April is Alcohol Awareness Month

 April is Alcohol Awareness MonthAlcohol addiction is a disease that changes the way the brain works as it causes emotions, impulsive behavior, cravings and withdrawal symptoms and also increases people’s risk of injuries, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. AlcoRehab estimates that approximately 14 million people in the United States fall under the criteria of severe alcohol use disorders (AUD). On average, more than 88,000 deaths annually are attributed to alcoholism. This makes alcohol prevention a priority.  Alcohol Awareness Month is observed in April to help reduce the stigma around the alcohol addiction. The goal is to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol addiction, its causes, effective treatment, and recovery, decrease misunderstandings that pose barriers to treatment and recovery, and make help more readily available to those affected.

Alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. The good news is that people can and do recover. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use.

This year’s theme is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow” which is aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcohol addiction, particularly the youth. Young adulthood and adolescence is a critical period in the vulnerability to substance use and use disorders because the brain undergoes significant developmental changes during this life stage, making it particularly vulnerable to substance exposure.

April 5-7, 2019 will be observed as Alcohol-Free Weekend to raise public awareness about the use of alcohol and how it may be affecting individuals, families, businesses and communities. Awareness of how damaging alcohol can be to the body and to your health is the key to changing your behavior before it’s too late. Approaches that parents and caregivers could adopt to encourage youth to avoid drinking include:

  • Teach teenagers how to avoid alcohol and say no
  • Discuss important facts (such as alcohol abuse statistics) about alcohol with youngsters
  • Communicate the consequences of drinking and enforce them consistently
  • If the teenager is already into drinking, monitor their alcohol use in the home and keep track of the stock
  • Move away from Internal and external triggering factors that can leave you craving a drink.
  • Keep alcoholic drinks out of your house
  • Don’t permit unaccompanied parties
  • As a parent or mentor, set a good example by drinking in moderation and show teenagers there are healthy ways to deal with stress
  • Encourage healthy friendships with teenagers who do not drink, as surrounding yourself with people of positive influence and those that build your confidence is hugely important
  • As many drink to overcome the stress and anxiety, so talk about other ways to deal with peer pressure

The school and community can also take part in such alcohol prevention with the following measures:

  • Use interactive teaching to educate youth about the dangers of drinking
  • Appoint leaders from the peer group to reinforce prevention messages
  • Involve parents and the community in alcoholism prevention initiatives for the youth

As stopping alcoholism is a gradual process which takes time, you should start by cutting down on the drinks you take per day or week and work on a practical prevention schedule The best way to avoid alcohol poisoning is by taking water in between your drinks.

Alcoholism is a disorder and sometimes, during treatment and recovery people might need professional support. Depending on the stage of alcoholism, therapists can help families share the mental and emotional burden of supporting alcohol abuse family members.

March is National Kidney Month

National Kidney MonthMarch is observed as National Kidney Month to spread awareness about kidney disease. The kidneys are commonly associated with the creation of urine, but also help break down and excrete waste into the bladder and play a vital role in reabsorption of certain nutrients. Your kidneys perform various functions to help maintain your overall health:

  • Remove drugs from the body.
  • Balance the body’s fluids.
  • Release hormones that regulate blood pressure.
  • Produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones.
  • Control the production of red blood cells.

While the health benefits provided by kidneys are well-known, kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in U.S. More than 590,000 people have kidney failure in the US today and more than 30 million Americans have kidney disease, though most don’t know it. Many people don’t find out they have kidney disease until their kidneys are permanently damaged, which is why you should get tested early.

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. National Kidney Month is the perfect time to participate in one of the free screenings that show up all over the country.

Most people with early kidney diseases how no symptoms, which is why early testing is critical. By the time symptoms appear, the disease may be advanced, and symptoms can be misleading. Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. Therefore, here are 7 signs that may indicate kidney disease:

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Difficult, painful urination and increased need to urinate (especially at night)
  • Foamy urine
  • Pink, dark urine (blood in urine)
  • Increased thirst
  • Puffy eyes
  • Swollen face, hands, abdomen, ankles, feet

If you have any of these symptoms get a blood and urine test. Two tests done to identify kidney disease are:

  • Albumin-To-Creatinine Ratio: This test estimates the amount of type of protein and albumin excreted in urine. Three positive results over three months or more is a sign of kidney disease.
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR): This blood test tells how well the kidneys are working to remove wastes from the blood.

A person with chronic kidney disease should do following things:

  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Keep blood-sugar levels under control if diabetic
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Avoid NSAIDs, a type of painkillers

To prevent kidney disease:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Control weight
  • Eat healthy
  • Quit smoking
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Monitor cholesterol levels
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Get an annual physical

Make the right decision – get tested because early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.

February Is American Heart Month – “Our Hearts Are Healthier Together”

American Heart MonthHeart disease is one of the leading causes of death in men and women in the United Sates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. To raise awareness about the condition, how to improve heart health, and reduce the risks of the condition, February is celebrated as American Heart Month. This national observance is an annual celebration that began in 1964, and urges Americans to join the battle against heart disease.

It’s very important to educate people that heart disease is the leading cause of death and with proper care it is largely preventable too. This February, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is encouraging people across the country to reduce their risk for heart disease. For that they organized a National Wear Red Day on February 1, where millions of people across the state and the nation donned red attire and showed their support of the American Heart Association’s mission to saves lives from the nation’s No. 1 killer.

A healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, smart eating, maintaining a good weight, and not smoking, can substantially lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. The NHLBI this year’s theme for American Heart Month is “Our Hearts are Healthier Together” – encourages Americans to join with others to make lifestyle changes that are heart-healthy and long-lasting. They are also encouraging everyone to use #OurHearts on social media to share what you and your friends, family, and coworkers are doing to get heart healthy together. Research has shown that having strong social support can make it easier to stay motivated and reach your fitness and nutrition goals.

Most people think that heart disease happens just to older adults, but the fact is that younger adults can also develop this condition. According to the CDC, one of the major reasons for this is the high rates of obesity and high blood pressure among younger people (ages 35-64) that put them at risk for heart disease earlier in life. Half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking).

Nearly 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood cholesterol, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. High blood cholesterol can be hard to detect, as it often shows no signs or symptoms (www.cdc.gov). This year on American Heart Month, CDC urges to speak on the topic “Let’s Talk about Cholesterol”.

High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Even if medications can help improve your cholesterol levels, it’s better to prevent getting cholesterol by making some healthy lifestyle changes. The top five lifestyle changes include:

  • Eat healthy foods: Diet plays an important role in lowering your cholesterol and protecting your heart. Eat foods that help keep your cholesterol levels low. Avoid saturated fat and trans fat which tend to raise the cholesterol levels. Include soya foods, soluble fiber foods like oats and barley, lots of fruits and vegetables, and foods that have plant sterols/stanols. Plant sterols/stanols are naturally found in a wide range of foods such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise and increase your physical activity: Exercise can help lower cholesterol. Any activity is helpful – even taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing a few sit-ups while watching television can make a difference. Moderate physical activity can help raise HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.
  • Quit smoking: If you smoke, stop immediately. Quitting could improve your HDL cholesterol levels. It is reported that your blood pressure and heart rate would decrease 20 minutes after quitting, and that the risk of heart disease would be half that of a smoker within one year.
  • Alcohol consumption only in moderation: Too much consumption of alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes. So, consume alcohol in moderation.
  • Lose weight: Being overweight or obese raises your cholesterol levels. So, lose your weight. Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking farther from your office. Take walks during breaks at work. Try to increase standing activities, such as cooking or doing yard work (www.mayoclinic.org).

This year, take an oath to educate yourself and talk with your loved ones about how to improve heart health and reduce the risks of the condition.

February 4 is World Cancer Day – “I Am and I Will”

World Cancer DayCancer is a critical health issue affecting millions worldwide. World Cancer Day is observed on February 4 every year to raise awareness about cancer and to encourage people to work to make it a global health priority. This year, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), which organizes World Cancer Day, is launching a new 3-year campaign with the theme: “I Am and I Will.” The message is: “Whoever you are, you have the power to reduce the impact of cancer for yourself, the people you love and for the world. It’s time to make a personal commitment.”

Cancer is a heterogeneous group of diseases that results from abnormal cell growth. The growth often invades surrounding tissue and spreads to other parts of the body. This dangerous disease is the second-leading cause of death in the world. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that 9.5 million people worldwide would die from cancer in 2018 – about 26,000 cancer deaths a day – and that number is expected to grow.

World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and calling upon governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease. Specially, this multi-year campaign offers a chance to create long-lasting impact by increasing public-facing exposure and engagement, and providing more opportunities to build global awareness and impact-driven action.

When it comes to prevention or identifying the risk factors, physicians have identified several things which include the most-studied known or suspected risk factors for cancer. While some of these risk factors can be avoided, others such as growing older cannot. So, to lower your risk of developing certain cancers try to limit your exposure to avoidable risk factors. Consider these cancer-prevention tips:

  • Quit smoking and using tobacco: Smoking and tobacco use are responsible for 85 percent of all lung cancers and 30 percent of all smoking-related deaths. So quit. Smokers are more at risk than nonsmokers of developing lung, larynx, esophagus, mouth, throat, stomach, kidney, bladder, pancreatic, and cervical cancer. Quitting can reduce your risk of cancer in the future.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: If you choose to drink alcohol, make sure you drink in moderation, that is, limit yourself to one drink a day if you’re a woman of any age or a man older than age 65, or two drinks a day if you’re a man 65 years old or younger. If you have more than two drinks a day for years, it will increase your chances of developing various types of cancer.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure: Though getting sunlight is important for health, overexposure can be harmful. The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the United States. To minimize your risks, avoid direct exposure to sunlight between 10 am and 3 pm, stay in the shade, wear protective clothing, use sunscreen 30 minutes before stepping out, and undergo regular skin exams.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Choose a diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Avoid red meat, fried food and so on, as these foods have been tied to increased cancer risk. Similarly, avoid contaminated food as it also a small causative factor of cancer.
  • Exercise: Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for cancer. So, work to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
  • Schedule cancer screening exams: Educate yourself about cancer screenings. Talk to your doctor about what types of cancer screening exams are best for you based on your risk factors.
  • Get vaccinated: Certain viruses increase risk of cancer. Immunizations may help prevent those viruses, including hepatitis B, which increases the risk of liver cancer, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which increases the risk of cervical cancer and other cancers. Ask your doctor whether immunization against these viruses is appropriate for you ( www.mayoclinic.org).
    If detected early, many cancers can be treated and cured with the help of surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. As Mayo Clinic notes, developments in cancer screening and cancer treatment are improving the survival rates for many types of cancer.

This World Cancer Day, take a pledge to join the fight against cancer. This the only day in the global health calendar where people across the world can unite and rally under the one banner in the fight against cancer in a positive and inspiring way. Raising public and political literacy and understanding around cancer can reduce fear, increase understanding, dispel myths and misconceptions, and change behaviors and attitudes (www.worldcancerday.org).

Celebrate National Healthy Skin Month in November

National Healthy Skin MonthNovember is observed as National Healthy Skin Month. This public health and awareness campaign which is sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology, aims to raise awareness about the importance of healthy skin and about common skin problems and how they can be prevented.

One of the key goals of National Skin Cancer Month is to inform people about how they can reduce their risk of skin cancer. According to the Pharmacy Times, more than 1 million Americans are living with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and one person dies of the disease every hour. Fortunately, when detected early, melanoma is highly treatable. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has released new guidelines to help pharmacists provide the best possible treatment for patients with melanoma.

The skin is the body’s largest organ and so it’s important to take good care of it. Winter is approaching, it’s important to take steps to keep weather-related skin problems at bay. Here are tips to maintain healthy skin:

  • The very first step in taking care of your skin is to cleanse it every day. Remove every trace of makeup and dirt from your face before you go to bed. Use mild face wash or natural cleansers like milk, honey, coconut oil to cleanse your face. Avoid soap-based cleansers as they can make the skin dull and dry.
  • Exfoliate your skin with a gentle scrub to remove dead cells and then use an alcohol-free toner. This will promote a clean, fresh appearance.
  • Whether summer or winter, wear a sunscreen and protective clothing/gear whenever you step out in the sun. The sun’s UV rays damage skin and can cause various problems such as wrinkles, dry, rough skin, liver spots, and cancers.
  • Pamper your skin with a good night cream. Choose a product based on your skin type – oily, dry, combination, normal or sensitive. While summer is the time for hydration and light moisturization, winters call for heavy duty nourishment.
  • Avoid using perfumes and dyes, as these could damage the skin by causing an allergic reaction. Use an antiperspirant, rather than a deodorant, to reduce sweating.
  • Avoid smoking to get a healthy skin. Smoking causes the skin to age and decreases blood flow, depleting the skin of oxygen and nutrients. Decreased blood flow damages the elastic fibers and collagen in the skin.
  • Try homemade face masks to nourish your skin and give it a healthy glow. Natural items such as yoghurt, honey, banana not only restore the softness of your skin, but also have anti-aging effects and can make your skin look supple and toned.
  • Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration, especially in winter when the temperature drops and the risks of dryness increase. Drinking plenty of water will help flush out toxins and in maintaining metabolism levels.
  • Eat right. What you eat is reflected in your skin, so eat right.

Celebrate National Healthy Skin Month by developing good skin care habits!

November is American Diabetes Month

American Diabetes MonthNovember is celebrated as American Diabetes Month to raise awareness about this chronic condition. November 14 is observed as World Diabetes Day by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

This year’s theme for American Diabetes Month is “Everyday Reality”. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) explains, “For those who’ve been diagnosed, diabetes impacts nearly every decision they make daily – from what they’ll eat, wear, do and how they’ll take care of themselves.”

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a 2015 report claims that about 30 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes, with another 8 million undiagnosed and 84.1 million Americans age 18 and older had pre-diabetes. These alarming statistics indicate that the issue should be well discussed so that people take steps to understand and prevent diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease that can lead to many serious medical conditions if not managed properly. There are three types of diabetes, type 1, type 2, and gestational where Type 2 is the most common type and arises when an issue within the body leads blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal, causing the body to not use insulin properly.

However, diabetes management is often misunderstood. The goal of the American Diabetes Month campaign is to demonstrate the everyday reality of diabetes from the point of view of people living with diabetes or caring for someone with diabetes. It is important to educate people on everyday reality of diabetes. Here are some important steps that can prevent diabetes or lower a person’s diabetic level:

  • Focus on healthy eating: As a WebMD report notes, the foods on your diabetes eating plan are the same healthy foods that everyone should eat. Stick to things that are low in fat, salt, and sugar, and high in fiber, like beans, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Don’t skip a meal as it can make you overeat at the next meal. Some experts recommend eating several small meals each day instead of one or two big ones.
  • Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity helps the body use insulin more efficiently. Develop an exercise schedule in consultation with your doctor and follow it. Exercise can lower your blood sugar levels even a day later. Be aware of warning signs of low blood sugar, such as feeling shaky, weak, tired, hungry, lightheaded, irritable, anxious or confused.
  • Manage stress: Stress can raise your blood sugar. Learn to lower stress. Strategies that can help include deep breathing, gardening, taking a walk, meditating, working on your hobby, or listening to your favorite music.
  • Checkup are important: See your health care provider at least twice a year to find and treat any problems early. Follow the schedule of tests and checks recommended by your doctor.
  • Know what to do: Here are some important things that a person with diabetes should do:
    • Take your medicines regularly even if you feel good and make changes only if asked by your doctor.
    • Consult your doctor if you find any cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling on your feet.
    • Keep your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy by brushing your teeth and flossing every day.
    • Keep track of your blood sugar and keep a record of your numbers. Check with your provider as to how often and when to check your blood sugar.
    • Don’t smoke.

Living with diabetes has its ups and downs, but healthy lifestyle choices can help you manage the condition, resulting in fewer health problems and improving quality of life.

October 10 Is Observed as World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health DayWorld Mental Health Day (WMHD) is observed on the 10th of October every year for increasing mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It is a global observance supported by the United Nations (UN), to raise public awareness about mental health issues worldwide. This event also promotes open discussions on illnesses, as well as investments in prevention and treatment services. The theme this year is “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.”

It’s a fact that young people experience considerable stress related to various things in their life and are not taught how to tackle this issue wisely. Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are the time when many changes such as changing schools, leaving home, entering a new job and so on occur in one’s life. Half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Moreover, in this digital world, many young people spend their time on the internet engaged in cyber-crimes, cyber bullying, and playing violent video games. All of these activities make them stressed out and frustrated. These issues have been steadily increasing the suicide and substance abuse numbers.

Your mental health or ’emotional health’ or ‘well-being’ is as important as good physical health. The WMHD theme this year would focus more on the mental health of young people in this modern era. According to the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), “every year one adult in four, along with one child in ten, will have a mental health issue. These conditions can profoundly affect literally millions of lives, affecting the capability of these individuals to make it through the day, to sustain relationships, and to maintain work.” The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is the only international multidisciplinary, grassroots advocacy and education organization concerned with all aspects of mental health.

Even though there are several things that help to build mental resilience from an early age itself from mental distress and illness, one of the best ways to manage and prevent this unhealthy mental condition is by having better understanding. According to the WHO,

  • Prevention begins with being aware of and understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness
  • Parents and teachers play an important role to help build life skills of children and adolescents and help them cope with everyday challenges at home and at school.
  • Psychosocial support can be provided in schools and other community settings and of course, training for health workers to enable them to detect and manage mental health disorders can be put in place, improved or expanded.

Mental health awareness programs help peers, parents and teachers learn how to support their friends, children and students respectively. Also, by following certain tips you can build good mental health yourself. When we practice good mental health, it is easier to handle stress and other problems, because good mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. Here are some valuable tips to follow:

  • Take proper care of your body: If you take proper care of your body, then your mind also gets proper care because our bodies and minds are connected. Follow a healthy diet and exercise routine. You should also make sure that you are having good sleep during the night, because sleep has a huge effect on mental health. When we get enough sleep, it is easier to cope with stress, handle problems, concentrate, think positively and remember things.
  • Build good relationships: Surround yourself with good people, as having good relationships with people contribute to a sense of wellbeing. Choose friends who have similar interests to you, respect and appreciate who you are, and who make you feel happy. Share the good times with them and learn from each other.
  • Follow healthy thinking: Like happiness, problems are also a part of life, which you have to tackle smartly. Good mental health does not mean that we only have happy thoughts, but it also means having the ability to deal cleverly with problems and practice healthy thinking.
  • Identify and utilize your strengths: People would have different strengths and weaknesses, but it is up to you to identify these and work on them. Identify your strengths and use them accordingly to increase your wellbeing and don’t let your weaknesses beat you.
  • Always stay happy: The easier way to cope with stress and other problems is to do things that make us happy and active, so that it keeps us refreshed and feeling good about ourselves.

Mental health illnesses can be easily cured if identified and treated at an early stage itself. So, if you are feeling unwell and nothing seems to help, it is important to talk to a doctor.

September is National Cholesterol Education Month

September is observed as National Cholesterol Education Month to raise awareness among people about the dangers of high cholesterol.

National Cholesterol Education MonthAccording to a recent study, nearly 71 million American adults have high cholesterol, putting them at risk for heart disease. A high cholesterol level in the blood is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke, which are the two leading cause of death in the United States. Blood cholesterol screening measures your cholesterol levels and the results will determine if treatment is necessary.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs. But when you have too much in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your arteries and form blockages resulting in heart disease, heart attack and stroke. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) are two types of cholesterol. HDL is “good” cholesterol and LDL is bad cholesterol.

Even though the body creates some cholesterol on its own, we also get extra from animal-based food such as full fat dairy and meat. Unfortunately, high cholesterol does not have any symptoms, and so many people don’t know that their cholesterol is too high unless they see a doctor. Check with your doctor on your cholesterol levels regularly. Generally, bad cholesterol can be prevented a leading a healthy lifestyle. Here are some important preventive measures:

  • A Healthy Diet: Staying healthy depends on a great deal on your diet. Eat foods that help keep your cholesterol levels low. Avoid saturated fat and trans fat which tend to raise the cholesterol levels. Include soya foods, soluble fiber foods like oats and barley, lots of fruits and vegetables, and foods that have plant sterols/stanols. Plant sterols/stanols are naturally found in a wide range of foods such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise Regularly: Exercise can help lower cholesterol. Any activity is helpful – even taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing a few sit-ups while watching television can make a difference. Moderate physical activity can help to raise HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.
  • Quit Smoking and Lower Alcohol Consumption: If you smoke, stop immediately. Quitting could improve your HDL cholesterol levels. It is reported that your blood pressure and heart rate would decrease 20 minutes after quitting, and that the risk of heart disease would be half that of a smoker within one year. Consume alcohol in moderation.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Losing weight can help lower your cholesterol. Being overweight or obese raises your cholesterol levels.

These tips can help maintain a healthy cholesterol level and decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke. Take your prescribed medicines regularly if your doctor recommends lowering your cholesterol, but keep up your healthy regimen. This will lower your medication requirements.