Spring 2013 Features

Following are features from our Spring 2013 issue of Health Notes.

Spring cleaning: for your health, not just your house









Although central heat and air eliminate some of the need for deep cleaning, spring can be a great opportunity to start down a healthier path. Here are some ways to rejuvenate your body and health this spring:

Take up gardening. Gardening burns 250-350 calories an hour. For maximum benefits, garden three times a week for an hour at a time. Any activity that makes you sweat counts as exercise— from mowing the lawn to pulling weeds to hauling mulch. Rotate the gardening tasks every 20 minutes so all your major muscle groups get a workout.

Let your kids get dirty. This exposes them to common bacteria. When these bacteria routinely inhabit your body, they produce vitamins and proteins that we need. They help make our immune and gastrointestinal systems work better.

Consider replacing your pillows. After five years, 10% of a pillow's weight contains allergy or asthma-provoking bacteria, pollen, fungi, mold and dust mites. Use protective cases to seal out allergens, and wash your pillowcases with hot water weekly.

Start walking. The American Heart Association recommends engaging in physical activity at least 30 minutes a day five days a week. Every hour of walking increases your life expectancy by two hours. This not only helps control your weight but boosts your mental health, enhances your immune system, and lowers your blood pressure. Do you have a job where you spend most of your time sitting? Consider walking on your lunch hour.

Remember when? The impact of vaccines in the past 100 years

Remember diseases like polio, smallpox, and diphtheria? Most people today cannot remember when these diseases devastated populations of people-- thanks to vaccines. According to a January 2011 report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), vaccines have completed eliminated polio, smallpox, and diphtheria, along with more than 99% of the cases of tetanus, measles, mumps, and rubella.

Read full article, including information on vaccine studies at Clinical Research Associates.

Are you distressed by what you eat?

If so, you may be a binge eater. Everyone "binges" at times. Who hasn't stuffed themselves at Thanksgiving dinner? But true binge eating happens more often than once a year. A binge eating condition involves eating a much larger amount of food in a shorter period of time than normal. As you are eating, you may also feel a lack of control. Binge eaters:

  • Eat 5,000-15,000 calories in one sitting.
  • Snack, in addition to eating three meals a day.
  • Eat even when comfortably full or not hungry.
  • Eat very quickly when binging.
  • Eat alone often.
  • Lose and gain weight repeatedly (called yo-yo dieting).

Binge eating can be emotionally painful. You may feel depressed, ashamed, and isolated.


The good news about Alzheimer's

The thought of yourself--or someone you love-- getting Alzheimer's strikes fear into most people. The good news is that several new drugs are being investigated. We are currently enrolling participants in a research study to evaluate an investigational medication for Alzheimer's. To participate, you must be between the ages of 55 and 85, have been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's, and have no history of stroke. Click here for more details on the Alzheimer's research study.

Early warning signs of Alzheimer's

Below are 10 early signs of Alzheimer's. Keep in mind that some form of each of these is very common as we age. Go to the Alzheimer Associates website at www.alz.org to learn more:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or leisure.
  • Confusion with time or place.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  • Decreased or poor judgement.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities.

Oh, that nagging cough!

We're all prone to coughs as the weather changes and spring pollen arrives. A cough may be due to a cold or the flu, but may also be caused by prolonged exposure to irritants like dust, smoke, or chemical fumes. Sometimes the cough becomes bronchitis. This is not an uncommon condition, but should be taken seriously. Bronchitis can be dangerous in people under age 2 or adults who are old and frail. If you have a history of cardiac arrhythmia, prolonged hard coughing can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

When should you call the doctor?

  • If you notice an unusual heart rate.
  • If you have shortness of breath.
  • If you have a fever or bloody sputum.
  • If your cough lasts more than 2 weeks.

Does your acne bloom along with the spring flowers?

Many people who suffer from facial acne find that it's worse in the spring. As temperatures go up, we sweat more and we're also outside more. That can lead to more dirt in our pores, clogging them. Here are some tips for keeping the springtime acne from flaring up:

  • Use your fingers, rather than wash cloths, to apply makeup or wash your face. Rough surfaces like wash cloths and sponges can aggravate infected skin.
  • Buy makeup that is non-comedogenic. This type does not clog pores. Read your makeup bottle's label to make sure it's non-comedogenic.
  • Try a milk-based cleanser. Milk and yogurt are astringents but also have soothing properties.
  • Watch what you eat. Make healthy choices and load up on fresh vegetables, fruit, and unprocessed foods.
  • Avoid hairspray. It can clog pores on your forehead and the sides of your face.
  • Use sun protection. Although sunshine can actually help heal acne, don't increase sun exposure. Wear extra protection to avoid excessive damage to your skin. Make sure you are wearing a moisturizer or sunscreen wtih an SPF of at least 15-30 or higher.