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Better Living Health Articles


Extreme Races, Extreme Risks: Tough Mudders and Obstacle Courses

Posted 9/12/2014 by UHBlog

Are you a Mudder, Warrior or Spartan – or perhaps all three? The booming obstacle-racing scene has given competitors the opportunity to seize these impressive titles at races like the Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Spartan Race, among many others. Races typically combine running with a series of challenges like mud pits, barbed wire, wall climbs and even fire pits. Sound fun? It is. Sound dangerous? Well, it can be that, too. Sports medicine specialist James Voos, MD, suggests participan...

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Quiz: How Much do You Know About STDs?

Posted 9/11/2014 by UHBlog

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a murky topic full of myths and half-truths, mainly because many people aren’t comfortable discussing sex with medical professionals. “Physicians, nurse practitioners and other health care providers view STDs as a medical problem rather than a moral issue,” says infectious disease specialist Keith Armitage, MD, “and that’s how patients should view it, too.” OB/GYN Lisa Perriera, MD, MPH says many patients are uninfor...

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What Stress Is Doing to Your Sperm Quality

Posted 9/10/2014 by UHBlog

Stress has been linked to all sorts of physical health problems, from insomnia to stroke to obesity. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have added one more negative effect to the list: decreased sperm quality. Upon analyzing participants’ stress levels and sperm samples, the researchers concluded that men who had experienced two or more stressful events in the previous year had an overall lower sperm quality. The study distinguished between different sources of stress. Wo...

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Are Ex-Smokers Still at Risk?

Posted 9/9/2014 by UHBlog

Quitting smoking is without a doubt one of the best things you can do for your health – and one of the most challenging. “There’s a long list of problems linked to smoking, like heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, emphysema and all sorts of cancers,” says pulmonary specialist Nizar Nader, MD. “Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it has an immediate effect on your health, even if you can’t notice it.” The expectation that you’ll feel...

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6 Quick and Healthy Breakfasts on the Go

Posted 9/8/2014 by UHBlog

Why is it that the so-called most important meal of the day is often the least nutritious? Fast-food sandwiches, toaster pastries and doughnuts are all easy to grab on the go, but scarfing junk food first thing in the morning is not the right way to start the day. It may seem like the only quick options are unhealthy – but you also don’t want to skip the meal entirely. Dietitian Lisa Cimperman, MS, RD, LD, points out that people who eat breakfast actually tend to weigh less than th...

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Football Season: Enjoy the Game – Without Being a Couch Potato

Posted 9/5/2014 by UHBlog

For serious football fans, Sundays may be synonymous with sofas, snacks and sodas. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing in front of the TV, but a weekly routine of lounging on the couch eating junk food can take a toll on your health. “You don’t want to create bad habits with too much sedentary time,” says sports medicine specialist Christopher Tangen, DO. “Watching the football game with friends is a good time, but you also need daily physical activity and healthy e...

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Mind Over Matter: An Unexpected Treatment for High Blood Pressure

Posted 9/4/2014 by UHBlog

Nearly 60 million adults in the U.S. have blood pressure that is higher than the normal range. Treatment for high blood pressure typically includes lifestyle changes like choosing a healthier diet, increasing exercise and losing excess weight. But a recent study by cardiovascular disease specialist Richard Josephson, MD, suggests that there is another approach that is successful in reducing blood pressure: a methodology known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). The study, published i...

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Superfood of the Month: Quinoa

Posted 9/3/2014 by UHBlog

A nutty, high-protein food, quinoa began making its way onto vegetarian menus and health-store shelves about a decade ago. But this increasingly popular food has since become a mainstay in conventional grocery stores. Are you ready to make it a part of your regular meal planning? “Though it’s often thought of as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed,” says registered dietitian Lisa Cimperman MS, RD, LD. “Unlike many grains like wheat or rice, quinoa has the distinction of...

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Back-to-School Backpack Safety

Posted 9/2/2014 by UHBlog

Have you ever picked up your kid’s backpack and wondered what on earth was in there? Between textbooks and notebooks, water bottles and lunchboxes, gym clothes and even toys, your pint-size students may be lugging around far more weight than they should. “Backpacks that are too heavy or improperly designed can cause problems for children and teens, mainly injury to muscles and joints that can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain, in addition to problems with posture,” says pe...

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The Leg Exam You Didn’t Know You Needed

Posted 9/1/2014 by UHBlog

Fact: One in every 20 adults over 50 is affected by this condition. Fact: More than half of those affected have no symptoms. Fact: If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to disability and even amputation. The most important fact? This condition can be easily detected with one simple screening. The condition is peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and it occurs when fatty deposits or plaque build up inside the vessels that carry blood to the legs and feet. This can cause a lack of oxygen a...

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Dealing with Food Allergies in the School Cafeteria

Posted 8/29/2014 by UHBlog

What do milk, eggs and flour have in common? They are all ingredients in kids’ favorite treats – like birthday cake, brownies and cookies – but they are also all part of what pediatric allergy specialist Eli Silver, MD, calls the Big 8. “The eight foods that most commonly cause allergic reactions are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish,” says Dr. Silver. While there may not be much lobster on the school cafeteria menu, there is plenty of ...

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His-and-Hers Bladder Care: Incontinence in Women, Retention in Men

Posted 8/28/2014 by UHBlog

Aging can lead to bladder problems for both men and women. Ironically, though, those problems can seem like opposites: men commonly experience retention, or the inability to release urine, while women commonly experience incontinence, or the inability to stop the release of urine. One thing that is alike, however, is that both conditions can be successfully treated. For Men: Treating Retention According to urologist Edward Cherullo, MD, retention is defined as holding more than 100 to 150 ml of...

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Quitting Smoking – for You and Those Around You

Posted 8/27/2014 by UHBlog

The negative effects of secondhand smoke are well known. Smokers suffer conditions ranging from bad breath to debilitating cancers, and those around them endure conditions ranging from ear infections to an increased risk of heart disease. But what about the psychological side effects of secondhand smoke? “Your smoking may cause those around you to experience depression, anxiety, fear and a host of other problems,” says clinical hypnotist and smoking cessation specialist Donald Mann...

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Protect Your Vision at the Computer

Posted 8/26/2014 by UHBlog

Computer use in the workplace is drastically on the rise – even for professionals who don’t work in office settings, such as police, photographers, mechanics or physicians. Optometrist Thomas Stokkermans, OD, PhD, FAAO, spends most of his time working with patients, but he says his own computer use has doubled in the last decade. Computers save time and make for more reliable documentation, but they also present an unexpected health hazard to workers of all kinds: computer vision syn...

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Antidepressants – for Hot Flashes?

Posted 8/26/2014 by UHBlog

Mood swings and weight gain. Sleep trouble and night sweats. Urinary incontinence and vaginal dryness. Menopause can bring a slew of unpleasant symptoms. One of the most common symptoms is hot flashes. “A hot flash is a sensation of heat that seems to arise from the core,” says OB/GYN Angelina Gangestad, MD. Hot flashes usually last several minutes and may be accompanied by sweating and redness in the face. Some women experience very few hot flashes, but others endure them frequent...

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Your Guide to Healthy Tailgating

Posted 8/22/2014 by UHBlog

Football fans know that pre-party rituals are everything on game day – wearing your lucky jersey, painting your face and joining in on your team’s fight song. One pre-game routine worth switching up, however, is your tailgating menu. Bench the greasy burgers and oily chips and make room for the new tailgating heroes. Registered dietitian Lisa Cimperman, MS, RD, LD, offers her suggestions for smart substitutions. Better-for-You Burgers “Beef isn’t off limits,” says...

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How In-Home Education Helps Medicare Patients

Posted 8/21/2014 by UHBlog

A little goes a long way when it comes to educating patients one-on-one. A recent study by University Hospitals physician Stefan Gravenstein, MD, revealed that Medicare patients who received an hour of educational coaching and two or three follow-up phone calls after hospitalization were significantly less likely to be readmitted – and their overall health care costs were lower, too. Patients who received the coaching and calls reduced their readmission odds by 39 percent and their average...

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Product Showdown: Wearable Fitness Tech

Posted 8/20/2014 by UHBlog

New fitness gadgets and gizmos seem to be coming on the market every day. Wearable smart technology is a hot trend, and fitness-minded consumers are benefiting from the influx of innovative products. These devices use motion sensors to track your every move, allowing you to take a daily assessment of your physical activity. Which one is right for you? Misfit Shine Simple, sophisticated and smart, the Misfit Shine can distinguish between walking, running and cycling when recording your daily wor...

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Back to School, Back to Sleep: Getting Your Kids on Schedule

Posted 8/19/2014 by UHBlog

School-aged kids and parents alike enjoy the long, lazy nights and sleepy Saturday mornings of summer. Skipping the buzzing alarm clock in favor of lingering under the blankets is part of what summer respite is about. But come September, the abrupt change in daily schedule can come as a shock to the system – and both mental and physical capacities can suffer. “When you’re short on sleep, it can affect your learning, mood and memory,” says pediatric sleep specialist Carol ...

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5 Hamstring Strengtheners for Runners

Posted 8/18/2014 by UHBlog

You’re cruising down the sidewalk at a healthy stride, when all of a sudden you feel your hamstring tighten up like a rubber band about to snap. In addition to the physical pain, you immediately feel the pangs of mental pain, knowing you may have to sit out your upcoming race. Pulling a hammy is a common buzz kill for daily runners. “We see a fair amount of hamstring injuries in distance runners,” says sports medicine physician Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD. According to Dr. Weiss Ke...

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ACL Injuries: Prevention and Treatment

Posted 8/15/2014 by UHBlog

What do Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn have in common? They have all suffered what could have been a career-ending injury: an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. The ACL is one of four major ligaments that stabilize the knee. It plays an important role in keeping the leg properly aligned. Sports that generally keep the ankle, knee and hip in the same plane – such as cycling, swimming and running – rare...

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Powerful New Antibiotics – from Alligator Blood?

Posted 8/14/2014 by UHBlog

Mother Nature is the source of many of our most powerful medications – but her latest gift to mankind may come in an especially terrifying form: the swamp-dwelling, crooked-mouthed, scaly-skinned American alligator. Found only in Florida and Louisiana, these creatures have extraordinarily strong immune systems and naturally fast wound-healing capabilities – characteristics that have captured the attention of researchers seeking to learn exactly what makes them so resilient. Their se...

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Walk to Work (Even if You Drive)

Posted 8/13/2014 by UHBlog

There are two magic numbers when it comes to walking: 60 and 10,000. According to sports medicine specialist Robert Truax, DO, walking a total of 60 minutes a day or 10,000 steps a day provides significant health benefits. “Your body needs as much physical activity as possible, and walking is the simplest form of exercise there is,” he says. “It’s a full-body activity, and it keeps the muscles metabolically active.” Are you logging enough steps each day? Workers wh...

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When to Schedule Baby’s First Dentist Appointment

Posted 8/12/2014 by UHBlog

A baby’s first smile is one of the most memorable moments in a parent’s life. And that adorable gummy grin will soon give way to baby’s first little pearly whites. How do you know when it’s time for yet another memorable milestone: the first dentist visit? There are some dental lessons we hear again and again: Brush at least twice a day, remember to floss, and make regular visits to your dentist. But many parents don’t know when to schedule baby’s first denta...

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The 2 Vaccines Seniors Need

Posted 8/11/2014 by UHBlog

Vaccinations aren’t only for newborns and schoolchildren. There are many safe inoculations that people need to get throughout their lives – including the golden years. “If seniors want to be proactive and stay as healthy as possible, vaccinations are the right idea,” says geriatrician Taryn Lee, MD. “You don’t want to have to treat a disease after the fact – you want to prevent it from occurring in the first place.” The two vaccines that matter mos...

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Quiz: Vitamin A-Z

Posted 8/8/2014 by UHBlog

Let’s warm up with an easy one. Are you getting enough vitamin F? Trick question. In fact, there is no such thing as vitamin F – or vitamin G, H, I or J. The vitamin alphabet includes a total of 13 essential nutrients: A, B, C, D, E and K. (There are eight different vitamin Bs.) Here’s another warm-up question: What exactly is a vitamin? Outpatient nutrition therapist Janice Friswold, RD, LD, CDE, explains. “A vitamin is a nutrient that is required by our bodies to func...

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Dance Therapy – for Parkinson’s?

Posted 8/7/2014 by UHBlog

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that comes with many debilitating symptoms – one of which is limited movement. So it may come as a surprise that dancing is a key therapy for Parkinson’s patients. Research shows that light exercise is beneficial to people with Parkinson’s. It helps to ease stiffness, increase mobility and even improve mood. But there is something about dance in particular – along with similar movements like tai chi and y...

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Over-the-Counter Remedies for Insomnia

Posted 8/6/2014 by UHBlog

Approximately half of Americans complain of poor sleep, according to internal medicine specialist Crystal Lantz-DeGeorge, MD. Prescription sleeping pills may seem like the obvious solution to insomnia, but they can come with dangerous risks. Dr. Lantz-DeGeorge explains how they work, why they’re risky and which alternatives you and your doctor can discuss. What are the risks of sleeping pills? Dr. Lantz-DeGeorge: Most sleeping pills are “sedative-hypnotics,” a class of dru...

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Superfood of the Month: Watercress

Posted 8/5/2014 by UHBlog

Step aside, kale. Move over, spinach. There’s a new power green in the house! A team of researchers at William Paterson University recently ranked fruits and vegetables by their nutrient density. Topping the charts was an unexpected underdog: watercress. “Watercress is a smaller, vibrant leafy green that grows in bunches and looks like herb such as basil or cilantro,” says clinical dietitian Gina Nemecek, RD, LD. “It has a tangy, earthy, peppery taste.” This delic...

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Could that Bulge Be a Hernia?

Posted 8/4/2014 by UHBlog

Do you have a bulge in your stomach, groin or belly button? Or perhaps at the site of a recent surgical incision? Even if it’s not painful – this fleshy lump could be a hernia. Hernias occur when an organ or body fat pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Heavy lifting, coughing fits or straining during bowel movements all create intense pressure than can cause a hernia. Sometimes the skin surrounding the bulge can be dark red or purplish, and sometimes it is accompanied...

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A Pain in the Wrist: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Posted 8/1/2014 by UHBlog

Numbness, tingling, pain – carpal tunnel syndrome can make even the simplest of tasks uncomfortable. “Driving a car, holding a book or picking up a phone all become difficult,” says neurologist Bashar Katirji, MD. The source of this pain is a pinched nerve in the wrist. The median nerve is enclosed in a narrow tunnel that runs along the forearm and palm. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerve inside becomes compressed. It’s commonly believed that carpal tunnel syn...

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Women: Are You Having a Midlife Crisis?

Posted 7/31/2014 by UHBlog

Many women view midlife crisis as a dark cloud looming large in their future. They wonder when that crisis will suddenly emerge, wreaking havoc on their personal lives and mental well-being. But the truth is that this phase isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “We’re not calling it a crisis anymore,” says psychologist Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD. “We’re calling it a transition.” Experiencing a midlife transition may actually help you live a more meaningful life. Dr...

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Men: Are You Having a Midlife Crisis?

Posted 7/30/2014 by UHBlog

Imagine a man in a midlife crisis. Is the person you’re envisioning speeding along in a red sports car, waving at women two decades too young for him? Men who feel like their life is in crisis may make the mistake of trying to respond to a psychological problem with a material solution. But psychologist Jeffrey Janata, PhD, cautions against the belief that a Corvette can solve the underlying issue. “There’s nothing wrong with buying a sports car if it makes you happy and it&rs...

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5 Ideas for Summer Cross-Training

Posted 7/29/2014 by UHBlog

Running is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to keep fit. All you really need are a solid pair of kicks and a safe place to run. There are downsides to daily running, though. Some runners grow bored after circling the same loop every day, and the repetitive motion of stride after stride can make you prone to injuries, like shin splints or Achilles tendinitis. This is where cross-training – or incorporating a variety of exercises into your routine – comes into play. &ldquo...

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Protecting Your Eyes from UV Rays

Posted 7/28/2014 by UHBlog

Sunscreen is a hot topic, and the dangers of sun damage to the skin are well known. But what about sun damage to the eyes? According to ophthalmologist Julie Belkin, MD, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays without proper eye protection increases your risk of several serious vision problems. Early Onset of Age-Related Conditions Cataracts (clouding of the lens) and macular degeneration (loss of central vision) can occur naturally with age. But sun damage can bring on early onset cataracts and macu...

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When You’re Unsteady on Your Feet: Balance Disorders

Posted 7/25/2014 by UHBlog

Life is all about balance – seriously. When you don’t feel strong and steady while standing, walking or sitting, your quality of life is negatively affected. If you struggle to stay upright or feel dizziness, lightheadedness or vertigo when trying to move, you may be suffering from a balance disorder. The ability to stay balanced and upright comes from multiple sources. The eyes allow you to see the area where you’re moving. The nervous system allows your feet and joints to pe...

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Study Tests Promising Alzheimer’s Drug

Posted 7/24/2014 by UHBlog

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This disease is characterized by severe dementia – the steady loss of memory and mental ability. “We need to test and find ways of preventing or at least slowing down the progression of the disease to ease the burden on patients, their families and society,” says neurologist Alan Lerner, MD. As the principle investigator for new research being conducted in C...

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The Backyard Toy That’s Bringing Kids to the ER

Posted 7/23/2014 by UHBlog

It may seem like a harmless toy – or even a great way to get your kid exercising – but the truth is that a backyard trampoline is an accident waiting to happen. Doting parents may see them as an affordable but thrilling gift for high-energy children, but choosing to install a trampoline inadvertently puts kids at risk. Pediatric sports medicine specialist Susannah Briskin, MD, has conducted extensive research on the dangers of trampolines. In a policy statement for the American Aca...

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The Athlete’s Hydration Guide

Posted 7/22/2014 by UHBlog

If water is an athlete’s best friend, then dehydration is the worst enemy. Mild dehydration can lead to a decline in performance and recovery, but severe dehydration can have tragic or even fatal effects. The hot, humid days of summer increase the risk of dehydration, as athletes may be sweating out fluid faster than they can replace it. When the body loses too much fluid, it also loses essential electrolytes, like sodium and potassium that help maintain body temperature, respiration rate...

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Is it Dementia – or a UTI?

Posted 7/21/2014 by UHBlog

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common infections among older adults – but they can be surprisingly difficult to recognize. Most people will experience a UTI at some point in their life, but the symptoms associated with the infection – a burning sensation during urination and pelvic pain in women or rectal pain in men – usually don’t occur once they enter the senior population. According to geriatric nurse practitioner Denise Brown, APRN, the most common sym...

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