Contrary to popular belief, influenza infection, better known as the flu, isn’t always benign. Elderly people and those with a weakened immune system are at risk for experiencing potentially fatal complications. This is why the flu vaccine is so important.
While its efficacy isn’t guaranteed, the vaccine can prevent vulnerable people from contracting the flu. Even when infection does occur, being vaccinated can mitigate the symptoms and prevent complications from arising. Finally, the risk of hospitalization is much lower for someone who’s been vaccinated.
Remember that you need to receive the vaccine every year as the flu virus mutates constantly. Speak to your healthcare professional to find out where and when you can receive the vaccine.
Dry January: the benefits of abstaining from booze
After imbibing liberally over the holiday season, many people decide to give up drinking in January. Whatever your reasons for taking on this challenge, here are some benefits that are likely to come from abstaining from alcohol.
1. General health
Excessive drinking can have a devastating impact on your health. High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, liver disease and certain cancers are all potential consequences of long-term alcohol abuse. If you’ve been drinking more than you should, quitting for a month won’t turn back the clock, but it’s unlikely to do you any harm.
The biggest health benefit of abstaining from alcohol, however, is that it allows you to assess how you feel without it and reflect on your normal consumption habits. A month without booze may be the ticket you need to help you reset.
Cutting out alcohol is likely to help you maintain a healthy sleep schedule. This, in turn, could allow you to feel more energized, which will help keep you motivated to go to the gym and eat well.
3. Immune system
There’s no evidence to suggest that abstaining from alcohol for a month will boost your immune system. However, being intoxicated temporarily suppresses it and leaves you vulnerable. In addition, long-term alcohol abuse causes inflammation throughout the body.
Drinking less is likely to trigger a domino effect leading to better sleep, more exercise and an overall healthier lifestyle, which together will have a positive influence on immunity.
4. Your relationship with alcohol
Once Dry January is over, you’ll be able to take stock of how you felt, both physically and psychologically, without alcohol. You might notice that you’re more energetic and motivated without the hangovers. Or, you may notice you don’t feel any different.
Remember that a month of abstinence won’t be much help if afterward you return to excessive consumption. Overall, it’s far better for your health to be a moderate drinker than one who fluctuates from one extreme to the other.
If you feel like you rely on alcohol to function, talk to a healthcare professional. Abruptly quitting on your own could cause potentially serious withdrawal symptoms.
The different types of muscle injuries
Muscles are susceptible to many different types of injuries. A cramp is a sudden and involuntary tightening of a muscle. It tends to be painful and can occur either at rest or during exercise. If it persists for more than several days, it’s considered a contraction.
A muscle contusion occurs when there’s a direct blow to a contracted muscle. It’s accompanied by pain and swelling that will vary according to the force of the blow. Bruising might occur as the force of the impact can sometimes rupture small blood vessels.
Pulls (stretching or tearing of a few muscle fibers) and strains (a lot of overextended or torn fibers and some bleeding) occur when the muscles are overstretched. These injuries are characterized by intense pain that can affect mobility. The affected muscles become stiff, painful to the touch and difficult to stretch and contract.
If stretched or pulled too far, muscles can eventually tear. In this case, the muscle fibers are completely ruptured and might require surgery to be repaired. Consult a physical therapist to learn more about muscle injuries and how to treat them.
Study finds hot flashes could herald heart problems
Hot flashes are a well-known symptom of menopause. While they’re not dangerous in themselves, they may be more than an annoyance. Indeed, a recent study found that they may indicate a higher risk than average of cardiovascular issues.
What the study found
The 20-year study followed over 3,000 women. It found that those who experienced hot flashes earlier in menopause were twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease, and those that experienced persistent hot flashes throughout menopause had an even higher risk.
What this means
Cardiovascular issues are a serious concern in women’s health, especially considering the lack of research on the way they may manifest early on. The discovery of a link between hot flashes and an increased risk could be the first step in developing new preventive strategies.
What you can do
If you remember experiencing early and intense hot flashes or are currently dealing with them, don’t be alarmed. While they could signal a significant increase in susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, the author of the study suggests interpreting the correlation between hot flashes and heart issues as a call to action for women to take steps to reduce their risk level.
If you’re worried, speak with your doctor. They’ll be able to make recommendations to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and thus lower your chances of developing heart issues as you age.
Physical therapy and arthritis pain
Physical therapists play a crucial role in the treatment of arthritis and can help you reduce the pain that comes with this ailment. Physical therapy strengthens the muscles around the affected joints, which helps preserve their shape and flexibility. Therefore, physical therapists can help you maintain and even improve joint mobility, as well as reduce inflammation caused by arthritis. They’re also able to recommend various physical activities — which are critical in managing arthritis — that best suit your current condition.
Physical therapists can provide you with a wealth of useful advice and recommendations to improve your quality of life. They can recommend less strenuous physical activities and instruct you on how to protect your joints while you move about. They can also teach you how proper posture and body mechanics can prevent deformities. Consult a physical therapist to find out more about what physical therapy can do for you and your arthritis.
Use high-quality equipment to get in shape!
Do you want to get toned? Be more flexible? Enhance your endurance? For quick fitness results that you can see, the right performance equipment is key.
If you’re planning to work out at home, you’ll need the right equipment. What you require, however, will depend on the type of training you do and the space you have available. Your local sporting goods store or exercise equipment retailer is sure to have everything you need.
At the gym
Alternatively, if you’re motivated by working out with other people or simply want more space, consider joining a gym. Whether you prefer a no-frills experience or want access to a full range of classes and facilities, there’s a gym that will suit your needs.
4 must-have health apps
Are you trying to take better care of yourself? These four free apps, available for both iOS and Android devices, are sure to help.
1. Medisafe. Thanks to this handy medication tracker, remembering to take your pills is a cinch. It also provides prescription refill reminders and can even contact someone if it seems you’ve forgotten to take an important dose.
2. American Red Cross First Aid App. This app will help you keep your first aid skills up to date with videos and quizzes. It’s also integrated with 911 emergency services. It provides simple instructions for dealing with emergencies so you can help delay complications until help arrives.
3. iSleeping. The iSleeping app provides users with a wealth of information they can use to improve sleep quality. It monitors and analyzes nighttime movement, snoring, and periods of wakefulness to provide helpful data and tips tailored to the individual.
4. Mindfulness with Petit BamBou. This app offers many mindfulness and guided meditation programs based on positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy. It can be used by adults and kids alike and is suitable for both beginner and more experienced meditators.
While there’s a bounty of free health apps available, always confirm that they’ve received approval from specialists. In addition, keep in mind that they can never replace the advice of a healthcare professional.