A Guide to Dealing with Jet Lag

A Guide to Dealing with Jet Lag

Jet lag is the result of travelling through multiple time zones; this causes the body to have difficulty adjusting to a new schedule, as its circadian rhythms are likely to be still attuned to the previous time zone. For someone who has travelled through to a different time zone, their body may be feeling like it’s time to go to sleep, even though in the new time zone it is the middle of the day – or vice versa.

Jet lag only lasts a short while, but the severity of the temporary condition is often dependent on the direction in which you have travelled, as well as the number of different time zones that you have crossed. It is usually more difficult for people to adjust to a new time zone if they have travelled east, rather than west, and it generally takes a full day for the body clock to be able to adjust completely to the new time zone.

Overview

People who are suffering from jet lag may find it difficult to function at their normal capacity. They may often find it hard to stay awake, and suffer a lack of alertness when they attempt to sightsee, socialise or work. Jet lag can affect people of all ages, although it is more likely to be of greater severity in older travellers, who are also likely to need more time to adjust. Rapid shifts in time zones can actually make it easier for some people to adjust. Regular business travellers, pilots and flight attendants inevitably suffer from jet lag more than those for whom travelling between time zones is a much rarer occurrence. Jet lag can be made worse by a number of factors, such as:

• Loss of sleep due to travelling

• Alcohol and caffeine use

• Stress

• Poor air quality or air pressure

• A long time spent in an awkward or uncomfortable posture, e.g. sitting on a plane

Circadian rhythms are the internal body clock that tells people when they should be alert or sleepy, and jet lag is a sleep disorder that affects circadian rhythms. These rhythms operate in a cycle that runs approximately 24 hours, with the body making use of sunlight to work out how much of the hormone melatonin it needs to produce, which promotes sleep. The production of melatonin tends to be much higher in the evening and much lower during daytime hours, but someone who has travelled through multiple time zones will find their circadian rhythms disrupted and the body clock becomes confused.

Symptoms

People expect to be alert and awake during daytime, but jet lag can cause fatigue. The symptoms associated with the disorder tend to be longer lasting and even more severe the longer you have been travelling, particularly in an eastward direction. Symptoms often connected with jet lag include:

• Difficulty falling asleep

• Inability to function normally in daytime hours

• Stomach upset

• Menstrual symptoms (women)

• Feelings of tiredness or disorientation

• Mild sickness

If you have travelled across at least two time zones by plane, you feel sick or have an upset stomach, and are having trouble functioning in a normal manner within a day or so after that journey, it is highly likely that you are suffering from jet lag. Try and adjust your sleep schedule, and it will usually pass in a few days. However, if you travel between time zones regularly and are continuing to struggle with the issue, it may be a good idea to talk to your GP or  a travel clinic.

Dealing with jet lag

There are behavioural adjustments and natural remedies that can help you to deal with jet lag after travel. One method is to plan ahead and begin slowly changing your sleeping and waking hours in the weeks leading up to the trip. By the time you make your journey, your schedule will already be close to that of your destination. Another good tip is to go out and get plenty of daylight after arriving, as sunshine is an excellent tool to get your body adjusted. Bright light therapy and melatonin supplements can also be good solutions. Moderate exercise can help with adjustment, as can cutting down on alcohol and caffeine.

 

Survey Reveals Reluctance of Young People to Discuss STIs

A new survey has revealed that young people are highly reluctant to talk with their partners about the issue of sexually transmitted infections, at least in the United States. The survey, from the American edition of Cosmopolitan, also shows that women are much more likely to talk about testing, and to actually get tested, than men. Experts say that young people are at a much bigger risk of developing asymptomatic infections that could nonetheless result in serious problems when they are older.

Troubling statistics

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016 showed that cases of STIs within the United States had reached an all time high, with 50 percent of all new sexually transmitted infections being contracted by young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Yet despite this risk the Cosmopolitan.com survey showed that the great majority of young people do not talk about testing for STIs with their partners, and that more women are likely to get tested and initiate conversations about testing than men. 

1454 people aged between 18 and 35 responded to the survey from the social media accounts of both Cosmopolitan and Esquire, with as many as 47 percent saying that none of their previous partners had inquired about the results of their STI testing prior to engaging in sexual activity. 

Although 58 percent of the women respondents said they had undergone STI testing over the course of the last twelve months, just 33 percent of men had likewise. Men were also three times more likely to have never undergone STI testing than women. However women were also twice as likely to have an STI – 36 percent rather than 18 percent – than men. Almost a third of all respondents to the survey admitted that they had either had a sexually transmitted infection, or were not sure if they had or not. 

Chlamydia was the most commonly reported of all STIs at 18 percent, followed by HPV at 11 percent, oral or genital herpes at 5 percent, gonorrhoea at 4 percent, trichomoniasis at 3 percent and genital warts at just 2 percent. 1 percent of those responding admitted to having had pubic lice, scabies or pelvic inflammatory disease.

The risks of not getting tested

There are some potentially devastating risks for those who do not get tested for sexually transmitted infections. A number of STIs do not present with symptoms and thus can be undetected for a long time – but left untreated, these can result in serious problems, particularly for women. Chlamydia often has no symptoms, and there are noticeable symptoms in just 20 percent of cases of gonorrhoea in women. More serious infections can develop if they are left untreated which can cause infertility and even result in hospitalisation. 

81 percent of men are aware of where they can go to get tested for STIs, but men are not choosing to do so at the same rate as women, although women do have to take part in regular gynaecological visits at which such tests are routine. Full STI tests for heterosexual men are unlikely to be suggested by doctors at standard health checkups in the US, unless they ask for it or believe they may have been infected. This is partly due to CDC guidelines which state that not only are the consequences of chlamydia and gonorrhoea more serious for women than for men, but that men are also less likely to be infected. STI testing is often performed at facilities that make use of public funds, and have to make the most of their often limited resources.

The difference between men and women

52 percent of female respondents say they initiated conversations with their most recent partner about STI testing, compared to just 27 percent of men, although 82 percent of all respondents agree that both men and women are responsible for testing. The difference may be explained by gender socialisation, as women need to become more comfortable about such conversations and actions due to the more significant implications. 

Testing costs were not judged to be prohibitive by most respondents, and the survey also found that women are more conscientious in regards to safe sex practices. 9 percent admitted to lying to their partners about their most recent STI test. The survey results highlight the reality that young people, particularly young men, need to become more comfortable both discussing STIs and having STI tests.

Excess Hair in Women: Causes and Management

Unwanted or excessive hair that grows on the body or face of women is a condition known as hirsutism. All women have hair on their bodies and faces, but it is usually lightly coloured and very fine, with the texture being the main difference in the quality of the hair in women suffering from hirsutism.

 The unwanted or excessive hair that grows on the arms, back, chest or face of women with hirsutism is normally dark and coarse, a growth pattern that is generally associated with virilisation, and women suffering from the condition often have characteristics that are more commonly associated with male hormones. Although hirsutism is not dangerous, the presence of such excessive body hair can cause considerable social embarrassment and self-consciousness in women, and in some cases health can be compromised by the hormonal balance responsible for the condition.

 Causes

 Women can develop excessive facial or body hair as a result of higher levels of androgens, such as testosterone, than is usually the case. Androgens are produced by all women, but usually in low levels. There are also a number of medical conditions that can result in too many androgens being produced in women, which can be responsible for male characteristics including a deeper voice, as well as male pattern hair growth.

 Another common cause of hirsutism is polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is believed to account for up to 75 percent of all cases. Hormone production can be affected by benign cysts that are formed on the ovaries, resulting in decreased fertility and irregular menstrual cycles. Women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome have a tendency to be overweight and suffer from acne, with additional symptoms including the likes of:

  • Mood changes
  • Pain in the pelvis
  • Sleeping problems
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility
  • Headaches

 Adrenal gland disorders can also cause excessive hair growth; these include:

  • Adrenal tumours
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Adrenal cancer
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia

 The adrenal glands are situated just above the kidneys and are responsible for the production of hormones. People who suffer from congenital adrenal hyperplasia were born without the presence of the enzyme that is needed for the production of hormones, while people who suffer from Cushing’s disease have higher levels of cortisol, which is sometimes referred to as the “stress hormone”. The way in which androgens are produced by the body can be affected by all of these different conditions, symptoms of which can include:

  • Weakness in the bones and muscles
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive weight in the upper parts of the body
  • Low or high blood sugar levels

 Medications such as minoxidil, testosterone, anabolic steroids and cyclosporine can also result in excessive hair growth on the face or body. Idiopathic hirsutism may also be experienced by women in some instances. This can be chronic and more difficult to treat as there is rarely a detectable cause for the development of the condition.

Management

 There are a number of methods by which women suffering from hirsutism can treat or manage their condition. Doctors will probably suggest to those who are overweight that they may be able to reduce their hair growth by losing weight, as obesity can have an impact on the way in which hormones are produced and processed by the body, and the level of androgens may be corrected without the need for medication by simply achieving and maintaining a healthier weight.

 However if the hirsutism is the result of adrenal disorders or PCOS, then medical treatment is likely to be required. Hormone levels can be balanced with the use of drug therapy such as anti-androgen medications and birth control pills. Combination birth control pills contain both progesterone and oestrogen, and may assist with shrinking cysts caused by PCOS.

 Excess hair can also be reduced by oestrogen. Improvement is likely to be noticed after three to six months of treatment, and these drugs are normally required to be used long term. Anti-androgen medications reduce the production of androgens from the pituitary glands, adrenal glands and ovaries, and block androgen receptors. The growth of facial hair can also be reduced by the use of Vaniqa cream, while non-medical solutions include techniques such as laser hair removal, electrolysis, shaving, waxing and depilatories.

The Importance of Good Nutrition and Its Benefits

Fast food, processed food and packaged produce might sound convenient to you and is even affordable in some cases, but is it healthy to eat food that is pumped with chemicals and ingredients that you cannot even pronounce?

A healthy diet and fresh produce not only keep your body in shape, but also prevent you from malnutrition and diseases like obesity, heart conditions, high blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer, diabetes and any danger of a stroke.

Today, many people eat food that is high in saturated fat, sugars, Trans fat and sodium. What they should be eating instead is a diet which is high in dietary fiber, good fats like Omega-3 Fatty Acids, fruits, and vegetables. Your body’s physical outlook and inner health depend on what you eat and each food choice that you make determines how your health will be affected today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Good nutrition is essential for leading a balanced and healthy life. Unhealthy eating epidemic has increased obesity in United States in adults by 33.8% and in children by 17%. The direct link between good nutrition and healthy weight and overall health is too dominant to ignore or oversee. According to a research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fruits and vegetables can help you live longer, even if you choose to eat just 5 servings of them in a day. Another team of researchers from Tel Aviv University, Israel, wrote in the journal Obesity that if individuals try to eat a large breakfast of at least 700 calories they will eliminate the risk of heart disease, hyper-cholesterol and diabetes.

Here are some benefits of eating a balanced and nutritious diet.

1)  Save Expenses

More than two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if individuals start adopting a healthier diet, they can save at least $71 billion each year in medical costs. Moreover, this number has been calculated by excluding the diet-related heart attacks, diabetes and cancer. More than 75% of medical expenses are accrued due to preventive diseases caused by diet related issues.

2)  Balanced Nutrition Enhances Well-Being

If you consume poor diet, your mental and physical health will suffer. Accruing to the Mental Health Foundation, two-thirds of people who consume at least a serving of fruits and vegetables in a day are less likely to suffer from any mental health issue than people who eat no fresh produce in their daily dietary routine.

3)  Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight

Eating a nutritious diet can help you maintain or lose weight. It can help you avoid obesity or unhealthy weight gain. A diet filled with fruits, vegetables, dietary fiber, protein and dairy can help you maintain healthy body weight. There is no magic pill that can help you maintain a healthy weight. A good, nutritious diet allows you to eat whatever you want without depriving yourself of necessary nutrients. Food is for nourishment and with a balanced eating chart or plan you can achieve that goal.

4)  Maintain a Good Immune System

An immune system is the last defense against the disease, but if you choose to put unhealthy food into your body, it can cause immunodeficiencies. A nutritious diet with healthy dose of minerals and vitamins can help you maintain an improved and efficient immune system. For a healthy immune system, eat a diet that is high in proteins, dietary fiber, natural sugar (as found in fruits and vegetables), and low in fats.

5)  Anti-Aging Properties

Many foods that have antioxidant properties, like tomatoes, avocadoes, berries, fish and nuts, contain vitamins and minerals that improve the elasticity of skin and prevent the signs of aging such as wrinkles, fine lines and age spots. Tomatoes are especially wonderful for anti aging as they are rich in vitamin C and help build collagen and restore elasticity of the skin that is beginning to sag with old age. These nutritional fresh produce can help make your skin look firmer and help the regeneration of new skin cells.

6)  Provides Energy

Our body is dependent on the energy that is provided by the food that we consume. The body uses protein, carbohydrates and fats for replenishing the energy reserves of our body. Most nutritionist advice their clients to stock up on starchy vegetables, like sweet potato and whole grain bread, since they prolong the provision of energy, as they are a type of slow digesting nutrients. Water is also a transient provider of energy, which provides hydration of body cells. A deficiency in nutrients can cause low energy, fatigue, irritability and loss in skin pallor. Sometimes lack of Iron or other nutrients can also make you seriously ill, or compromise your digestion or other body function.

7)  Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a nutritious diet can prevent chronic diseases that have become quite abundant in younger adults nowadays. Kidney failure, blindness and non-traumatic lower-extremity amputation are the imminent causes of diabetes that can be avoided if children are taught at an early stage the importance of a healthy diet.

Exercise Can Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Battling sleep apnea and insomnia is not taken seriously by many people. Lack of sleep is a normal routine in our society and when you can’t seem to sleep, you either run to the medicinal cabinet for some sleeping pills or grab some herbal tea like chamomile to calm your nerves. However, according to a new research, aerobic exercises can be the perfect antidote for sleeplessness.

According to the researchers at the Northwestern University, sleep problems affect millions of people worldwide. However, those who suffer from sleeplessness can improve their quality and duration of sleep by increasing the amount of time spend doing physical activities. Researchers were able to conclude that individuals who participated in the study reported a definite improvement in their sleeping patterns, which enhanced their diagnosis from poor sleep to a good sleeper.

A good night’s sleep also helped them curb their depression, stress and sleepiness during the daytime, thus increasing their energy levels and vitality. The lead author of the study, Kathryn Reid, PhD, of the Department of Neurobiology and Physiology at Northwestern University, stated that a drug-free approach to treat sleeplessness is the best approach because dependence on drugs for sleeping is not a great strategy for the long-term. A drug free approach can help improve sleep by decreasing the danger of a harmful interaction with other drugs that a person might be taking for another ailment.

Most scientists that study sleep patterns agree that it is better to use behavioral patterns and ways to improve the quality of sleep. Aerobics and other types of exercises can help people sleep better and feel vigorous and refreshed after they wakeup.

In addition to a healthy diet and exercises, sleep is also a necessary ingredient for a healthy lifestyle. Phyllis Zee, a professor of neurology, neurobiology and physiology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, author and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Medicine, also stated that an improvement in sleep could directly and positively improve the mental and physical health of a person.

Sleep is a barometer for good health and if you want to gauge someone’s health, observe their sleeping patterns. It is as easy as taking someone’s temperature. People with poor sleeping patterns will also have a problem managing or controlling their diabetes and hypertension. Exercises can help a person boost their metabolism, help them in managing their weight and help them sleep better. A 1.25-hour increase in the duration of exercises can help people with sleeping problems much more than pharmacological drugs and interventions for sleeplessness and insomnia.

Moderate-intensity exercises such as walking, significantly reduces the time that it normally takes a person to sleep. Vigorous exercises such as lifting weights, HIIT or running did not have any significant effect on sleeping patterns. Most scientists state that sleep and the body heating patterns are directly related. Exercises can trigger a body heating process which gradually drops up until nighttime, one which can prime the body for sleeping. Exercises can also reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression and can soothe the nerves and can reduce insomnia in many patients. Physical activities can also have a dominant effect on the Circadian Rhythms or the body clock as exercises can shift the timing of the body clock, depending on the time of exercising.

According to a study published in the journal “Mental Health and Physical Activity”, people are able to sleep significantly better if they get a total of 150 minutes of exercise in a week. The study was conducted on 2,600 men and women aged between 18-85 years. Nearly 65% of participants reported improved sleeping patterns after indulging in 150 minutes of exercise in a week. This can especially help 35-40% of the population who suffers from falling asleep in the daytime or during working hours.

Another study was published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in which a sleep researcher and clinical psychologist , Kelly Glazer Baron of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, found that exercises have a direct and equal effect on the quality of physical activity.

Sources:

https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/relaxation-exercise

https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/how-does-exercise-help-those-chronic-insomnia

 

Do you know the UK’s most Common STIs?

An STI is an infection that is passed from person to person during sexual activity including anal sex, oral sex or vaginal sex. There are a number of different kinds of STI, and in the United Kingdom the most common forms are anogenital warts, genital herpes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), chlamydia and gonorrhoea, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, trichomonas and pubic lice.

Sexperts at www.thesticlinic.com have given us a low down on what there is to know :

Anogenital warts

These are small lumps that can develop on or around the anus and on the genitals, sometimes referred to simply as genital warts. A germ known as the human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for this condition, although the great majority of those infected with the virus do not actually develop the warts. It is therefore possible for someone to be a carrier of the infection without being aware of it, and to then pass on the infection to someone else who may develop warts. Options for treatment include freezing the warts in order to destroy them, or applying chemicals to them.

Genital herpes

The herpes simplex virus is responsible for genital herpes. This virus remains in the body for life once caught, but can stay dormant for very long periods without resulting in symptoms, and there are many people who live with the virus and never experience any symptoms at all. Symptoms can include a number of painful blisters on the penis or vulva and surrounding areas, to just a mild sensation of soreness. The first onset of symptoms can last between two to three weeks, with any recurrent symptoms generally being less severe in a similar manner to cold sores. Symptoms can be eased by antiviral medications.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Cells in the immune system are attacked by HIV, and over the course of several years in normal circumstances the immune system gradually becomes weaker and weaker, making the body unable to defend itself against germs, bacteria and viruses, resulting in immunodeficiency syndrome, more commonly known as AIDS. People with AIDS can develop many conditions and infections, but the good news is that today the viral load of HIV can be treated with antiretroviral medicines, which help the body’s immune system to again perform its normal function. The virus cannot be permanently removed however, meaning that those infected with HIV will require long term treatment and monitoring.

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

Chlamydia is the United Kingdom’s most common STI, caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis germ, while the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes gonorrhoea. Chlamydia can go for months or years without causing symptoms. Symptoms of both can include penile and vaginal discharge, but if left untreated complications such as infertility in women and pelvic infection can develop, and it can still be passed to others. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be detected with a simple test and are usually cleared by a short course of antibiotics.

Hepatitis B and C

Hepatitis B and C are viruses that mainly affect the liver. Hepatitis B is primarily transmitted by the sharing of contaminated needles for the injection of street drugs, sexual contact, or via a mother to her child. Hepatitis C is mainly transmitted via the sharing of contaminated needles, with only a very small risk of infection during sexual activity. Hepatitis B can result in a short term infection, which does not necessarily include symptoms, though some people can develop serious problems with their liver and will need antiviral medication.

The great majority of those infected will be largely unaffected by the condition, but can still pass it to others. Hepatitis C sufferers can remain free from symptoms even with a persistent infection, but others can develop liver cancer and a serious scarring of the liver known as cirrhosis. Treatment can clear up the infection in around fifty percent of cases, and some people may even be able to clear the infection on their own.

Trichomonas

Trichomonas is a small germ that results in an infection that is rarely serious but can have unpleasant symptoms, such as a discharge from the vagina or the penis. Antibiotics normally clear the infection.

Pubic lice

These are tiny insects, barely 1-2 millimetres in length, that are passed on by close physical contact, especially sex. They attach to hairs and are difficult to remove, laying eggs that hatch in a week. The main symptom is itchiness, but the lice can be cleared by a cream or lotion.