Good Eggs: New fertility test says it can measure how many high-quality eggs you have left

by Jessica Ashley

A new test is in town, and it might just give women information about their fertility they never expected to find: Exactly how many “good eggs” they have left.  Even if it could predict how many high-quality eggs we have and how that affects our chances of getting pregnant, is that information we want to know?

Plan Ahead, the first test of its kind to test and predict a woman’s “ovarian reserve,” will be available in fertility clinics in eleven states in the next few weeks. Marketed by Repromedix, it will be available for $350 to women who want a higher-tech insight into family planning than has previously been available.

How does this thing work anyway?
Plan Ahead’s calculations are based on tracking three hormonal tests:

* inhibin B, a protein derived from egg follicles
* anti-mullerian hormone, generated by the cells that surround eggs that have not yet matured
* follicle stimulating hormone, which prompts development of the eggs

These hormone levels are combined with the woman’s age and estrogen levels to create a formula for her fertility. Or at least conceive a score for how many eggs are viable for reproduction.

Do they really count the eggs?
The hormonal tests that Plan Ahead depends upon to derive this score aren’t new to the market, and some experts are concerned about the use and analysis of the anti-mullerian hormone since the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved it for commercial distribution. Adding fuel to this fertility testing fire is the lack of published data by marketing company Repromedix. Although Repromedix conducted a study of 200 women’s ovarian reserves, the results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Some doctors say the test should be clinically established before the idea — or Plan Ahead itself — is sold to women. Although clinical data and FDA clearance isn’t being made available by Repromedix at this point, the company is making a very important point about what the test can’t do: It can’t predict whether or not a woman is fertile or how quickly she will get pregnant. It also cannot determine the rate of deterioration of the viable eggs she does have.

Simply put, it all comes down to the count. All the math and blood tests and money and technology tells a woman one thing: If she’s at risk of having a low supply of “good eggs.”

Why is this count so controversial?
At Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, the chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, Dr. Ralph Krazer told the Chicago Tribune that he thinks Plan Ahead’s being offered to women prematurely “[g]iven the state of the science.”

In New York, Dr. Zev Rosenwaks took his concerns a step further. As the director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, he questioned Plan Ahead’s value for patients worrying that results could generate false reassurance or panic among women who are tested.

While the science here is fascinating — just think, a mathematical formula that is essentially a peek into the amazing and previously far more mysterious underworld of our ovaries — as a woman, a mother, a person who wants to parent again in the future, I think Plan Ahead carries as many (if not more) anxieties than those other pregnancy-related tests.

Do we need to stress over another plus or minus sign?
I can’t imagine a woman or couple who haven’t been overwhelmed by pounding hearts while waiting for a plus or minus sign to appear on a pregnancy test. And if you’ve been through an amnio, age-related risk assesments, ultrasound and genetic “abnormality” tests, you’re familiar with the worry they produce over issues you never considered when you chose to become a parent. While I’ve been fortunate to be more fertile than I expected that one night after several pitchers of microbrews and mood lighting, I’ve known too many women who’ve experienced the emotional roller coaster of infertility drugs and treatments, hormones and panic in an effort to become pregnant. Sure, the science is incredible and has aided, inspired, guided and gifted many people with pregnancies, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come free or even cheap.

The cost here, I am concerned, is the opportunity for more anxiety to creep into a woman’s biology. While Plan Ahead is geared, the manufacturer says, toward women in their mid-to-late 30s who have already experienced difficulty conceiving and want to test their ovum and themselves to see if they should pursue in vitro treatment, I imagine many more women in that will have their blood drawn for the cause.

Oh yeah. There are plenty of questions. A lifetime of ’em for a lifetime of ovum.
A girl child is born with a lifetime supply of eggs and once she starts menstruating, the eggs are released, with a sharp decline as she moves through her 30s. This basic biology is not new to us, but the cultural move to later motherhood is relatively recent. So how does a test that measures that egg supply factor in?

Will women make different maternal choices if they know they’re lacking lots of high-quality eggs?

Will the question of how many “good eggs” a woman has follow whether she’s got a clean bill of health, is STD-free and even wants children at all?

Will women who’ve chosen to put a college, a career, travel, themselves first in their 20s suddenly feel the necessity to put that all aside if there’s a chance their eggs may not outlast their other ambitions?

As family planning takes this turn, is the science formulating the potential for anxiety more tests could produce for people who want to become parents, if not now then maybe, possibly one day on down the road?

While we’re busy counting “good eggs,” are we also accounting for the emotional responses to Plan Ahead just being available?

What’s your response to Plan Ahead?: Would you take this fertility test if it was available in your city?

Know the Facts About Infantigo

Before I get into some of the facts about Infantigo which can also called Impetigo, I want to first talk about the biggest organ on our bodies, and that is our skin. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I became aware that our skin was even considered to be an organ.

And out of all the organs in our bodies, our skin could be considered as being the most important. I know you’re probably thinking about our heart, brain, liver, kidneys and stomach, but think about it. It’s our skin that hold all these things together, so in my book that makes it more important.

Our Skin Is Made Up Of Three Different Layers

  • The outside layer is the epidermis.
  • The next layer is the dermis, and this contains all our nerve endings, blood vessels, oil glands and sweat glands. It also contains elastin and collagen.
  • The third layer is the  subcutaneous which is made mostly of fat and helps our bodies stay warm. It also helps hold the skin to all the tissues underneath it and absorbs trauma or shock to our bodies.

Our skin is also the first defense against any bacterial infections, and even though many bacteria already live on the surface, only healthy skin can protect us from any infections.

The most serious complication of Impetigo is a severe kidney disease that occurs following a strep infection, but this only occurs in less than 1% of the cases and mostly occurs in children. So let’s go over some of the facts about Impetigo…

It Is A Bacterial Infection Of The Surface Of The Skin

Yes, Impetigo happens to be a highly contagious bacterial skin infection which can show up anywhere on your body, but generally attacks your exposed areas. Children tend to get Impetigo on their face, especially around their mouth and nose, and sometimes even their legs or legs.

The bacteria responsible for this infection depends on which form of Impetigo you have. If you have the Non-Bullous form, the bacteria responsible would be either Staphylococcus or Streptococcus. If you should be suffering from the Bullous form of the disease, this is caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria.

The areas that are infected can range from dime to quarter size and start out as tiny blisters that break to expose moist, red skin. After a few days, the infected area gets a golden, grainy crust that gradually spreads.

This infection Is More Common In Children Than In Adults

The reason Impetigo is so common among children is because it can be easily spread to them by other children in school or pre-school. This is why it is also called “school sores.” It has been said that this disease really loves skin that has had other skin problems like poison ivy, skin rashes from allergies or eczema.

If your child has contracted Impetigo, you should keep them home from school or day care until they are no longer contagious, which is usually 24 to 48 hours after you begin treatment with the antibiotics. Without antibiotics, Impetigo will remain contagious until the sores go away.

During this time you have to be careful with their bed linen, clothes, towels and wash clothes. The key is to keep them separate from your other laundry and wash them daily. I suggest this because Impetigo can also be spread to other members of your family if they come into contact with items that have been handled by your child while they were still contagious.

Another thing is to try your best to keep the infected area as isolated as possible. If your child touches any other part of their body with hands or fingers that have touched the infected area, that area will also become infected.

This is why it’s important to start treatment of Impetigo as quickly as possible. The faster healing begins, the less you have to worry about this infection spreading.

There Is An Extreme Form Of Impetigo

The extreme form of Impetigo is called Ecthyma. If not treated quickly and properly the infection could invade down to a deeper layer of your skin. Because of this, some people call Ecthyma, “deep impetigo.” The one thing to be aware of if the infection gets this advanced is that the sores could cause permanent scarring and pigment changes.

Scarring And Permanent Skin Damage Is Very Rare

Impetigo is not serious and is easy to treat, but the key is to treat it in the early stages. It could clear on its own in two to three weeks, and of course if you decide to use antibiotics this can shorten the course of the disease and stop it from spreading to others.

It doesn’t leave scars or damage to the skin, but as I stated above, if you don’t treat it right away, and it advances to Ecthyma, then there will be scarring after it heals.

Pooping blood

Pooping blood is the result of distended veins (which cause hemorrhoids), which are located in the rectum, and anus’ lower part. In normal cases, they do not cause any problem, but if they get swollen, it can become very painful and then the patient has to treat it. There are two types of hemorrhoids; one is called, “Internal hemorrhoid” and the other is called “External hemorrhoid”. The internal hemorrhoids are present in the inside layer of rectum. The internal hemorrhoid cannot be felt physically and do not cause any kind of pain if everything is fine, but one has to cure hemorrhoids if he/she experiences any pain in anus or rectum, as the pain could be indicating hemorrhoids.

In the case of hemorrhoid swelling, the, the internal hemorrhoid protrudes through the anus. The outer skin, which surrounds the anus, has external hemorrhoids beneath it. It can also be not felt except in the case of abnormality, such as swelling of the hemorrhoid or when the blood clot is blocked in the vein, which is very painful, and demands to cure hemorrhoids.

The Causes

The most common cause of dark blood in poop is the swollen veins, which are caused when there is a strain, causing bloody stool. Pregnancy can also be one major reason of hemorrhoids, as during pregnancy the enlarged uterus put a pressure on the rectum. Treatment of hemorrhoids is very important if one feels pain or bleeding through anus. Another significant cause of hemorrhoids can be constipation too, as hemorrhoids are often associated with constipation that also puts strain on the bowel and stool passing. Liver problem can also lead to the hemorrhoid pain. One must see the doctor immediately to cure hemorrhoids if he/she experiences any such symptom such as problem in stool passing or swelling.

Symptoms Of Hemorrhoids

As the early symptom of hemorrhoids, one may experience bleeding from the anus, resulting in blood in your stool. This bleeding is mostly painless. The bleeding can be seen with the passage of poop, or it can just keep dripping when one uses toilet to poop. This bleeding stops itself after a limited period of time.  To cure hemorrhoids, one must take notice of earliest symptoms.

However, pooping blood may not be the one and only reason for hemorrhoids as bleeding can occur due to tumor, infection, or inflammatory disease of bowel. The symptoms of the problem in internal or external hemorrhoids are different each other and in order to treat it correctly, one must know about the problem in detail. In case of abnormality in internal hemorrhoids, the veins swell and the swelling go to the extent that the hemorrhoid is prolapsed outside the anus. This protruded hemorrhoid can be felt like a lump.

The internal hemorrhoid sticking out of the anus can be pushed back through the anal hole. This may solve it temporarily, but it will not completely cure it in any case, and there will be a time when the protruded hemorrhoid will become so swelled that it could not be pushed back anymore as the lump will be wedged.

Therefore, it is more advisable to take notice of blood in poop at the initial stage. The one suffering from hemorrhoid pain also feels harsh and experience uncontrollable itching inside the anus and every time during the passage of poop, there feels a blockage that rouses the urge of needling for the movement of bowel. The external hemorrhoid pain has a more chronic condition, which is known also as “Thrombosed External Hemorrhoid”. This condition crops up when a blot clot is blocked inside the hemorrhoid and produces great pain and itching. To treat this the blood clot in the vein has to be removed in the first place to allow the passage of blood and ease bowel movement.

The reason behind Thrombosed External Hemorrhoids being painful is that, the blood clot, which blocks the vein, causes increased swelling of the hemorrhoid, which causes increased pain. Doctors treat blood in poop as the pain increases if the patient sits, because sitting causes pressure on the rectum and the hemorrhoid, which has clogged blood clot.

The Cure

There are of course proper medical treatments to treat this condition, but there are some home remedies too, which can be adopted to cure hemorrhoids. To soothe the inflammation of the hemorrhoid and soften the stool, the patient must sit in a tub of warm water. This treatment can be performed regularly for 15 to 20 minutes and after having done with bath tub sitting, the anus area must be dried off with towel as otherwise, further inflammation can occur. As prevention and cure of hemorrhoid, doctors also recommend the intake of plenty of water and other health and fresh beverages to prevent the hardening of bowel movement.

For treatment, doctors also recommend patients not to sit on hard places such as wooden chair or bench for longer period as sitting can worsen the problem. Patients must get rubber or air donuts to sit on as these donuts are soft, and helps to ease the hemorrhoids problem.

Medically, there are many treatments to cure hemorrhoids. Some include oral intakes and other includes surgeries to treat dark blood in poop.  Various kinds of surgeries are used to cure hemorrhoids such as stapled Hemorrhoidectomy, a laser therapy that it used to make the internal hemorrhoids hard.

Hemorrhoids are a serious and painful bowel condition and one must not delay any time to cure hemorrhoids. The pain from your bloody poop can occur in consecutive intervals and patients may ignore it by considering it a normal bowel pain, such perception towards it is wrong as the earlier we go for treatment, the better it will be.

Rubbing Alcohol on Acne

Rubbing alcohol is also known as isopropyl alcohol. Its antiseptic qualities are used to kill bacteria and germs. What about it on acne skin? I hate getting breakouts, and I’ve gotten desperate to get rid of pimples and blackheads. I want clear skin like everyone else. I also don’t have lots of money to spend on expensive treatments. Rubbing alcohol is pretty cheap and it kills bacteria. So it seemed like a good idea to use it as an astringent. Why was it a bad idea?

Curious?

Many acne suffers find themselves wondering about rubbing alcohol on acne skin and whether it is an effective form of treatment. After all, it smells medicinal and many consumers assume it would work well as a toner for acne prone skin. Before wiping a cotton swab full of isopropyl on your cheeks, you may want to consider some of the following:

MSDS Classification

The MSDS, or Material Safety Data Sheet, which is a classification system that ranks dangerous chemicals, ranks isopropyl alcohol (or rubbing alcohol) high on the possible list of skin irritants. That means that when applied to the skin, it is shown to cause rashes or dryness, which will irritate a person’s skin further. If rubbing alcohol gets into the eye, it can also cause severe eye pain or even permanent eye damage.

Drying and Irritating

Aside from being listed as a skin irritant on the MSDS, the isopropyl alcohol has proven to dry out the skin upon use. If you have ever used it to wipe or clean a wound, you have most likely noticed how fast the skin dries out once touched by the liquid. If skin is already dry from certain acne treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide or Retin-A, then the alcohol can only further skin dryness from there.

Although it is an antiseptic and excellent for killing bacteria, it seems to take all the moisture out of skin. Alcohol dries skin and is an irritant, especially to sensitive skin. It also seems to make oil glands work overtime to compensate for the extra dryness, making problems worse.

Astringents designed for controlling acne have added ingredients to any alcohol to help reduce irritation and dryness. Finding the right acne treatments can be frustrating, but fortunately there are good methods for treating acne.

Alternatives

Rather than use isopropyl alcohol as a toner, it is recommended that consumers use an astringent toner with ingredients like witch hazel, such as Olay Oil Minimizing Toner. Witch hazel is proven effective at cleansing acne prone skin, but also does not dry out the skin’s surface. Therefore, when you find yourself curious, play it safe and use acne treatments that are available over the counter instead.

Two Products Recommended

  • Sea Breeze astringents remove excess oil, makeup, and dirt. There are several different formulas, depending on your needs: Sensitive Skin, Sea Breeze Actives Deep Clean, Actives Clear Pore, and the Naturals line made with sea minerals and botanicals.
  • Clean and Clear Deep Cleaning Astringent has maximum-strength acne-fighting medication that is supposed to treat and help prevent pimples. There is also a sensitive skin formula that deep cleans while being gentler.

If You Do Use Alcohol

If you’re wondering about rubbing alcohol for your acne, it can work in a pinch if it’s an emergency. Use it only on a short-term basis. Apply it with a cotton swab, so you target only the pimple, rather than rubbing it all over your face.

 

Bulging Disc

A bulging disc is considered as a contained disc disorder. This means that the soft center of the intervertebral disc (nucleus pulposus) has pushed against the outer fibrous ring (annulus fibrosus) so that, without tearing or rupturing the outer layer, it would appear as a swollen mass. Unlike a protruding disc, however, a bulging disc is not large enough to jut into the spinal canal and compress a nerve root or nerve.

Symptoms

So what causes the symptoms? Despite the absence of nerve compression, a bulging disc induces the release of inflammatory chemical mediators – most notably Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF) and Interleukin-17 (IL-17) – which irritate the nerve roots or nerves.

Most cases of bulging discs do not present with any symptoms at all. In fact, bulging discs are more often incidental findings on CT and MRI scans done on patients who are being evaluated for other diseases.

The pain of bulging discs is usually limited to the site in the spine where it is located. A cervical bulging disc usually presents with neck pain. On the other hand, lumbar bulging discs are characterized by pain in the lower back or buttocks. With persistent nerve irritation, pain may follow the nerve pathway radiation that is observed with protruding or herniated discs.

Relief Options


Since the symptoms are acute, the pain may resolve on its own with a few hours of rest of with the application of ice and hot compresses. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help not only to relieve pain but also to counteract the nerve irritation caused by the inflammatory mediators.

Patients diagnosed with bulging discs are advised to observe good posture habits and not do any heavy lifting so that the condition will not be aggravated any further. Back strengthening and stretching exercises also help to build stability in the spine and flexibility in the muscles and other supportive tissues.

Bulging discs have been found to respond very well to inversion therapy, a type of traction using an inversion table. A more effective treatment is spinal decompression therapy, which could pull back the swollen nucleus pulposus to the center of the intervertebral disc.

Bulging disc surgery is rarely performed since this condition can be adequately managed through conservative means.

While the condition should not be a cause of great concern for a patient, he or she must observe good posture and perform regular low-impact exercises that would prevent the condition from progressing to a more painful protruding or herniated disc.

Herniated Disc vs. Bulging Disc – What’s the Difference?

You don’t have to look much online or elsewhere to read about the difference both of them. In fact, some claim a bulging disc is a form of herniated disc. Other authors say not.  Who’s right?

  • MedicineNet.com defines “herniation” as an “Abnormal protrusion of tissue through an opening.

Arguably the bulge is a protrusion, but most authors I’ve read do not equate a disc bulge with a herniated disc.  Instead, the herniation is equated with a disc rupture or prolapsed – which is when the inner disc fluid actually oozes outside the disc itself.

Here’s my take – it doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day, most authors get it right in that a bulging disc is a protruding, yet intact vertebrae disc that may or may not impinge a nerve. On the other hand, a disc is herniated when the cartilage-material-outer surface of the disc actually ruptures and oozes out some of the internal disc fluid. In a nutshell a bulging disc is a misshapen, yet intact disc; a herniated disc is a ruptured disc.

Some people have no pain from bulging discs and herniated discs, but many do. The pain arises if the bulge or leaking fluid contacts a nerve.

What are Causes?

There are two main causes:

  • trauma; and
  • muscle imbalances.

An example of trauma that causes many disc bulges and herniated discs car accidents. But other types of trauma such as falling, being hit, or slipping can also result in either a bulge or herniation.

Muscle imbalances place pressure on the disc that results in either a bulge or a herniation. Pain occurs if nerve irritation results.

What is a muscle imbalance?

A muscle imbalance results when you have overdeveloped and/or tight muscles in one area of your body and weaker, less-developed muscles elsewhere. The overdeveloped muscles supersede or dominate the weaker, less-developed muscles.

Taking the spine for instance, if you have imbalanced muscles surrounding your spine, then the overdeveloped muscles will place pressure on your spine – such as a disc, for instance. Over time, that pressure will form a bulge, and may ultimately rupture.

Muscle imbalances occur from activities of daily living … using a computer, writing, sitting certain ways, holding cell phones, etc. Our routine activities use select muscles, often on one side of the body, which overdevelops some muscles in relation to other muscles.

Long-term muscle imbalance results in some for of misalignment in your body.  A common muscle imbalance results from imbalanced core muscles causing your pelvis to misalign.  When a pelvis is out of proper alignment, which is the base of the spine, the spines curve alters as well.  Any time the curve of the spine occurs, back pain may result – including a bulging disc or herniated disc.

One approach, a natural approach to ridding you of back pain stemming from a bulging disc or herniated disc is muscle balance therapy. It makes sense that if your back pain stems from a muscle imbalance, the appropriate treatment is to balance the muscle imbalance – which is muscle balance therapy.

Muscle Spasms in Back: Causes & Treatments

Complaints of a large amount of pain and discomfort due to muscle spasms in back muscle groups is a fairly common complaint that numerous physicians and specialists hear from many of their patients. Much of this is due to the wide range of physical injuries, medical conditions, and diseases that can affect the vertebrae of the spinal column, ligaments, nerves, muscles and muscle groups, and tendons.

Common Causes for Back and Neck Muscle Spasms

There is almost an endless amount of injuries, diseases, and medical conditions that can affect a person’s back and neck. The result of these problems is often either muscle spasms in upper back areas, legs, lower back, the back around the mid-section, or a combination of these that can affect different areas of the back all at the same time. Some of the most common causes include the following:

  1. Excessive straining to either the neck or the back can cause neck muscle spasm problems and a significant amount of pain experience
  2. Trauma from various types of injury is one of the most common causes of spasms that can occur in both the neck and back muscle groups
  3. Spasmodic torticollis and tetanus are serious medical conditions that commonly cause a person to experience upper back and neck muscle spasm problems
  4. Stress, tension, and anxiety are causes for numerous men and women suffering from the pain and discomfort associated with these spasms in back and can range from the cervical area of the spine all the way down to the lumbar area of the spine.

Another major cause of spasms in lower back muscle groups that can occur all along the length of the spine that a vast majority of men and women are unaware of is certain types of deficiencies in regards to nutrition. In order for a person to benefit from normal ranges of muscle function their system requires adequate amounts of vitamins B12 and D. When adequate levels of these vitamins are not obtained through proper nutrition or vitamin supplements, it can result in muscle spasms in lower back muscles, neck pain, and significant amounts of pain to the mid-section area of the spine. Other nutritional deficiencies that can also cause such pain when inadequate amounts are consumed within a person’s diet include sodium, magnesium, and potassium.

There are also quite a few other causes for this excruciating type of pain which will often cause a person to seek the help of a medical professional that has a vast knowledge and experience in suggesting effective treatment. Poor posture, sitting or standing in the same position for lengthy periods of time, and even using improper posture while picking various objects up, are all culprits that can cause a large amount of back pain.

Common Approaches of Treatment

As we mentioned above, there are numerous causes of muscle spasms, and this is the exact reason why some treatment options may work very well for one person but it may not necessarily work nearly as well for the next person. There are some men and women that frequently endure this sort of pain that may have to try a few different treatment options being offered before finding the one that works the best for them. Below you will find a list of some of the treatment options.

  1. Ice Packs – An ice pack should be used for the first 72 hours following the onset of muscle spasms in lower back muscle groups, as well as those occurring to the mid-section and upper area of the back. Not only will this numb much of the discomfort that can be experienced when spasms occur, but it will also help a great deal in reducing inflammation. Ice packs should only be applied for 20 minutes per application.
  2. Hot Packs – Heat packs should not be used until about three days after the condition occurs, or when a person has experienced the spasms.
  3. Vitamin and Herbal Supplements – The muscles in the human body depend on numerous vitamins and minerals that are contained in foods we eat. When well-balanced meals are not consumed on a regular basis, vitamin supplements and herbal remedies should be considered to prevent upper, mid-section, and lower back muscle spasms. Some of the best ones that should be considered include Boswellin, Vitamin C and E, Valerian Root, Zinc, Bromelain, Glucosamine Sulfate, Copper, MSM, Curcumin, Calcium, Kava Kava, and Hops. Each of these also works as an excellent preventative for the condition.
  4. Regular Exercise – Exercises that are used to strength, stretch, and tone the muscles of the back is something that each patient will want to engage in. Spasms in back muscle groups can often be completely prevented when a person takes the steps required to strengthen and tone the muscles.
  5. Meditation and Yoga Techniques – Each of these is a treatment that has been found to be very effective at lowering pain caused by lower, mid-section, and upper back muscle spasms. This is because of the techniques that are learned to relax the entire body. They are also used to increase muscle tone and strength, which helps in the prevention of neck muscle spasm pains and those that occur down the length of the spine.

If none of these treatment approaches work well enough to reduce the level of pain you experience, you may also want to question your physician about some of the other options that are offered. These include electric stimulators, water therapy, ultrasound, topical analgesics, a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications, and various other treatment approaches.

Muscle Cramps in Legs: Best Remedies and How to Prevent

Muscle cramping is a deliberate and painful contraction of muscles or muscle groups. Usually in the extremities, most often in the legs, which affects the calf muscles or back muscles. Sometimes arise unexpectedly during sleep. Intense muscle fibers contract for a few seconds or several minutes causing great pain.

Overview

Muscle cramps in the legs may be due to various reasons that cause a sudden and involuntary contraction of a muscle or muscle group, with severe pain and often unbearable.

Cause:

The cramps may be triggered by changes in circulation that causes lack of blood supply to the muscles. Exposure to cold can also trigger episodes of cramping as the primary join condition that causes physical fatigue cramps on long-distance swimmer.

Athlete with a very muscular cramps may suffer minor trauma to a particular muscle group.

Excessive sweating causes a significant loss of salt, can also cause seizures and the consumption of large amounts of food before doing physical exercise violence.

Symptoms:

The affected muscle or muscle group, contracts with loud causing a sharp pain in that area. Efforts to remove or relax useless. Cramps itself very unpleasant but not dangerous unless they occur at the wrong time. Someone who swim off the coast, you can see his life threatened by cramps. With the emergence of seizures should stop physical activity performed and not try to keep at all costs.

Those who had cramps constantly have to consult with your doctor to rule out the possibility of underlying circulation problems.

Treatments

The cramps are caused by circulatory changes should be interpreted as a symptom of a process that must be diagnosed and treated properly. Sometimes the cramps are treated in most cases, correcting the situation that acts as a trigger for them. People who exercise should not eat immediately before exercise of violence. When he was in the gym closed, or in a climate where you sweat a certain intensity, they have to replace the lost water and salt in parallel to maintain body fluid balance.

Massage or manipulation of tight muscles accelerate muscle relaxation, and specifically in pain relief.

Most people affected by what cramps while recovering.

Best Natural Remedies

Natural treatments for muscle cramp in the legs, use different remedies, which counteract the various causes which may lead. Learn how to relieve muscle cramps in each case.

The leg muscle cramp can surprise you after hours of intense physical training, but you also may appear in the middle of the night when lying down. These two situations are due to different causes.

In the first case is due to muscle exhaustion and dehydration with loss of electrolytes necessary for muscular activity, whereas in the latter case, generally due to vascular problems affecting venous return.

Therefore, the latter type of cramps are common in pregnancy and are one of the symptoms of varicose veins in the legs.

While these are the most common causes are not the only ones. Sometimes, the causes of muscle cramps in the legs are irritation of a nerve that governs the affected muscles.

Moreover, in many cases are caused by muscular effort that exceed the body’s capacity for which the agency is prepared.

The best remedies against cramps before they happen is to maintain hydration and electrolyte intake and not exceed appropriate limits of the individual body muscle work being done.

Also, if you have a sedentary life and wake you up at night cramps of vascular origin, due to poor circulation, it is best before bed, you do a series stretching the legs.

You can also find home remedies for cramps at night and natural remedies for leg cramps, where you’ll find other suggestions for home treatment and natural this annoying and painful muscle disorder.

Moreover, remember that horse chestnut vein promotes circulation in the legs.

The Best Methods For Bodybuilders To Avoid Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are some of the most common occurrences for people who do not stretch well. That is why you will find footballers and other sportsmen running for a few times round the field before getting to the real activity. This enables the muscles to stretch and all the contractions are gradually released so as to avoid any lactic acid from accumulation on the muscles and this is what leads to muscle cramps. It also helps to warm the muscle and make them prepared in the sense that they will not be shocked by the vigorous nature of routines later on.

When weight lifting, it is very important to have proper breathing and this is not to be debated. Therefore one must know how well to contain the breathing and this can only be through stretching. When you stretch, it is like opening the highway to all the transportation organs and this helps distribute fresh air and oxygen to the muscles. Nourishment is also a key aspect of your stretching because it enables one to have adequate nutrients in supply and the muscle therefore cannot go deficient of these important requirements.

For instance when doing a jog, there are very many muscles groups which are involved. These include the hamstrings, calves, hips, quads, and thighs, groin and adductors and all these are parts to be used in the process of your workouts. These means that, every part of the body gets sensitive in the sense that it is prepared for any eventualities. All the forms of restricted blood flows will be forgotten and the health of the individual will be upheld during the entire body building program.

Stretches also reach the deepest parts of your muscles which could not be well reached through other exercises. This is because the stretches are gradually done and it is this pace which is important in making sure that every part of the body gets a feel of the strain and is challenge to bulk up in the preparation of preventing shock in the process of vigorous workouts. It is only through stretches that you will get a chance to become flexible and perfect balance in your workouts and this is what you necessarily need for your progress in body building. For the time to stretch, there should be no argument about it, make sure that it is done well before and after workouts. In fact you can use the stretches when you are not doing any workouts to make sure that your stretched muscle do not close again and make it much difficult later on.

Tonsil Stones: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

If you have whitish lumps around your throat area and you feel pain when swallowing food and even just drinking water, there’s a good chance that what you have are tonsil stones (also known as tonsilloliths). Try to observe your breath. Do people lean away from you when you speak? Having bad breath goes hand-in-hand with these stones.

What are Tonsil Stone Exactly

The stones grow in your throat’s folds as a result of food debris, mucus because of post nasal drip, dead cells from the lining of the mouth, as well as various types of bacteria that get trapped. As it stays there, it hardens and calcifies or becomes hard. They emit a foul odor because of their very composition that’s why having them can be a source of great embarrassment and cause you distress socially too.

Major Components:

The major component of tonsilloliths is calcium. Other minerals like carbonate, ammonia, phosphorus and magnesium are also present in the stones. They are irritating and are uncomfortable too. Tonsil stones sometimes may not exhibit any symptoms. But mostly they are associated with bad breath. Most of the time it may also cause pain and swelling.

Size as a critical factor:

The size is important criteria to decide which treatment should be considered. Smaller stones which produce no symptoms may be treated at home by using natural methods like removing them by ear buds, toothbrush or fingers.

Of course this should be done very carefully as they are embedded in a delicate thin membrane of crypts and there are chances of rupture of the tonsils.

It is advisable to make the area moist by gargling warm salty water or by putting two to three drops of edible table oil, such as olive oil. If the size and symptoms of Tonsil stones are easily noticeable, then it is a must to take the advice of a medical practitioner.

10 Main Causes

Until today, the specific causes were not well known, but bad breath causes the accumulation of calcium and other minerals.

Many times they form on the upper part of the mouth or in the throat area. Generally, these stones are quite small in size and form in the tonsil area. There are very rare chances of acquiring large and solidified tonsil stones.

Sometimes tonsils are compelled to filter a huge flow of lymph fluid. This lymph fluid include junk particles which may get created due to a number of reasons and causes tonsil stones.

Top 10 main causes are:

  • Environmental Toxins
  • Sinus Infections
  • Allergy
  • Post Nasal Drip
  • Stress
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Alcohol
  • Refined Food
  • The conditions which dilute the lymph fluid
  • Bacterial and Viral Infection

7 Most Common Symptoms

The problem with tonsilloliths is that it can be quite difficult to diagnose in some situations. Of course, it would be a lot easier if the stones are visible in the first place. But if they are not, you may have to rely on other symptoms.

Sadly, the other symptoms can be mistaken for an entirely different disorder. For instance, it may be misdiagnosed as a simple tonsillitis.

Most of the times small tonsil stones may not cause any symptoms which are noticeable. Even when the stones are large, some of those are only noticed incidentally through X-rays or CT scans. The well known symptoms of tonsilloliths are red and swollen tonsils, which can be seen easily. Similarly the other symptoms are

  • Swollen lymph nodes/ tonsils
  • Discomfort and pain in throat
  • Fever
  • Sore throat and irritation


Let us see in details all the symptoms:

1. Ear pain
One can have these stones anywhere in the tonsil area. But it may cause ear pain as the network of nerves is connected.

2. Sore throat
When other diseases like cold and flu occur with tonsil stones, it becomes very difficult to find out the cause of pain. The presence of a tonsil stone itself can cause pain or discomfort in the area of its formation.

3. Tonsil swelling
The collected debris get hardened and a tonsil stone forms. An inflammation from infection, if there is any and the tonsil stone itself can cause a tonsil to swell or get enlarged.

4. Bad breath
The prime indicator of a tonsil stone is terrible bad breath, which is also called halitosis, accompanies a tonsil infection. A research study with patients with chronic tonsil stones used a special test to observe whether volatile sulfur compounds were responsible for bad breath. The result of this research stated that the presence of the foul-smelling compounds of sulphur provided objective evidence of bad breath. The researchers observed that 75% of the patients who had very high concentrations of sulphur compounds also had tonsil stones. Some researchers have suggested that the presence of these stones may be considered when the cause of bad breath is in question.

5. Difficulty in swallowing
According to the location or size of the tonsil stone, it causes difficulty or pain in swallowing foods or liquids.

6. White debris
Sometimes tonsil stones are easily visible at the back of the throat as a lump of solid white substance. This is not the always the case. Generally, the stones are deeply embedded in the tonsils. In such instances, the stones may be detectable with non-invasive scanning techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging or CT scans.

7. Frequent Coughing
If the stones are big enough to irritate the top area of the throat this tends to naturally cause people to try to cough to try to get rid of the “foreign” substance that is causing the sensation. The make up of the tonsil stones may result in a metallic taste in one’s saliva.

You may have never thought before that stones can develop on your tonsils. Many people think that medical conditions that are classified as ‘stones’ are commonly known to develop only in the bladder, kidneys, liver, and such. However, tonsil stone is a real condition that needs immediate treatment. To combat tonsil stones effectively, it is important that you learn more about it first.

Treatment & Remedies: 3 Best Methods

Tonsil stone is a real condition that needs immediate treatment, To combat them effectively, Below mentioned are the best 3 treatment options available.

1. Physical Removal

These methods are only applicable if the stones are visible. You can also use these methods for removing stones that are hidden but not embedded too deep into the tissue folds of the tonsils.

Method 1: Using An Oral Irrigator

Things you will need:

  • Oral irrigator
  • Mirror
  • Mouthwash or oxygenating gargle
  • Flashlight

What you need to do:

  1. Make sure your mouth is clean so as to avoid infection. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash.
  2. Ready the irrigator by filling its reservoir with clean water. Also, make sure that the irrigating nozzle is clean and sterile.
  3. In front of a mirror, open your mouth wide and get a clear view of your tonsils.
  4. Then gently and slowly irrigate the affected tonsil using the oral irrigator. Control the direction of the water flow so you can go deep into the folds and thus flush out the stones hiding in there.
  5. Stop once in a while and gargle using mouthwash or oxygenating gargle. This will prevent infection.
  6. Make sure to USE THE LOWEST SETTING ONLY. This is important. If you use any higher setting, you could potentially damage your tonsils and cause bleeding. This in turn can lead to infection.

Method 2: Using A Medicine Dropper

What you will need:

  • Medicine dropper with curved tip
  • Mouthwash or oxygenating gargle
  • Mirror
  • Flashlight

What you need to do:

  1. Make sure your mouth is clean so as to avoid infection. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash.
  2. Make sure that the medicine dropper is clean. Sterilize it first or soak it in an oral disinfectant.
  3. Squeeze the air out of the medicine dropper by squeezing the rubber. Hold it this way.
  4. Gently and slowly use the curved tip of the dropper to find stones that are situated between the tissue folds of your tonsils. When you find one, direct the tip of the medicine dropper on the stone and release the rubber so as to produce a suction effect. The resulting vacuum should suck out the stone and remove it.
  5. Gargle with oxygenating gargle or mouthwash every now and then so as to avoid infection.

2. Slow Removal

In some instances, it may not be safe to perform the removal methods previously discussed. For example, the stone may be embedded too deep into the tissue folds of your tonsils and removing them using an irrigator, a cotton swab, or a medicine dropper can be too risky. So what will you do?

Method 1: Hot Water Sip

What you will need:

  • 1 spoonful Turmeric powder
  • 1 spoonful sugar
  • Hot water
  • Straw for sipping

What you need to do:

  1. Melt the turmeric powder and sugar in a glass of water. Drink the mixture in large gulps. By doing so, the mixture can go deep into the nooks and crannies of your tonsils.
  2. Fill the glass with hot water. Slowly sip it down using a straw. After drenching your tonsils in turmeric and sugar, the hot water will slowly melt the stones away. You may have to do this several times before you see any improvement.

Method 2: Alum And Saline

What you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pinch alum

What you need to do:

  1. Melt the salt and alum in a glass of water.
  2. Gargle using the solution every 2 to 3 hours. Make sure to gargle deep so as to soak the back of your throat in the solution.
  3. Rinse the outer part of your mouth with water so as to prevent drying. But let the back of your throat soak in the solution.

Method 3: Sweet Lemonade

What you will need:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoonful honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

What you need to do:

  1. Make a juice by mixing the above ingredients in a tall glass of water.
  2. Do not gulp the juice in a quick. Instead, slowly sip it down using a straw. It is a refreshing drink anyway so enjoy the moment.
  3. Do this at least twice a day.

3. Surgery

Nobody wants things to end this way. However, some cases may actually require surgery. For example, the stones situated deep into the tonsil may have grown too big and surgery is the only way to remove it. Also, the tonsilloliths may have become a recurring disorder and removing the tonsil may be the only option left.

But depending on the severity and the condition of your tonsil stones, your doctor will suggest the most suitable surgical procedure. But to give you some ideas, the following are some of the surgical procedures your doctor may suggest:

Tonsillectomy
It refers to the complete removal of these tonsils. By doing so, the possibility of the tonsil stones from ever coming back is reduced to zero. Some doctors however are reluctant to suggest this surgical procedure because they believe that the tonsils play an important role in the body’s immunity.

Curettage
This is a surgical procedure that uses a tool called curette to scrape off or scoop off affected tissues. This procedure is useful for removing oversized tonsil stones.

Laser
Actually, this method is more of a preventive measure. After the stones have been removed, your doctor may use a surgical laser tool to resurface your tonsils. This effectively removes the crevices and nook and crannies on the surface of your tonsils. As a result, debris will no longer accumulate and stones will no longer form.

And these are just some of the available treatment methods for getting rid of tonsil stones. One must also find some effective preventive measures that are designed to keep these stones from ever coming back once you have succeeded in getting rid of them.

Blue Waffle Disease: Causes, Symptoms & Cures

Disorders of sexual organs are well covered by scientific research these days and you can easily find information regarding almost any common type of sexually transmitted diseases. Some of these diseases are spread with viruses, some others use bacteria as transport agents, and some use both. I noticed that there is a general hype online about a single vaginal disorder called the blue waffle disease. Now, The condition is a term used for those quick drying towels car enthusiasts use for wiping their cars dry. Unfortunately, the blue waffles I’ll be writing about in this article has nothing to do with cleaning, or dryness for that matter. Before I go any deeper into the topic at hand, I guess it would be a smart idea to say that this article should not be viewed by anyone under the age of eighteen.

What is the Blue Waffles Disease?

Blue waffles is an inflectional disease or it is a name of a disease around the genitals. It is a new disease still not registered as a disease from medical sciences but it is a real disease. It is known as a virginal infection disease and can be understand by few major symptoms. See details as below:

  • When happened: Blue waffles infection happened when we use unprotected sexual activities or dirty devices for sex.
  • How does it look like: It is a disease of vaginal infection so it produces a disturbing condition and swelling around the genital area which can be unbearable sometimes. Due to this condition around the genital area it makes the place appearance changed and the infected area become blue in color. This is a main symptom of a blue waffle disease.
  • Is it a sexual transmitted disease (STD): As we know that blue waffles happen due to the sexual intercourse mostly. Beside this condition is not a sexual transmitted disease it is just because of dirt. Blue waffle is a bacterial infection caused by the dirt mainly. It happens in sex with a partner because of poor hygiene, masturbation with dirty devices or a poor hygiene yourself. It happens mostly with a women having poor hygiene have injured skin in or around her vagina.
  • Is it hurt seriously: Blue waffle can hurt you very seriously if the genital area changes its color to blue or green. If on the time you do not treat it the color will change to black color. In this stage the treatment of this disease becomes difficult. That’s why the infected women should treat themselves in initial stage (Purple color of vagina) of this disease from an intelligent doctor.
  • Is it convertible: Yes, blue waffle disease is convertible and condemn should be used.

Blue Waffles Pictures & Images

What are Causes

Moisture ads up to your chances of developing a blue waffled vagina, however, the biggest cause of this are bad sexual habits. These include multiple sexual partners at once, no protection used, especially unprotected one night stands. Prostitutes generally have the biggest chance of acquiring this disease, just because of the fact they do wrong things when it comes to sexuality. Also, excessive use of dirty sexual toys can help develop this disease. I can’t stress enough how important it is to take care of your vagina and why should you make sure that anything that penetrates it doesn’t carry millions of different disease carriers. Combining these together is bound to affect you with a blue waffle vagina at some point, so think twice before doing wrong things. Use your sexuality for the better part of it; find yourself a regular partner and experiment with your sexual life and preferences. After all, this is the way to experience real sexual pleasure, not the violent and spontaneous sexual activities. If you do like that kind of sexual life, always make sure your partner does have proper protection, as there are dozens of reasons like this to do that.

What are Symptoms

This disease is generally considered to be one of the more complex ones, as it is definitely unpleasant in a lot of ways. First and foremost, the pain the affected woman can experience can go beyond tolerable and the horrible thing about this disease is that it spreads easily over the anus as well, causing even more serious and excruciating pain. On your right you can see a photo of a blue waffled vagina. Not that great looking now isn’t it? Obviously, the blue waffles disease covers a whole array of different infections that is easy to spread and looks rather horrible. The smell is not all that great either.

However, the real problems are dealt with the carrier of this disease so you shouldn’t be all that happy with the grossness of the disease itself, as a lot of people out there do. I saw hundreds of forum topics that were completely dedicated to a single blue waffle infected vagina photo. That is really wrong and I hope this article will help you understand how serious this problem really is and why should you be more careful with your sexual life to avoid facing with these problems, whether your partner has it, or you do. Symptoms include severe itchiness at first, followed by a color change to purplish or blue. In the later stages of this infection, the color can shift from purple to intensive blue, which is why this disease is called “blue waffle”.

Can it be Treated

Yeah, of course blue waffles can be treated and can be cure. But after feeling a lot of pain and discomfort in the first stage because people ignore these symptoms around her genital area. Treatment includes severe on skin applied antibiotics while maintaining hygiene at the top level. Wearing cotton underwear is very important during this period, as cotton underwear is known to circulate air properly. The biggest precaution you need to take is to keep your vagina area nice, clean and dry.

A doctor will recommend keeping the area dry and clean everyday. He will also order some tablets because it is a bacterial disease and he will add a yeast medicine as second condition of blue waffles.

How to prevent blue waffles?

It’s a preventable disease which can be cure. A woman should take care of her genital area and the area should be washed daily. The moisture comes very quickly which can lead to this condition so the area around vagina should be dry always. A woman should be careful during sex and should be ensured about the safety first.

A Safe and Happy Playroom for Babies

As a mother of a 2-year-old and 2-month-old, Amy Tucker, a resident of Jonesboro, Ark., knows a little bit about childproofing a home. Although her son is only a few months old, she’s already started planning for the very near future when he will be ransacking his older sister’s playroom.

Walk into a home where a baby or young child lives and you’re sure to find a room specifically designated as the “playroom.” Children aren’t confined to “playpens” or “play yards” like many of us experienced in our childhoods; instead they are given freedom to explore and play by their parents. While this may be great for Baby, it’s also important that any room you designate as a playroom (and the rest of the home, for that matter) be carefully examined and childproofed accordingly through the eyes of a baby.

The best time to begin thinking about safety is before a baby is even crawling.

While it may be the furthest thing from parents’ minds, the best time to begin thinking about safety is before a baby is even crawling. “I advise parents to get down on their hands and knees and look around the room from a baby’s point of view,” says Brenda Nixon, author of The Birth to Five Book (Revell, 2009). “Every time parents do this, they discover a dangling cord, sharp corner, small choking hazard or other safety risk.”

Creating a Safe Haven

Tim Bowen, director of homeowner claims for MetLife Auto & Home, has worked with many families to file claims after the unthinkable happened by their children’s hands. When choosing the area for a playroom, he advises parents to avoid rooms with utilized fireplaces and hot water pipes exposed. “Children are inquisitive, especially when it comes to fire, increasing the potential of burns, as well as home fire,” Bowen says.

Don Keenan, an attorney and child-safety advocate based in Atlanta, Ga., also counsels parents to make sure all play areas have a carbon monoxide detector in them. Make sure they are located at least 15 feet from any heat source. “Be sure to check specifically for a model with the United Laboratories Rating,” says Keenan, author of 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe: How to Make Your Child’s World Safer, Ages Birth to 16 (Balloon Press, 2006). It’s also best if you make sure any detector is hard-wired into your electrical system to prevent batteries from running low or curious children from pulling it out of an electrical outlet, rendering it ineffective.

If you live in an older home built before 1978, consider the fact that any room designated as a play area could have lead lurking in old wallpaper or paint on the walls. Children’s immune systems are not really well developed until their teen years, so playing in a home with the risk of lead exposure could be hazardous to your baby’s health. Keenan counsels parents to skip the test-at-home lead kits and call 1-800-424-LEAD to get information on the closest analyzing company in your neighborhood.

So what are some other important things to consider when preparing for the childproofing process?

  • Electrical outlets can be very fascinating to a baby facing them at eye level. Keenan says 15 percent of all childhood electrocutions happen in the home. Be sure to outfit any room your child will spend a lot of time in with the plastic outlet covers that are available at most retail stores.
  • Similar to electrical outlets, any electronics, such as DVD players or VCRs, can be just as tempting for little fingers. Make sure you keep those types of items away from floor level to stop children from forcing objects into them, Bowen says.
  • Never underestimate the climbing ability of a small child. Tucker already knows the capabilities of her toddler all too well and made sure she tethered all furniture in their playroom. For storage, she invested in a “sling” bookshelf that displays books face front and comes equipped with two soft, canvas drawers on the bottom for storage.
  • Before you even enter a child’s playroom, consider the fact that 30,000 children go to the emergency room each year with injuries from doors. Keenan says many companies sell hinges and doorstops for doors that are impossible to catch a child’s fingers or clothing, so be sure to put that on your checklist. Any kinds of cords that work curtains, window treatments or blinds can easily become choking hazards, so make sure they are safely secured as well.

Stocking the Playroom

And finally, the playroom may be properly secured and childproofed, but how safe are the toys in the toy box, or the actual toy box itself?

As of late, there have been a rash of toy recalls, with lead paint being the main component in the toys and children’s furniture. While legislation has been passed to allocate more funds for stricter toy inspections in the next few years, it is best to check any toys that may seem suspect, particularly if you’ve picked them up at any consignment sales. Ditto with any wooden plastic toy boxes or containers, which could also contain lead paint, Keenan says.

“Before loading a room with toys, parents are wise to read about age-appropriate toys and activities and follow manufacturers’ suggestions on toys and furniture,” Nixon says. Make sure any toys you put in the playroom don’t have any small, removable parts that could be a choking hazard for infants.

“For the first three years, a child will put things into the mouth,” Nixon says. “The mouth is a powerful organ and mouthing is a normal and expected way for a baby to discover his world. While parents can’t – and shouldn’t – stop this natural behavior, they must carefully supervise and replace anything harmful with a safe, acceptable toy.”

And think twice about bringing in any fun play furniture or equipment that could bring more harm than good to your child. “Don’t deck out the playroom with an indoor trampoline because they are extremely dangerous for kids to play on,” Bowen says. “Also, if you have an indoor swing or slide, continue to check that they are operating safely and are fastened securely.”

Nixon reminds parents that it is critical to create a safe room for their baby to explore, use skills and develop new ones because the growing infant brain needs stimulation from all five senses to properly develop. So get out your checklist and check it twice, because before you know it, your baby will be ready to conquer the playroom and will need a safe and protected place to do just that.

Top Tips to a Child-proofed Home for Your Family

Everyone knows that home is where the heart is. What fewer people may be aware of is that home can also be where many dangers lie. The Home Safety Council (HSC) is a national organization dedicated to preventing home injuries. Its overall mission is to “educate and empower families to take actions that help keep them safer in and around their homes.” Given the statistics surrounding household injuries, it’s clear that this mission is an important one.

In its State of Home Safety in America Report 2004, the HSC found that, on average, there are nearly 20,000 deaths due to unintentional home injury per year. On top of that, an average of 21 million medical visits also result from injuries suffered in the home.

There are nearly 20,000 deaths due to unintentional home injury per year.

“Keeping loved ones safe at home requires a daily commitment,” says Meri-K Appy, president of HSC. “We want families across America to realize that a safe home is in their hands and to put that awareness into action each and every day.”

Causes of Accidental Death and Injuries

Families might be surprised to learn that falls account for an average of 6,000 deaths and 5.1 million injuries per year. Not as surprising is the fact that older adults are most vulnerable to this type of accident. “Common slipping and tripping hazards that are easy to fix are too frequently overlooked in American households,” says Appy. The HSC recommends families perform a home safety walk through to minimize the risk of tripping and falling. Make sure to address such common problems as floor clutter, poorly lit hallways and stairwells and slippery surfaces such as bathtubs or throw rugs without liners.

Christopher Campbell is a single father living in Campbell, Calif. As his 12-year-old son Dominic has grown up, Campbell has found that his home safety concerns also have grown. “When Dominic was an infant, I made it a point to restructure my living style in accordance with his immune system,” he says. This included everything from frequent dusting and vacuuming to the use of air purifiers. “Once he became mobile, I moved onto the next step of childproofing the house – outlet plug covers, tables with rounded corners and safety latches on kitchen and bathroom cabinets,” says Campbell.

Of course, homes with children must pay even closer attention to safety. While all parents are theoretically familiar with childproofing, there is always room for improvement. Are poisonous materials out of the reach of children? Children younger than age 5 experience the highest rate of nonfatal poisonings. Are the stairs protected by safety gates? Are window guards (with a quick-release emergency mechanism) installed on upstairs windows? Has furniture been moved away from the windows to prevent children from reaching them? Remember that falls are the leading cause of injuries in the home. Are you keeping an eye on kids while they are in the bathtub or swimming in the pool? Even buckets with a little water can put a child at risk for drowning, which causes an average of more than 800 deaths per year, with children younger than 5 again being the most vulnerable.

Fight Fire

Campbell also has household policies in place to guard against burn injuries and fire in the home he shares with his son. “Pots and pans are removed from the stove immediately after cooking, and appliances like the toaster and coffeepot are unplugged after use,” he says. “This reduces the risk of someone being burned by hot water or oil and will also keep the house from burning down as the result of an appliance that was left on.”

All households should be ready to deal with the possibility of a fire. “A new study from the National Institute of Standards and Technology shows that you have less than three minutes to escape if a fire occurs, so early warning from smoke alarms is critical and every family member must know the quickest escape routes,” says Appy. Families should practice fire safety and regularly check to make sure working smoke detectors have been installed on each floor and inside all rooms where people sleep.

Similar installation of carbon monoxide alarms should be considered. Carbon monoxide exposure can result from fuel-burning appliances and equipment in the home (fireplaces, kerosene heaters, cars left running in an attached garage). These alarms provide an early warning of carbon monoxide exposure, an otherwise silent killer.

While it is easy to panic about all the things that can go wrong, it is more important for families to focus on all the things they can do to keep themselves safe. Campbell is still careful about home safety, even though he no longer has a small child in the house. “My son is now entering the teenage years, which promises to be a bit more challenging,” he says. “Even though he is old enough to be somewhat responsible for his own actions, there are still various issues throughout the house that must be addressed to keep the family safe. As a dad, it is important to remember that I am responsible for another human being and that my focus must be on his safety.”

The Home Security Council’s Top 10 Tips to a Safer Home

  1. Keep all stairways, paths and walkways well lit and clear of clutter.
  2. Install grab bars in bath and shower stalls, and use a non-slip mat or adhesive safety strips inside bathtubs and showers.
  3. Post emergency numbers and the National Poison Control Hotline number (1-800-222-1222) next to every phone in your home.
  4. Install child locks on all cabinets used to store dangerous items such as cleaners, matches, lighters and household chemicals.
  5. Keep your water heater setting at 120 degrees F or less.
  6. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly.
  7. Develop a fire escape plan for your family that has two exits out of every room and a place to meet outside. Practice makes perfect – hold a family fire drill at least twice each year.
  8. Always stay in the kitchen while food is cooking on the stove.
  9. If you have a pool, install four-sided pool fencing with self-closing and self-latching gates. Fencing should completely isolate the pool from the home and be at least 5 feet high.
  10. Practice “touch supervision” – stay within an arm’s length and constantly supervise children in or near water (pools, ponds, bathtubs and buckets).

The Path to First Milestones

For new parents, nothing is more exciting than watching your baby conquer new milestones. We diligently record that first smile, rollover, step and word in the baby book. We talk to other parents and compare notes to see if our baby is on par with other babies.

Every child is different, of course, which may be why two thirds of new parents don’t recognize when their infant misses critical 3-month developmental milestones. In fact, a recent study sponsored by the Chicago-based Pathways Awareness Foundation found that only 36 percent of parents recognize delays in early child development, and only 5 percent of parents would seek help if they thought their child was delayed.

According to the foundation, “failure to meet these first milestones is the first indication of possible early motor delays, which could mean children have trouble walking, talking and eating, and are caused by a wide range of neuromuscular conditions. More than 400,000 children a year are at risk for early motor delays, but most delays are treatable with physical, occupational or speech therapy, and treatment is most effective when started right away.”

Lifting the Head

By 3 months, a baby should be able to lift his head and push up on his arms while lying on his stomach. This, however, is not the only sign a parent should be looking for, says Gay Girolami, a physical therapist with the Pathways Center in Glenview, Ill. Because an increasing number of parents today are either warned against or are uncomfortable letting their babies spend too much time on the tummy, there might not be many opportunities to watch for this particular milestone. If that’s the case, says Girolami, “when you are holding the baby in your arms, the baby should be able to hold his head up, look from side to side and focus on an object.” If the head is wobbling or rolling to one side, she adds, there is a motor skills delay.

Parents also should be alert for cognitive or language development skills, says Dr. Karen Carter, a child development specialist at the Georgia Children’s Medical Center. “An infant should be smiling at 6 weeks and cooing at 1 1/2 months,” she says.

Other milestones that the baby should accomplish by the third month include the following:

  • Sucking and swallowing
  • Responding to a voice by either turning the head, smiling or quieting
  • Tracking a toy or movement while on the back
  • Reaching out for a toy

Babies who are born premature or who are born with drug addictions will experience developmental delays. In most cases, the parents are alerted to this from the child’s birth and are often working with a physician or physical therapist from the start. However, when the baby is full term and there are no other developmental or health issues involved, a developmental delay at 3 months can lead to greater delays and problems as the child grows.

Ripple Effect

There are certain developmental milestones that parents focus in on, such as talking, crawling and walking. In fact, the Pathways study shows that as the child ages, parents are more likely to not only pick up on the delay, but immediately seek help for the child.

The Path to First Milestones-Recognizing Early Motor DelaysFor example, if the child is slow to achieve typical 12-month milestones, 91 percent of parents are likely to be aware that their child is delayed, and 50 percent of parents will alert their pediatrician, which is a much higher percentage of parents than those who will recognize the delays of a 3-month-old child.

A child usually doesn’t suddenly become delayed in motor-skill development, says Dr. John Sarwark, division head of orthopedic surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital and a member of the Pathways Awareness Foundation roundtable. “Generally the delays show up from the beginning,” he says. “Kids won’t go from normal to abnormal.”

The earlier a parent can recognize the delay, the better it is for the child. The child can begin therapy immediately and “catch up” to age-appropriate development usually in a matter of months.

While a child who is brought to therapy later will still be able to benefit from the extra help, Girolami does warn that the child will likely need physical therapy for a longer period of time. “There is a ripple effect,” says Girolami. “When children are referred at a later age, there may be some changes in the shape of the face [or] there may be some difficulty with vision or a weakened shoulder.”

Recognizing the Delay

Because babies do mature and grow at their own pace, how can parents tell if their child is delayed?

Developmental guidelines, such as those available from the Pathways Awareness Foundation, are available to give parents a timeline on what developmental milestones should be met by a certain age. The experts agree that parental intuition shouldn’t be ignored.

“Parents don’t give themselves enough credit,” says Dr. Carter. “Every time they interact with the baby, the child is learning skills.” During that interaction, parents will pick up on whether their child is progressing properly, and if they are concerned, they should tell their pediatrician.The Path to First Milestones-Recognizing Early Motor Delays

Girolami suggests parents keep a little notebook handy where they can keep track of milestones and anything that doesn’t seem quite right. This allows parents to see if there are redundant behaviors, and it also provides a solid record to show the pediatrician and physical therapist.

Parents also should watch for a small child who is favoring one hand or side of the body. Handedness, when we favor the right hand or the left hand, doesn’t appear until age 2. If it appears to happen when the child is younger than 24 months, it is usually a signal that one side of the body is weaker than the other.

Most important, the experts say be concerned, but don’t worry.

“In most instances, kids are simply delayed, and with help, they catch up,” says Dr. Sarwark.

Short- and Long-term Memory and Toddlers

We might not remember so-and-so’s name, but we know our address and phone number by heart. What about a toddler who’s 4 or younger? What is their short- and long-term memory like, and how can parents help improve this skill?

“Short-term memory is the capacity of the brain to hold pieces of information coming into the senses long enough to ‘process’ the information,” says Dr. Jill Stamm, co-founder of New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Development in Phoenix, Ariz. “Short-term memory does grow over time and in that sense is developmental.”

Typically, adults can only hold a limited amount of information at one time, Dr. Stamm says. In children, the number of things they can hold in short-term memory is much smaller. “All short-term memory, whether in adults or kids, works the same in that information only ‘stays’ for a short time, unless you do something with that information that will then allow that information to be stored in one’s long-term memory,” Dr. Stamm says.

A 4-year-old, for instance, can repeat back a short list of numbers, says Karen Bartsch, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Wyoming who focuses on childhood memory. Most 4-year-olds, and many 3-year-olds, can remember and act on one or two specific directions – e.g. “Put your teddy bear away and then brush your teeth.” – but longer lists are easier for older children. Two-year-olds are beginning to be able to do these things, but it’s generally easier for them to deal with lesser demands.

“Obviously, infants’ memory is much harder to measure because there are limitations in their communicative abilities and with regard to action,” Bartsch says.

The best analogy is from Julie Rounds, a child development teacher and coordinator of more than 30 years in Glenview, Ill. “Our brain is like a big pitcher and we start filling it with short-term memory,” she says. “As it fills, it then moves to long-term memory.”

How to Improve Short- and Long-term Memory

Dr. Stamm mentions doing something with processed information to allow it to be stored in one’s long-term memory. By “do something,” Dr. Stamm says she means the following:

  • Repetition
  • Elaboration – Extend an idea together; add a story to the ideas you’re discussing.
  • Organization – Chunk things into groups that “reduce the memory load” at first. Group things by the ways in which they’re similar – i.e. group all the animal toys together, the vehicles together.
  • Visualization – Draw pictures of what you want to remember. Take photos of things you do together that you can then refer to later. Take photos of family members so they can “practice” recognizing Grandpa who lives in Florida.

Activities to Try

In terms of daily tasks, parents can help children learn ways to remember things, Bartsch says. For instance, you can actively teach mnemonic techniques such as simply repeating something to yourself – e.g. “Brush teeth, brush teeth,” or putting items where they’ll be remembered – e.g. “Put your backpack in your bedroom doorway so you won’t forget to take it to daycare.”

Parents devoting their time to improving memory is crucial, Rounds says. In the car, games can be played, discussions had, songs sung, questions asked and repeated from previous discussions. As an example, Rounds says to try something like, “Oh, there is a farm. Do you remember who lives on the farm?”

Rounds loves the Memory Game, as well as puzzles. Having your child help with the laundry is a good task, as sorting involves classification of items.

Sequencing skills can be established with making a bed. Unloading a dishwasher, recycling and generally involving your child in household activities will all help. “You can really take advantage of the holidays in each month and discuss daily what ‘thanksgiving’ means,” Rounds says. “Sharing stories about family is valuable.”

Dr. Stamm suggests playing hide-and-seek with toys together. Take walks and point out the same things routinely seen along the way. Play games that have an aspect of “anticipation” of what comes next. “All these things improve and ‘exercise’ memory,” she says.

One of the most important things you can do, experts agree, is to read to your child. This is one strategy that Stacey Goldsamt of Gaithersburg, Md., is familiar with as she has read to her two children daily since they were born.

“Children learn and remember by repetition,” Goldsamt says. “Reading the same book over and over again helps them make realizations, remembering that the cow moos, the pig oinks, the duck quacks, etc.” Now both of her children – 4 1/2 and 20 months – love and enjoy books, and her older child is in the beginning stages of reading. “I feel it is an essential part of growing the brain and helping both short- and long-term memory.”

Some strategies are more appropriate for young children than others. For example, writing a list may not be appropriate for a 4-year-old, but drawing a picture as a reminder might be a good idea, Bartsch says. Making a song out of a grocery list might work for an adult or a child, but the child might need help inventing the song.

“And research suggests that when children as young as 4 are taught such strategies, they often fail to use them when they are no longer prompted to do so, so parents should not be discouraged if this happens,” Bartsch says. “Children will eventually be better able to use the strategies on their own. One general idea that we’ve learned from research is that parents who talk about what children (and what they themselves) remember, know, think and feel will have children who are similarly more oriented toward talking about people remembering, knowing, thinking and feeling – in other words, the children are more likely to be ‘mind-minded’ and many developmental psychologists feel that this is an important step toward successful functioning both socially and academically.”

Benefits to Working on Memory

There are clear benefits to toddlers that arise from parents’ talking with them about past events.

“Children whose parents talk with them, and listen to them talk, about what happened on the visit to [Aunt Sue’s house] last summer or even what happened last week when the dog ran away, tend themselves to apparently remember better not only those events but other events from the past,” Bartsch says.

Not only that, but often “when ‘working’ and being together, you naturally begin to reference things in a favorite book, for example, that the toddler can point to and show you he remembers,” Dr. Stamm says. And the real benefit to all of this? The bond between you and your child will also increase.