LEG CRAMPS

. Tuesday, September 30, 2008
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Muscles That Go “Boing” in the Night

Most of us familiar with the felling. You’re sleeping peacefully, when suddenly you’re awakened by a stabbing pain in your calf or foot.

Medical books call these painful involuntary skeletal muscle contraction, but most of us know them as charley horses or simply cramps. Leg cramps affect millions of American and are not only a painful nuisance, they can destroy your chances of a good night’s sleep. They’re the fourth leading cause of insomnia, according to the journal clinical pharmacy.

Cramps are mysterious phenomenon, striking trained athletes as well as older people who might overdo physical activity on a weekend. Cramps occur while a person is resting, often at night, and affect the calf and foot muscles. Each cramps lasts only for a few seconds but can interrupt sleep nightly for a few a day or weeks, then mysterious disappear. In some unlucky souls, night cramps occur for month or even years. The affliction is particularly prevalent in people past middle age and in pregnant women.
Most leg cramps fall into of to categories; ordinary cramps, referred to as nocturnal cramps because they often occur at night; or cramps caused by arteries In the legs being clogged by cholesterol plaque. Lets first take a look at ordinary leg cramps and what you can do about them.

Why the Cramps Strikes

Ordinary cramps usually occur in the first few hours of sleep. For unknown reasons , your leg or foot muscles seize up.

But scientists have some theories as to why these cramps occur. Cramps are prolonged muscle contractions, brought on by command within the nervous system. Normally, the brain send a signal via the nervous system to a specific set of muscles. Ordering, those muscles to perform a certain task. Once the job is done, the brain send another signal telling the muscles to relax.

But a cramped muscle is already contracted, and instead of being told to relax, it is ordered by nerve cells to continue to contract, which sends the muscles into a painful spasm. This is why your impulse-to stretch the affected muscle-usually brings relief.
Scientist believe these prolonged contractions are a result of imbalances in the body’s supply of certain minerals, called electrolytes, which make electrical impulses in the nervous system possible. Among the most important of these are calcium, protesium, and sodium.

Circumstantial evidence support this theory. Cramps sometimes occur in athletes who over exercise or sweat profusely, suggesting that the loss of sodium in sweat plays a role in causing some cramps. Also, certain medications that affect electrolyte balance are associated with increased cramping.

HERNIA

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The battle of the bulge doesn’t necessarily end at the waistline. Sometimes the soft tissue of an inner organ, such as the intestine, will start to bulge through a defect in the muscle wall. This protrusion doesn’t exactly announce itself by saying “peekaboo,” but most often, it will create bulging and sometimes tenderness in the groin area.

At the very least, this protrusion, called a hernia, is an uncomfortable nuisance. But it may also become painful and, in rare cases, lead to complication that, if untreated, can even cause death, says Alex G. Shulman, M. D., director of the Litchtenstein Hernia Center in Los Angeles.

A hernia is something like a tear in a piece of fabric. It most often results when the abdominal muscles are strained by doing things such as heavy listing, having a difficult bowel movement or even coughing or laughing. Those that appear in the lower abdomen are by far the most common, and nearly nine of ten people who get them are men. That’s probably because of a potential physical weakness the spermatic cord passes through muscle in the groin.

Stopping the Bulge

The beast way to deal with hernias is to never get one in the first place. There are several things you can do to prevent one.

Lift properly. Any type of heavy lifting increases pressure on the abdominal muscles and can cause a hernia, says Timothy Pohlman, M. D., assistant professor of surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Try to use your leg muscles and distribute the weight of the object over you entire torso. Better yet, hire a professional mover or find a friend to help you with heavy object!

Avoid constipation or straining during bowel movements. “There are people who get fixated on the idea that they have to have a bowel movement at a certain time of the day, even if they have to strain, “Says Arthur Gilbert, M. D., director of the Hernia Institute of Florida in South Miami. “Those people predispose themselves to hernias. “Eat lost of fiber and drink plenty of fluids––at least six to eight glasses a day––to keep your stool soft and prevent constipation, he says.

Firm your abdomen. Exercises such as sit-ups strengthen the abdomen and are particularly useful in helping to ward off hernias, says Dr. Pohlman. Work up slowly to two to there sets of 10 to 15 sit-ups, keeping your legs bent to avoid back strain.

Quit smoking. Yes, here is yet another reason to give up tobacco. If you’re a smoker, you’re more likely to have a chronic cough that may strain your likelihood of getting a hernia, Dr. Pohlman says.

Hernia Relief

If you thing you have a hernia, see your doctor. Several other conditions, including an abscess, muscle strain, an aneurysm, an undescended testicle and arthritis, can cause groin tenderness. Only your doctor can determine the specific cause.

If you do have a hernia, you can wear a truss, an elastic or canvas pad that may keep a small hernia from protruding. A truss can be cumbersome, however, and cause skin irritation. And if the hernia enlarges, a truss may cut off blood to the herniated area.

“Trusses are generally a stopgap measure,” Dr. Pohlman says. “Most people will eventually opt for surgery.”

That’s because hernias almost always get larger and more uncomfortable over time. “Usually, when a hernia first becomes obvious, it’s about the size of a golf ball. Then it gets bigger and bigger until it’s the size of a tennis ball or soft ball. They can get as big as a watermelon in some rare cases“, Dr. Shulman says.

The Surgical Options

Surgical corrections of hernias are common: About 600,000 such procedures are performed every year in the United States.

If you do have surgery, you and your doctor will have a choice of three basic procedures. The first is the traditional operation, performed since the 1880s. The surgeon makes an incision in the groin and pushes the hernia back into the abdomen. Then the edges of the tear in the abdominal wall are sewn together to prevent the hernia from bulging out again. When the tear is sewn up in this fashion, however, there is tension on the sutures whenever you move your muscles. Should the edges of the tear rip open, the hernia can recur. The procedure may also require several days in the hospital and weeks of limited activity. On the up side, this is a natural reconstruction of the way things were before the hernia developed, Dr. Pohlman says.

A more common option in recent years fixes hernias in something of the way you would fix a tire. The surgeon covers the tear with a patch made from a synthetic material called Marlex. Because the edges of the tear aren’t being pulled back together, there is no tension on the repair, and the chances of the hernia recurring are significantly reduced. The operation itself shouldn’t have you in the hospital for more than a few hours. Generally you can resume most of your normal activities within three or four days, says Dr. Shulman.

The latest advance in hernia repair is laparoscopic surgery. The surgeon makes an incision near the belly button, then inserts a scope into the abdomen and guides it to the site of the hernia. Mesh is inserted through the scope to repair the tear. By eliminating the need for an incision in the groin, recovery comes fast––you should be back to your normal self in a day or two. The pain is minimal, similar to that of a finger cut. But doctors are still evaluating the effectiveness of this procedure.

BURSITIS II

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With names like miner’s elbow, housemaid’s knee and weaver’s bottom, it sounds more like a wildflower from a seed catalog than an uncomfortable, bumpy inflammation. But once you’ve had sinusitis, you won’t mistake this annoying condition for a bed of roses.

There are approximately 150 fluid-filled bursae distributed throughout your body. Essentially, each bursa is a cushion that helps facilitate movement between adjoining parts of your body. On the back of your hand, for example, bursae help the skin glide freely back and forth. You also have bursae on your elbows, knees and the sides of your body, explains Joseph D. Zuckerman, M.D., vice chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and chief of the shoulder service at the Hospital for Joint Disease Orthopedic Institute in New York City.

When bursae get injured, whether from injuries,, overuse or even poor posture, they become inflamed and begin to swell. That’s bursitis. Naturally, the bursae that get the most abuse and are nearest the surface––those on the knees, elbows and hips––are the ones most likely to get inflamed. “People who spend a lot of time on their knees–maids, for example, or carpet layers––can have a golfball-size or larger swelling on the front of their knee,” says Dr. Zuckerman.

But those in other professions may also get bursitis, says W. Ben Kibler, M.D., medical director of Lexington Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Lexington, Kentucky. “One of my patients is a judge, and he listens to a lot of cases by resting his elbows on the bench,” Dr. Kibler says. “The right one was swollen a couple of months ago, and now the left one is swollen.”

While unsightly, bursitis isn’t always painful. But an infected bursa can prevent you from moving, walking or doing anything at all, according to Clifton S. Mereday, Ph.D., chairman of the physical therapy program at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. “It can be excruciatingly painful,” he says.

Joint Efforts

It’s not always clear why bursae get inflamed, or why some people get bursitis more often than others. Still, there are things you can do to dump the bumps–before they occur.

Change your game. Since bursitis is often caused by repetitive motions––throwing a baseball, for example, or kneeling in a garden––a change of pace can be a joint-saver. So occasionally swap the baseball for a croquet mallet. Work in the house instead of the garden. Hang up your running shoes and take a long walk instead.

Give your knees a break. People who spend their days laying carpet, fixing plumbing or digging up tulips are particularly prone to bursitis. And because bursae on the knee are so near the surface, they’re easily pricked and sometimes get infected, Dr. Zuckerman says. Try to spend more time on your feet than on your knees. Or if your job requires frequent kneeling, invest in a well-padded cushion or some good knee pads. A little protection today can prevent a lot of pain tomorrow.

Straighten up. People who slump in their seats, slouch at parties or inadvertently look for pennies when they walk put all sorts of pressure on bursae in their backs and shoulders. “By walking more erect, your chances of developing bursitis are reduced,” Dr. Mereday says.

Keep yourself strong. Weak muscles lead to poor posture, and poor posture, as we’ve seen, can cause bursitis. A little exercise––lifting weights, having a swim or just taking regular walks––can prevent both these problems, Dr. Mereday says.

Have a good stretch. Because bursae and tendons are so close together, what affects one can also affect the other. So before you hit the track––or the tennis court or soccer field––take a few minutes to warm up and stretch.

Swell Treatments

You tried to stay off your knees, but the geraniums beckoned you thither––and now you have bursitis. What do you do now?

Try the pharmacy. Over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen can ease bursitis pain and reduce swelling. In some cases, doctors says, this will be the only medical treatment you’ll need. Take daily, as directed, for two or three weeks until the pain and swelling are gone. If there’s no improvement, see your doctor.

Chill out. While you’re resting, go ahead and put the swollen bursa on ice, says Dr. Mereday. Applying colds help reduce the pain and swelling. Wrap ice packs or cubes in a towel or wash-cloth and place on the injury for 10 minutes, several times a day.

Now get moving. Once the pain subsides––this should happen in a day or two––try to get injured part moving again, Dr. Mereday adds. “Not moving is how you develop frozen shoulder, for instance. It’s not the bursitis that causes it but the adhesions [scar tissue] you get later. So you want to get it moving as soon as possible.”

Big-League Help

Most cases of bursitis can be treated at home. But when the pain gets bad, or you suspect you have an infection, it’s time to see your doctor, Dr Zuckerman says.

When you have red, painful swelling that doesn’t go away, you probably have an infected bursa, Dr. Zuckerman says. For this you need antibiotics, which in most cases will quickly eliminate the infection. To relieve painful swelling, however, your doctor may drain the bursa as well.

In some situations, when the pain of bursitis has not improved with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications, asteroid injection can be beneficial. This approach is used very sparingly, and it’s important that there be no infection present, Dr. Zuckerman says.

Occasionally bursitis will be so painful and long-lived that your doctor will recommend surgery to remove the swollen bursa. But this is rare, Dr. Kibler says. Most of the time, self-care––and perhaps drugs––will do the trick.

MENINGITIS

. Sunday, September 28, 2008
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Justify FullYou’ve never before hurt so much. Your forehead is hot enough to roast chestnuts. You’ve just vomited what seems like your last eight meals. And inside your head, a battalion of cackling gremlins is driving needles into your most sensitive nerve endings. Could it be the flu? Or could it be something worse, like meningitis?

Meningitis, an ugly but fortunately rare disease, often starts off with the same symptoms as the common flu. But along with the fever, nausea and headaches, you might also experience a stiff neck, an oversensitivity to bright light and, occasionally, a deep red or purplish rash.

What these symptoms may mean is that your meninges, the membranes that cover your brain and spiral cord, have become infected and inflamed. The cause is usually an invasion by either viruses or bacteria. Sometimes these organisms are carried to the meninges by the bloodstream from another part of the body, such as the lungs. Sometimes a head injury, like a skull fracture, or an infected sinus or ear can open the door to such an invasion.

The Essential Diagnosis

The symptoms of both types of meningitis, viral and bacterial, are the same. But the bacterial kind is much more dangerous––in fact, potentially deadly if not treated quickly. That is why it’s important to act on these symptoms immediately by going to your doctor or a hospital emergency room.

There’s only one way to tell the two kinds of meningitis apart, says Bradley Perkins, M.D., a specialist in meningitis with the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. That one way is with a spinal tap. Doctors remove a dose of spinal fluid for analysis to tell what kind of organism may be at the source of your woes.

If that organism is a virus, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You’ll feel rotten for a while, but you’ll probably be well in two or three weeks.

The Viral Variety

The kind of meningitis caused by viruses is not only the less dangerous of the two, it’s also the more common. These viruses usually spread from person to person and tend to spread quickly among groups, much like a flu. The favorite victims if viral meningitis are children and young adults. “Their immune systems are usually strong enough that they get better without medication,” Dr. Perkins says. “Antibiotics don’t work against a virus, and antiviral drugs have so many side effects that it’s usually not worth giving them.”

In other words, if you have viral meningitis, you simply need to tough it out as you would a flu. What can you do to feel better? The same things you’d do if you had the flu.

Stay home and rest. Let your body devote its energy to fighting the infection, Dr. Perkins says. “You won’t feel like getting out of bed anyway.”

Drink plenty or fluid. Fever dehydrates you. And you’ve got to keep elimination system well watered to flush out the debris of the war in progress between your immune system and the virus.

Reach for the bottle. Take aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen as needed for the pain, says Dr. Perkins. But don’t give aspirin to anyone under 21 because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a serious neurological disease.

Darken the room. Your eyes are probably hypersensitive to light, and that can make your headache worse.

Keep eating. It’s essential to keep up your strength.

Take an antinausea medication. How can you eat if you’re nauseated and throwing up? Try an over-the-counter preparation recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.

Take it easy. Don’t go out and run races or dance till dawn right after you’ve recovered––that’s risking a relapse. Again, think of yourself as having had the world’s worst flu, and act accordingly. Give yourself time to regain your strength.

The Bacterial Blight

Even though bacterial meningitis is extremely dangerous, it’s much less common than it used to be, and if caught early, it is usually highly curable, Dr. Perkins says. Bacterial culprits include very common bacteria like streptococcus pneumoniae and hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). “Most of us carry these bacteria around, but we don’t get sick, because our immune systems keep them in check,” says Dr. Perkins. “The people most susceptible are probably those with some kind of immune deficiency or those who have gotten some new strain of bacteria that they haven’t developed an immunity to” Babies, the elderly and people traveling through certain nations with epidemic diseases are most at risk.

No matter the specific bacteria, treatment is the same hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. “You should be in the hospital for a minimum of 7 days, and often up to 14 days,” Dr. Perkins says. “You’ll usually get dramatically better very fast.” When you’re discharged, you may take oral antibiotics for another couple of weeks. Treatment is essential; without it, bacterial meningitis is fatal at least 70 percent of the time.

Although some forms of meningitis will probably be with us for some time, the kind caused by the bacteria Hemophilus influnzae type b may be on the wane. This number one cause of bacterial meningitis in American children is the target of an immunization plan by the CDC. It recommends every child get a first vaccination for Hemophilus influenzae type b at two months of age. “We expect a dramatic reduction in Hib meningitis,” says Dr. Perkins.

BURSITIS

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What to do When Pain Strikes

Despite its quaint nicknames-housemaid’s knee, student’s elbow and clergyman’s knee-bursitis is no laughing matter.

This painful condition occurs when your bursae, the tiny fluid-filled sacs that serve as cushions in and around the joints, become swollen. The most common cause is overuse of certain joints, especially in activities that are out of the ordinary for you. This cloud be taking on your teenager in yet another round of one-one basketball, painting the kitchen or playing too many sets of tennis. As bursae rub against muscles, tendons and each other, they become irritated, swollen and painful.

Bursitis can also be caused by pressure-hence those descriptive nicknames. Kneeling to scrub a floor or roof a house puts pressure on the bursae of the knee, for example. A shoe that’s too tight can cause a swollen bursa, called a pumpbump.

Most commonly, bursitis strikes the shoulders, says Patrick Guiteras, MD., clinical faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Other common site are he elbows, hips and knees. Fortunately, the condition usually passes within a few days to a week or two.

When bursitis hits, the first thing to do is stop the activity that caused the problem. Then attend to pain with the following treatments.

Chill it. Immediately apply an ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel to the trouble joint to bring down swelling. Leave it on for ten minutes, several times a day.

Apply moist heat. After the swelling has disappeared, warm up the area by taking a shower or bath, apply hot towels or relaxing in a heated whirlpool. Heat increases blood circulation to the affected area, which helps it heal.

Take on OTC. An over-the counter medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen will help reduce swelling and pain. Check with your doctor first if you have a history of stomach ulcers or irritation.

Keep Moving. Although you don’t want to repeat the activity that caused the bursitis, its important that you don’t stop moving, particularly if your shoulders are injured. Otherwise, the joint will become stiff and can “freeze.”

Eliminate the pressure. Try to keep pressure off the affected area. If the bursitis is in your shoulder or elbow, for example, try to sleep on your back or on the side opposite that joint.

To be continue……………….

Troubleshooting Lip Problems

. Saturday, September 27, 2008
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Here’s a checklist of list problems. Answers Yes or No to each.
  1. Do you a lot of time outdoors?
  2. Do you lick your lips?
  3. Are you lips so chapped that they’re cracked?
  4. Do you always have trouble getting your lipstick to go on evenly?
  5. Does your lipstick bleed?
  6. Do you dislike your lips line?
  7. Have you ever tried a lip pencil and found that it made a mess?
  8. Does your lipstick fade?
  9. Do you bite your lips?
  10. Do your lips problems refuse to improve or go away?
Interpreting your answers
  1. If you answered Yes to any of these question, here are some solution to your problems.
  2. Use a sunscreen to protect your lips from sun damage.
  3. This is an indication that your lips are too dry. Moisturize with a lip balm a medicated lip balm and apply a drop of water first.
  4. You need a medicated lip balm with sunscreen.
  5. Apply a lip conditioner, then a foundation base. This will help your lipstick go on evenly.
  6. Use a lip pencil to define the line.
  7. Get out that lip pencil again. Use it to make minor improvement in your lip line.
  8. The pencil was probably too soft. When you shop for a lip pencil, try it out on the back of your hand first before you buy it.
  9. Chances are you’re not applying it often enough. It’s important to find a lip product with a “feel” you like. That way, you’ll have no problems reapplying it often, especially after meals, before going outside and at bedtime.
  10. Stop! Biting your lips is even worse than licking them. It removes protective skin.
  11. Time for a visit to your dermatologist. Persistent. Persistent problems may require medical care.

KIDNEY INFECTIONS

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Think of your kidneys as your body’s own, personal sewage treatment plant (please, humor us). As the cells in your body turn nutrients into energy, they create waste by-products. The kidneys get rid of these by-products, so that your cells don’t languish, buried in waste. Your city’s public works department only wishes it could have a sewage treatment facility as wonderfully efficient as your kidneys. These two bean-shaped organs, each with over one million tiny filtering units, remove the waste products from the blood, combine them to form urine and send the entire shipment southward toward the bladder, urethra and the great outdoors.

But while this liquid shipment is in transit, danger lurks, especially for women. Bacterial bandits, especially Escherichia coli, wait in ambush around the urethral and anal openings. They can invade the urine, multiple, infect the urethra and bladder and then scurry up toward the kidneys. A kidney infection––or nephritis––almost always begins as a lower urinary tract infection. (See “Urinary Tract Infections” on page 673.)

An Easy Diagnosis

Get a kidney infection, and you’ll know it, says kidney specialist Neil Kurtzman, M.D., chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and vice president of the National Kidney Foundation. “The pain is excruciating,” he says. “It’s very sudden and very intense. If I give even the lightest touch to the skin on the back of someone with nephritis, they’ll jump off the bed. It’s an easy diagnosis.”

Despite infections, the kidneys usually keep working, but they’ll save notice they’re working under duress, says Dr. Kurtzman. If just one of the kidneys is infected, the pain will be one-sided, spreading down to the groin. The pain comes from the body’s immune system cells attacking and killing the bacteria, causing inflammation and fever, sometimes up to 104oF. Along with the fever can come chills, trembling and possibly nausea and vomiting. Since you probably also have urethritis or a bladder infection, you can have pain when urinating––as well as a constant urge to urinate. You may cloudy or even red-tinted urine. You’ll know it isn’t the flu.

Women are more susceptible than men to kidney infections. The main reason, Dr Kurtzman says, “Is the anatomical arrangement of their plumbing. They have short urethra, which makes it very easy for bacteria to get into the bladder.” Despite their anatomical susceptibility, most women still never get kidney infections. “We don’t know why some get it and most don’t,” says Dr. Kurtzman.

Nothing to Kid About

Although you’d probably live through a kidney infection without medical care, you shouldn’t take chances. Untreated, a kidney infection can cause abscesses and spread to the rest of the body, says Dr. Kurtzman.

Of course, you’ll probably be so sick that you wouldn’t want to tough it out. The pain is so intense, Dr. Kurtzman says, that people generally opt to go to the doctor. He or she will give you oral antibiotics. You’ll feel better in one or two days, but you need to take all the antibiotics (usually about a week’s worth) to be sure you’ve killed all the bacteria. If you’re extremely ill, you may be hospital so that you can receive intravenous antibiotics.

Besides being sure to take the full course of antibiotics, you can do a few things to help yourself. Here’s what Dr. Kurtzman suggests.

Take painkillers. Aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can lessen the suffering. Take as needed, but don’t take more than the recommended dosage.

Take it easy. Plenty of bed rest will take a load off your kidneys and help them heal faster.

Drink plenty of fluids. Flushing out the kidneys helps to eliminate the infection. “Make sure you get at least 2 quarts of fluids a day,” says Dr. Kurtzman.

Avoiding Problems

The best way to discourage a potential kidney infection is to make sure you never get a urinary tract infection. By far the most important precaution for women is to be careful of the way they clean after a bowel movement. “Always wipe from front to back, not from back to front,” Dr. Kurtzman says. This can help keep the fecal bacteria from invading the urethra.

If you’re a man over 50, your best precaution may be an annual prostate exam. As you get older, it’s more likely that your prostate will enlarge and keep the bladder from emptying, promoting infection, says Dr. Kurtzman. This enlargement, once diagnosed, can be treated.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS

. Friday, September 26, 2008
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Until recently, altitude sickness was something of a rarity. People didn’t zip to Aspen for weekend trips. And serious climbers only ascended as fast as their feet would take them.

Things changed with modern transportation. Today’s hikers, skiers and climbers can shoot from sea level mountaintop in no time. They don’t have time to adjust to changes in altitude, a process called acclimatization, says Benjamin D. Levine, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and director of the Presbyterian Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine. “Anyone can get altitude sickness if they go up to high enough altitudes fast enough,” he says.

High Altitude, Low Oxygen

Altitude sickness is caused by the low level of oxygen available at high altitudes. Nearly 700 years ago, the explorer Marco Polo noted that high mountain air could be “so unwholesome and pestilential that it is death to any foreigner.” The air at your favorite ski resort isn’t so hazardous, of course. Indeed, says Dr. Levine, the vast majority of people who get sick at high altitudes will have only mild symptoms––headache, fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite.

Altitude sickness generally sets in within 12 to 48 hours of arrival at your high-altitude destination, gets worse during the night, then gradually improves as your body gets accustomed to the diminished oxygen stores. “For skiers going to Colorado, 25 or 30 percent of them will have some symptoms of altitude sickness, and some will lose skiing or vacation time because of it,” Dr. Levine says. The risk is proportional to the altitude achieved. In studies in the Swiss Alps, researches found that 13 percent of the people who climbed to 10,000 feet experienced altitude sickness. At 15,000 feet, the number jumped to 53 percent.

While the symptoms are usually mild, altitude sickness will occasionally cause disorientation, hallucinations and edema––the accumulation of fluid in the lungs or brain. Untreated, this edema can be fatal, Dr. Levine says. So don’t take chances your first day on the slopes. You can protect yourself––if you follow the rules.

The Lowdown on Going High

To prevent altitude sickness, Dr. Levine says, you need to pace yourself. For starters:

Climb high, sleep low. The severity of altitude sickness largely depends upon the altitude at which you sleep. “If you can, spend your first night at lower altitudes––say, below 7,000 feet,” Dr. Levine says. “For example, someone going to ski in Keystone, Colorado (9,000 feet), could spend the first night in Denver or Colorado Springs (5,000 feet).”

Ascend slowly. Above 8,000 to 10,000 feet, doctors say, you should allow one acclimatization day for each 2,000 feet you ascend. Indeed, going slowly is such an integral part of climbing that experienced mountaineers may take weeks to make a long ascent.

Pace yourself. Doing hard exercise soon after arriving at altitude often triggers symptoms. For example, people who ski hard their first day, then stay up dancing all night, are asking for trouble, Dr Levine says. It’s better to take it easy the first day, get a good night’s sleep, then conquer the mountain the second or third day.

Bag the salt. Even mild cases of altitude sickness seem to be accompanied by slight edema, resulting in the swelling of tissues. You can fight edema by eating salt and by drinking lots of water.

Can the beer. The sleeping pills, too. “Alcohol and sedatives, by slowing breathing, can aggravate the effects of altitude,” says Dr. Levine.

Fill up on carbs. Unlike high-fat, high-protein foods, carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes help your metabolism work more efficiently, which can make it easier to get more oxygen at high altitudes.

Go down. This is the one sure cure for altitude sickness. Once people descend a few thousand feet, Dr. Levine says, they usually start feeling better within minutes or hours.

A tip on Drugs

To prevent altitude sickness, prescription drugs such as acetazolamide and nifedipine work quite well, but they are not routinely recommended unless an individual has a previous history of altitude sickness.

For treatment, perhaps the most powerful drug is a steroid called dexamethasone, which can quickly relieve most symptoms. Because of possible side effects, however––ranging from high blood sugar disorientation–dexamethasone is recommended only for emergencies, says Dr. Levine.

LIPS

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Tips For Terrific Lips

You can pucker up all you want, but the most alluring smile quickly loses it appeal when your lips are cracked, peeling and dry.

Your lips suffer even more than other delicate facial skin from he sun and the weather. Unlike the rest of your skin, lips contain no melanin and lack oil glands to protect against drying winds and indoor heating. Sun damage also speed up the formation of those pesky vertical lines that lipstick can seep into.

But take heart: Luscious lips can be yours! All you need is a little bit of daily care to keep your mouth its most attractive. Here and some expert tips to help you keep our lips plump, moist and full.

If you lick your lips. As natural as it may seem, licking your lips only makes dry lips drier “ This is one of the very worst thing people can do, “ says Ronald Sherman, M.D., senior clinical instructor in dermatology at mount Sinai Medical Center inn New York. “It only increase evaporation when the moisture from the licking your lips evaporates, so does some o the moisture from your lips, Furthermore, saliva contains drying enzymes.

Slick on s mouth-watering balm. The right way to protect your lips against sun and weather Is to moisturize them with lips balm with sunscreen. Apply day and night and reapply often. Especially after meals, before going out side and at bed time. If your lips are naturally dry, dab a drop of water on them before applying tip balm, so the oils in the balm can seal in the moisture.

Clever tricks for fuller lips. For women who years for the fuller –lipped look that keeps the smile youthful, makeup can work wonders.

Start with a good base. Even the healthiest lips will be ruined by cakey or poorly applied lip color. To color yourself gorgeous, apply a lip conditioners, then a foundation base. This will help your lipstick go on evenly.

Use a lip pencil for definition. To prevent feathering, the less-than –stylist effect you get when lipstick seeps to into the vertical lines that extend beyond your lips, use a neutral-colored lip pencil to neatly outline and fill in your lip line. Pencils not only help prevent lipstick color form bleeding, they also allow you to make minor alteration in your natural lip line. “The number of thing to remember is that a lip pencil should be used to give definition only, “says beauty expert Trish Mc Evoy of New York. “Look for a shade close to your natural lip color. Angle the pencil (or use with a rounded tip) to shape the lips symmetrically, yet keep the line soft (using the point can create a harsh appearance). For the most flattering look, simply follow your own lip line.” She suggests you blend the line with a swab until It’s barely noticeable.

Try pencil of different consistencies. Pencils that are too soft bleed as badly as lipstick, while those that are too hard pull the pull the lip and give a choppy line. When shopping, try the tester on the back on the your hand. “ If the temperature of the store you’re in is cool, warm the pencil tip a bit by drawing on your hand,” Mc Evoy suggests.“ Cold make even the best formulas stubborn.” Then lightly try to rub off the lip pencil. If it disappear from your hand, it won’t last on your lips. And if the pencil drags or skips, forget it.

Choose the right finish. Next, fill in your outlined lips with color. The best lipstick for most women are matte creams. They’re least likely to irritate, and they last longer than frosts, which call attention to chapping and are less flattering On mature women. Glosses tend to wear off quickly.

Brush on color. No matter which type of color you choose, apply it with a lip brush, at least for the first application of the day. “Then you’ll only need to touch up by placing color within the outline during the day,” says Mc Evoy. Be sure to apply color evenly, keeping it inside the lip line. Work from the center of your mouth outward. When you’re done , give your lips a light dusting of face powder, and blot gently with a tissue to set the color.

Don’t rub. Never rub of your lipstick. Rubbing removes protective surface cells. If you need to remove your lipstick for any reason, blot if off.

PHLEBITIS

. Thursday, September 25, 2008
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You’d probably think that any disease with a name like phlebitis, which involves inflamed veins, would likely be mighty serious. Actually, it’s usually not.

Phlebitis generally occurs on the surface veins of the leg. It’s not hand to diagnose. There’s usually redness and a hard swelling along the affected vein. And oh, yes, it hurts.

Who gets phlebitis? The top candidates are people with varicose veins, those raised and twisted lines of blue just beneath the skin of the legs. Often it’s an injury in one of these protruding veins that causes the vein to inflame.

So the best way to prevent phlebitis is to treat your varicose veins kindly and gently. That means staying active, elevating your legs whenever you can, wearing compression stockings and doing all of the other good things suggested in “Varicose Veins.”

Quick Care

Should you develop phlebitis, rest assured that it will probably cure itself within a week or so. But you should check with your doctor to be sure veins deep in the legs aren’t affected. If you develop a fever, see your physician right away. In the meantime, here are a few simple steps to help speed your recovery.

Keep moving around. Long periods of standing or sitting keep pressure on the blocked vein. Perhaps the best favor you can do for your phlebitis is to get active. “Don’t stay in bed all day. Continue your normal activities. Move around,” says Mitchel Silane, M.D., clinical associate professor of surgery at Cornell Medical School and associate attending surgeon at New York Hospital––Cornell Medical Center. If your normal schedule includes a lot of sitting or standing in one place, intentionally getting up and walking at least several times a day for the duration of the inflammation could make a huge difference, he says.

Raise your leg. While you’re watching television or reading, lie down and put up your leg, says Dr. Silane. This will help the blood flow. After the phlebitis is gone, raising your leg should become a lifelong habit to help control varicose veins.

Apply heat. A heating pad or warm towel applied for 15 minutes can soothe the painful area around the clogged vein, says Dr. Silane.

Take a painkiller. Aspirin or ibuprofen may relieve much of the pain and reduce the inflammation. Take your pills or capsules as needed, following the directions on the bottle, says Dr. Silane.

Try some zinc. Zinc oxide ointment, available over the counter at your pharmacy, may help relieve any itching you have. Just smear this onto the area that itches.

Deep Trouble

Although most superficial phlebitis is not dangerous, it has a cousin that is: deep venous thrombosis, sometimes referred to as deep thrombophlebitis. Deep venous thrombosis is usually caused by a blood clot in one of the veins deep within the leg. The big danger is that such a blood clot may break free and travel to the lungs. And that can be fatal, says Francis Kazmier, M.D., head of the Section on Vascular Medicine at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans.

Ironically, unlike superficial phlebitis, deep venous thrombosis often causes no redness or lumps. If it causes any symptoms at all, those symptoms may include pain and swelling in the leg, with some blue discoloration. Another irony is that if you develop deep venous thrombosis, you need to be hospitalized––but you may already be in a hospital! That’s because the most common cause of deep venous thrombosis is extended inactivity, says Dr. Kazmier. Aside from those bound to hospital beds, others susceptible to developing deep venous thrombosis include those who take oral contraceptives, overweight people who sit for long stretches of time and pregnant women.

Doctors who suspect deep venous thrombosis often rely on ultrasound, a highly accurate and painless test, to make a firm diagnosis. If detected, they also treat it aggressively. You’ll get large intravenous doses of blood-thinning medication. After you’re discharged, you’ll take an oral blood-thinning drug, such as Coumadin, for a period of weeks to sometimes months, depending on your condition.

Contrary to what you may think, the blood-thinning medications don’t dissolve the clot. They keep new clots from forming while your own body dissolves the clot.

SPOT THAT WARRANT MORE THAN A GLANCE

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Age spots are harmless, but you want to make sure you don’t confuse a possibly cancerous skin problems with a sun spot, says Joseph G Morelli, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. For a suspected age spots-or any-spot or growth, for that matter-use the ABCD test, answering each question Yes or No.
  1. Shape: Is the spot asymmetrical?
  2. Borders: Are the borders irregularly shaped?
  3. Color: Is the spot multicolored?
  4. Diameter: Is the spot larger than the end of a pencil eraser?
Interprenting your Anwers
  1. Skins tumors, or melanoma, are often asymmetrical. They’re also often raised with irregular surface. Age spots are flat, and the surface of the skin is normal, except for the discoloration.
  2. The border or perimeter of a skin tumor is irregular, raised and clearly defined, as opposed to the flat, often poorly defined border of an age spot.
  3. Melanomas are usually multicolored. Age spots are light to darker brown.
  4. Melanomas are usually 7 to 10 millimeter in diameter, or about one-fourth to one-third of an inch. Age spots vary in size; some are larger than this ,and some are smaller.
If you had any yes answers, schedule an immediate appointment with a dermatologist to have your spot checked out. Melanomas are fast –moving form skins cancer that can be fatal, so don’t’ delay.

VARICOSE VEINS

. Wednesday, September 24, 2008
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  • Do you legs start aching in the afternoon?
  • Do you always wear long pants, even at the beach?
  • Do you share at your legs and wonder “Where is Route 66?”
Welcome to the world of varicose veins, that twisting topography of swollen, congested blood vessels that twist and hump like interstate highways on a road map. Caused by structural weaknesses inside, varicose veins are proof that gravity only goes one way down.

An Uphill Battle
Basically a varicose vein is a blood vessel that doesn’t quite have the oomph to push its cargo––blood––back into circulation. Here’s what happens. When blood exits your heart through the arteries, it shots right along, assisted both by gravity and by heart’s pumping action. The return trip through the veins, however, is more arduous. Not only do you veins exert less pressure, but also much of the journey, particularly from the feet and legs, is uphill.

To help the blood move upward, your veins are lined with tiny one-way valves. The valves open to let blood through, then snap shut as it passes. This system allows the blood to move in stages, its weight supported by valves. Sometimes, however, the valves fail. (Or in some cases, they’re congenitally absent). When this happens, the rising column of blood comes crashing down. “Instead of carrying blood away from the skin and muscles and to the heart, the vein now is carrying blood in a reverse flow,” explains Mitchel P. Goldman, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of a textbook on treatment of varicose veins. Since the blood has trouble going upward, it tends to pool at the bottom of the vein. When this happens, the vein becomes varicose––distended, in other words.

Varicose veins are extremely common, affecting one in five adults, Dr. Goldman says. Women are five times more vulnerable than men, and the veins often crop up during and after pregnancy. Varicose veins rarely are a serious problem, although the impaired circulation, if left untreated, can cause ulcers to develop on the lower legs. But they can make the legs achy and tired. They also can make them look bad. Even with surgery, there isn’t a cure for varicose veins, Dr. Goldman says. But with a few simple tricks, you can relieve some of the ache––and, in some cases, help prevent them from forming.

Keep The Blood Moving

Your heart is a real powerhouse, pumping approximately 1 ½ gallons of blood every minute. But varicose veins don’t get enough of that action. For your blood to keep moving, it needs some extra help. For example:

Walk your dogs. Unlike arteries, veins depend on your muscles to move blood along. Every time you stand up, take a walk or flex your toes, the muscles in your legs squeeze the veins, actually squirting the blood upward. The more you move your legs, the more pressure you exert on your veins––and the less blood you have just sitting there. Every now and then, shift your weight from foot to foot. Wiggle your toes. Move your feet, heel to toe, to get a really good stretch.

Flatten those heels. “When you wear high heels, you do not activate your calf muscles properly, which allows blood to collect in the veins,” Dr. Goldman says. Flat heels can give your muscles (and your veins) the help they need. Of course, flats are bit more comfortable, too.

Prop them up. Since your blood, like Isaac Newton’s apple, has a powerful tendency to go downhill, it naturally gravitates to your legs––and your varicose veins. You can reverse the flow simply by raising your legs above the level of your heart. During the day, put your feet up now and then to let the blood drain out.

Keep your weight down. This can help in two ways. First, when you’re overweight, you have more blood, and this puts additional strain on your veins. Second, learner people have more muscle, and muscle, remember, helps move the blood along. In other words, too much cushion means not enough pushin’.

Fill up on fiber. “If you’re straining to have a bowel movement, you’re going to put a lot pressure on the pelvic veins, which impedes the blood flow back to your heart,” Dr. Goldman says. Try to eat several helpings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains a day. This will help the stools pass more easily and will take some of the pressure off your veins.

Stay out of hot water. In fact, you should avoid all high temperatures, whether from saunas, hot tubs or sunbaked beaches. Heat dilates your veins, which in turn lowers the pressure that pushes the blood uphill, DR. Goldman says.

Loosen up. Those tight-fitting pants, girdles and panty hose that flatter your figure can flatten the veins between your heart and your legs, Dr. Goldman says. Do your bloodstream a favor and stick to looser, more comfortable clothes.

Wrap them up. While tight clothes can make your varicose veins worse, graduated compression stockings, whish apply prescribed amounts of pressure, can help prevent them. For stockings to work, however, they should be fitted to your legs by a doctor, Dr. Goldman says.

In fact, most people with varicose veins don’t need medical treatment, he adds. But when your legs are hurting, or you’re so self-conscious that you refuse to wear shorts in July, then it might be time to consider more serious measures.

Going for The Cure

If the idea of surgery scares you stiff, think how Galen’s patients must have felt. Galen a Greek physician who practiced medicine some 1,800 years ago, suggested that varicose veins be removed––with hooks! Today’s techniques are more sophisticated, thak goodness, and surgery––with a scalpel or, in many cases, with injections––often is the best for varicose veins, Dr. Goldman says.

When you have surgery, the problem veins simply are removed. “The legs have thousands and thousands of veins, and most of them are connected to each other,” Dr. Goldman explains. “By eliminating the useless veins, you’re going to improve the circulation to the others.” Once removed, varicose veins don’t come back. However, other veins may eventually become varicose, he adds.

With surgery, of course, there always are risks––from bleeding, infection and other complications. There’s also the risk of scarring, which in some cases can be as unsightly as the veins are. To avoid these risks, many doctors now are removing varicose veins with a procedure called sclerotherapy, or injection injects an irritating solution into the vein, which then collapses and eventually disappears.

With smaller veins, one injection may be enough; larger veins may require two, three or even four injections, Dr. Goldman says. After each treatment, the legs are wrapped with graduated compression stockings to prevent the collapsed veins from opening up again. Should a vein reopen, another injection will close it again.

Most varicose veins are “100 percent” curable, Dr Goldman says. “Particularly for smaller veins, I can’t see the treatments getting much better than they are now.”

AGE SPOTS

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Avoid Those Unwelcome Blotches

Age spots-those insidious little ”birthday freckless” that seem to pop up overnight-aren’t actually related to age at all. They’re the result of years of accumulated sun damage.

Age spots are harmless, but they can make use look-or feel-order. Which sort of adds up: the older you are, the more time and opportunity you’ve had to spend in the sun. so, voila, you have more “age”spots.

Like freckles and melasma (dark patches that can appear during pregnancy), age spot are caused by too much melanin, the hormone that creates pigmentation beneath the sureface of your skin. When repeatedly exposed to the sun, unprotected skin produced too much melanin.

Spot-Removal Strategies to try

Not surprisingly, age spots (sometimes called liver spot) generally occur on the face, back of hands and forearms, where we’ve gotten the most sun over the years. Chances are, these spots-properly known as solar lentigos-and some options for vanquishing them.

Double up on sunscreen. “The only way to stop blotches in their track is by sensible sun protection, “ says Nicholas Lowe, M.D., clinical professor or dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles, Scholl of medicine. Experts recommended that you start out with a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher to block the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

“Apply it to the backs of your hands and to your face first thing in the morning, before you put on any moisturizing or makeup, “ suggest John E Wolf, Jr,M.D., professor and chairman of the dermatology department at Baylor College of Medicine in Waco, Texas. ‘’ When you wash your hands, don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen. If you see the beginnings of age spots or melasma, switch to a higher-SPF sunscreen.

Even people who are conscientious about using sunscreen often apply it too frugally. It takes an ounce or so to cover yourself adequately. Buy two tubes at a time, so you don’t run out or skimp.

Have dubious spots checked out. If you a brown spot does occur suddenly or an old one changes shape, becomes raised of bleeds, have a dermatologist look at it to be certain it’s not an early melanoma, or potentially fatal form of skin cancer.

Shampoo away brown patches. White–or brown-pigmented areas on your chest, neck or abdomen may not be sun spots at all: rather, they may be caused by a skin condition called tinea versicolor, (You’ll notice them more in the summer because they don’t tan.) Washing the area with a dandruff shampoo that contains selenium sulfide will kill disappear. Your physician can prescribe a stronger compound if needed.

Try an OTC bleaching cream. If you want to get rid of simple sun spots, the first step is over –the counter skin –bleaching creams that contains hydroquinone, says Dr. Wolf, Hydroquinone inteferes with your skin’s productions of melanin, so spots don’t re-form as your skin sloughs off old layers. These product can take several months or even years to show any improvement, however.(be sure to wear a sunscreen on top of the bleaching cream.)

“If you try one of the OTC bleaches,”says Dr. Wolf,” I recommend you give it a chance for a few several months. If you see absolutely no difference after using both a bleach and a sunscreen regularly, then you need to go to something stronger. “ Your dermatologist can prescribe a higher concentration of hydroquinone. This approach works better on light spot than darker areas. You should also be aware that bleaching agents., including hydroquinones, can causes undesirable white, opaque or dark spots on he skin.

Call in the big guns. Another option is the use of tretinoin, a vitamin A derivative often used either alone or in combination with hydroquinone to treat acne. Tretinoin-also known as retinoic acid and Retin-A- significantly lightens age spots by inhibiting the production of melanin. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 20 out of 24 patients using tretinoin experienced significant lightening of age spots after ten month treatment. The spot didn’t return for at least six months after therapy was ended. The people using tretinoin experienced rash and scaliness, however. Some dermatologists have reservations about using this treatment long term, so discuss the pros and cons with your doctors.

Consider the chemical solution. Individual spots can be treated with trichloracetic acid, frequently used in chemical peels. “This might be the treatment of choice for some one who has just two or three little spot that aren’t too dark, “says Dr. Wolf. Another option is freezing the spots with liquid nitrogen. With both of these methods, however, it can be difficult to control the amount of color change that occurs, and the spots can be left too white.

Have then zapped. Lasers can destroy the pigmented cells, and the procedure is usually accomplished in one or two visits, depending on the number of spots treated and the darkness of the pigmentation. To treat one age spots the size of the end of a pencil eraser usually takes a few second, and the color goes away over the next two four weeks.

“The great thing about laser treatment for this problem is that in the hand of an expert, you don’t run the risk of having white spots where the dark spots had been, “says Dr. Lowe.” The only caveat is that as with any surgery, it’s only as good as the practitioner.“ (Check to make sure the physician is trained in lasers and belongs to the American society for laser and belongs to the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.)

ACNE

. Tuesday, September 23, 2008
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In the beginning was the chin. The chin was pretty and without blemish, and the spirit of Woman was gay as she went from party to party. On the second day, a bump arose on her chin, and she worried. But when evening came, she dusted it with powder and went to the opera. On the third day, more bumps arose––on her brow, her cheeks and the very point of her nose. She scrubbed, she rubbed, she wished them away, but still they remained. Downcast and forlorn, she put away her paints, her powders, her ointments and creams. She even declined an invitation to tea. “Let there be darkness,” she cried. “I sure as heck don’t want anyone to see me looking like this!”

Adolescence revisited
You probably assumed maturity brought rewards––like wisdom, prosperity and a clear complexion. But as many adults have discovered, whiteheads, blackheads and pimples can surface at any age.

That’s because the skin is packed with oil-producing glands called sebaceous glands. Most active on the face, chest and back, these glands manufacture the oil that keeps your skin soft and pliable. In adolescence, the new production of hormones stimulates the glands, making an over-supply of oils that back up and clog the pores. Since the oil can’t get out, pressure builds. The walls of the ducts begin to swell, and pimples form. But adults can get acne, too. Emotional stress and the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle have been linked to adult acne. Acne is also believed to be inherited.

But acne isn’t something you have to live with for the rest of your life. Whether you’re young or old, have an occasional pimple or a full-blown case of acne, you may be able to help control the problem with simple skin care.

Saving face
Most cases of acne involve more than one pimple, and doctors recommend more than one means of control.

Keep your nose clean. Gently washing your face once or twice a day is all you need, says Stephanie Pincus, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Dermatology of State University of New York at Buffalo. But don’t overdo it. Overly vigorous scrubbing can compound the problem by irritating the skin. And forget about using abrasive or antibacterial soaps. They’re no better than plain soap and water.

Minimize the makeup. Women who regularly cover up with makeup can develop what doctors call acne cosmetica––cosmetic-clogged glands. To help keep your pores open, stick with water-based products that are easily removed with soap and water.

Listen to your blemishes. Even though there is little scientific evidence that foods such as chocolate, french fries and cheeseburgers cause acne, you should still let you face be your guide, Dr. Pincus suggests. If you are among those who know you break kout every time you eat a hot fudge sundae, try splurging with yogurt instead. For some people, what they eat––or don’t eat––may make a difference.

De-stress your life. When your hormones get riled up, as they typically do during times of stress, your skin gets excited, too.

Hands off. The next time a pimple blossoms on the tip of your nose, you might be tempted to give nature a little squeeze. Unfortunately, even gentle pressure can cause pimples to rupture, possibly causing a permanent scar. Time, not hands, can be the best medicine.

The worst-case blues
If you have persistent, uncontrollable case of acne, your best bet is to see a dermatologist.

For mild cases, an over-the-counter drug called benzoyl peroxide will often do the trick. Benzoyl peroxide may cause your skin to peel and also alters the skin fats and bacteria. Here’s how to use it. After washing, spread a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide over your entire face. Use it once a day at first, then as your face gets used to it, two or three times. Since you may not see improvements for six to eight weeks, try to be patient.

A prescription drug called tretinoin, a derivate of vitamin A, alters the growth of oil glands. Applied once a day, it can dry up current pimples and prevent others from forming. It may cause an uncomfortable burning or drying sensation, but most people soon get used to it, doctors say.

For acne that is inflamed, prescription antibiotics––taken orally or rubbed on the skin––can help, Dr. Pincus says. In most cases, these can be taken for months without causing side effects. Antibiotics such as tetracycline can make your Justify Fullskin more sensitive to sunlight, however, says Dr. Pincus, so you should be careful.

For acne that is out of control, your doctor may prescribe a drug called isotretinoin (Accutane). The most powerful acne remedy––in some cases, it will virtually eliminate the problem––it’s also the most hazardous, sometimes causing itching, headaches, muscle pain and hair loss. When taken by a pregnant woman, it can cause birth defects. This drug isn’t for everyone, but it can make a difference when nothing else seems to help.

Not everyone with acne needs to take medication, of course. But you should still get advice from your doctor. “Not everybody can be permanently cured, everybody can be helped,” Dr. Pincus says.

DRY HAIR

. Monday, September 22, 2008
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Revitalize your parched Tresses

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re one of the those 100,000 or so hairs on the top of your head. First, you spend each night crushed, bent and twisted against the pillow. Morning arrives and before you know it, you’re looking up the nozzle of a tropical rain storm. You’re wet, cold and flattened, when suddenly you’re being blown by a mechanically induced desert wind that feels hot enough o evaporate a small lake. Now you’re dry and limp and out the front door, only to be torched by the summer sun or frozen by winter winds, and throughout the day, every time your owner gets nervous, you’re the first thing that gets yanked, pulled and twirled.

Option to try

Hair can be beautiful asset, but all too often we abuse it-and the result is dry, brittle, unattractive locks, here’s how you can restore youth, vitality and beauty to your hair.

If you need to shampoo daily, go ahead.” Most people who get dry, dull hair think they need to back off from daily washing,” says hair expert Philip Kingsley, author of the The Complete Hair Book. “They’re wrong. You can never heal broken hair or split ends, but daily washing and conditioning with a good product help to moisturize and elasticized hair.”

Pick the right conditioner. Conditioners, which help protect hair from outside assaults and repair damage, vary considerably in content. “if your hair is already damaged, it ‘s especially important to choose a conditioner that will counteract your specify problem,” says John Corbett, Ph.D., vice president for scientific and technical affairs at Clairol in Stamford, Connecticut. For dry hair, you want conditioners with small amount oil: look for the word remoiturezer, re- elasticizer on the label or dimethicone or mineral oil on the list of ingredient. Also, conditioners with low Ph factors are better for dry hair.

Cure flyaway hair. Static electricity keeps hair from lying smoothly and allows it to tangle more readily. A conditioner will solve this problem. “Your hair naturally has a lot of negative ionic charges along the shaft,” says Rebecca Caserio, M.D., clinical assistant professor of the dermatologist at the University of Pittsburgh. “This static. Conditioners add a positive charge, which helps neutralize the static.”

Moisturize through and through. Twice a week, use a deep-moisturizing conditioning treatment (not an oil treatment) before shampooing, says Kingleys. Ask your beautician to recommended a product that’s right for your hair.

Detangle with care. Dry hair usually means brittle hair, so you want to take special care when combing. Use a comb with widely your finger. Avoid brushing too often.

Keep the blast to a minimum. It’s best to let your hair dry naturally. If a wash – and –wear style isn’t right for you, first blot your hair dry with a towel, then keep your dryer on a low setting at least 6 inches from your head. Keep the dryer moving so the airflow isn’t directed at the same spot for more than few seconds. While your hair is drying, gently finger comb to prevent tangles and stress. (Attaching a diffuser to the nozzleof your blow dryer can also help diffuse hot hair more evenly.)

To avoid overdrying sections of you hair, make a part across the back of your head from the neck and work upward toward the crown. When you’ve dried that section, bring another layer of hair down. Continue working toward the front, and dry the top hairs last.

Don’t sizzle your treses. Too-frequent use of curling irons can evaporate the water in the hair shaft that keeps it strong and pliable. This lack of moisture makes hair so brittle, you can damage it by just pulling a comb through it.

IS YOUR HAIR GROWTH NORMAL?

. Sunday, September 21, 2008
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Some facial hair growth in women is normal-particularly in women of Mediterranean descent. Too much, however, could indicate a hormonal imbalance or other health problems, says Jerald Skral, M.D., a dermatologist at the Dallas Associated Dermatologist at Baylor University Medical Center.

Women have certain amount of androgens-“male” hormones that include testosterone and androstenedione. Too much can cause masculine hair patterns that include baldness or hair on the face and body. This can be caused by a malfunction or tumor in the adrenal glands of ovaries. Certain drugs, such as prednisone, minoxidil, or cyclospirin A, can also spur hair growth.

How much hair growth is too much? Because hair patterns vary from woman to woman, there ‘s no pat answers. But to help you make a determination, check off any of the following conditions that apply to you.
  • A change in menstrual cycle, including irregular periods
  • Body and facial hair that becomes thicker and coarser
  • Body hair that begins to appear in unusual areas such as the stomach or chest
  • A previous diagnosis of polycystic ovary disease
  • Unintentional increase in muscle mass, unrelated to resistance training
  • A deepening voice
INTERPRETING YOUR ANSWERS

If you have checked off any of these conditions, make an appointment with your physician or an endocrinologist. Some problems can be treated simply with hormones or with spironolactone, a drug that counteract the side effect of excessive androgen.

FACIAL HAIR

. Saturday, September 20, 2008
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Say farewell to facial fuzz

For most women, it’s well-guarded secret, kept from the most intimate confidants and dealt with behind locked bathroom doors.

No woman want to admit that she is troubled by facial hair, but it’s more common than you probably think: Dark hairs often sprout on the upper lip or chin as women grow older, particularly after menopause. The cause is likely simply heredity or slightly fluctuating hormone levels. Occasionally, excessive hair growth is a sign of some serious underlying disorder involving the ovaries or adrenal glands. If such is the case, other symptoms will send you to your physician.

What Ladies Can Do

That said, it’s comforting to know that women have various option to cope with facial hair.

Bleach it. Bleaching is one of the easiest and most popular approaches. It doesn’t remove hair but makes it lighter and less obvious. It’s more effective on light growths of light-colored hair. The two common hair-bleaching agents are hydroquinones, and hydrogen peroxide, says Jerald Sklar,M.D., a dermatologist at the Dallas Associated Dermatologist at Baylor University Medical Center. Commercial bleaches designed specifically for facial hair are safer than improvising on your own. It’s best to test any preparation on a small area of skin in case you develop a nasty rash. Dab the solution on with a cotton ball, but rinse it away immediately if you feel a burning sensation. Otherwise, apply as directed, and rinse it off after 15 to 30 minutes. Repeat as needed to keep the hair light.

Prune unwanted growth. One of the fastest method to remove unwanted facial hair is clipping it with scissor-or shaving to remove the hair more closely. You can use an electronic or regular razor(but you’ll want a fresh blade to avoid irritating your face- not one you’ve used on your legs). Shaving won’t make the hair darker or thicker, as some people believe, but it will feel stubbly when it growth back. For best result, use a shaving gel and a razor with a pivoting head, says Jhon Romano,M.D., a dermatologist at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.

Wield the tweezers. If you have a few errant hairs on your lip or chin, tweezing will do the job. A possible drawback is that the hair may curl under into the skin as is grows back, causing a pimple. If you’re plagued by this problem, you’ll probably prefer another method of coping with unwanted hair.

Repeated tweezing may eventually destroy the hair follicle, but it may also distort the follicle or cause the hair to grow back thicker. “The tweezing causes blood to rush to the follicle to heal it,” resulting in a stronger hair, says Teresa Petricca, president of the American Electrology Association in Trumbull, Connecticut. The only problem is that these conditions can make electrolysis more difficult if you eventually choose the route.

Wax might work. The waxing part of this easy-melted wax is applied to the skin. The ouch comes when the wax is hardened and pulled off, taking hair with it. One disadvantage: You have to allow your hair to grow long enough for the wax to get a grip on it.

You won’t se new growth again for perhaps several weeks, but waxing like tweezing, may make the hairs grow in thicker. It can also cause skin irritation and rashes, especially on sensitive skin.

Consider a chemical. You can try chemical depilatories specially formulated for the face (those for legs are too harsh). These products remove hair close to the skin and last longer than clipping or shaving. To be safe, it’s best to try a depilatory on a small patch of skin, like your inner forearm, before using it on your face, in case you have a reaction to the product. Anything that dissolves hair is pretty potent stuff, so follow direction carefully. Also be prepared: These product have a strong odor.

Zap it away-permanently. Electrolysis is the only way to permanently get rid of unwanted hair. A needle attached to an electrical source is inserted into the hair follicle, which is then zapped and killed by an electric current. There are two basic technique, galvanic, the use of electricity to convert body salt to lye, which kill the hair root: and thermolysis, which convert electricity to heart and in turn kills the hair root. There are variations on these procedures, and some electrologists combine the two.

Multiple visit are necessary, partly because hair grows in stages. Even if all your existing hair were successfully eliminated on the first visit, “resting” follicles in their dormant phase would later produce hair. Also, if hair is particularly thick or has a distorted follicle that is difficult to accurately aim the needle into, it may require several treatment to kill the root.

You’ll experience some pain, which varies according to the current used, the area being treaded, your own pain threshold and the skill of the electrologist. Costs generally range from $30 to $50 a half hour.

HAIR LOSS

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Baldness, like blue eyes, is for many a result of hereditary potluck. It’s a condition that affects about half of all men by age 50, says David A. Whiting, M.D., medical director of Baylor University Hair Research and Treatment Center and a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The strands we leave behind in our hairbrushes are proof that what’s hair today may be gone tomorrow. The average person loses 50 to 100 hairs a day. But virtually all of that grows back. Since we have approximately 100,000 hairs, losing 100 here and there doesn’t amount to much anyway. But once a man passes his teens, the male hormone testosterone begins to affect his hair follicles. If he is genetically predisposed to baldness (and some men keep their hair forever), he will lose more hair than he replaces. The result is a condition called androgenetic alopecia, or simply male-pattern baldness.

Heading back baldness

For centuries men have sought remedies for lost hair, and always they’ve been disappointed.

As early as 4000 B.C., balding Egyptians were salving their scalps with exotic fruits, oils and animal parts in vain attempts to grow hair. But man’s luck changed in the 1970s when doctors discovered that minoxidil, an oral medication for high blood pressure, also makes hair grow––on the head, arms, legs and face. Scientists lost no time in reformulating minoxidil as a liquid and testing it as a remedy for baldness.

“Minoxidil works by pushing hair back into anagen, whichis the growth phase of hair,” Dr. Whiting says. (The resting phase is called telogen.) “In the course, some hairs will grow longer and thicker and become more pigmented.”

However, while minoxidil works for some men, it won’t work for everyone, Dr. Whiting warns. “I tell my patients that it will produce hair growth you can see in one-third of the cases, it will produce some fuzz in about one-third.” What’s more, he adds, the benefits are temporary: When you stop using minoxidil, your hard-earned hair will disappear in just a few months.

Minoxidil seems to work best for young men who have just started to lose hair. And it works much better on balding pates than on receding hairlines. But if you’re already bald, it’s probably too late. “This stuff is a much better preventive than restorative,” concludes Dr. Whiting.

Plugs instead of rugs

Apart from donning a wig, the fastest way to put hair on the roof is with a hair transplant. Assuming you still have an ample supply of your natural hair around the fringes, a trained surgeon can move it around to help cover your bald spots, says Karen Burke, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologic surgeon and clinical member of Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, California.

Hair transplants have come a long way in recent years. In the past, large tufts of hair were taken from the back of the head and grafted to the bald area, leaving the patient with an artificial “doll’s hair” look. But today, with new microsurgical techniques––using minigrafts as small as a single hair––doctors can give you a much more natural-looking hairline.

Most transplants require two to four office visits of about 3 hours each. It depends on how much transplanting you need. Some doctors will suggest using minoxidil to help the transplants start growing.

Unlike your old, undependable hair, transplanted hair can last forever, Dr. Burke says. “A completed transplant looks fabulous,” she adds. “Unless you’re looking at it from very close, it really can look perfect.”

BALD IS BEAUTIFUL

Some men worry that thinning hair represents lost youth and vitality. But there are a few guys––some 25,000, at least––who firmly believe that less is quite a bit more.“The good Lord created only a few perfect heads, and the rest he covered with hair,” says John T. Capps III, founder of Bald-Headed Men of America (BHMA), an international group that dedicates itself to helping the hairless.BHMA got its start in 1972 when John lost a sales job because, the boss said, he looked too old. “I figured if it happened to me, it possibly happened to a lot of others.” So John began asking his bald friends if they’d like to band together for mutual support.

They said yes, and today BHMA has members in 50 stats and 39 foreign countries.Not surprisingly, the group is headquartered at 102 Bald Drive in Morehead City, North Carolina. Members attend an annual convention where they participate in self-help sessions and regale themselves with bald jokes. On a more serious note, they visit hospitals and pass out “Bald is Beautiful” buttons, T-shirts and balloons to children who have lost their hair during cancer treatments. John acknowledges that these are a lot of men in the world who are embarrassed to the bald. “There’s a billion-dollar industry out there, and it plays on the vanity of those individuals.” But the men in BHMA, he says, “don’t believe in drugs, plugs or rugs.”

Covering up

While drugs and surgery both are effective, there are easier ways to change your looks and improve your (remaining) locks, says Maurice Stein, owner of Cinema Secrets in Burbank, California, and make up artist to the stars for more than 30 years. Some suggestions:

Cut it short. Short hair can make bald spots less obvious. “The shorter you wear it, the fuller the hair will look,” says Stein.

Paint your pate. Have you ever noticed how movie stars, even those you know are older than you are, still have young-looking heads of hair? “It’s scalp makeup,” Stein says, “and it comes in black, dark brown, medium brown, light brown and gray. You just pat it right on the scalp, and it will dry in 15 to 20 seconds.”

Get a wig. Shop around and find yourself a quality wig, preferably made from artificial fibers, because they are more durable, Stein says. “You can take it off at the end of the day, dip it in the sink, rinse it out and hang it up to dry.” While you’re at it, try some different styles, he adds. “Get several of them, and don’t wear the same one every day. Treat it like a sports coat. I mean, all your sports coats aren’t tweeds, so why should you wear the same hair every day?”

Hand off. “The less you fiddle around with your hair, the better,” says Dr. Whiting. “I tell people to stop brushing and combing it all the time––the idea of 100 brush strokes a day is ridiculous,” he says. Such over attention can only result in quicker hair loss.

TREATMENT BREAKTHROUGH

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP Today, even the miracle drug minoxidil often can’t restore hair to anything resembling its former glory. But tomorrow, things could be different.Eager to share the bonanza of profits now being enjoyed by Upjohn, other companies are competing to be next with a baldness breakthrough. Some promising research is under way.One drug, called Tricomin, was tested at the University of Rheims, France. Doctors aren’t sure how it made bald men start to grow hair, but they speculate that Tricomin may cause new blood vessels to form in the scalp and boost the pate’s production of collagen, a natural protein that keeps skin healthy and supple.

Some researches say the future of baldness treatment lies in deactivating or blocking male hormones in the scalp that cause follicles (from which hairs sprout) to shut down. Theoretically, any drug that blocks these hormones could control hair loss, and a number have been tried. The trick is to isolate their effects on the scalp without unsafely throwing off the hormonal balance elsewhere in the body.Researchers at the University of Miami have made some exciting breakthroughs. According to Marty Sawaya, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology and leader of the research, we may see successful hormone treatments for hair loss by the year 2002.And last, a number of Canadian tests are looking at electrical stimulation as a way to prevent or treat hair loss.

The treatment consists of sitting under a helmet-like hood that painlessly bathes the head with a mild current. “The method sounds quackish, but the research being done is legitimate,” says Harry Roth, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.Whether you’re thinking of investing in pharmaceutical stocks or a new hairbrush, you might want to exercise caution, says David A. Whiting, M.D, of Baylor University. Although a new miracle baldness treatment may be on the horizon, it called be some years before anything significantly better than minoxidil comes along, he says.

ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP?

. Friday, September 19, 2008
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Everyone suffers an occasional restless night. So how can you tell if lack of sleep is not merely an annoyance but a real problem? To help find out, answers the following questions yes or no.
  • Is disturbed sleep affecting your mood or job performance?
  • Do you fall asleep easily at inappropriate moments during the day or while sitting at your desk, the dinner table or a movie?
  • Do you suffer from daytime sleepiness, lack of energy, tiredness and fatigue?
  • Do you routinely find it difficult to fall asleep at night?
  • Do you snore, or are you restless during sleep?
Interpreting your answers
If the answers is yes to any of these question, you’ll want to try the tips described in this chapter. But if your wakefulness is caused by arthritis pain, shortness of breath, heartburn, leg cramps, angina or other physical symptoms, see you doctor abut these condition. Also, if your bed partner tells you that you are snoring deeply and having irregular breathing patterns during the night, you may have sleep apnea, which can cause daytime drowsiness, decreased deep sleep and even serious cardiac problems. See you doctor.

SINUSITIS

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Have you ever told a forgetful friend that he has holes in his head? You were only teasing, of course, but you weren’t entirely wrong. The truth is, we all have holes in our head. They’re called sinuses, and they’re simply empty spaces––one above each eye, one below and two on each side of the nose. The sinuses are lined with membranes that produce mucus.

Mucus is the stuff that prevents your breathing apparatus from getting dry and irritated and that helps to filter dust from the air you breathe. When all is well, mucus flows in and out of your sinuses freely.

When you have a head cold, however, or when your nose is all stopped up with allergies, problems may arise. “These conditions can cause an obstruction, blocking off the openings to the sinuses,” explains Raymond G. Slavin, M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at St. Louis University School of Medicine. Bacteria that normally are harmless may then set up camp in the stagnant mucus. The resulting infection can cause fever, headaches, facial pain and foul-tasting mucus that slides down the back of your throat. Instead of getting better after three or four days, as you would with a simple cold, you feel worse. That’s sinusitis.

“It’s an incredibly common disease, affecting close to 32 million Americans a year,” Dr. Slavin says. Fortunately, it’s rarely serious. Better yet, it can often be prevented. Here’s how.

Save your sinuses
To prevent sinusitis, you must keep your sinuses open, Dr Slavin says. To do that, you need to battle congestion. So the next time a cold or allergies have you stuffed up, go on the offensive.

Get steamed. “Steam inhalations are very, very helpful,” Dr. Slavin says. Moist heat helps by making the mucus more watery, which helps it drain from the sinuses. One way to work up a good head of steam is to settle in for a long, hot shower or bath. Competition for the bathroom, however, can make this remedy difficult to implement. As an alternative, you might apply a warm washcloth to the nasal area, Dr. Slavin says.

Drink to your condition. Drinking lots of fluids––at least one glass every few hours––helps your body to thin the mucus, says Dr. Slavin. The thinner the mucus, the less likely it is to block up your sinuses. Hot fluids such as chicken soup are even better. The hot, soothing steam helps make the mucus extra watery, which helps it to drain.

If you smoke, stop. Cigarettes dry the delicate mucous membranes insides the nasal passages. This is one reason smokers get more colds and flus than nonsmokers. This, in turn, makes smokers more prone to sinusitis. It’s a good idea to stay away from other people’s cigarettes, too.

Condition the air. Air conditioners, during allergy season, may help prevent sinusitis by keeping irritating pollen outside. Humidifiers and vaporizers, by adding moisture to the air––and moisture to your nose––can also help by keeping the mucus draining. Both air-conditioning filters and humidifiers must be cleaned scrupulously to avoid the accumulation of mold, Dr. Slavin says.

Visit your pharmacy. “We encourage people who are all clogged up to use a decongestant for a couple of days, “says Dr. Slavin. By shrinking swollen nasal tissues and helping sinuses drain, over-the-counter decongestants––sprays or pills––may help keep your plugged-up sinuses clear of infection.

However, Dr. Slavin adds, you shouldn’t use decongestant nasal sprays for more than a few days without consulting your doctor. With long-term use, they can irritate the delicate linings in the nose. And when you stop using them, they can cause “rebound” congestion that can be worse than the original problem.

Sniff some saline spray. These over-the-counter nasal sprays, used several times a day, can help clear mucus from your nasal passages, making it easier for your sinuses to drain. At the same time, the salty solution can decrease blood flow to the nose, which helps prevent further congestion. Unlike the decongestant sprays, saline sprays may be used as long as you like.

Don’t be a blowhard. Too-powerful nose blowing can actually force bacteria-laden mucus backward from the nasal passages into the sinuses. When you blow, blow gently, Dr. Slavin advises.

Feast on fire. If you’ve ever dipped a corn chip into a wicked hot sauce, you know that spicy foods can really open your nasal faucets. This is because many spicy foods contain chemicals––capsaicin, for example––that stimulate nerves in the mouth and throat. This in turn triggers a runny nose. So the next time your nose is blocked up, unplug it with your favorite culinary combustibles.

Keep the dental appointment. Bacteria will occasionally migrate from nearby teeth into the sinuses, causing infection there. By keeping your teeth in tip-top shape, you can help prevent dental abscesses and the risk of sinusitis.

Keep yourself grounded. Activities such as flying, skydiving and scuba diving cause pressure changes inside your head. Not only can these changes make the mucus slow to drain, they also can make your sinuses feel stuffy. Play it safe and stay on terra firma until your head clears.

Watch (and wash) your hands. Since sinusitis typically follows colds and allergies, you can beat it simply by staying healthy. Since cold-causing viruses often are spread by human hands, keeping your hands clean and away from your nose and mouth can help keep your sinuses clear.

Beating infection
In many cases, sinusitis disappears on its own, especially if you take good care of yourself. (All of the above tips for sinusitis prevention will also help to threat it). But sometimes, despite even the best care, sinusitis can linger––for weeks, months, even years. If, after a few weeks, your head still feels like it’s stuffed with wet paper towels, then it’s time to see your doctor, Dr. Slavin says. And don’t worry: Sinusitis is easily treated, most often with antibiotics such as ampicillin and amoxicillin. You should be feeling better in just a few days.

But don’t let your sudden good health fool you into thinking you’re cured, Dr. Slavin adds. You’re not out of the woods yet. After all, there may still be bacteria kicking around in your sinuses. If you stop taking the pills before you’re supposed to, you’ll be giving these resistant bacteria the opportunity to rally and fight back. If they succeed, you’ll get sick all over again. No matter how good you feel, you must take the entire prescription, Dr. Slavin says.

While you’re taking antibiotics, your doctor may want you to take decongestant pills or sprays at the same time. “We also sometimes prescribe a cortisone nasal spray, which can help reduce inflammation,” Dr. Slavin says.

A combination of drugs will usually clear up the worst symptoms. In rare cases, however, your doctor may recommend minor surgery to drain accumulated mucus from the sinuses and to remove infected tissue. Your doctor can do this surgery a number of ways. In most cases, it can be performed through the nostrils with an instrument called a nasal endoscope. It’s generally an office procedure done under local anesthesia.

SLEEP

. Thursday, September 18, 2008
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How to Rest Easy When You Hit The Sack

Fewer things restore us more than a good night’s sleep. And fewer thing are more frustrating than spending a sleepless night tossing and turning-especially when you have a big day ahead of you.

More than 100 million Americans suffer insomnia, spending months or ever years troubled by lack of sleep. And insomnia may cause more than daytime sleepiness or fatigue. Eight out of ten people who switch back and fort between day and night shift have problem, report the England Journal of Medicine, and they have more heart disease and digestive disorders than people with normal sleep patterns.

Secret of Sound Sleep

Fortunately, researchers have learned much about sleep and how to help people get enough Zs to restore them mentally and physically. After you physician has ruled out any medical cause for your insomnia, give these a try.

Relax! Sleeping poorly occasionally doesn’t interfere too much with your performance the next day, say Peter Hairy, Ph.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Insomnia Program in Rochester, Minnesota. Also, sleep need vary considerably among people. While the average adult gets about seven hours per night, many people do fine on a few as four to six hours.

Stick to a schedule. Even if you’ve slept poorly the previous night, get up at about the same time you normally do, suggest James K Walsh, Ph.D., and Mark W. Mayoral, M.D., in article in Postgraduate Medicine. And this means weekends, too! Rising at the same time every day helps maintain a consistent circadian rhythm-the 24 hour internal body clock that keeps us naturally awake during the day and asleep at night. Over time, you’ll become sleepy about the same hour each day.

Limit naps to one hour. Naps less than an hour may help revitalize you, especially after restless night. But longer ones will keep you from feeling sleepy at bedtime. Also, sleep only in your bed-this include naps.

Work out so you can rest easy. Being inactive can contribute to insomnia. Regular exercise in the late afternoon makes your body temperature rise and then fall as you cool down, and that decrease helps you sleep, say sleep experts. The exercise should be more vigorous than leisurely walking-fast walking; bicycling, jogging and swimming are good-and should be done three to four times a week for at least 20 minutes. Avoid working out within three hours of bedtime, or you could be too revved-up to sleep.

Watch what you drink-and when. Alcohol also reduces your amount of deep sleep, so don’t drink it within two hours of bedtime, advise Herbert Benson, M.D.. and Eileen Stuart, R.N., in the Wellness book. And cut out the caffeine is still in your system. (Many food, beverages, and medications contain caffeine, so you’ll have to check labels carefully.) common culprits are coffee product, tea, colas and chocolate or cocoa, also, if you routinely have to get up at night to urinate stop drinking and liquids after 6:00 p.m.

Ditch the sleep aids. If you really on sleeping pills for more than an occasional bout insomnia, ask your doctor’s advice about how to cut back safely. These drugs decrease the amount of deep, “quality” sleep. So while you may get to sleep sooner, your sleep is poorer. Also, sleeping pills tend to lose their effectiveness after a few a weeks of continued use, and they can have a hangover effect the following morning.

Make the bedroom peaceful. If you’re a light sleeper, you may need to create a kind of “sensory deprivation zone” out of room? Is t to warm? Do your cats wake you up with the slightest stirring? Although some people find the hum of a fan, air conditioner or commercially available sound conditioner soothing, other need total silence. And most people sleep best if the room is somewhat cool.

Be sure to use your bedroom only for pleasurable activities-not for anything stressful. Move the computer, desk and other work related furnishing to the den. You want to associate your bed with relaxation and sleep, no deadlines and household bills.

Finish the day off. Plan tomorrow’s activities and review the events of the day at least two hours before bedtime. And forget the litany of murder and tragedy on the late news. This is your wind –down period before sleep.
If you’re not sleepy, don’t go to bed. The more time you spend in bed, say Dr. Hairy, the more difficult it can be to fall asleep. Spend no more than six or seven hours in bed. (For usual.) This will help create a sleep debt, and you’ll more likely be ready for sleep when you finally fall into the sack.

Relax first. When you get into bed, don’t even think about sleeping. Instead, relax for 15 to 20 minute by reading or listening to music or using relaxation techniques, meditation or prayer. Then turn out the lights to o sleep. If you ‘re still awake 20 minute later, leave the room, and don’t come back until you drowsy again.

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