Lifetime consequences of a stunning tan

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In our minds, we always link summer to images of paradisiac beaches with tanned bodies composing such idyllic scenes. As the bathing season starts, we concern ourselves with getting that right golden brown tone. But how much do we worry about maintaining a healthy, young skin?

High temperatures, higher risks

Behind the sunny weather that warms up our vacations, numbers speak out loudly: according to the World Health Organization, nowadays, 2 to 3 million non-melanoma and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer. In the U.S., where the tanning trend is blatant, one in five will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, as stated by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Even as prevention of skin cancer is acknowledged by the population at large, there are many good practices still to nourish. Excessive exposure to the sun is well known as the biggest cause for sunburns – what is not so obvious is that neither shade nor sunscreen alone can completely prevent it from happening. In 2017, JAMA Dermatology showed that 78 % of participants in a “shade” group got sunburned after a 3½-hour period, while only 25 % of those wearing sunscreen did.

For those who enjoy their vacations at the mountains rather than the beach, prevention shouldn’t be less reinforced: according to the Skin Care Foundation, levels of ultraviolet radiation increase by up to 24 % for each 1,000-meter increase in altitude.

Medication is also another troubling issue: some common prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including antibiotics, can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Tanning beds myths

On one hand, we already know that the sun can be dangerous – even if we can’t fully grasp how much. On the other, there is a growing belief that tanning beds are beneficial to our health.

Many even think that this procedure fulfils the same purpose as light boxes used to treat psoriasis and other skin conditions. However, machines used in tanning salons are nothing like the light boxes we find today in doctors’ offices.”

Also, there is the widespread idea that tanning beds improve our vitamin D levels. Few of us know that tanning beds emit UVA rays, instead of UVB, the ones that actually interact with the protein in the skin that converts solar rays into vitamin D.

One study observing 63 women diagnosed with melanoma before age 30 found that 61 of them (97 %) had used tanning beds. As dermatologists highlight constantly regarding the dangerous consequences of tanning beds: one visit to the tanning salon significantly increases your chances of a cancer that can kill you.

The right formula for a young skin

For those who cannot do without a brown skin in the summer, the American Academy of Dermatology advises to apply self-tanner rather than get a tan. “Every time you get a tan, you prematurely age your skin.”

Expensive anti-ageing procedures and products sold as formulas to keep our looks fresh and young are not effective in preventing the ageing of the skin. Instead, sunscreen and similar ways of protection must be used regularly to keep your skin young.

Protect yourself: check regularly 

Use as many types of sun protection as you can, in combination, including clothing, hats, sunglasses and getting out of the sun – which is the best prevention you can accomplish.

Skin cancer prevention also includes being aware of changes in the skin, particularly those that look odd. A physician should promptly assess any new lesion or a progressive change in a lesion’s appearance (as size, shape, or colour).

Medical Port provides access to care in the fields of Dermatology and Oncology with English-speaking staff in Portugal. Please contact us if you want to undergo a medical consultation in order to check your skin. Stay safe this summer!

Cardiovascular diseases

All the organs in the body are important, but the heart certainly deserves a special care. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 75% of CVD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

Cardiovascular diseases refer to disorders related to the heart and blood vessels. In the UK, every 7 minutes, somone suffers from a heart attack and around 160,000 people die from heart and circulatory diseases every year. In Portugal, in 2012 there were over 30 000 deaths due to cardiovascular diseases.

The following image describes the different cardiovascular diseases:

Cardiovascular diseases: coronary heart disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle; cerebrovascular disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain; peripheral arterial disease – disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs; rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria; congenital heart disease – malformations of heart structure existing at birth; deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.

In any of these scenarios, an early detection and management on an existing condition are essential. If you would like to know more about the status of your heart, Medical Port has a special check-up that focuses solely on the heart. Check the image below or send us an email for more information.

Cardiovascular check up

Additionally, adopting healthy habits, as described in the previously article  is also advisable, as smoking, hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, overweight and a sedentary lifestyle are all risk factors.

Sources: WHO   Heart UK   Revista Factores de Risco

Parents: help your kids reach full potential at school – part 2

Following the previous article we give you a few more tips to guarantee your children will have a prosperous school year. This time we talk about sports, grandparents and dyslexia. 

Sports

Designed by Freepik
Designed by Freepik

Sports are always a good choice as an extra curricular activity. According to a study from the University of Illinois, USA, the

better physical preparation, the better the intellectual development. Additionally, exercising has other benefits like fighting obesity, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, increasing memory and attention, strengthening the muscle, bones and articulations, increasing self-esteem, diminishing anxiety, improve sociability, tolerance and discipline, helping with sleep and promoting good eating habits.

Family relationships: grandparents

Did you know that according to a study from the Institute of Aging from Boston, USA, a close relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is associated with a lesser risk of depression for both?  Psychological health becomes better as there is a stronger mutual emotional support.

Another study suggests that children with a close relationship with their grandparents have less emotional and behavioral problems. Grandparents are also a source of learning for children. They pass on pass on historical, cultural and scientific knowledge and help in the language development

Dyslexia

It is estimated that 1 in 10 people in the world have dyslexia, a genetic language disturb that interferes with the way the brain processes the written language. It causes problems in reading, as the child will have troubles recognizing words previously read or known. Dyslexia is not a sign of lack of intellectual capacity or laziness. A child may simply need more time to process all the information. It can be overcome with specialized therapy and other resources like adequate learning materials.

If you think your child may be dealing with dyslexia, contact us and we will help you booking an appointment with an appropriate specialist.

Check the previous article to learn more on eating, sleeping and studying.  Read more on pediatrics.

Sources (in Portuguese):   Dyslexia      Grandparents       Sports

Coping with Burnout

Are you feeling too much stressed out about work, even during the holidays? Feel tired all the time? Don’t care as much about yourself anymore and don’t have much motivation to start a whole new day? You may be suffering from burnout – and you are not alone.

Burnout is a syndrome of overwhelming mental exhaustion, a result of emotional and interpersonal stress factors on the job. Burnout tends to happen more in occupations that deal with people, like healthcare, social services, justice and education, but it can extended to other professional areas and affect people on all levels, from interns to CEOs.

Image: Medical Port
Image: Medical Port

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), quoting authors Maslach and Jackson, there are three main characteristics of the burnout syndrome: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. Unlike depression, which is considered to be context-free and pervasive across all situations, burnout is specifically job-related.

In a recent article, CBS News reports that people in their 20s and 30s who have lower job satisfaction demonstrate worse mental health and are at higher risk of developing health problems when they reach their forties.  Indeed, according to current research, there are higher rates of burnout among people in their 20s and 30s.

Symptoms

Symptoms of burnout can include: continuous exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed by the smallest work activity, lack in concentration, negativism, irritability, frustration, lack of motivation, among others, even including temporary memory loss. A study from an American HR-focused research firm from 2015 revealed that over 50% of the 2500 workers they surveyed reported the burnout syndrome.

Why you should care

Burnout syndrome will not develop overnight, so pay attention to some warning signs such as the symptoms described above. Seek professional help if you fear you may be suffering from burnout. By not seeking treatment, you are putting your work, health and personal life at risk. As you take less care of yourself and develop nocive behaviors like increased use of alcohol and caffeine and lack of sleep, your immune system may be compromised and you may become more prompt to illness. Burnout treatment will help you regain confidence, restore your brain functions, identify risky behaviors and help you achieve more positive emotions.

Why not overcome burnout by taking some time in a warm and sunny location?

Portugal is a peaceful, welcoming country with good quality of life. If you decide this is your destination for a well-deserved break, you can find many tips throughout this blog, whether you want to visit bigger cities like Lisbon or Oporto or choose a calmer, picturesque area like the Douro region. Additionally, if you wish to get help recovering from a burnout during your stay, Medical Port can help you get an appointment at a prestigious Portuguese psychology clinic, Oficina de PsicologiaRead more on burnout  or contact us now.

Have you taken your child to the pediatrician this year?

August celebrates children’s Eye Health month and Safety. Now it’s the perfect timing to get a pediatric consultation and ensure all is well with your children, just before school starts again. Medical Port can help you book a pediatric consultation while you are enjoying your stay in Portugal.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that over 40 million children under 5 were overweight, a number that tends to rise in all regions. Among teenagers, risky behaviors like alcohol or tobacco use, a sedentary lifestyle, unprotected sex and violence are some of the factors that can put their health at risk, with consequences for the future.

Society, parents and other carers should work together so that children can be first properly informed and followed to grow in a healthy way. A routine visit to a pediatrician is a good start to predict risks and promote a healthy lifestyle.

What can you expect from a visit to the pediatrician? Medical Port has prepared an infographic that covers the most common issues that are evaluated during a pediatric consultation, including physical, behavioral and development aspects.  If you want to know more about getting a pediatric consultation, visit our website.

 

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Click the image to enlarge

Sexually transmitted infections: Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) worldwide, yet, because of its asymptomatic nature, many people don’t know they are infected. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications. Fortunately, nowadays it’s easy to treat chlamydia. The first step is up to you – getting checked.

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Chlamydia is a genital infection with the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis and is one of the most common sexual transmitted infections (STI) worldwide. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) states that in 2013 there were nearly 400 000 reported cases of chlamydia in the Europe Union. In the USA, in 2014, there were about 1.4 million reported cases. This makes chlamydia the most common STI in both Europe and USA.

Chlamydia can spread through different ways. Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex are only some of them. It can also spread just by coming into contact with the genitals of an infected person, even if there is no penetration or ejaculation. Sharing sex toys without being properly washed or covered with a condom is also a risk behavior. You can also get infected by getting semen or vaginal fluids into your eye. Additionally, chlamydia can be passed on by pregnant women to their babies during birth, which can lead to serious health complications for the child.

Because it is often asymptomatic, sometimes for many years, in both women and men, many people are not aware they are infected with chlamydia. When people do develop symptoms, they may experience pain when urinating, unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or rectum. Additionally, women may experience abdominal pain, bleeding during or after sex and between periods. Men may feel some pain and swelling around the testicles.

Do you think you may have been at risk of getting chlamydia?

Chlamydia can be easily detected and treated with a short course regimen of antibiotics. Both test and treatment are very affordable. If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to serious complications like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), inflammation of the testicles and infertility. If you fear you might have caught chlamydia and you’re in Portugal, Medical Port can help you get an appointment.

The World Health Organization reports that every year there are nearly 500 million new cases of curable STI’s (gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and trichomoniasis). The burden of such diseases has a greater impact in lower-income countries. However in developed countries chlamydia infections are still on the rise and remain a public health concern.

Sources: NHS, WHO, ECDC