Don’t let an injury ruin your holiday fun. These tips can help keep you injury-free.
The winter holidays can be a wonderful time of year, but with all of the hustle and bustle that goes along with the season, they can also be a time when you’re more likely to get hurt. No one wants to be sidelined with an injury during the holidays, or at any time for that matter. That’s why knowing what injuries you may be more at risk for, and taking precautions so you’re less likely to get hurt, can go a long way in helping you stay injury-free so you can fully enjoy the joys of the season.
Common Orthopedic Injuries
These are some of the most common orthopedic injuries that occur during the winter holidays:
Sprains and strains. These are injuries to ligaments and tendons, respectively. They occur when you twist or overstretch a joint and can be minor or severe.
Fractures. Falls can lead to fractures of the hip, knee, ankle, wrist and other bones.
Dislocations. This occurs when a bone is forced out of its normal position in a joint. It can be a very painful injury and usually occurs due to a fall or trauma to the body.
Overuse injuries. Injuries may be caused by repetitive use of muscles or joints, without giving them enough time to rest and recover.
Reasons Injury Risk Increases During the Holidays
Here are a few reasons why more people experience orthopedic injuries at this time of year:
Holiday decorating. Hanging lights, putting up the Christmas tree and decorating your home can involve climbing ladders and may put you in precarious positions that increase your fall risk. Approximately 160 decorating-related injuries occur each day in the U.S., according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Repetitive activities. Carrying heavy shopping bags, shoveling snow and performing other activities that you do over and over again can strain your muscles and joints, leading to overuse injuries.
Athletic activities. Many people participate in winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, skating and sledding, during the holidays. These activities can be a lot of fun, but they also carry a risk of injury. Even a friendly game of touch football can make it more likely you’ll get hurt.
Environmental conditions. Depending on where you live, ice and snow increase your risk of slipping, especially if you're not wearing proper footwear.
How to Prevent Winter Orthopedic Injuries
There are a number of things you can do to prevent injuries at this time of year, including:
Use caution when decorating. Be careful when climbing ladders and using other tools and equipment. Don’t lift heavy objects, reach too far or twist your body in awkward positions.
Warm up first. You’re less likely to get injured if you warm up your muscles and joints before participating in sports or performing other physical activities.
Take breaks. Activities like shoveling snow or hanging lights can be hard work, so take breaks every 15-20 minutes to rest and stretch.
Wear proper footwear. Make sure you wear shoes or boots with good traction when you're walking on icy or snowy surfaces.
Be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for hazards when walking or driving, even if you have a lot on your mind. Being distracted increases your risk of getting hurt.
Take your time. Don't rush to get things done. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Ask for help. Don't be afraid to ask a friend or family member for assistance. Many injuries can be avoided if you have an extra hand or two to help.
Listen to your body. If you're feeling pain, stop the activity and rest. If you suspect you have an orthopedic injury, see a doctor.
If you experience an orthopedic injury, don’t ignore it. Diagnosing the injury and treating it can help minimize damage and speed up your recovery so you can continue to enjoy some holiday fun.
Ever wonder if you’re at a greater risk for some diseases because you’re a woman? You may be.
There are some diseases that affect people of different genders differently. Sometimes it is not entirely understood why gender plays a role in affecting risk, while the causes of gender differences may be easier to pinpoint in other conditions.
Here are three common health conditions that affect women more than men.
Women are more likely than men to develop dementia and are nearly twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease. The main reason for this is that women typically live longer than men and age is the biggest risk factor for the disease. But it may not be the only reason why.
There is not enough definitive research to explain the differences in Alzheimer’s and dementia risk in women other than living longer, but some other factors that affect risk may be at play. For example, educational opportunities, genetics and experiencing traumatic brain injuries may affect risk. Women are more vulnerable to concussion, and for reasons not yet fully understood, gene variants that affect dementia risk appear to have a greater effect on women than men.
Another brain-related condition that affects women differently than men is stroke. Although many think of stroke as something that primarily happens to older men, the fact is that more women die from strokes each year than men. One reason that women are more likely to have strokes over their lifetimes is that women generally live longer than men and age is a risk factor for this condition.
In addition to universal risk factors for stroke that affect both genders, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, age and family history, women also have additional risk factors for stroke. These include:
Taking birth control pills (especially if they smoke)
Having high blood pressure during pregnancy
Using hormone replacement therapy
Having frequent migraines
Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive and mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body. There are over 100 autoimmune diseases, but some of the more common ones include lupus, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis. When it comes to autoimmune disorders, women are four times more likely to develop one of these diseases than men. It is not known exactly why women are at such a greater risk, but some theories include differences in sex hormones, the x chromosome, the microbiome and environmental factors.
If you are a woman, discuss your risks for these three conditions with your doctor. Just because women may be more likely to experience certain diseases doesn’t mean you’re automatically at a high risk just because of your gender. Often there are steps you can take to lower your risk for these conditions, as well as other serious diseases.
The average American consumes over 2,000 calories on Thanksgiving. Here’s how to save half those calories!
Thanksgiving and other seasonal holidays only come around once a year, which makes it hard to resist some of the mouth-watering foods associated with these festivities. While it’s okay to indulge a bit on these special occasions, you may not want to go completely off the rails. After all, enjoying all of your favorites may add up to thousands of calories.
Here are some food swaps that allow you to enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday while saving you over 1,000 calories in just a single meal!
Alcoholic drinks: Sure you want to have a good time, but every glass of wine, beer or cocktail you consume clocks in at over 100 calories or more. Have a glass of water or seltzer between drinks and you’ll save loads of calories. You’ll also stay hydrated and will be less likely to experience a hangover the next day.
Approx. calorie savings (2 glasses of wine): 250
Turkey: Eat roasted turkey without the skin instead of fried turkey with the skin. You’ll still get all the turkey goodness, but with less fat and calories:
Approx. calorie savings: 125
Veggies: Want to save your calories for something truly indulgent? Skip the green bean casserole and other creamy veggie dishes and have steamed veggies instead.
Approx. calorie savings: 150
Potatoes: Unless mashed potatoes are something you wait all year to enjoy, have a baked sweet potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon instead.
Approx. calorie savings: 175
Stuffing: This side dish can be loaded with carbs and fat. To lighten it up, swap in wild rice for half of the bread stuffing. You’ll get some healthy carbs and will lower the calorie count.
Approx. calorie savings: 100
Pie: Perhaps the most quintessential Thanksgiving foods appear on the dessert table – the pies! Opt for pumpkin over pecan pie and you’ll still enjoy the tastes of the season with fewer calories.
Approx. calorie savings: 250
Total calorie savings?1,050
Here are a few other tips for eating more mindfully this holiday:
Don’t arrive hungry. Some people think it’s best to eat nothing or very little all day so they can save up for the big feast. But if you arrive famished, you’re less likely to make good food decisions. Eat a filling breakfast or a high-protein snack before you arrive.
Sample the spread. Before you take a serving of anything that passes you by, survey what the offerings are and decide which indulgences you truly have to have. Skip foods you can eat anytime and take small portions of the ones you really want. Then savor them slowly.
Bring a dish. Offer to bring a dish or two and make it something healthy. This way you’ll know just where to go when you need to fill your plate with something nourishing and less calorie-dense.
Sit strategically. Can’t help yourself when the cheese, nuts or cake are nearby? Find a place to sit or stand that’s not within arm’s reach. That way, you’ll have to make a conscious decision to get up if you want to indulge.
If you are a current or former smoker, here’s how to protect yourself from lung cancer.
No one wants to hear that they have lung cancer, but if you are a current or former smoker, finding out that you have this disease at an early stage can be the difference between life and death. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death around the world and this is due in part to the fact that lung cancer is often not diagnosed until the cancer is in advanced stages, when treatment options are limited.
What can be done to detect lung cancer early when it’s most treatable?
One of the best ways to detect lung cancer early is with a low-dose CT scan. This screening test can identify cancer in the lungs long before a person experiences any symptoms. Not everyone is eligible to receive this screening, but the US Preventive Services Task Force has put together a set of guidelines to determine who should get an annual low-dose CT scan. Criteria for screening includes:
Being between the ages of 50 and 80 years old
Being a current smoker or having quit smoking within the past 15 years
Having a 20 pack-year smoking history
Not having a health problem that limits life expectancy or the ability to have surgery if cancer is found
To determine your pack-year smoking history, multiply how many packs of cigarettes you smoked per day by the number of years you smoked. For example, if you smoked one pack a day for 20 years, you would have a 20-pack-year smoking history. If you smoked two packs a day for 15 years, you would have a 30-pack-year smoking history.
Is there any other way to detect lung cancer besides a low-dose CT scan?
Currently, this screening is the only one that is recommended as being effective for detecting lung cancer early. A regular chest x-ray may miss early-stage lung cancers. Sputum cytology, a test that checks for abnormal cells in sputum, has also not proved to be effective in early lung cancer detection.
Waiting until you experience symptoms of lung cancer is not an effective way of protecting yourself against lung cancer either. Although you should certainly see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms, this disease usually doesn’t produce symptoms until more advanced stages.
Symptoms of lung cancer may include:
Coughing that gets worse or doesn’t go away
Shortness of breath
Coughing up blood
Experiencing lung infections that keep coming back
Weight loss with no known cause
What happens if you find out you have early-stage lung cancer?
There are a variety of treatment options for early stages of lung cancer. Surgery is usually recommended if the tumor has not spread. Chemo or radiation may be used before surgery to shrink the size of the tumor. It may also be used after surgery. Targeted therapy and immunotherapy may also be considered. Once the cancer has spread and is not localized in the lung, it is harder to treat and the prognosis is typically not as good.
All exercise is good if you have diabetes, but here's when it may help the most.
Exercise can be one of the best defenses against diabetes and is usually prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes alongside dietary changes and medication if needed. Regular physical activity helps regulate blood sugar and makes the body more sensitive to insulin. So is there an ideal time to exercise that will make the activity most effective? And is there a particular type of exercise that is better at getting the job done?
It turns out that any kind of exercise at any time of day aids in the management of type 2 diabetes. But a recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine indicates that physical activity may be most effective at reducing blood glucose and improving insulin sensitivity if it is done later in the day, especially after meals. Several other studies have also shown that exercising after meals is a great way to help manage spikes in blood sugar that occur after eating.
Even if you can’t fit in a workout after dinner, consider getting in some physical activity later in the day, whenever it’s most convenient. Whether it happens before or after a meal, and in the afternoon or evening, the most important thing is that you find time to fit it in.
You don’t need to set aside a big chunk of time to get in an effective workout. Getting small bits of activity in throughout the day is just as effective and may significantly improve blood sugar. Aim for 10 – 15 minutes at a time if you can’t get in a full 30-minute or more workout. Even 5 minutes of activity helps. Take the stairs, march in place or do some body-resistance exercises. It all counts.
When it comes to the types of exercise that are good for managing diabetes, there’s no single “best” exercise. A combination of cardio, strength training and flexibility exercises is best. Each of these helps with many aspects of overall health, from keeping the heart healthy and helping with weight management to maintaining muscle mass and improving balance. They all help with glucose control, although cardio and strength training offers a slight edge over flexibility exercises in this regard.
Another benefit to mixing up the exercise you do is that it keeps things interesting. Doing the same thing day after day can get boring, which may lead some people to skip workouts. Instead of getting into an exercise rut, why not consider switching things up a bit? For example, do strength training exercises twice a week and spend another day or two doing yoga or tai chi. Then walk, bike or swim on other days. Taking an after-dinner walk, either as your primary form of daily exercise or even on days you do other activities, offers an added boost to help control blood sugar.
Getting vaccinated against common viruses may keep you from getting sick this fall and winter.
When fall rolls around, many doctors recommend getting a flu shot. That’s because flu season typically ramps up in October, with peak season occurring between December and February. This year, a flu shot may not be the only vaccine that is recommended, however.
In addition to an annual flu shot, it may be time to get another COVID-19 booster. An updated vaccine will be released this fall to provide protection against current strains of the virus that are circulating. Getting a COVID-19 booster may be especially important for older adults and those who are more at risk of complications from the virus.
Another vaccine that may be on your radar for the very first time is one that provides protection against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This virus is usually associated with young children but adults may also get sick from RSV. Older adults are especially at risk of developing complications from the virus that can lead to hospitalization or even death.
Last year, all three of these viruses hit hard around the same time of the year—in the fall and winter. Some referred to the three viruses as a tripledemic. This year, health experts are concerned that the same thing may happen.
Who should get these vaccines?
Not sure if you should get one, two or three of these vaccines? Here are recommendations for each:
Flu – Annual flu vaccines are recommended for all people aged 6 months and older, unless there is a specific reason that a doctor suggests that you do not get vaccinated. Most people only need a single dose of the flu vaccine, but some children under age 9 may need a second dose. Getting the flu vaccine in September or October is ideal. If you miss that timeframe, it’s not too late to get a flu shot any time after that, since flu season usually sticks around until May.
COVID-19 – New vaccines are being updated this fall to target the XBB variants of the COVID-19 virus. These are strains of the virus that came from the Omicron variant and are the most common form of the virus currently in circulation. This vaccine will be available to adults and children ages 6 months and older starting in late September or October.
RSV – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently endorsed recommendations for adults aged 60 and older to receive a single dose of the RSV vaccine. This is the first time an RSV vaccine has ever been available. Talk to your doctor about whether getting an RSV vaccine is right for you.
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD
Breast cancer doesn’t always produce symptoms, but here’s how to know when to see a doctor.
Breast cancer is a concern of women of all ages, although men can get it, too. You may not know exactly what symptoms to look out for that may indicate you have the disease. But understanding the signs and symptoms makes it more likely you’ll see a doctor if something doesn’t look or feel right. This can help detect cancer early if you have it.
Keep in mind that breast cancer doesn’t always produce noticeable symptoms. That’s why it is also important to have routine breast exams and mammograms as recommended.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
All women have different breasts. Some are dense, some are lumpy and some are uneven. Even for the same person, breasts may change over time due to age, having children, losing or gaining weight, at various times during the menstrual cycle or if you take certain medications. Knowing what feels normal or abnormal to you can help you have a better idea of when something doesn’t seem quite right.
Here are some symptoms you may notice if you have breast cancer:
Feeling a new lump in the breast or armpit
Swelling in part of the breast
Change in the size or shape of the breast
Dimpling or thickening of the skin on the breast
Redness, dryness, flaking, scaling or irritation of the skin around the nipple or breast
Pain in the nipple area or any area of the breast
Nipple retraction (pulling in of the nipple)
Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
Some of these symptoms may be due to factors unrelated to breast cancer. Even feeling a lump, which is the most common symptom of breast cancer, may not be a reason to panic. Many breast lumps are not cancerous. But if you notice any of these symptoms, even if you recently had a mammogram that was normal, it is recommended that you see a doctor for further evaluation.
The Importance of Breast Cancer Screenings
In addition to knowing what symptoms to look out for, one of the best ways to detect cancer at an early stage if it is present is to keep up with regular breast cancer screenings, such as mammograms and clinical breast exams. These screenings are often effective at finding breast cancer before any symptoms appear. The earlier breast cancer is caught, the better the chance of being able to successfully treat it. Talk to your doctor about what types of screenings are best for you and how often you should have them done.
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD