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How to Relieve Back Pain

Most of the time back pain is not a sign of a serious illness and is sometimes even used a joke about a person’s advancing age. Frequent back pain, however, is no joke and it can affect your productivity for the day.

What can you do about back pain?

Correct Your Posture

Perhaps your back pain is the result of bad posture. While this might be difficult to correct, you must make a conscious effort to observe your sitting, standing, and sleeping positions. If your job requires you to sit in front of a computer for hours, you should support your back properly against the chair and keep your shoulders relaxed. Placing a pillow against your lower back and keeping your feet flat on the floor will also help.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep if your back hurts might be very difficult for some people, but if you do not break the cycle, the treatment will be less effective because your body isn’t getting enough rest. Your bad sleeping habits and posture might be the root of the problem, so you should start by making yourself as comfortable as possible by lying on your side and placing a pillow between the knees to relieve the pain.

If you can’t sleep by lying on your side, lie on your back and place a pillow under the knees instead. You should probably replace your mattress and pillows with those that were designed especially for people with sleeping and posture problems.

Exercise Regularly

You don’t need to be told that exercise is good for you, because you’ll find this advice in almost every health and wellness article. Ask yourself if you’re getting enough exercise or if you’re just cooped up at home nursing your body pains. Moving your muscles once in a while won’t break your body and might even help relieve the tension in your muscles.

Start with ten to thirty-minute light exercises if you think you don’t have enough time for a gym membership. Walking and other physical activities are also acceptable, because they help take your mind away from the pain.

Use Cold or Hot Therapy

While pain medication might help relieve the symptoms, you don’t want to rely on them for the rest of your life. Sometimes a cold or hot compress can relieve the pain. Cold compress will lessen the inflammation and spasms on your back, while hot compress will stimulate blood flow in the area and lessen the pain. You could also try one of those pads with ointments to relieve pain.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you’re overweight or obese, the strain on your back might be the cause. Talk to a physical therapist to help you come up with a workout and therapy plan to help you reduce weight safely. You should also probably talk to a dietitian to help you come up with a healthy meal plan throughout your treatment.

If none of these treatments work, then you should probably approach a chiropractor to address the problem.

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The Three Biggest Reasons Why You Can’t Fall Asleep at Night (and What You Can Do about It)

Have you ever tried falling asleep only to find that you still couldn’t after some time? It turns out that your inability to sleep may be caused by your schedule and habits.

No matter how good your sleep schedule is, you can still end up watching your alarm clock for hours on end. When this happens to you frequently enough, this becomes insomnia, and can leave quite an effect on every aspect of your health.

Here are the three biggest reasons why you can’t fall asleep – and what you can do about it:

Screens
It’s easy to blame your computer or mobile device/s as the biggest reason why you can’t fall asleep – but there’s a good reason for it.

It turns out the light emitted from your screens inhibits the melatonin production in the brain (melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep), and as a result you don’t feel as sleepy. However, the rest of your body would still feel the effects of staying up late.

But the good news is that the answer is simple: turn them off before going to bed just like turning off the lights.

Stress
It’s also just as hard to fall asleep when you know that there’s something – or too many things – on your mind, whether it’s your work, your family, relationships, or even just life in general.

To combat this, it helps if you unplug for a certain amount of time once you get home. Establish a pre-sleep routine that lets you take a few deep breaths and simply slow down, whether it’s reading, yoga, or even simply watching a movie.

Sleeping Pattern Disruption
Sleeping at varying hours can do a number on the quality of your sleep, but how badly can it really affect you?
Think of your body as a well-oiled machine that needs a proper routine and schedule. As long as you follow a set schedule that’s in line with the body’s natural biological clock, you will be able to adapt to it and function normally.

However, your body takes time to get used to a schedule. When you keep varying your sleep schedule, your body will find it difficult to adjust and catch up, which is why you need to set a time frame for sleeping – and stick to it.

Stress is perhaps the biggest factor for losing or being unable to sleep, and when paired with other factors such as an unhealthy diet and a significant dose of caffeine, can really affect your ability to fall asleep quickly.
However, the good news is that you can change this and take back your sleep time with a little effort and commitment – and if you still can’t sleep despite having a regular sleep schedule, seeing a doctor might be the right choice for you.

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4 Easy Ways to Relieve Constipation Naturally

Constipation is a common problem that’s characterized by having less than three bowel movements a week, and can even include symptoms such as discomfort and abdominal bloating.

If you find that you’re suffering from it, here’s how you can ease its symptoms naturally from the comfort of your own home:

1. Eat more fiber
If you find yourself constipated, you will often be told that you need to increase your fiber intake – and there’s a reason for this.

Fiber (or more specifically, insoluble fiber) acts like a pipe cleaner for your digestive track. It scrubs up food and waste particles along the way and soaks up water, and adds more weight to your stool.

2. Take caffeine
If you’ve ever had to go to the bathroom after drinking one too many cups of coffee, this is because caffeine stimulates your colon.

Other hot drinks are also great as a substitute for coffee, such as herbal tea or hot lemon water (water with a few drops of lemon juice). And since coffee can take also take away water and worsen your constipation, you might even see better results if you just drink more water.

3. Eat more probiotic foods
People who suffer from constipation usually have an imbalance of bacteria in their gut, which probiotics can treat by improving stool consistency, bowel movement frequency, and overall gut movement.

Probiotic-containing foods such as yogurt and kimchi contain strains of friendly bacteria that can help your gut. Alternatively, you can also take probiotic supplements if you’re suffering from chronic constipation.

4. Don’t ignore the urge
That urge is there for a reason.

Holding in the need to do your business may coast you through certain situations where you need to hold it in, but it won’t do anything to help your insides. Do not ignore the urge and go to the bathroom the first chance you get.
You should also never force it to happen, but instead wait for it to happen on its own. By trying to do so, you can give yourself hemorrhoids or fissures, which can make things worse.

Many other natural remedies can give you relief, such as regular exercise (exercise may relieve the symptoms of constipation), avoiding dairy (those who are lactose intolerant may experience constipations when consuming dairy products), and taking laxatives or medications (e.g. bulking agents, stool softeners, or stimulant laxatives).

But because constipation can have a different number of underlying causes, you should see a doctor if this problem persists and symptoms still haven’t subsided after a while.

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What You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is considered one of the most common types of cancer among men in Singapore. Fortunately, this is also one of the most successfully treated cancers with the right diagnosis and treatment programs. Prostate cancer usually starts at the prostate gland, hence the name, however, it can also spread or grow depending on the type of cancer.

Let’s get to know more about the disease and what can be done if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer.

What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Like most types of cancer, prostate cancer can be asymptomatic, however, there will be obvious symptoms once the disease has progressed. These include difficulty urinating, changes in the force of the urine, pain or discomfort around the pelvic area, erectile dysfunction, and blood in the semen.

Unfortunately, doctors cannot point out the cause of prostate cancer, although there are risk factors that will increase a person’s chances of contracting it. If the male has other family members who have had prostate cancer or any type of cancer (including breast cancer), he will also be at risk of the illness. The severity of the prostate cancer will also vary among individuals.

How is Prostate Cancer Prevented and Diagnosed?
Some doctors do not agree on the methods of prostate cancer screening, so you should ask your family doctor about the options available for you. Although the type of cancer which only stays in the prostate gland cannot do significant damage, there are types of prostate cancer that are aggressive. If not treated, it can cause urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and metastases or the spread of cancer to other organs.

There is no formula to preventing prostate cancer like most types of cancer, but you can practice a healthier lifestyle if you are at risk of developing the condition because of your family history. Maintain a healthy weight by eating nutritious food, avoiding tobacco or cigarettes, regulate your consumption of alcoholic beverages, and exercising regularly. Some men are also advised to take medications that will lower the risk of prostate cancer, such as taking dutasteride or a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. However, there are studies that contradict the effectivity of the drugs, so talk to your doctor about your options.

How is Prostate Cancer Treated?
If you are at risk of prostate cancer, you should book an appointment with a specialist, such as a urologist or an oncologist for a checkup. The type of treatment that will be recommended to the individual will vary depending on the stage of cancer, grade of cancer or severity, age, other health conditions that are still being treated, the chances of recovery, and the side-effects of the treatments.

Depending on the diagnosis, prostate cancer can be treated in different combinations of the following: surgery, cryotherapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, bone-directed treatment, and vaccine treatment. It’s important to talk to the doctor about these different options as well as other complementary methods not listed here.

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Management of Insomnia

Insomnia is the most common sleeping disorder. It can affect anyone and is caused by either medical or psychiatric conditions. If you are suffering from insomnia or know a friend or loved one who does, here are the things you need to know.

Causes of Insomnia

The most common cause of insomnia is an unhealthy lifestyle like the following: too many distractions and restlessness before bedtime; a shift in sleeping patterns; too much alcohol, caffeine in coffee, tea and energy drinks; smoking; eating too much or not having meals at fixed schedules; and sleeping in an environment that causes stress.

Medical problems that cause insomnia include neurological problems, gastrointestinal or endocrinal problems, nasal allergies and asthma, and body pains like arthritis. Neurological disorders like anxiety and depression as well as psychological disorders can also cause insomnia. Other sleep disorders like sleep apnea might also trigger insomnia.

Taking medications can also cause insomnia as a side effect especially those for heart diseases, controlling blood pressure, asthma, birth control, and for cold and nasal allergies.

Women who enter the perimenopause up to the menopause stages will also likely to develop insomnia because of hormonal changes.

Symptoms of Insomnia

You have insomnia if you experience the following:

• you can’t fall asleep despite fatigue
• you wake up early even if you didn’t get enough sleep
• you have trouble getting back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night
• you feel tired already when you wake up
• your daily activities are affected
• you feel sleepy all day

Effects of Insomnia

Insomnia can affect your health, work or school and even your relationships.

The effects of insomnia are the following:

• frequent mood swings
• depression and anxiety
• poor memory and cognitive processes
• inability to concentrate in your tasks
• feeling tired even after you have rested or slept
• you get sick easily because your immune system can’t fight back illnesses

Managing Insomnia

Although there are medications available for insomnia, sleeping pills might not help in the long run and they also have side effects. However, ask your doctor if you need a short-term solution. Don’t hesitate to consult a doctor if you think you need help.

Meanwhile, you can try these solutions to manage insomnia:

• sleep and wake up at fixed schedules
• don’t force yourself to sleep if you can’t, that will only add stress
• try relaxing before going to bed
• reduce your caffeine intake
• eat properly and at the right time; don’t eat before bedtime
• exercise but don’t do so before bedtime
• stay away from activities and items that can distract you like gadgets
• inspect your sleeping environment; make sure your bedroom doesn’t cause stress
• don’t take naps; sleeping a few minutes won’t help you catch up with your sleep

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Differences Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Typical Age-Related Changes

 

As you grow old, you should know that it is normal that your memory changes. However there are extreme cases wherein your memory loss totally disrupts your everyday life and that is not the typical part of aging. Memory loss and decline of reasoning skills are symptoms of dementia and the most common form is Alzheimer’s disease.

You have to know the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and the typical age-related changes so you can identify it once you or your loved ones suffer from it. Here are the differences:

In terms of judgement: For people with Alzheimer’s, they have poor judgement and decision making that gradually worsen as time goes by. For people with typical age-related changes, it is more of making bad decisions every once in a while.

In terms of budgeting: For people with Alzheimer’s disease, budgeting seems to be difficult as time progresses to the point that they are unable to manage it. For people with typical age-related changes, you might miss a monthly payment maybe once or twice but not successively.

Losing track of time: You lose track of time, season or date at some point in time but that is perfectly normal. What’s not normal is losing track of it to the point that you have no idea what is the season or date at the moment and keeps on forgetting it later on. For people with age-related changes, they just forget which day it is and then remembering it later on.

In terms of conversing: For people with Alzheimer’s disease, they seem withdrawn. This is because they are having difficulty making decision. When this happens, it is important that the family never ignore the person. As for people with age-related changes, they just forget the right or fitting word to use.

Losing things: It is quite normal to lose things once in a while but for people with Alzheimer’s disease, misplacing things and not able to find or retrace it occur all the time. For people with age-related changes, they tend to lose things from time to time but then find it after sometime.

With these, you should be able to identify the difference between Alzheimer’s and age-related changes. Alzheimer’s is often the case of Singaporeans these days between ages of 50 to 65 or older. There are others cases where some patients suffer early onset. If you know someone who is enduring this, you have to extend your patience and spend more time caring for them. Do not ignore them.

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5 Ways to Improve Gut Health

 

At any given time, there are trillions of bacteria existing in your gut. This culture of microorganisms, known as a microbiome, plays an important role in your digestive system. What’s more, experts suggest that the condition of your gut also impacts your mood and the ability to ward off illnesses.

Though the market is flooded with different kinds of probiotics that claim to boost your microbiome, it turns out that you can actually improve your gut health by adjusting your lifestyle and your diet.

best-foods-for-prostate-health

  1. Diversify Your Diet

Most people with gut-related illnesses—or even other diseases like allergies and diabetes—show one thing in common: a lack of variety in their microbial population. Remember that a healthy gut is a diversely-populated gut, and the best way to improve diversity in your microbiome is to eat a wide variety of healthy foods.

  1. Watch Your Dental Health

It might seem strange to mention dental health when talking about gut health, but it’s actually connected. Multiple studies have concluded that harmful bacteria in the mouth often make their way to the gut or even to your bloodstream. Regular brushing and dental check-ups keep those harmful microbes in check—and your gut health in healthy balance.

  1. Eat More Whole Grains

Whole grains, such as barley, oats and quinoa, are rich in dietary fibre that can’t be broken down by the intestines. This means they will reach your colon intact, where they can be taken by the microbes and help boost their population.agefoto_rf_photo_of_assorted_gluten_free_whole_grains-jpg

  1. Add a Bit of Spice

Adding spices in your food does not only make your meal more flavourful, but also curbs the development of harmful types of bacteria in the gut. Spices like turmeric, ginger and garlic contain powerful antibacterial chemicals, which aren’t bad for good bacteria—only to the bad bacteria.

  1. Indulge in Dark Chocolate

Rich in fibre and polyphenols, dark chocolate is a good food to have once in a while to help improve your gut health. Since the said compounds can’t be broken down by the intestines, they can travel deep down to your gut where they serve as food for the microbes. In result, the process releases anti-inflammatory chemicals for your body to use.

For the best gut health, it’s about getting your diet under control. Eat the right food and give yourself enough sleep and rest.

godiva-dark-chocolate

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Surgical Oncology: Physically Removing the Cancer

Surgical oncology—a surgery that aims to manage cancerous tumours—remains the primary solution for treating cancer.

Your Singapore oncologist may use this cancer treatment method to achieve a number of goals—from diagnosing and completely eliminating cancer cells to relieving you from the symptoms that the disease causes. Cancer surgery may be the only treatment you need, or it could be performed in conjunction with other treatment methods, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, and hormone therapy.

jennifer-bayonsa-md

Purpose of Surgical Oncology

Cancer surgery is used to achieve certain goals. Common reasons why your Singapore oncology consultants may suggest for a surgery include:

• Prevention. If you have higher risk of developing cancer, perhaps due to genetics or your kind of lifestyle, your doctor may recommend removing the tissues or organs (e.g. breast, cervix, and colon) that are prone to cancer.

• Diagnosis. For most types of cancer, a biopsy is the only way to be able to make a definite diagnosis. To diagnose cancer, the surgeon from http://www.harleystreet.sg/services/cancer/ in Singapore will perform either an incisional biopsy or an excisional biopsy. An incisional biopsy entails removal of a piece of the suspicious tissue, while an excisional biopsy removes the entire suspicious area, such as an abnormal mole or lump, for examination

• Staging. A cancer surgery is also performed to determine the size of the tumour and how much it has spread. The surgery for staging often includes removal of lymph nodes—which are tiny, bean-shaped organs that helps the body fight infections—near the cancer cells to see if the disease has spread there. Alongside the biopsy and results of imaging tests, this surgical treatment helps oncologists come up with a cancer treatment programme for your case.

• Removal of Tumour. One of the main reasons why your doctor may recommend a surgery is to remove cancer tumours and the surrounding tissues that has been infected, which is called ‘the margin.’ This may be the only treatment you need, or it may be combined with other treatment methods, which may be performed before or after the surgery.

• Debulking. If complete removal of the cancer tumour isn’t possible, perhaps because it can cause excessive damage to a certain part of the body, surgery is performed to remove as much of the cancer cells as possible. For this purpose, the surgery is often combined with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, to shrink the remaining cancer cells.

• Relieve Symptoms. To relieve symptoms brought by cancer, a surgery can also be done, which is technically called palliative surgery. This surgery plays a crucial role in improving the quality of life for cancer patients with advanced cases. Palliative surgery can help relieve pain, stop bleeding caused by fragile tumours, insert feeding tube(s) that delivers food and medications into the patient’s body, and prevent brittle bones from breaking.

surgical-oncology-dept-photo-2010

• Reconstruction of Body Parts. After a primary cancer surgery, a reconstructive surgery can be an option to restore the body’s appearance and/or function. This surgery can be performed right after the surgery for removing the tumour; or it may be done later after the patient has healed from the previous surgery. One example of reconstructive surgery is breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

Minimally Invasive Surgical Oncology

For the purposes mentioned above, major surgeries are required to get the procedure’s full efficacy. However, there are some situations that don’t require large incisions and extensive surgical processes. Here are some of examples of minimally invasive surgeries for treating cancer.

• Laser Surgery. If any suspicious tissues are detected early, the doctor can remove them by using only a high-intensity light. There’s no need for an incision since cancerous tissues that haven’t fully developed yet are still small enough to be eliminated with laser.

• Cryosurgery. Like laser surgery, any abnormal cells that haven’t yet developed into cancer cells can be removed with minimally invasive procedure, like Cryosurgery. During the treatment, your doctor uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy suspicious tissue and cells.

• Endoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor inserts an endoscope, a thin flexible tube with light and camera on its tip, into an opening of your body (such as the mouth, vagina, or rectum) to get a view of your internal organs. As the procedure goes on, the doctor will get samples of any abnormal tissues inside your body for further examination.

• Microscopically-Controlled Surgery. Your dermatologist shaves off a very thin layer of your skin with skin cancer, one layer at a time, until the layer with cancer is completely eliminated and all cells in your skin’s topmost layer appear normal when viewed from a microscope.

• Laparoscopic Surgery. This modern surgical technique only requires small incisions (usually 0.5 to 1.5 cm) somewhere in the body, where it is closest to the abnormal tissue, using a very thin, lighted tube with a camera.

Surgical oncology, whether invasive or minimally invasive, aims to physically remove the tumour and its surrounding tissues. However, depending on the case, a surgery is often combined with other treatments. To determine the type of surgery suited for you and know whether or not you need more treatment, talk to a certified oncologist Singapore. It is important to work only with the best oncologist in Singapore for dealing with such serious health cases and to ensure you’re getting the best care and treatment plan for your needs.

Dr Larry Lloyd in surgery

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