Medicentres Blog

Wellness information for Canadians

10 Ways to Beat the Heat

ALS - Opportunities to Help

Summer has officially arrived. Well, it officially arrived a couple of weeks ago but now the temperatures are behaving! Out with the rain (and hail and tornadoes and funnel clouds!) and in with the hot hot hot sun.

Enjoying the sunshine is something many of us look forward to but it’s important to remember to hydrate, use sunscreen, and limit the time spent outside when the sun’s rays are at their strongest (11:00 am – 3:00 pm).

With that in mind. Have a read of our top ten tips for enjoying the weather:

  1. Dress for the heat! Wear light and breathable fabrics (we like 100% cotton).

2. Dip your feet in a freshly filled kiddie pool. That blast of cold water is sure to cool you down.

3. Hang out in the shade. Find a shady spot in your garden or maybe on the balcony or porch. Get comfy on a blanket or chair and enjoy.

4. We already mentioned hydration but it’s super important! Drink lots of water. It’s recommended to have about two litres of water a day but you can easily have more in the heat. Enjoy with ice and maybe a slice of lemon or cucumber for a twist.

5. Remember to keep applying your sunscreen, especially if you’ve been enjoying that kiddie pool we mentioned in number 2! It’s usually recommended you re-apply at LEAST every 2 hours.

6. Wear a hat with a visor or brim. It will protect your head and face and there are absolutely some cooler-looking ones 😉

7. Shades! This is the time to wear your sunglasses (not just for use at night…geddit?!)

8. Eat fresh fruit for snacks! Think of cherries, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and cantaloupe from the fridge or refreshing gazpacho. We love this watermelon version. (An added bonus, fruit has high water content which helps keep you hydrated)

9. Place a wet cloth on your forehead and inside of your wrists. You will feel instantly refreshed (until the cloth warms up and then it’s time to repeat the process!)

10. Take a break from outside and enjoy a cool basement or air conditioning! The local mall is also a good place to hang out to escape the heat (lots of air conditioning).

Does Texting Hurt your Relationship?

ALS - Opportunities to Help

“There’s no text that can replace a loving touch when someone we love is hurting.”  – Ashton Kutcher

For the Love of Texting:        

To text or not to text? That is the question of 2017.  We’re doing it everyday. You’ve probably done it in the last hour, and will be doing it again soon. I did it while writing this sentence.

Texting is our favourite way to communicate. In 2015, Canadians sent 195 billion text messages, and that doesn’t include messages on Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and other platforms. Whether it’s buying milk, complaining about our kids not sleeping, trading stocks, getting fired, making plans, or having sex, we’re texting about it.

But now that we’ve fundamentally changed the way we communicate, what’s that doing to our romantic relationships? Only 20 years ago, if we wanted to talk or flirt or ask someone out, we had to pick up a phone and have a conversation, or even, talk to them in person! Shocking, I know.

It’s not all bad news. There surely are some positive aspects too. Let’s take a balanced look at how texting is changing how we woo.

 

The Dangers of Relationship Texting:

Have you ever texted someone so near to you, or about something so important, that you get the feeling you should be talking face to face? At what point do you stop texting and call or talk in person instead? Have you thought about where that line is for you?

Loneliness: The devices meant to bring us together virtually are often teasing us for what we really crave: real human contact. We’re social animals, and we text alone. No matter how personalized to our preferences our phones are, they can’t quite give us the connection we’re hoping for as we type.

Social Skills: Navigating complex social situations, especially as a teenager, trains us for real life experiences like job interviews, meetings, sitting next to someone on the bus, and even, family dinners! Texting can allow us to duck out of some of this training by communicating from a physical and psychological distance.

Anxiety: Every time our phone rings, buzzes, or plays music, our body releases a small amount of Cortisol, the stress hormone. The worst thing, is if we hear our phone but we can’t check it! In a study on iPhone users, researchers found that if users heard their phone but couldn’t answer their device, their heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety levels spiked! Does that sound healthy?!       

Obligation: When you text your partner, how fast do you expect them to reply? How long before you suspect they’re screening, ignoring, or even cheating on you? We feel an obligation to reply in order to maintain the relationship, and that can distract us from whatever task we may be doing at the time.

Tone: The majority of communication is body language. Texting takes that out of the equation, and we’re forced to guess mood from words alone. If you’ve ever tried to inject sarcasm or even dry humour into a text messages, you know how quickly it can be misinterpreted without the benefit of tone or body language. (Thank goodness for emotiji )

 

But Wait, There’s Good News:

It’s not all bad. Sometimes we get so swept up in how technology is changing things that we don’t appreciate its advantages.

Choosing your Words: Texting is a blessing for the socially tongue-tied. It gives us the chance to take a breath and choose our words carefully. It can make you appear wittier and more nuanced in conversation than you are in real life (which can be another problem once you actually meet the person).

No Pressure: It’s a casual mode of communication, one that may allow you some get-to-know-you chit chat with the object of your affection without the terrifying person to person approach. It’s also a lower commitment way of getting to know someone rather than having all discussions in person.

Sharing Experiences: Texting can allow you to share spontaneous experiences that you may not have otherwise. In doing so, it can open up new lines of communication and mutual interest that you may not have found otherwise.

So, there are pros and cons with texting, as with most things. The moral of the story is to be on the same page (haha) with your texting-partner. If you both agree that there are certain limits on your texting, then you’re off to a healthy start.

ALS – Opportunities to Help

ALS - Opportunities to Help

Last time we spoke about ALS and talked about some of the important ways we might help, like fundraising.

Even though it’s July, we’d like to highlight a few places to find out where events are happening and how you might participate.

Alberta

Check out the ALS Alberta website. They have a handy calendar that lists events and explains how to register for an event or donate: http://www.alsab.ca/calendar.

Walk For ALS lists loads of opportunities for fundraising walks. Check them out here: http://walkforals.ca/find-a-walk/alberta/.

Although Best Health Magazine highlights events for all kinds of different health complications, they do have a big selection of ALS fundraising or awareness events here: http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/alberta-events/

Manitoba

The ALS Society of Manitoba lists lots of ways to participate. An upcoming and very popular event is the Drive for Life Golf Classic. Read more and register here: http://alsmb.ca/events/

The Walk for ALS has a handy list of fundraising walks right here: http://walkforals.ca/find-a-walk/manitoba/

Ontario

The ALS Society of Ontario has numerous ways to get involved:

The Walk for ALS in Ontario lists over 30 different walks taking place. There is sure to be one near you: http://walkforals.ca/find-a-walk/ontario/

An important thing to remember, as Lou Gehrig said, “I might have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.” We couldn’t agree more. And fundraising and raising awareness can help others.

ALS – Living and Learning

Summer Allergies: Pollen, & Grasses, & Moulds, Oh My!

June is ALS Awareness Month. It is one month, of many, to raise awareness of ALS and how we can help people who live with it or are affected by it.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disease that affects the communication between our brain and our muscles. When that communication breaks down, bodies gradually paralyze. This means that most people who are afflicted with ALS find it difficult to move and often require a wheelchair and, over time, lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, and swallow. Eventually, this break in communication between the brain and body means that even breathing ceases.

Sadly, there are currently no cures and about 80% of people who receive an ALS diagnosis live only two to five years more.

So what can we do to help? Raising awareness and raising funds for more research are top priorities.

ALS Canada has some great suggestions on their website. Some ideas include joining a fundraising event (they have a list) or even creating your own, participating in an ALS walk, or maybe volunteering. Have a look at their website for more ideas: https://www.als.ca/get-involved/.

An important reminder from Warren Lafoy who lives with ALS is to live life to the fullest, and this is great advice for everyone: “I feel like I’m not slowly dying but quickly living and my goal is to live the best life possible and make one person smile or laugh, then I have done my goal for the day!” You can read his blog post on the ALS website: http://www.alsab.ca/news/2017/6/14/june-14-warren-lafoy

Summer Allergies: Pollen, & Grasses, & Moulds, Oh My!

Summer Allergies: Pollen, & Grasses, & Moulds, Oh My!

Did you think you were out of the woods? Spring is coming to an end but does that mean allergy sufferers can rejoice? Possibly not!

Allergist Michael Foggs, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) explains that “summer allergies can cause severe symptoms for some sufferers, and can be just as bad as the spring and fall seasons.”

Even the meaning of the word “allergy” attests to its discomfort:

Image from Google.

This “other energy” can continue into the summer for allergy sufferers. As we noted in our last post about allergies, physical responses can include:

  • stuffy/blocked nose
  • itchy nose, throat (sometimes even mouth and lips)
  • Itchy and red eyes
  • sneezing
  • Itchy skin
  • coughing

Just as in spring, the major allergen in summer is pollen. As soon as we inhale its particles, our symptoms start. It makes sense too, that the more allergens around, the more likely we are to have a severe reaction. So, in summer in Canada, these are the main culprits:

  • grass pollen
  • moulds (soil, grass, compost)
  • ragweed

All three of these allergens are pretty typical in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia but did you know which cities top the list?  Edmonton is recognised as the worst city for outdoor moulds? Toronto wins hands-down for its ragweed levels and Vancouver has the most tree pollen.

Many people recognise ragweed as a threat but what about those pesky soil and grass moulds? This kind of mould is usually found in wet areas that don’t have a chance to dry. Think of rotting logs, piles of damp leaves or even compost areas. However, moulds can also be found in very dry or dusty areas where there are grain crops.

So what can we do to ease our suffering? We can cover our faces with a dust mask if mowing the lawn, raking, or composting and, as we suggested in our Spring Allergies post, we can try limiting our time outside in the early morning and early evening when pollen and mould counts are generally higher.

Why not fill in our short questionnaire about allergies and remember to seek medical help if your symptoms don’t improve. Click here for the questionnaire.  

So You’re Addicted to Caffeine: The Ups and Downs

Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation. ~Author Unknown

Caffeine 101:  

I never thought of myself as a drug addict. I’m on my second cup of my daily addiction, and it probably won’t be the last. Each sip is stimulating my central nervous system, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Unlike most psychoactive drugs (a category including alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine), caffeine is legal and unregulated across the world. It comes from the seeds, nuts, and leaves of several South American and East Asian plants. In the wild, it protects the plants from pests. Ironically, it’s now why we harvest those plants.

How popular is caffeine? 90% of North Americans consume it daily, usually via coffee, tea, or cola. Coffee is more popular in Canada than tap water, with the average Canuck guzzling 3 cups of the stuff.

Energy drinks, which pack a bigger buzz, have surged to popularity lately. Purer forms of caffeine, like pills, are illegal given that high doses of it can be fatal.

 

Caffeine in the Body :

As I sip my coffee, here’s what’s happening:

  • Caffeine is absorbing into every bodily tissue it touches
  • My heart rate and blood pressure are increasing
  • My body temperature is changing and the gastric juices start flowing
  • I become more attentive (the desired side effect), but I know that I’ll be irritable in a few minutes

It takes a while for your body to break down and clear caffeine. It’s half-life (the time is takes to reduce half of it) is 4 hours. So if you give in to that  5pm espresso, you may find yourself laying awake.

Here are the pros:

  • It gets you moving in the morning, especially if it’s been a long night!
  • There’s some evidence for improved memory, better focus, and boosted concentration (temporarily, of course).

The cons:

  • Caffeine can lead to a headache or upset stomach for some. High intake (4 cups a day or more) can lead to feeling jittery or even heart palpitations.
  • Some people experience insomnia if they have caffeine late in the day. Others, inexplicably, sleep well no matter when they drink coffee.
  • Ongoing use will lead to dependence, and that means withdrawal. Not having your morning hit can lead to headaches and irritability.

 

How Much is Too Much?:

So we’re pretty much all hooked on the drug that is caffeine. Different drinks have different levels, and different people can handle more or less. So it varies, but here are the basics:

  • About 400 milligrams is the healthy limit. After that and you’re starting to ask for the jitters.
  • A cup of coffee is 100 to 200 mg. Bear in mind that a “cup” is 8 ounces (236 ml). It’s not that giant thermos you fill up twice a day.
  • A cup of tea (non-herbal) tends to have 70 mg, while colas often have 50. Don’t assume that because it’s not ‘Coke’ or ‘Pepsi’ that it doesn’t have caffeine. It’s been added to a lot of sodas you wouldn’t expect.

600 mg is generally considered too high, according to the FDA. That being said, daily consumption can lead to increased tolerance, just like any drug. You might not feel the excessive amount, but your body does.

    If you’re pregnant, try to limit yourself to one cup of coffee, or 200 mg, a day. Kids shouldn’t have it, and with their energy level typically don’t need it, because their developing brains are more sensitive to its effects.

   Teen should max out at 100 mg, although they often drink way more soda than that.

Surviving Spring…Allergies!

“Springtime is easily the worst season when it comes to allergies. Which pollens are prevalent differs from province to province but the first seasonal allergy to pop up is tree pollen which could start as early as March,” Dr. David Fischer, allergist

Aaaaachoooooo!!

Stuffy nose? Itchy, watery eyes? Sneezing? Itchy ears? Do these symptoms sound familiar? You might be one of the 10 million people in Canada who suffer from seasonal allergies.

Well, what can you do besides avoid the great outdoors? The first step, is to talk to a doctor or pharmacist about medications that may help with your symptoms. The best defense is an offence, so don’t give your allergies a chance to cause you difficulty.

Knowing that pollen counts are highest in the early morning, from about 5:00 am until about 10:00 am, means that you can try to schedule your outdoor time later on on the day.  You can also be sure to keep your car windows closed while you drive. At home, try to keep your house windows closed. This is easiest if you have air conditioning. If it gets too hot, now is the time to enjoy your basement! It’s also a good rule to let someone else mow your lawn! See, seasonal allergies have some positives.

Don’t Let a Twisted Ankle Take Your Game Away

Medicentres: Sports Injuries

“Sports teach you how to be quick. Injuries teach you how to slow down.”

Yao Ming

Spring = Sports:

In Spring our fancy turns to thoughts of getting onto the field with our friends and running out those winter blahs. But before you do, let’s take a minute to think about how to prevent the injuries that send us back to the bench.

The most common injuries are strains and pulls. These happen when we push our body past its limits:

  • Ankle Strain
  • Groin Pull
  • Hamstring Strain
  • Shin splints
  • Knee Injuries, like ACL tears
  • Tennis elbow

Notice that most of these are below the belt, and they can all be usually avoided.

In order to prevent injuries, we need to know how they happen in the first place. The prime culprit of getting injured is often over-exuberance. Sports are a blast, but you’ll enjoy them longer if you take time to prepare and pace yourself when you’re out there:

  • Cold Muscles: jumping out of the car and running onto the football field is asking for a muscle strain or ligament tear. Take the time to do a light warm up and stretch.
  • Jumping Back In: if you haven’t played in awhile, it will be tempting to charge out there and tear up the grass. But sports use muscles that not see any use otherwise. Take it slow and you’ll have more fun in the long run.
  • Playing when Injured: your body needs time to heal from any injury. Rushing any healing process is asking for the injury to repeat itself, only worse.

How to Play Safe:

From accidents to tackles, getting hurt can sometimes be a part of playing the game. But the majority of injuries are preventable, and here’s how:

  • Warm up and stretch: don’t ask your muscles to go from sitting down to sprinting in 5 seconds. A warm-up before gets the blood flowing, increases flexibility, and decreases incidence and severity of strain injuries. Don’t forget the cool-down.
  • Wear Protective Gear: being macho just isn’t worth it. The smart ones wear the helmets, pads, gloves, etc.
  • Bring the Right Equipment: different sports require different equipment. If you wear running shoes instead of cleats to soccer, you could trip or slip at full sprint and take an avoidable fall.
  • Know the Rules: don’t assume that everyone is playing with the same rulebook, especially when it comes to how much contact is in the game. Clarify the rules with both teams.
  • Know your Limits: when you start to get seriously fatigued, dizzy, or have already sustained an injury, stop and rest. Sports when you’re not fully aware become very dangerous.
  • Drink: No not that kind (save that for after the game). Staying hydrated matters. It keeps you focused, keeps your energy up, and is just all around a good idea. If our bodies are internal combustion engines, water is the oil that keeps the parts moving smoothly. Have a tall glass of water the night before a big game, especially if it’s going to be hot, to give the water time to work through your system. Drink during and after the game as well. If you are in a hot environment or a prolonged play time, consider the need for other fluids with electrolytes.

If you do sustain an injury, visit one of clinics. You may be eligible for our Fastrack program which will reduce your wait time.