Back Pain, as common as uncomfortable

While 80% of all Americans will experience low back pain at least once in their lives, back pain in general it’s also considered one of the main reasons for work absences and doctor visits.

But, why is it so common? Well, we are made of muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, and discs. If we have problems with any of these components, the back pain may appear.  It is important to know that sometimes it’s just impossible to determine the cause of that pain, but what matters in this cases is to find treatment and professional advice.

According to experts, back pain could affect adults between 35 and 55 years old, and as we said before, it could be reflective of any issues with our structures. However, there are different conditions that might be connected with that discomfort. Osteoarthritis of the spine, osteoporosis, herniated or ruptured discs, and pinched nerves are some of those conditions that should be diagnosed and treated by specialists.

Other possible causes of the terrible back pain that not only affects millions of Americans, but also constitutes the leading cause of disability in people younger than 45, are strains, muscle spasms, sciatica, poor posture, and stress…yes, stress can lead to muscle tension in your back, and although it seems incredible, anxiety and depression can make worse the pain, so if you already have that horrible pain, take it easy, rest, and breathe.

Then, what’s the first thing we should do when we first experience that back pain? Think about possible causes to determine if it could be an injury, a posture issue, or something else. Having an idea could help you to make a decision about the next step.

If besides that discomfort you also present other symptoms like numbness, swelling, pain down the legs, fever, weight loss or urinary incontinence, it’s time to visit your doctor.  Also, have in mind that if you have or had cancer, if you have immune systems problems, or are less than 20 and more than 55 years, you too should go to your doctor as soon as the first back pain symptoms appear.

If the pain is persistent for more than 4 weeks, or it doesn’t improve after a couple of days of rest, ice and common pain relievers, it’s better to get a doctor’s opinion. Don’t underestimate the pain and its relative normality. Nobody has to get used to living in pain.

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They take you everywhere! Your feet also deserve to be cared for

They are not very popular, and if it were not because they can wear wonderful shoes, very few people would really notice them. The feet are perhaps one of the least appreciated parts of our body, and ironically, they are in charge of one of the most important tasks of all, that of taking us everywhere.

So, besides the regular and usual hygiene routine, what should we do to ensure that our feet are always ready for us?

To start with, we have to be conscious about the big job they do. Our feet take hundreds of tons of force of impact every single day, while we walk. It means that they are in constant risk of injuries. Actually, the feet are most likely to get injured than any other part of the body, so it’s up to you how you protect them.

Let’s talk about the shoes. While men try to wear whatever is comfortable, women are a little more special about their shoe selection. Is not about comfort, but about style, and style could be painful! Think about those beautiful red shoes, with 6 inches high heels and reduced triangular tip.

“That platform helps”, you say, but, does it? After a work day, with meetings, a business lunch and maybe a happy hour, your feet end up more than exhausted. You know it, you actually feel it…they are sore!

Avoid flip-flops because they don’t provide arch support, and tight shoes should be definitely out of your rack.

Experts say that every person should alternate the shoes every day, not only to give them some air, but also to avoid the risk of infections, or foot odor.

Talking about some air, if you have a “smelly” problem, don’t hide it, it’s better to fight it! Washing your feet regularly with water and soap should do it. If it’s not enough, try mixing some water with vinegar and soak them in there. Remember that you have to clean the area between the toes, and always let them dry perfectly, before wearing socks or shoes.

As any other part of your skin, your feet will need moisturizer. Choose a gentle body lotion or cream and use it daily. Last but not least, be cautious about salon pedicures. If you are a diabetic patient, talk to your doctor before having a pedicure, and if you want to try a new salon, make sure that they clean properly not only the instruments but the tubs. Fungus and bacteria are very common in those places and they could be your feet worse enemies.

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.

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!