Overexposure to Computer Screen and Phones

We are living in a digital world now more than ever. Spending hours watching TV, books transformed into e-books, even abandoning debit cards and paying directly with our phones; digital devices are becoming more essential in our everyday lives. Everything around us, as a result, continues to get faster, smarter and overwhelmingly digital.

We have all the information we would ever need right at our fingertips. Constantly using our phones to mindlessly scroll on social media, texting, researching, also many of us have jobs that require us to stare at a computer screen hours at a time. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), 58 percent of adults have experienced digital eye strain or vision problems. Digital eye strain is the temporary discomfort that follows two or more hours of digital device use which as a result causes the eyes to work harder to focus on the small pixelated images that technology holds.

Symptoms associated with digital eye strain include:

  • headaches
  • dry eyes
  • blurred vision
  • eye discomfort
  • neck and shoulder pain.

In fact, the average U.S. workers spend seven hours a day on a computer, either in the office or working from home The mere use of digital devices is not only what affects our vision but also the way we use them. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recognizes the need to address this issue stating that, “as more people spend their days at work on a computer and their free time on handheld devices, doctors of optometry seeing more patients who are experiencing digital eye strain,” said Steven A.  Loomis, O.D., president of AOA.  Furthermore provided five simple steps that can relieve the problem:

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
  • Keep a distance: The AOA recommends sitting a comfortable distance from the computer monitor where you can easily read all text with your head and torso in an upright posture and you’re back supported by your chair. Generally, the preferred viewing distance is between 20 and 28 inches from the eye to the front surface of the screen.
  • View from a different angle: Ideally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees, or about 4 to 5 inches, below eye level as measured from the center of the screen.
  • Decrease glare: While there is no way to completely minimize glare from light sources, consider using a glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
  • Blink often: Minimize your chances of developing dry eyes when using a computer by making an effort to blink frequently

Are Masks or Respirators Really Effective or Necessary?

A question many are asking as news about coronavirus continuous to circulate.

It is important to understand the differences between these two types of protective equipment. Since there is limited historical information on the effectiveness of surgical masks and respirators for the control of influenza during any previous pandemics, the effectiveness of surgical masks and respirators has been inferred on the basis of the mode of influenza transmission, particle size, and professional judgment.

The purpose of face masks is to protect the user from potential hazards or prevent an infectious person from contaminating someone else. However, during inhalation, a face mask does not fit tight enough to prevent inhalation of small airborne contaminants that are not visible to the human eye. The contaminated air can pass through gaps between the face and the surgical mask regardless of how tight fitting it is. It is, however, acting as a barrier to keep contaminated hands from nose and mouth also protects workers, such as healthcare professionals, from splashes or sprays of blood or bodily fluids.

A respirator is a device that protects you from inhaling dangerous substances, such as hazardous fumes, chemicals, and gases including dust and airborne microorganisms. Depending on the type of respirator, testing and adjusting are required to provide a tight seal. Training is important in regard to the use of respirators because they are meant for industrial settings. In addition, respirators must be put and taken off in an area outside the contaminated area to avoid hazardous gases from entering the respirator.

Respiratory protection is effective only if:
the correct respirator is used,
it’s available when you need it,
you know when and how to put it on and take it off, and
you have stored it and kept it in working order in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions

Visit osha.gov and cdc.gov for a further in-depth understanding of the differences between masks and respirators.

At Nova Medical Centers we specialize in occupational health. From our friendly staff to our superb services, we tailor our care to every single patient. Our clients speak highly of our speedy recovery, short wait times and friendly staff. Click here to read testimonials on our loyal clients and their experience with NOVA medical centers.

Time for New Year’s Resolution Check-In

It’s already March!  It’s time to check-in. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along? Have you been able to follow through with your goals?

After going through the holidays abandoning most of our responsibilities, indulging in things we regularly wouldn’t. New Year’s Resolutions provide a chance for a fresh start. However, when the excitement of a new year wears off, many people struggle with the motivation to stick to their plans. In fact, according to Forbes, studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them. We make New Year’s resolutions with the best intentions although when life takes over, we fall off the bandwagon and end up leaving our resolutions in the dust.

Focusing on the outcome and not the journey can lead to a feeling of disappointment when a goal isn’t achieved. Switching your yearly “resolution” and turning it into a “theme” instead, can be really beneficial. A theme represents a broad name for the general direction you want to navigate your life, an important goal that resonates personally with you. For example, a person trying to lose weight would declare their theme of the year to be, year of health or a person trying to spend less or pay off credit card debt would declare their theme to be the year of finances.  Choosing a theme guides your year to the right shape and direction.

Setting a new year’s theme will allow your goal to grow and adapt with you reminding you to be different in little moments. At any moment unseen obstacles happened and expecting ourselves to atomically adhere to a resolution such as going to the gym every day can become an added stressor and lead to gym memberships you’ll probably never use. New habits aren’t formed overnight be patient. When trying to build yourself into a better version precision doesn’t matter, all that matters is the constant improvement.

Having a theme will help notice paths that would’ve been otherwise ignored; it allows room for change without the guilt of having failed to attain specific goals. For example, if it’s your year of reading when stuck in a long line at the store during a big sale day, why not open up a book or kindle app. instead of scrolling through social media.  Who said you need to read at least an hour in one go? Maybe it’s your year of health, there are plenty of free at-home workouts on YouTube that only require 15 minutes of your time per day skip the gym membership until you actually start working out consecutively also grabbing an apple instead of a bag of chips for a snack.

Small successes lead to great accomplishments. As you build self-trust in achieving the small things your motivation grows. Invent challenges to strengthen your ability. Furthermore, realize your only human skipping a workout doesn’t mean you failed to own up to it and get back on track the next day. The faster you can move on from denial to acceptance in regards to yesterday’s failures; the sooner you can start focusing on the now. It’s only been a few weeks! There is no quick fix the key is consistency.

Extended Unusual Work Shifts

In today’s hustle and bustle economy work has become an added stress instead of being the stepping stool needed to launch us into a more thriving financially successful life, work has taken on a different meaning. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average number of hours worked annually by workers in the United States has increased steadily over the past several decades and currently surpasses that of Japan and most Western Europe.

Extended or unusual work shifts may be used to increase a person’s resources or are often required by first responders doctors, firefighters, etc. Working irregular hours can be hazardous to your health and also increase the risk of injuries and accidents. Research from the Harvard Business Review workaholics, whether or not they work long hours, reported more health complaints and had increased risk for metabolic syndrome; they also reported a higher need for recovery, more sleep problems, more cynicism, more emotional exhaustion, and more depressive feelings.

Making a change…

Mistakenly people may assume that sleep that the lack of sleep caused by these usual work hours can be overcome by motivation, professionalism, training, and experience which is not true! As an employer, it is important to examine work demands and make use of each employee to prevent overworking those in the current field. Keep in mind that fatigue will be a bigger problem when responders are working long shifts and the tasks are very demanding or exposed to other health or safety hazards. As an employee, it is very important to plan two full days of rest or at minimum one day during the course of a week where workers relax and naturally wake up without setting an alarm.

When extended or unusual work shifts are not avoidable there are a lot of different two minutes or fewer steps that can be done to further help. In addition to regular lunch breaks some techniques that help relax the brain and train your mindset are;

  • Meditation- improves a wide range of skills including attention, focus, stress management, and self-awareness.
  • Deep breathing- as you exhale, your heart rate slows, repeated deep breaths will naturally bring your heart rate more in sync with your breath. This leads the brain to release endorphins, chemicals that have a natural calming effect.
  • Imagery- close your eyes and visualize yourself in a more relaxing setting.
  • Stretching- stimulates receptors in the nervous system that slow the production of stress hormones. It can als0 increase blood flow, flexibility and improve your posture.

Learning to recognize the symptoms and impact of demanding work schedules can prevent worker fatigue and fatigue-related injuries and illnesses. Read our Nova blog for further ways to help maintain your mental health in your work environment.

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Creating a “Culture of Health” in the Workplace

Culture of Health (COH) is a workplace environment in which employee health improvement is supported and promoted through worksite health and well-being programs including benefits and environmental support. This program is to not only encourage individual behavioral change but also to reduce the common stressors in the workplace that have negative take home effects on health behavior.

Work is an important part of life; something that is necessary for the financial stability of an individual. Implementing a culture of health would not only be a long term beneficial improvement among workers but also to the employer. In fact, an employer will receive a very high return on investment for example,

  • Lower insurance costs- the CDC state that healthy employees spend less out-of-pocket on health-related expenses and so do their employers. Employees in good health present a lower insurance risk which translates into lower insurance costs.
  • Improving employee engagement- employees perceive the company as caring for their well-being
  • Heightened job satisfaction- the promotion of health and well-being results in greater employee engagement, satisfaction, and trust.
  • Boosting morale- better health means happy and more energetic productive workers.
  • Fewer absences- chances of being sick are less to none, reducing the number of sick days and time spent away from work

Culture of health is not only about implementing a set of rules but understanding the big picture and leading by example. First, you must understand your organization. Knowing people’s motivation, needs and preferences are important in making sure they all get the message and are motivated to engage in healthier behaviors. The goal is to discover the best practices for each given workplace environment. To be effective, workplace wellness programs need to be intertwined into the structure of the organization.

According to the RAND Employer Survey, employers overwhelmingly expressed confidence that workplace wellness programs reduce medical cost, absenteeism, and health-related productivity losses. For further support, partnering with an expert in this area will help move you move from contemplation into action. Organizations such as Cigna helps employers build the framework to implement such a culture. Creating a strong COH in the workplace is a very important addition which often translates into greater profits, happier clients and improved overall workplace rankings.

At Nova Medical Centers, we solely focus on occupational health. We pride ourselves in delivering exceptional services and helping our clients prioritize their health and safety needs. Contact us for more information about any of our services. Our skilled and friendly staff members are ready to meet all your occupational health needs.

Top 4 Reasons to Drink Alkaline Water

We can all agree that water is an essential need for body health, but not all water is the same. Researchers show that alkaline water provides other extra great benefits that regular tap or bottled water lack.

What’re the secrets…?

  1. Restores Ph balance in the body – Alkaline water carries a higher amount of Ph levels than regular bottled water which contributes to reducing the acidity levels in your body. According to the Healthline online article, Ph is a term referred to as levels of acid or alkaline a substance contains; this is measured from 0 to 14. The lower the number, the more acidic. Healthline reveals that “normal drinking water generally has a neutral pH of 7; alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9.” Results show that alkaline water is more beneficial by being able to effectively neutralize the acid in your body compared to other waters.
  2. Increases Energy levels – In a Newsmax health review, a co-author of the pH Miracle, Robert O. Young expresses that too much acid in the body can result in the loss of energy, increase in fatigue and drowsiness. As it is established that alkaline water is an exceptional source of reversing acidic levels in the body, it can also restore energy levels that were withdrawn.
  3. Extra hydrating than other water – Based on the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, alkaline water has an increasing hydrating effect through blood viscosity versus regular water. Blood viscosity is level hydration being measured. When you have a low blood viscosity, your hydration level should be higher. In this case study, participants were given water to drink after their workout, half alkaline water, half regular purified water. Those consumed alkaline water, their viscosity reduced to about 6.30% compared to those who consumed regular water with their reduction averaging 3.36%.
  4. It can help reduce signs of aging – Almost over half the percentage of our body is of water; water is essential to keeping our organs healthy and functioning correctly. “If your water content decreases in any particular body parts [such as skin, muscles, and organs], then the health of these specific parts of your body would decrease,” according to the Alkaline Water Plus article; “you’d look and feel less youthful and more aged.” Alkaline water is suggested as containing antioxidants to extensively hydrate and filter out free radicals in your body, hence, halting the aging process of cells by keeping them healthy.

Side Effects: Possible overconsumption of alkaline water can over neutralize the body’s natural acid levels which can remove the probiotics “good bacteria” needed. Probiotics are the good bacteria that the body requires to fight off harmful bacteria and other pathogens.

Though alkaline water sounds like the best thing ever, always seek additional advice from a medical professional before switching. Remember, health is wealth!

How to Achieve Hydrating Healthy Skin in these Dry Chilly Months

Overall skin care is always important; but as the temperatures are progressively dropping, this can cause your skin to become dryer than normal. With these few health skin hacks, you can help promote your skin to reach its healthiest and most hydrating state.

If you have sensitive skin or possible skin allergies, please consult with your doctor for more information or recommendations for your specific skin concerns 

  1. Moisturize after washing your body and face. When you shower or wash your face, the soap is stripping the dirt and oil from your skin. So, it is very important that you make sure you restore your skins moisture barrier and Ph levels. With the weather getting cooler, your skin is more prone to absorb moisture and dry out quicker; so, try to keep travel lotion either in your car, bag, or desk to have easy access for reapplication.
  2. Regular exfoliating is very important in helping your skin absorb the maximum amount of moisture. Exfoliating is removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, either mechanically such as brushes, scrubs or chemically with products that contain acids. According to Women’s Health magazine article, it’s explained that “as we age, the process of cell regeneration slows down. This means that the body is slower to shed skin cells and generate new ones.” By removing those piled up skin cells, you are able to expose fresh new skin and open up your pores that will allow for moisturizing products to penetrate further into the skin without the dull rough barrier.
  3. Vitamin C contains properties that allow your skin to retain moisture. In vitamin c, it consists of a water-soluble derivative, Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP). The function of this specific acid, according to the Indian Dermatology online journal, is to create “a hydrating effect on the skin and decrease transepidermal water loss.  Tip: Vitamin C is best absorbed with foods such as oranges, broccoli, papaya or even in a serum form; massage just a few drops prior to applying your moisturizer.
  4. Consistent water consumption increases hydration from the inside and out of your entire body. Water is a natural detox as it flushes out toxins from your body. These toxins in your body can show in the appearance of your skin with blemishes, rashes, and dryness. By drinking your daily recommended amount of water, about half a gallon according to Healthline, you can reduce the number of skin impurities; so, you can fully absorb the amount of moisture or any topical applied to your skin.  Tip: Keep skin damp when applying your favorite moisturizer or lotion. This allows your pores to remain open to maximize absorption; leaving super soft skin.
  5. Maintaining a healthful diet is another great contribution to maintaining healthy skin. A dermatology professor, Leslie Baumann, in a Real Simple article explains, “Diet can play a role in strengthening your skin’s ability to maintain moisture, too.”  Leslie suggests fatty-acid foods such as nuts, fish, or olive oil to try incorporate more into the diet as these can increase moisture production in your skin.
Probiotics Blog

Probiotics to Enhance Your Health

Probiotics are, essentially, the good bacteria used to fight off the bad bacteria in our bodies. “Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body,” according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health; “Among adults, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals.” Probiotics are known to be a popular and highly effective way to maintain or store healthy microorganisms into your body allowing for improvement in your digestive tract, fighting disease-causing cells, preventing vaginal or urinary infections and more! 

Consuming Probiotics 

WebMD offers great advice on different options to receive the maximum amount of probiotics into your food regime. Below are a few recommendations to definitely consider for yourself!

  1. Yogurt is the most traditional way to intake probiotics. It’s convenient and you can incorporate whatever fruits or nuts to cater to your taste buds.
  2. Supplement pills are taken once a day or as often your doctor suggests. Probiotics pills can be found over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor.
  3. Sour Pickles are pickles soaked in sea salt and water instead of, commonly, vinegar. This combination is what promotes the growth of the good bacteria in the pickles.
  4. Sourdough bread is surprisingly baked in rich amounts of probiotics. It’s still “bread” so try to consume in moderation with other healthy additions to your meal.
  5. Miso soup is a breakfast entre from Japan that has become a popular food option here in the U.S. This soup contains high amounts in, not only, probiotics but in vitamin B and other antioxidants.

These are just a few of many ways to increase your probiotic intake. If you are unable or won’t consume these choices, consider requesting more information and recommendations from your trusted doctor. There are so many other great ways to help promote a healthful lifestyle and probiotics is one of them!

4 Oral Health Tips for the Holidays

Nothing like going to the dentist and leaving with fresh breath and cavity-free! To maintain those healthy teeth, your dentist might advise you to stay away from those surgery drinks and tasty treats. With the holidays approaching, that could sound like torture. Keep calm, with these few oral tips; you can indulge in all those holiday sweets without encouraging any new toothaches.

Don’t overindulge with the sweets. If you can help it, limit your intake of sugary foods and desserts. According to Healthline, “a select group of harmful bacteria produces acid in your mouth whenever they encounter and digest sugar”. This process is known as remineralization, unfortunately, the acid from those sugars is breaking down the tooth enamel. This is the outer layer of protection for your teeth; when this is broken down over time, you are prone to developing cavities. You don’t necessarily have to give up the sweets, just enjoy in moderation.

Drink water often with and in-between meals. Water is a great way to rinse and wash away let over food lingering in your mouth, around your gums and tongue. It may not be as effective as a mouth wash, but water doesn’t contribute to the harm of your teeth enamel as it is flushing away leftover particles before they stick.

Try to brush after each meal. It is recommended to brush your teeth at least twice daily. But, during the holiday season, it can be good to strive to brush more often given that you are in taking more food and beverages. In the New York Times, article, it is advised to wait at least 20-30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. Remineralization occurs after sugar enters your mouth and brushing your teeth too soon can speed up that process.

Floss often, if a toothbrush is not accessible at the moment. Of course, it is not likely to keep a toothbrush handy in your pocket, but it could be easier to travel with some floss. Along with drinking your water, floss also is a convenient option to remove leftover food trying to settle in-between your teeth. “More than 500 bacterial species can be found in plaque”, according to the American Dental Association; “Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach”. 

Yes, it is possible to maintain a healthy smile during the holidays. You can happily give into sweet sugary temptation as long as you continue good dental hygiene practices. If you have any additional concerns or need more oral advice, reach out to your dentist for their expertise.

Attention! You Can Get Athlete’s Foot, Too

The Foot Facts

First things first, you don’t have to be an athlete to catch this foot fungus. Almost anyone, who often wears closed-toed shoes, can be at risk of developing an athlete’s foot. Medical News Today briefs, “Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the upper layer of the skin of the foot…” Overextended time, if untreated, the fungus infection can escalate in warm moist environments, causing more discomfort and irritation. The athletes’ foot is an infection that can found lingering in clothes and on public floors such as locker rooms, bathrooms, spas, and swimming pools. Although it is a harmless infection, it can look and feel unappealing.

Keep your feet to yourself

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), you’ll first notice irritation or stinging between your toes; from progression, that area of the skin can become soggy and white. Prolonging treatment will cause the overall foot to develop agonizing blisters and scaly skin. NCBI’s research results enlighten that “15% to 25% of people are likely to have athlete’s foot at any one time.” Estimated by the UK poll, “…athlete’s foot is present in about 15% of the general population.” By staying aware of various ways the infection can spread, it can aid in support to continue lowering the number of infected individuals.

Some cases incorporate:

  • Hands – If you touch, pick or scratch infected area, you risk spreading the infection to your hand and possible to others.
  • Groin – the bacteria originated from Athlete’s foot can transmit to your groin by your hands, towels, or bed.
  • Sharing – you can spread or contract the foot fungus from an infected person by sharing shoes or socks. 

The athlete’s foot infection is highly contagious; there is a great risk to easily spreading to other parts of your body and to others, especially, in community environments. Until the infection is completely treated, if possible, limit contact and sharing with co-workers, friends, or family; avoid walking barefoot around your home or public facilities to prevent spreading.

According to emedicalhealth, if the rash takes longer than two weeks to resolve after over-the-counter antifungal medications; consult with a doctor to receive the best treatment option for you.