With short days and fewer options to socialize this winter, more people than ever may find themselves in need of a boost to help with lagging energy or even depression during the dark months.
Many people swear by their “happy lights,” a whimsical term for light therapy. Used as a way to treat the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other conditions, light therapy involves sitting near a device called a light therapy box for a period of time each day. It’s also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy
The light therapy box gives off a bright light that mimics sunshine. The Mayo Clinic says it is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep. The boxes may ease SAD symptoms and help with other types of depression, sleep disorders, and other conditions like jet lag or dementia.
A few studies have demonstrated benefits for seniors whose sleep patterns have become disrupted and in seniors who were diagnosed with depression.
Light therapy boxes should filter out UV light, so look for one that emits as little as possible. They are available in a variety of intensities, measured in units called lux. During a light therapy session, you sit or work near the light box placed 16 to 24 inches away for about 20 to 30 minutes a day. Most people use them shortly after getting up in the morning.
The Mayo Clinic recommends talking with your doctor before using one and specifically recommends that those diagnosed with bipolar disorder consult a physician first, as a light box may trigger mania in these patients.
Men’s razors: manual vs. electric
Given the vast selection of men’s razors available in stores, choosing one may not be easy. Whether you want to try a new model or your teenager needs to step up his shaving routine, here’s what you should know about manual and electric razors.
Blade models are the best option if you’re looking for a razor that’ll provide a high-precision shave. You must use them on damp skin and apply shaving cream to prevent skin irritation. The manual method allows you to shave hair close to your face, giving you extra-smooth skin. This option also allows you to space out your shaves more, as the hair will grow back slower than it would if you used an electric razor.
In addition, manual shaving is ideal for targeting awkward contours, and it’s a good choice if you want to shape a beard or sideburn.
An electric razor can be used on both dry and wet skin. Much faster to use than a manual razor, it reduces skin irritation and helps you avoid getting nicks and cuts. However, because it doesn’t provide as close a shave as a manual razor, you must make several passes over the same area of skin to achieve a satisfyingly close trim. Some waterproof models can be used in the shower.
Men’s razors are constantly evolving. To find the right one for you, be sure to compare features before selecting a model.
Dysphagia is a health condition that affects many seniors. Here’s what you should know about it.
People with dysphagia have difficulty swallowing. This may lead to:
• Choking when trying to swallow
• Feeling like something is stuck in the throat
• Excessive salivation
The symptoms of dysphagia can range from mild to severe and, in some cases, make swallowing virtually impossible. The inability to eat can also have significant implications, including unhealthy weight loss and malnutrition. Breathing problems may also arise.
Dysphagia can be caused by various health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), and lung or throat cancer. Difficulty swallowing may also occur temporarily in people who suffer from pharyngitis.
There are products available that can make mealtimes safer for people with dysphagia. In particular, some companies offer foods that are a suitable consistency for easy swallowing. Plus, specialized glasses, spoons, and straws can be purchased to assist with swallowing.
Various exercises and medications may also be prescribed to treat dysphagia.
If you’re having trouble swallowing, consult your doctor to identify the cause of the problem and find a solution.
How to overcome fall fatigue
Do you experience an annual drop in energy when autumn rolls around? If you’re wondering why you tend to feel tired at this time of year and want to fight it, here are a few things you should know.
Different people have varying reactions to the change in seasons. You may experience fall fatigue due to the following:
• Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is classified as a subset of depression. It can lead to mental health issues that may affect your ability to get out of bed.
• Reduction in sunlight. The number of daylight hours diminishes in the fall, which may reduce your intake of vitamin D. This shift can impact your body’s circadian rhythms and trigger increased melatonin production, causing fatigue and disrupting your sleep cycle.
• Daylight saving time. The body must recalibrate to the shifting of the clocks, which requires a period of adaptation for most people.
Regular physical activity can help counter fall fatigue. Here are a couple of other strategies to explore:
• Light therapy. When exposure to the sun isn’t possible, such as when you’re at work, use a lamp designed to treat SAD to reduce daytime sleepiness.
• Sleep hygiene. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evenings. Find ways to signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep, such as dimming the brightness on your screens or taking a moment to relax.
If you often wake up feeling exhausted, you may have a more serious health problem. In this case, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor.
What is endometriosis?
During a standard menstrual cycle, hormones help the endometrium, a membrane in the uterus, thicken in preparation for pregnancy. If no fertilization occurs, a portion of this mucus is eliminated through menstruation. In about five to 10 percent of women, however, this process becomes complicated by a disorder known as endometriosis.
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue develops outside the uterus rather than inside. It attaches to the abdominal walls and nearby organs like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bladder. If it’s located outside the uterus, endometrial tissue cannot be expelled through the vagina and becomes trapped within the body.
Indications of endometriosis vary significantly among women, and some don’t experience any symptoms at all. Fertility problems occur in about 40 percent of affected women. Severe menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, and painful intercourse are common signs of this disorder.
Treatment of endometriosis may involve a combination of drugs and surgery. Medication counteracts pain and restores hormone levels in many cases. However, surgical intervention may be needed to relieve pain and completely lessen the adhesions’ extent. Lifestyle changes, such as an alteration in diet or physical activity, may also mitigate symptoms.
If you have painful periods, be sure to talk to your doctor.
7 tips to help Alzheimer’s caregivers combat depression
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and it’s a time to raise public understanding of this brain disorder as well as show support for the six million Americans living with the disease. It’s also an occasion to acknowledge the 16 million family caregivers who look after loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
Caring for someone with this disease takes an emotional toll, and depression is a common consequence. Here are seven tips for managing symptoms of depression.
1. Calm your mind
Meditation and mindfulness exercises such as yoga and tai chi can clear your head, still your emotions, and change your perspective.
Mental and physical health go hand in hand. Consequently, exercising can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can improve self-esteem and cognitive functioning.
3. Schedule “me” time
It’s important to take regular breaks. Make time to read a book, get a massage, or go for a walk. Paying attention to your own needs is key.
4. Consider respite care
Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s can be exhausting. Fortunately, many organizations can provide respite care so that you can get relief for a few hours or a few days. Getting this type of help will enable you to make time for self-care.
5. Keep a journal
Facing your feelings is an essential part of mental well-being. Consider writing about your emotions in a journal, exploring both the highs and lows of caregiving.
6. Get adequate rest
A good night’s sleep can make you feel refreshed and alert. Talk to your doctor if you’re having difficulty sleeping.
7. Eat well
Having a diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains can help alleviate symptoms of depression.
Finally, if you’re struggling to manage your depression, it’s essential to reach out to a mental health professional.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America predicts that by 2060, more than 13 million Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Promising clinical trial goes viral; experts urge caution
You may have seen the social media posts over the past few months — cancer patients “cured of the disease” and a drug trial with “100 percent success.”
But is it true? Yes and no.
A small trial for an immunotherapy drug called dostarlimab yielded astonishing results for cancer researchers at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Eighteen bowel cancer patients were treated with an immunotherapy drug called dostarlimab with no additional surgery or chemotherapy. All of the patients had tumors with a specific genetic feature known as mismatch repair-deficient (MMRd). After six months, all 18 patients went into remission, according to Prevention.
A 100 percent remission rate is unheard of in the world of cancer research, but social media users should be aware that remission isn’t the same as a cure. According to the National Cancer Institute, remission only means the reduction or elimination of the signs and symptoms of cancer. Cancer is only considered cured when no traces of cancer remain, and it will never come back.
More time is needed before researchers can determine if the cancer is truly gone, says oncologist Tom George, M.D., in an interview with WCNC Charlotte. But he remains cautiously optimistic about treating bowel cancer patients without surgery in the future with immunotherapy and other newer medications.
Immunotherapy drugs like dostarlimab are called immune checkpoint inhibitors, which don’t attack cancer directly and instead marshal the immune system to act against cancer cells, according to National Public Radio. For years, immune checkpoint inhibitors have been used to treat some other cancers, including melanoma.
According to WCNC, MSKCC researchers are studying whether immunotherapy can be used to treat other cancers with MMRd tumors.