Meera's Medicine Cabinet - ARCHIVE


February is Heart Health Month

Did you know:

  • High blood
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • A sedentary lifestyle

...can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease?


Talk to your doctor or pharmacist!

There are many ways to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Check out the following links to find out how. Please remember to speak with your physician prior to increasing your physical activity.

 
Healthy food choices, physical activity (30-45minutes per day, 3 to 5 times per week) and weight control are interventions which can help reduce some of the risk factors.
http://www.heartandstroke.ca/search-results-page?q=risk+and+prevention
 

Regular physical activity decreases high blood cholesterol, reduces blood pressure, strengthens the heart muscles and lowers the risk of diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer and diabetes.

http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy

 

Quitting smoking improves overall health and lung function.

http://www.heartandstroke.ca/search-results-page?q=quitting+smoking


Heart and stroke provides a book on a healthy lifestyle changes you can do in minutes.

http://www.heartandstroke.ca/-/media/pdf-files/ebooks/100-healthy-things-en.ashx


Feeling Blue?

During the winter months, many people go into a "hibernation" mode, sleeping more and socializing less.

There are many ways to treat the symptoms of the "winter blues". Not all of them require medicine.

TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR OR PHARMACIST!

What are the "winter blues"?
The following article summarizes Questions and Answers About Winter Depression.
If your mood gets worse as the weather gets chillier and the days get shorter, you may have “winter depression.” Here, questions to ask your doctor if winter is the saddest season for you as summarized in an article below.

Why do I seem to get so gloomy each winter, or sometimes beginning in the fall?
You may have what’s called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. The condition is marked by the onset of depression during the late fall and early winter months, when less natural sunlight is available. It’s thought to occur when daily body rhythms become out-of-sync because of the reduced sunlight.

Some people have depression year round that gets worse in the winter; others have SAD alone, struggling with low moods only in the cooler, darker months. (In a much smaller group of people, the depression occurs in the summer months).

So this worsening in the fall and winter is not just my imagination?

Not at all. This “winter depression” was first identified by a team of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in 1984. They found this tendency to have seasonal mood and behavior changes occurs in different degrees, sometimes with mild changes and other times severe mood shifts.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

·      Sleeping too much

·      Experiencing fatigue in the daytime

·      Gaining weight

·      Having decreased interest in social activities and sex

SAD is more common for residents in northern latitudes. It’s less likely in Florida, for instance, than in Canada. Women are more likely than men to suffer, perhaps because of hormonal factors. In women, SAD becomes less common after menopause.

Should I increase the dose of antidepressant I am taking?
An increase in medication may help, but consult your doctor about it. Don’t increase the dose on your own; instead ask your doctor to evaluate your condition and tell you if you need more medication, or perhaps a different antidepressant.

Taking medication in the autumn, before the mood declines, may help, according to research published in Biological Psychiatry. In three different studies, patients who had SAD who got antidepressants beginning in the fall were less likely to get recurrent depression in the winter compared to those who got placebo beginning in autumn.

Should I go to more therapy sessions in winter?
Going to additional therapy sessions—or perhaps joining a support group—may help.

Another idea, suggested by some therapists, is simply to do “homework” between your formal therapy sessions. That could include keeping a mood log to identify your negative moods, analyzing them, and trying to evaluate and then change your negative thoughts. Try to reduce the tendency you may have when you are depressed to be highly critical of yourself.

Make an effort to stop “ruminating”—going over and over an upsetting incident, or your perceived shortcomings—which only makes you feel worse.

What else can I do, short of moving to the tropics, to help winter depression?

Light therapy has been proven effective to treat seasonal depression. It can be used in combination with talk therapy, antidepressant medication, and supplements of the hormone melatonin, which can help synchronize the body clock.

Light therapy involves using a 10,000 lux light box indoors for about 20-30 minutes each morning. Ask your doctor which type of light box he or she prefers, and get specific instructions on what time of day to use it, and for how long.

Getting outdoors in sunlight also helps some people with depression symptoms. So does getting regular exercise, maintaining social activity, and talking with friends.

Resist the urge to overeat. Most experts recommend a diet with enough protein and plenty of complex carbohydrate-containing foods such as whole grain products and starchy vegetables (instead of simple carbohydrates such as candy and soda).


Sources

Alan Gelenberg, MD, chair, American Psychiatric Association’s Workgroup on Treatment Guidelines for Major Depressive Disorder.
Alexander Obolsky, MD, Chicago psychiatrist and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral science, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago.
Stephen Josephson, PhD, clinical associate professor, Cornell University Medical School and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and psychologist, New York, N.Y.
Norman Rosenthal, MD, author, Winter Blues; psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
National Institute of Mental Health: “What are the different forms of depression?”
Westrin A. CNS Drugs, 2007: vol. 21: pp.901-909.
Al Lewy, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland.
Lewy AJ. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 9, 2006; vol. 103: pp.7414-7419.
Golden R. American Journal of Psychiatry, Apr. 2005; vol. 162: pp.656-662.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on September 09, 2016


The American Psychology Association provides five tips to manage stress.

Stress occurs when you perceive that demands placed on you — such as work, school or relationships — exceed your ability to cope. Some stress can be beneficial at times, producing a boost that provides the drive and energy to help people get through situations like exams or work deadlines. However, an extreme amount of stress can have health consequences, affecting the immune, cardiovascular and neuroendocrine and central nervous systems, and take a severe emotional toll.

Untreated chronic stress can result in serious health conditions including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Research shows that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity.

But by finding positive, healthy ways to manage stress as it occurs, many of these negative health consequences can be reduced. Everyone is different, and so are the ways they choose to manage their stress. Some people prefer pursuing hobbies such as gardening, playing music and creating art, while others find relief in more solitary activities: meditation, yoga and walking.


Here are five healthy techniques that psychological research has shown to help reduce stress in the short- and long-term.

1) Take a break from the stressor. It may seem difficult to get away from a big work project, a crying baby or a growing credit card bill. But when you give yourself permission to step away from it, you let yourself have time to do something else, which can help you have a new perspective or practice techniques to feel less overwhelmed. It’s important to not avoid your stress (those bills have to be paid sometime), but even just 20-minutes to take care of yourself is helpful.

2) Exercise. The research keeps growing — exercise benefits your mind just as well as your body. We keep hearing about the long-term benefits of a regular exercise routine. But even a 20-minute walk, run, swim or dance session in the midst of a stressful time can give an immediate effect that can last for several hours.

3) Smile and laugh. Our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. When people are stressed, they often hold a lot of the stress in their face. So laughs or smiles can help relieve some of that tension and improve the situation.

4) Get social support. Call a friend, send an email. When you share your concerns or feelings with another person, it does help relieve stress. But it’s important that the person whom you talk to is someone whom you trust and whom you feel can understand and validate you. If your family is a stressor, for example, it may not alleviate your stress if you share your works woes with one of them.

5) Meditate. Meditation and mindful prayer help the mind and body to relax and focus. Mindfulness can help people see new perspectives, develop self-compassion and forgiveness. When practicing a form of mindfulness, people can release emotions that may have been causing the body physical stress. Much like exercise, research has shown that even meditating briefly can reap immediate benefits.


BUG BITES

DID YOU KNOW?... Bugs can spread diseases which cannot be prevented or treated. Reduce your risk.

Health Canada and Centers for Disease Control
suggest the following guidelines for the prevention of bug bites.

Bugs (including mosquitoes, ticks, and some flies) can spread diseases (including Zika, dengue, and Lyme disease), many of which cannot be prevented or treated with a vaccine or medicine. Reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites. See below for special instructions to protect babies, children, and pregnant women.

Use Insect Repellent

Use Health Canada or Environmental Protection Agency, registered insect repellents that contain at least 20% DEET (Off! Deep Woods) for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs. Other repellents protect against mosquitoes but may not be effective against ticks or other bugs:

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)


When using insect repellent, follow the instructions on the package and reapply as directed:

  • In general, higher percentages of the active ingredient provide longer-lasting protection. However, this increase in protection time maximizes at about 50% DEET.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry, and then apply repellent. Do not use products that contain both sunscreen and repellent.
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.

 

Consider using clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) that are treated with permethrin (an insecticide). You can buy pre-treated clothes or treat your own clothes. If treating items yourself, follow instructions carefully. Do not use permethrin directly on skin.

 

Cover Exposed Skin

As much as possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and a hat. Tuck your shirt into your pants, and tuck your pants into your socks for maximum protection. Some bugs, such as tsetse flies, can bite through thin fabric.

 

Avoid Bugs Where You Are Staying

Choose hotel rooms or other accommodations that are air conditioned or have good window and door screens so bugs can’t get inside. If bugs can get into where you are sleeping, sleep under a permethrin-treated bed net that can be tucked under the mattress. When outdoors, use area repellents (such as mosquito coils) containing metofluthrin or allethrin.

Prevent Bug Bites graphic

Traveling with Children

Follow instructions for applying repellent on children:


• Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.


• Do not use products containing Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)
on children younger than 3 years old.


• Children should not touch repellent. Adults should apply it to their hands and gently spread it over the child’s exposed skin.


• Do not apply repellent to children’s hands because they tend to put their hands in their mouths.


• Keep repellent out of the reach of children.

 

For babies under 2 months old, protect them by draping mosquito netting over their carrier or car seat. Netting should have an elastic edge for a tight fit.

 

Pregnant Women

Some infections, including Zika, can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, so pregnant women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites while traveling. In the case of Zika, because infection in a pregnant woman is linked to serious birth defects and miscarriage, CDC and Health Canada recommend that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks.


SUNSCREEN

The Canadian and American Dermatology Associations have the following guidelines for correct use of sunscreens.

  1. Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays. Follow these helpful tips when selecting a sunscreen.
  1. Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.
  1. Use enough sunscreen. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.
  1. Apply sunscreen to all bare skin. Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet and legs. For hardtoreach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a widebrimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.
  1. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected, or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating. People who get sunburned usually didn't use enough sunscreen, didn't reapply it after being in the sun, or used an expired product. Your skin is exposed to the sun's harmful UV rays every time you go outside, even on cloudy days and in the winter. So whether you are on vacation or taking a brisk fall walk in your neighborhood, remember to use sunscreen. For more skin cancer prevention tips, see a board-certified dermatologist.

Did You Know?...

People who get sunburned usually didn't use enough sunscreen, didn't reapply it after being in the sun, or used an expired product.

Your skin is exposed to the sun's harmful UV rays every time you go outside, even on cloudy days and in the winter. So whether you are on vacation or taking a brisk fall walk in your neighborhood, remember to use sunscreen.

Talk to your Doctor or Pharmacist!