Is it a cold, or are they allergies?

Who knows, right? Symptoms are so similar and both of them are very common at this time of the year. A runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, headache, sensitive and watery eyes…how can we know if we need an antihistamine or a medicine against the cold symptoms?

Well, it could be tricky, but is not impossible, and it’s important to know the difference in order to get the appropriate treatment.

Now, allergies, cold, and flu, all affect the respiratory system, but each one of them has specific symptoms that differentiate from the others.

Let’s start by saying that when you are suffering from allergies your body’s immune system is fighting against an allergen, which means that you will experience the symptoms for as long as you are in contact with the trigger, or the element that you are allergic to. If you are allergic to a specific flower, or to pollen, for example, your allergies are going to be present while those allergens are around you. We can be talking about an entire season of many weeks or even months.

When we talk about a cold or even the flu, two weeks should be the regular time that takes to fight against the virus, because instead of trees, dust or animals, the cold is generated by a virus.

Besides a runny nose, the watery eyes and the other symptoms that are easily confused with those of the allergies, when you have the flu or a cold, you will probably present fever, fatigue, and body ache.

Even though there are some over the counter medicines that offer relief for the cold symptoms, there is no a real “cure” for a cold, and most people could recover on their own without the need to visit a doctor.

There are also non-prescription medicines to help with the allergies, but in most cases, it’s important to consult a specialist in order to know what are you allergic to and maybe to explore a long-term treatment.

The main message here is to be careful and to listen to your body. Don’t use medicines if you are not sure about the origin of your symptoms and always, always, consult a doctor if those symptoms persist more than normal.

 

 

 

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Let’s dance!

You may love to dance, maybe you enjoy just the fact of enjoying your favorite music while moving around following the rhythm. If that’s you, this is going to make your day!

Experts say that dancing is actually good not only for your spirit but also for your health! Yes, and the benefits extend from there.

So, every time that you dance you are activating a series of benefits that cover your brain, your body, and even your mood.

Many studies have found that your balance improves through the act of dance, and it includes elderly people. The reaction time, motor performance, coordination and walking speed are also part of the gains that the dance offers to any person who practices it.

If your favorite tune is jazz, folk, tango or ballroom, specialists say you are getting more than a fun time from every dance session. However, they say, any kind of music you enjoy on the floor will have a benefit over your health.

Now, another very interesting thing about this is that you don’t need a partner, a designated time, or a special location to enjoy a good dance or to get the benefits from it. You can dance at home, you can dance in the morning, at night, on a weekday, or during the weekend, all you need is that music you love and yourself. If you are part of a social dancing activity it’s even better! Let’s say that you are at a wedding or simply enjoying a night out with friends, in that case, your cardiovascular workout will last longer.

If you take classes, your workout will keep improving while your joints and muscles are getting in good shape. And don’t forget the weight loss benefits! By now, dancing routines like Zumba, aerobics and much more are famous around the world for their impressive results for those looking to stay fit and for those trying to lose weight.

According to a review published in 2009 in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, dancing could help people with Parkinson’s disease, a condition that is characterized by slow movements, impaired balance, and rigid muscles.

Think about this, if listening to your favorite music is always helpful to turn a bad day into a nice time, imagine what happens when you not only are listening but dancing that music! The results in your mood are amazing! Actually, some doctors call dancing a great tool for you to have a “mental break”, saying that it’s the perfect opportunity for your brain to escape from routine and stress when need it. So, let’s dance!

What happened in Vegas… affected all of us

It happened miles away from Florida, more than 2,400 to be accurate. However, the impact of the attack that claimed the lives of 58 people and wounded almost 500 in Las Vegas touched each and every one of the lives of this country’s residents, in one way or another.

According to mental health specialists, that’s not strange. We live as a community and the fact of knowing that so many people died in a matter of minutes, people like you or me, housewives, nurses, teachers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, wives, and husbands, could shake anyone and sow fears.

Every time we hear tragic stories like that attack in Las Vegas, and who were the victims, it’s inevitable to find similarities with our life or our own loved ones. It’s impossible not to identify ourselves with one or more of the involved people. That could be the cause of stress, anxiety and even depression, it doesn’t matter how close or far away are you from the epicenter.

This week it happened in Las Vegas, last year, in June, it was Orlando, in 2015 San Bernardino was the scenario, and like those, every violent episode brings questions, fears, and doubts that could affect our mental health, our emotional stability, and our peace.

Experts say that those scars will be there forever. It’s impossible to delete from our memory and our heart the pain that dozens of families have experienced, the anxiety that entire cities have to face after such a tragedy. But rather than fearing what could come next, specialists say, it’s important to prepare for future events.

If you feel that this situation is overwhelming for you, it’s important to take some action:

  • Avoid news exposure at least until you feel that you can handle it.
  • Talk to other people. Express your fears and ask others how are they coping with their own.
  • Consult your physician if you feel like the anxiety and the fear are taking over.
  • Your family and close friends are your best support. It’s healthy to open the conversation with them to listen how are they feeling about this.
  • It helps to discuss the specific situation that causes more anxiety.
  • Look for relaxation methods that you can apply easily and constantly.

Distance doesn’t define who we are and how we feel. The important thing is to be able to face the situations that cause us pain or anguish in the best possible way, and always thinking and knowing that there are ways to get ahead.

 

Becoming a vegetarian? Organization and information could be the secret

We all have thought about that, either by curiosity, by interest, or by a legitimate decision to make changes. How is it to be a vegetarian? Reality is that every day thousands of people around the globe make the decision to start more than a new diet regime, a new lifestyle, as vegetarians.

The reason? Well, there are several. First, we can find those who refuse to consume animal protein in an attempt to preserve those lives and to set a precedent against what they can see as animal cruelty. Others have done their research to realize that they can get their protein intake just from plants and grains, and decide to go that way to avoid the cholesterol, antibiotics and other things that you could have while consuming animal protein. Finally, there is a whole group of people that follow the idea that all the animal proteins are not only bad but also a trigger for a good number of health conditions that kill thousands of people every year. We are talking about cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, just to mention a few ones.

Is all that true? It depends on who you talk to. It is true that well-known experts from around the world have studies and research that show a certain connection between the consumption of animal proteins and the risk of developing diseases like breast cancer and diabetes. It is true that there are documented cases of patients which have greatly improved their health by changing to a vegetarian lifestyle. It is true that most of the meat and chicken that we find at any supermarket in the country is plagued with antibiotics and other substances. It is true that animal cruelty has been a common practice in several farms where chickens, pork, and cows are hosted for production of meat, eggs, and milk. We all have seen the images, articles, and investigations around those topics. But the only truth that you should consider is your own one.

Every person is a unique universe. Only you can determine what is good or not for you. Only you can make the decision to try different things or to stay with what you already know. What’s important here, is to research, to read about the topic, to talk to different kind of people, to evaluate the pros and cons, to consult your doctor and to finally make a decision having in mind that you are who best know yourself.

In case you decide to become a vegetarian, start by reading about the benefits and the possible effects in your body. The internet is full of websites and pages where recipes, tips, and even coupons are available for those who have decided to start leaving behind the animal proteins.

Organize your menus, make a budget, look for easy recipes and plan ahead your meals, and take baby steps. Once you know what you are going to eat every day, it’s easy to continue. The struggle is to look for new dishes, but again, your cyber friends could be the key.

We always say that changes are good. If this is your case, enjoy it! You will discover a whole new world ahead of you. Just remember that balance is a good word to define whatever you do in life.

 

What we learned from Irma

There is a saying that from every tragedy we learn, that from the dark moments, always a light is born. Did we learn the lessons from Irma?

The destructive and monstrous hurricane announced its presence, took its time, and came to us, and even though we knew it was coming, many people decided to ignore the warnings of the authorities.

Yes, we have seen dozens of hurricanes, we have heard the warnings and at the end of the day, things are not as bad as they were pictured, right? But how is it possible to know how strong it will beat us? Reality is that we don’t know. Mother nature is always unpredictable.

We know now that the communications and electrical infrastructures around us are vulnerable, and some would say even weak. If you think that has nothing to do with you, it actually has!

When we know that after a storm we could lose basic services like water and electricity, we have to be ready and prepared to face that situation. Some thought that as usually happens, the regular canned food and extra couple of bottles of water would be enough. But they were not.

The long lines in front of almost empty supermarkets are proof of it. The fear of thousands of families for not being able to get their medicines or basic foods for their kids are proof of it.

Irma showed us that enough is not what we think. Irma showed us that optimism should not be confused with neglect. Irma showed us that what at first sight seems to be “just rain”, is not. That rain paralyzed thousands of families, thousands of businesses, thousands of people who had to stay at home, without working and not being able to earn a dime for days. They probably didn’t lose their roofs or their walls, but they lose the services that make those roofs and walls habitable.

Irma showed us that a couple of hours are enough to change the lives of whole cities for months. Irma showed us that we have to be humble before mother nature.

Memory is fragile, but it’s important that we keep these lessons alive and in mind.

 

Loss and Grief

Let’s start by saying that loss is part of life. It’s inevitable and it could be if not the most, one of the most challenging and difficult times in anybody’s life. Now, grief is part of the healing process after we suffer a loss. It’s the natural emotion or reaction that a person has after dealing with a significant loss. We are talking about the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, or the reality of having to let go a very important person or a chapter of your life.

So, we can grief the death of someone, a terrible health diagnosis, or the physical and emotional separation from someone or something we dearly love. In short, we are talking about major losses.

Even though we all experiment a different kind of losses throughout our lives, we all react and live loss in a very personal and unique way, and that makes the grief process an original one too. In consequence, we all grieve differently.

According to experts, it’s important to understand, not only for those who are grieving, but also for their friends and family, that this is a process, and as such, it has stages with distinct characteristics.

It helps to start by understanding why you are suffering, while at the same time you realize that it’s healthy and safe to grieve without trying to control the process, meaning that there is not a time frame that you can consider enough or appropriate to heal after a loss, and that there are specific symptoms that you will experience as part of the grief cycle.

It’s also relevant to mention that the entire grieving process changes depending on the kind of loss you are suffering. Times, stages, reactions and symptoms will vary if you experienced a sudden or an expected loss. Both are very difficult to assume, but the process might be different.

Here are some symptoms you might experience after a loss:

  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Social Isolation
  • Sleep disturbance

 

Let your emotions flow, talk to other people, and avoid alcohol or other substances. Consulting a professional could be helpful during your healing process. Don’t be afraid, and look for help if you need it.

Seniors and Exercise

By Dr. Juan Paolo Borja, DO Board Certified in Family Medicine
I am often asked if exercise is good for the elderly. While this question seems
like common sense, over eighty percent of Americans fail to do the recommended amount of activity on a daily basis.
Regular exercise can help prevent chronic diseases, improve emotional moods and lower risk of injury or falls, which can be catastrophic for an individual. Also regular exercise provides a multitude of health benefits, including improvements in blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoarthritis, among others.
Exercise is even more important for frail elderly as they are the most prone to falling and broken bones. Even for people whose physical abilities are limited by medical conditions – they can still be given guidance by their physicians to learn exercises that
can improve their mobility and strength.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, almost all older people can
benefit from physical activity and a regular exercise program. A consistent exercise program can greatly decrease mortality and age related diseases in older adults. In a study by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, it was noted that elderly who exercise regularly were found to have improvements in functional reach and balance and reduced the seniors fear of falling.
The benefits of exercise are not just limited to improving physical limitations but are important in psychological health. Exercise improves circulation. It has been
associated with improved moods due to serotonin release in the brain. It improves neuroplasticity of the brain, which is important in maintaining memory and adaptability to new situations.
The ideal exercise program for seniors should include resistance training along with cardiovascular training. Resistance training, or weight training, helps with maintaining muscle mass and putting off the effects of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the natural decline in muscle tone that occurs with normal aging.
Muscle tone is important for maintaining good balance and strength to maintain independence. The recommended amount of exercise is thirty minutes of cardio endurance exercise each day for older patients. To start, I always suggest patients begin with a good walking program to acclimate their bodies prior to any increase in intensity.
With regular exercise, your ability to ward off infection and disease also improves. A strong body fights off infection and sickness more easily. Exercise has been proven to lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and protects against loss
of bone mass. Better bone density reduces the risk of osteoporosis and lowers the risk
of falling and breaking bones. Before beginning any new exercise program be sure to check with your physician.