Go High-Tech for Better Health

Put Tech to Work For Your Health

Doctor_with_smartphoneToday’s foodie apps take the guesswork out of cooking for your family or eating out on the town. You can check calories, plan a week’s worth of meals, or find healthy restaurants in your area.

To monitor your progress, get a high-tech bathroom scale. It can evaluate body fat, check your heart rate, and even link up with your phone.

Get Moving

Wearable fitness trackers monitor everything from calories burned to heart rate to signs you’ve been still too long. Sync yours with a phone or tablet to keep up with the info — and to set and meet health goals. 

Need some friendly competition? Look for a fitness app that lets you join groups and compete against other users.

Catch Better ZZZs

A restful night’s sleep is a click away. If your phone sits on your nightstand at bedtime, use it to cue up an app that will lull you to dreamland with low-frequency sounds. 

At some point, you’ll need to rise and shine. Many apps aim to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase — the best time to get up.

Quit Bad Habits

Need help to ditch a bad habit? Stop smoking with an app that helps you set realistic goals and stick to them. When you crave a smoke, use your fingers to tap the app instead of lighting up. Or sign up for daily text messages to start on the day you quit. A breathalyzer app syncs with your phone to help you know when you’ve had too much to drink.

Track Your Numbers

Check your blood pressure with a smart monitor that links to your phone or fits on your arm. You track your numbers on your mobile device.

With blood sugar tracking apps and web sites — just plug your numbers in after you check your levels.

Allergies or asthma?Check the pollen count or air quality before you leave the house.

Get Organized

Let an app help you organize your day. There are ones to break down tasks into manageable chunks, send you daily to-do list, or monitor how much time you spend on social media. 

Another app uses a process known as mind-mapping to turn your ideas into a workable, visual plan. Try one out and see if you can finally write that novel.

See the Doctor

Doctors’ offices are going high-tech. Many have offered online appointment setting and prescription refills for years, but now some doctors will email you, too. 

Concerned about a mole on your arm? Re-create the look of it with an app, monitor changes, and find out when to get it checked.

Chart Your Health History

Want another reason to create a family tree? Your family’s past can hold the key to your health future. Most apps that trace your background offer access to huge databases of historical info, from photos to death certificates to census reports to newspaper clippings. Or you can go to the U.S. Surgeon General’s web site, which offers a program to help you trace your family’s roots — and health.

Get Ready for Baby

Trying to get pregnant? There’s an app to track your ovulation cycles. 

Already expecting? Track your bundle of joy’s movements, see the baby’s sizeat any time, record your baby’s heartbeat, and even get a checklist for what to pack on delivery day. 

Power Up Your Parenting

Digital tools can be a big help when your raising kids. You can find information about common childhood ailments on your mobile device, or check your child’s vision via a tablet. Some apps turn your phone into a baby monitor — a great solution for travel. If potty training is a struggle for older tots, you can use an app to track and reward their efforts with kid-friendly graphics.

Prepare for an Emergency

Apps are available to record your medical and contact information in the event of an emergency — having this info on hand could save crucial time when you get to the ER. 

You can also find out how to give first aid or CPR, or learn ways to prepare for — or respond to — a manmade or weather disaster.

Hit the Road

Vacations are good for your health. You can plan yours with apps that let you book travel in the U.S. and abroad, manage your spending, and even send texts free of charge, all over the world.Others offer interactive maps to get you where you’re going. Want to pack light? Use an app to turn your smartphone camera into a pro photographer’s dream.

Take Back Your Life

With the whole world at our fingertips, it’s easy to lose track of real life. Try to disconnect for a while — even an hour — and see how you feel. You may be less stressed and sleep better if you cut back screen time, especially before bed. 

© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Can I Eat Fruit if I Have Diabetes?

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Fruit is not off-limits if you have type 2 diabetes. It has too many good things going for it, such as fiber and nutrients, as well as its natural sweetness. These fruits are good choices. Keep in mind that fruit … Continue reading

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When Your Blood Sugar Gets Too Low

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People with diabetes get hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when their bodies don’t have enough sugar to use as fuel. It can happen for several reasons, including diet, some medications and conditions, and exercise. If you get hypoglycemia, write down the … Continue reading

How to Treat Bladder Problems

Embarrassed About Bladder Problems?

No one likes to talk about it, but incontinence is common. Here’s what you can do to minimize accidents and how your doctor can help.

incontinenceTake Charge

Don’t let fear of bladder accidents keep you from an active life filled with work, friends, and family. Incontinence isn’t a normal part of aging, or something you just have to live with. There are plenty of things you can do. The sooner you call your doctor, the faster you can get treated.

First Steps

It’s not easy to talk about incontinence. That’s why women wait, on average, 6 years before they get help. Take the first step and call your doctor. He might refer you to a specialist who treats urinary conditions. At your first visit, ask if your diet, health problems, or medicine could be causing the problem.

What Type of Incontinence Is It?

Before your doctor can treat it, he needs to know what kind it is. If you release urine when you cough, laugh, or sneeze, that’s likely stress incontinence. If you have a sudden need to go before leakage happens, that’s probably urge incontinence. Some people have a combination of the two.

Your Doctor Visit: What to Expect

He’ll examine you and ask about your health, symptoms, medicines you take, and the type of accidents you have. He might suggest you keep a diary to record every time you go to the bathroom or have wetness.

Tests to Diagnose Incontinence

Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and rule out any other medical conditions. He may order tests to check for infections or other problems, as well as a bladder stress test.

Kegel Exercises

Squeezing muscles you already use several times a day can help prevent leaks. Kegel exercises work the ones in your pelvis that you use to start and stop the flow of pee. 

To do a Kegel, squeeze and hold for about 10 seconds. Then release. Do about 10 sets three to five times a day. It may take up to 3 months before you notice a change.

Retrain Your Bladder

Want more control? Schedule your bathroom visits at regular intervals — for instance, every 2 hours. If you have to go before the time is up, use Kegels or relaxation techniques to hold it in until the urge passes. After a while, you’ll train yourself to go less often, with longer and longer periods between restroom breaks.

Medicine

Drugs can treat urges related to overactive bladder. Some control its contractions, others keep it relaxed. Side effects may include dry mouth, fatigue, and blurred vision.

Other Treatments

Women can insert a pessary device into the vagina that helps control leakage.

Another option: Doctors can inject collagen and other bulking substances to thicken tissues around the bladder neck and narrow the opening.

You could also consider getting sling or suspension surgery, which lifts the urethra and bladder neck back into place. For urge incontinence, painless nerve stimulation can stop your body from telling you your bladder is full.

Pick Your Protection

You can buy products designed for bladder protection in stores and online. You’ll find disposable and reusable versions. Some are specially fitted for men or women.

For light to moderate wetness, a liner or pad that attaches to your underwear may be all you need. Fitted briefs or protective underwear can handle more liquid.

Get Back Out Into the World

A few routine changes can help prevent leaks and get you back to your favorite activities. Don’t stop drinking fluids — you’ll get dehydrated. Limit each drink to 6 to 8 ounces, and don’t have them within 2 to 4 hours of bedtime.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, which increase the urge to go. If you’re overweight, drop a few pounds to ease pressure on your bladder. And don’t smoke. It’s bad for your bladder, too.

Treatment for Men

Men can become incontinent after an illness or injury, or when an enlarged prostate gland  blocks the regular flow of urine from the bladder. Like women, men can often get relief with bladder retraining, lifestyle changes, and Kegels.

Medications can help relax or shrink the prostate if that’s the problem. Your doctor may also suggest surgery, like artificial sphincters or male slings, which support the urethra and keep it closed when necessary.

© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.