Saturday, July 29, 2017

What Bruises May Reveal About Your Health

Those Colorful Marks

We all get a bruise from time to time -- maybe you walked into the doorjamb in the middle of the night or tripped over the dog on your morning walk. Most aren’t anything to worry about and heal on their own. Others can be a sign of something more serious. It’s a good to know the difference.

Why Do They Happen?

A bruise shows up when an injury makes small blood vessels under your skin bleed. Your skin isn’t broken, so the blood doesn’t have anywhere to go. It pools and forms clots and changes the color of the skin above the injury. Harder blows tend to cause bigger bruises -- also called contusions. They may be tender or hurt badly.

Types of Bruises

A flat, purple bruise that happens when blood leaks into the top layers of your skin is called an ecchymosis. A black eye, or “shiner,” is an example of this kind of bruise. A hematoma happens when clotted blood forms a lump under your skin. The area is usually swollen, raised, or painful. A “goose egg” on your head is one example. A hematoma is not the same thing as a hemorrhage -- that’s heavy bleeding inside or outside your body.

Many Colors

As you heal, an iron-rich substance in your blood -- called hemoglobin -- breaks down into other compounds. This process makes your bruise change colors:

o It’s usually red right after the injury.
o Within a day or two, it turns purplish or black and blue.
o In 5 to 10 days, it may be green or yellow.
o In 10 to 14 days, it’s yellowy-brown or light brown.

It should fade away totally in about 2 weeks.

What to Do About Them

Cold can help with swelling and may shrink the size of your black-and-blue mark. It also slows blood flow to the area, so less of it ends up leaking into your tissues. When you first get a bruise, take a bag of frozen veggies or fill a plastic bag with ice, wrap it in a towel, and gently put it on the injured area. Leave it there 15 to 20 minutes, take it off for 30 minutes or so, then put it back on.

Elevate and Heat

Rest your injured limb and raise it above your heart if possible. For example, if you banged your shin, keep your leg propped up. This will keep blood from pooling, help with swelling, and keep your bruise from getting bigger. After 2 days, use a heating pad or warm cloth to put heat on the area. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, if you need it.

Bone Bruise

Your bones are made of tissues, too, so they can bruise. Any kind of injury can cause one, like a sports injury or car crash, and some medical conditions, like arthritis, can make you more likely to get one. Signs of this kind of bruise are the same as other kinds -- pain, tenderness, swelling, and color change -- but it usually hurts more and lasts longer. You treat it the same way: Rest it, ice it, raise it, and use pain relievers.

When to Call the Doctor

A bruise can need medical care if:

o You think a sprain or broken bone may have caused it.
o It keeps getting bigger after the first day.
o It makes your arm or leg swollen or tight.
o It lasts for more than a couple of weeks or shows up again for no reason.
o It’s around your eye and you have a hard time seeing or looking in different directions.
o You got it from hitting your head, trunk, or belly.

Why Do I Bruise Easily?

Your age, sex, and genes can all play a role. As you get older, your skin gets thinner and loses much of its fatty layer. There’s no “cushion” to protect blood vessels, so they can break more easily. Women tend to bruise more easily than men -- especially from slight injuries on their upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. Easy bruising sometimes runs in families, too.

Could It Be Something Else?

Some conditions can lead to spots that look like bruises. Large ones are called purpura. Tiny red or purple spots are called petechiae. Problems that can lead to blood spots or easy bruising include:

o Bleeding disorders like hemophilia or von Willebrand’s disease
o Liver disease, like cirrhosis
o Thrombocytopenia (when you don’t have enough platelets in your blood)
o Cancers like leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, or multiple myeloma

Is My Diet to Blame?

Folic acid (folate) and vitamins C, K, and B12 help your blood clot. If you don’t get enough of these, you may bruise more easily. Try eating more citrus fruit if you’re low in vitamin C. Beef and fortified breakfast cereals are rich in B12. Green leafy veggies like spinach are good sources of vitamin K and folate.

Could It Be My Medication?

Blood thinners, aspirin, corticosteroids, and chemotherapy that fights cancer can cause black-and-blue marks. Don’t stop taking your meds on your own, though. Talk to your doctor. She may be able to change your medicine or your dose so you bruise less or not at all.

Can I Prevent Them?

You can’t avoid all bruises, but you can lower your chances of getting hurt:

o Plug in a nightlight so you’re not stumbling around in the dark.
o Remove trip hazards like throw rugs.
o Keep walkways clear of furniture or other things you can bump into.
o Wear protective gear like helmets or shin guards if you play sports.

9 Conditions That Can Irritate Your Scalp

Scalp Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a long-lasting condition that causes a dry, itchy buildup of skin cells that may crack and bleed. It makes your skin flake, and you can have it on different parts of your body. About half of all people with it have it on their scalp.

Treatment for Scalp Psoriasis

Your doctor may give you special shampoo or medication to put directly on your scalp. You also may get pills to help with inflammation and itching. Another treatment option is to shine natural or artificial ultraviolet light on your skin. It can help clear up the painful patches.

Dry Scalp

It sounds simple, but this can have a big effect. It can itch and flake, and when the skin breaks -- from cracking or scratching -- bacteria can get in and cause an infection. It's more common in dry climates, and it's more likely to happen as you get older. You also can have this issue if you wash your hair too often or use harsh hair products that strip out natural oils.

Treatment for Dry Scalp

Lifestyle changes can make a difference. You may try washing your hair less often or using a milder shampoo -- ask a doctor or pharmacist about what might work best for you. In severe cases, or when the dryness is caused by a treatable condition, your doctor may suggest medication.


Small pieces of skin can “flake” off your scalp and leave a telltale sprinkling of white on your shoulders. Overly dry -- or oily -- skin can cause it, as can certain illnesses, like HIV or Parkinson’s disease. It also can be a reaction to certain soaps or shampoos or to a fungus on your scalp.

Treatment for Dandruff

Your treatment will depend on the cause. For example, if it’s a reaction to certain shampoos, you may simply switch products. Or you can try an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo or rinse to manage it. If it doesn’t go away, talk with your doctor.


Despite the name, no worms are involved in this condition. It’s a fungus that can infect your skin or scalp and cause itchy, scaly, bald patches on your head. It’s easy to get it from someone else, and it’s common in toddlers and children.

Treatment for Ringworm

Your doctor may give you drugs that you take by mouth, or special shampoo, rinses, or creams to use on your head. The problem should be completely gone after treatment, as long as you don’t catch it again.


They’re tiny insects that live in your hair and feed on blood from your scalp. It sounds terrible, but they’re not dangerous -- just contagious, annoying, and itchy! They’re also sometimes hard to get rid of.

Treatment for Lice

Special shampoos or rinses can kill lice and the eggs they lay. You can get some of these over the counter, but higher-strength ones need to be prescribed by your doctor. Your scalp might itch for a while, even after the lice are gone.


This is a common skin condition that happens when hair follicles -- the tiny holes where your hair grows -- get irritated, usually after a bacterial or fungal infection. Small red or white-headed bumps often show up around the follicles. It can spread and turn into crusty sores that don’t heal fast. In severe cases, it can cause hair loss and scarring.

Treatment for Folliculitis

It’s treated with medicated creams or shampoos or light therapy. In rare cases, minor surgery may be needed.

Alopecia Areata

This happens when your immune system, which normally protects your body from invaders like viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attacks your hair follicles. It can lead to hair loss, often in patches.

Treatment for Alopecia Areata

There’s no cure or any approved drug to help with symptoms. But your hair might regrow on its own. Medications for hair growth work for some people, but they don’t keep you from getting new patches. It’s important to protect exposed skin -- especially on top of your head -- from direct sun with hats, scarves, or sunscreen.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

It causes “scaly” patches of skin and stubborn dandruff and may also affect oily areas of your body, like your face, upper chest, and back. It can be itchy, but it’s not serious.

Treatment for Seborrheic Dermatitis

It’s a long-term condition, but symptoms can be treated with creams, drugs, and special shampoos.

Cradle Cap

This is a kind of seborrheic dermatitis that happens to babies. It isn’t painful or itchy like the adult version, but it can be alarming to see the thick, crusty, yellow scales, which aren’t easy to remove, on your baby’s head.

Treatment for Cradle Cap

It usually clears up on its own. You can wash it daily with a mild shampoo to loosen it. If it’s still there after a few weeks or looks like it's getting worse, see your baby’s doctor.

11 Ways Swimming Can Make You Sick

What’s in the Water?

When you swim, you can come across some nasty bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. Oceans, rivers, lakes, and ponds can get things from animals, sewage spills, runoff from rainstorms, or other swimmers. And while chlorine kills most of the germs in places like pools, hot tubs, and splash fountains, it doesn’t work instantly.

Digestive Problems

If you catch something while you’re swimming -- wherever you might be -- you’re most likely to have these kinds of issues. The culprit is often a parasite like cryptosporidium (crypto for short) or girardia. You also could come into contact with norovirus or bacteria like E. coli or shigella. To protect yourself, don't swallow water when you swim. To protect everyone else, stay on the sidelines if you have diarrhea.

Swimmer’s Ear

The official name for this is otitis externa. It’s a common infection you can get when you spend a lot of time in any kind of water. Your skin breaks down more easily when it’s moist, and bacteria can move in. Over-the-counter drops can help prevent it. If you have it, you’ll need to see a doctor for antibiotics.

Legionnaire’s Disease

You can get this type of pneumonia, also called legionellosis, if you breathe in a bacteria called legionella. The germ can thrive in a hot tub that isn’t clean enough, and you can breathe it in through mist or steam. It’s one of the most common waterborne illnesses in the U.S.

Hot Tub Rash

A long soak in a hot tub can give you itchy, bumpy, red spots. The troublemaker is often a germ called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Spas are harder to keep clean than pools because high temperatures break down chemicals like chlorine faster. That makes a friendlier environment for bacteria. Always shower with soap right away after you’ve been in one, and wash your swimsuit, too.

Toxic Algae

Sometimes these simple plants that live in oceans and freshwater can grow out of control and make dangerous poisons. That’s called a harmful algal bloom (HAB), and every U.S. state with a coastline has had them. One type, known as cyanobacteria, can give you diarrhea and rashes and cause problems with your lungs. Don’t swim in areas that look scummy or foamy, and pay attention to posted warnings about HABs.

Swimmer’s Itch

You can get this rash, also called cercarial dermatitis, in fresh or saltwater. It's a reaction to a tiny parasite that burrows into your skin. It starts with infected snails, and you're more likely to run into them in shallow areas near the shore. The best way to avoid it is to stay away from marshy places where snails live. And always towel off or shower when you’re done swimming.


You can come across the bacteria that cause this illness in lakes and rivers -- they get there through the urine of infected animals. The germs go into your body through your eyes, nose, mouth, or a cut. Symptoms include diarrhea, red eyes, headache, fever, and jaundice (yellowish skin or eyes caused by a problem with your liver). It’s more common in warmer climates, and recent heavy rains and flooding make it more likely.

Naegleria fowleri

This tiny organism, found in warm freshwater spots like lakes, rivers, and hot springs, is sometimes called the “brain-eating amoeba.” It can get in your nose when you swim in contaminated water. Once it’s in your body, it destroys tissue and is almost always fatal. Infections are very rare in the U.S. -- there are only about three each year. To cut your risk, hold your nose closed, use nose clips, or keep your head above water.


If you swim in the ocean when you have a cut, scrape, or recent tattoo, certain organisms that live in warm coastal waters can get in your wound and cause an infection. One type, vibrio vulnificus, is sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria.” It’s very rare, but it can cause skin ulcers and lead to serious problems, especially if your immune system is weak.


When it’s caused by germs, it’s very contagious, and you can get it by swimming in the same pool as someone who has it. This condition, also known as pinkeye, makes your eyes swell, turn red, and leak a watery yellow fluid. It can be caused by chemicals, too, and the chlorine in pools can sometimes lead to a mild version.


If you have red eyes, an irritated throat, or a cough after swimming in a pool, it's probably caused by something called chloramines. These form when a chemical used to disinfect the pool mixes with things people bring into it: urine, feces, sweat, and dead skin. Showering before you jump in (and not using the water as a toilet) can help prevent them.

Play It Safe in the Water

Some general rules can help protect you from waterborne diseases:

o Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
o Don’t swim with an open wound unless you can cover it with a waterproof bandage.
o Shower before and after swimming.
o Stay out of water that has a strong chemical odor, is discolored, or looks cloudy or scummy.

Inspirational Quote – July 29, 2017

“You are always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.”

I wasn’t sure what this meant at first. I could relate to choosing a different future but a different past, really? I believe you are NEVER too old to choose a different future to the one you perhaps planned when you were much younger. Life tends to change and shape us in ways we never expected or planned for. There is nothing stopping us responding to these changes by adapting and putting into practice new plans or ideas. However, when it comes to choosing a different past……. I don’t think this is so much about choosing a different past but instead learning from the past and allowing the lessons it has taught us to enhance our future. This is our choice so we need to use it wisely.

The Boy & Dog Who Changed Each Other's Lives Forever

Jonny Hickey is a young boy with autism who had trouble making connections with other people and interacting with the family's pets, had limited vocabulary, and would isolate himself, even with family members sometimes. That is, until Xena walked into his life on her four paws, and brought him out of his shell. The Hickeys adopted Xena, a rescue dog who had been previously so severely abused for months that by the time she was rescued, it wasn't certain she would survive. When Xena and Jonny met, magic ensued. This heartwarming video captures the journey of both the boy and the dog who are flourishing in each other's companionship.

Friday, July 28, 2017

How to Reclaim Your Weekend

A new book explains how we lost our work-life balance, why it matters, and what to do about it.

It’s funny how my weekends no longer feel like weekends of yore. Instead of spending time in play, exercise, or community pursuits, often as not I end up catching up on work, answering emails, or doing chores. Needless to say, this does not lead to a rejuvenated me come Monday morning.
But isn’t this simply the new reality of modern life? Shouldn’t I just get used to it?
The answer is a resounding no, according to journalist Katrina Onstad’s book The Weekend Effect. Onstad outlines how weekends came into being and how their purpose has eroded over time, as well as the many reasons why we shouldn’t let that trend continue. She makes a plea for leisure and meaningful pursuits outside our jobs, explaining how to disentangle ourselves from the cult of overwork so that we can live fuller, happier lives.
According to Onstad, too many of us continue to hold on to the myth that success means putting your nose to the grindstone 24/7—despite evidence to the contrary. She critiques the work/play culture of some companies, where employees are expected to participate in extensive social activities outside normal work hours, keeping them in constant work mode. And she warns against the cult of busyness—measuring your worth or success by how busy you are—which discourages people from taking time off. All of these modern trends conspire against workers but benefit employers—at least superficially.
At Amazon, for example, employees can “receive email onslaughts after midnight, and then text messages querying about the unanswered emails,” Onstad writes. This kind of work/life fusion breeds exhaustion, as well as a loss of energy and productivity around work. Still, there will always be those who thrive on pushing themselves to the limit.
“For every miserable worker, there’s another employee who thrives under the kill-or-be-killed conditions, and worships the samurai warrior methodology of the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos,” writes Onstad.
Besides the culture of overwork, overdependence on cell phones is another modern phenomenon that damages weekends. Despite our need for social contact (not to mention cognitive rest), our inability to disengage from technology—either due to work expectations or an addiction to its pleasures—keeps us away from face-to-face interactions with others. Onstad points to the work of Sherry Turkle, who argues that purposeful breaks from technology are needed to foster more social connection.
“Without face-to-face interaction, there’s a withering of that essentially human part of the self that rises only when confronted by a fellow being, flesh and blood,” she writes.

How to have a happy weekend

<em><a href=“”>The Weekend Effect: The Life-Changing Benefits of Taking Time Off and Challenging the Cult of Overwork</a></em> (HarperCollins, 2017, 304 pages)The Weekend Effect: The Life-Changing Benefits of Taking Time Off and Challenging the Cult of Overwork (HarperCollins, 2017, 304 pages)
According to Onstad, weekends first came into being when individuals pushed for reform by striking for them. Today, she writes, it may be na├»ve to expect people to embrace more leisure if they don’t feel public support for it. She suggests that government entities need to weigh in on work polices for societal reasons—the potential benefits weekend time provides to stronger family and community bonds. Some countries, like Sweden, offer extended personal time to their workers without the economy suffering, and she suggests America follow suit.
“When politicians blow the bullhorn about the erosion of the social fabric, they need to acknowledge that a society weakens when its members are no longer able, or willing, to come together outside work,” she writes. “Work-life balance isn’t simply something to be negotiated in the workplace; it’s a public-interest issue.”
What will we do if we’re not online or working? Onstad suggests that weekends can be a time to repose, reflect, engage, and consider larger questions about our lives. If we never take time out from our quotidian affairs, she argues, we won’t really savor the things that matter most in life. She suggests exposing ourselves to awe-inspiring vistas or art to help us transcend our current understanding and experience wonder, and to engage in volunteerism or other altruistic pursuits that can benefit our well-being and longevity.
While many of her recommendations are right out of Greater Good’s playbook, I particularly enjoyed reading about some of her quirkier ideas. For example, her suggestions to participate in ecstatic dance (for physical release and connection to others), attend tailgate parties (as a community-building activity and shared emotional experience), and even just go out to brunch (to rebel against rushing and to savor life’s pleasures) all made me reconsider my own pale-by-comparison weekend pursuits.
Onstad makes many other recommendations for how we can make the most of our weekend time, culminating with a “weekend manifesto,” which suggests incorporating connection, care, play, nature, beauty, and inactivity into our weekend rituals. In that way, we may find ourselves happier, healthier, and, ironically, re-energized around our work—perhaps so much so that we’ll want to incorporate more of these aspects of living into our workweek, too.
“Eventually, we may no longer be scrambling with futility to balance work and life, but living all the time, fully and well,” she writes.

Inspirational Quote – July 28, 2017

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”

Well this is just common sense isn’t it? If we do our best today, in everything we do, and behave our best towards everybody we encounter in our day, then we will have peace of mind won’t we? Realistically, this will be easier to achieve on some days than others as we are not saints but human beings. However, if we can lay our head on our pillow at bedtime and, looking back on our day, be happy and content with how it has gone and how we have conducted ourselves, then tomorrow is like cash in the bank, another day to look forward to, zzzzzzzzzz…….

How To Give Away A Billion -- Or Not

Best-selling author David Brooks was asked what he would do if he had a billion dollars to give. In his recent NY Times op-ed piece, he answers: "Only loving relationships transform lives, and such relationships can be formed only in small groups. I'd seed 25-person collectives, a group of people who meet once a week to share...Each collective would have a curriculum, a set of biographical and reflective readings, to help members come up with their own life philosophies, to help them master the intellectual [foundation of] virtues." In this piece, Nipun Mehta shares that ServiceSpace (DailyGood's umbrella organization) has been successfully running on this core principle since 1999 without fundraising a single penny. He challenges the currently prevailing view that financial capital is the solution to social problems and urges us to consider the other forms of capital that are often underutilized and overlooked. "We need to repair the social fabric," Nipun shares, "without which all other solutions are patch work."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Three Surprising Insights about Success and Happiness

The path to a healthy, successful, and meaningful life may not be what we expect.

Sometimes, findings from the research on well-being seem a bit obvious: Gratitude will make you happier; mindfulness reduces your stress; it feels good to be kind.
But the findings of other studies are much more counterintuitive. This kind of research challenges how we think the world works; if we’re open to it, it can drastically change our day-to-day lives and our communities.
At the International Positive Psychology Association’s 5th World Congress—a four-day conference held earlier this month with more than 1,300 attendees—I heard three insights that challenged my assumptions. They offered new ways to think about the things we want most in life—including health, success, and happiness.

1. You don’t have to be charismatic to succeed

What drives high performance at work?
In the past, business researchers focused on how much influence or information employees managed to amass in their organization. They visualized complex networks of interconnections, with the most influential and knowledgeable workers at the center.
But Kim Cameron, a University of Michigan professor and pioneer in the field of positive organizational psychology, tried a new kind of mapping: He plotted employees by their “relational energy.” Relational energy is how much your interactions with others motivate, invigorate, and energize them (rather than draining or exhausting them, something we’ve all experienced).
The result? The relational energy network predicted performance four times better than networks based on influence or information. In other words, having a positive and energizing impact on others seems much more important to how much you achieve at work than getting people to do what you want or hoarding secrets. And when a leader is more positively energizing, her employees perform better, are more satisfied and engaged with their jobs, and have higher well-being at home.
Cameron’s research has found that positive energizers tend to be trustworthy, grateful, humble, authentic, and forgiving; they’re also good problem solvers with high standards. Accordingly, relational energy is not a form of natural charisma or attractiveness. It’s something that can be cultivated.

2. We stink at motivating people to be healthy

How do we encourage others to take care of their health?
If you’re the government, a workplace wellness program, or a well-meaning spouse, you might try to convince your target that they are exercising too little and stressing out too much. The media is particularly fond of framing stories this way.
But according to Stanford University professor Alia Crum, these messages may have the exact opposite effect as intended. Her research has found that what we believe—our mindset, in other words—can actually have physical effects on our bodies.
In a series of nearly-unbelievable studies, she found that stress creates an unhealthier physical response when we believe that stress is bad for us; how we think our exercise levels compare to others’ affects our risk of death beyond our actual level of activity; the same drink affects our hunger hormones differently depending on whether we believe it’s healthy or indulgent; and hotel maids improve their weight and blood pressure after simply learning that their work involves exercise. 
In other words, telling people just how unhealthy their lifestyles are could help create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, what’s the alternative? Rather than focusing on the harm in unhealthy behavior, Crum suggests making healthy behaviors seem more appealing. In one forthcoming study, she found that cafeteria-goers ate more vegetables when they were given enticing names: “twisted citrus-glazed carrots” rather than “carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing.”
In other words, rather than scaring people with statistics, we might do better telling them about the joys of a sunset run by the lake, a fresh salad from the farmer’s market, or a heart-warming loving-kindness meditation.

3. Your life may be more meaningful than you think

Are you searching for meaning in your life?
Most of us don’t have to look too far, argued University of Missouri professor Laura King. In a passionate and thought-provoking talk, she cited research showing that little things can increase our sense of meaning: seeing images of trees that represent the passing of the seasons; being reminded of morning-related words (pancakesbaconsunrise) in the morning; or having more routine in our lives.
On the flipside, King found that our sense of meaning is pretty resilient to adversity. For example, even the recent U.S. election wasn’t enough to decrease liberals’ sense of meaning in life (though it did create other negative feelings).
There is no crisis of meaning in the world, she argued. Meaning isn’t reserved for special, transcendent moments; it’s part and parcel of our lives, if only we open our eyes to it.
“People don’t need to know how to make their lives meaningful. They need to know that they already are,” King said. And when we believe in the meaningfulness of our lives, we unlock the benefits of more positive feelings and better relationships. 
Her research raised many questions for attendees: Is this kind of meaning the same as the deep meaning that comes from having a purpose or caring for others? What about people living in chaotic, dangerous environments, whose lives really don’t make sense?
Despite these questions, the notion that most of our lives already have structure, predictability, and meaning is a provocative one.