The signs are everywhere. As winter runs its course, kids run outside to enjoy the first warm days, and spring flowers bring sniffles as pollen fills the air. The pile of papers on your desk means taxes are looming. And even though the nights are still cold, it’s time to start thinking about summer camps. Spring is on its way, and UAB has news you can use to avoid the worst and enjoy the best of the season.
Do you get your eyes checked regularly? You should, say ophthalmologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Callahan Eye Hospital. By age 65, one in three Americans will have a vision-impairing eye disease, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, uveitis and age-related macular degeneration threaten the eyesight of millions of Americans, potentially robbing them of vision, mobility and independence.
“The good news is that researchers at UAB and around the nation are making new discoveries that are yielding sight-saving treatments,” said Chris Girkin, M.D., chair of the UAB School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. “But early diagnosis, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care are essential to preventing irreversible vision loss.”
Pregnancy changes a woman’s body and her routine, but those who travel regularly or hope to take a summer trip should be reasonably safe and comfortable — with a few physician-recommended modifications.
“First, I tell my patients the best time to travel is the second trimester, after the first 14 weeks,” says University of Alabama at Birmingham OBGYN Cheré Stewart, M.D. “Common pregnancy emergencies usually happen early or late in pregnancy. Pregnant women feel better during this time as well. Morning sickness is usually gone and their energy has returned, while in the third trimester it can be more difficult and uncomfortable to travel.”
Stewart says women planning international travel should keep a couple things in mind:
It’s already May. The heat is rising in the South, and the rest of the country soon will follow. Of course this means swimsuit season, and a plan to arrive at a healthy weight will help you look good at the pool and make you healthier overall, say University of Alabama at Birmingham experts.
“Start by throwing away all clothing catalogs with skinny models in skimpy bikinis on the front,” says Beth Kitchin, Ph.D., R.D., UAB assistant professor of nutrition sciences. “Then buy a bathing suit that flatters your shape. Going to extremes for weight-loss leads to yo-yo dieting and makes you feel bad about yourself.”
Healthy living is not about the number on the scale, but rather feeling good about yourself and being comfortable or confident in your skin, says Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., UAB Wellness coordinator. “The goal is to be a healthy size for you, so focus your attitude and energy on becoming the best version of yourself and enjoy the journey to health.”
This time of year, kids are short on focus and long on distractions. Many spend their school days squirming in their seats, looking out of the window and itching to go outside and play. Fresh air and sunlight can be strong competition for reading, writing and arithmetic.
Kid’s grades can start to slip, and invitations to parent-teacher conferences may appear. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
A University of Alabama at Birmingham education expert suggests a few ways to keep your child on task so they finish the school year with an academic roar and not a whimper.
Encourage after-school play. The outdoors is calling. When kids get home from school, don’t force them to hit the books immediately, says Lynn Kirkland, Ed.D., professor of curriculum instruction at the UAB School of Education. “Allow time for outdoor activities so children don't feel they are being punished by school work.”
Have the billowing clouds of pollen got you hemmed up in the house instead of out basking in the sun? Or, does your razor-thin budget slash any hopes of taking a spring-cation anytime soon?
No worries. You can still enjoy the spring season and travel clear across the country, hobnob with aristocrats or carry on a made-for-TV romance — all without leaving your home.
Books can transport you to your destination of choice, University of Alabama at Birmingham literary experts say.
Springtime — when days are longer and work holidays are more frequent — is the perfect time to catch up on old reading lists or venture out and try some new literary digs. UAB creative writing professors suggest some books that will have you lost among the pages in no time.
Though the mild winter that graced most of the country was a blessing for the cold-haters of the nation, it’s not without consequences — pollen already is blanketing cars and gathering in piles in parking lots, signaling an early start to the spring allergy season.
“We’re seeing many more problems with allergies this season because of the warm winter and early bloom,” says UAB internist and pediatrician Stephen Russell, M.D. “The most common complaints are itchy noses, watery eyes and sneezing.”
Russell says seasonal allergies are fairly easy to treat but a little harder to prevent. Most people who react to the pollen in the air can be treated with over-the-counter medications.
“Many of the prescriptions we used to reach for in our prescription pad now are available over the counter,” he says. “They’re extremely safe and very well tolerated, even in children in their youngest years.”
It’s springtime — the time of year when flowers bloom, the weather behaves and a sinking feeling of anxiety shoots through many parents of children ages 5 and up.
Why? Spring sounds the alarm that it’s time to plan out your kids’ summer activities. That means you have to wade through a local list of hundreds and choose something that is fun and educational that your children will remember fondly.
No pressure, right?
University of Alabama at Birmingham experts suggest a few things to consider when weighing your options:
Pick a camp for its brainpower
When it comes to hunting for an academic-based camp, think enrichment, says Lynn Kirkland, Ed.D., chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction in the School of Education. Find “a place where children make choices about their learning, instructors have expertise and creativity is encouraged.”
Choices are a huge motivator for learning, Kirkland says. Find a camp that has an interesting curriculum that addresses the development of the whole child, she says. “They should combine play and learning.”
And, summer is a great time to pursue your child’s personal interests in topics such as weather, flight or Olympics, she says.
Daylight-saving time this year begins March 11, and while we all might look forward to another hour of sunshine a University of Alabama at Birmingham expert says the time change is not necessarily good for your health.
“The Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead one hour in March is associated with a 10 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack,” says UAB Associate Professor Martin Young, Ph.D., in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease. “The opposite is true when falling back in October. This risk decreases by about 10 percent.”
The Sunday morning of the time change doesn’t require an abrupt schedule change, but, Young says, heart-attack risk peaks on Monday when most people rise earlier to go to work.
“Exactly why this happens is not known but there are several theories,” Young says. “Sleep deprivation, the body’s circadian clock and immune responses all can come into play when considering reasons that changing the time by an hour can be detrimental to someone’s health.”
Why is daylight-saving time tied to these? Young says:
Time springs forward March 11 this year. Daylight-saving time signals spring’s arrival: blossoms emerging, extended playtime and spring break festivities. But, it also can mean a tough time for parents and kids at bedtime.
“Moms with little ones are either bracing for these sleep disturbances or not thinking about it at all and will scramble to get children to sleep afterward with much frustration,” says University of Alabama at Birmingham assistant professor of pediatrics – and mother of two – Jennifer Chambers, M.D.
Chambers offers some tips to resolve potential sleep issues:
Stick to the schedule. Be strict with your children’s normal bedtime in the week prior to the time change. If bedtime is 8 p.m., start your bedtime routine early enough that they can be asleep by bedtime or a little earlier.
Eat meals on time or 30 minutes earlier. Meal times help set the day's routine more than anything else.