Tips to Head Off Migraine Pain

Migraine SymtomsOnce a migraine headache starts, it can be difficult to think about anything else. Thankfully, there are some ways to ease the pain:

  • Choose an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. If you’re not taking a prescription medication for migraines, try an OTC pain reliever. OTC pain relievers control the pain for many, even if they do not totally alleviate it. Look for pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Lower the lights. Bright lights and noise may increase the pain of a migraine. Lie down in a dark, quiet room with your eyes closed. Sleep if you can.
  • Try temperature treatment. Place a cold compress or ice pack on your head or neck. Migraines are caused by the dilation of blood vessels and the coldness will constrict them. You can also try putting a hot pack or heating pad on your neck and shoulders to relax tense muscles.
  • Massage painful areas. Apply gentle pressure to your scalp or temples. Ask a loved one to massage your neck and shoulders. Use your thumb and index finger to squeeze the fleshy pad of skin between the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand. As simple as it sounds, many people have actually gotten results from this pain relief technique.
  • Consider caffeine. In most cases, if you drink caffeine (coffee, soda, etc.) it may help relieve migraine pain. Caffeine can also enhance the pain-reducing effects of OTC pain relievers. However, drink caffeine in moderation. Drinking too much caffeine too often can lead to withdrawal headaches later on.
  • Ask your doctor about alternative treatments. In addition to discussing prescription medications, talk to your doctor about treatments such as biofeedback, acupuncture or relaxation therapy. Some nutritional therapies and herbal supplements may also help. Studies have shown that magnesium or vitamin B2 can benefit migraine sufferers. And some evidence shows that Botox injections can also help people with chronic daily migraines.

Migraine Statistics: More than 36 million Americans suffer from migraines. Migraines most often occur in adults between the ages of 15 and 55 and are approximately three times more common in women than men. Surprising Headache and Migraine Triggers.

Stuffy Nose or Sinusitis?

Sinusitis SymptomsChances are, at some point in your life, you have miserably uttered the words, “I think I have a sinus infection,” as you reached for another tissue and struggled to breathe through your nose. More than 28 million adults are affected by sinus problems each year, and 11.7 million are diagnosed with sinusitis, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.

When you have sinus problems, it’s often difficult to know when to see a doctor and how to prevent frequent illness. W. Andy Logan, MD, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician with Baptist Health Madisonville, says it’s not always easy to determine whether you have an infection or simply a cold. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Is it really sinusitis?

Sinusitis refers to infection, inflammation or swelling of the nasal cavity and sinuses, a group of hollow spaces surrounding the nose and eyes. Sinusitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi, and may be considered acute (lasting up to four weeks), recurrent (repeated) or chronic (long-lasting). While headache and facial pain and pressure are symptoms of a sinus infection, those symptoms alone are rarely ever a sinus infection, Dr. Logan says.

Symptoms of sinusitis:

  • Cloudy or colored nasal discharge
  • Nasal blockage
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • May include fever, cough, fatigue, lack of or reduced sense of smell, dental pain and ear fullness
  1. So what do I do?

If you have had symptoms for less than 10 days, you probably have a virus. Treat symptoms with over-the-counter medications, including decongestants (ask your doctor first if you have high blood pressure or heart problems), antihistamines (if sneezing and watery drainage are predominant symptoms), and saline nasal spray, which can be used as often as needed to treat dryness or congestion. Avoid decongestant nose sprays like Afrin and Vicks, as they can be addicting.

If you have symptoms for more than 10 days, or if your symptoms seem to improve, then get significantly worse, you should see your doctor. If your sinusitis is due to a cold or other viral illness, antibiotics won’t make you better. If your sinus infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may help, but may not be necessary for you to get better. If symptoms occur repeatedly or persist for months, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.

  1. How can I keep from getting sinus infections?

If you find that you have frequent sinus problems or infections, the best way to prevent them is:

  • Do your best to avoid viral illnesses – practice good hand-washing and try to avoid touching your face. Avoid unnecessary contact with people you know are sick.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoking is a chronic irritant of nasal passages and may trigger allergies.
  • Allergy flare-ups can precipitate a sinus infection. Try to eliminate allergens like dust or mold from the home. If you have allergies, ask your doctor if you should take regular allergy medication or see a specialist.

Learn more about sinus infections here: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/sinusitis/Pages/Index.aspx

Yawning? Try gentle yoga to help you get a good night’s sleep

YogaWhether you suffer from a sleep disorder such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome or just long for more restful sleep, sleep experts say that exercise can help you get your Zs.

While the National Sleep Foundation recommends that all adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than one third of U.S. adults report sleeping less than seven hours per night. According to the CDC, poor sleep has been linked to the onset of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, and studies show that even small amounts of exercise can help you get a better night’s rest.

Sleep experts recommend that you avoid vigorous activity in the few hours before you go to bed, but gentle yoga can be a relaxing way to prepare your mind and body for sleep and may be an effective part of treatment for sleep disorders.

Here are five stretches to try before bedtime. Hold each for around three minutes or whatever is comfortable:

  • Put your legs up an empty wall, with your buttocks as close to the wall as is comfortable. Rest your arms by your side, palms up, and breathe deeply, eyes closed.
  • Sit cross-legged on the floor (Sukhasana pose). Put your left hand on your right knee and your left hand slightly behind you. Twist gently to the right, looking over your right shoulder. Repeat on your other side.
  • Lie down on your back. Put the bottoms of your feet together, letting your knees fall out to each side, opening up your hip muscles and forming a diamond. Breathe and relax into the stretch.
  • Lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest. Rock back and forth gently, massaging your lower back and feeling the stretch in your hips.
  • Sit on your heels and wrap your body around your knees, pointing your toes/feet backward (child’s pose). Allow your arms to fall by your side, palms up, or stretch them forward, letting your forehead rest on the floor. Feel the stretch through your lower back and hips.

Find more tips for healthy sleep habits here: http://sleepfoundation.org/

Common Spots for Skin Cancer

SunscreenToo much time in the sun can be deadly, especially if you neglect to protect some of your body’s most vulnerable spots:

  • Face. It shouldn’t be a surprise that your face is the most common place for skin cancer to develop. Your face is exposed to sunlight almost every day. The left side of your face can be particularly vulnerable because it is exposed to sunlight when driving. Skin Types and At-Risk Groups.
  • Scalp. The top of your head is directly exposed to harmful rays every time you’re in the sun. The part in your hair, in particular, doesn’t have the covering of hair as protection. The same applies for any balding areas. In fact, most skin cancers on the scalp occur in balding men.
  • Ears. If you have short hair or wear your hair pulled back from your face, you’re leaving your ears exposed to sunlight. Even worse, most people fail to apply sunscreen to their ears.
  • Trunk. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, can develop anywhere on your skin, but it is more likely to start on your trunk (chest and back) in men.
  • Legs. In women, your legs – particularly your lower legs – are the most common area for melanoma to occur.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer, affecting one in five Americans. Luckily, it is also largely preventable. Follow these tips:

  • Seek the shade. Stay out of the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Do not burn. Avoid tanning and never use tanning beds. When outside, cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Use sunscreen. Use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher every day. Apply one ounce (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. Find the Right Sunscreen for You.
  • Check your skin. Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your doctor. Schedule an appointment every year for a professional skin exam.

Ways to Boost Your Bone Health Early

Vitamin D Bone Health Building strong bones while you’re young is essential in preventing osteoporosis (a disease that weakens your bones) later in life. In fact, bone mass often peaks by the time your turn 30. Below are some tips for building healthy bones before the age of 30 and beyond:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Make sure your diet includes good sources of calcium, such as low-fat dairy products and foods and drinks with added calcium. Include plenty of vitamin D in your diet, too. Egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver and milk are good sources for vitamin D. Fruits and vegetables also contribute other nutrients that are important for bone health. How Much Calcium and Vitamin D Do You Need?
  • Get plenty of exercise. Like muscles, bones become stronger with exercise. Weight bearing exercises such walking, jogging, playing tennis or step aerobics will keep your bones strong. You should also include strength training as part of your exercise routine. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle. Don’t smoke and avoid or limit alcohol. Women should have no more than one alcoholic drink a day and men should limit themselves to no more than two drinks.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. This is particularly important for women. Being underweight raises your risk of fracture and bone loss. Make changes in your diet to increase your weight. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian.
  • Be careful with caffeine. Coffee, tea and soft drinks (sodas) contain caffeine, which can decrease calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss. Consume these drinks in moderation.
  • Check your medications. The use of some medications can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Medicines That May Cause Bone Loss. Talk with your doctor to develop a prevention strategy that accounts for these factors.
  • Get tested. If you’re a postmenopausal woman, a man age 50 and older or if you’ve recently broken a bone, talk to your doctor about getting a bone density test.

7 Motorcycle Safety Tips

Motorcycle SafetyMotorcyclists are roughly eight times more likely than car drivers to be injured in an accident and 35 times more likely to have a fatal crash. If you’re a biker, here are some tips to keep you safe on the road:

  • Always wear a helmet. Helmets protect your head, and head injuries are the leading cause of death for motorcycle riders. Select a helmet that meets the Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. Look for the DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet. In 2014, there were 1,275 motorcycle injuries and 76 fatalities in Kentucky. Of those injured, 668 were not wearing a helmet.
  • Wear protective clothing. Protect yourself by wearing goggles or sunglasses, a jacket, full-fingered gloves, long pants and boots. Your clothing should be made of abrasion-resistant material, such as leather, and fit close to your body. Loose clothing can impair your vision. Choose bright colors so that other motorists can see you.
  • Get professional training. Motorcycle riders who are self-taught or taught by friends account for more than 90 percent of bikers involved in motorcycle accidents. Take Kentucky’s Motorcycle Safety Education (MSE) course (1-800-396-3234). Get a motorcycle license, too. Motorcycle License in Kentucky.
  • Follow traffic laws. Obey speed limits (37 percent of motorcycle accidents are due to speeding). Be aware of local traffic laws and rules of the road. Kentucky Motorcycle Manual.
  • Ride defensively. Ride with your headlights on; stay out of a driver’s blind spot; signal well in advance of any change in direction; and watch for turning vehicles.
  • Don’t drink and ride. Alcohol affects those skills essential to riding a motorcycle – balance and coordination. So, it plays a particularly big role in motorcycle fatalities. Always ride sober.
  • Maintain your bike. Making sure your motorcycle is in excellent running condition is of the utmost importance to safety. Frequently check your engine, brakes, tires, headlamps, turn signals and other gear.

5 Skin Cancer Mistakes

Skin Cancer MistakesRates of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have risen 800 percent for young women (ages 18-39) over the past 40 years. Here are some common skin cancer mistakes – and how to fix them:

  • Tanning beds. Don’t be fooled by claims that tanning-bed rays are safer than the sun – the lamps in tanning beds can give off 10 to 15 times the UVA radiation of normal sun exposure. In fact, your risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent when you use tanning beds before the age of 35. Avoid tanning beds. Instead, use a self-tanner.
  • Don’t use sunscreen. Only 30 percent of women regularly use sunscreen both on their face and other exposed skin. You should apply an ounce (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to all exposed skin 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or right after you sweat a lot or go swimming. Use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen doesn’t protect from all UV rays, so don’t use sunscreen as a way to stay out in the sun longer.
  • Getting sunburned. Your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had five or more sunburns. The best way to prevent sunburn is to avoid sun exposure. Stay out of the midday sun (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). 5 Ways to Treat Sunburn.
  • Avoid wearing a hat. Many women don’t like the way they look in a hat. However, not wearing one in the sun puts your scalp at risk. Your hair offers some protection (more if it’s thick). To protect your scalp, ears, nose and neck, wear a wide-brimmed hat. For every inch of brim, you reduce your lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10 percent. Wear sunglasses, too
  • Skipping skin exams. Once a month, exam your skin head-to-toe. Be aware of all moles and spots on your skin, and report any changes to your doctor immediately. See your doctor every year for a professional skin exam. How to Perform a Skin Self-Exam.

Arthritis and age – does it matter?

ArthritisThink again. If you have joints that ache and swell, you might have arthritis, no matter your age. In fact, two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including an estimated 300,000 children.

Here are things you can do to decrease your chances of developing arthritis:

  • Exercise regularly. Even though it might seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain, exercise is beneficial for managing arthritis. It can strengthen muscles that support your painful joints. Try low-impact exercises such as biking, swimming, yoga, Pilates or walking. Add in some stretching to maintain your flexibility and range of motion. Find out how daily activities impact arthritis with the Track + React App.
  • Watch your weight. Being overweight increases the load that you put on your joints. If you are overweight, try losing a few pounds. Losing as little as 10 pounds can slash your risk of getting knee arthritis by almost 50 percent.
  • Avoid injury. As you age, your joints can start to wear out. But, injuries from playing sports or due to an accident can damage your cartilage and cause it to wear out more quickly. Use proper safety equipment while playing sports, and learn the correct exercise techniques.
  • Eat right. Enjoy a diet full of foods that fight inflammation – including fish, olives and olive oil, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Limit sugar, processed foods and saturated fat. Savor the season and ease your pain with these summer fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink enough water. Water makes up 70 percent of the cartilage in joints and helps keep them lubricated so bones don’t rub up against each other. Drink plenty of water during the day.
  • See your doctor. The damage from arthritis is progressive. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more destruction will occur to your joints. See your doctor if you experience any potential symptoms of arthritis such as pain, swelling or stiffness in one or more of your joints.

5 Steps to Preventing or Slowing Osteoporosis

Many people consider osteoporosis to be a normal, unavoidable part of aging. But it is preventable, and the steps you take now – no matter how old you are – can help improve your bone health for the rest of your life.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 9 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 43 million have low bone density, placing them at higher risk for the disease. This means that 60% of adults age 50 and older are at risk of breaking a bone. While it is most common with women, the disease also affects me and certain diseases and medications can increase your risk.

Osteoporosis Prevention Tips

Be sunscreen savvy: Keep your skin safe in the water

SunscreenAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the country, with more than 1 million people diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Research shows that an estimated 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

With Memorial Day weekend here, many backyard and neighborhood pools are opening for the season, and it will be essential to protect your skin with a good sunscreen. But buying sunscreen can seem way too complicated when you are standing in front of an aisle of bottles. Lotion or spray? 15 or 50? What is water-resistant?

In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new requirements for over-the-counter sunscreens as part of its ongoing efforts to ensure sunscreens meet modern-day standards for safety and effectiveness. Part of the new standards prevent manufacturers from claiming that sunscreens are “waterproof” since all sunscreens eventually wash off in water. Instead, sunscreens recommended for water exposure are to be labeled as “water-resistant” (maintaining their SPF after 40 minutes in the water) or “very water-resistant” (maintaining their SPF for 80 minutes in the water).

Some things to remember:

  • Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater.
  • Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out into the sun. Apply it generously and thoroughly.
  • Reapply sunscreen when you get out of the water and after being in the water beyond the exposure times listed on the bottle. If you aren’t swimming, remember to reapply every two hours or after sweating a lot.
  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.