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Things That You Shouldn’t Miss To Prevent HIV Infection

Things That You Shouldn’t Miss To Prevent HIV Infection

Finding out you or someone you know is HIV positive can be a scary thing. When left untreated, this virus attacks your body’s immune system, reducing the number of CD4 cells, and leaving you vulnerable to infections and certain cancers. Its final stage is when HIV becomes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

An HIV diagnosis once meant constant pain, suffering, and illness that ended with abrupt death. With today’s medical advances, however, that negative outlook is no longer the case. Now, if you are diagnosed as HIV positive before the virus has advanced and you take your antiretroviral medications every day, you can live a long and healthy life. [1]

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Despite the increased quality of life with HIV, you should still be informed about how to prevent contracting this virus. HIV can be transmitted via bodily fluids like: blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal and rectal fluid, and breast milk. [2] The key to preventing HIV infection is in avoiding these fluids. Take a look below at some the precautions you can take to avoid HIV infection.

How to Prevent HIV

Get Tested

The first step in preventing HIV is finding out if you already have it. Find an HIV testing site. If you are HIV positive, it’s important to start treatment as soon as possible to stay healthy and to prevent spreading it to others.

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Take Antiretroviral Medication if HIV Positive and Pregnant

It is particularly important to get tested if you are pregnant. An HIV positive, pregnant woman could pass the virus along to her fetus. Approximately 35 percent of babies born to HIV positive women contract the disease. Taking antiretroviral medications can significantly reduce this risk to around 4 percent.

Once the baby is born, the mother should give only baby formula or breast milk from a non-infected woman. This is because HIV can be transmitted via breast milk as well. [3]

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Use Condoms

If you are sexually active, use latex condoms. This prevents coming into contact with both semen and vaginal fluids. Not only are they effective at preventing the spread of HIV, but also unwanted pregnancies and other sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Make sure to read the instructions carefully to ensure that you or your partner are correctly using the condom. It is important to remember to put on a condom before any body contact is made. [4]

Practice Abstinence or Monogamy

The only sure way to prevent sexually spread HIV is to practice abstinence, which is avoiding all types of sexual activity. If this is not an option for you, consider a long-term monogamous relationship. Monogamy means having sexual and intimate relations with only one other person. Make sure your partner also gets tested for HIV. By limiting your number of sexual partners, you reduce the risk of coming into contact with somebody who is HIV positive. [5]

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Avoid Using Drugs

Using drugs can be a dangerous activity for your overall health. If you are under the influence of drugs, you might be less likely to practice safe, protected sex. Some people are addicted to drugs and unable to avoid their use. If you decide to use drugs, do not inject with a needle. Injecting drugs with a needle increases your chance of sharing the needle with other people. This exposes you to blood, which could be infected with HIV. Look for a local needle-exchange program and consider talking to a professional about your drug-use problem. [6]

Don’t Touch Blood

This prevention method is particularly important for health care workers or people in emergency situations. Be extremely careful in the presence of blood. Make sure to wear latex gloves and cover any open sores you have. Protect your eyes and mouth with protective eye wear and face masks.

HIV Prevention

Remember, HIV is difficult to spread between people. To become infected, sexual fluids, blood, or breast milk must enter your body. Hugging or touching an HIV infected person does not put you at risk. Practice the prevention tips listed to avoid contracting the virus.

Featured photo credit: Sham Hardy via flickr.com

Reference

[1]aids.gov: WHAT IS HIV/AIDS?
[2]aids.gov: HOW DO YOU GET HIV OR AIDS?
[3]aidsinfonet.org: Stopping the Spread of HIV
[4]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Prevention
[5]theaidsinstitute.org: How can HIV be prevented?
[6]Mayo Clinic: HIV/AIDS

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Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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