Posted on Mar 5, 2014
(BPT) – For most of her life, 44-year-old Tanya Howell was considered unreliable. She missed many days of work, even lost jobs and would frequently cancel on her friends and family at the last minute. She was particularly devastated when she needed to cancel on group outings, because she loves exploring and conquering the outdoors. The reason for her ‘flakiness,’ a term many of Tanya’s friends used to describe her, was because she was suffering from unexplained, debilitating swelling attacks that would come on quickly and cause swelling in different parts of her body at any given time. Most often the swelling and excruciating pain were located in her abdomen. These seemingly uncontrollable attacks used to confine Tanya to her bed for several days at a time.
Tanya’s mysterious nightmare lasted for two decades and entailed visits to specialist after specialist in pursuit of an explanation for her swelling attacks along with frequent visits to the emergency room. Over the years, she was misdiagnosed with a litany of conditions including ‘muscular uterus,’ gall stones, ulcers and allergies. Despite her determination to find answers, healthcare providers had failed to pinpoint the cause for her seemingly helpless condition. This caused Tanya extreme frustration, and she even suffered from bouts of depression.
Two years ago, Tanya finally found an answer to her unexplained swelling attacks. She visited an allergist and immunologist who recognized her symptoms and accurately diagnosed her with hereditary angioedema (HAE), an extremely debilitating and potentially life-threatening disease that can rob people of educational and career opportunities and cause decreased overall mental and physical health. HAE is a rare genetic disease that affects about 6,000 people in the United States. The disease causes repeated swelling attacks that can occur anywhere in the body, including arms, legs, hands, feet, stomach, genitals, face or throat.
The average HAE patient endures about 10 years of repeated misdiagnosis before the disease is accurately identified. In fact, approximately 68 percent of people with HAE in the United States are initially misdiagnosed because the symptoms of HAE mimic other disorders, such as an allergic reaction, appendicitis, and ulcers, among many others. There is a need for increased awareness of HAE given that patients have therapy options to help them.
After receiving an accurate diagnosis of HAE, Tanya was put on a preventive prescription therapy. With the frequency and severity of her HAE attacks helped by therapy and by seeing her physician regularly, Tanya has even been able to ski the Rocky Mountains and hike the Ice Lakes located in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. She has also reached the summit of Mt. Humphreys in Arizona, followed by Mt. Whitney in California. She hopes to someday reach the summit of Aconcagua in Argentina, which is the highest peak in both the Western-and-Southern Hemispheres, and would be her biggest adventure yet.
“Whether it was meeting friends for a hike, a bike ride or even competitive events, having an HAE attack made it impossible. I was simply unable to show up because of the unbearable pain and swelling,” says Tanya. “I am grateful there are treatment options for people like me living with HAE because today, I feel I can do just about anything I put my mind to.”
Tanya also just recently competed in her first mountain bike race in Flagstaff, AZ and hit another major milestone – celebrating her one year anniversary with her husband. Tanya is so thankful that she and her husband can have a future together that is not purely dictated by her disease.
Now that Tanya has finally reached a place in her life where she is knowledgeable about HAE and feels in control of her condition and her future, her advice to other people who are living with a rare or chronic disease is to not be discouraged when seeking an accurate diagnosis, search for resources, know your limitations and shoot for the moon!
“I suggest that you leave no stone unturned in your quest to live a happy and active life,” says Tanya. “Do not be afraid; you are not alone. Being diagnosed with a rare disease is just one part of your journey.”
To learn more about HAE and hear other stories from HAE patients like Tanya, visit www.HAEandMe.com, an online resource for people with HAE and their loved ones. To find a health care professional, visit www.HAEA.org, the official Web site of the U.S. Hereditary Angioedema Association.
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Feb 26, 2014
(BPT) – Few things in life are as special as the unconditional love and loyalty a pet provides. With 78.2 million owned dogs and 86.4 million owned cats in the United States, according to The Humane Society, it’s obvious Americans enjoy having pets. What might not be so apparent is how best to care for them. When it comes to making sure your pet stays healthy and lives as long as possible, what steps can you take?
Jodi Ziskin is a holistic nutrition and wellness specialist for pets. Her mission is to help cats and dogs live healthier and happier. She has a Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition and is the owner of Holistic Healthy Pets by Jodi Z. Her top tips for adding years to your pet’s life include:
1. Investigate pet food
While many pet parents feed their cats and dogs the same thing day after day, they may not realize it’s a habit that can lead to nutritional deficiencies and food intolerances.
“I recommend a holistic approach to a pet’s diet,” says Ziskin. “That simply means using real, whole food, not by-products, rendered ingredients, artificial colors, artificial flavors or preservatives. Homemade (cooked or raw) is optimal.” She recommends you work with a holistic veterinarian or pet nutrition specialist to create a good, basic recipe you can make at home.
“If a pet guardian is not interested in preparing homemade food, the next best thing is frozen raw food. All the pet parent has to do is defrost portions in the refrigerator overnight. Freeze-dried or dehydrated raw food is another good option. Finally, there are a handful of canned foods that are very high quality,” comments Ziskin.
She suggests always reading the label when selecting food. The first ingredient should be a high-quality meat, like de-boned white chicken. If the first ingredients are different types of grains and starches, then that food should be avoided.-
2. Consider supplements
Many people take multivitamins and other supplements to better their health, and this practice can benefit pets too.
“There are many factors that contribute to a pet’s lifespan. Some are out of our control, like genetic, congenital and environmental factors. However, providing a species-appropriate diet, including supplements like omega-3s, contributes to overall wellness, helping pets thrive,” says Ziskin.
Supplementing a pet’s diet with omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) has many health benefits, including healthy skin and coat, reduced inflammation that causes itching and hot spots, joint health with less inflammation, strong immune system and a healthier digestive tract.
“Using fish oils specially made for pets is highly recommended,” Ziskin says. “The fish oil I recommend to my clients is Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet.- This product is made from wild-caught sardines and anchovies that are cold processed. It is free from heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and chemicals.”
3. Prioritize play and rest
“Exercise is paramount to the physical health of cats and dogs,” says Ziskin. “After all, a body in motion stays in motion. The simple act of walking a dog (or cat) helps to lubricate joints, preserves flexibility, maintains muscle mass (which protects joints), and keeps blood circulating through the joints and muscles.”
Make time every day to play with your pets. Cats need only five to 10 minutes once or twice a day for interactive play. “On days when you simply do not have a minute to spare, hide some cat toys around the house. Some high, some low. Your kitty will get extra exercise by finding and playing with their ‘prey,’” Ziskin suggests.
Walking a dog once or twice a day is good for both you and your pet. “If you cannot devote the time, please look into hiring a dog walker. Since it is detrimental to a dog’s health to have him hold urine all day long, having a dog walker come midday is optimal,” stresses Ziskin.
Remember, resting periods are just as important as physical activity. “Spending quiet time with our pets is so important for their overall well-being,” says Ziskin. “The simple act of petting a dog reduces their stress and helps them feel secure. The same is true for cats, however, most cats do not liked to be stroked for a long period of time.”
In addition to these tips, Ziskin advises pet owners of young and middle-aged pets to see their vet annually. Older pets should see the vet at least twice a year. This helps ensure you and your furry family members have many happy, healthy years to look forward to.
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Feb 26, 2014
(BPT) – When seasons change, moods can change with them. The long, dark and cold months can give people a serious case of cabin fever. Some people may even suffer from seasonal depression.
Those who face this type of depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), feel a physiological response by the body to decreases in light exposure associated with the fall and winter months, according to Dr. Gary Bruss, program dean of the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, Southern California.
“This is one of the more biologically based forms of depression,” says Bruss. “SAD can be characterized by moodiness, heightened irritability, lack of interest in those things you usually take pleasure in, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and difficulty concentrating that take place during those fall and winter months every year.”
Simply put, you may not feel as peppy as you normally do or have the same energy level or you may not want to be around people or follow your regular routine. If you are a student, you could see your grades declining and if you work, you may see your performance slipping.
Being proactive about your mental health and taking care of yourself can help address depression and mood swings. Bruss recommends engaging in exercise, going for a walk or meeting friends or family for coffee or some fun activity. He also adds it is important to eat a balanced diet, get enough rest at night, do nice things for yourself or find a hobby to help occupy your time.
”In the fall and winter, we tend to see an increase in seasonal affective disorder and in overall stress,” says Dr. Devin Byrd, dean of the College of Health Professions at South University. “Becoming more acutely aware of your habits, stress levels and social activities can help assess and counter-balance the onset of seasonal sadness or depression.”
If you sense that the season may be negatively affecting your well-being, Byrd recommends you initiate a new hobby, increase exercise, watch what you eat and take measures to take an active role in social activities.
Light exposure therapy can combat the signs and symptoms of SAD. During this type of therapy, you sit near a device called a light therapy box. This box gives off a specific kind of light that mimics the natural light from the outdoors and can ease SAD symptoms.
If signs of depression appear in a family member, friend or co-worker, Bruss recommends talking with them and encouraging them to seek help if depression persists or worsens. He also points out that the holiday season can have a major impact on depression if a person has experienced the death of a family member, close friend or a pet. If the severity of the depression interferes with a person’s ability to function socially and/or professionally, then it’s time to seek help from a mental health professional, says Bruss.
“Seeking professional help is an increasingly common practice and people should not feel anxious about seeing a psychologist for psychotherapy or taking medication for depression if it’s needed – especially for a disorder that is based so heavily on our biology. The most important thing is to connect with a professional who can help you restore emotional balance, peace and happiness to your life,” Bruss says.
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Feb 19, 2014
(BPT) – The residential housing market is heating up, but before you post that for-sale sign, consider making upgrades that add style and value to your home. With many buyers seeking wood floors, kitchen upgrades and other add-ons, it’s important for homeowners to highlight these features so their property stands out from the competition in today’s market.
“It all comes down to dollars and ‘sense,’ ” says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center. “In addition to warmth, beauty and durability, hardwood features increase your home’s resale value. Even with a modest budget, if you take the time and price your options, updating worn floors, dated cabinetry, and lackluster walls will make a significant difference. And it’s easier and less expensive than you think.”
Survey says hardwood floors sell
When it’s time to sell, hardwood floors not only add good looks, they increase the value of your home. According to a nationwide survey of real estate agents commissioned by the National Wood Flooring Association, 99 percent of respondents agreed that homes with hardwood floors are easier to sell. In addition, 90 percent said these homes sell for more money.
“Absolutely true,” says Bob Strader, a real estate agent with The NORTH Group of Keller Williams Realty in Atlanta. “Between two similar properties, buyers will gravitate toward the home with hardwood floors, and that home will sell in half the time.”
Debbie Gartner, known as “The Flooring Girl” by customers at her New York-based flooring store, agrees and says quality increases value. “Hardwood sells,” notes Gartner, adding that you’re in luck if you already have a hardwood floor under a carpet. “Clients are shocked when I tell them it’s almost always less expensive to refinish a hardwood floor than it is to re-carpet a room.”
What about the kitchen?
Real estate agent Strader advises sellers to “upgrade their kitchens prior to going on the market because buyers see kitchen upgrades as being rather expensive.” He adds that, “Homes without updated kitchens will take longer to sell, and will sell for less.”
Gerry Henley, president of Kitchen Solvers, a national kitchen and bath remodeling franchise, suggests simple cabinetry updates that won’t break the bank but will result in a higher return on your investment. And hardwood products offer plenty of options.
“Many homeowners overlook the low cost and high impact of re-facing their existing kitchen cabinets,” he says. “By swapping out dated doors and drawer pulls, a homeowner can get the look of a newly updated kitchen and save up to 50 percent of the cost of a complete overhaul. Cabinet re-facing is a quick-moving project and the kitchen remains functional throughout installation.”
Value in the details
Architectural details – hardwood crown moulding, baseboards and other millwork – add depth and character, provide a finished look, and change lackluster to extraordinary, so much so that according to the National Association of Home Builders’ “What Home Buyers Really Want” study, crown moulding ranks higher than other luxury features such as fireplaces, kitchen seating and window seats.
Strader agrees. “From my experience, millwork adds the ‘wow’ factor that stays in a buyer’s mind. And most sellers are unaware that a custom look can be obtained relatively inexpensively with off-the-shelf moulding patterns available at home improvement stores.”
The American Hardwood Information Center offers some additional tips to keep costs low. For crown and other decorative ceiling mouldings, consider using a less expensive species such as poplar. Where durability is a must, such as baseboards, door casings and chair rails, consider a harder species, like white oak.
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Feb 12, 2014
About 36.6 million businesses operate from U.S. households, according to the Home Based Business Institute. And the Small Business Administration notes that 53 percent of all small businesses located in the U.S. are home-based, with those numbers expected to grow substantially in the near future.
But before you start planning your home-based bakery, personal training studio or computer repair venture, there’s one important thing to think about. Charles Valinotti, head of underwriting & product with insurer QBE, says that you should make sure you have the right insurance to protect your at-home enterprise.
A homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy might provide some coverage for a business that operates out of the home, he says.
“If someone is running a small accounting business with little-to-no customer foot traffic and doesn’t have expensive office equipment, the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance would probably be acceptable to most insurance providers,” Valinotti points out. “But if you have a pottery school with customers coming and going, and are using pottery ovens that might be a fire hazard, most insurers don’t want to take on those kinds of risks.”
Depending on what type of business you’re brewing, Valinotti says there are three insurance options you’ll want to consider:
* Homeowner’s policy endorsement: An endorsement is a special provision added to an insurance policy to enhance or restrict its coverage. Adding a simple endorsement can increase coverage for business equipment, such as computers. You’ll also want to look into buying a homeowner’s liability endorsement – available in most states – to cover on-site injuries to customers or delivery people. A liability endorsement is usually available to in-home operations with few business-related visitors.
* In-home business policy: Valinotti says this policy is also known as an in-home business endorsement. Coverage can vary significantly between insurers. It provides more protection than what’s found in a typical homeowner’s policy. That includes more comprehensive property and equipment coverage, as well as protection for loss of income, extra expenses incurred, and liability for injuries caused by the products and services you offer.
* Business owner’s policy: If your home-based business is in more than one location, this policy might fit the bill, Valinotti says. It gives broader property and liability coverage than the in-home business policy. However, if you have employees, it doesn’t include workers’ compensation, health or disability insurance.
Valinotti also suggests you don’t forget about auto insurance if you’re using your car for business to transport supplies or products, or to visit customers.
He recommends contacting your agent for more information on the right insurance for your home-based business. “If you’re doing business at home, you need insurance. Finding the right coverage will go a long way to give you peace of mind and help make your special business possible.”
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Feb 12, 2014
(BPT) – We’ve all been there; 3 p.m. rolls around and suddenly you need a snack. As children, we thrived on snacks, but as we grow older many of us ignore those in-between-meals hunger pangs. We ignore the signals our stomach sends us in an attempt to be healthy. However, healthy snacking not only boasts the metabolism, but keeps cravings for less healthy foods – like that chocolate cake – at bay.
“Snacks help me stay motivated to keep moving throughout the day,” says Ilyse Baker, dance and fitness expert to celebrities and creator of the Dancinerate fitness program and videos. “I’m always on the go, so I have smart snack options on hand to keep my energy up between meals.”
By following a few simple tips from Baker, you can transform your snacking behavior and even eat more healthfully throughout the day.
* Be prepared. Having a few snack options on hand will help you make smarter decisions once hunger strikes. Slice up vegetables on Sundays to have available throughout the week to eat with hummus. Keep nuts, crackers and trail mix at your desk, in the car and in your gym bag so there is always a healthy snack within reach.
* Choose foods you actually like. It takes a strong person to nibble on nuts day in and day out. By selecting snacks you enjoy, you’re more likely to eat them and not be tempted by other, less nutritious options. If you have a sweet tooth, snack on a healthier alternative, like Nonni’s THINaddictives. These delicious almond thins are pre-portioned in 100-calorie packs and made with wholesome, antioxidant-rich ingredients like crunchy California almonds, savory pistachios and succulent cranberries. “For a quick snack, eat THINaddictives plain, or add a boost of protein by making a sandwich with a teaspoon of peanut butter and sliced bananas,” Baker says.
* Plan your portions. When hunger hits, it’s easy to go overboard with the snacks. Look for pre-portioned snacks or portion out your snacks ahead of time. It’s a great way to keep you from overindulging, which can lead to weight gain. Individually wrapped snacks are also great on the go alternatives so you’re not stuck finding something to nibble on that might not be as nutritious.
* Stop trying to be perfect. Sometimes you really just want to eat that piece of cake. Indulging in your cravings now and then is fine, as long as you don’t make a habit of it. If you decide to snack on something less healthy, opt to have a salad for dinner to even out the calories.
Don’t let snacking derail your healthy eating goals. By planning ahead and selecting the smart nibble options, you can easily strike a healthful balance that will keep you satisfied while on the go all day long. For additional snacking ideas, visit Nonni’s THINaddictives on Facebook at Facebook.com/THINaddictives.
Courtesy of BPT