What's a floater, and why do I get them?
Should You Be Concerned?
What's a floater, and why do I get them?
Should You Be Concerned?
A couple of years ago a friend of mine was shoveling snow and thought his chest and shoulder pain were from his muscles doing an activity he hadn't done in a long time. He stopped and went inside and felt some relief. About 30 minutes later the pain came back with a vengeance and he began to sweat and felt nauseous. Thankfully, his wife called 9-1-1 and he is with us today because he received prompt attention for his heart attack.
Our cold, wet and snowy weather has been a reminder from Mother Nature that she is in control and that we need to be careful when cleaning up her stormy mess.
For starters, shoveling wet snow or pushing a heavy snow blower in cold weather is like running on a treadmill and lifting weights at the same time. This action alone (shoveling) can triple your risk for a heart attack!
Important Facts about Shoveling & Your Cardiac Health:
1. Each shovelful of wet snow weighs between 20-30 pounds. This is where the weight lifting component comes in. Especially for individuals who do not exercise regularly, shoveling heavy snow can temporarily and quickly raise blood pressure, leading to a greater risk of heart attack.
2. The act of shoveling is also a high intensity aerobic exercise which can increase heart rate. For those who are not in good shape, this activity can present some heart risk.
3. Being outside in the cold weather often causes the heart to work harder in order to supply oxygen filled blood to all areas of the body for warmth. Mix in high winds and damp weather and this can cause the body to lose even more heat, adding an additional workload onto the heart.
Heart Health Tips for Before You Shovel
Life Threat Rules
Always listen to your body and abide by the following rules:
It is better to be safe and ask the professionals than to suffer in silence. Please, never ignore potentially life-threatening symptoms.
Mother Nature has once again given us the "cold shoulder." In fact, this year’s artic freeze has been so cold that on several days the wind chill has been less than zero degrees Fahrenheit, cold enough to cause frostbite within five minutes on unprotected skin. Needless to say, it is important to know how to protect yourself from the dangers of this cold weather season.
If you notice your skin looking mottled, pale and are experiencing pins and needles in your hands, feet, nose, ears or cheeks, then you are in the beginning phase of cold weather danger. This first alert is called frost nip, and is completely reversible if you act quickly and get into a warm room or shelter.
If you try to "tough it out" and ignore the warning signs of frost nip, there is a strong chance of developing frostbite. This is where tiny ice crystals start to form in your skin tissue. In many cases and with the proper care recovery from frostbite is usually complete. However, you must act quickly.
If you’re worried that you may have developed frost bite, it is important to be on the look-out for certain key symtpoms:
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to get the proper first aid. If the early cold weather injury signs of frost nip and frostbite are totally ignored, then a condition known as hypothermia may result.
Hypothermia causes the "Umbles"
Hypothermia occurs when a person's core body temperature decreases to a level below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, where normal muscular and brain operations are impaired. This is a medical emergency and a potential killer. If you’re concerned that a loved one may have developed hypothermia than it is important to look out for the “Umbles” -- you know, when a person mumbles, stumbles, fumbles and grumbles.
These "umbles" can occur when a person is showing the signs of hypothermia. Picture someone outside on a cold windy winter day who has trouble holding onto objects, is speaking with a slight slur, is having uncontrolled shivering and does not seem to be thinking straight, sort of like they are in a fog. If you see a person acting like this, get them inside into a warm environment. If they do not improve in a short time, call your physician or go to the closest emergency room.
Who is at Risk?
The very young and the elderly are at an increased risk, but so are people with medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. Also, certain medications can increase one's risk of getting this cold weather-related illness because they interfere with our body's own heat regulation system (ask your doctor about this if you’re concerned).
Additionally, people whose occupation keeps them outdoors or in cold environments have an increased risk. Even if you are outside taking a walk or exercising, you must be aware of the signs and symptoms of hypothermia.
When you are exposed to this type of environment, the first line of defense is to wear comfortable and dry clothing. If your clothing gets wet, it is difficult for your body to maintain its normal temperature. For people who work or exercise in cold environments, wear clothing made of polypropylene next to your body as this material will wick away the perspiration and keep your body dry. Next, dress in layers and wear clothes that are loose fitting. One big and large coat over a tee shirt will not be very helpful.
This time of year it can be easy to feel like "Ho Ho Ho" turns into "Go, Go, Go!"
Are you running around, overbooked with daily tasks, overstretched with commitments, over-spending, over eating and feeling just all-around overwhelmed? If this sounds like you, help is on its way!
Read on to learn these 12 tips for holiday stress relief.
1. Take a "Time-Out"— With Music! Make yourself a holiday song playlist and listen to the music, relax, and allow yourself to enjoy. Listening to music can decrease your body’s stress hormone levels and lower blood pressure, breathing rate, and heart rate, as well as decrease anxiety.
2. Play like a kid. If snow is on the ground, make a snowman or become a snow angel. If snow hasn’t made an appearance yet this season, play with the kids. Playful exercise and activity releases our “feel good” hormones, known as endorphins. One additional benefit of playing with kids is that we smile more and believe it or not, that alone is a great stress reliever!
3. It’s okay to single-task. Instead of multitasking all the time, try to focus on the task at hand instead of thinking of everything else that you need to do. So, whether it’s decorating or making holiday treats, try to enjoy the colors, laughter, smells, tastes and memories of happy times instead of running from one task to the next.
4. Unplug. For one special day disconnect from the time stressors of replying to your work email or text messages and go back to the days when you communicated in person, checked (on your own time) letters from the post office, and called or answered phone calls on your landline at your convenience. This allows your mind to unwind and decrease its high alert status.
5. Bring nature inside. Look out the window, take a few deep breaths in and out and check out the birds, wildlife and colors of the sky. This allows the mind to wander and imagine. Pine wreaths, which can be purchased at most Christmas tree vendors are also a natural “mood lifter” provided by mother nature herself.
6. Express Gratitude. Gratefulness adds perspective and helps us to focus on what is “good” in our lives. For tips on how to cultivate gratitude, click here.
7. Learn to say ‘No’. Remove the gift of guilt by taking time to yourself and allowing yourself to enjoy the holiday season. The decision to not just “Yes” to every request that you get can help keep you from over-committing, over-promising and over-visiting. You are human -- not Superwoman.
8. Get your zzzzz’s. Consistent and quality sleep is heart healthy and will boost your overall health and immune system, improve memory and concentration, and help to prevent weight gain, as well as get you through the holiday season without having a mental breakdown!
9. Eat right. Eating high quality foods (those are low in sugar, salt, and contain zero Trans-fats) such as fruits and vegetables, and other high fiber foods, will give your body more energy and help you to get the vitamins and minerals that you need for better health and a happier holiday season.
10. Try some yoga or Tai Chi. Both of these activities can be designed for all fitness and age levels (speak with your physician for health clearance prior to enrolling in a class). Both yoga and Tai Chi improve one’s “functional fitness.” In other words, they improve flexibility, strength and balance, as well as breathing and ability to concentrate and reduce anxiety. As a result, these activities lower heart rate and improve functional skills such as picking up the grandkids, getting up from a seated position, going up and down stairs, etc. and will lighten the burden during your holiday season.
11. Volunteer. Giving your time to important causes and for those in need lifts the spirits of others, as well as yourself. Volunteering also provides a feeling of helping and takes the focus off of us and places it onto others.
12. Let yourself really feel your emotions. This time of year can bring up many memories of happy times as well as sadness and loss. Instead of acting as if everything is fine and keeping your feelings tucked away deep inside -- let them out! Only through releasing these emotions will you be able to move forward in a healthy way.
Happy Holidays to all!
– Dr. Rob
And while most of these products are safe when used as directed, it is important to consider how these medications interact with one another.
Here is a list of my top 5 common and potentially dangerous combinations of over the counter and drugs and supplements that most people don't know about:
1: Combining ginkgo with Aspirin may increase the risk for bleeding, especially in those currently taking the clot-fighting drug known as Warfarin
2: Taking supplemental doses of Niacin (one of the B vitamins) while taking cholesterol-lowering statins may increase the risk for muscle pain and potentially, cause kidney damage
3: Drinking energy products containing high-octane stimulants (Guarana, kola, bitter orange, etc.) while using decongestants can increase your heart rate and blood pressure
4: Taking antidepressants such as Prozac or Zoloft, medically referred to as “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” or SSRI’s, in combination with the over the counter supplements known as St. John’s Wort may increase the risk for a rare and potentially dangerous condition known as Serotonin Syndrome. This can cause an elevation in blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, and other nasty symptoms.
5: Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, in combination with herbal supplements such as ginkgo, ginseng, feverfew, ginger or clove oil may increase the risk for bleeding.
Lastly, as a person ages they are more likely to have chronic health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, others) that require one or more prescription medications to keep those diseases under control. When monitored by a physician there is usually a margin for safety. However, taking one or more over the counter drug or herbal supplements can cause an oversight, leading to risks and side effects.
Needless to say, it is important to know the potential risks of a drug, herbal product, and the interactions between various medications before taking them.
Before taking any new medication, first speak with your physician or pharmacist.
Calling all soccer moms!
Now that school is in session that means one thing is for sure: soccer season is around the corner. With all the news lately about proper safety precautions regarding your child and their soccer habit, I thought it’d be wise to write up some pointers to help you keep your child safe this soccer season!
#1: Recognize when it is more than just a boo boo
Because soccer involves physical contact with other players as well as the ground, common injuries include bumps, minor scrapes, bruises and pulled muscles (especially in the front and back of the thighs), ankle sprains, fractures (especially of the lower arms, wrists and fingers), as well as knee injuries. Neck injuries and concussions are a major concern and may happen when players' heads bang together or hit the ground.
#2: Use your head – sometimes.
It is every parent's nightmare to see a child get injured, and with soccer, as with many sports, safety is key.
For starters, it is very important for your child to have a knowledgeable coach who can teach them the proper techniques. Additionally, "heading" of the ball in practice or games should not be stressed in youth soccer.
Here are some additional safety recommendations for your soccer child:
#3: Always warm up and stretch before the game. Dynamic stretching or calisthenics are always a good idea.
#4: Learn the right way to play from the get-go. As with all things, including when Mom attempts a head stand during yoga class, it’s imperative to use the right form. Without proper instruction injury is always a threat.
#5: Coaches should be knowledgeable and set realistic expectations. Soccer drills and practices for 16-year-olds should be much different than they are for 8-year-olds. Don’t allow your child to play for someone who could potentially push them too hard and allow them to get injured. Exercise the “Mom Knows Best” rule with this one.
#6: Tell your child to listen to their body. Teach your child not to play through pain. If they become injured, contact the family doctor immediately.
#7: Use proper equipment. Use only waterproof, synthetic balls instead of leather ones. Leather balls can become waterlogged and very heavy, making them dangerous for play. Also, use the appropriately sized ball for the age of the team.
#8: Wear appropriate safety equipment. This includes but is not limited to shock absorbent, anatomically shaped shin guards, during practice as well as the game. Additionally, consider ankle supports, eye protection, and mouth guards if necessary.
And last but certainly not least, always be sure that your child is drinking enough water and be wary of any concussions or concussion like symptoms.
Good luck in your upcoming season, and stay safe, kids!
Even though those pesky age spots are considered harmless, it is important to get them checked out to ensure that they are not a harmful type of skin cancer.
Many people refer to these brown and dark patches as liver spots, age spots or sun spots. Even though age and genetics play a role in the development of these patches, the most common cause is from an overproduction of melanin (brown pigment) in the top layer of the skin due to the harmful effects of the sun’s (and tanning lamps) ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This can result in an accumulation of freckles and/or “sun spots.”
Do You Look Your Age?
Have you ever seen a young person who looked much older than they were because of wrinkles or extra saggy skin? If so, they may have been affected by a process known as “photoaging.” This is a term used to describe skin changes that have most likely occurred as a result of persistent and unprotected exposure to the sun.
The most common signs of photoaging include:
It is also possible for the melanocytes (cells that produce the melanin) to “short-circuit” and stop the production of melanin, leading to patchy areas of “white” spots on sun exposed areas.
As you can tell, there is more to age spots than meets the eye. The damage leading up to its obvious appearance may have occurred silently and gradually over the course of many years.
How can I erase the damage?
Sun spots have the potential to grow and become a cosmetic concern, especially if located on a highly visible area such as the face or hands. If this occurs and you are self-conscious because of their presence, it is important to speak with your physician and ask for a recommendation to visit a physician skilled in cosmetic and aesthetic medicine. After all, we all want our skin to look good.
That said, options for sun spot removal include but are not limited to:
Tips To Prevent Future Spots
Many people feel a sense of cosmetic relief after these spots fade away, but as with all things we need to keep up with maintenance to avoid them coming back.
Suggestions for preventing future age spots include:
Fortunately, true age spots are benign; however, they do signal that skin damage has already occurred on the body. Those affected should be sure to get yearly skin exams to ensure that they are free from any pre-cancerous or cancerous skin changes.
Every year we hear of a child or pet who has passed away as a result of heat stroke after being left in the car.
Most people don't realize that their car can act like a lethal "oven" when the outside temperature reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This occurs because of a cars’ virtual greenhouse effect which allows hot air in but doesn’t often push the heat out. The result is an inside temperature of up to or above 120 degrees and this includes when the windows are cracked.
So why are children “left” in the car? There seems to be three main reasons for infants and young children being left behind:
Children are not able to regulate their internal temperatures as well as adults. Their systems are still getting used to knowing how to adjust to extreme heat. In fact, they are so sensitive to high temperatures that their bodies warm up to five times faster than an adult's. Unless they are kept hydrated and protected from this heat danger, they can develop a serious heat related illness pretty quickly.
WHEN CARS ACT LIKE OVENS
On a 90 degree day (even with windows open a "crack"):
• In 10 minutes, inside of car 109 degrees (19 degrees warmer than outside)
• In 20 minutes, inside of car 119 degrees (29 degrees warmer than outside)
• In 30 minutes, inside of car 124 degrees (34 degrees warmer than outside). At this temperature the car is a death trap.
• In 60 minutes, inside of car 133 degrees (43 degrees warmer than outside)
• In 90 minutes, inside of car 138 degrees (48 degrees warmer than outside)
Of note, a dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to over 200 degrees F. This can easily cause burns on the skin!!!
What the numbers are telling us is that the internal temperature of your parked car can heat up to dangerous levels. And, it is important to know that even if parked in the shade, the temperature inside your car can rise to potentially deadly levels for those left behind.
HEAT RELATED VEHICHLE DEATH STATISTICS
According to KidsandCars.org, the number of deaths in infants and young children has averaged 38 per year since 1998. And, as of July 2013, child vehicular heat stroke deaths have reached 21.
For the previous four years, the statistics are as follows:
• Child vehicular heat
stroke deaths for 2012: 32
• Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2011: 33
• Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2010: 49
• Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2009: 33
I know these may sound pretty simple, but safety doesn't always happen and a child or pet can be accidently left behind.
• Never leave a child unattended in a car, even if the windows are left open
• Lock your car after making sure all children are out, including the quiet and sleeping infants
• Teach the children the trunk is not a place to play
• Keep car keys out of children’s reach so they cannot enter the car without your presence
• If a child is missing, check the car, including the trunk
• "Look before you leave" and check all back seats before closing the door
• Please don't leave pets in the car, even if only for a few minutes. In this high heat and humidity they can quickly die
• Please call 911 if you happen to pass a car or truck with a child or pet left unattended
• Busy parents have a lot on their mind. A suggestion is to leave your purse or wallet or some other item that you will need next to the sleeping infant in the back seat. This will serve as a double check to ensure all are out of the car before you leave.
Sadly, as the numbers from KidsandCars.org tell us, cars may be great for travel but they make horrible baby sitters.
Hey parents, have you ever found that you or your children are squinting while outside in the bright sun?
If so, you’ve experienced a direct message from your eyes that they need protection from the outside light. While no suntan lotion can protect them, the proper sunglasses as well as a broad brimmed hat can do just the trick!
Your Eyes get Sunburned, Too
Intense and short-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVA or UVB light rays) has the potential to cause photo keratitis, a painful burn on the surface of our eyes that can cause temporary blindness (think bright sun reflecting off snow or a sandy beach).
Even if you escape that type of damage, persistent and long-term irritation from UVA or UVB radiation has the potential to lead to vision robbing conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, as well as skin cancer around the eyes and on the lids.
The Lowdown on UV
Shopping for Sunglasses
When shopping for sunglasses, remember that lens color (dark or mirrored) doesn't necessarily mean better protection from UV rays. In fact, poor quality dark lenses have the potential to distort colors, even the red and green on traffic lights. And, the darker the lenses, the greater the chance your pupils (dark part of the eye) will dilate and let in more damaging UV light. Therefore, it may be best to consider amber, neutral gray, brown or green colored lenses.
When it comes to polarized lenses, they do have the potential to minimize glare, but by themselves, don't block UV rays. No matter what the color lens or whether or not they are polarized, the most important factor is to make sure your sunglasses block 99-100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays, or simply state, "provides 100% UV protection" or "UV400 protection."
Here are some tips to remember:
Other Factors for Eye Protection
While wearing sunglasses on sunny days makes a lot of sense, eye protection on cloudy days is important too. The reflections that occur against sand, parking lots, snow, and water can produce the same sun damage to your eyes.
In addition to reflected light, there are medical reasons and/or medications that can cause your eyes to be more sensitive to the effects of UV light. These include but aren’t limited to the following:
While outside, the best way to protect your eyes is to wear a broad-rimmed hat and wrap-around sunglasses (added protection from reflected light getting in through the sides). Not only that, but wrap-around sunglasses with overhead shields can also provide greater protection against skin cancer around the eyes or on the eyelids.
Need one more reason to wear sunglasses? Wearing them cuts down on squinting in bright light as well as offers some protection against the premature aging of the skin (photoaging) around the eyes. This in turn may cut back on wrinkles.
See what sunglasses compliment your face shape the best here.
Laughter is the quickest and easiest way to reduce your stress levels, release happy molecules (for real, when we laugh we release dopamine which makes us feel good) and make those around us feel better too.
A good laugh can relieve pain, help with your breathing and is actually scientifically proven to help us live longer.
Read on to learn how you can lighten up and laugh a little harder and more often to improve your quality of life:
1) Learn from your littlest experts – Watch your young nieces and nephews, grandchildren or maybe even your own kids at play! Little and simple things trigger their laughter. Whether it is a funny sound, stepping in a puddle and splashing water everywhere, or getting ketchup all over their cheeks during snack time, they laugh. Could we be better about finding humor in the simple things in life? Ask yourself this, and then allow yourself to loosen up a bit and enjoy the quirks of daily life.
2) Keep your friends, funny! – Jokes are not required. In fact, it is often more beneficial to be social and around people with positive attitudes who can laugh at themselves, and who avoid “sweating the small stuff.” Frequent doses of being around “positive people” help to provide us with a different perspective, and help to rejuvenate our own outlook.
3) Indulge in some comedy – In his book “Anatomy of an Illness,” Dr. Norman Cousins was able to ease his pain (as well as many others’) through laughter therapy. The longer his mind was in a happy mood through humor and laughter, the less pain medication he needed and the longer his pain relief was achieved.
4) Lighten the load – So many of us try to be perfect by trying to please too many people. But the harder we try, the less we smile while putting too much stress on ourselves. Try to learn from the best. Recently my neighbor’s son put his shoes on by himself for the first time. He was so proud he didn’t notice they were on the wrong foot. His mom just laughed and complimented him. He tried, and that was the most important part.
5) Look for humor – sometimes you’ve “just gotta laugh.” One of the doctors baked a pie for a 90-year-old patient. It was just about done and she heard a “pop” from the oven. Sure enough, her home baked apple pie crust cratered, creating an upside down apple pie. Instead of getting upset, she smiled and brought this “unique” pie to her patient. The patient, Betty, looked at the pie, laughed out loud and said she bakes pies the same way. The sound of Betty’s laugh and that story is one that doctor still shares with others.
6) Smile – Have you ever see someone enter a room with a big smile on their face? I know I have and I always remember what a great impression it makes. Sometimes, even if we don’t feel like it, just putting your smile in gear lightens the load for others whom you see and in-turn, reflects those good feelings right back at you.
Use these six small tips to improve your chances for a better belly laugh and remember – smile on!