Category: Health

Study Links Chronic Back Pain to Smoking

Posted on 6 April, 2015  in Health

Study Links Chronic Back Pain to SmokingBack pain continues to be a common complaint nationwide, afflicting eight of every 10 Americans within their lifetimes. The American Chiropractic Association reports that this debilitating condition is the top sick day cause. Ranking second among doctor visit ailments, Americans spend over $50 billion per year to find reprieves from pain. A recent study discovered that smokers have a triple chance of developing relentless back pain, compared to subjects who abstained.

Smoking-Related Brain Activity Leads to Pain

Northwestern Medicine’s lead study author Bogdan Petre found that smoking affects the brain’s reaction to back pain. Subjects included 160 adults with subacute back pain that had lasted four to 12 weeks, 32 people who’d suffered from chronic pain for five or more years, and 35 pain-free controls. They underwent five MRI brain scans over a year. Each time the researchers examined these scans, subjects rated their back pain’s intensity and filled out questionnaires on their smoking habits and additional health issues.

Investigators evaluated activity in two brain regions that impact addictive behaviors and inspired learning. They learned that this particular circuitry is crucial for chronic pain development. These brain areas communicate with each other. A stronger connection between the two reduces chronic pain resistance. Petre concluded that corticostriatal circuitry raises the chances of back pain becoming chronic in smokers. The scientists determined that smoking makes people less resilient to pain episodes. By demonstrating how a learning segment of the brain permits tobacco dependence to converse with chronic pain, this study suggests that pain and addiction may have a relationship in general.

The circuit in question was active and strong in smokers’ brains, Petre noted. But a significant activity drop corresponded to a decreased vulnerability to ongoing pain among subjects who quit smoking voluntarily during this study. This evidence is the first to link chronic pain and smoking to the brain region that’s responsible for addictions and rewards. Treatments including anti-inflammatory medications helped participants control pain, but they didn’t alter their brain circuitry activity. So the scientists propose that behavioral interventions like smoking-cessation strategies could influence brain mechanisms to relieve chronic pain or reduce its risk.

Dr. Tae Shin, who wasn’t part of this study, reports that nicotine limits blood flow to discs cushioning your vertebrae while increasing your degenerative change rate. Smoking cigarettes also inhibits new bone growth and decreases calcium absorption, doubling your osteoporotic fracture risk, compared to non-smokers. Another study attributed about 14 million major diseases to smoking among Americans. These smoking-related illnesses cost $200 billion and kill around 6 million people worldwide annually.

Treating the Tobacco/Pain Connection

Combining smoking cessation aids and anti-inflammatory or other chronic pain medications may be necessary for relief. Search Canada Drug Pharmacy for medications that treat both conditions as well as others. Learn the online shopping advantages that this pharmacy’s buySAFE seal guarantees.

Your Metabolism May Influence Quitting Aid Effectiveness

Many products are available to help the 42 million American grownup, young adult, and teenage smokers quit. Yet predicting which strategies may help most can be difficult. Almost 70 percent of smokers’ quitting attempts fail in the initial week. Previous studies have inspected the metabolism/smoking cessation aid relationship. But they didn’t test participant metabolisms before investigators made random treatment assignments. And they didn’t include Chantix (Varenicline), a prescription drug.

According to new research, your metabolism might help you select your most effective stop smoking medications. The new collaborative study involving four medical centers included 1,246 smokers seeking quitting remedies. To test their metabolisms, the researchers examined blood samples for the ratios between two nicotine-generating metabolites. These proportions reflect liver enzyme activity that helps metabolize nicotine. This information allowed the scientists to classify 584 people as normal metabolizers and 662 as slow metabolizers.

Your Metabolism May Influence Quitting Aid EffectivenessThen they randomly placed participants in 11-week treatment programs with Varenicline with placebo patches, nicotine patches and placebo pills, or placebo patches and pills. All participants also participated in behavioral therapy. The scientists assessed their smoking behaviors after the final week and during follow-ups at six months and one year.

Among normal metabolizers, the researchers found that almost 40 percent of Varenicline patients hadn’t relapsed, but 22 percent of patch subjects had. For slow metabolizers, these two treatments’ effectiveness was similar. But slow metabolizers experienced more Varenicline side effects. The authors concluded that slower metabolizers may receive more benefits from patches rather than pills. Quitting success decreased at the follow-ups, common occurrences in previous smoking cessation research, but ratios among both metabolizer groups using Varenicline and patches held.

These findings support using nicotine metabolite ratios as biomarkers to improve remedy choices while emphasizing that tobacco dependency is a heterogeneous issue and confirming that quitting smoking option effectiveness differs between patients. Doctors could use this helpful genetic biomarker clinically, notes Dr. Caryn Lerman, the lead author. Basing treatment decisions on nicotine metabolizing rates could guide smokers and physicians to choose medications that will improve their quitting rates.

9 Simple Changes You Can Make to Improve Your Health Today

Posted on 12 March, 2015  in Health

9 Simple Changes You Can Make to Improve Your Health TodayIt seems that almost everyone wants to get healthier. The sheer number of diet plans, exercise plans, and self-help books on the shelves of bookstores is indicative of the fact that overall, humans want to be better.

Overhauling your lifestyle is hard, though. For example, when you’re used to a diet of fried food and ice cream, suddenly switching to nothing but fruits and veggies is probably going to frustrate you. Similarly, few people who vow to hit the gym every day are able to follow through on that pledge. The problem? While the motivation is great, most people are far too ambitious when making proclamations for healthy living. Instead of making small changes that add up to an overall healthier lifestyle, they try to make one or two major changes that are uncomfortable or unrealistic — and that leads to failure.

Taking small steps, though, often leads to greater rewards. Changing one behavior at a time, and adding in new behaviors as you go, will have a cumulative effect on your health.

Not sure where to start? Try these small, simple changes.

1. Reduce Screen Time

Screen time, whether on a mobile device, television, or computer is one of the greatest detriments to health, regardless of age. Screen time contributes to obesity (often due to the mindless snacking that takes place while watching), reduces overall satisfaction with life, disturbs sleep, and harms your sex life. While you may not be able to avoid it entirely, limit the time you spend watching TV or using the computer outside of work hours.

2. Drink More Water

You know the drill: You should drink 64 ounces of water per day. If you aren’t meeting that goal, make a point to drink more throughout the day; try replacing one of your normal drinks with a glass of water to start, or bring a refillable water bottle to the office. Add a little more every few days, and eventually you’ll reach the recommended amount.

3. Aim for Five a Day

Again, it’s well known that we should eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but many people fail to meet that goal. What constitutes a serving? One medium piece of fruit, half a cup of peeled and sliced produce, one cup of leafy greens, or half a cup of 100 percent juice.

Try adding fruit to your cereal or yogurt, or having a salad with dinner to boost your fruit and veggie intake, or replace a sugary snack with an apple or banana.

4. Go to Bed an Hour EarlierGo to Bed an Hour Earlier

Sleep deprivation is linked to everything from headaches to cancer, so make a point of getting 7-9 hours of shuteye per night. Don’t forget to turn off your phone and television; the blue light of electronic devices prevents you from reaching the deepest cycles of sleep. If you need noise to fall asleep, use a small fan or invest in a white noise machine.

5. Stretch

Stretching helps to prevent tense muscles, and helps you maintain flexibility. When you stretch, you help maintain your joints’ full range of motion, which helps reduce pain and reduce the risk of injury. Stretching also helps improve circulation and posture, as well as reduces stress and tension. Set reminders throughout the day to take stretch breaks.

6. Park Farther Away

Ideally, you should work out for 20-30 minutes, 5 days per week, for optimum health. If you can’t find time for regular sweat sessions, though, fit fitness into your day. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator helps, but you can do other things to add steps, too. Try parking as far from possible from the door when you get to work or go shopping; not only will it be easier to find a parking spot, you’ll add hundreds of extra steps each day, which can add up to better health and weight loss.

7. Get a Checkup

Preventive care is covered under the Affordable Care Act, so there’s really no reason to skip your annual checkup. Make an appointment to see your doctor to get a read on your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other key health factors. Early intervention can help prevent serious health issues in the future; for example, your doctor may prescribe a statin like Lipitor to help improve your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease.

8. Smile

Studies indicate that people who are happy and positive are healthier in general than those who tend to be more cynical and negative. Find things that make you happy, and smile and laugh as much as possible. Life may not be perfect, but when you look on the bright side, it’s much happier.

9. Breathe

Taking a moment to focus on your breathing can do wonders for your heart rate, stress levels, and mood. Focused breathing can also help reduce pain and improve sleep quality. A few times a day (perhaps while stretching) take a few deep breaths and clear your mind. You’ll be calmer and more relaxed — and healthier.

Making small changes is the most effective means to a healthier lifestyle — and is likely to result in weight loss and more energy as well. If you want to make changes, but aren’t sure where to start, choose an activity from this list. You’ll feel better and be on track to better health.

If You Live in the Suburbs, Your Kids May Be More Likely to Develop Asthma

Posted on 24 February, 2015  in Health

If You Live in the Suburbs, Your Kids May Be More Likely to Develop AsthmaSince the 1960s, scientists and public health experts believed that childhood asthma — symptoms of which can be triggered by environmental irritants and allergens — was most common in the inner cities.

Children living in poor urban neighborhoods, they reasoned, were far more likely than suburban and rural children to be exposed to asthma triggers like cockroaches, mold, pollution, and secondhand smoke. Higher rates of premature birth and maternal stress among inner-city families were also thought to contribute to higher rates of pediatric asthma in the urban poor.

But today, factors like pollution, bad housing, and poverty aren’t confined to the inner city. Families in suburban and rural areas are just as likely to be struggling with poverty, living in cockroach-infested, substandard housing, and breathing polluted air. That’s what researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center believe, and it’s why they compared the asthma rates of more than 23,000 American children living in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Contrary to accepted wisdom, the researchers found that inner-city living is not a risk factor for childhood asthma at all. Instead, family poverty and race are bigger indicators of a given child’s asthma risk.

City Living Not a Risk Factor for Pediatric Asthma

While it’s true that children living in the inner cities 50 years ago had high rates of asthma, the Johns Hopkins researchers point out that no one ever compared asthma rates among inner city children with those among children living in suburban and rural areas. That’s why the researchers surveyed the parents and guardians of 23,065 American children, aged 6 to 17, and living in inner city, suburban, and rural or small-town communities. They found that 13 percent of the inner-city kids suffered from asthma, compared with 11 percent of the suburban and rural children. When the researchers controlled for such factors as ethnicity, race, and geographic region, however, they found that the small difference in asthma rates between inner-city and suburban or rural kids vanished.

Kids Living With Family Poverty at Highest Risk for Asthma

Kids Living With Family Poverty at Highest Risk for AsthmaWhile all children with asthma depend on Advair to get through the day, kids in poorer families are the more likely to require hospitalization and emergency treatment for asthma attacks. Regardless of the incomes of others in their neighborhoods, kids living in poor families were the most likely to develop asthma. And the lower the yearly family income, the higher the risk of asthma, the researchers found.

Why? Even in rural and suburban areas, poor families are likely to live in substandard housing and deal with issues like cockroaches, mice, and mold, all of which can trigger asthma attacks. Poor families smoke more cigarettes, too, and exposure to secondhand smoke is another risk factor for asthma. Children in poor families are more likely to be born premature, and mothers experience more stress during pregnancy. The stress of poverty can affect children in the family, too, leading to more asthma attacks.

Genetics Also Influence Asthma Rates

While environmental triggers can cause asthma attacks, there’s also a genetic factor to the disease. Exact genetic causes have been difficult to decipher, but previous research, and the results of this study, verify that children of African-American and Puerto Rican ancestry have the highest risk of developing asthma, with respective asthma rates of 17 percent and 20 percent.

Asthma rates among non-Puerto Rican Hispanics are about nine percent, while asthma rates among Asian children are about eight percent and asthma rates among white children are about 10 percent. Even when factors like family income, neighborhood income, and geographic location were removed, the researchers found that African-American and Puerto Rican children were more likely to develop asthma due to genetic factors.

Geographic Region and Pediatric Asthma Rates

While researchers found no overarching link between urban residence and asthma risk, they did find that children living in the Northeast were the most likely to develop the disease, with 17 percent of Northeastern children living with asthma. Inner city areas in the western U.S. had the lowest childhood asthma rates — just eight percent of children living there have asthma.

Poor, suburban children in the Northeast had the highest rates of asthma, with 21 percent carrying a diagnosis compared to 17 percent of children living in the inner cities of the Northeast. Twenty-six percent of children living in the suburban Midwest have asthma, while just 15 percent of their inner-city Midwestern counterparts live with the disease.

Contrary to long-held scientific consensus, inner-city living may not be a strong risk factor for childhood asthma. Instead, family poverty and genetics are the biggest predictors. The poorer a family is, the more likely the children of that family are to develop asthma symptoms, due to risk factors like poor housing, exposure to irritants, and stress. Genetics are also a big risk factor for pediatric asthma, with children of Puerto Rican descent experiencing the highest rates of asthma. So, if you live in the suburbs, your children may be at an increased risk of asthma — especially if you’re lower-income.

Is Too Much Sitting Killing You?

Posted on 23 February, 2015  in Health

Is Too Much Sitting Killing You?Scientists have known for some time that sitting down for hours each day isn’t very good for your health in the long term. But a recent review of 47 studies that looked at the health effects of sitting has found that sitting all day long can have negative health effects for everyone — even the 20 percent of Americans who get their recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.

The review, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that the more sedentary a person is, the higher his or her risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and shortened lifespan. While exercising can still reduce your risk of serious illness and early death, it cannot completely balance out the ill health effects of sitting for hours a day. The review has some limitations, however. Chiefly, it fails to establish a limit beyond which sitting becomes unsafe. It also fails to clarify whether interrupting long periods of sitting with exercise breaks helps to offset the ill effects of sitting, and if so, by how much.

How Harmful Is Sitting?

According to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute last year, you raise your risk of colon cancer by eight percent for every two hours you spend sitting at your desk or on the couch. That same amount of time spent sitting raises your risk of lung cancer by six percent, and your risk of endometrial cancer by 10 percent. Your body burns fewer calories when you sit, and releases fewer fat-burning enzymes. Sitting also contributes to insulin resistance, a key factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes.

The 47-study review found that people who sit for eight to nine hours a day are at the highest risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Sitting all day raises your risk of cardiovascular disease by 14 percent and your risk of cancer by 13 percent, the review found. Because sitting raises insulin resistance, sitting for eight to nine hours a day can supposedly increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to skyrocket by an astounding 91 percent.

The review found that exercising for 30 to 60 minutes a day does not completely cancel out the negative health effects of sitting down all day long. But those who didn’t exercise were found to have the highest risk of premature death — they were 40 percent more likely to die young. Those who exercised regularly were about 10 percent more likely to die young. The risk of early death among exercisers who sit for long periods is about 16 percent higherthan among those who exercise and also spend most of their working day on their feet.

How Much Sitting Is Too Much?

How Much Sitting Is Too Much?Unfortunately, the 47-study review did not establish any clear guidelines for how much sitting is too much. That’s because the 47 studies involved in the review did not use any standardized guidelines for what constitutes “prolonged sitting” or, for that matter, what constitutes high activity levels. Researchers in one of the studies included participants who sat for as brief a time as an hour a day in the “prolonged sitting” group, while other studies defined “prolonged sitting” as being seated for at least five or six hours each day.

In at least one study, participants in the “prolonged sitting” group logged more than 11 hours a day in their chairs. Likewise, the studies defined activity levels differently. Activity levels among study participants ranged from just 20 minutes per day for participants in some studies, to seven hours a week or more among others.

Since most Americans spend more than 50 percent of their waking hours sitting at a desk, on a couch, or in a car, it’s probably safe to say that most people in the United States sit too much. And since a mere 20 percent of Americans get enough exercise each week to meet CDC recommendations, it’s probably also safe to say that, for most, the risk of early death from sitting hovers closer to 40 percent than to 10 percent. Of course, even if you do sit at a desk all day, regular exercise can still do a lot to improve your health and extend your life. You can do even more for your health by seeing your doctor regularly and taking any medications you’re prescribed as directed. Save money on your prescriptions at

Get Moving

So, can you undo the health effects of sitting too much? While not everyone can work at a standing desk, there’s still a lot you can do to cut down on your daily sitting time. Senior author of the research review, Dr. David Alter, recommends:

  • Getting up to move around for a few minutes every half hour while working at a desk.
  • Standing or doing exercises during commercial breaks while watching TV.
  • Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes a day.
  • Reduce sitting time by 15 to 20 minutes a day, with the ultimate goal of sitting for two to three hours less each day after a few weeks.

It may be helpful to wear an activity tracker to help you monitor and reduce your sedentary hours each day. The more time you can spend on your feet and moving around, the less time you’ll spend sitting — and the longer you’ll live in good health.

Excess Alcohol Causes One in 10 Premature Deaths

Posted on 17 February, 2015  in Health

Excess Alcohol Causes One in 10 Premature DeathsAlcohol ranks as the fourth greatest source of preventable deaths after smoking, insufficient nutrition, and inadequate physical activity. A study found that overindulging in alcohol accounts for one in 10 deaths per year among working-age adults. These fatalities go beyond the typical cirrhosis of the liver and drunken car crashes. The researchers determined that binge drinking and over consumption of alcohol contribute to chronic diseases that kill adults in their prime years. Order prescriptions to treat numerous illnesses from Canada Drug Pharmacy. Speed up this process by shopping for drugs by condition.

Study Findings

Almost 88,000 annual American deaths between 2006 and 2010 encompassed acute causes including alcohol poisoning, car crashes, and violence, plus alcohol-related illnesses like liver and heart diseases and breast cancer. Working-age adults ranging from 20 to 64 accounted for about 70 percent of these deaths. Heavy drinking took around 30 years off each life, totaling roughly 2.5 million years lost overall.

Short-term reasons like collisions and accidents killed approximately 1.7 million subjects while about 800,000 died due to long-term health conditions such as cancers and strokes. The highest annual mortality causes were 14,364 people with alcoholic liver disease, 12,460 auto accidents, 8179 suicides, 7800 liver cirrhosis, 7756 homicides, and 3700 with alcohol dependence syndrome. Other causes included falls, drownings, and poisonings from combining alcohol with substances including pills. In cases like these without disease causes, the research team included subjects with blood-alcohol levels of 0.10 percent or higher, which is above the 0.08 legal limit.

Of all those who died too young, males accounted for 71 percent. Researcher Dafna Kanny with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that men tend to consume excessive alcohol amounts and binge drink more than women. Male drivers in fatal vehicle crashes are nearly twice as liable to be intoxicated as women. Those driving long distances in rural areas had more drunken driving problems. Men are also more apt to participate in homicides.

Death statistics per 100,000 residents varied greatly between states. On the high end, 51.2 fatalities occurred in New Mexico, 41.1 in Alaska, and 37.7 in Montana. States at the low end of the spectrum included Hawaii with 20.8 deaths, New York with 19.6, and New Jersey with 19.1. These people who drank alcohol in excess were contributing members of society, whether building careers or well established professionally. So this study shows that dying too soon from alcohol has a much broader reach than college drinking, drunk driving, and alcoholism.

In 2006, the tab for excessive drinking and premature fatalities was an estimated $224 billion, around $1.90 per beverage. Heavy drinkers’ reduced earnings and early deaths account for 72 percent of that amount. Binge drinking was responsible for over 50 percent of all fatalities and 75 percent of alcohol’s economic costs.

Research Process

Study authors classified excessive alcohol consumption as binging at least five drinks for men and four or up for women, 15 or more weekly beverages for men and eight for women, plus young people under age 21 and pregnant women drinking any amounts. Among younger adults, the investigators didn’t account for other death causes like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and pneumonia where alcohol is a major contributing factor.

Results came from the CDC’s Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI), an online tool containing the numbers of deaths that resulted from alcohol in the nation and individual states. A group of alcohol and public health experts developed scientific techniques to analyze mortality statistics from state and local governments and estimate deaths that occurred due to drinking. The researchers note that self-reported alcohol amounts might underestimate excessive drinking’s actual prevalence.

Lowering the Death Toll

This study’s findings reflect similar global research by highlighting the considerable effects of excessive drinking on lifespan and productivity loss. A comparable 2001 study determined that alcohol caused 75,000 deaths with 2.3 million years lost in total, so the problem is worsening. The researchers hope the CDC will monitor mortality rates more frequently to spread awareness of this alarming trend.

Lowering the Death TollKanny offered recommendations on how to reduce the high numbers of people who die from excessive drinking. Doctors can help by conducting alcohol screenings and referring patients who drink too much to counseling. Responsible older adults can set good examples for the younger generation by not consuming alcohol excessively and not providing it to underage youth. State governments could pass stronger alcohol regulations and publicize excessive drinking’s potentially deadly consequences more. Other strategies include raising taxes on alcohol, limiting alcohol sales hours, decreasing the number of places that can sell it, and holding them liable for damages and injuries if they serve underage or intoxicated consumers illegally.

According to the CDC’s Dr. Robert Brewer, increasing alcohol costs 10 percent could reduce consumption 7 percent. Yet taxes on alcohol usually are lower than those for cigarettes. William Kerr, an Alcohol Research Group scientist, agrees that governments could strengthen current alcohol regulation policies. Because alcohol availability and affordability can lead to overuse and binge drinking, reducing access and increasing prices could reduce the death toll.

Controlling Asthma Reduces Aging Women’s Secondary Effects

Posted on 10 February, 2015  in Health

Controlling Asthma Reduces Aging Women’s Secondary EffectsMany people think that children are the primary asthma patients, but this chronic lung condition can continue into your senior years, and older people receive new diagnoses as well. Inflamed airways react to irritating triggers like pollen and mold. Swollen air passages narrow and produce extra mucus, which causes chest tightness, breathlessness, wheezing, coughing, and tiredness or weakness. Aging asthmatics encounter special concerns like coexisting illnesses and complications.

Treatment Brings Relief

Whether symptoms are present or subsided temporarily, asthma requires ongoing drug therapy. Advair is a dual-medication inhaler that prevents and regulates inflammation and bronchoconstriction, asthma’s two main components.

Medical treatment goals include:

  • Preventing symptoms and attacks
  • Continuing standard levels of exercise and other physical activities
  • Enjoying lung function that’s as normal as possible
  • Finding your asthma care satisfying
  • Having minimal or no side effects

Prioritizing Health Conditions

While women older than 65 are living longer than men, they aren’t necessarily in good health. They’re suffering with different chronic conditions than their male counterparts. Research shows that aging female patients who have multiple diseases admit that they focus on other ailments before asthma. But according to a recent study, asthma is a major health risk that can lead to secondary conditions when woman don’t manage it well.

Asthma likelihood isn’t higher among these patients than other population segments. But sickness and death rates are much greater. Female baby boomers suffer with asthma considerably more than men in the same age bracket, notes allergist Dr. James Sublett, M.D. Almost four times more women above 65 die from asthma, compared to other groups.

Sublett hopes that primary care doctors will encourage these women to consult allergists, experts at devising personalized asthma plans so they can pinpoint triggers and cope with their asthma successfully. Lead author and allergist Alan Baptist, M.D., emphasizes the importance of this population understanding that controlling their asthma also can help them manage additional health problems. Asthma treatment is a priority that’s vital to overall health.

Baby Boomer Study Finds Challenges

Baptist and other allergists report which additional conditions older women face in treating asthma and offer various solutions to enhance their care. Factors affecting senior women asthmatics include:


Research indicates that depression rates among women above 65 are 15-35 percent. Worse asthma cases can increase depression risk and severity. Depression treatment in this population also improves asthma outcomes. Consult your physician about depression screening and treatment.Menopause and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Menopause and hormone replacement therapy (HRT):

Even though menopause doesn’t raise women’s chances of asthma developing, those who have asthma already experience more attacks typically. Some studies show that postmenopausal patients on HRT have higher asthma risks. Yet asthmatics on HRT often experience decreased respiratory symptoms and asthma attacks. Discuss HRT’s potential benefits and risks with your doctor.

Perceived breathlessness:

Although asthma is a chronic condition, continuous medical care and prompt treatment can prevent asthma attacks from progressing. But aging women may have limited awareness of how poorly or well they’re breathing along with difficulties overcoming their perceptions of breathlessness. Specialists recommend blowing into a peak flow meter to measure how fast your passageways produce air during asthma attacks.

Potential adverse inhaler effects:

Inhalers are the most effective asthma treatments, but they may cause side effects. Being postmenopausal lowers bone mineral density, and long-term asthma inhaler use can deplete bone mass. So the combination can increase the risk of osteoporosis developing. Older women using inhalers may develop cataracts, glaucoma, and adrenal gland suppression. Your doctor should evaluate you for these conditions. Elderly patients tend to use inhalers incorrectly. Asthma educators can teach seniors how to use theirs properly.

Weight issues:

Being overweight or obese can affect senior women and their asthma management. Your doctor can recommend an appropriate weight-loss plan.

Caregiver duties:

Some women focus on relatives’ health so much that they neglect their own. When asthma control is a priority, you’ll be healthy enough to care for others.

Financial problems:

Low incomes and poverty may make treatments unaffordable. But good asthma control can help you manage coexisting illnesses. Save up to 90 percent on prescriptions for depression, menopause, weight loss and many more health conditions at

Controlling Your Asthma

Asthma Action Plan

Your doctor’s detailed instructions will include asthma medication timing and amounts. If reading small print is challenging, request larger typefaces.

Avoid asthma triggers.

Staying away from anything that provokes swollen, tight, and mucus-clogged airways can minimize your symptoms and asthma attack odds. Your doctor can help you determine your unique asthma triggers and ways to avoid them. Common causes include:

  • Dust mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Animal dander
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Tobacco and wood smoke
  • Strong sprays and orders
  • Food preservatives like sulfites
  • Cold air
  • Exercise
Notice symptoms early and react quickly.

Asthma attacks usually begin slowly. Train yourself to recognize warning signs, severity, and timing. Self-monitor your condition with a peak flow meter. Responding early to initial signs that your asthma is becoming more severe can help prevent major asthma attacks.

Enjoy Valentine’s Day without Gaining Weight

Posted on 9 February, 2015  in Health

Enjoy Valentine’s Day without Gaining WeightIf you vowed to lose weight after the holidays, another temptation is approaching. An online reservation service’s survey found that 51 percent of respondents dine out on Valentine’s Day. Instead of celebrating in fattening ways, follow these tips from the Calorie Control Council and other experts. You’ll learn how to avoid compounding the effects of decadent sweet gifts, excess alcohol, a heavy restaurant dinner, and rich dessert.

Diet Early

In the weeks before Valentine’s Day, choose healthy snacks over candy and chips. Enjoy apples with sugar-free caramel or dark-chocolate dipping sauce, air-popped popcorn, or raw veggies with hummus. Nourishing snacks can prevent overeating at meals.

Choose Substitute Gifts

Excess pounds can lead to and exacerbate many health problems. Instead of exchanging tempting Valentine’s chocolates, consider healthier, meaningful gifts. The best present you can give your sweetheart is to be well. Visit affordable Canada Drug Pharmacy for all of your medical conditions.

For tangible surprises, do your shopping on foot. Walk briskly between stores. Good edible options include sugar-free chocolates or candies, and a nutrient-rich fruit basket. Or select a healthy cookbook or gift certificate for a personal trainer.

Drink with Restraint

When you begin drinking before ordering at a restaurant, alcohol can hinder your judgment and willpower. You may make less nutritious choices than you planned. Skip cocktails, which can be full of sugar. But you can substitute club soda with a twist of lime.

Wait until the main course to imbibe in alcohol. Red wine is good for your cardiovascular system. Ask if a light version is available. Sip one glass slowly. If you don’t drink alcohol, water is a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened, high-calorie soft drinks. Staying properly hydrated will help you feel and look your best.

Modify Your Meal

Check major restaurant chains’ nutrition information online first, so you can make healthy choices. Avoid dishes with descriptions like au gratin, creamy, rich, velvety, battered, crispy, crunchy, and en croute. Choose grilled over fried and baked instead of braised to lighten your caloric intake.

Inquire about substitutions like olive oil, lemon, and herbs in place of butter. For seafood, try lemon or cocktail sauce over clarified butter. Replace white pasta or rice with a whole-wheat option or green vegetable such as spinach or broccoli. Swap vegetables for french fries. Make special requests to put dressings and sauces on the side.Focus on Healthy Red Foods

Focus on Healthy Red Foods

To get in the spirit of the holiday, have tasty red foods. Red bell peppers, radicchio, tomatoes, red onions, red beans, cherries, and strawberries are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, or cholesterol-reducing protein and fiber.

Order a Healthy First Course

Start the night off right with a salad or light soup. If it fills you up before your main course arrives, nibble slowly. Request a take-out box for the rest.

Skip the Extras

Decline the many extras that your waiter may offer. Avoid topping off your salad with bacon, grated cheese, buttery croutons, and high-fat dressing. Likewise, skip fattening garnishes for baked potatoes, burgers, and all entrees.

Limit Bread

If you want a roll, take one. Then place the breadbasket out of reach. At a Mexican restaurant, grab a small handful of chips. Then push the basket away for the remainder of your meal.

Exercise Portion Control

Many restaurants serve generous portions that can satisfy two. Sharing one entrée will prevent overeating and can be romantic. Or eat just half of your dinner, and take the remainder home.

Splurge in Moderation

Enjoying a small dessert or a few chocolate truffles won’t tip the scale. Don’t feel guilty about sampling a box of Valentine chocolates. Research shows that this rich flavor is overflowing with healthy compounds that might help you avoid heart disease, enhance your immune system, and promote a restorative sense of well-being.

Just let the romance of heart-shaped chocolates linger. Store them in your refrigerator or freezer. Enjoy one treat per day, and your gift will last several weeks. Savor each morsel slowly so you can resist the urge to overindulge.

Cook Healthy at Home

Preparing a meal in your own kitchen is an ideal way to conserve calories and money while avoiding crowds. It also allows you to make sure that the menu, food quality, cooking methods, and amounts you consume are healthy. Surprise your Valentine with easy low-calorie dishes, or cook together as a couple. Maybe enroll in a cooking class alone or together to learn new techniques.

Choose skinless poultry, seafood, or lean cuts of meat for your entrée. Roast, grill, steam, or sauté foods rather than frying, which increases fats and calories. Use healthy fats like canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame, soybean, or sunflower oil sparingly. Replace oil or butter in low-calorie cake or dessert recipes with pureed fruit.

Set a candlelit table that creates an intimate mood in your own private hideaway. Watch a romantic movie as your meal settles. Then feed your sweetie fresh strawberries with low-calorie whipped topping. If you end the evening with a little late-night exercise between the sheets, you may work off your dessert.

Panic Attacks Won’t Cause Your Worst Fears

The National Institutes of Mental Health report that over 4 million Americans struggle with panic attacks. Psychologist Dr. Thomas Richards and other experts explain how this common condition’s terrible and horrifying experiences won’t result in any of the dangers you fear most. Panic mode is your body’s natural reaction to survive threats. When your fight or flight impulse kicks in, adrenaline and blood flow, surges may trigger intense anxiety, panic, an urge to escape, and increased awareness of perceived peril. This response would ensure survival if the danger were real.

Symptom ReliefPanic Attacks Won’t Cause Your Worst Fears

During a panic attack, you may experience:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Sweating or chills
  • Tightness in your throat and chest
  • Confusion
  • Unreality
  • Nausea
  • Extreme hunger or loss of appetite
  • Clammy palms
  • Shakiness
  • Trembling
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

Many drug treatments are effective. Combining Aripiprazole, generic Abilify, with a variety of antidepressant medications can help you avoid future episodes. Search Canada Drug Pharmacy for other prescriptions that treat this disorder. Active cognitive/behavioral therapy also has good success rates. Rehashing the past and over analyzing your problems can worsen your panic disorder. So Richards advises that strong motives and persistence can make your present better and your future anxiety free.

Why These Alarming Conditions Won’t Occur

Despite the multitude of traumatizing symptoms, your life isn’t in jeopardy during panic attacks. Yet misunderstanding your feelings makes your situation even more frightening. In your anxious state, you may worry that your body’s reactions will cause potential dangers. But a panic attack can’t trigger any these phenomena.

Loss of control

A flood of anxiety symptoms can make you feel like you’re losing control of yourself. Worrying about others noticing your nervous or foolish public behavior is common. You might fear that an ambulance will rush you to the emergency room. Or you could fret that losing control proves you’re crazy so you’ll end up in a mental institution.

In reality, your ability to conceive that you might lose control makes that impossible. This occurs only in someone who’s unaware or unconcerned about losing control. Even though your anxiety is real, panic attacks trick your brain into believing erroneously that you’re in danger. Recognizing this distinction can help you change entrenched thought patterns. Quieting and relaxing your mind will encourage anxious and panicky feelings to disappear.

You may mistake a panic attack’s rapid palpitations for a heart attackHeart attack

You may mistake a panic attack’s rapid palpitations for a heart attack. Yet these two conditions differ greatly. Fast heartbeats that pound in your ears signal a panic attack. But a heart attack causes a crushing sensation within your chest with severe, debilitating pain. You double over and collapse in intense internal agony. Most people with anxiety issues feel that they also suffer from heart problems. But your heart can beat continuously at a fast rate for an extended time without producing damage.

Passing out

Temporary dizziness during panic attacks may lead to concerns that you could pass out. This can’t occur because panic attacks make your heart beat faster and your blood pressure rise. It’s actually sudden blood pressure drops that cause fainting.


Panic attacks increase your breathing depth and speed. This decreases the blood supply to your head. While this small decline isn’t dangerous, it can produce various unpleasant yet harmless and temporary symptoms. When you can’t catch your breath while hyperventilating or experiencing choking or smothering sensations, you may be afraid that you’ll suffocate. With the oxygen/carbon dioxide mixture in your bloodstream out of proportion, you may feel lightheaded, faint, and weak. But suffocation during panic attacks isn’t a possibility. As your body calms down gradually, your breathing will return to normal, and your other symptoms will subside.


Anxiety and panic don’t cause insanity. Realizing that you’re having panic attacks is a sign that you aren’t going crazy. Anyone who does is out of touch with reality. Anxiety makes you overly conscious of actualities, so going crazy can’t happen.

Coping Tips

Psychotherapist Vanessa Ford and psychology professor Dr. William Sanderson recommend strategies to help minimize common panic attack symptoms.

Take your medications regularly

Always follow your doctor’s prescribing directions for your treatments to provide optimal benefits.

Remedy distorted thinking

Realize that anxiety may exaggerate your fears. Recognize and correct distorted thoughts quickly to help prevent attacks.

Discover your body’s reactions

Be aware of your body’s stress responses like stiff, tight muscles, and shallow or rapid breathing.

Retrain your breathing

To combat hyperventilation, take about 12 diaphragmatic breaths per minute. Be sure your abdomen, not chest, moves in and out.

Practice calming techniques

Regular yoga and meditation sessions will help replace anxiety with relaxation.

Overcome avoidance behaviors

Skipping events and locations that triggered past panic attacks reinforces your misconception that doing ordinary things such as attending parties and taking public transportation are unsafe. Reintroduce dreaded situations and places slowly until you break your routine of avoidance without adverse reactions.

Ground yourself

If a panic attack occurs, focusing on overblown fears or physical symptoms can exacerbate or prolong your anxiety. Deliberate grounding like focusing on the ground beneath your feet or a color from your environment can bring you back to reality.

Start Now to Protect Your Future Children from Birth Defects

Posted on 22 January, 2015  in Health

Start Now to Protect Your Future Children from Birth DefectsEven if you’re not yet pregnant, but want children in the future, it’s never too soon to start taking steps to protect your children from birth defects. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and birth defects are a lot more common than you might think. One out of every 33 American babies has a birth defect, and birth defects cause one-fifth of deaths in infants less than a year old.

Birth defects include such conditions as Down syndrome, spina bifida, cleft lip, cleft palate, and atrioventricular septal defect, which causes a hole in the heart. Fortunately, you can prevent birth defects in your unborn children by taking good care of yourself before and during pregnancy. The health of fathers also has a role to play in whether or not the baby suffers a birth defect, so men should also take good care of themselves to help ensure the future health of their sons and daughters.

Prepare for Conception in Advance

Unplanned pregnancies account for as many as half of all pregnancies in the United States, and many birth defects happen because women smoked, drank alcohol, used the wrong medications, or were exposed to certain environmental toxins before they were aware they were pregnant. By planning your pregnancy, you can be prepared by:

  • Using folic acid supplements or eating foods rich in folic acid to protect the health of your baby’s brain and spine
  • Avoiding drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and environmental substances that could harm a developing baby
  • Eating right and exercising regularly
  • Controlling diabetes
  • Avoiding or getting treated for sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia that can cause birth defects
  • Getting vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, and the flu
  • Avoiding foods that carry a high risk of food-borne illness

Many of the prescription medications we dispense at are safe for use during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before using any prescription or over-the-counter drugs if you’re trying to get pregnant or are pregnant.

Eat Right During Pregnancy and Stay Healthy

Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy can help ensure that your unborn baby has all the nutrients it needs to develop properly. Eating 400 mcg of folic acid from dietary sources or from supplements each day can reduce your baby’s risk of anencephaly, or incomplete formation of the scalp, brain, and skull, and of spina bifida. Foods high in folic acid include beef liver, lentils, broccoli, black-eyed peas, and asparagus.

In general, you should focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

Men, too, should make sure to consume appropriate amounts of folic acid and avoid tobacco, drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins if they are trying to conceive a child. Men may also be capable of passing genetic health problems on to their offspring.Men in certain occupations may have a higher risk of fathering babies with birth defects.

Eat Right During Pregnancy and Stay HealthySeek Medical Care

Prenatal checkups are crucial to the health of your developing baby. These visits can help you and your doctor or midwife address any health risks that may arise as soon as they arise. By seeing your doctor regularly during pregnancy you can make sure that you have all the vaccinations you might need when you need them.

Your doctor can also monitor your baby for signs of birth defects. Both parents should discuss family medical history with your doctor, who may be able to recommend genetic or nutritional counseling if necessary.

If you have diabetes, you need to control your blood sugar during pregnancy in order to lower your baby’s risk of birth defects. It’s possible to have diabetes without realizing it, so ask your doctor if you might be at risk. Ideally, if you do have undiagnosed diabetes, it would be best to get a diagnosis and get the disease under control before getting pregnant. Gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs in two to 10 percent of pregnancies and goes away after the baby is born, can also develop when your body isn’t able to produce enough insulin for both your own and your baby’s needs. You can lower your risk of gestational diabetes by living a healthy lifestyle and eating a healthy diet before pregnancy.

Being born with a birth defect can give your baby a rocky start in life, and can even lead to his or her premature death. But it’s not just a matter of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best — you can do a lot to prevent birth defects in your unborn children. Start by preparing your lifestyle and body for conception and planning your pregnancy in advance. That way, you won’t have to worry that your baby will suffer birth defects because of something you did before you were aware of your pregnancy. You’ll be able to give your child the best head start in life from the moment he or she is conceived.

5 Ways to Enjoy Better Mental Health in 2015

5 Ways to Enjoy Better Mental Health in 2015Mental health is much like physical health — in order to maintain it, you have to pay attention to it. Most people know how to take care of a physical wound or address an illness. But many people don’t know how to build and maintain good mental health.

And good mental health is important. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that “there is no health without mental health.” Poor mental health makes you more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, or stroke. Loneliness can increase your risk of dying before your time by as much as 14 percent.

While psychotherapy and medication are important ways to recover your mental health if you’re suffering from mental illness symptoms, even people who aren’t experiencing overt symptoms can benefit from taking care to safeguard their mental health. The more time you devote to eating right, doing meaningful work, practicing good emotional hygiene, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep, the less likely you’ll be to develop mental illness symptoms in the future.

Eat Right

Medications like Seroquel and Abilify can help correct chemical imbalances in the brain that lead to mental illness, but you’d be surprised at how much good simply eating a healthy diet can do. Just like other parts of your body, your brain needs proper nutrition to function.

Most experts recommend the Mediterranean diet for optimum physical and mental health — the olive oil, fatty fish, seeds, and nuts in this diet contain plenty of the omega-3 fatty acids your brain needs. Studies show that the Mediterranean diet not only extends lifespan, but also improves cognitive function and boosts mental health.

You should also make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. According to the results of a 2014 study published in the journal BMJ Open, eating your five servings of daily fruits and vegetables can boost feelings of mental well-being. The study involved 14,000 adults, and found that 35.5 percent of those who ate the recommended five daily portions of vegetables and fruits reported signs of good mental health, compared to just 6.8 percent of those who ate only one portion a day.

Practice Good Emotional Hygiene

Emotional hygiene is the practice of taking care of yourself emotionally and psychologically. It involves safeguarding your self-esteem to protect against emotional setbacks, resisting rumination and negative self-talk, and taking steps to heal psychological wounds as soon as they appear. You should pay attention to hurt feelings or bad moods, and take steps to address them if they continue for too long. Guard against feelings of helplessness or a decrease in confidence that can come when you suffer a psychological wound.

Practice Good Emotional HygieneExercise Regularly

Even gentle exercise can have a profound effect on your mental health. Walking outside with a group can help you get the exercise you need, while also helping you forge and nourish social connections and spend time in nature — all three of those things are good for your mental health. Walking is accessible, it’s cheap, and you don’t need to be terribly physically fit to get started.

Other outdoor activities, like gardening, can also help support good mental health. Of course, taking a yoga class, going to the gym, dancing, jogging, swimming, or cycling are all good options, too.

Respond to psychological injuries just as you would physical injuries. By practicing good emotional hygiene, you can recover more quickly from setbacks and maintain a more consistent sense of optimism.

Get Your Beauty Rest

While many people these days tend to think of sleep as optional, it isn’t — and even mild sleep deprivation can increase your chances of developing a mental illness at some point in your life. If you sleep fewer than five hours a night, your risk is particularly high. Set aside plenty of time to sleep — seven to eight hours a night — and encourage a healthy sleep cycle by:

  • Going to sleep and getting up at regular times, even on weekends and holidays
  • Participating in a soothing bedtime ritual
  • Bringing screen time to an end at least an hour before bed
  • Avoiding caffeine, sugar, and alcohol at night
  • Using the bedroom for only sleeping and sex

You’ll probably sleep best in a slightly cool room. Keep your bedroom dark while you’re sleeping. If you have problems getting to sleep at night, see your doctor about a sleep aid. You can fill your prescriptions cheaply at

Do Meaningful WorkDo Meaningful Work

While the thought of lounging around all day and not having to work for a living might sound luxurious, if you really did win the lottery, you might be surprised to find that it wouldn’t improve your mental health. That’s because being gainfully employed brings benefits beyond a paycheck. Your job gives you a sense of identity, makes you part of a social network, adds structure to your day, and lets you make valuable contributions to the world. All of those things are important to maintaining your mental health.

But if you’re retired, unemployed, parenting full-time, or otherwise unable to hold down a job, you can still gain the benefits of employment by taking up a hobby or doing volunteer work. Hobbies can help distract you from your worries, and they’re often a good way to make friends and solidify your sense of yourself outside your role as a parent, spouse, or employee. Working with volunteer organizations can have the same benefits, and help you feel like you’re giving back.

Good mental health is just as important as good physical health, and it takes just as much effort to maintain. While you may be working on losing weight, quitting smoking, or other physical goals this year, don’t let your mental health fall by the wayside. Without good mental health, you’ll soon have no health at all.