3 Hidden Lead Sources Lurking in Your Home

Hispanic woman playing with daughter

The Flint, Michigan, water crisis, in which thousands of people were exposed to lead through contaminated water and pipes, reminded us that lead can lurk in many places, exposing children and adults to it every year. More recently, officials in the Newark, New Jersey, school district turned off school water fountains amid concerns, after annual testing, that too much lead was leaching into the water from its outdated pipes. (Find out the irreversible effects of lead poisoning.)

The reality is, lead is a naturally occurring element, in thousands of places. Most of it won’t harm the healthy adult (so you can stop searching Amazon for a lead-protecting body bubble). Adults are typically exposed by either eating or inhaling lead, or by being chronically exposed to it. However, young children are at higher risk. Not only are they more likely to be exposed to lead (since everything they find goes into their mouths), their developing brains and bodies are more vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning.

So, if you have young children at home, keep these three key culprits for hidden lead exposure in mind.

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5 Lifesaving Emergency Tips

first aid kit

Would you know what to do in an emergency? A parent has suddenly collapsed; you’re at the scene of a bad accident. Of course, call 911 — but what can you do while waiting for help to arrive? In medicine, we label the early moments after an emergency the “Golden Hour” — because what you do right then may determine the outcome.

That may sound scary. But as an ER doctor, I’ve seen countless patients whose lives were saved by a quick-thinking and knowledgeable bystander or loved one. We never know where life may lead — and every single one of us can learn these lifesaving techniques. (Cue ER theme music).

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Stop Morning Stress With These Healthy Habits

sunrise

Do your mornings suck? If mornings at your house resemble Filene’s Running of the Brides or Black Friday morning, then it’s time to get a handle on it. The best news is that you can. No matter how crazy our mornings, we can all instill a little sanity – and create a positive feedback loop for the entire day.

Try these tips to make them less madcap:

Smooth the transition. It’s 5:59 am and you’re asleep, your brain bathed in relaxing melatonin, lost in a dream about Adam Levine. Suddenly it’s 6 am and GAH! It’s an air raid! It’s your toddler! It’s an air raid of toddlers! Nope, it’s your blaring alarm clock, triggering cortisol to be released and shooting up your heart rate and blood pressure. Try a calmer transition with a lighted wake-up clock (that slowly brightens until it’s time to wake up), an app that awakens you at your lightest sleep, within your set wake-up window, or even a less “alarming” alarm tone. Sadly, none of those bring back Adam.

Decrease the amount you have to think. Make a morning routine that you and your family (with a little luck?) use every day. The brain loves routines. They make mundane daily activities less stressful and free us to focus on more important things. Put items you use every morning in the same spot. Make lists for children’s daily “must-do’s”. Prep lunch and gym bags the night before so they’re grab-and-go. The fewer spontaneous decisions you have to make to get out the door, the better.

Get up 10 minutes early for a morning ritual. This is one of the best ways to control the tone of your own day. Go for a quick walk/run. Do yoga. Take five minutes for some self-affirmations such as “When xxx (something concerning you that day) happens, I will be able to handle it with yyy (a successful response).” Or try therapist Karin Smithson Luise’s “I am” statements.

Stay out of cell-phone response spiral. You get up. You check email on your phone, see five requests and spend the next 15 minutes responding. Now you’re both late and worried. Try to avoid checking before you get to the office. If you must, respond only to “emergencies.” You’ll save yourself time in the morning and have a better response anyway, once your brain is awake.

What’s your favorite tip for starting your day? Tweet @Sharecare and let us know!

This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.

Why It’s OK to Schedule Sex

happy couple in bed

I’ve always thought that “scheduling sex” was the death-knell of a relationship – like something those couples that also use the bathroom in front of each other do. I mean, did Carrie and Big ever schedule sex? Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele?

Isn’t scheduling sex an overly “logical” solution to something that defies logic – that heady mix of chemistry and desire? (Not to mention about the least romantic way to ensure you have it.)

Evidently not. To give us all a little kick for Valentine’s Day, I reached out to sex therapist Ian Kerner, PhD. According to Kerner, scheduling sex isn’t being type A or taking a business approach. Instead, he says, it’s simply one of the best ways to prioritize intimacy and put it at the top of the list. Read more  »

How 10 Minutes Can Change Your Life

portrait of happy young housewife with vegetables in kitchen

Ready for an intensive, all-encompassing process to change your life?

Yeah, me neither. Kind of tough to fit in, between prepping the presentation for your boss, last-minute runs to the store, and making goodies for the bake sale you somehow signed up to chair. Besides, can I remind you that you’re already pretty awesome? Don’t go changing that much.

But, we all have improvements that we’d like to make –- and what if I said that you could still get the impact, in barely more time than it takes to shimmy into your Spanx? Research shows that even 10 minutes a day can have a surprisingly significant effect.

Let’s face it –none of us have time to waste — so here are a few of my favorite powerhouse activities. Want more? Check out (and Like) Sharecare for daily tips the entire month of January! Plus, tweet me @DrDarria or find me on Facebook with your favorite ways. Read more  »

Why You Don’t Need to Worry About Your Health Over the Holidays

Christmas-dinner-family-638x425

It’s the holidays and you’ve probably seen endless stories about how you can “stay healthy over the holidays” – tips intended to keep you from “overindulging.” Ick! It’s the holidays – and how un-fun is it to be at a party when your chief concern is avoiding the baked Brie? DELETE, Oh, and please pass the peanut butter haystacks.

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5 Holiday Health Fails

Mother Carrying Her Daughter who is Attaching a Christmas Ornament to a Christmas Tree

You can tell when the holiday season starts in the ER. Perhaps you open a patient’s chart that includes “ornament” in the chief complaint, or your inebriated patient comes in with the pleasant aroma of peppermint schnapps (oh, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas). I still laugh when I see the falls in Home Alone or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. But with 250 injuries a day occurring while decorating for the holiday season, unless you have a stuntman, follow my five rules for a health fail-free holiday.   Read more  »

An ER Doc’s Tips for Keeping Your Cool

Motion Blur Stretcher Gurney Patient Hospital Emergency

I’ll never forget the day I learned the meaning of stress in the emergency room (ER). A massive multicar accident brought in many patients, pulling away the other ER doctors and leaving the rest of the ER in my care. I was focusing on a procedure to save a man with a life-threateningly low blood pressure, trying to block out the surrounding mayhem, when a nurse came up to me with the EKG for a new patient. Even at a distance, I could see he was having a massive heart attack, what some call “the Widowmaker.” As the operator called overhead for yet another new trauma patient, I felt my blood pressure rise – and for a millisecond, my throat suddenly felt full. I thought, “I can’t do this.” I learned that day that I’d just never had to do it.

What makes ER doctors and other crisis professionals able to not only stay cool, but also function at the top of their game in an emergency? Sure, some people may naturally be better at this. But what I’ve learned in the ER is that all of us can rise to the challenge, and sometimes even surprise ourselves. But to be effective, you have to keep your head. The lessons below apply with any challenge, whether it’s a true physical emergency or the stuff of daily living: your toddler pulled down the pasta display in a supermarket, or your boss gave you a major project due the next day, or the babysitter calls in sick, or you spill coffee on your smartphone. Stay in control with my five tips that I use in the ER and life in general.   Read more  »

What You’re Not Told About Mammograms

Nurse Assisting Patient Undergoing Mammogram

Last month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) released a new set of guidelines for breast cancer screening. This left many of us with more questions – now six different groups recommend three different ages to start screening. The choice of when to start is further encouraged to be a woman’s personal decision with her doctor. However, the current guidelines are confusing at best (as a physician myself, I was certainly confused), and occasionally misleading. Read more  »

3 Ways to Slow Down Time

Family walking on cliffside path

Last week was a blur. I don’t remember any of it and found myself asking, “Is it Sunday again already?” As a mom, watching my daughter’s toddlerhood sometimes seems like trying to hold sand in my hands –- slipping through my fingers despite my attempts to grasp it.

I hate that feeling. What if, instead of killing time, we could make it? Read more  »