Spring into Seasonal Health

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health-and-wellness expoBy: Susan Melvin, D.O., FAAFP, Chief Medical Officer, Long Beach Memorial

We welcomed the spring season on March 20, which means spring has “officially” sprung. The spring season means the sun is shining, baseball season is just around the corner, flowers are blooming and the days are getting longer. Even though spring brings fun, new health concerns also arise that need to be managed.

Get a Hold of Seasonal Allergies
Spring is the time for flowers to bloom, but with all of the pollination, airborne allergen levels are also blooming. Allergies can become overwhelming with itchy and watery eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing and possible even coughing. About 40 million people in the United States have some sort of “indoor/outdoor” allergy. The most common allergies triggers are pollen, mold spores, dust mite allergens and pet/rodent dander. By following simple steps, you can combat your seasonal allergies.

  • Be Proactive. If you know you are prone to allergies, begin using your antihistamines now. The time to start using them is typically around mid- to
    late-February, not late March when it is “officially” spring time.
  • Control Your Environment. Check the pollen count before doing outdoor activities like gardening or mowing the lawn. You also can buy a protective allergy mask for you to use during those activities.
  • Make an Appointment with Your Primary Care Physician. When your allergies can’t be controlled with over-the-counter and natural remedies, it is time to see your primary care physician. Your physician will help you determine what you are allergic to and may recommend prescriptions for you to take to control your symptoms.

Grab the Sunscreen
With longer and warmer days approaching, it is important to be conscious of the ultraviolet (UV) rays that you are being exposed to. The sun’s UV rays can cause skin cancer, damaging burns and changes in skin texture. It is absolutely necessary to protect yourself with sunscreen when you are outside having fun.

  • Check Ingredients. Look for sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide because they are safe and well-tolerated by most skin types.
  • Use Cream. It is easy to grab a stick or spray can of sunscreen, but cream sunscreens tend to provide better coverage.
  • Avoid Insect Repellent. If you need to have an insect repellent, buy it separately from your sunscreen, then apply a coat of repellent before your sunscreen.
  • Higher SPF Isn’t Always Better. Sunscreens with an SPF of 30-50 provide sufficient coverage. The amount of time you will be in the sun is a factor for determining the SPF that is right for you.
  • Reapply, Reapply, Reapply. Sunscreen chemicals break apart in the sun and water, and can rub off with towels. Even if you have SPF 100, you still need to reapply.

Steppin’ Time
Exercising at least 30 minutes a day can boost your energy and get you ready for those longer days and “bikini season” – which is just around the corner. Even if you can’t do 30 minutes at a time, try to break it up into 10 or even 5 minute increments. It is hard to fit in exercise with a busy life, but there are simple ways for you to get exercise at home, at the office or out and about.

  • Park Farther Away. Parking farther away from the grocery store, office or gym can help you get a few extra steps into your day.
  • Walk Up. Avoid elevators and escalators and take the stairs to get in more steps and build your leg muscles.
  • Grab a Buddy. Exercising with friends and family adds motivation and enjoyment to any activity.
  • Take a Walk. Grab your friends or dog and go for a walk around the local park or nature center. At work you can take a quick walk on your lunch break to get your blood flowing throughout your body.
  • Arm Curls. Use your shopping bags, purse or briefcase and do arm curls on the walk to your car to build muscle tone in your arms.
  • Turn Chores into Calorie Burners. Use the things you need to do to bring up your heart rate. Move with a purpose and burn some calories while vacuuming, gardening, washing dishes or dancing with a little one.

Seasonal health concerns are sneaking up on us. By controlling your allergies, wearing sunscreen and adding some exercise to your daily routine, you can sit back, relax and enjoy all that spring has to offer.

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