How to Stop Being Manipulated

How to Stop Being Manipulated

 

 

Signs That You’re Being Psychologically Manipulated

 

Have you ever experienced it at the hands of someone close to you? What about with a spouse, colleague, a boss, a friend, or a family member? Sometimes you may even be controlled by a neighbor!

Control is a powerful word. It is a powerful force within the human race. It denotes a power to dictate, influence, maneuver, or direct.

If you look up the term “control,” it is synonymous with intimidating words including: sway, authority, jurisdiction, command, dominance, mastery, sovereignty, supremacy, or ascendancy. These words are certainly intimidating to say the least, especially if you feel you are being controlled by someone unnecessarily.

No one likes to be controlled. It usurps our ability to act using free will, experience the world as we see it, and choose our values, beliefs, and actions without interference. On the flip side, if control never existed the world would be a mess, our jobs would not be performed as well, our lives would be chaotic, and we would lose the order we are accustomed to. This kind of control makes sense. We need this kind of control in our daily lives.

The type of control in which your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are being manipulated by another person can steal every ounce of who you are. The manipulation is so overpowering that you can begin to suffer shame, guilt, negative self-talk, or lowered self-esteem – at no fault of your own. If you see a continual pattern of this behavior, you are in an unhealthy and one-sided relationship.

Feeling controlled by someone can be one of the worst feelings. We’re individuals with an agency toward self-motivation and freedom. Control “cramps” our ability to explore the world around us, develop and grow in our own ways, and experience our ability to make decisions and learn from them.

Control can dismantle relationships (personal and professional), destroy trust, and make others defensive and resentful toward the perpetrator of control. As we all can probably agree, control must be balanced with boundaries, respect, compassion, understanding, and patience. Wouldn’t you feel better if your boss, spouse, or parent would balance control with patience, boundaries, and respect? Without these things, control becomes bondage and abuse.

It often isn’t easy to point out the control, stand up to it, and say “no more.”

I’m of the firm belief that control is spiritual, as well. It is a power that dominates us far beyond logistics and intelligence. That’s why in domestic violence situations (or even employee-employer relationships) the victim struggles to do exactly what they (and others) know they should do. Fear of abandonment or standing up for oneself is often a key factor in these situations.

 

Why Do You Allow Yourself to Be Controlled?

 

Fear may be present related to one or more of the following:

  • Loss of friendship or camaraderie
  • Loss of opportunity or employment
  • Development of a complicated or inaccurate social status/reputation
  • Argument or confrontation
  • Temporary feelings of discomfort
  • Loss of essentials/basics for living

 

It’s important to be able to identify control and abuse. It can come to you in a sweet way, a dominant way, a bribing way, etc. Narcissism, sociopathy, borderline personality traits, selfishness, and entitlement can show up in many toxic relationships.

Emotional manipulators drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it—their behavior truly goes against reason, so why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix?

The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally, and approach your interactions with them like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink if you prefer that analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine, and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

 

Recommended Reading: 

 

 

See the Signs –

Pay attention to signs of psychological manipulation: do any of these examples sound familiar?

 

Keeping track of you

Unfortunately, there are people who will try their hardest to keep “track of you.” What I mean by this is the person who keeps in contact with you (only to keep lines of communication open) for their own benefit. For example, Bob (a long-time colleague who never liked you) may try to text, email, or find you online or at other social media platforms to see how far you have gotten in your life. His interactions with you may be sporadic and he may not even attempt to contact you more than 1-3x a year. This kind of person may have an intent to use you or manipulate you. It’s important for me to add that they may even “cyber-stalk” you.

 

What to do: In situations such as this, I encourage you to be very careful when it comes to how much you let this person into your world. It’s okay to have boundaries. You can’t 100% trust a person who didn’t like you at first and now wants to connect.  Take baby steps or no steps at all. And that’s ok.

 

 

They befriend you only when it’s convenient for them

Have you known a person who treats you really poorly and doesn’t give you the vibe that they like you, but then one day they begin to smile with you, laugh with you, and embrace you? Be careful. It is true some people can grow more accustomed to you and begin to like you. I’ve had people in my life reject me one minute and then accept me the next because they realized they misjudged me. But there’s always that small group of people who are not misjudging you. They just don’t like you. And that isn’t necessarily your fault!

 

What to do: You can’t fully trust someone who switches from kind to mean; mean to kind. We all have mood swings but I’m not referring to mood swings here. Keep up firm boundaries and be careful with what you tell them. Keep your life private. Do you really need to be an open book?

 

 

They text/email/instant message you with multiple emoticons

This may sound immature and more common to adolescents, but not necessarily.  Emoticons can be a nice way to express your emotions and get a point across. However, there are others who will “abuse” the emoticons as a way to control how you see them and their interactions with you. For example, a heated conversation my be occurring with someone via Facebook and to “control” you the person may litter the entire message with smiley faces, winks, hearts, etc. It throws you off. It can be misleading.

 

What to do: Look beyond the emotional control. Don’t respond to the emoticons unless you feel ok doing so or unless you are well aware of their “game.” I encourage you to also stay away from arguments via social media. Messages have a high possibility of getting mixed or confused via social media. Texting back and forth about emotional topics is also not a good idea. Do it the mature way (i.e., face-to-face or phone).

 

 

They smile with you and interact positively but you get a negative vibe

Women can be very guilty of this as men typically don’t act this way. But if you are interacting with someone who smiles with you, has a positive tone of voice, has positive body language (i.e., leaning toward you, touching you, listening, etc) but you don’t buy it 100%, keep your eyes open. Keep in mind that you could also just be misjudging them, too.

 

What to do: If you sense that someone isn’t being 100% honest with you or may be trying to deceive you, tread lightly. Don’t get caught up in what you hope happens. Be wise in what you share with them about your life and keep firm boundaries until you feel you are able to trust them. Also question why you suspect the person isn’t being honest with you. Are you envious or angry with the person? Do you struggle with trust? Has this person wronged you in the past?

 

 

They loan you something or put you in “charge” but then micromanage you

This is tough. The person may let you borrow some material possession, or money, or put you “in charge” of something and then give you absolutely no space. You’ll want to question if there is a foundation of trust and respect within the relationship.

 

What to do: If you feel the person isn’t trusting you, willing to let you borrow things, or seems as if they don’t care about your feelings, question the relationship. Consider why the person is this way and ask yourself if bringing up your feelings is going to help anything at all. Some people simply don’t trust you and have a need for control. If you feel uneasy with this, bring it up and explain – without being argumentative – that you don’t appreciate their attempts at controlling you.

 

 

You are being monitored like a child

Some people “monitor” those they love and care about for reasons that may be justifiable. In a loving relationship, for example, a husband may monitor his wife when she leaves the house to go shopping. He may call or text her to know of her whereabouts because he cares. However, if someone attempts to control where you are, how long you are away, and what you’re doing to a point where you feel suffocated, demeaned, or humiliated, you’ve got a problem you shouldn’t ignore.

 

What to do: Talk to the person about how they are making you feel and avoid being judgmental, angry, or frustrated when discussing it. The last thing you want to do is ignite a fire unnecessarily. Be calm and express how you feel. If you continue to see a pattern of this behavior, consider whether the relationship is worth it and if you’re likely to experience more controlling behaviors by the person in the future.

 

 

You are micromanaged or “given” an identity

No one likes to be micromanaged because the act itself can imply that you are not capable. However, the truth of micromanagement is that the person who is doing it is only doing it because they have anxiety, insecurities, or a need for control. Micromanagement doesn’t always have something to do with you. Even so, micro-managers are frustrating to say the least. What about people who push their interests onto you in hopes of “transforming” you?

 

What to do: Make it clear that you do not appreciate being micromanaged. You can do this in a variety of ways such as being subliminal (i.e., taking control without permission, answering the micro-manager in a way that displays your ability to take care of your responsibilities, staying on top of your responsibilities, etc). Once micro-managers see that you are in control and not them, they will (in some cases) back off. When it comes to your identity, just be who you are.

 

 

You are bombarded with expectations, rules, or wants by the controller

I have experienced this in multiple cases throughout my life and I can honestly say, this can feel like the worst type of control. Any encounter with this type of person can feel like a job. You also may feel let down time and time again by this person because all of your encounters are negative due to their need to control you in some way. For example, a person like this may see you shopping and instead of coming over to you to talk or say hi, they come over to you with a judgmental attitude, a barrage of questions, or may even ask you for a favor.

 

What to do: Avoid them until you are ready (or strong enough) to take their controlling behavior without getting angry. If you get angry or show any signs of anger, the controller will only flip things on you and blame you. Distance yourself little by little until you feel you are gaining better self-control. Minimize the person’s expectations, rules, or wants and keep in mind that you are only human. Do what you can but avoid feeling responsible for pleasing them. That’s not your job. And if you feel you need to “please” them, consider whether or not the relationship is healthy and worth it.

 

 

Staunch religious or moral/ethical standards are used to guilt-trip you

It is a wonderful thing to see God in operation in your life. It is great to desire God’s principles, values, truths, and desires in your life. But a person who uses these virtues against you to make you feel bad is attempting to control you. A true and loving God would never guilt-trip you. The God I know is steadfast in His precepts but never condescending or harmful.

 

What to do: Keep the truth in the forefront of your mind. Don’t let this type of person guilt-trip you. Now, there is a thing called a “conscience” and if you are feeling guilty about something own that and move on. It’s the only way to grow. But if you have nothing to be guilty about, don’t let this person guilt-trip you.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve identified a manipulator, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when and where you don’t.

You can establish boundaries, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you’re bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos.

The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to cross them, which they will. Remember: nobody can manipulate you without your consent and cooperation.

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope you found this article helpful and empowering. 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

-Laurie

 

Recommended Reading:

Narcissists Exposed: 75 Things Narcissists Don’t Want You to Know by Drew Keys. Read reviews.

 

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Nail Fungus Laser Therapy Guide

Nail Fungus Laser Therapy Guide

 

 

 

Nail fungus, particularly in the toenails, is a common malady among older persons and laser therapy is being used as a treatment but is it worth it?

 

Dermatologist B.E. Elewski says that merely being over 60 years of age is a risk factor for this type of fungus. It is wise for elderly persons to use effective treatments, including new therapies that appear promising. Is laser therapy for toenail fungus one of the promising treatments?

There are many traditional treatments for nail fungus including oral and topical anti-fungal treatments.  In addition, the affected part of a nail or the whole nail plate can be removed surgically and rapidly as an outpatient procedure.

These traditional treatments have potential side effects. Oral medications can cause upset stomachs and even liver damage, according to the Mayo Clinic. They are not always effective in elder persons. Topical ointments may take months to work. Removal of the nail or a portion is painful and takes a long time for growth of the nail. Recurrence and reinfection are common.

Laser treatment of nail fungus, which was approved by the FDA in 2010, penetrates the nail plate and kills fungi underneath. Advocates of laser therapy for toenail fungus say the procedure is fast, painless and brings quick results. But scientists do not agree.

 

The Disappointing Truth:  Nail Fungus Laser Treatment is Ineffective

 

Becker and Bershow reviewed the scientific studies of laser therapy for toenail fungus and found no effective results in randomized, controlled, clinical trials. In addition, the therapy was not painless and recurrence of fungal infection was high.

However, the authors of the literature review acknowledged that reinfection is so common with nail fungus that it is possible that reinfection, not recurrence of the original infection, was responsible for the unpersuasive results.

Another study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, noted that laser treatment did not produce a cure when tested on humans with toenail fungus. The researchers noted that only one kind of laser light was tested. Nevertheless, they stated about their results: “In vivo treatment did not result in onychomycosis cure” meaning that the testing of laser treatment on human patients did not produce a toenail fungus cure. (see sources below)

 

Nail Fungus Laser Therapy is Expensive, Elective and Cosmetic

 

Another detriment of nail fungus laser therapy is cost. The expense is usually not covered by insurance because toenail fungus is deemed a cosmetic issue, not a serious health matter. Treatment is elective and based more on the appearance of the feet than an actual health threat. The cosmetic side of nail fungus is perturbing to those who have it. Symptoms of nail fungus include distortion of the nail surface, including a brittle or ridged appearance, discoloration of the nail surface (usually a dull yellow color) and brittle-looking or crumbling nails. But it is rarely a dangerous condition.

Until laser therapy passes more randomized, controlled, clinical tests elderly patients may wish to forego the expense. Although laser therapy for nail fungus may be the wave of the future, at this time it has not proven effective. Scientists recommend traditional treatments as they have proven to be more effective.

 

 

 

So What Can You Do to GET RID OF IT?!

 

Doctors will often recommend Oral antifungal drugs

Studies show the most effective treatments are terbinafine (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox). These drugs help a new nail grow free of infection, slowly replacing the infected part.

You typically take this type of drug for six to 12 weeks. But you won’t see the end result of treatment until the nail grows back completely. It may take four months or longer to eliminate an infection.

Treatment success rates with these drugs appear to be lower in adults over age 65. And treatment success seems to improve when you combine oral and topical antifungal therapies.

Oral antifungal drugs may cause side effects ranging from skin rash to liver damage. You may need occasional blood tests to check on how you’re doing with these types of drugs. Doctors may not recommend them for people with liver disease or congestive heart failure or those taking certain medications.

 

For more severe cases, there are surgical and other treatments such as Nail removal. If your nail infection is severe or extremely painful, your doctor may suggest removing your nail. A new nail will usually grow in its place. But it will come in slowly and may take as long as a year to grow back completely. Sometimes surgery is used in combination with ciclopirox to treat the nail bed.

 

In my research for a better option, I came across a natural product called Zane Hellas Fungus Stop Anti fungal Nail Solution, which really stood out among the many remedies marketed to toenail fungus sufferers. 

Fungus Stop is made in Greece by a company called Zane Hellas, and is the #1 bestseller in Nail Fungus Treatments on Amazon, with numerous positive testimonials and photos included in its over 1,500 customer reviews, which simply wouldn’t be possible with an ineffective product.

 The main active ingredient in Fungus Stop is Carvacrol. Carvacrol is an ingredient found in the highest content in Oregano Oil and is completely natural.

Carvacrol  has very strong antifungal properties and can completely eradicate toenail fungus.

Used since ancient times and there are many published scientific medical studies on the properties and effectiveness of Carvacrol Oregano Oil.

 

  • Fungus Stop also contains Vitamin E and Vitamin C to nourish the skin and nails.
  • Fungus Stop produces fast results in the appearance and color of the nails.
  • Treatment can be completed only in 4 Weeks with this highly effective maximum strength solution.
  • Fungus Stop is Clinically Proven and formulated at Therapeutic Grade strength.
  • Fungus Stop kills 99.9% of Nail Fungus.
  • 100% Natural Herb Ingredients

 

 

Who Should Use Fungus Stop?

 

Fungus Stop is an Antifungal, suitable for Toenail Fungus, Athletes Foot, Bacterial Infections and Parasites Problems.  If you are diabetic and think you may be developing toenail fungus, see your doctor first, as diabetic foot problems may be more serious.

 

 

What’s In Fungus Stop?

 

  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Wild Essential Oregano Oil ( non GMO- 100% Organic & Wild)
  • Organic Almond Oil (From Real Almond Seeds)
  •  Organic Essentila Tea Tree Oil
  • Organic Calentula Oil,Organic Avocado Oil
  • Made in Greece

 

 

How Do I use Fungus Stop?

 

Brush Fungus Stop on to your nail (around and under nails), once a day for 4 weeks . Heat sensation is normal.

Wait 5-7 minutes until absorbed. Do not wash your feet or hands for 5-7 minutes.

During this time avoid the hand contact with eyes.

If the fungal infection it is on your toenails put clean socks.

Stop use if irritation occurs or there is no improvement within 4 weeks. Do not use on broken skin or any other foot conditions.

 

 

When to See a Doctor

 

You may want to see a physician if Fungus Stop hasn’t helped. Also, as previously mentioned, be sure to see a doctor if you have diabetes and think you’re developing nail fungus.

 

How Do I keep Toenail Fungus From Coming Back?

 

  • Wash your hands and feet regularly and keep your nails short and dry. Wash your hands and feet with soap and water, rinse, and dry thoroughly, including between the toes. Trim nails straight across and file down thickened areas.
  • Wear anti-fungal socks that absorb sweat. Fabrics effective at wicking away moisture include wool, nylon and polypropylene. Change your socks often, especially if you have sweaty feet.
  • Choose shoes that reduce humidity. It also helps to occasionally take off your shoes or wear open-toe footwear.
  • Discard old shoes. If possible, avoid wearing old shoes, which can harbor fungi and cause a reinfection. Or treat them with disinfectants or antifungal powders.
  • Wear rubber gloves. This protects your hands from overexposure to water. Between uses, turn the gloves inside out to dry.
  • Don’t trim or pick at the skin around your nails. This may give germs access to your skin and nails.
  • Don’t go barefoot in public places. Wear sandals or shoes around pools, showers, and locker rooms.
  • Choose a reputable nail salon. Make sure the place you go for a manicure or pedicure sterilizes its instruments. Better yet, bring your own and disinfect them after use.
  • Give up nail polish and artificial nails while you are treating nail fungus. Although it may be tempting to hide nail fungal infections under a coat of pretty pink polish, this can trap unwanted moisture and worsen the infection.
  • Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Nail fungus can spread from nail to nail.

 

Toenail Fungal infections of the nails can be a persistent and sometimes embarrassing problem, and occasionally can become painful. 

If you suspect you are developing toenail fungus, I recommend that you begin a treatment with Fungus Stop right away, and give it a good 4 weeks.

See your doctor if you are diabetic, or if you don’t see any improvement within a few weeks of using the product. 

With time and consistency, you will very likely be able to cure your toenail fungus yourself, so be patient and apply the treatment daily.

 

 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided some helpful information about getting rid of toenail fungus; it’s much easier to do these days than most people think.

I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

 

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Sources

Becker, C., Bershow, A. (September 14, 2013). Lasers and photodynamic therapy in the treatment of onychomycosis–a review of the literature. Dermatology Online Journal, 19(9): 19611. Available online at http://escholarship.org/uc/item/0js6z1kw. Accessed March 10, 2017.

Carney, C., Cantrell, W., Warner, J., Elewski, B. (October 2013). Treatment of onychomycosis using a submillisecond 1064-nm neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 69(4): 578–582. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2013.04.054.

Elewski, B. E. (July 1998). Onychomycosis: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Management. Clinical Microbiology Review, 11(3): 415-429. Available online at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88888/. Accessed February 17, 2017.

Great Neck Family Foot Care. (February 24, 2017). Safe & Effective Laser Treatment for Toenail Fungus. Available online at http://greatneckfamilyfootcare.com/2017/02/safe-effective-laser-treatment-toenail-fungus/. Accessed March 10, 2017.

Mayo Clinic. Nail Fungus. Available online at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nail-fungus/basics/symptoms/con-20019319. Accessed February 17, 2017.

O’Connor, A. (March 14, 2014). Laser Treatments for Toenail Fungus. Ask Well. New York Times. Available online at  https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/ask-well-laser-treatments-for-nail-fungus/?_r=0. Accessed March 10, 2017.

Are Genetic Testing Services Worth It?

Are Genetic Testing Services Worth It?

 

 

Thinking about using a DNA sample to look at your heritage

—and predict your future?

 

 

Only a few short years ago, services like Ancestry.com and 23andMe that allow you to submit a saliva or tissue sample to find out where your ancestors came from was the stuff of science fiction.  The thought of sending a genetic simple to a company like Ancestry.com and receiving a detailed report on your genetic background—including a very detailed discussion of what part of the globe your forebears hailed from.

Yet today, Ancestry DNA and 23andMe have advanced these concepts to a point where they are both scientifically possible and economically feasible. Depending on what you are trying to do, and depending on the service you choose, it is possible to begin delving into your genetic background for as little as a few hundred dollars. Those wishing for a much more detailed look at their genes can anticipate paying upwards of $2,000; however, most people do not need the level of detail that such a and analysis would bring, and are able to achieve their goals for less than $200.

This is the world of genetic mapping: the practice of using a DNA sample to look at your heritage—and predict your future. If you are considering using a genetic mapping service, here is some more information that you may find to be useful.

 

How Does Genetic Mapping Work?

 

Of course, the number of laboratories and companies offering genetic mapping services is almost limitless and growing by the day. As technology continues to advance, making genetic mapping more feasible, more and more companies are offering this service—in one form or another—available to the public.

Ancestry.com, just as other services do, will request that you provide a sample of your DNA. This is usually done by placing saliva in a tube, then sealing it and mailing it to the lab. Other DNA samples that are commonly requested include a cotton swab of the cheek and gums or a small blood sample. Regardless of the specific type of sample, the process is essentially the same: a home collection kit is mailed to the consumer, who then collects the sample and returns it through the mail. This process is convenient, fast, and simple.

Once the genetic mapping company obtains the sample, it runs one or more of a number of tests on it. The results of the tests are then compiled into a report and sent back to the consumer. Reports can be as specific as testing for a few identified conditions, or as general as a lengthy list of various conditions and diseases, along with the consumer’s propensity for developing each.

In the case of genetic mapping that is used for other purposes—such as discovering one’s ethnic background—the reports may contain information setting out the consumer’s genetic makeup and ethnic background by percentage (for example, 62% Eastern European, 17% Southeast Asian, and 11% Northern African).

 

 

 

Why Would You Want to Map Your Genes?

 

Family Tree Testing Kit

 

Of course, there can be any number of reasons for using such a service, depending on what it is that the consumer is interested in. These services can be a valuable part of one’s preventive healthcare strategy, or can simply be an interesting source of information.

 

WalkInLab.com

 

In the case of genetic mapping reports that pertain to medical conditions or disease susceptibility, many people find them to be helpful in order to alert them to specific areas of concern. By identifying those diseases or conditions to which they are more likely to be susceptible, the genetic mapping process allows them to take preventive steps and enact rigorous monitoring procedures in order to minimize the likelihood that they will actually develop the conditions or diseases.

In the case of genetic mapping that is used to uncover one’s heritage, consumers who are seeking to find their roots may find the tests to be a valuable part of their efforts. Additionally, they can be used to assist in narrowing down a search for relatives, particularly in cases where someone was adopted at birth and is seeking to reconnect to his or her blood relations.

Sometimes, using a genetic mapping service is simply a way to help build a connection with someone else. For example, if you spend a lot of time with an elderly friend or relative, you may find that obtaining a genetic map of each person’s background gives you both something to talk about and explore together.

Other people simply want to be alerted as to any potential anomalies in their genetic makeup. For example, they may want to know if they have a certain gene mutation that would cause them to be more likely to fall prey to a certain fate—even if they have no blood relatives with a similar condition.

Whatever the specific reason for using a genetic mapping service, given the ease with which a genetic report may be obtained, along with the relatively lower cost of doing so, many people choose to obtain at least a cursory report on their overall genetic picture. Sometimes they do it for no other reason than because it is interesting and fun to do so.

A simple Internet search of genetic mapping services will return pages of results. With so many companies offering genetic mapping, it can be challenging to determine which one best suits your needs. As with so many other things, the answer is that it depends on what you are looking for.

 

 

Ancestry DNA

Many have used Ancestry.com to trace their ancestors and to utilize the rich hints that can make building a family tree much easier. But now, AncestryDNA also offers genetic tracking by using a “microarray-based autosomal DNA testing” matching a person’s entire genome from over 700,000 locations.  

The result will include information about your ethnicity across 26 regions/ethnicities and will identify potential relatives through DNA matching to others who have taken the AncestryDNA test.  It will disclose if you are partially Native American but the results cannot be used as a substitute for legal documentation.

 

 

 

23andMe

 

A company similar to Ancestry.com that combines both the ancestry and health concern tests is 23andMe. This business offers a basic test and a test with a more detailed report.

Similar to many of the other tests, it starts with a saliva sample.

Using the 23andme test provides consumers with a detailed report that provides a breakdown of their ethnicity by percentage, and can help them to determine their lineage going back as far as 1000 years. Those who opt-in are afforded the opportunity to connect with other people who share their DNA, making it possible to find blood relatives. This last option can be particularly useful to people who have been adopted and who are searching to discover their roots.

On the health risks screening front, 23andMe offers a test that screens consumers for a genetic propensity towards a number of potential conditions. These may be conditions that the consumers are more susceptible to, or it may be conditions for which consumers are carriers—meaning that they themselves don’t suffer from the condition, but they have the potential to produce offspring who would, under certain circumstances.

Other tests offered by this company include health and well-being issues (such as lactose intolerance—something that is not dangerous in and of itself, but can impact one’s well-being), genetic traits (such as the likelihood of developing male pattern baldness), and more.

 

Other Genetic Mapping Services

 

MyHeritageDNA

 

 

MyHeritageDNA provides two fascinating types of results:

Ethnicity Estimate: A percentage breakdown of your ancestral background, showing your ancestors’ origins from among 42 ethnicities, including Irish, Italian, North African, Japanese, East Asian, and many others. MyHeritage has the largest pool of supported ethnicities in the industry.

DNA Matching: This powerful feature uses your DNA to help you find new relatives from all around the world. Your matches, from both your mother’s and father’s side, will include information about your shared genetic sequences, and identify your estimated relationship.

 

 

 

 

GPS Origins

 

 

GPS Origins boasts the most complete DNA Ancestry results, with a new ancestral tracking technique that can pinpoint your ancestry down to the nearest town or village!  GPS Origins analyzes 800,000 genetic markers, 862 reference populations and 36 gene pools.

 

 

 

Colors BRCA Test

 

 

The Colors BRCA Test allows women to test their genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancer, by testing the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

These tests are physician ordered, and Colors will connect you with an independent physician who can order the testing on your behalf, if appropriate.

Your test result includes access to professional genetic counselors can help explain how your results may impact you. 

You can then take your clinical grade report to your healthcare provide, who can help you make a plan that reduces your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.  I noticed that the Colors BRCA Test has particularly positive reviews from nearly every user.

While this test is probably of more interest to women, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations can impact certain male cancer risks as well:

Things You Should Consider About Genetic Testing

 

Of course, as with any new technology, there are considerations with genetic mapping that many people may not have encountered before. By being aware of these issues, you can go into your genetic mapping with your eyes open.

First, genetic mapping is not always 100% accurate. There exists the potential that a certain test will return a false positive—or a false negative—for a given condition. As such, you should not panic if your genetic mapping report suggests a high likelihood of developing a certain condition or contracting a certain disease. Instead, you should take it with a grain of salt and use the genetic mapping report as a basis from which to investigate further.

Another thing of which you should be aware is that some experts have criticized the validity of many of the genetic mapping tests in use today. While it is certainly possible to evaluate a given individual’s genes and use them to form a relatively accurate picture of his or her potential for developing certain conditions, the fact of the matter is that some of the tests in use simply do not have the accuracy and reliability of other, more expensive, tests.

Another thing to consider is the potential for the information gained from these tests to fall into the wrong hands. Given the current political climate in our country, it is impossible to determine if genetic mapping test results might one day be used by insurance companies to deny coverage—or charge higher premiums—to people who have been determined to be more likely to develop certain conditions. While some naysayers may say that this is an invasion of privacy and illegal, the unfortunate reality of our country is that laws frequently change to make the once-unthinkable a reality.

For this reason, if you are considering a genetic mapping test in order to discover whether you may be likely to develop certain conditions or diseases, you may wish to do it anonymously or pay attention to the privacy policies of the company selected. Ancestry.com devotes a significant amount of website space to discussing privacy.  Some genetic mapping companies will allow you to purchase the kit and submit it under a random number instead of using your name. By taking steps to prevent your identity from being associated with any one genetic mapping report, you can help protect against the eventuality that the information in the report might one day be used against you.

Finally, one last consideration is that genetic mapping tests—at least insofar as they are used to provide health condition information—frequently lacked any actionable information. For example, they may tell you that you’re more likely to develop a certain condition, but they may not be able to give you any advice as to what you could do about the situation.

While some conditions, such as adult-onset diabetes, can be proactively addressed through things such as a good diet and plenty of exercise, other conditions are simply out of your control. As such, discovering that you have a tendency to develop a certain condition could end up bringing an increased level of stress in your life as you grapple to deal with something over which you have absolutely no control.

Because of this, some people have opted to engage in all the preventive actions they can—such as eating well and exercising regularly—and forgo taking any genetic mapping test. Ultimately, whether knowing that one has a likelihood of developing a certain condition about which there is nothing he or she can do is something that would cause him or her undue duress or not is a choice that every person must make for himself or herself.

This is an interesting, but really complicated, look at the differences (and similarities!) between the Autosomal DNA Testing services.  The largest variation seems to be in the SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) which are the places in the genome where people differ.  For 1 out of every 1000, there is no difference.  Most of these SNPs don’t do very much, but some of them confer a risk of disease which can be very important.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Although there are some very significant considerations to keep in mind, most people find that genetic mapping tests are something that they feel are worthwhile. They can be fun and a great conversation started and a hobby of sorts especially if it is followed with building a family tree such as you can do through Ancestry.  Having the knowledge that you are or are not likely to develop certain conditions can help you in a number of ways, from making smart food choices to engaging in proactive estate planning.  But those considerations can be secondary when considering how much fun it is to know where your ancestors came from and whether it matches up with what you have been told your whole life. Understanding your ethnic and genetic background, and knowing where your ancestors come from is something that many people find both fascinating and worthwhile.

Overall, genetic mapping is a wonderful way to quickly and easily find out more about yourself, your loved ones, and the world in which you live.

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided some practical, empowering information. 

I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

WalkInLab.com

 

 

 

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Best Treadmills For Seniors Home Fitness

Best Treadmills For Seniors Home Fitness

 

 

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that older adults complete at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Walking is one of the safest ways to fulfill this requirement because it’s a functional activity that is gentle on the muscles and joints.

Treadmills allow you to fulfill your daily activity goal year round, but how do you select the right treadmill for your needs? You can start by considering the size of the treadmill because you must make sure that it fits comfortably into your living space. The width of the walking belt is also important because you need room to hit your natural walking stride comfortably.

If you want to enjoy interval training and other walking exercises for seniors, the range of speed available on your treadmill is also important. While most seniors aren’t up for a treadmill run, it is reasonable to assume that you will want to pick up speed as you become more physically fit. Many seniors are surprised at how fast they can walk once they get accustomed to their treadmill.

Finally, look at the advanced features offered on some treadmills. You may want a built-in heart rate monitor to ensure that you’re working within your target heart rate zone, or you may prefer a console with pre-programmed workouts to ensure that you don’t get bored during your workout sessions. You may also look for a machine with a well-lit console to ensure that you can easily see the feedback delivered throughout your workout.

 

 

How to Choose the Right Treadmill For Your Needs

 

When used frequently, an electric treadmill is a wise investment that will help you fight against disease and illness while managing your mood and increasing your ability to continue daily activities without depending on your loved ones. While you may start shopping with your maximum budget in mind, it’s more important to find a machine that safely accommodates daily exercise and rehab for the elderly.

The treadmills recommended below are all suitable for older users because they have extra cushioning on the walking belts and safety features like the red key that locks the belt between workout sessions.

In addition to those basic features, you may want to consider the location of the speed controls and the start/stop button for added safety.

You should also think about the number of pre-programmed workouts that you will use and what type of programs will best fit your needs.

Some advanced treadmills now offer pre-programmed heart rate workouts that require you to walk with your hands covering the pulse sensors in order to create workouts based on your pulse. You may not need this type of advanced programming if you just want a basic treadmill to increase your daily activity level, but those interested in improving their cardiovascular endurance may consider investing in a treadmill with this capability.

Every senior will select a different treadmill based on their unique needs, so start by identifying what you want to accomplish with your machine. You can then match the available features to your needs and budget to select the best treadmill for your healthy lifestyle.

 

 

Treadmills I Recommend for a Senior

 

 

 

The ProGear HCXL 4000 Electric Treadmill

 

 

The ProGear HCXL 4000 Electric Treadmill is a good pick for heavier users or any senior searching for a wider belt to ensure comfort while exercising at higher speeds.

The ProGear HCXL 4000 is approved for users up to 400 pounds, and the extra-wide walking belt measures 20 inches. It’s also equipped with a 1.5 HP motor that is designed to operate quietly.

The maximum speed for this treadmill is 4 mph, and that is adequate for most seniors walking at moderate to fast speeds. For an added challenge, you can manually incline the walking belt.

The 18-inch safety handles contain speed controls, and a key lock system secures the belt until you’re ready to begin your workout.

 

 

 

 

The Exerpeutic TF1000 Walk to Fitness Electric Treadmill

 

 

Whether your goal is to get your heart rate up for weight loss or to just add more physical activity into your daily life, the Exerpeutic TF1000 delivers adequate speed and walking space to meet your needs.

With a maximum speed of 4 mph, pulse grips to monitor your heart rate and a 20-inch wide walking belt, this is a treadmill that you aren’t likely to outgrow as your fitness abilities increase over time.

 

 

This is also a wise choice if you’re concerned about safety during your walks. The extra-long safety handles extend along each side of the machine, and a bright red button on the console allows you to stop the belt at any moment. A safety key is also offered to secure the belt between workouts.

 

 

 

 

Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill

 

While this is one of the most affordable treadmills available to seniors today, the Weslo Cadence R 5.2 treadmill is far from lacking in advanced features. This includes a large console loaded with six workouts designed by personal trainers.

 

 

The walking belt is 16 inches wide and 50 inches long, and the belt is cushioned for added protection of your joints and muscles. That cushioning is important if you plan on speed walking or going for a light jog, and with a maximum speed of 10 mph, the machine is suitable for high-intensity workouts.

If you’re concerned about the amount of space a treadmill may consume in your home, note that this is a folding model. Some seniors may need help raising and lowering the walking platform, but you can fold it up against a wall or roll it between rooms as necessary.

 

 

 

 

Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill

 

The Sole F80 is a mid to high range item. It comes with a powerful 3.5 CHP motor and a two-ply walking belt designed to reduce the impact on your muscles and joints for a safer walking experience.

The large console is equipped with an advanced sound system that allows you to connect an MP3 player for entertainment. You can walk at your own pace or select from eight pre-programmed workouts, two of which are based on your heart rate.

 

 

The belt on this treadmill is a generous 22 inches wide, but it is a larger treadmill that will consume more space in your home. The manufacturer warranty is also quite impressive with lifetime coverage for the frame.

 

 

 

LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill

 

 

The LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill is a mid-market electric treadmill. It’s suitable for users up to 300 pounds and features a 20-inch walking belt, well-lit color console and speed controls conveniently located on the handlebars.

 

 

If you’re concerned that you’ll get bored walking on a treadmill, you’ll appreciate the 17 pre-programmed workouts and your complimentary membership to the online LifeSpan Fitness Club.

 

You can walk or jog up to 11 mph, and there are 15 incline levels to ensure that your body is continuously challenged over time.

With a 2.5 CHP motor, this is a high-quality treadmill that will keep up with most seniors.

 

Thanks for visiting and reading … I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas.  I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Simple Gadget for a Better Back

Sometimes, the best solution to a problem doesn’t require Bluetooth, batteries or bytes but rather, plain old physics.

That’s the case with the Verti Back Harness, a simple strap-based contraption that promises better posture and less lower back pain. I tried it out for a few weeks to see if it makes good on its promises.

 

First, a look at how it works.

Verti Back provides lumbar support and corrects your posture. Regular usage for even as little as 20 minutes daily will self-train the body into eventually developing good sitting habits so that your posture remains straight even when not using Verti Back.

What makes Verti Back different from competing brands is that it has been designed to maximize effectiveness rather than portability. So while Verti Back does not fold up into a small tight carry-case, it is built with thicker material with additional padding — and that means better support and comfort.

After the loops are in place and the pad is positioned where you need it, you tug on the sides of the straps to cinch the whole thing up. Then, if you like, you can clip the straps on each leg together which puts you into even better alignment.

 

While that might all sound complicated, I was all strapped up in about five minutes of checking out the device — without needing to look at instructions.

When I first pulled those straps, I had an almost instant reaction:  “Oh!” I thought. “This really works.”

 

When you pull those straps, your knees become anchors for the device and the pad gets pulled forward. The effect is like having a giant hand press into your lower back to get you to sit up straight.

As someone who spends way too much time slouching in front of a computer screen, having such an immediate and easy way to correct my posture was wonderful.

I also tend to sit all twisted up like a pretzel — not with both feet on the floor like every infographic about proper desk mechanics shows you. The Verti Back harness fixed that too. Once I clipped the straps together, my legs came into parallel alignment and there really was no other way to sit but with my feet flat.

In a few days, I started to crave using the harness. The low back support really feels that good.

The Verti Back company says you should use the harness for about 20 minutes per day and you will eventually improve your overall posture. I’m not quite sure that’s true, as I definitely found myself assuming my neanderthal slump when not in the harness but, at least while using it, it made me look like I had grown up in a family that slapped you on the back of the head if you weren’t sitting up straight.

It also didn’t really provide lasting pain relief. While I definitely noticed my low back pain fading while wearing it, the next day, the pain returned like a superhero in a Marvel film. Still, any relief is welcome relief for this blogger who sits at a desk all day.

 

 

The one complaint I have with the device is that it did eventually start hurting my knees. I liked the pressure on my low back so much that I may just have had it cinched too tight. I tried moving the straps below my knees on to my shins; that helped a bit, but I found that the angle wasn’t as good. So I will be sticking to using my knees and just getting in and out of the harness throughout the day when they start to get a bit sore. The knee discomfort always faded as soon as I took off the harness.

 

Considering what contour chairs that offer lumbar support cost these days, it should be noted that the Verti Back device is a pretty good bargain at just US $40.

If you’re interested in others’ experience with the Verti Back, there are over 40 customer reviews at Amazon.

 

If you have experience with the Verti Back or another posture product, let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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Your Fibromyalgia Questions Answered

 

Your Fibromyalgia Questions Answered

 

 

http://img.webmd.com/dtmcms/live/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/articles/health_tools/fibromyalgia_overview_slideshow/getty_rm_photo_of_woman_holding_neck.jpg

 

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, and a number of other symptoms. The word “fibromyalgia” comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia).

 

Although fibromyalgia is often considered an arthritis-related condition, it is not truly a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues.

 

Like arthritis, however, fibromyalgia can cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can interfere with a person’s ability to carry on daily activities. Also like arthritis, fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition, a medical condition that impairs the joints and/or soft tissues and causes chronic pain.

 

In addition to pain and fatigue, people who have fibromyalgia may experience a variety of other symptoms including:

 

  • cognitive and memory problems (sometimes referred to as “fibro fog”)
  • sleep disturbances
  • morning stiffness
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • painful menstrual periods
  • numbness or tingling of the extremities
  • restless legs syndrome
  • temperature sensitivity
  • sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights.

 

 

A person may have two or more coexisting chronic pain conditions. Such conditions can include chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and vulvodynia. It is not known whether these disorders share a common cause.

 

 

Who Gets Fibromyalgia?

 

Scientists estimate that fibromyalgia affects 5 million Americans age 18 or older.1 For unknown reasons, between 80 and 90 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women; however, men and children also can be affected. Most people are diagnosed during middle age, although the symptoms often become present earlier in life.

 

People with certain rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus), or ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis) may be more likely to have fibromyalgia, too.

 

Several studies indicate that women who have a family member with fibromyalgia are more likely to have fibromyalgia themselves, but the exact reason for this—whether it is heredity, shared environmental factors, or both—is unknown. Researchers are trying to determine whether variations in certain genes cause some people to be more sensitive to stimuli, which lead to pain syndromes. 

 

 

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

 

The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved. Many people associate the development of fibromyalgia with a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as an automobile accident. Some connect it to repetitive injuries. Others link it to an illness. For others, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously.

 

Many researchers are examining other causes, including problems with how the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) processes pain.

 

Some scientists speculate that a person’s genes may regulate the way his or her body processes painful stimuli. According to this theory, people with fibromyalgia may have a gene or genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful. There have already been several genes identified that occur more commonly in fibromyalgia patients, and NIAMS-supported researchers are currently looking at other possibilities.

 

 

How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

 

Research shows that people with fibromyalgia typically see many doctors before receiving the diagnosis. One reason for this may be that pain and fatigue, the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, overlap with those of many other conditions. Therefore, doctors often have to rule out other potential causes of these symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Another reason is that there are currently no diagnostic laboratory tests for fibromyalgia; standard laboratory tests fail to reveal a physiologic reason for pain. Because there is no generally accepted, objective test for fibromyalgia, some doctors unfortunately may conclude a patient’s pain is not real, or they may tell the patient there is little they can do.

 

A doctor familiar with fibromyalgia, however, can make a diagnosis based on criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR): a history of widespread pain lasting more than 3 months, and other general physical symptoms including fatigue, waking unrefreshed, and cognitive (memory or thought) problems. In making the diagnosis, doctors consider the number of areas throughout the body in which the patient has had pain in the past week.

 

See Alternative Fibromyalgia Treatment Track Records

 

 

How is Fibromyalgia Treated?

 

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat. Not all doctors are familiar with fibromyalgia and its treatment, so it is important to find a doctor who is. Many family physicians, general internists, or rheumatologists (doctors who specialize in arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints or soft tissues) can treat fibromyalgia.

 

Fibromyalgia treatment often requires a team approach, with your doctor, a physical therapist, possibly other health professionals, and most importantly, yourself, all playing an active role. It can be hard to assemble this team, and you may struggle to find the right professionals to treat you. When you do, however, the combined expertise of these various professionals can help you improve your quality of life.

 

You may find several members of the treatment team you need at a clinic. There are pain clinics that specialize in pain and rheumatology clinics that specialize in arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, including fibromyalgia.

 

Only three medications, duloxetine, milnacipran, and pregabalin are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Duloxetine was originally developed for and is still used to treat depression. Milnacipran is similar to a drug used to treat depression but is FDA approved only for fibromyalgia. Pregaballin is a medication developed to treat neuropathic pain (chronic pain caused by damage to the nervous system).

 

Doctors also treat fibromyalgia with a variety of other medications developed and approved for other purposes.

 

 

Analgesics

 

Analgesics are painkillers. They range from over-the-counter products to prescription medicines. For a subset of people with fibromyalgia, narcotic medications are prescribed for severe muscle pain. However, there is no solid evidence showing that for most people narcotics actually work to treat the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, and most doctors hesitate to prescribe them for long-term use because of the potential that the person taking them will become physically or psychologically dependent on them.

 

 

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)

 

As their name implies, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium, are used to treat inflammation.Although inflammation is not a symptom of fibromyalgia, NSAIDs also relieve pain. The drugs work by inhibiting substances in the body called prostaglandins, which play a role in pain and inflammation. These medications, some of which are available without a prescription, may help ease the muscle aches of fibromyalgia. They may also relieve menstrual cramps and the headaches often associated with fibromyalgia.

 

 

Complimentary and Alternative Treatments

 

Many people with fibromyalgia also report varying degrees of success with complementary and alternative therapies, including massage, movement therapies (such as Pilates and the Feldenkrais method), chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, and various herbs and dietary supplements for different fibromyalgia symptoms. (For more information on complementary and alternative therapies, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 

 

Although some of these supplements are being studied for fibromyalgia, there is little, if any, scientific proof yet that they help. FDA does not regulate the sale of dietary supplements, so information about side effects, proper dosage, and the amount of a preparation’s active ingredients may not be well known. If you are using or would like to try a complementary or alternative therapy, you should first speak with your doctor, who may know more about the therapy’s effectiveness, as well as whether it is safe to try in combination with your medications.

 

See Alternative Fibromyalgia Treatment Track Records

 

 

Will Fibromyalgia Get Better With Time?

 

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, meaning it lasts a long time—possibly a lifetime. However, it may be comforting to know that fibromyalgia is not a progressive disease. It is never fatal, and it will not cause damage to the joints, muscles, or internal organs. In many people, the condition does improve over time.

 

 

What Can I Do to Try to Feel Better?

 

Besides taking medicine prescribed by your doctor, there are many things you can do to minimize the impact of fibromyalgia on your life.

These include:

 

  • Getting enough sleep. Getting enough sleep and the right kind of sleep can help ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. Even so, many people with fibromyalgia have problems such as pain, restless legs syndrome, or brainwave irregularities that interfere with restful sleep. It is important to discuss any sleep problems with your doctor, who can prescribe or recommend treatment for them.

 

  • Exercising. Although pain and fatigue may make exercise and daily activities difficult, it is crucial to be as physically active as possible. Research has repeatedly shown that regular exercise is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia. People who have too much pain or fatigue to do vigorous exercise should begin with walking or other gentle exercise and build their endurance and intensity slowly.

 

  • Making changes at work. Most people with fibromyalgia continue to work, but they may have to make big changes to do so. For example, some people cut down the number of hours they work, switch to a less demanding job, or adapt a current job. If you face obstacles at work, such as an uncomfortable desk chair that leaves your back aching or difficulty lifting heavy boxes or files, your employer may make adaptations that will enable you to keep your job. An occupational therapist can help you design a more comfortable workstation or find more efficient and less painful ways to lift.

 

  • Eating well. Although some people with fibromyalgia report feeling better when they eat or avoid certain foods, no specific diet has been proven to influence fibromyalgia. Of course, it is important to have a healthy, balanced diet. Not only will proper nutrition give you more energy and make you generally feel better, it will also help you avoid other health problems.

 

 

What Research is Being Conducted on Fibromyalgia?

 

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) sponsors research that will improve scientists’ understanding of the specific problems that cause or accompany fibromyalgia, in turn helping them develop better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent this syndrome.

 

The research on fibromyalgia supported by the NIAMS covers a broad spectrum, ranging from basic laboratory research to studies of medications and interventions designed to encourage behaviors that reduce pain and change behaviors that worsen or perpetuate pain.

 

Following are descriptions of some of the promising research now being conducted:

 

Understanding pain. Research suggests that fibromyalgia is caused by a problem in how the body processes pain, or more precisely, a hypersensitivity to stimuli that normally are not painful. Therefore, several National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported researchers are focusing on ways the body processes pain to better understand why people with fibromyalgia have increased pain sensitivity.

 

These studies include:

 

  • The establishment of a tissue bank of brain and spinal cord tissue to study fibromyalgia and to determine the extent to which chronic pain in fibromyalgia patients is associated with the activation of cells in the nervous system and the production of chemical messengers, called cytokines, that regulate immune cell function.

 

  • The use of imaging methods to evaluate the status of central nervous system responses in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia compared with those diagnosed with another chronic pain disorder and pain-free controls.

 

  • An investigation to understand how the activation of immune cells from peripheral and central nervous system sources trigger a cascade of events leading to the activation of nerve cells, chronic pain, and the dysregulation of the effects of analgesic drugs against pain.

 

  • An intensive evaluation of twins in which one of the pair has chronic widespread pain and the other does not, along with twins in which neither of the pair has chronic pain, to help researchers assess physiological similarities and differences in those with and without chronic pain and whether those differences are caused by genetics or environment.

 

  • A study examining the use of cognitive behavioral therapy in pain patients, which researchers hope will advance their knowledge of the role of psychological factors in chronic pain as well as a new treatment option for fibromyalgia.

 

  • The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) initiative. The PROMIS initiative is researching and developing new ways to measure patient-reported outcomes (PROs), such as pain, fatigue, physical functioning, emotional distress, and social role participation that have a major impact on quality of life across a variety of chronic diseases. The goal of this initiative is to improve the reporting and quantification of changes in PROs. The NIAMS supports an effort to develop PROMIS specifically for use in patients with fibromyalgia.

 

See Alternative Fibromyalgia Treatment Track Records

 

Improving Symptoms. A better understanding of fibromyalgia and the mechanisms involved in chronic pain are enabling researchers to find effective treatments for it. Some of the most promising lines of research in this area include the following:

 

  • Increasing exercise. Although fibromyalgia is often associated with fatigue that makes exercise difficult, regular exercise has been shown to be one of the most beneficial treatments for the condition. Researchers are trying to determine whether increasing lifestyle physical activity (that is, adding more exercise such as walking up stairs instead of taking the elevator) throughout the day produces similar benefits to exercise for fibromyalgia, improving symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and tenderness. Scientists are also examining the potential mechanisms by which lifestyle physical activity might influence symptoms. Other research supported by the NIAMS is examining the effectiveness of a simplified form of Tai Chi on pain and other measures such as sleep quality, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

 

  • NIAMS-supported research is also examining ways to help people maintain helpful exercise programs. Because many people with fibromyalgia associate increased exercise with increased pain, doctors and therapists often have a difficult time getting patients to stick with their exercise program. The new research is examining patients’ fears that cause them to avoid exercise as well as behavioral therapies to reduce fears and help them maintain exercise.

 

  • Improving sleep. Researchers supported by the NIAMS are investigating ways to improve sleep for people with fibromyalgia whose sleep problems persist despite treatment with medications. One team has observed that fibromyalgia patients with persistent sleep problems share characteristics with people who have sleep-disordered breathing—a group of disorders, the most common of which is the obstructive sleep apnea, characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. These researchers are studying whether continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP, a therapy administered by a machine that increases air pressure in the throat to hold it open during sleep) might improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

 

Other groups of researchers are examining the link between sleep disturbance and chronic pain in fibromyalgia and are studying whether behavioral therapy for insomnia might improve fibromyalgia symptoms.

 

Recommended: Fibromyalgia – The Breakthrough Treatment & Prevention Program

Find The Best Bathroom Scale for You

 

Find The Best Bathroom Scale for You

 

Trim Digital Bathroom Scale with LCD Display, Tempered Glass Surface

 

Modern bathroom scales are a far cry from yesterday’s models. Mechanical scales, once the only kind you could buy, are still available and are still favored by some.

However, these scales also have some downsides. They display weight with an analog dial and needle pointer, which introduces some imprecision compared to digital displays (see below). In addition, the inner workings of a mechanical scale can be surprisingly delicate, made up of small pieces, including springs that lend themselves to wear and tear, introducing inaccuracies.

Photo above – Trim Digital Bathroom Scale

 

 

 

See my full reviews below, including

 

 

 

While mechanical scales are purely mechanical in nature, digital scales use load cells to convert the physical weight on the scale to an electrical signal that’s displayed on a readout with a precision that’s as close as a tenth of a pound.

In addition to greater accuracy, the advantage of having weight represented by an electrical signal is that it allows for a lot of added functionality. Some of that is fun stuff — like the ability for the scale to speak your weight aloud, though those that are overly self-conscious about their weight might not find that a particularly helpful attribute.

Other features are more useful, however. Some digital scales will also display your Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of fitness that’s based on your weight and height. Some are body fat scales, sending small electrical pulses through a user’s body in an attempt to gauge body weight/density.

Smart scales are digital scales that take things a step further. They wirelessly connect to a smartphone, tablet or directly to the Internet via Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth, and integrate with compatible apps and web sites to help you keep tabs on your overall fitness. Data transmitted includes weight, of course, but often other measures such as body fat, BMI, and more, such as heart rate. Many smart scales include built-in memory to store multiple user profiles and allow a single scale to serve the needs of an entire family. Some can display information collected from the web, such as the predicted weather.

 

Finding the best bathroom scales

While mechanical scales are still very much available, digital scales tend to score more favorably in user and, especially, expert reviews, and are the best choice these days for most buyers.

To find the best basic, body fat and smart digital scales, I turned first to a bevy of experts, including ConsumerReports.org, TheSweethome.com, Good Housekeeping and others, putting the most weight (pun intended) on those sources that perform hands on testing.

I also looked at the extensive user reviews available at sites such as Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Walmart.com and elsewhere. These user reviews help us fill in the gaps regarding factors such as real-world ease-of-use and long term reliability. The results are my selections as the Best Reviewed bathroom scales for any user and any budget.

 

Best Overall Bathroom Scale

 

Precision Digital Bathroom Scale w/ Extra Large Lighted Display, 400 lb. Capacity and "Step-On" Technology [2016 VERSION]

 

The EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale lacks much in the way of bells and whistles, but offers everything you need in a modern bathroom scale. It’s easy to use, easy to read, economical, and reasonably accurate.

Its 400 pound weight capacity makes it suitable for most individuals, and its clear glass platform fits in with most bathroom décor. A tape measure so that you can also keep track of inches, hopefully, lost is also included.

Pros
  • Large, 3.5-inch backlit display
  • 400-pound weight capacity
  • 0.2-pound measurement increments
  • Company has well regarded customer service
Cons
  • Some small quibbles about accuracy

 

Bottom line

The EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale is a solid performer with good accuracy and reliability in a sleek, attractive package. It’s easy to use, with no tap-on required to calibrate the scale before use and a large, backlit display for readability. The company has also established a track record for proactively reaching out to users that report less than perfect satisfaction to make sure any issues are fully addressed.

 

Breaking it down

Performance

Excellent performance. While the experts at Good Housekeeping say that the EatSmart Precision isn’t the most accurate it has tested, most owners don’t share similar quibbles. User reviews regarding accuracy largely say they are pleased. Among those that aren’t, EatSmart offers responsive customer service, contacting each reviewer leaving negative feedback at Amazon.com to address concerns; in some cases even sending along a free replacement when one wasn’t requested. The majority of those users come back to report that their new scales are highly accurate performers.

 

Ease of use

No tap-on calibration necessary. The EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale couldn’t be simpler to use. One issue with earlier versions was that they required a toe tap to turn on and calibrate the scale, but that’s been eliminated in a 2014 update. The scale’s large 3.5-inch backlit display offers easy readability, even in dim lighting conditions.

Durability

Strong track record. The EatSmart scale has been available for quite a few years, and feedback indicates that while some initial quality issues are not unheard of, those are usually quickly addressed by the company. We also saw lots of user reviews at Amazon.com that reflected long-term use, often after several years, and most owners say that their scales are still going strong. The Precision digital scale is backed by EatSmart’s two-year guarantee.

 

Appearance

Sleek, slim design attractive in any setting. Users praise the EatSmart Precision’s slim, sleek appearance, which they say fits in well with nearly any décor. The 12- by 13-inch platform isn’t the best for large users, but helps keep the footprint small, a plus in a tight bathroom.

 

Best Body-Fat Scale

EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale w/ 400 lb. Capacity & Auto Recognition Technology
Experts say that while home body-fat scales are all challenged when it comes to accuracy, the EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale performs as well as the top models, and outperforms many when it comes to accurately and consistently measuring weight. It’s attractively styled, too, with a slim profile that matches it slim price — at least compared to other body-fat scales. Ease of use is terrific, too.
Pros
  • Can track up to eight users
  • Easy-to-read LCD display
  • Auto-calibration (step-on technology)
  • Terrific customer service
Cons
  • Body fat measurements can be inaccurate
  • Doesn’t calculate Body Mass Index (BMI)

 

Bottom Line

The EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale offers four measurement modes: weight, body fat, bone mass, and body water. While, like all home body-fat scales, body-fat measurements should be looked at more as a guide than as gospel, it’s otherwise accurate and highly affordable compared to similar products.

Setup and use is easy, and the scale can track the data for up to eight users. While there are some complaints of malfunctioning units, EatSmart is known for its superior customer service.

 

Performance

Mostly terrific, but take body-fat measurements with a grain of salt. Because of the technology used, experts are nearly unanimous in saying that home body-fat scales can’t do more than a fair job, at best, of measuring body fat. However, the EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale compares favorably to even those body-fat scales that cost considerably more in that regard, and often beats them in other ways. “One of the less expensive advanced body analysis scales, this model worked comparably to our top performers, weighing subjects both accurately and consistently,” Good Housekeeping says. The GetFit can track body mass, body water, bone mass and muscle mass based on a user’s weight and other settings that manually entered (height, lifestyle considerations) but, notes About.com, it can’t display a Body Mass Index reading.

 

Ease of Use

Simple to setup and intuitive to use. This scale must be set up before use by inputting statistics for each user, but most owners agree that setup is a cinch and typically takes less than 10 minutes.

Reviews also praise this scale’s ability to track up to eight users, making it simple for multiple family members to monitor their personal weight loss and fitness goals. Amazon.com owners consistently give kudos to the large (3.5-inch), backlit display and ample platform. Step on technology eliminates the need to tap the scale to calibrate it before stepping on it for a measurement.

 

Durability

Durable product, excellent customer service. Users posting reviews of the EatSmart Precision GetFit on Amazon.com generally praise construction quality. Like most EatSmart scales, there are some users who report getting a defective unit.

However, EatSmart is known for its superior customer service, and many received replacement products — sometimes without requesting them — that have functioned flawlessly for months or years. The EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale is backed by EatSmart’s two-year warranty.

 

Appearance

Sleek, modern finish looks great in any bathroom. The EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale has a sleek, modern look that owners love. It’s available in either black or white, with a tempered glass platform and chrome-like sides and bottom.

 

 

Best Smart Scale

Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer, Black

Tech-savvy buyers will find the Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer lives up to their standards. It measures weight, of course, as well as body fat, and has a few extra tricks up its sleeve — including the ability to measure indoor air quality and display weather forecasts. Connectivity is via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It is compatible with many third-party mobile and web apps, or you can use Withings own app, which draws kudos of its own.  

Pros
  • Accurate weight measurement
  • Tracks multiple users
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Attractive design
  • Works on any floor surface
Cons
  • Poor customer support

 

The Withings WS-50 smart scale is a top choice for the tech-savvy user that want’s a connected scale to keep track of their weight and more. It’s versatile, with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and the ability to play nice with third party apps — though reviews say that its own app is powerful enough for most users. Testing shows that the WS-50 is highly accurate when it comes to weight measurements, and no less accurate than other home scales when it comes to measuring body fat. While most users are satisfied, those that run into issues say that customer service is often unresponsive.

 

Performance

A high-tech, accurate performer. The Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer is no ordinary scale. It’s a connected smart scale that can share its measurements via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. You can use your favorite third party app to track your progress, or use Withings’ own app, which draws praise for its usefulness and versatility, including the ability to accept data from other apps and devices.

For those with massive self-confidence, the Withings app can even tweet out your progress to the world, if that’s something you’d actually like to do.

When it comes to measuring weight, no scale does better in expert reviews, and TheSweethome.com calls it the most accurate scale it’s tested. It’s also one of the few scales that testing shows to be reliable on a variety of floor surfaces and coverings, including carpeting, according to Elizabeth Palermo at Livescience.com.

Body-fat measurements, on the other hand, are no more accurate than other home scales — a limitation of the technology they all use — in other words, fair at best, though that’s still better than many body-fat scales. The scale can also capture and record room air quality and temperature data, and even display that day’s weather forecast.

 

Ease of Use

Setup is a cinch — most of the time. Connected devices often pose challenges to users when it comes to getting that connectivity to actually work, and the WS-50 is not immune from that — and, no surprise, the challenges are especially steep for those connecting via Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth. However, if you don’t run into those issues — or can overcome them — everything else seems to go as smooth as silk. “Setting up the Withings scale was refreshingly simple,” says Palermo, who adds that Bluetooth pairing with her smartphone was actually easier than with other smart scales in the Livescience.com test.

The WS-50 can automatically track up to eight users, with the initials of the user appearing in one corner of the 2.9-inch backlit display so you know you are using your profile rather than someone else’s.

 

Durability

Spotty customer service. Although Withings offers a one-year, limited warranty, some owners indicate that customer service is slow or completely unresponsive. Reports of units that failed prematurely are not uncommon, though don’t appear to be higher than with similar products.

 

Appearance

Appealing, sleek, modern and shiny look. Reviewers agree that the Withings WS-50 is attractive, with an elegant glass surface. “We like its sleek all-glass top, which will look up-to-date on any bathroom tile floor for years to come,” says Laptop magazine’s Mike Prospero.

 

 

Also Consider: Best Cheap Smart Scale

 

Weight Gurus Bluetooth Smart Connected Body Fat Scale with Large Backlit LCD, by Greater Goods (Black)
Experts quibble a little over its accuracy and sensitivity, but the consensus is that the Weight Gurus Bluetooth Smart Connected Scale is a competent performer and a terrific value. 

 

The Weight Gurus app is well regarded, and the scale seems to be less prone to user issues regarding smart features and connectivity than some competing products.
The Weight Gurus Bluetooth Smart Connected Scale rates 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon with over 800 customer reviews.
 

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A Hospice Reflection

Reflecting on My Experience With Hospice

by Ute Freitag

 

Ten years ago, as the caregiver of my father, it was a privilege for me to be present when he reached the final stage of his life. One evening while I was out, he was rushed to the hospital. When I arrived, the doctor came and told me he was stable and I could see him. When I walked into the room, the same doctor, looking at the machines my father was hooked to, realized he was dying that very moment. “Your father must have been waiting for you,” he said. My father passed away while I was sitting at his bedside, holding his hand and talking to him. The first thought that came to my mind was, “Now he knows the secret of dying.”

Maturing is a long, slow process but in time we learn to accept what we cannot change. Why do we make such a “fuss” about dying? Billions have done it before us!

Dying is probably the only real adventure we face after a fulfilled life but, of course, we don’t know how we will experience the last chapter of our lives before we get there. The quality of death matters as much as the quality of life, and it’s an issue that should be discussed before the crisis of death appears. We should learn to live in the moment and feel the inner peace within us. When we suffer pain during our later years, we should admit the truth: “TMB” (too many birthdays). Hopefully, we will reach the stage where we can enjoy life like the calmness of an evening river, looking at the reflection of the grey and blue water, before the darkness of the night ends the day.

When a loved one becomes terminally ill, we need help. When we realize that their life expectation is probably no longer than six months, what choices do we have? The person can stay at home with the family as long as possible and move to a hospital or a care home when it gets too difficult for the family to handle or, with the support of the family and a palliative care team, he or she can remain at home until the end.

In some cities, there are hospice houses where a person can choose to go for their final days, weeks or months, and which sometimes allow the caregiver to move in with them. The options of where to go should be discussed with the family members closest to the dying individual, but the final decision should be left up to them. What do they really want?

Under the care of hospice nurses, the quality of life for both the dying individual and the caregiver is enhanced. Hospice nurses guide families through the last chapter of a loved one’s life. They help the person to be as comfortable and pain free as possible, which sometimes extends their life longer than expected.

 

Hospice at home

What is hospice care at home? It means dying with dignity. A hospital bed can be provided and the caregiver can be instructed on how to handle pain medication. The caregiver and their loved one can enjoy their time together, including going out for a meal or a walk. They needn’t worry about symptoms they don’t understand or doing the wrong thing because there’s an emergency hospice helpline they can always call when they need it.

In the hospital, doctors abide by the Hippocratic Oath to prolong life as long as possible; but is what a doctor prescribes today still “good” tomorrow? With hospice, the person who is ill is in charge and treatment can be stopped any time he or she feels it is pointless to go on and would rather enjoy their remaining life without treatment. When a person chooses to stop treatment, there should be no fear of hurting the feelings of the caregiver or the family, who should respect the decision. We occasionally read about people who miraculously survive their terminal illness, but very few will be so lucky. We hope this will be the case with our loved one, but it’s important to prepare for a normal ending.

Even with hospice care, pain is sometimes unavoidable. But each day can still be special—waking up in the morning with curiosity, hoping for a pain-free day and being grateful in the evening for the beauty of another unique day. Remaining active is the best therapy; being active means getting away from fear and misery.

 

Working together

In my 20 years of volunteering, I have learned how important it is for the patient and caregiver to work together. A patient can choose to be unhappy and depressed or choose to be content and grateful for all the help and love caregivers and hospice nurses provide. How can supporters show empathy and be cheerful and warmhearted if the patient is miserable and rude?

They have to be a team, helping each other through a very difficult time. They still have their past, remembering the Easters, Christmases and birthdays with family and friends, and all the care and help they’ve given each other. It needn’t be that life is meaningless at this stage, unreal, and as though the patient doesn’t have a future anymore. They can still hold hands with those they love and revisit their lives together. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is love.

Perhaps the caregiver is waiting for the loved one to share their feelings, open their heart and talk about their fear and hope while they both feel the illness creeping out of every corner of the room.

As a caregiver, I ask myself: What does my loved one expect from me? And I ask them: What can I do while your bed is your world and you are too weak to handle your daily affairs? Is there anything I can do to comfort you or is it better to be silent? Only recently you were one of us, active and full of energy and humor. You made us laugh and sometimes we were angry with you, but now we both have only one thought: You won’t get better, this is the end. But as long as you breathe, you are still alive. When you stop breathing, you will be in a safe place. But I, as the one who still loves you and cares for you, I have to live with your death.

It can be helpful for a caregiver to write down those experiences they shared with their loved one throughout the years that shaped their life together. Then later, when the pain of loss is unbearable, they can be reread until the pain lessens. In our local hospice house, we have beautiful heart-shaped pillows that are comforting to hold and have a pocket with just enough room for a little notebook and a pen. Whenever the dying individual wants to write something important for their family or friends to read, it is there right at their bedside.

Sometimes a person who is dying has difficulty talking about their feelings. The caregiver can encourage them to write down their thoughts about what is and was important in their life, something beyond what one normally finds in the average obituary. It can be a pleasant surprise for the family to learn something about their loved one they never knew. It might be a very personal story and something they want to be read at their Celebration of Life.

 

Passing the time

It is important to give a person who is dying something to fill the day, something to help them feel needed. It can be very healthy to read a book together, because a good book is like a garden, it needs time to grow and develop, allowing the reader to fully relax and refresh themselves in it.

To work with paint is another wonderful tool to deal with fear and anger. When neither the dying individual nor their caregiver wants to talk about their feelings because it is too painful, they can close their eyes, pick up a brush and paint. Sometimes their subconscious speaks to them through their art. And then, like the studio of an artist, the caregiver can make the room around their loved one’s bed a sacred place where imagination can gently run free, a place for their spirit to breathe.

Those people who are painting or being creative in other ways live in the present. My friend Josh, just 55 years-old, lived his final weeks in hospice house surrounded by his three beautiful daughters. Lots of laughter erupted while they were painting together. At the end, there were over 50 paintings in his room. His last painting had two different shades of blue—water and sky—and in the middle he painted a flying bird. He died shortly after. Perhaps he wanted to tell us that he was finally free.

 

Stopping eating and drinking

In the final stage of life, we want to have our loved ones around us as long as possible, so we make them eat. But is it really good for them? Withholding food and water becomes a highly emotional question that many caregivers have to deal with at the end. If a person is still enjoying food, we are happy to feed them, but what about those dying individuals who want to stop eating and drinking?

When it comes to the end of life, many people don’t feel hungry and thirsty anymore. In this case, the person’s wishes should always be respected. If they want to shorten their remaining life span, stopping eating and drinking will probably accomplish that. Ideally the dying individual is able to make this decision, but often the caregiver is in charge. Common thinking is that we die in agony and great pain without food and liquid. However, scientists have found higher levels of endorphins (morphine-like chemicals) in the brain of the people who stopped eating and drinking. As a result, there should be less pain and suffering. The question of how much liquid a patient needs depends on the dryness of the mucous membrane of the mouth. The benefits of less liquid are less coughing, less throwing up, less mucous, and less chance of water in the lungs.

There will be suffering and mourning for everyone who chooses to take care of a loved one. And yet every caregiver will experience a kind of happiness nobody can take away. The greatest present caregivers can receive for all the work they do is the opportunity to say “Good bye” to the person they love so much. This closeness will be within them forever.

 

Ute Freitag is a former family caregiver, longtime hospice volunteer and author of the book  “It Is What It Is.

 

It Is What It Is gives us an inside look at hospice care through the eyes of a volunteer who has worked for the last seven years at a hospice house. Featuring the artwork of Canadian artist Francine Gravel, the stories of hospice residents are beautifully interspersed with poems and quotes.

“We all know that we have to go one day and leave everything we love and treasure behind. It is not easy to accept that the world will go on and we will no longer be part of it.

But remember. . .we are responsible for how we want to live our lives and it is also up to us to determine how we want to die. I believe that we live a much happier and more meaningful life when we make death our friend.

“The stories and poems I have collected provide comfort as we prepare for our last journey, the greatest adventure, and perhaps the only really new thing that will happen to us. The stories in this book are real. Every death is unique. There can be so much beauty in dying, we only need to be open to seeing and feeling it.” – Ute Freitag

It Is What It Is is written for families, patients, caregivers, volunteers, hospice houses, medical personnel and all those facing death one day (everyone). For those working with the dying or those who are now at this stage in their lives, It Is What It Is is a heartfelt and meaningful resource.

 

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