Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Service of Insecurity Triggers: Healthcare, Economy and 45’s Strategy

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Photo: goodguy.com

Photo: goodguy.com

There’s a lot to make a person feel on edge these days. Just to mention a few issues:

In healthcare:

  • Will Congress change the rules so that health insurance companies can charge what they like—as big pharma can—with the consequence that coverage will no longer be an option for millions including many who’ve traditionally been able to afford it?
  • Is insuring preexisting conditions really back on the chopping
    Photo: ourgeneration.org

    Photo: ourgeneration.org

    block in spite of 45s promises that it isn’t? I thought we’d settled that issue to a resounding national sigh of relief, but apparently not.

The economy:

  • GDP grew in the first quarter at its slowest pace in three years with a self-proclaimed business genius at the helm, [0.7 percent].
  • Who is going to make up the slack when corporations and the 1 percent get discounts on their taxes?
  • Photo: zambiainvest.com

    Photo: zambiainvest.com

    The retail industry is in shambles. There are many reasons for the latter: popularity of e-tailing/online shopping, increased purchases on mobile phones, etc. This is America, land of the chronic consumer and these retailers, too, have their oars in virtual waters. Troublesome also as so many jobs are involved.

45s strategy to make daily headlines at all costs doesn’t help. To achieve this he is mercurial, says and does outrageous things, takes an unorthodox stance for the fun of it and damn the torpedoes. It works–he’s front page news. His followers aren’t bothered but the approach, in addition to the anxiety-provoking real triggers, is making me uneasy. Am I alone? What antidotes do you recommend?

Photo: totalmortgage.com

Photo: totalmortgage.com

Service of Feeling Indecisive or Rejected? An Over the Counter Pain Pill Can Fix That

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Indecision

You probably know this if you read health journals but I don’t read them and therefore I didn’t know: A side effect of over the counter [OTC] pain meds that contain acetaminophen such as Tylenol or Excedrin can do more than kill pain. It seems that the drug can make an indecisive person resolute and a rejected person feel less castoff and abandoned.

Not all the side effects are that good. As the title of Susan Pinker’s article hints at, “Less Pain, Less Joy: New Look at Acetaminophen,” the drug “muffles your happiness too” as an “all-purpose damper, stifling a range of strong feelings.”

Five years ago, according to Pinker, two psychologists reported that three weeks OTC pain medson one of these OTCs, “soothed social pain like feelings of exclusion or ridicule.” [The article doesn’t say nor do I know whether taking such a drug for that long could negatively affect your stomach or cause other unwanted physical reactions.]

And in a recent study researchers found that the “more intense the emotions, the more acetaminophen muted them.” The drug “alters the circuits that govern our emotional responses,” Pinker wrote.

Feeling left outI’m an Advil advocate–Tylenol has zero impact on headaches or pain for me–and Pinker says researchers have yet to study side effects of OTCs with ibuprofen like Advil or Motrin. Who knows: Maybe if I take Advil over a long  enough period of time I might get good at math or ignore the psychological smacks of thoughtless people. One can always hope.

Are you under the impression that OTC drugs are benign? Have you noticed mood changes or a different outlook if you’ve been on an OTC drug of any kind for a period of time? I doubt psychological side effects are posted on OTC pill boxes, but are you diligent in reading potential side effects on remedies you pick up at the drugstore?

 

 At drug store

Service of Scheduling Stand-Ins and Stretches

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Sit at desk

There are days when suddenly it’s 6 pm and I realize I’ve not left the office for a second—or my desk chair more than twice. This week after a day like this my eye caught yet another article about the dangers of sitting too long in one place. A few months ago there had been a rash of them promoting that people ask employers to buy them an architect’s drafting desk so they could stand at work, perhaps encouraged by a furniture manufacturer.

Sumathi Reddy wrote: “studies have found that sedentary behavior including sitting for extended periods, increases the risk for developing dozens of chronic conditions, from cancer and diabetes to cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.”

It appears to be serious. She wrote in her Wall Street Journal article “The Price We Pay for Sitting Too Much: New formulas for how long we should spend sitting and standing in a workday” that “Various studies have shown that even regular exercise won’t compensate for the negative effects from sitting too much during the day.” She shared insight of John Buckley, a professor of applied exercise science at the University of Chester in England. “Sitting causes physiological changes in the body, and may trigger some genetic factors that are linked to inflammation and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In contrast, standing activates muscles so excess amounts of blood glucose don’t hang around in the bloodstream and are instead absorbed in the muscles, he said.”

Stretch in officeSo what I suspected all along is true: that marathon sitting binges to get a project under control may be good for peace of mind but not for me. But the advice in Reddy’s article isn’t practical. Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University suggests breaking up the work day. “For every half-hour working in an office, people should sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes and then move around and stretch for two minutes. I’m sure he’s right, but who has the time? You may be ready for your eight minute break but a colleague may not be ready for your visit. So what do you do for those eight minutes to accomplish what you’re paid for? You may catch up on your phone calls to friends–which after a while they’ll resent–but what about work?

Standing while workingShe also shared a panel’s guidelines published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine to stand two to four hours along with “light activity spread throughout the day.” That works if you’re a sports pro but for people with office-based jobs? She continued, “And research from NASA has found that standing up for two minutes 16 times a day while at work is an effective strategy for maintaining bone and muscle density, Dr. Hedge says.” You could stand during phone conversations if you didn’t have to take notes but few people make 16 calls a day.

Do you think that bosses in offices will encourage staffers to get up and down countless times daily to save on future medical costs and lost workdays due to illness? Are you able to do this? Can a person concentrate if he/she must leave the computer for eight minutes every 30 minutes and at the end of the day, have they accomplished as much as before? Are there other situations in which the solutions to avert a potential health issue aren’t complicated yet because they are cumbersome, impractical, or distracting, people may have a hard time changing their habits? Why do you think that we are hearing more and more about this dangerous situation now?

health risk

 

Service of Keeping a Messy Desk

Monday, November 11th, 2013

messy desk

Whether I’m frantically busy or not, my desk is a mess [though not as bad as the one pictured above]. I’ve written before about pilers or filers and admitted I’m of the former school. As soon as I put away work, it might as well be in someone else’s file as it can take me ages to find what I need. Sort through the piles on my desk and voila! I find the information in a snap.

The thought of filing everything on the cloud in a paperless office gives me the shivers.

I’ve gotten better at being methodical about selecting file names in my computer but when rushed, I often type the first thing that comes to mind which subsequently doesn’t ring any bells.

So I’m drawn to any study that shows the benefits of being messy.

Gretchen Reynolds reported on what she called a well known fact that organized, predictable people live longer because typically they eat better. She noted that “they also tend to have immaculate offices.”

neat deskOops! I wonder if life insurance companies ask for photos of a person’s office. By the way, I eat just fine thank you. And I’m organized.

In the article “Clean Up Your Desk! But not if you’re looking to be creative” in The New York Times Magazine, Reynolds covered results of University of Minnesota experiments that she read about in Psychological Science. College student choices after answering questionnaires in neat or messy environments were predictable: Offered an apple or chocolate when they were done, more of those in the former chose the fruit and those in the latter, the candy.

However in a second experiment under similar neat/messy circumstances, the students in chaos “were significantly more creative” when asked to propose new uses for Ping-Pong balls. According to Reynolds, Kathleen D. Vohs, a behavioral scientist at the university, was surprised by these findings because “few previous studies found much virtue in disarray.” My bet is that Dr. Vohs’ office is neat as a pin.

smoothieIn the last example, when offered a classic or new health boost in a smoothie, more adults in the messy office chose to experiment than those in the orderly one. Wrote Reynolds: “’Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition,’ conclude Dr. Vohs and her co-authors, “which can produce fresh insights.’”

Dr. Vohs advises: To “think outside the box let the clutter rise.” Best neaten up if your goal is to eat well or exercise. “By doing this, the naturally messy can acquire some of the discipline of the conscientious.”

Do you agree with Dr. Vohs that being messy means you are neither industrious nor diligent? Is your desk naturally neat or messy?

exercize

Service of Health Screening: Harvard Doctor’s Counsel Reverses Advice of Panel of Experts Regarding Mammograms

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Photo: cdc.gov

Photo: cdc.gov

As I awoke early on a recent Saturday I heard newsman Joe Bartlett on his WOR 710 radio program interview Dr. Blake Cady, professor emeritus of surgery at Harvard Medical School and Mass General. The doctor shared highlights of a study about mammograms and his findings about the age women should begin having them.

His conclusion—they should start at 40–represents a 10 year difference from what experts previously touted. While earlier screening doesn’t prevent cancer it has a dramatic impact on dying from it—far fewer women do.

I wasn’t near paper and pen to take notes while listening so I checked out some of the details of Dr. Cady’s conclusions on healthday.com. Reporter Kathleen Doheny wrote: “New breast cancer research reveals a significant death rate among women under 50 who forgo regular mammograms and casts doubt on recent screening guidelines from a U.S. panel of experts.”

Dr waiting roomDoheny reported that more than 70 percent of breast cancer deaths in the study of 600 women happened in mostly younger unscreened women—those who never had a mammogram or had one more than two years before diagnosis.

She wrote: “In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of experts that makes recommendations about health practices, said women aged 50 to 74 should get screening mammograms every two years.”

The task force describes itself as “…an independent panel of non-Federal experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine and is composed of primary care providers (such as internists, pediatricians, family physicians, gynecologists/obstetricians, nurses, and health behavior specialists).”

Woman speaking with doctorDoheny continued: “Women under 50, the panel said, should talk to their doctors and decide whether to be screened based on potential benefits, such as early detection, and harms, including over-treatment and anxiety caused by false-positive results.”

The specter of insurance wasn’t mentioned either during the radio interview or in the healthday.com article but I fear that five mammograms over 10 years multiplied by women in the 40 to 50 demographic– and who will pay for them–[once again] enters the picture at the cost of lives.

Aren’t patients better off being anxious about a false-positive than not having the test and having a cancer go undetected and untreated? The task force appears legitimate so I hesitate to sling arrows yet I wonder if insurance considerations are lurking in the background. Do you schedule regular health screenings according to your doctors’ or public health recommendations?

 

 

Service of Deceiving Yourself

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

green-light-bulbA pal, recently diagnosed with diabetes, told me you have to be careful of sugarless treats such as cake/cookies. She said a carb is a carb and too many, sugarless or sugary, are not the diabetics’ friend.

sugar-freeI thought of her comment when I read David Owen’s “It’s Too Easy Being Green” article in The Wall Street Journal. The takeaway: Just because something seems better for either you or the earth, doesn’t mean that it is.

I know how little good I do for the environment when I use green light bulbs. For sure the store and manufacturer get more money, but I wonder if I end up using more light fixtures so I can see properly because the green bulbs don’t illuminate with conviction.

We keep the heat low at the house to save money. The outcome is that we are not using as much fuel as before-a good thing for the earth.

A side note: One way or another, high prices will impact the environment in both good and bad ways:

cold-indoors***In both the light bulb and heat instances we’re like school kids who study hard, ace the test yet continue to get a C grade. Due to the increased cost of energy, electric and fuel bills escalate. Eventually millions will turn down the heat and go to bed early in winter. As a consequence, we’ll consume less fuel, a plus for the environment and the blanket and sweater industries.

***While tempted to buy green building products I wouldn’t pay the supplement for most as the upfront costs take too long to benefit my pocketbook. I can’t be alone, hence, a negative. If you read Owen’s article, you’ll wonder how much good these inventions do anyway. Read on.

Back to Owen’s article-some excerpts:

*** “Like many concerned Americans, I’m susceptible to the Prius Fallacy: a belief that switching to an ostensibly more benign form of consumption turns consumption itself into a boon for the environment.”

*** “The world faces a long list of environmental challenges, yet most so-called solutions are either irrelevant or make the real problems worse. That’s the conundrum facing anyone who yearns for ‘sustainability.'”

*** “The main effect of additional engineering improvements will be the same as for all such improvements in the past: to make travel easier, cheaper, more convenient and more attractive-thus encouraging us to do more of it.”

*** “Even if you think that climate change is a left-wing crock, this ought to be a matter of gnawing concern. Global energy use is growing faster than population. It’s expected to double by midcentury, and most of the growth will be in fossil fuels. Disasters like the BP oil spill attract world-wide attention, but the main environmental, economic and geopolitical challenge with petroleum isn’t the oil that goes into the ocean; it is the oil we continue to use exactly as we intend.”

*** “The only unambiguously effective method of reducing the long-term carbon and energy cost of air travel is to fly less-a behavioral change, not a technological one.”

Do you deceive yourself about health, environmental or other issues? We’ve got to start somewhere and awareness is only the first step. Then what?

 reality-check

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