Switch focus to good health, not illness

Switch focus to good health, not illness

Keep abreast of significant corporate, financial and political developments around the world. Stay …
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Types of Mental Health Issues

Mental health is a quality of general well-being where people recognize their own potential, cope w…
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Making Financial Mental Health A Priority

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Here's what you should be doing to protect your health in polluted places

Here’s what you should be doing to protect your health in polluted places

You’re double-checking to make sure you have everything before you leave on a trip: phone… wallet… respirator mask? Even if you don’t have asthma or another pulmonary condition, it’s something to consider if you’re going to an area with high levels of air pollution. Poor air quality is exceedingly common; the World Health Organisation (WHO) says 91 per cent of the population lives in places where air pollution exceeds WHO guidelines. A 2018 report from the Journal of Travel Medicine says ambient air quality may affect “both the acute and chronic state of health of the traveller”. As Earth warms, there is more cause for concern. According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change will increase ground-level ozone, which can cause health problems. More drought conditions may bring more wildfires, exposing people to smoke and associated respiratory issues. Research has also “demonstrated the exacerbation of the impact of air pollution on health in hot, dry conditions”, Miriam Byrne says. Byrne is a senior lecturer of the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies at the National University of Ireland and co-author of the Journal of Travel Medicine study. This makes it important to research potential destinations as you craft your travel itinerary. Keep in mind that common wisdom might be outdated. For example, while most people would likely put Beijing near the top of a list of international cities with air pollution, a report from IQAir AirVisual in collaboration with Greenpeace Southeast Asia shows that seven of the 10 most polluted cities are in India, with just one in China (Hotan, in the far west of the country). Bakersfield, California, tops the American Lung Association’s recently released list of the top 10 cities with the most short-term particle pollution. Here are some other steps you can take before you go and while on the road to protect yourself, in case the skies at your destination are not so friendly. See your doctor The International Association of Medical Assistance for Travellers advises that people with respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) see a doctor before travelling and get any medications they may need. Exams are also recommended for the elderly, and those travelling with young children should avoid visiting areas with bad air quality. Consider a different season Pollution varies by season, depending on weather and the area you’re visiting. In New Delhi, for example, pollution rises in autumn and winter because of crop burning and India’s festival of lights – Diwali – which involves four nights of fireworks, reports fire researcher Vijay Koul of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSRIO) of Australia. Indochina’s dry season runs from January through April, which allows factory emissions, crop-burning smoke, exhaust and construction dust to accumulate, reports AccuWeather. Summer is traditionally wildfire season in the United States, but the US Forest Service reports that climate change and warmer, shorter winters are making it a year-round issue. Consult websites and apps With numerous websites and apps that give real-time air pollution data, it’s easy to be informed. There are two common ways pollution is measured: PM 2.5 or PM 10. PM 2.5 refers to the number of particles that are 2.5 microns or less in width per cubic meter of air. These particles are a mix of liquid and solid, can include combustion particles or organic compounds, and are too small to be seen by the naked eye, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These particles are dangerous because they can “get to the lowest and deepest level of the lungs and even get into the bloodstream,” says Afif El-Hasan, a paediatrician and spokesperson for the American Lung Association. Pollution is also measured in PM 10, particles of 10 micrometers – one-tenth the width of a human hair – or smaller. The best measure for travellers’ purposes, though, according to Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy for the American Lung Association, is the Air Quality Index, or AQI. This system “considers all monitored pollutants, including ozone and particle pollution in the air,” Nolen says. It rates samples in one of five colour-coded categories from “good” (code green) to “hazardous,” (code maroon), with instructions for each level. Nolen says people with asthma or other conditions that make them more sensitive should take precautions even when the level goes up to “moderate” (code yellow), and that at the next level, “unhealthy for sensitive groups” (code orange), everyone should begin taking precautions. Bring a mask While your destination may not have a high pollution rating, conditions can change in a hurry. “During the wildfires that we had in southern California and northern California not too long ago, the worst air quality in the world was up in the Bay Area,” says Tiffany Allegretti, public relations manager at IQAir. It is “reasonable to assume that the same precautions should be taken when travelling to a polluted city or to a wildfire region,” Byrne says, including having any medications such as an inhaler close at hand, “minimising exercise and time outdoors, and wearing a protective face mask.” For wildfires, El-Hasan recommends an N95 respirator mask – so named because it filters out 95 per cent of test particles as small as 0.3 microns. On a heavy pollution day, these are a good bet. “They are easy to get, reasonably effective and relatively cheap,” El-Hasan says. Check with your doctor to see if a mask is OK for you to wear, as some people have a harder time breathing through a mask. And before you go, make sure the mask fits well. A 2018 study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine tested four disposable face masks on volunteers in Beijing, who were exposed to diesel exhaust while performing active and seated tasks. Most of the masks didn’t provide adequate protection, because of movement and poor fit. Check indoor air quality When the air quality outside is bad, you want the air inside your hotel to be much better. Hotels are realising that guests are willing to pay for perks designed to enhance air quality, as well as to facilitate relaxing and sleeping. “More hotels are offering (wellness packages), and more customers are requesting them,” says Rohit Verma, a professor at the hotel school at Cornell University. For example, Stay Well rooms by Delos include air purifiers, aromatherapy and custom lighting to facilitate sleep. You can also use a portable air monitor such as the IQAir AirVisual Pro to check the quality of the air outdoors and inside. Taking the monitor on a test run at home, I was astonished to find that the sun room, long claimed by my cat, wasn’t choked with dander and other pet-related fallout. It was fine. The bedroom with the windows that are stuck shut was the one with the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” rating. If you’re in a hotel room with poor air quality, the first thing to do is determine the problem and whether it can be fixed. If there are fumes from a room recently being cleaned, for example, it could be a matter of just opening a window. If the problem is mould or another issue that isn’t immediately resolvable, however, you should ask for a room change. Curb outdoor activities On bad air days, keep the exercise inside, El-Hasan says. If you’re planning a jog and the AQI rating is way up, hit the treadmill in the hotel. If you’ve scheduled a bike tour but conditions are bad, consider postponing or taking a tour in an air-conditioned vehicle. Minimise outdoor activity around high traffic or rush-hour times and when there is fire or other pollution-heavy conditions. “Heed warnings from local authorities regarding being outdoors,” Vickie Sowards, director of nursing resources for PassportHealthUSA Travel Clinics, advises. Know when to seek help Symptoms of air pollution’s effects can include dry eyes, throat, nose and skin; coughing, sneezing and wheezing; and tiredness and dizziness, which may clear up after you leave the destination. For the very young or the elderly, and people with conditions such as asthma or COPD, pollution can be much more dangerous. Do not be afraid to seek medical treatment if necessary. “I would take shortness of breath and chest pains very seriously,” El-Hasan says. If you’re outside and feel sick and those symptoms “don’t resolve fairly quickly, you should be seen. You should always err on the side of caution.” If you feel hot, sweaty, dizzy, short of breath or have chest pain or your breathing starts coming faster, “go to the ER immediately”, Hassan says. Air pollution is a serious issue: it’s responsible for 4.2 million deaths yearly. But with a bit of research and preparation, plus flexibility when you arrive at your destination, you should be able to breathe a little easier. © Washington Post
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Behavioral health cases doubled over a decade

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The Times view on traffic pollution and mental health: Age of Anxiety

The Times view on traffic pollution and mental health: Age of Anxiety

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Children and young people stuck in mental health hospitals too long, report finds

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Everyone Hates Health-Care Stocks—Buy Them Anyway

Everyone Hates Health-Care Stocks—Buy Them Anyway

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Should you use an active workstation at home?

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EPA plan to end funding for children’s health research leaves scientists scrambling

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How One Health System Overcame Resistance to a Surgical Checklist

How One Health System Overcame Resistance to a Surgical Checklist

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Industrial action imminent at Altnagelvin Hospital: “Health staff are treated worse than second class …

A trade union has said that strike action at Altnagelvin Hospital will be “absolutely inevitable” after a meeting with health staff this week. Unison represents around 2,000 staff at the Derry Hospital and it says that health workers in Northern Ireland are being treated “worse than second class citizens”. There is disparity in salaries between staff in NI and those living elsewhere in the UK, and pay for workers in the domiciliary care sector, for instance, falls below minimum wage when expenses are taken into account. Unison Branch Secretary, Conor McCarthy, told the Derry News that its industrial action committee will be meeting staff this week when the recommendation will be to lobby its members to take industrial action. He said: “The Department of Health has said that to close the pay gap between health workers in NI and the rest of the UK will cost £20millon. “We believe this is achievable given almost £200million has already been spent on agency staff. Strike action is most likely on the cards.” He added: “Strike action is absolutely inevitable, the pay parity issue in Northern Ireland is beyond a joke. We’re way behind with regards to the restoration of pay parity. “We’re also the only jurisdiction in the UK to have band 1 workers. The likes of domestic porters, caterers, etc. There is no band 1 in England, Scotland and Wales, they’re all on £17,000 and we would like to see band 1 eradicated here. “We’re currently working with employers to have that migration across to band 2 but in order to do that we need job description reconfigurations. The delay here is said to be due to the absence of a health minister, that is simply not true, the permanent secretary at the Department of Health has the powers to implement it here.” Workers providing domiciliary care can often be worse off as these services are outsourced to private companies. Mr McCarthy said that these workers aren’t paid mileage and have to use their own phones which means their level of income falls below minimum wage. Nurses based at the Altnagelvin Hospital were outspoken about their plight during a public meeting at the Guildhall organised by the Royal College of Nursing last week. They explained how they live in “constant fear” of making mistakes due to inadequate staffing levels and told those in attendance that nurses are now having to avail of food banks to make ends meet. The RCN believes the nursing shortage has become a public safety issue and services are now at “crisis point”. It said that in Northern Ireland there are over 2,500 unfilled nursing posts across the system, with a similar level of vacancies estimated in nursing homes. Nurses’ pay within the health service in Northern Ireland continues to fall behind England, Scotland and Wales. The salary for newly qualified nurses in Northern Ireland stands at £22,795, while their counterparts in England and Wales earn £24,214 and this rises to £24,670 in Scotland. Meanwhile, nurses in the Republic of Ireland have recently negotiated a new pay deal, with nurses there starting out on €29,000 and rising to €42,000. The real value of nurses’ pay in Northern Ireland has fallen by 15% over the last eight years, whilst the cost of securing nursing staff via nursing agencies has increased to an all-time high of £32 million in 2017-2018. These factors have a direct impact upon the health and well-being of the people of Northern Ireland, the health and well-being of nursing staff, with long waiting lists and waiting times, difficulties in accessing services, and nurses so over-stretched that they are simply unable to provide the level of care to patients and their families that they are trained to provide and want to provide, the RCN has stated. And it believes there is a link between nursing shortages, cost-saving measures and low pay. We are very aware of the frustrations and workload pressures facing health and social care staff. ‘Budgetary pressures’ Meanwhile the DOH acknowledged that health and social care pay policy is a devolved issue. A departmental spokesperson said: “We have made clear that UK-wide pay parity in health and social care would involve significant budgetary and pay policy issues that would require Ministerial and cross-departmental decisions. “The Department continues to face well documented budgetary pressures and cannot spend money it does not have. We were pleased to be able to finalise a 2018/19 pay award for health and social care staff and continue to invest in growing the nursing workforce.” The Department recognised the need for adequate staffing levels to deliver of “safe and effective care” and added that hospital staffing levels are the responsibility of individual HSC Trusts. “Nursing shortages are managed through a range of measures including effective rostering of staff, use of bank and agency nurses and active recruitment. “The Department’s policy, Delivering Care; Safe staffing in Northern Ireland provides a regional framework for determining staffing ranges across nursing specialities. “The Department is also continuing with the implement of the Health and Social Care Workforce Strategy, published in May 2018,” she added. If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email [email protected] or [email protected] at any time. A budding Derry film director seeking funding for his first major production says Derry is being under utilised as a location for movie industry. Aaro… The 38th anniversary of the SAS killing of Derry IRA man George McBrearty will be marked with a independent commemoration in Creggan this coming weeke… The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described a statement from Saoradh criticising the presence of the media at PSNI raids on homes of their a… Get the top stories on Derry Now delivered directly to your email inbox every day with the Derry Now Daily News Update. Bulletin. It’s free, it’s just one email once a day, and your email address is safe with us. Plus, you’ll be entered into our regular prize draws that are only available to Daily News Update Bulletin subscribers.
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The Health 202: Large employers don’t want Medicare-for-all

WASHINGTON – Medicare-for-all advocates argue enacting their plan would lift a heavy burden off emp…
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5 matters of urgency for the World Health Assembly 2019

5 matters of urgency for the World Health Assembly 2019

This week I am at the 72nd World Health Assembly at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarter…
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Education Levels Spark Health Disparities, Limit Patient Wellness

May 20, 2019 – Educational attainment remains a key barrier to health and wellness, despite in…
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WHO Chief Pitches Universal Health Coverage

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock tucks into a waffle for breakfast

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tucks into a waffle for breakfast

Health Secretary Matt Hancock joked there’s “nothing wrong with a bit of waffle in politics” …
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Outdoor walking meetings boost your mental and physical health

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Is Our Health Care Spending Worth It?

Many people know by now that the United States spends much more on health care than any other country, and that health outcomes are not a lot …
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The Irish Times view on the new oral health policy: Filling the gaps

The Irish Times view on the new oral health policy: Filling the gaps

A new national oral health policy focuses on prevention, on screening and on building links between…
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£6m funding to help improve mental health in the workplace

The Midlands Engine has awarded £6.8m of Government funding to a consortium of health professionals, academics and business leaders to improve …
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HEALTH & SPORTS

The SNF does not necessarily share the views or opinions of the charitable organizations which it m…
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Why You Still Absolutely Need Health Insurance Despite the Death of the Penalty

Why You Still Absolutely Need Health Insurance Despite the Death of the Penalty

Starting in 2019, you’ll no longer owe a fine to the IRS if you don’t have qualifying health insura…
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About That ‘Junk’ Health Insurance

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Why York’s pubs are just the tonic for our mental health

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Mental health awareness: Durham Council worker tells his story of anxiety and depression

Mental health awareness: Durham Council worker tells his story of anxiety and depression

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Vulnerable man locked in solitary confinement for 10 YEARS: Horrifying case revealed in new …

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Major British sexual health charity handed £132m in foreign aid ‘provided prostitutes for staff …

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