Articles Posted in Self-care

eclipse-300x235Weather permitting, Washingtonians soon will get a good view of a full eclipse of the sun — not the whole thing but a good chunk. Here’s hoping that all viewers of this much-anticipated astronomical event take due precautions so they don’t damage their eyesight.

Residents around the nation’s capital can expect to see an 81 percent blockage of the sun at the peak of the Aug. 21 eclipse, not the full solar cover or “totality” that millions of Americans are planning and traveling to view in peak spots that fall in a 70-mile wide swath across the country from Oregon to South Carolina.

Be warned: Don’t think just because the sun overhead is mostly blocked that it is safe even then to stare upwards with unprotected eyes. That might leave a careless viewer in the district with crescent-shaped burns on the back of the eyes, says a vision expert and longtime aficionado who says he has seen 19 eclipses.

goop-248x300Mocking the vanity, self-absorption, and stupidity of the rich and celebrities may be too feckless a sport. But the tragic spin-offs of the sweeping misinformation their hype mechanisms can generate sometimes just cannot be ignored.

If you can take it, New York magazine has put out a detailed story on “The Wellness Epidemic,” a deep dive into the cult-like affectations of affluent Americans who spend way too much time worrying they might be sick—and dabbling with remedies that might make most readers with an inkling of common sense spit up a little.

Why pay a second’s attention to this hypochondria and Goop, the fantasy empire of wealthy and beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow? Because she’s the actress who’s not only selling millions of dollars in beauty supplies and vitamins and supplements of suspect health value, she’s also sharing with a sadly rapt global audience her nonsensical views on the benefits and necessities of fecal transplants and putting a $66 jade egg into one’s private parts.

Thanksgiving-turkey-shared-via-creative-commons-by-Betty-Crocker-RecipesAs tens of millions of us set out to feast and give thanks, some thoughts about making the holiday safe and healthy:

Turn off the e-devices when driving

When driving to see friends and family, shut off the electronic devices, please, and forgo the apps on them, as long as you’re the one behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Administration says that, after a half century of declines, traffic fatalities in 2015 recorded their largest percentage leap in a half century—and in the first half of 2016, the figures are up 10.4 percent more over last year (17,775 road deaths). Officials say distracted driving is reaching deadly levels, especially as motorists tap devices and apps to send meaningless texts or take selfies. This already has proved fatal to innocent others, including  multiple-vehicle wrecks.  I deal in my practice with the tragic aftermath of the carnage that vehicles and negligent drivers can inflict. When you’re behind the wheel, you’re responsible for what can become a multi-ton missile. Be safe. If you’re under the influence—due to alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs— rely on a sober, designated driver.  Or take a taxi or tap Uber or Lyft. Or sleep on the couch or floor. We’ll be thankful you did.

INGLEWOOD, CA - 1988: Kareem Abdul Jabbar #33 of the Los Angeles Lakers holds his goggles during an NBA game at the Forum in 1988 in Inglewood, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1988 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

INGLEWOOD, CA – 1988: Kareem Abdul Jabbar #33 of the Los Angeles Lakers holds his goggles during an NBA game at the Forum in 1988 in Inglewood, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1988 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Basketball legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy donned them, as did pro football superstar Eric Dickerson, and onetime Reds third-baseman Chris Sabo. Goggles may make athletes look goofy, but new research suggests that young players and their parents and coaches might want to give these and other protective eye-wear a second look.

That’s because caregivers in emergency rooms across the country treat 30,000 sports-related eye injuries annually, a large majority of them in patients younger than 18 and a few younger than 10.

adderallIf aliens beamed down from another planet, how shocked might they be by modern patients’ willingness to ingest crazy stuff in the name of their health or well-being? Is it surprising or distressing that in the 21st century so many patients swallow so much hokum and downright dangerous thinking?

Let’s start with an excellent but deeply distressing New York Times Sunday Magazine story about “Generation Adderall,” a painful dissection of how many young people have become dependent, even addicted, to drugs that their parents started them on, in the name of improving their focus and academic performance. The author reports that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD or even shorter ADD, has risen as a diagnosis for young people, increasing from 3 to 5 percent of American school kids in 1990 to 11 percent now. The remedy for this, of course, has been prescribing drugs:

In 1990, 600,000 children were on stimulants, usually Ritalin, an older medication that often had to be taken multiple times a day. By 2013, 3.5 million children were on stimulants, and in many cases, the Ritalin had been replaced by Adderall, officially brought to market in 1996 as the new, upgraded choice for ADHD—more effective, longer lasting.

Now that the Labor Day holiday has passed, it’s a perfect time to remind youngsters and their parents: Sports are supposed to be leisure and pleasure activities. And they need to be safe.

Ryan Basen, a tutor to kids and a medical writer, has put together a pointed piece in the Washington Post about youngsters and athletic over-use. He cites facts, scientific studies, and his own painful experiences to chide parents gently about the widespread mania for youngsters to spend huge chunks of their lives in games that not only may not be fun but painful and harmful.

flossIt wasn’t the kind of reporting to force a U.S. president to resign. Still, the Associated Press did cause some red faces among dental and diet experts by exposing a lack of research rigor and a bit of publication sleight-of-hand. This all turned on debunking a bit of oral health dogma: Do we really need to floss our teeth every day?

The AP reviewed two dozen research studies and found “weak, very unreliable,” and “very low” quality data to support the staunch position propounded by federal agencies, as well as two leading dental associations, that flossing is a must, and that it produces superior health outcomes versus simple daily tooth brushing.

Uncle Sam has flogged flossing for decades, including recommending it in the evidence-based national Dietary Guidelines put out every five years. This year that advice mysteriously disappeared in the latest guidelines, the news service found.

stemcellBeneficial therapies can topple over to medical nightmares in a blink, especially when regulators seem to have looked askance or even shut their eyes and slumbered. The Food and Drug Administration may need to look into what  is going on with the burgeoning business of so-called stem cell treatments.

Two academics took to the Internet and found “at least 351 businesses in 570 locations …marketing stem cell therapies that have not been fully vetted by medical researchers or blessed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” they reported in the peer reviewed, academic journal Cell Stem Cell.

To be sure, they did not visit the facilities in person, and they use care not to describe any of them as violating state or federal laws or regulations. They used rigorous, robust online means, though, to look at the operations’ Internet pitches, which, as The Los Angeles Times notes:

eyeExperts have new cautions about protecting your vision while using  computer screens, while others have some new thoughts on how to improve the access and affordability of hearing care.

Millions around the world may suffer headache, eye strain, double vision, dry eyes, eye fatigue and other symptoms of eye strain due to long periods spent in front computer screens, according to a new study on “computer vision syndrome,” published in Medical Practice and Reviews by two African researchers.

They also note that poor posture in front of screens may cause users−including accountants, architects, bankers, engineers, flight controllers, graphic artists, journalists, academicians, secretaries and students−to have chronic headaches, musculoskeletal problems like neck and back pain, headaches, and stress.

How is it that February is almost gone? For those who made New Year’s resolutions about health, fitness, and diet, it might be time for a check in: Is that exercise regimen producing both the physical and mental health results desired? Is it time to toss at least one long-time, favorite exercise that was supposed to carve up the abs? And might some of the weight-loss challenges that dieters experience be more a matter of the gut or more greatly influenced by upbringing than previously believed?

Best exercise for the brain?

ratNew research has shed some intriguing light on which type of exercise produces the most optimal mental as well as physical results.

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