Smoking e-cigarettes, also commonly known as vaping, has become a popular alternative to smoking regular cigarettes. An e-cigarette, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), is a battery-powered device that heats a liquid containing nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals to create an aerosolized vapor that’s inhaled.
Vaping exposes you to fewer toxic chemicals than traditional tobacco products and is much less likely to lead to heart disease and cancer. However, while e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, they do contain nicotine, the substance that makes cigarettes so addictive. It’s also a toxin that can raise your blood pressure, heart rate and adrenaline levels.
Furthermore, e-cigarettes contain other chemicals that are hazardous to your health. A recent study found that the vapor from e-cigarettes contains potentially unsafe levels of toxic metals like lead. What’s more, there’s a lot researchers still don’t know about the long-term health effects of vaping.
Medical professionals worry that e-cigarettes are getting people addicted to nicotine who otherwise wouldn’t consider smoking. Vaping has become particularly rampant among youth, whose adolescent brains are susceptible to the harmful effects of nicotine.
In 2015, the U.S. surgeon general reported that e-cigarette use among high school students had increased by 900 percent. Recent data shows that more than two million American middle and high school students have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.
If you’re considering using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, talk to your doctor first about the possible health risks.
Elder abuse: it happens more than you think
June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and is an important time for making sure the seniors in your life are being cared for properly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around one in six people over the age of 60 have experienced some kind of abuse in the last year. What’s more, this statistic is thought to under-represent the situation, as those who experience abuse often don’t report it.
Most commonly, elder abuse occurs in medical institutions such as care homes and hospitals. Abuse in such cases can be defined as any instance in which the care worker deprives the patient of dignity and care, such as leaving them in soiled clothes, neglecting their emotional needs or intentionally withholding necessary care.
According to the WHO, two in three workers in long-term care facilities admitted to committing some form of elder abuse in the past year.
Elder abuse also happens in community settings, such as when an elderly person lives alone or with a family member. In these cases, elders have an increased risk of social isolation and mistreatment from the people around them as they lose their health and mobility. Financial abuse is also common, as friends, relatives and community members are more likely than strangers to take property or money from seniors.
Elder abuse is everyone’s responsibility, and it’s important to report what you see to authorities and family members. Be sure to know the risks and to check in with your elderly relatives, friends and neighbors regularly to ensure that they’re getting the care and respect they deserve.
When a snore is more than an annoyance
If you’ve ever slept next to someone who snores, you know the routine. Perhaps you’ve learned to live with it, or maybe you’re the partner who’s throwing elbows throughout the night to stem the noise.
Many a joke has been made at the snorer’s expense. But sometimes a snore is a warning of something serious.
According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some warning signs to indicate whether that snoring is simply an annoyance or indicative of a deeper medical issue like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA):
- When there is a pause in the snoring and breathing, followed by a gasp for air and a loud snort.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Gasping or choking at night
- Sore throat upon awakening
- Snoring so loud that it disrupts your partner’s sleep
OSA is often characterized by loud snoring followed by periods of silence when breathing stops or nearly stops, according to Mayo. Those with OSA may sleep lightly because of disrupted sleep, with this pattern of breathing repeated many times during the night.
Snoring has a number of causes, including excess weight, the anatomy of your mouth, seasonal allergies, and alcohol consumption. When you progress from light sleep to deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth, tongue and throat relax, and the tissues can relax enough that they partially block your airway and vibrate.
The more narrow the airway, the more the tissue vibrates — and the louder the snoring. So if you or your partner are sawing wood enough to rattle the roof, it’s probably time to visit a doctor.
How a healthy lifestyle helps protect your eyes
Did you know that many lifestyle choices that affect your overall health could also affect the health of your eyes? Here are three facts about how lifestyle may impact your vision and eye health.
1. Smoking is bad for your eyes. Anti-smoking campaigns often focus on the fact that smoking causes increased blood pressure and cancer, but smokers are also at risk for vision problems. Uveitis, cataracts, dry eye and age-related macular degeneration are all more common in smokers than they are in the general population.
2. Exercise helps prevent vision loss. Exercise has many health benefits but it also helps with vision problems. Several studies have shown a connection between exercise and decreased risks for glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
3. A balanced diet is key for eye health. Those who consume diets high in fat and sugar have an increased risk for eye disease. However, those who have diets high in vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, healthy proteins and lutein have a decreased risk for eye diseases. Adding a supplement to your diet may be necessary to ensure you get the proper nutrients.
There are many reasons to consider making healthier lifestyle choices and preserving your vision and eye health is an important one. Additionally, making healthy choices can help you avoid chronic conditions that put you at greater risk of vision loss such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Warning signs of Lyme disease: what to watch out for during tick season
Lyme disease is an inflammatory illness caused by bacteria transmitted via black-legged ticks (more commonly known as deer ticks). Lyme disease can last for years and lead to arthritis and neurological and cardiac disorders.
An early sign of Lyme disease is a circular rash (Erythema migrans) that appears three to 30 days after getting a tick bite. It’s usually not itchy or painful but may feel warm to the touch.
Other early symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, body aches, headaches and swollen lymph nodes. Later symptoms may include severe joint pain, heart palpitations, short-term memory loss and other cognitive problems or facial paralysis.
To guard against Lyme disease, make sure to take precautions when in grassy or heavily-wooded areas, including:
• Wearing long sleeves, closed-toe shoes and long pants tucked into your socks.
• Using insect repellents with a DEET concentration of 20 percent or higher.
• Checking your clothing, skin and pets carefully for ticks.
• Removing ticks as soon as possible using tweezers, making sure to remove the insect’s entire body. Bacteria usually enters your bloodstream after the tick has been attached to your body for 36 to 48 hours.
If you notice symptoms of Lyme disease after a tick bite, contact your doctor. Treatments for Lyme disease are more effective when they’re given earlier rather than later.
Did you know?
Lyme disease is named after the town of Lyme, Connecticut, where an outbreak occurred in the early 1970s. Scientists studying the outbreak eventually discovered that the disease was caused by infected tick bites.
Why vaccines are important for adults
Vaccines given during adulthood can prevent the spread of serious diseases that may lead to poor health, missed work, costly medical bills and even death. As you get older, the protection gained from certain childhood vaccines can wear off. Plus, you may be at risk for certain vaccine-preventable diseases because of your age, job, lifestyle or current health status.
Getting vaccinated as an adult also helps protect the people most susceptible to contagious diseases, such as babies and young children, pregnant women and seniors.
Here are some vaccines commonly recommended for adults:
• Seasonal flu. Adults of all ages should get an annual flu shot but especially seniors, people with chronic health conditions and pregnant women. Sixty percent of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 years and older.
• Shingles. One in three adults contract shingles during their lifetime, and your risk increases as you age. Adults who are 50 and older should get the shingles vaccine.
• Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap). If you didn’t receive the Tdap vaccine as an adolescent to protect against whooping cough (pertussis), it’s vital to get the shot as an adult. Women should also get the Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, to protect the newborn from pertussis.
• Pneumococcal. This vaccine prevents pneumococcal disease, which causes pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. It’s recommended for all adults age 65 and older as well as for younger adults with conditions that affect their immune system, such as HIV, lymphoma and leukemia.
If you have chronic health conditions or work in the health care industry, you may require additional vaccines. Before traveling abroad, remember to check what vaccines you’ll need and get them administered four to six weeks before your trip.
Tips for relieving the 3 most common menopause symptoms
It’s normal for women to experience a variety of symptoms during menopause including hot flashes, trouble sleeping and weight gain. Here are some tips for dealing with these three commonly experienced menopause symptoms.
Hot flashes, or sudden and brief increases in body temperature that recur periodically, are experienced by about 75 percent of women during menopause. While they’re nothing to worry about, there are ways to decrease their frequency, such as:
• Wearing natural fibers like cotton or linen and avoiding wearing synthetic materials
• Drinking colder beverages and taking colder showers
Low levels of estrogen, especially when coupled with the stress of aging, can lead to insomnia. During menopause, it can be useful to develop strategies for sleeping better. These might include avoiding fatty foods and heavy meals in the evening, and repeating a peaceful mantra while lying in bed. You might also consider getting to bed earlier and taking afternoon naps to increase your level of energy during the day.
As you approach 50, your metabolism starts to slow down. In fact, women going through menopause typically put on four to 10 pounds. Nevertheless, eating well and exercising can counterbalance the effects of menopause on your weight. For this reason, it’s recommended that you exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
If you experience frequent food cravings during menopause, choose protein-rich snacks to tide you over until mealtime and decrease your alcohol consumption, as alcohol stimulates the appetite.
While menopause symptoms can be problematic, there are solutions that can ease their impact. Talk with a health professional to get personal recommendations suited to your particular situation and needs.