Fear of Driving at Night

Believe it or not, there are different types of fear of driving. Not all people that deal with this condition experience it in the same way, nor are they scared of the same things. For those that have a fear of driving at night, their worries are not an issue until it comes time for the sun to go down. While some may think that being scared to drive at night is the lesser of two evils and less of a problem than being scared of driving overall, this version of driving phobia has a set of problems all its own.

Although being able to drive with no issues during the day is fine, avoiding nighttime driving can still become disruptive to a person’s lifestyle. While those that avoid driving altogether turn to the options of public transportation and friends/family members to drive them around, trying these alternatives could prove to be more difficult when it comes to nighttime. Not all modes of public transportation are available all night, which could leave you stranded if you need to go somewhere late at night. Additionally, your friends and family members may not feel like getting up in the middle of the night just to drive you around.

The reason why some drivers may have a fear of driving at night may be due to a traumatic experience that happened at night while they were behind the wheel. Common examples include hitting another vehicle, running into something (pole, center divide, etc.) or even hitting an animal. From that point on, the driver will end up associating being on the road at night with that particular experience.

Why Social Media Causes Self Doubt and Anxiety & How You Can Fix It

In this technological age where everyone is constantly connected through tweets, status updates, and photos, there is this crushing weight of constantly comparing the seemingly-perfect lives of those in the virtual world to our own daily reality. In our logical brain, we know that it is irrational to assume the people we see on Instagram with designer handbags and 13k followers have perfectly unblemished lives. But, we still spiral into this whirlwind of depression, anxiety, and sadness brought on by our constant comparison of our real lives to the assumed online profiles of others.

Here’s the issue; we are in an age where technology has become deeply woven into our everyday. From cell phones to tablets, we are constantly locked into social media and the anxiety it brings on. When you are constantly checking and rechecking what is going on online and losing focus on your actual life, it is inevitable to start to compare yourself.

Your online friends are sharing the happiest moments in their lives. So, the new baby your brother just had, the trip to Bali your high school girlfriends just took, the new home your boss just bought; you compare all of those life achievements to what is happening in your real life. Even if you don’t want any of those things, it is nearly impossible to not feel the anxiety growing with every scroll.

But, how do we fix this in a world of constant connection?


Before you log on to your social media accounts in the morning, take a second to think about the good that is happening in your own life. Be grateful and fulfilled with what you have right now so that you don’t go online looking for validation for your happiness. Remember that the best moments are spent living and not posting.

Social Media Detox

Detox’s are great because they are short, extreme ways to get all of the junk out of your system. When it comes to social media, a detox can help you regroup and approach social media with a clearer mind. Simply spend a day being present in your life – no selfies, no filters, no clever remarks. Take a walk, read a book, enjoy your day without the stress of social media. Don’t value a moment based on how many likes it will get.

Everything is a Mirage

The first thing you need to understand about social media is that nothing is really as it seems. All of the photos, likes, and statuses are one small piece of a huge puzzle that you can’t see. That new car your college roommate just bought and broadcasted about is not going to include the tears, loans, and saving she had to do to get there. Understand that for every magical, perfectly posed picture on social media there are at least 50 not so picture perfect moments that got instantly deleted.

Comparison on social media is a trap that can toss you into a realm of depression, sadness, and anxiety. Practice gratitude, establish a monthly detox, and understand that not everything online is what it seems and you will be just fine.

Sleep Anxiety – What it is and How to Beat It

If you have chronic insomnia, it’s quite likely that you also have sleep anxiety. And just what does that mean, exactly?

It means that your insomnia is making you feel anxious. This anxious feeling is making it even harder to fall asleep. So you’re now on an endless loop of…

…not being able to sleep, then

…feeling anxious about not sleeping, then

…staying up even longer, which of course is

…getting you even more uptight and anxious

…and so on and so forth.

In addition to this endless loop of 1) worrying about not sleeping and 2) not sleeping because of worrying so much, there is another, cruelly ironic twist to sleep anxiety.

Every time you begin to feel like you just might drift off to sleep, you become conscious of it – mainly because you want it so much – and a thought pops into your mind, such as “Hey I might actually be falling asleep!” or something very similar. What happens then?

Well, naturally you get wide awake all over again. The thought that you might finally get some sleep triggers even more sleep anxiety because you’re so afraid it won’t happen!

How to Beat Sleep Anxiety

Before you can deal with this very frustrating condition, you must understand two things:

1) You’ve become habituated to falling victim to this vicious cycle. Your own thoughts about sleep — especially about how important sleep is to you and how much you want it and need it — are literally keeping you awake! You will never get rid of your sleep anxiety until you recognize this crucial fact.

2) No matter how powerful these thoughts feel to you, you CAN change them. Far too many insomniacs suffer needlessly because they don’t know or don’t believe that they can change their own thoughts about sleep.

But make no mistake about it, you CAN get rid of sleep anxiety by changing your thoughts and how you approach the problem of your chronic insomnia.

Using a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques, relaxation therapy techniques and old fashioned patience and persistence, you can get rid of sleep anxiety for good.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

This is a process of examining your own thoughts and feelings and deciding whether they are truly accurate and truthful… or if they are exaggerated, misleading, unhelpful or outright false. Once you determine whether your negative thoughts are leading you down the wrong path, you then replace them with thoughts that can help you. This is a method that has proven time and again to be very effective

What is relaxation therapy?

This involves special techniques for relaxing both the mind and the body, and may include slow, deep breaths, visualization, progressive muscular relaxation, and what I call “letting-go” techniques.

To get rid of the sleep anxiety that’s causing insomnia, you must set aside some time to work on it… perhaps 30 minutes a day to start. This period can be broken down into two 15 minute segments. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can change your anxious thoughts and habitual ways of thinking and feeling.

Isn’t it time to break that frustrating vicious cycle that keeps you tossing and turning at night?

Nursing – How to Work With Painful Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are calcium deposits that collect in your heel. They are very painful and can cause limping and even immobility. There is treatment available and it does not have to be surgical. For those who suffer from heel spurs here are a few tips on minimizing the pain. In order to treat the pain you should know that heel spurs are caused from stretching the heel. If you wear shoes that elevate your heel then you will continue to cause heel spurs to form. Lower your heel and use ice to minimize swelling.

Fortunately, nursing shoes are designed to give you comfort where it counts the most, your heel. When you elongate your heel you cause it stretch. This allows calcium to deposit and form which causes a barrier on your heel when you walk. You can get steroid injections which will lessen the pain severity. This is one alternative to heel spur surgery. Dansko shoes Nurse Mates shoes are made to hold your heel in place and cradle it so it doesn’t slip around in your shoe. Both are well constructed with supportive, but comfortable foot beds It’s best to elevate your heel just a bit but not so much that it begins to loose feeling so it is best to choose a shoe that is not absolutely flat, like a ballerina flat.

You can also do some exercises that will strengthen your toes so you can help combat heel spurs. A foot rub will always stimulate the muscles and blood flow in your feet but if you don’t have a massage wand or somebody to rub your feet you can do some simple exercises in your own home. Take a towel and place it under your toes, gently pull up and flex your toes to elongate your foot. This will help strengthen your foot.

Nurses who spend twelve hours or more on their feet know that it’s important to have comfortable shoes. There have been a few brands that have hit the market and claim to give nurses a better way to take care of their feet. Nurse Mates and Dansko shoes are made for the nurse who works hard and needs solid footwear to get them through their shift.

If you do experience heel spurs then you should begin to cushion them immediately. Giving your heels a cushion will allow them to get the added support they need. If you don’t begin to soften your steps you will not be able to function while walking. If you are on your feet all day then your feet may begin to swell from the heel spurs. Ice them to keep the swelling down and make sure to keep them elevated. Heel spurs can be debilitating and if not properly taken care of can lead to surgery. Heel spurs are common in women who wear high heels.

Heel spurs generally form over time. If you cannot ice your foot then try over the counter anti-inflammatory medications to help with inflammation. Shoe inserts that cushion or even shoe cups that hold your foot in place will help minimize pressure. If you are going to be using a heel cushion or extra insole in your shoe it is important to shop for comfortable shoes with a deep heel, i.e. room to put in extra padding without lifting your heel too far out of the shoe. It’s best to get a diagnosis first and then go from there. Heel spurs are treatable; give your feet the rest they deserve. Comfortable shoes are great in helping with heel spurs because they are made to keep your feet cradled and cushioned. Generally, nursing shoes are some of the most comfortable and supportive shoes on the market. Both Dansko shoes and Nurse Mates shoes come in a variety of colors so everyone can find comfortable, well-constructed shoes, not just nurses.

You Can Get Rid of Ugly Toenails

As a medical and beauty journalist, I often get questions about “ugly toenails” and how to remedy them. Having had ugly big toenails (caused by onychomycosis or fungal infection of the growing base) for over 14 years, I have become somewhat of an expert in this persistent condition and how to restore damaged toenails to some semblance of beauty. Here are a few pointers:

1. If you think you have a toenail infection (usually heralded by a yellowish discoloration of the nail and/or thickening), act quickly! Soak your toes in vinegar daily, or apply a 3% hydrogen peroxide with a Q-tip twice a day. Caught early, most cases of onychomycosis are treatable.

2. Always let your toes out to air as often as possible. Fungus cannot develop in the presence of ultraviolet light and oxygen. (Fungi love dark, damp places like socks and closed-toed shoes.) Go barefoot at home, or wear thongs, and don your sandals when you’re out. Never, ever wear plastic or vinyl shoes that do not have breathing holes.

3. Don’t fall for any of those ads on eBay or elsewhere on the Internet, claiming that some ancient cure emanating from uncle so-and-so in an obscure Mediterranean village cured the seller’s ugly toenails. The solutions they sell (often for over $20 a small bottle) are either diluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. I fell prey to one of these sellers and paid $25 a bottle for a few drips of hydrogen peroxide in distilled water.

4. Ditto for tea tree oil/melaleuca and oregano oil. These may be an anti-fungal in action but once onychomycosis has taken hold, there’s not much either can do.

5. Beware of prescription meds for onychomycosis, such as Lamisil® (terbinafine) and Sporanox® (itraconazole) in tablet form. These have to be taken for the long-term (up to 12 weeks) and are extremely expensive (over $500 last time I checked). The products come with warnings about liver health and some cases of liver damage have been reported. Is the health of your entire body a sensible trade-off for pretty toenails? More recently, Lamisil® has become available as a cream or spray.

You may want to try this instead. After 13 years with severely thickened and deformed toenails, the cream finally restored my nasty toenails to healthy, thinned down, pink ones. First, I filed down the “tabletop” of the nail, being very careful to stop before it became too planed down and I hit the skin underneath. Then I applied the cream nightly and in the morning for two months. After this, I used it only at night (after washing my feet of course) and rubbed in oil of oregano in the morning. This produced the miracle I had been waiting for. But what if you are going on vacation where your tootsies will be revealed, or you are going out for a night on the town and want to wear your strappy stilettos with the peep toes? This brings me to:

6. Check out the local nail salons and find one where they will apply fake toenails. It will likely cost you in the region of $12 and you’ll be sporting a pair of brand new, pretty feet. Be sure to have the nails removed as soon as possible though, as fungi can spread underneath, spoiling your best efforts to have beautiful toenails again. Getting rid of ugly toenails can be done, even after many years. Trust me. I did it, and you can too.

The VMO – The Key to Patella Tracking, Knee Pain Relief and Knee Joint Stability

The VMO, or vastus medialis obliquus, is the large tear drop shaped thigh muscle, that lies just above and on the inner side of the kneecap, or patella. It is one of the four quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh, but it is the only one that attaches directly to the inner (medial), upper margin of the patella.

For this reason, it pulls inward on the kneecap and opposes the slightly outer (lateral) pull of the other three muscles. The VMO is most active in the last 30 degrees of extension, meaning that it helps to lock the knee out, fully straight. So, you can see that this one muscle has a strong influence on both the kneecap and knee stability, as a consequence of its anatomy.

Pain behind the kneecap usually results from a direct blow or a fall, or it may result from maltracking, meaning that the kneecap is pulled off its normal path, usually to the outside (lateral side), and often because the VMO is weak and can’t counteract the pull of the other three quadriceps. Usually, this is accompanied by tightening or contracture of the soft tissues on the outer side (lateral side) of the kneecap, which makes it much harder to treat and correct the problem.

Some combination of these factors is usually involved in kneecap pain, which can also be accompanied by instability, or giving way of the knee. Over time, these factors can result in degenerative softening of the cartilage under the kneecap, a disease called chondromalacia patellae.

The other major source of pain in the knee comes from within the joint, either from a twisting injury that may injure a meniscus, one of the cushions within the joint, or a sprain of one of the ligaments, or an effusion, or “water on the knee,” which results from inflammation of the lining membrane of the joint, the synovium. And, in the older population, degenerative arthritis within the joint is also a source of knee pain and instability.

In every case, strengthening the VMO is critical to relieving knee pain and restoring knee joint stability. So, what exercises are best for doing that? Here again, we take our lead from the functional anatomy. Since the VMO muscle fully straightens the knee, and is most active in the last 30 degrees of extension, we want to load the muscle within that range of motion, to strengthen it.

Isometric exercises, technically defined as muscle contraction without shortening, those done with the knee fully straight, can increase VMO tone and strengthen its tendinous attachments. For example, quad setting is done by tensing the straight leg, contracting the quadriceps, as hard as you can, for six seconds. This is particularly important when you have a fresh injury, or in the first few days after knee surgery. It adds strength, but without any movement of the joint.

Similar in effect is straight leg raising. Lying on your back, with the opposite leg bent up (to straighten your spine, and relieve stress across the lower back), you tense your quads, and, while maintaining the contraction, then slowly raise the straight leg up, to about 45 degrees. Then, slowly lower it again. To start with, try for 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. This, too, is an exercise that is very useful in the immediate aftermath of an injury, or surgery.

Isotonic exercise is muscle contraction with shortening and what we normally think of as exercise, with overt movement of the joint. This type of exercise can utilize the resistance of bodyweight only, or additional external resistance, like free weights, or an exercise machine.

The simplest exercise is a quarter squat. With or without weights, with your back against the wall, simply squat down just a quarter of the way, approximating about 30 degrees of knee flexion, then stand straight and tense the quads strongly.

Even full range movements, like Full Squats or Hindu Squats, can be converted to VMO strengthening exercises by that isometric tensing of the quads, with the knee fully straight, with each repetition.

My personal favorite for working the VMO is the Hack Squat. In this exercise, you hold a barbell or two dumbbells behind your knees and leaning backward to put maximal stress on the VMO, do quarter squats. It’s helpful to have a wooden block under your heels to help with balance.

Machine exercises are also useful, but leg press machines are probably better for your knee than leg extension machines, because the leg press loads your knee from above, and is more physiological (a “closed chain” exercise). This is especially true if you have kneecap disease, like chondromalacia patella, or patellofemoral arthritis. Here again, you can handle very heavy weight eventually, because you’re using it for a very short arc, just 30 degrees.

Whatever exercises you choose, you will begin to notice an improvement in your pain and your stability within about 10 days, and real improvement within 30 days. As the VMO becomes stronger, your patella tracking will improve and your knee will subjectively feel more stable. Although this regimen can’t cure everything, it can go a long way toward making your knees feel better and stronger. Give it a try.

Dark Circles Under Your Eyes: 7 Tips to Avoid

Here are seven tips that will help you avoid having dark circles under your eyes. These same tips will help you to reverse the problem if you see it on a frequent basis. There are many causes of the problem. In essence, you are addressing the causes by using these techniques.

Get Plenty of Sleep

The darkness can be a symptom of minor sleep deprivation. Suppose you slept for only four hours last night, when you should get 6-8 hours, you will likely wake up with darkened areas and possibly bags under your eyes. Bags, however, are sometimes caused by over-sleeping. So, you should strive to get the recommended amount of sleep and keep your schedule regular. An erratic schedule can also cause the problem.

Eat for Cardiovascular Health

The components of your cardiovascular system are your heart and your blood vessels. The tiny blood vessels beneath your skin provide nourishment. If they are not healthy, they can leak plasma, waste products and other fluids.

The skin beneath the eyes is thinner than it is elsewhere on your body. If the fluid does leak out of the blood vessels, you will see dark circles under your eyes. Ultimately, the problem may be a symptom of poor cardiovascular health.

Eating to support cardiovascular health involves following a dietary plan that consists of little saturated fat and a sufficient amount of polyunsaturated fat, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Exercising regularly also supports good cardiovascular health.

Consider a Dietary Supplement

Specific nutrients are known to support blood vessel strength. You may not be getting enough of them in your diet. A good multi-nutritional supplement can help to ensure you are getting the nutrients necessary to keep your blood vessels healthy. A good supplement can also improve your general appearance. Any slight lack of an important nutrient will show up on your skin.

Apply Eye Makeup Carefully

It’s not likely that the dark circles are caused by smeared mascara. But pulling at the corners of your eyes can cause the skin to stretch beneath them. Sometimes the darkness is a slight bruise caused by less than careful makeup application or other beauty treatments.

Cleanse the Area Gently

Harsh cleansers should not be used on this area, because it is so delicate. Scrubbing, rubbing and pulling can cause the same kind of minor bruising mentioned above.

Use a Good Nighttime Moisturizer before Bed

You should always remove your makeup before bed. You should also get into the habit of applying a good nighttime moisturizer after you have finished the cleansing process. Some of the better anti-aging moisturizers contain nutrients that reduce the risk of dark circles by supporting the strength of the skin and blood vessels.

Use a Good under Eye Cream

There are dozens of different eye gels and creams on the market. If your problem is darkness beneath your eyes, you should be using a good eye cream and it should contain HALOXYL and EYELISS. HALOXYL and EYELISS are the only two ingredients that have proven to be effective for reducing and preventing dark circles under the eyes.

Ovarian Cysts in Pregnancy 101

Ovarian Cysts in pregnancy are abnormal sacs filled with fluid that grow on the ovary. They may affect only one ovary or both. These do commonly occur to women during their childbearing age. Cysts usually don’t cause any problems and just resolve on their own. The most common cause is hormonal imbalance.

Ovarian cysts may be harmless, but when pregnancy occurs the dilemma comes in. A number of problems can occur when a woman with ovarian cyst becomes pregnant.

• The cyst could become bigger that may occupy space which is intended for the growing fetus. Room for growth is deprived, so the baby will not be able to develop normally.

• Rupture of cyst may occur which is very dangerous to both mother and baby. Once it ruptures, it may cause bleeding and infection. The cyst implants on the ovary. Any pressure or injury may damage the cyst leaving blood vessels in the ovary open. Internal bleeding could happen and could kill the mother and baby. Infection could also result which is very difficult to treat because majority of antibiotics are teratogenic. Teratogenic means that it is very harmful to the baby. It causes abnormalities and defects.

• Pain is experienced by the mother due to the pressure exerted by the cyst on the fetus or other organs. Twisting of cysts could occur that may cause severe pain. This is an urgent situation so the mother must be rushed to the hospital.

Ways to detect ovarian cysts

The earlier the detection, the better is possibility to avoid complications. If a woman knows that she already has ovarian cysts, she should be treated before she becomes pregnant. A woman who has just known that she is pregnant should immediately be checked by her doctor for assessment. Here are ways to detect that a woman has ovarian cysts:

• Endovaginal ultrasound.

• Laparoscopy.

• Hormonal levels

• Pregnancy testing

Treatment for ovarian cysts

Once ovarian cyst and pregnancy are confirmed, don’t fret immediately. With the results of the test, the doctor will see if it’s serious or not. When cysts are only small and few, problems will not be manifested. Depending on the cyst, treatments will vary. Here is some management to the problem. Not all will be performed by your doctor. Ask a lot of options and weigh the pros and cons of each therapy.

• A usual procedure to treat ovarian cyst during pregnancy, especially if a high risk occurs, is the surgical removal of cysts. Almost all women who underwent the procedure had successful and safe deliveries without defects in the baby. The procedure is frequently done in the second trimester.

• Regular ultrasound is being done to monitor the growth of the cyst. If growth is slow or size is constant, it’s a positive result since it wouldn’t be a problem.

• Pain relievers may be used depending on the doctor. Never self-medicate. Remember that most drugs are harmful to the baby.

• Live a happy and healthy life. This will have good effect on the baby. It is believed by psychologists that the stress the mother bears during pregnancy will be carried by the child in the womb and could affect it development.

You have learned that ovarian cysts in pregnancy can be distressing to both mothers and baby. Don’t lose hope because there’s remedy to the problem. Your doctor will help you go through it and aid you to have the best and secured pregnancy you wished for.

Do You Recognize the 10 Early Warning Signs of Candida Infection?

Candidiasis, commonly known as candida or yeast infection or thrush, is a fungal infection ranging from superficial, such as oral thrush and vaginitis among women and superficial infections of skin and mucosal membranes by Candida causing local inflammation or discomfort common in many human populations, to systemic and potentially life-threatening diseases like those that develop among severely immuno-compromised persons such as cancer, transplant, and AIDS patients, whereas Although frequently associated with female health systems, it can also occur on the male genitals. Children suffer from this ailment during the years between three and nine. If there are white patches around the mouth, then it could be possible that the child is infected with candida infection.

Regardless of age or gender, here are ten common Candida symptoms:

1. Adult onset allergies to foods and/or airborne chemicals with the number of offending substances increasing until an individual becomes so sensitive to the everyday environment that they must live in isolation

2. Incessant fatigue after eating

3. Gastrointestinal or signs of poor digestion such as constipation or diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramps, heartburn, nausea, gastritis and colitis

4. Neurological symptoms such as cravings, irritability, mood swings, headaches, migraines, “fogged-in” feeling, inability to concentrate/mind “wanders off”, poor memory, confusion, dizziness, M.S.-like symptoms (slurred speech, loss of muscle co-ordination, vision affected), depression and/or anxiety without apparent cause (often worse after eating), paranoia without apparent cause, not in total control of one’ actions (know right thing to do but unable to execute), mental incompetence, a variety of other behavioral disturbances.

5. Genito-urinary symptoms such as vaginal infections, menstrual difficulties, impotence, infertility, prostatitis, rectal itch, urinary tract infection/inflammation or burning.

6. Respiratory symptoms that reflect compromised immune system. Frequent colds, flu’s, hay fever, mucous congestion, postnasal drip, asthma, bronchitis, chest pain, frequent clearing of throat, habitual coughing.

7. Development of various skin infections like athlete’s foot, jock itch, skin rash, hives, dry brownish patches, psoriasis, ringworm, rough skin on sides of arms which gets worse at certain times of the month or under increased stress.

8. Hypochondriac and/or neurotic tendencies, which are resistant to standard modes of therapy

9. Early childhood clinical history with any of the following ADD, ADHD, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, skin problems like cradle cap, diaper rash, thrush, respiratory problems, chronic ear infection, tonsillitis

10. Heightened sensitivity to cold temperatures with arthritis-like symptoms

If you have some combination of these symptoms, you may have candidiasis and it is imperative that you take measures. A thorough intestinal clean-up using Caproyl antifungal, Psyllium cleanser and Bentonite detoxificant, will improve your overall condition, regardless of what you are suffering from. The safest option of course is to see your local physician or health expert.

Life in Portugal: Having Children in Portugal

Portugal is an excellent place to raise children. Whether you are planning to move with your kids in Portugal or you already live here and want to have children in the near future, take the time to do proper research before making a decision. Language brings up many questions for families who are moving with children to another country. Since there are only a few international schools in Portugal, it is recommended that your child learns the Portuguese language. Raising kids in this country has the benefit of free preschool education, low university fees, and universal healthcare.

Pregnancy and Birth in Portugal

Many families who move to Portugal decide to have children at some point in their lives. The communities are safe and supportive. The educational system is good. Prenatal care is free and depends on the type of insurance purchased. You can opt for public, private, or subsystem insurance. If you have private insurance, you can choose a clinic where to give birth, as well as a specialist to assist you. Mothers who have public insurance are assigned to an obstetrician in the hospital, with whom regular appointments would be made.

This European country has a National Vaccination Plan (Plano Nacional de Vacinação), which is free of charge. Children born in Portugal are given vaccinations at birth against hepatitis B and tuberculosis. Any baby born on Portuguese territory has to be registered at the Civil Registry Office (Conservatória do Registo Civil) within 20 days of birth.

Children born in Portugal to foreign parents can not receive Portuguese citizenship unless the mother and father have lived in this country for ten years. If the parents are citizens of a country with Portuguese as an official language, the ten year requirement is reduced to six years.

Most women in Portugal give birth at clinics and hospitals, and can have a C-section instead of a natural birth. They are allowed time off work for pre-natal appointment as many times as necessary. There are several non-profit organizations and public institutions offering free information to new mothers, including SOS Grávida (SOS Pregnancy) and Ajuda de Mãe (Help to Mothers). Women can also attend breathing classes ands other courses designed to help them deal with the physical demands of the pregnancy. Natural childbirth has become increasingly more popular in the last years. Water births and home births are available too.

Is Portugal Suitable for Raising Kids?

Knowing how the childcare system works in Portugal is essential. Any child born in this country has to be registered at the Civil Registry Office within 20 days of birth. Pregnant women can not be fired from their jobs without a prior agreement from the Commission for Equality in Work. In the last years, the number of public daycare facilities has increased. Additionally, working mothers have the right to flexible paid maternity leave.

When it comes to finding a school for your children, you have three options: boarding schools, private schools, and state schools. The expat communities in Algarve and Lisbon boast a large number of private schools. State schools will most certainly lead to quicker integration. All children must attend school between the ages of six and 15. Sports, in general, are encouraged. Children also have access to a wide range of cultural activities that include theater, music, and English classes.

Low Platelets – What is the Fastest Way to Increase Them

Have you been wondering what is the fastest way to increase low platelets? You have tried everything and nothing seems to be working. Your frustrated and don’t know what to do. What if I told you that you can have your platelets back to normal or at least close to normal in a very short time! You think it is impossible? Read on and find out why this is possible.

As you already know, platelets are an important factor in coagulation. They are needed to prevent bleeding. But for this you need to have at least 150,000 of them in your blood test to be in the normal range. The upper end of the range goes up to 450,000.

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia is one of the reasons why platelets can decrease very low. This is actually the old term. It is now called Immune Thrombocytopenia. And this is what we will be concentrating on. There are other reasons why platelets can decrease such as:

1. Leukemia

2. Liver disease

3. Chemotherapy

4. Aplastic Anemia (This is where the bone marrow stops working)

5. Others

When there are low platelets due to immune thrombocytopenia the body’s immune system is destroying the platelets. For this reason medical doctors use drugs that suppress the immune system to try and control the problem

Why does the immune system destroy the platelets? There are many reasons:

1. Immune reaction may be due to a virus

2. Food allergies or intolerance

3. Gluten intolerance

4. Vaccinations

5. Helicobacter Pylori

6. Other reasons

Whatever the reason, you can get them back to normal in a very short time. And you can do this by simply using certain herbal remedies and life-style changes. Now you may say that you have tried this before. But it is easy to find a website and simply take this or that herb. People like to experiment. And when the experiment doesn’t work out they throw it all in the trash. The general tendency is to discard all natural remedies as ineffective and quackery.

But in my experience, it is possible to increase low platelet counts in a very short time. Let us suppose your platelets are in the 43,000 range. This is far below the normal range. It is recommended that your platelet levels don’t decrease from the 50,000 range. Others say 30,000. But still, some people who suffer from this low platelet problem will sometimes have levels far lower than this.

Tapeworm in Dogs – What You Need to Know

What is Tapeworm in Dogs?

Tapeworms are a parasite that can live in the small intestine of dogs and other animals. The most common form of tapeworm in dogs is called Dipylidium caninum. This particular tapeworm is flat, white in color, and can grow up to 8 inches in length. Their heads are flat and contain a hook-like mouth, which the worm uses to attach itself to in the dogs small intestines. Tapeworms are made up of many segments, kind of like a chain link. The tail end of the segments can break off and are often what is the first sign that your dog has tapeworm since they can be found in your dog’s bowel movement or around the anus. These segments often look like grains of rice.

Common Causes for Tapeworm in Dogs

The most common cause for a dog to get tapeworm is by ingesting a flea that contains tapeworm eggs in its larvae. Contact between the flea larvae and tapeworm eggs is thought to occur in contaminated carpeting or upholstery. As the flea is ingested and passes through the dogs body, the tapeworm larvae hatch and attach to the dogs small intestinal lining.

Symptoms of Tapeworm in Dogs

Tapeworm is not incredibly harmful to your dog. However, in large numbers, tapeworm can make your dog lose weight and become lethargic. Another sign that your dog may have tapeworm is if he/she is constantly “scooting” their rear across the floor. The dog may be doing this because the tail end segments of the tapeworm are irritating to the dogs hind quarters. Occasionally, when a worm detaches from the intestines, it will pass onto the stomach. When this happens, the dog will more than likely throw up the worm because of irritation. In this case, the entire worm can be seen in the dogs vomit.

Diagnosing and Treating Tapeworm in Dogs

Diagnosis of tapeworm can be achieved through either a visual examination or examination of the stool. The visual examination would be to see if there are segments of the tapeworm around your dogs hind quarters. The examination of the stool would be to examine the dogs bowel movement for any signs of tapeworm. Treating the tapeworm is relatively easy and very effective. A drug which kills tapeworm can be given either orally or through means of an injection. However, there are steps to be taken for the owner that will prevent the dog from getting tapeworms again. Keeping the dogs environment clean and free of fleas is essential to maintaining the health of your dog and reducing the risk of reinfection of tapeworm larvae. Keeping the area your dog lives and plays in clean of any residual feces that contained tapeworm is important.

Can Humans Get Tapeworm From Their Dogs?

There are a few tapeworm species that are harmful to humans. However, these types are not common in the United States and should not be cause for alarm. There are rare reports of the tapeworm, Dipylidium effecting children. However, these infections are not associated with significant or otherwise untreatable diseases.

Some Products Derived From Horses

Horses and humans interact in a variety of ways such as competitive sports and non-competitive pursuits in the field of agriculture, entertainment and warfare. Although various breeds have been domesticated, a wide variety of techniques, equipment and accessories has been employed to control and protect them from harm. Rearing horses does not only provide pleasure to owners but also a great deal of money as there has been a substantial market for horses and products derived from horses.

The animal which has been long priced due to its strength, speed and beauty is used in the production of certain antitoxins such as botulinum antitoxin to fight clostridium botulinum toxins found in food poisoning and wound infections in neonates, tetanus antitoxin for Clostridium tetani, rabies antitoxin for rabies infection and among others. Moreover, with the increasing threat of biological attacks with the use of botulinum, studies on how to develop more potent antitoxins for it have been intensified including the use of human and equine derived antibodies for post exposure prophylaxis. The equine derived antitoxin is developed from the plasma of horses that have been immunized with each subtype of botulinum toxoid and toxin. From the pooled plasma from different horses, antitoxins are further developed to come up with more antitoxins for specific types of toxins.

Horse meat, because of the role of horses as companions and workers, is mostly considered as a taboo food due to some cultural and religious issues and origins thus the development of aversion to the consumption of it. In some countries in Central Asia, Europe and South America however, horse meat is a significant culinary tradition to them. In Japan for example, horse meat served as Basashi is eaten raw. English-speaking countries such as Ireland do not consume horse meat because to them, horses, just like dogs are considered as pets.

Even after death, horses continue to serve mankind as horsehides provide a good quality of leather, the hooves are made into excellent quality resin-glue, its placenta, know to have cellular metabolic properties, is the main ingredient in some beauty products that help relax tight facial muscles and prevent the appearance of blemishes and freckles.

Horses, whether raised to become farmhands in cattle-raising, for entertainment purposes or slaughtered for its meat for the growing international export market, need to be supplied with their needs that vary from gastronomic to health maintenance to be able to perform and become what they are expected to be. As technology has become so advanced, answering and catering to their needs can become as easy as sitting down from your own easy chair and items will be delivered right in front of you at your very own doorsteps.

Back Pain – 7 Potentially Fatal Causes

Your back hurts. So what? Everybody has a little back pain now and then.

But what if it could kill you?

Most people suffer back pain as the result of daily stresses on the structural support of the body: the bones, discs, muscles, and ligaments in and around the spine. Just as a car gets rusty with age, the human body succumbs to the effects of gravity over the years. Aches and sprains, muscle pulls and strains, are part of life from middle-age onward.

However, back pain may be the result of other abnormalities within the body, several of which can cause death, whether in minutes or years. It’s wise to think twice when your back starts hurting. Was it too much yardwork over the weekend or perhaps something else?

Here are 7 potentially fatal causes of back pain:

1. Aortic aneurysm. The large artery that carries blood away from the heart sometimes weakens with age and balloons outward, like a weak spot on a tire. If the aorta ruptures, massive internal bleeding may occur, sometimes causing death within minutes. Fairly often the pain from a damaged aorta is felt the back. If the vessel is stretching slowly with time, the pain may be chronic or intermittent in nature. If the vessel is rupturing quickly, the pain is usually intense and accompanied by other symptoms such as weakness, abdominal pain, and faintness. If you have a strange back pain, different than your usual pattern, it’s best to consult your doctor. If the pain is abrupt and severe, call 911.

2. Cancer and tumors. Both cancer originating in the bones of the back and cancer that spreads to the back from another location commonly cause back pain. A benign tumor of the spinal cord and vertebrae may also produce pain, as the enlarging mass presses on sensitive structures. The pain may occur with movement or at rest, but tends to worsen over time and may be severe. Any back pain that persists or worsens with time should be professionally evaluated.

3. Infection. When bacteria invade the deep structures of the body, such as the bones, discs, and spinal cord, serious infection may ensue. These infections are fairly uncommon and may go unrecognized until the process is quite advanced. Kidney and lung infections may cause back pain as well, and are often dismissed as nothing more than a back strain. When any of these conditions is untreated, bacteria may enter the blood stream and cause sepsis, a potentially fatal infection of the blood. When infection is the cause of back pain, other symptoms may be present as well, for example fever, nausea, and sweating. Again, see your doctor if these symptoms occur.

4. Pancreatitis. When the pancreas becomes inflamed for whatever reason, the enzymes that are designed to help digest your food may begin digesting your own body instead. Usually this produces nausea, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain, but may produce back pain as well. Pancreatitis may cause internal bleeding, dehydration, elevated blood sugar, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, and death. Alcohol abuse and gallstones are among the common causes. Call your doctor or go to the ER if you experience these symptoms.

5. Penetrating ulcer. Just as pancreatic juices may eat through the pancreas and other abdominal structures, so may stomach acid burn a hole through the duodenum or stomach. When this happens, internal bleeding occurs and the stomach contents spill into the abdominal cavity, where they cause further destruction and infection. The pain of an ulcer may be felt in the abdomen, the chest, or the back. Heartburn or stomach pain in association with back pain may be an indication of an ulcer and should be evaluated by a physician.

6. Inflammatory bowel disease. When the colon is inflamed the pain may be experienced in the abdomen, pelvis, or back. Inflammation may cause the bowel to perforate, similar to an ulcer, or cause a bowel obstruction. Either of these conditions is potentially fatal. Seek professional care for any abdominal pain accompanied by back pain.

7. Pulmonary embolism. Blood clots usually form deep inside the legs, where they may cause leg swelling, discomfort, and sometimes redness. When a clot dislodges and moves upward through the heart into the lungs, chest pain and/or back pain may occur, usually along with difficulty breathing. If the clot is large, it may obstruct air exchange and result in too little oxygen in the blood. Sudden onset of back pain associated with difficulty breathing may be a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) or even a heart attack. Don’t drive yourself to the hospital – call 911.

The above examples illustrate that not all back pain is a simple matter. Fortunately, all of these conditions are fairly rare. If you’ve found your symptoms on the list, seek prompt medical attention.

On the other hand, if you have the same back pain that you get every time you weed your garden or mop the floor, take an aspirin and call your doctor in the morning.

Copyright 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, M.D.

The True Meaning of Snakes in a Dream

The snake symbol in a dream refers to many things. The colour of the snake plays an important role in decoding this symbol in dream. Seeing snakes coming in your direction or following you on a path says a lot about sexual feelings of a person for you. Only when the snake transforms to human form one will be able to realize who this person and till then one will be subjected to strong sexual currents from this person.

Dreams about playing with snakes:

Playing with a snake tells about flirting attitude. Being chased by many snakes tells about that you are overwhelmed by sexual thoughts are trying your best to break yourself free from them. Bitten by a snake says that you will be drained of your vital forces and you may even fall sick for few days. A doctor giving treatment after being bitten by snake says that a spiritual guide is on his way to release you from sexual desires.

Snake at your door step:

A military person leaving a snake at your door step says that a war is being fought on you with the help of a person who can make you slave by his/her whims.

Dreams about snake entering bathroom:

Dreaming of a snake entering your bathroom says that no matter how hard you try to purify yourself the negative forces always find a way to make you impure again. A deadly black poisonous snake hissing says about hyper-acidity problem which can become chronic, if unchecked.

Killing snakes in dreams:

Killing a snake or seeing someone killing it says that you will be free from all types of tensions and you will be surrounded by an aura of protection. snakes flying in air and trying to reach you says that you are surrounded by many worldly problems and they gained strength and they are after you.

What does flying snakes represent in dreams:

If you are attacked by the flying snakes then you have to place many many unpleasant things in waking life. Catching a snake in a dream and removing poison from its glands says that you are blessed with higher spirit power and with this spirit power you can tame any beautiful men or women and have total control on sensual pleasures.

Snakes burned in fire dreams:

Seeing snakes getting killed by fire says that a strong detachment from all worldly things finally put all your problems to rest. This is the time of self realization and enlightenment. The soul is ready to receive messages from higher sources.

Big snake in dream:

If you see a big snake like ‘Anaconda’ in dream it says about life threat. If you kill it then you are out of danger. If its furious then you will have a brush with death, but somehow you will manage to come out safely.

Snake transforming into human being in dreams:

If you see a snake transform into a man it says that an external sexual influence was lessened to a great extent. And its time of gaining strength again.

Snake in bedroom:

To dream of snake in bedroom and if there are many people sleeping at that time, then it says that your mind will be poisoned by sexual thoughts for a short time period, provided if you can locate and throw snake out of the bedroom.