Thank you for your interest in the Doctors Hospital Health Tips of the Day. We hope you find the information helpful and informative. The health tips are intended to educate people about important issues regarding their health and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with a physician. For more information or a physician referral call 242-302-4603.
HEALTH TIPS OF THE DAY JANUARY 2011
JANUARY IS CERVICAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, GLAUCOMA AWARENESS MONTH, THYROID AWARENESS MONTH, VOLUNTEER BLOOD DONOR MONTH
MONDAY JANUARY 3 –
SKIRTING DEBT DISASTERS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Many people go into debt doing holiday shopping, and most are still paying off those bills after December. To prevent debt from taxing your financial health: 1. Attack high-rate debt first. Put as much extra money as you can toward your highest-interest loans until it is paid off. 2. Consolidate. Combine several high-interest loans into one with a lower rate. 3. Do more than the minimum payment. Adding just $10 to the minimum payment each month can cut the payback period and save a bundle in interest charges. Remember next year, try to create a holiday budget you can live with and stick to it. The most hazardous debt is the credit card. Staying out of debt is hard and takes organization, work, and careful planning. But it is a lot less work to keep yourself out of debt than it takes to dig yourself out of debt. If you still find yourself in financial debt, seek financial counseling.
TUESDAY JANUARY 4 –
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
High blood pressure affects black people more often than whites. About one in three has the disease, which tends to develop earlier in life than it does for many other people. Because this disease is so serious, it is very important to find out if you have it, and to receive treatment early. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 is the normal range. Blood pressure that is too high can cause dangerous problems such as heart attack and stroke. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your doctor check it. To help lower high blood pressure: lose weight if you are overweight; get regular physical activity; limit alcohol to no more than 1 to 2 drinks a day; stop smoking; manage your stress; eat a healthy diet low in sodium (salt) and fat, that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables; if you are a woman, discuss the use of birth control pills and the relation to high blood pressure with your doctor; tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those without a prescription. Be sure to take all medicine as prescribed and refill as needed. Have your blood pressure tested today!
COMMIT TO THOSE NEW YEARS GOALS
Making a wish list of resolutions this year? Good for you! Now your task is staying committed. Be realistic about what you can achieve – establish a plan and time-line to help you stay on track and succeed. Eat healthier. Drink more water. Small, gradual changes in diet are usually easier than a total reformation overnight. Start by adding your daily quota of fruits and vegetables. Choose low-fat and nonfat dairy foods, or replace fatty fast food with lighter options such as a salad with oil and vinegar or a turkey sandwich. Relax more. To boost your stress defense, get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day, read or listen to music, go for a walk, and have fun with family and friends. Kick bad habits. And if you slip, don’t despair, simply recommit to your goals. Changing can be a lifetime process. Remember, good health starts with you!
THURSDAY JANUARY 6 –
CUT YOUR RISK OF CERVICAL CANCER
Regular Pap test screening is the most important tool in identifying and treating cervical cell changes before they progress to cervical cancer. Watchful waiting, a period of time during which you and your health professional observe your symptoms, is not appropriate if you have risk factors for cervical cancer and symptoms that do not go away. To reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer: have a Pap test at least once a year and more often if you are at increased risk (that is, if you have multiple sex partners, if you became sexually active at an early age, if you have HPV virus, if your partner is uncircumcised, and if you had frequent and early pregnancies. Limit your sexual activity to monogamous relationships. If you have more than one sexual partner, use protection. Contact your gynecologist if you have pain during intercourse, bleeding, or spotting between periods. Ask your doctor for the Thin-Prep Pap Test, a more accurate pap test in detecting Cervical Cancer. Most insurance companies cover an annual physical that includes a pap test. Remember to have your test every year.
FRIDAY JANUARY 7 -
DIABETES ON THE RISE
A recent study found that about a quarter of adults have impaired fasting glucose, a form of pre-diabetes. People with pre-diabetes have an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, and for developing heart disease and stroke. Ask your health care provider about testing for pre-diabetes or diabetes if you have the following risk factors: a family history of diabetes; if you are overweight; have an inactive lifestyle (exercise less than three times a week); are a member of a high-risk ethnic population. You should also be tested for diabetes if you have high blood pressure; have a low HDL cholesterol level or a high triglyceride level; have had diabetes that developed during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or have given birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds; have a history of disease of the blood vessels to the heart, brain or legs; or have had an impaired glucose reading in a previous test. Get a handle on your risk factors and check your glucose today.
MONDAY JANUARY 10 –
THERAPY OPTIONS FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM
Autism is a brain disorder that begins in early childhood and affects communication, social interaction and creative skills. Autism is a poorly understood brain disorder. No treatment has been found to help all people with autism, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. But the agency suggests options that may benefit many autistic people. Take your child to see a speech pathologist, who can evaluate the child's ability to communicate. Start therapy as early as possible, preferably during the preschool years, which are an intense period of speech and language development. Music and sensory therapy may help children better respond to information they sense. In the short-term, medication may help improve attention span and cut down on unusual behaviors. But long-term medication use is often difficult and not beneficial due to side effects. Talk to your doctor and find a support group for children with autism.
TUESDAY JANUARY 11 –
TAKE CARE OF YOUR LUNGS
Which is the more unfriendly place for your lungs - the smoking section inside a restaurant or the one outside on the patio? The answer may surprise you. Tests recently revealed that the air quality is often equally poor in both locations. So steer clear of that smoking section whenever you can. Now, which of these is worse for your lungs - Cars or bars? Would your lungs be worse off if you spent a few hours in a car, windows cracked, with someone who’s smoking, or if you spent an evening in a smoky bar? Again, the answer may seem counter-intuitive. Seems the air in a car, after a few cigarettes, can be even worse than the air in a smoky bar - even with the windows open a bit. So now you know what to say the next time someone wants to light up in your car – say no. Try these other tips for battling bad air: have a plant for your bedroom to help freshen the air, eat more fish, and change the air conditioner filter more often. Air pollution can hurt your heart health and lungs too. Talk to your politician about making restaurants, bars, and public areas smoke free for a better Bahamas. Smoking in public places is prohibited in other countries, it is time we prohibit it in the Bahamas.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 12 –
AUTISM AFFECTS CHILDREN IN DIFFERENT WAYS
Autism is a disorder that affects the social behaviors of a child, including the way they speak, communicate, think and act around others. While autism can manifest itself in many different ways, autistic children share common traits. Here's a list of typical behaviors of children with autism: difficulty communicating - including developmentally delayed speech, repetition of words, or speaking in a monotone voice that lacks inflection or rhythm. Other behaviors include poor social skills, or difficulty interacting with others; repetitive speech, behavior, or interests; or unusual actions, like flapping the hands or spinning. Speak to your pediatrician if you notice any of these symptoms. There are therapies that can help children with autism.
SIGNS THAT A CHILD MAY BE AUTISTIC
Autism is a childhood developmental disorder that has no cure. Autistic children have problems with social interaction, communication, and may engage in repetitive behaviors. The common symptoms of autism are: seeming withdrawn, and unresponsive or indifferent to others in social settings. Other signs include not responding when the person's name is called; not making eye contact with other people; difficulty communicating with others; repetitive movements or behaviors, such as rocking, twirling or self-abuse; disinterest in or aversion to physical affection; delayed speech and verbal development; not knowing how to play with other children.
BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN CHILDREN
Words and actions have great impact on the confidence of children, and children, including adolescents, remember the positive statements parents and caregivers say to them. Phrases such as "I like the way you…" or "Good job…" or "I appreciate the way you…" should be used on a daily basis. Parents also can smile, nod, wink, pat on the back, or hug a child to show attention and appreciation. What else can parents do? Be generous with praise. Parents must develop the habit of looking for situations in which children are doing good jobs, displaying talents, or demonstrating positive character traits. Remember to praise children for jobs well done and for effort. Teach positive self-statements. It is important for parents to redirect children's inaccurate or negative beliefs about themselves and to teach them how to think in positive ways. Avoid criticism that takes the form of ridicule or shame. Blame and negative judgments are at the core of poor self-esteem and can lead to emotional disorders. Take the time to answer questions. Help children think of alternative options. Show children that you can laugh at yourself. Your sense of humor is important for their well-being. Don’t forget to lead by example and love your children.
MONDAY JANUARY 17 –
SAVE A LIFE
Taking a CPR and first-aid class could help you save a life or the life of your child. The basic principles of CPR are respiratory arrest, choking, Heimlich maneuver, heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest, breathing difficulties, and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). The course defines warning signs of respiratory arrest and gives prevention strategies to avoid sudden infant death syndrome and the most common serious injuries and choking that occur in infants and children. The course takes four hours. Doctors Hospital trainers can come to your place of employment or schedule an off-site program at your work for large groups. To learn CPR, First Aid, Infant or Child CPR, or Basic Life Support through our program accredited by the American Heart Association, call Doctors Hospital’s Community Training Centre at 302-4722. Learn to save a life today.
WEIGHT GUIDELINES FOR KIDS: IS YOUR CHILD OVERWEIGHT?
The proportion of kids who are overweight is steadily climbing and is now triple what it was in 1980. Overweight and obesity in children has become a serious health concern. Overweight children are more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type two diabetes. They also have to deal with social discrimination from their peers, which can lead to poor self-esteem and depression. What’s more, overweight kids have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults (80% chance if one or more parent is overweight or obese). Schedule a visit with your child's pediatrician or family physician, who can tell you if your child’s weight is in a healthy range. If your child is overweight, be supportive. Make sure your child knows that you love and accept him or her at any weight. Encourage healthy eating habits. Make an effort to keep a variety of healthful foods—fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and lean meats—on hand. Encourage daily physical activity. Limit the time your child is allowed to watch TV, play video games, and surf the internet. Be a positive role model. Your physician or dietitian can offer information help you manage your child’s weight. Seek help if you need it.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 19 –
THE BREAKFAST INGREDIENT OF CHAMPIONS
Wish you didn’t get so winded when hiking up the stairs? Then start your day with oats, or bran, or anything high in fiber. It may help you breathe easier. New research shows that dietary fiber may give lungs a leg up. In a recent study, people who ate at least 27 grams of fiber per day had better lung capacity than people who got less than 10 grams. The high-fiber eaters were also 15 percent less likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an irreversible lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Fiber may protect lungs by reducing tissue-damaging inflammation. The antioxidants in fiber probably help protect lung cells, too. Are you getting enough fiber? What else is fiber good for? Plenty: your waistline. Want to lose a few for the New Year? Fiber helps fill you up, so you munch less. It’s also good for your blood pressure. When your blood pressure creeps up, knock it back down with extra fiber. Fiber is also good for your bowels. It’s no secret: fiber helps keep you regular. So start your year by eating more fiber!
THURSDAY JANUARY 20 –
Ten to twenty-one percent of all people with diabetes develop kidney disease, but it affects certain ethnic groups more than others. Blacks are over 5 times more likely to develop kidney disease. Kidneys are amazing organs. They filter wastes out of the blood and, at the same time, allow useful things, such as protein and red blood cells, to stay in the blood where they belong. Unfortunately, this filtering system can break down or fail completely. People who have diabetes for a long time may develop kidney disease. Factors such as genetics, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels all play a role. Generally, the first symptom is fluid buildup. Other symptoms include sleep loss, tiredness, poor appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, weakness, and difficulty concentrating. Sometimes people may not know they are having kidney problems. The best way to protect yourself against this complication of diabetes is to keep your blood sugar in your target range and see your doctor regularly. Your doctor will test your blood pressure and urine to measure how well your kidneys are working and catch problems before they become serious.
TAKE A WALK ON THE FREQUENT SIDE
Wish you could always remember yesterday like it was only yesterday? Then take a 20-minute walk today, and every day. Yep. In a recent study, that’s all the extra activity it took to help counter faltering memories in a group of people over age 50. It has long-lasting benefits: after just 6 months of doing an extra 20 minutes of exercise daily (on top of the physical activity done normally), a group of adults only experienced slight losses in memory and verbal fluency saw improvements. More good news: the exercise didn’t have to be terribly taxing. Not only did walking work but so do swimming and ballroom dancing. Even better, the improvements persisted for 12 months after the study ended, and some benefits lasted up to 18 months. The research suggests that exercise may help delay Alzheimer’s in at-risk adults - people who have mild cognitive decline. Get moving for your body and mind. Although it’s yet not fully understood how staying active improves the mind, it may be that the boost in blood flow nourishes brain tissue and, by extension, stimulates the generation of new neurons, synapses, and blood vessels. Exercise can also relieve stress and enhance your mood.
MONDAY JANUARY 24 –
CALCIUM NEEDS FOR OLDER ADULTS
It is never too late to build strong bones. As you get older, the amount of minerals in your bones decreases. If you lose too much calcium, you may develop osteoporosis. You can take steps now to prevent osteoporosis and minimize your risk for bone fractures later on. Weight-bearing activities benefit bone health, but exercise alone is not enough. You need to eat plenty of calcium-rich foods. Experts agree that good nutrition can reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis. At least three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt are especially good sources of calcium. Plus, leafy green vegetables like broccoli and spinach are also good sources, as are calcium-fortified cereals. Improve your bone health by consuming calcium-rich foods coupled with adequate amounts of daily physical activity. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian if you would benefit from a calcium supplement.
TUESDAY JANUARY 25 –
THE IMPORTANCE OF INVOLVED PARENTS
Being a good parent means understanding your children; this includes their activities and their friends. Here are some tips that may help: communicate, take 15 minutes from your day and have a conversation with your child. Ask how his or her day went or offer to take them to dinner or some other outing. Listen - and do so without lecturing or being judgmental. Nonstop lecturing may alienate your children. Respect their privacy. If your child is older, allow a little more personal space than his or her younger brothers and sisters. Respect their time alone or with friends. Make sure they know that they can always come to you if they feel like talking. Be there. Make a point of attending your child’s school events and recreational activities (sports games, school plays, graduation, etc.). Not only will it make your child feel loved, but it may help them enjoy school and keep up their grades. Give your kids responsibility. Allow them to make their own choices and make them take responsibility for the bad ones. If you are divorced or separated, work to maintain an amicable relationship. Constantly fighting with your ex may hurt your children emotionally. Talk to your teen about tough issues.
MAX OUT YOUR MASHED POTATOES
You can safeguard the nutrients in your mashed potatoes by cooking them a little differently this year. The trick? Boil them whole. The reason? Cubing your potatoes first will slash their potassium content by as much as 50 percent. Okay, boiling them whole does take a bit longer. But the payoff is that you get not only more potassium, but more of other important minerals, too: magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. (Roasting, baking, or microwaving whole potatoes also preserves more potassium, by the way.) Why do you need it? Potassium helps your body regulate blood pressure and heart rate, as well as nerve and muscle function. And food is your best source. So remember, boil them whole and max out the nutrients in your mashed potatoes.
THURSDAY JANUARY 27 –
AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS CHOLESTROL AT BAY
They’re shiny, they’re red, they’re crunchy, and they’re sweet. And they know how to make cholesterol mind its manners. We’re talking about oh-so-nutritious red delicious apples. Not only will they make you a teacher’s pet, but they’ll also help keep cholesterol from acting up and blocking your arteries. Red delicious apples are particularly rich in phenols that do something magical to your bad cholesterol. They make the blood fats more stable, so they’re less likely to oxidize, stick to the walls of your arteries, and cause a dangerous blockage. Ty tasty apple recipes when you need to clean out the drawer in your fridge. Another cholesterol controller is a healthy diet (one with little saturated fat or trans fat) and regular exercise are key to controlling cholesterol. But here’s something else that matters: supplements. Early research shows that adding a calcium supplement to your diet could boost your blood levels of good cholesterol. Have your cholesterol checked and talk to your doctor.
FRIDAY JANUARY 28 –
HOW TO SAVE YOUR SICK DAYS
Want to avoid that "thing" that’s been going around? Your mood may have something to do with it. People who are carefree and calm seem to have extra armor against winter bugs. They get sick less often - and even if they do pick up a bug, they tend to have fewer symptoms. Yep, putting on a smile could be just the ticket. Don’t worry, be happy. Researchers recently asked healthy volunteers to describe their moods and then exposed them to a cold or flu virus. People who described themselves as happy, full of pep, and at ease - versus depressed, anxious, or hostile - had fewer symptoms like coughing, achy joints, and sinus pain. The researchers concluded that positive emotions may strongly influence the human immune system. Everyone wants to be happy, but what makes one person light up may do little to lift another. Step one is figuring out what makes you happy whether it is "watching the sunset" or "spending time with good friends" to "finding a great shoe sale" or "winning the office football pool." Defining happiness is no simple feat. Certain foods - like those rich in healthy omega-3 fats - can be good for the spirit. A simple walk or light workout is a surefire way to elevate your body’s natural "happy" chemicals. Phone a friend. There’s a reason why social butterflies seem so chipper. Remember, happiness begins with you!
CHECK YOUR POSTURE
Want to feel good about your work, your family, and yourself? Try picking up that chin and pulling back those shoulders. That's right - carry yourself with confidence. Studies have found that people who consciously improve their posture actually end up improving their self-esteem. When you carry yourself with confidence, not only do you feel better about yourself, but you make a better impression on other people, too. Another key to standing tall on life? Living a balanced life. That means maintaining balance between work, family, and everything else. Sure, you can constantly pull 60-hour work weeks, but you won't produce your best stuff if you do. Spending time with family, meeting new people, taking trips - having a life outside the office - is necessary in order to fuel your creative energies and recharge yourself. You also need to ask yourself what you want most out of life - not once, but often, because the person you are at 21 is very different from the person you are at 35, 47, or 61 years of age. Priorities, dreams, and goals change. Refocus and go after your goals!