Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

My Special Note – your online source for personalized gifts and letters – is giving back to a very special cause this holiday season.

Someone very close to us has Cystic Fibrosis – a disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of about 30,000 people across the U.S.

SO…in support of Breanna, 10% of all sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Shop My Special Note for:

Buy a personalized gift for your child and give back at the same time!

To learn more about CF, visit their website at:  http://www.cff.org

Happy Holidays!


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Everyone knows that the key to a healthy body is diet and exercise. Many people obsessively work out every day to keep in tip top shape. So, if we’re so concerned with exercising our bodies, why do we often neglect to exercise our minds? Our brains are just like our muscles: use it or lose it. If we don’t do daily activities to help keep our brain in top order, we lose important skills; particularly the skill of remembering. So if you want to remember your mother’s phone number, your grocery list, or where you left your keys; start exercising your brain.

So, how exactly do you exercise your brain? There’s no brain gym you can get a membership to with “memory classes,” but there are things you can do on your own. Here are some things you can try to keep your neurons limber.

Open a newspaper
Sure, reading the paper might expand your knowledge, but if you really want to get your brain in shape, turn to the crossword puzzle. You can also try solving other puzzles that require using your language skills. These help you remember things by making you regularly access simple memories (i.e. certain words)

Try the latest puzzle craze
Go to a book store, go online, or look in the paper; you’re likely to find Sudoku puzzles. These are number puzzles that are becoming increasingly popular. They help exercise your brain’s deductive reasoning skills. Plus, they’re fun and incredibly addictive.

Learn something new
You’ve probably heard people say that learning something new pushes old information out of your brain. This is not only wrong, it’s just plain silly. The capacity of your brain is only determined by how much you want to put in it. Try learning a new skill or how to play a musical instrument. Learning a skill and continue to use it will keep your memory accessing skills limber.

Books, games and services
While there aren’t actually gyms you can go to, there are ways to get exercises specifically designed to improve memory. You can find these in book stores, online, and even in video game stores.

While it’s great to exercise your brain cells, don’t skip out on your trips to the gym. Keeping your body in good physical shape will help keep your brain healthy too. While cardio is the best work out to keep you healthy, you can still keep your memory if you can’t perform a strenuous workout. Even a simple walk for an hour a day can help prevent or slow memory loss. So get up and go as much as you can to keep your brain going.

Most people don’t worry about memory loss until they start to notice it slipping away, but the best time to start is while your mind is still sharp. You may not be able to bring your memory back, but you can keep it from fading. Regularly working your mind has even been shown to ward off Alzheimer’s. So if you want to keep your mind sharp, be sure to eat right, get enough rest, and exercise regularly.

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There are several forms of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and the worst form of skin cancer known as Malignant Melanoma. Let’s discuss what to look for, symptoms, and when you should contact your doctor.

Basal Cell Carcinoma
This is a common form of skin cancer usually caused by over-exposure to the sun. This type of skin cancer grows slowly, rarely spreads, and is seldom life-threatening. While it may vary in appearance, it is usually characterized by a small, flat module which gradually may turn into an open sore with raised edges. It appears frequently on the face, usually around the eyes, near the nose or on the nose, as well as on other sun-exposed areas including the back, chest, arms, and legs. For proper diagnosis and treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma, see your doctor.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This is also a common form of skin cancer which is rarely life-threatening. It starts as a small, firm, painless lump or patch, and resembles a wart or an open sore. It is also associated with over-exposure to the sun and can occur anywhere on the body. It is most common on the back of the hands or on the lips. If you have a lump on your skin that does not heal within three weeks, check with your doctor.

Malignant Melanoma
This is the most deadly form of skin cancer. It is sometimes associated with exposure to the sun, but can occur anywhere on the body including parts of the body not exposed to the sun. It most often appears on the face, upper chest or legs, and usually grows from existing moles. Malignant moles may bleed and can resemble sores that do not heal. If you think you have a melanoma, contact your doctor immediately.

Identifying skin cancers can be difficult. However, there are ways in which you can determine if you have any of the above three skin cancers.

Cancerous moles are often asymmetrical, that is, one half of the mole looks different from the other half. The outline of a cancerous mole can be uneven or have poor defined edges and may change over time. Melanomas can be very dark in color and contain shades of tan, brown, white, red, or blue. Moles that grow larger than a half inch across may be a sign of malignant melanomas, although smaller moles can also indicate malignancy as well.

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Everywhere you look, it seems like everyone has a baby. Maybe it’s your neighbors, friends, or just famous people on T.V. This can make the fact that you can’t seem to get pregnant even more disconcerting.

Before you get frustrated or upset, remember that your chances of having a child are better than they’ve ever been. Not only are there new technologies to help you have a child, there’s also more extensive research on what helps and hurts your chances of conception.

Here are a few tips to help start you on the track to having your own child.

Consult a Professional
If you’re having problems conceiving, you should start by seeing health care professional. While many people’s fertility problems can be solved without medical intervention, it’s best to make sure you don’t require treatment in order to have a child. The man should be tested first because fertility testing is much easier for males.

Cut Back on Your Bad Habits
Consuming alcohol and caffeine, and smoking can all decrease fertility factors in men and women. In the case of smoking, these effects may be permanent; so start quitting today.

Possible Medical Conditions?
When people think of fertility and doctors, they often think of in vitro fertilization and other artificial forms of conception, but that’s not all they can do. For instance, the most common cause of infertility in men is a varicose vein blocking the passage of sperm which can be corrected with a minor surgery. There are other problems that also require simple treatments to fix.

Cut Back on the Sex
It may seem contradictive, but many couples don’t get pregnant because they’re having sex too often. Frequent ejaculation causes the sperm count to be lower because men can only produce sperm so fast. For the highest sperm count, you should wait three days to have sex again. Because of this, a fertility monitor can come in handy so you know when the best time to conceive is. By taking three day breaks, it is very easy to miss your window of opportunity if you’re not careful.

Cut Back on the Stress
Another common cause of infertility is high stress levels. This creates a cyclical problem because the longer it takes you to conceive, the more stressed you get that something might be wrong. You and your spouse should both take time to relax and unwind. You might consider doing yoga together or just giving each other massages at the end of the day.

Watch Your Diet
Eat a healthy, well balanced diet. While most women know they should eat right once they get pregnant, many don’t think about eating good foods while trying to conceive. Your reproductive organs work best when the rest of your body is healthy too. This means eating the foods to stay at your best. Your diets should include organic and natural food products. Eating traditionally grown products can severely inhibit fertility rates. Many foods contain hormones and other chemicals that can throw your natural levels out of whack, decreasing your chances of conceiving.

If your doctor says you’re both fertile, the best method to conceive is to just keep trying. While it may be frustrating, the natural method is usually the best.

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One of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world is when you’re bloated, right? Clothes do not fit properly, you become irritable, and pain often accompanies the symptom, especially during PMS. While most people who experience bloating are affected by different foods or drinks, here are some tips to help reduce bloating.

  1. Reduce your sodium intake. Salt is the number one contributor to bloating.
  2. Exercise as much as you can.
  3. Avoid foods which are gassy such as cabbage, beans, milk and other vegetables and foods which contain lactose.
  4. When eating meals, chew slowly. The old adage of chewing 100 times may be true. Lay down your fork between each bite.
  5. Avoid chewing gum to reduce the amount of air you are swallowing.
  6. Avoid powdered milk as it contains salt which increases bloating.
  7. Too many starchy foods combined with protein contribute to bloating.
  8. Try not to drink anything that is very cold, but keep it at room temperature.
  9. Do not eat too much of anything. Portion control can reduce bloating.
  10. Check to determine what condiments may cause your bloating, such as mayonnaise and the like.
  11. Eating processed foods such as mac and cheese can cause bloating due to its high sodium content.
  12. Snacks such as chips and certain types of cheese flavored popcorn have high sodium content.
  13. Avoid diet sodas and candies.
  14. Constipation may also be a factor in bloating. Eat foods rich in fiber.
  15. Drink chamomile tea, which is not only good for the digestive system, but reduces bloating as well.

Finally, and this may be hard to take ladies, but experts suggest that avoiding chocolate during your menstrual period will reduce the bloating as well. The reason is because chocolate contains both sugar and dairy, thus contributing to the bloating problem. However, no one can definitively tell you not to eat chocolate, especially when you are PMSing! Between the water retention and the bloating, denying yourself chocolate can be a lethal request.

These tips to help reduce bloating depend upon what actually causes it in your particular case. Keep track of those foods, drinks, and habits which contribute to it. Once you ascertain the cause, you’ll most likely never have to deal with it again.

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Do you have headaches which seem to linger on and on no matter what type of over-the-counter medication you take? Is the pain located on one side of your head? Do you become sensitive to light and sound? Do you feel sick from it? If you answer yes to any of these questions, it is most likely the case that it’s not a headache at all, but a terrible migraine.

It is estimated that more than 29 million Americans suffer from migraines, and unfortunately women are affected more than men. What complicates this further is that most migraines are attributed to sinus infections or tension headaches.

Migraines are typically caused by stress, skipping a meal, lack of sleep, medications, sunlight, TV, certain foods, or loud constant noise. The pain is caused when brain cells set off a specific nerve which releases chemicals that cause swelling of the blood vessels on the surface of the brain. The result is a pain felt around the eye or temple area.

Not easily diagnosed, routine CT scans may be performed to determine if there are any other underlying causes. This is certainly no comfort to those who experience migraines. While there are many reasons why someone would develop migraines, it is suggested by doctors that a diary is kept to determine the frequency of the migraines and what event played a role in its onset.

Accordingly, the FDA has approved three over-the-counter medications to treat migraines. Whether or not they are effective, only the individual experiencing the pain can determine. However, it should be noted that some of these medications can cause side effects. Moreover, more potent medications have also been approved by the FDA to control the incidents of migraines. However, these also may have adverse effects.

Another type of therapy, one that has been used as an alternative to drugs, is biofeedback. Using a specific type of equipment which monitors physical tension, a migraine patient has the ability to control the catalyst which contributes to the stress. After a certain amount of time, the patient can then use this technique without equipment to either stop the attack or minimize its effects.

Migraines are and can be debilitating. Whether you choose drug therapy or biofeedback therapy, it is up to you to decide which treatment is most effective and carries with it less risk in developing side effects.

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So, you or a loved one has been diagnosed with endometriosis, and been told what stage the disease is at, but you’re not really sure what this means. Maybe your doctor will soon be doing a procedure to determine the stage and you need more information. Either way, it is important to know exactly what endometriosis is and what the different stages mean.

The endometrium is a layer of cells that grow inside the uterus in preparation for the fertilized egg implanting. If no egg implants, the endometrial cells are shed and women experience a period. In women with endometriosis, this process does not occur quite so smoothly.

Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium grows into the tissue surrounding the uterus, most often the ovaries. Instead of flowing out of the body during menstruation, the tissue stays in the other areas and eventually grows and scars.

The stage of the disease is determined by several factors, including:

* The location of the growths
* The superficiality or depth of the growths in organs
* How stuck together organs are
* The growth rate of the area

Your doctor can confirm your diagnosis and determine the stage of the disease by doing a simple surgery called a laparoscopy. This is when a camera is inserted into the affected area so the doctor can see the extent of the damage.

When doing a laparoscopy, the doctor will determine the severity of each of these factors and assign numbers. The total number that is reached determines what stage you are. Here is a general description of each stage.

Stage 1: Less than 5. This is considered a very mild case. Adhesions (thin strings of scar tissue spread from one area to another) are superficial, thin and filmy.

Stage 2: 6 to 15. This is still a mild form of the disease. This also includes thin, filmy adhesions, but the patient also has superficial and deep implants of endometrial cells.

Stage 3: 16 to 40. This is moderate endometriosis. Implants are also superficial and deep, but the adhesions are still filmy, but more dense.

Stage 4: Greater than 40. This is the most severe case of the disease. Many women with stage 4 experience infertility because the growths are so severe. This includes deep and superficial implants, but the adhesions are very dense. In very few women, the adhesions will have spread past the lower abdominal cavity.

It is important for women to realize that pain is not a good indicator of the stage of the illness. While it makes sense for symptoms to increase as the disease progresses, many women have severe pain and other complications from only mild cases. In addition, some women never experience visible symptoms. They only find out they have endometriosis during fertility testing and other procedures.

Knowing the stage of your disease will help your doctor determine and appropriate treatment plan for you. However, the stage of your disease has nothing to do with how you’ll respond to treatment. A patient with stage 1 endometriosis may respond poorly to treatment while someone with a higher stage could respond very well. Stage is also not a good indicator of whether or not your disease will reoccur once it is under control.

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