The importance of sleep for a healthy life

Contemporary society versus sleep

The benefits of a good night sleep are well known nowadays. However, in the World Sleep Day – celebrated every 16th March -, specialists keep reminding us how our routines are contradicting this knowledge and harming our health, in many cases without realizing it.

The pressure of work and the aim to fulfil the demands of the labour market are making people changing their priorities, placing the sleep time at the bottom. In fact, this behaviour causes diurnal fatigue, concentration problems and symptoms of anxiety, irritability and excessive diurnal somnolence, seriously prejudicing our performance. According to the Portuguese Sleep Society, sleep deprivation affects the memory, synthesis formation, hormones’ release, weakening the immune system and generating several other diseases.

How to get a better sleep

There are some easy and effective tips to help you to get a quiet night:

Adopt the habit of going to bed and wake up always at the same hour. The sun is a sort of time clock that regulates the balance between the environment and the human body’s rhythm. Normally, the human’s endogenous rhythm prepares the body to wake up at 6 am producing cortisol (the hormone responsible for activity and movement), and releases melatonin (the hormone responsible for sleep) at 9 pm, reaching its peak roughly at 12pm.

 

 

Avoid intellectual work (especially if it requires computer’s usage) at night and write a to-do-list instead. According to some surveys, this task will help you to ‘offload’ anxious thoughts and reduce your concerns.

 

 

Turn off smartphones, televisions, and tablets before you go to bed. The blue light issued by these devices suppresses melatonin’s release which affects our sleep and can cause insomnia.

 

 

Soothing infusions like chamomile, tilia, valerian and lavender help the body to relax and have a better sleep night. Coffee, soda, and guarana are the forbidden drinks during the evening.

 

 

Sometimes the origin of lack of sleep is anatomic or psychological. In these cases, a consultation with a specialist is essential to identify and tackle the problem. Medical Port can help you to find the right specialist and to guide you while in Portugal.

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

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.

 

infografico_pediatria-02-02
Click the image to enlarge

World Hepatitis Day: knowing the viruses

Yesterday the world observed the “World Hepatitis Day” that was created to raise awareness about this condition. There are five different types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E. Viruses B and C are the deadliest ones. Nowadays, Portugal is one of the most successful countries in the world dealing with Hepatitis C.

An image of a doctor writing on a notepad. and a piece of text saying "world hepatitis day 2016"

Hepatitis viruses have different incubation periods and can be symptomless for many years. In fact, less than 5% of infected individuals with hepatitis B and C know that they are infected – even nowadays, when it’s possible to detect Hepatitis with a simple blood test. Among those who are aware that they have hepatitis, the vast majority does not get any type of treatment. In a recent press release by the World Health Organization (WHO), Director General Dr. Margaret Chan says: “The world has ignored hepatitis at its peril. It is time to mobilize a global response to hepatitis on the scale similar to that generated to fight other communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.”

The five virus’ types are very distinct and spread in different ways. Transmission of types A and E are linked to eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water, and is most common in regions that lack access to safe water, as well as in poor sanitation conditions. Hepatitis B and C commonly spread when blood-to-blood contact occurs, through unsafe injections, syringe sharing and medical procedures, during childbirth (from mother to child), and through sexual contact. Hepatitis D is also transmitted via infected blood, however, it only occurs if the person is already infected with the hepatitis B virus.

Currently, Portugal has an unique approach against hepatitis C, offering universal treatment covering people in all stages of the disease, unlike other countries that only treat more advanced cases. Another example of Portugal’s leading expertise on the field is the participation of Dr. Ana Cláudia Miranda, a specialist in infectious diseases, who represents Portugal at “Committed to Cure”, an European initiative to help cure Hepatitis C – in which only countries with solid and renown expertise in Hepatitis C are invited to be part of. 

Like most diseases, it is helpful to keep in mind that prevention and an early diagnosis are the key to stay healthy. If you are planning on coming to Portugal this summer, take the opportunity and look after your health. We will gladly arrange the right check-up for you, based on your needs, preferences and availability.

Source: World Health Organization, World Hepatitis Day, World Hepatitis Alliance, SOS Hepatites, Committed to Cure

July 28 celebrates World Hepatitis Day

Hepatitis is the seventh leading cause of death and disability in the world according to a recently released report from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Over 90% of deaths are linked to hepatitis B and C. Early diagnosis could save many lives.

A graphic explains that 400 million people are infected with hepatitis B and C, only 5% are aware they are infected and only 1 in 100 people gets treatment.

World Hepatitis Day was set up in 2010 by the World Health Organization to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and promote access to better treatment and prevention programmes.

Hepatitis is a liver inflammation caused by a virus. There are five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. Treating hepatitis can be a simple process (or it can be untreatable), depending on the type of hepatitis, its stage of development and the damage already done to the liver. In the worst scenarios, acute or chronic hepatitis can lead to more serious problems such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. Over 90% of hepatitis-related deaths are linked to viruses B and C.

Portugal is one of the countries that has registered a great progress against hepatitis. Earlier this year, a successful and innovative treatment for Hepatitis C in Portugal – with a healing rate of 95% – has been praised within the medical community.

An early diagnosis can make the difference. Hepatitis can be detected with a simple blood test that you can choose to include in your next check-up. If you are visiting Portugal, we can arrange a complete check-up for you, according to your needs.

In the next blog post we will explain the different hepatitis viruses and their transmission modes.

Source: World Health Organization, World Hepatitis Day, World Hepatitis Alliance, SOS Hepatites

Lifestyle changes to fight high blood pressure

Hypertension affects 4 in 10 people all over the world and the numbers are growing every year. For those affected by hypertension there are some lifestyle changes that can attenuate and lower blood pressure values and for those who are in risk of having high blood pressure, they can prevent the disease by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

There are 3 lifestyle changes that can make a difference:

1. Adopt a healthy diet

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals is good for the overall health of every adult. According to the website WebMD, a healthy diet should include:

  • “Eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods
  • Eating less of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fried foods
  • Eating more whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts
  • Eating less red meat and sweets
  • Eating foods that are high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • Eating foods with less sodium”

2. Maintain a healthy weight

Having a health weight means keeping a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for high blood pressure, as well as other health issues related to excess weight.

3. Be physically active

Practice exercise regularly is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Walking, running or practicing other sports is essential to every adult and children. It is recommended to walk for at least 30 minutes a day in order to be healthy.

These lifestyle changes aren’t just important for controlling blood pressure but also for general wellbeing.  The more healthy behaviors you put in your daily routine, the better your health will be in the future.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

Consequences of hypertension

Hypertension is a silent and symptomless disease.

Those who suffer from high blood pressure can go on without noticing the condition for years and years and only learn about it when other related diseases appear. If left untreated, hypertension can originate many other diseases and health conditions, and some can be fatal.

According to the American Heart Association, some of the health consequences of untreated hypertension are:

  • Damage to the heart and coronary arteries which can lead to heart attack, heart disease, congestive heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Kidney damage
  • Vision loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Memory loss
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Angina
  • Peripheral artery disease

Controlling blood pressure is essential to keep track of the way the condition is affecting those with hypertension. Blood pressure values vary with age, gender and ethnicity so you should be aware of what values are considered normal and what values are considered high and need immediate action. Regular doctor visits and regular screenings are very important to control existing hypertension or to prevent hypertension.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

The best way to learn how good your health is, and if you are in risk of having high blood pressure or other health condition, is to do a check-up. Medical Port offers a wide range of check-ups from the most general to the most specific ones. Learn more about our check-ups in our website.

World Hypertension Day

Today, May 17 is the day to talk about hypertension. Hypertension is a disease that affects millions all over the world.

It is estimated that 4 in each 10 adults have high levels of blood pressure. Hypertension is the main risk factor for disease burden worldwide. Strokes and heart attacks are two of the main consequences of hypertension.

A healthy lifestyle can help combat hypertension. Some attitudes towards life can help make a difference:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Practicing regular physical exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

    World Hypertension Day
    World Hypertension Day

The best way to learn how good your health is, and if you are in risk of having high blood pressure or other health condition, is to do a check-up. Medical Port offers a wide range of check-ups from the most general to the most specific ones. Learn more about our check-ups in our website.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

3 answers about Hypertension

May 17 is the World Hypertension Day, a day intended to bring awareness about the disease and its consequences for the world population.

It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers.

Health Abroad will dedicate the whole month of May to the topic of hypertension. We will share information and tips to deal with hypertension. To start, we are answering 3 common questions about hypertension.

1.What is hypertension?

According to the World Health Organization, hypertension is:

“(…) a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure, putting them under increased stress. Each time the heart beats; it pumps blood into the vessels, which carry the blood throughout the body. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump.”

2. What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Hypertension is called a “silent disease” because most people who suffer from it show little or no symptoms at all. Most of the symptoms of hypertension can be misleading as they are quite general. They can be:
“(…) headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, palpitations of the heart and nose bleeds (…)”, according to the World Health Organization.

3. If there are no symptoms how can hypertension be detected?

Adults should check their blood pressure regularly in order to detect changes in values that might be alarming for their health. If the blood pressure is high, preventive measures should be taken in order to control the values and avoid further increases. When high values of blood pressure are detected some measures can be taken to lower them:

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat healthy (eat fruits and vegetables on a daily basis for example)
  • Practice regular exercise
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Reduce salt intake

When these measures aren’t enough to lower blood pressure, medication can be the solution to control hypertension.

Hypertension can cause several health conditions that can ultimately lead to death. In the next post we will discuss more about what causes hypertension and what are the consequences.

Foods to lower the risk of certain types of cancer

Recent studies show that some foods can help lower cancer risk. New research is helping scientists’ every day to find ways to cure and prevent cancer, yet new variants of cancer continue to appear.

While we can’t prevent all types of cancer, there are some eating and drinking habits that can help prevent some types of cancer.

  1. Drink coffee to prevent liver cancer. According to a recent research from the World Cancer Research Fund International drinking coffee can lover liver inflammation: “While scientists aren’t completely sure how coffee battles liver cancer, they believe it might have something to do with lowering liver inflammation — which is one of the factors behind development of liver disease and cancer.”
  2. Mediterranean Diet to prevent uterine cancer “The Mediterranean Diet is considered one of the healthiest ways to eat, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it has been linked to a lower risk of cancer too.”, according to a study by the British Journal of Cancer.
  3. Eating nuts can protect against prostate cancer according to a study from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

A healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits are drivers of a good overall health, and while we can’t prevent cancer there are small actions everyone can take in order to be healthier. Eating fruits, vegetables and cereals on a daily basis, and reducing the amount of salt and sugar intake are good ways to start a healthy diet. We have already discussed the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet on previous posts you can read here.

Read the full article from Medical Daily, here.