You may have heard that if you have had chickenpox, you are at risk of getting shingles. But what are shingles and what are the other risks in developing them?
A surprising one million cases of shingles occur in the United States every year. Though it mostly affects people over the age of 40, it can develop in anyone, including children. One out of two people who live to age 85 will get a case of shingles.
Shingles (herpes zoster) is an outbreak of rash or blisters on the skin that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox — the varicella-zoster virus.
Symptoms and stages of shingles:
For some people the pain continues long after the blisters have cleared, due to a complication called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN can last weeks, months, or even years and occurs in up to half of untreated people who are 60 years age or older.
Antiviral medicines such as acyclovir often help shorten the length and severity of shingles. Antiviral meds must be started as soon as possible to be effective, so if you think you or someone you love has shingles, call your doctor.
Other treatments such as using wet compresses, calamine lotion and colloidal oatmeal baths can help reduce pain and itching. Some over-the-counter pain medicine may help, but check with your doctor to be sure you are taking the right one.
While shingles is not contagious, meaning that the shingles virus cannot be transmitted, a person in the early stages of shingles before the blisters crust over can transmit the virus that causes chickenpox. Tips for prevention:
Between the ups and downs of the weather, and what seems to be the early arrival of spring, you’ve probably had at least one cold or at least experienced some sinus pressure this season.
If you have pain in your forehead, or between your eyes,. If your face feels full and your nose is stuffy. Or if even your upper teeth hurt — you could be experiencing sinusitis.
These are common complaints that send people to the pharmacy or doctor’s office to find relief.
Most people have four sets of nasal sinuses:
What Is Sinusitis?
It’s inflammation in your sinuses. In healthy sinuses, tiny, hair-like structures called cilia move mucus across sinus membranes and toward an exit. All of your sinus cavities connect to your nose to allow a free exchange of air and mucus. With a sinus Infections or allergies, the sinus tissue is inflamed, red, and swollen and make it difficult to breathe through your nose.
Sinusitis usually starts with inflammation triggered by a cold, allergy attack, or irritant. But it may not end there. There’s usually a nasal discharge that may be yellow, green, or clear. You may also have fatigue, trouble with sense of smell or taste, cough, sore throat, bad breath, headache, pain when you bend forward, and fever.
Inflammation of the sinuses that lasts for more than 3 months is chronic sinusitis. Bacteria can make their home in blocked sinuses, but they aren’t the only cause. Anatomy, allergies, polyps, immune system problems, and dental diseases may also be to blame.
If your sinuses remain inflamed, sinus membranes can thicken and swell. The swelling may be enough to cause grape-like masses called polyps. They can jut out from the sinus into the nasal passage and block your nasal airway.
How do you treat it?
Nasal sprays open swollen nasal passages and allow your sinuses to drain. But you should use these drugs only for a few days. After that, there’s a kickback effect, making your nasal passages swell shut again. Nasal steroid sprays, or saline sprays or washes, may be other options. If symptoms don’t stop, see your doctor.
Antibiotics don’t treat viruses, so they won’t help the sinus symptoms of a cold. Your cold should be over in a week or two. Usually, cold-related sinusitis goes away then, too.
If you have allergy induced sinusitis, you may want to try irrigation with saline solution, either with a neti pot or squeeze bottle. Nasal steroid sprays might help, too. Antihistamines could also come in handy, especially if you’re sneezing and have a runny nose.
Yellow or green mucus can mean a bacterial infection. Even then, it usually clears up in 7 to 14 days without antibiotics. But if you keep feeling worse, your symptoms last and are severe, or if you get a fever, it’s time to see a doctor.
Worst case scenario, an operation called FESS (functional endoscopic sinus surgery) can bring some relief, if nothing else works. But start with the simplest solution first: Avoid things that irritate your sinuses, and then work with your doctor to see if medicines help.
Can You Prevent Sinusitis?
Unfortunately, no. But you can do these three things that help:
Does your life have to stop because of sinusitis?
Here are some do’s and don’ts.
The best way to succeed in quitting smoking is to make a firm decision to quit and create a plan to stick to it. Perhaps that was your intention this time. Perhaps it’s not your first attempt to quit.
That’s okay! You are not a failure. You can try again and be successful. If you were able to quit smoking for just 24 hours in the past few months or weeks, you have doubled your chances of quitting for good in the coming year!
Tools for Success
Talking to your doctor, going to group counseling, and taking medications are all ways to stay on track and be successful in your journey to quit smoking.
When you quit smoking, you may need support to cope with your body’s desire for nicotine. Nicotine replacement products help some smokers quit. You can buy gum, patches, or lozenges over the counter.
There are also products that require a doctor’s prescription. A nicotine nasal spray or inhaler can reduce withdrawal symptoms and make it easier for you to quit smoking. Other drugs may also help with withdrawal symptoms. Talk with your doctor about which medicines might be best for you.
Cigars, Pipes, Chewing Tobacco, and Snuff Are Not Safe
Some people think smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff), pipes, and cigars are safe alternatives to cigarettes. They are not. Smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the mouth and pancreas. It also causes precancerous lesions, gum problems, and nicotine addiction. Pipe and cigar smokers may develop cancer of the mouth, lip, larynx, esophagus, and bladder. Those who inhale when smoking are also at increased risk of getting lung cancer.
Secondhand smoke created by cigarettes, cigars, and pipes can cause serious health problems for family, friends, and even pets! Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for people who already have lung or heart disease. In adults, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and lung cancer. In babies, it can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is the unexplained death of a baby younger than one year of age. Children are also more likely to have lung problems, ear infections, and severe asthma if they are around secondhand smoke.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, deliver nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals that are inhaled by the user. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, which must now include the warning statement: “This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”
Good News about Quitting
The good news is that after you quit:
No matter how old you are, all of these health benefits are important reasons to make a plan to stop smoking.
Make a Plan
Need help on the go? Call a smoking quitline. A trained counselor can help you stop smoking or stay on track. You can call:
With so much focus on healthy eating and exercise, sometimes it can get out of control and some people may think they aren’t thin enough. Conversely, others may have no control and cannot stop eating.
Though no one knows exactly what causes eating disorders, they appear to coexist with psychological and medical issues including low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, lack of coping skills, and substance abuse.
About 30 million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives, but despite the reality that they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, those living with an eating disorder often don’t get the help they need.
What are eating disorders?
There are three main eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
People with anorexia nervosa may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight.They typically weigh themselves repeatedly, severely restrict the amount of food they eat, and eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, and many young women and men with this disorder die from either complications associated with starvation, or suicide. In women, suicide is much more common in those with anorexia than with most other mental disorders.
These symptoms can turn into more serious complications over time, including:
People with bulimia nervosa have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. This binge-eating is followed by behavior that compensates for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa usually maintain what is considered a healthy or relatively normal weight.
People with binge-eating disorder lose control over his or her eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in America.
What are the risk factors?
Eating disorders frequently appear during the teen years or young adulthood but may also develop during childhood or later in life. These disorders affect both genders, although rates among women are 2½ times greater than among men. Like women who have eating disorders, men also have a distorted sense of body image. For example, men may have muscle dysmorphia, a type of disorder marked by an extreme concern with becoming more muscular.
How do you treat eating disorders?
Proper nutrition, reducing excessive exercise, and stopping purging behaviors are the foundations of treatment. Treatment plans are tailored to individual needs and may include one or more of the following:
Psychotherapies such as a family-based therapy called the Maudsley approach, where parents of adolescents with anorexia nervosa assume responsibility for feeding their child, appear to be very effective in helping people gain weight and improve eating habits and moods.
To reduce or eliminate binge-eating and purging behaviors, people may undergo cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is another type of psychotherapy that helps a person learn how to identify distorted or unhelpful thinking patterns and recognize and change inaccurate beliefs.
Evidence also suggests that medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may also be helpful for treating eating disorders and other co-occurring illnesses such as anxiety or depression.
If you are living with an eating disorder, please talk to a healthcare professional to get you the help you need.