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Eating Disorders on Body Image

The Impact of Eating Disorders on Body Image

Eating disorders are mental illnesses defined by abnormal dietary habits, such as eating excessively small or large amounts of food, that have the potential to cause major physical and mental problems. Most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. A distorted and unhealthy body image often accompanies these conditions. For instance, those who suffer from anorexia nervosa entertain an irrational fear of obesity to the point of becoming underweight. Bulimia sufferers compensate episodes of binge eating with purging or excessive exercise because of the same fear of gaining weight. Eating disorders are often characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with body image – a characteristic they share with another mental illness, namely body dysmorphic disorder.

What is BDD?

Body dysmorphic disorder, commonly known as BDD, is a mental illness characterized by fixation on one or more self-perceived body flaws, leading to serious mental distress and inability to properly function socially. Sometimes the defect in the individual’s appearance is real but utterly exaggerated; other times, it is imagined. Patients may be preoccupied with a facial flaw, such as a long nose, asymmetric features, acne, scars or wrinkles, a perceived defect in any other part of the body, or with their overall body appearance and size. They obsessively try to hide the real or imaginary defect and, while they understand others do not perceive them as “ugly”, their “ugliness” is painfully real in their eyes.

Common Comorbidities

Social phobia, anxiety and a diminished quality of life are common comorbidities. Sufferers of BDD may become depressed, socially isolated, avoid intimate relationships for fear of being humiliated or even attempt suicide.

Their preoccupation with appearance leads to obsessive rituals, such as constantly checking their image in the mirror, perpetual grooming, attempts to camouflage the flaw with makeup or clothes, permanently seeking reassurance from others, excessive exercising, etc. Such repetitive habits make this aspect of BDD strikingly similar to OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). In fact, these two often coexist.

Social phobia, anxiety and a diminished quality of life are common comorbidities. Sufferers of BDD may become depressed, socially isolated, avoid intimate relationships for fear of being humiliated or even attempt suicide. Suicidal ideation (unusual preoccupation with suicide) is a very common occurrence among those with BDD.

The Relationship Between Eating Disorders and BDD

A negative body image is a key factor in both eating disorders and BDD; however, the similarities do not end here. Jon E. Grant and Katharine A. Phillips from the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown Medical School noticed that, for instance, anorexic people can develop excessive concerns related to other body aspects than weight. Their research on anorexia nervosa as a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder was published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. Sufferers may be preoccupied with skin or nose appearance or the size of their arms, thighs or other body parts. Repetitive behavior, such as constant body measuring or mirror checking, may also be present in anorexic patients. Sometimes, anorexic patients avoid places or activities that can incite or aggravate their self-consciousness related to their perceived body flaws. It is evident that, in some cases, there is a blurred line between anorexia and BDD.

Even if these similarities pose problems in recognizing the condition, they do not suggest that anorexia is a form of BDD. Similarities only show that sometimes the two are co-occurring conditions tied by the presence of a negative body image. It may be assumed that, in these cases, BDD is a component or a consequence of anorexia, as shown below.

The Impact of Eating Disorders on Body Image

The impact of eating disorders on body image is a powerful link that the patient must break by using professional help.

A negative body image is a key feature and a symptom of many eating disorders. Unfortunately, it is only augmented by such conditions, so it can be considered a consequence of these diseases. The patients enter a vicious circle in which a distorted body image leads to desperate attempts to change their appearance which—since this is a task impossible to accomplish—induce even more feelings of self-loathing and make them even more susceptible to view their body in a negative way.

It is important to notice that malnutrition contributes to an ever-developing negative body image. Excessive dieting has a direct effect on the brain and, consequently, the way a person sees herself. Therefore, the impact of eating disorders on body image is a powerful link that the patient must break by using professional help.

It can only be presumed that such a negative body image may then lead to BDD; however, the relationship between eating disorders and BDD is still debated. Yet, it is a fact that the two can often coexist and that those who suffer from both are more ill and functionally impaired while also having a higher risk of attempted suicide. In short, the presence of both conditions exacerbates the symptoms.

Other Interesting Suppositions

There are a few observations related to the relationship between BDD and body image that deserve to be mentioned. A UCLA study indicates that impairment to the visual cortex is present in those with BDD. In other words, BDD patients suffer from abnormal visual processing. Therefore, it is possible that the way they perceive themselves has something to do with them simply seeing things differently. The study does not prove whether this visual impairment is a cause or an effect of BDD but opens the discussion regarding the influence of more biological factors on the distorted body image that is a key feature in BDD and most eating disorders.

Treatment for Eating Disorders and BDD

Given the fact that eating disorders and BDD are potentially deadly diseases, it is best to find professional help whether in a residential treatment facility or an outpatient treatment center. Eating disorders and BDD treatment programs offer cognitive behavioral therapy aimed to challenge patients’ self-image and eliminate destructive habits. Talk and group therapy helps patients to feel less isolated, while nutritional counseling introduces them to lifelong healthy eating habits.

http://www.bulimia.com/topics/body-image/

Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is an infection that causes diarrhea and a rash. It is most commonly due to a type of bacterium called Salmonella typhi (S. typhi). According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) almost 21.5 million people in developing countries contract typhoid each year.

CAUSES

Typhoid is one of the most common communicable diseases in India that is caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. Also called as enteric fever or typhoid fever, it spreads easily through contaminated water, unhygienic food and drinks.
The bacterium is carried by the infected people in their intestine and bloodstream and it passes through the urine and feces. The infection is usually spread when sewage water gets mixed with drinking water and it is consumed or when an individual consumes any food or water handled by an infected person.

SYMPTOMS

It usually takes 1 to 3 weeks time for patients to develop typhoid symptoms after exposure to the bacteria. The duration of the disease is 3 to 4 weeks depending upon the severity of the disease (mild or severe) with the normal incubation time is 7 to 14 days. The symptoms are:

  • Headaches
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • High fever (103 degree F)
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Enlarged spleen & liver
  • Rose-colored spots on the chest
  • Chest congestion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Generalized pain and weakness

Here is a detailed information on seven warning symptoms of typhoid.

DIAGNOSIS

Your medical professional will conduct a thorough physical examination to look out for the symptoms and based on it the clinical tests required to undergo will be recommended. Also, a detailed travel as well as medical history will be conducted by your doctor to assess your exposure to the bacteria.

  • CBC– If you are suffering from the disease, your complete blood count will show an increased white blood cell (WBC) count.
  • Blood culture – Blood culture done during the initial phase of the disease (in the first week) shows S. typhi bacteria.
  • ELISA – A recent diagnostic test, ELISA urine test is done to look out for the bacteria causing the disease.
  • Fluorescent antibody study – In this study, any substances that are specific to the bacterium are looked for.
  • Platelet Count – Platelet count in case of the person affected by the disease is usually low.
  • Stool culture – It is done to determine the presence of the bacterium in the feces.

TREATMENT

Antibiotics such as ciproflaxin or ceftriaxone are generally prescribed to kill the bacteria. However, long-term use of these drugs have made some of the bacteria antibiotic-resistant and hence, your medical professional will go through current options before choosing one.

Additional treatment options include drinking lots of fluids (uncontaminated ones) to keep one hydrated and having diet rich in nutrients.

COMPLICATIONS

Possible complications that may result include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Severe GI bleeding
  • Intestinal perforation
  • Peritonitis

PREVENTION

Typhoid can be easily prevented by following some simple tips:

  • Ensuring proper hygiene and sanitation will definitely shield you against getting infected by the bacteria.
  • Persistent hand washing to keep the bacteria at bay.
  • Careful preparation of food as the bacteria spreads with feces coming in contact with drinking water and food.
  • Consume hot and fresh foods as high temperature hinders the growth of bacteria.
  • Avoid eating raw veggies and fruits & also drinking untreated or contaminated water.
  • Keep all your household items (especially in the kitchen) properly clean and sanitized.
  • In case you are travelling to any part of the world that put you at high risk of getting infected with typhoid then vaccination is the best option available.

7 warning symptoms of typhoid

The monsoons are an invitation for several infections, typhoid being one of the major infectious diseases that you need to watch out for. Caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi, typhoid spreads easily through contaminated food and water. If you have recently had food or water from an unhygienic place, look out for these symptoms.

  1. High fever: Once the pathogen starts multiplying after gaining entry into your system, the body increases temperature as its primary defense to kill them either directly, or through the action of certain immune cells that show improved function with elevated body temperature. The typical changes in the pattern of fever are a key indicator in suspecting typhoid. Fever is accompanied by chills and the temperature rises in a step-wise fashion over a period of 2-3 days and then reaches a peak of 103-104 degrees F. This fever may persist for 2 weeks or more. There could be variations in temperature at different times during the day with a high possibility of reaching the peak at the same time during the day.
  2. Headache: Moderate to severe headache may be common as the fever rises and drops throughout the day.
  3. Lethargy: Increase in body temperature inactivates digestive enzymes. So, you may not feel hungry and you may even feel full soon after having a small portion size. Loss of appetite causes generalized weakness and fatigue and feelings of lethargy.
  4. Enlarged spleen & liver: Spleenomegaly or enlarged spleen and hepatomegaly or enlarged liver is usually seen after a week of illness and remains evident as the temperature remains elevated throughout the day. This is especially seen in children suffering from typhoid.
  5. Rose-colored spots: One week after the symptoms set in, careful physical examination may reveal peculiar spots on the chest and stomach. Clinically, these are non-tender lesions that occur when the causative pathogen S. typhi infiltrates the endothelial cells of skin capillaries. A biopsy of these spots may therefore show the presence of these pathogens in the lesions.
  6. Diarrhea and vomiting: Most of the patients experience diarrhea or loose motions initially. In fact, they may even present as a typical case of acute gastroenteritis to a local health clinic. Inflammation of the abdominal lining can even cause gastrointestinal bleeding, which may result in dark, bloody stools. In some cases, usually the uncomplicated ones, vomiting may also be seen.
  7. Abdominal pain: With diarrhea and vomiting, stomach pain and cramps also begin. Invasion of the stomach wall by the pathogens can cause severe pain. At this point examination of the abdomen may reveal tenderness and swelling.

If you have any of these symptoms, get a blood test done immediately to detect the presence of typhoid for faster recovery.

West Nile virus

A mosquito bite can turn into something much more severe if you are infected with West Nile virus. Mosquitoes transmit this virus after they bite an infected bird and then bite a person. While not all people with infected mosquito bites will get the disease, it can be a very severe occurrence for those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. If it is diagnosed and treated quickly, the outlook for West Nile virus recovery is good, according to the National Institutes of Health.

West Nile infection is caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. Most people infected with West Nile virus don't experience any signs or symptoms, or may experience only minor ones, such as fever and mild headache. However, some people who become infected with West Nile virus develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the brain.

Mild signs and symptoms of a West Nile virus infection generally go away on their own. But severe signs and symptoms — such as a severe headache, fever, disorientation or sudden weakness — require immediate attention.

Exposure to mosquitoes where West Nile virus exists increases your risk of getting West Nile virus infection. Protect yourself from mosquitoes by using mosquito repellent and wearing clothing that covers your skin to reduce your risk.

Mild infection signs and symptoms

About 20 percent of people develop a mild infection called West Nile fever. Common signs and symptoms of West Nile fever include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Skin rash (occasionally)
  • Swollen lymph glands (occasionally)
  • Eye pain (occasionally)

Serious infection signs and symptoms

In less than 1 percent of infected people, the virus causes a serious neurological infection. Such infection may include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or of both the brain and surrounding membranes (meningoencephalitis). Serious infection may also include infection and inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), inflammation of the spinal cord (West Nile poliomyelitis) and acute flaccid paralysis — a sudden weakness in your arms, legs or breathing muscles. Signs and symptoms of these diseases include:

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Stupor or coma
  • Tremors or muscle jerking
  • Lack of coordination
  • Convulsions
  • Pain
  • Partial paralysis or sudden muscle weakness

Signs and symptoms of West Nile fever usually last a few days, but signs and symptoms of encephalitis or meningitis can linger for weeks, and certain neurological effects, such as muscle weakness, may be permanent.

Causes

Typically, West Nile virus spreads to humans and animals via infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. You can't get infected by touching or kissing a person with the virus.

Most West Nile virus infections occur during warm weather, when mosquito populations are active. The incubation period — the period between when you're bitten by an infected mosquito and the appearance of signs and symptoms of the illness — ranges from three to 14 days.

West Nile virus is present in areas such as Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East. It first appeared in the United States in the summer of 1999 and since then has been found in all 48 contiguous states.

Other possible routes of transmission

In a few cases, West Nile virus may have been spread through other routes, including organ transplantation and blood transfusion. However, blood donors are screened for the virus, substantially reducing the risk of infection from blood transfusions.

There have also been reports of possible transmission of the virus from mother to child during pregnancy or breast-feeding, but these have been rare and not conclusively confirmed.

Risk factors

Your overall risk of getting West Nile virus depends on these factors:

  • Time of year. The majority of cases in the United States have occurred between the months of July and September.
  • Geographic region. West Nile virus has been reported in most of the United States, but Midwestern and Southern states have recently had the highest incidence rates.
  • Time spent outside. If you work or spend time outdoors, you have a greater chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Risk of serious infection

Even if you're infected, your risk of developing a serious West Nile virus-related illness is extremely small — less than 1 percent of people who are infected become severely ill. And most people who do become sick recover fully. You're more likely to develop a severe or fatal infection based on:

  • Age. Adults older than age 50 are at higher risk of infection.
  • Health. Those who have a weakened immune system, such as after receiving an organ transplant with anti-rejection medication, are at greater risk of infection.
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How Can Lower High Cholesterol?

Too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke — America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers.

You can reduce your cholesterol by eating healthful foods, losing weight if you need to and being physically active. Some people also need to take medicine because changing their diet isn’t enough. Your doctor and nurses will help you set up a plan for reducing your cholesterol — and keeping yourself healthy!

Most heart and blood vessel disease is caused by a buildup of cholesterol, plaque and other fatty deposits in artery walls. The arteries that feed the heart can become so clogged that the blood flow is reduced, causing chest pain. If a blood clot forms and blocks the artery, a heart attack can occur. Similarly, if a blood clot blocks an artery leading to or in the brain, a stroke results.

For some people, diet tweaks are enough to lower cholesterol naturally without medication, while others will need drugs, or a combination of diet and medication

Diet can play an important role in lowering your cholesterol.

Here are some foods that can lower your cholesterol and protect your heart:

Can a bowl of oatmeal help lower your cholesterol? How about a handful of walnuts or even a baked potato topped with some heart-healthy margarine? A few simple tweaks to your diet — like these, along with exercise and other heart-healthy habits — may be helpful in lowering your cholesterol.

1. Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods

Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad," cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes.

Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you'll add about 4 more grams of fiber. To mix it up a little, try steel-cut oatmeal or cold cereal made with oatmeal or oat bran.

2. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids

Eating fatty fish can be heart healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil — or omega-3 fatty acids — reduces the risk of sudden death.

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in:

  • Mackerel
  • Lake trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Albacore tuna
  • Salmon
  • Halibut

You should bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats. If you don't like fish, you can also get small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from foods like ground flaxseed or canola oil.

You can take an omega-3 or fish oil supplement to get some of the benefits, but you won't get other nutrients in fish, such as selenium. If you decide to take a supplement, just remember to watch your diet and eat lean meat or vegetables in place of fish.

3. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts

Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy.

Eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. Just make sure the nuts you eat aren't salted or coated with sugar.

All nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do. To avoid eating too many nuts and gaining weight, replace foods high in saturated fat with nuts. For example, instead of using cheese, meat or croutons in your salad, add a handful of walnuts or almonds.

4. Olive oil

Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol but leave your "good" (HDL) cholesterol untouched.

Try using about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits. To add olive oil to your diet, you can saute vegetables in it, add it to a marinade or mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing. You can also use olive oil as a substitute for butter when basting meat or as a dip for bread. Olive oil is high in calories, so don't eat more than the recommended amount.

The cholesterol-lowering effects of olive oil are even greater if you choose extra-virgin olive oil, meaning the oil is less processed and contains more heart-healthy antioxidants. But keep in mind that "light" olive oils are usually more processed than extra-virgin or virgin olive oils and are lighter in color, not fat or calories.

5. Foods with added plant sterols or stanols

Foods are now available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols — substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol.

Margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks with added plant sterols can help reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent. The amount of daily plant sterols needed for results is at least 2 grams — which equals about two 8-ounce (237-milliliter) servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice a day.

Plant sterols or stanols in fortified foods don't appear to affect levels of triglycerides or of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good" cholesterol.

6. Red wine

Scientists are giving us yet another reason to drink to our health. It turns out that high-fiber Tempranillo red grapes, used to make red wine like Rioja, may actually have a significant effect on cholesterol levels. A study conducted by the department of metabolism and nutrition at Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain found that when individuals consumed the same grape supplement found in red wine, their LDL levels decreased by 9%. In addition, those who had high cholesterol going into the study saw a 12% drop in LDL.

7. Tea

While tea has become well known for its cancer-fighting antioxidants, it is also a great defense against LDL cholesterol levels. According to research conducted with the USDA, black tea has been shown to reduce blood lipids by up to 10% in only 3 weeks. These findings were concluded in a larger study of how tea may also help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. (Here's how to make the perfect cup of tea every time.)

The Hot and Cool Superdrink Tea, whether it's iced or hot, delivers a blast of antioxidant compounds. Studies prove that tea helps to keep blood vessels relaxed and prevent blood clots. Flavonoids, the major antioxidants in tea, have been shown to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol that leads to plaque formation on artery walls. These powerful antioxidants may even reduce cholesterol and even lower blood pressure.

How to get some Enjoy a cup of hot or iced tea. Although convenience iced teas still have high antioxidant levels, most homemade iced tea (both hot-brewed and fridge teas) have even more antioxidants. So, if you want the very max, make your own.

Drink this much A cup of hot tea actually contains more antioxidants than a serving of any fruit or vegetable. Both green and black teas have high antioxidant levels. Enjoy at least one cup of tea every day.

8. Beans

Beans, beans—they really are good for your heart. Researchers at Arizona State University Polytechnic found that adding ½ cup of beans to soup lowers total cholesterol, including LDL, by up to 8%. The key to this heart-healthy food is its abundance of fiber, which has been shown to slow the rate and amount of absorption of cholesterol in certain foods. Try black, kidney, or pinto beans; each supplies about one-third of your daily fiber needs.

9. Chocolate

Ah, the sweet side of a heart-healthy diet: This powerful antioxidant helps build HDL cholesterol levels. In a 2007 study published in AJCN, participants who were given cocoa powder had a 24% increase in HDL levels over 12 weeks, compared with a 5% increase in the control group. Remember to choose the dark or bittersweet kind. Compared to milk chocolate, it has more than 3 times as many antioxidants, which prevent blood platelets from sticking together and may even keep arteries unclogged.

10. Margarine

Switching to a margarine with plant sterols, such as Promise activ or Benecol, could help lower cholesterol. Plant sterols are compounds that reduce cholesterol absorption; a study published in AJCN found that women who had a higher plant sterol–based diet were able to lower total cholesterol by 3.5%.

11. Garlic

Aside from adding zing to almost any dish, garlic has been found to lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, and protect against infections. Now research finds that it helps stop artery-clogging plaque at its earliest stage by keeping cholesterol particles from sticking to artery walls. Try for two to four fresh cloves a day.

12. Olive oil

This common cooking ingredient can help your health. Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which lower LDL cholesterol—and have the welcome side effect of trimming belly fat. Use it to make your own salad dressings, marinate chicken and fish, or roast vegetables.

13. Spinach

This popular green contains lots of lutein, the sunshine-yellow pigment found in dark green leafy vegetables and egg yolks. Lutein already has a "golden" reputation for guarding against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Now research suggests that just ½ cup of a lutein-rich food daily also guards against heart attacks by helping artery walls "shrug off" cholesterol invaders that cause clogging. Look for bags of baby spinach leaves that you can use for salads or pop in the microwave for a quick side dish.

14. Avocado

Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that may actually help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL. And, more than any other fruit, this delectable food packs cholesterol-smashing beta-sitosterol, a beneficial plant-based fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. Since avocados are a bit high in calories and fat (300 calories and 30 g fat per avocado), use them in moderation.

High Cholesterol

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that's found in the fats (lipids) in your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to continue building healthy cells, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

When you have high cholesterol, you may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Your heart may not get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke.

High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) can be inherited, but it's often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, and thus preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can go a long way toward reducing high cholesterol.

What Are the Symptoms of High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect high cholesterol.

In most cases, high cholesterol is a silent problem that typically doesn't cause any symptoms. For most people, if they have not had regular checkups and followed their cholesterol levels, their first symptoms are events like a heart attack or a stroke. In rare cases, there are familial syndromes where the cholesterol levels are extremely high (familial hypercholesterolemia). These people have cholesterol levels of 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher. Such people may show symptoms from high cholesterol that are due to deposits of cholesterol (xanthomas) over their tendons or under their eyelids (xanthalasmas). While high cholesterol affects a large portion of the United States, familial hypercholesterolemia affects only about one in 500 people.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is carried through your blood, attached to proteins. This combination of proteins and cholesterol is called a lipoprotein. You may have heard of different types of cholesterol, based on what type of cholesterol the lipoprotein carries. They are:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or "bad," cholesterol transports cholesterol particles throughout your body. LDL cholesterol builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow.
  • Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). This type of lipoprotein contains the most triglycerides, a type of fat, attached to the proteins in your blood. VLDL cholesterol makes LDL cholesterol larger in size, causing your blood vessels to narrow. If you're taking cholesterol-lowering medication but have a high VLDL level, you may need additional medication to lower your triglycerides.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL, or "good," cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.

Factors within your control — such as inactivity, obesity and an unhealthy diet — contribute to high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. Factors beyond your control may play a role, too. For example, your genetic makeup may keep cells from removing LDL cholesterol from your blood efficiently or cause your liver to produce too much cholesterol.

High cholesterol is usually made worse by eating too many unhealthy foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats. Examples of foods that contribute to high cholesterol include:

  • red meat
  • liver and other organ meats
  • full fat dairy products like cheese, milk, ice cream, and butter
  • eggs (the yolk)
  • deep fried foods, like potato chips, french fries, fried chicken, and onion rings
  • peanut butter
  • some baked goods, like muffins
  • processed foods made with cocoa butter, palm oil, or coconut oil
  • chocolate

High cholesterol can also be genetic in many cases. This means that it’s not simply caused by food, but by the way in which your genes instruct your body to process cholesterol and fats. Genes are passed down from parents to children.

Other conditions like diabetes and hypothyroidism may also contribute to high cholesterol. Smoking can also increase cholesterol problems..

Who Is at Risk for High Cholesterol?

Over one-third of American adults have raised levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People of all ages, ethnicities, and genders can have high cholesterol.

You may be at a higher risk of high cholesterol if you:

  • have a family history of high cholesterol
  • eat a diet containing an excessive amount of saturated fat
  • are overweight or obese
  • have diabetes, kidney disease, or hypothyroidism

You're more likely to have high cholesterol that can lead to heart disease if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Smoking. Cigarette smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them likely to accumulate fatty deposits. Smoking may also lower your level of HDL, or "good," cholesterol.
  • Obesity. Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
  • Large waist circumference. Your risk increases if you are a man with a waist circumference of at least 40 inches (102 centimeters) or a woman with a waist circumference of at least 35 inches (89 centimeters).
  • Poor diet. Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, will increase your total cholesterol. Eating saturated fat, found in animal products, and trans fats, found in some commercially baked cookies and crackers, also can raise your cholesterol level.
  • Lack of exercise. Exercise helps boost your body's HDL "good" cholesterol while lowering your LDL "bad" cholesterol. Not getting enough exercise puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
  • Diabetes. High blood sugar contributes to higher LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. High blood sugar also damages the lining of your arteries.

Complications

High cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis, a dangerous accumulation of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of your arteries. These deposits (plaques) can reduce blood flow through your arteries, which can cause complications, such as:

  • Chest pain. If the arteries that supply your heart with blood (coronary arteries) are affected, you may have chest pain (angina) and other symptoms of coronary artery disease.
  • Heart attack. If plaques tear or rupture, a blood clot may form at the plaque-rupture site — blocking the flow of blood or breaking free and plugging an artery downstream. If blood flow to part of your heart stops, you'll have a heart attack.
  • Stroke. Similar to a heart attack, if blood flow to part of your brain is blocked by a blood clot, a stroke occurs.

7 Secrets for Weight-Loss from Perfect breakfast

When you need to drop a few spring pounds, the solution begins with the first meal of the day. The right breakfast, eaten the right way, can jumpstart your weight loss efforts.

1. Keep It Balanced

A great breakfast includes a serving of protein, a serving of fruit, and a serving of whole grain carbs. It’s the perfect mix for healthy nutrition and to prevent hunger pangs a couple of hours later. Unfortunately, many people think breakfast is a muffin, bagel, or bowl of cereal – all carbs that send your blood sugar soaring, then plunging a few hours later (meaning you’ll be searching for more food). For stable blood sugar and less hunger later, be sure to have a mix of foods.

2. Consider Switching from Coffee to Green Tea

In addition to its heart-protective benefits, green tea may also have weight-loss benefits. One study found that a cup of green tea appeared to raise the rate at which you burn calories and speed the rate at which your body uses fat.

3. Choose Homemade Granola Over Store-Bought

Most store-bought brands are filled with sugar and fat. To make your own, mix 2 cups rolled oats with 1 cup dried fruits and seeds and a little brown sugar.Toast 3-5 minutes in a warm oven and store in an airtight container.

4. Aim For At Least 5 Grams of Fibre Each Morning

Fibre fills you up, cleans your insides, and has zero calories. It’s the perfect ingredient for weight loss. Yet most of us eat far below the recommended daily amount. Change that by eating fibre-rich foods at breakfast. Just a few bites of a large raw apple, 1/2 cup of the high-fibre cereal, 1/2 cup of blackberries, or two slices of dark, whole grain rye bread will provide 5 grams. Or try a bowl of oatmeal, adorned with fresh berries.

5. Decorate Some Plain Yogurt

Yogurt is among the world’s healthiest foods and is a great basis for a healthy breakfast (count it as your serving of protein). Just beware of the yogurt containers that come with fruit or flavours already mixed in. They’re packed with sugar and calories. Instead, spoon out some plain yogurt and dress it at home with cereal, berries, honey, or even a little dark chocolate. So much healthier!

6. Skip the Latte

Forgo the large full-fat latte in favour of a small skim latte. This simple swap can save you 100 or more calories a day. It will also help keep sugar cravings in check, and blood sugar levels on an even keel.

7. Forget Breakfast Foods

Why limit yourself to the usual breakfast foods? No one ever said you had to choose cereal, eggs, orange juice, or a croissant every morning. For variety and health, have a bowl of soup, or a bowl of whole-grain pasta and sauce from last night’s dinner. Likewise, a sandwich and an apple is a perfectly healthy breakfast. Think outside the (cereal) box!

Homeopathy treatment for dehydration

Dehydration is a condition that occurs when the loss of body fluids, mostly water, exceeds the amount that is taken in. With dehydration, more water is moving out of our cells and bodies than what we take in through drinking.

We lose water every day in the form of water vapor in the breath we exhale and in our excreted sweat, urine, and stool. Along with the water, small amounts of salts are also lost.

When we lose too much water, our bodies may become out of balance or dehydrated. Severe dehydration can lead to death.

Causes of Dehydration in Adults

Many conditions may cause rapid and continued fluid losses and lead to dehydration:

  • Fever, heat exposure, and too much exercise
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination due to infection
  • Diseases such as diabetes
  • The inability to seek appropriate water and food (as in the case of a disabled person)
  • An impaired ability to drink (for instance, someone in a coma or on a respirator)
  • No access to safe drinking water
  • Significant injuries to skin, such as burns or mouth sores, or severe skin diseases or infections (water is lost through the damaged skin)

Symptoms of Dehydration in Adults

The signs and symptoms of dehydration range from minor to severe and include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness fainting
  • Fainting
  • Inability to sweat
  • Decreased urine output

Urine color may indicate dehydration. If urine is concentrated and deeply yellow or amber, you may be dehydrated.

When to Seek Medical Care

Call your doctor if the dehydrated person experiences any of the following:

  • Increased or constant vomiting for more than a day
  • Fever over 101°F
  • Diarrhea for more than 2 days
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased urine production
  • Confusion
  • Weakness

Take the person to the hospital's emergency department if these situations occur:

  • Fever higher than 103°F
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness (lethargy)
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest or abdominal pains
  • Fainting
  • No urine in the last 12 hours

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. The infection may be caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Pneumonia causes inflammation in your lung’s air sacs, also referred to as alveoli. The alveoli fill with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to life threatening. In fact, pneumonia causes more deaths worldwide than any other illness. The severity of pneumonia usually depends on the cause of the inflammation or by the type of organism causing the infection, a person’s age, and their general health.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

There are two types of pneumonia, viral and bacterial.

Viral pneumonia typically starts like a cold and slowly but steadily gets worse. In most cases, respiratory viruses can cause pneumonia, especially in young children and the elderly. Pneumonia is usually not serious and lasts a short time. However, the flu virus can cause viral pneumonia to be severe or fatal. It’s especially harmful to pregnant women or individuals with heart or lung issues. Invading bacteria can cause complications with viral pneumonia. Your child may have the following symptoms:

  • fever of 101.5 degrees F or more
  • a worsening cough
  • rapid breathing
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • wheezing

Viral pneumonia is usually less severe than the bacterial one. But if your child gets it, she may be more susceptible to bacterial pneumonia in the future.

Bacterial pneumonia can affect anyone at any age. It can develop on its own or after a serious cold or flu. The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is streptococcus pneumoniae. Bacterial pneumonia can also be caused by Chlamydophila pneumonia or legionella pneumophila. Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia is sometimes seen in those who have weak immune systems, due to illnesses like AIDS or cancer. Bacterial pneumonia comes with a sudden onset of symptoms:

  • fever up to 103 degrees F
  • rapid breathing
  • coughing
  • bluish-grey nails and lips
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • dehydration

So keep an eye on your baby for signs she is getting worse. She may need to go to hospital if she's having trouble feeding or breathing.

Other Types of Pneumonia

Mycoplasma Pneumonia

Mycoplasmas are not viruses or bacteria, but they have traits common to both. They are the smallest agents of disease that affect humans. Mycoplasmas generally cause mild cases of pneumonia, most often in older children and young adults.

Many additional types of pneumonia affect immune-compromised individuals. Tuberculosis and pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) generally affect persons with AIDS. In fact, PCP can be one of the first signs of illness in people with AIDS.

Less common types of pneumonia can also be serious. Pneumonia can be caused by inhaling food, dust, liquid, gas, and by various fungi.

Viral Fever

Viral fever is one of the most common causes of ill health. Most of the people tend to neglect it and go on about their day-to-day activities after taking a pain killer or some medicines for fever. Could that be dangerous? Should we pay more attention to it? In this post, we tell you more about it.

A viral infection is a disease that can be caused by different kinds of viruses, of which the influenza-virus is best known. A viral infection can be in different places in the body, some viruses are mainly in the intestine, while others prefer the lungs and airways. With a viral infection you usually have a fever, but other complaints can range from abdominal pain and diarrhea to coughing and shortness of breath.

Viral fever is an acute viral infection. The most common viral fever is the seasonal flu. Children can catch viral fever easily.

The virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by physical contact through hands infected with the virus for example.

When viral infections are very common, such as during seasonal changes, they can be carried through air ventilation systems.

Children can be contagious for about 10 days after they start showing symptoms of viral fever though some of the symptoms can continue for up to two weeks. Children younger than two are most at risk of developing complications of viral fever. Complications can include pneumonia which can be very serious.

So it's important to treat viral fever early, to prevent it from getting worse.

What are symptoms of viral infection?

Usually, the first signs of viral fever are chills. Another early sign is a fever of 100 to 103 degree F. A child with viral fever will often have pain throughout the body, especially in the back and legs. There are many different kinds of viral infections and the symptoms will probably vary depending on which virus your baby catches. He may have one or more of these symptoms:

  • cough
  • cold
  • sore throat
  • runny or congested nose
  • headaches
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • tummy pain

Protect from viral fever?

  • If your child is between six months and two years old, you may be able to give him an annual vaccination against the flu. Ask your doctor about it. This will help protect your child against some of the most common viruses and prevent any complications.
  • Try to keep your child away from anyone who is sick.
  • If anyone around your child is coughing or sneezing, ask them to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue, and to wash their hands with soap regularly. If a family member or household help has diarrhoea or vomiting, make sure they also wash their hands frequently and follow good hygiene habits.
  • Wash your and your child's hands with soap often, to prevent getting the virus.
  • Viral infections are most common during seasonal changes so be extra careful during those times of the year.

Offer enough drinks
Your child will be losing a lot of liquid through the fever, diarrhoea, vomiting or cold. If you're still breastfeeding, let your baby breastfeed as often as he wishes. You can also ask at your clinic for Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS). This solution will give your little one all the nutrients he has lost. You can give it to your baby even if he's just breastfeeding.

Special food
If your child is older than 6 months, offer him soft, runny food, such as soups, dals and curd with sugar. As he gets stronger, you can add thicker foods, like mashed vegetables, khichdi or porridge. Read more on what to feed a child down with cough and fever.

Medication
Take your child to the clinic. The doctor may give you zinc tablets and ORS if your little one has diarrhoea. He may also give you special pain relief, to lower your child's fever.

Rest at home
Let your child rest quietly in a separate room at home. He should rest while he has the virus, and for at least a week afterwards. This will help him fight the illness and get stronger. It will also prevent him from infecting other family members and children in the house.

Lower the fever
If your child has a high fever, you can sponge his body over with lukewarm water. This will refresh him and help bring down his temperature.

Wash your hands
Make sure you wash your hands before and after you touch your child. This will help to prevent the infection from spreading to other family members.

Treatment
If your child still seems unwell, go to your doctor. Ask him if there are antiviral drugs that you could give your baby.

Air the house out
Open windows and doors to let fresh air in at least once a day. This will help remove any germs in the air. Keeping your house well-ventilated, dry and clean will also help prevent mould infestation. Read about what you can do to keep your home mould-free.

A viral fever is usually not serious, and should pass with the right treatment. But if your child has any of these signs, get him to the doctor straight away:

  • Coughing for more than three weeks
  • Diarrhoea for more than two weeks
  • Blood in stools
  • Fever for a week or more
  • Fits
  • Refusing to eat or drink anything
  • Constant vomiting
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Swelling of both feet

How are viral infections different from bacterial infections?

Both bacterial and viral infections can cause fever, chills and malaise. It may be difficult to differentiate between them.

A bacterial infection is characterised by redness, heat, swelling and pain in one part of the body. So, if your child has bacterial throat pain, he will have more pain on one side of the throat. Bacterial infections are usually treated with a special antibiotic, which only kills the bacterium that caused the disease.

Viral infections, however, involve different parts of the body at the same time. So, if your child has a viral infection, he may have a runny nose, a cough and body aches.

Antibiotics have no effect on viral infections like colds or the flu. Only use antibiotics for bacterial infections that won't get better on their own.

The treatment for viral infections usually includes drinking plenty of water and fluids, resting and taking pain relief and medicines to lower the fever.

Most viral infections, like the flu, have vaccines. They can give the body some help in quickly and effectively fighting the virus.

Top 10 Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

The winter of 2012-2013 has been one characterized by an uncommonly high amount of illness in the United States. The flu, while not the only illness to which people have succumbed, is probably the best metric for measuring general illness as it is closely monitored every year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So far this winter, 41 states have reported widespread outbreaks of the flu virus with nearly 20,000 reported cases nationwide. These cases are no doubt the tip of the iceberg as many cases go unreported every year. In November, 36.5% of Americans had been vaccinated, a number slightly increased from the November 2011 figure of 36.3%.* With all of the added press that the flu has had this year, this number will probably climb significantly over the next few months.

The Center for Orthopedic Care at Summit Medical Group has not escaped unscathed from these winter illnesses. Between the colds, the flu, stomach bugs and the like, we have experienced many employee sick days and client reschedules. The following is a list of ways to avoid having illness affect your life this winter, even in this sickly season.

  1. Wash your hands. In a world with public places teeming with contagious viruses and bacteria, our hands can be our greatest source of infection. We are always touching things with our hands and absentmindedly rubbing our eyes or putting food in our mouths which could be the introduction of an infection into our systems.
  2. Avoid sick people. It is important to remember that people with illnesses are often highly contagious. Try to avoid dealing with sick people altogether, but if it must be done, at least remember to wash your hands afterwards.
  3. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep allows your body to recharge and gives your immune system a chance to replenish after a long day of fighting off microscopic invaders. Failing to get enough sleep is setting your body up for easy access to infection.
  4. Cut back on the alcohol. Drinking alcohol monopolizes the resources that your body should use to prevent infections.
  5. Salt water has major benefits. Salt is a natural antibacterial agent. You can squirt salt water up your nose with a Neti Pot or use it to gargle. It cleans the bacteria-riddled mucus out of your nose and helps to fight respiratory infections.
  6. Drink lots of water. Your body will function better if not starved for its most important molecule. Your body is made up of about 60% water and is constantly using water for all vital processes. Replenish your body’s water supply to help yourself run at maximum capacity.
  7. Take vitamins and supplements. While many vitamins can be helpful supplements to your diet, Vitamin D is probably the most important, at least during the winter months. Vitamin D is absorbed into your body right from the sun’s rays, but in the winter months, more time is spent indoors than usual and supplements can help make up the difference.
  8. Eat your fruits and veggies. This helps vary your diet and allows you to get the vitamins with which fruits and veggies are rich. Giving your body the tools to stay healthy is half the battle, and eating fruits and veggies certainly does this.
  9. Try probiotics. These supplements contain live bacteria meant to balance the microflora (bacteria) in your digestive tract. By maintaining this balance, we leave ourselves less susceptible to infection.
  10. Listen to your body. Your body will give you a warning when it’s beginning to succumb to an infection. Whether that warning is a headache, a bad mood or feeling uncharacteristically tired, respond to these warnings by making sure you are keeping up with all the other tips.

Dry Cracked Feet

The skin on our feet is naturally dry, unlike the skin on the rest of the body. The skin on our feet has no oil glands, so it relies on hundreds of thousands of sweat glands to keep our feet moisturized. This can be problematic for people who do not properly moisturize their feet on a regular basis, or who have a medical condition—such as diabetes or athlete’s foot—that causes dry feet. Anyone can have dry feet, but the condition is more common among seniors and diabetics.

Dry feet can range in severity from mild, temporary dry skin to severe dry skin that causes additional problems. Skin can become dry for a number of reasons, but there are ways to prevent it, such as keeping your feet moisturized and avoiding rubbing or scratching the skin.

Dry Feet Symptoms

Dry feet are generally a symptom of another problem, and if you have dry feet you may experience additional symptoms such as:

  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Cracks in the feet (fissures)
  • Rough skin
  • Flaky skin
  • Peeling skin
  • Rash (usually brought on by itching)
  • Problem worsens in winter months

What Causes Dry Feet?

Dry feet are caused by a lack of moisture in the skin. There are several common factors that can lead to dry feet, including:

  • Excessively hot showers or baths
  • A skin condition that dries the skin (eczema, psoriasis, etc.)
  • Soaps that are non-moisturizing
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disease
  • Cold weather
  • Low humidity levels in home, office, etc. (heating systems are known to dry the air)
  • Aging (we naturally lose moisture in our skin as we age)
  • Long periods spent in the sun

Dry Feet Treatment

Treating dry feet usually begins with treating the underlying cause. Some people naturally have dry skin and must constantly take extra steps to ensure that their feet are moisturized at all times. The most common solution for dry feet is a therapeutic oil, ointment, or cream. Most lotions are not recommended for dry feet because they contain alcohol, which can dry the skin further. Baby lotion is usually acceptable since it does not contain chemicals that irritate the skin. Additional treatments may include:

  • Applying lotion to feet after bathing
  • Using mild moisturizing soaps for skin
  • Staying hydrated

Talk with your doctor about home remedies. Spearmint, eucalyptus oil, and pumice stones can be used, but only under the guidance of your physician. Treatment for your dry feet may be as simple as treating an underlying medical condition such as thyroid disease. If you are diabetic, you may be more prone to foot problems. Controlling your diabetes can prevent dry skin on your feet.

Preventing Dry Feet

Many of the treatment methods mentioned above can also be used to prevent dry skin on your feet. Here are some tips to help you avoid this condition:

  • Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter lotions, creams, and moisturizers to help you manage the dryness.
  • Do not rub or scratch the affected area. Instead, try applying cold compresses or ice packs to the itchy area for a few minutes at a time.
  • Do not wash too often. Avoid bubble baths, fragrant soaps, and other products that may dry your skin. Pat your skin dry when you are finished instead of rubbing the towel over your body. Use lukewarm water instead of hot water. The heat from the water can contribute to your dry feet.
  • Avoid saunas and steam baths if possible.
  • Moisturize after each shower or every time your feet come into contact with water.
  • Wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe. Avoid excessive sweating.
  • Avoid blasting the heater in your home, or use a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air. Heating units are notorious for drying out the air in a home or office.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can cause the itchy feeling to worsen.

Beat that dry skin this winter!

Beat that dry skin this winter!



Itchy, dry, flaky skin can be very unpleasant. And with winter setting in, this is one common problem! Those over-the-counter products seldom work, and also leave a hole in your pocket. So what can you do to soothe that cracking skin? Try out our hand-picked home remedies that are sure to take you closer to the smooth skin you desire.

Tips to soothe dry skin:

Oil therapy: Rub on some olive, almond or coconut oil and massage lightly on to your hands, legs and the rest of your body before heading for a shower. If time permits, heat the oil and then apply. Post shower, use a light moisturiser/sunscreen, because winter sun isn’t any less harsh.

Scoop some milk cream: Milk cream makes for a very good moisturiser. Mix a few drops of lime, a tsp. of milk and two tsp. of milk cream and rub onto your hands and legs. Leave it on for a while before you head for a shower. You’ll see the difference immediately.

The good ol’ curd: Curd makes for an excellent skin hydrant, and its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties will help soothe your dry, itchy skin. Apply curd just as it is or mix it with some honey and a few drops of lime. Leave it on for at least 10 minutes before you wash it off. It is sure to do wonders for your skin.

Hi honey! Honey helps lock in moisture, has antioxidant and anti-microbial properties, which makes it a sought after ingredient in many over-the-counter skincare products. Why shell out money on those, when you can buy yourself a bottle of honey (which is cheaper) and use it to treat your skin. Lightly heat 2 tsp. of honey any apply it onto your skin (face, hands, legs) while warm. Leave it on for 15 minutes, and then wash it off. There’s nothing better your skin can ask for.

Dab on some aloe-vera: If you don’t have an aloe plant at home as yet, then make a trip to the nearest nursery and get one, because aloe is super good for your skin! After bath, slice a piece of aloe, squeeze all the gel out and apply onto your face, hands or legs. It will not only moisturise your skin, it will also form a protective layer that will keep impurities from entering your pores. Although aloe is a good skin hydrant, it can leave your skin feeling tight. So you might want to dab on some moisturiser.

Go the milky way: Keep aside a 4 tsp. of raw milk before you put it to boil for your morning coffee/tea. Add a few drops of rose water/ lime and rub it all over your body and wash with cold water. Do this twice a day. And your skin will feel baby soft.

A vitamin-E boost! Make a trip to your chemist and buy some vitamin-E capsules (they don’t cost much!). Cut out 2 capsules, squeeze out the oil, mix a few drops of lime juice and apply all over your body. Take a shower and feel the difference.

Stock up on glycerine: Glycerine helps absorb and retain moisture, so it would be a good idea to buy a bottle from your nearest chemist. Mix a teaspoon of glycerine with a few drops of lime and massage onto your skin. Leave it on for a few minutes before you wash it off.

A serving of coconut milk? Coconut milk not only reduces skin dryness, but also helps combat dark spots and blemishes. If you have time to spare, make some fresh coconut milk at home or buy one of those packages ones. Rub it onto your face and body, and leave it overnight. Make sure to spread out an old bed-sheet and pillow cover.

Top tip for dry skin:

Once you’ve done either of these treatments a couple times, you must pay attention to exfoliating dead cells. Use a loofah or buy a body scrub that isn’t very rough on your skin (apricot or walnut) and scrub your body at least once a week.

Do not use any exfoliator until your dry skin heals a little, else it gets worse!

And yes, do drink enough water to keep your skin hydrated. Read our article on Watch your Water Intake this Winter, for more!

Tips for Healthier Skin and Hair This Winter

It’s wintertime and the livin’ ain’t easy—for our hair, skin, and nails, that is. Whipping winds, dry air, and chilly temperatures can really do a number on soft skin and hair. Cold air outside and central heat indoors can strip moisture from strands and pores, making hair rough and skin itchy and dry.

Have trouble with dry itchy “winter skin”? Itchy dry skin is a very common skin problem that tends to give some people more trouble in colder weather months, when humidity is low.

There are many easy, efficient home remedies for dry skin that can help this common skin problem that affects almost everyone at some time or another.

When skin becomes dehydrated, it loses its flexibility and becomes cracked, scaly, and sometimes itchy.

Your skin needs moisture to stay smooth and supple. You can effectively address dry skin concerns with a few easy strategies.

Body Talk—The Need-to-Know

Hair and skin aren’t just for looking pretty—they’re required for specific bodily functions, too. Humans lost body fur a while ago (thankfully), but we still have hair on our heads to keep the brain toasty and protected from occasional bumps. Skin isn’t only the barrier between the environment and our insides—it’s a living organ that’s responsible for keeping the body cool, protecting it against germs and “invaders,” and many other metabolic processes. It’s important to keep these tissues in good condition and working well all year long so they can do their jobs and keep us healthy and safe. Cracked, flaky, irritated, or inflamed skin is normal during winter, though it’s not exactly fun. If red, scaly, itchy skin lingers or is causing serious discomfort, be sure to visit a doctor; it might be a more serious dermatological condition like dermatitis, eczema, or athlete’s foot. Barring more serious issues, there are a few strategies that can give the body a break when the mercury plunges:

  1. A 20-minute long, boiling-hot shower might feel great on a cold day, but stick to warm or lukewarm water for 10 minutes or less. Long exposure to hot water can strip moisture from hair and skin.
  2. When heading into the great outdoors, dress for the weather with a hat, scarf, and gloves to avoid windburn and prolonged exposure to cold air.
  3. At the grocery store, fill up a cart with foods full of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, olive oil, flax, sardines, and avocados.
  4. While at the market, load up on vitamin C-rich produce like citrus fruit and dark leafy greens. Vitamin C can help boost the body’s production of collagen, a protein that maintains skin and other connective tissues.
  5. It’s a good idea to drink plenty of water during winter, but there is actually no scientific proof that guzzling water can rehydrate scaly skin.

Read on for more specific cures and preventative measures to combat winter woes from itchy scalp to frozen fingers and more.

Smooth Sailing—Your Action Plan

1. Dry Skin

To cure dry skin all over the body, go big or go home. Mix a few drops of olive or grape seed oil in bathwater and hop in, or apply a thin layer of oil to the body after showering (and maybe wear some old PJs to bed). As weird as it may sound, adding a few cups of whole milk to bathwater can moisturize skin. The proteins, fats, and vitamins in moo-juice can help soothe rough skin. If feeling lactose-averse, the old chicken pox standby of an oatmeal bath can make red, irritated skin feel better. Immediately after an oil/milk/oatmeal bath, apply plenty of thick cream (or even Crisco or Vaseline for seriously damaged skin) and crank up the humidifier before hitting the hay. Slathering on lotion within three minutes of stepping out of the bath or shower is most effective for trapping in moisture.

2. Red Nose

The holidays are over, so there’s no reason to keep dressing up like Rudolph. When outdoors in cold weather, the blood vessels cut off circulation to the nose. After coming indoors the blood vessels dilate quickly, causing a rush of blood (and bright-red color). To bring the nose back to a normal hue, apply a warm—but not hot—compress to the skin for several minutes after coming indoors. Sometimes a winter cold and the tissues that come with it can make the nose raw and chapped, too. When the sniffles hit, use extra-soft tissues and blot the nose; don’t rub it. Apply a thin layer of moisturizing ointment or lotion to the sensitive area throughout the day.

3. Rough and Cracked Feet

Nothing screams “dead of winter” like gnarly, callused feet with cracked heels. Save some cash and skip the pedicure by exfoliating and moisturizing at home. Scrub calluses with a pumice stone in the shower once per week to slough off rough, dead skin. Moisturize feet, especially the heels, every day with thick cream—lotions containing lactic acid are especially effective—and wear cotton socks to bed. It may look nerdy, but sporting socks while snoozing can help creams absorb. Warmer feet means sweatier feet (ick), and moisturizers are most effective when applied to warm, damp skin. On the down side, wearing super toasty wool footwear can raise the overall body temperature, sometimes making it difficult to stay asleep all night long.

4. Itchy Dry Scalp

Nope, it’s not adult-onset lice. But a dry, flaky scalp is uncomfortable and just a wee bit embarrassing, too. Step one in preventing dandruff is to take cooler, quicker showers to reduce the scalp’s exposure to drying hot water. Think about switching to a dandruff or dry scalp specific shampoo. Before hopping in the shower, massage the scalp with Vitamin E, olive, or coconut oil. These oils replenish natural scalp oils and can moisturize dry hair, too. Tea tree oil is also a popular treatment for fungal and bacterial infections like dandruff or athlete’s foot. Wash the hair and scalp with tea tree oil daily to cure a dry, itchy head naturally. Sometimes, the issue can be caused by product build-up—not winter weather. If you think this may be the case, rinse the hair with apple cider vinegar to clear out the gunk and then wash normally with shampoo.

5. Chapped Lips

Keeping a tube of lip balm in an easily accessible pocket is a good first step, but winter winds can take chapped lips to a whole new level. If lips are flaky, take a clean toothbrush and very gently exfoliate the skin to remove excess skin. Slather on beeswax or a lip balm with lanolin (a natural oily wax extracted from sheep’s wool!) and keep reapplying throughout the day. Lanolin is a natural moisturizer that softens skin and reduces evaporation, keeping the skin hydrated. If spending all day with animal product freaks you out, apply some Crisco (aka vegetable shortening) to lips. It’s 100 percent vegan and very safe if ingested. For seriously dry lips, apply honey or Vaseline to the lips for 15 minutes and then remove with a cotton swab dipped in hot water.

6. Brittle Nails

Dry air saps the moisture right out of nails and leaves them delicate and susceptible to breaks and tears. To treat them, apply olive oil or lotion containing lanolin to nails before bed and sleep with gloves on to help aid absorption. Dudes, it may be time to raid your mother/girlfriend/wife/sister/friend’s makeup drawer, because a thin coat of clear nail polish can protect brittle nails from the environment. Also consider adding biotin-rich foods (also called Vitamin B7) to the diet—this essential vitamin helps the body process amino acids and produce fatty acids. Vegetables (including carrots and Swiss chard) and protein sources including nuts and fish are good ways to pack in enough of the vitamin. Biotin is also very effective when taken in supplement form.

7. Rough Hair

Hair needs a little extra TLC during wintertime. Shampooing strips moisture from the scalp and hair, so wash strands every other day. Everyone's hair is different—if washing once or twice a week is normal for you, consider adding some time between shampoos to take dry winter conditions into account. And don’t skip the conditioner—skipping the ‘poo and opting for a quick rinse and conditioning treatment works just fine to keep hair clean and moisturized. To prevent breakage or other damage, avoid blow-drying and brushing hair when wet because those locks are most delicate when waterlogged. If strands are really parched, comb hair with a few drops of olive oil and a wide-tooth comb after showering.

8. Dry Hands

It’s bad enough to have freezing digits, but cracked and painful skin on the hands is the icing on the cake. To prevent hands from drying out, apply moisturizer after hand washing and at least several times throughout the day. Keep a bottle of lotion by each sink in your home and in your desk at work. If hands are very dry, use cream instead of lotion because the former has a higher oil-to-water ratio. Wearing rubber gloves while washing dishes can prevent hands from getting dried out due to excess contact with hot water, too. To really rehab the skin on hands, use very thick hand cream right before bed and then slip on white cotton gloves—the enclosed space will help the moisturizer absorb into the skin.

9. Static-y Hair

The only thing worse than winter hat hair is fly-aways that won’t stay in a hat to begin with. A dried-out scalp produces fewer oils, which can make hair full of static. Don’t skimp on conditioner, and simulate natural scalp oils by combing a bit of vitamin E oil through the hair before bed to replenish moisture. If static is a major problem, consider switching up your grooming routine. Brushes with natural bristles help redistribute oils from the scalp to the rest of the hair and also conduct less static than plastic brushes and combs. Need a quick fix? Run a bit of lotion through strands or run an unscented dryer sheet (really) over the hair before heading out the door. During the winter, stick to cotton hats (which conduct much less static electricity than acrylic and wool).

10. Scaly Elbows

The skin over high-pressure joints like elbows, knees, and heels is thicker to cushion the essential bones underneath. It’s great to have some extra padding, but ashy, scaly elbows are uncomfortable and unattractive. The key to keeping elbows (and other rough spots) soft is to exfoliate once or twice per week and moisturize every day. Combine a scoop of sugar, a few glugs of olive oil and a drizzle of lemon juice to make a quick scrub. Even shorter on time? Halve a lemon, add a few pinches of sugar or salt, and rub the surface over rough skin. After exfoliating, rinse the skin and moisturize with a thick cream. If the dryness situation is really dire, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the area before bed. When elbows are really itchy, soak them in milk or apply cold compresses. Thick, red skin with flaky white patches that doesn’t go away may be psoriasis. If none of the above treatments work, see a dermatologist for more specialized care.

11. Cold Digits

If fingers and toes are still cold despite wooly socks and gloves, it’s time for a different strategy. To encourage blood flow all the way to the hands and feet, keep the core toasty warm with plenty of layers. Avoid tight garments or jewelry at joints (hands, ankles, and wrists) that could constrict blood flow. Studies have shown that rosemary and gingko biloba can naturally improve blood circulation, too.

12. Irritated, Dry Eyes

Wind and dry air are not a good combination for sensitive eyes. Sporting sunnies on a sub-zero day might look weird, but the lenses can protect eyes from glare and wind. Keep a bottle of non-medicated saline tears or eye drops on hand and use it to refresh eye moisture when needed. Prevent irritation by keeping those well-moisturized hands away from the eye area.

13. Windburn

Kudos to those who enjoy the great outdoors even when it’s frigid outside. Protect sensitive skin by layering on thick face cream with a high SPF—the only thing worse than windburn is winter sunburn. If red windburn patches don’t go away, apply a thin layer of one-percent hydrocortisone cream on irritated spots as needed. This medicated cream contains steroids that reduce inflammation and stop itching in its tracks.

14. Dry Face

It’s unfortunate (but unavoidable) that the body’s most sensitive skin is always exposed to the elements. Definitely take some time this winter to give your mug a little extra lovin’. First thing’s first: During winter, avoid any face products with alcohol, and switch to a milder face wash and a thicker moisturizer. Need to mix up the routine a bit? Wash your face once a week with Greek yogurt. It sounds weird, but the lactic acid works as a gentle, non-abrasive exfoliator. For a moisturizing face mask, take a look in the kitchen before heading down the beauty aisle: Bananas, avocado, egg yolk, and milk can all make great moisturizing face treatments. Another good option? Whole grains and aromatic veggies contain selenium, a compound that gives skin the elasticity to make silly faces. Snack on quinoa, brown rice, onions, or garlic when skin gets tight and dry.

Homeopahty treatment for Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer. Every year, around 10% of us go through what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also reffered to as the winter blues or seasonal depression.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year. You may have SAD if you felt depressed during the last two winters but felt much better in spring and summer.

Anyone can get SAD, but it's more common in:

  • Women.
  • People who live far from the equator, where winter daylight hours are very short.
  • People between the ages of 15 and 55. The risk of getting SAD for the first time goes down as you age.
  • People who have a close relative with SAD.

SAD is sometimes called winter depression or seasonal depression.

Symptoms

If you have SAD, you may:

  • Feel sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious.
  • Lose interest in your usual activities.
  • Eat more and crave carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta.
  • Gain weight.
  • Sleep more but still feel tired.
  • Have trouble concentrating.

Symptoms come and go at about the same time each year. Most people with SAD start to have symptoms in September or October and feel better by April or May.

In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. However, some people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.

Major depression

Seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons. So symptoms of major depression may be part of SAD, such as:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

Spring and summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

  • Depression
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Agitation or anxiety

Seasonal changes in bipolar disorder

In some people with bipolar disorder, spring and summer can bring on symptoms of mania or a less intense form of mania (hypomania), and fall and winter can be a time of depression.

When to see a doctor

It's normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can't get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.

Causes

Experts aren't sure what causes SAD. But they think it may be caused by a lack of sunlight. Lack of light may:

  • Upset your "biological clock," which controls your sleep-wake pattern and other circadian rhythms.
  • Cause problems with serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood.
  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body's level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Being female. SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more-severe symptoms.
  • Age. Young people have a higher risk of winter SAD, and winter SAD is less likely to occur in older adults.
  • Family history. People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression.
  • Having clinical depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms of depression may worsen seasonally if you have one of these conditions.
  • Living far from the equator. SAD appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter and longer days during the summer months.

Complications

Take signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder seriously. As with other types of depression, SAD can get worse and lead to problems if it's not treated. These can include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Social withdrawal
  • School or work problems
  • Substance abuse

Treatment can help prevent complications, especially if SAD is diagnosed and treated before symptoms get bad.

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