How can women crack the code on bloating?

How can women crack the code on bloating?

How can you get rid of bloating and find digestive relief? 

Bloating is a fairly common problem for women, but many find it difficult to crack the code and find genuine relief. Dr. Connor was interviewed in brit.co, where she talks about how to identify bloating, the symptoms that can trigger it, the role that food and nutrition play, and much more.

Read the brit.co interview for the article, “How To Get Rid Of Bloating And Find Digestive Relief, According To An Expert.

Stress response for men and women biologically is different

Stress response for men and women biologically is different

Stress response for men and women biologically is different

Men and women have been shown to have biologically unique responses to stress. When encountering stress or a stressful stimulus, men produce more adrenaline and cortisol than women, so the “fight or flight” response is engaged, and this is truly and measurably more pronounced.

In women, however, the release of oxytocin is activated by the sympathetic nervous system—which is often termed the “tend and befriend” reaction. The results and responses by gender (male vs. female) are very real.

Read Dr. Brynna Connor’s contribution to the article in upjourney.com, entitled, “Why and How Do Men and Women Handle Stress Differently?

Acute and Chronic Hives and Rashes: Causes and Treatments

Acute and Chronic Hives and Rashes: Causes and Treatments

Acute and Chronic Hives and Rashes: Causes and Treatments

Acute and chronic hives and rashes and their causes and treatments can be tricky. There are many different conditions that can cause bumps, rashes, or itchy skin. In many cases, the conditions are temporary and quickly disappear with treatment. In other cases, hives or rashes can last long-term and are more difficult to manage. Your primary care physician or a dermatologist can help diagnose skin conditions and recommend a proper treatment plan. (For more on dermatological issues, see my article on how to treat skin conditions; eczema, seborrhea and psoriasis.)

Acute vs. Chronic

When diagnosing and treating skin problems, it helps to know whether the condition is acute or chronic. Acute conditions appear quickly and often within a few days. The skin’s appearance may change within a day or two, overnight, or even within a few minutes. Symptoms may also get worse fast.

On the other hand, chronic conditions are present for several weeks or longer and they may tend to worsen over a longer time period. Chronic conditions may appear on their own or may develop as a result of acute skin conditions that go untreated.

What Are Hives?

Hives are bumps that stick out from the skin. These bumps, also called urticaria or wheals, are itchy and usually appear red in color, although this redness can be harder to see on darker skin colors. Hives may also appear as flat, raised patches on the skin. The bumps and patches may grow larger, change shape, or go away over a short time period. Hives are common, affecting up to 1 in 5 people at some point in their lifetime.

Hives are usually caused by an allergic reaction. When a person comes in contact with something they are allergic to, the immune system creates inflammation, which may lead to hives and swelling. Things that may create an allergic response and lead to hives include:

  • Pollen, mold, or dust
  • Bug bites
  • Animals, including cats or dogs
  • Foods, including nuts, dairy products, eggs, meat, or seafood
  • Chemicals such as latex
  • Certain soaps, detergents, or cosmetic products
  • Medications such as aspirin, penicillin, vitamins, birth control pills, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Hives aren’t always an allergic reaction. Sometimes, they form when a person is feeling stressed, sweats a lot, exercises, or has been in very hot or very cold temperatures. Infections like mononucleosis (mono), sinus infections, tooth infections, or COVID-19 can also lead to hives. Another possible cause is diseases like lupus, thyroid disorders, or lymphoma. In some cases, doctors don’t know what has caused a particular case of hives.

Hives can be acute or chronic. Acute hives usually appear and disappear within a period of hours or days. They may come back over the next couple of weeks, but will usually go away again quickly. Chronic hives continue to reappear, sometimes multiple times per week, over a period of 6 weeks or more.

Treating Acute Hives

Acute hives often disappear without any treatment. To help the skin recover, you can avoid hot water and tight-fitting clothing. Antihistamine (anti-allergy) medication can help calm these allergic reactions. Severe hives may need to be treated with stronger medication or a shot.

Allergens can sometimes cause a severe allergic response called anaphylaxis. You may need emergency medical care if hives appear along with a tightening of the mouth or throat, swelling in the face, breathing problems, or fainting.

It is important to figure out the cause of hives. When they are triggered by a particular substance, avoiding that substance in the future can help prevent hives. Your doctor can help you determine if you are allergic to any foods, medications, or other substances, or are sensitive to another factor such as heat or sunlight.

What Causes Chronic Hives?

In about 80 to 90% of cases, doctors aren’t sure what caused chronic hives. They call these cases “idiopathic.” Some doctors think that idiopathic chronic hives may result from an autoimmune reaction in which the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissue. One of the most common triggers of chronic hives is physical factors like pressure, water, vibration, or extreme temperatures. These factors may make hives appear or cause existing hives to get worse.

In some cases, chronic hives can be a signal of an underlying disease, such as an infection or thyroid disorder. For this reason, it is a good idea to talk to your physician if you are experiencing chronic hives. However, having an underlying disease is rare, and most cases of chronic hives are caused by some other factor.

Chronic Hives: Treatments

Generally, the first step in treating chronic hives is to use a type of medication called second-generation H1 antihistamines. These medications include:

  • Claritin (loratadine)
  • Clarinex (desloratadine)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)
  • Xyzal (levocetirizine)
  • Allegra (fexofenadine)

If these medications don’t get chronic hives under control, doctors may recommend other strategies. This may include taking a higher dose of the same medication or trying other types of allergy medications. If these strategies are ineffective, people with chronic hives may be able to take immunosuppressive drugs (medications that calm down the immune system). Additionally, doctors may recommend steroid drugs for people with severe chronic hives.

Some complementary medicine approaches may also help. Chronic hives symptoms may come on less frequently and for shorter amounts of time when people undergo acupuncture treatments. Because stress can worsen hives, mental health therapies like hypnosis, relaxation exercises and other natural methods to boost one’s mood may also help treat chronic hives.

For a little over 1 in 3 people with chronic hives, symptoms disappear within a year. For others, symptoms may continue off and on for several years or for their entire life.

Rashes and Their Causes

There are many different conditions that can cause bumps, rashes, or itchy skin. In many cases, the conditions are temporary and quickly disappear with treatment. In other cases, hives or rashes can last long-term and are more difficult to manage. Your primary care physician or a dermatologist can help diagnose skin conditions and recommend a proper treatment plan. (For more on dermatological issues, see my article on how to treat skin conditions; eczema, seborrhea and psoriasis.)  Acute vs. Chronic When diagnosing and treating skin problems, it helps to know whether the condition is acute or chronic. Acute conditions appear quickly and often within a few days. The skin’s appearance may change within a day or two, overnight, or even within a few minutes. Symptoms may also get worse fast.  On the other hand, chronic conditions are present for several weeks or longer and they may tend to worsen over a longer time period. Chronic conditions may appear on their own or may develop as a result of acute skin conditions that go untreated.  What Are Hives? Hives are bumps that stick out from the skin. These bumps, also called urticaria or wheals, are itchy and usually appear red in color, although this redness can be harder to see on darker skin colors. Hives may also appear as flat, raised patches on the skin. The bumps and patches may grow larger, change shape, or go away over a short time period. Hives are common, affecting up to 1 in 5 people at some point in their lifetime.  Hives are usually caused by an allergic reaction. When a person comes in contact with something they are allergic to, the immune system creates inflammation, which may lead to hives and swelling. Things that may create an allergic response and lead to hives include:  Pollen, mold, or dust Bug bites Animals, including cats or dogs Foods, including nuts, dairy products, eggs, meat, or seafood Chemicals such as latex Certain soaps, detergents, or cosmetic products Medications such as aspirin, penicillin, vitamins, birth control pills, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) Hives aren’t always an allergic reaction. Sometimes, they form when a person is feeling stressed, sweats a lot, exercises, or has been in very hot or very cold temperatures. Infections like mononucleosis (mono), sinus infections, tooth infections, or COVID-19 can also lead to hives. Another possible cause is diseases like lupus, thyroid disorders, or lymphoma. In some cases, doctors don’t know what has caused a particular case of hives.  Hives can be acute or chronic. Acute hives usually appear and disappear within a period of hours or days. They may come back over the next couple of weeks, but will usually go away again quickly. Chronic hives continue to reappear, sometimes multiple times per week, over a period of 6 weeks or more.  Treating Acute Hives Acute hives often disappear without any treatment. To help the skin recover, you can avoid hot water and tight-fitting clothing. Antihistamine (anti-allergy) medication can help calm these allergic reactions. Severe hives may need to be treated with stronger medication or a shot.  Allergens can sometimes cause a severe allergic response called anaphylaxis. You may need emergency medical care if hives appear along with a tightening of the mouth or throat, swelling in the face, breathing problems, or fainting.  It is important to figure out the cause of hives. When they are triggered by a particular substance, avoiding that substance in the future can help prevent hives. Your doctor can help you determine if you are allergic to any foods, medications, or other substances, or are sensitive to another factor such as heat or sunlight.  What Causes Chronic Hives? In about 80 to 90% of cases, doctors aren’t sure what caused chronic hives. They call these cases “idiopathic.” Some doctors think that idiopathic chronic hives may result from an autoimmune reaction in which the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissue. One of the most common triggers of chronic hives is physical factors like pressure, water, vibration, or extreme temperatures. These factors may make hives appear or cause existing hives to get worse.  In some cases, chronic hives can be a signal of an underlying disease, such as an infection or thyroid disorder. For this reason, it is a good idea to talk to your physician if you are experiencing chronic hives. However, having an underlying disease is rare, and most cases of chronic hives are caused by some other factor.  Chronic Hives: Treatments Generally, the first step in treating chronic hives is to use a type of medication called second-generation H1 antihistamines. These medications include:  Claritin (loratadine) Clarinex (desloratadine) Zyrtec (cetirizine) Xyzal (levocetirizine) Allegra (fexofenadine) If these medications don’t get chronic hives under control, doctors may recommend other strategies. This may include taking a higher dose of the same medication or trying other types of allergy medications. If these strategies are ineffective, people with chronic hives may be able to take immunosuppressive drugs (medications that calm down the immune system). Additionally, doctors may recommend steroid drugs for people with severe chronic hives.  Some complementary medicine approaches may also help. Chronic hives symptoms may come on less frequently and for shorter amounts of time when people undergo acupuncture treatments. Because stress can worsen hives, mental health therapies like hypnosis, relaxation exercises and other natural methods to boost one’s mood may also help treat chronic hives.  For a little over 1 in 3 people with chronic hives, symptoms disappear within a year. For others, symptoms may continue off and on for several years or for their entire life.  Rashes and Their Causes
rash is any change in the appearance or feeling of the skin. Rashes may appear as small or large bumps or blisters, patches of cracked or peeling skin, a scaly appearance, or areas of swollen or irritated skin. Rashes may be red, skin-colored, or look darker than the skin around them. They may feel itchy, painful, or neither. Rashes may appear and clear up slowly or quickly.

Rashes may have many causes, including:

  • Infections in the skin or throughout the body
  • Contact with certain chemicals, cosmetic products, or other items that you are sensitive to
  • Insect bites
  • Contact with a plant like poison ivy or poison oak
  • Disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or Kawasaki disease

Like hives, other types of rashes can also be caused by an allergic reaction or by an immune system response. Contact dermatitis is a form of eczema. It leads to a rash that usually appears red or inflamed. These rashes may be painful. Contact dermatitis appears when the skin touches something that irritates it.

Another common rash is atopic dermatitis. Experts don’t yet understand what causes this condition, but have found that genetics may play a large role. Atopic dermatitis is also linked to an abnormal response by the immune system.

It can be difficult to tell apart different types of rashes. If you have a rash that isn’t improving or is getting worse, you may need to get the rash diagnosed by your primary care doctor or a dermatologist. Doctors can perform various tests to help determine the cause. Tests may include blood tests or a biopsy, in which a small sample of skin is removed and studied under a microscope.

Treating Rashes

Many rashes can be treated at home. One important part of managing rashes is practicing good skin care. Things like using moisturizer every day can help keep eczema under control. Products with an oil, cream, or petroleum jelly base may work best to lock in moisture. You may need to try a couple of different products before you find one that works well for you. It’s probably best to avoid using lotions and creams that contain fragrances.

Many rashes appear or get worse when the skin touches certain triggers. See if you can recognize whether using a certain product or coming into contact with a chemical or metal makes your rash worse. Your doctor may also be able to give you a patch test, in which patches containing different materials are placed on the skin to see if they cause a reaction. This can help you figure out if you’re allergic or sensitive to a particular substance.

When treating rashes at home, you may want to try:

  • Avoiding covering the rash with a bandage or clothing, if possible
  • Cleaning your skin with gentle soap or body washes such as Dove
  • Being gentle with your skin while washing or drying it — try patting, rather than scrubbing
  • Taking a bath with products that contain oatmeal
  • Using over-the-counter creams like hydrocortisone for irritation or itching, or calamine lotion for rashes caused by plants like poison ivy
  • Taking an antihistamine pill or tablet

Most rashes are mild and can be treated with home remedies. However, some rashes are more serious or are a sign of an underlying health condition. I urge you to see your physician if you have a rash that is very painful or forms blisters. Additionally, watch out for rashes that may be signs of infection. These rashes may feel warm, release yellow or green fluid, be surrounded by red streaks, or be accompanied by a fever.

More serious rashes may require more aggressive treatment. Your physician can prescribe creams or ointments that contain higher doses of steroids or other medications than are available in over-the-counter products. Rashes caused by infections need to be treated with additional medications, such as antibiotics or antiviral drugs. Additionally, if a rash is caused by another health condition, you will need to treat the underlying disorder.

Can Diet Help Treat Hives or Rashes?

Acute and Chronic Hives and Rashes: Causes and Treatments

Dietary changes may help improve chronic hives. Some people with this condition have celiac disease, a disorder in which a person’s body can’t tolerate gluten. If you notice that your hives tend to get worse after eating products that contain wheat, barley, or rye, you may want to see if your doctor can test you for celiac disease. Additionally, some people with chronic hives have a vitamin D deficiency, so taking supplements may help improve symptoms.

Some studies have found that more than one out of three people who follow certain elimination diets see an improvement in their chronic hives. One of these diets is a pseudoallergen-free (PAF) diet. During a PAF eating plan, a person identifies and eliminates foods that lead to an immune system reaction. Chronic hives patients may be sensitive to foods like tomatoes, seafood, herbs, alcohol, or artificial preservatives or dyes.

People with chronic hives may also feel better when they eat a histamine-free diet. Histamine is a molecule that is normally made by the immune system during an allergic reaction. However, histamine is also found in certain foods. If you want to try a histamine-free diet, you will have to avoid foods like:

  • Certain fish, such as tuna, anchovy, and mackerel
  • Chicken, pork, and preserved meats like sausage and ham
  • Certain vegetables (spinach, eggplant, and tomatoes)
  • Citrus fruits, strawberries, cherries, and any dried fruits
  • Fermented foods like yogurt, aged cheeses, wine, beer, and kimchi
  • Processed foods, including fast food, canned food, and pre-packaged foods

Changing your diet may also help if you have contact dermatitis or atopic dermatitis. People with these conditions may be sensitive to certain foods. This may not result in a typical allergic reaction. Instead, people may develop dermatitis after eating a particular food. It is not always easy to figure out which food is causing a reaction, since the dermatitis may not appear for hours or days after the food was eaten. The best way to determine whether a food is causing dermatitis may be to go through testing in a doctor’s office.

If you are interested in trying a diet to help with skin problems, consult with your physician, a Registered Dietician (RD), or a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS). These health care practitioners can help you make sure you’re still getting the nutrients you need if you cut out certain foods from your diet.

Conclusion

Many cases of hives and rashes are mild. Practicing good skin care and being gentle with your skin may help a skin problem from getting worse. Additionally, some dietary changes may help soothe hives or rashes. However, you should always talk to your physician if home treatments don’t seem to be working or if you can’t figure out what is causing a skin condition.

If you have a skin condition and would like to discuss with Dr. Connor, please make an appointment.

Can Working From Home Affect Your Mental Health?

Can Working From Home Affect Your Mental Health?

Can Working From Home Negatively Affect Your Mental Health?

Can working from home negatively affect your mental health? In the era of COVID-19, many of us have discovered what it is like to be a remote worker. Our working days often look very different than they used to. In many cases, these changes can have a negative effect on mental health.

Experts predict that many jobs will remain remote after the effects of COVID-19 begin to disappear. In one mid-pandemic survey, more than 80% of employers said they were considering offering more work-from-home options even after the pandemic ended. If there is a chance that you will continue to work from home for some time, it may help to know how to set up your work environment and routines to better protect your mental health.

It’s Not Just You: Working From Home Can Be Stressful

Can Working From Home Affect Your Mental Health?

As many as 3 out of 4 workers in the U.S. have reported feeling stressed during COVID-19. And research from before the pandemic began has found that remote workers tend to feel more stressed than those who work on-site.

Stress can come with many symptoms. The following signs may indicate that your stress levels are high:

  • Feelings of nervousness or uncertainty
  • Feelings of sadness or depression
  • Tiredness
  • Feelings of anger or irritability
  • Low motivation levels
  • Difficulties with paying attention
  • Sleeping problems

There are several things that can be adding to workplace stress during COVID-19. Many people have additional duties, both at work and at home. Some people may not have all of the tools they need to get their job done from their house. Additionally, changes in routine, uncertainty about the future, and worries about health concerns all add up to more stress.

Sometimes, you only experience stress for a short period of time, such as when you’re in a new, scary, or dangerous situation. This is known as acute stress, and is normal – it’s the body’s way of keeping us safe. However, when stress lasts long-term, it can become a problem. This type of stress, called chronic stress, can lead to negative effects on mental and emotional health.

Mental Effects of Stress

If your brain is feeling foggy or if it seems like you just can’t get things done like you used to, there’s a good reason. High levels of chronic stress can cause memory problems. Stressed people are also more likely to have low energy levels and difficulty focusing. Increased stress also leads to more serious mental health problems. Nearly a third of telecommuters say they have experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic. People are also increasingly turning to drugs and alcohol to cope.

When stress remains a constant presence hovering in our minds, it can cause burnout. People who are burned out have very negative feelings about work. They often feel very exhausted, distance themselves from work or from coworkers, and don’t get as much done. Burnout is a real diagnosis and one that I continue to see in my medical practice in the last 14 months. Burnout affects the way the brain works. People who feel burned out have a harder time remembering things and paying attention. On the other hand, some research has found that when people feel better about working from home, they are less likely to feel burned out. Finding ways to make telecommuting more enjoyable may help protect your mental health.

Impacts on Physical Health

People who experience long-term chronic stress are also more likely to have various physical health problems. These can include:

Stress can also negatively affect sleep, which can in turn cause additional health problems. Among people who have started working from home due to COVID-19, at least half report that they aren’t getting as much sleep as they used to.

The Benefits of Working From Home

Working from Home 3

Although working remotely can be stressful in some ways, it may help to know that setting up in a home office can positively affect your mental health too. If you’ve been working at home for over a year, you may not be remembering all the stressful parts of your previous in-person role.

No Commuting

The average commute time for Americans was at an all-time high before the pandemic hit. Spending a lot of time in the car every day can increase stress levels, leading to negative effects on physical and mental health:

Staying at home during your workday may mean that you avoid stressful traffic, have more social time, and get more sleep.

Productivity Boosts

Some research shows that when people work from home, they get more done. Additionally, the vast majority of employers have said that productivity has increased during COVID-19. Believe it or not, you may be doing better at your job now than you were when you were going into the office.

Other Benefits

Working from home may help you save money. You aren’t paying as much for commute-related expenses, and eating lunch at home is usually cheaper than buying lunch at work. Additionally, you could move to a more affordable location and work from there. If you plan your schedule right, you could also have more time for other non-work activities like exercise or hobbies. Many people enjoy their jobs more when they can do them from home.

Mental Health Solutions for Remote Workers

Telecommuting can be both a relief from stress and a source of it. If you restructure your working day and make the most of working from home, you may end up feeling better about your job and having less mental health worries.

Create a Separate Work Environment

Trying to resist temptation and avoid distractions wears down your mental energy, which can make you feel more stressed at work. Take a look around your home workspace. What catches your eye? A cluttered desk, television, or nearby smartphone may be a constant source of distraction. Separate yourself from temptation as much as possible while working. This separation is crucial so that you can close the door to work, both figuratively and literally, after your workday is complete.

Eliminate Multitasking

Research shows that people who multitask more often are actually worse at it! If you’re trying to do multiple things at once, you may not be doing as good a job as you think you are.

Workers in one survey spent an average of 40% of their day multitasking by communicating with coworkers while trying to accomplish other tasks. Technology like Microsoft Teams and Slack makes it possible to work from home, but also provides another source of distraction. Studies have found that people who are regularly messaging while they work take longer to get things done. Try to avoid checking these apps while in the middle of a big project, or schedule time to catch up on messages once every couple of hours.

Work Smarter By Using Your Body’s Internal Clock

Different processes within the mind and the body follow a pattern called a circadian rhythm or a biological “clock.” At different times of day, things like alertness, digestion, and body temperature naturally change. You likely feel more energetic and focused during specific times. One study found that students were likely to get better grades during morning classes, while another found that test scores improved after lunch.

Try noting how you feel at different times each day, or track your activities with a time-tracking website or app. When you look back at what you accomplished over multiple days, you might see a pattern. What time of day do you usually get the most done? Try scheduling tasks that require a lot of focus during times of higher energy and productivity. Then, plan to check email or take meetings when your amount of focus is lower. If you seem to hit a slump at the same time each day, try taking a break right before you usually reach that point.

Stick to a Set Work Schedule

Does avoiding a daily commute mean you have more free time? Not always. A pre-pandemic study found that people who telecommute work an average of 3 hours more per week. During COVID-19, the length of the average workday increased further. More work may equal more stress.

Try to set consistent work hours each day. If possible, choose a start time and end time to your workday, and make sure to also schedule in some break periods to give your brain a chance to recharge. Sticking to a schedule can help give you a stronger sense of control.

One of the major reasons people have been working longer during the pandemic is that they spend more time on email. Try taking your work email off of your smartphone and only answering it during working hours. If you sometimes need to respond to email during the evening, designate one small block of time for checking your messages and stay out of your inbox for the rest of your non-working day.

Once your workday is done, it’s time to distract your brain. Try building a habit of doing a certain ritual once you’re finished each day. This can help signal to your brain that work is done and it’s time to switch gears. Engaging in a more passive activity like watching TV makes it easy for work-related thoughts to creep in. Instead, try activities that require your full attention. Picking up a new hobby, planning some social time with a loved one, or cooking a fun dinner can help you leave your work behind and fully enjoy your free time.

Move Your Body

Sitting all day is bad for your health. It increases risk of many different health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Even if you regularly schedule exercise sessions outside of work, it doesn’t undo all of the damage of sitting down for the remainder of the day.

Make time for movement throughout the workday. Do a couple of stretches during a 5-minute break or take a 15-minute walk around the block. Try not to remain in your seat for large blocks of time. I often tell my patients to take a short break every hour if sitting at a computer. Your eyes will also thank you, since computer work causes strain to the eyes.

Get Some Sunlight

Going on a walk is a great step, but location matters too. Some studies have found that there is a difference between walking around in the city and spending time in nature. In a city setting, there is more chaos – honking cars and bright billboards are calling out for your attention. However, when you take a walk through a more natural setting, your brain gets a chance to reset and you can improve your ability to focus. Other research has found that walking through nature lowers anxiety levels and improves your mood. Find a park nearby to spend some time in, or schedule time on the weekends to immerse yourself in a natural environment.

Stay Socially Connected

Telecommuting often means that you’re spending a lot of the day on your own. Make sure you’re engaging in social time, both inside and outside of work. Take a bit of time during your workday to check in with coworkers. During work breaks, message a friend or family member. Outside of work, spend some quality time playing with your kids, or plan a visit or phone call to catch up with a loved one. Making time for social activities can boost your sense of belonging, improve self-esteem, and provide an outlet for giving and receiving support.

Balancing Responsibilities at Home

When you work from home, it may seem like it should be easier to keep up with your roles around the house, but the opposite is often the case. Work and home stress can easily bleed together, with one set of jobs distracting you from finishing the other.

Women are particularly facing difficulties in this area. 44% of women and only 14% of men say they are the only one in their household with childcare duties. Women are also more likely to feel under pressure, exhausted, or burned out at work. Overall, many parents are finding it very difficult to work from home while also overseeing their children’s online schooling.

Work with your family or housemates to find a solution that works for everyone. Try to lessen the amount that you multitask by setting up a schedule with your spouse to divide childcare or pet-related responsibilities. Make sure you’re devoting some time to the kids, but also set aside time where you’re only thinking about work. Have your spouse or another family member keep an eye on the kids, even if just for an hour or two. Try to set boundaries to protect this time – it’s okay to say “no” sometimes.

Remember That This is Temporary

Yes, remote workers have reported higher levels of stress during the pandemic – but so have on-site workers. A great deal of the stress that people are feeling right now is not just due to working conditions. Living through a global pandemic has meant that many of us are dealing with health concerns, isolation from loved ones, financial difficulties, and new routines. These other factors all add to our stress levels, making working from home seem especially difficult right now. It’s possible that once the number of COVID-19 infections drops and regulations are lifted, some of these other stressors may improve. Working from home may become more enjoyable once the effects of the pandemic lessen.

Know When to Ask For Help

Long-term stress can easily turn into more serious mental health problems. If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed or are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression, talking to a healthcare professional may help. Bring up these feelings at your next appointment with your primary care provider, or seek out a psychiatrist, therapist, or counselor. Many different websites and apps now also offer virtual counseling sessions. Talking to a professional can help you further learn how to manage stress and improve mental health.

Conclusion

Despite the possibility of added stress, most people like to work from home at least some of the time. In one recent survey, nearly 3 out of 4 people said that in the future, they hoped to be able to split their time between working at home and working in the office.

There are many strategies that can help you lessen stress while remote working. Even though you may have been working from home for over a year now, it’s possible that you still haven’t found a good routine or an effective work-life balance. Continuing to use trial and error to find potential solutions may help you protect your mental health.

If you would like a physical check-up please make an appointment with Dr. Connor.

How to Prevent and Reverse Sarcopenia

How to Prevent and Reverse Sarcopenia

Is losing muscle just a normal part of aging? For some people, a drop in muscle mass and strength can be a serious health problem known as sarcopenia. People with this condition may be more at risk for falls and can have trouble performing daily activities. There are many risk factors for sarcopenia. Some of these, like not getting enough exercise, can be prevented. Additionally, muscle loss can be reversed. Strength training, a healthy diet, and supplements may all help treat sarcopenia.

What is Sarcopenia?

People with sarcopenia have low levels of muscle mass (the total amount of all muscles found in your body). They also have decreased muscle strength or function, which can be measured using things like walking speed or handgrip strength. This loss of muscle happens over time, usually due to aging.

The process of losing muscle starts happening earlier in life than you may think. After a person turns 30, they begin to lose about 3-8% of muscle per decade. This process speeds up even further when a person is in their 60’s. By the time someone reaches their 80’s, they may have lost up to half of their original muscle mass.

As many as one in three people over the age of 60 has sarcopenia. While sarcopenia is usually seen in older people, it may also be seen in younger people as well. For example, people with inflammatory diseases are more likely to develop sarcopenia.

Why is Sarcopenia a Problem?

sarcopenia

Sarcopenia can lead to multiple other physical and mental health issues. People with this condition may be more likely to get broken bones. They may also walk more slowly, which can be a sign that a person has a higher risk of sickness and death. Sarcopenia may also lead to disability and a greater risk of falls.

People living with sarcopenia also say that they experience many other physical and mental issues as a result of their condition, such as:

  • Trouble standing
  • Balance problems
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Feeling afraid of being injured
  • Feeling embarrassed about their health
  • Feeling lonely or meeting up with friends and family less often

Many people with sarcopenia have a harder time meeting their own needs. Sarcopenia can make it harder to do everyday tasks such as cleaning up around the house, showering, and driving. This may mean that they are less able to live independently.

Finally, people with sarcopenia may have a shorter life expectancy. Focusing on sarcopenia risk factors and working to build more muscle can help you live a longer, healthier life.

How Do You Know if You Have Sarcopenia?

If you think you may have this condition, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may run several tests in order to make a diagnosis, such as:

  • Imaging scans in order to see how much muscle you have throughout the body
  • Tests that test measure how strongly you can grip, in order to see how strong your muscles are
  • Tests that measure how quickly you can walk or climb stairs, in order to see how well your muscles work

If your doctor thinks you may have sarcopenia, they can help you come up with a plan to prevent further muscle loss and even build new muscle.

Preventing Sarcopenia

Sarcopenia has been linked to several risk factors. For example, this condition becomes more common with age. Additionally, up to 30% of your risk of sarcopenia may be linked to genes passed down from your parents. While you can’t control your age or your genetics, there are other risk factors that you can change.

 

 

Exercise
sarcopenia
Not getting enough physical activity can increase your chance of developing sarcopenia. Getting more exercise can reduce your risk and lead to more muscle strength. When healthy adults undergo strength training, they build muscle and can perform everyday tasks more easily.

Many different forms of physical activity can help. Some types of exercises that have been used in studies to help protect against sarcopenia include:

  • Resistance training: This type of workout, also known as strength training, helps build up muscle. It includes exercises that use weights, resistance bands, or body weight.
  • Functional training: This type of movement trains people to better carry out everyday life activities. Functional training strengthens multiple different muscle groups and helps them work together better.
  • Aerobic exercise: Exercises in this category increase your heart rate and make you breathe faster. Aerobic exercise, or cardio, includes activities like running, walking, and swimming.

Diet

Nutrition also plays a key role. People who eat more protein and get more vitamin D are less likely to get sarcopenia. If you want to lower your chance of being diagnosed with this condition, eating a balanced diet where you’re getting enough of these nutrients may help.

Other Factors

Certain diseases may also lead to more muscle loss. These include heart disease and cancer. Factors like eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and not drinking alcohol heavily can help with your heart health. These healthy habits can also reduce cancer risk, and in turn, may lower your chance of getting sarcopenia.

Other risk factors of sarcopenia include:

  • Changes in hormones
  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Inflammation
  • High levels of fat in the liver
  • Not getting good enough nutrition

These health issues can often be detected during regular doctors’ visits. Talk to your doctor about how often you should have check-ups and health screenings.

Sarcopenia Treatments

There are no official treatments that the FDA has approved for sarcopenia. However, there are several things that people with this condition can do in order to build up more muscle and improve their strength.

Exercise

Many different types of exercise can help people with sarcopenia. However, one of the best types of workouts may be progressive resistance training, or PRT. During PRT, people focus on building up strength using things like resistance bands, free weights, or weight machines. As a person gets stronger, the amount of weight or resistance used is slowly increased.

In one set of studies, researchers found that PRT helped older people gain an average of 2.4 pounds of muscle. In another analysis of 121 clinical trials that included 6700 people, researchers found that PRT could help people:

  • Walk faster
  • Get out of a chair more quickly
  • Go up steps more easily
  • Gain stronger muscles
  • Have less arthritis pain
  • Have enhanced physical ability
  • Complete daily activities like cooking or bathing more easily

Studies have found that performing more repetitions of an exercise or doing higher-intensity exercises can lead to more improvements in building muscle for older adults. However, too much exercise can lead to injury, so it’s important to start slow. Talk to your doctor before beginning a new workout program, especially if you have other health conditions. Your doctor can give you recommendations for an exercise plan that is best for you.

You can start using PRT by making a habit of strength training. Experts recommend that older adults perform exercises that are focused on muscle strength two times per week. Try taking a class geared towards seniors at a local gym, community center, or online. You can also try tracking your exercise with activity logs or with smartphone apps. Additionally, PRT is not the only type of exercise that can improve your health. Many people living with sarcopenia have found that exercises like cardio, physical therapy, and pool exercises have helped them improve their flexibility and strength.

Nutrition

sarcopenia

Because eating low levels of protein has been linked to sarcopenia, it’s important for older adults to make sure they are getting enough of this nutrient. Eating more protein can help older adults gain more mass and increase their life expectancy. Experts recommend getting 25-30 grams of protein at each meal. Foods that contain a lot of protein include meat (beef, pork, sausage), poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), seafood, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and soy foods (tofu, tempeh, edamame).

A Combination of Better Nutrition and Exercise Is Even More Effective

Getting enough nutrients, and especially eating enough protein, is important if you are also getting more exercise. Eating a nutritious diet can help exercise be more effective for people living with sarcopenia.

In one clinical trial, researchers tried to help older, frail nursing home residents build muscle. Participants who exercised had some improvements in muscle strength and were able to walk faster and climb stairs more easily. People who got better nutrition in addition to being put on an exercise program had even larger improvements.

Other studies have had similar findings. Another clinical trial showed that when older adults got aerobic exercise, their bodies were better able to absorb nutrients and deliver those nutrients to the muscle. People who used a combination of healthy eating and exercise built more muscle than people who got better nutrition but didn’t exercise.

Supplements

Sometimes, it’s hard to get all of the nutrients you need from diet alone. Taking supplements may help you make sure you are reaching your nutritional goals.

One easy way to get extra protein is by taking high-protein supplements. Many of these supplements contain essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and “essential” amino acids are ones that your body can’t make itself – it needs to get them through the diet. When people over 65 years old take this sort of supplement, they have more muscle strength, fewer health problems, and less hospital visits.

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for those with sarcopenia. Older adults who don’t get enough vitamin D are four times more likely to be frail. Whether vitamin D can be used as a sarcopenia treatment is less clear, however. Some studies have not found any benefit for people taking more vitamin D. On the other hand, other studies have shown that getting more vitamin D can increase physical function and reduce the risk of falls. If you have sarcopenia, taking a vitamin D supplement may help.

Another useful supplement ingredient is omega-3 fatty acids. These molecules are found in fatty fish and in fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids can:

  • Build more muscle
  • Reduce inflammation in the muscle
  • Help people build muscle following resistance training

Hormone Treatments for Better Muscle Function

Hormones are natural chemicals produced by the body that help different parts of the body communicate. Levels of certain hormones change as we age, and this may play a role in sarcopenia.

Testosterone is a reproductive hormone that is primarily important for the development of male sex characteristics and sexual function. Testosterone also helps support healthy bones, blood cells, and muscles in both men and women. As we age, both men and women experience a drop in testosterone levels. This may be one of the reasons why we lose muscle as we get older. When older men get testosterone treatments to increase their levels of this hormone, they often gain muscle mass and strength. However, it is important to know that taking testosterone may lead to side effects such as acne, joint pain, insomnia, mood swings, and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Another key hormone is human growth hormone (hGH or GH). Like testosterone, hGH levels decrease about 1% per year after a person turns 30. People with sarcopenia tend to have lower levels of hGH in the body. Some studies have shown that hGH treatment, alone or in combination with testosterone, can improve muscle strength. However, other studies have found that people with sarcopenia don’t gain muscle mass after taking hGH. hGH supplements may also come with side effects such as swelling, joint pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Hormone therapy may help some people build muscle, but it doesn’t seem to work for everyone. Additionally, some people may experience side effects from taking hormones, while others feel just fine. Talk to your doctor to see if the possible benefits of taking testosterone or hGH outweigh the potential risks.

Conclusion

Sarcopenia can be a serious condition, leading to many additional physical and mental health problems. If you feel like you may be losing muscles and are not as strong as you used to be, exercise and a healthy, protein-rich diet can help you build up strength. Some people may benefit from taking hormones such as testosterone or human growth hormone. If you think you may have sarcopenia, talk to your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that can work well for your needs, or make an appointment with Dr. Connor.

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