Tips to Use a Stethoscope in a Proper Way

While conducting a physical assessment, doctors need skills such as inspection, palpation, percussion, auscultation, and olfaction. The term ‘auscultation’ is derived from the Latin word Auscultaure, which means ‘to listen’. In the field of medicine, auscultation is performed with the help of a stethoscope. The term ‘stethoscope’ is derived from two Greek words called stethos and scopos. While the former refers to the chest, the latter means examination. An acoustic medical instrument, the stethoscope is integral to the diagnosis. This instrument is extremely useful, when it comes to diagnosing medical conditions associated with the organs located in the chest cavity. While the stethoscope that was designed by René Laennec was made of wood, the advancement of medical science has led to the development of several designs with added features. However, even the modern acoustic stethoscopes have simplistic designs. Doctors now also have the option of using electronic stethoscopes that can even amplify sounds.

Parts of a Stethoscope

Doctors are aware of the intensity, quality, or pitch of sounds that is normally associated with certain parts of the body. If they hear any variation from the normal sounds, they can perform other diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. A stethoscope helps the doctors ascertain the presence and location of abnormal sounds. At times, the absence of sounds could help in the diagnosis. For instance, the absence of bowel sounds can be an indicator of bowel problems.

Parts of a stethoscope
The components of a stethoscope include:

✦ Earpieces/eartips
✦ Binaurals (ear tubes or curved metal pipes that connect the earpieces to the tubes of stethoscope)
✦ Air-filled tube
✦ Chest piece

The headset comprises the two earpieces and ear tubes. The chest piece consists of a bell and a diaphragm. While the bell is the cup-shaped side that is used for listening to low frequencies or low-pitched sounds, the diaphragm is the flatter side that is used for high frequencies. A removable chill ring prevents the chest piece from coming in contact with the skin, and also keeps the diaphragm in place. In case of dual-frequency, tunable stethoscopes, the bell and the diaphragm are combined on one side of the chest piece. All the user needs to do is apply varying pressure to listen to low or high frequencies. Low pressure and high pressure needs to be applied to listen to low frequency and high frequency sounds, respectively.

In case of the two-sided chest piece, the user can switch between the bell and the diaphragm, depending on the frequency. It must be noted that only one part of the chest piece can work at a time. The sound can be amplified either through the bell or the diaphragm. If the sound is barely audible through the bell, it implies that the diaphragm is in the position for use. There are certain types of stethoscopes that don’t have a bell.

When the diaphragm is placed on the skin, it vibrates due to the sounds from the body. This leads to the creation of the acoustic pressure waves, which in turn travel up through the tube. The sound is transmitted from the bell or the diaphragm to the earpieces, which fit in snugly in the ears, thereby preventing other sounds from entering the ears.

How to Use a Stethoscope Properly

There are a few aspects that you need to keep in mind in order to use a stethoscope properly. Basically, you need to put the earpieces in such a way that they create an airtight seal with the ears. This is to block the noises from the outside environment, so that you can focus or clearly listen to the sounds emanating from the internal organs. Here are a few pointers on using a stethoscope in a correct way:

Eartips should point forward
✦ After placing the earpieces in the ears, adjust them so that they point slightly forward. Usually, binaurals or the ear tubes are positioned at an angle of 15°, so that earpieces can point forward and align with the ear canal. Ensure that the earpieces are a snug fit.

Eartips should be a perfect fit
✦ If you have placed the earpieces properly, the external noise will become faint. Earpieces are available in small, as well as large sizes. So, make sure that you opt for a size that is a perfect fit.
✦ Make sure that you check the earpieces on a regular basis. Look for cracks. Also, it is essential to clean the earpieces, so that auscultation is not affected by the accumulation of earwax, lint, or dirt.

Don’t place the fingertips on the edge of the diaphragm/bell
✦ The chest piece should also be held in the right manner. It must be held between the index finger and the middle finger of the dominant hand. Fingertips should not be placed on the edge of the diaphragm or bell, as that can lead to noise, which in turn will affect one’s ability to listen to the sounds from the internal organs. Make sure that the stethoscope tube doesn’t rub against the patient’s skin.

Double-sided stethoscope with a bell and diaphragm
✦ If you are using a double-sided stethoscope that has a bell and diaphragm, you will need to rotate the chest piece, so as to open the bell or diaphragm. If the diaphragm is open, the bell will be closed, and vice versa. This is to ensure that sound doesn’t come through the other part. This prevents noise interference, thereby allowing doctors to hear high or low frequency sounds properly.

Tunable stethoscope
✦ If you are using a tunable stethoscope, move the chest piece in a half circle. Once you hear a click, tap the bell and diaphragm to check which one of them is open.
✦ Make sure that the parts of the chest piece are not loose. Look for signs of damage.
✦ Do not touch the tube (tube that runs from the chest piece to the headset) while examining a patient with a stethoscope.

Place the stethoscope on bare skin to minimize noise interference
✦ Placing the diaphragm or the bell on bare skin would also help avoid noise interference that could occur due to the mixing of sounds from the body and clothes.

On a concluding note, it is essential to clean the stethoscope to ensure optimal acoustical performance, as well as reduce the risk of transmission of pathogens. It is advisable to disinfect the bell/diaphragm of the stethoscope before using it on another patient. It can be wiped with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution. Also, make sure that it is not exposed to extreme temperature, solvents, and oils. Remove the earpieces from the tubes regularly for thorough cleaning.

List of Basic Surgical Instruments and their Uses

Surgical instruments
A surgery cannot be carried out without medical tests and tools. There are a variety of surgical instruments, each designed for a specific purpose. Some are used for making an incision while others are made to hold tissues. Using them correctly is necessary to prevent any irreversible damage to the internal organs of the body.

Basic Surgical Instruments and their Uses

– Scalpel
– Surgical Staples
– Surgical Suture
– Hemostat
– Dilator
– Scissors
– Curette
– Forceps
– Retractors
– Surgical Elevator
– Probe
– Needle Holder

Information about the most frequently used surgical instruments with their pictures is given below:

Scalpel
This is a surgical knife that comes with a sharp stainless steel blades. Whether it is a minor or a major surgery, a correct surgical incision is a must, which is not possible without a scalpel. Each and every surgery has its own specific needs. For instance, a minor surgery will require a small incision whereas a major surgery may demand an incision deep into the skin tissues. So taking this into consideration, scalpels are manufactured in a variety of sizes. The blades of scalpel are detachable and many times this instrument is designed for one time use only.

Surgical Staples
Talking about list of surgical instruments and one simply cannot forget to mention about surgical staples. Normally, an incision made or an open wound that occurs during surgery cannot be left open as it can trigger internal bleeding. A common practice is to seal these cuts using stitches but nowadays surgeons prefer to use surgical staples instead of stitches. The main advantage is that the possibility of blood leaking from a wound closed by a surgical staple is minimal. Apart from closing the incision, surgical staples are also useful to reattach and remove portions of certain organs. For instance, a bowel surgery may demand cutting certain parts of the intestine and reconnecting the remaining portion of the intestine. This can be effectively and precisely done using surgical staples.

Surgical Suture
As we all know, during surgery incisions are made to carry out the procedure. Surgical sutures, which are nothing but stitches, are commonly used to reconnect the tissues so as to close the incision after the surgical procedure is over. Sutures also help to join wound edges after an injury. This closing of wound helps to facilitate healing of the injury. Modern sutures are made from synthetic material that can be either absorbable or non-absorbable one.

As the name suggests, absorbable sutures are absorbed by the body over a course of time. The duration of absorption varies according to the type of suture material but lasts anywhere between 10 days to 2 months. When the suture is placed deep inside the body or the patient is not in a position to visit the hospital again to remove sutures, then the absorbable sutures are used. Absorbable sutures are primarily constructed from synthetic material like polylactic acid, polyglycolic acid, and caprolactone.

Non-absorbable sutures are non-biodegradable; hence cannot be broken down by the body and absorbed. The material used in making non-absorbable sutures is usually polypropylene, nylon, or polyester. Stainless steel wires that exhibit high tensile strength are often preferred to close the sternum following heart surgery. In general, Non-absorbable sutures have an advantage over their counterparts, as they cause minimal scarring. Usually these sutures are removed after a specified duration but in some cases, they are allowed to remain in position.

Hemostat
During any surgical procedure, some amount of bleeding is a given. A slight incision here and there is followed by bleeding. In order to prevent any sort of major complications, the surgeon often uses a hemostat. This is a clamp-like surgical tool that is utilized to constrict a blood vessel, which helps to minimize or stop the flow of blood during any surgical procedure.

Dilator
Surgical procedures involving the esophagus, urethra, or the cervix often require the surgeon to enlarge the opening of these tubular structures. This can be done using dilators, instruments that expand the passage, thereby allowing the surgeon to access the organ and perform the surgeon properly. These tools induce dilation to open up a tube, duct or cavity for surgical purposes.

Scissors
As the name suggests, this surgical instrument is mainly used to cut body tissues. Scissors used in surgery come in two main types: Mayo and Metzenbaum scissors. When it comes to cutting or dissecting soft delicate tissues, surgeons prefer the metzenbaum scissors. The Mayo scissors are used for cutting hard tissues such as joints. Thick tissues located in the breast and the muscles can also be cut using Mayo scissors. Usually, these scissors are made up of stainless steel and are manufactured in variable lengths.

Needle Holder
As we all know, stitching the body tissues that are cut at the time of surgery is a very important task. Even a slight mistake while sewing the tissue is likely to make the patient uncomfortable days after completing the surgery. An improperly sewn skin tissue can be a cause of great pain and may require another surgery to correct it. To avoid all these complications and to carry out sewing of tissues accurately, surgeons often make use of needle holders. These instruments allow the surgeon to hold the needle firmly while stitching the required tissue.

A needle holder that has a shape similar to a scissor, consists of straight, smooth jaws, joints and handles. It comes with a tungsten carbide inserts that are attached at the end of both the jaws. They ensure that the needle does not move while sewing tissues. In simple words, these instruments are designed to provide a strong grip on the needle, thereby substantially reducing the chances of any error during this stage of surgery.

Forceps
Forceps are like kitchen tongs that allow the surgeon to grasp and hold the skin tissues firmly. Whether it is holding a part of intestine or clamping the arteries during operation, one can always rely on these forceps. Also, this surgical instrument comes in a range of sizes so that the surgeon can choose one depending upon his specific needs. Forceps that are designed to hold a baby’s head are quite large and their main purpose is to safely remove the baby from the birth canal during a cesarean.

Curette
This surgical tool resembling to a spoon is used for taking out unwanted tissue from internal body cavities. Using the tool, the surgeon simply scrapes to scoop out the abnormal tissue. Cleaning procedure such as removing cancer growth may require use of curette.

Retractors
When an incision is made, it has to be kept open during surgery. This job of keeping the incision wide open is done by retractors. These instruments are used to pull back the tissues so that the surgeon can easily access the operation site and perform the surgery without any hindrance. Sometimes even the organs have to be held back using retractors, so as to expose the surgical site to the desired level. Retractors are made available in different sizes and shapes. Also, there are different types of retractors and each one is designed to retract a specific organ. For instance, lung retractors may be used to push aside the lungs gently for getting an unobstructed view of the surgical site. So, be it a gallbladder surgery or a breast reduction surgery, it cannot be done without retractors.

Surgical Elevator
When it comes to performing oral surgery such as tooth extraction, it is not possible without a surgical elevator. This tool is commonly used in dentistry for removing or separating affected teeth from their sockets. It is also used for separating bones from their tissues.

Probe
A probe is a long, flexible surgical tool that has a blunt end and is used for probing a wound and body cavities such as sinus tract. The instrument helps to evaluate the wound such as how deep the wound is. The direction of wound can also be assessed using this tool. As the instrument is inserted in the wound or cavity, excessive usage can trigger pain and cause pain in patients.

These are some of the basic surgical instruments and their uses. Keep in mind that it is important to choose a surgical tool that is appropriate for the procedure. Choosing the wrong tools can not only be traumatic for the patient but can also prevent the surgeon from doing his best work.

Bone Scan Cost

Factors affecting bone scan cost
A bone scan, which is also called bone scintigraphy, is one of the common types of nuclear medicine imaging procedure. Basically, nuclear medicine is a branch of imaging where radiopharmaceuticals are used for examining the function and structure of tissues and organs. Bone scintigraphy helps check the structure and function of bones. This procedure involves the administration of a small amount of radiopharmaceutical into a vein. This radioactive substance is also referred to as a radioactive tracer. Tc-99m MDP (where Tc stands for Technetium and MDP stands for methylene diphosphonate) is one of the commonly used radioactive tracers. The standard dose for adults is around 740 Mbq.

The radioactive component of the medication becomes radioactive as it breaks down. This substance causes the body part that is being studied to become radioactive for a short duration. When the ionizing radiation is emitted from the body, it is detected and measured using a gamma camera. This imaging procedure can help detect tumors, infection, or abnormalities in bones. It can also determine the extent of spread of cancer. Also, this scan can help the doctors ascertain if cancer treatment is working or not.

How Is a Bone Scan Performed

The procedure is performed under the supervision of a radiologist who has completed specific training in nuclear medicine.

➠ In the first phase, which is called blood flow phase, images are taken with the gamma camera immediately after the administration of radioactive tracer. This allows the radiologist to analyze the blood flow to the area being scanned.

➠ In the second phase, which is also called blood pool phase, the images are taken about 5 minutes after the administration of the injection. These images can help reveal any soft tissue involvement.

➠ The third phase is also called delayed phase. The radioactive tracer usually takes 2-3 hours to circulate in the blood and get absorbed in the bone. Thus, the patient is asked to come back after 2-4 hours. The person undergoing the scan is asked to empty the bladder, and remove jewelry or metallic items that he/she might be wearing. Thereafter, he/she will have to lie down on the imaging table. During this time, pictures are taken by the gamma camera. A whole body scan can take about 30-45 minutes.

While the task of measuring and administering the radioactive tracer, as well as using the equipment (gamma camera/computer) is performed by the nuclear medicine technologist, the images are interpreted by the radiologist. A bone problem is suspected when hot spots are observed. Basically, hot spots are areas of the bones that absorb more than normal amount of radioactive tracer.

Factors Affecting the Cost of a Bone Scan

A bone scan normally costs anywhere between USD 150 and USD 600. However, the overall cost might vary, depending on certain factors. These include:

Location
It’s likely that hospitals or clinics that are located in metropolitan areas charge more for the bone scan. A radiologist who has completed specific training in nuclear medicine supervises the procedure, whereas a certified nuclear medicine technologist administers the radioactive tracer and handles the equipment. The hospital/clinic charges, radiologist’s fee, and technician’s charges are likely to be higher in cities that have a higher cost of living. However, even in the metropolitan areas or big cities, one can look for non-profit hospitals that provide monetary aid to patients who are poor/uninsured. Also, certain hospitals and imaging centers with a larger patient base might perform the procedure at a lower cost.

Insurance Coverage
Many health insurance companies cover the cost of bone scintigraphy. However, those who are insured must contact their health insurance company to find out whether the full cost or a part of the cost of the bone scan is covered under their plan. You might have to pay nearly 10% to 40% less than the actual cost, depending on the type of health insurance.

Additional Cost
The overall cost is bound to increase, if an additional imaging procedure called single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) is recommended. SPECT is suggested in cases where the two-dimensional images don’t suffice. For instance, imaging procedures such as the SPECT or SPECT-CT (a combination of SPECT and CT) might be recommended by the doctor when he/she suspects infections, fracture, or cancer deep within the bone. SPECT or SPECT-CT provide the three-dimensional images of the part of the body being scanned, thereby providing valuable diagnostic information, which two-dimensional (planar) images cannot provide.

Condition of the Patient
If the patient is affected by a serious medical condition, additional care needs to be taken. Under such circumstances, the patient’s condition has to be monitored while the scan is in progress. Though minimal risks are involved in bone scintigraphy, immediate medical assistance would be required, if the patient develops an allergic reaction. This might contribute to the overall cost.

On a concluding note, a bone scan is a useful imaging technique that enables the early detection of bone-related conditions. It must be noted that this procedure is not recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers. So, consult your healthcare provider about the risks associated with this imaging procedure. Also, clarify any doubts related to its cost with the hospital/clinic and your insurance company. Those who are uninsured can find out if the hospital offers any financial assistance program.

Electrocardiogram and Echocardiogram – Know the Basic Differences

Difference between electrocardiogram and echocardiogram

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) and echocardiogram (echo) are two important tests that investigate the heart’s functioning. Both tests provide an easy way to determine the health of your heart. These procedures can help diagnose an underlying abnormality in the working of the heart.

Electrocardiogram vs. Echocardiogram

Working
Electrocardiogram
✦ In an electrocardiogram, electrodes (small sensors) are attached to the chest, which measure the electrical activity of the heart. The electrodes are connected to a machine that plot a graph from the information it receives from the sensors. The graph plotted indicates the strength and pattern of electrical signals.
Echocardiogram
✦ Echo is done by keeping a small device (transducer) on the chest. The device generates high frequency sound waves that pass through the heart walls and are reflected back from the structures within the heart. The transducer receives these returning sound waves, which are then processed by a computer to generate a 2D moving image of the heart.
Function
✦ The ECG test checks your heart’s electrical system. It is this system that generates electrical signals that convey the heart when to beat. These tiny electrical pulses that regulate heartbeats are recorded by the ECG device. The test also measures the signal strength and verifies whether the heart is sending steady electrical signals.
An ECG also records the timing of your electrical signals, which indicates how fast your heart is beating. It evaluates the basic rhythm of the heart, and any disturbances in it can be easily recorded by the ECG.
✦ An echocardiogram can check the pumping capacity of your heart. It determines how well your heart pumps blood around the body, when it beats. It can check whether the heart’s pumping action is becoming weaker, a symptom associated with heart failure. It can calculate the amount of the blood that is pumped out with every heartbeat, thus, indicating the heart’s pumping strength.
Output or Results
✦ As aforementioned, the output of the ECG device is a graph that indicates the intensity and direction of electrical signals generated in the heart. The heart function is evaluated depending upon how the electrical signals get traced on the graph.
✦ With an echo, you see the live pictures of the insides of your heart. The echo test shows a 2D cone-shaped real-time motion of the heart on a monitor. Experts can actually view how the heart is beating. As a result, they are in a better position to evaluate the functioning of the heart. With advancements in the medical field, now an echo test can also show a moving 3D image of the heart. However, it is usually used to diagnose some rare complications of the heart.
Issues that Can Be Detected
✦ An ECG test can help diagnose heart rhythm problems such as heart arrhythmia that causes irregular heartbeats. It can detect if the heart is beating too hard (tachycardia) or too slowly (bradycardia). These issues often arise when the heart’s electrical activity is not working properly.
✦ A moving 2D image generated by an echo test allows accurate assessment of the heart valves. There are 4 valves, each one ensuring one-directional blood circulation through the heart. Heart valve disorders such as stenosis, atresia, and regurgitation that disturb the blood flow through the heart can be detected using echo. It can also determine how severe the valve disease is.
An echo scan can also detect sections of the heart muscle that are not working properly. It can also identify the causes of poor heart muscle function, such as inadequate blood circulation from an earlier heart attack. An echo can also help assess the heart function after a heart attack. Possible blood clots within the heart can also be located using the test.
Similarity
✦ Both ECG and echo tests can evaluate the size of the chambers of the heart. For instance, heart conditions, such as left or right atrial enlargement, can be detected through an ECG test. These tests can also identify abnormal positioning of the heart. Other cardiac structural abnormalities, such as myocarditis (swelling of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart), can also be diagnosed using an ECG and echo.
Why an Echocardiogram is Better
✦ As an echo scan provides accurate moving 2D visuals of different structures within the heart, the test is more reliable at judging heart health and its pumping action as opposed to an ECG. The direct visualization of the heart chambers in an echo scan is what makes the procedure more accurate in diagnosing heart ailments.
✦ The clarity with which the results are obtained through an echo is something that one cannot expect from an ECG test. Structural abnormalities, such as thickened heart muscle, that need to be interpreted on an ECG, are distinctly visible on an echo test. However, an ECG is better at detecting abnormal heart rhythms that cause heart palpitations, but even then, the doctor may recommend an echo rest to find out the cause of heart rhythm irregularities. On the whole, though an ECG can detect abnormalities in the heart structure, a confirmation is often necessary through an echocardiogram.

Things You Should Not Do After Eating

Effects of walking after eating
Habits form our lifestyle, and the lifestyle determines our living — healthy or unhealthy. Habits are plenty in number, and they vary from one individual to another with respect to time and manner. While bad habits are bad at all times, some good ones may also become harmful in particular situations. The intention here is not to scare you about your habits, but to make you aware about certain things that never go well with certain situations. This brings us to our main point, i.e., what should not be done after eating. Our digestive system is strong enough to take in whatever we eat and digest it properly, absorbing all the essential nutrients, but at the same time, it is also pretty sensitive and cannot perform its function if obstructed by anything. Hence, here are a few things that should be avoided when you finish your meal.
Things to Avoid Immediately After Eating
*Please Note: People with a sensitive stomach are more susceptible to the things mentioned in the following sections than others.
Brushing Your Teeth
I agree to the fact that brushing your teeth before bedtime is a must in a healthy routine. However, brushing your teeth right after dinner, or after every meal for that matter, is extremely harmful for your teeth. Brushing after eating will scrub away the layers of enamel on the teeth. Furthermore, when you eat or drink acidic foodstuff, or those with a lot of sugar, it’s even more dangerous. To protect the teeth enamel, wait for at least 30 minutes, and allow the mouth to produce sufficient saliva to neutralize the acidity of the food that soften the tooth enamel.
Drinking Too Much Water
It is true that a person should drink 8 glasses of water every day to stay healthy. However, gulping it down right after eating something, or even during meals may disrupt digestion. Too much water after or during the meal might interfere with the natural levels of acid and bile that are essential for proper digestion. Furthermore, drinking cold water might slow down digestion and cause cramping in sensitive people. Try to resist drinking water for at least an hour after a meal, and avoid drinking it while eating.
Driving
Digestion requires a large amount of blood and more blood is concentrated in the digestive tract. Consequently, the brain is temporarily deprived of sufficient blood, resulting in lack of concentration. Also, because of satiation you tend to feel sleepy, and driving with sleepy eyes is never safe. Hence, don’t force yourself to drive soon after you’ve had a meal. Take a break, let the body perform its natural functions, and after an hour or two, think of driving.
Going for a Walk
Although walking a hundred steps after eating is healthy, doing it immediately after a meal is not. Doing so will make it difficult for the digestive system to absorb the nutrients from the food. Furthermore, the blood will flow towards other organs, like legs, hands, etc., which will leave the digestive tract with an insufficient amount of blood flow that is needed for proper digestion. Also, some people might feel dizzy or nauseated if they walk soon after consuming food.
Sleeping
Going to bed right after taking a meal will lead to improper digestion and several other gastrointestinal problems. The sphincter that is above the stomach will open up and allow the acid to run back into the esophagus and damage it. Furthermore, such a habit will also make you gain more weight. Hence, wait for an hour or two, and then take a nap.
Smoking
Smoking is bad for health at all times and so is it after a meal. The blood circulation in the digestive tract after eating is on the rise and several harmful cigarette ingredients are absorbed during this period, which cause damage to the important organs, like the liver, brain, and blood vessels.
Drinking Tea
Many of us have this habit of taking a sip of tea just after lunch or dinner. However, ensure that you get rid of this habit as early as possible because it’s really unhealthy. The tea leaves contain a very high amount of acid that obstructs the protein content in the food from getting digested. The best time to consume tea is at least one hour after eating.

Taking a Bath
If you take a bath after eating, the blood flow towards hands, legs, and body increases. Thus, the amount of blood will decrease around the stomach area, thereby weakening the digestive system and causing slow digestion. Therefore, either take a shower before your meal, or wait for at least 1-2 hours till the consumed food is digested.

Exercising
After we eat, all the blood flow and the organs involved in the process are concentrated for the process of digestion. If you exercise after eating, it will affect the body’s metabolism by decreasing the blood flow and causing difficulty in digesting the nutrients from the food. Wait for at least 2-3 hours after eating, and then begin with your workout.
Loosening the Waist Belt
Although there is lack of scientific evidence, it is believed that loosening the waist belt immediately after eating might cause the intestines to get tangled and blocked, hampering the process of digestion. To prevent this, remember to loosen the belt prior to every meal.
Eating Fruits
Consuming fruits at any time during the day is good except consuming them immediately after a meal. Eating fruits right after your meal may fill the stomach with air and cause bloating. They will also take time to reach the digestive tract, disturbing the entire process of digestion. To prevent your stomach from indigestion and other digestive problems, plan your consumption of fruits before or after 1-2 hours of a meal.
If you avoid doing all the above-said things after eating, it will definitely make your digestion easy, and you will probably be at a lower risk of any digestive problems. Give ample time to your body to adjust to the changes that you are making in the daily routine, and see the difference.

Why You Should Never Share Your Makeup

Side effects of sharing makeup products
Sharing makeup tips amongst each other can help you know beauty secrets for a flawless skin, but when it comes to sharing makeup products it is a strict no-no. Health experts are unanimous about the need to stop the habit of lending or borrowing makeup. Although the habit of sharing anything from games to food has been inculcated since childhood, it is of utmost importance that you purchase your own makeup products and avoid sharing them with anyone.

From a health standpoint, sharing makeup products can be risky. This bad habit can make you susceptible to a wide range of infections, the most common being pink eye. The frequent handling of cosmetic products makes it a potent source of bacterial growth and contamination. The bacteria residing on these products can easily get transferred onto your skin while doing your makeup. So, borrowing a makeup brush or lipstick from your friend is like asking for skin infections. Also, if your friend is least bothered about cleaning her makeup kit, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t get an infection from sharing her cosmetics.

Infections That You May Get from Sharing Makeup Products
Pink Eye
Sharing eye makeups such as eyeliner increases the risk of getting eye infections like conjunctivitis that causes reddening of the eye, thick white discharge, and swelling. You can also get a sty, a painful bacterial infection of the eyelash, from sharing mascara and eyeliner.
Oral Herpes
If you lend or borrow lipstick from your friend who is affected with oral herpes or cold sores, you may get these infections, that are marked by formation of blisters on the lips. Thus, any infection that occurs on the lips can easily get transmitted via lip pencil, lip gloss, and lipstick. Dermatologists warn that a small cut in the lip can pave way for infections via cosmetic products that are used by people infected with cold sores. Also, with the lips being extremely sensitive, you need desist from sharing your cosmetics.

Ringworm
Foundation and blush that are often used to conceal skin flaws can actually cause skin infections like ringworm, if they are shared amongst each other. Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin that can be easily transferred through these makeup products.

Acne
A makeup brush that is used often, acts as a breeding ground for bacteria. It is run over an oily face many times, which can spread bacteria. So, in case you decide to share makeup brush without cleaning it regularly, expect frequent breakouts of acne. In other words, it is believed that one may get acne from sharing makeup brushes if proper hygiene is not followed.

Scientific Evidence

A 2-year study was done to analyze the contamination of makeup items that are kept for testing at cosmetic counters in various departmental stores. The study, conducted under the guidance of Dr Elizabeth Brooks, a biological sciences professor at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, showed that all makeup products, including the moisturizer, were heavily colonized by strep, staph, and E. coli strains of bacteria.
The presence of E. Coli bacteria indicated that scant attention is given to washing hands after using the toilet. All in all, the study pointed out that people are predisposed to infections through sharing cosmetic products. So, the next time, if you feel like trying a makeup product at the cosmetics counter that has already been used by a large number of people, think twice.

On the whole, borrowing each others’ makeup can wreak havoc on your skin. To put it simply, our skin is unable to adapt to this habit of sharing makeup. Hence, it is best to keep the makeup to yourself as far as its usage is concerned.

Five Refreshing Ways to Start your Day

No matter how early we crash in bed or get only a few hours of sleep, waking up in the morning is never an easy task. Many of us try unique methods to revive ourselves like, drinking warm water, meditating, splashing cold water on the face, or even engaging in deep breathing exercises. These methods may work for some, but it may not be enough. Of course, there is no special formula or a magical technique that will help you start the day off right. However, there are a few things you can do to boost your mood in the morning and have a smooth day.
Making a Fresh Start
There can be many reasons behind not being able to wake up feeling fresh; perhaps you were burdened with deadlines at work, chores around the house, or you couldn’t stop thinking about the next day’s responsibilities. It’s quite common to feel exhausted and tired all the time. However, there are certain things you can do to begin each day feeling revitalized and focused.
Sunshine is the Key
As soon as your alarm clock goes off, don’t hit the ‘snooze’ button. Get out of bed, even if you cannot open your eyes completely and walk towards the windows. Regardless of the weather outside, open your windows to let fresh air and sunlight in. Stretch as much as you feel like and take plenty of deep breaths. It really doesn’t take much to wake up and start the day with a bang.
Listen to Music
After you wake up, take merely 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to listen to your favorite music. Put some energetic or inspiring music on your iPod (or turn on the radio) and let the beats charge you from inside. Music can manipulate your body into thinking that it’s energetic.
30-minute Workout
Easier said than done, a little bit of exercise in the morning is all it takes. There’s no need for you to jog 10 miles or hit the gym. What we are trying to say here is that physical activity can help increase your body’s temperature and kick-start your metabolism. You can choose to do yoga, jog at the same spot, walk or cycle around the block, or do some aerobics at home; all these activities will instantly warm you up.
A Relaxing Shower
It is believed that taking a cold shower not only provides you energy, but also improves blood circulation, relieves depression, keeps your skin and hair healthy, and strengthens your immunity. Now not everyone likes the idea of a cold shower, you can splash some cold water on your face initially and then bathe with not-very-cold-slightly-tepid water. Also, the beautiful fragrance of your shower gel will brighten your mood.
A Healthy Breakfast
Eating a super-healthy breakfast each morning is something every nutritionist and doctor will approve of. After all, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. What you need to be careful about is what you have for breakfast. When we say ‘super-healthy’, this means combining protein and carbohydrates to keep you alert. Also, it’s a great way to interact with your family before you head out for the day.
The Night Before
It’s not uncommon to have hectic work schedule, responsibilities and chores around the house, and take care of a whole lot of other things. So what you do the night before makes a huge difference on how your next morning and the rest of the day will be. Hence, it’s necessary to follow a particular routine each night before you go to bed.
Dos
1. Set the alarm clock and make a ‘to-do’ list.
2. Keep your outfit for the next day ready.
3. Remove all clutter from the bedroom.
4. Close the blinds before going to bed.
Don’ts
1. Go to bed hungry or eat just before bedtime.
2. Drink coffee or alcohol late at night.
3. Exercise before you go to bed.
4. Keep the alarm clock next to you.
Note: If you cannot fall asleep at night because your mind is preoccupied or you’re too stressed out, read something for a while, walk around the house to tire yourself, or have a glass of warm milk.

For a few days, following this routine can be unmanageable and you may feel like going back to the way things were. But try to hold on and keep pushing through. When you motivate yourself to do something positive in your life, things will work out the way you want them to. These are five simple tricks that will help elevate your mood after you wake up in the morning. You will feel more energized and sail through the day effortlessly.

8 Everyday Habits That Can Damage Your Brain

Brain damaging activities
Sleeping with a head cover
Sleeping with your head covered can also damage brain! Covering your head with a scarf or winter cap while sleeping deprives your brain of the requisite oxygen content as well as spikes the carbon dioxide levels, which is detrimental to the brain.
It goes without saying how cardinal your brain is to you and your body. It is what that separates us from animals and makes us ‘superior’ of all, only if we knew how we, through some of our activities and habits, are tarnishing it. As creatures of some of not-so-healthy and wise habits, we sabotage the efficacy and strength of our brain, which then reverberate on the overall processes of our body. The following mentioned are everyday habits that we engage in that can harm our brain.
Forgoing breakfast
Many of us don’t know the significance of breakfast. Not only does breakfast make an important meal of the day, it also has a significant impact on the activities that you undertake in a day. After hours of sleep, our brain is in need of essential nutrients to kick start its functioning. However, by skipping breakfast, we don’t just deny our brain of its essential fix of energy but also compel it to seek for high calorie and unhealthy food options.
Excess consumption of sugar
Our body takes liking to sugar like a duck to water. From its first taste, sugar hooks into our brain and makes it want to consume it in unduly amounts as it activates its reward centers. In addition to creating excessive addiction cycles, high sugar consumption is responsible for cognitive ailments, depression, memory impairment, etc.
Overeating
Those who hog out on unhealthy food expose themselves to the risk of heart failure, obesity, metabolism malfunctioning, mood swings, diabetes, and a host of other grave problems. Overeating, too has a similar effect on the brain as that of high sugar consumption. It releases dopamine, a feel-good hormone that gives a high to the brain. Overeating alters the biochemical constitution of the brain as well as creates craving cycles that wreak havoc on the brain and thus our body.
Smoking
The deleterious effects of smoking don’t just manifest on our lungs and heart but also our brain. Nicotine, in addition to causing the release of dopamine, also causes the cortex to thin. Thinning of the cortex is associated with memory impairment, anxiety, depression, and also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
Working despite not feeling well
What most of us don’t realize when we work despite feeling unwell is that we are encumbering our already feeble brain. Even during sickness, our brain is actually working to throw the bacteria out of our body and regulating our immune system. So, by saddling it with extra work, not only are you damaging its efficiency but also changing its focus from restoring your health.
Depriving yourself of sleep
Sleep is cardinal to the functioning of our brain. It is during our deep sleep cycles that our brain initiates processes that help our body to purge toxins. Sleep deprivation also disrupts cellular regeneration as well as kills the brain cells, which can cause severe cognitive impairment as well as neurode generation in those who already suffer from disorders.
Not engaging in brain-stimulating activities
Our brain needs to be engaged in stimulating activities like thinking, writing, and talking, because that’s what it is MEANT FOR! Those of us who are not training their brains enough, it might just shrink, and that’s definitely what you would not want to happen to you.
Air pollution
The air we breathe is a toxic amalgam of gases and has little oxygen in it. However, oxygen is like a life-saving drug for our brain and so when we inhale the vitiated air, not only does it robs it from its imperative supply of oxygen but also damages it.

Bad Family Habits and How to Change them

Habits are repeated actions performed by an individual when faced with a particular situation. Whenever the situation occurs, the behavioral activity or action occurs. But, yes, situations cannot be avoided every time, instead they can be replaced with something else.
Bad habits are easy to pick up and follow, but the effects start showing on one’s health and lifestyle. The sooner one realizes this, the better it is for one to change. You cannot all of a sudden put an end to bad habits, but you can change them with time. So, put in a little effort and with good habits, you can experience a transformation.

A Grubby House
Bad Habit: The entire house has things in disorder, kitchen sinks stained, dusty rugs, sooty kitchen shutters, and the worst part is that you don’t even have a place to eat or sleep, because it’s either covered with toys or clothes. A home is a place where you feel relaxed and at ease. But when you are not putting any effort to clean your messy house, then the kids are getting a wrong message.
Changed Habit: Put on some loud music and hand over gloves and scrubbers to your family members and start cleaning. Gather your husband and kids and make cleaning fun and interesting, like who cleans more gets more points, and the member with highest points will be allowed an extra hour of sleep.

Workout
Bad Habit: Busy routines leave no time for workouts. But even when there is opportunity, we don’t exercise. We engage that extra hour in sleeping or watching our favorite series. As parents if you don’t exercise, it sets a bad example for the kids. Leading an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to serious problems like obesity and high blood pressure.
Changed Habit: Start listening to some motivating workout songs and make it a rule in the house that on weekends or mornings, the entire family goes for a walk or jog. Initially, start with a workout that can be done by all the members, then move on to individual preferences.

Eating Habits

Bad Habit: Nowadays, it is rare to see the entire family having dinner together. The aroma of home-cooked food is now mostly replaced with the aroma of fast food and ready to cook food. Dinning table conversations rarely occur because someone is busy messaging on the phone or someone is watching television. The essence of family warmth is losing its charm.
Changed Habit: Be in charge and be stern about it. Even if everyday as a family you cannot have dinner together, make it a point to have dinner together at least once or twice a week. Collect everyone’s mobiles and keep them away from the dining area. Make the place cozy and comfortable by dimming lights and lighting up candles. Voila! You have a perfect family dinner.

Being Busy

Bad Habit: In a family everyone has their individual jobs or routines but as work pressure increases, your family time decreases. Parents become busy in their own work shifts, and kids remain busy in their extracurricular activities. Nobody really knows what is going on in each other’s lives.
Changed Habit: As a family, you people need to balance your work and personal life. Take time out of your busy schedule and plan for family get-togethers. Make a schedule and spare time where all the family members have to be present and abide by the schedule religiously. Go out for a brunch or play some family games, talk, and share your experiences and resolve issues. These activities make family bonding stronger.

Budget Planning

Bad Habit: Every family has a member who is a shopaholic or spendthrift. Kids get spoiled when no one pays attention to how much they spend. Then, finally on a rainy day or an emergency, you don’t have enough savings to solve your difficulty.
Changed Habit: Keep tabs on the allowance you give your kids and if they need more, go through their requirements and ensure that their demand is genuine, only then hand them the extra amount. Keep a record of monthly expenses and savings, then accordingly plan for the upcoming month and from savings always keep aside a fair amount for a rainy day.

Special Days

Bad Habit: Many a time, it happens that anniversaries and birthdays just pass like normal days. And even if there is a plan to celebrate, someone definitely misses it. Work excuses need to stop for not celebrating anniversaries or special days.
Changed Habit: Plan special things for special days. Show commitment and don’t let work come in between special moments. Keep the party small but do celebrate, because such occasions are the only moments that one can treasure.

Prefer Driving To Nearby Places

Bad Habit: For every small reason the car is taken out, whether it is walking to a nearby friend’s house or nearby school.
Changed Habit: Make a habit to walk and inculcate the same in your kids. Walking not only provides health benefits, it can also save you fuel.

Tips to Break the Habit of Skin Picking

Breaking the habit of skin picking
Love it, hate it, but you can’t ignore it. No matter if you feel happy, sad, anxious, or just plain indifferent, you can’t resist yourself from picking your skin. Doesn’t it sound like an addiction? An alarming state of a maniac who’s lost it all!

There are many of us who are addicted to skin picking. A habit dear to you right from your childhood. The pleasure you gained in picking on your skin around the nails and lips was enough to keep you busy throughout your childhood. And now, it has grown into an impulsive control “disorder”. Can it really be cured? Well, cure isn’t the correct word. Let’s say, we can help you stop or break the habit of skin picking by the following ways.

Know what causes it
If you accept that it is a disease and you need to come out of it, do a thorough research on it. Skin picking disorder or dermatillomania is caused due to external as well as internal factors. Tanning, dust, smog, and exposure to harmful microbes – bacteria and virus – can be the external factors.
Your diet, water, or other supplements that you have can play a role as well. It can also be passed on to you as a hereditary syndrome. But the most common cause is deep inside your head; as the coping mechanism to deal with high levels of turmoil, anxiety, or stress.
List down things that relax you
Note down the things and activities that help you relax. Do some painting. Play your guitar. Do yoga. Go for a sauna. Read magazines, novels, or books. Watch a movie. Listen to music. Or perhaps take a nap. It will help you curb the anxiety that compels you to start skin picking.

The Hate Approach
It may sound funny, but try this. Many in the world have found great relief in doing so. Take a large picture/poster of your favorite celebrity and paste it in your room. Take a red marker and draw zits and scars all over their face. Now sit and watch it. Then, using the marker draw a bold and dark cross all over the picture. This will remind you what “NOT” to become.

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop
Quite self-explanatory in this case. Keep your hands occupied. Take a squeeze ball or those popular Chinese Caomaru balls. To prevent biting around your nails, apply a bandage in that area or apply some fancy nail paint (for girls). That way, you will be less tempted to dig on your skin. Another reliable practice is to wear gloves. That way your hand remains covered, and your grip on any other object to pick skin completely wears away.

Inspirations on the go
Stick inspirational quotes and sayings everywhere you go. The kitchen (refrigerator) door, toilet door (preferably the inner side), car’s dashboard, or cupboards of your room. In this digital age, you rather set the quotes as wallpapers of your laptop and cell phones. This way, wherever you go, you will be reminded “NOT” to do it.

Keep loneliness at bay
When do you pick ideally? Whenever you are alone doing nothing! So, better we take this “loneliness” out of the scene. Try to remain engaged in something or the other. If you live alone, try to hang out – go to some departmental store, visit your friends, go partying, or go to some fine restaurant and treat yourself with whatever you like.

Healthy lifestyle
It all boils down to the same fact again and again – “A healthy lifestyle is the key to happy well-being”. Do regular exercises – yoga, morning walks, jogs, simple stress-relieving exercises like aerobics, etc. This will refresh you and lower your anxiety level.
Avoid eating too much fried junk food and instead go for nutritious food like salads, sprouts, juices, soups, raw vegetables, and fruits. Water is a great detoxifier, hence drink plenty of water. This will prevent the growth of acne and other scars on your skin. No acne, no picking!

Aromatherapy
Who doesn’t like the sweet fragrance of flowers? So does your skin. Aromatherapy has emerged as a great way to revitalize your skin and open the blocked pores, thus cleansing your skin.
▶ Take a vessel filled with hot, boiling water and add 2-3 tablespoons of aromatic herbs or oil in it.
▶ Place a wide towel over your head, covering the bowl and create a steam tent.
▶ Inhale the fragrant steam for about 5-10 minutes.
▶ Finish the process by washing your face with cold water.

Tip: Use lavender oil, lemon oil, or apricot oil. For herbs, you may choose chamomile, basil, mint, lavender, or rose petals.

Peer Counseling
One is always motivated to attain more when the inspiration comes from an alter ego. Try to be friends with fellow chronic skin pickers, and both of you can take it as a challenge to get rid of the disease. Competition, this way, is a healthy practice. Or you can use the social network to join forums where you can interact with people who have overcome a similar condition. Direct motivation from a veteran would do wonders.

Keep a track of your progress
Make a habit to log and register every bit of your growth as an anti-skin picker/peeler. Starting from day one, note down the frequency of your picking, the most susceptible areas where your pick on, and what ways are you trying to cope up with the urge. After every week, take stock. You will really feel happy and motivated by your progress. Plus, this documentation might come handy for others when you turn a ‘Once-a-Picker’.