Types of Scales

Many people try to avoid the scales if they believe they are overweight. This way, it’s easier to pretend that the extra weight isn’t there – the clothes must have shrunk!

But once you decide to lose those pounds (that you know are indeed there, after all), scales of various types do a lot to both motivate you, and keep you on track to your weight loss goal.

The bathroom scale is the most obvious and commonly-thought-of type of scale used with dieting. It’s the one which will tell you if you’ve lost any weight! Instead of fear, bathroom scales should inspire you. If you’ve lost some weight, it’s the bathroom scale that gives you the good news. But if you haven’t lost any, the scale reports the weight straightforwardly and without added recriminations – far better than asking a human and getting unwanted extra commentary!

Digital bathroom scales are the current standard. These are easy to use because you don’t have to watch a dancing needle and guess at what your weight really is. They also come in designer colors and styles, which practically beg you to step on them just to see them work. They’re a huge improvement over the clunky mechanical ones of the past!

A food scale, also known as a diet scale, helps a lot with efforts to control portion size. The basic ones simply weigh the food you put on them, but there are advanced digital nutrition scales which will actually count your calories for you. These even give the other nutritional value, too, so you can find out about fat, protein, carbs, and other elements of your food as well!

Other versions of digital food scales come with bowls, can weigh ingredients as you add them together (so you don’t need a separate bowl for everything), or can weigh liquids and translate the weights into the equivalent volume measurements. Most food scales run on batteries, but some come with A/C adapters for economical long-term use.

For those who don’t want to eat even one unmonitored portion, a pocket scale can be added to the arsenal. The higher-capacity versions of these can weigh food portions easily, and come with expansion trays which give a larger weighing surface than is provided by the plain weighing plate. Usually the tray will double as a lid or cover, which you can use to keep your scale safe from damage while in storage or transit.

Scales are not the enemy of one trying to lose or maintain their weight. Instead, they are useful allies which will make the job easier and motivate you to do better. They record your success, keep you on track by measuring your portion sizes and caloric intake, and can even go wherever you do. If you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight (or even gain some), get yourself some scales to make your job a lot easier.

February 16, 2012
Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 11:22 PM

What Is a Tooth Crown?

Having a tooth crowned is something which makes most people nervous. This is most likely because the procedure of crowning a tooth is often associated with that of having a root canal! Crowns, however, are done in other situations as well. So just what is a tooth crown?

The short answer is that a tooth crown is an artificial surface — often of ceramic-coated metal or plastic composite — which covers or replaces the natural crown of a tooth. This can be done to correct structural defects in the tooth, for purely cosmetic reasons, or a combination of both. Personally, I have two crowns, and their primary purpose is to restore strength to the affected teeth. They are aesthetically natural looking, but this is a side benefit, especially since they are on back teeth which hardly anyone will see.

Here is a more detailed description of just what a restorative tooth crown is, and how it is installed onto the affected tooth (if there is no root canal treatment to be done):

• In the case of restorations, the first thing that happens is that the natural surface of the tooth is ground down so that the crown can fit onto the tooth without sticking up or out into the mouth. This grinding is done with dental drills and similarly sized grinding tools. The patient’s tooth is made numb for this procedure. This part is not particularly hard to endure, but it does take a lot longer than normal drilling. If you’re a tobacco smoker, smoke those cigs before you go in for this!

• Once the tooth has been ground down enough, the dentist will have the patient bite down on some goopy wax and hold that pose for a few minutes. Finally, after a period of time which is surely shorter than it seems, you’ll be allowed to relax your jaw and the dentist or technician will remove the wax from your mouth. The wax will now have the shape of your teeth embedded into it — including the one which has been prepared for crowning.

• Now, you’ll get a temporary crown. For a back tooth, this will likely be a fairly thin metal tooth-shaped thing with a hollow inside. It may take several attempts before the dentist or technician finds one which fits properly. Alternatively, he may make a plastic one on the spot which will be molded into the shape of the affected tooth. These plastic ones are A LOT easier on the patient, because they are guaranteed to fit the first time. Sadly, some dentists are not convinced that they are strong enough, so you may have to be quite demanding before the dentist’s technician gives up trying to get one of those metal ones to fit. But don’t despair — usually the metal ones are fitted without too much trouble. Just keep in mind that if it does become too much trouble, there is that plastic alternative.

• If the reason you need a crown is because you are having root canal therapy, a.k.a. “a root canal,” the endodontist will normally perform the preceding parts of the crowning procedure as well, before sending you back to your regular dentist for the application of the crown.

• Once you get your temporary crown cemented on, you get to go home. Yay! While you are at home, a dental laboratory will be getting to work. This lab will be using that wax mold you made to form your permanent crown. They will not only take into account the amount of space left by the prepared tooth, but also the teeth around it. This will ensure a good fit of the crown onto the tooth as well as proper contact with the other teeth.

• For a back tooth, this crown will often be made of porcelain-covered metal, but there are other types which may be used instead, like gold. Porcelain-covered metal (also known as “high noble” metal) has the benefits of being natural-looking while giving the extra strength of the metal. Gold, while quite obvious when on a visible tooth, is even stronger.

• After a period of time ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks, your new permanent crown will be ready, and you will go back to the dentist to have it installed.

• Removing the temporary crown is easy. All the dentist will need to do is rock it back and forth a bit and then pull it off. The tooth stub, which has been protected under there during this time, will be quite sensitive. Usually, there is no anesthetic applied for this procedure. This is so you can tell whether the permanent crown is fitting properly, but you may wish you could have a bit of numbing gel at least. Unfortunately, that likely won’t be the case — so gut up.

• Now here’s the part you needed to steel your guts for: The application of the cement for the permanent crown. This made-in-a-gulag-like compound will send a signal through that tooth stub like electricity! Fortunately, the tooth will relax in a couple of minutes. It’s just something you need to be ready for. After the dentist is done applying the adhesive, he/she will push the new crown onto the tooth.

• Once a new crown is on, expect to spend a few minutes biting down and grinding your teeth back and forth — just like you would after a filling — while the dentist adjusts the crown and gets it fitting perfectly. This will take the dentist approximately the same amount of time it takes him to perfect the fit of a filling… perhaps a bit less. Once that’s done, you’ll be asked to bite down onto a piece of cotton for a few minutes to allow the cement to set up better.

• The dentist will likely advise you to avoid chewing on the affected side for a day or two to make sure the cement cures well.

That’s about it! You’ll need to make sure to clean well around your crown when brushing your teeth — even better than you would with a totally-natural tooth. This is because it’s very easy for food residue to get hung up around the sides of the crown where it joins the remaining natural tooth. Making sure this area remains super-clean will help prevent cavities at the root line, thereby helping you avoid needing root canal therapy in the future.

As long as the crown is well cared for, it can last you several years, and you’ll enjoy having a strong tooth in that spot again.

Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 11:15 PM

Treatment and Prevention of Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning. It sounds as if something chemical is happening inside your body if you get sun poisoning. But it’s really just a scary-sounding way to say “a very bad sunburn.” There is really no “poisoning” involved.

So just what is it that makes a case of overexposure to the sun (or to tanning beds) deserving of the name “sun poisoning?” It is a matter of additional symptoms developing on top of those normally associated with sunburn. With a regular sunburn, you can expect to experience itching, redness, and peeling. If the burn is a bit worse, you may also suffer blisters. These blisters can pop, and expose the skin to potential infection. But with sun poisoning, you can also experience symptoms like nausea, fever, headache, and dizziness. You may also suffer from dehydration and an imbalance in your electrolytes.

If you are only suffering mild discomfort, treat sun poisoning as you would a regular sunburn. Make sure to drink enough water or sports drinks, and apply cold compresses to the burnt area to cool it down and reduce the pain. You can try applying some aloe, but make sure not to use anything which has irritating fragrances, exfoliants, or other such ingredients which are common to standard lotions.

If, on the other hand, you suffer some of the more severe symptoms, you should bathe in cool water to reduce your temperature, and drink plenty of liquids. Make sure to pat yourself dry and never rub. If you begin to suffer extreme pain, or you get a fever which rises to over 104°F, it’s time to go to the emergency room. The doctors there can prescribe oral steroids to stop inflammation, and if you are dehydrated, they can give you an IV to get enough fluids into you.

A related condition is called polymorphous light eruption. Even though some consider this to be a sun poisoning rash, this can occur in the absence of sunburn. This rash is a result of a bad reaction to UV light, and can result in hives and/or blisters. Its other symptoms are similar to those of sun poisoning. Treatment for the rash is the same as for a sunburn. People from the northern hemisphere are most frequently affected, and sensitivity to the UV light is usually highest in spring or early summer, when those in that area of the earth are not yet used to being exposed to much sunlight. Fortunately, this extra sensitivity usually goes away within a few days.

Prevention is fairly straightforward for most people — wear a decent amount of sunscreen, and cover up sensitive areas. If you are taking some kind of medication, check to see if it increases UV sensitivity, and if it does, take extra precautions to protect yourself from the sun. With these commonsense precautions, most people should be able to enjoy their time in the sun without getting either sunburns or sun poisoning.

February 13, 2012
Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 5:53 PM

Urea Foot Cream – A Cure for Cracked Feet

Dry, rough feet are a problem many people have. For most dryness, a simple solution like rubbing the feet with petroleum jelly is enough. But for some, such home remedies just can’t do it. When the feet get so dry and calloused that they crack, it’s time for a heavy-duty solution. This is where urea-based foot cream comes in.

When feet get too dry, it begins a cycle of excess callous production. Paradoxically, the calluses only contribute to the problem, because they do not sweat and therefore cause the feet to become even drier (your feet normally re-moisturize themselves via their sweat). Therefore, you need something that will break down the calluses even as it re-moisturizes your feet.

Urea foot creams are a great product for this. The urea found in foot creams is synthesized in the laboratory, so it is clean and free of contaminants. Urea binds to the keratin in calluses to break them down. It is also highly attractive to moisture, and therefore will draw moisture into the feet. Over a time span of just a couple of weeks, it can restore softness to rough feet and almost if not all cracks to completely heal. If a crack is deep enough to have begun bleeding, using urea-based creams may sting at first, but it is well worth it.

Even though some cream makers claim that the calluses will be completely eliminated within this time, it is more likely that some areas of the foot will remain thickened. As long as you keep using the cream, the skin will finally get thinner and more normal, even in these areas. But the thicker areas will be more likely to revert to a calloused nature, so you’ll need to be careful to keep applying cream to those spots even after they are softer.

The cream I use is called Flexitol Heel Balm, and it’s about $10 from the local drugstore. For my severely cracked feet, it took about a month of twice a day usage for all the cracks to go away. To maintain a crack free state, I work on the most callous-prone areas every day or two. I make sure to apply it before bed since that’s when my feet will be at rest and I won’t just walk it off. If my feet feel exceptionally dry that day, I apply some at midday as well.

In this way, I have been able to prevent more cracks from happening, and keep my feet softer than they have been in years. If you have a problem with dry or cracked feet combined with calluses, try using some urea-based foot cream and see how well it works for you.

Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 5:49 PM

Is Reverse Osmosis Bad For You?

Let’s admit it, with such a lot of contamination in our supplies today, reverse osmosis apparatus could seem like a good option. But you should be aware that they’ve a couple of major issues that could leave you unguarded and in peril of long term health issues.

Part of the difficulty with reverse osmosis hardware is that it is old, outmoded technology that simply can’t vie with the less expensive state-of-the-art systems available today, particularly with the more resistant manmade toxins in our supply.

Because of the way their filters are set up, many of the deadly man-made chemicals may be able to pass thru a reverse-osmosis system and into your drinking water, regardless of the fact they cost 2 or 3 times as much as the better options. The next factor is that of demineralization. They fundamentally strip out necessary minerals like potassium and calcium which you need to stay healthy or you run the chance of becoming mineral deficient, leading to long term health issues.

Many sellers of reverse osmosis kit say that it’s not relevant and you can get your minerals from your diet, but the fact is we absorb them better from water than any other source, and when you remember the quantity of water we drink, it is easy to see why. As we are made from 70% water ourselves, the standard of what we use will at once affect the standard of our health and contentment.

Studies suggest that our tarnished tap water contains over 2k poisonous chemicals including herbicides, lead, chlorine and prescription drugs, and you’ll have heard how lately rocket fuel was discovered in some drinking water samples.

To deal with this, the sole effective sorts of system available are activated carbon block filters which chemically bond plenty of the pollutants to the filters surface vs. straining them in the standard way. The absolute best can remove all of the bad stuff while leaving in those necessary minerals to offer you healthy and safe water as it should be, helping to protect not just your present but your future health too. As this can be one of the most vital health investments you can make for your family, it is important to get it right and dodge reverse osmosis kits in favor of the ones that actually deliver on their guarantee to guard you.

February 10, 2012
Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 11:58 PM

Solar Desalinization

Solar power is thought to be an inexpensive and flexible power source.

Small wonder it’s been employed in several ways, one being in the desalination of water.

The subject about changing saltwater into drinking and usable water has usually been controversial. The method, known as desalination, would be ready to help to solve water issues in the world today, if it can be utilized on a big scale but in an inexpensive manner. There are numerous strategies for desalination, and reverse osmosis has been deemed the hottest. It is basically a filtration process and is well-liked in states that have desalination plants like those found in the Caribbean or in the Mideast.

Reverse osmosis has now sparked interest in China and the US and places where there are typically droughts. But since most plants get power from traditional fuels, many folks wish to have a desalination process whereby they can save some cash and lessen the effects of global temperature rises. As a consequence, they have turned to solar energy as a source of energy for desalinization plants.

With solar desalination, the sun’s energy doesn’t just provide “power” like regular electrically-driven methods. The typical electrical system merely uses energy to run some kind of motor, and it’s the motor that’s actually doing the work. But with solar desalination, the heat of the sun is itself an integral part of the system. The ability to turn solar energy into electricity is also used.

In this sort of desalination process, the power of the sun is built into the system and heats the saltwater, which will then turn into vapor. The vapor will then run through a condenser system that will turn it back to liquid, saltless water. The concept of desalinizing using solar electricity systems is to split the water from the salt through the use of natural systems like one can find in the seas. Solar energy desalination really makes an attempt to copy nature’s method, whereby water evaporates from the sea to form clouds and then these clouds will become rain clouds and release the saltfree water. Due to increasing power costs and global warming, to desalinize using solar energy may turn out to be really profitable as well as being easier on the environment than plants that use fossil fuels. With correct research and study, we may all be free from water issues in the future.

This is just one of several up-and-coming methods of obtaining drinkable water in arid or drought-ridden areas. It is exciting to see these new technologies become commercially viable!

Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 11:56 PM

How to Eliminate Back Acne

How can you get rid of pimples on your back? Due to the hard to reach location, this can be a very frustrating problem. Fortunately, it isn’t something you just have to accept. There are many solutions which work. While it may seem hard to believe, the back is not a strange location to have acne pimples. Actually, many people get pimples on their backs.

The cause of acne on the back is the amount of oil glands there. These glands make a huge amount of oil. Your back also doesn’t get much sun or fresh air, unlike your face, which makes it even more prone to pimples. Variations in hormones and vigorous exercise often aggravate the problem even more.

But no matter what the specific factors involved, the root cause of acne is always clogged pores. This keeps the oil the skin produces from being able to leave the pores. Since the oil has nowhere to go, it forms a pimple.

The reason this isn’t talked about much is because a lot of people actually don’t realize they have zits on their back (because they can’t see them). Also when people do realize they have them, they may also find that the problem is worse than it would be on their face, so they just don’t want to talk about it.

So what do you do about it? The first step is to make your whole body healthier. Eat better, exercise more, and drink more water. After all, the skin is just a sign of your bodies overall health. Getting zits is often a sign of a non-healthy lifestyle so improving your lifestyle is often enough to end the problem.

You might say that working out more is a contradiction, since that produces sweat, which is a cause of acne. But the answer is obviously not to stop exercising! The solution to sweat triggered acne is to wear clothes that won’t stick to your skin, and make sure to shower with soap immediately after a workout. Don’t forget to dry yourself off completely before you put your clothes back on.

There are natural substances which can help eliminate acne as well. Tea tree oil is one such product. It helps to keep your skin from getting too oily, and thereby helps reduce acne. Make sure to use this at least twice a day for best results in getting rid of acne pimples on your back. Tea tree oil is completely natural, which makes some people prefer it over the more traditional acne products.

With these tips, hopefully you will be able to see a noticeable reduction, and possibly elimination, of the acne on your back.

February 8, 2012
Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 4:53 PM

Snoring Surgery Options

Snoring happens due to vibrations in the upper airway. The parts involved include the throat, mouth, and nose. Blockages along the way cause turbulence during breathing. Even though people breathe all day, snoring happens during sleep because the muscles involuntarily relax, which allows the tissues to collide in ways that they can’t while people are awake. Surgery for snoring may need to be done to allow the free passage of air.

Snoring can come from anywhere from the nose all the way down to the vocal cords. Sometimes the tongue also plays a role in causing snoring or in making it worse.

Snoring can’t be controlled at will. And, while simple measures may lessen the snores, these methods cannot actually cure snoring. When the snoring is too bad for a quick-fix method to work, it might be time to look at surgical methods. There are quite a few surgical methods which can be applied. Which one is used depends on the cause of the snoring.

An otolaryngologist, also known as an “ENT” or “Ear, Nose, and Throat” doctor, is the specialist who would determine the best method to use to treat a particular person’s snoring. He or she would perform a thorough examination of the structure of the relevant areas to determine what is causing the blockages and what to do about it.

One surgical procedure for snoring deals with problems caused by the tongue. The Tongue Suspension Procedure, also known as “Repose,” involves inserting a small screw under the tongue to prevent the tongue from falling back during sleep. The screw is implanted directly into the jaw. Even though many say it is effective, most doctors agree this is an irreversible option. Therefore, careful consideration must be made before undergoing this procedure.

If the cause of the snoring is the nose, then, naturally, nasal surgery is the most likely procedure. Even though it is often considered to be “cosmetic” surgery, most agree that it works to eliminate problematic snoring. Nasal surgery for snoring is also used for patients who have a deviated septum. For these people, surgery not only helps eliminate snoring, it also makes breathing easier when they are awake.

For throat/back of mouth problems, there is Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty, or LAUP. This is an advancement on the older procedure known as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). This snoring surgery consists of cutting the uvula which is located at the rear of the roof of the mouth. This part is the “thingy” which is seen in funny cartoons when someone screams. It is often the part responsible for snoring.

Other ways to handle snoring which is originating from the uvula include radio frequency tissue ablation, which is sometimes called Samnoplasty. This is a fairly new method approved by the US FDA. This uses radio frequencies to remove parts of the uvula.

Surgical snoring treatments are to be used as a last resort. Before jumping into the surgeon’s office, be sure to get a full evaluation of the causes of your snoring and the options for treatment. Also, as with any procedure or condition, be sure you get the best doctor you are able to.

February 5, 2012
Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 7:44 PM

Causes of Receding Gum Lines and a Possible Solution

Many people concern themselves with their hairlines receding with age. What they don’t realize is that a far more important, but less visible, “line” may be receding: Their gum line.

It is a common misconception that only old people’s gums can recede. But in reality, people of any age may be affected. Receding gum lines are usually caused by periodontal disease, which is most often the result of poor dental hygiene. People in their 20s and 30s often consider themselves “too busy” to take much care of their teeth and gums, and this can bring on the onset of periodontal disease. Once when I was in the dentist’s office, I saw a guy who couldn’t have yet reached 35 making his “deep cleaning” appointment. This told me that he was a periodontal disease patient who had already had scaling and root planing done and was now on the maintenance program.

Periodontal disease is actually a bacterial infection which attacks the gums and the bone underneath them. The gums retreat from the constant assault of pathogens and the acid produced by them. They also become inflamed as the body tries to kill the infection. But, since the infection is actually seated between the teeth and gums, the normal immune response cannot get to it. The body’s immune system only can reach what’s inside the body, not in the crevasses which are outside the gums but next to the teeth. Unfortunately, all this pathogenic activity and inflammation begins to destroy the bone beneath the gums. This is what leads to tooth loss.

Another reason for receding gums, surprisingly, is too vigorous toothbrushing. It’s ironic because people who brush hard are usually trying to get their teeth super-clean to avoid having gum problems! But overly aggressive brushing directly damages the gums by scraping them. The gums then pull back in response to the repetitive mechanical damage.

Grinding the teeth can also cause the gums to recede. Often damage or stress in one area of the body will negatively affect nearby parts. Tooth-grinding, also known as bruxism, has been known to cause receding gums.

Even though overly-aggressive toothbrushing can cause receding gums, proper brushing is a big key to keeping gums healthy.

Proper brushing is done meticulously but gently, and covers not only the tooth surfaces but the part of the gum at the tooth border—the gum line. Also, flossing is important, because debris left between the teeth and at the gumline is a banquet for bacteria. For hard-to-reach spots, there are many inexpensive varieties picks sold at drugstores like CVS/Pharmacy. The designs range from soft, flexible rubberized picks to firm but tiny brushes which can fit between larger gaps in the teeth.

I have successfully used a combination of good brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and special picks to reverse early periodontal disease in myself. My hygienist was amazed at the difference made in just 6 months! One of the big problems with periodontal disease is that “deep pockets” form next to the teeth and let debris lodge in them. The disease then uses this opportunity to get roaring along without interference. I used soft, long picks with rubber “bristles,” which I dipped in mouthwash for an antibacterial effect, to get down into these pockets and interfere with those germs! At first this did hurt, but soon, with the germs being killed on a daily basis, my gums healed up and the deep pockets improved greatly.

I can’t guarantee that this will work for you, but it’s definitely something to try before submitting to expensive scaling and root planing.

Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 7:01 PM

Ways for the Elderly to Improve Balance

Balance problems often plague the elderly. As we age, our leg muscles tend to get weaker and more prone to letting us down—literally. Since the older we are, the more dangerous a fall can be, keeping our ability to balance is important to maintaining our independence.

Research has shown that the strength of our leg muscles is directly related to how well we can keep our balance.

As people get older, they usually don’t use their leg muscles as much, which allows those muscles to shrink and weaken. This process is slow, and takes many years. Therefore it is often unnoticed until they suddenly realize they’re having trouble getting up, or going up a flight of stairs.

To slow or prevent this loss of important muscle mass, it is important for those over 60 to do regular exercises meant to strengthen their legs.

A study done at the University of Porto in Portugal found that performing exercises for two important lower-leg muscle groups helped participants improve their results in balance tests. The muscles they focused on were the calves and the dorsiflexors. The dorsiflexors are located on the front of your lower leg, right under the knee.

These muscle groups, surprisingly, work to control your foot when you are walking or even just standing around. The study’s protocol had participants simply work to strengthen those muscle groups, with exercises which took just 5 minutes three times per week. The study only lasted 6 weeks, so you get an idea of how long it took to see improvement.

Even though the study used elastic bands for these exercises, there is a way to do it with no equipment at all:

Toe Points

Sit on a chair with both feet flat. Bend your knees at a right angle. Put one leg out so one foot comes just off the ground and is slightly forward. Point your toe ahead of you. This is where you start. Then, keeping your leg still and only moving your ankle, pull your toes up towards your shin. Then point them forward again, remembering to only move your ankle. Do this 10-15 times per leg.

As you pull your toes back, you can feel the muscles contract at the point just below the knee(!). You may need to put your hand on that spot to feel this.

Calf Raise

This is a standing exercise. Face your sink. Your feet need to be six inches apart, and about six inches back from the sink or counter. Grab the sink and countertop for stability, and slowly go up onto your toes, both feet at the same time. Your heels need to come up a couple of inches. Then slowly lower yourself down. Do this 10-15 times.

Don’t worry if you can’t rise up the full 2 inches at first. It will take some practice to loosen muscles which have been stiff for years.

As you rise onto your toes, the calf muscles will contract.

You can do 1 or 2 sets in one day, but not two days in a row. There should be a rest day in between.

These exercises will help strengthen your lower legs, which in turn will help your balance. But these exercises are just part of the picture. For the best results, you should get an organized program of exercises for balance and leg strengthening.

Many gyms (also called “health clubs” or “fitness centers”) have personal trainers who are willing to suggest exercises as a one-time consultation. Some will even do it for free if you are a member.

Posted in Health — Knowledge Buff @ 6:42 PM
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