There is lot more to gardening beyond tagging it as a hobby. If eating local, fresh food that helps you save money and reap health benefits is your motive, start a home garden. Even more beneficial when you involve kids in this process. Even a journal studies shows that kids who grow up in a home with a garden ate more vegetables compared to kids who did not have access to a home garden.
Most multi-story apartments nowadays provide just the space needed for living and growing your own garden is unimaginable in some places. For instance, take the case of metropolitan cities where getting your own house is an unachievable dream for many people lifelong. Feasibility of a home garden becomes a big question mark in such places. Other issues such as time constraint or poor soil quality have paved way for the exotic concept of container gardening. Container gardening is a great way for kids to realize the actual place of birth of foods that we eat. Eating your own produce is an amazing feeling that not all people are blessed with.
Buckets and mugs are regular-style containers present in most houses. Use your creativity to come up with something flamboyant. Maybe a wheelbarrow, wooden boxes or small plastic stools can make a great pot! Hanging baskets seem good when there is extreme space restriction. Clay pots too are a worthy option for plants that don’t require much soil. Use containers suitable for the plant you grow-some plants need more soil and go deep compared to others. Seed packets can be referred to know more about the type of soil suitable for the plants.
Before using a wood container, get an opinion from the local hardware store about your container as some old woods might sometimes have harmful chemicals that can hinder the plant’s growth. Also, don’t use containers that previously contained toxic materials. Before using any containers, make a few holes here and there near the bottom (half-inch holes) to allow water to run out and prevent the roots from rotting. If water oozing from a plant worries you (surfaces get spoiled!), place a saucer underneath the pot and ensure to discard liquid at regular intervals from the saucer.
Heart of Gardening
Always start with a blend of different soils for maximized results and this is the right time to pull in your kids too! While it is easier to start with stuffs such as snap pea or cherry tomato, try growing vegetables that interest your kids. Many kids love to dig right into the soil to find their buried treasure. Carrots or potatoes are an excellent planting option for such kids and they grow well in a container too! Instructions on the seed packets help you decide when to plant each crop. Some seeds should be sowed indoors and then shifted outside or its better to put plants from a greenhouse into your container.
Take Good Care
Plants grown outside in soil naturally have abundant soil nutrients that take care of their needs. Plants grown in a container have restricted soil access and hence, must be replenished with nutrient in the form of compost material (prepared by yourself preferably) or commercial fertilizers. These plants need to be watered at least twice a day as there is less space for more water in one go. Ensure to remove dried leaves and buds to pave way for healthy new ones.
Finally, when it is harvest time, reap the benefits of your hard work by enjoying the yummy harvest. Sowing, growing and harvesting is an incomparable experience that’s beyond description. Kids who participate equally with their parents in all these phases of gardening realize the efforts of food cultivation and appreciate a farmer’s value. Such kids value food extremely carefully and avoid wasting them, eat all types of produce and look forward to growing plants repeatedly. Gardening is a fun, beneficial and a productive activity for the entire family. Read more on gardening and how this can be a valuable form of exercising at www.firsteatright.com.
The cold seasons witness frequent bouts of sinusitis cases in hospitals with doctors being surrounded by people sneezing and blowing their nose off due to common cold, pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus infection. Earlier patients used to cut short their medication tenure by a day or two despite doctor’s prescription indicating longer days of medications. But now, people prescribed antibiotics for sinus infections are on medication for 10 days or longer despite infectious disease doctors recommending only 5-7 days of medication for normal cases, according to a new study.
The study analyzed over 3.7 million adults prescribed antibiotics for sinusitis and found that more than 70% of them were prescribed antibiotics for 10 days or longer. This is not what is desired as our body becomes susceptible to side effects and even more, longer use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance.
As the phrase suggests, antibiotic resistance is the ability of the bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic and reduce the effectiveness of the prescribed drug. Cold, many of the sinus infections, most coughs and bronchitis (chest cold) are all viral infections and viral infections should never be treated with antibiotics in the first place. Also, antibiotic resistance is existing as the world’s most pressing health problem and some antibiotic-resistant infections can result in serious disability or even death. Read more on antibiotic resistance at www.firsteatright.com.
Antibiotic use can cause dizziness, nausea and diarrhea in a person while serious side effects can also include life-threatening allergic reactions and Clostridium difficile infection. Beyond the point that antibiotics should not be prescribed for cold, these medications are still prescribed for patients. When prescribed, it should be for not more than 5-7 days as the patient starts recovering within a few days after treatment.
Azithromycin, an antibiotic that’s not recommended for sinus infection, was excluded from the study after which results showed that 91% of all antibiotics prescribed for sinus infections were for not less than 10 days. It might also be possible that the doctor prescribing the medication advised his/her patients to stop medication after 5-7 days unless the patient still experienced symptoms.
Earlier guidelines suggested that antibiotics usage for shorter time durations will not kill the bacteria and there is 100% risk that the infection would recur at any point following the treatment. But now, the opposite has been proved true. If the patient starts responding to treatment, 5-7 is good enough and there is no need for use of antibiotics for longer durations than that.
Cold or Bacterial Infection?
Sinus infections can be a viral or bacterial infection and the only way to differentiate is to swab inside the nose and grow a culture. Often, its not needed as sinusitis mostly goes away on its own but if it persists for more than 10 days, it is better to visit your physician. Almost 85% of the sinus infections clear out on their own and it is remaining 15% only that need medical treatment. Treatment becomes necessary here (15%) as antibiotics might help prevent complications that might arise when any dangerous sinus infection spreads to the brain or eyes. Eye complications are more common accompanied by symptoms such as swelling, redness and reduced vision which can sometimes, even lead to blindness. Rarely, infections that spread to the brain can result in meningitis and brain abscess. Such complications from sinusitis even made people suffer from death during earlier times, in the absence of antibiotics. Mostly the bacterial infection too goes away on its own when the individual has no other medical problems that need attention and individuals can stay calm. Be precautious and monitor your sinus infections and seek the guidance of a physician if any symptoms worsen. Until then, drink plenty of fluids and take rest to shun away the effects of sinusitis.
People often pity women and men are almost totally ignored in this process. C’mon folks, men too are humans who have a heart and ache for love, affection and warmth. We often correlate depression with women and men don’t stand a chance in this process. Sadly, for men, most mental signs are not so dramatic as that of women when it comes to depression and also our society functions on the ideology that men should be able to handle the mightiest of the problem because of the ‘testosterone’ effect.
The ‘Mars’ Effect
Men and women handle and express depression differently. While depressions faced by women are apparent, it is not in the case of men. It manifests in the form of tiredness, irritability, uninterest in work, family or hobbies and sleeping difficulties. While depressed women may attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide. Despite all these, most men don’t seek help for depression as they feel reluctant and shy to disclose such a problem. But, depression is a serious problem that can affect a man at any age. At the same time, it is a real and treatable illness.
Most Common Depression Forms that Affect Men
Individuals express differently and show different signs. Common among them include:
The moment you realize that you are succumbing to depression, it is advisable to meet your physician and explain all your symptoms, their duration, when they started, the medications you take for other health problems and how long you have been feeling depressed. Doctor might suggest antidepressants or advise you to take a few therapy sessions to solve your problem. Individuals put on antidepressants must be monitored closely as an antidepressant can have side effects such as headache, nausea, sexual problems, agitation, nervousness and sleeping difficulties. The person on these medications might also feel suicidal at the start of these medications and hence, must never be left unattended. One thing to remember is that the advantages of using medications far outweigh the disadvantages of the same.
Conjunctivitis is common among adults and children residing worldwide and is one of the easily treatable medical conditions. Also known as ‘pink eyes’, conjunctivitis gets its name due to inflammation of the conjunctiva which is a thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball. This inflammation makes the blood vessel of the eye much more visible, thereby giving our eyes its pink (or red) color.
Pink eyes can affect one or both eyes, is highly contagious and easily spreads between humans. It is of three main types namely allergic conjunctivitis, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis is mostly due to the same virus that causes common cold and hence, individuals experience similar symptoms such as runny nose and cough.
Bacterial conjunctivitis causes continuous white discharge and it is due to the same bacteria that causes strep throat. It can be treated with antibiotic drops or ointment. Both, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis spread easily from person to person when there is direct contact with the infected person’s body fluids usually through hand-to-eye contact.
Allergic conjunctivitis is due to allergic reactions to pollens or animals and also due to cigarette smoke, car fumes, pool chlorine and other toxic substances. Symptoms usually include running nose, itchy eyes and puffy eyelids. This is not contagious.
Pink Eye Symptoms
Pink eye symptoms vary depending on the cause but commonly include:
Mostly pink eye conjunctivitis disappears on its own without treatment. Sometimes, it is essential to meet a healthcare provider for specific conditions such as intense redness in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, moderate to severe pain in eyes, a weakened immune system and symptoms that only get worse but never improve even after 24 hours of antibiotic use.
Most physicians prescribe topical antibiotic fearing that the infection might be bacterial as it is not easy to differentiate between bacterial and viral conjunctivitis simply by looking at it. Ophthalmologists condemn this policy of treating everyone just for being “safer” and even a study shows the problems faced due to antibiotic overuse to treat conjunctivitis. Patients experience side effects and allergic reactions, parents who administer antibiotics to infants and children face a greater challenge and continuous use of antibiotics increases antibiotic resistance making antibiotics less and less effective when we need them really.
Reduce Spreading of Pink Eye Conjunctivitis
As bacteria and virus are the common factors that promote spreading of conjunctivitis, it is possible to develop a secondary infection that is again contagious. Stop this by following these tips:
Newborns with Pink Eyes
When parents/caretakers notice pink eyes in newborns, it is required to meet your pediatrician immediately. It can be due to an infection, irritation or a blocked tear duct. When the same infection is due to a sexually transmitted infection, it is even more serious. When you doubt that you are infected by some sexually transmitted disease during pregnancy, get it immediately tested and treated by visiting your physician. Read more on sexually transmitted diseases at www.firsteatright.com.
Newborns are usually susceptible to bacteria present in the mother’s birth canal and this can rarely cause infants to develop ophthalmia neonatorum which needs immediate treatment to prevent causing permanent eye damage. As a precautionary measure, hospitals apply an antibiotic ointment to every newborn’s eyes to prevent eye infection.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.