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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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.

 

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.

Menopause…how to face that monster?

Did you know that there is a North American Menopause Society? Well, yes! It means that menopause is a very important issue that needs to be analyzed, studied, discussed and understood in all its capacity.

Let’s start by saying that for decades, menopause has been treated like a monster that comes at a certain point of a woman’s life to destroy everything in its path, starting with the self-esteem and continuing with the comfort, and many other things that women once considered essential to living with. However, science and modernity have contributed to making that natural transition smoother and less traumatic one for today’s women.

Now, it’s important to understand that even though menopause it’s a natural event, it’s actually a complex process and it needs to be accompanied by specialists. In order to be ready, to understand, and to know how to act once this process has started, it’s imperative to be informed.

The first thing every woman should know is that menopause, which by definition is the permanent and natural ending of menstruation, usually starts between the ages of 45 and 55, but there are women who experience it at 30 or 40 or it could even start at 60, so there is not a day already marked on your calendar. However, there are symptoms that you can read and that will let you know that you are already on the menopause path.

If you are experiencing irregular periods, mood changes, hot flashes, sleep issues and vaginal dryness, chances are that you are in the phase known as perimenopause, and that’s basically your body letting you know that the menopause process has started, but it will be confirmed only when you have stopped having your period for 12 consecutive months. Once you detect those first signs, consult your physician.

There is no reason to be miserable, to skip your social life, or to feel bad about what’s happening in your body. If you are conscious about the expectations, and you walk this road alongside your doctor, then, relax. Remember that you are not alone, that as in every process, human beings always adapt, and above all, remember that there are several things that your physician could do for you to relieve the symptoms. Facing this phase of your life with optimism will be of great help. Enjoy the journey with the new you!

Be ready! Adult acne is increasing and it could be part of your life

Adult acne is increasing and it’s more common than many may think. The bad news for women is that as a matter of fact, females are more likely to have it than men.

But, why? Why is it that after having passed adolescence, adults might worry again or for the first time in their lives about pimples?

The answer is not simple. According to many experts, there are several possible causes, but here are the most common:

  1. Hormonal changes
  2. Stress
  3. Diet
  4. Cleansing routine
  5. Health issues

 

Dermatologists say that the first step is to determine the cause of your breakouts, so, we could start going over the list.

Hormonal changes are difficult to detect by the patient, but women could pay special attention to their menstrual cycle. If the acne appears around that time of the month, that’s a good clue to follow.

A good way to fight stress is exercising, and it also helps you to promote a better health in general.

In terms of your diet, experts recommend a low-fat consumption routine, with a lot of water and fresh veggies and fruits.

Now, this might sound crazy, but if you are cleansing your skin too much, that could be the cause of the acne breakout. Dermatologists say that a gentle face wash, once a day is good and enough to protect your skin.

If you follow a healthy diet, if you are taking good care of your skin and your environment and still the acne is persistent, it could be time to visit your doctor. There are different health issues that only a physician could diagnose in order to let you know if they are related to your acne.

As always, don’t give up and take it easy. The most important thing is to take action.

How to avoid to get sick on a plane?

That’s probably one of the most important questions we should ask ourselves before we catch a flight. Unfortunately, it could be the last thing we take into consideration while getting ready for a trip, but the reality is that getting sick on a plane is not a myth, it happens, but you can follow some tips to at least try to avoid it.

Is not about being paranoid or compulsive about the issue, is more about being conscious of the fact that you will be basically trapped for a certain amount of time in the same space, breathing the same air, with someone who might be sick. Actually, if we think how the processes are, you will be occupying a seat in the plane that less than an hour ago was occupied by another person. Was that person sick? What if they left a virus in the space that now and for your entire trip will be yours?

We all know that the time taken by airlines between one flight and the next one in the same plane is minimal. They clean the restrooms, pick up the trash from the floor and that’s basically it.

So, we are facing a situation in which we depend on ourselves, and nobody else. Now, here are some tips that experts, including doctors, recommend us to follow in order to avoid getting out of that plane with an unwanted guest:

  • Bring a portable pack of disinfectant wipes with you. Clean the seat and every part of it that you will be in touch with, but pay especial attention to the tray, which is proven to be one of the dirtiest parts of a plane. Even if you cleaned it up, never eat directly from it.
  • Use the air vent above you. It creates a current to keep germs away from you, and the air filters actually help to capture viruses and bacteria that, otherwise, could land on you.
  • Don’t consume tap water from the plane and don’t use it to brush your teeth either.
  • While using the restroom, always try to avoid direct contact with the door, the lid of the toilet or any other surface.
  • Use sanitizer after using the restroom.
  • On an international flight, ask for hot meals. The heat helps to kill germs.
  • Try not to use pillows or blankets from the plane. Only the first flights of the day have fresh and clean sets.

 

If we think about all we can avoid by taking simple steps like these, it’s not crazy, right? Nobody wants to start a trip, even if is a business one, feeling sick. Before your next plane trip, think about this and enjoy a safe and healthy flight!

Don’t lose your head over hair loss

 

Yes, is not an easy thing to handle, and its effects go beyond the appearance. Hair loss is a problem that doesn’t discriminate between men and women, and it emotionally affects both equally.

We all have seen thousands of products and procedures that ensure the return of the lost hair, but the reality is that the problem goes deeper and there is no a magic formula or lotion that could prevent or restore the hair loss overnight. That’s why is very important for you to be informed and to analyze your own situation so you can collect the information you need to fight the problem.

The first step once you detect hair loss is to evaluate and know how big or serious is the problem. It’s important to understand that we all lose hair every day. Losing up to 100 hairs is normal. Now, what you need to determine is if you are experiencing a significant hair loss, or if it’s something that is just starting, or maybe we are talking about thinning hair. Everything is important when you are evaluating the situation.

Now, when we talk about causes, there are several of them, and they can go from stress to age, through chemical processes, hormonal deficiencies or family history.

Your doctor can diagnose your hair loss with some of the information you collect. The physician will need to know when it started, how much hair are you losing, and what’s your parent’s history with hair loss. Some of your hairs might be collected at your doctor office for tests, and even a blood sample could be necessary.

Once you have a clear diagnosis and the cause of your problem, the options to treat your hair loss will be presented to you. At the end of the day, it will be your call on what to do or not to treat the issue, but the most important thing is to know and understand that hair loss doesn’t have to be a taboo in your life. To the extent that you recognize and decide to put the problem in professional’s hands, you will have better options to see improvements. Don’t lose your head over hair loss, you are not alone!