Happiness? There’s an app for that!

happiness appThe depression epidemic

I posted last week that prescriptions for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have soared in the last 20 years.

I like to blame the pharmaceutical companies that reap the huge profits, but the relentless output of bleak news from the media sure doesn’t help. Political scandals and inertia, the economic roller coaster, global warming (or do we call it climate change?) resulting in natural disasters, terrorists, international crises, racial tensions, gun violence, and on and on and on…

And then I read an article in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Facebook may be making you hate life, study Continue reading

Blood pressure apps

iphone blood pressure appsThe “Quantified Self”

There are thousands of apps and gadgets that help us record personal data—weight, calories consumed, steps walked, hours slept, and so on.  Quantified Self is the name of the movement that seeks to improve daily life through the measurement and tracking of this data.

Someone I know said he would like to see sensors implanted in our bodies to automatically measure and record everything. Everything? Um, no thanks.

There is such as thing as too much information, and at what point does an obsession with personal data become unhealthy and counterproductive?

The iHealth blood pressure system

However, … Continue reading

Optimize your wake-up time

sleep cycle appSleep cycle tracking apps

Have you ever been wrenched out of a deep sleep by your alarm clock? Or been in such a deep sleep that you slept right through the &#%!@ alarm?

When this happens to me, I wake up feeling groggy and sleep deprived, even if I slept “enough” hours the night before.

Other mornings when the alarm goes off I am full of energy, feeling well rested and loving life.

The difference is not necessarily how many hours I slept; it’s at what point in my sleep cycle—the light and deep stages of sleep—the alarm woke me.… Continue reading

Melatonin: Not a sleeping pill for children

The “sleep supplement”

I am a chronically poor sleeper, and I have tried melatonin, the sleep supplement,  in the past. I have friends that swear by it,  but it never worked for me.

Plus, I could never get a straight answer from any source about the therapeutic dosage – 1 mg, 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg? Should I only take it as needed, or is melatonin safe to take every night, forever?

As a supplement (it’s actually a hormone), melatonin falls under the extremely loose guidelines of the Dietary Supplement Health And Education Act  (DSHEA) of 1994. It … Continue reading

Now arriving: Measles

measlesTravelers beware

Last week a small child flew on an overseas flight from China to Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle.

A few days later, the child was diagnosed with the measles. Local public health officials were notified, and they began the task of contacting anyone who might have been exposed to the virus while on the plane or in the airport.

Because measles is easily spread by coughing or sneezing, all passengers on that plane, and many in the airport, were exposed. Anyone who had been previously vaccinated was at low risk of contracting the highly-contagious disease. 

But people … Continue reading

First aid for knocked out teeth

knocked out teeth 01A common tale of knocked out teeth

A friend of mine was stepping out of her car onto the sidewalk when she tripped on the curb and, unable to catch herself in time, fell face first onto the concrete.

She sat up and immediately put her hand to her mouth; her hand came away covered in blood and she felt her front teeth hanging in their sockets. Although not hurt otherwise, she fainted at the sheer horror of having just knocked out her front teeth.

Concerned onlookers immediately called 911, and she was eventually taken to the emergency room for … Continue reading

First aid for avulsions

avulsionsWhat are avulsions?

Avulsions are wounds where a chunk of tissue (all layers of the skin) has been partially or completely torn away. An amputation is a form of an avulsion.

Avulsions can be minor, such as slamming a finger in a door and crushing the tip, or life-threatening, such as the amputation of an arm or leg in an industrial or motor vehicle accident.

As you can tell from the picture, even a minor avulsion can be pretty ghastly to look at. But if you act quickly, you might be able to save the victim’s finger, toe or … Continue reading

Health care app for first aid and emergencies

red cross health appsBeing prepared makes a difference

I taught first aid classes for the American Red Cross for many years. I liked to use a statistic that I found in an obscure study done by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the professionals that respond to aviation and other disasters.

According to their data, how people – not including trained personnel – respond to an emergency pretty much falls along a typical bell curve: 10% aid in evacuation and helping others; 10% totally freak out and are useless, if not actually making matters worse; and 80% stand around and do nothing.

Why … Continue reading

First aid for burns

first aid for burnsTypes of burns

Burns are very common injuries that can be caused by heat (fires, hot liquids), electricity (wires, lightning), chemicals or the sun.

First-degree burns only involve the upper layer of skin. The skin will be red and painful, but will typically heal within a few days. Most sunburns are first-degree burns.

Related reading: First aid for sunburns

Second-degree burns are also red and painful, but slightly deeper and blisters may appear.

Third-degree burns go through all layers of the skin down to the bone and muscle. Such burns may be black or even white rather than red. And … Continue reading

First aid for eye injuries

Preventing eye injuries

Vision is important, so nature created several levels of protection for our eyes. First, they are surrounded by bone. Second, our eyelashes prevent dust and dirt from entering the eyes. Third, our tears effectively wash away any small bits that get past the eyelashes.

The eye tissue is very delicate and easily injured, and prevention of eye injuries is key.

Wear protective glasses whenever small particles, objects or chemicals could accidentally enter the eye. The wraparound style are best as they offer side protection, as well.

Woodworking is especially risky because of splinters, sawdust, staple guns and … Continue reading

Eye Trainer: An app for eyestrain

eye trainer health appTech takes a toll on eyes

I’ve done it again. For way too long I’ve sat hunched in front of my computer without taking a break, and now my eyes burn, my vision blurs, my head aches, and my neck . . . ouch!

Of course I know better. Prolonged use of your eyes, such as working at a computer, reading, driving or playing “Words With Friends,” can cause eyestrain. And in our technology-centric world, eyestrain is pretty hard to avoid.

Symptoms of eyestrain include:

  • Sore, tired, burning, itching, dry or watery eyes
  • Blurred vision, difficulty focusing
  • Headache
  • Sore
Continue reading

First aid for puncture wounds

puncture woundWhen an object breaks through the skin, the injury is called a puncture wound. Stepping on a tack is a minor puncture wound; being stabbed or shot are more deadly examples.

Luckily, most of us don’t need to worry about being shot or stabbed.

But puncture wounds are not uncommon (your mother taught you not to run with sharp, pointy objects, didn’t she?), and there are a couple special things to remember when treating them.

Typically, first aid for puncture wounds is similar to that for cuts and scrapes. Clean the wound well with soap and water, and bandage … Continue reading

Diet for cancer prevention

My belief as a frugal nurse is that each of us has the power to improve our health and lower our health care costs. Prevention is key, and in my posts I advocate such preventive actions as vaccinations, hand washing, adequate sleep, drug safety, exercise and a healthy diet.

Diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and, I think, is crucial to cancer prevention.

Therefore, I read with keen interest a recent post by David Katz, MD, on the HuffPost Healthy Living Blog.

Dr. Katz interviewed a one-time student, Nicole Larizza, a nutritionist currently … Continue reading

The UV index: Health and fitness apps

health and fitness appsHealth and Fitness Apps

I recently upgraded to a smartphone, and I’ve been having fun trying out a bunch of different apps (the free ones, of course!).

Coming somewhat late to the whole app thing, I’m amazed at how many there are, and especially how many health and fitness apps are available for free.

I’ve seen different numbers, but there are somewhere between 15,000 and 35,000 and the number is growing all the time.

Apps can be patient-centric, used for keeping track of diet, exercise, symptoms, health records, or doctor-centric, used for aiding in diagnosis, research, scheduling, and so on.… Continue reading

First aid for itchy bug bites

I didn’t see them coming

Early one morning last week, while strolling a Florida beach looking for sea shells, I was attacked by the area’s notorious “no-see-ems”, or sand flies or biting midges. I didn’t realize it, however, until later that evening when the itching started – the agonizing, I-want-to-flay-the-skin-off-my-legs itching.  😡

After a sleepless night, I sped to the drugstore to buy something, anything, that might help. As usual, I was faced with an aisle of products all promising “fast” relief.

As miserable as I was (I had over 50 bites!), I doubted that any product would be … Continue reading