July Timely Topics- Celebrations and Souvenirs

For July topics we’ll look at summer safety and wellness. We often call winter the cold and flu season, so we could call summer the poison ivy, sunburn, and blister season. Unfortunately, it’s also the season for drownings and water sport accidents.

Where I live, we just saw the first day of summer come and go. It was the longest day of the year and so far one of our hottest. Summer activities are in full swing. Many of the patients I see now are either just coming back from a vacation or getting ready to leave. I envy them because I am staying home since my husband is recovering from a broken ankle that dashed our plans for a summer trip.

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For July topics we’ll look at summer safety and wellness. We often call winter the cold and flu season, so we could call summer the poison ivy, sunburn, and blister season. Unfortunately, it’s also the season for drownings and water sport accidents.

Here in the United States we have our most important holiday of the year-Independence Day, or commonly called the 4th of July. On this day in 1776, the North American colonies of England declared political independence, and the rest, as they say, is history. Much has happened in the 243 years since, and the United Kingdom is now an ally; an American citizen, Meghan Markle, recently married into the British royal family. Friendship is worth pursuing between people and countries.

Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty lifting her torch in New York harbor

Here are links to July’s Timely Topics, or just search for what interests you

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Healthcare

Don’t drink the water-how to avoid water related illness

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

5 insect repellents to keep you safe this summer

Christmas in July

Happy Campers

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Get active

Summer is the perfect time to start or increase physical activity. I’ve been using a fitness app on my phone, Aaptiv. Consider trying it. I’d appreciate you using this affiliate link through which you can help fund this blog. Thanks and enjoy.

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June Timely Topics- Relaxation, Recreation, and Remembering

Where I live, the school year has ended and summer vacation has started, although summer will not officially arrive for a few more weeks, at least on this side of the equator. The swimming pool in my neighborhood is open, and the days are definitely longer and warmer.

two people dangling their legs into a pool.
Don’t let water related illness spoil your summer fun. photo from stock photo site- Lightstock.com- affiliate link

For June topics we’ll look at summer safety and wellness. We often call winter the cold and flu season, so we could call summer the poison ivy, sunburn, and blister season.

Here in the United States we have several important observances in June. One we share with Europe is June 6, known as D-Day. This was the day in 1944 when Allied troops invaded France to free the country of Nazi occupation and ultimately to end World War II. Every year since we honor the bravery of those who gave their lives that day for the cause of freedom.

We also honor freedom by remembering those who suffered in slavery for too long and the day their emancipation was finally achieved-Juneteenth.

We honor our flag on June 14th, calling it appropriately Flag Day. There is a famous story about our flag, and its connection to our national anthem; we’ll look at that story.

And let’s not forget the day we honor dads, Fathers Day, the 3rd Sunday in June. Many men “father” us in multiple ways, whether our biological father, or an uncle, brother, teacher, coach, or friend. We thank them and make them feel special this day.

a man reading to two young girls, sitting in a woman's lap
Thanks Dads for all you do for us.

Here are links to get you started enjoying the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.”

Don’t drink the water-how to avoid water related illness

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

5 insect repellents to keep you safe this summer

Words for Fathers’ Day

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer – Nat King Cole (LIVE)

Nat “King” Cole

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

My Reader Rewards Club is a great way to earn free books and Bibles for yourself, friends, and family! Your journey to earning free faith-based products starts HERE.
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USE THIS LINK TO SIGN UP

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How common meds can hurt your skin

Medications, both prescription and over the counter, can relieve symptoms, hasten healing, and save lives. Even so, adverse reactions are always a risk with any drug. Some of these adverse reactions can involve the skin.

In a previous post I told you how smoking and sunlight affect our skin- premature aging, dryness, and increased risk of skin cancer. Here is a link for you to review or read if you missed it.

How smoking and sun affect your skin’s look and feel

Layers of the Skin diagram

Here is a review of the skin’s layers

Medications and skin -help and harm

In this post I’ll talk about ways medications can adversely affect skin health.

Medications, both prescription and over the counter, can relieve symptoms, hasten healing, and save lives. Even so, adverse reactions are always a risk with any drug. Some of these adverse reactions can involve the skin.

So it is vital that patients and doctors avoid unnecessary or inappropriate use of medications.

Sun sensitivity due to medication

As mentioned in the previous post , some medications can make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure, called drug-induced photosensitivity.

Any drug can cause a reaction, even if you have taken it before without a problem. Some of the more common “skin reaction drugs” include

  • Anti-inflammatory medications, the NSAIDs
  • Psychiatric medications
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Blood pressure lowering meds
  • Antibiotics
  • Statins-cholesterol lowering drugs

Reactions can vary from scaly rashes, blisters, redness, dryness, itching, to severe eruptions all over the body that can be painful and occasionally life threatening.

This is what your skin looks like under a powerful microscope.

Melasma-drug induced skin color change

Melasma (muh-LAZ-muh) is a common skin problem. It causes brown to gray-brown patches, usually on the face. It is much more common in women, probably because it is triggered by female hormones, so it often starts in pregnancy. Women of color are also more susceptible.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Melasma can be caused by

  • Sun exposure
  • Hormone medications-birth control pills, post -menopause hormonal therapy

Here is an excellent discussion and photos of melasma from the American Academy of Dermatology

Use antibiotics wisely for your skin’s sake

Probably the most common drugs that cause a rash or other adverse effects are antibiotics, probably because they are used so often. A

Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, sulfa, tetracycline, and ciprofloxacin can cause several skin reactions .

  • urticaria, also known as hives
  • photosensitivity, mentioned above
  • a scaley rash that may peel off
  • a measles-like rash, called morbiliform
  • blisters

So doctors prescribe antibiotics only for infections that are serious enough that the risk of adverse reaction is worth the possible benefit.

Colds,  flu, and bronchitis are caused by viruses and don’t respond to antibiotics. Even sinus and ear infections don’t always need an antibiotic to resolve. Please don’t pressure your doctor for an antibiotic when you don’t need it. Read more about antibiotic misuse at my previous post

How to navigate the antibiotic highway

6 smart facts about antibiotic use
graphic created by the Centers for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov

The American Academy of Dermatology shares

10 skin care secrets for healthier skin

What you should and shouldn’t do now

Please understand I am not saying we should never use these medications as sometimes they are the best choice for our overall health. You should be aware of the potential for reactions and report them promptly to your doctor if they occur.

If you are taking any of the drugs listed here, do not stop without talking to your doctor.

Coming soon-more skin care tips

In a future post I’ll look at common skin injuries and how to help injured skin heal.

Thanks for joining me to explore skin problems and the HEART of health. Even if it’s winter where you live, don’t forgo sunscreen; the sun doesn’t take a holiday from damaging skin.

Please share this post and follow Watercress Words where we explore and share the HEART of health.

                              Dr. Aletha 

a cute monkey checks out his face in a mirrow
We all care about our appearance, including this cute monkey. Photo by Andre Mouton on Pexels.com

How smoking and sun affect your skin’s look and feel

You can buy products to maintain youthful skin, restore youthfulness to aged skin, remove blemishes, lighten/brighten/darken skin, minimize or eliminate wrinkles, and tighten sagging or puffy skin. But as effective as these are, they work better on skin that is already healthy.

Skin health and beauty- big business

Browse social media or news sites online and you notice skin health and appearance is a priority for most people. Sales for skin care and appearance products and services is a multi-billion dollar industry. If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen posts from friends who are involved in direct selling companies for skin care, maybe you are also.

(By way of disclosure, I am a consultant for a direct selling company offering skincare products and makeup but won’t discuss any of those products in this post. However there will be other affiliate links through which this blog can earn a commission if you make a purchase through them.)

As a family physician, I treat skin problems frequently. Some of these are primary skin problems, but some are the result of lifestyle habits, other medical conditions, and even medical treatments. While some of these may be unavoidable, others are preventable.

This post will look at two avoidable risks to skin health and appearance-smoking and ultraviolet light. 

HOW SMOKING AND SUN AFFECT YOUR SKIN'S LOOK AND FEEL

Skin Deep- cells and layers

First let’s take a deeper look at our skin, it’s more complex than you may realize. It has two layers-

the top layer, the epidermis

the lower layer, the dermis

Layers of the Skin diagram

The layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis), as well as an inset with a close-up view of the types of cells in the skin (squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes). Source: National Cancer Institute Creator: Don Bliss (Illustrator) This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source and, where possible, the creator listed above.

Skin disease and trauma involve damage to one or both layers of the skin- the dermis or epidermis, or to the individual cells- squamous cells, basal cells, or the melanocytes-the cells with pigment that give our skin color.

Cancers can develop in any cell of the skin. Melanoma is cancer of the melanocytes.

(This photo is for illustration only and should not be used to diagnose a skin lesion. See a physician if you have a skin lesion that concerns you. )

photo of melanoma skin cancer

a melanoma skin lesion-Source: National Cancer Institute Creator: Unknown Photographer- This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source

Smoking

I’ve previously discussed 7 reasons to be smoke free. One of those is skin health.

By decreasing circulation, smoking robs skin of nourishment and oxygen; this weakens skin , making it susceptible to infection, cancer, and aging.

Skin experts wrote in the Journal of Dermatological Science

“Smoking is associated with many dermatological (skin) conditions, including

  • poor wound healing,
  • premature skin aging,
  • squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma,(cancers)
  • acne,
  • psoriasis, and
  • hair loss

Tobacco’s effect on  skin appearance include

  • Facial wrinkles and furrows (eg, crows’ feet at corners of the eyes,  smoker’s lines around lips)
  • Baggy eyelids and slack jawline
  • Uneven skin coloring: grayish, yellow with prominent blood vessels (telangiectasia)
  • Dry, coarse skin.

Long term, the skin of a 40-year-old heavy smoker will resemble that of non-smoking 70-year-old. !

Other potential hazards from tobacco use include

  • increased risk for bacterial, yeast, and viral skin infections
  • impaired circulation increasing the risk of frostbite, Raynaud’s syndrome, and blood clots (thrombosis)
  • thrush and gingivitis

DermNet NZ offers this gallery of photos illustrating these ways tobacco use can damage our skin.       ALERT: These photos are graphic.

No Smoking sign with pumpkins

Ask your doctor about safe and effective ways to help you stop smoking.

Ultraviolet light

Basking in sunlight may enhance our mood, but too much of it can damage our skin.

The signs of photo-aging are obvious to physicians-

  • yellowing or sallowing of the skin complexion
  • dry and rough texture with wrinkling,
  • unevenly pigmented skin tone with dilated blood vessels.
  • stretched out
  • easy bruising

Visit this link from the Canadian Dermatology Association to see what photoaged skin looks like

Photoaging

Photoaging is premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), primarily from the sun but also from artificial UV sources, such as tanning beds. Besides aging, excess sun exposure can cause

  • Burns
  • Rash due to increased sun sensitivity when taking certain medications
  • Cancers- skin cancers are the most common type of cancer.

How to limit UV light exposure 

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher
  • Wear hats, sunglasses, sun protective clothing
  • Avoid sun exposure, especially from 10 am to 4 pm
  • No tanning bed use.

Learn more about the effects of sun exposure from familydoctor.org at this link.

What sun exposure does to our skin.

In future posts, I’ll talk more about what hurts our skin, and what helps our skin.

As always, I appreciate your time and interest in exploring and sharing the HEART of health with me. And I would especially appreciate if you will share this post wherever you hang out.

Thanks!

Dr. Aletha

a cute monkey checks out his face in a mirrow

We all care about our appearance, including this cute monkey. Photo by Andre Mouton on Pexels.com

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

As a physician, I tend to view experiences in medical terms and did on this cruise. I was impressed with the rules and procedures that were directed at keeping the guests and crew healthy and safe.

You’ve probably seen the movie, Titanic. I recently visited the Titanic museum in Branson, Missouri and it was a sobering experience. The loss of so many lives is staggering, especially since it could have been prevented with better preparation, including enough lifeboats for everyone on board.

Titanic museum, replica of ship and iceberg
The Titanic Museum

Earlier this summer I went on a cruise vacation which fared far better than the Titanic. This was the third cruise I have ever been on, but the last one was long ago enough that I had forgotten some of the details.

(This is not a sponsored post, however there are affiliate links not connected with the cruise line. Using them does not cost you extra and will help fund this blog. Thank you. )

As a physician, I tend to view experiences in medical terms and did on this cruise. I was impressed with the rules and procedures that were directed at keeping the guests and crew healthy and safe.

elevators on a ship

I’m not revealing the cruise line’s name, but it is one of the large well known ones, with a good reputation as far as I know. I can’t vouch that this cruise is typical of all cruise companies, so I offer these observations as things that you might want to evaluate if you ever go on a cruise.

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Safety drill- lifeboats, jackets

the side of a ship with 2 lifeboats

Before the ship left the dock, we participated in a safety drill where we all had to assemble at our assigned stations where we would go in the case of an emergency. Once there, the crew took role by check our ID cards (more on this later) to make sure we were all there. We had life vests in our room and there would also be life vests at the stations in case we weren’t in our room at the time the alarm sounded. Unlike the Titanic, we were assured there was room on the lifeboats for everyone on board.

Security, photo id, room key

Upon checking in, they issued us a photo ID card that was also our room key and a charge card for onboard purchases. When we left the ship at the ports, we showed the card which was scanned, then showed it again to get back on the ship.

a line of people boarding a ship
showing ID to return to the ship after a day in port

Children-arm bands

We weren’t travelling with children ourselves, but children wore armbands with identification in case of getting separated from their parents.

Food allergies and preferences.

Food is plentiful on a ship and a wide variety of choices. Some venues are buffets but in the sit down dining room the wait staff always inquired about food allergies and special diet needs before we ordered our meal.

a couple sitting at a table by a window with an ocean view
We enjoyed lunch with an ocean view.

Here is a link to my post on How to manage food allergy with confidence

Hygiene

Antibacterial hand gel was everywhere, along with reminders to use it.

Outside of every food venue there were containers and a crew member there to dispense it to you.

There were strict warning about what not to put into the toilets. As we heard at the introductory session, “If one toilet on a cruise ship backs up, they all back up.” Not a pleasant thought.

a sign- IMPORTANT-please do not throw foreign objects into the toilet bowl.

A daily newsletter with cruise information and schedule was delivered to our cabin every day. This note about health was posted daily-

Medical experts tell us that the best way to prevent colds, flu, or gastrointestinal illnesses-such as Norovirus-is to simply wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. After restroom breaks and again before eating.

Should you experience any symptoms of gastrointestinal illness (vomiting, diarrhea) do not go to the ship’s medical facility. Call the medical staff for a complimentary consultation and treatment. A member of the medical staff will see you in your stateroom.

Medical facility on board

If you do need to go the medical station , there is a doctor on duty 3 hours in the morning and afternoon. (On a previous cruise, I visited the medical station for a tour. It looked modern and well stocked.)

Smoking- designated areas only

Smoking is not allowed in any of the cabins or balconies, including electronic cigarettes. There were designated smoking areas outside and in the casino.

Here are some reminders on why it’s wise not to smoke-

7 surprising reasons to be smoke free

Stop Smoking For Dummies

Fitness and Sports

If you wanted to exercise, there was ample opportunity.

Swimming and other water sports

a swimming pool on a cruise shop

  • A fully equipped gym
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Walking/jogging path outside.

exercise equipment on a cruise ship

  • Classes in yoga, stretching, cycling, and dance.
  • Competitions in volleyball, table tennis, dodge ball, basketball
  • Ice skating
  • Dance venues
  • Miniature golf

a mini golf course with a beach theme
beach theme mini golf

Spa services

In addition to the usual spa services  like hair and face treatments, they offered

  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Teeth whitening
  • Anti-aging treatments
  • “Detox”

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation-watercresswords.com

Potential health risks

Were there any aspects to a cruise experience that might be detrimental to one’s health? Consider these things.

Sun

This ship sailed in a tropical climate so there was ample sun, both while on the ship and in the tropical ports. So obviously there was a risk of sunburn, dehydration, and long term development of skin cancer due to sun exposure. Sunscreen was a must if you stayed outside.

Noise

There were multiple musical venues on just about every deck, as well as the general noise generated by thousands of people. For people who have sensory issues to noise, sensitive ears, or hearing loss the noise level might be uncomfortable.

Motion

We were fortunate to have smooth sailing except for a few hours when the sea was rough, causing me to feel off balance but not seasick. If you are highly sensitive to motion, sail on a small ship, or hit rough seas, you may get seasick, which is not pleasant.

Sea and Motion Sickness

Addictions-food, alcohol, gambling, shopping

If you tend to be compulsive or addicted to  activities like eating, drinking alcohol, gambling, or spending money, a cruise may not be the best place to vacation.

Food is abundant, delicious, varied, and “free”- meaning it’s all inclusive with the price you paid (although there were some special meal venues that cost extra.)

a promenade on a cruise ship
On the promenade there were food and shopping opportunities.

Alcohol  is not included  but is easily purchased in the dining venues as well as bars. (However, they strictly enforced not providing alcohol to minors.)

Gambling was available in the centrally located casino , open from morning until late night.

Shopping on the promenade and in the ports- clothes, jewelry, art, liquor, wine , souveniers, and who knows what else.

an art gallery with bright colored pictures

the art gallery, where they had auctions every day

There were so many activities offered it was impossible to try them all. And there were places where one could escape for some quiet time to read, play a game, or just sit and enjoy the view.

a small chapel
The chapel offered a peaceful quiet place or meditation.

Please share your cruise experiences, good or bad. If you’re going on one soon, let me know how it goes. I may share some of your insights in a future post.

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health on a cruise ship with me. Please share this post and follow Watercress Words.

Dr. Aletha 

waves behind a ship
THE END!

 

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5 spring health risks you need to prepare for now

Spring forward with some health tips for outdoor activity #daylightsavings#spring#allery#sunscreen

Remember it’s Spring forward to Daylight Savings Time

Most of the United States will change to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday March 11, 2018.

So you will either be going to bed an hour later than usual, or awakening an hour earlier.

Either way, your body will tell the difference until your sleep cycle adjusts; I know mine always does.  WebMD offers these tips to make the change easier.

If getting a good night’s sleep is a persistent problem for you, check out the information I shared in this post.

Expert advice to sleep well every night

We welcome the  first day of Spring, March 20,  in the northern hemisphere, with the occurrence of the vernal equinox.

This link to The Weather Channel explains what the vernal equinox means.

graphic of the earth explaining equinox and solstice
original source not known

With more hours of sunlight and warmer weather you may spend more time outdoors.While that may mean greater fitness from the physical activity, you will be at risk of several outdoor injuries. Be proactive and prevent warm weather ailments with these tips.

Protect yourself against mosquitoes and other insects.

5 insect repellents to keep you safe this summer

Protect your skin with  sunscreen while you’re outside.

(These are affiliate links placed here for your convenience. This blog can earn a commission from sales from these links. This does not imply endorsement of these products.)

Protecting your feet.

Whether walking, jogging,  gardening, or sports, our feet can take a beating from outdoor activity.

You probably don’t worry much about blisters- until you get one. Then the pain can inhibit walking, or even  wearing a shoe.

At worst, blisters can become chronic wounds, get infected, and threaten limbs in susceptible persons like those with diabetes or poor blood flow.

 

I wear Skechers shoes for walking.

Ways to prevent blisters include-

  • Proper fitting shoes, not too tight or too loose
  • Breaking shoes in before activity likely to cause a blister, like running, dancing, long walks, sports
  • Wearing absorbent cushioned socks, perhaps 2 pair together
  • Applying protective padding over pressure points on the feet. Even plain paper tape can accomplish this, according to this study published in the New York Times.

What to do about seasonal allergies

Often called “hay fever”, allergic rhinitis doesn’t cause a fever but it can make us miserable with its characteristic symptoms-

  • runny nose, sneezing, congestion

    diagram of the nose and sinuses
    Allergies commonly affect the nose, throat, sinuses, ears, and eyes.
  • scratchy, itchy, or tickly throat
  • cough
  • ear itching and pressure
  • watery, itchy, red eyes

 

 

 

 

Even those  people who have these symptoms year round may have seasonal exacerbations, usually spring and fall.

 

Wearing a filter mask while outdoors may help minimize allergy symptoms.

 

 

 

Here is information about allergy management from the American College of Allergy to discuss with your doctor.

Seasonal Allergies

 5 spring health risks you need to prepare for now- watercresswords.com

 

 

I appreciate your sharing  this post on your social media pages.

And please follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thank you for  viewing  the advertisements and using the affiliate links  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world.

 

                                                         warmest regards, Dr. Aletha 

stethoscope with a heart
exploring the HEART of health

Weekend Words from Psalm 19

“The heavens declare the glory of God” from Psalm 19
#Psalm 19#nature #Lightstock

Psalm 19:1-6

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.

4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

 

woman standing on a rock among tall trees

photo from Lightstock.com- stock photo source

 

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.

 

woman standing in a field with bright sunlight

 

featured image photographed by Dr. Aletha at the Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado- more photos at this related link.

 

 

 

 

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