Pets provide unconditional love

Pets don't care what we wear or if our hair is combed.


Pets

pets
Pets provide unconditional love and companionship for people of all ages—a fact that any pet owner can confirm. But scientific research also suggests pets help people control blood pressure and manage stress. Researchers have taken an interest in pets because controlling stress and blood pressure are vital keys to reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. A 2000 study, for instance, found that dogs help relieve cardiovascular stress in people who have had difficulty controlling their stress.

The study was just one of a series that demonstrated the positive health benefits of pet ownership. Dr. Karen Allen has led a team of researchers from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo in a series of pet-related studies that began more than a decade ago. Their results have repeatedly demonstrated that people show a reduced stress response (i.e., less of a rise in blood pressure or heart rate) if their pet happens to be nearby. Pets comfort us when we face life’s many challenges.

The SUNY-Buffalo research team has also studied the effects of owning a pet on a group of hypertensive people who were caring for their brain-injured spouses. Half of the caregivers adopted a dog for six months. At the end of those six months, the new pet owners were reacting to stress better than they had before, and better than the caregivers who did not have a pet. The other half of the caregivers then adopted a dog. After another six months, all of the caregivers were reacting better to stress.

Research has found that health benefits are not limited to dogs or (by extension) cats. A study found that watching brightly colored fish swim back and forth in an aquarium helped calm people prone to disruptive behavior, such as children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Nursing homes in both the United States and Europe have documented the helpful effects of bringing in pets to visit the residents, and many people have benefited from therapeutic programs that allow them to interact with horses, dolphins, and other animals.

Exactly why pets can have a positive physiological effect is not clear, but experts have a number of theories. Research in general has shown that people tend to be healthier when they have a companion. In addition, studies have shown that people enjoyed more social interaction if they were accompanied by a dog. It may also be that people have an easier time reaching out to a person’s pet than a person! Pets bridge all communication gaps.

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Other Effects of Obesity

More Than Just Cardiovascular Disease


Whenever there is talk about obesity, it is generally discussed alongside the risks for heart attack and stroke. In reality, there is a long list of conditions that obesity is associated with an increased risk for. While this article will not cover every single one, it will highlight some of the effects of obesity that people may be less aware of.

obesity

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing momentarily in your sleep. It could be a central sleep apnea from neurological impairment or obstructive sleep apnea from your airway closing off. Obesity is a cause of obstructive sleep apnea because excess fat tissue around the airway and in your neck can make the airway easier to collapse. What ultimately happens is that you would be excessively sleepy in the daytime, enough to impair concentration and put you at risk for accidents.

Keep in mind that you do not need to be obese to have obstructive sleep apnea. Upper airway obstruction has other causes, including substances relaxing the throat muscles such as alcohol and anatomical causes like enlarged tonsils. Even thin people can have sleep apnea.

Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome

Another breathing problem could occur with obesity. If you were to be massively obese, the heavy weight of fat tissue in your belly could actually make it hard to take a deep breath. Over time, you would build up carbon dioxide in your system and also have a low oxygen level, which would lead to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. This is called obesity hypoventilation syndrome, also called Pickwickian syndrome. Though it has similarities with sleep apnea, do not confuse the two because they are not one and the same.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

GERD, commonly known as acid reflux, can occur with obesity for the same reason as obesity hypoventilation syndrome. Weight from abdominal fat tissue can push the stomach upward, which then pushes its acidic contents upward into the esophagus. While medications for acid reflux can be used, they do not address the root of the problem.

Osteoarthritis

With obesity, there is an increased risk for osteoarthritis in the knees. This is because of the amount of stress put on the knees when one is obese, and there is evidence that shows this. Surprisingly, obesity is also associated with an increased risk for osteoarthritis in other joints, like the hands. This may suggest a metabolic process with obesity and osteoarthritis, not just a mechanical process.

Intertriginous Dermatitis

There are certain areas of skin that fold, allowing moisture to collect if there is a lack of hygiene. They include the groin and the skin under the breasts in women. With obesity, another place would be the skin under the protruding belly. If moisture is trapped in these tight spaces long enough, skin inflammation takes place. This is called intertriginous dermatitis.

Final Words

Obesity is associated with a long list of health risks, more than what is described here. While there are treatment options for each of the individual conditions, the best way to treat them is to lose weight and eliminate the root of the problem. Maintaining a healthy weight is more than preventing cardiovascular disease and other conditions. It is about living a long healthy life.

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Recognizing an emergency and getting your bill paid

emergency call
It's every parent's worst fear. It's the middle of the night and your child is sick. How do you know when to take her to the emergency room?
It can be tempting to take your child to the ER at the first sign of trouble, but it is never a good idea to pay your local hospital a visit without good information. An unnecessary trip to the ER can result in an hours-long wait. If an occasion is non-emergent, those with urgent conditions will be treated first, and if your “emergency” isn't truly an emergency, the hospital can refuse to treat you once you've been triaged.

If your child is under one year and has a fever above 100 degrees, a call to your pediatrician and a trip to the ER is justified. If your child is over one year, a fever alone is not reason enough for an ER visit. The fever can be treated with over the counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen until you can get to your pediatrician's office. If the fever is accompanied by a headache, a rash, a stiff or painful neck, severe vomiting, convulsions or lethargy call your doctor and have him meet you at the emergency room. Other reasons for ER visits are severe pain in the right lower area of the abdomen, coughing or vomiting blood and unresponsiveness.

In addition to wasted time, your insurance company may not pay for a non-emergent visit to the emergency department. Most insurance companies have “reasonable use” policies to cover ER visits. If the claims adjuster feels that a reasonable person would think the symptoms presented at the time of the visit were an emergency, then the claim will be paid. The problem with this system is that it is highly subjective and there is little recourse if you do not agree with the outcome. Even if your insurance company does pay, there are often larger deductibles and co-pays involved with ER visits.

If your child is sick in the middle of the night, there are options. Many emergency departments have a phone nurse on staff. The nurse can provide advice or just reassurance. She can also tell you if you are facing a true emergency that requires a visit. If you call ahead and receive prior authorization, you can often avoid the long waits associated with ER visits. Your doctor's office may have a 24 hour number or a book with common child health problems and solutions.

Having a sick child can make you feel helpless, but with some forethought and good information, you can provide the best care for your child.

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