Placeholder Content Image

Take my (bad) breath away – causes of halitosis and how to check whether you have it

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p>In Greek mythology, the many-headed beast <a href="https://mythopedia.com/topics/hydra">Hydra</a> had such severe <a href="https://patient.info/oral-dental-care/bad-breath-halitosis">halitosis</a> that the stench of its breath was deadly to anyone who smelled it. Thankfully, our morning breath might not be that pungent – although eating <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/get-rid-of-garlic-onion-breath">onions or garlic</a> can put some people in competition with the Hydra.</p> <p>Halitosis has many causes (aside from poor oral hygiene) and can indicate problems with the gut, the sinuses and even the bloodstream. In fact, breath samples can even be tested to make formal diagnoses of health conditions.</p> <p>One condition that can affect the smell of breath is <a href="https://www.diabetes.org.uk/">diabetes mellitus</a>. This is a metabolic disorder where sugar (glucose) is unable to access the body’s cells where it is needed to provide energy, and so rises in the bloodstream.</p> <p>In some instances, such as insufficient insulin dosing, or infection, the body’s response is to break down fats into compounds called ketones to act as a rapid form of fuel. This serious condition is called <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetic-ketoacidosis/">diabetic ketoacidosis</a>.</p> <p>Ketones have a distinctive scent. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/acetone-properties-and-incident-management/acetone-general-information">Acetone</a>, which is also an ingredient in some nail varnish removers, is one of these ketones and has the smell of pear drops. When ketones build up in the bloodstream they easily <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0967-3334/32/8/N01/pdf">diffuse into the breath</a>, giving it a <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319683">fruity odour</a>.</p> <p>It’s not just diabetes that can trigger ketone production. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36033148/">Some diets</a> are based on generating ketones from the breakdown of fats to promote weight loss. These methods, such as the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/atkins-diet-101">Atkins diet</a>, force the body to convert fat into energy by restricting carbohydrates.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5U8IDO1fHlU?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Other diets based on the same principles include the <a href="https://patient.info/healthy-living/weight-loss-weight-reduction/52-diet">5:2</a> intermittent fasting diet. On this diet, followers restrict food intake on two days of the week to significantly reduce calorie consumption – and make the body produce ketones.</p> <p>These diets may help weight loss, but the side-effects can be grim. One of the most notorious side-effects is foul breath, although there are also anecdotal reports of <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2019/03/03/is-keto-crotch-really-a-side-effect-of-the-keto-diet/">“keto crotch”</a> where some followers of keto diets complain of strong genital odour.</p> <h2>Bacteria and breath</h2> <p>Another cause of bad breath is an <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1752-7155/4/1/017003/pdf">overgrowth of bacteria</a> that produce foul smells. There are plenty of nooks and crannies in the mouth for bacteria to hide, grow and fester, especially the hard-to-clean areas – in between the teeth, and in and around the gums and tongue – or out-of-reach places, such as right at the back of the mouth and the throat.</p> <p>The throat acts as a passage for food, fluids and air. Some patients can develop a condition called <a href="https://www.entuk.org/patients/conditions/49/pharyngeal_pouch_surgery_new">pharyngeal pouch</a>. This is where a pocket forms at the back of the pharynx (the medical name for the throat) in which food and fluids can accumulate, ferment and give breath a pungent odour.</p> <p>Bacteria can also trigger infections in the mouth, like tonsillitis and tooth abscesses where tissues become inflamed, or develop purulence (production of pus). Pus is a collection of different dead cells, including bacteria, and it too can give off a putrid smell.</p> <p>Also, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25234037/">sinusitis</a> – which is an infection of the air-filled cavities in the skull – can drip foul-smelling infected secretions into the throat, causing bad breath.</p> <h2>Breath tests</h2> <p>Doctors can test breath for bacteria to diagnose some health conditions. For example, <em><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28891138/">Helicobacter pylori</a></em>, bacteria that can irritate the gut and lead to the development of potentially dangerous ulcers, turns the compound urea into carbon dioxide. To test for <em>H pylori</em>, a <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stomach-ulcer/diagnosis/">diagnostic breath test</a> is performed before and after dosing a patient with urea. If the patient exhales increased levels of carbon dioxide after being dosed with urea, then the test is positive.</p> <p>Breath can also be tested for an overgrowth of bacteria in the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/sibo">small intestine</a> (Sibo), which can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating. Sibo produces gases like hydrogen and methane that can also be detected with a breath test.</p> <p>If you’re worried about pongy breath and don’t have any medical issues, then you can <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/how-to-smell-your-own-breath">test your own breath</a>. The age-old method is to lick the back of your wrist, let it dry and then have a sniff. You can also do the same with a tongue scraper, dental floss or a sample of breath exhaled into a cupped hand.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ak5UEM8FK2s?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Often, we can become used to the smell of our own breath. We might only notice when it becomes really bad, or when there are other symptoms, like a foul taste in the mouth. Or when someone plucks up the courage to finally tell you that you have a case of the breath pongs.</p> <p>Suppose someone has broken the news – what do you do now? <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bad-breath/">Simple measures can work well</a>, including regular fluid intake – <a href="https://www.dentalhealth.org/bad-breath">dry mouth</a> can lead to bad breath so make sure you’re drinking enough water – and good oral hygiene. This involves brushing the teeth, tongue and flossing between your teeth to eliminate any bacterial hot spots, as well as regular checkups at the dentist.</p> <p>Mouthwash can be an effective temporary solution but there’s evidence that a <a href="https://theconversation.com/eating-leafy-greens-could-be-better-for-oral-health-than-using-mouthwash-221181#:%7E:text=But%20research%20has%20indicated%20that,alternative%20for%20treating%20oral%20disease.">diet rich in leafy greens</a> might be even better at countering bad breath.</p> <p>Smoking is another potential underlying <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-rid-of-cigarette-breath#1-brush-teeth">cause of halitosis</a>. So if you want sweeter breath, pack in the cigarettes – yet another good reason to give up.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231858/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, Senior Lecturer, School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/take-my-bad-breath-away-causes-of-halitosis-and-how-to-check-whether-you-have-it-231858">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Why do airlines charge so much for checked bags? This obscure rule helps explain why

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jay-l-zagorsky-152952">Jay L. Zagorsky</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/boston-university-898">Boston University</a></em></p> <p>Five out of the six <a href="https://www.oag.com/blog/biggest-airlines-in-the-us">biggest U.S. airlines</a> have <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2024/03/05/delta-is-the-latest-airline-to-raise-its-checked-bag-fee.html">raised their checked bag fees</a> since January 2024.</p> <p>Take American Airlines. In 2023, it cost US$30 to check a standard bag in with the airline; <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/airline-news/2024/02/20/american-airlines-bag-fees-mileage-earning/72669245007/">today, as of March 2024, it costs $40</a> at a U.S. airport – a whopping 33% increase.</p> <p>As a <a href="https://www.bu.edu/questrom/">business school</a> <a href="https://www.bu.edu/questrom/profile/jay-zagorsky/">professor who studies travel</a>, I’m often asked why airlines alienate their customers with baggage fees instead of bundling all charges together. <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/4/16/8431465/airlines-carry-on-bags">There are</a> <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/2023/06/21/bag-fees-will-stay-a-while-cruising-altitude/70338849007/">many reasons</a>, but an important, often overlooked cause is buried in the U.S. tax code.</p> <h2>A tax-law loophole</h2> <p>Airlines pay the federal government <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-26/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-49/subpart-D">7.5% of the ticket price</a> when <a href="https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/tax/library/aircraft-club-nov-2023-air-transport-excise-tax-rates-for-2024.html">flying people domestically, alongside other fees</a>. The airlines dislike these charges, with their <a href="https://www.airlines.org/dataset/government-imposed-taxes-on-air-transportation/">trade association arguing</a> that they boost the cost to the consumer of a typical air ticket by around one-fifth.</p> <p>However, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-26/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-49/subpart-D/section-49.4261-8">specifically excludes baggage</a> from the 7.5% transportation tax as long as “the charge is separable from the payment for the transportation of a person and is shown in the exact amount.”</p> <p>This means if an airline charges a combined $300 to fly you and a bag round-trip within the U.S., it owes $22.50 in tax. If the airline charges $220 to fly you plus separately charges $40 each way for the bag, then your total cost is the same — but the airline only owes the government $16.50 in taxes. Splitting out baggage charges saves the airline $6.</p> <p>Now $6 might not seem like much, but it can add up. Last year, passengers took <a href="https://www.transtats.bts.gov/Data_Elements.aspx?Data=1">more than 800 million trips on major airlines</a>. Even if only a fraction of them check their bags, that means large savings for the industry.</p> <p>How large? The government has <a href="https://www.bts.dot.gov/topics/airlines-and-airports/baggage-fees-airline-2023">tracked revenue from bag fees</a> for decades. In 2002, airlines charged passengers a total of $180 million to check bags, which worked out to around 33 cents per passenger.</p> <p>Today, as any flyer can attest, bag fees are a lot higher. Airlines collected over 40 times more money in bag fees last year than they did in 2002.</p> <p>When the full data is in for 2023, <a href="https://www.bts.dot.gov/baggage-fees">total bag fees</a> will likely top $7 billion, which is about $9 for the average domestic passenger. <a href="https://viewfromthewing.com/the-real-reason-airlines-charge-checked-bag-fees-and-its-not-what-you-think">By splitting out the cost of bags</a>, airlines avoided paying about half a billion dollars in taxes just last year.</p> <p>In the two decades since 2002, flyers paid a total of about $70 billion in bag fees. This means separately charging for bags saved airlines about $5 billion in taxes.</p> <p><iframe id="88MYD" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/88MYD/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>It seems clear to me that tax savings are one driver of the unbundling of baggage fees because of a quirk in the law.</p> <p>The U.S. government doesn’t apply the 7.5% tax to <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-26/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-49/subpart-D/section-49.4261-3">international flights that go more than 225 miles</a> beyond the nation’s borders. Instead, there are fixed <a href="https://www.airlines.org/dataset/government-imposed-taxes-on-air-transportation">international departure and arrival taxes</a>. This is why major airlines charge $35 to $40 <a href="https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/baggage/checked-baggage-policy.jsp">for bags if you’re flying domestically</a>, but don’t charge a bag fee when you’re flying to Europe or Asia.</p> <h2>Do travelers get anything for that money?</h2> <p>This system raises an interesting question: Do baggage fees force airlines to be more careful with bags, since customers who pay more expect better service? To find out, I checked with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which has been <a href="https://www.bts.gov/content/mishandled-baggage-reports-filed-passengers-largest-us-air-carriersa">tracking lost luggage for decades</a>.</p> <p>For many years, it calculated the number of mishandled-baggage reports per thousand airline passengers. The government’s data showed mishandled bags peaked in 2007 with about seven reports of lost or damaged luggage for every thousand passengers. That means you could expect your luggage to go on a different trip than the one you are taking about once every 140 or so flights. By 2018, that estimate had fallen to once every 350 flights.</p> <p>In 2019, the government <a href="https://www.bts.gov/topics/airlines-and-airports/number-30a-technical-directive-mishandled-baggage-amended-effective-jan">changed how it tracks</a> mishandled bags, calculating figures based on the total number of bags checked, rather than the total number of passengers. The new data show about six bags per thousand checked get lost or damaged, which is less than 1% of checked bags. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t show improvement since 2019.</p> <p>Is there anything that you can do about higher bag fees? Complaining to politicians probably won’t help. In 2010, two senators <a href="https://www.nj.com/business/2010/04/us_senators_present_bill_to_ba.html">tried to ban bag fees</a>, and their bill went nowhere.</p> <p>Given that congressional action failed, there’s a simple way to avoid higher bag fees: <a href="https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/packing-expert-travel-world-handbag/index.html">travel light</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/08/opinion/carry-on-packing-airlines-lost-luggage.html">don’t check any luggage</a>. It may sound tough not to have all your belongings when traveling, but it might be the best option as bag fees take off.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225857/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jay-l-zagorsky-152952">Jay L. Zagorsky</a>, Associate Professor of Markets, Public Policy and Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/boston-university-898">Boston University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-airlines-charge-so-much-for-checked-bags-this-obscure-rule-helps-explain-why-225857">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Could you cope with a shock to your bank balance? 5 ways to check you are financially resilient

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bomikazi-zeka-680577">Bomikazi Zeka</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865"><em>University of Canberra</em></a></em></p> <p>Imagine the dentist has just said you urgently need a A$2,000 dental crown. A week later, a pipe in your bathroom bursts, causing $8,000 worth of damage. Suddenly, you’ve been hit with a $10,000 financial shock.</p> <p>As the cost-of-living crisis plunges more households into financial uncertainty and at least <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/data/taking-the-pulse-of-the-nation-2022/2023/australians-face-challenging-budgetary-constraints#:%7E:text=Over%20the%20past%20six%20months,has%20increased%20to%2060%20percent.">one-third</a> of Australians struggle to make ends meet, it’s more important than ever to ask yourself: how financially resilient am I?</p> <p>Being financially resilient means you aren’t left financially devastated when an expensive emergency creeps up on you. Here are five key signs of financial resilience.</p> <h2>1. You have a plan for what you’d do if you suddenly lost your salary</h2> <p>Financial resilience means having a plan to fall back on during tough times. This extends to how you’d make money if you lost your job.</p> <p>In practice, that means things like making sure your skills and contacts are kept up to date so you can more easily find a new job. You might also consider whether a “side hustle” job such as tutoring could work for you in the short term, and how you’d put that plan into practice if needed. Perhaps you have a spare room in your home you could rent out for a period of time if you lost your salary.</p> <p>Those examples won’t work for everyone, of course, but it’s still worth asking yourself the question: what would I do if I lost my salary tomorrow?</p> <h2>2. You have enough liquid assets to meet an unexpected financial expense</h2> <p>Liquid assets means money that can be accessed quickly and easily to overcome an unplanned financial expense. Savings are a good example. They provide a buffer so you can cope in the short term if a financial shock strikes. The federal government’s Moneysmart website suggests you aim to have enough in your emergency savings fund to cover <a href="https://moneysmart.gov.au/saving/save-for-an-emergency-fund">three months of expenses</a>.</p> <p>Having an <a href="https://moneysmart.gov.au/glossary/offset-account">offset account</a> as part of a mortgage is another option that provides a buffer. Putting money in an offset account helps you save while reducing the amount of interest on a home loan. You can still access the money in an offset account at any time.</p> <h2>3. You have bought the right financial products, such as insurance</h2> <p>Financial products, such as insurance, hedge against potential losses.</p> <p>Personal insurance is important because it provides income in the event of death, illness or injury. Examples include:</p> <ul> <li> <p>life insurance (which pays out to your beneficiaries, such as your partner or children, when you die)</p> </li> <li> <p>total and permanent disability insurance (which means you may get some money if you acquire a disability that prevents you from working)</p> </li> <li> <p>income protection (which provides you with an income if you can no longer work)</p> </li> <li> <p>trauma cover (which covers a life-changing illness or injury, such as cancer or a stroke).</p> </li> </ul> <p>Check if your superannuation has any of these insurances included in it. <a href="https://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0030/295770/FPRJ-V4-ISS1-pp-53-75-insurance-literacy-in-australia.pdf">Research</a> has found that many Australians are underinsured.</p> <h2>4. You can still pay your debts when times are tough</h2> <p>Being able to borrow money can help when you’re in a tight spot. But knowing where to borrow from, how much to borrow and how to manage debt repayments is crucial.</p> <p>Financially resilient people use debt responsibly. That means:</p> <ul> <li> <p>not using debt for frivolous expenses like after-work drinks</p> </li> <li> <p>staying away from private money lenders</p> </li> <li> <p>being cautious about buy-now-pay-later services</p> </li> <li> <p>watching out for debts with high interest rates, such as payday loans and credit card debt</p> </li> <li> <p>maintaining debt repayments consistently.</p> </li> </ul> <p>If you’re having debt problems, talk to your lender about renegotiating your repayment arrangements, or contact the <a href="https://ndh.org.au/">National Debt Helpline</a> on 1800 007 007.</p> <h2>5. You are financially literate</h2> <p>Being financially literate means you can assess the benefits and risks of using savings or taking out debt to meet an unplanned financial need.</p> <p>As I have <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-you-financially-literate-here-are-7-signs-youre-on-the-right-track-202331">written</a> before on The Conversation, key signs of financial literacy include tracking your cashflow, building a budget, as well as understanding what debts you have and which to pay first.</p> <p>It also means storing your money across different places (such as superannuation, savings accounts, property and the share market) and understanding how financial assets like cash, shares and bonds work.</p> <p>Being aware of your financial strengths and weaknesses, and having financial goals is also important.</p> <p>Nobody is born knowing how to make sound financial decisions; it’s a skill that must be learned.</p> <p>It’s good to think about the resources you would draw upon to help get yourself out of a difficult financial situation – well before disaster strikes.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218126/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bomikazi-zeka-680577"><em>Bomikazi Zeka</em></a><em>, Assistant Professor in Finance and Financial Planning, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/could-you-cope-with-a-shock-to-your-bank-balance-5-ways-to-check-you-are-financially-resilient-218126">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

"They checked the lungs": Jackie O rushed to hospital mid-show

<p>Radio star Jackie O Henderson, known for her vibrant presence on the airwaves, has faced a serious health scare that led to her being rushed to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital in the middle of the Kyle and Jackie O show. The 48-year-old opened up about the incident, revealing details of the tests and emotions she experienced during this unexpected hospital visit.</p> <p>Jackie O's health ordeal unfolded during a live segment on her KIIS FM radio show,  where she left the show abruptly, citing symptoms akin to a heart attack, including tingling down her arm – a classic indicator of cardiac distress.</p> <p>Upon arriving at the hospital, Jackie O underwent a battery of urgent tests, ranging from an ECG to a CAT scan. Speaking to her concerned listeners the next morning, she highlighted the professionalism and dedication of the hospital staff, emphasising the seriousness with which they approached her situation.</p> <p>“I just got a bunch of tests done all day and they have to go all out on everything so I had to get an ECG done," she explained. “Then they checked the lungs because those are the two things that cause chest pains. They take it super seriously, and they were incredible at the hospital.”</p> <p>Despite the initial concerns, Jackie O shared the relief of being given the all-clear by the hospital. Surprisingly, her symptoms were attributed to an infection rather than cardiac issues.</p> <p>Even in the midst of health concerns, Jackie O found moments of levity during her hospital stay. She humorously recounted an encounter with a man who, even in a post-anaesthesia haze, was able to recognise her.</p> <p>“He looks at me and he locks eyes with me and gives me this puzzled look of recognition," she recounted. "I’m laughing so much because I’ve never seen someone bewildered so much in my life.” </p> <p>Henderson said the man then looked at another man resting on the other side of her before he “turned to me and said, ‘Is that Kyle?’”</p> <p>Jackie O had recently undergone surgery to remove a uterine polyp, a procedure she <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/body/john-laws-hangs-up-in-disgust-on-kyle-and-jackie-o" target="_blank" rel="noopener">infamously shared with her audience</a>. The lack of sleep post-surgery, combined with the impact of melatonin tablets and energy drinks, likely contributed to her overall fatigue and health episode.</p> <p> </p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

5 important things to check off your list before your next cruise

<p>The tickets are booked! Here’s what you need to do before you set sail.</p> <p><strong>1. Visit your doctor</strong></p> <p>Hope for the best and plan for the worst – it’s a good motto to travel by. Visit your doctor to see if you need any vaccinations or medications for exotic locations, and make sure you’re stocked up on all your regular medications.</p> <p>It is a good idea to bring some extras as well as some basic first aid meds (think pain killers and anti nausea tablets) as these can be expensive or hard to come by.</p> <p><strong>2. Research your ports</strong></p> <p>You only have a short time in each port, so you’ll want to make the most of it. Do some research before you leave and decide what you want to see, how long it will (realistically take) and think about whether you want to take an organised tour.</p> <p>We’re not saying you have to plan a rigid schedule and stick to it, but a rough plan of how you want to spend your day will save time and stress.</p> <p><strong>3. Check the weather</strong></p> <p>It’s amazing how quickly the weather can change or an unexpected storm can spring up. Keep an eye on the weather for the days before your cruise so you can pack accordingly. That might mean adding in a few extra jumpers or doubling up on the sunscreen.</p> <p>You will have limited opportunities to buy these things onboard and they can be really expensive. You also don’t want to waste a day in port running around looking for something to wear.</p> <p><strong>4. Talk to your travel buddy</strong></p> <p>How do you imagine you’ll be spending your days? Flopped by the pool or out exploring your next port? Hitting the dancefloor til the wee hours or getting an early night so you can be up for sunrise yoga? These are good conversations to have with your travel partner before you set sail.</p> <p>There’s no right or wrong answer, but many travel arguments have started because people have different ideas of the perfect holiday.</p> <p><strong>5. Organise your insurance</strong></p> <p>You really should do this when you book your tickets as you’ll be covered from then right up until your cruise at no extra cost. But if you’re left it to the last minute, never fear! Jump online and get yourself insured.</p> <p>Many companies offer policies specific to cruising, so everything you need will be covered. And don’t think that you can skip it if you’re only cruising in Australian waters – Medicare won’t cover you onboard.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Cruising

Placeholder Content Image

Should I be getting my vitamin D levels checked?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/elina-hypponen-108811">Elina Hypponen</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>Australia has seen a <a href="https://insightplus.mja.com.au/2023/29/gps-urged-not-to-routinely-test-children-for-vitamin-d/">surge in vitamin D testing</a> of children, with similar trends reported for adults around the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29659534/">world</a>. GPs are now <a href="https://insightplus.mja.com.au/2023/29/gps-urged-not-to-routinely-test-children-for-vitamin-d/">being urged</a> not to test for vitamin D unnecessarily.</p> <p>So when is low vitamin D a potential concern? And when might you need to get your levels tested?</p> <h2>How much vitamin D do we need?</h2> <p>Vitamin D is not only a nutrient – when metabolised in the body it acts as a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29080638/">hormone</a>. We have receptors for this hormone all around our body and it helps regulate the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus.</p> <p>Vitamin D also has many other roles, including helping our immune defences and contributing to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11295155/">DNA repair</a> and cell differentiation.</p> <p>We can thank the sun for most of our vitamin D. A chemical in our skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted to vitamin D after contact with UVB radiation from the sun.</p> <p>While we get some vitamin D also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35253289/">through our diet</a>, this makes a relatively small contribution. It’s difficult to get much more than one-third of our daily vitamin D requirement from diet without supplementation.</p> <p>Nutritional vitamin D status is <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcifediol">typically measured</a> via a blood test. This checks the calcidiol (calcifediol, 25-hydroxyvitamin D) concentrations, which reflect the average intakes from the sun and diet over the past three to four weeks.</p> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22708765/">current recommendation</a> is that we should all aim to have at least 50nmol/L (20ng/mL) at the end of winter.</p> <p>However, one problem with vitamin D tests is that there is <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37182753/">variation</a> in measured concentrations between the laboratories and between the assays, and whether you’re deemed to have a deficiency can depend on the testing method used.</p> <p>Doctors do not always agree with what is deficiency. While very low concentrations are likely to prompt doctors to recommend a supplement (and, potentially, follow-up testing), some may consider even relatively high concentrations as inadequate.</p> <p>This is all understandable as research in this space is still evolving, and we know low concentrations do not always cause any symptoms.</p> <h2>Why avoid vitamin D deficiency?</h2> <p>Prolonged, severe vitamin D deficiency will lead to softening of bone tissue and cause diseases such as rickets (children) and osteomalacia (adults).</p> <p>However, avoiding low concentrations is likely to be good for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37483080/">many aspects of health</a>, with consistent evidence suggesting benefits for <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583">infectious diseases</a> and autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis.</p> <p>Randomised trials have also provided evidence for lower <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35676320/">cancer</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24414552/">all cause mortality</a> by daily supplementation, although any benefit is likely to be restricted to those who otherwise have insufficient intakes.</p> <h2>Who is at risk of deficiency?</h2> <p>Most of us do not need tests to have a relatively good idea whether we might be at risk of a clinically important deficiency.</p> <p>If it’s not late winter, we spend regularly at least some time outside with skin exposed to the sun, and we do not belong to a specific high-risk group, it is unlikely that our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22168576/">levels would be very low</a>.</p> <p>The two main reasons for vitamin D deficiency typically relate to:</p> <p><strong>1. not getting (enough) vitamin D through sun exposure.</strong> Deficiency risk <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/vitamin-d-deficiency">can be high</a> for anyone who is housebound, such as older or disabled people in residential care. The risk of deficiency increases if we always cover our skin carefully by <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19211395/">modest cultural dress,</a> and also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6119494/">dark skin pigmentation</a> is known to reduce vitamin D synthesis.</p> <p><strong>2. having a chronic disease that alters your requirement.</strong> Medications such as anticonvulsants used to treat epilepsy, and conditions such as <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15050-vitamin-d-vitamin-d-deficiency">liver and kidney diseases</a> can interfere with vitamin D metabolism. Some <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15050-vitamin-d-vitamin-d-deficiency">digestive diseases</a> can reduce vitamin D absorption from your diet, while <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30020507">obesity</a> will increase your vitamin D requirement and make it more difficult to raise your blood levels.</p> <h2>Am I getting enough sun exposure?</h2> <p>In Australia, it is possible to get enough vitamin D from the sun <a href="https://healthybonesaustralia.org.au/your-bone-health/vitamin-d-bone-health">throughout the year</a>. This isn’t so for many people living in the northern hemisphere.</p> <p>For those who live in the top half of Australia – and for all of us during summer – we <a href="https://healthybonesaustralia.org.au/your-bone-health/vitamin-d-bone-health">only need</a> to have skin exposed to the sun a few minutes on most days.</p> <p>The body can only produce a certain amount of vitamin D at the time, so staying in the sun any longer than needed is not going to help increase your vitamin D levels, while it will increase your risk of skin cancer.</p> <p>During winter, catching enough sun can be difficult, especially if you spend your days confined indoors. Typically, the required exposure increases to two to three hours per week in winter. This is because sunlight exposure can only help produce vitamin D if the UVB rays reach us at the correct angle. So in winter we should regularly spend time outside in the middle of the day to get our dose of vitamin D.</p> <p>If you are concerned, you have very dark skin, or are otherwise in a high-risk group, you may want to talk to your GP.</p> <p>In any case, taking a modest daily dose of vitamin D (1,000-2,000 IU) during the darker winter months is unlikely to cause harm and it <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37483080/">may be beneficial</a>.</p> <h2>Why does excess vitamin D testing matter?</h2> <p>When not indicated, testing can cause unnecessary worry and promote a cascade of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32675268/">laboratory, prescription and imaging services</a> that are of low value.</p> <p>Excessive testing is also a waste of health-care resources, with one <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.5694/mja2.50619">single test</a> costing about the same as a years’ worth of vitamin D supplementation.</p> <p>Very often, we can make relatively small changes to our lifestyles to reduce the risks of vitamin D deficiency. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211268/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/elina-hypponen-108811">Elina Hypponen</a>, Professor of Nutritional and Genetic Epidemiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/should-i-be-getting-my-vitamin-d-levels-checked-211268">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Don’t believe the hype. Menopausal women don’t all need to check – or increase – their testosterone levels

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>Ever heard “low testosterone” blamed for low mood, brain fog and loss of vitality? Despite all evidence to the contrary, social media influencers are increasingly promoting testosterone therapy as an elixir for women experiencing troubling symptoms of menopause.</p> <p>In a series of documentaries and <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-11792553/Davina-McCall-effect-sparks-menopause-testosterone-treatment-rush-putting-women-risk.html">social media posts</a> about menopause in 2021 and 2022, British TV presenter Davina McCall promoted the use of testosterone therapy in addition to standard <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/combined-menopausal-hormone-therapy-mht">menopausal hormone therapy</a>. The “<a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/02/17/davina-effect-fuels-surge-menopausal-women-using-testosterone/#:%7E:text=Chelsea%20Magazine%20Company-,'Davina%20effect'%20fuels%20surge%20in%20menopausal%20women%20using%20testosterone,NHS%20prescriptions%20for%20the%20hormone">Davina effect</a>” has helped fuel a <a href="https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/news/nhs-testosterone-prescribing-in-women-rises-ten-fold-in-seven-years#:%7E:text=The%20number%20of%20women%20in,The%20Pharmaceutical%20Journal%20has%20revealed">ten-fold increase</a> in prescribing of testosterone for women in the United Kingdom since 2015.</p> <p>Data isn’t available for Australia, but in my clinical practice, women are increasingly asking to have their testosterone level checked, and seeking testosterone to treat fatigue and brain fog.</p> <p>But while testosterone continues to be an important hormone before and after menopause, this doesn’t mean women should be having a blood test to get their testosterone levels checked – or taking testosterone therapy.</p> <h2>What does testosterone do?</h2> <p>Testosterone is an important hormone in women’s bodies, affecting the blood vessels, skin, muscle and bone, breast tissue and the brain. In both women and men, testosterone can act on its own or be converted into estrogen.</p> <p>Before menopause, testosterone is made in the ovaries, where it helps developing eggs grow and aids in estrogen production.</p> <p>The ovaries release both testosterone and estrogen into the bloodstream, and the levels of the two hormones in the blood peak around ovulation.</p> <p>Some of the testosterone measured in blood is also produced outside the ovaries, such as in fat, where it is made from “pre-hormones” secreted by the adrenal glands. This source of production of testosterone takes over after menopause.</p> <h2>Do we have more testosterone before menopause?</h2> <p>The claim is often made that pre-menopausal women have more testosterone in their bloodstream than estrogen, to justify the need for testosterone replacement after menopause.</p> <p>But, when sex hormones have been measured with precision, studies have shown this is not true. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31390028/">Our research</a> found estrogen levels are higher than testosterone levels at all stages of the menstrual cycle.</p> <p>Blood testosterone levels <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31390028/">fall</a> by about 25% between the ages of 18 and 40 years in healthy women. The fall in testosterone coincides with the decline in eggs in the ovaries but whether this is a marker of the decline, a consequence, or a cause of the decline is not known.</p> <p>From around 40, the rate of decline slows and blood testosterone levels don’t change when <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/what-is-menopause">menopause</a> occurs naturally. Studies have not shown testosterone levels change meaningfully during the menopause transition.</p> <h2>Can blood tests detect ‘low testosterone’?</h2> <p>Some influencers claim to have a condition called “testosterone deficiency syndrome” or low levels of testosterone detected in blood tests.</p> <p>But there is no “normal” blood level below which a woman can be diagnosed as having “testosterone deficiency”. So there’s no such thing as having a testosterone deficiency or testosterone deficiency syndrome.</p> <p>This is also in part, because women have very low testosterone concentrations compared with men, and most commercial methods used to measure testosterone cannot separate normal from low levels in women with any certainty.</p> <p>Pre-menopausal women might also be told they have “low” testosterone if blood is drawn early in the menstrual cycle when it is normal for testosterone to be low. (However, it would only be clinically necessary to do this type of blood test to look for <em>high</em> testosterone, in someone with with excessive hair growth or severe acne, for example, not for <em>low</em> testosterone.)</p> <p>In post-menopausal women, much of the action of testosterone occurs in the tissues where it is made, after which testosterone is either converted to estrogen or broken down before it leaks back into the circulation. So blood testosterone concentrations are not a true reflection of tissue concentrations.</p> <p>Further complicating the picture is the enormous variability in the effects of testosterone. At a given blood level of testosterone, some women might have oily skin, acne, increased body hair growth or balding, while others will have no such effects.</p> <p>So, looking for a “low” blood testosterone in women is not helpful.</p> <h2>Can testosterone improve sexual desire? What about other conditions?</h2> <p>There is sound evidence that testosterone therapy may improve sexual desire in post-menopausal women who have developed low sexual desire that bothers them.</p> <p>This was <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2019.1637079">confirmed by</a> a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31353194/">systematic review</a> of clinical trials comparing testosterone with a placebo or an alternative. These trials, all of which involved a treatment time of at least 12 weeks, showed testosterone therapy, overall, improved desire, arousal, orgasm and sexual satisfaction in post-menopausal women with low desire that caused them distress.</p> <p>Treatment is only indicated for women who want an improvement in sexual desire (after excluding other factors such as depression or medication side effects) and its success can only be determined by each woman’s personal self-reported response.</p> <p>But there is <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2019.1637079">not enough evidence</a> to show testosterone is beneficial for any other symptom or medical condition. The overall available data has shown no effect of testosterone on mood or cognition.</p> <p>As such, testosterone therapy <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2019.1637079">should not be used</a> to treat symptoms such as fatigue, low mood, muscle weakness and poor memory, or to prevent bone loss, dementia or breast cancer.</p> <p>However research continues to investigate these potential uses, including from my <a href="https://www.monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/units/womenshealth">research team</a>, which is investigating whether testosterone therapy can <a href="https://asbmr.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jbmr.534">protect against bone density loss and muscle loss after menopause</a>.</p> <p><em>You can learn more about participating in one of our studies <a href="https://www.monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/units/womenshealth/join-a-study">here</a>.</em> <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/209516/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, Chair of Women's Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/dont-believe-the-hype-menopausal-women-dont-all-need-to-check-or-increase-their-testosterone-levels-209516">original article</a></em>.</p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

5 memorable locations from ‘80s films to check out

<p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Everyone loves a good movie, and everyone loves a holiday, so what do you get when you combine the two? The time of your life! </span></p> <p>It’s widely known that the ‘80s spawned a whole host of films that went on to become cult classics - from the likes of <em>Heathers </em>to <em>Footloose</em>, <em>Dirty Dancing</em>, and <em>The Terminator</em> - and forged the way for cultural changes that ring true decades later. </p> <p>But did you also know that for many of these iconic films, real-life locations served as the inspiration for many memorable scenes? </p> <p>And while some may have changed slightly in the years since cast and crew flocked to them, some are like stepping into a time capsule - or a stage for you to re-enact the films as you see fit. </p> <p><strong>Lake Lure, North Carolina - <em>Dirty Dancing</em> (1987)</strong></p> <p>Anyone who’s seen<em> Dirty Dancing</em> can tell you that ‘the lift scene’ is one of the film’s most iconic moments. And it - along with a few others from the film - were filmed in North Carolina’s very own Lake Lure. And with the spot boasting its very own Lake Lure Inn &amp; Spa - where, coincidentally, the movie’s stars stayed while working on the project - it could be the perfect getaway location for your next holiday. </p> <p><strong>Guesthouse International Hotel, California - <em>National Lampoon Vacation</em> (1983) </strong></p> <p>For those embarking on their very own<em> National Lampoon Vacation</em>, you’re in luck - the hexagonal pool is near exactly the same as it was when Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold enjoyed a nighttime swim with Christie Brinkley’s The Girl in the Ferrari. </p> <p><strong>New York Public Library, New York - <em>Ghostbusters </em>(1984)</strong></p> <p>The 1984 film sparked an entire host of sequels, games, parodies, and conventions for avid fans across the globe - as well as one incredibly catchy song. However, for those that would like to go above and beyond just calling their friendly neighbourhood ghostbusters, the  New York Public Library’s flagship Stephen A Schwarzman building is the spot where the team had their very first encounter with the film’s ghosts. </p> <p><strong>Griffith Observatory, California - <em>The Terminator</em> (1984)</strong></p> <p>Fans of<em> The Terminator </em>should immediately recognise this site as the one where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator arrived in the nude, and basked in the glory of LA at night. It’s a popular location, and while a must-see for fans of the film, it also makes for a good afternoon out - the observatory itself boasts free entry, stunning views, and a range of fascinating exhibits inside to entertain the keen mind. </p> <p><strong>The Grand Hotel, Michigan - <em>Somewhere in Time </em>(1980)</strong></p> <p>The Grand Hotel was the primary location for romantic drama <em>Somewhere in Time</em>, and they’re proud of it. In fact, a poster for the film is reportedly even still on display there, and hosts weekends of celebration for the 1980 hit, too. </p> <p>The island the hotel is set on doesn’t allow cars, so anyone hoping to throw themselves back in time and fully immerse themselves in a ‘different world’, this National Historic Landmark may be just the place to do it. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty, Booking.net</em></p>

Movies

Placeholder Content Image

Jackie O sends welfare check for concerning caller

<p>Radio giant Jackie ‘O’ Henderson has requested a welfare check for a listener after receiving a distressing phone call on The Kyle and Jackie O show.</p> <p>The caller, Michael, who made it on air at about 6:30 am during the First Calls segment on the show, proceeded to sing a song about suicide, blindsiding the presenters.</p> <p>The song was Fade to Black by U.S heavy metal band Metallica, from their 1984 album <em>Ride the Lightning</em>. The bleak track is about wondering if life is worth living and wishing for death.</p> <p>Michael did not advise the hosts that he would be singing the song, and had told producer ‘Intern Pete’ Deppeler off air that he was a ‘comedian’ and ‘had a few jokes to tell’.</p> <p>Henderson seemed concerned and asked the team to make sure the listener was okay.</p> <p>The dismal segment started soon after an ad break, with host Kyle Sandilands asking, “You want to ring up for anything? First Calls, 13 10 65 will get you through. Michael has called in. Hey, Michael.”</p> <p>“Hello,” Michael responded, sounding dismal, which the hosts recognised was off as Sandilands was quick to mimic ‘hello’ back.</p> <p>Sandilands asked how the listener was doing, to which Michael replied, “Oh, not bad. I [inaudible] have a quick ten-second song I'd like to... sing for you.”</p> <p>'What, sorry? A song?' Henderson asked.</p> <p>“It goes like this,” Michael said, before singing the lyrics to Fade to Black, “.. lost the will to live / Simply nothing more to give / There is nothing more for me / Need the end to set me free.”</p> <p>Michael put his own spin on the song, singing lyrics that don’t appear on the track, “Never cared for no one else” before quickly hanging up.</p> <p>“Don't be like that…”, a baffled Sandilands said after Michael abruptly ended the call.</p> <p>Henderson feared the worst, immediately asking producers, “Is he alright? That didn't sound good, guys. What were you getting off air? Because that sounded like a goodbye song to me.”</p> <p>Sandilands tried to reassure Henderson, saying “He seems fine. He seems fine.”</p> <p>Deppeler, who had spoken to Michael during the ad break and briefed him on what would be discussed on air said, “He was normal to me,”</p> <p>When Henderson asked what they’d spoken about during the ad break, Deppeler told the presenter, "He said, 'I'm a comedian, I've got a few jokes to tell, I've got a new song.'”</p> <p>“So he went rogue on you?' Henderson asked, with Deppeler replying, “A little bit rogue, yeah”.</p> <p>Henderson asked Deppeler to “call him back and check he's okay,” adding, "He just hung up and said this is the end for me. Just check he's alright, that guy.”</p> <p>She awkwardly laughed as she and Sandilands scolded Deppeler for having such a grim listener as the first caller following a two-week break.</p> <p>The presenters then moved on to the second caller, A woman called Debbie.</p> <p><em><strong>Help is available, speak with someone today.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Crisis support is available from <a href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lifeline</a> on 13 11 14.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Support is available from <a href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Beyond Blue</a> on 1300 22 4636.</strong></em></p> <p><em>Image credit: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

12 things you should always do before you leave your hotel room

<p><strong>Check under the bed and dresser</strong></p> <p>“I always get down on my hands and knees and look under the bed and under the dresser,” says Suzanne Markham-Bagnera, a former general manager at hotels. Young kids especially like to hide things, and then forget about them.</p> <p>“You get the frantic phone call that a child has left their Lovey, their stuffed animal, or their toy and they realised once they get in their car and start driving, but they’re not able to come right back to the hotel,” she adds.</p> <p><strong>Pull the bed linens back</strong></p> <p>Markham-Bagnera typically removes the bedding to both help out the housekeeper and make sure she hasn’t forgotten anything. “That’s my way of securing: I’ve done the clean sweep of the bed. I’m good,” she says.</p> <p>Guest aren’t expected to strip the bed, but should you decide to, make sure to leave the comforter on a chair or in the closet, not on the floor. And don’t ball the bed linens up with the blanket, keep them separate.</p> <p><strong>Leave the used towels in the tub</strong></p> <p>Markham-Bagnera puts all the towels on the bathtub, especially if they’re still wet. That way they’re out of the way and all together in the pile. And the room attendant only has to pick up one pile of dirty linen. “It makes it a lot faster to pick up,” Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Take the food you want to keep</strong></p> <p>If you’ve used the refrigerator, make sure that you take out the items that you want. “The ones that you don’t want, throw away,” she says. Some guests leave alcohol as a tip for the housekeeper, but policies vary from hotel to hotel on whether they can accept it or not.</p> <p><strong>Stack overflow takeaway boxes next to a waste bin</strong></p> <p>Hotel waste bin are pretty small, and the remnants of last night’s dinner may not fit. If you’ve got overflow, pile the boxes next to the waste bin instead of leaving them scattered all around the room. “The messier you leave the room, the harder it is for the room attendant to clean that room,” Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Check between the mattress and box spring</strong></p> <p>When a room doesn’t have a safe, hotel guests will sometimes hide items they don’t want to leave around the room between the mattress and the box spring. Housekeepers have recovered weapons and sex toys there, Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Move the furniture back </strong></p> <p>If hotel guests are travelling with children, they sometimes move one of the beds against the wall so there’s less opportunity for a child to fall out of the bed. That’s fine, but the courtesy is to move the furniture back where you found it before you leave.</p> <p><strong>Take your medications and supplies with you</strong></p> <p>Forgetting your medication can be dangerous for you, but leaving supplies like needles in your room could also be hazardous to your housekeeper. Also, if you gashed yourself shaving and used a towel to stop the blood flow, separate the towel out from the rest.</p> <p>“Hotels will have protocols for how to clean it or for how they have to bag it and have a company come and dispose of it. Because they can’t just put that in the regular trash and be done with it in a hotel,” Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Make sure you have your charger!</strong></p> <p>“If I had a dollar for every charger that I found, I could take my whole family on vacation,” says hotel manager, Adam Sperling. These days, it’s bad news if your phone dies, so take that last look around. “It’s things that get left behind that can often cause you stress at the end of your journey,” he says.</p> <p><strong>Think about a tip</strong></p> <p>Room attendants are typically paid hourly, so their position is different from a bellhop or a server that might make less per hour with the expectation that they will make more in gratuities, Markham-Bagnera says. That said, room attendants work incredibly hard and tipping is appreciated.</p> <p>Things to consider? The quality of the hotel, whether you’re staying one night or multiple nights, and how messy you’re leaving the room. “If you’ve got a lot of people staying in the room and you’ve got a pullout sofa or a cot, and you’ve used a lot more towels, it certainly is nicer to leave a little extra,” Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Call down to the front desk for transportation </strong></p> <p>Mornings can be hectic at hotels, with out-of-town guests rushing to make meetings and flights in cities they don’t know. You can save yourself some of the hassle by doing a little prep before you leave the hotel room.</p> <p>“Call down and say, ‘hey, I’m leaving at 7.30 tomorrow, can my car be waiting for me?’” Sperling suggests. “That helps everybody. Your car’s waiting for you and we’re not scrambling to go get it at 7.25 when you need it at 7.30.”</p> <p><strong>Book your next stay</strong></p> <p>If you really liked your room and are planning to be back in the area, before you leave your hotel is a great time to rebook, Sperling says. He recommends you ask for the front desk manager for face-to-face treatment that can trump the savings online. “You’re likely to get a great rate, and you’re likely to get upgraded,” he says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/12-things-you-should-always-do-before-you-leave-your-hotel-room?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Travel Tips

Placeholder Content Image

Check your rates: Couple's warning after being overcharged for more than a decade

<p>A disgruntled couple from the NSW south coast town of Kiama have slammed their local council after discovering they have been overcharged by around $8,000 for a rubbish bin they weren’t even using.</p> <p>The couple, Kim and Geoff Oppert reached out to <em>A Current Affair</em> to warn other ratepayers to carefully check the fine print on their bills.</p> <p>The pair had made the decision to downsize their red-lid general waste bin after their daughter moved out of the family home, which ideally would have lowered their rates.</p> <p>Due to a mistake on their bills - clouded by legal jargon - the couple were paying twice as much for their red-lid garbage bin.</p> <p>This meant Kiama Council had been charging them for TWO bins for the past 12 years.</p> <p>"Look at your rates notice and check you're paying for just one bin," Mr Oppert told A Current Affair.</p> <p>"Over 12 years we paid $16,000 in garbage waste disposal and it really should have been half that," he said.</p> <p>"Our rate notice doesn't clearly say how many bins we have. It's bureaucratic speak no one could understand."</p> <p>When the couple finally realised the mistake they went straight to the council.</p> <p>"But they would only give us a refund for two years and quoted some tax act as the reason why," Mr Oppert explained.</p> <p>"It is so unfair and just not right," Mrs Oppert added.</p> <p>"It was their mistake not ours, and they admitted it.”</p> <p>Mr Oppert seeks to warn all Australians paying a council for a bin service, "Check your rates notice and make sure you're not getting ripped off.”</p> <p>Kiama Council were made aware of the situation and gave a partial refund to the couple.</p> <p>"When this matter was brought to our attention, Kiama Council acted quickly to rectify the situation, in accordance with the law, as outlined below.”, a Kiama Municipal Council spokesperson said in a statement.</p> <p>“We refunded the amounts of $805.72 for 2021-22 and $818.61 for 2022-23.</p> <p>The couple have not received a full refund due to tax laws.</p> <p>"The Office of Local Government has advised that, where charges go back more than 1 year, the Recovery of Imposts Tax Act 1963 applies as follows", the spokesperson continued.</p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/03/BINS-PIC.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p>"In addition, Kiama Council is now working on an audit of all our urban and residential waste services to ensure our charges are correct.</p> <p>"Council reminds all ratepayers to check their bills and if anything is unclear, please get in touch with us to discuss, we are always happy to help."</p> <p><em>Image credit: A Current Affair/Kiama Municipal Council</em></p>

Real Estate

Placeholder Content Image

5 reasons to check on your elderly neighbour during a heatwave

<p>We all know someone who insists on wearing a cardigan in summer or refuses to turn on the air conditioning because “it’s not that hot”. Chances are this is an older person, and there’s a good reason for that.</p> <p>As we get older, we tend to not “feel” the heat <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163710000450?casa_token=LxiONa0xZXQAAAAA:8IYLW0YquTHHUGkd2qiMgz6FNU3y2f4FIW96Lu9a-gjbAWw8iOgt7AOQ9C0UWMmDtXWOkqw#fig4">as much</a> even though our bodies are <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00202.2003">less able to handle the heat</a>. This contradiction can have <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412017321980?casa_token=-nCG3M20MawAAAAA:VYwlO1kZIpibQnCLlm4LuSKMkK9nNvOgvdrXzUPHglOknNKp20UX0oty1DS2uWrlCZnoZhg">lethal consequences</a>, especially during periods of extreme heat.</p> <p>So, why is extreme heat so dangerous for older people? And what can we do to help?</p> <h2>Why are older people at risk?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212420921006324">Extreme heat kills</a> more Australians than <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1462901114000999">all other natural hazards</a>, and people aged 60 or older account for 69% of those deaths.</p> <p>There are five key reasons we’re more susceptible to heat as we get older.</p> <p>1. Bodily changes</p> <p>One of the main ways we lose excess heat, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228253/">blood flowing to our skin</a>, isn’t as effective as we get older. This is in part because the blood vessels in our skin don’t expand fast enough, and we may have less blood pumping with each beat of our heart.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016041202031864X#f0010">Many other changes</a> in our bodies also lead us to gain and store more heat as we get older. These include how our bodies control sweat and how well our kidneys balance fluid, which are both important for staying cool.</p> <p>2. Social isolation</p> <p>Loneliness and social isolation are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1064748120304425">health risks</a> on their own, but also <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020318237#b0065">multiply the risk</a> of heat-related illness.</p> <p>A South Australian <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/12/6721">survey</a> of older people showed those who were socially isolated were less confident in asking for help during a heatwave.</p> <p>This is concerning as many older Australians <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australians/contents/housing-and-living-arrangements">live alone</a>, and we are more likely to live alone as we get older.</p> <p>3. Beliefs and behaviour</p> <p>Older Australians may not respond to heat in ways that protect their own health and wellbeing. Australian culture tends to view heat tolerance as a matter of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3290974/">resilience</a> and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3402/gha.v5i0.19277">identity</a>, where there is a sense of generational pride in being able to cope with the heat.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/c67cf100436d8e7082a2dfc9302c1003/Adaptive+capabilities+in+elderly+people+during+extreme+heat+events+in+SA+-+Public+Health+Service+-+scientific+services+20140328.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-c67cf100436d8e7082a2dfc9302c1003-nKKgCmQ">Reports also suggest</a> many older people have concerns about the cost of air conditioning, may be hesitant to use it, or accidentally use reverse cycle units as heaters.</p> <p>4. Medical issues</p> <p>Many chronic illnesses that are more common with age are also associated with an increased risk for heat-related illness. Because blood flow is so important for regulating our body temperature, it’s not surprising that conditions such as <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1071916417300969?casa_token=LEe23NWx7V0AAAAA:-cw7TgysaYdqXq0FTuTtIxxE3Oua1NImlwmmvWWSyt39guUUWbzOsevcsoBI8tw5hbbkwaI">heart failure</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4861190/">diabetes</a> are associated with increased heat risk.</p> <p>Similarly, many medications commonly prescribed for chronic illnesses can <a href="https://www.health.vic.gov.au/environmental-health/extreme-heat-information-for-clinicians">interfere</a> with how our body regulates temperature. For instance, some blood pressure medicines reduce our ability to sweat and lose heat.</p> <p>5. Home environment</p> <p>It is <a href="https://www.anglicare.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Australia-Fair-Ageing-in-Place.pdf">increasingly difficult</a> for older Australians to find affordable and appropriate housing, especially pensioners and renters.</p> <p>Poor home design, lack of insulation, inability to pay their energy bills, and limited income <a href="https://cur.org.au/cms/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/heatwaveshomeshealth-briefing-paper_rmit-2.pdf">all contribute</a> to being vulnerable to heatwaves in Australia. This is particularly troubling as energy prices soar.</p> <h2>What can we do?</h2> <p>Older Australians</p> <p>Knowing the risks of extreme heat is the first step. Don’t <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/1/1">underestimate</a> your own risk during a heatwave.</p> <p>There are many practical ways we can all keep ourselves and our homes cool, both safely and efficiently. These include:</p> <ul> <li>using a fan, <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-humid-is-it-3-things-to-keep-you-cool-in-a-hot-and-sticky-summer-and-3-things-that-wont-176365">which is effective</a>, especially when it’s humid, but may <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003687014001355?casa_token=NoCMHlZZ_SUAAAAA:vu-Yk1WnHpy5RsumlwQ-5_SvvuMjJLeV5Cm087QTUYKI6kLUKwjnZ1-FuATlzGDC36WyCTI">not be enough</a> when it’s very hot and dry. If you have an air conditioner, consider using it</li> <li> <p>knowing the conditions inside your home by installing thermometers that ideally also <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-humid-is-it-3-things-to-keep-you-cool-in-a-hot-and-sticky-summer-and-3-things-that-wont-176365">measure humidity</a> so you know which ways will work best to cool down</p> </li> <li> <p>opening windows facing away from the sun when it’s cooler outside; otherwise keep blinds closed in the heat of the day</p> </li> <li> <p>taking cool showers or applying a damp cloth to the back of your neck can help cool the skin</p> </li> <li> <p>taking regular, small drinks of water, even when you’re not thirsty (unless you have <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/heat-stress-and-older-people#how-to-help-an-older-relative-or-friend">heart or kidney problems</a> in which case you need to talk to your doctor first as too much water may be a problem for you)</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/6023f98b-bdcf-416b-9d3a-cfff9ea728c8/A4+Poster+-+Signs+and+symptoms+of+heat+illness.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-6023f98b-bdcf-416b-9d3a-cfff9ea728c8-nwMnDGl">knowing the signs</a> of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Older relatives, friends and neighbours</p> <p>We can all keep an eye on our older relatives, friends and neighbours as:</p> <ul> <li> <p>keeping in touch is <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.17269/s41997-020-00309-2">great protection</a> from heat-related illness; check in regularly</p> </li> <li> <p>when an older person can’t keep the house cool, support a day trip to a cooler place such as a library, cinema, or shopping centre</p> </li> <li> <p>encourage them to talk to their doctor about how medical conditions or medications might increase their risk to heat.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>We need to raise awareness</h2> <p>Australians are growing complacent about the health risks of extreme heat, see heatwaves as normal and public health messages <a href="https://widgets.figshare.com/articles/7618403/embed?show_title=1">aren’t cutting through</a> any more.</p> <p>It’s also important to remember that older people aren’t all the same, so any public health approaches to extreme heat should be tailored to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378010001135?casa_token=e3YcjpeKWsgAAAAA:jzFlD6Wk7dvO05YEuoteZ0jUmMVc6eJczVhLxpDcw8qrLvCoTkvo2dz_wH_puWE-frzQNx4">communities and individuals</a>.</p> <p>One way we’re trying to help is by working directly with older people. Together, we’re <a href="https://www.griffith.edu.au/research/climate-action/climate-transitions/health/ethos-project">researching and developing a smart device</a> that makes it easier to know when your house is getting warm, and customising strategies you can use to cool down safely.</p> <p style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1rem; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; background-color: #ffffff;"><em style="box-sizing: border-box;">Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; background-color: #ffffff;"><em style="box-sizing: border-box;">This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-reasons-to-check-on-your-elderly-neighbour-during-a-heatwave-196218" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Retirement Life

Placeholder Content Image

Easy cancer checks you can do at home

<p>As life expectancy around the world continues to grow, so does the likelihood of developing cancer. However, despite more people than ever being diagnosed with cancer, we’re also more likely to survive it than ever. This is due not only to greater awareness and improved treatment, but also thanks to more and more people knowing what to look for. Here are just a few easy cancer checks you can do right now, right at home. You never know, you could save your own life.</p> <p><strong>Head and neck cancer</strong></p> <ol> <li>Face – Look out for any new swellings, changes in moles or anything you haven’t noticed before. Turn your head from side to side to make bumps easier to see.</li> <li>Neck – Use your fingers to examine under your jaw and around your neck muscles. See if each side of the neck feels the same and keep an eye out for any swellings.</li> <li>Lips – Feel the inside of your mouth using your fingers, pulling your top lip upwards and bottom lip downwards to check for any sores or changes.</li> <li>Gums – Run your fingers along your top and bottom gums, feeling for anything unusual.</li> <li>Cheeks – Turn your cheeks inside out and examine them for any red or white patches in the mirror. Then, check the cheeks for any ulcers, lumps or soreness with your finger and tongue.</li> <li>Tongue – Gently grab hold of your tongue, lifting it in every direction and looking out for swellings, ulcers or changes in colour. Don’t forget to examine under your tongue, too.</li> <li>Roof of mouth – Tilt your head back, open your mouth and check for any sores or changes in colour or texture.</li> </ol> <p><strong>Skin cancer</strong></p> <ol> <li>Get acquainted with your skin, using a mirror if necessary, noting any spots, moles or noticeable blemishes.</li> <li>Every three months, perform another self-examination, looking out for any new spots or changes in the size, colour, shape or texture of existing spots. If you do find new spots or changes, visit your doctor as soon as possible.</li> </ol> <p><strong>Breast cancer</strong></p> <ol> <li>Feel around your breasts and become familiar with what it feels (and looks) like normally.</li> <li>Perform regular self-examinations, looking out for the following: dimpled, puckered or bulging skin, changes in the nipple, redness, soreness, rash or swelling.</li> <li>To check for lumps, feel around your breasts while lying down, then again while standing up, both with arms lowered and raised. Also, be on the lookout for any discharge from the nipples.</li> <li>If anything appears to be even slightly abnormal, see your doctor as soon as possible.</li> </ol> <p><strong>Testicular cancer</strong></p> <ol> <li>A testicular self-examination should be performed every month, preferably during or after a hot shower or bath, as this is when the skin is most relaxed.</li> <li>Examine one testicle at a time, rolling it gently between your finger. You will be able to feel the epididymis, a soft, rope-like and slightly tender lump. This is normal.</li> <li>Feel for any lumps along the front and sides, but don’t dismiss any as being too small. A lump could be as small as a grain of rice.</li> <li>If you notice any bumps, swelling, pain, or changes in colour or size to your testicles, arrange an appointment with your GP right away.</li> </ol> <p>As always consult with a doctor/medical professional if you have any questions. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Say what? Here’s why you should check your hearing this September

<p dir="ltr">With Women’s Health Week held every September, it offers us a chance to really focus on the different aspects of our health that we might not think about in our day-to-day lives.</p> <p dir="ltr">For Lauren McNee, a clinical trainer and audiologist at Audika, this week provides the opportunity to check in with something many of us ignore: hearing loss.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Overall, Australians are not taking action to look after their hearing, with only one in five planning a hearing test in the next 12 months - compared to 39 percent who intend to get an eye test in the same period,” she tells <em>OverSixty</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over 1.5 billion people live with some form of hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound loss that can affect one or both of your ears.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though we might not think about it all that much, we rely on our ability to hear to interact with the world around us, with the <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/hearing-loss#tab=tab_1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">World Health Organisation</a> reporting that hearing loss can result in social isolation, loneliness and frustration, as well as $US 980 billion cost to the global economy each year.</p> <p dir="ltr">McNee says that taking the chance to check up on our ear health is particularly important as we age too, and should be among the various tests and check-ups we do to monitor our health.</p> <p dir="ltr">As we age, most of us will lose our hearing in some way, in a condition called presbycusis. According to the <a href="https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/age-related-hearing-loss" target="_blank" rel="noopener">National Institue on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders</a>, most of us will experience a combination of noise-induced hearing loss - from listening to sounds that are too loud or last too long - as well as age-related hearing loss which can occur because of changes to our inner ear.</p> <p dir="ltr">For women, McNee says that those with hearing loss are <a href="http://archotol.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1835392">more likely to suffer from depression</a> - but there are some key signs to look out for to catch hearing loss early.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Some key signs to look for include difficulty following conversations, phone conversations may be unclear, people seem to be mumbling, difficulty locating where sounds are coming from, ringing or buzzing in the ears, or even finding that you have to keep turning up the volume on the TV or radio,” she explains.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When a person’s communication becomes limited due to hearing loss, this can result in withdrawal from social activities and can lead to isolation – which we know can be a gateway to experiencing symptoms of depression.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Who’s at risk of hearing loss?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Though McNee says hearing loss “doesn’t discriminate”, there are some factors that can increase your risk of losing your hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It depends on a few factors, including your age and risk factors such as family history, occupation, and any pre-existing conditions like diabetes – which is known to be linked to hearing loss,” McNee explains.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whether our hearing loss is due to exposure or age, the damage and changes in our ears can’t be reversed.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, there are ways to protect your ears from other causes of hearing loss and reduce your risk of further loss.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If you are exposed to loud noises regularly, like renovations, loud music or engines,  make sure you are taking steps to protect your ears at those times by wearing appropriate hearing protection,” McNee suggests.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If you like to listen to music, especially with ear bud headphones, make sure the volume is such that you can still hear others around you or keep listening time down.”</p> <p dir="ltr">McNee also suggests checking your hearing regularly, and that an annual check-up if you’re over the age 50 is best.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We usually recommend that people that aren’t exhibiting hearing loss, but are over the age of 50, get screened once a year just to be safe,” McNee says.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If you are at high-risk of hearing loss, or you are exhibiting symptoms, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible. Early detection can help reduce the risk of other related conditions such as depression.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Luckily, checking your hearing is a pretty quick and simple process, with tests offered in-person and online for free.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-d617c227-7fff-f427-1c2a-dd98fef58d30"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Hearing

Placeholder Content Image

Allergic to cleaning? 13 ways to keep allergies in check when Spring cleaning

<p><strong>Wear gloves and a mask</strong></p> <p>Before you start cleaning, put on a face mask and rubber gloves, recommends board-certified allergist Dr Neeta Ogden. The mask will help you avoid breathing in allergens, and the gloves will keep them away from your whole face.</p> <p>“Even quickly touching your eye or face can lead to allergens reaching your eyes and portals to your airway through the nose and mouth,” says Dr Ogden.</p> <p><strong>Clean one window at a time</strong></p> <p>Spring-cleaning is the time to hit spots you don’t clean every week, like windows. But keeping the panes open too long could let pollen, mould, and other allergens inside.</p> <p>“I would do one window at a time,” says Dr Stephen Kimura, an allergist and immunologist. “Open it, clean it, and shut it right away.” Keep the AC running as you go so the air can filter, he says.</p> <p><strong>Let clothes dry inside</strong></p> <p>No matter how much you love the idea of letting clothes dry in the natural sunlight, stay away from an outdoor clothesline.</p> <p>“If you’re pollen or mould allergic and have clothes out there, they will attract those pollens and you’ll be exposed in high quantities to those allergens,” says Dr Kimura. Any clothes that can’t go in the dryer should hang dry indoors.</p> <p><strong>Pick the right vacuum</strong></p> <p>Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which is designed to keep dust in the vacuum instead of blowing back up into the air, says Dr Ogden.</p> <p>Also look out for new models with complete seal technology to keep even more allergens in, she suggests. “You definitely don’t want to go with a regular old vacuum,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Leave carpet shampoo to the pros</strong></p> <p>Shampooing a carpet obviously means getting your carpet wet. The problem is, dust mites love spots with more than 50 per cent humidity and might start gathering in the damp wood or padding under the carpet, says Dr Mark Aronica, an allergist.</p> <p>“It should be done by a professional cleaner, where things are cleaned up and dried as quickly as possible,” he says.</p> <p><strong>Don't dust dry</strong></p> <p>Dusting with a dry cloth could work against you, says Dr Ogden. “Dusting in and of itself is not very helpful if you’re just disseminating dust back in the air,” she says.</p> <p>She recommends using a damp cloth or a vinegar solution when wiping down surfaces to actually trap the dust.</p> <p><strong>Pay attention to clutter</strong></p> <p>Don’t ignore your usual decluttering when you’re spring cleaning. “Piles of books and magazines and things collect dust,” says Dr Kimura.</p> <p>Toss the junk while you spring clean to keep the allergens in your home low.</p> <p><strong>Clean mould hands-off</strong></p> <p>Mould can trigger allergies, so cleaning it out effectively can be a challenge. The last thing you want is to hover over the shower scrubbing away at the allergen, so Dr Ogden suggests using a product you can spray. “You can hold them away from yourself and spray into the shower,” she says.</p> <p>“You return in 15 minutes and run the shower, and that’s it.” Use a solution that’s 10 per cent bleach, which is strong enough to kill mould but weak enough for your allergies to tolerate, says Dr Aronica.</p> <p><strong>Run a fan</strong></p> <p>Opening windows to air out fumes will just bring allergens in, but running a fan can help.</p> <p>“Make sure you’ve got the exhaust hood running in the bathroom or kitchen to keep strong odours from bothering you,” says Dr Kimura.</p> <p><strong>Use natural products</strong></p> <p>Stick with fragrance-free cleaning products because scented options can make allergies worse. “It’s not a direct allergic reaction so much as an irritant to a nose that’s already inflamed or irritated,” says Dr Aronica.</p> <p>Use natural cleaning products when you can, like mopping with a vinegar and water solution, suggests Dr Kimura.</p> <p><strong>Invest in a mattress cover </strong></p> <p>Make sure you use an allergy cover on your mattress, pillows and quilt. “The covers are impermeable to dust mites,” says Dr Aronica.</p> <p>“What does accumulate during the week gets killed in the laundry.” Wash your sheets in the hottest setting, or at least 48.8°C, to kill any mites, he says.</p> <p><strong>Give your dog a bath</strong></p> <p>Spring-cleaning doesn’t have to mean your house only – make it an opportunity to give your cat or dog a good wash, too.</p> <p>“That cuts down on whatever pollen they have on their fur or coats, and also cuts down on dander,” says Dr Kimura.</p> <p><strong>Clean our your dehumidifier</strong></p> <p>A dehumidifier will help avoid mould at bay in basements – but only if you clean it regularly.</p> <p>“Rinse it out and use a weak bleach to kill mould spores,” says Dr Kimura. Make sure to refresh it during your spring-cleaning chores.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/allergic-to-cleaning-13-ways-to-keep-allergies-in-check-when-spring-cleaning?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

Home & Garden

Placeholder Content Image

Claims political parties are illegal deemed “obvious nonsense”

<p dir="ltr">The leader of the unregistered AustraliaOne Party has claimed that political parties are actually illegal under the Australian constitution - but experts have hit back, declaring his claims as false and “obvious nonsense”.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a video interview shared on Facebook and YouTube, Riccardo Bosi makes the claim that “parties are actually illegal under the constitution”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Just because we have it doesn’t mean it’s legal… The constitution actually says you must direct the elector - that’s you, don’t call yourself a voter, call yourself an elector - the elector must directly elect their representative,” he says at around the four-minute mark of the nearly two-hour-long <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcNiPDmSymQ&amp;ab_channel=NUNN2K" target="_blank" rel="noopener">video</a>.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-2d78716f-7fff-296d-29cb-77ce4be09961"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“Now, when you put a party in there, it has interposed itself between the elector and the representative, which is unconstitutional.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/politics-whacko1.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Riccardo Bosi (right) says that political parties are unconstitutional in Australia. Image: YouTube</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Experts have since weighed in, with Professor Graeme Orr, an expert in electoral law at the University of Queensland, telling <em><a href="https://www.aap.com.au/factcheck/party-on-constitution-claim-judged-as-utter-nonsense/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">AAP FactCheck</a></em> that Mr Bosi’s claims were “obvious nonsense at many levels”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The claim that political parties are illegal under the Australian Constitution is false,” Dr Ben Saunders, an associate professor at Deakin Law School, said, adding that “the constitution does not attempt to prohibit the existence of political parties in any way”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Professor Orr explained that Mr Bosi’s argument that “the elector must directly elect their representative” also has no bearing on whether political parties exist and that it refers to having elections.</p> <p dir="ltr">“‘Directly’ chosen simply means there must be an election with the names of possible MPs on the ballot,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Bosi’s claims come after he unsuccessfully stood for the seat of Greenway in western Sydney during May’s federal election, receiving just <a href="https://tallyroom.aec.gov.au/HouseDivisionPage-27966-122.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">3.25 percent</a> of votes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under Section 15 of the constitution, which is the only part to explicitly mention political parties, it notes that if a senator leaves a vacancy and “he was publicly recognised by a particular political party as being an endorsed candidate of that party”, the person who fills that vacancy “shall… be a member of that party”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Citing this section, Professor Anne Twomey, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Sydney, told <em>AAP </em>it is “implausible to argue that political parties are illegal under the constitution”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Even Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, was a member of a political party called the Protectionist Party.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr Saunders added: “Far from being illegal, the existence of parties was in fact a key assumption upon which our constitution was built.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7cdd6b56-7fff-6547-4036-195040c6abd7"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Qantas rolls out new self-serve kiosk machines

<p dir="ltr">Qantas will roll out new kiosk machines that will help streamline passengers onto their flight without any headaches.</p> <p dir="ltr">Following the disastrous Easter and ANZAC Day long weekends which saw the Qantas terminal snaking with lines due to staff shortages and delayed flights, the airline bounced at the change.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new self-serve kiosk machines will help make the airport experience faster and easier for customers travelling on domestic flights.</p> <p dir="ltr">The national carrier started a limited trial of the self-serve machines in Terminal 3 at Sydney Domestic Airport and are expected to complete the roll out by June. </p> <p dir="ltr">Other major domestic airports will slowly see them installed by the end of September. </p> <p dir="ltr">Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully said the change was due to passengers already checking in online. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We have seen consumer preferences dramatically shift towards digital and being able to manage their own journey, so we’re investing more in our app and airport technology to make travelling easier,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The existing kiosks were instrumental in reducing queuing for check-in at airport counters when they were introduced more than 10 years ago, and these new kiosks will match the latest technology with customer preferences.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Understandably, our customers want to move through the airport and get to the lounge or boarding gate as seamlessly as possible, and the new kiosks will help speed things up.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We will incorporate feedback from Frequent flyers as the new kiosks are rolled out across the network.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We know that some customers would prefer to speak to a person when they check in, so we’ll continue to have the same number of Qantas team members available in the terminal to help customers with enquiries as well as have check-in desks open.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>HOW THE PROCESS WORKS:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">1) Check-in online (qantas.com or on the Qantas app)</p> <p dir="ltr">2) Use new kiosks to print bag tags</p> <p dir="ltr">3) Drop luggage at auto-bag drops</p> <p dir="ltr">4) Use digital boarding pass to board flight.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Qantas</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

How often should I check my blood pressure?

<p dir="ltr">A new study investigating the role of hypertension in a person’s risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms suggests that the condition may worsen symptoms due to its association with one particular factor.</p> <p dir="ltr">Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, affects 1 in 3 Australian adults and 1 in 5 New Zealanders, according to the<a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/taking-the-pressure-off-high-blood-pressure" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Australian Institute of Health and Welfare</a> and <a href="https://www.southerncross.co.nz/group/medical-library/high-blood-pressure-hypertension#:~:text=Known%20medically%20as%20hypertension%2C%20high,attack%20have%20high%20blood%20pressure." target="_blank" rel="noopener">Southern Cross NZ</a>, with men being more likely to have the condition.</p> <p dir="ltr">The study, published in <em><a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40292-022-00506-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PubMed</a></em>, concluded that hypertension doesn’t play an independent role in the severity of Covid symptoms from current evidence, but that systolic blood pressure, one the measurements used to determine blood pressure, could be a contributing factor. </p> <p dir="ltr">In light of these findings, the theme for this year’s World Hypertension Day, held on May 17, is <em>Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer</em> in a bid to raise awareness of the condition, which can have no immediate symptoms.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-a78284b9-7fff-a9d9-57cc-3ef54e6af508">Andria Aird, a hypertension expert and Blooms the Chemist pharmacist, tells <em>OverSixty </em>that this absence of symptoms - except for headaches in severe cases - is why raising awareness is crucial, and why Blooms the Chemist is promoting free blood pressure checks this month.</span></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/05/andria-aird.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Andria Aird says getting our blood pressure checked is key to detecting high blood pressure. Image: Supplied</em></p> <p dir="ltr">“Current surveys estimate that 32 percent of men and 27 percent of women in Australia have hypertension,” she says. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Left untreated, hypertension can increase your risk of life-threatening conditions like diabetes, heart attack and stroke.”</p> <p dir="ltr">This condition is particularly common among older adults, which Aird says is to do with the changes that occur in our blood vessels.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The walls of our arteries become stiffer and we are more at risk of high blood pressure,” she explains.</p> <p dir="ltr">“More mature people are also more at risk of other health conditions which often go hand in hand with hypertension.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Could I have hypertension and not know it?</p> <p dir="ltr">With no obvious symptoms, we can have hypertension without realising - and getting a blood pressure check is one of the ways to determine if we do.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Sometimes people come into our pharmacy to have their blood pressure tested and shown a systolic reading of up to 200 mmHg without even knowing it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410#:~:text=High%20blood%20pressure%20(hypertension)%20is,problems%2C%20such%20as%20heart%20disease." target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mayo Clinic</a>, high blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow (or width) in your arteries.</p> <p dir="ltr">Blood pressure readings, given in millimetres of mercury (mmHg), consist of two numbers: systolic pressure (the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats) and diastolic pressure (the pressure in your arteries in-between beats).</p> <p dir="ltr">A healthy reading is considered to be a systolic pressure of 140 mmHg or less, and a diastolic pressure of less than 90 mmHg, according to the <a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/high-blood-pressure-and-older-adults#:~:text=Normal%20blood%20pressure%20for%20most,pressure%20of%20less%20than%2080" target="_blank" rel="noopener">National Institute of Ageing</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">As for how often we should be getting checked, Aird suggests over -50s rolling up their sleeves every 3-6 months.</p> <p dir="ltr">“At Blooms the Chemist we recommend all Australian adults have their blood pressure checked,” she says.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The Heart Foundation recommends at least every two years from 18 years, although my conservative recommendation for people over 50 would be at least 3 – 6 monthly. “Hypertension is not only a disease of the elderly,  however those over 60 are at a higher risk.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But you don’t always have to go to the GP or chemist to get checked.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Reliable home blood pressure monitors are relatively affordable and easy to use. At Blooms The Chemist we can offer advice to recommend a monitor to suit your needs,” Aird says.</p> <p dir="ltr">As well as getting checked, Aird says there are some things we can do in our day-to-day lives to reduce our chances of developing hypertension.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Fortunately, there are lifestyle options we can take to reduce our risk of high blood pressure, even if there is a family history of the condition,” she says.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-dd7acff1-7fff-c75a-3877-acbbb3b253be"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“It is vital to quit if you are a smoker. A healthy diet, weight control and regular exercise all substantially reduce your risk. Other tips include reducing salt in your diet, managing stress and reducing alcohol intake.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Does your heart skip a beat? You could be at a higher risk of a stroke

<p dir="ltr">One in three Australians over the age of 50, or <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27798365/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">one in 20 New Zealanders</a> aged 55 or older, will develop Atrial Fibrillation - an irregular or rapid heartbeat which ups their risk of strokes and heart failure.</p> <p dir="ltr">But many, like marriage celebrant Maryann Bawden, will have no idea until something happens.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When the doctors asked me to shift over a little on the bed, I realised I was completely paralysed down my left side,” she said.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-b8851d47-7fff-1f46-3531-42bb9c39e40f"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">In Maryanne’s case, she suffered a stroke and was in intensive care for four days, where staff realised she had Atrial Fibrillation (AF).</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/05/atrial-fib1.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Maryanne Bawden (left) had no idea she had Atrial Fibrillation until after she was hospitalised for a stroke. Image: Supplied</em></p> <p dir="ltr">“It was a surreal moment. I had no emotions at the time, just a detached curiosity that my body wasn’t functioning properly,” Maryanne said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It felt very matter of fact, with no correlation between the seriousness and the actual situation.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Professor Ben Freedman, the Deputy Director of Cardiovascular Research at the <a href="https://www.hri.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Heart Research Institute</a>, says the number of Australians who will unknowingly suffer from AF is set to increase by 150 percent over the next four decades.</p> <p dir="ltr">“One in three people aged over 50 will develop AF - the issue is, most people have never heard of it, and that’s problematic because it means they don’t know how to ask their doctor to check for it,” Professor Freedman explains.</p> <p dir="ltr">Symptoms include an irregular pulse, heart palpitations or a “fluttering” heartbeat, and feeling tired, dizzy or weak.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-96c09322-7fff-4e6b-ba47-e70456d485d9"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“However, people often have no symptoms at all or only experience symptoms some of the time,” he says.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/05/atrial-fib2.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Professor Ben Freedman (centre), and two members of his team - Dr Katrina Giskes (left), and Dr Nicole Lowres (right) - hope to prove that regular ECG screening will decrease morbidity from Atrial Fibrillation. Image: Supplied</em></p> <p dir="ltr">“People can live suffering these small, silent strokes and they don’t even know they are having them. But while they might not notice them, over time they cause a cognitive decline.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Professor Freedman also heads - and founded - the <a href="https://www.afscreen.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">AF-SCREEN International Collaboration</a>, a global group of scientists that includes many of the foremost names in AF research.</p> <p dir="ltr">One way to catch AF before a person experiences a stroke or heart failure is by using electrocardiograms (ECGs), and Professor Freedman will be looking to prove that more intensive ECG screening will prevent strokes, morbidity, and death.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the next five years, Professor Freedman and his team will be measuring AF in Australians over the age of 70 with a handheld device to prove that this screening helps.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We need to increase awareness of AF, as only 11 percent of people over the age of 65 are being regularly screened for AF by their GP despite it being a very simple test,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Almost everyone who turns 65 should be getting a yearly pulse check. Cost isn’t a factor - anyone can afford a pulse check.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e9d83005-7fff-6692-b959-28309fe982e3"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">Though only a doctor can diagnose you with AF, you can keep an eye on your heart health by regularly checking your pulse and keeping a record of your results.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/05/Picture12.png" alt="" width="508" height="508" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Supplied</em></p> <p dir="ltr">A resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, and although a pause or extra beat every now and then is normal, you should speak to your doctor if it is quite irregular.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6cefb02a-7fff-82f4-b132-77e195a3d19f"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Supplied</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Check before you fly: Woman warns others after tiny passport detail causes nightmare

<p dir="ltr">An Aussie woman has issued a warning to fellow travellers after a tiny detail on her passport stopped her from moving to New Zealand and made for an upsetting and expensive experience.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lindsey Gray planned to relocate from Sydney in March with her partner and one-year-old son, who are already New Zealand citizens.</p> <p dir="ltr">After months of waiting for a travel permit, Ms Gray was finally allowed to move - but she only made it to Sydney’s international airport before the problems started.</p> <p dir="ltr">Immigration officials noticed that a couple of pages in Ms Gray’s passport had some minor damage that prevented her from boarding the plane.</p> <p dir="ltr">Speaking to <em><a href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/tiny-passport-detail-sees-family-denied-from-overseas-move-081850947.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Yahoo News</a></em>, Ms Gray said her young toddler must have found her passport and chewed the edges at some point during the chaos of moving country.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When [New Zealand immigration officials] saw the nibble on my passport, they were 100 percent unimpressed,” she told the outlet.</p> <p dir="ltr">“They told me it could have been tampered with and therefore I would not be allowed to travel.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She explained that since New Zealand borders were closed at the time, her passport had to be checked over by an immigration official “rather than just scanned by the Qantas staff”, and that’s when the damage was noticed.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-3fa31951-7fff-86c6-8162-f1075542ade0"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">After rushing to secure an emergency appointment to obtain a new passport - costing a hefty $533 - and undergoing more Covid testing, Ms Gray and her family were able to book new flights and fly out the next day.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/04/nz21.jpg" alt="" width="512" height="431" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Lindsey Gray, her partner Matt, and her son Douglas successfully made the move to New Zealand. Image: Yahoo News</em></p> <p dir="ltr">The Aussie mum praised Qantas staff and the passport office staff for their compassion while helping with her case, but said the experience was still incredibly upsetting.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We had our house on the market and all our possessions already shipped to New Zealand and therefore we were effectively homeless in Australia,” she told Yahoo News.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Gray also joked that as a result of the experience, “my puffy, distressed, cry-face is now my passport image for the next 10 years”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The story is immortalised and commemorated in this way,” she added.</p> <p dir="ltr">She warned other “out-of-practice travellers” to take care of their passports to avoid having the same experience as her.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Please don’t get the photo page of your passport damaged in any way, people,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Big lesson for out-of-practice travellers here - check that puppy for damage before flying.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4beb5f93-7fff-bad4-fe66-eb12d1e05cb6"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Yahoo News</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Our Partners