None of us lead pure and blameless lives, especially when it comes to our health and fitness habits. Every now and then, just like when we were in school, we need to check up on how we’re doing in certain areas to make sure we’re on the right track. Luckily for us, life science research has armed our healthcare providers with an almost endless supply of tests to aid in diagnosing both common and rare conditions. These diagnostic tests may just save our lives, or at least prolong them, if they find something that can be treated. Certain tests are recommended at certain ages and under certain conditions, and just like those tests in school, how well we do can determine our happiness and our future. Let’s take a look at a few of the more common diagnostic tests and what they can tell us about our health.
- Lipid panel – This test is more commonly known as the cholesterol check. A blood sample is taken to determine the extent of lipid peroxidation–in other words, how much cholesterol is in your bloodstream. The higher the levels of “bad” cholesterol, the worse off you are and the more medication and/or dietary changes you’ll need. Lipid panels are recommended for all male patients over the age of 35 and for all patients over 20 years old if at risk for coronary heart disease. Women should only worry about lipid screening if at risk for coronary heart disease.
- P24 ELISA – This is not your run-of-the-mill diagnostic assay, but it is recommended for those with what is termed an “at risk” lifestyle. The P24 ELISA diagnosis HIV and is recommended for everyone who may have been exposed through either blood or sexual contact.
- Cardiac stress test – Strap on your sneakers for this one, gang! This is the dreaded treadmill test that shows any abnormalities in your cardiac blood supply. This, in turn, shows how healthy your heart is and how at risk for a heart attack you just might be. Men over 45, postmenopausal women, anyone with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, smokers, diabetics, and those with a family history of heart disease are all likely candidates for the physician’s office 5K.
- Mammogram – Women over 40 should be well acquainted with the “boob mashing monster” known as the mammogram. This test checks for breast cancer and other abnormalities in breast tissue. The test is recommended for younger women with certain health factors or symptoms, such as pain and swelling, or who have a family history of breast cancer.
Knowing about these tests and having these tests performed can save or add years to your life. While no studying is required, these are tests that everyone should want to pass with flying colors!
Summer’s heat and glaring sun are just around the corner and all too often they bring needless health and safety issues with them. A little bit of preparation, common sense, and foreknowledge can help you avoid nasty heat and sun related issues. Ready? Got your sunblock and your shades? Then let’s go!
- When the sun’s at its hottest–typically between 10am and 3pm–stay inside where the air conditioning or fan can help you stay cool. If you’re worried about the health of your indoor air, make sure you have your heating and air conditioning system checked and cleaned before the need to use it arises.
- Drink plenty of water. Don’t just drink–drink water. Carbonated and caffeinated drinks can actually make dehydration worse. Alcohol should also be a big no-no. The average person needs to consume nearly a gallon of water a day when the temps are near or above 90 degrees. If you are overweight or if the air is humid and hot, you should drink more.
- Keep your air conditioning installation working at its best with regular service and maintenance. Keep blinds and draperies closed from mid-morning to mid-afternoon–10 am to 3pm or so–to keep the sun’s rays outside. Having your thermostat in direct sunlight or even in a brightly sunny room can overtax your air conditioning system.
- Exercise in the early morning or early evening. Moving your exercise time to either earlier or later ensures that you’re not working your hardest when the sun’s the hottest.
- Dress appropriately. That goes for your house, too. Put lightweight sheets and blankets on the beds. Use heavier curtains or blinds to keep out the sun’s heat and glare. Switch to lighter-colored fabrics that reflect the sun’s rays, instead of absorbing them.
- Serve up a salad. Fire up the grill. Make good use of your crock pot or slow cooker. Rather than heat up the house with the traditional range and oven doing the cooking, serve cold meals or meals prepared on the barbecue or counter top. Summer meals should also be light, not heavy or rich. Take advantage of all the summer’s fresh produce to serve meals that are light, refreshing, and healthy!
- Properly supervise kids and pets. It’s hard to keep them inside when it’s so glorious out, but they need their water and rest breaks even more than adults do.
- If any symptoms of heat distress or illness arise, seek medical help immediately.
Whether you cool off with a fan or air conditioning in San Diego, summer’s heat is nothing to laugh at. By using our tips, and your head, you can have a safe and happy summer!
Chances are, if you’ve ever been in a hospital and rang the bell for the nurse, the first person to answer was probably a certified nursing assistant, or CNA. These men and women are the backbones of clinical hospital care. They fill your water pitcher, help you dress, assist you with your bath, deliver your meal trays, and in some settings even change your sheets. They bring you an extra blanket, take your vital signs on a routine basis, and notify the registered nurses or other staff assigned to you of more serious situations that they aren’t qualified to handle.
CNA training is some of the shortest and most readily available of all the hands-on nursing care fields. Many vocational schools train high school students and young adults in a matter of months. CNA certification programs are also popular with junior colleges, community colleges, and other adult education facilities. Getting CNA certified can be the end of your training and the beginning of your career in nursing or can simply be the beginning–a stepping stone to greater things–as you can earn a living and pursue further education.
Certified nursing assistants are often overlooked by individuals looking for a career in healthcare because they think of CNAs as poorly paid, poorly educated, and in large supply. None of this is necessarily true. We have already stated that most CNA training programs are short term–typically 6 to 12 months–but there is a great deal of training packed into that short period of time. CNAs must show mastery of:
- How to properly lift and transfer patients from beds, gurneys, chairs, wheelchairs, and other equipment without causing injury to themselves or the patient.
- How to properly and safely bathe a patient or assist a patient with his or her bathing.
- How to assist a patient with other areas of personal care–eating, dressing, grooming, personal hygiene, toileting.
- How to change bed linens, with or without the patient in the bed.
- How to perform other housekeeping duties, such as cleaning up after a feeding or toileting, personal grooming, and handling biohazardous materials.
- How to properly take a patient’s vital signs during regular rounds using both manual and electronic equipment.
- How to properly document all the care that the CNA has given to his or her patients.
It is true that CNAs are often the lowest paid of the nursing professions, but they are in high demand with expected growth in the occupation at 20% over the next 10 years or so. Nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, clinic,s and even some physician’s offices all require the skills of a certified nursing assistant, and as the population continues to age, these facilities will see more and more patients needing care. If you’re looking to get your foot in the door of professional nursing or wish to fulfill a desire to truly care for and help others, you may just want to give CNA training a try!
While most spiders aren’t dangerous to humans, getting bitten by one can be a painful, nasty experience. Even though we only have two dangerous spiders here in the U.S., the black widow and the brown recluse have such a wide range and such dangerous bites that everyone should know how to effectively treat spider bites. We’ll cover non-dangerous bites first, and then discuss the really nasty spiders and their bites.
Non-poisonous spider bite care:
- Wash the wound with mild soap and cool water. This is to clean the area around the wound and the wound itself to prevent infection.
- Apply a cold compress to the affected area. This will slow the spread of the spider venom and keep the swelling down.
- If the bite is on an arm, hand, foot, or leg, elevate the affected limb. This helps to reduce swelling and the spread of the venom.
- If the bite becomes painful, treat the pain with an over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen or aspirin.
- Likewise, if the bite becomes itchy or irritating, soothe the discomfort with an over-the-counter topical cream, lotion, or ointment, such as calamine lotion or benadryl creme.
- If you should accidentally scratch the bite open, cleanse the wound and cover it with a light bandage or gauze pad to help protect it as it heals to avoid infection or further injury.
Poisonous spider bite care:
- The first thing you need to do is to identify, if possible, the spider that bit you. Brown recluses have long legs and are brown in color, while black widows have the distinctive red hourglass markings on their black bodies.
- You’ll want to clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
- Elevate the bitten limb.
- Isolate the area, if possible, with a bandage tied around the limb. This will slow the spread of the venom. Be sure not to tie the bandage so tightly that you completely cut off the blood flow.
- Apply a cold cloth or compress to the bite to further slow the spread of the venom into the body’s tissues and blood supply.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Black widow bites require anti-venom, and there are several recommended treatments for brown recluse bites.
Seek immediate medical attention for ANY spider bite that causes shortness of breath; nausea; swelling of the face, lips, eyes or throat; purpling or other discoloration of the area around the bite; or dizziness. These symptoms may indicate an allergic reaction or that the victim has been bitten by something other than a spider. These symptoms should not be ignored or overlooked as they indicate a more serious, perhaps even life-threatening, condition.
The best way to avoid a spider bite is to remove the conditions that harbor the spiders. Spider removal, unlike ant removal or other types of pest removal, is actually quite easy. Both black widow and brown recluse spiders prefer dry, dark, cluttered areas–under the kitchen sink, the back of the closet, up in the attic. Keeping these areas clean and free of clutter is your best repellent. Wearing gloves and long sleeves and tucking your pants in your socks when working in these areas is a good way to protect yourself from any unwanted contact.
We all know that a healthy, attractive appearance boosts your mood and your attitude towards life, and yet many of us still muddle through life looking less than our best. Why? Well, there’s a myriad of reasons why, but most of them go back to one thing–it’s easier to complain and maintain the status quo than it is to change. Change is hard work, and the things we have to do to bring about change are hard work, too. However, if we truly want to look our best, be our best, we’ve got to suck it up, put on our big girl pants and just do it. If you’re not happy about facing another summer looking less than what you consider your ideal best, here are some ideas for motivation and inspiration.
- Eating habits – There are all kinds of diets out there–shakes, meal replacements, point counting, processed meals delivered to your door–but the thing is, most of them simply don’t work. Why? Well, when you go back to eating normally, you usually end up gaining back all the weight you lost, if not more. What you need to do is change your eating habits. Establish new ones that will last for the rest of your life. Try going vegetarian, Paleo, Primal, or whatever appeals to you and works to help you lose the weight you want. Changing your eating habits for the better works as well as liposuction lasers, I can assure you.
- Exercise habits – Again, you have a ton of options to choose from. You just have to make a choice, and you need to do it sensibly. You can’t go from couch to marathon runner in a week, or you’ll need more than a massage therapist’s percussor tool to work out the muscle aches and pains. Choose something you enjoy or have always wanted to try. Start slow, a couple times a week, and work your way up. Hiring a personal trainer to come to your home is always a good idea if you have no idea of where to start.
- Bad habits – Smoke? Drink? Chew tobacco? Tanning booths? Chocoholic? Whatever your bad health habits, choose one and tackle it. Fighting an addiction can be difficult, but your body will thank you later. The sooner you start, the better. Smoking ages your skin, especially on your face. Quitting can save you trips to the cosmetologists medical laser later, when the damage is too great to reverse.
- Stress habits – Stress takes its toll on your entire body. Stressed people don’t smile. They don’t sleep. They don’t eat properly. Most don’t exercise, either. Cutting out stress may not be an option, especially if your lifestyle or job is part of the cause, but there are ways to beat the stress habits. Exercise. Meditate. Take up yoga. Get involved in a religious community. Discover a new, rewarding hobby. Beating your stress habits can do wonders for you!
Only you can decide what you need to do to look and feel better. The first step is deciding what to do. The next step is doing it. So, whatcha gonna do now?
Medicine has existed for thousands of years, and yet healthcare professionals are still only “practicing” it…so goes the old physician’s dinner joke. But there’s a great deal of truth to that old joke. For all that we know, for all that we can do, for all the diseases and conditions that used to spell only death or disfigurement, that have been cured or controlled or conquered, there are still so many things we don’t know, can’t do anything about, and have yet to understand. And that’s where the “practicing” comes in–we have yet to master medicine, anatomy, or disease. We are still journeymen, perhaps even apprentices, learning and growing and developing new skills and techniques all the time. And that’s where life science researchers come in.
We owe a great deal to those lab rats in their white coats and sterile environments. In days gone by, doctors often did their own research, and some still do. Home or hospital research laboratories overseen by curious or desperate physicians have given us everything from aspirin to the polio vaccine to x-rays. Now, most research is conducted in dedicated facilities–university labs, commercial research firms, government R&D facilities. And instead of practicing physicians, we have dedicated research staff–technicians, professional researchers, former clinicians–and they are just as busy seeking answers and innovations as those back room pioneers of long ago.
What have we gained from our lab rats recently? A lot of time and money is going into diabetes research, cancer research, and understanding the workings of the body at the smallest, most basic levels–cellular anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology. Diabetes research has helped us understand the process of advanced glycation and what happens to certain foods when they are cooked in certain ways. It’s helped us understand the link between obesity and diabetes and how we can avoid the disease altogether with proper diet and exercise. Cancer research has resulted in better understandings of cell life, death, and mutation. Just how cells can go from healthy to cancerous, how they can be influenced by free radicals, how they can migrate from one part of the body to another, all came about from the hard work and tireless efforts of lab researchers. Cell migration assays, among other techniques and tools, have been developed to help in these efforts. Many of these tools and methods begin in the realm of the research lab only to become the common life science products of hospital and clinic labs in years to come. What researchers use today may be the diagnostic tools of tomorrow. And that’s all part of the “practice” of medicine, in the lab and out.
Of all the ophthalmic instruments in your optometrist’s or ophthalmologist’s office, the corneal topographer is one you know well but you don’t even realize it. You know what it is, most likely, from your most recent exam, but you probably don’t know how it works or what it is used for. So, in the interest of educating our readers, and in making you more familiar with a common eye care tool, let’s meet the corneal topographer.
The corneal topographer is a machine that you sit down in front of and stare into. The little aperture or opening you stare into features a light with black concentric rings inside. Some of the surfaces are red while others are orange or yellow in color. The black rings are pretty standard. What you may not realize is that the center ring or dot is actually the lens of the digital camera. The topographer creates a 3D map or image of your eye’s outermost surface, or cornea. Now why would you and your optometrist or ophthalmologist want a map of your eye’s surface? Several good reasons actually, including:
- Diagnosis – several eye diseases can change the shape of the cornea, including glaucoma. Changes in the cornea’s shape or topography can indicate an eye health problem.
- Vision Correction – an accurate mapping of the outermost surface of your eye is vital to proper fit and use of contact lenses. Since corneal topography became more accurate and readily available, many patients have noticed a great improvement in how their contacts feel and work.
- Pre-Op/Post-Op Evaluation – A patient who needs to undergo LASIK surgery to correct vision problems will benefit greatly from corneal topography as the ophthalmologist has an accurate image of the cornea to use both before and after surgery to evaluate the surgery’s results.
Like the excimer laser used in many eye surgeries, the corneal topographer came into common use in the 1990s, though unlike the laser, its beginnings date about 100 years prior. A Portuguese ophthalmologist used a disk with painted black and white rings to roughly map the surface of his patients’ corneas based on the reflection of the disk’s rings on the cornea. He then drew maps, similar to those produced by geologists, of the surface of his patients’ eyes. Computer technology in the 1990s allowed for systems that both mapped the topography of the cornea and then produced digital images and maps. Fully automated corneal topography was now readily available.
So the next time you’re sitting in the eye doctor’s office, instead of wondering why you have to stare at a bunch of little circles in a round hole, you’ll know that you can count on the corneal topographer to map your eye’s health.
From Timbuktu to Temecula pest control for gardeners is getting a great deal of attention. Farmers are coming under fire for using genetically modified seeds in an attempt to save the crops from pests who would diminish the harvest. Garden and landscape companies are switching from harsh chemicals to gentler, natural, organic techniques to control pests that would ruin all their hard work. Home gardeners are also turning to organic garden pest control methods to keep their fruits, flowers, and vegetables pest-free while keeping their families safe from chemicals and genetically modified products. Let’s take a look at what they are doing to keep the green in the garden and the loathsome pests out.
- Oil Sprays – You can easily make a spray to defend plants against aphids, beetles, mites, and whiteflies. Simply add a few cloves of garlic to a couple teaspoons of mineral oil and let the mixture sit overnight. Add that oil to a pint of water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. Spray your plants with the garlic oil (but not on a hot, sunny day) to keep them pest-free until the next heavy rain. Hot pepper spray can also keep plants pest-free with ingredients from your kitchen. Mix a few teaspoons of hot pepper sauce to a quart of water with a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap. Let it sit overnight and then spray. Whiteflies and mites hate the hot pepper oil and will look elsewhere for a quick lunch.
- Soap Spray – As both the above oils have liquid dishwashing soap in them, it’s reasonable to think that a spray made of plain soap would have some affect on its own, and it does. You’ll need more water this time–a gallon–to which you add a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid (make sure ALL soap used in organic home pest control is biodegradable, please!). Let sit overnight and in the morning, you’ll have a gallon of spray for keeping mites, aphids, thrips, and scales away from your plants. The soap damages the skin or coating of the insects, eventually killing them. While soap spray is nasty for bugs, it’s completely harmless for your plants, you, and your family.
- Citrus Rinds – We all know that slugs love beer (and many of us have had the unpleasant experience of removing tiny, drowned, drunken slugs from our gardens), but did you know they hate citrus? So do cats! So if slugs are getting into your plants or if the neighborhood cats have decided that your garden makes an ideal litter box, sprinkle citrus rinds–oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes–around the edges of and throughout your garden. No cats or (drunken) slugs to deal with.
With these tips, you can hopefully keep the garden pests at bay while staying eco-friendly. Good luck!
In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, we thought we’d do a few articles honoring the ladies of the club. This one happens to focus in the achievements of the Victorian ladies in the area of sports and recreation. Without those great grandmothers of ours demanding equal opportunities for just a much fun and fitness as the men, we’d probably still be restricted to taking “brisk walks.”
The Victorians benefited greatly from the innovations of the Industrial Age, among these perhaps the most “modern” was the idea of time for pure recreation–free time for sports and games. In times past, only on feast or festival days did the average folk have time to rest from their work. And even then, many a woman found her work load added to by preparing the home, the family’s wardrobe, and the feast for the special day.
By the middle of the 19th century, however, many a middle-class lady found herself with a bit of time each day with little to do. However, since idleness was considered a sin, and fitness and health next to Godliness, she was expected to fill even that bit of time with something active and “good for her.” And thus was the beginning of true sport and fitness activities for women.
- Lawn tennis – Lawn tennis made its first appearance in the middle of the 1800s. At first it was a gentle game consisting of simply patting the ball back and forth between 2 or 4 ladies on the grass. By 1874, however, men had discovered the sport as a way of gaining excellent physical and mental exercise. Rules were formalized and leagues were formed. Tennis skirts for the ladies were still ankle length in those days, and her corset was still firmly in place. Tennis clothes for men were nothing as they are now, either–full trousers and long-sleeved shirts, sometimes even sporting his waistcoat while playing. While you and your gals won’t want to drag out your floor length dresses and corsets, you can put on your very 2000s sports apparel and enjoy a game or two on the court. Or try it as the Victorians played it–on a grassy lawn or well-kept field.
- Bicycling – The first bicycles of the 1880s were funny-looking contraptions with a great high wheel in front and a smaller wheel in back. It was considered inconceivable for ladies to ride these, as the high wheel was almost impossible to maneuver in their long skirts. Tricycles were invented for the “fairer sex” so that their morals and reputations weren’t compromised by having to raise their skirts. However, by 1889, so many women were raising their skirts and giving the two wheeled version a try anyway that bicycle manufacturers created the bicycles we know today, with two wheels of equal size, to preserve the ladies’ dignity and good names. OK, maybe they upgraded the bicycle design more for safety reasons–either way, ladies were riding them and that’s what counts!
- Roller skating – Ice skates had been around for centuries, but roller skates had to wait for the innovations of the Industrial Age to make their appearance. Roller skates made their first appearance in 1863, and by 1870 were hugely popular in New York City. So trendy was the past time that fashion gave way and “skating skirts” that allowed for greater movement and freedom of the wearer were introduced. Roller skating’s popularity among men and women of all classes by the 1890s led to changes in standards for ladies’ clothing and behaviors. Skating rinks held dances that allowed young men and women to socialize, dress, and behave in ways not previously considered “proper.”
May will soon be here and that means that Mother’s Day is right around the corner. And since we here at Love 2 B Healthy 1) are moms, 2) have moms, and 3) tend to promote only healthy, good-for-you gift ideas, we thought you might want or need some of those ideas for providing your dear old Mom with a Mother’s Day gift fit for the queen she is.
- Be a joiner! Get mom a membership to a gym, or to a fitness center, or to an exercise program she’s expressed interest in. If your mother is older, check into discounts and programs for seniors in your area. If she’s the younger, healthier, more adventurous type, maybe sign her up for a new class–yoga, zumba, Pilates, ball room dancing. Sign yourself up as well, to make it a family affair.
- Be a loser! If mom has expressed a desire or a need to lose some weight, help her out by suggesting a diet or weight loss program for both of you (or for mom and a friend). Studies show that losing weight is easier and more effective when there is plenty of moral support and family involvement. You’ll both benefit. And if mom is already on a program or eating plan, don’t sabotage it by getting her some big box of candy or taking her to a restaurant not known for its healthy menu choices, please.
- Be a quitter! Got a habit that mom has hated for years? Stop it! Quit chewing tobacco, or stop smoking. End the over eating. Quit the late night booze binging. No, it’s not going to be easy. There are lots of informative and helpful articles, websites and programs to help you and to teach you, whether you want to stop your impulse buying or need to know how to quit chewing tobacco. Don’t let smokeless tobacco or any other bad habit stand in the way of your relationship with your one and only mother. Step up and make a change you’ll both be happy with!
- Be healthy! Does mom love to garden? Buy her some new tools or plants. Does she love to cook? Gift her with some healthy recipes or cookbooks. Is your mother the traveling kind? Invest in a book or two of information on spas and health resorts that indulge the visitor in healthy, relaxing experiences. (Or go whole hog and book mom an all-expense paid trip to one!) Does mom have a lot of stress and tension in her life–work, kids, family always causing problems? Try a trip for two to a massage therapist. Or purchase the supplies for an at-home aromatherapy session.
Whatever you do for your mom this year, keep both her health and yours in mind when making the decision. Flowers and candy and dinner out may be traditional, but you can make better, healthier choices. And everyone can be sure to have had a happy Mother’s Day!
(PS: You may want to get mom’s input before you decide on a gym membership or diet program. Better to be sure it’s what she wants rather than waste time and money on something she won’t enjoy or has no interest in. After all, health food doesn’t do anyone any good sitting on the shelf. Same thing goes for unused gym memberships and weight loss programs that aren’t followed.)