never forgo a yearly vacation.

Celsus (ca 25 BC—ca 50) was considered to be way ahead of his time in regards to his teachings on maintaining good health. Ironic he died so young. His suggestions are common sense and accepted practices. I will overlook his blood-letting instructions and vomit obsessions. After all, none of us are perfect.

If you want to know what Celsus had to say about such things as treating gangrenous mouth lesions, agglutinating wounds, or helping women who collapse speechless, consult his expansive De Medicina.

Cheers to good health!








Categories
Education Health and Wellness

Memorize Anything With 3 Blissfully Simple Tricks

Memorization is not that hard. It’s as blissfully simple as finding patterns and anchoring information with things you can relate to.
Take names. Are you like me and as soon as you are introduced to someone new you say hi to so-and-so. And then bam! You already forget his name.

Why does that happen?

Because memory formation is an energy-consuming process.

In order to remember a new name you will have to make an effort: repeat the name, say it again, and make an association in your mind to go with the name.
stashP1140329Take this fella – his name is Mario. I say the name Mario, notice his mustache and make the connection with this guy:

Mario=Stash
Mario=Stash

The only problem is now I think every dude with a black stash is named Mario.

Or have you tried to memorize a phone number or an address with no success?

Become a power networker, win friends and influence people with these 3 little memorization tricks.

Facts, quotes, poems, names, number sequences, commercial jingles, or how to do the Macarena. Nothing is impossible.

Imagery

Most people remember images best. Images are concrete, and serve as mental hooks to store and receive information from your long term memory. However, for this to work, you need to know how to

FOCUS

You have this glob of facts or words, and you have to take time to convert this to pictures. Lets try a trip to the grocery store. You need to pick up milk, bananas, coffee and dog food. Convert the list to an image.

Your dog trips on a banana peel while pouring milk into his coffee. Of course it’s silly.  All the more likely you’ll remember it.

I’ve been learning Spanish on Memrise.  They have you select a meme to help you memorize your phrases and new words. For Hablo I have the word written over a simple drawing of a girl shouting Ha! while her companion is blowing a bubble. It really works!

Chunking

This refers to the strategy of breaking down information into bite-sized pieces so the brain can more easily digest new information. It works better with four, maybe five bits. In nursing school I memorized the bones of the face with a mnemonic F.P. Tose which was enough to trigger my brain to remember frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital, sphenoid, and ethmoid.

How about numbers? You wanted to memorize the number 678123984. It will be a challenge if you tried because most people can recall only about 6 digits, and after that it gets tough to remember more. Instead, break it up. Group them into 2 or 3 digits. That big number is way easier if you try it like this: 678-123-984.

Sing it

I loved using this technique when my kids were little and they needed to learn  grammar rules or lists.  Make whatever you are learning into a catchy jingle.

Use an original tune, a nursery rhyme or favorite song.  Music helps us remember words.  That’s why it is easy to learn the words to a song rather than learn the words to a story.

Memorizing is good for the brain, and doesn’t have to be a chore. Just remember, if you want to make something memorable, you first have to make it meaningful.








Categories
Health and Wellness Writing

Turn Heads With These 10 Gramazing Words

Awesome is an excellent word.  So is amazing. But don’t you agree they’re over used?

I had an awesome time.  That movie was amazing.  How ya doing?

Amazingly awesome.

I like to use the A words reverently, sparsely, when no other words will do.

Maybe you’d like some alternate words to use too?  Try These 10 gramazing stand-in words. They’re fun, and just as powerful. Sprinkle them in your writing or in your feedback to others.

Kryptonian You reached kryptonian heights with that speech!

Fly That car is so fly!

Kickass  Those are some kickass moves!

Wicked That sequel was wicked!

Transcendent I am blown away by his transcendent writing.

Capital You did a capital job on the presentation!

Magnificent The hotel was simply magnificent!

Rawk That song is so rawk!

The honey pot The finale was the honey pot – a sweet ending to a perfect day.

Double rainbow brilliant Are you kidding me? That was double rainbow brilliant!

awesome

Why not try your hand at coming up with your own sparkling wordage to describe something really impressive?

How about exponentially excellent. Deluxe. The capstone. Over the top great. Phi Beta Kappa…

And when no other word will do,

go ahead and use awesome.

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Categories
Health and Wellness Heath and Medicine

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: How Common is it?

Research shows that 7% of American adults suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives. That’s a respectable number. Compare it to other medical/mental health issues:

1% have Celiac disease

3% have Hepatitis C

2.6% have Bipolar Disorder

30% have High Blood Pressure

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as:

A pathological anxiety that usually occurs after an individual experiences or witnesses severe trauma that constitutes a threat to the physical integrity or life of the individual or of another person.

PTSD is diagnosed if a person exhibits specific behaviors, such as flash-backs of the terrifying event, nightmares, intrusive or disturbing thoughts, avoiding places that bring back bad memories, numb feelings, edginess, restlessness.  It’s normal to experience these after any life-threatening or traumatic event, but with PTSD the feelings and behaviors persist after a reasonable time.

PTSD is mostly seen in war veterans, child abuse victims, and those who have survived trauma such as rape, torture, kidnapping, car accidents, plane crashes, bombings, and natural disasters.

Within roughly 4 years, 44% of people will recover from their trauma without specific treatment.

This natural recovery is likely seen in those who have a healthy self-esteem and a resilient nature; meaning an ability to adapt to adverse events and bounce back from stress. Resilient people are able to cope with what happened to them and find purpose in life.

In my medical practice setting (psychiatry), I see patients with PTSD regularly, some are doing well on medications and therapy, others not so well, with some turning to illicit drugs, while others plunge deep into depression. Sadly, there are some who can’t escape the torture of flashbacks and incessant anxiety and die by suicide.

Here’s something to think about – because we don’t know who has PTSD or who may be thinking about suicide, let’s be generous with our considerations and treat everyone with kindness. Recently I read about a suicidal man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge to his death. He left behind a note,

Would a small smile from a stranger really have made a difference for this man? I’d like to think yes.

Since we don’t know what people are going through and chances are you will brush shoulders with someone suffering deeply with PTSD, be a part of the solution and not the problem. Check in on your emotional barometer. If you feel testy, or fiery, press the pause button. Take a moment to chill and breath. Whatever is causing your turbulent mood will pass soon enough. Give yourself a time out before you go and give grief to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Also, don’t argue unnecessarily. Be a peaceful driver. Hold a door. Never post derogatory comments on someone’s social media page. Don’t seek revenge. Say hi. Be patient. Pray for your enemies, and forgive those who trespass against you. Give the benefit of the doubt. Get to know people.

Life is difficult enough, but imagine trying to get through day after day with PTSD. If you or a loved one is living with it, I hope you have found help. If you need help see your health care provider or check out PTSD Alliance Also, In the U.S.: Call the NAMI helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI to find support.

Do you have PTSD? You are not alone! There is definitely hope for you and healing to be found. For all of us: let’s be kind always, and smile at strangers. You may be that one shining light to someone in desperate need. Look around you and remember, 7%.








Categories
Health and Wellness

The Happiest People Do These 4 Things Every Day

No one sets out to have a bad day. Can you imagine rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, stretching your stiff muscles while thinking,

Sure, you may not be in your best mood when you first get up, but you do want your day to go well, and be happy, yes? So how is it that you start out in a pretty good mood and poof: one text, one attitude, or an unexpected disruption steals your mojo and 180’s your disposition?

It happens to me all the time.

  I don’t like the tone of that email. Did she just raise her bushy eyebrows at me? What did he mean by we’ll see? She didn’t answer my text, she’s mad at me!  Why do I always have to clean the microwave? OMG – he didn’t say good morning back – what a jerk.

How can you and I stay happy? How do we avoid getting our cheerfulness and upbeat spirit eclipsed?

By not reacting.

You can’t change what people say and do any more than you can’t do anything about the awful weather. What you can change is how you react. A huge part of your happiness comes down to your interpretation of what’s before you, and your reaction to it.

React

Unless it’s a run for your life fight or flight kind of thing, don’t knee-jerk react. Pause. Take a couple of invigorating breaths and think before you speak, type, text, or act.

The happiest people do these four things every day:

  • Pause. For a short five to ten seconds and just breathe.
  • Remember: Think or say quietly to yourself, It’s my choice. I don’t have to react. I choose to have a good day and be happy.
  • Reflect: Look at the big picture. Does it matter? What are you trying to prove? Do you need another battle? How you behave now, or the decisions you make in an unthinking moment can cause serious damage to your reputation, relationships, and career.
  • Respond: Only after pausing, remembering, and reflecting can we respond appropriately to the situation before us.

Put things in perspective and don’t read too deeply into things. Not everyone has a hidden agenda or is passive aggressive. Let it go. Use your calm voice, offer encouragement, give kindness, be patient, imagine what it is like to be in “that” person’s shoes. Be mindful.

You and I are going to have a good, happy day. Fist bump! Let’s do it again tomorrow? Cheers!

happiness

Categories
Health and Wellness

Why I Stopped Sending Christmas Cards

Back in the good old days when I was growing up, Christmas cards were a big deal. My mother started signing and addressing stacks of them just after Thanksgiving. She must have sent two hundred! I’d offer my help by licking the stamps, placing the special Christmas series ever so carefully in the upper right corners of the green and red envelopes.

Each card we received was immediately taped to the long wall in our kitchen, serving as both a festive decoration and a reminder of how fond others were of us. My sisters and I would take our time browsing each neat row, oohing over the sparkly ones that dripped silver glitter onto our fingers.

When I grew up and had my own family, I carried on this tradition for a long time, until I began to notice a trend a few years back.  My door frames and fireplace mantle, which were always overflowing with photo cards and Christmas letters, were noticeably thinning with each consecutive year. I pared my card list from a hundred to fifty. Then thirty. Then sixteen. Twelve. Seven. Then none.

Though the Christmas cards and annual update letters are no longer a part of our family tradition, it is still for millions of families around the world. I’m actually ok with giving up the card exchange, here’s a few reasons why.

Less holiday stress: My husband and I would spend several hours a night over a week’s time individualizing and addressing the cards. When we graduated to the photo cards it become a little easier, but we spent more money. Inevitably there was the card that came Christmas Eve day. I didn’t send them one! I kicked myself for crossing that friend of my list. I felt like a jerk. Now that I don’t send any I feel much less stressed.

We have a smaller circle of extended family and friends: Christmas cards were a way to say hi to friends and relatives who we didn’t see on a regular basis. And, when our boys and our friends’ children were small it was fun to see how much they changed in a year’s time. Now that most of my aunts and uncles have passed away and our boys are venturing into adulthood, it’s time for new traditions. Also, even though we said we would, it has been hard to stay in touch with friends who have moved.

It’s a digital world: Why send handwritten snail mail cards when I can stay in touch with everyone digitally?  I can post pics online and text you all with instant delivery! It costs nothing but a small time investment, and it’s good for the environment. Or I could use a free online card service such as 123 GreetingsBlue Mountain, or Canva.

Is the traditional physical Christmas card approaching extinction? Hallmark says no way, but in my home it’s now history. It’s ok if you cross me off your paper card list. But please add me to your digital one. However you and I choose, it is a good thing to find a way to stay in touch.snoopy








Categories
Health and Wellness

Life Thoughts

Many of us zip through life at breakneck speed, starting too many days behind schedule and ending them with not enough hours to get it all done. Some of us forget to eat, don’t know how to stay healthy, or don’t pay attention to our sicknesses. Maybe that’s you. Often it’s me. I’ve been asked and yeah, have thought to myself,

What is the point?  Where did I go wrong?  How can I do this?  What is the reason for it all? Why am I so unhappy? Why am I here? Where is God? This world is a mess.

Why are we here? Is there…?

Yes! There is meaning. You are alive. You are here. You belong. You have a chance to do something. Even when everything around you is falling apart.

Take a deep breath and consider this. We live, we die. It all goes by too fast.

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Love God. Love your neighbor. Do good. Be present. Do your best work. Stop complaining. Don’t gossip. Don’t judge. Say I love you to whom it is due. Bloom where you’re planted. Give. Take care of what you have. Be non-toxic. Be considerate. Laugh more. Be a peacemaker. Plant hope. Reap joy. Shine. Be kind. Forgive. Don’t look back. Take good care of yourself. Live. 

We rush through our lives so eager to grow up, get a career, make and spend lots of money, climb to the next rung on the ladder. We are forever looking back or fantasizing the future that we neglect the present. The here and now. This day, this hour, this moment.

I’m not saying don’t ever look at the past – reflection is necessary for growth and learning. And only a fool wouldn’t make plans for the future. The point is to find balance, and in the process don’t forget to live. And that’s the meaning. The point of life, is simply to live. Wherever you are. Whoever you are. Whether things are good or bad, if you’re rich, or you have nothing. We live, we die. Too fast. No one is promised tomorrow.

Life is a gift. Life is life. So in honor of those who are no longer here with us, out of a spirit of love and a desire to believe despite our unbelief, let’s live together, you and me. Let’s do the best with what we have and where we are, so when our time is over here we can leave knowing we have no regrets.

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again. C.S. Lewis








Categories
Education

To Be Successful You Must Do These 4 Things!

Merriam-Webster defines success as, “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame“. I think Webster completely misses the mark. Success is viewed differently depending on your culture, upbringing, social situation, work environment, and worldview.

It is not a one-size-fits-all standardized, measurable thing. No one would argue that the self-made millionaires, Edison/Einstein types, Hollywood stars, Olympic athletes, or Pulitzer Prize winners aren’t successful.

But in reality the super famous, geniuses, and wicked wealthy people represent such a small number. If we look at fame as an indication of success, Wired Science reports,

somewhere between about 1 in 10,000 and 5 in 10,000 (or 1 in 2,000) people in the world are successful.

3

The truth is successful people can be found in every crevice of the planet. From the tiny fishing village of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland, to the congested metropolis of Tokyo, Japan, you’ll find success.

Isn’t success simply accomplishing that which you set out to do? Whether it be a goal to climb the world’s ten tallest mountains or to climb out of poverty – you determine what you want to achieve. Anyone. Including you and I, can be successful.

There is no secret to success. Instead there’s a mindset, and opportunities. 

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To be successful in any area of your life, you must consistently do these 4 things

  1. Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives
  2. Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision
  3. Cultivate emotional intelligence
  4. Stay the course

#1 Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives

Know what you want. Rather than wander aimlessly through life letting the “chips fall” where they may, decide what/where you want to be. And write it down.  Napoleon Hill, the author of The Magic Ladder to Success (Free PDF),  puts it in perspective:

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#2 Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision 

Once you have your goals and a plan, you need the tools and the people to help. If you want to lose weight you’ll need to learn how to change the way you eat, and you need to move. Do you need to get a food scale, a gym membership, or a new pair of sneakers?

If you want to start your own business, you need education, training, and business mentors.

Make friends with the right people, surround yourself with good influences, and keep moving yourself forward.

#3 Cultivate emotional intelligence

Successful people learn to temper their emotions. They are empathetic, understanding, set the tone for their team, and know how to bring the best out in others. They keep their head in the game, and don’t sweat the small stuff. If you want to accomplish your goals you can’t be pouty, reactive, or vindictive.  I recommend either reading up on emotional intelligence or try taking a free class. A little emotional intelligence goes a long way.

#4 Stay the course

Success will find you busy working. Build on your strengths, be persistent, optimistic, and learn from your failures. There will be obstacles, set backs, mistakes as well as triumphs. The point is to never lose your grit.

Anyone who has set a goal and accomplished it is a success. Success does not happen overnight. It won’t drop from the sky, and it will never come if you turn around and admit defeat. It is a challenge, and that’s exactly what makes life zesty!

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