GHNS' weekly Health Watch with tips on winter skin care, new research on a low-salt diet and protecting against hearing loss.
Temperatures are poised to plunge this winter and severe climate changes can negatively impact skin. Simple skin care consulting dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Segal reveals common seasonal sensitive skin triggers and shares her top tips for maintaining healthy-looking, beautiful skin throughout the cooler months.
Stay hydrated: Winter air often lacks moisture, which can cause skin to become dry and sensitive. "Remember to drink one or two liters of water per day," says Segal. "Also, eat fruits and vegetables that are packed with water, such as apples, celery and cucumbers. These foods can help curb hunger and boost your water intake, to keep you healthy and hydrated all day."
Re-evaluate your skin care routine: Women change their wardrobes and diets every season, so remember to update your skin care routine too. "Use a gentle, moisturizing cleanser to nourish skin and avoid that tight feeling you can get after washing your face," suggests Segal. Moisturizer should be applied liberally and frequently. In addition, gently exfoliating once a week will help make skin brighter and more receptive to moisturizer, resulting in a healthy glow. Try using a gentle scrub to lift dry, dead skin cells and help skin look brighter and more evenly textured.
Adjust the heat: When temperatures drop, the natural reaction is to raise the thermostat. However, dry indoor air causes water to evaporate from skin, leaving it dehydrated, tight and flaky. Segal recommends using a humidifier to replace lost moisture in the air. This creates a more humid and moisturized environment for skin. Also, avoid long hot baths or showers because they cannot only compromise skin's natural lipid barriers, resulting in an increased loss of moisture, but also, in so doing, increase the risk of skin irritation.
Lay it on thick: Despite the chilly air, the sun's rays are just as strong during the cooler months as they are in the warmer ones. Plus, women who have sensitive skin are more prone to experiencing visible signs of irritation as a result of the sun's harmful effects. Segal warns, "Going out without wearing sunscreen can lead to redness, burning, breakouts and other damage — no matter what season. Always be sure to incorporate a moisturizer with UVA and UVB protection into your skin care routine each day."
Take a well-rounded approach: Skin sensitivities can be triggered by lifestyle factors such as diet and stress. "Our skin reflects our overall health, both mind and body. In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, be sure to manage stress levels by taking time each day to decompress. Fitness activities can be a wonderful way to alleviate tension, keeping your mind, body and skin in great shape," says Segal.
New Research: Low-salt regimen contradicted
In a recent paper titled "Salt Appetite Across Generations" presented at a medical conference in Switzerland, Israeli researchers from the University of Haifa confirmed that in older people, a reduced sense of thirst results in a greatly increased risk of serious dehydration. They also noted that the appetite for salt does not diminish with age and suggested that this be used to help sustain hydration and prevent the dangerous symptoms that result from dehydration.
The evidence contradicting a low-salt regimen for the elderly is impressive and up-to-date. Those responsible for looking after the elderly should very carefully consider any broad, sweeping recommendations to administer a low-salt diet, for both medical and liability reasons. A well-balanced diet, complete with salads, vegetables and fruit is the best approach to ensuring a healthy and active retirement.
Number to Know
3 billion: Number of prescriptions filled each year in America. However, data suggests that roughly half of these prescriptions are not taken correctly, resulting in increased hospitalizations and admissions to nursing homes, and billions of dollars in avoidable health care costs.
Children's Health: A good night's sleep
Toddlers need an average of 12 to 14 hours of sleep. But, two-thirds of all children younger than 10 experience one or more sleep problems at least three nights a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Difficulties range from stalling or resisting going to bed to snoring and sleepwalking. Desperate parents are left frustrated as they simply want their little ones to get the sleep they need.
"Kids really need to have that sleep in their bodies to have enough energy to make it through the day, think smart thoughts and grow properly," says Jennifer Waldburger, a family sleep therapist from Sleepy Planet and consultant for The Jim Henson Company's Pajanimals children's series, which airs every night on 24-hour preschool television channel Sprout and Saturday mornings on NBC. "The idea is to get the child to visualize the process, to understand that it's normal, healthy and OK to fall asleep."
Establishing a regular bedtime routine is key, says Waldburger, and anyone putting the child to bed must be on that same schedule. "Stay consistent. Make sure you stick to that routine and schedule," stresses Waldburger. Some simple steps that can be part of a good bedtime routine include:
* Quiet, calm play on the floor. Avoid stimulating toys that are noisy or have flashing lights.
* Rocking and reading story books. Try making up a story together that feels very calming and relaxing and happy for a child. Sing together or listen to calm music.
* Start a favorite ritual, such as saying good night to the stuffed animals or the moon.
* Turn on white noise such as a fan.
* Offer a transitional object and a brief cuddle before leaving the room.
Boomer Health: Sounds of your life
Hearing loss affects one in five Americans age 12 and older, according to a Johns Hopkins study. It is also the third most common health problem in the United States - with millions of Americans missing out on the important sounds of their life. Hearing loss can create troubles with relationships, workplace efficiency and can even develop into emotional issues for individuals who are unable to participate in or hear conversations. Exposure to excessively loud noise is the main cause of hearing loss in the world today, and it affects all ages, not just the elderly. A variety of sources produce loud noises that can induce hearing loss, including machinery, electronics set at higher volumes, sporting events and concerts.
Knowing what causes hearing loss is the key to protecting your hearing. Here are some tips to follow to keep hearing damage at a minimum so that you're not missing out on any of life's sounds.
* Wear hearing protection when around loud noises. Remember to bring hearing protection with you when going to concerts or sporting events. Keep ear plugs handy in your car, your wallet or your purse in case you happen upon loud environments unexpectedly.
* Turn down the volume when you can. Keep music at a comfortable level on your mobile phone, in your car and on your home stereo.
* Walk away from loud noises whenever you are able. You'll know that noise levels are too high when it's impossible to hold a normal conversation without shouting.
Prevention is key to good hearing health, but the good news is that everyone with hearing loss can be helped. The first step is to see an audiologist or physician who can help you determine the cause and extent of damage to your hearing. This expert will also help determine the best hearing instruments or the best medical procedure available for your condition, so you can comfortably interact with conversations again. If you are experiencing the symptoms of hearing loss, see an audiologist or physician for a diagnosis and treatment so you can once again hear the conversations happening and participate in socializing with friends and family.