General Health

Daily Dose: 12/3/2012

dailydoseYour Couch May be Toxic: And we’re not just talking about the negative health effects of being a couch potato. It turns out that your couch may actually be harming you from the inside. A study of couches from across the country found that 85% of couches contained flame retardant chemicals. While these chemicals help manufacturers meet safety standards and lower the chances of a fire spreading or even starting, they may also lead to reproductive problems, developmental issues in children, and even cancer. One of the most common flame retardants used in couches, Tris, is actually considered a carcinogen. Companies must label their couches as meeting safety requirements, but they do not have to say how they meet them — meaning your couch could contain these chemicals without you even knowing it.

Break This Bad Habit and Stay Healthy: Forget vitamins and antioxidants — the easiest way to avoid getting sick is to stop touching your face. The average person touches a communal surface two or three times every hour, according to new research, and then touches his or her face even more often. When you scratch or rub your face, you are transporting the germs from all of the surfaces you’ve touched straight to the mucus membranes in your eyes, nose, and mouth. It helps to wash your hands frequently, but even more important is working hard to touch your face less. Most of the time, you touch your face without even realizing it. Women’s Health magazine suggests asking a friend to point out any time you unconsciously touch your face, or sitting on your hands while watching TV or in class. Both of these ideas will help you become more aware of how often you touch your face, and help you stop the habit in the future.

Mind the (Communication) Gap: When doctors decide it is time for you to stop taking a certain prescription, they are supposed to send a form to your pharmacy. But almost two percent of discontinued prescriptions continue to be filled. And 12 percent of the people receiving those discontinued prescriptions end up experiencing negative side effects from the medicines, some of which have been life threatening. Researchers blame this on a communication gap between doctors and pharmacists, even with more technologically-savvy means. Doctors recommend that anytime your doctor decides to end one of your prescriptions, you ask him or her to get in contact with the pharmacist right away. Don’t stop there, though — do your own follow-up to ensure that you don’t receive any medications that you shouldn’t.