Your Guide to Insuring a Better Office Visit with Your Doctor

diagnostics-161140_1280Many of us have often fallen prey to waiting many long hours in a waiting room of a physician’s office. Your name is called and you make your way back into the room. It seems that you only see the doctor for 5 minutes and you then forget half of the questions that you had wanted to ask and your shuffled out of the office feeling rushed and upset that your time was wasted and your questions were not answered and the visit was a complete and utter loss. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that you do not have this feeling again when you visit the doctor.

  1. Ask the staff when the best time is to see the doctor so you do not have to wait such a long time. First appointments in the morning, after lunch, or maybe in the evening may be less hectic for the doctor and wait times could be shortened.
  2. Have a list of problems that you would like to discuss with the doctor so that all of your questions get answered, you stay on point, and both you and the doctor do not get side tracked.
  3. Bring a list of all your current vitamins and current medications that you are taking and the doses that you are currently taking.
  4. Always ask when prescribed new medication what the possible side effects are and make sure the physician is aware of all your allergies.
  5. If your doctor sends you out for further testing ask how long the testing results will take and will the doctor’s office be calling you concerning the results or should you call them back.
  6. What is your condition and what has caused it? Any lifestyle measures, like diet and exercise, which can help your condition?
  7. Please be upfront with your doctor never hide anything from your doctor even though you may be uncomfortable talking about it. Recreational drug use, sexual issues, changes in bowel habits, and sleep troubles are more common than you think.
  8. Finally, if you don’t understand any of the answers, say so.

Rebecca Mc Falls Cited Sources:

2013. Doctor visits. Some trips for success. Lifestyles for Healthy Living a newsletter for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members, 2.

Top 5 Food and Nutrition Apps

It has been several months since we all set New Years resolutions. Are you still on track with your resolution to eat better? If not, consider these top 5 food and nutrition apps from LifeHacker.com’s user poll. Keeping track of what you eat has been proven help you make healthier food choices. These smartphone apps will make those choices easier.

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  1. My Fitness Pal. Free on the iOS or Android platform, this app has one of the largest food databases. It helps you log restaurant and home-cooked meals and supports a large number of restaurant menus. As long as you log your food you’ll have a complete picture of your diet. Some users even reported logging meals before they ate, so they knew the proper portion sizes.
  1. LoseIt. A food and activity tracker, LoseIt helps with daily caloric goals and portion sizes. The app has barcode scanners to quickly add in servings of packaged foods or ingredients. The “challenges” in the activity logs will help you take your fitness goals to the next level.
  2. SparkPeople. A network of sites containing a ton of information, recipes, nutrition news, and tips. It allows you to track meals, add home-cooked foods or use the search feature for restaurant dishes. Track your exercise and activity, you’ll have all your daily information in one place. Upgrade from the free version and you will get personalized motivational coaching.
  3. CRON-O-Meter. Simpler than the other tools, this service allows you to track your intake, activity and exercise. It’s a less complex format and easy to use especially if you are just starting out. The downside is that you cannot connect to external devices or fitness trackers (FitBit, etc).
  4. FatSecret. A twist on the usual food log, this app allows you to keep a personal journal so you can match up what you eat with how you feel. Sign up for this free service and you can begin tracking your meals and exercise levels. It also has a build in tool to share recipes with community members so you don’t have to copy and paste them.

Now that you know the top 5 nutrition apps, give them a try. And congratulations on continuing to work toward your fitness and diet goals!

Focusing on Proper Hydration

water-686917_1920After our long, cold winter I can’t wait for the warm summer weather. If you are anything like me, you’ll be spending that time outside.

As the weather heats up so should our focus on proper hydration. A good general rule of thumb is 8 cups per day. But as we sweat we can lose 3-8 cups per hour. Now is the time to focus on increasing your water intake!

If you’re going to be exercising you’ll need to consume an extra 1⁄2 to 1 1⁄2 cups of fluid for every 15 minutes. Sports drinks are only recommended if you will be exercising more than 60 minutes. Otherwise stick to water.

Need some ways to add some excitement to your plain water? Try these add in’s (courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine):

  1. Lemon or lime slices
  2. Fresh basil
  3. Fresh Ginger
  4. Cucumber slices
  5. Fruit + Mint leaves
  6. Lemon + Mango + cilantro
  7. Peach + Lemongrass
  8. Mint + Basil + Melon

Set a timer or alarm clock to help you remember to drink up. Try measuring it out and challenging yourself to meet daily goals. Or treat yourself to a new water bottle. Do whatever it takes to keep your body hydrated this summer…now get out there and have some fun!

How to Deal with Heat Illnesses

Heat cramps – Muscular pain and spasm that occur in the body when it loses too much salt (sodium) from sweating and an inadequate amount of fluids aren’t taken back into the body.

Signs and symptoms:
1. Severe muscle pain and spasm
2. Pale, moist skin
3. Normal body temperature
4. Individual is usually conscious
5. Rapid pulse
6. Faint feeling, dizziness and exhausted

Treatment:
1. Move the individual to a cool place if possible. Have them lie down if feeling faint.
2. If not nauseated, have them drink water or an electrolyte drink, such as Gatorade
3. Encourage them to minimize activity for the next 10-12 hours if possible
4. Apply ice as needed for 20 minutes to the muscles if soreness is present
5. Encourage overhydration to replenish fluids

Heat Syncope – Feelings of weakness and tiredness which ordinarily improve with diet and rest.

Signs and symptoms:
1. Weakness and fatigue
2. Headache
3. Slightly elevated body temperature

Treatment:
1. Get out of the heat
2. Get plenty of rest and eat a good diet with appropriate fluids

Heat Exhaustion – Through prolonged exposure to heat and sweating, the body loses large amounts of salt and water. When fluids and salt are not replaced, body functions begin to be affected.

Signs and symptoms:
1. Headache and dizziness
2. Profuse sweating
3. Pale, cool, sweaty skin
4. Body temperature normal or slightly elevated
5. Weakness or dry mouth
6. Possible heat cramps
7. Individual states they don’t feel well and could be nauseous

Treatment:
1. Move the individual to a cool place
2. Apply a cool cloth to forehead and back of the neck
3. Remove as much clothing as possible – shoes, socks, hat, etc.
4. Have the individual lie down if faint and try and give fluids

Heat Stroke – A serious condition resulting from failure of the heat regulating mechanism in the body. Heat stroke is a medical emergency!

Signs and symptoms:
1. Dry, red skin
2. No sweating
3. Body temperature of 106 degrees and above
4. Rapid pulse and breathing
5. Dizziness, exhaustion and possible fainting 6. Collapse and unconsciousness

Treatment:
1. Medical emergency – call 911
2. Try and cool the individual down if possible 3. Remove as much clothing as possible

Key features that differentiate heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
1. Sweaty skin
2. Increased body temperature

Prevention of heat problems:

1. Try and have the individuals condition for their respective event beforehand, if possible
2. Wear proper clothing, light colors versus dark, cotton versus polyester
3. Evaluate the weather conditions and the time of day before beginning activity, if possible
4. Drink plenty of fluids and take numerous breaks, if possible
5. Try and consume a good diet

10 Tips for Walking Your Dog

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 8.24.12 PMWalking your dog in the summer months is excellent exercise. A recent study performed by the University of Missouri-Columbia study found people who walk their dog 20 minutes a day, five times a week lost an average of 14 pounds after 50 weeks; so here are 10 tips for safely walking your dog.

1. Be prepared to walk, be sure to eat a meal or snack and drink water before you begin your walk.

2. Wear proper clothing and shoes; remember your feet swell while walking so the shoe should be a little big. If you are walking in the evening remember to wear reflective clothing and place a reflector on your dog’s collar and/or leash as well.

3. Remember your ID. You should have your ID with you and your dog should also be wearing his ID with your contact information engraved into it. Many pet stores and veterinarian offices offer to make pet ID tags for $5 or less.

4. Warm up. You want to avoid injury should the unexpected occur so be sure to stretch your calves, hamstrings and do some shoulder and trunk rotations too.

5. Avoid peak heat times when you walk. Remember, your dog overheats faster than you do. When you do walk during the summer months, remember to bring water for you and your dog.

6. Be aware of your surroundings. Dogs may pull or chase another dog, rabbit or squirrel, so be aware of your environment. Keep your dog at your side and give a command such as “sit” or “down” to force your dog to focus on you instead of other distractions.

7. Try to avoid uneven surfaces which compromise your balance.

8. Start with short distances. Don’t plan to walk a marathon your first day out, start small and gradually build you and your dog’s endurance. Also, keep your dog’s breed in mind; small dogs have short legs and walk much shorter distances than a larger, working breed.

9. Rehydrate! After exercise, be sure you and your dog drink plenty of water.

10. Have fun!

12 Safety Tips to Avoid Injuries in Your Home

adhesive-bandages-155776_1280Providing a safe environment for our loved ones to minimize potential falls is key to staying healthy and avoiding other health issues.

1. Be sure that all electrical and phone cords are tucked out of the way and that all throw rugs are removed.

2. Make sure carpet is safely secured to the floor and that there are no wrinkles or raised

3. Place non-skid strips on the bottom of the bathtub.

4. Be sure to sit down while shaving, brushing your teeth, styling your hair or putting on make-up. Use a tabletop mirror or a full length mirror so you can use it while either standing or sitting.

5. Be careful when you walk from one surface to the next, for example, from a carpeted area to a tile floor.

6. When moving from a lying down position to a standing position, sit up first, rest a moment, then proceed to stand up slowly and stand a few moments before trying to walk.

7. Arrange items in your cupboards so that the frequently used items are easy to reach. 8. Make sure that all stairs and hallways are well-lit and free of clutter.

8. Make sure that all stairs and hallways are well-lit and free of clutter.

9. Be sure to always use railings when going up or down stairs. It is always a good idea to have railings on both sides. If there are no railings, place your hand along the wall as you proceed.

10. Use night-lights to assist you walking at night.

11. Sit on firm, high furniture that has arm rests to assist you when standing. 12. Avoid ladders, try and have someone else get high items.

10 Tips to Help Make Summertime Activities Safe and Injury Free

summer-368224_19201. Increase your exercise levels gradually. Walking, riding a bike and doing yard work can be a daily activity, but start small to avoid excessive soreness and/or muscle strains.

2. Water intake is essential with any activity. Drinking 8 glasses of water daily is recommended by most healthcare professionals.

3. Improve your overall upper body strength by doing 10 push ups a day, starting with your knees down on the floor and just doing the push up from the waist up. This is acceptable to avoid injury and until your upper body strength improves.

4. Improve your core or abdominal strength by doing 10 sit ups a day. Don’t hook your feet under any furniture as this works your hip muscles versus your abdominal muscles. It is recommended that you should bend your knees, with your feet flat on the floor and put your hands across your chest, not behind your neck. As your strength improves, add 5 to 10 repetitions to your program every week for pushups and situps.

5. Stretch your calves before beginning any ladder climbing, excessive walking or running. You can easily do this by stepping on the first ladder rung, letting the back of your feet gently drop down off the back of the ladder rung until you feel a comfortable stretch. Another way to stretch your calves is to place your foot up against a solid structure, such as a fence or your home, and lean forward gently till you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for both calves.

6. Gently stretch your shoulders and low back with the use of a broom. Place the broom behind your low back, around belt height and rotate slowly side to side, holding for 30 seconds each direction, 3 times on each side. Do the same for your shoulders by putting the broom on top of your shoulders and place your arms over the top of the broom.

7. The elbow and wrist can be stretched as follows: Straighten the left elbow out in front of yourself, place your right hand on top of your left hand and gently pull down your hand into a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Repeat for the right side.

8. Stretching your hamstrings can be done by placing your feet shoulder width apart and gently leaning forward towards the ground till you feel a comfortable stretch in your hamstring area. Don’t bounce when you stretch and don’t lean forward too far that you lose your balance. When straightening upright, go slowly to avoid making yourself lightheaded or dizzy. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Another way to stretch your hamstrings is from a seated position, placing one leg out straight in front of yourself, bring your ankle up towards yourself and gently leaning forward till you feel a stretch. Again, hold for 30 seconds, 3 times each leg.

9. Neck muscles can be stretched four different directions as follows: Gently letting your head bend forward towards your chest, rotating your head to each side and looking up to the sky. Do these stretches slowly to avoid cramps in the neck muscles and to prevent dizziness. Ideally, these stretches can be performed while you are sitting, even while eating your breakfast. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for each neck position.

10. If you are sore from any activity, use an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a damp towel and place over the area for 20 minutes. You can apply the ice treatment every two hours as needed. Remember, stretch easily till you feel slight discomfort, hold for the appropriate time and don’t over stretch.

Cold Weather and Arthritis

girl-1166842_1920Weather affects different people differently. With many people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis they will be stiffer in the morning and it can take them longer to get up and loosen up and loosen their joints and get going. There’s very little research showing that cold weather directly causes arthritis or alters its course. So why does the cold seem to make arthritis feel worse? As the weather changes, so can the pressure in your joints.

Do what you can to keep warm!

  •   Bundle up from head to toe in several layers
  •   Preheat the car before getting into it
  •   Make sure your home or apartment is kept warm
  •   Sleep under an electric blanket
  •   Warm clothing in dryer before dressing
  •   Drinking warm or hot drinks
  •   Try wearing Spandex gloves at night to try to keep fluid out of the joints
    It is also very important to keep moving!

      Try exercising the affecting joints before going out in the cold weather.
      Maintain a regular exercise program year around. Exercise will not only loosen stiff joints but help prevent winter weight gain that places more stress on painful joints.
      Physical Therapy-working with a pro who is knowledgeable about rheumatoid arthritis and can set a program designed just for you and your specific needs.
      Adopt a no excuse policy for exercising. Even when having a bad day start off with a smaller type exercises to get you started and progress throughout the day to complete what you can.
      Include aerobic exercises in your program. Pair up with a friend and takean aquatic program, tai chi, yoga, or walking activities.All of these can keep the cold from affecting your joints through the winter months and keep you moving all winter long.
    Rebecca McFalls

Sources Cited: Newsinhealth.nih.gov/2009//January/feature/htm www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/weather_and_pain