Why Avoid the Smell of Smoke?

March 16th, 2013 admin Health Resources 0

A friend of mine recently posted, via our most trusted newspaper, Facebook, that he has decided to kick the butt…the cigarette butt, I mean. It’s gonna be tough luck I think for him to actually do it this time, cuz he’s tried about ten times in the past and didn’t quite get through. I’m wishing him the best of luck and that he will succeed this time round. Fingers crossed. What struck my interest, though, is that under his status, that he was going to quite and has been clean since the last two months, was one of his friend’s comments that he applauded him for trying because if he were to try too he would die after only half an hour of no smoke. Imagine that!

Well, I’m not a smoker, so it’s kinda hard for me to relate, but I’ve heard this from several others too. As kids we’ve all been told by our parents that it’s dangerous to our health to smoke, but while we are growing up we see cool smoking scenes in movies that, in spite of smoking-is-injurious-to-health lines running below the screen, make us want to look awesomely cool too. Aside from that, family members themselves or even our own parents smoke but have a “do as I say, but don’t do as I do” attitude when it comes to smoking. It’s tough to know what to do in such cases.

After doing a bit of research on the matter, I found out that each cigarette you smoke contains acetone, acetic acid, ammonia, arsenic, benzene, butane, cadmium carbon monoxide, cyanide, chloroform, dieldrin, ethanol, formaldehyde, hexamine, methane, methanol, napthalene, nicotine, nitrobenzene, nitrous oxide phenols, stearic acid, toluene, and vinyl chloride. What’s wrong with that, right? Let’s break it down with several examples of what each of these chemicals are used for. Acetone is used in nail polish remover. Acetic acid is used in Vinegar. Ammonia is used for cleaning floors and toilets. Arsenic is used in poison. Benzene is used in making dyes and plastics. Butane is a lighter fluid. Cadmium is used in NiCad batteries. Carbon Monoxide is found in car exhaust fumes. Cyanide is used in metabolic poison. Chloroform is an anaesthetic. DDT is an insecticide. Ethanol is used in alcohol. Formaldehyde is a preserver of body, tissue, and fabric. Hexamine is a BBQ lighter. Methane is a swamp gas. Methanol is a rocket fuel. Napthalene is used in the making of the mothballs that you use in your closet. Nicotine is used in insecticide, stimulants, and addictive drugs. Nitrobenzene is a gasoline additive. Nitrous Oxide Phenols is used in disinfectants. Stearic Acid is used in candle wax, Toluene in industrial solvents, and Vinyl Chloride in making PVC pipes. I guess the realisation of all these ingredients is that they are being inhaled into your body and never fully leave. Somewhat sad in my opinion.

It’s true that cigarettes have a superb nicotine kick, but actually the nicotine in cigarettes alters the chemical levels of dopamine and noradrenaline in your brain. Although this feeling may initially be perceived as enjoyable, in the long run it takes more and more nicotine to reach the same desired effect. If and when a smoker decides to quit smoking his/her levels of dopamine and noradrenaline again will swing out of balance and result in feelings of deprivation, depression, irritability, and anxiousness. The cravings for nicotine can reach an extreme to the point of making it difficult to lose the urge to smoke.

It’s interesting how companies are thinking up a whole bunch of new ways to smoke without actually “smoking”. A friend of mine recently told me about these unique devices called E Shisha, Electronic Shisha Sticks, which are shaped like cigarettes and can be used as them but don’t have nicotine, tar, tobacco, or anything in it. Electronic Shisha Sticks supposedly entirely harmless, and are more like toy cigarettes so that you can get the feel of smoking without actually doing the deed. It’s supposed to be great for weaning oneself off of cigarettes. E Shisha Sticks come in five flavours apple, strawberry, peach, grape, and blueberry so that there is a flavour for every smoker. And then of course there is also Champix which another popular way to kick the habit and get over withdrawals.

I recently was handed an interesting flyer that read “Stop Smoking, Start Repairing”. It laid out some pretty convincing statistics. For example:

  • In 8 hours of not smoking, excess carbon monoxide is out of your body.
  • In 5 days, most of the nicotine is out of your body.
  • In 1 week of not smoking your sense of taste and smell improves.
  • In 3 months of not smoking, your lung function has increased 30%
  • In 14 weeks, your lungs regain the ability to clean themselves.
  • In 11 months your risk of heart disease has halved.
  • In 1 year of not smoking, you can save over $ 4,000 not buying a pack a day.
  • In 5 years, your risk of a stroke has dramatically decreased.

So, I guess the big thing I’m trying to say here is that with every cigarette you don’t smoke, you’re that much closer to kicking the habit for good. Keep your eyes on why you are doing it and pace yourself to not give up. As that leaflet said: Every cigarette you don’t smoke is doing you good.

By Jem Romero

Compression Stockings as Vein Treatment

March 5th, 2013 admin Health Resources 0

At Amsterdam University’s Academic Hospital, Dutch scientists and researchers determined that compression stockings can actually have a more effective, and lasting, impact on varicose veins.

Although there are different kinds of venous insufficiencies, varicose veins are the most common. Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins can no longer close properly. This happens because the vein walls weaken, causing them to be more flexible, stretching them to a point where they cannot close the valve entirely; this results in venous reflux. If this happens then blood continues to flow into the vein and pools where the wall is weakest. This results in distorted and contorted looking veins on the surface, although some versions of chronic venous insufficiencies (CVI) can simply induce swelling or aching of the legs.

Veins are able to push the blood flow towards the heart due to strong muscle pressure. Needless to say, daily exercise has a huge impact in the prevention of varicosities—it’s why you’ll rarely see soccer players suffering varicose veins. However, many people who suffer from varicose veins are diagnosed as obese or overweight. This adds a great deal of stress and pressure to the veins. As this is the case, exercise may not cause immediate improvements, and vein removal may be the better option. However, for people who want to increase pressure around the legs—where gravity is strongest and most detrimental to veins—even before regular exercise makes an impact. Compression stockings are the solution.

Compression stockings–often referred to as compression socks–are a viable vein treatment and add pressure to the calves, which improves the venous reflux condition. In fact, in the Netherlands, a study was prepared on workers in a meat factory. Not surprisingly, due to the long hours of standing, many of the workers had made complaints about the aches and other pains in their legs* and, as a result, a study was conducted to see how the pain could be alleviated and conditions improved.

Most factories rely upon rubber mats to absorb the strain and pressure from workers’ legs. Not only this, but the mats have an added function of absorbing spills to reduce employees from slipping on the hard concrete floor. Primarily though, these are intended to keep fatigue down to a minimal. In the Netherlands study however, it was determined that compression stockings was a suitable and more efficient alternative.

Two control groups were used, one observational, and one experimental. The observational was on workers who simply worked from the rubber mats, but the experiment group was told to wear compression stockings. Surprisingly, the workers who wore the compression stockings were not only less fatigued, but also enjoyed wearing the stockings. This was just one study, but certainly provides a solid foundation since factory conditions are similar across the globe!

*Of course, the Netherlands isn’t the only place where this is the case, but factory workers globally often experience pain in their legs from prolonged standing. In Germany, a study showed that 2% of factory workers quit their jobs due to pain stemming from their legs. Even a seemingly small percentile creates significant data for why venous insufficiency is something to be monitored and accounted for, especially when it can be avoided.