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Modern Living Articles

Abuse - what to do if it's happening to someone you love
The abuse of women is not new. Throughout history it has happened in every country in the world. However, the extent of the problem in our society has only recently been recognized and discussed openly. As many as one in eight Canadian women suffer abuse on a regular basis at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends.

A Caring Conversation - planning for the end of life
This process allows those who are ill to reflect on their wishes for future health and personal care. It should include conversations with others. Advance care planning also involves choosing a Substitute Decision Maker. If you become unable to speak for yourself, this friend or family member would speak and make decisions on your behalf.

Acupuncture - an ancient art
Acupuncture has been practised in China since 2000 BC, but has always been shrouded in Oriental mystique. However, since endorphins (hormones found in brain and nerve tissue) have been discovered, some of the mist has cleared away.

Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - could it be your problem?
Inattention, overactivity and impulsiveness are all signs of adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Symptoms can be so severe that it is difficult to carry out normal daily activities.

Aging and Memory
Is there a way to preserve your past? Most of us have momentary lapses of memory as we age. Often this begins in our thirties. We forget the name of a friend or a movie, why we walked into a room, or where we put our glasses. The answer is always on the tip of our tongues.

Alcohol and Your Health - dealing with alcoholism
Alcohol has deep roots in our society. For thousands of years people have celebrated everything from birth to victory with a drink. Alcohol is used in some religious ceremonies. We often have a drink when we meet for visits, meals or parties. Drinking is an accepted part of life for many Canadians.

Anger - how to manage it constructively
Anger is an emotion that has gained a bad reputation because of its association with difficult and hurtful situations. Mention anger and people are likely to think of tantrums, verbal abuse, emotional pain, insensitivity and violence.

Antidepressants - How they Work and When to Use Them
Almost everyone experiences feelings of stress and depression at some point. Such feelings are often appropriate to a situation. Clinical depression, on the other hand, is a medical condition. Clinical depression and anxiety disorders are treated in many ways including antidepressant medications and counselling. Counselling and medications go hand-in-hand, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Antidepressants, one of the most widely prescribed classes of medications can help or harm. They are not a substitute for developing a good counselling relationship.

Barbecue Basics - safe ways to enjoy the grilling season
Ah, summer … the perfect time to cook for friends and family out in the open air. However, barbeque lovers should keep in mind that food-borne illness (food poisoning) strikes Canadians over 11 million times each year. Such illnesses are more common during summer months. In hot weather, the bacteria that cause food-borne illness grows more quickly. What’s more, we do not always have easy access to refrigeration and handwashing when cooking outdoors. Although it is important to handle foods safely year-round, these tips on summer cooking can help defend your family and friends against food poisoning.

Bathtub Safety - Not just for kids
Most people do not consider bathing to be dangerous, but pleasant and relaxing. However, according to the most recent data collected in Alberta (in 2008), 27 per cent of all drowning deaths occur in the bathtub.

Binge Drinking
Whether you are trying to get drunk or just having a night out with friends, binge drinking means drinking a lot of alcohol quickly. For men, that means having more than four drinks on a single occasion, and for women, more than three.

Bisphenol A - baby bottles, water bottles and more
We have heard a lot about bisphenol A (BPA) in the past few months from news stories about baby bottle safety and water bottle recalls. The information is confusing. What is bisphenol A? Should we be worried about it? Can we reduce our exposure? It is hard to know what to do. By learning more about BPA, you will be better able to make decisions.

Canada's Blood System - depend on it
Many of my patients, and Canadians in general, are wary of our blood supply. We have all heard of the tragic accidents where people received tainted blood. What we do not often hear about is how safe it is to donate blood and how badly those donations are needed by Canadians.

Caring for a Loved One Dying at Home - Deciding if it’s the right choice for you
When you learn that a loved one is dying, you feel many emotions. Your thoughts may be blurred and it can be difficult to plan ahead. One practical decision may be whether or not you want to care for your loved one at home. Understanding what is involved may help you decide if it is something you want to do. Remember, too, that it is okay to change your mind at a later date about your decision to be a caregiver.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Numb hands and tingling fingers
Do you ever wake with a numb hand or tingling fingers? If so, you could be suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), a commonly diagnosed, workplace related condition.

Computer Stress - causes and cures
In some ways, stress is good for us. It can motivate and encourage us to achieve our goals. However, when we become stressed beyond our comfort levels, it can affect our health. Many of us regularly interact with computers at work and home. We expect a certain amount of associated stress which usually reveals itself in two ways. Physical stress taxes your body, and psychological stress troubles your mind.

Coping with change - Tools for adjusting to new life circumstances
When life circumstances change, we must adjust. Change is stressful, and stress can cause physical and emotional symptoms as we learn to cope with a new reality.

Choosing Your Babysitter
Babysitting is as common an occupation as any, and most of us have experienced it, in one way or another - as a child, a babysitter or as a parent.

Cosmetic Surgery - When and why is it necessary?
No one would question the benefit of otoplasty (ear pinning) in an elementary school child who desires this change in appearance. We all realize what a big difference it can make to a child who has been teased with names like "dumbo." But why are we so quick to criticize others who submit to surgery to improve their appearance?

Cosmetic Pesticides - A threat to our children's health
Cosmetic pesticides are chemicals used to improve the appearance of lawns of private homes, grass in parks and playgrounds. They reduce weeds such as dandelions and clover. Their sales in Canada have risen dramatically over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, so have the dangers associated with exposure to them.

Depression - a treatable physical illness
Depression - the word conjures up many images. Everyone has periods of feeling sad or unhappy when things go wrong. This is normal and passes when the situation improves. It is also normal to grieve at the death of a loved one but again, the grieving becomes less severe as time passes. Clinical depression, however, is different.

Diabetes - The exploding epidemic
Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot properly use the sugar (glucose) that is broken down from food. Insulin, made by the pancreas, is required to help the body move the glucose from the blood stream into the cells. With diabetes, either too little insulin is being made or the body is resistant to the insulin. Blood glucose levels become elevated when the glucose stays in the bloodstream. Many health problems can result.

Discipline: The art of child rearing
Discipline is the process by which parents help children to grow up. The child begins as a baby who is unable to take care of him or herself. The child develops into an adult who is a productive and functional member of society. This process can take 18 or more years of patience, dedication and love.

Time to Downsize - Ways to take the stress out of moving
Have you outgrown your home? Perhaps you find yourself living in a house that is too big, with mounting utilities and repairs that are more of a hassle than they once were. If so, it may be time to downsize.

Dying at Home - choosing to care for a loved one with a terminal disease
When you learn that a loved one is dying, you feel many emotions. Your thoughts may be blurred and it may be difficult to plan ahead. One practical decision you may consider is whether or not you want to care for your loved one at home. Understanding what is involved may help you decide if this is the appropriate choice for you. Remember, too, that changing your mind at a later date about your decision to be a caregiver is okay..

Erectile Dysfunction - new drugs and treatment options
The release of Viagra™ (sildenafil) has dramatically changed the options available for men experiencing sexual problems. Huge publicity surrounding this safe and effective therapy has encouraged many men to talk to a doctor about treatment. Two new therapies have recently been approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED).

Exotic Travel - is it for you?
The past 20 years have seen a great increase in travel to "exotic" destinations. People of all ages are going to places where formerly only the most adventurous dared to go. Even families with young children are traveling to almost every part of the world.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder - early diagnosis makes all the difference
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD, describes the many ways an unborn baby can be affected by alcohol. If a mother has a high amount of alcohol in her blood related to her unborn baby’s stage of development, FASD can result. Such damage usually happens early in pregnancy. FASD can affect body, mind and behaviour. Learning disabilities are also possible. Such problems impact the child, the mother, the family and the community. Sadly they last a lifetime, despite being totally preventable.

5 Ways to Stay Healthy in Middle Age
People under 30 do not spend a lot of time thinking about staying healthy. However, as we move into middle age and take on more family and job responsibilities, we realize that we must make special efforts to stay well.

First Physiotherapy Visit - What to expect from this health professional
Injury and disability can happen to anyone. You could be injured playing sports, working, or in a motor vehicle collision. Many issues can make movement difficult. Accidents, injuries, inactivity, aging, disease, conditions you are born with, and psychological or social stress can all suggest a visit with a physiotherapist.

Will there be another great Flu Pandemic? - simple precautions should protect you
Recently, much attention has been focused on the likelihood of another great flu pandemic. The avian influenza AH5N1 virus, or bird flu, is thought most likely to cause one. Currently, this virus is not particularly infectious to humans. If a pandemic does occur, you can take action to reduce the risk of infection and to avoid spreading disease.

Foodborne Illness
Foodborne illness (food poisoning) strikes about two million Canadians and costs society over $1 billion each year. Accurate numbers are difficult to determine because only about one in 25 cases is reported. Many people pass the symptoms off as "stomach flu." All of us, at one time or other, have probably had a foodborne illness.

Grief - adjusting to life after the death of a loved one
Grief after the death of a loved one is a universal human emotion. The period of deep sorrow that follows is part of a healing process that helps a person let go of the past and adjust to life without the loved one. Although the pain of loss may never go away, it lessens over time.

Harassment - It's against the law
Is someone at work making your life difficult, or making you feel uncomfortable? It does not matter if that person is your supervisor or a customer. You can stop the action. Harassment is illegal.

Healthy Computing - Ergonomics can help ease the strain
Ergonomics involve designing the ways we work to reduce strain and injury to the body. Quite simply, this is about keeping you comfortable yet efficient as you work. As most of us spend hours each day at our computer, ergonomics is important both in work and home environments.

Healing Through Music - How music therapy can improve your health
Music is such a large part of our lives that we do not usually stop to think about it. It is all around us, so much so that we sometimes take it for granted — at grocery stores, on TV shows, during sad soap opera segments, and on iPods as we go about the day. Think about your favourite movie. Chances are that the film would be missing a lot without music.

Hypnotherapy - An effective tool for the modern medicine cabinet
Hypnotherapy has become a trusted part of modern health care. You may have been reluctant to try this complementary therapy as part of a treatment plan. However, as hypnotherapy can effectively treat a wide variety of ailments, it is a tool worth considering.

Too Hot Outside? - Understanding the humidex
Canada is a country of extreme temperatures. Since weather that is too hot or cold threatens your health, you need to know when either extreme hits. Environment Canada has two useful tools that explain the link between weather and health. The humidex and the wind chill index both help protect you and your family from the weather.

Immunization for Travellers - a vital part of planning your trip
Travel to faraway places is becoming more inviting, affordable, and easy to manage. You can travel to anywhere in the world within 36 hours -and so can disease. Parasites, viruses and bacteria can travel along with you in your bloodstream. While travel is an adventure, be aware of the risk of acquiring exotic diseases. Without precautions, you can become ill while you are away or after returning home. In many cases, you can protect your own health and that of others by getting immunized against disease.

Indoor Air Quality - what's lurking in the air of your home?
It is well known that exposure to air pollution can negatively affect a person’s health. However, the topic of air pollution usually does not bring our homes to mind. We think of motor vehicles, power plants and other industries. Many people do not realize that indoor air quality (IAQ) may affect their health more than the air outside.

ASK THE DOCTOR: "Is it unhealthy to be connected to my device so often?"
Technology plays an important role in our lives these days. Rare is the person who does not own a cell phone, a laptop, or a portable device of some kind. These devices allow people to function and communicate in ways that were unimaginable 30 years ago.

Keep Your Heart Healthy - Reduce fats & cholesterol in your bloodstream
Taking care of your heart is a major part of staying healthy. The fats and cholesterol in your bloodstream can harm your heart. Simple day-to-day choices about diet and physical activity can have a huge impact on your wellbeing. Many healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dietitians, can coach you on how to make healthy choices.

Managing Lymphedema - A practical approach to a chronic condition
Lymphedema is a condition where your body cannot properly drain lymph fluid. Most often, it is an arm or leg that swells with collecting liquid. This happens because your lymphatic system is not working the way that it should.

Melamine in Food - are Canadians at risk?
Thanks to stories in the news media over the last few years, most Canadians are now aware of health risks linked with melamine. Many still have questions about its potential risks to our health.

Fighting a Hidden Battle - Overcoming the stigma of mental illness
Growing up, many of us knew someone who had a parent or child that was ‘ill.’ With this kind of illness, people whispered, shook their heads, or just didn’t talk about it at all. Those with mental illnesses have always been feared. Historically, they were considered witches or possessed. Some were burned at the stake. In some cultures, those who could function in society were revered as shamans. In either case, the mentally ill were set apart. This is still true, even in an era when much more is understood about these illnesses.

The Mind-Body Connection - Can your thoughts and emotions make you sick?
Ann, a 27-year-old working mother of two, has been experiencing abdominal pain, headaches and fatigue for three years. She made many trips to her doctor, but her medical tests came back normal. She has tried herbal medications and over-the-counter sleeping aids. She is drinking more wine during the evening, thinking this will help her relax and improve her sleep. Ann finds her manager at work too demanding and unappreciative of her efforts. Her family expects her to manage the household without complaint. Ann often feels she is not in control of her life. She remembers feeling this way during a past abusive relationship. She asks herself, “What’s wrong? Why do I feel so sick?”

Mom Time - she's got to take care of herself too
Today’s hectic lifestyle can be hard on a family. Creating balance usually starts with Mom, since the family often revolves around her. Her outlook and attitude can affect everyone else. As well as looking after the rest of the family, Mom mustn’t forget to look after herself too.

Money Matters - Your guide to financial health
Money worries can be both emotionally and financially draining. Good money management skills are an important part of regaining control. By learning to manage money, you can prevent and deal with financial stress that may take a physical toll.

Outdoor Workers & Sun Safety - reduce the risk of skin cancer
Even though skin cancer is highly preventable, it is still the most common kind of cancer diagnosed in many western countries. The amount of time outdoor workers spend in the sun puts them at particular risk. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) light is the major risk factor for both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.

Patient Safety in the Hospital - a team approach to avoiding errors
In a hospital, a group of individuals work together for the safety and best interests of everyone. Like anyone else, workers can make a mistake. Unfortunately, errors that go uncorrected may eventually cause harm. Accidents happen, so the system has to be designed to catch them before they can harm patients.

Pets and Health Benefits - is man's best friend protecting your health?
The secret to a healthier life may be on the other side of a cold, wet nose. Puppy love may even help to keep people out of the doctor's office.

Pet Therapy
Whether we share space with cats, dogs, horses or fish, we all enjoy the companionship and love of our animal friends. Studies show that our pets benefit us both emotionally and physically. I adopted my first puppy over 30 years ago, hoping to help teach my children responsibility and respect. I did not count on what my dogs would teach me. Of course, many animals have their own jobs to perform. Dogs are used for avalanche rescue, illegal drug detection and to sense certain health conditions. The abilities of seeing and hearing dogs have been recognized for many years. Now pets are taking on another role – that of therapist.

Diseases from Pets - prevent the transmission of serious disease
Animals can be great companions for many people. However, pet owners should be aware of the diseases pets may carry and pass to humans. Diseases that can pass from animals to humans are called zoonoses or zoonotic diseases.

Playing on Nature’s Rinks - Be sure you’re on solid ground
As cold weather approaches, families look forward to spending time outdoors on natural ice. The hours you spend skating, playing hockey, fishing or snowmobiling on ice can be a favourite part of winter. However, unlike in an arena, the ice you find outdoors is not always trustworthy. Outdoor ice can be dangerous. Every year, Canadians fall through it, and some do not make it out. By using safety rules and common sense, you can keep your memories pleasant ones.

Reproductive Freedom - Finding the best birth control option for you
As medical science makes progress, pregnancy prevention is becoming simpler, more reliable and with less side effects. While no method of birth control is perfect, having control over our fertility has never been more accessible. More than 20 different options for contraceptive methods now exist. Numerous reliable sources of information about contraception are available on the Internet. Whether a woman is in her teens or approaching menopause, she should have a conversation with her family doctor about ways to prevent pregnancy. Even in this day and age, close to half of all pregnancies are not intended. Up to 40 per cent of unexpected pregnancies end in abortion. Different women explore different options for very different reasons.

Schizophrenia - coping with a broken brain
What would you do if your teen or adult child started hearing voices, acting differently and saying very strange things? You might immediately suspect drug use, and get medical help. Once the doctor told you that your child had schizophrenia, your world might begin to spin.

Is Seafood Safe? Questions and answers about mercury in fish
Concerns about mercury levels are making many Canadians reluctant to eat fish. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that anyone aged two and older eat at least two servings of a variety of fish each week. However, we tend to eat just over three fish meals in a month. Are possible toxins a good reason to bypass the benefits of fish?

Seniors & Driving - When is it time to gear down?
If you are an older driver, you can take steps to ensure you are driving safely and that your knowledge is up to date. It is important that you assess your current abilities. If you are considering not driving, planning ahead can put the transition in your control. Many seniors are going through this process, so know that you are not alone.

Shape Up Your Shades - Protect your eyes from ultraviolet light
It’s taken years for experts to realize the importance of protecting our eyes from the sun. At one time, we fried both skin and face at the beach without a worry. Today, we know that too much sun can lead to skin cancer. The same ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can harm eyes, reducing the ability to see. Cataracts may form, and the retina may also be damaged. Remember, UV light reflects off pavement, sandy beaches, snowy glaciers, and road surfaces and can also penetrate water. Being in the water does not protect our skin or our eyes from UV light.

Smokeless Tobacco - is it safe to chew or spit?
Is smokeless tobacco a harmless substitute for inhaled tobacco? Is chewing tobacco "cool" to use? The answer to these questions is a definite no. Statements of less risk with use of smokeless tobacco are "smoke and mirrors." Smokeless tobacco, just like cigarette tobacco, contains nicotine that is an addictive drug.

Stressed or Depressed? How to tell the difference
Almost everyone experiences feelings of stress or depression at some point. Such feelings are often appropriate to a situation. Clinical depression, on the other hand, is a medical condition. What is the difference between stress and depression? What can you do to stay mentally healthy and avoid overwhelming stress or clinical depression?

Stress in the Workplace - a problem worth solving
Almost everyone experiences feelings of stress or depression at some point. Such feelings are often appropriate to a situation. Clinical depression, on the other hand, is a medical condition. What is the difference between stress and depression? What can you do to stay mentally healthy and avoid overwhelming stress or clinical depression?

Stress Leave - Understanding the process
The number of workers affected by stress is rising. Although leave may be possible, it can be challenging to claim insurance. A fifth of the North American workforce, and close to half of workers with depression, are thought to experience short-term disability in any given year. Employees, companies, and disability carriers all have different views on whether a stress leave is necessary. Let’s examine how each might look at a common scenario... and how events could unfold for the best.

Swim to Survive - A life skill for everyone
Most people who drown had no intention of going into the water. For swimmers and non-swimmers alike, immersion is sudden, unexpected, and often silent. Lifesaving Society research shows that most drowning occurs within two to 15 metres of safety. For this reason, everybody must have basic swim survival skills and training.

Time Management - another strategy for safeguarding your health
In today's society, we never seem to have enough time for all the things we need or want to do. We have big plans and get frustrated when we do not accomplish everything. Frustration can lead to chronic stress that affects our physical and mental health. Developing ways to manage time well is an important part of staying healthy.

Travel Comfort Tips - good posture and stretching make the journey bearable
Whether you choose to travel by car, plane or train, sitting in a confined space for long periods of time can stress your muscles and joints. As a result, travellers often feel stiff, cramped, tired and sore at the end of a trip. On long journeys and with air travel in particular, lack of movement can affect blood circulation. For some, poor circulation can lead to blood clots (deep vein thrombus) – a serious and sometimes fatal condition if the clot blocks a major blood vessel.

It’s a Small World... for Both You and Disease - Protect yourself before travelling
Travel to faraway places is becoming more inviting, affordable, and easy to manage. You can travel to anywhere in the world within 36 hours. Unfortunately, so can disease. Parasites, viruses and bacteria can hitch a ride in your bloodstream. While travel is an adventure, be aware of the risk of acquiring exotic diseases. Without precautions, you can become ill while away or after returning home. In many cases, you can protect your own health and that of others by getting immunized.

Travel Comfort Tips - good posture and stretching make the journey bearable
Whether you choose to travel by car, plane or train, sitting in a confined space for long periods of time can stress your muscles and joints. As a result, travellers often feel stiff, cramped, tired and sore at the end of a trip. On long journeys and with air travel in particular, lack of movement can affect blood circulation. For some, poor circulation can lead to blood clots (deep vein thrombus) – a serious and sometimes fatal condition if the clot blocks a major blood vessel.

The Trouble with Making a Baby - An overview of common issues with fertility
Many couples assume that they will one day have a family. However, many factors go into whether or not a pregnancy occurs. Some, such as family obligations, tradition, expressing of love, passing on genes, desire to nurture, career, finances and lifestyle, may simply be influences. Others, including chronic illness or infertility, can be true challenges.

Understanding Street Drugs - why they attract, why they addict
The use of illegal drugs affects all of us. Newspaper articles, radio shows, debates in parliament and our own experience repeatedly tell us that street drugs are a serious problem. Still, we might try drugs out of curiosity, because of peer pressure, to combat boredom, or because it seems ‘cool.’ These drugs alter perception, often in a pleasant way. However, depending on the drug and the person, it can be easy to lose control and become addicted.

Understanding the Process of Change - six steps to success
How many New Year’s resolutions have you broken? Have you ever fallen off the wagon? Do you think, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I have any willpower?” Changing any habit or behaviour can be difficult and frustrating. Many of us want to change our behavior associated with weight control and physical activity.

Whiplash - save your neck - raise your head restraint
You are driving down the road. All of a sudden you are hit from behind. Your head snaps forward and then snaps back. Whiplash. We have all had it or know someone who has. Most likely a car accident was involved. Also likely is the fact that the head rest or more accurately, head restraint, was not in proper position. Poorly designed and improperly positioned head restraints are major reasons for whiplash injuries.

Is it Too Cold Outside? - Using the wind chill index
Canada is a country of extreme temperatures. Since very hot or cold weather can endanger health, we must be able to tell when conditions outside are too extreme. Environment Canada uses two tools to connect the link between weather and health – the humidex and the wind chill index. Canadians can refer to the wind chill number when deciding how to brave the coldest weather of the year.

Workplace Drug Testing - the pros and cons
For the last 30 years, particularly in the United States, testing employees for drug use has been common. In fact, it has been required there by law for workers in the transportation and nuclear power industries. Many companies in Canada have also explored the use of drug testing their employees.

Workplace Health - Staying well on and off the job
Does the work you do influence how well you feel - both mentally and physically? Do you know for sure that your job is not going to cause you future health problems? These are questions you should ask yourself and your family doctor.
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