Today’s Headlines: Caregiving, Best Friends and Vitamin D

Women bear the burden of caregiving more than men. As the U.S. population ages, more and more people are called on to care for elderly parents. A new study out this week finds that “women step up to provide care for their aging parents more than twice as often as men…In families with children of both sexes, the gender of the child is the single biggest factor in determining who will provide care for the aging parent: Daughters will increase the time they spend with an elderly parent to compensate for sons who reduce theirs, effectively ceding the responsibility to their sisters.” The researchers noted that rather than basing their decision on how much time they could possibly provide, men tended to focus more on whether the duties were already being adequately handled by others. One author notes “the data suggest that despite a shift toward more gender equality in the United States in the past few decades, the imbalance is ‘acute’ when it comes to caring for aging parents.” (Washington Post)

One in 10 lack a best friend. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on, but not everyone may have a close confidant to go to in times of trouble. A new study from the U.K. has found that “One in 10 people questioned said they did not have a close friend…[and] while the survey found 85% of individuals questioned felt they had a good relationship with their partners, 19% had never or rarely felt loved in the two weeks before the survey.” While the study shows a majority of people have healthy, close relationships it also reveals that a significant number of people live without these strong connections. The researchers point out that “relationships are the asset which can get us through good times and bad, and it is worrying to think that there are people who feel they have no one they can turn to during life’s challenges. We know that strong relationships are vital for both individuals and society as a whole, so investing in them is crucial.” (Guardian)

Vitamin D may help your asthma. Supplementing your sun exposure with a vitamin D supplement may help your lung function. Researchers got the idea from the observation that asthma is more common in northern parts of the globe where vitamin D is lower because of less sun exposure. “Asthma sufferers who received vitamin D supplements for six months, in addition to their regular inhalers, could breathe a little easier than those who relied only on the inhalers. The researchers say the results, if confirmed by larger studies, might help the many people who sometimes have troublesome asthma symptoms even though they use medication.” Important to note is that these results reflected only how well lungs were functioning, which didn’t necessarily correlate with whether participants felt better. A physician should always be consulted before starting new supplements or medications. (Fox)

 

Women Often Turn to Anti-Aging Clinicians Seeking Menopause Relief

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The word “menopause” conjures up dread of hot flashes, night sweats and a host of other unpleasant symptoms in the minds of many women. While all women will go through it, symptoms will vary, with some remaining relatively unaffected and others finding their symptoms intolerable and debilitating. Several mechanisms are likely responsible for triggering menopause, but the changes mainly occur within the ovaries. With the end of ovulation, a woman’s ovaries stop producing estrogen in response to the body’s other hormonal signals. The end result is low estrogen and levels will fluctuate around menopause as the body readjusts to a new state of infertility without support from the ovaries. This adjustment results in many of the symptoms women experience during this transition period. Read more  »

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

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Eight hours. That’s the nightly sleep recommendation you hear most frequently, the gold standard for a healthy sleep routine. But what if it isn’t? I read this article in The Wall Street Journal with great interest, for it points to recent research that suggests the eight-hour model may not be the ideal one for most healthy adults. Read more  »

Sharecare Top 5: Healthy Treat Swaps, Smart Parenting Tips, What You’re Doing Wrong with Your Contact Lenses and More

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Last week on Sharecare we gave you: permission to eat sweet treats, parenting advice from our resident ER expert, smart ways to take care of your contact lenses and more. Check out five of our latest posts.

1. Indulging in sweet treats like ice cream and pie can certainly make you pack on pounds. Keep your waistline trim and your taste buds happy by swapping out high-calorie offenders with these healthier options.

2. The emergency room is probably one of the last places you’d expect to learn parenting advice. Yet, after years of being an emergency room physician, Darria Long Gillespie, MD, picked up a few lessons of her own. Now she’s sharing them with you.

3. If you wear contacts, you probably rely on contact solution to keep your lenses clean. However, a strain of bacteria that causes eye infections can survive longer in solution than previously thought, according to a new study. Find out more and get tips for safely storing and handling your contact lenses.

4. Many hospitals and doctors’ officers have implemented electronic health records (EHRs) to make it easier to track your medical history. But what happens when there’s a computer glitch? Are your records – and your health – still safe? Here are five ways to reduce your risk of EHR-related errors.

5. You don’t have to try elaborate diets or workouts to torch extra calories. Barbara Ficarra, RN, reveals how the push of a button can save you 100 calories a day – no sweating necessary.

In Case You Missed It: August 11 Through August 15

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If you missed a segment or forgot to jot down a tip this week, we’ve got you covered. Check out these helpful hints and take-aways and click to read more on DoctorOz.com!

1. Dr. Oz and Al Roker discuss how the weather can help predict your aches and pains. Get the top three supplements for colds and flu and the truth on the weather’s effects on your mood, colds and asthma.

2. Find out why insomnia can be a warning sign to a more serious health problem. Try these simple sleep tests and solutions and make the most out of your snack with this protein-packed brownie recipe.

3. The disturbing new reason why you should ditch diet soda. Take the 28-day national soda challenge and use this food-poisoning checklist to figure out what’s causing your tummy troubles.

4. Robin Quivers shares the details of her cancer scare. Stock up on these foods that prevent cancer and try her healthy salad recipe.

5. Dr. Oz reveal the biggest burn out busters to get your energy back. Power through your day with these fast energy boosters and try one of these easy home remedies to fix everything from migraines to bloat and more.

Today’s Headlines: Vaccines, Dietary Salt, and Pain Tolerance

You may need another vaccine. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has announced it now recommends Prevnar 13 for all adults over 65. Prevnar is a vaccine that protects against Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is one of the most common causes of pneumonia in older adults and can be fatal. The ACIP is a government organization that looks at all available evidence for various vaccines and makes recommendations about who should get what. “The panel recommended that adults 65 years or older who have not previously received either Prevnar or Pneumovax, or whose previous vaccination history is unknown, should first receive a dose of Prevnar 13, followed by a dose of Pneumovax.” The decision comes after studies showing the vaccine to be very effective in those over 65 at preventing infection. All decisions about vaccinations should be made with the help of a physician. (Fox)

The role of salt in health is more complicated than we thought. For healthy individuals, cutting salt out of your diet might be problematic. A new study out this week, “tracked more than 100,000 people from 17 countries over an average of more than three years and found that those who consumed fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day had a higher risk of death or a serious event such as a heart attack or stroke in that period than those whose intake was estimated at 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams. Risk of death or other major events increased with intake above 6,000 milligrams.” The World Health Organization, U.S. government and American Heart Association all recommend less than 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams. While those on a low-salt diet should continue to keep their sodium low, this new study indicates that the debate is not over about how much is too much when it comes to salt. (WSJ)

Doing exercise may decrease your sense of pain. While just the thought of exercise may be painful for some people, a new study has found that exercise can actually increase your pain tolerance. “Scientists have known that strenuous exercise briefly and acutely dulls pain” by releasing endorphins, but less was known about the long term effects. By studying a group of volunteers who either did or didn’t do exercise over a several week period, researchers found that “the volunteers in the exercise group displayed substantially greater ability to withstand pain. Their pain thresholds had not changed; they began to feel pain at the same point they had before. But their tolerance had risen. Those volunteers whose fitness had increased the most also showed the greatest increase in pain tolerance.” (NYT)

Reproductive Clock More Pressing When Real Clock is Ticking

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From nosy relatives to babies populating social network feeds, women are often reminded of the period of time they have for childbearing. As they enter their 30s, a heightened awareness of the shrinking time left to conceive can be a source of anxiety, especially in those without a partner. A new study published in the journal Human Nature looked to see just how much a real reminder of the passage of time could affect this sense of urgency and how that might, in turn, influence how choosy a woman is when it comes to finding a mate. Read more  »

4 Ways to Ease Your Aching Back

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Summer is a big time for tackling heavy-duty home projects and lugging outdoor gear all over the place, which can sometimes be more than your back bargained for. Your lower back especially is a very vulnerable area prone to injury, particularly as we age. The wear and tear of living eventually weakens the skeletal structure, causing bone loss and disintegrated or displaced discs. And you’re not alone: eight out of 10 Americans experience back pain at some time, making it the fifth most common reason to visit the doctor. Read more  »