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Fighting Back Against Dry Skin

Got dry skin? There are many things you can do to make it smooth and supple. In many cases, all it takes is making a few adjustments to your daily skin care routine.

Care Strategies for Dry Skin When You Wash

Try these tips for the bath or shower:

    • Skip long, hot showers: Hot water strips oils from the skin faster than warm water. Long showers or baths actually dry out your skin. Limit yourself to a single 5- or 10-minute warm shower or bath a day.
    • Use a gentle cleanser or shower gel with moisturizer: Instead of harsh cleansers, go for unscented, soap-free, or mild soap cleansers.
    • Moisturize while skin is still moist: Pat your skin with a towel after you shower or wash your face or hands, leaving it damp. Apply a moisturizer within three to five minutes of washing to lock moisture in.

What to Look for in a Moisturizer

You don’t have to pay a fortune for a good, rich moisturizer. Read the label. Ingredients that may be helpful for dry skin include:

    • Ceramides: Ceramides help the skin hold water and soothe dry skin. Synthetic ceramides may mimic the natural substances in the outermost layer of skin that help keep moisture in.
    • Dimethicone and glycerin: These draw water to the skin and keep it there.
    • Hyaluronic acid: Like ceramides, hyaluronic acid helps skin hold water.
    • Lanolin, mineral oil, and petroleum jelly (petrolatum): These help skin hold on to water absorbed during bathing.

Be sure to apply sunscreen to areas of your body that are exposed to the sun during the day. Look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more that says “broad spectrum” on the label.

5 Lifestyle Tips for Relieving Dry Skin

These strategies can also help make your skin supple and smooth:

    • Plug in a humidifier at home to help keep skin hydrated during winter months when indoor air is dry.
    • Wear cotton and other natural fibers. Wool, synthetics, or other fabrics can be scratchy and irritating.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Eat omega-3 foods. Essential fatty acids can help fortify the skin’s natural oil-retaining barriers. Foods rich in omega-3 include cold-water fish (salmon, halibut, sardines), flax, walnuts, and safflower oil.
    • For redness or inflammation, apply a cool compress or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream on the area for a week. If these don’t provide relief, talk to your doctor.

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Myth #1: The Pain Is In My Arm, Not My Chest, So I Don’t Have To Worry

Reality: Women die from heart attacks because they often don’t recognize the symptoms until it’s too late. Until recently, many health-care providers also missed heart attacks in women (and still do occasionally) because women don’t always have the same symptoms as men do.

Men usually have heaviness in the left side of their chest, a feeling that’s often described as having an elephant sitting on top of them. It can be accompanied by pain down the left arm or up the neck, sweating and shortness of breath.

Some women do have the same symptoms as men. But many women having a heart attack don’t have chest pain at all. They may have jaw, arm, back or stomach pain or an overwhelming feeling of fatigue, along with shortness of breath. Or they may feel as if they have a bad flu and may experience nausea and vomiting.

The most common warning signs were unusual fatigue, sleep problems, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety.

Myth #2: I Have To Stay Away From All Fats

Reality: For years, the emphasis was on the importance of a low-fat diet, especially for heart health. It’s no wonder that when many people hear the word “fats,” they think “unhealthy.”

But some fats are actually good for us. New dietary recommendations from the American Heart Association consider “good” and “bad” fat which, thankfully, leads to a much tastier way of eating.

Unsaturated fats are “good” fats, coming mostly from plant or vegetable sources, and not from red meat. These are called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats; that’s how you’ll see these good fats named on food labels. Examples are olive oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil (such as from salmon).

“Good” fats should be incorporated into our daily diets. Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkling ground flaxseed on yogurt or cereal, and eating wild salmon are easy ways to do this.

Use low-fat dairy products (or those labeled “no fat”), limit the amount of red meat you eat, and avoid margarine, fried foods and snack foods. You’ll help your heart, stay at a healthy weight and feel better!

Myth #3: I’m a Type A personality, So A Heart Attack Is Inevitable

Reality: Although a lot of attention has been paid to the negative health effects of the hard-driving, high-stress lifestyle, many studies have shown having a Type A personality alone does not mean a higher incidence of heart disease.

But some factors associated with a Type A personality – high blood pressure, smoking and lack of exercise – are risk factors.

Feelings associated with an increased risk are depression, a negative outlook, and anger and hostility. So make mental and spiritual health a priority. Get help for depression and feelings of constant anger and hostility. Connect with others to improve your sense of well-being. Of course, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are extremely important for both physical and mental health.

Myth #4: Only Middle-Aged People Have Heart Attacks

Reality: Women are relatively protected from heart disease until menopause. But premenopausal women with diabetes, a genetic form of high cholesterol (known as familial hyperlipidemia), untreated high blood pressure, and those who smoke or are overweight, are especially at risk for heart disease, no matter their age.

Myth #5: My Weight And Cholesterol Are Normal, So I’m Not At Risk For Heart Disease

Reality: Maintaining a healthy weight and having normal total cholesterol levels are important for artery health, but these factors aren’t enough to guarantee heart health. Other risk factors increase your chances of developing coronary artery disease (CAD). Some can be changed; others can’t.

Risk factors that can’t be changed include: getting older, gender, heredity and having had a prior heart attack or stroke. Risk increases as you age. Men are more at risk than pre-menopausal women; after menopause, women are equally at risk. Having a family member with heart disease or who has had a heart attack at an early age is a major risk factor. Risk factors that can be changed are high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, stress and depression, hormone replacement therapy in older women, high total cholesterol and being overweight.

What can you do to lower your risk?

    • Have your blood pressure checked regularly, and ask your doctor to test your blood glucose and total cholesterol levels.
    • Stop smoking now!
    • Start exercising regularly.
    • Talk to your doctor about stress reduction and options to control depression.
    • Also, discuss hormone replacement therapy after menopause; it should be taken for a limited time, and some women should not take it at all.

Also, let your doctor know if you have a family history of heart disease so that they can take that factor into account when treating you.

If you know your risk factors for heart disease, then you have the power to keep yourself heart-healthy.

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    1. Bad skin
    2. The quality of your skin is a sure-fire way to get a reading on your overall level of health. Of course, some people struggle with skin issues like acne and are otherwise perfectly fine — but skin quality can clue you in to some bigger problems. A poor diet can really impact your skin quality, and if you’re noticing blemishes like stretch marks? That should tell you that something is wrong.

    3. Sleep issues
    4. Can’t seem to fall asleep at night? That can be an indication that some aspects of your life need adjusting. Whether it be that you’re eating the wrong foods, ingesting too much caffeine late in the day, or not expelling enough energy during the day, not being able to sleep presents an issue — which cascades into further issues.

    5. Bathroom problems
    6. Yep, we’re getting down and dirty. Take note of the color of your urine, and even how frequently you’re going No. 2 — those could both provide important insight into the state of your overall health. Since you’re going to ask, your urine should be a pale yellow color — and hopefully odorless. As for your bowel movement frequency, there’s a wide range. But if you’re going regularly, you’re probably fine. And don’t ignore the grimy details during your investigation.

    7. Lip balm reliance
    8. If your lips are constantly chapped, and you find that you can’t live without lip balm, that’s your body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. Specifically, your lip condition is an indicator of your vitamin levels. If your lips are chapped, you may be vitamin strapped — so diversify your diet, and get the nutrients you need.

    9. Bad finger and toe nails
    10. If the condition of your lips wasn’t a solid enough indicator, your finger and toe nails can also give you a heads-up if you’re unhealthy. You’re going to want to be on the lookout for ridges, discoloration, and bumps — all of which should be red flags. Your nails can tell you a lot about your overall state of health, so if something is strange, don’t ignore it.

    11. Body temperature fluctuation
    12. Icy feet and hands aren’t normal. Yes, there could be environmental factors at play, but if you’re consistently finding that your extremities are ice cold, it can be a sign of cardiovascular problems. Specifically, cold hands or feet might mean that you’re having circulation issues, and that your body isn’t getting blood where it needs to go. If this is a chronic issue, have it checked out.

    13. A cloudy mind
    14. It’s becoming quite clear that our cognitive ability and brain health are closely tied to our physical condition. That means that obesity and elevated levels of body fat can have a significant impact on our ability to think and reason. It’s kind of scary, but also a very promising area of research. So, if you can’t formulate a potent thought, it may be a sign that it’s time to drop some weight.

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11 Knee Pain Dos and Don’ts

Follow these 11 dos and don’ts to help your knees feel their best.

Don’t rest too much:

Too much rest can weaken your muscles, which can worsen joint pain. Find an exercise program that is safe for your knees and stick with it. If you’re not sure which motions are safe or how much you can do, talk with your doctor or a physical therapist.

Do exercise:

Cardio exercises strengthen the muscles that support your knee and increase flexibility. Weight training and stretching do, too. For cardio, some good choices include walking, swimming, water aerobics, stationary cycling, and elliptical machines. Tai chi may also help ease stiffness and improve balance.

Don’t risk a fall:

A painful or unstable knee can make a fall more likely, which can cause more knee damage. Curb your risk of falling by making sure your home is well lit, using handrails on staircases, and using a sturdy ladder or foot stool if you need to reach something from a high shelf.

Do use “RICE.”:

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) is good for knee pain caused by a minor injury or an arthritis flare. Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, wear a compressive bandage, and keep your knee elevated.

Don’t overlook your weight:

If you’re overweight, losing weight reduces the stress on your knee. You don’t even need to get to your “ideal” weight. Smaller changes still make a difference.

Don’t be shy about using a walking aid:

A crutch or cane can take the stress off of your knee. Knee splints and braces can also help you stay stable.

Do consider acupuncture:

This form of traditional Chinese medicine, which involves inserting fine needles at certain points on the body, is widely used to relieve many types of pain and may help knee pain.

Don’t let your shoes make matters worse:

Cushioned insoles can reduce stress on your knees. For knee osteoarthritis, doctors often recommend special insoles that you put in your shoe. To find the appropriate insole, speak with your doctor or a physical therapist.

Do play with temperature:

For the first 48 to 72 hours after a knee injury, use a cold pack to ease swelling and numb the pain. A plastic bag of ice or frozen peas works well. Use it for 15 to 20 minutes three or four times a day. Wrap your ice pack in a towel to be kind to your skin. After that, you can heat things up with a warm bath, heating pad, or warm towel for 15 to 20 minutes, three or four times a day.

Don’t jar your joint(s):

High-impact exercises can further injure painful knees. Avoid jarring exercises such as running, jumping, and kickboxing. Also avoid doing exercises such as lunges and deep squats that put a lot of stress on your knees. These can worsen pain and, if not done correctly, cause injury.

Do get expert advice:

If your knee pain is new, get a doctor to check it out. It’s best to know what you’re dealing with ASAP so you can prevent any more damage.

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Try these 5 tips to manage your cough at home.

1. Stay Hydrated

An upper respiratory tract infection like a cold or flu causes postnasal drip. Extra secretions trickle down the back of your throat, irritating it and sometimes causing a cough.

Drinking fluids helps to thin out the mucus in postnasal drip.

Drinking liquids also helps to keep mucous membranes moist. This is particularly helpful in winter, when houses tend to be dry, another cause of cough.

2. Try Lozenges and Hot Drinks

Try a menthol cough drop. It numbs the back of the throat, and that will tend to decrease the cough reflex.

Drinking warm tea with honey also can soothe the throat. There is some clinical evidence to support this strategy.

3. Take Steamy Showers, and Use a Humidifier

A hot shower can help a cough by loosening secretions in the nose. this steamy strategy can help ease coughs not only from colds, but also from allergies.

Humidifiers may also help. In a dry home, nasal secretions (snot) can become dried out and uncomfortable. Putting moisture back in the air can help your cough. But be careful not to overdo it.

“The downside is, if you don’t clean it, (humidifiers) become reservoirs for pumping out fungus and mold into the air, and bacteria.

4. Remove Irritants From the Air

Perfumes and scented bathroom sprays may seem benign. But for some people they can cause chronic sinus irritation, producing extra mucus that leads to chronic cough. Take control by avoiding such scented products.

The worst irritant in the air is, of course, smoke. Almost all smokers eventually develop “smoker’s cough.” Everyone around the smoker may suffer from some airway irritation. The best solution? Smokers need to stop smoking. (Yoder warns that severe chronic cough can be a sign of emphysema or lung cancer in smokers, so see a doctor if you’re a smoker with chronic cough.)

5. Take Medications to Treat Coughs

When steamy showers, hot teas, and cough drops don’t help, you can turn to over-the-counter medicines to ease your cough.

Find Out What’s Causing Your Cough

Coughs caused by the common cold usually go away in a few weeks. Chronic, persistent coughs may be caused by underlying medical problem such as allergies, asthma, or acid reflux — or by the medications you take. To lose those coughs, you need to treat the underlying problem.

Talk to your doctor if your cough lasts longer than a couple of weeks, if you are coughing up thick mucus or having other symptoms such as weight loss, fever, chills, or fatigue. Get emergency medical help if you are having trouble breathing or are coughing up blood.

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