It is the time of year when many of us make resolutions to better ourselves. I always have a hard time making a New Year’s resolution because within a short time I have failed, and then, I need to think of yet another resolution! Eventually, I reach the point where it becomes ridiculous because I have made and broken so many resolutions that I run out of ideas!
It’s difficult to tackle resolutions at any time of year, even when there are sound reasons to do so. Change can be difficult. Start by educating yourself about the risks and benefits of making these changes. You also have to be careful that you do not replace one bad habit with another one. For example, the dangers of smoking are well documented, but the risks associated with e-cigarettes are still unknown. Yet some people who are trying to quit smoking are turning to e-cigarettes. There are also a number of people that have never smoked that are now “vaping” (using an e-cigarette). E-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that often look like regular tobacco cigarettes. The way they commonly work is that an atomizer or heating element heats a liquid often containing nicotine and various flavorings. Flavoring options include tobacco and menthol flavor, and flavorings that might appeal to younger users like bubblegum, cherry and apple. The heated liquid converts into a vapor or mist that the user inhales. The vapor cloud resembles smoke, but does not have an odor, so it is harder to know later if someone has been vaping.
Recent studies suggest that e-cigarettes do not help people reduce or quit smoking. E-cigarettes do not contain carbon monoxide or tar, which are two of the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes, but the Federal Drug Administration does not regulate e-cigarettes for recreational use, so what’s in them can vary. The FDA is currently looking into extending its authority to include alternatives to tobacco products, which would allow them to use regulatory rules to impose age restrictions and review claims made that e-cigarettes reduce tobacco-related disease and death.
I applaud you if one of your resolutions this year is to quit smoking. I encourage you to educate yourself on the many resources available to help you. I recommend that you read the American Heart Association’s policy statement on the use of e-cigarettes. You may still find that e-cigarettes are a viable option for you or you can find a quit-method that may work for you here. If you live or work in the Howard County there are free Smoking Cessation & Tobacco Treatment Programs. Visit the library for resources on smoking and health-related issues.
This is a great time of year to reflect on major issues you would like to change in your life. You do not have to tackle everything at once. In fact, if you successfully tackle the little things it may give you confidence to tackle more major issues.
For me, I may try going to bed earlier one night a week, drinking a glass of water in the morning, taking a walk before lunch or dinner, exchanging a piece of fruit for candy as an afternoon pick me up, or using the stairs at work instead of the elevator to my resolution list. These small changes are more doable, and even I might just succeed this year in keeping a New Year’s resolution. Wish me luck! If some of you still need inspiration here are some resolutions that are popular each year with information on how to successfully achieve these resolutions.
Happy New Year!
You are diligent about taking your medication each day. But did you ever think that the bologna sandwich, grapefruit or glass of milk you have with it could be making your medicine less effective, or even dangerous? Read on for five facts you need to know about food and drug interactions.
- Beware of grapefruit. This popular breakfast fruit interacts with a variety of medications, including blood pressure meds, statins, and HIV and organ transplant medications, says Charlie Twilley, Pharm.D., a pharmacist at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The culprits are furanocoumarins, compounds found in grapefruit that block the enzymes in the intestines responsible for breaking down these drugs. This can make the drugs more potent, and raise the level of drug in your bloodstream. If you are a big grapefruit fan, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out whether it is safe to eat with the medications you take.
- Dairy diminishes an antibiotic’s infection-fighting powers. Twilley warns that the calcium in milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and antacids can interact with tetracycline and the tetracycline group of antibiotics used to treat a number of bacterial infections. To make sure you are getting the full benefit of your antibiotic, take it one hour before, or two hours after, you eat anything containing calcium.
- Leafy greens cancel warfarin effects. The vitamin K in spinach, collards, kale and broccoli can lessen the effectiveness of warfarin, a blood thinner used to prevent blood clots and stroke. The darker green the vegetable is, the more vitamin K it has. “You don’t want to eliminate leafy greens from your diet, because they do have many health benefits,” says Twilley. The key is to be consistent with the amount you eat. If you plan to drastically change the amount of these veggies in your diet, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first.
- Beer, red wine and chocolate are dangerous to mix with some antidepressants. These popular indulgences may be a nice way to relax in the evening, but they contain tyramine, a naturally occurring amino acid that can cause an unsafe spike in blood pressure when mixed with MAO inhibitors. Tyramine also is found in processed meat, avocados and some cheeses. “This is a significant, dangerous interaction,” says Twilley. If you take MAO inhibitors for depression, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before eating anything with tyramine. Alternative therapy may be considered.
- Think before you crush medication in applesauce. Many people who have trouble swallowing pills like to crush them and mix them with applesauce or pudding. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist before you crush or take apart medication. “This method can dump too much of the drug into your system at once, or change the way the drug works,” says Twilley.
Also keep in mind that some medications are affected by whether or not you eat with them. Before you start any new drug, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether it is affected by food. “They can help you come up with a schedule that’s good for the drug and convenient for you,” says Twilley. Even over-the-counter medications and supplements can have food interactions.
For additional reliable information about common food and drug interactions, you can search for this topic in the Johns Hopkins online Health Library.
© Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com
As people age, one of their biggest fears is the loss of independence—the inability to do what they want, where they want, when they want and how they want, on their own and without help from their children, spouse or friends. For many seniors, driving represents freedom, and the threat of taking away that privilege feels like the beginning of the end.
The truth is, as we age we do experience physical and mental changes that can impair our ability to drive. Our hearing and vision may not be as acute and some of our reflexes aren’t quite as fast as they used to be. But most seniors in general good health should be able to drive safely and confidently without putting themselves or others at risk.
Awareness is a big part of being a good driver, and AARP, the national organization that addresses the needs and concerns of the 50+ population, launched the new and improved AARP Smart Driver™ Course in January 2014 to help keep older drivers independent, safe and confident on the road.
The AARP website notes that there have been many changes to roads, cars and technology since they developed their first driver safety course, “55 Alive,” in 1979, and warns that if seniors don’t keep up with the changes they put themselves and others at risk.
Things that can negatively affect driving
Medications are of concern at any age, but it takes longer for their effects to wear off as we age. They can cause blurred vision, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness or weakness. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if any of your medications, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements, could affect your driving ability.
Remember that alcohol stays longer in an older person’s body. Alcohol is absorbed directly through an empty stomach and can reach and affect the brain within 60 seconds. Mixing alcohol with medications may be even more dangerous and have unexpected effects on your driving.
- Loss of hearing
Hearing may diminish with age, causing us to miss cues that alert us to situations around our vehicles, such as honking horns, engine sounds and emergency vehicles. Talk to your physician if you think you may have a problem with your hearing.
- Problems with vision
Reduced ability to see moving objects clearly, color blindness, cataracts, reduced ability to process visual information quickly, reduced depth perception and reduced peripheral vision can all affect our ability to drive safely. Separate glasses for day and night driving; anti-reflective coatings on eyeglasses; and reducing driving at night or when visibility is limited can help. You should have regular eye examinations by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist.
How do you know if you are still safe behind the wheel? Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) offers comprehensive clinical driving assessments that include:
- Vision: acuity, visual motor skills, peripheral vision, sign recognition, color recognition/perception, visual processing speed, phoria and fusion
- Cognition: memory, attention and problem solving
- Sensory-motor function: strength, coordination, reaction time
The in-clinic assessment can help identify deficits and sometimes correct them through occupational therapy services. For more information, call 443-718-3000.
Check out the AARP Driving Resource Center for more tips on safe driving for seniors. Sign up for the AARP Driver Safety class offered in the HCGH Wellness Center, or call 410-740-7601.
Monday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.
Monday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. Superfoods at Miller. Some foods promote health and longevity better than others. Licensed nutritionist Karen Basinger names these powerhouses and how to best use them. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.
Tuesday, Oct. 21, 9 to 11:30 a.m. Diabetes Screening & BMI. Free. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Meet with an RN for a glucose blood test, BMI measurement and weight management information. Immediate results. Fasting eight hours prior recommended.
Tuesday, Oct. 21, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Choose Your Pediatrician and Promote Your Newborn’s Health. Free. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Learn factors to consider and questions to ask when choosing your pediatrician and ways you can promote your newborn’s health. Presented by Dana Wollney, M.D.
Thursday, Oct. 23, 7 to 9 p.m. Get Moving Again: Total Joint Replacement. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Free. Learn about total hip and knee surgery from health care professionals, past patients of our Joint Academy and Richard Kinnard, M.D.
Monday, Oct. 27, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Cost is $55. This course will teach the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Properly dispose of unwanted or unneeded medications at Drug Take Back Day on Sept. 27 in Howard County
Have you ever opened your medicine cabinet and wondered, “What are all of these medications?” Some you may not have used for years and can’t remember why you had them in the first place, but you keep them because you just don’t know what to do with them.
What is the best way to handle unneeded and expired drugs? Your Howard County General Hospital pharmacists recommend participating in the Drug Take Back Day on Sept. 27, 2014 in nine locations throughout Howard County.
Our pharmacists give tips on why it is vital to safely dispose of unneeded medications and other ways you can delete them from your cabinet in the below slideshow.
Drug Take Back Day is sponsored by the Howard County Police and HC Drug-Free. The program offers a way for everyone to properly dispose of expired or unwanted medications.
You know how hamsters spend countless hours on that little wheel in their cage? Ever feel like this on the treadmill or elliptical, getting nowhere, minute after boring minute? If you find yourself stuck focusing on training in that “fat burn” zone, seeing very little progress, welcome to the club. To top it off, you spend all this time and see little progress.
Let’s examine the animal kingdom for a minute or so. Think about the body of an elephant vs. the body of a cheetah. Pretty sure the body fat of an elephant far outweighs the body fat of a cheetah. Why and how do these two animals move differently? Well, elephants walk and wander, cheetah’s sprint and pant. That walk and wander resembles those hours on the cardio machine while the sprint and pant resembles interval training at its best.
For years, we conditioned women to believe doing cardio for endless minutes in that enjoyable fat burn heart rate zone resulted in success. Instilling the fear of “getting big and bulky like a man” if we lifted weights. How about a show of hands on who enjoys those countless, boring minutes? Well, consider this your permission to get off the treadmill for hours on end and shorten your workouts with interval training. Keep in mind, this does not mean using the “fat burn” or “cardio” workout options on that same treadmill or elliptical. This may require a little pushing of buttons and paying attention on your part! It’s okay, keep reading, I provided you with some guidelines.
First, let’s define interval training a little better. Interval training uses specific periods of higher intensity exercise mixed with lower intensity recovery time. You can use the very same machines or you can take it outside. Start with a defined time for each interval, even though it may feel easy in the beginning. Set your higher intensity interval at a level you can only maintain for a short period of time (to be defined later!). Your lower intensity allows you to recover your breathing and heart rate. You may need to play around with the exact level to find your right intensity. On a scale of 1 – 10, you want to feel like your intensity falls around 7-8 on the higher intervals and a 4 – 5 on the recovery.
Now, on to the nitty-gritty details. An interval workout last about 30 – 40 minutes… Yes, that’s all you need on the interval training days! Use your first 5 minutes to warm up at a level around 2 – 3 on the 1 – 10 scale. For the next 20 – 25 minutes, start with a 1 minute work and 90 second recovery. Maintain this for the entire 20 – 25 minute workout. Your increased intensity could be faster speed or higher incline/level depending on the type of exercise.
Editor’s Note: This post is for informational purposes only. Please consult your primary care physician before undertaking any exercise regime or diet program.