Are You Hydrating Enough?

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Are You Hydrating Enough?

August is fully upon us and with it the blistering hot, dog days of summer are here. With rising temperatures and intense humidity we also see an increase in issues related to dehydration. The dangerous thing about dehydration is it has a way of sneaking up on you and you will feel its effects before you realize it. Generally people are thoughtful and remember to hydrate if they are going to play a sport or mow the lawn but most are not nearly as diligent in their day-to-day hydration practices.

More often than not people rely on thirst as their indication that they are dehydrated and as a result do not consume an adequate amount of water. The problem is that thirst is a poor indicator for the body’s need for water because by the time you are thirsty you are already significantly dehydrated.

Obviously dry mouth and increased thirst are signs that you are dehydrated but so is fatigue, dry eyes or blurred vision, lack of sweating, dizziness, cramping, dark urine and light headedness. In severe cases rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fainting, confusion and anger can all be indicative of dehydration.

So how much water do you need? The amount depends on your weight, heat exposure and medications you may take. There is considerable debate as to whether you should drink approximately ½ your body weight or by multiplying your body weight by 2/3. Personally I think that if you are somewhere in between and add a dose of common sense you’ll be fine. In addition add 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of a work out. If you take a dehydrating medication add an additional 12 ounces. Equally important is to not over hydrate. When you drink too much water you will dilute the sodium and electrolytes in your body, which can create a whole of other problems.

Everyone needs to be concerned with dehydration but children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable. Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies and are more likely to take medications and have conditions that result in dehydration. Young children become dehydrated very easily especially with vomiting and diarrhea.

So, if you are on the dry side of hydrating I encourage you to take a look at where you can do better to wet your whistle. It is a simple critical component of self-care that is easily remedied and immediately effective.

Drink up!

With Gratitude,
Pat

What’s The Matter with Me?

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What’s The Matter with Me?

Check out the list of the following symptoms to asses if any apply to you. While all of the symptoms are related to many disorders they are also associated with low levels of vitamin B12. In order to accurately discern whether your B12 levels are low or you are suffer from some other issue a simple blood test is in order and your doctor can easily do this for you.

Low levels of B12 can lead to:

  1. Weakness, tired, lightheaded
  2. Heart palpitations/shortness of breath
  3. Constipation/diarrhea/loss of appetite/excessive gas
  4. Tingling in hands and feet/difficulty walking with ease
  5. Vision Loss
  6. Pale skin/smooth tongue
  7. Depression/ memory loss or behavioral changes

Low levels of B12 can be cause by a variety of issues but it is often the inability of our body to absorb the vitamin that is generally the root cause. Those individuals who are susceptible to any gastrointestinal disorders or have had gastrointestinal surgery are at a higher risk, as are older individuals, vegetarians, pregnant and lactating woman as well as those who suffer from pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease that affects the gastric mucosa resulting in atrophy, which in turn through a series of steps inhibits normal B12 absorption. Tingling in the hands and feet is a hallmark symptom of Pernicious anemia.

From a dietary standpoint the best sources of B12 include eggs, cheese, milk and milk products, meat, fish, fortified breakfast cereals, shellfish, poultry and some soy based products. B12 is a water-soluble vitamin so it is hard to overdose on it because what ever is not needed is generally excreted in your urine. Some of the side effects from taking B12 can include headaches, itching, anxiety or nervousness and in severe case uncontrolled movements.

I’m often asked if it is better to use the injectable form or take the oral supplements. This is entirely dependent on the state of your gastrointestinal system. In the case of pernicious anemia taking an oral supplement would be of little value because the atrophy of the stomach wall does not allow it to be absorbed therefore an injection is the best option. If you are able to digest and absorb properly then an oral supplement is fine. If you have assessed a need for B12 it’s important that you let your physician know before you begin to take it to ensure there are no issues with any other medication you are taking.

As with any medication, vitamin or supplement be certain that you have a need for it before beginning and if you do so taking it regularly will give you the best results.

With Gratitude,
Pat

Spring: Glorious and Problematic

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Spring: Glorious and Problematic

Starting in mid to late March with the arrival of the daffodils, Bartlett Pears, forsythia and crocuses and carrying onward to the Tulips, roses and dogwoods Atlanta is a panacea of color and scent that delights all of our senses. Not many places on the planet rival the beauty that arrives in Atlanta each spring, however this beauty comes at a price. Pollen, the unwelcome yet necessary culprit that produces this cornucopia of color coats our noses, throats and eyes.

Pollen counts measure the amount of pollen grains in a cubic meter of air. Pollen counts that reach above a thousand are considered to be extremely high. With pollen counts that can regularly hang out at 2-3 thousand and have reached over 9000 you can understand why we have more than our fair share of coughing, runny noses, congestion, scratchy throat and itchy eyes during these beautiful spring days. Believe it or not even with our tremendously high pollen count we haven’t even reached the top ten pollen counts in the country. Internationally Islamabad has the highest counts reaching the 40,000’s! No matter what the pollen count is where you are there are things that you can do to help minimize your symptoms.

Consider the following to assist in ameliorating symptoms and/or preventing them before they get started:

  1. Monitor the local pollen count. Weather.com publishes the daily pollen count, delineating the specific pollens in question and whether it is mild moderate or severe. Know what you are sensitive to and avoid your exposure as much as possible on heavy pollen days.
  2. Rinse your hair before going to bed. During the day your hair is exposed to the environment leaving your hair laden with the grains of pollen. Rinsing your hair helps you prevent inhaling the pollen that would otherwise fall on your pillow.
  3. Keep your car and windows closed during heavy pollen days. Despite the fact that the temperature is usually perfect and the breeze feel delicious avoid the temptation.
  4. Wash your clothes, curtains and linens and vacuum couch and chairs.
  5. Animals that are exposed should be rinsed regularly during high pollen count days. This will avoid them tracking the pollen through the home or getting it on your hand while petting.
  6. If your allergies are severe consider wearing a mask to filter pollen when you are outside.

Treating your allergies

If you have the misfortune of developing an allergic response consider a Neti pot with a salt solution to flush your nasal passages. It can be quite effective in reducing the inflammation in you nasal passages. Acupuncture and local bee pollen can also be of great assistance in reducing your symptoms. Orally quercitin is a natural antihistamine that can be taken in a tablet form (most effective) and occurs naturally in garlic, citrus fruits broccoli, berries, wine, apples, parsley, legumes and lettuce. For those with severe reactivity immunotherapy shots may limit your reactivity and reduce allergic triggers. No matter what approach you take make sure to keep yourself hydrated. Whatever your level of sensitivity I hope you are able to enjoy the beauty that graces us throughout the spring season.

With Gratitude,
Pat