Tag Archives: Health

Indoor Air Quality – What You Can Do to Improve It

One of the best home improvement tasks you can undertake to promote the health of your family is taking steps to improve indoor air quality. While some products designed for this purpose may be out of the single mom budget, you can make some small changes to make big improvements on your family’s health.

The best thing you can do for the air quality in your home is opening your windows and doors whenever possible to let in fresh air. Even just a few hours a day makes a huge difference. Of course, there are times when the weather simply does not allow this, but if it does, let the fresh air in.

Whether or not you can open up your home, you can change your furnace or AC-unit filter to one that better fights pollutants. These gather dust, mold spores, and other pollutants to keep them from mixing with your home’s air. If you let them get too dirty, you lose some of the efficiency of your unit. Choose filters with a MERV rating of 11 or higher to improve air quality. They will be more expensive, but they will make a big difference by trapping more pollutants.

You may think that installing an air purifier is out of your budget, but you might be surprised. Small, room-sized purifiers are quite affordable. Whole-house purifiers are going to require professional installation and a lot of money, but simply running a small one in each room of your home a few hours a day makes a huge difference to the health quality of the air inside your home.

If indoor air quality is a very serious problem for your family, consider setting aside some money to hire someone to install a U/V light in your HVAC system. The installation is expensive and not really a DIY project, but once it is in place all you have to worry about is changing the bulb form time to time. These lights burn so hot that they destroy bacteria and other pollutants in the air that passes underneath them. This is particularly valuable if you battle mold in your home.

High Blood Pressure Problems Linked to TV and Computer Use

Your kids might be healthy and thriving right now, but their lifestyle, even as young children may be laying the groundwork for health problems later in life. As technology allows more children to be involved in health studies without using invasive testing measures, a clearer picture is becoming obvious. An active child is usually a healthier adult. Simple changes that can contribute to the chances that your child grows up without health problems can be as simple as reducing TV and computer use.

If your kids spend too much time using the computer or watching TV, they run a higher risk to develop high blood pressure.  This can lead to heart problems in the future. As the arteries narrow, the vessels are less able to respond to the changes in the blood flows that people experience. This causes an increased blood pressure.

A recent study was released in the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association that indicates that the arteries behind the eyes narrow as the child watches the screen. An average of 1.9 hours per day was spent by the children in front of the screen. The arteries behind the eyes were chosen to be studied because the researchers didn’t need to use invasive tests to study the children.

As moms know, this is not an excessive amount of time for the TV and computer screen combined as kids use the electronic devices for both educational and entertainment purposes.

The children in the Australian study were ages 6 and 7. Of the 1,492 kids tested, the average screen time was 1.9 hours a day, and the time the kids spent on physical activity averaged about 36 minutes a day.

Children who spent at least an hour a day being physically active had wider arteries, according to results of the study. This could lead to a blood pressure difference of 10 points, which could be significant in people who are on the borderline of the blood pressure scale.

Watching TV and sitting in front of the computer aren’t the only contributing factors toward narrowing of the arteries and other high blood pressure problems. Weight and high cholesterol contribute to the same medical concerns.

Physical activity can help maintain healthy weight and cholesterol levels, but the kids aren’t getting that beneficial exercise if they are parked in front of the screen.

Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s Syndrome is a mild form of Autism. In fact, many people call it High Functioning Autism, and it is considered to be part of autism spectrum disorder.

Any warning signs that the single mom picks up on should be discussed with the child’s doctor so that her child can be evaluated. The symptoms can be reduced when treatment interventions are begun early, but some parents dismiss many of the symptoms and only half of children with Asperger’s Syndrome are diagnosed before they start kindergarten.

Newborns can exhibit warning signs that are easily ignored. They can become fixated on a single item for an extended period of time. On the other hand, they could be completely unresponsive.

Toddlers between one and three years old can suddenly change behaviors, losing skills in communication and even social skills and they start to reject people. Sometimes this happens suddenly, with the child becoming self-abusive, withdrawn or indifferent. If you notice these changes in behavior speak to your medical professional immediately to make arrangements to have the child evaluated.

The warning signs of autism are different with each child, but the single mom who suspects that her child may be exhibiting symptoms of ASD should look for the following:

  • An occasional period of seeming to not hear
  • An over attachment to a single toy or object
  • Avoidance of proper eye contact
  • Refusal to smile
  • Excessive behaviors like the lining up of toys and other objects

In addition, there are milestones in a child’s life that could indicate a problem if they are not reached. An infant should be pointing and making other meaningful gestures and be babbling by his first birthday, have a few words in his vocabulary at 16 months and be combining at least 2 words by the age of two. If these milestones have not been achieved, discuss them with the doctor who may refer you and your child to a specialist after a developmental screening test.

A team of specialists made up of a speech therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist and neurologist will do cognitive and language testing as well as neurological and genetics assessments and interview the parents and caregivers.

Methods for treatment will focus on the individual child and family. Parental involvement is necessary for the success of any treatment program that is suggested for the child. As the single mom networks with other parents of children with ASD, she may find that other kids are having success with other treatment methods. It’s important to remember that each child and family are different. The symptoms of ASD are different with each child as well as the response of each child to the treatment method.

While it’s important for the single mom to be an advocate for her child, before trying to adopt a new treatment method, it’s important that it is discussed with professionals.



Success Tips for Special Diets

One of the basic goals of parenting is to make sure mom can provide a healthy diet to her kids. With all of the other responsibilities of a single mom, planning and preparing a healthy diet is a task that is not only time consuming but can be expensive. It becomes more difficult as children go through the different phases and their likes and dislikes for foods change quickly. If a special diet has to be prepared because of health a single mom can easily feel overwhelmed.

Many times special diets mean that the single mom can’t take advantage of the prepackaged meal choices that have saved so much time in the past. It also might eliminate some of the child’s favorite foods.

Before mealtime becomes a fight with the kids who are picky eaters and rebel against the new special diet, take some steps to make the process go smoother.

Speak to the pediatrician and a registered dietitian about special diets. Make sure you understand not only the new diet, but the benefits and risks associated with the changed diet.

Depending on the age and maturity level of your kids, make sure that they understand why the diet has been introduced and the importance of following the diet. Invite them to suggest healthy meal and treat options that the whole family will enjoy. Kids are more likely to accept changes that they feel they are a part of.

When a healthy menu is devised that the whole family will eat, prepare enough of the meal so that you can freeze portions for a future meal. Single moms need to find a break wherever they can, and the knowledge that a meal is already prepared can keep a stressful day from becoming a mealtime crisis.

Be an advocate for your child who needs to follow a special diet. If the child goes on play dates, make sure dietary needs are discussed. Discuss the diet with care givers and teachers. If the policy of the classroom or day care providers allows children to bring in special treats for the entire class for special occasions, ask what steps you can take to eliminate the risk of your child eating something that could be dangerous to his or her health. You don’t want your child left out of the sharing of the treat, but you certainly don’t want to endanger the child.

As children mature, they want to make more of their own decisions. Limit the number of time you have to tell them they can’t have something by offering healthy diet choices to them right from the start. If they learn to make the proper choices in your kitchen, they’ll be better equipped to make the proper choices when mom isn’t there.