Staying Healthy Through the Flu Season

Now is the time to get a flu shot, before the peak of the flu season which occurs in February most years.

For older adults who have chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, the earlier you get your vaccine, the better, as older adults often have more complications from the flu than younger people.

Pregnant women should also get the flu shot early. Pregnant women have complication rates from flu as high or higher than older adults. The good news is a vaccinated mother also protects the baby for the first 6 months of life.

If you’re afraid of needles, there is a nasal spray alternative, although the nasal spray has been shown to be less effective than the shots.

Older adults are sometimes misdiagnosed when they really have the flu. Often times, older adults don’t develop classic-influenza signs like fever. The symptoms are often explained away as a worsening of other chronic conditions. If you feel bad enough to go to a doctor during the flu season, ask that he/she test you for the flu.

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The Dangers of Snow Shoveling

Heart attack is one of the most deadly complications of shoveling snow. Approximately 100 people die of heart attacks while snow shoveling in the US every winter. The combination of forceful exertion while lifting and pushing snow can raise blood pressure and cause the heart to pump faster while the cold temperatures make your blood vessels constrict. That combination makes it harder for your heart to do its job particularly if you already have heart disease.

Hypothermia or low body temperature often occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat while shoveling. Your body only needs to drop a couple of degrees to put you in serious jeopardy.

Hyperthermia or high body temperature is possible if you overexert yourself and built up too much heat in heavy clothes while snow shoveling.

Anyone with a chronic breathing issue such as asthma or emphysema, should be cautious while shoveling snow because the cold air plus the exercise can trigger an attack.

Another common injury of snow shoveling is back injury. Snow is heavy and the repetitive motion of moving snow can cause pain, muscle strain or even a slipped disk.

If you injure yourself while shoveling, schedule an appointment. A good neuromuscular massage can ease the pain.

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Don’t Let the Holidays be the Season of Stress

If you’re caught in traffic, find a new radio station with happy, relaxing music. Don’t spend your time worrying about how long it’s taking you to get from place to place, or let your mind fill with an ever increasing list of things that must be done during the holiday season.

Relax your face. When you relax your face, your whole body relaxes. Bust out a big smile! It will ease the tension in your shoulders, neck and back.

Smiling also distracts your mind and releases natural painkiling endorphins along with seratonin, one of the mood-elevating hormones.

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Holiday Foods and Plants can be Dangerous for Your Pets

Most people know not to give pets chocolate, but did you know that garlic, onions, shallots and chives are also no-nos? Xylitol found in chewing gum and low-cal baked goods can cause insulin levels to soar in pets.

Marijuana edibles are particularly dangerous because the dose intended for a human is 10 to 20 times what a small animal could handle.

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and any amount of alcohol can be dangerous for a pet.

Nutmeg, often used in cooking during the holidays, can cause seizures in animals.

Dough with yeast can rise inside the stomach and can cause pain or twisted bowels.

High-fat nuts such as macadamia, almonds, and walnuts can cause stomach upset.

Poinsettias are highly toxic if eaten, as are lillies that can cause kidney failure.

If your pet shows signs of vomiting and diarrhea, excessive panting and thirst, seizures, tremors, lethargy or loss of coordination or incontinence, it’s time to see the Vet.

Increasing Your Energy – Skip the Cookies

Avoid an energy boomerang by avoiding high-sugar, high-fat baked goods such as cookies, pastries and donuts. Even though those foods do give you an initial boost in energy, the fast-burning carbs in these foods is followed by a dive in energy levels.

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Increasing Your Energy – Nuts

People who do not get enough magnesium often feel irritable, fatigued and susceptible to stress. Nuts are high in magnesium, and can help replace the magnesium that is depleted due to chronic diseases and stress. Good nuts are almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews and hazelnuts.

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Increasing Your Energy – Beans

Beans are rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid used by the body to produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. Beans also contain manganese an essential element to prevent blood sugar swings which can make you feel like you’re “out of gas.”

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