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The mental health benefits of bouldering

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Bouldering provides a serious workout for your legs, arms, abdominals, fingers and back muscles. It’s a great way to stay in shape, but its most surprising benefits are actually related to mental health.

What is bouldering?
A specific type of rock climbing, bouldering is practiced on small formations or artificial walls typically less than 16 feet tall. Since it’s performed without ropes or harnesses, mats are usually laid out to prevent injury in case of a fall.

Benefits for mental health
A study published in 2015 followed two groups of depressive patients. Those who participated in a weekly bouldering activity in addition to following their usual treatment showed marked improvement. Many of their symptoms went from moderate to mild. These findings motivated some German hospitals to use bouldering as part of their treatment program for depression.

While more research is needed, the activity looks like a promising exercise intervention for the treatment of depression. Researchers believe this is because bouldering requires sustained focus and mindfulness, which breaks patients out of negative thought cycles. In addition, bouldering comes with built-in social support, as participants encourage each other and provide advice. Finally, it offers a sense of accomplishment.

Bouldering is a fun and challenging activity that’ll keep you in shape, both physically and mentally.

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How to take care of your hearing aids

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Hearing aids are designed to last an average of five years, but how you care for them greatly affects their durability. Here are some habits to ensure your hearing aids perform optimally for as long as possible.

Handle with care
Take the time to put your hearing aids on properly to prevent them from falling off and breaking. When you remove your hearing aids, do so over a soft surface in case you drop them. Keep hearing aids out of the reach of small children and pets.

Clean regularly
Hearing aids should be cleaned on a daily basis. Gently remove earwax from them using a dry cotton swab or a soft-bristled brush. Then, use a dry cloth to remove dirt and dust from all surfaces of the device.

Store properly
Always store your hearing aids in the same safe, dry spot to avoid damaging or losing them. Remove the batteries before placing your hearing aids in a drying container or specialized dehumidifier overnight.

Avoid moisture
Remove your hearing aids before showering, bathing and swimming. If they get wet, turn them off and remove the batteries. Use a cloth to wipe off as much water as possible. Let your hearing aids dry completely before using them again.

Protect from contaminants
Remove your hearing aids before applying hair product, makeup, perfume, insect repellent or sunscreen. If you go to the beach, keep your hearing aids away from the sand and saltwater. Additionally, don’t leave your hearing aids in direct sunlight or extreme cold.

If your hearing aids are uncomfortable, damaged or not working, contact your audiologist as soon as possible. Never attempt to repair them yourself.

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How to put Easter eggs in the spotlight

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What would Easter be without eggs? After all, they’ve been a symbol of this springtime holiday for centuries. Here are a few ways to highlight eggs in your Easter celebrations this year.

Decorate them
There are many ways to decorate your eggs for Easter. Create your own designs with paint and a fine paintbrush. Or wrap elastic bands around your eggs and dip them in dye to create a graphic look.

If you really want to impress, wrap each egg in a portion of a brightly patterned silk tie and boil it for 20 minutes to transfer the pattern to the shell. For best results, be sure to match the colors of your eggs to the rest of your seasonal decor.

Play with them
If you have kids, a classic Easter egg hunt is a must. For a fun twist, make it a scavenger hunt complete with clues leading them to one big prize.

If you’re looking for games people of all ages can enjoy, try racing while balancing an egg on a spoon, competing to see who can push an egg the furthest using just their chin or nose, or teaming up and tossing an egg back and forth. The team that keeps their egg whole the longest, wins.

If you want to do something a little less physical, you could create a trivia game about eggs and other Easter traditions.

Eat them
Finally, don’t forget to eat them. Boiled, baked, fried and whipped into an omelet are just a few classic ways to prepare eggs. Or, make a quiche or frittata for a refined Easter brunch dish. Also, if you or someone in your family has a sweet tooth, don’t forget to stock up on egg-shaped chocolates and candies for the occasion.

Happy Easter!

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What to do in a dental emergency

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Your dentist should be the first person you call in a dental emergency, but it may take some time before you can see them. Here are some of the most common dental emergencies and what to do while you wait for your dentist to see you.

Knocked out tooth
If possible, place the tooth back in its socket. If you can’t, hold the tooth in your cheek or place it in a cup of milk or a bit of your own saliva. If you can see a dentist within the hour, they should be able to save the tooth.

Chipped, cracked or broken tooth
If you’re in pain, take acetaminophen and apply a cold compress. Don’t use a topical numbing cream or other product as you may end up injuring your gums. Bring any broken pieces of tooth to the dentist in the same manner described above.

Severe toothache
Tooth pain can be caused by infection, tooth decay and many other things. If the pain is stopping you from eating or sleeping, take an over-the-counter pain medication and apply a cold compress to your cheek. Rinse your mouth with saltwater to keep the area clean, but don’t use topical oral creams to numb the pain.

Lost filling or crown
Protect the remaining tooth by putting dental cement or a piece of sugarless gum in the space where the filling or crown has fallen off.

Dental emergencies are best avoided. To protect yourself, always wear a mouth guard when playing sports and never chew ice or hard candy.

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FDA requests removal of all Ranitidine products (Zantac) from the market

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced (April 1, 2020) it is requesting manufacturers to withdraw all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) ranitidine drugs from the market immediately. This is the latest step in an ongoing investigation of a contaminant known as N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine medications (commonly known by the brand name Zantac). The agency has determined that the impurity in some ranitidine products increases over time and when stored at higher than room temperatures and may result in consumer exposure to unacceptable levels of this impurity. As a result of this immediate market withdrawal request, ranitidine products will not be available for new or existing prescriptions or OTC use in the U.S.

“The FDA is committed to ensuring that the medicines Americans take are safe and effective. We make every effort to investigate potential health risks and provide our recommendations to the public based on the best available science. We didn’t observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples that we tested. However, since we don’t know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA will continue our efforts to ensure impurities in other drugs do not exceed acceptable limits so that patients can continue taking medicines without concern.”

NDMA is a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer). In the summer of 2019, the FDA became aware of independent laboratory testing that found NDMA in ranitidine. Low levels of NDMA are commonly ingested in the diet, for example, NDMA is present in foods and in water. These low levels would not be expected to lead to an increase in the risk of cancer. However, sustained higher levels of exposure may increase the risk of cancer in humans. The FDA conducted thorough laboratory tests and found NDMA in ranitidine at low levels. At the time, the agency did not have enough scientific evidence to recommend whether individuals should continue or stop taking ranitidine medicines, and continued its investigation and warned the public in September 2019 of the potential risks and to consider alternative OTC and prescription treatments.

New FDA testing and evaluation prompted by information from third-party laboratories confirmed that NDMA levels increase in ranitidine even under normal storage conditions, and NDMA has been found to increase significantly in samples stored at higher temperatures, including temperatures the product may be exposed to during distribution and handling by consumers. The testing also showed that the older a ranitidine product is, or the longer the length of time since it was manufactured, the greater the level of NDMA. These conditions may raise the level of NDMA in the ranitidine product above the acceptable daily intake limit.

With today’s announcement, the FDA is sending letters to all manufacturers of ranitidine requesting they withdraw their products from the market. The FDA is also advising consumers taking OTC ranitidine to stop taking any tablets or liquid they currently have, dispose of them properly and not buy more; for those who wish to continue treating their condition, they should consider using other approved OTC products. Patients taking prescription ranitidine should speak with their health care professional about other treatment options before stopping the medicine, as there are multiple drugs approved for the same or similar uses as ranitidine that do not carry the same risks from NDMA. To date, the FDA’s testing has not found NDMA in famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec).

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA recommends patients and consumers not take their medicines to a drug take-back location but follow the specific disposal instructions in the medication guide or package insert or follow the agency’s recommended steps, which include ways to safely dispose of these medications at home.

The FDA continues its ongoing review, surveillance, compliance, and pharmaceutical quality efforts across every product area, and will continue to work with drug manufacturers to ensure safe, effective and high-quality drugs for the American public.

The FDA encourages health care professionals and patients to report adverse reactions or quality problems with any human drugs to the agency’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:

Complete and submit the report online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm; or

Download and complete the form, then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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7 foot health issues you shouldn’t ignore

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April is foot health awareness month, and a great opportunity to take care of your feet. But if you’re experiencing an issue, it may be time to visit a podiatrist. Here are seven foot-related conditions you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Pain, numbness or swelling. A bit of discomfort after being on your feet all day or running a race is normal. However, sudden pain, swelling, and numbness in your feet with no apparent cause should prompt a call to the podiatrist.

2. Persistent heel pain. Heel pain that’s worse in the morning or after long periods of inactivity is a symptom of plantar fasciitis. It can also indicate other conditions, but in any case, it needs to be assessed by a podiatrist.

3. Injuries. If you think you may have broken or sprained your ankle, you’re better off seeing a podiatrist than an orthopedist. They have more expertise in treating these kinds of injuries.

4. Athlete’s foot. If over the counter products haven’t been able to rid you of this common fungal infection, consult a podiatrist. They can prescribe more effective treatments.

5. Diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing foot problems. Diabetics should see a podiatrist at least once a year to monitor the health of their feet.

6. Bunions. These growths can get extremely painful if not treated. There’s a wide range of available treatments, but only a podiatrist can recommend the best one and implement it.

7. Joint pain. If you notice persistent pain in the joints of your feet or ankles, you should consult a professional. Even if the pain goes away with over-the-counter painkillers, identifying the cause is important to ensure that the problem doesn’t get worse.

Left untreated, these issues can make it harder to stay active and lead to a decline in your overall health. If you have one or more of these conditions, visiting a podiatrist is the best way to manage it.

Seventy-five percent of Americans will experience foot issues within their lifetime.

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10 healthy habits for a longer life

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Did you know that lifestyle choices have significantly more influence on longevity than genetics? Often, the habits you need to implement to live a longer, more satisfying life are easy to adopt.

1. Don’t smoke. Smoking contributes to numerous severe and potentially fatal health problems.

2. Stay active. Older adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week. In addition, regularly stretching helps maintain mobility and prevent falls.

3. Keep learning. Challenge your mind with problem-solving activities and puzzles. This will reduce the risk of dementia and improve cognition.

4. Eat healthy. Your diet should be rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Avoid overeating, opt for plant proteins and eliminate saturated and trans fats.

5. Get outside. Sunshine is good for your mood and your health. Being outdoors also encourages you to be more active.

6. Sleep well. Seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night is crucial for regulating cell function and healing your body.

7. Build friendships. A strong social network helps prevent depression, loneliness and cognitive decline.

8. Be proactive. Regular screenings and preventive care will help your doctor diagnose and manage or treat diseases early.

9. Brush and floss. Poor oral hygiene can lead to mouth cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist regularly.

10. Mitigate stress. Stress and anxiety increase the likelihood of heart disease and stroke. Counter these risks with optimism and laughter.

Many of these habits have multiple payoffs, meaning a few healthy choices allow you to reap substantial benefits and enhance the quality and length of your life.

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