It’s hurricane season – is your first aid kit ready for action?

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At the time of writing, Hurricane Dorian is battering the East Coast and it got us thinking at Nano about disaster preparedness. Those of us who live in earthquake territories, or near high-risk fire areas, are always told to have a proper First Aid kit and an Emergency Plan. But how many of us do? Or even know what we’ll need when the worst happens? 

Luckily our friends at the Centers for Disease Control have compiled a great guide. So check out this list (and keep scrolling if you’re looking to trick out that First Aid Kit in your kitchen). 

What about the First Aid Kit you keep promising yourself to re-stock? Did you buy it a few years ago and kept plundering it for Band-Aids, so it’s somewhat depleted? 

We called our contacts at the American Red Cross and they sent us this link for their 115-piece kit which contains everything you’ll need for the usual cuts, scrapes, sprains, swelling and more. It also contains a quick First Aid reference guide in case the Wi-Fi goes down in a storm and you can’t reach Google. 

Want to build your own kit from scratch? Here’s a list of the basics to have on hand:  

  • aspirin
  • antibiotic ointment
  • antiseptic wipes
  • bandages
  • cold compress
  • emergency blanket
  • gloves (non-Latex)
  • scissors
  • tape 
  • thermometer
  • trauma and gauze pads
  • tweezers

Finally, make sure you, and your loved ones, have a proper plan. The Department of Homeland Security has a helpful document you can print out here. Don’t be overwhelmed. Scroll down past the information to page 6. There you can fill in the details of everything from ICE (in case of emergency numbers), evacuation location, utility company helplines, doctor’s emergency contact and medical insurance numbers. 

Print it out, put it on the fridge, scan in digital copies and make sure everyone in your family knows what to do in the event of a disaster.   

Be safe. Be healthy. Be prepared!

Is depression different for men?

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As Michael Stipe from REM sang: “Everybody Hurts (sometimes),” but the symptoms of depression are often very different in men, and harder to spot. Recent guidance from the National Institutes of Health might help you, or a loved one, understand what’s going on – and find resolution. 

Men’s depression symptoms often manifest as anger or aggression, rather than sadness. Family members, or the men themselves, might not see that what’s behind the rage is a profound sense of loss. If left unchecked, the situation can get worse.

The National Institutes of Health differentiates between the regular “blues” which all of us get from time to time, and the clinical mood disorder of true depression which impairs the ability to function or handle daily life. Doctors estimate that a prolonged bout of feeling this way, of two weeks or more, is symptomatic of a clinical disorder. 

Here are some of the signs the NIH suggests looking out for: 

  • Men with depression may feel very tired and lose interest in work, family or hobbies. 
  • They may be more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression. 
  • Sometimes mental health symptoms appear to be physical issues. For example, a racing heart, tightening chest, ongoing headaches or digestive issues can be signs of a mental health problem. Many men are more likely to see their doctor about physical symptoms than emotional symptoms.
  • Some men may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their emotional symptoms. Also, while women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide because they tend to use more lethal methods.

With the right treatment – usually a combination of talk therapy, exercise, a healthy eating regimen and, sometimes, medication, the NIH notes most men can work through the depression and come out the other side. 

If you, or someone you love, exhibits anything from the list above, don’t ignore the signs. Get help. We’re in this together. Even the future King of England has opened up about his mental health vulnerabilities – so you can, too. 

Navigating drug-free pain management options

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Painkillers are useful medications for common discomforts like headaches or backaches, and their occasional use is fine. However, prolonged use of painkillers can cause an increase in tolerance to the drug, resulting in a need to increase the dosage. This is especially true for people who suffer from chronic pain.

According to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50 million adults in the United States live with chronic pain and 19.6 million live with high-impact chronic pain. Chronic pain has been linked to a dependence on painkillers, specifically opioids.

Depending on the location and severity of your pain, the following alternative treatments may be able to help you manage your pain drug-free. You can find additional information at The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Movement-Based Therapies

Activities like exercise, yoga and physical therapy can strengthen muscles, support joints, improve alignment and release endorphins.

Nutritional and Herbal Remedies

An anti-inflammatory diet and supplements can help ease chronic pain by boosting the body’s natural immunity, reducing pain-causing inflammation and soothing pain.

Mind-Body Medicine

Meditation, guided imagery, and biofeedback can help reduce stressful, pain-inducing emotions and focus attention on something other than physical pain.

Physical Manipulation

Massage, chiropractic manipulation, and osteopathy on areas with musculoskeletal pain can help restore mobility, improve circulation, decrease blood pressure and relieve stress.

Energy Healing

In Chinese medicine, chi is the electrical energy emitted by the body’s nervous system. Acupuncture, acupressure, and reiki can relax the body and mind, produce natural painkillers and activate natural pleasure centers.

It is important to remember that not every alternative therapy is right for everyone. When choosing an alternative treatment, remember to keep an open mind and explore different therapies. Additionally, work with your doctor to find a good balance between alternative and traditional medicine.

Could technology replace our doctors?

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New technologies are empowering patients to easily manage their healthcare more and more each year, and doctors are beginning to adopt new tools to communicate with patients more efficiently and coordinate care with data from a variety of sources.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is continuously evolving and is becoming adept at performing clinical tasks, such as disease diagnosis and cancer screening, faster and more accurately than humans. As the algorithms improve, so will tools for technology-enabled care.

The question is – will AI shift from assisting physicians to replacing them?

In 2016, the New England Journal of Medicine predicted big data, combined with powerful algorithms, would transform the medical field. It also stated machine learning and AI will disrupt medicine by:

  • Improving the ability of health professionals to establish a prognosis
  • Displacing much of the work of radiologists and anatomical pathologists.
  • Improving diagnostic accuracy

The ability of AI to convert data into knowledge will soon enable people to screen themselves. A team at Stanford University developed an algorithm to diagnose skin cancer, using a database of about 130,000 skin lesion images from 2,000 different diseases. The team is working on moving the algorithm to mobile devices, making accurate cancer diagnoses available to patients outside a doctor’s office.

As algorithms continue to improve, medical professionals will adopt more AI technology to assist with diagnosis and treatment. 


Elliott Fishman, MD, professor of radiology and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, believes machine learning will lead to improved patient care. “If you ask me who will benefit from AI, it’s the patients,” says Fishman. “That’s why I’m so excited. Better care for our patients. What can be better than that?”

Waking up tired? Air quality could be your problem

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You’ve tried just about everything. A new pillow, mattress, and even some new bedsheets, but nothing seems to be working. There is one important element you may have overlooked – indoor air quality can play a significant role in how well you sleep. 

Bedroom Air Quality

You close your window and your door and slip into bed. You’ve got the privacy and quiet you want, but now your room is poorly ventilated. Research shows that bedroom air quality, specifically carbon dioxide levels, can adversely impact your sleep quality. With your room closed off, the CO2 your body generates builds up in your room. Studies have shown that people who slept in rooms with higher levels of CO2 (due to poor bedroom ventilation) slept worse and performed worse on logic tests the next day. 

Kitchen Air Quality

How well is your kitchen ventilated? A study on how cooking oil fumes affect your sleep showed that those with poorly ventilated kitchens reported overall worse sleep quality. Prolonged exposure to cooking oil fumes were also positively associated with poor sleep quality. 

What You Can Do

Okay, so you get the overall point: the air you’re exposed to on a daily basis can have a significant effect on how well you sleep. But what can you do about it? Here are two easy changes you can make that could make a difference in how well you’re sleeping: 

Get an Air Monitor 

Air monitors can help you identify any problems in your indoor air quality such as elevated CO2 or particulate matter levels. This can help you pinpoint other changes you might need to make like replacing your air filter.

Ventilate

Aside from installing a ventilator in your home, there are many things you can do to improve air flow. Turn on a fan, keep your door open, or just crack open a window. These practices can ensure that CO2 doesn’t build up in your bedroom, and help protect you from dangerous cooking fumes. If you choose to use oil the next time you’re cooking, turn a fan on, or cover your mouth and face, and keep it short!

Four things you should know about babies and sleep

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A child sleeping peacefully through the night is the dream of every parent. However, every baby is different and you may not attain that dream for several years. Yes, years. 

The amount of information you’ll find on this subject from a quick Google search can be overwhelming, so here are a few key tips and resources to get you started:

Sleep safety

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate around 3,500 babies in the United States die every year from sleep-related causes. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) created a list of safe sleep guidelines, including: 

  • Place the baby in a supine position for every sleep
  • Use a safety-approved mattress, and remove blankets and soft objects
  • Share a room with baby, but avoid co-sleeping

Bedtime tips

Avoid the unfounded myths and old superstitions. Here are some proven tips from the AAP for a better night’s sleep: 

  • Create a calm, quiet nighttime environment for feedings
  • Lengthen awake times to help baby sleep longer periods at night
  • Don’t immediately respond to fussing – your baby may fall asleep after a few minutes

Sleep training 

Sleep training refers to a range of practices to help babies learn to fall asleep by themselves. There is no right age for sleep training, so it’s more important to find the right method for you and your baby. 

The Bump, a parenting website, has a great sleep training discussion, as well as an infographic detailing different training methods. 

For parents

Technology might be the answer for exhausted parents. Gadgets like programmable white noise machines, all-in-one nightlight/musical soothers and mobile device accessories.
If you still have trouble getting baby to sleep, don’t worry – you don’t have to go it alone. A sleep consultant can help you wade through sleep training methods and set up a bedtime routine that works for your family.

What you should know about migraines and pregnancy

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According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines are the third most prevalent illness worldwide, affecting around 39 million people in the United States. The pain, sensitivity to sound and light, and nausea can be incapacitating. For pregnant women, a migraine can amplify morning sickness and other normal physical changes during pregnancy. 

Women who suffered from migraines prior to becoming pregnant may notice changes in their headache patterns during pregnancy. Some may experience stronger headaches. For others, pregnancy will reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

Some women may experience their first migraine attack during pregnancy, increasing in frequency during the first trimester and then decreasing later. They are usually nothing to worry about, however, a migraine could be an early indicator of pregnancy complications.

A study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain found that pregnant women with severe migraines were associated with elevated risk of pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, preterm delivery and low birth weight infants.

What migraine treatment options are available for pregnant women?

If you experience migraines, keep a thorough diary of migraine attacks. This will help you identify and avoid triggers, such as stress, certain foods and drinks and sensory stimuli.

Treatment of migraines in pregnancy may include soothing activities like meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and sleep. For pain relief, apply heat or cold packs to the sides of the head, eyes, and along the back of the neck. Be extremely careful with any medications to treat pain or nausea. Small amounts of acetaminophen and caffeine are safe, however, pregnant women should avoid medications containing aspirin or ibuprofen.

Migraine sufferers who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should carefully evaluate migraine treatment options. Collaborate with your doctor to develop a treatment plan and a back up plan, which include both pain medications and home remedies.

Are you really in ketosis?

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Probably not, and that’s ok! 

Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, occurring when the body does not have enough glucose stores for energy. It instead burns fat, which produces a build up of acids called ketones that the body can then use for fuel. Because ketosis uses fat instead of glucose for energy, low carbohydrate diets have been popular for decades.

The ketogenic diet didn’t start as a weight-loss method. Physicians began using it as a treatment for epilepsy in children about a century ago. Doctors found children with epilepsy stopped having seizures after two days of absolute fasting – the point when their bodies would have been forced into ketosis. 

Keto diets may sound like a piece of cake (or lack thereof, actually). You just need to reduce the amount of carbs you eat, right? Wrong. The whole point of a keto diet is to deplete the body’s glucose stores so it’s forced to use body fat as fuel. 

Your body really doesn’t like that. When you run out of glucose, your body goes into “starvation mode,” meaning it’s missing an important macronutrient. At this point, your body starts to break down protein into carbs.

Here’s why it’s difficult to maintain a keto diet. You need to give your body the right amount of protein. If you give it too much, it will break it down into carbs. If you give it too little, it will break down the proteins from your own muscles. This would be very, very bad.
Keto diets also wreak havoc on your metabolism, because the human body is designed to run on carbs. Your best bet for losing weight and maintaining overall health is to follow the recommendations everyone has heard before: eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, eat fish twice a week and limit your sugar and alcohol intake.

Keep track of your medications for better care

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It’s easy to miss a dose of a daily medication or take it at the wrong time. Taking medication can become such an autopilot activity that occasionally wonder whether you took your medication or just thought about taking it. For those who take more than one medication or are responsible for administering medications to others, the struggle is real.

Tracking your medications is especially important for those taking multiple prescription and over-the-counter medications. You can avoid potential side effects, dangerous drug interactions and running out of your prescriptions by getting organized and building a schedule. 

If you take only one medication, just setting an alarm on a mobile phone or smart watch can help you remember when it’s time to take it. A schedule can get complicated for those who take multiple medications, and the common pill box may not do the trick.

A physical checklist, like the printable worksheet from the National Institute on Aging, is one of the easiest methods for tracking your medications. Create a thorough medication record by including the following information:

  • Physical descriptions of pills, like shape and color
  • All names for a single medications, including brand and generic
  • Dosage times and specific requirements
  • How long to take medication and any refill dates

Tracking your medications is important for making sure you take the right medication at the right time – but it also helps you create a medication record, which is important for working with your doctors to manage your overall health. Apps like Nano can help you take tracking a step further by providing additional information, syncing across devices and creating a shareable version of your medication record to help you doctors make clearer, more informed decisions about your healthcare.

Keeping a food diary can help you reach your nutrition goals

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Have you ever tried to recall everything you ate or drank on any given day? Remembering just one meal is tough. What about the free supermarket samples or that one bite of your kid’s PB&J sandwich?

These forgotten nibbles can add up quickly and derail your health goals. Here’s where a food journal can come in handy. 

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or keep to a well-balanced diet, journaling can help you stay on track and keep yourself accountable. It can also just help you be more aware of the foods you eat, portion sizes and the timing of your meals and snacks. 

When you write down what you eat and when, you can keep track of your good habits and identify bad habits. A food journal is also useful for helping you and your doctor identify food allergies and intolerances, as well as triggers for gastrointestinal problems

Before you start your food journal, decide on a format that works best for you and your doctor or dietician. If you are digitally inclined, you can use spreadsheets, document tables, or diet tracking websites and apps. If you prefer the old school method of pen and paper, you can keep a list on blank paper or jot down your notes in a daily calendar.

Here are some useful journaling tips:

  • Time of day – write it down immediately
  • Portions – include all beverages, sauces and extras
  • Location – at home or out at a restaurant
  • Activities – including working, watching TV or socializing with friends
  • Mood – be specific about your feelings

A food journal is a great way to get and stay on track to optimum health, but it may not be for everyone. If it makes you feel bad about yourself, talk to your doctor about other ways to reach your health goals.

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