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Seasonal Affective Disorder: Surviving the Winter Blues
Seasonal Affective Disorder: Surviving the Winter Blues
January 27, 2024
Health and Fitness

The days are shorter, the weather is colder, and the holidays have come and gone. For many people, the winter months bring feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, low motivation, and fatigue. These symptoms characterize a very real disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as SAD. If you dread the coming winter each year, you may be one of the estimated 10 million Americans with SAD.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that emerges during particular seasons, typically fall and winter. SAD is triggered by reduced exposure to sunlight as the days grow shorter. The lack of light disrupts the circadian rhythm and leads to chemical changes in the brain, including reduced serotonin transmission. Due to these biological effects, people with SAD experience low mood, anxiety, loss of pleasure, low energy, sleep disturbances, and changes in appetite and weight. These symptoms start in fall or early winter and resolve on their own in spring and summer.

Who Gets Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Women are four times more likely than men to suffer from SAD. The disorder usually begins in young adulthood with episodes recurring every year. SAD is also more prevalent in northern latitudes, with rates of seasonal depression increasing with distance from the equator. According to one estimate, 9.7% of the U.S. population experiences winter-pattern SAD while 14.3% suffers from a milder form called Subsyndromal Seasonal Affective Disorder. The prevalence of SAD varies considerably by state, with the highest rates seen in Alaska and other northern states.

Signs and Symptoms

How do you know if your winter blues have crossed into SAD territory? Here are some common symptoms:

  • Depressed, sad mood most of the day 
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities 
  • Fatigue and low energy nearly every day 
  • Sleep disturbances - excessive sleeping and difficulty waking up 
  • Changes in appetite and weight - increased cravings for carbs and weight gain 
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness 
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions 
  • Withdrawal from social situations 
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

If you experience five or more of these symptoms for most of the day, nearly every day for two weeks or more, you may have winter-pattern SAD.

Coping Strategies and Treatment

If you think you may be suffering from SAD, don’t despair - there are many effective treatment options and coping strategies that can help you manage your symptoms.

Light Therapy 

One of the first-line treatments for SAD is light therapy, which involves sitting in front of a light therapy box that emits bright light mimicking natural outdoor light. Most patients use light boxes for 30 minutes or more at a time in the morning. Light therapy has been found to relieve SAD symptoms in up to 85% of diagnosed patients. When using a light box, be sure to sit within 18-24 inches of it with light entering your eyes indirectly at a slight downward angle.

Psychotherapy 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is type of talk therapy that can help patients identify and change negative thought patterns contributing to their seasonal depression. A therapist can also teach behavioral activation techniques to help SAD patients overcome winter inertia. Group therapy allows people struggling with SAD to share their experiences and know they are not alone.

Antidepressants 

Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant such as bupropion or an SSRI to be taken during the fall and winter months. These medications can regulate brain chemicals disrupted by fewer daylight hours. Fluoxetine and sertraline are common first-line drug treatments for SAD. Always consult your doctor before starting any new medications.

Natural Remedies and Lifestyle Changes 

There are small daily changes and natural supplements that may relieve seasonal depressive symptoms:

  • Spend 30 minutes outdoors early in the day to maximize light exposure 
  • Exercise regularly - simple daily walks can vastly improve mood
  • Try mindfulness, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress and anxiety 
  • Take vitamin D, omega-3, or St. John’s wort supplements 
  • Eat mood-boosting whole foods like leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts and berries 
  • Establish regular sleep, meal, and workout routines to support your circadian rhythm
  • Limit alcohol intake and stay hydrated to avoid worsening symptoms 
  • Socialize more (even virtually) to get support and counter isolation

Final verdict

While battling SAD isn’t easy, having the right coping strategies and treatment plan can help you get through the long, cold winter days. Take it one week at a time, focus on self-care basics, lean on loved ones, and trust that spring will eventually return. This too shall pass.

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Navigating Holiday Parties Without Derailing Your Health Goals
Navigating Holiday Parties Without Derailing Your Health Goals
January 20, 2024
Healthy Diet

The holiday season is filled with tempting treats like cookies, eggnog, and rich desserts. With parties, family gatherings, and platters of goodies at the office, it can be tricky to stick to your usual healthy habits. However, with some planning and willpower, you can enjoy the festivities without overindulging. This blog post covers tips for navigating holiday parties so you can balance celebration and moderation.

Portion Control is Key

When you face a spread of delicious holiday foods, it’s easy to overload your plate. But be mindful of portions and know that you don’t have to say yes to everything. Here are some strategies to practice portion control:

  • Use a small plate instead of a large dinner plate at a party—this visually cues you to take less food.
  • Focus on the 2 or 3 foods you really love instead of sampling everything. Quality over quantity!
  • Dish up the protein and veggies first, then add small portions of richer sides and desserts.
  • Don’t feel obligated to finish everything on your plate or go back for seconds. It’s perfectly fine to stop when satisfied.

Strategize When Facing Temptations

Let’s face it—no one wants to pass up grandma’s famous pumpkin pie or the office chocolate fountain. When facing a food you’ve been craving, have a game plan so you don’t overdo it.

  • Allow yourself one modest serving of your very favorite treat, then shift your focus to healthier options.
  • Savor each bite thoroughly so you feel satisfied.
  • Wait at least 20 minutes before considering a second helping—this allows your body to register fullness.
  • If it’s a multi-day party, you can have the food again tomorrow. Enjoy moderation.

Stay Hydrated and Monitor Alcohol Intake

It's easy to underestimate how many liquid calories you consume during the holidays. Nurse alcoholic beverages slowly and also be mindful of mixers. Alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of sparkling water to stay hydrated. Going easy on alcohol helps inhibit overeating as well. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.

Burn Calories with Dance Breaks

Between all the mingling, eating, and cheering at big holiday gatherings, you may forget to move. Combat the effects of overindulgence by working physical activity into your celebrations. Suggest dancing to festive tunes or organize a group walk to see neighborhood holiday lights. Even occasional 5-10 minute dance sessions can burn extra calories.

Pick Your Splurges

As the holidays approach, make a list of your must-have treats that you don’t want to miss. Cross reference with the party menus you know—are gingerbread cookies served at your family gathering or chocolate ganache cake at your office party? By predetermining 1-2 splurges per event, you can better moderate the rest of your choices.

Respond to Hunger Cues

It’s easy to eat for reasons besides physical hunger when delicious food surrounds you. Check in periodically at events and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or just bored/stressed/nostalgic?” Only eat because of true stomach hunger. Slow down and assess fullness halfway through each plate or food item. Stop when your body says so.

Stay Accountable with a Pal

Having a health-minded friend at social gatherings can encourage smart choices. Agree to cap treats at a certain number, avoid overdoing alcohol, or leave 20 minutes between appetizer and dessert plates. Look out for each other’s cues when willpower starts flagging. Share wholesome recipes that you try this season too.

Stress Less for Party Success

Hectic holiday schedules often increase stress levels. Take time for self-care between gatherings to better moderate cravings and impulses when surrounded by food. Make sleep a priority, and don’t abandon your exercise routine—even lighter workouts help manage stress. Don’t be afraid to schedule mental health days too! Find moments of calm through meditation, stretching, strolls outdoors, or enjoyable hobbies.

Keep Perspective Post-Parties

Don’t be hard on yourself for minor diet indulgences! Look at the big picture: consuming just 3500 extra calories equates to one pound. So a couple pieces of pie or an extra cocktail will likely not undo your hard health efforts. Return to normal eating as soon as possible, drink extra water day-after to rehydrate, and consider a healthy reset with lighter meals built around vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. One party won’t make or break your progress.

Final words

The holidays are for celebrating! By applying moderation mindsets and smart strategies at parties, you can happily indulge without going overboard. Keep overflowing holiday cheer, not calories, at the heart of this special season. Stay tuned for more healthy holiday eating tips!

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Gift Guide for Health Enthusiasts
Gift Guide for Health Enthusiasts
January 10, 2024
Health and Fitness

People pay lots of attention to health and fitness in the modern world. It is why career prospects in the health sector are increasing daily. As per a recent survey, more than 50% of Americans have specific diets for their daily routine to maintain a healthy state of mind and body. Also, they work out daily, so the wellness market in the United States was valued at $160 billion in 2021.

With health and well-being at the forefront of many people’s minds, health-conscious gifts make great presents for the wellness warriors in your life. To help you find the perfect gift, we’ve created the ultimate gift guide for health enthusiasts.

Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches

Fitness trackers and smartwatches are must-have gadgets for health enthusiasts to monitor their activity levels, heart rate, sleep patterns, and more. Top picks in 2024 include:

  • Apple Watch Series 8 - The newly updated Apple Watch has added features like crash detection, temperature sensing, and an improved workout app. Prices start at $399.
  • Fitbit Sense 2 - Fitbit’s health-focused smartwatch tracks stress, heart health signals, sleep quality, and other metrics. Retails for $299.95.
  • Garmin Vivosmart 5 - For under $150, this fitness tracker monitors blood oxygen, fitness age, stress, and energy levels during workouts.

The data and insights from these devices help people achieve their diet, fitness, and wellness goals. They make great gifts for anyone interested in quantifying and improving their health.

Also Read - Exercise Snacks: 1-Minute Workouts Can Improve Fitness, Overall Health

At-Home Fitness Equipment

Staying active at home has become much more popular since the beginning of the pandemic. At-home fitness gifts are perfect for health enthusiasts with limited time or access to gyms. Top at-home exercise gift ideas include:

  • Connected stationary bikes like Peloton ($1,445 and up) or Echelon bikes ($500 and up) make fun gifts for cycling lovers to get streaming spin classes without leaving the house.
  • Mirror home gym ($1,495) is an interactive home gym with a mirror display for streaming strength, cardio, Pilates, and boxing workouts.
  • Weights and strength training accessories like kettlebells, yoga blocks, foam rollers, and stretch bands allow convenient home workouts. Great for beginners to advanced weightlifters.
  • Lululemon yoga mats ($68 to $88) provide cushioning and grip for home yoga and Pilates sessions. Available in fun colors and designs.

    Also Read - No Gym, No Problem: How To Stay Fit and Active at Home

Healthy Cookbooks and Nutrition Books

What health enthusiasts put into their bodies is as important as working out. Help them fuel their fitness with the latest healthy cookbooks and nutrition education books. Consider gifting:

  • “What to Eat When” by Dr. Michael Roizen - A New York Times bestseller that provides nutritional guidance tailored to our unique daily schedules and health conditions.
  • “The Doctor’s Kitchen” by Dr. Rupy Aujla - Features 100+ recipes to improve energy levels, mood, brain function, immune strength and more.
  • “Hungry for Happiness” by Sonia Choquette - Combines nutritional lessons with spiritual guidance for optimal well-being.
  • “The Blue Zones Kitchen” by Dan Buettner - Recipes inspired by global destinations where people traditionally live remarkably long, healthy lives.

Cookbooks that focus on specific diets like Keto, Whole30, or plant-based fare also make great gifts for the health foodies in your life.

Self-Care Subscriptions and Memberships

Given today’s hectic pace, taking time for self-care is a vital piece of the wellness equation. Give the gift of leisure and stress relief with a membership or subscription service such as:

  • Headspace - One of the most popular meditation and mindfulness apps. Memberships start at $69.99 per year.
  • Calm - App with mindfulness and sleep resources, including music, meditations, and stretching videos. Subscriptions start at $69.99 annually.
  • ClassPass - Membership program for booking health club visits, massage appointments, and more. Local studio credits start at $9 monthly for new members.
  • FabFitFun Box - A seasonal self-care subscription box (4 boxes/year). Each box contains ~$250+ of full-size beauty, wellness, fitness, and lifestyle products tailored to the recipient’s preferences. Boxes start at $54.99/box with annual membership.

Gifts like these allow people time to de-stress and focus on personal wellbeing, a vital component of a healthy lifestyle.

Wellness Retreats and Experiences

For the ultimate health enthusiast, please give them a transformational wellness getaway where they can fully unplug and focus on their personal health goals. Some top wellness retreat packages include:

  • Rancho La Puerta Spa & Fitness Resort near San Diego, CA - Week-long all-inclusive packages with cooking lessons, fitness classes, spa treatments, and healing arts start around $5k. Voted #1 Destination Spa Resort in the World by Travel + Leisure.
  • Canyon Ranch Resorts in Tucson, AZ, and Lenox, MA - Customizable wellness retreats offering medical services, life enhancement programs, spa treatments, nutrition guidance, and outdoor adventures. Rates vary by length of stay, starting at $1,000 nightly.
  • Miraval Resorts in Austin, TX, and the Berkshires, MA region - Packages at these luxury wellness destinations include spa treatments plus activities like meditation, yoga, hiking, equine therapy, fitness, nutrition, and more. Nightly rates average $1,000+.

The chance to relax and hit the “reset” button often provides renewed motivation to stick with diet, fitness, and self-care routines long after the retreat ends. There may be no better gift than rejuvenation for the health devotee who could use some pampering.

Gift the Gift of Wellness

Health and well-being have become central focuses for Americans striving for improved quality and longevity. Help the health enthusiasts in your world continue pursuing their diet, fitness, and lifestyle aspirations with gifts catered to their interests. The ideas in this guide offer everything from high-tech fitness tools to total body rejuvenation they will be thrilled to receive.

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Year-End Wellness Review
Year-End Wellness Review
January 5, 2024
Health and Fitness

As we approach the new year, it’s valuable to pause and reflect on our health and wellbeing over the past 12 months. Taking stock empowers us to celebrate progress made while also thoughtfully considering areas for growth in the months ahead.

Looking Back at 2023

Achievements Along the Way

First, acknowledge all the positive strides taken in 2023, whether small or large. Give yourself credit for developing healthier habits and sticking to them amidst life’s inevitable obstacles. Progress comes slowly with lifestyle changes, so have patience and compassion with your journey. Think back to the goals you set last year - did you accomplish what you hoped? Even if the answer is no, look for the small wins like going to the gym twice a week or having one extra serving of vegetables a day. Every step forward is meaningful.

Insights on the Health of Americans

Statistics from the CDC provide an interesting backdrop about the wellness habits and chronic disease rates currently seen across the country. For example, adult obesity rates have plateaued in recent years after decades of steady increases. So while still very high at 42.4% in 2018, the pace of growth has tempered, suggesting public health initiatives may be taking effect. So while a few metrics are moving in the right direction ever so slightly, most lifestyle-related chronic conditions require ongoing public health efforts to create change.

Where We Can Improve

Next, honestly assess areas where you struggled or want to enhance behaviors in 2024. Reflect on common goals like weight loss, reducing stress, increasing physical fitness, improving nutrition, and getting more sleep or quality time with loved ones. What changes feel most important for your health right now? Make sure your assessment of the past year includes both analytical thinking about where you objectively fell short as well as emotional reflection on frustrations, barriers, or lagging motivation that got in your way. Meet yourself where you’re at while still stretching for meaningful progress.

Also Read - Foods to Help Lower Your Anxiety

Personalizedgoal setting

As you analyze successes and shortcomings over 2023, resist comparison to the journey of others. We all start from a different place with unique constraints and realities that impact our health behaviors. Comparison breeds shame and erodes self-compassion which is essential for lasting change. Your path ahead should build on your baseline with reasonable stretch goals personalized to your current lifestyle and responsibilities. Seek input from healthcare providers or a health coach to tailor a plan that sets you up for sustainable progress.

Looking Forward to 2024

Being SMART with Goal Setting

As you turn your sights to 2024, ensure your wellness goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Break larger ambitions down into smaller milestones that incrementally move you forward. Develop thoughtful action steps that motivate ongoing effort. And schedule periodic check-ins to stay accountable, track progress made, and modify plans if needed based on what works versus what proved challenging.

Connecting with Your Purpose

Also reflect on your core motivations and values around leading a healthy lifestyle as you look ahead. Your “why” gives inspiration through life’s ups and downs while helping new behaviors stick long-term rather than falling into old habits when self-discipline wanes. Connect regularly with the emotional, intellectual and spiritual drivers fueling your wellness journey.

Key Wellness Stats to Inform Goals

As you craft goals for the year ahead, leverage key statistics on lifestyle factors protecting against chronic disease to inform your targets. While the uniqueness of your circumstances should steer the ship, having clear metrics to aim for based on public health research lends helpful guidance.

For example, only 23.9% of American adults currently meet physical activity recommendations of at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity. Anything short of this threshold sharply increases risks of cardiovascular events, diabetes, and premature death. So if your current baseline falls short of this research-backed target, increasing moderate physical movement enough to hit 150 active minutes per week could be life changing.

Other stats worth informing goals include:

  • Only 10% of Americans eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. Target at least 4-5 total servings across both daily.
  • 70% of US adults are overweight. Aim for a BMI under 25 and body fat % measures in healthy ranges.
  • Just over 1/3 of adults get the recommended 7+ hours of sleep per night. Prioritize getting enough sleep.
  • Over 20% of adults smoke cigarettes. If you smoke, make a firm commitment to work on quiting.

The Power of Relationships and Resilience

On your path ahead, also remember human connections and inner resolve will support your quest for improved wellness. Research confirms relationships provide meaning, combat anxiety/depression, lower blood pressure, and correlate to longer lifespan. So connect regularly with close friends and family as part of caring for mental wellbeing. Start conversations about health goals for accountability while also leaving space to just enjoy time together.

Also Read - No Gym, No Problem: How To Stay Fit and Active at Home

Bottom Line

The road of progress includes missteps and milestones in equal measure. Assess the past year while approaching 2024 with grace around where you’ve been and where you’re headed next. Stay connected to purpose and people buoying your aims. Most importantly, take the next step from where you stand, then keep stepping forward with compassion. Each small move made over time culminates into measurable positive change. Here’s to health and happiness in the year ahead!

Also Read - Hacking Your Health: How The Right Food Cracks The Code To Your Body’s Happiness

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Mindful Moments: Mental Health Strategies for Holidays
Mindful Moments: Mental Health Strategies for Holidays
December 26, 2023
Health and Fitness

The holiday season brings joy to many. But for some, it also brings stress and anxiety. High expectations, financial pressure, family issues, loneliness, and grief over lost loved ones can combine to undermine our mental health. However, there are effective strategies we can deploy to better our outlook and cope effectively during this turbulent time.

Practice Mindfulness 

Mindfulness means living consciously in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Being mindful counters the tendency to catastrophize and promotes a state of tranquility. To cultivate mindfulness during the holidays, make time for centering practices like meditating, journaling, spending a few moments focusing on your breathing, or observing your thoughts in a detached manner. 

Getting out in nature and leaving technology behind also bolsters mindfulness. Stay conscious of your emotions and reactions over the holidays. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take a break to calm your nervous system before reacting. Making mindfulness a priority provides mental space from demanding holiday dynamics.

Set Realistic Expectations 

The idealized holiday scenes depicted in media set us up for disappointment, guilt, frustration, and even depression when our holidays fail to measure up. Perfection does not exist. Challenges and disappointments are inevitable no matter our planning and effort. Setting realistic expectations helps buffer against becoming despondent when things go awry. 

Permit yourself to enjoy simpler celebrations if time or money does not permit elaborate ones. Let go of beliefs that the holidays must be magical. Accept that family clashes or logistical problems will likely occur despite our best intentions. Setting realistic expectations is key to avoiding spiraling when faced with holiday stresses.

Practice Self-Care 

Attending to basic self-care bolsters mental well-being and resilience in handling holiday turbulence. Be vigilant about getting sufficient sleep rather than pushing your limits of overstimulation since burnout leaves you vulnerable when emotional triggers arise. Eat nutritious comfort foods but avoid overindulging in sweets which can destabilize your mood. 

Incorporate stress-reducers like yoga, deep breathing, enjoyable hobbies, or soothing music. Treat yourself minimally with simple pleasures. Rejuvenate through activities unrelated to holiday preparations. Schedule relaxing alone time between social gatherings. Listen to your needs and lovingly attend to yourself even amidst the whirlwind of holiday busyness. Make self-care a priority, not a luxury.

Also Read - Healthy Holiday Recipes

Set Healthy Boundaries 

Stress breeds anxiety, resentment, and even panic attacks when we overextend ourselves out of guilt or people pleasing. Healthy boundaries empower you to balance caring for others with caring for yourself. Define what you genuinely have to give materially, physically, and emotionally without compromising your wellbeing. 

Communicate your limits openly rather than silently seething when imposed upon you. Say no without apologies when maintaining sanity requires declining additional responsibilities. Be willing to let go of traditions that no longer fit your circumstances, priorities, or budget. Protect time for people and practices that nurture you spiritually. The holidays become more enjoyable for all parties when you set boundaries honoring your needs.

Practice Gratitude

Holiday blues often accompany concentrating on stressful obligations, family complications, conflicts, or losses rather than counting our blessings. Make conscious space for gratitude. Appreciate loving relationships, comforts you easily take for granted, and simple joys that mean more than lavish commercialism. Write thank you notes to cherished people you are grateful for. 

Tell loved ones directly what you appreciate about them. Keep a gratitude journal documenting daily things large and small that lift your spirit. Concentrating on abundance rather than lack counteracts the tendency to fixate on holiday season negatives that undermine your mood and outlook. Regular gratitude practice conditions your brain to perceive positives more readily lowering the risk of anxiety and depression.

Give Back 

Generosity and contributing to causes bigger than ourselves are medicinal for the soul and psychological health. The holidays present abundant opportunities to give back formally through volunteering or donating to charities or informally through random acts of kindness. 

Serve meals at a shelter, donate gifts for needy children, or send cards to hospitalized veterans. Shovel a disabled neighbours' driveway, babysit for busy parents, or help elderly relatives organize paperwork. Spontaneous good deeds spread holiday cheer all around. 

Adapt Traditions Thoughtfully

Loved ones pass on leaving permanent voids and cherished traditions that can invoke heartache without their presence. Allow yourself to grieve losses while gently adapting customs to evolving circumstances and needs. Discuss openly with other grieving family members how to appropriately memorialize lost loved ones. Light candles, display photos, or prepare deceased relatives’ signature dishes to incorporate warm remembrances into your celebrations. 

Also Read - Mindfulness Matters: How Meditation Can Improve Your Mental Health

Wrapping up

There are ample ways of protecting our mental health during the emotionally charged holiday season with some conscious planning and priority. Concentrating on self-care ensures we have ample inner resources to weather high stress. Maintaining healthy boundaries and realistic expectations helps minimize feeling embattled. Adapting traditions with sensitivity as families change through the years can temper holiday blues. With some mindful strategies, we can harness this spirited season to lift our spirits rather than undermine our peace. May you find joy, restoration, and light this holiday time.

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Boosting Immunity: Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Body's Defenses
Boosting Immunity: Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Body's Defenses
December 18, 2023
Health and Fitness

As temperatures drop and flu season approaches, strengthening your immune system is important. A strong immune system can help you fight off viruses and bacteria. This keeps you healthy through the winter and all year long. There are small yet impactful lifestyle habits and dietary choices that make a difference.

Focus On Sleep 

Getting adequate sleep supercharges your immunity. Adults need 7-9 hours per night. Going to bed and waking at consistent times is ideal. This synchronizes your body’s internal clock for peak functioning. Lack of sleep throws off critical systems. 

It negatively impacts your energy, mood, concentration, and immunity. Ensure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark. Limit digital stimulation and caffeine close to bedtime. A relaxing pre-bed routine signals your body that it’s time to sleep.

Also Read - Get Your Best Night’s Sleep: Expert Tips for Walking Up Refreshed

Manage Stress 

Chronic stress produces excess cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones suppress the immune response. This leads to more frequent and severe viral infections. Curtail unnecessary obligations and build in daily relaxation practices. 

Take short breaks during work to stretch, meditate, or walk outside. At night, unplug from digital devices which overstimulate the nervous system. Spend time journaling, enjoying hobbies, or cuddling pets. Say no to maintaining healthy boundaries around your energy. Stay grounded in the present moment through mindfulness of your senses and surroundings.

Also Read - Ways to Prevent Stress Build-up

Eat More Fruits And Vegetables 

Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants that combat cell damage from molecules called free radicals. Free radicals appear during infections. They also accumulate from poor diet, pollution, smoking, stress, and excessive sun exposure. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E minimize these free radicals, supporting immunity and healthy aging. 

Focus especially on brightly colored produce like citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, red peppers, and sweet potatoes. These provide higher antioxidant levels. Eat fruits and veggies at every meal and snack. Whole foods, not supplements, ensure balanced nutrition and fiber for digestive and immune health.

Also Read - Hacking Your Health: How The Right Food Cracks The Code To Your Body’s Happiness

Choose Lean Protein 

Protein aids the body in replacing specialized white blood cells when battling germs. Even mild deficiency impairs the immune response. Seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes, and nuts offer lean options without excess saturated fats found in red meat. Mix up your protein choices for variety. Try new beans, lentils, and tofu if plant-based. 

When possible, buy organic and grass-fed animal products to avoid hormones and antibiotics. These compounds modify immune cells negatively. Moderate protein portions to approximately 0.36 grams per pound of body weight daily. Spread intake evenly throughout the day.

Stay Hydrated 

Dehydration compromises all bodily functions, immunity included. Thick mucus accumulations in the airways trap viruses and bacteria. This prolongs respiratory infections. Drink at least 64 ounces, or eight cups, of fluids per day. Water is best, with herbal tea or diluted fruit juice also hydrating. Cut out sugary soda and juice. 

Caffeinated coffee and tea are fine in moderation, but can be dehydrating. If your urine color trends dark yellow, up your water intake. Customize specifics to your climate, exercise regimen, and health conditions. Also, cover up or use sunscreen to avoid dehydrating burns.

Take Vitamin D And Zinc 

Vitamin D enhances the activation of immune fighters like T cells and macrophages. These locate and destroy pathogens. Many people are deficient, especially in winter with less sun exposure. Get your blood level tested to identify needs. 

Then supplement accordingly with vitamin D3, the most effective form. Zinc assists vitamin D and has extensive immune influence. Food sources include seafood, meat, legumes, nuts and seeds. If already eating these zinc-rich foods, add an extra 3-5 mg per day. This tiny dose makes a difference. Megadoses of either nutrient are unnecessary and possibly unsafe.

Add Immune-Boosting Herbs 

Certain herbs contain unique compounds that rouse weary immune cells. Traditional medicine systems relied on these antiviral and antibacterial herbs. Modern research confirms many benefits. Garlic, ginger, echinacea, and elderberry treat and prevent colds. Turmeric, ginseng, licorice, and astragalus regulate immune components. 

They reduce inflammation from infections and autoimmune conditions. Add these herbs and spices liberally to everyday cooking. Try garlic-toasted veggie bowls, ginger peanut chicken stir fry, or turmeric rice. For convenience, capsules, tinctures, and teas are available. Mix varied herbs to utilize several compounds and effects.

Also Read - The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting: How to Improve Your Health and Live Longer

Consider A Probiotic 

Over 70% of immune tissue resides in the gut microbiome. These trillions of bacteria influence systemic immunity daily. Support them with prebiotic fibers from oats, apples, onions, and asparagus. Additionally, probiotic supplements add reinforcements. These deliver specific strains with research on immunity modulation. Consider multi-strain options labeled “high CFU”. 

This ensures higher bacteria counts for digesting through stomach acid. Take for several weeks to fully seed communities after antibiotics or illness. Yogurts boasting live cultures are also beneficial but transient. Fermented items like kimchi, miso, and kefir nurture robust microbiomes long-term.

Conclusive words

The strategies discussed all positively influence immune health through unique mechanisms. While supplements and herbs can provide immune boosts when needed, do not neglect basic healthy lifestyle habits. Sufficient sleep, nutrition, hydration, and exercise give your body the best chance of fighting disease-causing microbes. Avoid quick fixes and focus on whole-body wellness through balanced self-care.

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Embracing the Cold for Exercise
Embracing the Cold for Exercise
December 15, 2023
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Frigid temps and early sunsets can deter even the most dedicated exercisers. However, you can stay fit and active despite cold weather. It just takes some adaptation and planning. Follow these tips to maintain your workout routine during the winter.

Move Your Workout Indoors 

No need to brave the cold if you have access to indoor fitness options. Mall walking is a simple way to get steps. Schools, community centers, churches, and gyms often have open indoor tracks. Treadmills and ellipticals provide cardio training sans windchill. Skip the traffic and bad weather by hopping on your stationary bike or rower at home.

Streaming services like Peloton offer virtual classes for cardio, strength training, yoga, HIIT, and more. Subscribe to an on-demand program or stream live workouts. All you need is an internet connection, a screen, and some space to move.

Also Read - No Gym, No Problem: How To Stay Fit and Active at Home

Dust Off Those Fitness DVDs 

Did you invest in workout DVDs back when they were popular? Dig those discs out of storage! Pop in a cardio kickboxing, Latin dance, body sculpting, or step aerobics DVD. This is a retrospective and cost-efficient way to vary your home fitness routine.

Mix Up Your Strength Routine 

Colder months are a good time to focus on strength training. Mix up your usual workout with resistance bands, weight machines, free weights, pilates rings, or calf raises on the stairs. Work towards that fitness goal you set back on New Year’s.

Keep the Whole Family 

Active Involve the kiddos for quality family time. Have relay races across the living room, play balloon volleyball, or set up obstacle courses from furniture and toys. Activities like musical chairs, freeze dance, Simon Says, and Twister make exercising fun. Adults get moving while monitoring the chaos!

Schedule Walking Meetups 

Walking is a low-impact yet effective form of exercise. Schedule regular walking meetups with friends. Mall walking is a popular social option out of the cold. Or take shelter indoors at warehouse stores like Costco. Schools, churches, and community centers often open doors for public walking too.

Warm Up Properly 

Cold muscles are more prone to injury. Spend at least five to ten minutes thoroughly warming up before any chilly outdoor fitness endeavors. Jumping jacks, knee lifts, squats, lunges, and arm circles increase blood flow and flexibility.

Also Read - Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally: Proven Stress-Relief Techniques

Layer Up! 

The right cold-weather gear enables safe and comfortable workouts outdoors. Synthetic moisture-wicking base layers keep skin dry. Insulated softshell jackets and pants buffer wind and retain body heat. Top off the outfit with a water-resistant jacket or vest. Don’t forget hat, gloves, and wool socks!

Embrace Winter Sports 

Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing. Winter activities galore for fun fitness! Head to local slopes, skating rinks, or parks to try something new. Or stick to neighborhood hills for classic sledding sessions with the family. Cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails offer great cardio too.

Sign Up for Cold Runs 

While slippery roads discourage running outdoors, weather-resistant treadmills provide a solid alternative on blustery days. Or register for a frosty 5K, 10K, or half marathon rather than braving solo winter runs. Events keep you accountable while offering camaraderie. Look for holiday-themed costumed races too!

Prep for Indoor Cycling 

Stationary bikes are a mainstay for at-home fitness. And cold months are ideal for logging miles indoors rather than biking outdoors. Invest in a bike stand, smart trainers now convert regular rides into digitally controlled spin bikes. Interactive classes make virtual cycling social through platforms like Zwift.

The Great Indoors 

If all else fails and it's just too cold to function, focus on stretching. This is the perfect weather for improving flexibility and mobility. Prioritize gentle, full-body stretching routines. Try restorative yoga flows or Pilates too. Amp up the cozy factor with warm beverages, candles, and blankets!

Also Read - Exercise and High Cholesterol: How Physical Activity Impacts Your Levels?

Maintaining Motivation 

When icy weather dampens motivation, call upon social support and accountability. Schedule regular check-ins with a personal trainer or fitness buddy. Join virtual communities through fitness trackers or social media groups. Financial commitment also boosts dedication, so prepay for classes or events. Establish rewards to reinforce goals as well!

Consistency Counts 

Aim for consistency over perfection with winter workouts. Even if your cold-weather routine differs from summer training, do something active most days of the week. Consistency cements habits so it's easier to maintain fitness gains long-term. Celebrate small wins through the winter to stay motivated when it's cold. Spring will arrive before you know it!

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Enjoy Wholesome Holiday Fare with These Ultimate Recipes
Enjoy Wholesome Holiday Fare with These Ultimate Recipes
December 8, 2023
Healthy Diet

The holidays are a time for indulgence. But that doesn’t mean your health should suffer. You can create nutritious versions of classic dishes. This allows you to celebrate while providing your body with quality fuel. Read on for tasty, good-for-you recipe ideas.

Lighter Mashed Potatoes 

Mashed potatoes are a popular side dish. But they’re typically loaded with butter and whole milk. For a healthier take, try this recipe. Peel and cube potatoes. Then boil until fork-tender. Drain and return to pot. Add roasted garlic, vegetable broth, pepper, and nutmeg. Mash to desired consistency. For a creamy texture, blend in plain Greek yogurt instead of butter.

Green Bean Casserole 

This classic casserole can get a wholesome makeover by swapping key ingredients. Rather than cream of mushroom soup, make your sauce from almond milk and mushrooms. Top freshly steamed green beans with this sauce. Add crispy fried onions for crunch and tradition.

Also read - Mental Health During the Holidays

Brussels Sprouts Gratin 

This gratin turns the most famously hated vegetable into a delicious, healthy dish. Halve Brussels sprouts and roast with balsamic vinegar to caramelize. Make a quick cheese sauce from plain Greek yogurt, flour, dijon, and Parmesan. Toss roasted sprouts with sauce. Top with whole-grain panko breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbly and browned.

Cranberry Sauce Two Ways 

Tart cranberries pair perfectly with Thanksgiving turkey. Skip the canned version loaded with added sugar. Make your own quick stove-top cranberry sauce instead. Simmer fresh or frozen cranberries with orange juice and zest. Sweeten with just a little honey or maple syrup. For a fun twist, pulse-cooked cranberries in the food processor with ginger, cinnamon, and almonds.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Root veggies like carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and radishes take well to high-heat roasting. The natural sugars caramelize while the insides become tender. Peel vegetables and chop them into bite-size pieces. Toss with just a drizzle of olive oil. Roast on a sheet pan at 400 degrees, stirring once, until browned outside and soft inside. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary.

Also Read - Foods to Help Lower Your Anxiety

Lighter Egg Nog 

Skip heavy cream and load up on protein with this lighter take on a holiday classic. Whisk egg whites vigorously, then gently fold into egg yolks. For a tasty nutmeg-vanilla flavor, heat almond or skim milk with spices, then let steep. Whisk the seasoned milk into the eggs. Top each serving with freshly grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.

Banana Pumpkin Loaf 

Quick breads are holiday breakfast staples but are often packed with sugar and butter. Ripe bananas and canned pumpkin keep this loaf moist and sweet without adding loads of sugar. Whisk bananas and pumpkin with eggs, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger. Gently stir in whole wheat flour just until combined. Bake in a loaf pan until browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Slow Cooker Apple Cider 

Warm spiced cider instantly gets you in the holiday spirit. But traditional versions come loaded with added sugar. Simply fill your slow cooker with apple cider. Stud apple halves with cloves and add cinnamon sticks. Cook for 2-3 hours on low until steaming hot and infused with spice flavor.

Dark Chocolate Bark 

A little dark chocolate makes the ultimate guilt-free treat. Simply melt 70% cacao chocolate slowly in the microwave or over a double boiler. Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top immediately with dried fruit, cinnamon, crushed candy canes, or other mix-ins. Slide the baking sheet into the fridge or freezer. Once cool and hardened, break into irregular bark shapes.

Cranberry Ginger Mule Mocktail 

Make a fun seasonal mocktail by combining tart cranberry juice with fragrant ginger beer and lime. Pour both juices over ice in a copper mug or glass. Top with sparkling water and garnish with lime wheels and fresh cranberries. For a kid-friendly version, use less ginger beer for a sweeter flavor.

Pomegranate Iced Tea 

This ruby red tea looks and tastes festive for holiday meals, but skips the added sugar. Combine strong-brewed black tea with 100% pomegranate juice while still hot. Sweeten with just a touch of honey or maple syrup. Chill thoroughly before serving over ice with orange slices and mint sprigs.

Also Read - X Best Foods for Eye Health, According to a Dietitian

Maple Glazed Carrots 

Carrots get a candied touch for the holidays thanks to maple syrup. Peel and slice carrots on the bias. Simmer in broth with minced ginger just until crisp-tender. Drain any excess broth. Add real maple syrup and butter. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until maple glaze coats each carrot slice. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Baked Apples with Nuts and Raisins

Skip the pie and bake apples for a naturally sweet dessert. Core apples and score around their “equator” to prevent bursting. Stuff holes with walnuts and raisins. Arrange stuffed apples in a baking dish. Pour apple cider and ground cinnamon over the apples. Cover and bake at 375 until tender. Uncover and broil briefly to caramelize the cider glaze.

Enjoy More Balanced Holiday Meals 

With a little creativity, you can update traditional holiday dishes for better nutrition. Focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients. Boost fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while moderating added sugar, butter, and cream. Share these better-for-you recipes for merry, healthy gatherings.

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Navigating Immigration Health Exams with trüPathways
Navigating Immigration Health Exams with trüPathways
November 28, 2023
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Immigrating to a new country is an exciting yet challenging process. One of the most critical steps is completing the immigration medical exam, which involves extensive health screening tests and vaccinations. The exam aims to ensure immigrants do not have health conditions that could pose a public health risk to the host country. 

While essential, navigating the complex immigration health exam process can be extremely overwhelming for applicants. That's where trüPathways comes in. trüPathways is an all-in-one digital health platform that streamlines the end-to-end immigration health exam journey. Keep reading to learn how trüPathways simplifies and supports your immigration medical exam process.

Understanding Immigration Medical Exam Requirements:

The immigration medical exam, also known as a green card medical exam, is mandated by U.S. immigration authorities including USCIS, the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. Immigrants must complete a comprehensive physical exam, blood tests, and vaccinations based on their age, country of origin, and personal medical history.

The full medical exam is conducted by a USCIS-designated civil surgeon. The civil surgeon examines you, reviews your vaccination records, orders blood tests, provides necessary shots, and completes all immigration paperwork. Once done, they submit the medical forms detailing your examination findings, immunization history, test results, and admissibility determination to immigration authorities. Acceptable results clear you for legal permanent residency in the U.S. Those diagnosed with certain communicable diseases may need to receive treatment first before being medically approved.

Challenges With the Immigration Health Exam Process:

Given the wide array of screening tests, complex vaccine requirements, piles of paperwork, and multiple providers involved, completing the immigration medical exam is notoriously challenging for applicants. Key difficulties include:

  • Finding a conveniently located and affordable civil surgeon. USCIS has strict requirements for civil surgeons, so not all doctors qualify.
  • Determining exactly which vaccinations you'll need before the exam based on your age, medical history, country of origin, and CDC guidelines. The list can be extensive.
  • Managing and coordinating all the different exam components - physical exam, lab tests, vaccines, and paperwork. They do not all happen at once.
  • Navigating multiple appointments at different locations for the physical, vaccines, blood draw, medical history review, and exam sign off. This also includes navigating time off work and childcare.
  • Handling complex vaccine schedules, doses, and timing, especially for children who need multiple shots at specific intervals.
  • Translating foreign medical records and paperwork into English as needed.
  • Submitting proper passport photos and supplemental documentation along with exam forms.
  • Receiving clear, reliable guidance throughout the convoluted exam process and paperwork. It's easy to make costly mistakes.

In summary, the immigration medical exam requires numerous frustrating trips to various clinics, hospitals, and labs. Applicants also endure great stress ensuring they complete everything properly to avoid delays or rejection.

Also Read - Blood Pressure Tips During the DOT Physical Exam

How trüPathways Radically Simplifies the Process?

trüPathways provides an all-in-one digital platform that radically simplifies your immigration health exam journey. Our innovative solution offers:

Connecting You With The Top-Rated Civil Surgeons Nearby

Finding an approved civil surgeon is easy with trüPathways. Just answer a few questions about your immigration application and location. trüPathways automatically matches you to the top-ranked certified civil surgeons in your area. View detailed profiles of each one that include qualifications, specialty, pricing, verified patient reviews, and real-time availability. You can even book, reschedule, or cancel appointments online in seconds.

Personalized Health Exam Recommendations

Unsure exactly which medical tests, vaccines, and paperwork you need for the immigration exam? trüPathways provides personalized recommendations tailored to your specific situation. Our intelligent system considers your immigration category, country of birth, age, gender, medical history, and CDC guidelines to generate a complete list of required screenings, shots, and forms. You get a customized checklist and vaccination schedule.

Streamlined Exam Logistics and Coordination

trüPathways handles all the complicated logistics and connections for your immigration health exam in one seamless platform. We connect you to nearby labs to complete necessary blood work, pharmacies to receive required vaccines, language translators, and any other services needed throughout the process. You get automated reminders for upcoming appointments and next steps so you never miss a beat.

Safe, Secure Document Management

trüPathways offers state-of-the-art secure digital storage to keep all your health records, exam results, vaccination history, and immigration paperwork organized in one place. You can also digitally share documents and status updates with your immigration lawyer or designated family members if desired. We make it simple to manage all the critical health documents and information you need now and in the future.

Also Read - How A Walk-In DOT Physical Exam Help Save Lives?

Real-Time Communication and Support

Have any questions during your immigration health exam process? trüPathways offers 24/7 bilingual support from real people via phone, email, text, and live chat. Our experienced team is ready to guide you every step of the way and promptly answer any questions you may have from start to finish. Just ask!

Conclusive words

With trüPathways, you can complete the mandatory immigration medical exam with greater ease, speed, and peace of mind. We take care of connecting you to the best providers, managing all the complex logistics, translating records, tracking paperwork, and supporting you 24/7 throughout the journey. Visit our website today to learn more and get started on a smoother immigration health exam experience. Your new life awaits!

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Staying Healthy During Flu Season: A Guide to Influenza Prevention
Staying Healthy During Flu Season: A Guide to Influenza Prevention
November 25, 2023
Cold, Flu and Allergies

As the leaves begin to change and the weather gets cooler, flu season is right around the corner. The influenza virus causes seasonal epidemics almost every winter in the United States, peaking between December and February. On average, influenza leads to tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths each flu season. 

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against the dangers of influenza. By understanding how the flu spreads, who is most vulnerable, and what preventative measures you can take, you can keep yourself healthy this flu season.

How Influenza Spreads?

Influenza spreads easily from person to person through respiratory droplets. When an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or talks, they expel tiny droplets that contain the influenza virus. If these droplets land in your nose, eyes, or mouth or are inhaled, you may contact the flu. The influenza virus can also spread by touching objects contaminated with the virus. If you touch a doorknob, table surface, or keyboard with flu virus on it and then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose, you risk becoming infected. 

Prevention measures

Preventing Influenza Infection If you want to avoid getting the flu this winter, follow this prevention guidance:

Get Vaccinated Yearly 

The most effective way to prevent influenza is to get an annual flu shot. Flu vaccines work by exposing you to noninfectious pieces of the virus, allowing your immune system to create defensive antibodies. Different strains of the influenza virus circulate every year, so it’s important to get vaccinated annually to build immunity against the current strains. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine before flu activity picks up in their local community, ideally before the end of October.

Also Read - Role of Diet and Nutrients in Maintaining Healthy Lungs

Wash Hands Frequently 

Practicing good hand hygiene minimizes your chances of getting or spreading the flu. Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol can also effectively kill the flu virus when soap and water are unavailable. Avoid touching eyes, mouth, and nose to prevent transmission from contaminated hands. Teach children the proper way to wash hands to stop flu germs from spreading at schools.

Use Proper Cough and Sneeze Etiquette 

Cover all coughs and sneezes to block infectious respiratory droplets from transmitting through the air. Cough or sneeze into a tissue and discard it right away before properly washing your hands. If tissues aren’t available, cough into your elbow rather than your hands to reduce spreading germs. Whenever possible, stand at least six feet away from people exhibiting flu symptoms to avoid close contact with the airborne virus.

Disinfect Surfaces 

Viruses can live on doorknobs, light switches, phones, remote controls, and other household objects for up to 48 hours. Disinfect these surfaces frequently to kill the lingering flu virus, especially if someone in your home has the flu. Choose EPA-approved disinfectants and sanitizers to eliminate illness-causing germs. Bleach or alcohol solutions containing at least 70% alcohol also work.

Also Read - How to Treat Influenza (Flu) | Home Remedies, Stopping the Spread, When to See a Doctor

Avoid Touching Face 

As difficult as it seems, stop touching your eyes, nose, and mouth throughout the day to block the virus from entering through mucus membranes. The flu virus takes between one to four days to incubate before making you sick. Avoiding face touching prevents viral particles from invading your respiratory system.

Limit Contact With Sick People 

The best way to avoid getting the flu is to stay away from already infected people showing symptoms. Avoid close interaction with coworkers, family, or friends exhibiting signs of influenza-like fever, chills, body aches, headaches, sore throat, and fatigue. Wait to visit friends or relatives recovering from influenza for at least 24 hours after their fever dissipates. Monitor your health after necessary exposure to ill people and call your doctor if you show concerning symptoms.

Strengthen Your Immune System 

Building up your general immunity makes your body better prepared to resist and fight off influenza infection. Get adequate sleep, eat a balanced diet full of vegetables and whole grains, exercise regularly, manage stress levels, stay hydrated, and consider taking vitamins C, D, and zinc supplements. Supporting overall health fortifies your body’s defenses against viruses like the flu.

Also Read - Immune System Boosters

Recognizing Influenza Symptoms 

Identifying flu symptoms quickly leads to faster treatment and recovery. Typical influenza signs include:

  • High fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Chills and body sweats
  • Headache, body and muscle aches
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea (more common in children)

The severity and duration of influenza symptoms depend on age, overall health status, and whether or not an individual received a flu vaccination. Symptoms can last between two and fourteen days but most people improve within a week. 

Seek emergency care immediately if you or a child exhibit any of these emergency warning signs:

  • Rapid breathing or struggle breathing
  • Bluish skin colors
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Dehydration signs like dizziness or lack of urination
  • Fever above 104 F
  • Confusion or disorientation

Last words

Staying Healthy Through Flu Season While influenza spreads easily during the fall and winter months, you have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones against infection. Follow the flu prevention guidance outlined above to minimize health risks this season. Getting vaccinated, washing hands properly, disinfecting household objects, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and supporting your body’s immune defenses all help guard against the dangers of influenza. 

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Navigating Fall Allergies: Tips for Managing Symptoms
Navigating Fall Allergies: Tips for Managing Symptoms
November 15, 2023
Cold, Flu and Allergies

The crisp air, colorful foliage, and cozy sweaters make fall a favorite for many. However, for those who struggle with seasonal allergies, fall can be an unpleasant time filled with pesky symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes. Between lingering ragweed and new mold growth, common fall allergies can put a damper on enjoying the season. 

Arm yourself with knowledge of what triggers your symptoms, as well as various treatments and lifestyle adjustments to make fall more comfortable.

Understanding Common Fall Allergy Triggers

To properly manage fall allergies, it’s helpful to know exactly what allergens tend to cause issues this time of year:

  • Ragweed – For many fall allergy sufferers, ragweed pollen is the main culprit behind symptoms. Ragweed season typically peaks in early to mid-fall. The pesky plant is known to release tiny, lightweight pollen grains that travel far through the air.
  • Mold – Mold growth explodes in the fall thanks to dropping temperatures, rain, damp piles of leaves, and dead plant matter. Mold allergies can cause congestion, sneezing, and irritation. Be on the lookout for mold on decaying logs, mulch, and areas of lawn with heavy leaves or debris.
  • Grass – Cool-season lawn grasses can continue to pollinate even in fall. So glyphosate allergies may still be bothersome, even if other grasses have died down.
  • Mites – These microscopic bugs thrive in fallen leaves and areas with higher moisture. When decaying leaves and plants freeze and thaw, mites get stirred up which can increase exposure.

    Also Read - Is It Cold, The Flu, Or Allergies - What Are Your Symptoms?

Take Inventory of Your Unique Fall Allergy Symptoms

Since everyone reacts differently to seasonal allergens, take notes this fall about your specific symptoms and when they occur. Tracking details helps you identify personalized triggers and patterns. Be on the lookout for common allergy issues like :

  • Runny nose, congestion, sinus pressure
  • Sneezing fits
  • Red, watery, or itchy eyes
  • Coughing, sore throat, hoarse voice
  • Itchy mouth, ears, skin or palate
  • Hives or eczema flare-ups
  • Headache or fatigue

Pay attention to any connections between symptoms and your activities like raking leaves, wearing certain clothing, or other exposures. These allergy symptom investigations assist you in finding targeted solutions.

Consider Both Medications and Lifestyle Adjustments

A multi-pronged approach works best to gain control over fall allergies. Explore options from medications to lifestyle changes and environmental precautions based on your needs:

Medications

  • Oral antihistamines like Allegra, Zyrtec, or Claritin can help block symptoms. Nasal sprays like Flonase ease nasal congestion and drip specifically.
  • Talk to your doctor about prescription medications or allergy shots if over-the-counter options still leave you suffering.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Shower/wash hair after spending time outdoors doing yard work or playing with fallen leaves. This keeps allergens from accumulating on clothing and bedding.
  • Limit outdoor time on high pollen count or mold spore days.
  • Adjust ventilation by closing windows on bad allergy days and using A/C instead if possible.
  • Vacuum often using a HEPA filter to remove allergens and dust.
  • Limit exposure to smoke from leaf piles, grills, or fire pits.

    Also Read - No Gym, No Problem: How To Stay Fit and Active at Home

Other Precautionary Measures

  1. Wear a protective mask over your nose and mouth when doing yardwork like raking leaves or clearing brush. This blocks pollen, mold spores, and other allergens from being directly inhaled. Opt for a tight-fitting N95 mask for maximum filtration of tiny particles.
  2. Be diligent about changing your clothing after doing any outdoor activities with exposure to potential fall allergens. Also, wash the clothing immediately to prevent built-up particles which could transfer to skin or bedding. Washing with hot water is ideal for killing and removing allergens.
  3. Use a slightly damp microfiber cloth when dusting indoor surfaces instead of a dry cloth or feather duster. The microfiber traps and locks in dust and allergens instead of circulating them into the air. The bit of moisture helps grab and cling to the particles without pushing them around.
  4. Invest in a quality efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter air purifier to use inside your home. Keep it running in bedrooms and main living areas constantly throughout fall to proactively filter out mold, pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and other irritating particles. Look for a true medical-grade HEPA filter with a high clean air delivery rate (CADR). This equipment can effectively remove up to 99.97% of concerning airborne allergens.

Don’t Let Allergies Ruin Your Autumn 

Arm yourself with knowledge of common fall allergy triggers and personalized symptom investigations. Employ a combination treatment plan to get sniffling and sneezing under control. Then get back to enjoying all the wonderful things autumn has to offer like hay rides, apple orchards, and pumpkin decorating! With a strategy for navigating fall allergies, you’ll find simple pleasures no longer need to be cut short due to pesky symptoms. Breathe easy and have a happier, healthier autumn season.

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Your Guide to Locating Immigration Health Exams
Your Guide to Locating Immigration Health Exams
November 3, 2023
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If you are immigrating to the United States, one of the requi​rements is completing a medical examination. This immigration health exam is mandatory for​ all immigrants to show that they are free from health conditions that could make them inadmissi​ble. Locating an authorized civil surgeon to perform this exam is a key step in the immigration proces​s. Here is a guide to finding immigration health exams in your area:

What is the Immigration Medical Exam?

The immigration medical examination, also known as a gree​n card medical examination, is required for all immigrants to the United States. It consists of a medic​al history review, physical exam, and blood tests. The purpose is to screen for communicable dise​ases of public health significance, determine physical or mental disorders with harmful behavi​ors, and check for substance abuse issues. Some visa categories require additional tests like a tu​berculosis skin test or syphilis test. The medical exam also checks your v​accination history and may require bringing your vaccination records.

​Who Conducts Immigration Medical Exams?

The immigration medical exam must be carried out by a civil surgeon who is designated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Civil surgeons are licensed doctors who have been trained and given authorization to perform immigration medical exams. They are typically physicians in private practice or community clinics. The civil surgeon does not make the final decision on your medical admissibility - they conduct the exam and report results to the USCIS.

Also Read - Navigating Immigration Health Exams with trüPathways

Finding Authorized Civil Surgeons

To locate civil surgeons in your area who are approved to perform immigration medical exams, here are some tips:

  • Check the USCIS website. USCIS has a search tool where you can enter your ZIP code and find nearby civil surgeons. This is the official government list of authorized civil surgeons.
  • Ask your primary care doctor. Some family medicine and internal medicine physicians are designated as civil surgeons. Your regular doctor may be authorized or may have recommendations.
  • Search online directories. Several websites like imsdocfinder.com maintain directories of civil surgeons searchable by location. But always verify they are on the USCIS list.
  • Contact nearby hospitals and clinics. Larger hospitals, community health centers, and family medicine clinics may have civil surgeons on staff. Call their primary appointment line to inquire.
  • Search in non-English languages. Websites like medexpress.com/ch/ allows searching for civil surgeons in languages like Chinese, Korean, and Spanish. This can be useful for finding a civil surgeon who speaks your native language.
  • Check foreign embassy websites. Some embassies like the Philippines Embassy maintain lists of designated civil surgeons used by their nationals.

Questions to Ask the Civil Surgeon

Once you have located civil surgeons in your area, you can reach out to ask questions before booking your immigration medical exam:

  • What are your credentials? Are you a licensed physician and board-certified?
  • How long have you been a designated civil surgeon? More experienced is better.
  • Which languages do you speak? Can you provide an interpreter if needed?
  • What specific tests are included in the immigration exam? Make sure they know the requirements.
  • What is the cost of the immigration medical exam? There is no standard pricing.
  • Do you accept health insurance or provide discounted rates? Some civil surgeons offer lower rates for cash payment.
  • When is the soonest available appointment? There may be a waiting period.

Following the Immigration Medical Exam

The civil surgeon will send your immigration medical exam results directly to the USCIS. Many civil surgeons also provide a sealed copy of the exam and vaccinations to include with your immigration application. After USCIS reviews the results, they will notify you if there are any medical issues that need follow up or make you inadmissible. Common conditions like obesity may require additional screening. If you have a Class B medical condition, you may need to file a waiver. Your immigration lawyer can help navigate any medical issues.

Bottom line

Passing the immigration medical exam is mandatory for U.S. immigration. Finding an authorized civil surgeon to perform the exam involves searching the USCIS website, contacting local healthcare providers, and asking questions to find the right doctor for your needs. Locating a conveniently located civil surgeon and making sure you understand the exam process will help avoid delays in your immigration application. Reach out to potential civil surgeons well in advance so that your immigration health exam is completed on time.

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