Protect your eyes from the sun

protect your eyes uv raysUV rays are damaging

Just as the sun can injure your skin, it can hurt the delicate tissue of your eyes, too.  Long-term exposure to UVA and UVB rays contributes to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Cataracts, cloudy areas on your eye’s lens, can be corrected with surgery; there is no effective treatment for macular degeneration, and it can lead to blindness.

Did you know you can also get melanoma of the eye? Unprotected UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds increases the risk of this type of cancer. And, of course, squinting against the sun’s glare … Continue reading

Concussion assessment apps

There’s no such thing as a “mild” concussion

Last week I posted about first aid for concussions, which is important because head injuries in kids are a growing concern in the medical and public health communities.

Of particular importance is avoiding the potentially fatal “second impact syndrome”; if a young athlete suffers a “mild” concussion and then sustains another within a few weeks, “diffuse cerebral swelling, brain herniation, and death can occur.” Luckily, it’s rare.

But even minor concussions need to be recognized and treated, and it can be difficult because symptoms are often subtle and most parents … Continue reading

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

Apps for the cyberchondriac

webmd appThe cyber-what?

The cyberchondriac. Cyberchondia is a term that’s been coined to describe a person who self-diagnoses using the internet, and then experiences acute anxiety when confronted with the grim details of possible afflictions.

Rash? Probably lupus. Upset stomach? Stomach cancer, of course.

I’ve done it. Admit it, you’ve done it, too.

WebMD’s Symptom Checker feature is so inconclusive in its results that it’s basically useless. For example, submit “headache” and after a few more refining questions you still get a list of over 50 possible conditions that have headache as a symptom. Migraine and tension headache are at the Continue reading

Emergency Contact health care app

emergency health care appCustomize your iPhone with this health care app

I found a health care app I would really like to try, but sadly for me it is only available to iPhone users. Yes, I’m Android.

But if you have an iPhone or an iPad, and especially if you have a medical condition, you might want to download this free app.

It’s called Emergency Contact and it lets you create a lock screen that displays your name, picture, health information (such as diabetes or severe allergies), and an emergency contact number.

In case of an emergency (and who doesn’t worry about being … 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

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

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

Be prepared – Learn basic first aid

One of the advantages of being a nurse/mom is that I can tend to a wide variety of illnesses and injuries without seeking medical help. I have probably saved my family a lot of money over the years!

Anyone can learn the basics of providing first aid. I taught American Red Cross First Aid and CPR classes for years, and I highly recommend taking a class, whether you are a parent or not. Even kids as young as 13 or 14 can take the classes.

Spring is a good time to sign up for a class. Once schools are out … Continue reading