Monday, June 24, 2013

Living Well and Healthy, Part 14

Practise Safety.  Taking safety precautions is one of the most important things that Healthwise advises to protect yourself and your family from accidents and injuries.  Let common sense and these partial lists be your guides.

At Home:
  • Post emergency telephone numbers near telephone.
  • Have an emergency plan in case of accidents, fire, or injury.  Practice the plan with your family. 
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and check them twice a year to make sure they work.
  • Keep a working fire extinguisher in your home.  Make sure everyone in the house (including the babysitter) knows how to use it.
  • Keep all medications, cleaning and automotive supplies, and other hazardous products securely stored and out of the reach of children.
  • Turn off appliances after use.  Unplug small appliances and put them away after they have cooled.
  • Store firearms unloaded and securely, out of the reach of children.  Store ammunition separately.
  • Prevent falls by securing rugs that slip, keeping stairs and hallways clear of clutter, and turning on lights. 

When on the Move:
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Make sure everyone in your car is wearing a safety belt.
  • Obey traffic laws and speed limits.
  • Keep your car, bike, skateboard, skis, and other recreational gear in good operating condition.
  • Wear helmets and sport-specific padding when bicycling, in-line skating, playing baseball, etc.  Wear eye protection when playing racquet sports.
  • Never let children play unattended near water.

At Work:
  • Follow your employer’s safety guidelines.
  • Wear clothing and protective equipment that is appropriate for your job (hard hat, gloves, goggles, earplugs, etc.)
  • Protect yourself against smoke, dangerous fumes, and exposure to chemicals.
  • Know the location of fire extinguishers and emergency exits nearest your workstation.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Living Well and Healthy, Part 13

Flossing. The best way to remove plaque from below the gums and between the teeth is by flossing properly once a day.  Start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they touch each other.  As with brushing, you will have to help flossing until the child is old enough to manage it alone.

Diet.  Healthwise gives some tips to add to your daily routine:
  • Avoid high-sugar foods, especially sticky, sweet foods like taffy and raisins. The longer sugar stays in touch with your teeth, the more damage it will do.
  • Brush after between-meals snacks.
  • Don’t snack before bedtime.  Food is more likely to cause cavities at night because saliva doesn’t clean the mouth as well at night.
  • Mozzarella and other cheeses, peanuts, yogurt, milk, and sugar-free chewing gum (especially gum that contains xylitol) are good for your teeth.  They help clear the mouth of harmful sugars and reduce plaque formation. 

Dental Checkups.  Most people who do not have serious problems with their teeth need to visit the dentist twice a year.  During a dental checkup the dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of tooth decay and gum disease.  X-rays of your teeth are usually taken once a year.  If you don’t have any active tooth decay or gum disease, changes in your brushing and flossing habits probably won’t be necessary.

A dentist or dental hygienist will clean your teeth.  He or she will scrape hard mineral buildup (tartar) off your teeth with a small metal tool; floss your teeth thoroughly; and use a polishing compound to help clean and polish your teeth.  Cleanings may be uncomfortable but usually aren’t painful. Other procedures (application of sealants to prevent cavities or fluoride treatments) may be done during a routine office visit if needed.

The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child see a dentist either by one year of age or within six months after his or her first tooth comes in.

(Taking safety precautions at home, when on the move and at work, will be discussed in Part 14, next Monday, 24 June 2013. – J.P.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Living Well and Healthy, Part 12

Relaxation Technique (continued from last week)

3. Become aware of your breathing.  Each time you exhale, say the word “one” (or any other word or phrase) silently or aloud.  Concentrate on breathing from your abdomen and not your chest.  Instead of focusing on a repeated word, you can fix your gaze on a stationary object.  Any mental stimulus will help you to clear your mind.

Continue the above for 10 to 20 minutes.  As distracting thoughts enter your mind, don’t dwell on them, just allow them to drift away.

4.  Sit quietly for several minutes, until you are ready to open your eyes.

5.  Notice the difference in your breathing and your pulse rate.

Don’t worry about becoming deeply relaxed.  The key to this exercise is to remain passive, to let distracting thoughts slip away like waves on the beach.

Practice for 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day, but not within 2 hours after a meal.  When you have set up a routine, you can achieve the relaxation response with little effort.

Take Care of Your Teeth.  Your teeth will last a lifetime if you care for them properly.  Brushing and flossing regularly, eating a mouth-healthy diet, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups will help keep your teeth healthy.

  • Brush at least twice a day for 3 to 5 minutes each time.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste (young children should use only a pea-sized dab).  Tartar-control toothpaste may help slow the formation of hard mineral build up (tartar) on the teeth. 
  • Brush your tongue.  Plaque build-up (a sticky film made of bacteria) on the tongue can cause bad breath.

Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they come in.  Brush your child’s teeth for the first 4 to 5 years, until your child seems able to do it alone.  A good teaching method is to have your child brush in the morning and you brush at night until your child masters the skill.  If your local water does not contain enough fluoride, your child may need a fluoride supplement.  Discuss this with your dentist.

(Flossing, diet, and dental checkups will be explained next Monday, 17 June 2013. – J.P.)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Living Well and Healthy, Part 11

Muscle Groups and Procedure.  Pick a place where you can lie down on your back and stretch out comfortably.  Tense each muscle group for 4 to 10 seconds (hard but not to the point of cramping), then give yourself 10 to 20 seconds to release it and relax.  At various points, review the muscle groups and relax each one a little more each time.

How to Tense Muscle Groups:
  • Hands: Clench them.
  • Wrists and forearms: Extend them and bend the hands back at the wrist.
  • Biceps and upper arms: Clench your hands into fists, bend your arms at the elbows, and flex your biceps.
  • Shoulders:  Shrug them. (Check the arms and shoulders area for tension).
  • Forehead: Wrinkle it into a deep frown.
  • Around the eyes and bridge of the nose:  Close your eyes as tightly as possible. (Remove contact lenses before beginning the exercise).
  • Cheeks and jaws:  Grin from ear to ear.
  • Around the mouth:  Press your lips together tightly. (Check the face area for tension).
  • Back of the neck: Press your head back hard.
  • Front of the neck:  Touch your chin to your chest. (Check the neck and head area for tension).
  • Chest: Take a deep breath and hold it; then exhale.
  • Back: Arch your back up and away from the floor.
  • Stomach: Suck it into a tight knot. (Check the chest and stomach area for tension).
  • Hips and buttocks: Press the buttocks together tightly.
  • Thighs: Clench them hard.
  • Lower legs: Point your toes toward your face, as if trying to bring the toes up to touch your head.
  • Lower legs: Point your toes away and curl them downward at the same time. (Check the area from the waist down for tension).
When you are finished, return to alertness by counting backwards from five to one.

Relaxation Response.  The relaxation response is the exact opposite of a stress response.  It slows heart rate and breathing, lowers blood pressure, and helps relieve muscle tension.

Techniques (adapted from Herbert Benson, M.D.):

  1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position with your eyes closed.
  2. Begin progressive muscle relaxation.
(Techniques 3 to 5 will appear next Monday, 10 June 2013, including how to take care of your teeth. – J.P.)