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Diethack
Hey, I am a med student who likes to write. Each week I provide a handful of tips that will help you in your quest to become healthier.

How To Keep Stress And Work Out Of Your Bed

Written: 12/10/2007 | Join the discussion (1)


I was once told a story from a very hard-working entrepreneur about how he was able to take the stress off his back for at least six hours a day. As we all know, starting and running your own business can prove to be the most stressful endeavor someone can put on themselves.

Even though all of us are not presented with the stress and pressure that an entrepreneur faces, we all are faced with the strains of life, day in and day out. Stress is a constant battle that seems to take over one's life if not properly remedied. Sure, there are various methods to relieve these struggles, but that one I've been told, and know best, is to keep stress, work, and all other types of worries out of your bed.

  • Make Your Bed A Sanctuary
    As my entrepreneur friend told me, his only getaway from work and the pressures of life was to lay in bed at night and relax. He made a promise to himself that when he lays in his bed, he will not allow any of these thoughts to enter his mind. He said that this was something he had to really work hard at, but when he finally wrapped his mind around it, he received the best sleep he's ever had. The key is to start thinking of your bed as a place that is impervious to anything that has to do with work or any other problems in your life. View your bed as a pure, stress-free environment and you'll find sleep as the best getaway.

  • Keep Your Office Away From The Bedroom
    This is a direct relationship between work and sleep, don't do it! By moving your office to a different room, or by completely eliminating one in your home, you would be freeing your mind from any thought of it. Many people set desks somewhere next to their beds, but with this you're asking for thoughts to enter your mind as you're trying to get to sleep. Anything that was left on the "to-do list", regarding personal bills or work-related topics, will find its way into your head during the time you want to escape them.

  • Set A "Release" Chair Nearby
    Whenever you're feeling any thoughts about stress in your life, get out of bed and sit in a chair. In this chair (which can be in your bedroom) you can think about any worries on your mind and straighten them out there. This is a method you can use to try and get used to making your bed a "sanctuary", from the previous point. Try and make a habit to use this chair as a way to release any stress so it stays out of your bed.

  • Move The TVs And Computers
    We love them and we hate them. A bad habit many people have is to place a TV and/or computer somewhere in their bedrooms. As these electronics are great ways to entertain and relax, they are pure distractions. If these are in the room, it's likely that at sometime you'll have the urge to get out of bed to complete a task that wasn't completed earlier. Solve this problem by simply moving these items out of the bedroom and into a more fitting location.

  • Let Others Know About Your Mission
    If you have a partner, this is a key point. Tell them that you are trying to eliminate all kinds of stress and worry when you're in bed. By letting him/her know, this would definitely help you achieve your goal. If, at any time, they begin talking about work or outside problems, get out of bed and tell them to wait to continue until you're in your "release chair".

  • Sleep Worry-free!
    With these goals and ideas in mind, you'll find that sleep will become something that you'll look forward to all day. You'll never want to skimp on sleep from now on. Even with a very busy schedule, finding the time to sleep even six hours will feel like you've received the best rest you've ever had. As my entrepreneur friend said, achieving these goals was the only way he felt sane through the constant pressure and 14+ hour work days of starting his business. Keep your bed and night's sleep as pure as you can make it. Practice and live these tips to feel the same!

This post is from my friend Joe Fier. Joe Fier is a full-time student and part-time worker for a natural foods marketing company. BeHealthAndRelax is a site that aims to help personal wellbeing and overall health with simple tips from everyday experiences. He has written great articles like 20 Motivators For Exercising Daily and The Easiest Way To Heal Anxiety: Laughter!

How to Make Your Home Accident Proof

Written: 12/06/2007 | Join the discussion (0)


Bruises and bumps are common things in the life of your adventurous kids. But sometimes one slip can be fatal for him/her. Here are a few statistics researchers at the INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) in France have gathered concerning accidents at home:

  • 15,4% in the kitchen: intoxication due to carbon monoxide, intoxication due to household products, falls from high chairs, burns, cuts are the most frequent risks.

  • 14% in the living room: fire caused by lamps, candles, chimneys, and suffocations are the main risks.

  • 8,7% on the staircases: Mainly falls.

  • 4,8% in the bathroom: Intoxication from medications, drowning and falls.

  • All kids before 15 years old have most of their bruises and bumps at home.

Kitchen

The kitchen is a convivial place but is sometimes one of the most dangerous places on earth if we are not attentive enough.

Potential Dangers:

  • It is during the moments of haste like preparing foods that we sometimes lose our vigilance and we can cut ourselves.

  • Defective gas plumbing can cause intoxication by carbon monoxide or a fire in case there are leaks.

  • Nothing must be left within reach of children. The biggest risks for them are burns from the boiling liquids, ovens, hot plates, vapors from cookers and pans.

Safety Precautions:

  • Turn off electric appliances after each use.

  • Use ovens with cold or isothermal doors.

  • For the chair of your baby, fix your child properly on it, place a rug underneath it and place it far away from the kitchen tabletop.

  • Close your kitchen drawers with keys after each use so that children do not have access to knifes, forks and other dangerous objects.

  • Always place your hot plates, hot and cutting objects far from the edge, out of reach of children.

  • Always keep the handles of your pans close to the wall and away from you.

  • Always have your gas pipes installed by a professional and replace them every 2 years.

  • Always buy household products fitted with security caps. Close them after each use.

  • Never place toxic substances in standard bottles else they can be mistaken for ordinary drinks

  • Keep them in a safe place far from children.


Living Room


Potential Dangers:

  • In a living room, the most frequent risks are falls, mostly for kids and old persons with failing vision.

  • Other risks which threaten kids are suffocations.

  • Risks of getting burnt and fires are also present in the living room.


Safety Precautions:

  • Your living room must less cluttered as possible. The furniture must be spaced out and avoid somber lighting in your living room. Here is a simple guide on how to clean up your living room in 15 minutes.

  • Do not let small objects litter the floor of your living room. Pick it up as soon as anything falls down.

  • Do not place rugs, tapestries near lamps, candles, chimneys and other lighting.

  • Install a security ramp and anti-slip covering on your stairways.

  • Fixed your rugs to the floor with glue or transparent duct tapes.

  • Place cushioned corner-protections on your furniture to prevent your kids from getting hurt if ever they bump into the corners of the furniture.


Bathroom

A bathroom is a room where we love to relax and forget the worries of the world in our bathtub. But nevertheless we must always be careful in the bathroom where the risks of electrocution is greatest.

Potential Dangers:

  • The most frequent accidents are drowning, especially for small children. If there is no one looking after him/her, a child can drown in a few minutes in 20 cm of water!

  • Burns and scalds from hot water.

  • Intoxication from the ingestion of medications.

  • Cuts from razors and scissors.

  • Falls on slippery surfaces.

  • Electrocutions from electric appliances lying around.


Safety Precautions:

  • Place an anti-slip rug on the floor inside your bathtub and shower stand.

  • Always keep eyes on your kids when they are in the bathtub.

  • Always check that the temperature of the water in the bathtub and from your shower is below 37°C.

  • Keep your medications in a cupboard locked securely with a key.

  • Keep cutting objects like razors and scissors on a high shelf out of the reach of your kids.

  • Turn off electric objects like a hairdryer after use and place them on a high shelf.

How to Avoid Deafness or Hearing Loss

Written: 12/04/2007 | Join the discussion (0)


What? Talk more loudly!

It happens to all of us that sometimes we have trouble hearing the other person talking to us. But when you no longer hear the phone ringing or you cannot follow a simple conversation in a restaurant, then it is high time you do something about it. The World Health Organization estimates that 278 millions of people around suffer from partial or complete hearing loss. However most of the people suffering from hearing problems tend to ignore it. For many people, hearing loss is a sign of old age. They do not understand that it is the same as wearing glasses.


How do your ears work?

Without delving into a course on physics, to understand the functioning of your ears, you must first understand how sound works. A sound is just a vibration which oscillates very rapidly. Frequency is the amount of oscillations per second. In simple term, the nearer the vibrations are to your ear, the higher the frequency will be and the more acute the sound produced will be. The human ear is capable of hearing sounds from 20 Hz to 20 000 Hz. Also the sound we hear has a certain intensity or force which we measure in decibels. We can hear intensities from 0 db to 120 db. Our hearing system can translate the vibrations of the sound in our ears into information decodable by our brain. What affects our hearing system is the way our ears translate the vibrations for the brain to understand them.


Do you have hearing problems?

The extent to which your ears have been affected can be measured very precisely. Without going into full details, here are a scale used by professionals. If your hearing loss is about:

  • 0 to 20 db: (You hear no sound between 0 to 20 db) - Normal Hearing
  • 20 to 40 db: slight deficiency
  • 40 to 70 db: average deficiency
  • 70 to 90 db: severe deficiency
  • 90 to 120 db: extreme deficiency
  • 120 db: complete hearing loss


Answer the following questions to determine whether you have a hearing problem:

  • In a noisy place, do you have trouble following a conversation?
  • Do you ask people to whom you talk to repeat what they have just said?
  • Do you increase the volume when you watch TV or when you are listening to a song on the radio?
  • Do you have trouble understanding conversations when people talk to you in the dark?
  • Do you have trouble understanding a foreign movie which has been translated in your mother tongue?
  • On the phone, do you have trouble understanding addresses, numbers,etc... which are communicated to you?

If you have replied Yes to one or more of the above questions, then it is high time you see a doctor about your ears. By going early, there is a great chance to restore your hearing to normal.


How to maintain a normal hearing?

Noise, like the noise of an aircraft taking off or the noise from a jackhammer but also more harmonious sound like the music on a concert or from an mp3 player can damage your ears. A sound more than 85 db listened for a prolonged amount of time is considered as potentially damaging to the ears. Here are simple tips to help your ears survive this aggression:

  • Always carry earplugs with you

    Not all workplaces are calm. Take a few earplugs with you and use them if your concentration is hampered by the noise around you.

  • Stop using headphones/earphones

    Stop using your Ipod at home or around the house. Instead use loudspeakers whenever possible as long as you do not make it loud and you do not annoy your neighbors with the sound.

  • Do not stay near the loudspeakers.

    This point may sound as a contradiction in respect to the point above. But if you stay near the loudspeakers, it is the same as if you are listening through your headphones or earphones.

  • Listen to your mp3 player for 20 hours only per week.

    4 hours at a party and 2 hours in a night-club per week.

  • Dump the cotton swab.

    Use a cotton swab if you want to run the risk of causing irreversible damage to your ears. To safeguard your ears clean them with a disposable handkerchief using your finger. Most people like to remove completely the wax from the ears but you must understand that the wax has a protective role in the ears. It filters the air which enters the by trapping bacteria, insects and dust particles. It also lubricates the ear canal. Do not wash your ears daily. Twice a week is largely sufficient.

  • Use protective ear covers in your workplace for noises above 87 dbs.

    Deafness is the second professional disease which affects many people around the world. Working in a place where there are constant noises everyday will ultimately have irreversible impacts on your hearing abilities. I can't ask you to change jobs but you can use protective ear covers to dampen the noise intensity.

  • Use earplugs when swimming or bathing.

    Sometimes it happens that water enters your ears, mingles with the earwax and clogs your ear canal. This is very painful to remove. So to avoid this, use ear plugs when swimming or bathing to avoid this.

  • Be careful when diving.

    Be careful when diving due to the change of pressure in the water. Dive alongside a professional diver and respects all the safety procedures.

Our ears are very important for a normal life. Protect them and they will serve you for a long time.

8 Steps To Make The Most Out of Your Visit to the Doctor

Written: 12/03/2007 | Join the discussion (0)


Some of the patients I get to follow during my internships have little or no idea what illnesses they actually have. Most patients forget as much as 80 percent of what their doctor tells them as soon as they leave the clinic. And nearly half the information they say they do remember, they remember incorrectly.

My chief of clinic often complains that many patients who come in don't even know what medications they are taking nor why they are taking them. Be it from google or medical related series like Grey's Anatomy or House, there are some patients though who go to the other extreme and attach wild symptoms to common diseases.

People must know that physicians are compensated by the amount of patients seen, and are kept to a strict schedule - in most cases 15-minutes for each patient. Here are some simple guidelines you can follow in order to make out the most from your visit to your doctor.

  1. Be Honest
    Some patients lie about their conditions to their doctor. If they have been suffering from a disease for the last past month, some often deny it and just state that they have been suffering for the last past week. I assume some people do this so as not to justify why they haven't come to the hospital earlier. Others hide treatments they have been following. What may seem as a simple white lie to you, may actually complicate matters for both the doctor in his/her diagnosis of your disease and in the treatments and medications he may give you. Be honest in whatever you say to your doctor. You must understand that all doctors are govern by a code of conduct or Hippocratic Oath whereby they are not allowed to divulge what the patient has told him/her. It is known as patient-doctor confidentiality and what information you told your doctor on you will stay between you and him/her. If you are having any personal problems and you are unable to cope with them because of your disease, (s)he will be able to propose a solution to you or guide you to concerned parties which may help you.

  2. Prepare a family medical history
    When questioning you, most doctors will ask you at one point or another if there have been any cases of disease in your family. For example if there are cases of cancer in your family, there is a high probability that you may yourself suffer from cancer one day, although that may actually not happen. To make a family medical history, a simple family tree is enough. Mayoclinic has a great guide on how to make a medical family tree. Keep it handy everytime you visit your doctor. This will greatly help his/her work.

  3. Keep a list of treatments/medications you are taking or have taken
    Keep a list of treatments, surgeries you have undergone and what medications you have been taking for each treatment and surgery. Sometimes it may happen that you are suffering from an illness and you take a medication, this medication may aggravate your health if it does not bode well with other medications or therapies you are undergoing. Also some medications may have nasty side-effects depending on what surgeries or treatments you have done in the past.

  4. Weigh yourself regularly and note it down
    Keep a habit of weighing yourself regularly every 15 days and noting it down. Sometimes when you are suffering from an illness, the fact that you have lost/gained weight may be indicative of a symptom of a certain disease. Also the doctor will be able to know exactly how much is your normal weight and how much you have lost/gained in total.

  5. Indicate the precise location of any pain you are suffering and other difficulties you are experiencing
    If you are having trouble sleeping at night and you cough frequently without any apparent reason, this may be indicative of a breathing problem. If you are suffering from chest pains and swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen or weight gain, this may suggest a heart problem. Be clear to your doctor and tell her/him every little pains, irritations you are experiencing. A conscientious doctor will examine you properly and will detect them but it does no harm to tell him/her about that. (S)he may overlook something unless you tell him/her about it.

  6. Learn a bit about your illness and the parts of your body affected
    No I'm not telling you to infer symptoms of your illness and learn complex schemas of anatomy with all the bones, muscles, veins, etc... If you are having trouble for a specific body part and is consulting a doctor about it, you will understand the doctor's explanations better if you know a bit of the anatomy of this body part. Most patients I see are not able to grasp simple explanations of the diseases which would have been easier for them to understand had they taken the time to research a bit about the disease and how it is affecting their body.

  7. Note down what the doctor is saying
    Take the habit of bringing a simple notepad and a pen to your visit and note down what the doctor is telling you. You may not be able to write down all the complex terminology but a good doctor will always try to simplify his/her explanations. If you are not able to understand everything the doctor is telling you, this will help you afterwards in your research about your illness.

  8. Always question your doctor

    Steve Olson illustrates this important point in his post Always Question Your Doctor - Three Stories Why.
    "12 years ago at age 25, a doctor diagnosed me with gallstones and she recommended that I have my gall bladder removed. The first inaccurate thing they told me was that the procedure was safe. It isn’t. They didn’t tell me that 1 in 50 patients have an injury that results in serious complications like death or lifelong pain. They also didn’t tell me gallbladder surgery increases the chance of colon cancer. And they didn’t tell me that over 1 in 10 patients are not satisfied with the surgery. Is that the doctor’s fault? No, some of this stuff they didn’t even know in 1994. It was my responsibility to ask more questions and do more research about the procedure. I should have asked – What does low risk mean? What exactly are the possible complications and how would they affect my life? Is it possible there are long-term complications with this procedure that nobody knows about yet?"
Doctors do not know everything. You differentiate a good doctor from a bad one because the good doctor knows where to look for what he doesn't understand. Someone once said that it is a mathematical fact that fifty percent of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their class. If you follow the 8 steps as described above, you will find that the visit to your doctor will yield more positive results for you.

Do Not Let Her Diet! How to Develop Healthy Eating Habits in Teenagers

Written: 12/01/2007 | Join the discussion (0)


Yesterday I received an email from one of Diethack's readers.

Her mother was frantic because her teen child was "dieting". She asked me what she could do to make her daughter see reason. This lead me to think about Eliana Ramos, a model who died of malnutrition at only 18 years old. But alas, though I or any doctor can sit down with her daughter and explain to her the effects that dieting will have on her still growing body, it is ultimately the task of the parents to make their child understand basic concepts like balanced diet and good eating habits as from a small age without being too restrictive on the term "diet".

I think that the word "diet" has been trivialized. The word “diet” simply means "what you eat". In the USA, you may see about "Diet Coke" but here in Europe, and I believe the rest of the world, Diet Coke is known as Cola Lite. The point I want to make is that you must make your children understand that what the media is projecting as diet is simply the dishes you are eating. Anyway to stick to the points here are what I consider what a diet for a teenager ought to be. Please note that this diet can be tailor-made to suit your child's specific needs depending on her age, body weight, metabolism and other factors such as daily physical activity,etc.

Boy from 14 to 18 years old
  • The amount of protein he must consume daily is about 2 g per kilogram of body weight. That is for a boy of 69 kg, about 120 g of proteins are needed, half from animal origin and half from plants.

    Animal Origin: 150g of fish or meat, 1/2 L of milk, an egg, 2 portions of cheese.

    Plant Origin: 300g of bread, 300g of potatoes, 2 portions of cereals, biscuits,...

  • You must increase the protein consumption if your child is doing some physical activities.

  • You must vary the menus and maintain a sufficient amount of vegetables and fresh fruits in his daily diet. A minimum of 5 vegetables and fresh fruits per day is required.

  • Because of his "enormous" appetite, your teenager may have a tendency to eat more than his share of starchy foods. You must follow his weight closely; also the digestion of all the starchy foods may sometimes lead to colitis, a disease affecting his intestines leading to diarrhea and abdominal pain.

  • It is at this age of "emotional turmoil" that your child is more likely to succumb to peer pressure and start indulging in habits like drinking,smoking and taking drugs. I for one, cannot give you any proper advice on this subject but you must refer your child to a psychologist or another certified doctor so that you can tackle the problem at its root instead of letting it becoming a bigger and bigger problem.
Girl from 12 to 16 years old

Depending on the body type of your child, she will eat normally like a boy of her age or will have to adapt the eating habits to suit her morphology. Having generally a less enormous appetite than boys, girls do not digest well though the foods they eat. Sometimes her diet is not the cause of the figure of your child but it plays a big part nevertheless.

You must:
  • never let your child feel hunger pangs.

  • balance her/his diet with all the necessary nutrients in a correct proportion. You can consult this following guide to prepare a healthy balanced menu.

  • teach her/his about proper eating habits. This is even more important for them as they will have to teach their kids later about proper eating habits in their roles of parents.

  • never send her/him to school on an empty stomach or simply a cup of tea and biscuits. Make a proper healthy breakfast for your child.

  • never put your daughter on a weight loss "diet" or other fad or crash diets. This can only put a restraint on her still growing body.

  • never force them to lose weight even if they do not want to do this. A diet without motivation is doomed to failure.

  • show them how to choose dishes for the family. Let them have a hand in the preparation of family meals.

  • always find some time daily to have a proper family meal with your children.

However if you want to have an idea of what constitutes healthy dishes for your child, here are some samples:

Breakfast
  • Milk, tea or coffee with semi-skimmed milk and 1 or 2 sugar cubes.
  • 3 or 4 toasts slightly smeared with butter.
  • 1 food with plenty of proteins like a yogurt, an egg,etc...
  • 1 fruit or 1 glass of fruit juice.
The breakfast is usually taken at home and so does not present many difficulties. The only problem is for you to find time to prepare it for your child and for your child to get up early to eat a proper meal before going to school.

Lunch

This is the meal most parents have a problem with. Avoid sandwiches which are not well balanced with enough veggies and salads. If you have enough time, prepare a bento box meal for your kid with the following foods.
  • Appetizer: choose a fruit or a salad. Avoid the pizzas, meat, etc...

  • Main dish: Meat or fish without any sauce, accompanied with large portions of veggies. Limit fried foods as mush as possible.

  • Dessert: a fruit, a yogurt.
Personally I doubt many teenagers will want to carry a bento box to school. If this is not possible for your kids, then you must focus your attention on teaching them about proper nutritional habits when they buy foods but don't force it on them, less they start developing an aversion to eating nutritious foods.

Dinner

I wrote a comprehensive article on the subject of family meal and the different steps to show how the family meal must proceed. You can read the steps over at the guide to prepare a healthy family meal.

Other articles which fall into the same category and which may be of interest to you are:

Are Your Kids Eating Junk? Develop Healthy Eating Habits In Your Children
5 Golden Tips to Why You Must Enjoy A Daily Family Meal
10 Reasons Why You Must Drink Milk At Breakfast And Before Bedtime

5 Great Ways to Eat Smart In the Morning
Teenager's Guide to Better Health