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Kerri

National Pet Month: Is a pet good for your health?

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Around here, we’re big fans of Burton the shop pup! Burton helps us to ensure our medical ID bracelets, necklaces and all our products get sent off to our customers in great shape—he’s been known as the “quality control pup” at times! Not only can a shop pup be important to keeping you feeling less stressed at work, having a pet can also help you stay healthy (even if they aren’t allowed to come to work with you like Burton is!)
Exercise is important, and for many of us, we simply don’t get enough! Having a pet, especially a dog, can be an easy way to motivate yourself to keep active—after all, having those big eyes staring back at you is a pretty easy sell! If you have a medical condition, consider wearing a medical ID bracelet while out and about
For older adults, and those of us with ADHD, routine is important. Pets help keep our minds sharp as we have to care for them, as well as making us stick to a routine, which can make us more productive and be a positive contributor to our mental health and providing a sense of purpose to be responsible for another life.

burton

Finally, pets can lower blood pressure through the act of petting them and giving—and receiving—affection. The difference may be small, but it can make all the difference when trying to stay healthy! Pets also may lower your risk of developing asthma, eczema, or allergies, when introduced to children at a young age—this in particular applies to dogs. [1]  More research is needed, but if you want an excuse to get a dog, this is a pretty good one, right?
Some pets also have special medical needs. Remember that many of our dog tag necklace charms can double as great medical ID pet tags for your pet, so not only can they find their way home if lost, their special medical needs will be attended to as well!
Kerri

Women’s Health: Thoughts for International Women’s Day

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Figure 8 shaped ribbon, pink, with pink text stating march 8th Women's DayIt makes sense that Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day are in the same month in the UK, doesn’t it! Perhaps March is also a good month to consider how to protect yourself, or encourage a woman in your life to do so, by going for that overdue medical check-up or that breast exam or mammogram, or pap test that is being put off!
How else can women focus on their health this month?
  • Learn about women’s health concerns:
    • Many women do not realize that signs of a heart attack may be different in women, as Carolyn shares on our US blog.
    • While we often think about breast cancer, cervical cancer, or ovarian cancer when it comes to woman’s health issues, women should also undergo routine colonoscopies and other tests to check for colon cancer.
    • Conditions like osteoporosis can be caught early (known as osteopenia) so long as bone scans are done routinely. Taking supplements of calcium and vitamin D (as recommended by your doctor) may also be good ways to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Check in with your emotional/mental health
    • Postpartum depression is a diagnosis unique to women who have just given birth. If you have a new little one at home, but are still feeling the blues, check in with your doctor for resources and mental health support.
    • Anxiety and depression are common in women as well—if you believe that you are not feeling right, act on it and get the support you need!
    • Stress is real, and for women who are simply doing too much—raising kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews, working, maintaining a social life, and trying to assist in keeping the household running!—things may get overwhelming at time. Learn ways to reduce stress and cope with it.
    • Do not be afraid to ask for help!
  • Relax when possible, and take time to socialize!
    • It is important to take time out, no matter how busy you may feel you are (or even no matter how NOT busy you feel!)
    • Read, watch TV, colour, go for a walk, take a bath—these are all ways you may find helpful to unwind: leave us your tips in the comments!
    • Visiting with friends is also important, and something that often happens a lot less as we get older—why? Take time to see old friends and make new ones!
    • Exercise is also important and maybe hard to get—maybe grab a coffee with a friend and then go for a walk at the same time?
These are just a few tips to stay as healthy as possible—what are yours?
Have a happy International Women’s Day, and for the mums out there, Happy Mothers Day, too! And if your mom has a medical condition and would benefit from wearing medical ID, consider a My Identity Doctor Medical ID Gift Card so she can pick something to help her stay safe. Contact us to learn more, and make your gift a thoughtful one that’s also easy to shop for!
Kerri

Self-Injury Awareness Day: The Facts

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Trigger warning: Self injury, self-harm, suicide, 
 
clip art of a plaster/bandage with a pink heart on centre portionSelf injury, also known as self harm (which LifeSigns UK defines different to self-injury), can affect anyone—no matter their age, gender, race or religion, or socioeconomic status. Self-injury is an unhealthy coping method used when the burden of one’s feelings are too great. In this situation, some people turn to self-injury as a physical release to an emotional problem. Different issues can contribute to a person beginning to self-harm: poor body image, low elf-esteem, perfectionism and desire to achieve well (often in regard to school grades but also in other areas of life); others may have endured trauma or abuse, however many who self-harm do not fit these categories. Anything that may be causing emotional distress may lead to a person resorting to self-harm as a coping mechanism. [1]
Self-injury is not the same as being suicidal. Self-injury, by definition, is “deliberate, non-suicidal behaviour that inflicts physical harm on your body”, and is “aimed at relieving emotional distress”. [1.1] Cutting, burning, and poisoning or drug overdose are all common forms of self-injury. [1.2]
In the UK, you can reach out to LifeSigns UK for help in dealing with your self-injury. Know also that your GP, counsellor or mental health professional can provide you resources and assist you in developing better coping mechanisms. Some alternative coping behaviours suggested by LifeSigns UK include writing, creating something, listening to music, or going for a walk. [1.3]
If you know someone who self-injures or you think may self-injure or be at risk, learn more about how you can help in the right ways.
If you are affected by self-injury, some medical conditions may make wearing medical ID jewelry important, especially as you are working on alternative coping methods. To learn more about alternative coping methods, finding resources and support, and Self Injury Awareness Day, visit LifeSigns UK.
Kerri

What is Encephalitis and Can You Spot It?

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The answer is, probably not! The tricky thing about the rare and serious condition encephalitis, in which the brain swells, is that it can look a lot like the flu [1]. It is more likely to affect the very young or very old, however, anyone can be affected. [1] Symptoms may look like the flu but do not always—if confusion or disorientation, personality or behaviour changes, difficulty speaking, muscle weakness or inability to move in some parts of the body, seizures or loss of consciousness occur, especially in the presence of flu-like symptoms, medical attention should be sought immediately. [1] Encephalitis might be caused by viruses, like herpes simplex or chicken pox, and more rarely, bacterial or fungal infections. An immune reaction in which the immune system attacks the brain causing it to become inflamed may also be the cause of encephalitis—or, the cause may not be able to be determined. [1] Encephalitis is NOT contagious, though in some areas, it may be preventable by keeping vaccines up to date including the MMR vaccine, and other travel-specific vaccines including the rabies vaccine when in areas with limited medical care access, the Japanese encephalitis vaccine for travellers visiting at-risk parts of Asia, the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine for travel in some parts of Europe (outside the UK). [1]
Encephalitis is treated similarly to many severe infections: antiviral medications, steroids to reduce swelling, immune system treatments if this is deemed to be the cause of the swelling, pain or fever reducers, seizure medications, antibiotics and anti-fungal medications, and respiratory support just as in severe flu cases, which may include need for a ventilator or oxygen [1]. Treatment depends on the severity and type of infection, and can range from days to weeks. [1] Even after the encephalitis has been treated, the symptoms may not completely go away. Some people may, with work, make a full recovery, but others may never completely recover. Some after-effects or complications of encephalitis include memory problems, personality and behavioural changes, executive function issues including issues with attention, concentration, problem solving and planning, seizures, and ongoing fatigue [1].
Most people do not know what encephalitis is, or do not know what it is until a family member or friend becomes affected. February 22 is World Encephalitis Day—and a reminder if “flu like symptoms” seem like they are too much to handle, it is time to visit A&E or call for an ambulance—it is best to be on the safe side, or receive treatment as early as possible. Those living with after-effects of encephalitis should consider wearing medical ID, especially if they experience memory loss, confusion, or seizures, for peace of mind.
Kerri

A shoulder to lean on – Self Help Group Awareness Month

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January is Self Help Group Awareness Month! Self help groups are also known as support groups. If you live with a chronic medical condition, these groups can be important to provide social and emotional support about living with chronic disease, as well as learn helpful “insider tips” and tricks for mitigating some of the effects of your diagnosis.
The nature of support groups are changing. While we may envision a circle of people gathered to discuss their problems, support groups really are gathered to discuss solutions! Support groups also do not all look like they used to—while some still meet in traditional environments like hospitals or clinics, many people now find support online through message boards, but more commonly, using hashtags on social networks like Twitter or Instagram, or even by finding groups on Facebook. Online friendships can still be a fantastic source of support—personally, in my asthma journey, I’ve acquired many friends because of reaching out online—some of these friendships have grown well beyond our diagnosis and a couple people I’ve met online are ones I now consider without a doubt to be my best friends!
Here at My Identity Doctor, we LOVE to partner with self help and support groups! If you are a member or leader of a group and you feel your members could benefit from medical ID jewelry products, please contact us about setting up a partnership! We can produce engraved bracelets (all the same or unique for each member), in most cases at a discount, for your group members, or provide your group a coupon code. Learn more about our group programs here, but remember, if you don’t see something that fits, we can talk! Depending on your group and your financial needs, we may even also be able to provide a portion of the sales generated by your group back to cover your support group costs! For both leaders or members wishing to pass information on to their leaders, please contact Kerri to learn more and together with Jon we will set something up! We may also opt to feature some groups on this blog to raise awareness of their condition and their group.
Self help or support groups are extremely important for physical, social and emotional wellbeing. We at MyIdentityDoctor would be honoured to play even a small role in your group’s story!
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