Reducing Risk of Stretch Marks Development during Pregnancy

I remember my wife’s first pregnancy. We were both excited that we would welcome a new family member in a couple of month’s time. As the pregnancy progressed, my wife’s weight grew exponentially. She seemed stressed because of the changes happening to her body. In particular, the stretch marks that developed on her body weren’t exciting to her. She tried to find ways of how to remove stretch marks but couldn’t find any helpful resources. She tried everything ranging from gels to home made remedies but none seemed to work. She resigned to the fact that she was among millions of women who get stretch marks during pregnancy.

During her second pregnancy, she was more prepared. She conducted research on ways of reducing chances of developing stretch marks during pregnancy. Even though these didn’t guarantee that the stretch marks didn’t develop, those which do develop are minimal. Some of the effective techniques include the following.

First, diet plays a major role on your skins health. Being the largest organ in the body, it requires a mix of nutrients and minerals which promote its normal functioning and helps it heal. Some of the best nutrients for the skin include vitamins, essential fats and zinc. You should also avoid foods which will accelerate weight gain since the body is at a stage where it’s gaining weight fast. Foods which are rich in saturated fats and cholesterol should be avoided during pregnancy.

Second, ensure that your body is always hydrated. The skins flexibility largely depends on whether the body is hydrated. Flexible skin is at less risk of developing stretch marks since it can easily stretch to complement the body’s exponential growth. In addition to promoting flexibility, keeping the body hydrated also promotes healthy development of new skin cells which take the place of cells which become damaged through stretch marks.

Third, using skin care products can also help reduce risk of developing stretch marks during pregnancy. Although there’s much debate concerning the effectiveness of such products, some have been found to help pregnant women reduce development of such scars. The most recommended products are those which include ingredients such as aloe vera, zinc and vitamin E. these oil soluble ingredients seep into the skins surface promoting collagen production and overall skin health. It’s advisable to avoid products containing ingredients such as alcohol which are known to dehydrate the skin.

Fourth, massaging areas which are prone to develop stretch marks can also help prevent their formation. Stretch marks on breasts and other parts of the body can be reduced or prevented this way. The reason for this is that massage promotes the flow of blood and flexibility of the skin. As more blood flows to this area, it increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients available. This in turn promotes cell division and development of collagen.

Finally, exercise can also help reduce risk of developing stretch marks during pregnancy. Regular exercise geared towards burning excess fat under the skin and promoting development of lean muscle will help regulate the body’s growth.

Mixing It Up: A Healthier Diet for Your Dog

A lot of pet owners are happy to feed their dog off-the-counter pet food. These same people may also think that “mixing up” the average pet’s diet consists of adding the occasional vegetables to the menu. For the most part, a 100% dog food diet isn’t really a bad thing anyway. However, some dogs tend to be picky eaters, and some owners don’t feel comfortable feeding “artificial” food to their pets. There is actually a vast selection of foods that your dog can enjoy that involves more than beef flavored strips and lettuce on the side.

Before opening up your fridge and tossing its contents into the family dog’s food bowl however, I give a word of advice: talk to a veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet. Their digestive systems work differently from our own, and therefore, require different nutritional sustenance.

fish oil for dogsNow that that is out of the way, it’s time to get to the good stuff: what can your dog safely eat? Well, dog digestive systems are designed by nature to be carnivorous, and that means a heavy animal-based diet. Many pet owners cook unsalted meat – poultry, beef, fish, and pork – especially for their dogs. These foods are high in protein, and almost always agree with the animal’s natural diet. They are also easy to prepare; boiling in water helps tenderize the meat just enough to maximize the nutrition the dog can get from the meal. The only important thing to take note of is careful removal of bones and skin; the former can damage the animal’s digestive tract, and the latter can be rather unhealthy.

What about vegetarian options? Can dogs eat bananas? Apples? Well, for the most part, dogs need high protein diets. However, they do eat certain fruits just fine. Yes, they can eat bananas and apples. Certain beans are also a good source of nutrition for pets, and many dogs can safely enjoy a carrot or two every now and then. Sweeter treats such as strawberries, strawberry jam, or peanut butter are fine too, and high carbohydrate grains such as wheat or rice agree with most dogs. Of course, the basic rules still apply: Avoid giving grapes, chocolate, onions, and garlic to your dog.

When trying to give “human” food to dogs, the general rule is to ask is: would my dog eat this in the wild? It is a good idea to replicate the ideal nutritional content a dog would need in a natural environment. This of course, means tone down on preservatives, artificial food colors, and artificial flavoring. Such measures ensure the quality of your dog’s diet, and helps keep your dog living a healthy lifestyle.

In the long run, a real pet owner treats the welfare of his/her pet the way he would treat himself: with proper and utmost respect. This reaches out and touches every concern from housing and grooming, to primal issues such as food the animal consumes. The dedication displayed by simply ensuring your dog is not only healthy, but also happy, speaks volumes about the individual, and promotes a living relationship between mankind and his/her pet.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to feed my dog.

Rumbly in Your Cat’s Tummy: Roundworms in Cats

I recall around the second week of April this year when I was tasked to take care of my cousin’s cat for a few days while she took a trip to Italy. I had done that sort of thing before, but there were a couple of things that made this time different: first, her cat Rachel had given birth a week before I had to take care of her; and second, I discovered two days after I started babysitting Rachel and her three kittens that I had to deal with a roundworm problem.

That second one was a real surprise as well; I had always thought that if Rachel had roundworms, I would have noticed before. She showed no real symptoms any of the times she stayed over at my place and the only sign that gave away the presence of the problem was the sudden change in appetite of the kittens.

The first thing I did after I noticed how badly the kittens were doing was set up an appointment with the vet. Having done that, I decided to ease my mind by reading up on symptoms and possible diagnoses on what could be wrong. When I came to an article about roundworms in cats, I hoped that the vet would tell me it was something else. Of course if you’ve read up to this point, you know that the vet didn’t ease my mind at all.

As it turns out, roundworms can be fairly asymptomatic in adult cats. Rachel may have had been carrying roundworms in her gut for a long time without a problem, and without anyone noticing. However, like other asymptomatic diseases, out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean out of mind. The veterinarian surmised that Rachel may have passed on the roundworms to her kittens via her milk; roundworm larvae are small enough to fit in the mammary glands. Once in kittens however, they can threaten the lives of the animals by feeding off of the nutrition meant for the felids, and thus interfere with the critical period of growth that the kittens have to go through.

And the news didn’t stop there, by the way. Before I had a chance to thank the doctor for her diagnosis and treatment, she told me: “That’s it for the roundworms, now let’s deal with the mites.”

And lo and behold, she lifted up a small patch of fur on Rachel’s leg to reveal a rough bald spot: mange.

By the end of the day, I had burned a sizeable hole in my pocket by getting the cats treated for roundworms and mites. Truth be told, I didn’t mind. I learned quite a lot, like how it is possible to find mange in cats even if it is usually associated with dogs. I didn’t mind spending a bit as well, considering that the lives of pets I’ve already considered a part of the family were at stake. After all, there isn’t any sense getting a pet if you won’t show it some love and care. Besides that, my cousin Beth would have killed me if I didn’t do it (though I’d have killed her if she didn’t pay me back).

If I were to sum up my experience, I guess it would be with the notion that I’m a lot more concerned about parasites now. They are definitely a threat to pets everywhere, especially for owners who are serious about keeping their animal family members in top condition. Couple that with the possibility of some of these parasites making the leap from pets to humans, and you have more than enough reason to keep your pets healthy and safe from critters that would otherwise literally get under their – and your – skin.

Guide to Shoulder Subluxation

I have come across dislocated shoulders most of my adult life. Most have been in athletes playing contact sports. However, I recently came across a condition that’s a bit similar to dislocation. However, unlike dislocation where the affected person usually has to be rushed to the ER, subluxation isn’t that serious. In fact some people actually don’t have to visit the ER and their shoulders can be treated at home.

My first experience with this condition was with a neighbor. His shoulder apparently went out of place as he lifted a bucket of water. He simply placed the bucket down and then set the shoulder back. “Doctor says I have shoulder instability. I have to keep up with this at least once each year.” He said as I watched in utter shock. I looked into the condition and found the following.

Shoulder subluxation

This is a condition where the shoulder joint partially dislocates. The shoulder consists of a ball and socket joint that includes the humerus (ball) and shoulder blade (socket). In the instance of subluxation, the ball slips from the socket but can be placed back as there’s no tearing of tendons and ligaments as it is with shoulder dislocation.

Subluxation is the result of shoulder instability which can be caused by any of the following conditions. Instability can be caused by a hereditary condition affecting the connective tissue. This is such that the tendons and ligaments are abnormally loose resulting in what most people refer to “double joints”. Another cause for shoulder instability is a previous injury to the shoulder joint. Persons who have previously had a dislocation or subluxation are more likely to have shoulder instability. It can also be caused by direct trauma to the shoulder such as impact during a spear tackle during a football game.

In the instance of subluxation, the affected person might experience one or a combination of the following. A sensation that the shoulder has slipped out of place which might be accompanied by a popping sound is usually felt. An attempt to move the arm results in the shoulder moving back into place. The person might feel mild or severe pain in the affected shoulder. This pain might move through the shoulder and be felt as pain between shoulder blades. Inability to temporarily use the shoulder due to pain and numbness also accompanies an episode of subluxation.

Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to prevent subluxation especially for the aforementioned groups. However, taking care not to accidentally injure your shoulder is the best way to avoid the condition.

The treatment regime for subluxation takes several steps which include the following.

First, return the shoulder joint back to its normal position. This prevents further damage especially to the ligaments and blood vessels.

Second, apply ice and use painkillers to relieve pain and reduce swelling and inflammation.

Third, immobilize and rest the shoulder to allow for recovery. Use a sling to keep the joint immobile. You should however allow for a little mobility as long as it doesn’t cause pain. This mobility prevents a condition called frozen shoulder.

Finally, with the help of a physiotherapist, exercise the shoulder joint to restore strength and flexibility.

Guide to Anxiety

I remember when my sons were growing up and a situation arose when I had to reprimand them for a wrong they’d done. I was usually gripped by anxiety especially when they were in their early teens. “How do I handle this? Will the reprimand affect our relationship? Do I let his mother handle this?” these were some of the questions I kept asking myself.

My anxiety was primarily driven by the fact that I had to find the best way of correcting my son but at the same time not compromise our relationship. The problem was I didn’t have days to rehearse my reprimand.

My anxiety in most cases left me tongue tied. I simply let my son get away with the mistake. However with time, I realized that anxiety shouldn’t get in the way of raising my sons right and any mistake afterward wasn’t swept under the carpet.

Anxiety can adversely affect a person’s life and that’s why I’ve decided to look into this condition in detail.

What’s anxiety?

This is a condition where a person has a sudden feeling of fear, tension and fright. The source of anxiety might be known or unknown to the person. The symptoms of the condition can last for a few minutes or days.

When a person is anxious, the body releases adrenaline. Often referred to as the fight or flight chemical it prepares the body for immediate response. If present in the body for extended periods, this chemical can be harmful to the body.

After the release of adrenaline

Some of the vital organs such as the heart and lungs are triggered to work harder in order to ensure that the adrenaline is supplied to the different muscles especially those in the limbs. In addition, carbon dioxide is also being released from the body fast.

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety manifests itself as a combination of a number of symptoms which include the following. Difficulty breathing is one of the first symptoms as the lungs try to draw in more air and release carbon dioxide. This is accompanied by an increased heart rate as the heart tries to supply more blood and adrenaline to the different organs in the body. These two symptoms can result in anxiety chest pain which is often mistaken for chest pain associated with heart attack.

Persons suffering from anxiety will have difficulty concentrating as the brain tries to focus on the agent causing the anxiety. Increase in body temperature, insomnia and fatigue are other symptoms.

Forms and treatment

Anxiety takes different forms. As mentioned, the person might know what is causing the anxiety or not. Some of the common forms include the following. Social anxiety occurs when a person becomes nervous around many people and prefers to stay along. Relationship anxiety occurs when a person in a relationship isn’t sure about the future of the relationship. This was my case with my sons. Other examples include panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

Anxiety doesn’t have a cure. However, with the proper treatment, it can be managed. Some of the treatment options available include supplements for anxiety, counseling and home treatments such as herbs.

Some of the Reasons We Get Low and Mid Back Pain

I remember one day last year when I was completely immersed in a DIY project at home. The boys and I had decided to do some home repairs which involved changing the overall look of the house. Three days into the project, my back suddenly gave in as I tried to lift my toolbox. There was a sharp pain which lingered around my lower back. I had to sit for a while and recover before I could stand again. The boys completed the project under my supervision as I recovered.

For my case, the back pain resulted from a strained muscle. It didn’t require medical attention as cold-warm treatment and taking painkillers coupled with some rest did the trick. This is just one of the reasons why we get low and mid back pain. Other reasons include the following.

Poor posture is perhaps one of the leading causes of middle back pain in people. The back has its natural arc shape in neutral position. This is the recommended position it should remain in whether seated, standing or sleeping. However, many people don’t observe this position applying strain to the spinal cord and the back muscles. For my case, I bet my muscle strain occurred because I didn’t keep the proper posture as I tried to lift the toolbox.

Pregnancy is one of the main causes of lower left back pain in women. The growing belly applies a lot of pressure on the pelvic and lower back area. The lower back is a sensitive part of the body as it supports the upper body and consists of just the vertebrae of the spinal cord. As the belly grows, more pressure is placed on this part of the body to provide support.

Diseases and infections affecting different body organs can also cause pain in the mid and lower back. This is known as referred pain as the pain is felt at a body part but comes from another part of the body. Some of these conditions and the organs they affect include the following.

Organs found in the digestive system such as the liver, pancreas and gallbladder if affected by certain diseases and infections might cause mid back pain. Some of these conditions include liver disease, pancreatitis and gallstones.

Diseases and infections affecting the female reproductive organs can also cause pain in the lower and mid back areas. These conditions include fibrosis, ovarian cysts, cancer and endometriosis.

Conditions which affect the lymphatic system can also reveal themselves as mid and lower back pain. Such conditions might develop in the form of tumors which grow around the spinal cord. If such a tumor grows large enough, it might apply pressure on the nerve endings causing pain. One condition of the lymphatic system is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Diseases and conditions which affect the urinary tract will also cause low and mid back pain. These include kidney stones, kidney infection, infection of the bladder and obstructive uropathy.

There are many reasons why we can experience pain in the lower and middle back area. It’s always advisable to visit a doctor if you have back pain and don’t know the reason why.


Bluer than Blue

I know that I am a very cheerful and happy person all the time and plenty optimistic too. I am easily approachable by all and very happy to be with actually. But today is kind of like an aberration to me, something totally different from what I have come to expect. I was feeling glum all day and ever since I woke up this morning I was feeling grouchy. Yes, that is something new to me that I do not like it at all.

Perhaps it has got something to do with the weather and stuff as it had been raining all day yesterday, maybe it had a carry on effect to today or something. The rain and all that dreary surroundings would surely dampen anyone’s day and that I am sure of. But that is not what I was on to actually.

I can’t think of anything else or any reason that would prod me to be this way today but for only one thing. I was this way today because I love my sons very much. Yes, I am missing them and don’t know much of anything I could do except mope and think of them all day long.

Of course I called them and all, but apparently that can’t replace being with them personally, as in they are here with us in our home sharing precious time together and stuff. It’s been two years since they last left for college and I still am not used to them being away.

So what did I do all day? Well for starters, let’s just say I imagined my sons as the little babies that they were from a long time ago and that they were still too young for anything else but us. How I miss those times and I would give many riches to have a chance to come back to that time again, even for just a little while.

Those were pretty challenging times for both me and my wife, but I cherish them dearly nonetheless. We cared for them through sickness and in health, we got bogged down deciphering newborn diarrhea and why they cried so much, but those bad times were really few and far in between.

The joy of witnessing newborn growth spurts is incomparable and was really like life itself unfolding right in front of your watery eyes. Seeing them roll over, crawl, and eventually walk for the very first time gives to you an indescribable feeling unmatched by anything else.

That is but a few of the many wonderful things I remembered from way back then. Can you already see why I have been missing them so much? Well you would also be this way if it somehow happened to you. I know I should get over it as soon as possible as things will not get better in time. Children, will in time, grow up and eventually have their own lives. You just hope that they go to somewhere very close or not go at all.

House Maintenance

I have been working around the house lately, probably because of lack of better things to do, but mainly because things really do need fixing around here. For one, the windows are getting a little bit creaky and have hard water stains in them, which in turn is not very nice to look at and makes the house look very old than it really is.

The water pipe under the sink, I think, has sprung a leak somewhere, as it is always wet under there. The garage door is getting harder and harder to open so maybe a little oiling is in order, better check its motor too as it has been making a lot weird noises lately.

I think the carpet needs replacing too as it has been a while since we last did it. The gutters around the house have little holes in them here and there, and this is probably their last year in service before finally giving out on us. The insulation in the ceiling is beginning to show and the whole house needs a fresh coat of paint, among other things.

Well those are the things that I have found out about when I did my checking around the house, the ones who needs the most attention that is, and I know that there are probably others lurking somewhere. Finding out about them certainly got me moving apparently, as I really don’t want our house caving down on us when we least expect it.

It got me to thinking about the last time I did things around the house and how long it had been since I last picked up a hammer. The answer to that is three years ago, back when my two sons were still here with us and had not gone to college yet. How I remembered it? Well it was not very nice and is an experience that I would rather forget.

My sons and I were working on building a tree house in our backyard and I somehow erred in using the hammer. I wound up hammering my hand and got a sprained finger for all my troubles. I think that is also where my arthritis in fingers started, so let’s just say I had tools trauma after that and I purposely distanced myself from them until now.

Now I have no choice as there isn’t anyone else to these things besides me. I also don’t believe in hiring people to do the jobs that I can do myself as it is the height of laziness to do so. Besides, the money that will be spent hiring people to fix things is better spent on something else more rewarding, something like a vacation or a trip to somewhere nice for my wife and I.

I just have to be very careful this time and not let old evils haunt me. I am also very well versed on these tools as I have been using them since I was young and what happened to me back then was just a fluke. Well that’s just me building myself up for the inevitable.