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Holiday Traveling

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Like many families across the country, you may be traveling this year for the holidays. It is important to make sure you are keeping your family safe and healthy. Even though traveling can be a routine-buster, it doesn’t have to be a health-buster! Here are some ways to keep up with your health while going the distance this holiday season.

1) Pack plenty of your prescription medications: Ensure that you have enough to last the duration of your trip and a few days extra in case there is an emergency. It is typically recommended that you travel with your medications inside their original bottle or packaging. This, of course, is mandatory for any air travel. Also, keep a list of drugs you take, in case of an emergency. It is also a wise idea to locate pharmacies on the travel route and at your destination, in case you need to refill a prescription.

2) Take a first aid kit: Whether traveling by air or land, having a first aid kit handy can be great in a pinch! Ensure that your kit is small enough that it can travel conveniently but still has enough supplies inside. Basic items, such as bandages, antiseptics, and antibiotic creams are useful, but don’t forget other items like antacid and over-the-counter pain meds.

3) Emergency kit if driving: In addition to a first aid kit, an emergency kit could come in handy if driving long distances is in your plans this holiday season. Heat blankets, bottled water, and food rations are all great items to keep in mind when constructing an emergency kit, along with flashlights, batteries, and a weather radio. When traveling in older automobiles, keeping spare coolant, oil, and other fluids is also a good idea.

4) Have your doctor’s contact information saved: In case of emergency or sudden onset of illness, it’s good to have your trusted physician’s contact information saved. Generally, you can at least speak to your doctor’s nurse, who will be able to advise you on what to do when illness arises, and can speak to the doctor on your behalf, in case special attention or a new prescription is needed. In the worst scenario, a local doctor can speak to your doctor about pre-existing conditions and relay potentially life-saving information.

5) Pack healthy snacks and water: When traveling, it is usually easy to get your hands on sodas and snacks from a convenience store, which can really de-rail your healthy eating, or can also put a considerable dent in your pocketbook. Pack your own snacks, such as veggie sticks, fruit, nuts, or jerky, as well as bottled water or juice.

As you travel, keep in mind that the holidays can be stressful times for everyone. Keeping a positive attitude, no matter the circumstance, can help combat stress in you and others around you. Remember that stress can cause your immune system to lower its defenses. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Eating

Friday, December 11, 2015

This time of year, it is so easy to indulge on sweets, treats, and meals heavy in calories. Between Thanksgiving, family get-togethers, and holiday parties with friends and co-workers, we usually have many opportunities to forego our good habits for gobbling up goodies. Also, it becomes more common for unhealthy treats to be within arm’s reach at work, at home, and even in the grocery store, as everyone brings out their favorite high-calorie recipes reserved for this time of year. With all of this temptation, how can one resist?

The best way to stave off temptation is by maintaining fluids. Drinking plenty of water every day helps our bodies feel fuller, which makes us want to eat less. Although water is best water, coffee, and tea can help us fill up as well. Another way to fill up on the good, before getting to the bad, is to start off with a large salad. Even if your hosts don’t have salad on the menu, you can easily construct your own for consumption before attending the event. This will make you want to skip all of the pre-meal snacks, and save room for the main course.

Brushing your teeth or using strong mouthwash not only keeps our dental hygiene fresh, but can help us avoid eating sweets and other treats. An occasional peppermint or candy cane can also do the trick, but keep in mind the sugar content of these items. Chewing gum can also be used, but the constant chewing motion can actually trick the body into digestion mode, as the chewing motion simulates mastication of food. This incessant chewing can make you feel hungrier, which could lead to overeating.

The best method to avoid holiday overeating is to limit yourself. Make it a goal to only have one treat per day. Use your self-control to combat the want to gorge yourself on empty, sugar-filled calories. When baking at home, make sure you have someone to share your goodies with, or cut the recipe down to a smaller batch.

Above all, enjoy yourself for the holidays!

The Flu and You

Thursday, December 3, 2015

This time of year, around every corner you’re bound to see advertisements for pills, shots, and tonics to either help you get over the flu or to prevent it altogether. If you missed out on getting your flu shot or simply chose not to, you may need to work on your line of defense to guard you and your family to prevent an outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC for short, has 3 actions they recommend for fighting or preventing influenza.

1. The flu shot – Pharmacies and doctor’s offices typically begin receiving the shot around October, but some areas may receive vaccines earlier or later. It is recommended that you check with your doctor or pharmacist and get the shot as soon as possible. While some locations may carry the shot all season, supplies are often limited. The shot is safe for anyone 6 months or older. Each year, the flu vaccine will most likely be different from years prior, since there are many strains of influenza. Researchers spend the whole year beforehand determining which strains will be most prominent and include them in the vaccine. If you have any concerns about receiving a flu shot, visit with your doctor so that you may express them and ask any questions you may have.

2. Take action to prevent germs – Washing your hands is always one of the best possible methods to prevent germs, including influenza, from spreading. The CDC has great guides on their website that will help you ensure that you and your loved ones are scrubbing appropriately.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but do your best to avoid people who are sick, even if it’s not necessarily the flu. Any kind of illness can lower your immune system and you may “catch” the flu when your defenses are down. If you come in contact with someone who is ill, make sure to wash your hands and ask them to cover their mouths if they sneeze or cough. 

Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes. These areas are superhighways for germs to get into your body. If you are coughing or sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth with either your hands or a tissue then proceed to wash or sanitize your hands as soon as possible. Also, NEVER save tissues after they have been used; be sure to throw them away after each use. 

If someone in your home is diagnosed with the flu, try to keep them isolated to one room of the house. Be sure to launder bedding, clothing, and dishes often, and hold soiled laundry away from the body.

3. Antiviral drugs: If you or anyone in your family may have contracted the flu, visit a doctor as soon as possible. If you test positive, you will be prescribed antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics and there are some created specifically to fight the flu. The CDC recognizes antiviral medications as the most effective method of getting over influenza. They will always be prescription based, and it’s important to note that over-the-counter meds are not useful in fighting this virus. Flu-like symptoms include fever, runny/stuffy nose, chills, sore throat, aches, cough, and fatigue. Some may also have vomiting and diarrhea. If you or a loved one is experiencing two or more of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately to combat the virus as quickly as possible before complications occur. 

Each year thousands are diagnosed and beat the flu but yet others encounter complications due to the virus. Do your best to prevent getting ill by following the CDC’s guidelines above. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your preferred medical professional or your local health department for guidance.

Getting a Hold on Cholesterol

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood. It is needed by your cells to function and your body does make it naturally. But you also get cholesterol from the food you eat. High cholesterol, also known by its medical name of hypercholesterolemia, can be a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. High levels of cholesterol are due to a variety of factors that can include diet, exercise, and even your heredity. Whether you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol or you are concerned about the possibility of being diagnosed, there are some things that can be done to help you maintain a healthy balance and help to deter major complications.

Change of diet: One of the most tried and true methods of battling bad cholesterol is changing your diet. After being diagnosed, your doctor may recommend you speak with a licensed nutritionist or a dietician. Since cholesterol is found in so many foods, eliminating or cutting down on specific ones may help to battle your overabundance. Fried, fatty foods are especially full of cholesterol and should only be enjoyed in moderation. Talk to professionals and do research on what foods are good and not good to eat with cholesterol levels in mind.

Exercise: Lowering your overall body fat can help to reduce cholesterol. Work with a trainer to increase your exercise gradually so that you can lose weight and increase your body’s strength. Ensuring heart health by proper exercise will help to combat the negative potentials from high cholesterol.

Herbs and supplements: Talk with your doctor about natural herbs and other supplements that you can add to your routine to help with your cholesterol. They will be best suited to advise you on what will work best for your specific situation. Many individuals have had luck supplementing their diet with herbs in an effort to keep cholesterol issues at bay.

Prescribed medications: If your cholesterol is at a dangerous level or your doctor is concerned lifestyle changes may not be enough, they may prescribe you a medication to help bring down your high levels. Statins tend to be some of the most prescribed since they help to block the production of “bad” cholesterol in the liver itself. They have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other complications tied to high cholesterol. Your doctor will most likely take a look at your lifestyle, your levels, and other health concerns to make the determination on what type of medication is best for you.

High cholesterol doesn’t mean that you have to stop enjoying everything in life. By making some healthy lifestyle changes and following the direction of your doctor, you can do your best to make sure it doesn’t turn into a major problem. If high cholesterol runs in your family, it is never too early to make changes and start living as healthy of a lifestyle as possible to try and combat a diagnosis later on. Talk with your doctor or nutritionist to decide what next step is best for you.

Medication Recalls

Friday, November 6, 2015

Have you ever been informed of a recall on a medication you’ve been taking? A recall can be a scary thing and information on what to do is not always readily available. A drug recall occurs when a prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicine is pulled from distribution because it is found to be either defective or harmful to those who take it. A recall can occur when the producers of the drug discover a problem and voluntarily recall it or when the FDA receives reports of problems from the public and makes the recall mandatory.

So what are some of the reasons a drug could be recalled? While this list doesn’t contain every reason a medication could be recalled, these are the reasons that tend to occur the most.

General health hazard:
As you probably know, any medication is required to go through vigorous testing before it is allowed to be released to the general public. However, some health risks associated with certain medications are not realized until after they have been widely used across a great deal of people. It may even take years for the bad side effects to be realized and for the drug to be recalled.

Poor packaging or incorrect labels: Medications can be recalled if dosing instructions are unclear or if other information is incorrect.

Contamination: If there is reason or proof to believe that a medication became contaminated during production or distribution, a recall will be issued.

Manufacturer defects: Any defect that occurs during production that relates to a medication’s quality, purity, or potency can warrant a recall.

Both manufacturers and the FDA will try to spread as much word as possible about a recall through news outlets and social media. However, this important information still may not get to everyone it needs to. Check the FDA’s website as often as possible to make sure your medications are not affected. If you take an over the counter medication that is recalled, it is generally okay to stop taking it before consulting your doctor. You can even usually return the product to the place of purchase and ask for a refund since most stores have a policy in place for recalled items. If your recalled medication is prescribed by your doctor, contact them or your pharmacist before discontinuing. If you aren’t quite sure what to do, drug manufacturers will have a hotline number that you can call for more information.

Staying informed about the medications you take is so important. While medication recalls are something to take seriously, be sure not to panic if one of yours is affected. Follow up with the manufacturer and your doctor about the appropriate next steps to ensure your health is not jeopardized.

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