It’s normal to have concerns about aging or to worry about how your loved ones will cope after you’re gone. However, for some people, a fear of death or dying can cause severe anxiety that disrupts their daily life. This is referred to as thanatophobia. Here’s what you should know.
Thanatophobia, also known as death anxiety, is a type of anxiety that generally only manifests itself if the affected person thinks about or is confronted with the subject of death. Depending on the severity of the phobia, it can cause a variety of symptoms such as:
• Increased anxiety about dying or losing a loved one
• Chronic insomnia stemming from a fear of dying in your sleep
• Persistent feelings of guilt, sadness, or anger
• Panic attacks when the subject of death is brought up
Someone with thanatophobia might also avoid places that remind them of death, such as hospitals and cemeteries, and activities they view as potentially fatal such as driving or flying.
If thanatophobia prevents someone from living a normal life, there are therapies that can help ease the fear associated with death. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, focuses on changing thought patterns and developing strategies to deal with feelings of anxiety. Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can also help.
If death anxiety is interfering with your daily life, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or consult a mental health professional.
Funeral and estate planning
If you want to plan for your death and make things easier for your loved ones after you’re gone, look into writing a legal will and pre-planning your funeral.
What is restless leg syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that affects about five to 10 percent of adults and is particularly prevalent among women. Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, it’s characterized by a strong urge to move the legs in response to unpleasant sensations in the lower limbs. The frequency and intensity of these sensations, which may include itching, aching and crawling, depending on the person. RLS may also affect other parts of the body such as the arms and head.
Since symptoms typically occur while sitting or lying down in the evening or at night, RLS can interfere with sleep and lead to a number of health problems. Here’s an overview of the condition and what can be done about it.
There’s often no known cause of RLS, but your chances of developing the condition are significantly higher if it runs in your family. If this is the case, symptoms will usually begin in early adulthood, before the age of 40. Additionally, RLS symptoms may temporarily appear or worsen during pregnancy. In certain instances, the condition is associated with other health problems such as an iron deficiency or kidney failure.
In most cases, it’s the description of your symptoms that will allow your doctor to make a diagnosis. However, your physician will likely also review your family history and schedule a blood test to determine if you have an iron deficiency or other abnormality. A polysomnography, which is a type of sleep study, might also be recommended.
There’s no cure for RLS, but there are several treatments that can considerably reduce its symptoms. Medications that increase the amount of dopamine in the brain are often prescribed, as this neurotransmitter helps the nervous system regulate movement.
Additionally, there are various habits you can adopt to help ease RLS. These include maintaining a regular sleep schedule and doing activities that require prolonged sitting early in the day rather than in the evening. When you experience symptoms, you can massage and stretch your legs or apply a heating pad or ice pack to get relief.
If you think you have restless leg syndrome, it’s important to take your symptoms seriously and consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Train your nose
Viruses are notorious for inhibiting the sense of smell, but sometimes the lack of smell becomes chronic. For these people, a hot pizza smells the same as cardboard — or worse.
There are two known smell disorders. Phantosmia causes people to smell things that aren’t there. Parosmia causes people to smell strange or unpleasant odors from ordinary things. According to Harvard’s Men’s Health, you might smell rotten eggs instead of cinnamon.
A 2020 study suggests people can train their noses (or brains) to smell more effectively. The study published in the journal The Laryngoscope found that people can improve their senses of smell and recover from smell disorders by using a sniff kit. The kit has a variety of smells. Participants in the study sniffed the smells twice a day for six months.
You can buy sniff or scent kits online. Most of them start with four scents: rose, lemon, clove, and eucalyptus.
However, if you haven’t been able to smell for a while, see a doctor to rule out other problems.
How to add more protein to your diet
Do you get enough protein? In addition to preserving muscle mass (which can help prevent falls and injuries), protein is crucial for maintaining strong bones, good vision, and a robust immune system. Here are a few ways to incorporate more protein into your diet.
While eggs are a top choice, you can also add protein to your morning meal by mixing pumpkin, sunflower, or ground flax seeds into your cereal. Better yet, swap the milk for Greek yogurt to create a protein-packed breakfast parfait. If you prefer toast, opt for whole-grain bread topped with almond or peanut butter.
Add a side of cottage cheese or top your salad with high-protein ingredients such as chopped nuts, canned tuna, grilled chicken, or a hard-boiled egg. Use hummus as a sandwich spread or, better yet, replace the bread with sliced turkey to create a tasty protein wrap. If you want a hot meal, consider beef stew, lentil soup, or three-bean chili.
Lean beef, chicken breast, and fish are all great options, but why stop there? Choose a high-protein side such as quinoa, wild rice, or millet, and round out your meal with peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, or another vegetable that’s high in protein. You can also use beans and tofu to create a variety of plant-based protein dishes.
To find out if you should be eating more protein, speak with your family doctor or consult a nutritionist.
If you want an extra boost of protein between meals, consider snacking on:
• Celery sticks and peanut butter
• Cucumber and smoked salmon
• Edamame or roasted chickpeas
• Apple slices and hard cheese
• Chia pudding with blackberries
Do statins deserve their bad reputation?
People report that statins cause muscle aches and other side effects, but a 2020 study suggests that may be true for only a small percentage of patients.
Stains are cholesterol-lowering drugs, usually prescribed for those at risk for cardiovascular disease.
As reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, British researchers enrolled 60 people in a study of statin side effects. Every participant previously took statins but stopped because of side effects. They were given 12 prescription drug bottles. Four of the bottles had a month’s supply of atorvastatin. Four bottles had a placebo pill that looked like the statin pill. Four bottles were completely empty. During the next year, participants used each bottle for one month, following a random pattern. Every day participants recorded their symptoms by smartphone, ranking their symptoms from 0 (none) to 100 (worst possible symptoms.)
What researchers found was that the average symptom score during the empty bottle month was 8.0. That was twice as high as when participants took the statin pill. However, there was no significant difference in average scores when people took the fake pills. The average symptom score for the statin was 16.3 and the average score for the fake pills was 15.4. Some participants reported worse symptoms from fake pills.
Still, researchers do think statins may cause symptoms in five to 10 percent of users. Here’s how you can analyze symptoms while taking statins:
* If the ache or weakness is recent and started within a month of starting the statin.
* If the pains are symmetrical. For example, leg pain would affect both legs. Body pain would be on both sides.
* If the pain is unexplained and not caused by new activity or an injury.
Have you considered writing a memoir?
A memoir is a written account about a person’s life that depicts a pivotal moment or a collection of experiences that shaped who they became. For many people, writing this type of autobiography can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, even if it never gets published.
If you decide to write a memoir, you’ll be able to preserve your family’s legacy. Plus, sharing your story gives your descendants insight into who you were and what your life was like.
There are also many personal benefits to reflecting on your life experiences. Among other things, writing a memoir can help you heal from a traumatic event, gain a better understanding of your relationships with others or simply remind you of the things worth celebrating in life.
What’s more, by preserving your memories in writing, you’ll strengthen your memory. Writing on a regular basis is an effective way to keep your mind active and slow cognitive decline.
Indeed, writing a memoir is an opportunity to explore a new hobby or develop an existing talent for writing. To help you get started, find out if memoir or creative non-fiction classes are offered in your community.
How to treat sudden lower back pain
Lower back pain can be caused by a number of conditions, some serious, but if it occurs suddenly or after activity, then it could be a muscle strain.
Strains are caused by activity and impact, according to Spine Health.
* Heavy lifting. Lifting improperly can cause back and muscle strains.
* Sudden impact. Jarring motions from sports, a fall, or a car accident.
* Repetitive motions. Common in sports such as rowing, golf, or baseball.
* Poor posture and weak abdominal and back muscles. Slouching puts added strain on lower back muscles. Tight hamstring muscles can also add strain to the back over time.
* New activities can put new, sudden strains on muscle groups.
Anti-inflammatory medicines, available over the counter, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen can reduce inflammation. Acetaminophen can minimize pain by interfering with the pain signals to the brain. Doctors might prescribe a muscle relaxant to reduce muscle spasms.
Lie flat to sleep or rest, so you can reduce strain on the back.
At home, limit strenuous activity and stop heavy lifting for one or two days. Then get back to regular activity, so muscles don’t become stiff and weak.
Ice packs can help right after the strain. Apply for 10 to 20 minutes at intervals throughout the day.
After two days, apply a heating pad for 10 minutes before getting out of bed or before painful movement.
Massage therapy can increase circulation and relax muscles. Short walks of three to five minutes can also help.