In a study conducted in JAMA Dermatology, researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine discovered that even though 93% of their clinic attendee purchased a sunscreen, most of the people have a lack of understanding on the terminology used in a sunscreen label. Fewer than half of the participants were able to identify correctly the terminology used on the label. UVA, UVB, SPF, broad-spectrum, and PA, they may all seem confusing to consumers. Are you as confused? Worry not, as this article will explain all the commonly used term for this essential product.
Is it a sunscreen or a sunblock?
Today, many brands are actually a blend of sunscreen and sunblock. The words are also frequently used interchangeably. Sunscreen or sunblock helps to shield you from the dangerous ultraviolet rays of the sun in different ways:
Sunscreen: Sunscreen filters or screens the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Also called chemical sunscreen, it keeps most of the rays out but lets some in. It is more commonly used than sunblock. It utilises a variety of chemicals that work to absorb harmful UV rays before they penetrate your skin.
Sunblock: Sunblock or physical sunscreen reflects the sun’s rays from the skin. It blocks the rays from penetrating the skin. Most sunblocks utilise titanium oxide or zinc oxide as the active ingredient.
What is UVA and UVB rays
There are many different types of rays present in sunlight. The rays that are most damaging to our skin are called ultraviolet (UV) rays. UVB and UVA are the two basic types of ultraviolet rays that reach the earth’s surface.
UVB rays are responsible for producing sunburn. It’s easier to remember UVB cause burning. The UVB rays also play the greatest role in causing skin cancers.
UVA rays also play a role in skin cancer formation. It also penetrates more deeply into the skin and plays a greater role in premature skin aging changes including wrinkle formation. Hence, remember UVA cause aging. There are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays. UVA is around every day and it can penetrate through window glass and the cloud.
How much SPF do you need?
SPF stands for the sun protection factor. It measures a sunscreen’s ability to filter UVB rays. SPF of 30 means that technically, you could be out in the sun 30 times longer before you get sunburned than you would be able to if you went out without sunscreen, as long as you keep reapplying it appropriately.
An SPF of 30 is not double as effective as an SPF 15. Rather, the effectiveness in filtering UVB rays are as follows:
SPF 15 filters about 93% of UV-B rays
SPF 30 filters about 97% of UV-B rays
SPF 50 filters about 98% of UV-B rays
Hence, the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is only a 1% filtering improvement. If the sunscreen is reapplied every two hours and use in the right amount, using SPF 30 sunscreen is enough for typical adults.
What does a broad spectrum mean
Since SPF only measures protection against UVB rays, UVA coverage is indicated by the word ‘broad spectrum’. Most active ingredients in sunscreen shield against UVB, but far fewer have UVA coverage, and only a handful offer both. A sunscreen that combines both physical and chemical sunscreen usually have a broad spectrum property.
What about PPD and PPA?
Any sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays qualifies as broad spectrum. There’s some criticism from consumer advocates that the standard allows any sunscreen that provides any measurable protection from UVA rays as broad spectrum, even if that protection is very low.
Meanwhile, around the globe, the standardized indicator for UVA protection may not be the same. Other test and labels are used unlike the universal SPF indicator for UVB protection. So many sunscreens from Europe and Asia show more specific rankings for UVA protection and can be seen on their label as:
PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening): Used in Asia and Europe, a PPD of 10 means that it’ll take around 10 times longer for your skin to tan, compared to if it was unprotected.
PA (Protection Grade of UVA): used in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, the PA system simplifies and groups the ratings from a PPD test. It ranges from PA+ to PA+++
It is estimated that around 350 million individuals worldwide have been diagnosed with diabetes. While millions of others may be walking around undiagnosed as one in every two diabetic adults are usually unaware of their diagnosis.
As diabetes is usually linked to those with excess weight, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits; many who have been diagnosed worry that they would have to make drastic changes in order to lead a normal life. The word ‘diabetes’ to them may invoke the image of restrictions, lifestyle changes, excessive control, loss of freedom, deprivation, medication, sadness, and many more. However, that is not the case. Many individuals who have diabetes need only to start with some tiny changes in order to see vast differences in their blood sugar level.
Why should you change?
Although having diabetes may necessitate certain lifestyle adjustments to control blood sugar levels, it is more important for a person with diabetes to open up to changes before diving into changes. It would be a good preparatory act to ask yourself ‘Why’ should I change my habits and what would happen if I did change them?
1. Better organ health
Having a good blood sugar level can help to protect your organs and lower the risks of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.
2. Better physical health
Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) can cause more hunger or thirst than usual, excessive urination, tiredness and lethargy, frequent infections and blurred vision. While hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can cause sweating, hunger, shaking, dry mouth, dizziness, a feeling of weakness and headache. With good blood sugar control, these symptoms can be alleviated and prevented from occurring.
3. Better emotional health
Excessive low blood sugar reading can cause anxiety and confusion in some individuals while the excessively high level of blood sugar can sometimes worsen depressive symptoms. A healthy eating plan that helps to control your blood sugar levels will help in fostering positive emotions and thus, fostering a healthier and happier you.
How do I keep a positive outlook?
Diabetes has undoubtedly affected a person’s emotional well-being. It was found that persons with diabetes were susceptible to negative emotions due to the frustration of managing their condition. But the truth is nothing can take away your happiness unless you allow it to. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘None can make you feel inferior without your consent’. If you look at diabetes as something that is going to debilitate your life and steal your joy, your whole outlook on life will be of frustration.
However if instead, you chose to view your condition as a motivation for you to be healthier and reach an even better version of yourself, you will discover parts of yourself that you never knew existed. You will also start taking control of your emotions and learn to view this condition as a blessing rather than a curse.
It might help to ponder upon the following after being diagnosed:
now you have a bigger reason to start taking control of your health
now you are more careful of what you eat for which your waistline will also thank you
now you can start taking exercising even more seriously and you will also reap the benefits everytime you look in the mirror and see a healthier you
you are more mindful of your lifestyle habits which starts to not only improve your blood sugar levels but also helps your overall health
you appreciate every moment and every person in your life even more as you start to value your health and life more
There are also various myths running in the minds of persons with diabetes that should be addressed:
It’s time to make the change
Now that you have explored some of the Whys, the Myths and the Facts involved in changing your habits, we have now arrived at the Magical question of, “Are you willing and ready to change?”- If you have answered ‘Yes’ to this, think about a few things in your lifestyle that you are willing to change and slowly change this thought into action.
Being diagnosed with diabetes may seem like a world of never-ending restrictions. However, the good news is making even a tiny step of change will cause a huge impact on your health. And remember the food you eat and the physical activity you choose to do is just as important as how you feel. If you’re not happy with a certain eating plan or fitness routine, seek help on getting new ideas to tailor them to your health status and most importantly, satisfied yourself physically and emotionally. Are you ready to turn your situation into a blessing and have the intention to take action?
Research has shown that individuals with diabetes have a higher risk of depression than the normal population. Comorbid diabetes and emotional issues are found to be simultaneously associated, with one condition exacerbated by the other and vice versa. Traditional management of diabetes aims at diet, medication, and exercise while the psychological aspect of this disease is often overlooked. Due to negative perceptions and stigma on emotional/mental issues, diabetes patients may even feel reluctant to seek counselling or treatment.
The emotional turmoil of diabetic patients
Studies indicate that individuals with diabetes were more likely to have a strong emotional response to negative experiences. Research also indicates that individuals with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes had more activity on the right side of their brains, which is associated with depression and negative emotions.
Those with prediabetes and diabetes also recorded lower cortisol levels which shows a lower resistance to stress. It was also found that the occurrence of anxiety in the diabetic patient has been reported as high as 40%.
People with diabetes normally go through several emotional stages as they come to grips with having a chronic disease.
Psychological support for diabetes
As diabetic patients become more fixated on negative thoughts, losing weight and managing other health issues can become more challenging. Negative emotions and anxiety affect diabetes self-care management, which is manifested through poorer diet and medication adherence, lesser physical activity, and ultimately higher health care costs.
For healthcare providers, giving the psychological support needed by their patients can make a huge difference in diabetes management. Recent research has shown that when support and care have been given by health care providers, it has resulted in higher perceived self-efficacy and lesser emotional issues with the diabetic patient. With the right support, positive emotional health will facilitate self-management and improved health outcomes. This can be done through:
Providing awareness and skills development to diabetic patient
Being more emphatic and improve communication skills
Personalisation of patients’ management and care according to their needs
Assess diabetes impact on patients daily routine and how to overcome it
Worries and concerns about diabetes management have caused several patients to impose various restrictions upon themselves. They may isolate themselves, which may precipitate or exacerbate negative emotions. By using an approach that promotes an open discussion about the difficulties in following a diabetes regimen, health care providers can help them gain a sense of freedom through safe self-management skills.
Managing your emotions in facing diabetes
“if you don’t manage your emotions, then your emotions will manage you,” – Deborah Rozman.
Moreover, addressing your emotion should be your priority in diabetic management. Below are some of the steps you can take to manage your emotions:
Acceptance and acknowledgement
Acceptance and acknowledgement of your condition will help you to focus on strategies to manage this disease. You should also learn to accept and acknowledge the negative emotions that may be surfaced. Overcome them by reframing your thoughts by looking at the situation in a positive way.
For example, a person with diabetes may say to himself, “It’s a good thing I was diagnosed early because it’s not too late for me to start living healthier and to try to reduce my blood sugar levels till they become stable”
Forgive yourself and grow from this experience
It is easy for one to fall into a trap of guilt, regret and self-blame of their lifestyle consequence. But it is important for us to know that there is no one who is perfect and we should learn to forgive ourselves. Let go and move on to the next step and become healthier.
Have an action plan
After going through the initial phase of acceptance and awareness, it’s good to move on to the next phase of knowing how to manage diabetes. It would be helpful to go through an action plan involving food and fitness with a friend or a family member.
Being alone makes diabetes management worse as isolation can make you feel more anxious. Talk to your friends and family for support. Close family members who live with those suffering from diabetes can help by practising similar healthy eating patterns. This can be one of the most powerful ways to support your loved ones by making them feel like they’re not alone in their management plan.
Try to make time for some peaceful ‘me time’ sessions where you connect with nature in a recluse setting to help you unwind and get away from it all.
Managing diabetes may seem difficult at first but if we stop for a moment and reframe our thoughts and realize that diabetes management actually involves healthy thoughts, healthy emotions and healthy behaviour patterns comprising healthy eating and healthy fitness activities in order to ultimately attain a healthy lifestyle. Shouldn’t everyone be doing the same too? You’re not alone on this journey to becoming a healthier you. We’re all in this together.
“What if I fall off the stages?”, “What if I say something stupid?”, “What if I failed the math test?”
The ‘what if’ questions that we may encounter on a day to day basis is the fuel to our anxiety. Anxiety is a normal human emotion in the anticipation of future threat. We may feel anxious before an examination, presentation or social events. It is a natural response that helps us stay alert, focused and ready to do our best. But anxiety can become overwhelming and can interfere with our lives when in excess.
Intensive, unreasonable anxiety is an indicator of anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorder struggle with intense emotion identified by recurring intrusive thoughts and concern paired with physical changes like rapid heartbeat and increase blood pressure. Someone with an anxiety disorder may avoid being in certain situations out of intense concern or worry- which may not be real.
Types of anxiety disorder
Anxiety disorders can be classified into six main types. These include generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). GAD is the most common anxiety disorder in which the patient struggles with excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worries about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations.
Anxiety may intensify in the form of acute attack. Anxiety attack feels similar to a heart attack. It occurs suddenly with symptoms that usually lasted for few minutes, or rarely, up to several hours. It tends to peak for 10 minutes and will reduce steadily. One may feel tired, fatigue after an anxiety attack.
Having constant anxiety can also take a toll on our body which not many are aware of. This involves changes in digestive systems, a risk of infection, change in cardiovascular, urinary and even respiratory systems.
Treatment for anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorder, like any other disorder, is something that one may learn to manage and overcome with proper help and support.
“As how we always take care of other people that matter to us, our own self-has right over us.” clinical psychologist, Aina Nur Azmi points out. “Hence, give yourself the help that it needs, talk to someone about it and get professional help.”
“Life will never be free from challenges but we can always learn to manage, adapt and adopt a thinking pattern that is more helpful and positive,” she added.
Despite the gloomy outlook of life that the patients may feel, anxiety is manageable through all the treatment options available. One of the viable treatment of anxiety disorder is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It helps patients reframe negative thoughts, challenging their core beliefs via individual therapy sessions. Support groups are also available as well as self-help reading materials like books. Although severe symptoms may require medication, meditation and deep breathing or relaxation exercises can also work wonders to help you cope with the symptoms.
This article was published in collaboration with Naluri.
*Aina Nur Azmi is a Health Coach at Naluri – Pioneering next generation digital therapeutics combining behavioural science, data science and digital design to build the mental resilience needed to achieve your goals and overcome life’s challenges that stand in your way.
You may not know everything about your body but you can gradually gain some basic knowledge about certain parts. In this topic, let’s discover 5 unique facts about colour blindness – a problem that affects the vision.
People do not see the same colour
To the question: what colour is a spinach leaf? Your answer must be ‘green’. However, what is green like? You and your friend, for example, do not see the same green. You can see the colour of an object because light rays come to that object, then these light rays reflect off the object, pass through your lens and cornea, focus at one point on the retina.
The color of light is defined by its wavelength. This means green has a wavelength you see as green. A spinach leaf is green because its surface reflects green wavelengths and absorbs all other wavelengths.
Each person sees the color of an object in a different way. This because eyes and brain work together to notice different shades of light. However, the difference is usually slight.
Color blindness can be a problem of the cells, eyes, brain, or a part of the aging process
Color blindness can be caused by the absence or improper function of cone cells. This may be because of defects in specific genes needed for the formation of these cells. Cone cells help you detect the colors. There are three types of cone cells that determine three main colors: green, red, and blue. If you have color blindness, you may not have one, two or all three types of this cell.
Sometimes, color blindness can be the result of a physical or chemical damage to the eye, nerve, or brain. This can affect the color information.
As you age, cataracts may appear and the lenses may become yellow. This can also lead to color blindness.
Color blindness is more common in men than in women
Studies have shown that men are more likely to have color blindness than women. This is because the genes responsible for this condition are located on the X chromosome. Men have only one X chromosome while women have two X chromosome. In women, once the X chromosome is affected, the other can compensate.
Red-green color blindness is a combination of conditions
Red-green color blindness is the most common type of color blindness. It occurs when you lack of green cone and red cone photo-pigments. Red-green color blindness is a combination of red color blindness and green color blindness.
Special lenses can help people with color blindness
Color blindness can present at birth, appear in childhood, or start when you are an adult. Although it can be annoying when you experience difficulty reading, learning, or driving, color blindness is not a serious condition. Although color blindness cannot be cured, you can live normally with it.
There are ways to help if you have this condition. You can ask your doctor about lenses for people with color blindness. These lenses help you see more colors. You can use them outdoors. There are also apps on smartphones that help you recognize colours of objects.
BANGKOK – With all the talk about the impending “Asian century,” one might imagine that the region had moved beyond what are often viewed as poor-country health challenges, like high rates of maternal mortality. The reality is very different.
In 2015, an estimated 85,000 women died of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth across the Asia-Pacific region – 28% of the global total. Up to 90% of those deaths, which were concentrated in just 12 countries, could have been prevented through quality antenatal, obstetric, and perinatal care.
In the absence of such care, the average maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the Asia-Pacific region is extremely high: 127 per 100,000 live births, compared to the developed-country average of 12 per 100,000. The 12 countries with the highest MMRs, exceeding 100 deaths per 100,000 live births, are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste.
These countries, together, accounted for about 78,000 known maternal deaths in 2015. The actual figure is probably higher. In fact, MMRs are notoriously difficult to estimate, with conflict, poverty, poor infrastructure, weak health systems, and inadequate resources causing many deaths to go unreported.
MMR data do, however, provide an indication of general trends, which are not promising. Indeed, if they persist, hundreds of thousands of mothers in those 12 high-MMR Asia-Pacific countries alone could lose their lives by 2030.
To be sure, substantial progress has been made in the last 15 years, and efforts are being made to sustain it. The United Nations development agenda, underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aims to reduce the MMR to 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030. If that target is met, up to 100,000 lives could be saved across the Asia-Pacific region.
Achieving the goal presupposed faster progress, with annual rates of MMR reduction particularly low (2%) in Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. On current trends, only four of the Asia-Pacific region’s 12 high-MMR countries will be able to meet the SDG target for maternal mortality. The remaining eight will require an average of 26 years.
At a time when family-planning policies are becoming increasingly restrictive, accelerating the pace of progress could prove difficult. Indeed, for some countries, progress is at risk of slowing.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is working hard to counter this trend. We are committed to ensuring that all pregnancies are safe and wanted, and that all women and girls are empowered not just to make their own choices about their own families and bodies, but also to contribute more to poverty reduction and economic development.
In the 12 high-MMR Asia-Pacific countries, the UNFPA advocates the development of responsive and inclusive health systems with sufficient numbers of trained personnel, from midwives to community-health workers. And we are already working to advance that objective.
In Afghanistan, the UNFPA and its partners have supported the expansion of community health services, including the creation of 80 family health houses and nine mobile support teams. Those initiatives had reached more than 420,000 people by 2015.
In Lao PDR, the UNFPA has helped the Ministry of Health train midwives and village health volunteers to provide basic sexual and reproductive care, providing the information that women need to avoid unwanted pregnancies. This contributed in a steep drop in the MMR, from 450 to 220 per 100,000 live births, between 2005 and 2015.
In Fiji, the UNFPA, with the support of the Australian government, pre-positioned thousands of dignity and reproductive-health kits. Following the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston in February 2016, these strategically placed supplies help to address women and girls’ immediate reproductive-health needs, saving the lives of mothers and children.
But, while such initiatives are already having a powerful impact, more investment must be channeled toward ensuring that comprehensive health services are available and accessible to all, especially the most vulnerable groups. In particular, additional resources must be allocated to sexual- and reproductive-health services – and to ensuring access to them. Strengthening the provision of antenatal care, ensuring safe delivery through skilled birth attendance, and expanding emergency obstetric care are all key interventions that can reduce MMRs across the region.
Of course, women also need access to family-planning services, to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies and reduce the number of unsafe abortions. The rights of all women and their partners to choose the family-planning method that is appropriate for them must be respected, and a full range of quality contraceptives must be readily available to all.
When women have full control over their sexual and reproductive health, society as a whole reaps enormous benefits. In fact, every $1 invested in modern contraceptive services can yield as much as $120 in social, economic, and environmental returns. Such investment should come partly from international development assistance, which must place a higher priority on sexual- and reproductive-health services, and partly from national governments.
But money is not all governments can offer. They can and must develop inclusive policies that address the needs of vulnerable and marginalized groups, including in ways that go beyond the health sector. This includes fighting harmful practices such as child marriage and gender-based violence; removing legal barriers to contraception; and working with communities to address misconceptions around sexual and reproductive health.
Safe pregnancy and childbirth should be a top priority for all societies, as it is for the UNFPA. If we are to meet the SDG target for maternal mortality, we must work together to advance targeted, tailored interventions that respect the rights of women and girls to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.