Saturday, July 14, 2018

Steer Clear of These Summer Skin Dangers

Swimmer surrounded by floating jellyfish


Their tentacles contain venom, so getting stung can be painful or sometimes life-threatening. Stings usually happen by accident when you carelessly handle a jellyfish, or swim or wade among them.
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Red rash from a jellyfish sting on a man's thigh
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Jellyfish Stings

Stings can set off intense pain, rashes, and welts. Some can lead to vomiting and muscle spasms. Severe reactions can cause trouble breathing, coma, and death. The first step in treating the sting is to remove the visible tentacles with fine tweezers. Don't try to scrape them out. Soaking the area with hot water -- after making sure it won't burn the skin -- can help with pain. For most people, putting vinegar on the stung areas may block release of venom from the stingers. Most lifeguards keep it on hand.
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Woman swimming with stingray
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Their tails have notched, venomous spines that can cause cuts and puncture wounds. Stingrays aren’t aggressive, so it's unlikely they'll try to hurt you unless you accidentally step on one.
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Puncture wound and bruising from stingray barb
4 / 19

Stingray Sting

Symptoms can include sharp pain and bleeding from the wound. Severe reactions like vomiting, chills, and paralysis are rare. In some cases they can lead to death. You should get medical care right away for stingray injuries. If help isn't around, submerge the injured area in hot water and scrub the wound with soap and fresh water. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding.
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Allergic reaction to henna tattoo
5 / 19

Skin Reactions to Henna Tattoos

The FDA has received complaints of skin irritations and allergic reactions from henna temporary tattoos, especially so-called "black henna." It may contain the "coal tar" color p-phenylenediamine, which can blister or even scar your skin. Henna comes from a plant and produces a brown or reddish-brown tint. Other ingredients are added to produce other colors, or to make the stain darker and last longer.
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Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac plants
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Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

Have an accidental brush with oil from any of these plants and chances are you'll get a rash. You have about 10 minutes to wash it off your skin to prevent a reaction. It begins with redness and swelling on the part of your body that made contact, and then it becomes intensely itchy. Blisters appear within hours or a few days. The rash lasts up to 2 to 3 weeks. Prescription or over-the-counter medication can soothe a mild rash. For a severe reaction, your doctor might prescribe a medication called cortisone, which you take by mouth. You might need antibiotics if your skin gets infected.
Seen here (left to right) are poison ivy, oak, and sumac.
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Female mosquito feeding on human skin
7 / 19

Mosquito Bites

These are more than annoying -- scratching one can cause a skin infection. Mosquitoes can also carry West Nile virus, dengue fever, and other diseases. To protect yourself:
  • Apply insect repellent and cover up when you go outdoors.
  • Use door and window screens.
  • Get rid of standing water in your yard, which is where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
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Adult Female and nymph tick on fingertip
8 / 19


Check your body for these insects. They can jump on you as you brush past grass and plants. Ticks don't always carry diseases, and most bites aren’t serious. But they can carry illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A bite can also trigger an allergic reaction. If one's on you, don't just yank it off -- remove it properly. To prevent bites, keep your arms, legs, and head covered when you're in grassy areas, and use insect repellant.
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Honeybee leaving stinger embedded in skin
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Bee Stings

Most people get minor swelling, pain, and itching. But some have what's known as an anaphylactic reaction, which is more severe and can be fatal. Symptoms include hives, swelling of the mouth or throat, and trouble breathing. If this happens to you, lie down and remove the stinger. Give yourself an epinephrine shot if you have one, and get immediate medical care. If you don't have a severe response, remove the stinger, clean the site, apply ice, and take an antihistamine for itching. The longer you wait to remove the stinger, the more venom you get.
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Chigger bites on back of toddler's leg
10 / 19


These tiny mites live in tall grass or weeds. They are so small you'll probably never see a chigger. Chiggers attach to your body by inserting mouth parts that pierce and liquefy the skin cells on which they feed. Their bites are painless. After a few days of being attached they fall off, leaving itchy red welts. Over-the-counter products can help relieve the itch, but see a doctor if your skin looks infected or the welts seem to be spreading.
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Close-up of woman's feet wearing flip-flops
11 / 19


They may be fun and fashionable, but these summer standbys offer little protection against stubbed toes, glass cuts, puncture wounds, or heavy objects that can smash a foot. They're also useless against insect and snake bites. Consider wearing close-toed shoes that offer better protection, especially if you're in the great outdoors.
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Collage of poisonous snakes
12 / 19

Venomous Snake Bites

The U.S. is home to many dangerous snakes. Their bites can cause severe burning pain at the bite site, swelling that spreads out from the wound, weakness, trouble breathing, and changes in your heart rate. How bad a bite is depends on many things, including the amount of venom injected, which body part got chomped, and your age and health. Get immediate medical care if you think you’ve been bitten.
Pictured here (clockwise from top left): coral snake, rattlesnake, water moccasin, copperhead.
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Adult shorthead garter snake
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Nonvenomous Snake Bites

Most snakes that live in the U.S. aren’t a threat. Their bites don't cause serious health problems. A bite may leave fang marks or other puncture wounds, but home treatment should relieve your symptoms and help you avoid an infection. Bites from large snakes with powerful jaws, like pythons or boa constrictors, can damage skin, joints, bones, and muscles. See a doctor if one of these sinks its fangs into you.
Seen here is an adult shorthead garter snake.
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Hiker coming across black widow spider
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Black Widow Spiders

Wood piles and tree stumps -- that's where a female black widow hides. You can spot her by the bright-colored "hourglass" on her underside. A bite may cause sharp, shooting pain -- or you might feel nothing at all. Look for one or two red fang marks, redness, tenderness, and a nodule at the site. The venom can cause muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and high blood pressure may follow soon after a bite, so seek medical care ASAP.
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Brown recluse spider in sand
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Brown Recluse Spiders

Hiding in attics and closets -- in Midwestern and South Central states -- is where you'll find these spiders. They range in color from yellowish-tan to dark brown, with darker legs. Brown recluses have a "violin" pattern in the upper body, where the legs attach. Their venom is extremely toxic, and can cause serious wounds and infections. The bite itself is often painless -- at first. Then your skin reddens, turns white, develops a red "bull's-eye," blisters, and becomes painful. You need to get immediate medical care if that describes your symptoms.
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Two boys setting off firecrackers in summer
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Burns From Fireworks

About 9,000 people wind up in the emergency room every year for injuries related to fireworks. Most involve the hands, eyes, head, face, and ears. Burns are the most common. You can treat a minor burn smaller than your palm at home. Run it under cool water until the burning feeling stops. Cover it with a clean, dry cloth. Larger burns, and ones to the hands, feet, face, genitals, and major joints, usually mean you need to go to the ER.
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Collage of precancerous skin growths
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Skin Cancer

It's the most common kind of cancer in the U.S. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. See your doctor if a mole or spot changes in size, shape, or color, has irregular edges, is more than one color, is asymmetrical, or it itches, oozes, or bleeds.
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Heat rash on a baby's shoulder
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Heat Rash

You get this due to blocked sweat ducts, and it looks like small, pinkish pimples. You usually find it on body areas covered by clothing. It's most common in children, but it can affect adults in hot, humid climates. Most rashes heal on their own. You can apply cold compresses or take a cool bath to ease your symptoms. Air dry, and don't use lotions. If your baby's skin is so irritated it hurts for you to touch her, ask the doctor about calamine or hydrocortisone cream.
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Peeling away dead skin from sunburn blistering
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Too much time in the sun's UV rays causes reddened, painful skin. A sunburn usually appears within a few hours, and it can take weeks to fade. Pain relievers, cold compresses, aloe, or moisturizing creams may ease your symptoms. Second-degree sunburn, which tends to give you redness, swelling, and blisters, is usually more painful and takes longer to heal. See a doctor if you have this type of burn. Avoid getting scorched again by applying a shot-glass-sized amount of sunscreen -- SPF 30 or higher -- to exposed skin. Put more on every 2 hours, and after you sweat or swim.
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15 Health Threats From High Blood Pressure

arterial plaque

Artery Damage

Your arteries should be sturdy, springy, and smooth to move blood easily from your lungs and heart, where it gets oxygen, to your organs and other tissues. High blood pressure, or HBP, pushes too hard on your artery walls. This damages the inside and causes fat, or “plaque,” to collect. That plaque makes your arteries more stiff and narrow, so they can’t do their job as well.
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aortic aneurism
2 / 15


It’s when pressure pushes out a section of an artery wall and weakens it. If it breaks, it can bleed into your body, and that could be serious. It’s possible in any artery, but an aneurysm is most common in your aorta, which runs down the middle of your body. If you have a damaged artery, you could get an aneurysm even if you don't have high blood pressure.
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coronary artery block
3 / 15

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

CAD happens when plaque builds up in arteries close to your heart. This slows blood flow, which can bring chest pain or a strange heart rhythm (called an arrhythmia). A total blockage can cause a heart attack.
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man having heart attack
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Heart Attack

When enough plaque builds up, or a clump of it comes loose, to completely block an artery to your heart, it can cause a heart attack. The blockage starves the heart muscle of oxygen and nutrients. That can hurt or destroy it.
You usually feel pressure or pain in your chest, but sometimes in your arm, neck, or jaw too. It might be hard to breathe, and you could be dizzy or nauseated.
Call 911 if you have any of these warning signs.
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mature woman with knee pain
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Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

PAD is like CAD, but it affects blood vessels farther from your heart, like those in your arms, legs, head, or stomach. You might have pain or cramps in your legs, often when you walk or climb stairs. It can also make you tired. The pain may go away when you rest and come back when you move. Left untreated, PAD could bring more serious problems like stroke, ulcers, and loss of circulation in your legs, which can cause amputation.
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heart illustration
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Heart Failure

High blood pressure can cause your arteries to narrow. Over time, that can make your heart work harder and get weaker. Eventually, it gets so weak that it can’t supply enough blood to the rest of the body. This is heart failure.
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xray of enlarged heart
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Enlarged Heart

As it works harder to move blood around, the muscle of your heart thickens. As a result, your whole heart gets larger. The bigger it gets, the less able it is to do its job, which means your tissues might not get the oxygen and nutrients they need.
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stroke victim close up
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High blood pressure is the top cause of stroke. There are two types:
  • Hemorrhagic: A weakened artery bursts in the brain.
  • Ischemic: A clump, or “clot,” of plaque comes loose and blocks blood flow to brain cells.
Part of your brain starts to die when it doesn’t get enough blood. This can hurt your ability to think, move, speak, and see. For symptoms, remember FAST:
  • Face drooping?
  • Arm weakness?
  • Speech problems?
  • Time to call 911.
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confused woman
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HBP can cause plaque buildup in arteries that supply your brain. The clogging of those arteries can slow the flow of blood to the rest of your body. When it changes the way your brain works, it’s called “vascular dementia.”
It might affect how well you think, speak, see, remember -- even the way you move. This usually happens slowly over time. But if you have a stroke, you could notice symptoms very quickly.
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kidney nephron illustration
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Kidney Failure

High blood pressure is the second-leading cause of kidney failure. It narrows and hardens the blood vessels your kidneys use to help get rid of waste and extra fluid. That keeps special filters, called nephrons, from getting enough blood and nutrients. That can eventually shut down your kidneys for good.
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blurry outdoor scene
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Eye Problems

Over time, high blood pressure can slow blood flow to the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eyeball. It can also slow the travel of blood to the optic nerve, which helps send signals to your brain. Either may blur your vision, or in some cases make it go away. HBP might also cause fluid to build under your retina. That could scar the tissue and distort your vision.
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doctor checking heartbeat with stethoscope
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Sex Problems for Men

High blood pressure can slow down blood flow anywhere in the body. Without enough blood to your penis, you may have problems getting or keeping an erection. If you thought you were healthy, this may be a sign that you need to see your doctor to check your high blood pressure and rule out related health issues.
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unhappy man and woman in bed
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Sex Problems for Women

Your body may respond differently because of less blood flow to your vagina, both before and during sex. You might not be as aroused when you want to be, and it could be harder to climax. High blood pressure can also make you more tired. It can ease your sex drive, too.
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xray of broken femur near hip
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Bone Loss

People with high blood pressure often have more calcium in their urine. It may be that HBP causes your body to get rid of too much of this mineral that’s so important to strong bones. This can lead to breaks or fractures, especially in older women.
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man snoring in bed
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Sleep Apnea

This makes your throat muscles relax too much and stops your breathing briefly, but repeatedly, as you sleep. High blood pressure seems to cause sleep apnea, which in turn appears to raise blood pressure. Work with your doctor to treat both conditions as soon as you can. It may prevent other health problems.
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13 Surprising Uses for Baking Soda

Baking soda in refridgerator

Not Just for Your Kitchen

You may know it as the orange box that lurks in the back of your fridge to take out bad smells. Or as a pantry staple that helps your baked goods rise. But baking soda, aka sodium bicarbonate, deserves a spot in your medicine cabinet, too. Here’s how it helps keep your body healthy and clean.
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baking soda and toothbrush
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Green Teeth Cleaner

Baking soda works great to physically remove plaque, the sticky film of bacteria in your mouth. Over time, a plaque buildup hardens into tartar and can lead to gum disease. Dip a wet toothbrush into the powder and brush as usual. It doesn’t have the fluoride you need to protect against tooth decay and cavities. Many public water supplies have added fluoride. Even so, brush with regular toothpaste as well to be safe.
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woman rinsing mouth
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Inexpensive Mouthwash

That garlic aioli pasta was delish. But now your breath is keeping even your dog away. Swish a teaspoon of baking soda in a half glass of water and rinse your mouth. It doesn’t merely mask the smell with a minty scent like most mouthwashes do. Baking soda actually banishes the odor altogether.
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applying body deodorant
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Body Deodorant

Most things that stink have acidic or basic odor molecules. Baking soda brings them to a more neutral, odor-free state. No wonder sewage plants and feedlots use the stuff. It also works on your body odor. Dust a little under your arms in the morning. If you don’t care for the powdery residue on your clothes, use stick deodorants that have baking soda. Look for ones that list sodium bicarbonate as a main ingredient.
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kidney x-ray
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Helps Your Kidneys

These organs remove waste and extra water from your body. If you have chronic kidney disease from diabetes, high blood pressure, or other causes, acid can build up in your body. Sodium bicarbonate can bring the acid levels down and may help slow bone loss and build muscles. It’s important to work closely with your doctor if you want to try this. Scientists are still figuring out exactly when and how this works.
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cancer t-cells
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Helps Fight Cancer

Emergency rooms and hospitals stock sodium bicarbonate as a treatment for cardiac arrests, poisoning, and other cases. It also helps to counteract the acidic properties of chemotherapy medication for cancer. Some studies show that lower acid levels may slow certain tumors from growing and spreading.
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Treating bug bite
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Soothes Your Skin

Bitten by a mosquito? Brushed up against poison ivy? Baking soda to the rescue. It can relieve minor irritation, pain, itching, and redness. Mix up a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Smear it on your skin and leave for 20 minutes before you wash it off. Or soak in a bath with a half-cup of baking soda added to the water.
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epidural procedure
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Eases Pain

Sodium bicarbonate may boost the pain-killing powers of lidocaine used in epidurals. Researchers are studying whether it might help ease pain from cancer. If you’re hurting from sunburn, soak a washcloth in a solution of about 4 tablespoons of baking soda per quart of water. Gently dab it on the affected areas to soothe your skin. It can help for other minor burns as well, including windburn.
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spoonful baking soda
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Tamp Down Acid Reflux

Sodium bicarbonate helps fight the extra acid that might rise from your stomach up to your throat and even your mouth after you eat. You can buy it over-the-counter as a chewable tablet. Or drink your own homemade antacid by mixing a half-teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup of water. Talk to a doctor before you give it to kids under 6, or if you start to use it regularly along with other medication.
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Woman washing face
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Facial Scrub

Baking soda is mildly abrasive. Use it as a gentle face cleanser. Wash and rinse first with soap and water. Then, make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Rub it in carefully in circles for a deep clean. Rinse with water.
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woman shampooing hair
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Clarify Your Hair

Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with your favorite shampoo to remove buildup from sprays, gels, conditioners, and other products. Your hair won’t just be cleaner, it may become easier to style, too.
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woman bathing
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Soften Your Skin

Add a half-cup of baking soda to your bathwater. It will neutralize acids, wash away sweat and oil, and leave your skin silky smooth. Bonus: After you dry off, you can use a bit more of the stuff to scour the tub clean!
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toddler playing with toys
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Clean Your Child’s Toys

You can use baking soda instead of harsh chemicals to get grime off your baby’s tray, highchair, and toys. Remember that it doesn’t kill germs. But you can pair it with vinegar, which works as a disinfectant. Be sure to rinse well.
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dentures in water
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Freshen Dentures

Dissolve 2 teaspoons of baking soda into a cup of warm water. Then just soak your dentures to loosen food, get rid of odors, and freshen any lingering bad taste. It also works for retainers and mouth guards. For a more thorough job, clean them with some bicarbonate and a toothbrush.
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Inspirational Quote – July 14, 2018

“Logic will get you from a to b. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Logic is fine and, of course, it has an important role to play in our lives and can be a great asset in the way we need to look and consider certain things. However, letting loose our imagination is like freeing a bird within us, allowing us to soar, explore and roam wherever we want. No limit or restraints involved, just total freedom, how wonderful is that? It’s up to each and every one of us to choose to allow and encourage our “bird” to go to places or situations our logical mind would be shaking it’s head and wagging an admonitory finger at us for! Go on, where will your “bird” fly today?

Repairing the Fabric of the World

"I met Jonathan F.P. Rose in Manhattan, the week a snow storm knocked out power in much of the Northeast. Heating by woodstove and carrying water home from the local fire station for five long, cold days left me feeling a bit rough and smoky, not to mention unprepared, to be sitting in the comfortable offices of his company in a historic old building near Grand Central Station. Yet the moment I met Rose, a tall, friendly man who met me talking and moving at a confident stride, I realized that my days as a kind of suburban pioneer woman, muddling along in a harsh new world that everyone blamed on global warming and our decaying infrastructure, was the best possible situation to meet a new kind of green pioneer. The Roses are one of the oldest and most successful real-estate families in New York, well known for their dedication to civic life and for giving back to the place where they gained so much."