Posted in Blood, children, Christmas, donations, Health, news, seniors

Giving Tuesday: Ideas If You’re On A Budget

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to encourage generosity and altruism.  The holidays are an ideal time to share our blessings and fortunes with others who may be less fortunate.  Many charities find this time the busiest of the year and funds are needed to help the great work they do, hence #GivingTuesday couldn’t come at a more opportune time.  Donations of any size can be life saving.

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However, some of us may be on very tight budgets and unable to donate money.  No worries….Giving Tuesday is not just about monetary donations.  There are TONS of meaningful ways one can give to help others.

Blood Donation

The winter season is a challenging time for many of our blood banks and every 3 seconds, someone needs blood. When one donates a pint of blood it can help save up to 3 lives. And it doesn’t cost a cent.

The American Red Cross is accepting blood donations. Local blood drives can be found at redcross.org.

Vitalant has locations throughout the country that can accept your blood donation as well. Contact Vitalant here.

Food Drives

Collecting non perishable food items from your pantry, neighbors or coworkers can be done quickly, easily and when taken to a shelter or organization can feed hungry and sometimes malnourished people in your community.

Clothing Drives

How many of us have saved our clothes from high school hoping we’ll fit into them again?  Well we won’t….so why hold on to a lost dream.  Tons of clothes in your closet can clothe those in need of the community…and an extra benefit is now you’ll create extra space in your closet.

Volunteer

Many shelters and charities need all hands on deck during this time of year.  Churches and temples organize community events as well and could use the extra manpower. Donating your time is worth hundreds of dollars for charities who sometimes need to hire people to help them accomplish the great work they do.

Host a Neighborhood Garage Sale

This is easy and fun where the neighborhood comes together to donate items they wish to sell, and all the money raised goes to a charity of choice.

Donate your Work

Some families could use a service or product that your company provides.  Offering a family in need some surplus or an hour of your time could go a long way.

 

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Great Gift!!!

The Ultimate Medical Student HandBook

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Christmas, fashion, Health, news, shopping, smart devices

Compulsive Online Shopping: Are YOU at Risk?

Image above from misskyra.com

The fasting growing addiction in the US is online shopping.  Ads pop up on our social media, news feeds and email. Boxes pile up in your closet of unopened packages.  And then one day you notice you purchased the same item twice! Are you addicted to online shopping or any shopping for that matter?  Let’s break down this latest epidemic.

What is Compulsive Spending Disorder?

A “Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD)” was first described in the early 20th century as a compulsive disorder that left the patient with debt.  Later in the century its classification was debated and eventually included with the personality disorders.

Compulsive buying is known as “oniomania” where one buys impulsively and excessively to the point that it leaves them in financial hardship.  And despite their financial issues they continue to make purchases.  We’ve used the term “shopaholics” to describe those addicted to shopping but compulsive buying connotes the lack sense of financial ruin that can ensue. The spending is an attempt to satisfy a need that never gets fulfilled.

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IMAGE ABOVE FROM SHUTTERSTOCK

 

Compulsive buying disorder may be seen in those who suffer from mania and bipolar disorder.  During manic episodes excessive spending may occur.  Additionally we may see CBD co-morbidly in those who suffer from eating, gambling, substance use, and mood disorders.

What is Compulsive Online Shopping?

Compulsive online shopping occurs when purchases are made online, without much thought or planning, and at a frequency where it may interfere with one’s life.  People who might have never become a compulsive shopper in a traditional store may become easily addicted to online shopping.  Those who are compulsive online shoppers may exhibit any of the following:

  • Preoccupation with when they can go online to search items
  • Anxiety when one cannot go online
  • Purchasing items they don’t necessarily need
  • Spending beyond their budget
  • Hiding their shopping behavior
  • Feeling guilt after shopping
  • Struggling at work or at home because of the time devoted to online shopping
  • Other addictive or impulsive behaviors such as binge eating, drinking, or substance abuse

So compulsive online shopping, as well as compulsive buying disorder, can affect relationships, employment, finances and health.

How many people suffer from Compulsive Online Shopping Disorder?

Various sources have put the range at 5-8% of the US population.

Why are people becoming addicted?

When one is able to shop in the comfort of one’s desk or work station, the “ease” factor drives more shopping.  Avoiding the need to leave work or home to battle traffic and weather and long lines, is one of the biggest draws.  Moreover, those who hate going into a store or dressing room, concerned others will see the sizes of clothes they are trying on, can now shop in the privacy in their own home.  Additionally shopping allows one to fight the boredom they have at work or home and give one a sense of accomplishment.  And once one has a successful and satisfying purchase, the reward centers of the brain are activated making one want to shop more.

Hence, shrewd marketing will appeal to the human psyche by any of the following:

  • Displaying or popping up attractive ads on your browser or social media
  • Disrupting your feed, reading material or game with above ads
  • Following your likes, searches or prior purchases and suggesting related products
  • Offering deals and coupons that can be used immediately
  • “Rewarding” the buyer with positive feedback after the purchase such as, “You SAVED 15%!”
  • Allowing the purchase to be done so quickly and easily that one has less of an opportunity to ponder the purchase
  • Sending reminders of a reorder

So how can one avoid becoming a compulsive online shopper?

Don’t give in to the ads.  People must realize they are being bombarded with some of the most creative marketing manipulation known to mankind.  We can’t fall for it.  Why are we letting our smart devices dictate to us what we need in our closets, pantries or garages?

But to fight the urge to shop online excessively, we must:

  • Budget expenditures and stick to it
  • Have hobbies
  • Avoid boredom, or going to the internet when bored
  • Limit internet time
  • Stop ads and unsubscribe on out tablet or smart phone
  • Deputize a family member to be our go-to when we want authorization to purchase something online.
  • Ask ourselves prior to purchasing:  Do I really need this item?
  • Seek counseling if unable to stop

If needed, compulsive shopping can be treated with therapy as well as medications including SSRI’s, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are efficacious in those with impulsive personalities or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

 

ultimate book cover final

Great Gift!!!

The Ultimate Medical Student HandBook

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Christmas, Health, news, toys

Nerf Guns May Cause Severe Injury, Blindness

Image above from BBC

Warning: Graphic Content Below

The mother of a 9 year-old boy is raising money for a prosthetic eye after her son sustained two severe injuries from a Nerf gut accident.

 

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Taylor-Jay Ravicini

 

When Taylor-Jay Ravicini of Swansea in Wales was 3, he was accidentally shot in the eye by a Nerf gun bullet that caused a traumatic hyphema, or bleeding within the anterior chamber of the eye.  Although doctors were able to save the eye, news.com.au reports a second injury occurred in August resulting in loss of the eye.

 

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Hyphema

 

In the report, his 35 year-old mother states:

“What are the chances of an accident happening twice in the same eye?”
“I was downstairs and I heard a devastating scream and my heart sunk, I couldn’t even go to see him, I sent my partner as I knew something had happened.
“Taylor’s eye was full of blood and it was causing a build up of pressure.
“Doctors told us that he risked losing sight in both eyes if we didn’t remove the damaged one.”

 

Doctors have long recommended using eyewear, such as goggles, to protect oneself from the forceful projectile caused by the toy’s spring apparatus.

Children inadvertently mistake the soft foam bullets and arrows for something benign, not realizing the speed and force can cause severe blunt injury.

 

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Taylor’s GoFundMe page can be found here.

 

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

 

 

Posted in Christmas, Health, news

Christmas Season is also Heart Attack Season… Avoiding the Christmas Coronary

Tis the season!! Unfortunately not for our hearts.  A study back in 2004 found a 5% increase in heart attacks during the Christmas season.  Then last year, a study published in the British Medical Journal found Christmas Eve to be especially risky for those who are prone to heart disease.  Let’s dissect why….

Baby its cold outside…..

The cold has long been associated with heart stress.  Cold weather causes blood vessel constriction and this adds extra work for the heart. Moreover, it causes less oxygen to reach vital organs, including the heart.

Snow shoveling has been infamous for inciting heart attacks for this same reason.  The heart demands extra blood due to the increase in activity and the cold restricts blood flow.

Let’s toast…….

Alcohol, especially in excessive amounts, can put stress on the heart by increasing blood pressure, worsening diabetes, and causing abnormal heart rhythms.    Moreover, it interferes with the metabolisms of medications, hence many of these may not work at their best.   Which brings us to…..

Is there a doctor in the house?

Medical providers take vacation too.  And if a patient forgets to refill his medication he may go without during the two weeks of holiday season.  Moreover many forget to pack every thing they need for a Holiday trip and without anticipating delays, one could be without crucial medication dosing.  The heart does not like this.

Stress…….

Holiday travel is never easy.  Delays, long lines, the cold, traffic and then…..family.  We may love our family but prefer seeing them in small doses.  All the family at once can be a little overwhelming for some.  As for coping with the in-laws…..well a guide is available for you all here.

Preventing Heart Disease

Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Personal history of heart disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Males over 40
  • Females who are post menopausal
  • High stress

and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.

As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease.  Therefore secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.

Thirdly, reduce your risk by the following:

  • Maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Maintain normal blood sugar
  • Maintain normal cholesterol and lipid levels
  • Reduce stress
  • Maintain a balanced diet, rich in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay active
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

 

So how to prevent to the “Christmas Coronary?”

Plan ahead by doing the following:

  •  If you are running low on your prescriptions contact your medical provider early on.
  •  Pack prescriptions in two different bottles, so you can take some medication on your carry on in case the flight gets delayed or a suitcase gets lost.
  • Avoid getting sick, by getting your flu shot, washing your hands, avoiding sick contacts.
  • For tips on how to avoid getting sick on a plane visit here.

 

Holiday time should be a happy time. Let’s make it a healthy one!!!

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Christmas, Health, news

Christmas Tree Syndrome? How Your Tree Can Make You Sick

Among the various health issues that plague us during the festive holiday season; flu, colds, heart disease, hypothermia, pneumonia….we add one more to the list….Christmas Tree Syndrome.

Christmas Tree Syndrome occurs when one feels ill when they are in close proximity to their Christmas Tree.   True the average Christmas tree is a spruce or fir, which rarely should be allergenic, but researchers have found they still carry allergens such as pollen, picked up by nearby plants, and may house mold.

Researchers from State University in New York analyzed the bark and needles of multiple Christmas trees and found multiple cases of mold with their allergy producing spores. And since they are trees from the wild, they provide residence to thousands of critters…aphids, mites, bark beetles and even spiders.

Now we have been living with Christmas trees each season and harmoniously and symbiotically have lived with their crittery inhabitants without being attacked, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t free from symptoms.

Christmas Tree Syndrome includes any of the following symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Watery Eyes
  • Nasal Itching
  • Scratchy Throat
  • Difficulty Sleeping

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Mold and pollen are notorious for being the biggest culprits in causing these types of respiratory symptoms, so the following has been suggested to reduce your risk of Christmas Tree Syndrome:

  • Hose down the tree and let it dry before bringing it back into the house
  • Utilize an air purifier in the same room as the tree
  • Avoid extended stays of the tree, i.e. put it up nearer to the holiday and take it down once Christmas ends
  • If currently suffering from allergies or asthma, or vulnerable to Christmas Tree Syndrome, delegate tree decorating to someone else in the family…maybe an in-law.
  • Consider having your gorgeous Christmas tree outside the house.

 

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Dr. Daliah with her tree at the Magical Forest, Opportunity Village

Have a happy and healthy Christmas!!

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

Posted in Christmas, Health, news

Holiday Gifts under $20 and $50 that will blow their minds

Holiday shopping is very exciting but, unfortunately always underestimated.  Buying gifts for your family is a given, but what about relatives, friends, coworkers, bosses, teachers, neighbors, nurse, and the list goes on!  So buying for everyone can cost a fortune.

On top of that, you don’t want your gift to blend in with the rest.  Baskets, ornaments, and treats can, once graciously accepted, be thrown on the table with the rest of the goodies.  So how do you get the biggest bang for your buck?

When choosing a gift, it must be creative, useful and have longevity. Let’s start by categorizing our gift recipients.

Office workers/coworkers – under $50

If your company does not parcticipate in  a Secret Santa gift exchange, you’re on the hook for a lot of gifts.  Here’s some cool ideas:

  1.  Basket of $2-5 Gift Cards – Buy an inexpensive basket from a hobby store (or reuse last year’s), line it with tissue paper and decorative filler, place 10 gift cards (coffee house or donut shop would work pretty well at that price point), and throw some candy in the basket as well.
  2. Basket of Tools – Hammers, nuts and bolts from your nearby hardware store can be inexpensive and could make an awesome basket for those who could use an extra tool around the house.  And as long as they don’t lose it, it may last for years
  3. Basket of Scented Soaps – many bath and beauty shops sell these for $5 a piece, so make a basket with these and candy and let everyone grab one. Again, some longevity with this gift.
  4. Online Spanish (or language) course – many offices need bilingual staff and those who aren’t would love to learn.  Que bueno!

 

online-course

 

Relatives – under $20

Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews….how do you not go broke?

  1.  For the Chef – Grab a cookbook, some spices, and a tool and put it in a decorative bag or basket.
  2. For the Gardner – Grab some packets of seeds, small bag of soil and put in in a pot filled with decorative filler
  3. For the Auto Enthusiast – Grab some turtle wax, cloth, air freshener – you know the drill
  4. For the Coffee Drinker – Grab two mugs, a rich coffee bag, and add sweets to the basket
  5. For the Tea Drinker – Find as many flavors as you can and throw some honey in the basket…or a decorative mug

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6.  Gift cards – movies, restaurants, can’t go wrong with these

7.  Books – not an easy pick since you need to do some detective work ensuring they hadn’t read your choice yet, but great price point

8.  Bottle of wine, goblets, candles, these can be flexible and creative

9.  Pedicure gift card

10. For the pet lover – a how to book, toys, treats for their pet.

11.  For the one who loves to laugh – funny desk calendar, book of jokes, fart machine

12. Cuddly blanket – make sure its not an obnoxious color, or better yet…why not?

 

and the list goes on……

 

Acquaintances/buddies

There are many people in our lives who we want to recognize during the holidays (Postal Worker, Sanitation team, Security Guard, etc) so here are some ideas that can accompany a warm Holiday message:

  1. Stocking of goodies (sunscreen, treats, phone case)
  2. Scarf or sport’s team hat
  3. Cool car accessory
  4. Box of treats, warm even better
  5. Gift card, etc.

 

The holidays are a time of giving, and the joy it brings to both the recipient and you is priceless. Fortunately, creative and worthwhile gifts don’t have to be too costly.

Good luck shopping this year and have a wonderful holiday season!

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

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Posted in Christmas, Health, news, pets, thanksgiving

The Holidays and the In-laws: Your Step by Step Guide

The holidays are here!! Good food, no school, no work, and most of all….. family!!

For many this is the happiest time of the year!

For some…..the most dreaded…

This is your very rare and valuable time off, and you have to spend all of it with people who don’t like you and you’re not particularly fond of. Four to 7 days of staying with family, (especially if they don’t let you stay a hotel and insist you stay with them), can be more than many can bear.

So here are some steps you can take to make the holidays easier.

1. Huddle up

 

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Usually your spouse wants to avoid controversy just as much as you do.  Before the encounter, huddle up and create a strategy for:

a.  How to deal with insults

b.  How to take a break – take the car to go grab some last-minute Thanksgiving necessities

c.  Where you get to sit at the table

d.  Potential arguments regarding the children and their upbringing

2.  Try to get a hotel room

 

hotel

 

This gives you the much-needed reprieve at the end of the day.  However, if the family insists you stay with them and 4 nights at Hotel Hell are just too much to bear, plan a “sneak away” for an evening with your wife and tell the Grandparents they will host the kid’s slumber party.  Remember to thank them for the huge favor they are doing allowing you and the wife a much needed night away “from the kids” …wink…wink…..

3.  Football

 

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Thank Heavens the Cowboys are playing this Thanksgiving.  Usually there is someone else in the family just as sane as you are when it comes to football, so you can immediately partner with him to get the television on and the game playing.  Although this may only give you a 15 minute “out” of the family festivities, its 15 minutes of pure euphoria.

4.  Remember you have sciatica

 

sciatica

 

The most difficult part of Thanksgiving/Christmas is sitting at a table for hours and usually trapped, physically, because the chairs are pushed together so tight that you can’t push out the chair. If you ever, ever, ever had an issue with your back, knee, leg, muscle, or even pinky toe, use this as an excuse to heave the table forward so you can get up and stretch your legs.  Slowly limp over to the living room where hopefully you left the football game on……

5.  Get called to work

 

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No in-law can or wants to take on your boss.  So during the 7 day stent, politely excuse yourself if you need to go onto a computer, make a phone call, or drive 60 miles away for “work”.  Make sure your spouse is on board with this one……

 

6.  Have “diarrhea”

 

toilet

You get to leave the room and no one wants to be near you.  You just gained escaping 3-5 times/hour since you need to “run” to the bathroom.

 

7.  Inform the family you feel a cold coming on

 

cold

 

Don’t jinx yourself but this gets you out of hugs, and sloppy lipstick kisses…..

Ok this gives you a well-coordinated exit plan but what happens if they are on to you?  How do you deal with the remaining, 3 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes?

1.  Don’t take it personally

When the insults and digs come, don’t feel like these personal attacks need to stick.  You have enough people in your life telling you your shortcomings.  The in-laws are either being redundant or telling you something that doesn’t hold true.

2.  You’re not alone

Millions of adults are in the exact same position as you at the same moment in time.  You’re not alone.  Just sneak a peek on facebook and you’ll scroll through hundreds of “Ugh!!!!”s………..

3.  Make a game of it

Bet your wife or coworker that you will get the most insults over the holiday than they will and write down or note every time it happens. The more it occurs, you win.  Compare notes or use it as a “get out jail free card” with your spouse.

4.  Have a happy place

Negotiate with your spouse prior to the holiday a “free day” or “free weekend” that you will earn upon completion of a 7 day holiday with the in-laws.  Plan and fantasize about this reward throughout your tour of duty to make the path easier

5.  Bring the pets

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Since you are usually outnumbered during these family events, why not have non humans come to your aid.  Dogs need to be walked, cats need to be chased, so this gives you an out and gives you a much-needed buddy during the hard times.

 

Look, it’s not easy, but remember why you’re there.  For YOUR family.  Your spouse and kids need to spend the holidays with you so grin and bear it.  And remember you may be luckier than the average guy.  He could be spending the WHOLE WEEK!  Ahhh, you DO have something to be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician