Saturday, June 25, 2016

Daily Inspirational Quote for June 25, 2016

“Those who are unaware they are walking in darkness will never seek the light.”

Well, why would they? If they’re unaware that they are, in fact, surrounded by darkness they would have no reason to positively seek out the light would they? Perhaps ignorance is bliss in this case? However, those of us fortunate enough to, not only have successfully sought out the light, but remain within its radiance, are very fortunate indeed. Perhaps if we make our light accessible to all, more people will be drawn into the light and become as fortunate as we are….how great would that be?


Rebecca Solnit: Falling Together

Rebecca Solnit, author and contributing editor of Harper's, seeks "to describe nuances and shades of meaning, to celebrate public life and solitary find another way of telling." Her profound books defy category as she chronicles untold histories of redemptive change in places like post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans because, "when all the ordinary divides and patterns are shattered, people step up to become their brother's keepers." Read on for more of her thoughts in an interview by Krista Tippet.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Daily Inspirational Quote for June 24, 2016

“Life is a great big canvas….and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”

You can picture this can’t you? Imagine we all begin life as a huge totally blank canvas and, as we move through life, our experiences, both good and bad, positive and not so positive, become the paints that color our canvas. Wouldn’t that be something to see? Would your own personal canvas be dominated by the dark dreary colors of disappointments, sadness, un-fulfillment and lost opportunities, or the bright, vibrant colors of love, happiness, contentment and achievement? I know which one I’m working on day by day and hope you do too?


The Chicken Lady

An article in a local newspaper spurred Amy Murphy to ask a local fried chicken restaurant if she could have their leftovers at the end of the night. With the help of friends, the Chicken Lady sets up the equivalent of a pop-up restaurant every Monday to serve her homeless friends. Murphy does not consider what she does "feeding the homeless," rather, it is serving friends. They are part of the same community -- she is a part of their lives, and they are a part of hers.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

10 Signs Your Allergies Are Out of Control

No. 1: The Allergic Salute

You vacuum with a HEPA filter. You stay indoors when the pollen count is high. You take medications like your doctor tells you to. But do you really have your symptoms under control? If you're constantly doing the "allergic salute," the answer is probably no. This gesture -- a swipe at the tip of an itchy, runny nose -- is especially common in children.
No. 2: Raccoon Eyes

Dark circles are another sign of allergies. You get them when you're always rubbing itchy eyes. Take antihistamines to put a stop to symptoms like itchy, teary eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose. If you already take them but they don’t work really well, talk to your doctor about changing your treatment plan.
No. 3: Chronic Congestion

If you have a cold or the flu, your stuffy nose should go away in a week or two. If congestion goes on and on, allergies are more likely to blame. During an allergic reaction, the lining of your nasal passages swells and makes extra mucus. You might get sinus pressure and headaches. Decongestants can give you short-term relief. For a long-term action plan, talk to an allergist.
No. 4: Wheezing

Wheezing is often linked with asthma, but it can also be a sign of a serious allergic reaction. The whistling sound happens when you have to breathe through narrowed airways. In severe cases, you might need emergency care. Talk to your doctor if you have wheezing related to allergies.
No. 5: Itchy Skin

You may just be dried out. But if it doesn't stop itching or if it turns into a rash, you might have eczema. This skin reaction is common in people with allergies. Triggers include soap or detergent, pet dander, and rough fabrics. You can treat it with antihistamines, moisturizers, and hydrocortisone cream. For severe cases, your doctor can prescribe medications.
No. 6: Hives

These pale, itchy, red welts can last from several hours to several days. They're an allergic reaction to something like food, medication, or an insect sting. Antihistamines usually give immediate relief. You might need steroids if they don’t help. The best defense is to find and avoid the trigger.
No. 7: Insomnia

Itchy skin and eyes, a stuffy head, postnasal drip, sinus pain, and other allergy symptoms can make it tough to sleep. Coughing or wheezing may also make it hard to nod off. Some allergy meds can disrupt a good night's sleep. If you’re lying awake a lot at night, it may be time to ask your doctor about changing your treatment plan.
No. 8: Trouble Concentrating

It’s hard to focus when your eyes are tearing, your nose is dripping, and you've been up all night. Plus, some over-the-counter antihistamines may make you feel foggy. If allergies are putting a cramp in your work, home life, or relationships, call the doctor and talk about what you can do.
No. 9: Fatigue

Allergies can zap your energy levels. They make it hard to sleep. They send your immune system into overdrive, which wears you out. And the meds you take for them can make you sleepy. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Some newer products don’t have that effect.
No. 10: Depression

Do you feel blue when allergies flare? Scientists are looking into links between allergies, mood changes, and depression. Although we can't prove that allergies are to blame, there are treatments. Tell your doctor if you feel down.

Do You Eat Too Much, Too Often?

Weight Gain and Obesity

If you eat a lot of food in a short amount of time on a regular basis, you might have binge eating disorder (BED). It can affect your health in a lot of ways, but two of the main risks are weight gain and obesity. Two-thirds of those with BED are obese, though average-sized people can have it, too.
What to Do About the Extra Weight

Set a goal to shed those added pounds. You can reach a healthy weight with exercise, portion control, and smart food choices. But you might need a special program that also treats eating disorders. Your doctor can help you find the right one.
Type 2 Diabetes

Overeating can lead to diabetes. That means your body can’t use the hormone insulin correctly, which makes your blood sugar levels harder to control. Over time, this can damage your kidneys, your eyes, and your heart.
How to Handle Your Diabetes

The more you know about diabetes, the better you can take control of your condition. You’ll need to keep track of your blood sugar levels, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of exercise. You may need medication to manage the disease, but not everyone does.
Depression and Anxiety

Binge eating disorder often goes hand in hand with mood troubles. Doctors think many things can lead to BED, so it’s hard to say for sure that depression or anxiety cause it. But people who binge eat often feel shame and guilt about their problem. Most try to hide it.
How to Manage Mood Disorders

Eat nutritious food, exercise, and get your ZZZs, because healthy habits like those can help you fight your anxiety or depression. But treatment for BED also might include sessions with a mental health professional, who could recommend talk therapy, antidepressant medications, or other medicines that can help treat binge-eating behavior.
Troubles With Digestion

Long-lasting heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also happen to people who binge eat. Those issues are often linked with weight gain and obesity, so doctors aren’t sure if the disorder itself or the excess pounds are to blame.
Treatment for Heartburn and IBS

Heartburn that doesn’t get better can cause serious issues, including damage to your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. See your doctor if you have it twice a week or more. She might give you prescription meds or tell you to see another doctor who specializes in digestion. For IBS, a healthy diet and cutting stress can help, but you may also need medication.
Gallbladder Disease

Many health problems linked to BED -- obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides (fat in your blood), and yo-yo weight gain and loss -- also raise the risk of trouble with your gallbladder. That's the small pouch that sits under your liver. The most common problem is gallstones, the buildup of cholesterol or bile in the organ.
Treatment for Gallstones

Your doctor might be able to remove them with surgery, or she may have to take out your gallbladder. Sometimes doctors prescribe a drug to dissolve gallstones, but that’s not a long-term solution.
Stroke and Heart Disease

High blood pressure and high cholesterol are common with BED, and they can raise your chances of a stroke and heart disease. When your blood pressure stays too high for a long time, it strains your blood vessels. And high cholesterol can clog your arteries.
Make Heart-Smart Changes

Stop smoking, lose extra weight, and exercise regularly to lower your blood pressure. Those same steps can lower your cholesterol, as will a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Your doctor might also prescribe drugs to keep your BP and cholesterol numbers low.

Can You Incentivize Generosity?

By Jill Suttie

According to a new book, most economists don't understand why people behave honestly, fairly, and generously.

Economists have long assumed that people act in their own best interest when making decisions. But research in behavioral economics and psychology has called that assumption into question, showing the many ways that moral sentiments and altruism also play a role in human behavior.
In The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizens, author Samuel Bowles argues that most economists are way behind the curve in understanding what motivates people to behave honestly, fairly, and generously in economic interactions. Bowles, a behavioral economist at the Santa Fe Institute, reveals fascinating new research on economic decision making and encourages us to rethink the ways we design our workplaces and our communities.

How incentives affect our behavior

Bowles provides ample evidence in his authoritative book that the model of Homo economicus doesn’t bear out in real life. For example, in one study, when preschools instituted a fine for every minute parents were late in picking up their kids, parents responded by being late moreoften, not less. In another study, toddlers who had avidly and spontaneously helped someone in need helped less when given a toy as a reward.
Bowles suggests that incentives like these—rewards and punishments—often fail because they send an unintended message. In the first case, imposing fines for lateness implied that lateness was expected and okay, as long as parents paid; in the second case, rewards sent the message that altruism is something you do for reward, not because it’s inherently gratifying. Incentives can overwhelm people’s good intentions, says Bowles, leading to unexpected outcomes.
“Motives such as reciprocity, generosity, and trust are common, and these preferences may be crowded out by the use of explicit incentives,” he writes. People behave differently than one might expect from economic theories of human nature.
Incentives may cause people to think in terms of cost-benefit calculations, rather than acting on natural goodwill. In one study, participant “investors” were given the opportunity to transfer money to “trustees,” who then received triple that amount and could give some back to investors. When trustees were told that investors could impose a fine if they didn’t return part of the gift, the trustee actually gave back less to the investor. In other words, imposing punishments to prevent the participants from being self-interested served only to crowd out their natural generous instincts. In addition, if the investor declined the right to impose a fine, and the trustee was aware of that choice, the trustee appreciatively gave back more to the investor than in the initial scenario.
“The experiments show that policies premised on the belief that citizens or employees are entirely self-interested often induce people to act exactly that way [self-interested],” writes Bowles.
Another way that market incentives might undermine morality is by encouraging a sense of distance and anonymity. In one experiment, people were entrusted with the care of a cute mouse. They were then shown a disturbing video of a mouse being gassed to death, and either offered payment to let their pet mouse be gassed or told they could sell their mouse to another student, who would allow it to be killed.
Forty-six percent would not let their mouse be killed in the first group, but 72 percent would in the second. The experimenters discovered that to get 72 percent of people in the first group to gas their mice, they would have to offer almost five times as much money—“a measure of the moral disengagement created by the market setting,” writes Bowles.

The role of social norms

Still, this is not the whole story—incentives are not always bad, and we can’t dismiss the fact that some people will act in self-serving ways if given the chance. So, what does nudge people toward the most socially desirable behaviors—like generosity, cooperation, trust, and fairness?
Beyond a focus on incentives, which are situation-dependent, Bowles points to the importance of societal norms around fairness and trust. These, he believes, are best nurtured by a society “characterized by extensive reliance on markets to allocate economic goods and services, formal equality of political rights, the rule of law, public tolerance, and few barriers to occupational and geographic mobility based on race, religion, or other accidents of birth.”
Though measuring the direct influences of societal norms can be complicated, he points to results from some of his own interesting cross-cultural research implying that when the right norms are in place, moral behavior is less impacted by incentives and more part of a person’s everyday habits.
In this study, participants from societies exposed to a market system (such as farmers in rural Missouri) made significantly more generous offers to other players in the Ultimatum Game than participants from more market-isolated communities (such as hunter-gatherers in Hadza, Tanzania).
Similarly, in another game where ungenerous players could be punished, participants from cultures defined by a healthy rule of law, democracy, individualism, and social equality values (such as Melbourne, Boston, and Zurich) tended to hand out fewer antisocial punishments—punishments aimed at highly generous players, not just ungenerous players—than those without these social norms and institutions (such as Seoul, Riyadh, and Minsk).
Bowles suggests that market economies seem to increase overall generosity and social inclusion, perhaps because of increased trust.
“A plausible explanation of the more generous and fair-minded experimental behavior seen in the more market-oriented societies…is that people learn from their market experiences that fair dealing with strangers is often profitable,” he writes.
Taken together, these experiments and others in Bowles’s book suggest that creating good economic policies isn’t simple and can’t be based on theories of self-interest alone. His message—perhaps primarily aimed at economists though relevant to all—is clear: If we can figure out what policies and incentives nudge people toward generosity and fairness and away from cheating, we will no doubt create a better society for everyone. Bowles’s book is a plea to take on that challenge.
“I do not know whether an approach…adequate to this challenge can be developed,” he writes. “But we have little choice but to try.”

Daily Inspirational Quote for June 23, 2016

“When you reach the end of your rope….tie a knot in it, and hang on.”

Well it makes more sense than no knot and just sliding off the end of your rope down into who knows what? Ooooh scary! I know I have often reached the end of my personal “rope” or ability to cope or deal with a situation or someone causing me stress or upset and I’m sure you have to. What do we do when we reach the end of our rope? Say, “That’s it! I’ve had enough. I can’t deal with this anymore?” However, it’s not going anywhere is it? So, nothing else for it really but to “tie a knot in it” and hang on in there for dear life, until we consider it resolved and consign it to the bin of “past life resolutions” forever.


50 Years Ago She Did Something No Woman Ever Had

Fifty years ago, Bobbi Gibb applied to run the Boston Marathon and was informed that, "Women are not physiologically able to run a marathon." So she decided to enter anonymously and ended up being the first woman to finish it. "In those days, if you were a woman and you were lucky enough to go to college [Gibb attended Tufts University School of Special Studies], you were expected to get engaged your senior year and then get married. There was no way for women to support themselves economically. Women couldn't own a house; they couldn't get a mortgage; they couldn't get a credit card... I wanted to be married and have children -- but that's not all. I wanted to use my mind and my body. Part of what I was doing with running was getting away from all of that, finding a kind of freedom I didn't have in society. I knew I wasn't going to change, so the world had to change."

--by Jessica Sebor

The 2016 Boston Marathon marked the 50th anniversary of the moment trailblazer Bobbi Gibb—decked in a bathing suit and Bermuda shorts—turned right on Hereford and left on Boylston to be the very first woman to ever finish the race.

If you have ever considered running a marathon, you understand how daunting this proposition can be. First-time questions flood your brain: How do I start? What plan should I use? Do I need to change my diet?

Now imagine you would like to train for a marathon—but answers to your queries are impossible to find. There is no Internet to search for training plans; there is no running store to ask for tips; there are no race nutrition books available. Furthermore, the biggest question isn’t whether you will finish, but quite literally: If you try, will you survive?

This is the scenario Bobbi Gibb faced when she made up her mind in 1964 to run the Boston Marathon. At the time, prevailing wisdom was that if a female attempted to cover this distance, she would likely die in the process. But Gibb harbored an unshakable self-belief—and she knew she had to try. In her own words, here is Gibb’s incredible story of her two-year journey—one that took her across the country and back again before she became the very first woman to cross the Boston Marathon’s finish line.

Bobbi’s Story

I always loved to run even as a little kid—I would just take off across a green field. Sometimes, I used to go up in the woods and run with the neighborhood dogs. I loved the sense of running, one foot in front of the other, on this earth. When I run, I feel alive and part of the universe.

The father of a friend of mine told me about the Boston Marathon. Since we lived in the suburbs in Massachusetts, I went out there in 1964 with my dad. I saw the marathon and I just fell in love with it. I didn’t know women weren’t allowed. In fact I didn’t know it was an athletic event. I thought it was just a group of men who got together in Hopkinton and ran to Boston to celebrate the spring and celebrate life. I wanted to be part of it.

The very next day, I started to train, but I didn’t know if I could do it, or if my heart would hold up. It was totally outside of the social norm for a woman to be running in those days. There was no running movement— not even men ran. [Gibb was 21 at the time and 23 when she ran Boston.] I would just try to run further and further distances. My boyfriend would drive me on his motorcycle. We would measure the miles out and then I would run home. That summer, my parents were on sabbatical in England, so I took the family’s Volkswagen camper and my malamute puppy and headed west.

During the days, I ran wherever I was—West Virginia, Ohio, all across the Mississippi. At night, I slept under the stars in my bedroll, immersed in the universe. When I got out into the Rocky Mountains and Nevada, I would find a blue peak in the distance and see if I could run to the top and back. I was getting stronger and stronger. When I got to San Francisco, I jumped into the Pacific Ocean. That was my main training for the Boston Marathon.

In those days, if you were a woman and you were lucky enough to go to college [Gibb attended Tufts University School of Special Studies], you were expected to get engaged your senior year and then get married. There was no way for women to support themselves economically. Women couldn’t own a house; they couldn’t get a mortgage; they couldn’t get a credit card. There were no opportunities for women to manifest their ability.

My mother was beautiful and intelligent, and I could see what it had done to her and all of her  friends. A lot of them were on tranquilizers and were drinking too much wine in the afternoon to dull the pain of an unfulfilled life. I wanted to be married and have children—but that’s not all. I wanted to use my mind and my body.

Part of what I was doing with running was getting away from all of that, finding a kind of freedom I didn’t have in society. I knew I wasn’t going to change, so the world had to change.

I didn’t know that my running was going to be a social statement until February of 1966. I wrote for my application [to the Boston Marathon] and they wrote back saying, “Women are not physiologically able to run a marathon, and we can’t take the liability.” [At the time, races longer than 1.5 miles were not sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union.]

But when I read the letter, I thought, Aha! This is a chink in the armor. If I can prove that this is a mistaken belief about women, it’s going to open up the whole question of what else we think women can’t do. What other false beliefs are keeping us imprisoned?

I was living in San Diego so took the bus to Boston, four days and three nights, and got there the day before the race. I hadn’t shared any of my plans with my parents, so when I told them, they thought I had gone nuts. My father was really angry. He thought I would hurt myself or possibly die. But I said to my mom: “This is really going to change things for women.” For the first time in her life, instead of trying to get me to conform to these horrible norms, she was on my side. She drove me to the start.

When I got to the start line, I knew the most important thing was that I not be stopped. I was afraid I might be arrested or dragged off the course. I had a blue hooded sweatshirt pulled up over my head with my hair tied back. I was wearing my brother’s Bermuda shorts and a black bathing suit, which is what I used for underwear before there were jog bras.

I found a clump of bushes close to the start, and I could see the men were gathering. There was the bang, but I waited until about half the pack left—then I jumped in. Even though I was disguised, the other runners figured out very quickly that I was a woman.

They could have shouldered me out and been hostile, but they were very positive and supportive. I told them that I was afraid if [spectators or officials] saw that I was a woman, they’d throw me out. But the runners said, “We won’t let that happen. It’s a free road.” That’s when I took off the hooded sweatshirt and everyone could see I was a woman.

People went crazy. They started yelling and clapping: “Way to go, girlie!” The reporters started picking up on it and it started being broadcast on the local radio station. When I got to Wellesley College, I could hear these screams in the distance. It sounded like a day at the beach. When the women saw me they screamed and screeched. One woman over at the side was shouting, “Ave Maria!” I really felt as though this was freeing women, that there was a whole new horizon opening up.

I ran into Boston. Up until the last 3 miles, I was at a sub- 3-hour pace. I didn’t know you were supposed to drink water, so I hadn’t. My feet were killing me, because I wasn’t used to the hard surface, so I kind of tiptoed in. [Gibb still finished in a fast 3 hours, 21 minutes, beating more than half of the field.]

When I turned onto Boylston, a roar went up from the crowd. I went across the finish line and the governor of Massachusetts came down and shook my hand. I took a taxi home to my parents’ house and there were cars up and down the street. I thought, Oh, somebody’s having a party. Then I realized it was for my house—this was the press. My poor parents were standing there in the middle of all this. And my dad was so funny. He put his arm around me and he said, “We knew she could do it!” That really was fun.

I think it was a pivotal event in changing the perception of women. Afterward, I got a lot of phone calls from women saying, “I ran around the block today and I felt so free.” To be able to run from where you are to where you want to get to, using your own sense of direction, is something a lot of women had never tried before. They were experimenting with reclaiming their own sense of autonomy.

As women found out they could do more things, they gained credibility and self confidence— so the laws had to change. The AAU rule that barred women from running more than a mile and a half was changed in 1972. That was a huge step forward, and then there was Title IX.

I went back to Boston and ran again in 1967 and 1968. I hope to be an example of someone who follows what they love and what they’re good at. I think everyone came to this world to give something. I’ve always been conscious that we have a very limited time here. I feel so blessed to have this  life. I hope that I can help to free other people to follow what they love, to love one another and to get through the kind of hatred we see tearing the world apart.
bobbi gibb
Of course, Gibb’s story doesn’t end with a marathon finish. After her victory in Boston, she went on to attend law school and practiced for nearly 20 years. She also studied neuroscience and was a research assistant at MIT. Currently, Gibb works in the field of neurodegenerative diseases in an effort to find a cure for ALS. She also creates abstract paintings and lifelike sculptures inspired by athletes. Joan Benoit Samuelson keeps a sculpture Gibb created to mark her victory in the 1984 Olympic Marathon displayed in her home. Visit to learn more.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

12 Ways Working Can Wreck Your Health

Hand and Wrist Injuries

Carpal tunnel syndrome, numbness that’s caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist, takes a lot of heat for computer-related hand and wrist injuries. But you’re more likely to get it if you work with tools that vibrate, or use a repetitive, twisting motion to get your job done. Blame sore hands and wrists from keyboard use on a different cause: repetitive stress injuries. To Help Prevent It: Take frequent breaks. Talk to your doctor or an occupational therapist to see if bracing or a change in position may help.

Back Pain

Whether you work outside pushing a mower or in a cube pushing paper, your back can take a beating. Who has time to remember to lift heavy objects the proper way, practice good posture when you sit, and get up to walk around every half hour or so (or take a break if you’re on your feet all day)? And if you have a few extra pounds, that only makes things worse. Back pain among workers ages 40-65 costs employers more than $7 billion a year. To Prevent It: Use your legs to lift, watch your posture, and always ask for help if something is too heavy or awkward.

Hearing Loss

More than 30 million of us face harmful levels of noise on the job. Another 9 million work with materials (solvents, metals) that could lead to hearing loss. And it isn’t just the workplace that’s causing the problem -- even folks in quiet offices listen to music or other audio at unsafe sound levels through headphones or earbuds. To Prevent It: Wear earplugs if you’re exposed to prolonged sound over 85 decibels (for example, an idling bulldozer).

Lower-Body Pain or Swelling

When work makes you sit or stand for hours at a time, you might get fluid buildup in your legs, ankles, and feet. Your doctor might call this peripheral edema. Symptoms include swelling and discomfort. Check with your doctor, who may prescribe something as simple as compression socks to help. To Prevent It: Move around often.

Eye Strain or Injury

More than 20,000 eye injuries happen in the workplace every year, at a cost of about $300 million. Many workers are also affected by computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain, which can lead to dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain. To Prevent It: Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away.

Stress-Related Pain

Stress can play a major role in all sorts of ills, including:

Lack of sleep
Problems concentrating

More than a third of American workers have it at some point. And it doesn’t always go away once you clock out. To Prevent It: Find your stress-busters.


Pain is a common cause of missed time at work. What’s the top type of pain for sick days? Headaches. Whether it’s the strain of concentrating, everyday job stress, or workplace things like noise, smells, or hunger, we’ve all had to deal with a throbbing noggin from time to time. To Prevent It: Take that lunch break or have a quick snack. Hunger often triggers headaches.

Neck Pain

It starts as a little twinge that just won’t go away, no matter what you do. It often results from lousy posture, whether you’re in front of a screen at the office or under a car at your shop. Any activity that pulls or strains your neck muscles can cause pain. Irritated nerves and problems with the vertebrae in your neck also can play a role. To Prevent It: Pay attention to your posture.


Do you lift heavy objects at work? If you don’t do it the right way, you could get a hernia. That’s when a part of your bowel slips out through a weak spot in the muscles of your abdomen or groin. Hernias are even more likely if you’re overweight, if you smoke, or if you don’t eat a healthy diet. It’s usually several lifts that cause a hernia, not one. To Prevent It: Learn proper lifting technique.

Weight Gain

No, this isn’t a typical workplace injury. But it’s all too easy to pack on extra pounds if you keep snacks at your desk, give in to fast-food lunch runs, and sit for long periods of time. To Prevent It: Get up. Move. Eat healthier.

Skin Problems

Your jobsite may be full of irritants. There may even be some in the air. Whether it’s copy machine toner, solvents, or exhaust, it can affect your skin. Contact dermatitis, the most common workplace skin condition, is a rash that appears where an irritant touches your skin. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you have a higher chance of getting skin cancer. To Prevent It: Know what’s risky indoors and out, cover up, and use sunscreen when you are outside.

Respiratory Disease

Coal miners come quickly to mind with this condition, but they aren’t the only ones at risk. Anyone exposed to lots of dust, fibers, or chemicals in the air could have problems. Lung diseases are the main cause of workplace illness in the U.S. Some can lead to lung cancer and death. To Prevent It: Know your worksite and follow its safety measures. If you smoke, stop.

If Your Feet Could Speak, What Would They Say?

Cold Feet, Many Culprits

If your toes are always cold, one reason could be poor blood flow -- a circulatory problem sometimes linked to smoking, high blood pressure, or heart disease. The nerve damage of uncontrolled diabetes can also make your feet feel cold. Other possible causes include hypothyroidism and anemia. A doctor can look for any underlying problems -- or let you know that you simply have cold feet.

Foot Pain

When feet ache after a long day, you might just curse your shoes. After all, eight out of 10 women say their shoes hurt. But pain that’s not due to sky-high heels may come from a stress fracture, a small crack in a bone. One possible cause: Exercise that was too intense, particularly high-impact sports like basketball and distance running. Also, weakened bones due to osteoporosis increases the risk.

Red, White, and Blue Toes

Raynaud’s disease can cause toes to turn white, then bluish, and then redden again and return to their natural tone. The cause is a sudden narrowing of the arteries, called vasospasms. Stress or changes in temperature can trigger vasospasms, which usually don’t lead to other health concerns. Raynaud’s may also be related to rheumatoid arthritis, Sj√∂gren’s disease, or thyroid problems.

Heel Pain

The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, inflammation where this long ligament attaches to the heel bone. The pain may be sharpest when you first wake up and put pressure on the foot. Arthritis, excessive exercise, and poorly fitting shoes also can cause heel pain, as can tendonitis. Less common causes include a bone spur on the bottom of the heel, a bone infection, tumor, or fracture.

Dragging Your Feet

Sometimes the first sign of a problem is a change in the way you walk -- a wider gait or slight foot dragging. The cause may be the slow loss of normal sensation in your feet, brought on by peripheral nerve damage. About 30% of these cases are linked to diabetes. Nerve damage also can be due to infection, vitamin deficiency, and alcoholism. In many cases, no one knows what caused the nerve damage. Other possible causes for foot dragging include problems with the brain, spinal cord, or muscles.

Clubbed Toes

In clubbing, the shape of the toes (and often the fingers) changes. The nails are more rounded on top and curve downward. Lung disease is the most common underlying cause, but it also can be caused by heart disease, liver and digestive disorders, or certain infections. Sometimes, clubbing runs in families without any underlying disease.

Swollen Feet

This is usually a temporary nuisance caused by standing too long or a long flight -- especially if you are pregnant. In contrast, feet that stay swollen can be a sign of a serious medical condition. The cause may be poor circulation, a problem with the lymphatic system, or a blood clot. A kidney disorder or underactive thyroid can also cause swelling. If you have persistent swelling of your feet, see a physician.

Burning Feet

A burning sensation in the feet is common among diabetics with peripheral nerve damage. It can also be caused by a vitamin B deficiency, athlete’s foot, chronic kidney disease, poor circulation in the legs and feet (peripheral arterial disease), or hypothyroidism.

Sores That Don't Heal

Foot sores that will not heal are a major warning sign for diabetes. Diabetes can impair sensation in the feet, circulation, and normal wound healing, so even a blister can become a troublesome wound. Those sores also are prone to infection. Diabetics should wash and dry their feet and check them for any wounds every day. Slow-healing of sores also can be caused by poor circulation from conditions such as peripheral artery disease.

Pain in the Big Toe

Gout is a notorious cause of sudden pain in the big toe joint, along with redness and swelling (seen here). Osteoarthritis is another culprit that causes pain and swelling. If the joint is rigid, it may be hallux rigidus, a complication of arthritis where a bone spur develops. Finally, turf toe is an ailment of athletes, particularly those who play on hard surfaces. It's caused by an injury to ligaments surrounding the joint.

Pain in the Smaller Toes

If you feel like you're walking on a marble, or if pain burns in the ball of your foot and radiates to the toes, you may have Morton’s neuroma, a thickening of tissue around a nerve, usually between the third and fourth toes. It is eight to 10 times more common in women than in men. It is caused by injury or too much pressure on the toes.

Itchy Feet

Itchy, scaly skin may be athlete’s foot, a common fungal infection. A reaction to chemicals or skin care products -- called contact dermatitis -- can cause itching, too, along with redness and dry patches. If the skin on itchy feet is thick and pimple-like, it may be psoriasis, an over-reaction of the immune system. Medicated creams can relieve the symptoms.

Claw Toe

This foot deformity can be caused by shoes that are tight and pinch your toes or by a disease that damages nerves, such as diabetes, alcoholism, or other neurological disorder. Your toes will be bent upward as they extend from the ball of the foot, then downward from the middle joint, resembling a claw. They may respond to stretching and exercises of the toes or you may need special shoes or even surgery.

Foot Spasms

A sudden, sharp pain in the foot is the hallmark of a muscle spasm or cramp, which can last many minutes. Overwork and muscle fatigue are common causes. Other causes include poor circulation, dehydration, or imbalances in potassium, magnesium, calcium, or vitamin D levels in the body. The changing hormone levels of pregnancy or thyroid disorders may play a role. If spasms are frequent or severe, see a doctor. Strengthening exercises can help with muscle fatigue.

Dark Spot on the Foot

We associate skin cancer with the sun, so we’re not as likely to check our feet for unusual spots. However, a melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, can develop in areas that are not regularly exposed to the sun. Melanoma can even appear beneath the nail, where it might look like a black spot.

Yellow Toenails

Your toenails tell a lot about your overall health. A fungal infection often causes thickened yellow toenails. Thick, yellow nails also can be a sign of an underlying disease, including lymphedema (swelling related to the lymphatic system), lung problems, psoriasis, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Spoon-shaped Toenails

Sometimes an injury to the nail or frequent exposure to petroleum-based solvents can create a concave, spoon-like shape. However, iron deficiency also can cause this unusual shape.

White Nails

Injury to the nail or illness anywhere in the body can cause white areas in the nails. If part or all of a nail separates from the nail bed (shown here), it can appear white -- and may be due to an injury, nail infection, or psoriasis. If the nail is intact and most of it is white, it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition including liver disease, congestive heart failure, or kidney disease. Talk with your health care team about any concerns.

Pitting of the Nails

Pitting, or punctured-looking depressions in the surface of the nail, is caused by a disruption in the growth of the nail at the nail plate. It affects as many as half of people with psoriasis.