Category Archives: Blog

body image

The Vicious Cycle of Body Image and Eating Disorders

A 2007 study focused on mental health issues revealed that people who have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) tend to have increased levels of anger and hostility. Sufferers also have lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of perfectionism. The authors add that there is a 33 percent higher rate of childhood trauma and abuse in people with body dysmorphic disorder when seeking treatment.

Signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

body image

When someone has body dysmorphic disorder, they may experience social isolation and avoid friends and family. When going out in public, those with BDD may wear oversized clothing or an excessive amount of makeup to hide perceived flaws. Sufferers may show signs of extreme anxiety, such as restlessness, constant hair pulling or touching, skin picking, and excessive grooming behaviors. They may also comment about feeling insecure about their self-perceived flaws and seek continuous reassurance from loved ones. Men and women with BDD may also refuse to be in photographs and may exhibit an obsession with comparing themselves to those they deem as “perfect.”

People with BDD often spend a chunk of their time obsessing about physical characteristics they regard as ugly or unattractive. The most common body features people obsess about include the face, hair, skin and vein appearance, breast size, muscle size, and genitalia.

Eating Disorders

Distorted body image, also called negative body image, is a shared characteristic of body dysmorphic disorders and eating disorders. According to researchers at Brown Medical School, those who have anorexia (an eating disorder) develop obsessive body concerns similar to those who have BDD. They also believe cosmetic surgery can correct their perceived flaws.

Cosmetic Surgery Obsession

Each year, the United States spends a staggering 15 billion dollars on cosmetic surgery. The top five procedures in 2016 were:

  • Breast Augmentations
  • Breast Lifts
  • Liposuctions
  • Tummy Tucks
  • Eyelid Surgery

For many who have BDD, they struggle with shame, embarrassment, and self-hatred. Eating disorders and cosmetic procedures are a standard way to manage symptoms of BDD, which can sadly turn into a vicious cycle. One study notes that cosmetic surgery can increase a sufferer’s self-loathing and distorted body image, leading to multiple cosmetic enhancements that result in regret.

How They All Connect

Negative body image is the bridge connecting body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and cosmetic surgery obsessions. Those who struggle to accept areas of their body may have BDD, an eating disorder, or both, causing them to seek cosmetic surgery at an attempt to solve their issue.

The problem is, however, that cosmetic surgery will not correct the problem of either BDD or the eating disorder. As mentioned, it can exacerbate the issue even more. Undergoing treatments that include psychiatric management, nutritional consultation, therapy, and group support is the recommended solution. Through this pathway, the sufferer can rebuild and improve their belief structure, behaviors, and emotions that trigger the disorders and move towards recovery.

February 25th to March 3rd is National Eating Disorders Awareness and Screening Week. If you or someone you love is struggling with body dysmorphia, an eating disorder, or a combination of the two, seek help. Many treatment centers can help you break free of the torment.

love is respect

Love Is Respect: Teen Dating Violence and How to Intervene

Unhealthy relationship behaviors are those that impact the physical, emotional, and mental health of a victim. According to Choose Respect, a young man or woman’s harmful relationship behaviors often start early and lead to a lifetime of abuse.

Everyone should know the pervasiveness of teen dating violence in the United States, including fellow students, teachers, and parents.

love is respect

10 Facts About Teen Dating Violence

The following information is from Choose Respect, a national initiative to help teenagers and adolescents build healthy relationships to prevent dating violence and abuse.

  1. 1 in 4 adolescents is a victim of physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse each year.
  2. About 1 in 5 adolescents report being emotionally abused.
  3. About 1 in 5 high school girls have been physically assaulted or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  4. 54% of high school students report dating violence among their peers.
  5. 1 in 3 teenagers reports to an adult when a peer has been physically hurt by their partner.
  6. 80% of teenagers believe verbal abuse (yelling, name-calling, manipulation, and constant criticism) is a serious issue in their age group.
  7. Almost 80% of girls who are physical abuse victims continue to date their abuser.
  8. Almost 70% of sexually abused teen girls knew their rapist. The perpetrator was a boyfriend, friend, or acquaintance.
  9. Most teen dating abuse happens at home.
  10. Almost 20% of teen girls reported that their boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm in the event of a break-up.

The effects of dating violence can last a lifetime. It increases the victim’s risk for substance use, sexual risk behaviors, pregnancy, and suicide. If a teen you know is enduring violence in his or her relationship, there are ways you can help.

How to Talk to a Teen in an Abusive Relationship

Keep in mind that teens may not be willing to share unless they trust you. Be consistent, open, and let them tell their story by:

  • Listening. Most teens are socially trained to allow adults or people of authority to interrupt them. The less you interject, the better.
  • Telling them to stop blaming themselves. Most abusers make their victims feel like it’s their fault the violence is happening. Your job is to insist on the opposite. No amount of faultiness or wrongdoing is enough to become violent towards a partner. Abuse is always a choice, and everyone deserves to feel safe in relationships.
  • Understanding conflicting emotions. Fear, low self-esteem, and believing abuse is normal are common reasons people stay in abusive relationships. If your friend is in an unhealthy relationship, please don’t judge! Instead, support them by understanding why they are unable or refuse to leave.
  • Empowering the teen to make the right choice. Forcing a teen somehow provokes them to do the opposite. For example, ordering your son or daughter to break up with their abuser might only encourage them to stay. To prevent further attachment to their abuser, it may help to give them options instead. Share with a teen how your partner treats you. Tell them that a loving relationship should have respect as one of its foundations, making no room for violence and abuse. Then, ask them if this is something they want in their own romantic relationships. Remember to stay consistent yet patient, and never give up until they make the right decision.

To all the teenagers out there, keep in mind that physical and sexual violence is illegal and can put you behind bars. And if you are a victim of teenage dating violence, realize your worth. Last, if you know someone who is suffering from dating violence, be there for them and encourage the need for help. If they are unwilling to listen or talk, at least offer resources that help educate and empower young people to prevent and end unhealthy relationships.

broken heart

Broken Heart Syndrome Is Real (And It Can Kill You)

“Too much love can kill you,” sings Freddie Mercury. Despite the disbelief of many, it is possible.

What is broken heart syndrome?

Each year, usually around Valentine’s Day, news sources publish stories about “broken heart syndrome” or takotsubo cardiomyopathy. The condition occurs when people experience cardiac issues following an episode of extreme emotional distress.

broken heart

According to the Mayo Clinic, “broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition that’s often brought on by stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one. The condition can also be triggered by a serious physical illness or surgery.”

How can I die of a broken heart?

A sample case happened in 2016 when actress Debbie Reynolds passed because of a stroke. However, reports say she allegedly died of a broken heart following the death of Carrie Fisher, her daughter who played the iconic role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars films.

When you experience takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a portion of your heart muscle — usually a large part — stops functioning, leading to acute heart failure and death. General signs and symptoms of broken heart syndrome include sudden chest pains and shortness of breath.

How is a heart attack different from broken heart syndrome?

Total or near complete blockage of a heart artery is accountable for heart attacks. Any obstruction results from atherosclerosis—a disease in which plaque builds up inside the arteries. In broken heart syndrome, the heart arteries do not have blockages. Instead, there may be reduced blood flow in the arteries.

What causes broken heart syndrome?

The definite cause of broken heart syndrome is unknown. A surge of stress hormones might be at fault, which can temporarily damage the hearts of some people. In most cases, intense physical or emotional situations cause broken heart syndrome. Some potential triggers are:

  • The death of a loved one
  • Relationship problems and divorce
  • A frightening medical diagnosis, such as cancer
  • Losing a lot of money
  • Heated arguments
  • Physical, emotional, and mental abuse
  • Facing phobias
  • Job loss and significant life changes
  • Physical stressors, including an asthma attack, a car accident, and major surgery

It is also possible for certain drugs, although rare, to cause broken heart syndrome. These medications include:

  • Venlafaxine – a treatment for depression.
  • Levothyroxine – a drug for malfunctioning thyroid glands.
  • Epinephrine – treats severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
  • Duloxetine – treats nerve problems in diabetics and controls depression in some people.

Are there treatments for broken heart syndrome?

At first, the symptoms of broken heart syndrome will receive the same treatment as a heart attack. Once your doctor confirms the diagnosis, he or she may treat broken heart syndrome with medicines such as:

  • Beta blockers to slow down heart rate
  • Diuretics to reduce fluid buildup
  • ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure
  • Anti-anxiety medication to manage stress

Any persistent or long-lasting chest contractions could be a sign of broken heart syndrome — or worse, a heart attack. Take the matter seriously and call 911 if you or someone you know have severe chest pains or sudden breathing difficulties.

Learn more about your heart by reading 5 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy, Relation of Stress and Heart Attack, and Hawthorn Berry for your Heart.

Total Eclipse of the Brain: How Love Affects Us Like a Drug

Being in love is not a total eclipse of the heart. Love, actually overwhelms our brains with chemicals that induce feelings of pleasure and attachment. These chemicals cause reactions throughout the body, which might help explain that giddy feeling we get when we see a loved one.

Love moves in mysterious ways—but not to science. Let’s stop the pop culture references and take a look at how love affects our mind and body.

You radiate happiness

Love may not be a drug, but it can definitely feel like one. Falling in love triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure center. The chemical plays an essential role in feeling happiness.

In one study, researchers scanned 2,500 brain images of 17 individuals who identified themselves as “in love.” Researchers discovered that participants who looked at a photo of the person they loved showed brain activity in two areas associated with dopamine: the caudate nucleus and ventral tegmental area. This phenomenon explains the “high” feeling new lovers often experience.

Your stress levels fluctuate depending on the stage of your relationship

To some, realizing a simple “crush” has flourished into “love” can be stressful. There are many uncertainties, including whether they feel the same way, the chance of rejection, and the anxiety of when to say those three big words. According to a 2004 study, the initial stages of falling in love can increase levels of cortisol—a stress hormone. However, after retesting the participants 12 to 24 months later, their cortisol levels had returned to normal.

Kissing and hugging someone you romantically love can immediately reduce stress and increase feelings of tranquil, trust, and security. Your mood will also improve because of your reward center flooding with dopamine.

Your blood pressure stabilizes

Elevated blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a life-threatening condition that increases your risk for stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. Aside from proper medication and healthy lifestyle changes, research suggests that falling in love can serve as a natural and inexpensive way to reduce blood pressure levels.

One study that examined the relationship between marriage, physical health, and longevity found that happily married couples have lower blood pressures and reduced risks for cardiovascular disease.

Like a drug, you can feel addicted to your partner

Certain drugs and medications can light up your pleasure center. Love has a similar effect and can be addictive in its own way.

Official medical classification guides do not classify love as an addiction. However, a 2017 study suggests that there is a link between addiction and love. According to the authors, love can be addictive because it is a need that can be temporarily satisfied. Conversely, love can lead to destructive behaviors if not fulfilled for prolonged periods.

Think of the person you love most or the last time you ran into someone attractive. Time may have stopped, your palms may have sweated, and chances are your heart was pounding in your chest. It’s no wonder why people thought love arose from the heart. The truth is, love is all about the brain – which, in turn, makes the rest of our body go haywire.

pensive

Through the Eyes of Survivors: The Truth About Beating Cervical Cancer

Life after a cervical cancer diagnosis is never the same—even after remission. It can be better, more meaningful, challenging, stressful, and different. But if you are standing on greener grass, meaning you are a caregiver, wife, husband, child or friend, there are a few things you need to know.

Babies and bundles of joy are sensitive topics.

The choice of whether or not have children is a delicate issue for women. Sadly, as cervical cancer survivors, most of us don’t have a decision to make. After enduring conventional treatment for cervical cancer, we may not be able to conceive because of one or more reasons, including:

  • getting surgery to remove the womb (a radical hysterectomy)
  • undergoing radiotherapy, which affects the uterus and may stop the ovaries from functioning
  • ingesting chemotherapy drugs that may lead to early menopause

Finding out we may no longer get pregnant can be distressing. As our friend or family member, we will need your help and unconditional support.

We want to enjoy good food, too.

As cancer survivors, we must eat nutritiously to boost our immune system against cervical cancer recurrence and other diseases. And depending on where we are with treatment, we may have stringent dietary restrictions. However, “healthy” isn’t always equals “bland and tasteless.” Support us in our search for the best food choices possible. Eat healthy and delicious with us by cooking homemade dishes and picking good restaurants.

We can sometimes be extra emotional, tired, and sick.

There will be days when we have an abundance of energy. We might want to go for a walk or do something exciting. Unfortunately, our immune system is not at 100 percent, meaning we may catch every virus out in the world.

Also, some cancer treatments and maintenance drugs, including cancer itself, can activate the immune system to release inflammatory cytokines. Inflammatory cytokines can infiltrate the brain and affect the circuits and chemicals associated with depression, anxiety, fear, fatigue, and impairment in concentration and memory.

If we suddenly don’t feel like going to the mall or park, helping clean around the house, or even sit up for too long, it’s because our body isn’t functioning at its former capacity.

We appreciate it when you lend us a hand, even if we never ask for it.

Many of us cancer survivors have a hard time asking for help, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need it. If you want to tend the garden, do a bit of cleaning around the house, cook or bring a tasty dinner (ask about food restrictions first), or drive us to our next doctor’s appointment—you have our sincerest gratitude.

When we spend too many days indoors, get us out. Help us live to the fullest.

A cervical cancer diagnosis, especially surviving it, is a life-changing experience. It’s easy to become sedentary and feel afraid of the outside world’s potential cancer triggers. If you know someone who isolates themselves and finds refuge in their home, do your best to get them outside. Do something fun and rekindle their love for life.

Consider Your Options

The majority of people believe that alternative or mainstream medicine is the only option they have to treat cervical cancer symptoms and side effects. But there are many safe complementary treatments you can use, right along with your medical treatment. Read our articles on alternative medicine to learn more.

Sources:

https://www.chatelaine.com/health/truth-about-surviving-cervical-cancer-in-your-20s/

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cervical-cancer/living-with/fertility



alone sad person

Teen Drug Abuse: Understanding Signs and How to Intervene

alone sad person

As a parent, you want nothing more than to see your children succeed. Having teens who experiment with drugs is disappointing, especially since they put their health, safety, and future at risk. Although teens’ use of illegal drugs (other than marijuana and inhalants) is now the lowest in history, 24 percent of young men and women still use them for recreational purposes.

Why do teens abuse drugs?

Several factors contribute to teen drug abuse. Insecurity and longing for social acceptance are among the most common reasons. Look at it this way: we ourselves were once teenagers who often felt invincible and almost never considered the consequences of our actions. Our teens are living and breathing the same mindset, which leads some of them to take dangerous risks — such as using legal or illegal drugs.

What are the common risk factors for teen drug abuse?

A teenager has higher chances of abusing drugs if he or she has:

  • A family history of substance abuse
  • Difficulties with feelings of social rejection
  • A history of impulsive behavior
  • Low self-esteem
  • A mental or behavioral health condition, including depression, anxiety or attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • An account of traumatic events, such as being a victim of abuse or experiencing a life-changing accident

What are the consequences of teen drug abuse?

The negative effects of teen drug abuse might include:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Serious health problems, such as heart failure, respiratory distress, and seizures
  • Nausea and abdominal pain, which can lead to changes in appetite and weight loss
  • Impaired driving that may lead to accidents
  • Increased sexual activity and practice of unsafe sex
  • Concentration problems, mental confusion, and brain damage
  • Complete drug dependence causing psychotic behavior

How do I talk to my teen about drug abuse?

The best time to sit your teen down and discuss drug abuse is when interruptions are unlikely. Then:

  • Ask for his or her views on drugs. Avoid lectures and listen to your teen’s opinions about harmful medications. Assure them they can be honest with you.
  • Discuss reasons not to use drugs. Avoid scare tactics. Instead, emphasize how drug use can affect and destroy important things to your teen, such as their appearance, ability to drive, do sports, date, and live a healthy life.
  • Talk about ways to resist peer pressure. Discuss with your teen how they can turn down drug offers from peers.
  • Be ready to share your own experience with drugs. Consider how you’ll respond if your teen asks about your history with drug use. If you never abused drugs, explain why. If you had used drugs, be open about what the experience taught you and how you managed to change for the better.

What are the preventive strategies?

Consider these ways to prevent teen drug abuse or a possible relapse:

  • Be on top of your teen’s activities
  • Establish strict rules and consequences for using drugs
  • Keep an eye on any prescription drugs he or she may have or need
  • Know your teen’s friends and be mindful of bad influences
  • Set a good example and don’t abuse drugs yourself
  • Give your support at all cost

Teen Drug Abuse: Moving Forward

If your teenager admits to abusing drugs, let them know you’re disappointed and enforce the consequences you’ve established. Speak calmly and show you are coming from a place of worry. Share concrete details to back up your suspicions, which will make it difficult for your teen to deny the situation. Remember, assure them they can be 100 percent honest with you. And going forward, spend more time with your teen and keep a watchful eye on his or her whereabouts and activities.
When your son or daughter is ready to make a change and seek treatment, help them locate a doctor, therapist, treatment program, or support group. Call 1–800–662–HELP to find the care and assistance your child needs.

newborn baby

Role of Folic Acid in Preventing Birth Defects

newborn baby

Folic acid is an essential form of vitamin B9. It plays a role in planning for a healthy pregnancy, particularly since congenital disorders (birth defects or neural tube defects) of the brain and spine can be thwarted if women of childbearing age consume folic acid.

What types of birth defect affect babies?

Anencephaly is a fatal birth defect in which parts of a baby’s skull and brain do not form correctly. Infants born with the condition cannot survive. “Of affected babies born by c-section, 53% died within 24 hours, 30% lived up to 5 days, and 13% lived longer than 6 days,” according to Anencephaly.Info.

Spina bifida is another serious birth defect, but this time concerning the spine and spinal cord. A newborn with this condition suffers from underdeveloped vertebrae, which manifest in severe physical disabilities.

When should you take folic acid?

You should begin taking folic acid before getting pregnant. When your pregnancy test comes out positive and you have not been taking folic acid, start immediately to help prevent any neural tube defects in the first three months of pregnancy.

Most times, neural tube defects emerge during the first 28 days of gestation. And even if you are not trying to conceive, it is still important to consume folic acid as it helps your body produce and preserve new cells, and prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer.

What foods contain folic acid?

Medical professionals advice all women of reproductive age to get at least 400 mcg of folic acid each day. Also, it is crucial for a conceiving woman or expectant mother to eat food with folate to help prevent congenital disorders.

The following are excellent sources of folic acid:

  • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach
  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Cereals
  • Beans

Your doctor may suggest the intake of vitamins with folic acid since the foods listed above may not contain enough folic acid to meet the daily requirement. If taking multivitamins upsets your stomach, take it with a full glass of water alongside meals or before bedtime.

What are the risk factors of having a baby with neural tube defects?

Your chances of bearing a child with congenital disorders are higher if you have had a previous pregnancy that involved a birth defect. Your chances are likewise greater if you do not eat a balanced diet that includes folic acid.

How can you prevent the likelihood of having a baby with birth defects?

Anyone who wants to become a mother should commit to healthy choices to prevent heartbreaking birth defects. The best way to stop congenital disorders from affecting your baby is to take the recommended 400 to 800 micrograms (0.4 – 0.8 milligrams) of folic acid daily for a month before conception and throughout the first 90 days (three months) of pregnancy.

As a final word, your daily amount should not exceed 1000 micrograms (1.0 milligrams). If you take vitamins, take note that folic acid should only be used as a supplement with proper guidance from your healthcare provider. Overdosing on folic acid might cause many symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal cramps,  gas, nausea, stomachaches, skin rashes, seizures, sleep disorders, behavioral changes, and other side effects.

Surprising Habits That Boost Immunity

Eating fruits and vegetables, exercising, and drinking plenty of water are common practices that help boost your immune system. But do you ever wonder if there are exciting ways to stay healthy? To strengthen your immune system and fight off frequent infections, start adopting these fun habits.

Laugh More

Laughing and giggling can improve your immune system along with your mood. It raises the level of antibodies in the blood, which attacks and kills trespassing bacteria and viruses. Enjoying a good laugh also increases the antibodies inside the nose and respiratory passages, which are the main entry points for many germs.

Sing in the Shower

A group of researchers from London reported a boost in immune system activity in cancer patients and caregivers who sang for an hour in a choir. After singing their hearts out, their saliva samples revealed a significant reduction in stress hormones and an increase in immune activity.

Hug Someone You Love

It may not seem as effective as taking your daily multivitamins, but a study from Carnegie Mellon University shows that hugs play a role in improving your immune system. According to the authors, those who gave and received more hugs daily were less affected by a virus.

Pet an Animal

From keeping you company to providing unconditional love, pets are a wonderful source of joy and happiness. The simple act of petting an animal — may it be a dog, cat, or hamster — can even relieve stress. Illness or flu often result from prolonged feelings of stress. This is because stress hormones suppress the body’s immune system, making the human body vulnerable to pathogen invaders.

Maintain a Positive Outlook

The University of Kentucky found that optimists have stronger cell-mediated immunity than pessimists. The study highlights how the immune cells of positive people are more efficient in fighting off a surge of invasion by foreign bacteria and viruses.

Express Yourself in Speech or Writing

When the going gets tough, we all tend to bottle up our feelings. However, it is not healthy and only contributes to high levels of stress. In contrast, expressing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences give your immunity a considerable boost.

Talking to close friends and family help you relax, unwind, and forget your worries for a while. If showing vulnerability makes you uncomfortable, you can always try other forms of creative expression. For example, writing about your feelings — whether in a journal or computer — for about 15 to 20 minutes a day can enhance the activity of natural killer cells and T-cells. These microscopic organisms are crucial for fighting off infection, cancer, and other diseases.

Takeaway

Practicing prevention is always better than finding a cure. If you boost and strengthen your immune system, you increase your chances of preventing sickness naturally.

Try these fun and surprising habits to spice up your immune-boosting routine. Although adding new habits may not completely change your immune system, attempting to maintain a balance of as many as you can will help you jump on the healthwagon.

How to Choose Safe Toys for the Children In Your Life

December celebrates the world’s most popular holidays — Christmas and the coming of a new year. The month of giving also sheds light on National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, which fosters the confidence of American families as they prepare to shop for toys this season.

Why Is Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month Important?

According to SafeKids.org, about 188,400 children under the age of 15 were sent to the emergency room for toy-related injuries in 2011. Over a third of those injured were children 5 and below. Some kids accidentally choked on a small piece of toy, magnet, or battery. Others suffered from poisoning due to harmful chemicals in plastic toys.

Whether it’s the holiday season or a child’s birthday, avoiding accidental harm entails being aware of the gifts you’re giving. Below are five tips and tricks on how you can purchase safe toys for the children in your life.

1. Inspect the age range

The age range on a toy’s packaging lets you know if your child is old enough to play with it. If you consider a toy that is beyond the age range of your son or daughter, there could be small bits and pieces that may harm them.

2. Check for choking hazards

Speaking of small bits and pieces, toys such as jigsaw puzzles, plastic construction toys, and DIY accessories present choking hazards to young boys and girls. Here is a good rule to follow from HealthTradition.com: If a toy can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not suitable for kids under age three. Also, avoid giving your toddlers any playthings with magnets or batteries, as young children tend to put small things in their mouth.

3. Look for the “ATSM” label

Finding the “ATSM” tag on your child’s toys is crucial to their safety. The label suggests that the item has passed a rigorous safety inspection and has met the guidelines of the American Society for Testing and Materials.

4. Purchase safety gears along with any sports equipment

Sports equipment, such as bikes, roller skates, scooters, and skateboards put your child at high risk of cuts and broken bones. If your son or daughter wants anything sports-related for Christmas or their birthdays, make sure to buy the appropriate safety gear to prevent serious injuries. In addition, make sure that their safety equipment, including helmets and guards for the elbows and knees, fit them properly.

5. Examine gifts from friends and family before giving them to children

Not everyone knows the potential harm a toy or gift may present to a child. As an added step of precaution, inspect all toys before handing them to your kids. Some things to be wary of are broken pieces of plastic, the presence of lead, and toxicity in crayons (only give your kids non-toxic art supplies).

We hope that whatever it is you’re celebrating turns out safe and healthy for everyone. Should you or your family members become ill during this time of year, do not hesitate to contact your primary care provider and make an appointment.

person washing hands

Can Hand Washing Save Lives?

person washing hands

Did you know very few people around the world use soap when washing their hands? According to a 2014 study, the estimated global rates of handwashing after using the toilet are only 19 percent.

We know what you’re thinking — “Gross!” And if you’re still not in absolute disgust, research from the University of Colorado Boulder confirms that our hands carry an average of 3,200 bacteria from 150 different species.

How Do Germs Spread?

Germs can reach our hands and enter our bodies in many ways, including:

  • When touching dirty objects, including toys, doorknobs, and floors
  • Eating and drinking with unwashed hands
  • Having close contact with a sick person
  • Through droplets in the air containing infectious agents

When children come into contact with germs, these disease-causing microorganisms can enter their system just by touching the eyes, nose, or mouth. The same problem arises in adults with reduced immune function. Once a child or adult is infected, it is only a matter of time before the whole family comes down with the same illness.

What Is the Proper Way to Wash Hands?

It is always a good idea to wash your hands with your kids. Your guidance can help them understand the importance of this healthy habit.

Here is a quick guide on how to scrub microscopic germs away:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water.
  2. Apply a trusted brand of antibacterial soap and lather up for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Rub and massage your hands together.
  4. Get in between your fingers, the wrists, on the backs of hands, and under the nails.
  5. Rinse thoroughly and dry your hands with a clean cloth or paper towel.

When Is the Best Time to Wash Hands?

Regular hand washing should be a rule for everyone in your household. It is especially important:

  • After going to the bathroom
  • Before and after eating
  • Before and after cooking, especially when handling raw produce
  • After cleaning the house
  • After an arts and crafts session
  • After outdoor activities, such as gardening and sports
  • Before and after visiting or caring for someone sick
  • After coughing, sneezing, rubbing the eye, or blowing one’s nose
  • After playing with animals, including family pets

Further, access to clean water and soap in other locations, such as schools, offices, and public restrooms can help reduce the rate of many diseases.

Are Children Dying from Low Hand Hygiene?

Another reason to bring awareness to the simple act of handwashing is that about 1.8 million boys and girls under 5 years old die from pneumonia and diarrheal diseases each year.

Research suggests that proper handwashing could protect about 1 out of every 3 children who get sick with diarrhea, as well as almost 1 out of 5 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia. Handwashing also prevents illnesses in adults and limits the spread of infection to others.

Takeaway

Never underestimate the power of hand washing! Provide each bathroom with accessible hand soaps and give each family member their personal towel for drying. Think of it this way: the few minutes you spend at the sink could save you and your child an expensive trip to the doctor’s office.