How to Survive Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) usually begins about two to ten days before a woman’s period and can make her feel uncomfortable in a variety of ways. The symptoms usually persist until the beginning of her period and sometimes throughout it. They include headaches, muscle aches and back pains, breast tenderness, exaggerated appetite and food cravings, severe mood swings, tearfulness, irritability, and difficulty falling and staying asleep. In some extreme cases, PMS may cause swelling of the face and hands, rashes and difficulty concentrating.

What Triggers the PMS

All the unpleasant symptoms of the PMS are the natural reaction of a woman’s body to hormonal changes. However, the severe indisposition can be triggered by several factors:

  • stress
  • lack of physical activity
  • hormonal dysfunctions
  • thyroid diseases
  • caffeine and alcohol abuse
  • smoking
  • unhealthy diet lacking vitamins and calcium

Preventing and Treating the PMS

PMS can be prevented and treated. Following is some advice for making PMS symptoms more tolerable:

  • Be one step ahead of the PMS – mark the upcoming period in the calendar and be psychologically prepared for the difficulties associated with it.
  • See a doctor in order to rule out the possibility of a hormonal dysfunction or thyroid-related disease. Discuss the options of medications that can be used for PMS.
  • Stay active – exercising is proven to help with the mood swings and relieve the stress.
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee, strong tea and smoking at least one week before the expected period.
  • Have sex – an orgasm and skin-to-skin contact are the oldest anti-depressants and stress-relievers that can be also extremely helpful in one’s fight with insomnia.

A Special PMS Diet

In order to fight the unpleasant experience of PMS, stick to a healthy low fat diet (those trying to lose weight can benefit from this even more). Make an attempt to limit sweets and avoid products rich in sodium as well as all bottled and canned foods. Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables that contain a variety of vitamins as well as dairy products (an excellent source of calcium). Adding any kind of nuts to one’s diet is also a great idea – they are rich in energy, protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Drink juices, herbal teas and lots of water.

There is an old Russian saying – “The Devil cannot possibly be as scary as he is described.” This can also be considered true about PMS. Although there is no doubt that a few days before her period, an average woman goes through a physical and emotional ordeal, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the symptoms of PMS can be successfully relieved.

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Recognising Arthritis and the Treatments Available

Arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation of the joints. It can also affect the muscles and internal organs; affecting a person at any time in their life. Tenderness around a joint, limited movement, redness and warmth are often the first signs of arthritis.

Two of the most common conditions are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis and its treatment

Nicknamed the “wear and tear disease,” osteoarthritis is most commonly found in people aged 65 years and over. This disease affects the joints and the surrounding tissue. It usually affects one or a few of the joints which are knees, hips, hands and spine.

Its aims of treatment include:

  • strengthening muscles and mobility of joints by exercise
  • reduce strain on affected joints
  • taking painkillers when needed
  • losing weight if necessary

Rheumatoid arthritis and its treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis is known as the “autoimmune connective tissue disease” and is most commonly found in women between the ages of 30 and 50 years old.

This disease is a lot more complicated; it occurs when the immune system attacks the cell lining inside the joint, which leaves the joints to move less fluidly. This is how the inflammation transpires. Symptoms are usually joint stiffness, joint pain, swelling and loss of joint movement.

Its treatment aims to:

  • relieve symptoms
  • preserve muscle strength and joint movement
  • prevent joints from further damage
  • help individual to lead a normal life

Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are often taken to reduce swelling and discomfort for rheumatoid arthritis but these only keep the problem at bay rather than it being a long-term aid. There are several drugs which are used to prevent joint damage – methotrexate, sulfasalazine, azathioprine, leflunomide, gold salts, penicillamine and hydroxychloroquine. Methotrexate and sulfasalazine have proved to be the most effective and are therefore the most commonly used.

Arthritis is often genetic so a doctor will ask if there is any history of sufferers within the family. However, it can also occur from infection or a virus (reactive arthritis.)

Tests such as blood tests and x-rays could be taken. An ESR blood test measuring the stickiness in red blood cells is read and if it is particularly high, it concludes that there may be inflammation within the body. A reading taken from someone suffering from osteoarthritis would have either no inflammation or it would be very mild and so the ESR would be normal.

A blood test may also be taken for the Rheumatoid Factor. This is an antibody that appears in the blood, this generally increases in normal people as they age.

X-rays can be suggested as these would show if the arthritis has affected the bones. The x-ray will show if the bones have started to erode or even if there has been bone growth (osteophytes). Arthritis can sometimes cause extra bone to grow at the edges of the affected joints.

In some cases, a general practitioner may be able to make a diagnosis. Sometimes however, referral to a hospital specialist may be needed.

Exercise to keep joints strong

There is a common fear that exercise can further damage already delicate joints. It is however extremely important that the right exercise is taken to maintain flexible joints and muscle strength.

Do’s: Stretching, muscle-strengthening, general fitness or aerobic exercise.

Don’ts: Sit-ups (causes strain on spine), squats (causes strain on knee) and never crack joints.

Nail Biting – Why It Happens and How To Stop

Nail biters are easy to spot. They may keep their hands clenched, point to things using a pen, or hold the pen so as not to show fingertips. They constantly inspect their nails for tears, file frantically, or produce nippers when no-one is looking. The results are obvious if their fingertips are on display. Or, of course, they may be chewing at their nails.

Why People Bite Their Nails

Nail biting is often blamed on “nerves,” or anxiety, or just a bit of nail that was demanding attention. An anxious expression is common while nail biting, but anxiety is not the cause – it’s the result of the action itself. People are fully aware that it’s an ugly habit, and most, if offered an instant cure, would gladly take it.

The habit often begins in childhood, probably in imitation of a relative. This irritates parents, who scold and – sadly – have even been known to creep up behind the child and surprise them with a smack on the hand. This is very unlikely to be effective, as it just increases anxiety and the person may become defensive and secretive about the nail biting habit. And once the habit is established, the biter often finds it hard to resist continual monitoring of their nails and dealing with any snags. It becomes a routine, a habit – a vicious circle of bite, anxiety, check nails, bite and so on.

If the fingernails are soft, they are more likely to split or tear during everyday activities. This attracts the biter’s attention, and the behavior begins.

Why is Nail Biting Undesirable?

Bitten fingernails are always unattractive. They can affect self-esteem and change social behaviour, and are the behavior is often associated with anxiety.

There is also a health issue, as bacteria, viruses, or bits of grime can become lodged under even the shortest nails. This leaves nail biters more prone to illness and infection.

How to Avoid Making Nail Biting Worse

 

Scolding, smacking or punishing a child, or complaining to an adult, will not stop the compulsion to bite nails. It will only increase the anxiety that accompanies it, and may make the person seek privacy if a nail appears to need biting. Worsened anxiety can lead to more nail biting.

Nail biting remedies like bitter aloes and paint-on bitter liquid do have a slight chance of working with children who have just started, but seems intrinsically unkind and authoritarian. Again, it can only increase anxiety, and adults will just wash it off, either deliberately or because they wash their hands frequently anyway.

What To Do To Stop Nail Biting

The first approach is to consider the health of the nails. If they are soft and prone to tear, bend back, or split, then a dietary overhaul might be in order, and advice can be sought.

Habits in childhood may disappear, unless they are replaced by an alternative. Nail biting can be a childhood habit which never became replaced and so persists. The most useful approach is to seek a replacement (or ‘displacement’) activity – one which is acceptable, even pleasant, and which is incompatible with biting the nails.

What is chosen depends on which of two forces is the stronger – the need for oral activity, or the need for the hand to have purposeful fidgeting.

If a person constantly chews gum or mints, sucks the end of the pen, or bites the lip, then the oral aspect is probably important. Here, a solution would be to increase the use of chewing gum (hopefully sugar-free), or – better – find a new activity. Examples might be sucking small pebbles or the occasional boiled sweet, very slowly eating individual peanuts, munching baby carrots, using lip salve, or drinking more water.

More common are manually-driven nail biters, with a need to fidget constantly with their hands. They may drum fingers on the table, make chains of paper clips, ‘ping’ rubber bands, doodle while on the phone, or frequently touch or scratch their faces. A helpful strategy here is to obtain a small toy with moving parts which can be a fidgeting object in various ways. Examples are ‘sputniks’ whose spikes can be pushed in and then they pop out, tiny cars or animals on wheels that can be spun around by the wheels, held in various ways, and raced along smooth surfaces. A small Rubik’s cube would do, but only for changing the surfaces rather than solving the puzzle. If these are cute, constantly to hand, preferably actually in the hand where possible, they should help to divert the fidgeting. They can be given a name, too.

Rules to Help the Methods Work

  • Never be without the displacement object or oral activity, even when nails are looking good.
  • Try to recognise when the biting is just about to start – consider an initial boost with bitters to attract immediate attention.
  • Don’t buy beautiful hand ornaments, especially rings, too soon – not being able to wear them is punishment.
  • Ensure that the diet is promoting strong nails.

Stopping biting fingernails is difficult, but possible with a strategy. It has benefits for appearance, self-confidence, social behaviour, and health, and is well worth the effort.

Keeping an Acid-Alkaline Balance For Health

The delicate acid-alkaline body balance is a topic in which natural healthcare professionals are well versed, but most people are still completely unaware of how important it is to their overall health and well being. Just like every other substance on earth, the human body has a pH, which means that it falls somewhere on the scale between acidity, and its opposite, alkalinity. A person’s body pH is developed as a result of lifestyle, diet and medications, and has more effect on total-body wellness than any other single physical factor.

What is Body Acidity?

If the body does not have a proper pH – meaning a healthy balance between acid and alkaline – it cannot function properly, stay healthy, or age gracefully. When people are born, their acid/alkaline balance is near perfection, but at the time of death, most people are almost completely acidic, which shows its effects on the body. The scale goes like this – a pH of 1.0 is very strongly acidic, and a pH of 14 is strongly alkaline, and most people fall somewhere in between. A healthy pH is a neutral 7.0 – 7.5.

It is very easy and very common for the body to become overly acidic. Due to the typical Western diet of acid-forming foods such as meats, pasta, refined sugar, starches, fast food, and caffeine, most Americans are living in a highly acidic state, which causes them to age more quickly, feel less energetic, and have a body that is very susceptible to the development of chronic disease. There are, in fact, over 38 million Americans suffering from acid overload today, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Some risk factors for developing an acidic condition are taking prescription drugs, not exercising enough, living under stress, being exposed to environmental toxins, using artificial sweeteners, and drinking alcohol and caffeine, or smoking.

The Effects of an Acidic Body

An overly acidic state affects all major body systems, from blood circulation to food digestion, from the neurons firing in the brain to the kidneys ability to filter waste. It can lead to poor heart function, weakened immunity, low energy, and even stubborn weight problems. Those who are overly acidic have also been known to suffer from stiff, sore joints, stomach and digestive disorders, and memory loss. When the body is overly acidic, it cannot properly absorb minerals, and the first to deplete itself is iodine, which has a direct effect on the functioning of the thyroid gland and metabolism.

How to Balance pH

Fortunately, and acid imbalance is a relatively easy problem to correct – with a few dietary and lifestyle changes, along with some supplementation. By simply cutting out the heavily acidic foods mentioned above, and increasing the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially greens of any kind, the diet becomes much more alkaline, and less acid-friendly. Green food supplements are also a good way to add alkaline substances to the system. To keep track of changes in pH, testing strips that check the acid levels of saliva or urine can be used.

The best way to level out the body’s pH, however, is by drinking alkaline water. This is easily absorbed into the system and begins to take effect almost immediately. Water can be made alkaline by being run through a special alkalizing filter, or by adding alkalizing liquid drops, both of which are available at most health food stores.

How is a Breast Lift Different from Breast Augmentation?

Breast lift surgery and breast augmentation are two diverse plastic surgery procedures. Many women tend to confuse between the two. Both procedures are meant to serve different purposes, even though the overall goal in both cases is common – to enhance the appearance of the patient.

Re-shaping with Breast lift

Breast lifts are meant to improve the shape and position of the breasts, and make them appear more youthful. Breast surgery in this case involves an incision to remove the excess skin that is hanging loose, and causing the breasts to droop or sag. Along with the skin excision, the position of the nipples is also usually changed to make the breasts appear firmer, younger and uplifted.

The most common method of breast mastopexy or breast lift involves making an anchor-shaped incision. This incision is made in the crease that forms beneath the breasts, and extends around the nipple areola complex. A skilled breast surgeon makes sure that the incision is made in such a way that the scar remains hidden been the breast crease as far as possible.

Breast Implants and the Cost of Surgery

Breast augmentation involves enlargement or enhancement of the breast size by inserting artificial breast implant in each breast. Silicone implants are popularly used, but saline implants are also opted by those who are looking for a cheaper cost of implant. Breast implants add volume to the breasts, and make them appear fuller, firmer and younger.

Breast augmentation surgery is considerably more expensive than a breast lift. The implant costs are high, and the procedure of breast augmentation is also more elaborate and complex as compared to breast lift. The recovery period in case of breast augmentation is also longer. The cost of surgery may also vary from one state to another and also one plastic surgeon to another.

Complementary Breast Surgeries

Breast lift and breast enlargement or breast implant surgeries are different from each other, but they also complement each other. In some cases, the cosmetic surgeon will recommend both procedures for the same patient where the patient not only has smaller sized breasts, but also suffers from sagging or loose skin around the breasts. In such cases, the best results can be achieved when both procedures are performed on the patient.

A note of caution: It is always advisable to choose a qualified, board certified and experienced plastic surgeon with a perfect safety record. At the same time, it is best to have the procedure in a certified facility for such surgeries to achieve safe and desired results.

The Cause, Diagnosis and Treatment of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a deformity of the spine which cases the spine to rotate and to curve. It not only results in physical problems, but research has suggested that these patients often have poor self-esteem and can suffer back pain. Some forms of scoliosis are thought to be genetic and appear to run in families. It is not a single disease, but can be associated with other syndromes or a symptom of other diseases.

How Scoliosis is Diagnosed?

The first signs of scoliosis are usually small changes in the person’s physical appearance. This can include: a hip that appears more prominent and higher than the other hip, shoulders which are not at the same height, rib cage at different height and others. If scoliosis is suspected then a physician or orthopedic specialist should be consulted.

Scoliosis can be confirmed by x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan and if the curve is confirmed the curvature will be measured. Patients who are also complaining of pain may have a bone scan. The patient will have their reflexes checked along with an examination to look for any loss in motor or sensory function. Scoliosis can affect the ability of the lungs, so breathing will be assessed.

Causes of Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis is usually detected during an ultrasound scan in pregnancy. The baby will show signs of a deformed spine. A study in 1993 “Anomalies Associated with Vertebral Malformations” suggests that 60 percent of these babies will have other deformities. Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis occurring at any age and accounting for 80 percent of cases. The most common form is found in adolescents and may run in families.

Scoliosis can also be caused by a number of different syndromes such as Marfan syndrome, Duchene muscular dystrophy. Injury, tumors, and infections may also result in scoliosis. Further in the elderly it may be caused by degenerative changes in the spine caused by diseases such as osteoarthritis.

Treatment of Scoliosis

Treatment will depend on the cause of the scoliosis, age of the patient, the curvature and if there are other medical problems. Non-surgical treatments include observational or wearing a brace. The doctor may decide to monitor the patient and wait with regular x-rays to determine if the curve progresses. There are many variations and types of brace used for scoliosis. It remains unclear if there is any difference between wearing the brace for part-time or full-time. Many adolescents are poor at complying with wearing a brace. Research also suggests that many adolescents find wearing a brace stressful and lowers their self esteem.

Surgery is usually only performed on patients whose curvature is progressing. The Mayo Clinic suggests that surgery is recommended when the curve is greater than 40 to 50 degrees. Surgery involves straightening and fusing of the spine. The type of surgery will depend on the position of the curve and the degree of curvature. The surgery is complex. There is always a risk of complications, such as infection, nerve damage, failure to fuse vertebra and pain.

Improved techniques are improving the care and quality of life for these patients. Research is currently underway to determine markers that will predict progression of the curve and to determine inheritance.

How to Avoid Swine Flu

Swine Flu or the H1N1 virus is a fast spreading influenza that spreads from person-to-person through the cough or sneeze of infected people.

While swine flu is curable, a far better option is taking adequate steps to prevent its occurrence. Infants and young children, pregnant women, and people with weak immunity and other health disorders such as asthma and lung disease are more suspectible to Swine Flu and hence should take precautions.

How to Prevent Swine Flu Spread by Isolation

The basic precaution against swine flu is preventing the germs from spreading. The infected person need to cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and throw the tissue to the waste basket. This basic precaution blocks the major source of transmission of the swine flu germs.

Staying at home when sick, following public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures when the virus is rampant all contribute towards checking the spread of this virus.

How to Prevent Swine Flu Spread by Cleanness

At times the germs that emit from a sick persons cough or sneeze settles down in objects such as utensils, and transmitted when another person touches the object. Washing utensils with alcohol based cleaners, and hands thoroughly soap and water before eating are the basic precautions against swine flu. Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth even after washing is an added precaution against swine flu.

Other precautions against swine flu include

  • avoiding public facilities that are prone to have swine flu germs
  • avoiding crowds
  • thoroughly cleaning fruits and vegetables immediately before consumption

How to Prevent Swine Flu Spread by Boosting Immunity

People with weak immunity are more suspectible to the swine flu virus. The bodies immunity system weakens with less sleep, poor dietary habits and stress. Ways to boost immunity include:

  • sleeping eight hours a day
  • consumption of a nutritious diet rich in whole grains and vegetables
  • avoiding greasy and fatty foods
  • taking Vitamin C supplements
  • drinking up to ten glasses of water a day that would flush out toxic impurities and help develop mucus in the nostrils that would keep the germs out
  • leading an active lifestyle with plenty of exercises and workouts
  • The symptoms of swine flu bear resemblance to regular flu, and it is important not to mistake the fever as regular flu.

Finally, although swine flu is a serious disease, there is nothing to panic. Prompt and proper treatment can cure the disease, and statistics indicate that the death rate from swine flu is much less than the death rate from many other commonplace diseases. Vaccination is now available for H1N1, making this disease a far lesser threat in the coming years.