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The art of ‘getting lost’: how re-discovering your city can be an antidote to capitalism

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-dobson-1093706">Stephen Dobson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Do you remember what it was like to discover the magic of a city for the first time? Do you remember the noises, smells, flashing lights and pulsating crowds? Or do you mostly remember cities through the screen of your phone?</p> <p>In 1967, French philosopher and filmmaker Guy Debord <a href="https://files.libcom.org/files/The%20Society%20of%20the%20Spectacle%20Annotated%20Edition.pdf">publicised the need</a> to move away from living our lives as bystanders continually tempted by the power of images. Today, we might see this in a young person flicking from one TikTok to the next – echoing the hold images have on us. But adults aren’t adverse to this window-shopping experience, either.</p> <p>Debord notes we have a tendency to observe rather than engage. And this is to our detriment. Continually topping-up our image consumption leaves no space for the unplanned – the reveries to break the pattern of an ordered life.</p> <p>Debord was a member of a group called the <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/Situationist-International">Situationist International</a>, dedicated to new ways we could reflect upon and experience our cities. Active for about 15 years, they believed we should experience our cities as an act of resistance, in direct opposition to the (profit-motivated) capitalistic structures that demand our attention and productivity every waking hour.</p> <p>More than 50 years since the group dissolved, the Situationists’ philosophy points us to a continued need to attune ourselves – through our thoughts and senses – to the world we live in. We might consider them as early eco-warriors. And through better understanding their philosophy, we can develop a new relationship with our cities today.</p> <h2>Understanding the ‘situation’</h2> <p>The Situationist International movement was <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt183p61x">formed</a> in 1957 in Cosio di Arroscia, Italy, and became active in several European countries. It brought together radical artists inspired by spontaneity, experimentalism, intellectualism, protest and hedonism. Central figures included Danish artist <a href="https://museumjorn.dk/en/">Asger Jorn</a>, French novelist <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/author/michele-bernstein-10219/">Michèle Bernstein</a> and Italian musician and composer <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Olmo">Walter Olmo</a>.</p> <p>The Situationists were driven by a <a href="https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/34141">libertarian form of Marxism</a> that resisted mass consumerism. One of the group’s early terms was “unitary urbanism”, which sought to join avant-garde art with the critique of mass production and technology. They rejected “urbanism’s” conventional emphasis on function, and instead thought about art and the environment as inexorably interrelated.</p> <p>By rebelling against the invasiveness of consumption, the Situationists proposed a turn towards artistically-inspired individuality and creativity.</p> <h2>Think on your own two feet</h2> <p>According to the 1960 <a href="https://hts3.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/situationist-international-manifesto.pdf">Situationist Manifesto</a> we are all to be artists of our own “situations”, crafting independent identities as we stand on our own two feet. They believed this could be achieved, in part, through “<a href="https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/psychogeography#:%7E:text=Psychogeography%20describes%20the%20effect%20of,emotions%20and%20behaviour%20of%20individuals">psychogeography</a>”: the idea that geographical locations exert a unique psychological effect on us.</p> <p>For instance, when you walk down a street, the architecture around you may be deliberately designed to encourage a certain kind of experience. Crossing a vibrant city square on a sunny morning evokes joy and a feeling of connection with others. There’s also usually a public event taking place.</p> <p>The Situationists valued drift, or <em>dérive</em> in French. This alludes to unplanned movement through a landscape during journeys on foot. By drifting aimlessly, we unintentionally redefine the traditional rules imposed by private or public land owners and property developers. We make ourselves open to the new unexpected and, in doing so, are liberated from the shackles of everyday routine.</p> <p>In <a href="https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-10-8100-2">our research</a>, my colleagues and I consider cities as places in which “getting lost” means exposing yourself to discovering the new and taken-for-granted.</p> <h2>Forge your own path</h2> <p>By understanding the Situationists – by looking away from our phones and allowing ourselves to get lost – we can rediscover our cities. We can see them for what they are beneath the blankets of posters, billboards and advertisements. How might we take back the image and make it work for us?</p> <p>The practise of geo-tagging images on social media, and sharing our location with others, could be considered close to the spirit of the Situationists. Although it’s often met with claims of <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/when-why-not-to-use-geotagging-overtourism-security">over-fuelling tourism</a> (especially regarding idyllic or otherwise protected sites), geo-tagging could <a href="https://www.melaninbasecamp.com/trip-reports/2019/5/1/five-reasons-why-you-should-keep-geotagging">inspire us</a> to actively seek out new places through visiting the source of an image.</p> <p>This could lead to culturally respectful engagement, and new-found respect for the rights of traditional custodians as we experience their lands in real life, rather than just through images on our phones.</p> <p>Then there are uniquely personal and anarchistic forms of resistance, wherein we can learn about the world around us by interweaving ourselves with our histories. In doing so we offer a new meaning to a historical message, and a new purpose. The Situationists called this process <em><a href="https://www.theartstory.org/movement/situationist-international/">détournement</a></em>, or hijacking.</p> <p>For instance, from my grandfather I inherited a biscuit tin of black and white photographs I believe were taken in the 1960s. They showed images of parks and wildlife, perhaps even of the same park, and cityscapes of London with people, streets and buildings.</p> <p>I have spent many hours wandering the London streets tracking down the exact places these images were snapped. I was juxtaposing past with present, and experiencing both continuity and change in the dialogues I had with my grandfather. In this way, I used images to augment (rather than replace) my lived experience of the material world.</p> <p>Urban art installations can also be examples of detournment as they make us re-think everyday conceptions. <a href="https://www.cityartsydney.com.au/artwork/forgotten-songs/">Forgotten Songs</a> by Michael Hill is one such example. A canopy of empty birdcages commemorates the songs of 50 different birds once heard in central Sydney, but which are now lost due to habitat removal as a result of urban development.</p> <p>There are also a number of groups, often with a strong environmental or civic rights focus, that partake in detournment. <a href="https://popularresistance.org/dancing-revolution-how-90s-protests-used-rave-culture-to-reclaim-the-streets/">Reclaim the Streets</a> is a movement with a long history in Australia. The group advocates for communities having ownership of and agency within public spaces. They may, for instance, “invade” a highway to throw a “<a href="https://pasttenseblog.files.wordpress.com/2022/02/road-rave.pdf">road rave</a>” as an act of reclamation.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bUL0C_T-Sqk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=999" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>As French avant-garde philosopher <a href="https://www.themarginalian.org/2014/07/24/the-poetics-of-reverie-gaston-bachelard/">Gaston Bachelard</a> might have put it, when we’re bombarded by images there is no space left to daydream. We lose the opportunity to explore and question the world capitalism serves us through images.</p> <p>Perhaps now is a good time to set down the phone and follow in the Situationists’ footsteps. <!-- 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/221606/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/stephen-dobson-1093706"><em>Stephen Dobson</em></a><em>, Professor and Dean of Education and the Arts, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity 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/the-art-of-getting-lost-how-re-discovering-your-city-can-be-an-antidote-to-capitalism-221606">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Five tips for developing and managing your budget – even in tough economic times

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/oluwabunmi-adejumo-1370664">Oluwabunmi Adejumo</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/obafemi-awolowo-university-2843">Obafemi Awolowo University</a></em></p> <p>There’s nothing quite like a new year to prompt us to take stock of our lives, our health, our goals – and our finances. Many people will start a new year by contemplating how best to budget, plan and save. This is always a good set of aims, but it’s especially important in the inflation-prone and unpredictable economies we’re seeing <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/268225/countries-with-the-highest-inflation-rate/">all over Africa and the world</a>.</p> <p>Budgeting is especially key. It is the most effective method to <a href="https://www.thebalancemoney.com/how-to-make-a-budget-1289587">monitor income and expenditure</a>. <a href="https://www.uslendingcompany.com/blog/key-differences-in-writing-a-household-budget-vs-a-personal-budget/">Personal budgets</a> can help you to monitor your resources in pursuit of larger financial goals. Budgeting also offers <a href="https://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/v46/acr_vol46_2411998.pdf">more opportunities</a> to save money, reduce your debts and live a comfortable life. It can even <a href="https://prucomm.ac.uk/assets/uploads/blog/2013/04/Personal-Budgets-review-of-evidence_FINAL-REPORT.pdf">improve your mental health</a>.</p> <p>But where should you start? What questions do you need to answer in creating a budget? Here are some tips that I’ve learned – not just as an economist, but as a research cost analyst and someone who keeps a budget too.</p> <h2>1. Understand the broader economic conditions</h2> <p>It is imperative that individuals keep themselves aware and up-to-date on the realities of their country’s economic landscape. You don’t have to be a professional economist, but keep an eye on new developments like free business registration, small business development funds and printing of new money notes. What is the current exchange rate? What’s the political landscape and what international factors, like the price of crude oil, are at play? You should also watch the inflation rate and have a sense of unemployment trends.</p> <p>This economic awareness will prepare you to draft your own budget and you’ll have a sense of when external factors mean it’s time to revisit your plans.</p> <h2>2. Review your income sources</h2> <p>The ability to earn income is critical to sustaining livelihoods. Having a definite source of income is the bedrock of budgeting.</p> <p>Some important questions you should ask about your income – and how you might budget with it – include:</p> <ul> <li>What is my current income?</li> <li>What do I use my income for?</li> <li>Am I able to save, given my current income?</li> <li>What proportion of my income do I save and what proportion do I spend?</li> <li>Do I have the capacity to earn more than this?</li> <li>How can I improve my income?</li> </ul> <p>Your answers can help you to identify gaps or untapped potential. Those with irregular or unpredictable income should factor in the element of time-gap in their income, for effective budgeting. Time gap is when they are not earning income. And everyone should make allowance in their budgets for uncertainties like health issues, social engagements, inflation, unemployment, recession and price shocks.</p> <h2>3. Appraise your expenses</h2> <p>Expenses can be broadly categorised into “variable” and “fixed”.</p> <p>Fixed expenses recur within a short period: housing, food, transport, medical costs, electricity, utilities, toiletries and clothing. Variable expenses are more long-term and irregular, such as investment in property or interest-yielding assets, and the purchase of machinery.</p> <p>The main essence of revising our expenses is to analyse and possibly improve our spending habits. In reviewing our expenses, we can consider issues such as:</p> <ul> <li>What is the proportion of consumption-savings ratio from my income? This is how much do I spend compared to how much I save.</li> <li>What are my regular expenses?</li> <li>What are my fixed, capital or investment expenses?</li> <li>What are my extraordinary expenses that need modification?</li> <li>Have there been emergency or extraordinary expenses?</li> </ul> <p>A careful response to the issues raised above offers an occasion to re-evaluate the pattern and direction of our expenses. For instance, overspending, unplanned or extraordinary expenses can be identified. This can lead to an optimal, efficient reallocation of available resources.</p> <h2>4. Stabilise your finances through savings</h2> <p>Savings have been <a href="https://klinglercpa.com/bedrock-principles-for-saving-money/">described</a> as a financial stabiliser, given their potential to cater for urgent needs and create opportunities for investments.</p> <p>Of course, savings have more value when they grow faster than the rate of inflation. Inflation erodes the value of savings. For instance, an amount of 300,000 naira (US$676) saved to purchase an autorickshaw today may be impossible in two months’ time with an inflation rate of 10% when the tricycle price rises to 330,000 naira (US$744). The reverse is the case when there is deflation.</p> <p>Therefore, it is advisable to improve the value of savings through investments in interest-yielding assets such as stocks, shares, bonds, microfinance and production.</p> <p>That’s not to say it’s always easy to save. Many income earners spend as they go, not seeing savings as part of their budgets. Harsh economic realities can also make it difficult – sometimes seemingly impossible – to save. But it’s not impossible: savings can be made in small amounts, through a daily, weekly or monthly contribution to collections, cooperative schemes or microfinance affiliations. For instance, a point of sale business in Nigeria can permit a daily contribution of 500 naira (US$1.13) over 25 work days, giving an average saving of 12,500 naira (US$28.18) per month.</p> <p>The Point-of-Sale business started in Nigeria in 2013 when the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the agent banking system. A POS agent operates and processes transactions through a POS service provider. Providers of such services include banks, microfinance banks and fintech companies.</p> <h2>5. Run a flexible budget</h2> <p>Once your budget is created, remember that it’s not set in stone. It should be flexible if anything changes in your life. For instance, an amount saved to buy a car can be invested in a promising venture buying shares through public offerings or private placements in multinational organisations like Nestle or Unilever.</p> <p>Also, health emergencies or career advancement programmes can require taking some money out of our savings.</p> <p>In all, budgeting should be flexible enough to incorporate exigencies, especially when catering for the current situation will culminate into a greater good.<!-- 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/195590/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/oluwabunmi-adejumo-1370664">Oluwabunmi Adejumo</a>, Lecturer/Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/obafemi-awolowo-university-2843">Obafemi Awolowo 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/five-tips-for-developing-and-managing-your-budget-even-in-tough-economic-times-195590">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Your unique smell can provide clues about how healthy you are

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/aoife-morrin-1478132">Aoife Morrin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/dublin-city-university-1528">Dublin City University</a></em></p> <p>Hundreds of chemicals stream from our bodies into the air every second. These chemicals release into the air easily as they have high vapour pressures, meaning they boil and turn into gases at room temperature. They give clues about who we are, and how healthy we are.</p> <p>Since ancient Greek times, we’ve known that we smell differently when we are unwell. While we rely on blood analysis today, ancient Greek physicians used smell to diagnose maladies. If they took a whiff of your breath and described it as <em>fetor hepaticus</em> (meaning bad liver), it meant you could be headed for liver failure.</p> <p>If a person’s whiff was sweet or fruity, physicians thought this meant that sugars in the digestive system were not being broken down, and that person had probably diabetes. Science has since shown the ancient Greeks were right – liver failure and <a href="https://tisserandinstitute.org/human-volatilome/">diabetes</a> and many <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00216-023-04986-z">other diseases</a> including infectious diseases give your breath a distinctive smell.</p> <p>In 1971, <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1962/pauling/facts/">Nobel Laureate chemist Linus Pauling</a> <a href="https://edu.rsc.org/feature/breath-analysis/2020106.article#:%7E:text=The%20'modern%20era'%20of%20breath,in%20an%20average%20breath%20sample.">counted 250 different</a> gaseous chemicals in breath. These gaseous chemicals are called volatile organic compounds or VOCs.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RzozmYPfCmM?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Since Pauling’s discovery, other scientists have <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40291-023-00640-7">discovered hundreds more VOCs</a> in our breath. We have learned that many of these VOCs have distinctive odours, but some have no odour that our noses can perceive.</p> <p>Scientists believe that whether a VOC <a href="https://tisserandinstitute.org/human-volatilome/">has an odour</a> that our noses can detect or not, they can reveal information about how healthy someone is.</p> <p>A Scottish man’s Parkinson’s disease onset was <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-47627179">identified by his wife</a>, retired nurse Joy Milner, after she was convinced the way he smelled had changed, years before he was diagnosed in 2005. This discovery has <a href="https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/smell-of-skin-could-lead-to-early-diagnosis-for-parkinsons/">led to research programmes</a> involving Joy Milner to identify <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-supersmeller-can-detect-the-scent-of-parkinsons-leading-to-an-experimental-test-for-the-illness/">the precise smell</a> of this disease.</p> <p>Dogs can <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01629-8">sniff out more diseases</a> than humans because of their more <a href="https://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/news/the-science-of-sniffs-disease-smelling-dogs%20-%20I%20think%20the%20previous%20nature%20link%20has%20more%20credibility%20for%20here%20also">sophisticated olfactory talents</a>. But technological techniques, like <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/mass-spectrometry">analytical tool mass spectrometry</a>, picks up even more subtle changes in VOC profiles that are being linked to <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(20)30100-6/fulltext">gut</a>, <a href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.dcu.idm.oclc.org/science/article/pii/S0165993618305168">skin</a> and <a href="https://err.ersjournals.com/content/28/152/190011">respiratory</a> diseases as well as neurological diseases like Parkinson’s. Researchers believe that one day some diseases will be diagnosed simply by breathing into a device.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xjo2M-XMYfs?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Where do VOCs come from?</h2> <p>Breath is not the only source of VOCs in the body. They are also emitted from skin, urine and faeces.</p> <p>VOCs from skin are the result of millions of skin glands removing metabolic waste from the body, as well as waste generated by bacteria and other microbes that live on our skin. Sweating produces extra nutrients for these bacteria to metabolise which can result in particularly odorous VOCs. Odour from sweat only makes up a fraction of the scents from VOCs though.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrmicro.2017.157">Our skin</a> and also our gut microbiomes are made up from a delicate balance of these microbes. Scientists think <a href="https://journals.lww.com/co-gastroenterology/abstract/2015/01000/the_gut_microbiome_in_health_and_in_disease.12.aspx">they influence our health</a>, but we don’t yet understand a lot about how this relationship works.</p> <p>Unlike the gut, the skin is relatively easy to study – you can collect skin samples from living humans without having to go deep into the body. <a href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.dcu.idm.oclc.org/science/article/pii/S1471492221002087">Scientists think</a> skin VOCs can offer insights into how the microbiome’s bacteria and the human body work together to maintain our health and protect us from disease.</p> <p>In my team’s laboratory, <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1752-7163/abf20a">we are investigating</a> whether the skin VOC signature can reveal different attributes of the person it belongs to. These signals in skin VOC signatures are probably how dogs distinguish between people by smell.</p> <p>We are at a relatively early stage in this research area but we have shown that you can tell males from females based on how acidic the VOCs from skin are. We use mass spectrometry to see this as the average human nose is not sophisticated enough to detect these VOCs.</p> <p>We can also predict a person’s age with reasonable accuracy to within a few years from their skin VOC profile. This is not surprising considering that oxidative stress in our bodies increases as we age.</p> <p><a href="https://www.metabolismjournal.com/article/S0026-0495(00)80077-3/pdf">Oxidative stress</a> happens when your antioxidant levels are low and causes irreversible damage to our cells and organs. <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jasms.3c00315">Our recent research</a> found by-products of this oxidative damage in skin VOC profiles.</p> <p>Not only are these VOCs responsible for personal scent – they are used by plants, insects and animals as a communication channel. Plants are in a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-10975-x">constant VOC dialogue</a> with other organisms including pollinators, herbivores, other plants and their natural enemies such as harmful bacteria and insects. VOCs used for this back and forth dialogue are known as pheromones.</p> <h2>What has science shown about love pheromones?</h2> <p>In the animal kingdom, there is good evidence VOCs can act as aphrodisiacs. Mice for example have microbes which contribute to a particularly <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212012687">smelly compound called trimethylamine</a>, which allows mice to verify the species of a potential mate. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0093691X21003083">Pigs</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/4381097a">elephants</a> have sex pheromones too.</p> <p>It is possible that humans also produce VOCs for attracting the perfect mate. Scientists have yet to fully decode skin – or other VOCs that are released from our bodies. But evidence for human love pheromones so far is <a href="https://www.science.org/content/article/do-human-pheromones-actually-exist">controversial at best</a>. <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3835-colour-vision-ended-human-pheromone-use/">One theory suggests</a> that they were lost about 23 million years ago when primates developed full colour vision and started relying on their enhanced vision to choose a mate.</p> <p>However, we believe that whether human pheromones exist or not, skin VOCs can reveal who and how we are, in terms of things like ageing, nutrition and fitness, fertility and even stress levels. This signature probably contains markers we can use to monitor our health and diagnose disease.<!-- 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/215311/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/aoife-morrin-1478132"><em>Aoife Morrin</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/dublin-city-university-1528">Dublin City University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: </em><em>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/your-unique-smell-can-provide-clues-about-how-healthy-you-are-215311">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Your skin is a mirror of your health – here’s what yours might be saying

<p><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><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12095893/">Skin accounts for around 15% of our body mass</a>. It is the largest and most visible organ in the human body.</p> <p>Yet many of the skin’s functions are often overlooked. It’s a sunscreen, a shield from germs, a reservoir of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28994020/">vitamin D</a> and a means of tightly regulating our body temperature.</p> <p>Being the most visible of our organs, the skin also offers us a view into the body tissues that it protects. So don’t think of your skin merely aesthetically – think of it as a reflection of your health. Disorders of the gut, blood, hormones and even the heart might first be seen on the skin in the form of a rash.</p> <p>Here are a few to look out for.</p> <h2>Bullseye</h2> <p>Ticks are pesky creatures that no one will want to return home from a country walk with.</p> <p>But while the vast majority of tick bites <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36116831/">won’t make you ill</a>, there is one rash that should prompt a visit to your doctor if you spot it.</p> <p>Erythema migrans, a rash named for its ability to rapidly expand across the skin, is a hallmark of <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1041.long">Lyme disease</a>, a potentially severe bacterial illness. This rash forms a classic target pattern, like a bullseye on a dartboard.</p> <p>Be vigilant for a few weeks after being bitten to check this rash doesn’t make an appearance – especially if you noticed a red lump that wasn’t there before or if you had to remove a tick from your skin. You should also keep an eye out for other associated symptoms of Lyme disease – such as swinging temperatures, muscle and joint pains and headache.</p> <p>The condition is treated with antibiotics, which can prevent long-term complications, including chronic fatigue symptoms.</p> <h2>Purpura</h2> <p>Some rashes are given a <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1538-7836(22)01880-3">colourful namesake</a> – purpura is one such example. This rash’s name is derived from a mollusc which was used to make purple dye.</p> <p>Purpura refers to a rash of small purple or red dots. The cause is pooling of blood into a deeper layer of the skin (dermis). When pressed with a finger – or even better, the side of a glass – it refuses to blanch away.</p> <p>Purpura signals an issue with either the walls of the tiny blood vessels that feed the skin or the blood within them. This might be from a deficiency in platelets, the tiny cell fragments that allow blood to clot – perhaps from bone marrow failure, or an autoimmune condition where the body turns on itself and attacks its own cells.</p> <p>At worst, purpura may signal the life-threatening condition <a href="https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/full/10.12968/hmed.2017.78.8.468">septicaemia</a>, where an infection has spread into the bloodstream – perhaps from the lungs, kidneys or even from the skin itself.</p> <h2>Skin spiders</h2> <p>Skin rashes can also take on <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32513406/">recognisable shapes</a>.</p> <p>Spider naevi represent an issue within skin arterioles (small arteries which supply the skin with blood). Arterioles open and close to control the loss of heat from the body’s surface. But sometimes they can get stuck open – and a spider-like pattern will appear.</p> <p>The open arteriole is the spider’s body, and the even tinier capillaries fanning out in all directions are the thready legs. Crush the body under a fingertip and the whole thing disappears, as your touch temporarily stops the blood flow.</p> <p>Often, these are benign and not associated with any specific condition – especially if you only have one or two. However, more than three suggest higher circulating levels of the <a href="https://dermnetnz.org/topics/spider-telangiectasis">hormone oestrogen</a>, often due to liver disease or from the hormonal changes seen in pregnancy. Treat the underlying cause, and the spiders often vanish with time – though they may persist or reappear later.</p> <h2>Black velvet</h2> <p>Changes to the folds of your skin (usually around the armpits or neck) – especially if it becomes thickened and velveteen to the touch – may suggest a condition known as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jocd.13544">acanthosis nigricans</a>. This “black velvet” skin appearance is more commonly seen in darker skins.</p> <p>Usually, the condition is associated with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29241752/">disorders of the metabolism</a> – namely type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome. If either of these conditions are successfully treated, the rash may fade. In rare cases, it can also be a sign of <a href="https://www.hkmj.org/abstracts/v29n4/355.htm">stomach cancer</a>, which should be considered in patients with few or none of the key signs of metabolic disease (obesity and high blood pressure).</p> <h2>Butterfly rashes</h2> <p>Even disorders of the heart can be visible on the skin.</p> <p>Cardiac valves have the important role of correctly directing the journey of blood through the heart and preventing backflow. The valve between the chambers on the left side of the heart (the mitral valve – so called because of its resemblance to a bishop’s hat, or mitre) can sometimes become narrowed, causing the heart’s function to deteriorate. The body’s natural response is to preserve core blood volume, shutting off flow towards the skin.</p> <p>The net effect can produce a purple-red rash, high across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, like the outstretched wings of a butterfly. We call this <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2050313X231200965?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&amp;rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed">mitral facies</a> which, depending on the extent of damage to the heart and great vessels, may persist despite treatment.</p> <p>It’s important to pay heed to your skin. It’s constantly talking to you, and any changes in its texture, colour or if new marks or patterns appear, may indicate something is going on beneath the surface.<!-- 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/221937/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: 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/your-skin-is-a-mirror-of-your-health-heres-what-yours-might-be-saying-221937">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Is your diet giving you headaches?

<p><strong>Diet-induced headaches</strong></p> <p>If you’re searching for the cause of that niggling headache, it’s possible that what you’re eating – or drinking – could be to blame.</p> <p><strong>Stop over-restricting your kilojoule intake</strong></p> <p>Spacing your meals too far apart or eating at irregular intervals causes a dip in blood-glucose levels, which drives your body into starvation mode. This triggers a cascade of hormones and brain chemicals similar to your body’s response to stress, which can bring on headaches. Once you fuel up, the headache should go away.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Tip:</em></span> You should wait no more than four hours between meals. Try light snacks between meals, such as a handful of almonds.</p> <p><strong>Stay hydrated </strong></p> <p>Dehydration is a common headache trigger. Experts suspect it may have to do with narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, which reduces the brain’s supply of blood and oxygen. Not getting sufficient electrolytes may also contribute to headaches.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Tip:</em></span> By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already a little dehydrated, so rehydrate often. Have a glass of water with every meal and between meals.</p> <p><strong>Avoid artificial sweeteners</strong></p> <p>Some people may be particularly sensitive to aspartame, which can lead to headaches, according to a US study. Aspartame can be in diet drinks as well as foods.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Tip:</em></span> If you suspect artificial sweeteners may be triggering your headaches, keep a food journal to watch for patterns.</p> <p><strong>Cut caffeine slowly</strong></p> <p>If you’ve ditched fizzy drinks or coffee, you may be experiencing caffeine withdrawal. Experts estimate that about half of people who cut back on caffeine experience headaches.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Tip:</em></span> Decrease your caffeine intake gradually.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/your-diet-giving-you-headaches" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Body

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8 places you should never keep your phone

<p><strong>In your pocket</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone in your pocket seems logical, but you could be doing more harm than good. According to Dr Lilly Friedman, this is actually the worst place to store your phone. “When phones are on, connected to a wireless network, and placed in a pocket, the radiation is two to seven times higher than if it were placed in a purse or holster,” she says.</p> <p>There is a correlation between radiation from a mobile phone and tumour growth, she adds. Plus, radiation can change the structure of DNA and affect male fertility, according to Dr Friedman. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer also found that mobile phone radiation is additionally carcinogenic to humans. Merely sitting on your phone could cause health issues such as sciatica or back problems.</p> <p><strong>In your bra</strong></p> <p>Some research and case studies show that keeping your phone in your bra could be linked to breast cancer due to the radiations and vibrations from the phone. That said, there is not enough evidence to establish a definite relationship between the two. Still, keeping your phone in your bra, especially a sports bra, is a bad idea due to the skin-irritating bacteria it could harbour, Muscle &amp; Fitness reports.</p> <p><strong>In your bed or under your pillow</strong></p> <p>Sleeping with your phone is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, keeping your phone under your pillow could build up heat and present a potential fire hazard, especially if your phone is charging or has a defect. It’s also known that the LED light from phone screens can disrupt melatonin production and circadian rhythms, hurting your sleep quality, according to the National Sleep Foundation.</p> <p>And, of course, there’s also radiation to consider. The amounts of radio frequency radiation mobile phones give off are the same ones emitted from microwaves. There is also concern about the safety of mobile phone use with respect to cancer and brain tumours, per the American Cancer Society.</p> <p><strong>Plugged in</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone plugged in when it has a full battery causes damage to the battery itself, according to pcmag.com. It’s not that your phone ‘overloads’ with power, but heat build-ups from stacking things on top of your phone or keeping it under your pillow, making your phone hotter and damaging your battery.</p> <p><strong>Close to your face</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone close to your face means bacteria transfers to and from your phone, making your skin and phone dirtier. This combination leads to more acne, skin irritation and even wrinkles, according to Allure. Try using ear pods instead to keep the surface of your phone at a distance from your face.</p> <p><strong>In your glovebox</strong></p> <p>Extreme temperatures are the worst conditions for your phone. So keeping your device in your car’s glovebox during the extremely hot or cold months of the year could lead to problems. According to Time, excess heat can cause everything from data loss or corruption to battery leakage. The cold weather presents just as many issues for your device. In cold temperatures, many smartphones shut off, have display problems, shortened battery life and in rare cases screen shattering.</p> <p><strong>On your beach towel </strong></p> <p>Notice a theme here? The extreme sun and heat at the beach is a recipe for phone disaster. Protect your device after you finish taking beautiful beach pictures. Hot and sunny conditions could, again, cause your phone to overheat – and getting sand in your phone won’t help either.</p> <p><strong>Anywhere in the bathroom</strong></p> <p>Although phones could arguably be the new newspaper, it’s not a good idea to take yours into the bathroom. Even if you keep your device on a counter or away from the toilet, anything within a metre of a flushing toilet could mean bacteria or viruses in the air end up on your phone, according to a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.</p> <p>“The detection of bacteria and viruses falling out onto surfaces in bathrooms after flushing indicated that they remain airborne long enough to settle on surfaces throughout the bathroom,” wrote the study authors.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/8-places-you-should-never-keep-your-phone" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Technology

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More than a third of people with dementia don’t know they have it – what to do if you suspect your partner has the condition

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-irving-1493654">Kate Irving</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/dublin-city-university-1528">Dublin City University</a></em></p> <p>Around <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-67613465">36% of people</a> in England with dementia are unaware they have the condition, according to a new report from the Dementia Commission.</p> <p><a href="https://chamberuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/231127-Dementia-Commission-Report-Embargoed.pdf">The report</a> suggests things health and care professionals can do to improve spotting early signs of dementia. But what can you do if you think your partner has the condition? And how can you broach the topic with them?</p> <p>If you are worried about your partner having dementia, here are some useful things to know.</p> <p>Dementia is a term for a range of diseases (for example, Alzheimer’s) which develop over time (months and years) and cause problems with memory and reasoning, communication, changes in personality and a reduction in a person’s ability to carry out daily activities, such as shopping, washing, paying bills or cooking.</p> <p>Dementia can present very differently in each person, so it’s about knowing what’s normal for your loved one. A person who has always been conscientious and organised starting to unravel is very different from a scatterbrained person just being slightly more scatterbrained.</p> <p>Grief and stress can affect memory yet not be the start of dementia. But they can also mask the start of dementia: we call this “diagnostic over-shadowing”.</p> <p>There are also age-related changes to cognition. For example, we take longer to learn when we get older. But a one-off event – no matter how dramatic – is not necessarily dementia. It’s about looking for a pattern of decline.</p> <p>If you see these changes happen in a short space of time (weeks or days) it is unlikely to be dementia and could be something more serious. This requires urgent investigation by a doctor.</p> <h2>Greatest fear</h2> <p>Dementia is one of the greatest fears of our age. The horror of perceived loss of self can cause people to avoid discussing the issue, discussing it in an unhelpful way (such as criticising or inadvertently humiliating) or discussing it with other relatives, but not the person they are noticing changes in.</p> <p>Over time, this can cause a lack of trust to develop. Discussing memory problems openly with the person at the point of a memory failure or if they raise the concern is best. Of course, it takes courage and makes us face our own vulnerability.</p> <p>Sometimes the person will be in denial or lack insight into the memory problems (this can be a symptom of dementia, but isn’t always). If someone raises a concern about their memory issues, I would urge you not to minimise this, as it probably took courage to admit their concerns.</p> <p>I heard a relative say to my mother: “Oh, you left the pot on the stove. I lost the car in the multistory the other day.” My mother had dementia – the relative did not.</p> <p>If they are adamant that they do not have concerns, this is harder to deal with. One approach is to say: “I know you are not concerned, but I am concerned and I wonder if you would see a doctor to ease my worries?”</p> <p>Also explaining that memory problems can at least to some extent have reversible causes means a visit to the doctor to at least rule these out is an important step. It may also be encouraging to say to the person: “If there is something with your memory that will get worse over time, would you want to know?” (Most people <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408568/">answer yes</a> to this).</p> <h2>Seeing a GP</h2> <p>If your partner agrees to visit a GP, it is helpful to prepare by filling in a diary for a week with the kind of memory (or other) problems experienced, what was happening at the time and the effect of the memory failure. This can be shared with a GP to help them to understand the issues.</p> <p>When people hear even the suggestion of the word dementia, they are faced with the uncertainties of what will become of them, of what they will lose, what they can keep up and where they will end up. These uncertainties are often shared with family members. But research shows that positive aspects of timely diagnosis <a href="https://www.scie.org.uk/dementia/symptoms/diagnosis/early-diagnosis.asp">outweigh fears</a> over time.</p> <p>At the same time, there are often ongoing stresses to do with memory impairments or confusion. With these stresses, everyday life can be troublesome, family relationships can suffer, and people can find it difficult to be supportive of each other.</p> <p>Being honest and open is the best policy. Stating that we are in this together, I want to help, let’s meet whatever happens head on, can help. If a person becomes resistant, it may be there is another family member who might better assist the person.<!-- 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/219172/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/kate-irving-1493654"><em>Kate Irving</em></a><em>, Professor of Clinical Nursing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/dublin-city-university-1528">Dublin City 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/more-than-a-third-of-people-with-dementia-dont-know-they-have-it-what-to-do-if-you-suspect-your-partner-has-the-condition-219172">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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7 ways you’re shortening the lifespan of your refrigerator

<p><strong>How you may be shortening the lifespan of a refrigerator</strong></p> <p>Refrigerators are a necessity in the home, but they cost a pretty penny. They can range in price from $700 to thousands of dollars, depending on which refrigerator brand you buy and which bells and whistles you want. Since it takes a good chunk of change to pay for this appliance, it makes sense to take great care of it so it lasts as long as possible. The typical lifespan of a refrigerator is 10 to 15 years, but it could last up to 20 years if you take superb care of it.</p> <p>Knowing how you may be shortening the life of your fridge helps you nip bad habits in the bud and make those well-spent dollars go the extra mile. That’s why we’ve rounded up the ways you may be knocking valuable time off your fridge’s life – read on and take note! Then, brush up on the signs your refrigerator is about to die and what your refrigerator temperature should be – both important things to know for fridge upkeep.</p> <p><strong>You’re not cleaning the internal mechanics</strong></p> <p>“If the defrost drain is clogged with debris, or frozen, the water dripping off the coils will overflow the drain trough and drip into the bottom of your refrigerator,” experts at the Repair Clinic told Reader’s Digest. Not only can this overwork your fridge, leading to a shorter lifespan, but it potentially causes your fridge/freezer to leak water all over your kitchen floor.</p> <p>Leaking water is a sign you should get any appliance looked at – it’s also a symptom of some of the ways you’re shortening the life of your washer and dryer.</p> <p><strong>You’re not cleaning the fridge itself</strong></p> <p>Additionally, debris, foodstuff, sticky spills and more common food mishaps that stay on the gasket of the refrigerator’s door too long can tear or break the seal of your refrigerator door. That can cause a leak, allowing cold air to escape. This makes learning how to clean your refrigerator properly all the more important (psst – these are the best fridge cleaners that’ll get the job done).</p> <p>To keep your fridge in tip-top shape as long as possible, wipe down the door edges often. And while you’re wiping down your fridge, see if you’ve organised your refrigerator the right way to keep ingredients fresh and avoid food poisoning.</p> <p><strong>You’re not cleaning the coils</strong></p> <p>More than 70 per cent of service calls for your fridge can be eliminated by cleaning your coils once a year – so experts recommend upping that to twice a year if you have furry pets (like an adorable but extra-fluffy pup).</p> <p>Debris on the coils can stop your fridge from properly dissipating heat, which means your compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to. That makes your fridge use more energy and shortens its lifespan.</p> <p><strong>It's too full </strong></p> <p>We’ve all played a few games of Tetris with our refrigerator after we get home with the groceries, but be careful when stocking up and storing. While this isn’t a huge problem with newer models, some older models have fan blades that are less protected. You may even be able to see the fan blades in your freezer or fridge.</p> <p>Cramming your food into the fridge and freezer to the point of applying undue pressure on this small part can affect its shape and fit among related parts of your fridge, risking a break. Ineffective fridges are overworked fridges, which will eventually lead to a refrigerator that doesn’t work. To avoid overfilling your fridge, do a deep clean of the contents of your fridge every once in a while and eliminate clutter.</p> <p><strong>You’re not changing the water filter often enough</strong></p> <p>If you have the type of fridge that makes ice – with the dispenser either within the freezer or on your door – the water filter is key to keeping this part of your refrigerator in great condition. An old, broken or dislodged water filter can create all kinds of problems for your fridge. At best, your ice dispenser breaks. At worst, your fridge overworks itself to an early death and you’re stuck footing the bill for a new one.</p> <p>Luckily, CNET reports that you likely can detect this problem early, as your ice cubes will start coming out smaller, oddly shaped or not at all. Keep this in mind next time you’re filling up your water bottle.</p> <p><strong>Your freezer temperature is too high</strong></p> <p>“Ideally, the temperature should be set -18 degrees Celsius,” said experts at Repair Clinic. The wrong freezer temperature can affect the longevity of your ice maker, as well as the safety of the food you’ll be eating.</p> <p>A temperature higher than -9 degrees Celsius can also cause the defrost thermostat to stop working, which, in turn, overworks your refrigerator and shortens its life.</p> <p><strong>You ignore weird noises or constant running</strong></p> <p>If you notice that your fridge is always running, or is running louder than usual, do something about it right away. Some fixes are easy enough that you can do them yourself, or they’re inexpensive for a professional, but even if that’s not the case, allowing a fridge to work itself harder than it is intended to is a good way to put an early expiration date on it. Depending on the age of your fridge, you may want to decide not to fix it and invest in a new, more energy- and cost-efficient option.</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/7-ways-youre-shortening-the-lifespan-of-your-refrigerator" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p> <div class="slide-image" style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 16px; font-style: inherit; box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;"> </div>

Home & Garden

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What happens to your liver when you quit alcohol

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ashwin-dhanda-1359529">Ashwin Dhanda</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-plymouth-717">University of Plymouth</a></em></p> <p>According to Greek mythology, Zeus punished Prometheus for giving fire to humans. He chained Prometheus up and set an eagle to feast on his liver. Each night, the liver grew back and each day, the eagle returned for his feast. In reality, can a liver really grow back?</p> <p>The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body. It is needed for hundreds of bodily processes, including breaking down toxins such as alcohol. As it is the first organ to “see” alcohol that has been drunk, it is not surprising that it is the most susceptible to alcohol’s effects. However, other organs, including the brain and heart, can also be damaged by long-term heavy alcohol use.</p> <p>As a liver specialist, I meet people with alcohol-related liver disease every day. It is a <a href="https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/information-and-support/liver-conditions/alcohol-related-liver-disease/">spectrum of disease</a> ranging from laying down of fat in the liver (fatty liver) to scar formation (cirrhosis) and it usually doesn’t cause any symptoms until the very late stages of damage.</p> <p>At first, alcohol makes the liver fatty. This fat causes the liver to become inflamed. In response, it tries to heal itself, producing scar tissue. If this carries on unchecked, the whole liver can become a mesh of scars with small islands of “good” liver in between – cirrhosis.</p> <p>In the late stages of cirrhosis, when the liver fails, people can turn yellow (jaundice), swell with fluid and become sleepy and confused. This is serious and can be fatal.</p> <p>Most people who regularly drink more than the recommended limit of 14 units of alcohol per week (about six pints of normal strength beer [4% ABV] or about six average [175ml] glasses of wine [14% ABV]) will have a fatty liver. Long-term and heavy alcohol use increases the risk of developing <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-related-liver-disease-arld/">scarring and cirrhosis</a>.</p> <h2>Good news</h2> <p>Fortunately, there is good news. In people with fatty liver, after only two to three weeks of giving up alcohol, the liver can heal and looks and functions <a href="https://arcr.niaaa.nih.gov/volume/41/1/natural-recovery-liver-and-other-organs-after-chronic-alcohol-use">as good as new</a>.</p> <p>In people with liver inflammation or mild scarring, even within seven days of giving up alcohol, there are noticeable reductions in liver <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/5/1659">fat, inflammation and scarring</a>. Stopping alcohol use for several months lets the liver heal and return to normal.</p> <p>In heavy drinkers with more severe scarring or liver failure, giving up alcohol for several years reduces their chance of <a href="https://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(22)01113-2/fulltext">worsening liver failure and death</a>. However, people who drink heavily can be physically dependent on alcohol and stopping suddenly can cause alcohol withdrawal.</p> <p>In its mild form, it causes shaking and sweating. But if severe, it can cause hallucinations, fits and even death. Going “cold turkey” is never recommended for heavy drinkers, who should seek medical advice about how to safely give up alcohol.</p> <h2>Other benefits</h2> <p>Giving up drinking also has positive effects on <a href="https://alcoholchange.org.uk/blog/benefits-of-dry-january-and-when-you-can-expect-to-see-them">sleep, brain function and blood pressure</a>.</p> <p>Avoiding alcohol for long periods also reduces the risk of several types of <a href="https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/alcohol-and-cancer">cancer</a> (including liver, pancreas and colon) and the risk of <a href="https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/effects-of-alcohol-on-your-heart">heart disease and stroke</a>.</p> <p>However, alcohol is not the only cause of ill health. Giving it up has many health benefits, but it is not a panacea. It should be seen as part of a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular physical exercise.</p> <p>So, to answer the question posed by the myth of Prometheus, the liver has an amazing power to repair itself after it has been damaged. But it cannot grow back as new if it was already severely scarred.</p> <p>If you stop drinking and only have a fatty liver, it can quickly turn back to normal. If you had a scarred liver (cirrhosis) to start with, stopping alcohol will allow some healing and improved function but can’t undo all the damage that has already been done.</p> <p>If you want to look after your liver, drink in moderation and have two to three alcohol-free days each week. That way, you won’t have to rely on the liver’s magical self-healing power to stay healthy.<!-- 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/220490/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/ashwin-dhanda-1359529"><em>Ashwin Dhanda</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Hepatology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-plymouth-717">University of Plymouth</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/what-happens-to-your-liver-when-you-quit-alcohol-220490">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Thinking of using an activity tracker to achieve your exercise goals? Here’s where it can help – and where it probably won’t

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/corneel-vandelanotte-209636">Corneel Vandelanotte</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>It’s that time of year when many people are getting started on their resolutions for the year ahead. Doing more physical activity is a popular and <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13668-016-0175-5">worthwhile</a> goal.</p> <p>If you’re hoping to be more active in 2024, perhaps you’ve invested in an activity tracker, or you’re considering buying one.</p> <p>But what are the benefits of activity trackers? And will a basic tracker do the trick, or do you need a fancy one with lots of features? Let’s take a look.</p> <h2>Why use an activity tracker?</h2> <p>One of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-020-01001-x">most powerful predictors</a> for being active is whether or not <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673621026301">you are monitoring</a> how active you are.</p> <p>Most people have a vague idea of how active they are, but this is inaccurate a lot of the time. Once people consciously start to keep track of how much activity they do, they often realise it’s less than what they thought, and this motivates them to be more active.</p> <p>You can self-monitor without an activity tracker (just by writing down what you do), but this method is hard to keep up in the long run and it’s also a lot less accurate compared to devices that track your every move 24/7.</p> <p>By tracking steps or “activity minutes” you can ascertain whether or not you are meeting the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-adults-18-to-64-years">physical activity guidelines</a> (150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week).</p> <p>It also allows you to track how you’re progressing with any personal activity goals, and view your progress over time. All this would be difficult without an activity tracker.</p> <p>Research has shown the most popular brands of activity trackers are generally reliable when it comes to tracking basic measures such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.2196/18694">steps</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1123/jmpb.2019-0072">activity minutes</a>.</p> <h2>But wait, there’s more</h2> <p>Many activity trackers on the market nowadays track a range of other measures which their manufacturers promote as important in monitoring health and fitness. But is this really the case? Let’s look at some of these.</p> <p><strong>Resting heart rate</strong></p> <p>This is your heart rate at rest, which is normally somewhere <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/resting-heart-rate">between 60 and 100 beats per minute</a>. Your resting heart rate will gradually go down as you become fitter, especially if you’re doing a lot of high-intensity exercise. Your risk of dying of any cause (all-cause mortality) is much lower when you have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28552551/">low resting heart rate</a>.</p> <p>So, it is useful to keep an eye on your resting heart rate. Activity trackers are pretty good at tracking it, but you can also easily measure your heart rate by monitoring your pulse and using a stopwatch.</p> <p><strong>Heart rate during exercise</strong></p> <p>Activity trackers will also measure your heart rate when you’re active. To improve fitness efficiently, professional athletes focus on having their heart rate in certain “<a href="https://chhs.source.colostate.edu/how-to-target-heart-rate-training-zones-effectively/">zones</a>” when they’re exercising – so knowing their heart rate during exercise is important.</p> <p>But if you just want to be more active and healthier, without a specific training goal in mind, you can exercise at a level that feels good to you and not worry about your heart rate during activity. The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/HCO.0000000000000437">most important thing</a> is that you’re being active.</p> <p>Also, a dedicated heart rate monitor with a strap around your chest will do a much better job at measuring your actual heart rate <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-020-0226-6">compared</a> to an activity tracker worn around your wrist.</p> <p><strong>Maximal heart rate</strong></p> <p>This is the hardest your heart could beat when you’re active, not something you could sustain very long. Your maximal heart rate is not influenced by how much exercise you do, or your fitness level.</p> <p>Most activity trackers <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/article-abstract/2566167">don’t measure it accurately</a> anyway, so you might as well forget about this one.</p> <p><strong>VO₂max</strong></p> <p>Your muscles need oxygen to work. The more oxygen your body can process, the harder you can work, and therefore the fitter you are.</p> <p>VO₂max is the volume (V) of oxygen (O₂) we could breathe maximally (max) over a one minute interval, expressed as millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min). Inactive women and men would have a VO₂max lower than 30 and 40 ml/kg/min, respectively. A reasonably good VO₂max would be mid thirties and higher for women and mid forties and higher for men.</p> <p>VO₂max is another measure of fitness that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3605">correlates well</a> with all-cause mortality: the higher it is, the lower your risk of dying.</p> <p>For athletes, VO₂max is usually measured in a lab on a treadmill while wearing a mask that measures oxygen consumption. Activity trackers instead look at your running speed (using a GPS chip) and your heart rate and compare these measures to values from other people.</p> <p>If you can run fast with a low heart rate your tracker will assume you are relatively fit, resulting in a higher VO₂max. These estimates are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01639-y">not very accurate</a> as they are based on lots of assumptions. However, the error of the measurement is reasonably consistent. This means if your VO₂max is gradually increasing, you are likely to be getting fitter.</p> <p>So what’s the take-home message? Focus on how many steps you take every day or the number of activity minutes you achieve. Even a basic activity tracker will measure these factors relatively accurately. There is no real need to track other measures and pay more for an activity tracker that records them, unless you are getting really serious about exercise.<!-- 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/219235/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/corneel-vandelanotte-209636">Corneel Vandelanotte</a>, Professorial Research Fellow: Physical Activity and Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity 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/thinking-of-using-an-activity-tracker-to-achieve-your-exercise-goals-heres-where-it-can-help-and-where-it-probably-wont-219235">original article</a>.</em></p>

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It’s normal for your mind to wander. Here’s how to maximise the benefits

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dr-anchal-garg-1491247">Dr Anchal Garg</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bruce-watt-1486350">Bruce Watt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>Have you ever found yourself thinking about loved ones during a boring meeting? Or going over the plot of a movie you recently watched during a drive to the supermarket?</p> <p>This is the cognitive phenomenon known as “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2011.01.002">mind wandering</a>”. Research suggests it can account for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044423">up to 50%</a> of our waking cognition (our mental processes when awake) in both <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1192439">western and non-western societies</a>.</p> <p>So what can help make this time productive and beneficial?</p> <h2>Mind wandering is not daydreaming</h2> <p>Mind wandering is often used interchangeably with daydreaming. They are both considered types of inattention but are not the same thing.</p> <p>Mind wandering is related to a primary task, such as reading a book, listening to a lecture, or attending a meeting. The mind <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00560/full">withdraws</a> from that task and focuses on internally generated, unrelated thoughts.</p> <p>On the other hand, daydreaming does not involve a primary, active task. For example, daydreaming would be thinking about an ex-partner while travelling on a bus and gazing out the window. Or lying in bed and thinking about what it might be like to go on a holiday overseas.</p> <p>If you were driving the bus or making the bed and your thoughts diverted from the primary task, this would be classed as mind wandering.</p> <h2>The benefits of mind wandering</h2> <p>Mind wandering is believed to play an important role in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612446024">generating new ideas</a>, conclusions or insights (also known as “aha! moments”). This is because it can give your mind a break and free it up to think more creatively.</p> <p>This type of creativity does not always have to be related to creative pursuits (such as writing a song or making an artwork). It could include a new way to approach a university or school assignment or a project at work.<br />Another benefit of mind wandering is relief from boredom, providing the opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031569">mentally retreat</a> from a monotonous task.</p> <p>For example, someone who does not enjoy washing dishes could think about their upcoming weekend plans while doing the chore. In this instance, mind wandering assists in “passing the time” during an uninteresting task.</p> <p>Mind wandering also tends to be future-oriented. This can provide an opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2011.08.007">reflect upon and plan</a> future goals, big or small. For example, what steps do I need to take to get a job after graduation? Or, what am I going to make for dinner tomorrow?</p> <h2>What are the risks?</h2> <p>Mind wandering is not always beneficial, however. It can mean you miss out on crucial information. For example, there could be disruptions in learning if a student engages in mind wandering during a lesson that covers exam details. Or an important building block for learning.</p> <p>Some tasks also require a lot of concentration in order to be safe. If you’re thinking about a recent argument with a partner while driving, you run the risk of having an accident.</p> <p>That being said, it can be more difficult for some people to control their mind wandering. For example, mind wandering is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112901">more prevalent</a> in people with ADHD.</p> <h2>What can you do to maximise the benefits?</h2> <p>There are several things you can do to maximise the benefits of mind wandering.</p> <ul> <li><strong>be aware</strong>: awareness of mind wandering allows you to take note of and make use of any productive thoughts. Alternatively, if it is not a good time to mind wander it can help bring your attention back to the task at hand</li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p><strong>context matters</strong>: try to keep mind wandering to non-demanding tasks rather than demanding tasks. Otherwise, mind wandering <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00441">could be unproductive</a> or unsafe. For example, try think about that big presentation during a car wash rather than when driving to and from the car wash</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>content matters</strong>: if possible, try to keep the content positive. Research <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00900">has found</a>, keeping your thoughts more positive, specific and concrete (and less about “you”), is associated with better wellbeing. For example, thinking about tasks to meet upcoming work deadlines could be more productive than ruminating about how you felt stressed or failed to meet past deadlines.<!-- 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/219490/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> </li> </ul> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dr-anchal-garg-1491247"><em>Dr Anchal Garg</em></a><em>, Psychology researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bruce-watt-1486350">Bruce Watt</a>, Associate Professor in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>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/its-normal-for-your-mind-to-wander-heres-how-to-maximise-the-benefits-219490">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How often should you wash your sheets and towels?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rietie-venter-100529">Rietie Venter</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>Everyone seems to have a different opinion when it comes to how often towels and <a href="https://7news.com.au/video/lifestyle/cleaning/dr-karl-on-how-often-you-should-wash-our-sheets-bc-6320410318112">bed sheets should be washed</a>. While many people might wonder whether days or weeks is best, in one survey from the United Kingdom, <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-61259074">almost half of single men</a> reported not washing their sheets for up to four months at a time.</p> <p>It’s fairly clear that four months is too long to leave it, but what is the ideal frequency?</p> <p>Bed linen and towels are quite different and so should be washed at different intervals. While every week or two will generally suffice for sheets, towels are best washed every few days.</p> <p>Anyway, who doesn’t love the feeling of a fresh set of sheets or the smell of a newly laundered towel?</p> <h2>Why you should wash towels more often</h2> <p>When you dry yourself, you deposit thousands of <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2018.02362/full">skin cells</a> and millions of <a href="https://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553(23)00402-9/fulltext">microbes</a> onto the towel. And because you use your towel to dry yourself after a shower or bath, your towel is regularly damp.</p> <p>You also deposit a hefty amount of dead skin, microbes, sweat and oils <a href="https://theconversation.com/your-bed-probably-isnt-as-clean-as-you-think-a-microbiologist-explains-163513">onto your sheets</a> every night. But unless you’re a prolific night sweater, your bedding doesn’t get wet after a night’s sleep.</p> <p>Towels are also made of a thicker material than sheets and therefore tend to stay damp for longer.</p> <p>So what is it about the dampness that causes a problem? Wet towels are a breeding ground for bacteria and moulds. <a href="https://www.qld.gov.au/housing/public-community-housing/public-housing-tenants/looking-after-your-home/safety/mould">Moulds</a> especially love <a href="https://www.asthmaandlung.org.uk/living-with/indoor-air-pollution/allergies">damp environments</a>. Although mould won’t necessarily be visible (you would need significant growth to be able to see it) this can lead to an unpleasant smell.</p> <p>As well as odours, <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/infections/can-clothes-and-towels-spread-germs/">exposure to these microbes</a> in your towels and sheets can cause <a href="https://aafa.org/allergies/types-of-allergies/insect-allergy/dust-mite-allergy/">asthma</a>, allergic skin irritations, or other <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/11/4/04-1094_article">skin infections</a>.</p> <h2>So what’s the ideal frequency?</h2> <p>For bedding, it really depends on factors such as whether you have a bath or shower just before going to bed, or if you fall into bed after a long, sweaty day and have your shower in the morning. You will need to wash your sheets more regularly in the latter case. As a rule of thumb, once a week or every two weeks should be fine.</p> <p>Towels should ideally be washed more regularly – perhaps every few days – while your facecloth should be cleaned after every use. Because it gets completely wet, it will be wet for a longer time, and retain more skin cells and microbes.</p> <p>Wash your towels at a high temperature (for example, 65°C) as that will <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34465009/">kill many microbes</a>. If you are conscious of saving energy, you can use a lower temperature and add a cup of vinegar to the wash. The vinegar will kill microbes and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8231443/">prevent bad smells</a> from developing.</p> <p>Clean your washing machine regularly and dry the fold in the rubber after every wash, as this is another place microbes like to grow.</p> <h2>Smelly towels</h2> <p>What if you regularly wash your towels, but they still smell bad? One of the reasons for this pong could be that you’ve left them in the washing machine too long after the wash. Especially if it was a warm wash cycle, the time they’re warm and damp will allow microbes to happily grow. Under <a href="https://textbookofbacteriology.net/growth_3.html">lab conditions</a> the number of these bacteria can double every 30 minutes.</p> <p>It’s important to hang your towel out to dry after use and not to leave towels in the washing machine after the cycle has finished. If possible, hang your towels and bedding out in the sun. That will dry them quickly and thoroughly and will foster that lovely fresh, clean cotton smell. Using a dryer is a good alternative if the weather is bad, but outdoors in the sun is always better if possible.</p> <p>Also, even if your towel is going to be washed, don’t throw a wet towel into the laundry basket, as the damp, dirty towel will be an ideal place for microbes to breed. By the time you get to doing your washing, the towel and the other laundry around it may have acquired a bad smell. And it can be difficult to get your towels smelling fresh again.</p> <h2>What about ‘self-cleaning’ sheets and towels?</h2> <p>Some companies sell “quick-dry” towels or “self-cleaning” towels and bedding. Quick-dry towels are made from synthetic materials that are weaved in a way to allow them to dry quickly. This would help prevent the growth of microbes and the bad smells that develop when towels are damp for long periods of time.</p> <p>But the notion of self-cleaning products is more complicated. Most of these products contain <a href="https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/chem-2016-0005/html">nanosilver</a> or copper, antibacterial metals that kill micro-organisms. The antibacterial compounds will stop the growth of bacteria and can be useful to limit smells and reduce the frequency with which you need to clean your sheets and towels.</p> <p>However, they’re not going to remove dirt like oils, skin flakes and sweat. So as much as I would love the idea of sheets and towels that clean themselves, that’s not exactly what happens.</p> <p>Also, excessive use of antimicrobials <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6636436/pdf/idr-12-1985.pdf">such as nanosilver</a> can lead to <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2021.652863/full">microbes becoming resistant</a> to them.<!-- 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/216083/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/rietie-venter-100529"><em>Rietie Venter</em></a><em>, Associate professor, Clinical and Health Sciences, <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/how-often-should-you-wash-your-sheets-and-towels-216083">original article</a>.</em></p>

Home & Garden

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What happens to your vagina as you age?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louie-ye-1465100">Louie Ye</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martha-hickey-551323">Martha Hickey</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>The vagina is an internal organ with a complex ecosystem, influenced by circulating hormone levels which change during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause.</p> <p>Around and after menopause, there are normal changes in the growth and function of vaginal cells, as well as the vagina’s microbiome (groups of bacteria living in the vagina). Many women won’t notice these changes. They don’t usually cause symptoms or concern, but if they do, symptoms can usually be managed.</p> <p>Here’s what happens to your vagina as you age, whether you notice or not.</p> <h2>Let’s clear up the terminology</h2> <p>We’re focusing on the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545147/">vagina</a>, the muscular tube that goes from the external genitalia (the vulva), past the cervix, to the womb (uterus). Sometimes the word “vagina” is used to include the external genitalia. However, these are different organs and play different roles in women’s health.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/565381/original/file-20231213-17-grlu25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/565381/original/file-20231213-17-grlu25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/565381/original/file-20231213-17-grlu25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=428&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/565381/original/file-20231213-17-grlu25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=428&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/565381/original/file-20231213-17-grlu25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=428&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/565381/original/file-20231213-17-grlu25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=538&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/565381/original/file-20231213-17-grlu25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=538&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/565381/original/file-20231213-17-grlu25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=538&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Diagram of female reproductive system including the vagina" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">We’re talking about the internal organ, the vagina.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-illustration/female-reproductive-system-image-diagram-243154639">Suwin66/Shutterstock</a></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What happens to the vagina as you age?</h2> <p>Like many other organs in the body, the vagina is sensitive to female sex steroid hormones (hormones) that change around puberty, pregnancy and menopause.</p> <p>Menopause is associated with a drop in circulating oestrogen concentrations and the hormone progesterone is no longer produced. The changes in hormones affect the vagina and its ecosystem. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK564341/">Effects</a> may include:</p> <ul> <li>less vaginal secretions, potentially leading to dryness</li> <li>less growth of vagina surface cells resulting in a thinned lining</li> <li>alteration to the support structure (connective tissue) around the vagina leading to less elasticity and more narrowing</li> <li>fewer blood vessels around the vagina, which <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2989746/">may explain</a> less blood flow after menopause</li> <li>a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-022-01083-2">shift</a> in the type and balance of bacteria, which can change vaginal acidity, from more acidic to more alkaline.</li> </ul> <h2>What symptoms can I expect?</h2> <p>Many women do not notice any bothersome vaginal changes as they age. There’s also little evidence many of these changes cause vaginal symptoms. For example, there is no direct evidence these changes cause vaginal infection or bleeding in menopausal women.</p> <p>Some women notice vaginal dryness after menopause, which may be linked to less vaginal secretions. This may lead to pain and discomfort during sex. But it’s not clear how much of this dryness is due to menopause, as younger women also commonly report it. In <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6136974/pdf/nihms957122.pdf">one study</a>, 47% of sexually active postmenopausal women reported vaginal dryness, as did around 20% of premenopausal women.</p> <p>Other organs close to the vagina, such as the bladder and urethra, are also affected by the change in hormone levels after menopause. Some women experience recurrent urinary tract infections, which may cause pain (including pain to the side of the body) and irritation. So their symptoms are in fact not coming from the vagina itself but relate to changes in the urinary tract.</p> <h2>Not everyone has the same experience</h2> <p>Women vary in whether they notice vaginal changes and whether they <a href="https://www.flinders.edu.au/research/vitalmeno">are bothered</a> by these to the same extent. For example, women with vaginal dryness who are not sexually active may not notice the change in vaginal secretions after menopause. However, some women notice severe dryness that affects their daily function and activities.</p> <p>In fact, <a href="https://www.imsociety.org/2021/06/21/a-core-outcome-set-for-vasomotor-symptoms-associated-with-menopause-the-comma-core-outcomes-in-menopause-global-initiative/">researchers globally</a> are taking more notice of women’s experiences of menopause to inform future research. This includes prioritising symptoms that matter to women the most, such as vaginal dryness, discomfort, irritation and pain during sex.</p> <h2>If symptoms bother you</h2> <p>Symptoms such as dryness, irritation, or pain during sex can usually be effectively managed. Lubricants may reduce pain during sex. Vaginal moisturisers may reduce dryness. Both are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy.</p> <p>While there are many small clinical trials of individual products, these studies <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8942543/">lack the power</a> to demonstrate if they are really effective in improving vaginal symptoms.</p> <p>In contrast, there is robust evidence that vaginal oestrogen is <a href="https://www.cochrane.org/CD001500/MENSTR_use-postmenopausal-women-creams-pessaries-or-vaginal-ring-apply-oestrogen-vaginally-symptoms-vaginal">effective</a> in treating vaginal dryness and reducing pain during sex. It also <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005131.pub2/full">reduces</a> your chance of recurrent urinary tract infections. You can talk to your doctor about a prescription.</p> <p>Vaginal oestrogen is usually inserted using an applicator, two to three times a week. Very little is absorbed into the blood stream, it is <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31913230/">generally safe</a> but longer-term trials are required to confirm safety in long-term use beyond a year.</p> <p>Women with a <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/position-statements/the-use-of-vaginal-estrogen-in-women-with-a-history-of-estrogen-dependent-breast-cancer">history of breast cancer</a> should see their oncologist to discuss using oestrogen as it may not be suitable for them.</p> <h2>Are there other treatments?</h2> <p>New treatments for vaginal dryness are under investigation. One avenue relates to our growing understanding of how the vaginal microbiome adapts and modifies around changes in circulating and local concentrations of hormones.</p> <p>For example, a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29381086">small number of reports</a> show that combining vaginal probiotics with low-dose vaginal oestrogen can improve vaginal symptoms. But more evidence is needed before this is recommended.</p> <h2>Where to from here?</h2> <p>The normal ageing process, as well as menopause, both affect the vagina as we age.</p> <p>Most women do not have troublesome vaginal symptoms during and after menopause, but for some, these may cause discomfort or distress.</p> <p>While hormonal treatments such as vaginal oestrogen are available, there is a pressing need for more non-hormonal treatments.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Dr Sianan Healy, from Women’s Health Victoria, contributed to this article.</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/212198/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/louie-ye-1465100"><em>Louie Ye</em></a><em>, Clinical Fellow, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martha-hickey-551323">Martha Hickey</a>, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</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/what-happens-to-your-vagina-as-you-age-212198">original article</a>.</em></p>

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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>

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"Your GPS is wrong": Hilarious outback sign causes double takes

<p>In the ongoing battle between technology and good old-fashioned road signs, it seems the good people of Quairading, a tiny town in Western Australia, have taken matters into their own hands. The battleground? Old Beverley Road, a path that might be best described as the Bermuda Triangle of rural routes.</p> <p>A local Facebook post revealed the existence of at least two signs urging drivers to defy their GPS and embark on a detour through the town.</p> <p>The signs don't beat around the bush either, bluntly stating, "Your GPS is wrong, this is not the best route to Perth". It's a brave move, considering most people tend to trust their navigation apps more than their own instincts (or road signs).</p> <p>The post quickly became a social media sensation, garnering over 15,000 likes and hundreds of comments. One person couldn't contain their excitement, proclaiming, "Finally vindicated, I've been telling my GPS they're wrong for years!" </p> <p>Some conspiracy theorists speculated that this was all part of an elaborate marketing scheme by Quairading to boost tourism. "I think it's a clever ploy by Quairading to make tourists drive through their town," one person suggested. "Maybe stop for coffee, etc. Marketing 101."</p> <p>If it is intentional, hats off to Quairading for the creativity; they've managed to turn road safety into a guerrilla marketing campaign.</p> <p>Quairading Shire president Jo Haythornthwaite responded to the comments by setting the record straight, explaining that Google and GPS suggest Old Beverley Road as a shortcut to Perth, but in reality, it's a slippery, gravel-covered disaster waiting to happen.</p> <p>According to her, "What Google does not recognise is that their suggestion of taking the Old Beverley Road leads travellers and tourists onto a low-lying road that has 15kms of gravel, is very slippery when wet, and is prone to flooding."</p> <p>To combat the persistent GPS misguidance, the Shire tried the diplomatic route, requesting that Google update its algorithm to favour the safer alternative. Unfortunately, it seems Google was either too busy directing people to non-existent streets or enjoying a virtual road trip to pay attention. Frustrated but undeterred, the signs were erected as a last-ditch effort to send a clear message: "Turn around! Or prepare for an off-road adventure you didn't sign up for!"</p> <p>The signs, much like a seasoned comedian, delivered the punchline: a noticeable decrease in traffic along Old Beverley Road. While Quairading might not have exact numbers, they've declared victory in their quest to keep road users safe. As Ms Haythornthwaite put it, "So, without knowing specific numbers, we believe that, although some continue to use the less safe route of the Old Beverley Road, many travellers are taking notice and following the signage."</p> <p>And so, the small town of Quairading triumphs in the great GPS versus road sign showdown. Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, we all need a little more trust in the wisdom of quirky road signs. After all, who knows the terrain better than the locals who've been there, done that, and put up the signs to prove it?</p>

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5 financial lessons you should impart to your adult children

<p>Ultimately, we want our kids to live long, happy, healthy lives. </p> <p>Financial security is central to achieving this dream. So it may be time to have a chat about matters of money and ensure they are well set up for a prosperous future!</p> <p>While there are many important things to instil in future generations, the five below are perhaps the most crucial current-day issues for your adult children to master.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Avoid BNPL</strong></li> </ol> <p>Buy now, pay later (BNPL) schemes have taken off in popularity in recent years, allowing shoppers to purchase and use goods straight away yet pay for them over time in instalments. Sound too good to be true? Indeed.</p> <p>Most schemes attach hefty penalties and interest for missed or late repayments – much the same as credit cards. The debt quickly balloons, and can become unsustainable.</p> <p>The best approach to instil in your children is to always live within their means.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Avoid sexually transmitted debt</strong></li> </ol> <p>Joint finances, loans, credit cards, utilities, subscriptions, vehicles, businesses, property… all of these and more are shared liabilities. </p> <p>Even if a partner is the one who racks up the debts, your child is equally responsible for repaying them. This is what I call sexually transmitted debt.</p> <p>It could be inadvertent (such as having a partner who, despite their best intentions, is simply bad with money); hidden (like gambling addiction), deliberate (financial abuse), lose their job, have an accident, get seriously unwell.</p> <p>Either way, sexually transmitted debts can create long-term and even life-long problems, regardless of whether the relationship that created those debts survives: repayment struggles, credit constraints, bankruptcy, legal woes.</p> <p>When it comes to money, your children (and yourself) need to think with their head, not their heart.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Start investing </strong></li> </ol> <p>The number one thing financial advisers hear most is “I wish I started years ago”.</p> <p>Investments typically grow over time. The more time you allow, the bigger their value.</p> <p>Younger adults have big demands on their hip pocket. However, even starting with small investments allows compound growth to work its magic.</p> <p>Plus, given the housing affordability constraints facing younger generations, investments that can be sold or leveraged could better help them onto the housing ladder in future.</p> <p>Superannuation is another investment to pay attention to from a young age: managing investments, ensuring they are in a cost-effective fund, and avoiding mistakes – like consolidating funds without getting advice, which can inadvertently see them consolidate into a poorer performing fund or cancel attached insurances that had preferential terms.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong>Get a will</strong></li> </ol> <p>While young people may feel invincible, untimely deaths or disablement claims sadly can and do happen. And often unexpectedly: land transport accidents and accidental poisoning, together with suicide, make up <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/leading-causes-of-death">the biggest causes of death for under 44s</a> in Australia.</p> <p>Not having a will and a nominated executor complicates matters for grieving family and can delay all-important access to finances. How would your child’s partner and kids (if they have them) survive if their super, insurances and other payouts are delayed through probate? </p> <p>Remember to point out that superannuation (and other structures like companies and trusts) are treated separately from a will, and so need beneficiaries nominated within them.</p> <p>Younger people are also less likely to have discussed their final wishes with loved ones – funeral arrangements, burial vs cremation, organ donation, inheritances etc. This is where a separate statement of wishes can be useful.</p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong>Get insured</strong></li> </ol> <p>Insurances – save perhaps vehicle and house/contents – are rarely on the minds of younger people. But they should be.</p> <p>That is because many insurances are cheaper and offer better coverage when people are younger and free of any health complications. That includes private health, life and permanent disability, and income protection cover. </p> <p>Other insurances, like asset protection, can also be more lucrative to lock-in early. Just think about how the Ts and Cs on insurances have changed (become more restrictive) since you were their age!</p> <p>So encourage your adult children to scrutinise their insurance coverage. (And keep them away from drugs and smoking to stay healthier for longer!)</p> <p><em><strong>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of the new book, On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women (Ventura Press, $32.99). Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au">www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</a> </strong></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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What happens to teeth as you age? And how can you extend the life of your smile?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/arosha-weerakoon-792707">Arosha Weerakoon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>A healthy smile <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37314011/">helps us</a> live long, well and happy lives. But just <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37436910/">like our bodies</a>, our teeth succumb to age-related changes.</p> <p>So what happens to teeth as you age? And what can you do to ensure your smile lasts the distance?</p> <h2>First, what are teeth made of?</h2> <p>The tooth crown is covered by a hard enamel coat that surrounds softer, brown dentine, which protects a centrally located pulp.</p> <p>Enamel is a complex weave of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2584618/">brittle</a>, honeycomb-clustered strands that interact with light to make teeth appear opalescent (a pearly, milky iridescence).</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1601-1546.2012.00269.x">Dentine under enamel</a> forms most of the tooth crown and root, and is made of collagen, mineral, water and proteins. Collagen strands are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003996922002102?via%3Dihub#bib12">woven</a> to stretch and spring back, to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003996922002102?via%3Dihub#bib12">prevent teeth</a> from cracking and breaking when we grind and chew.</p> <p>The pulp has blood vessels and nerves that communicate with the rest of your body.</p> <p>Enmeshed in the dentine mineral and collagen are small, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8809302/">interconnected tubules</a> formed by specialised cells called <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1047847799940960">odontoblasts</a> that settle around the pulp, once our teeth completely form.</p> <p>Each tooth contains a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23803461/">finite number of odontoblasts</a>, unlike the constantly replenished special bone cells that renew.</p> <h2>How do our teeth change as we age?</h2> <p>Unable to renew, our teeth <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003996922002102?via%3Dihub#bib19">become brittle</a>, and prone to fracture as dentine loses its spring.</p> <p>This is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002817714613532?casa_token=1K9Y6CJXmsAAAAAA:t6y_b_Iy02AWpUGaiz4H8Fk0Kdfx6z1ypHiGOEjFqFNlU1jvSRCVjfYOyysgIErJvgCzh33c2hfX">more common</a> in teeth with existing crack lines, large fillings or root canal treatments.</p> <p>With time, the outer surface of enamel <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022391305004348?casa_token=xXfdecXrLaoAAAAA:YE_0swAFtT3RyCUeJmPwciixQ0hwL-foLyC2RGtnlyUSJ9O-pPLQz0B8XNd4Gq1AMtCN2BgnCrqo">thins</a> to reveal the relatively opaque dentine that darkens as we age.</p> <p>The dentine darkens because the collagen weave <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1047847722000697">stiffens and shrinks</a>, and the fluid in the tubules <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590152422000010?via%3Dihub">fills with mineral</a>.</p> <p>The odontoblasts continue to form dentine inside the tooth to reduce the translucent pulp space. The increase in dentine makes our teeth appear <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0003996913003294">opaque</a> and insulates from hot and cold sensations. This is why <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300571215000494?casa_token=iiLtoxOZOYQAAAAA:RfaGR7lrq9dgWuO_nh6hLETzVUiIWdu-mB-Ev019vZH5t6meVyAHs3YpZzcu9FNrDBYQL6OExu6j">X-rays</a> are useful to detect cavities we may not feel.</p> <p>Food and drink particles fill micro-gaps and age-related fine crack lines that run up and down enamel to <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yash-Kapadia/publication/322509199_Tooth_staining_A_review_of_etiology_and_treatment_modalities/links/5b4cd922a6fdcc8dae245b7d/Tooth-staining-A-review-of-etiology-and-treatment-modalities.pdf">discolour and stain</a>. These stains are easily managed by <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2772559622000207">tooth whitening</a>.</p> <p>How else can you extend the life of your teeth and brighten your smile? Here are seven tips to avoid dental decline:</p> <h2>1. Avoid unnecessary forces</h2> <p>Avoid <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj.2012.722">using</a> your teeth to hold things such as working tools or to open packaging.</p> <p>Take measures to avoid forces such as <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1882761622000059">grinding or clenching</a> by wearing a night guard.</p> <p>If you have <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0109564122002421">large fillings</a> or <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0109564122001579?casa_token=kQPjGNgU2iQAAAAA:ytMnT5MLV8aRehNyyWD7qC7FXSBE5xpPCxnzZ2ryKsuyJePq1jHisue1udtN0Cs6NDYJ37xYHy_5">root canal-treated</a> teeth, speak to your dentist about <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/aej.12002?casa_token=RwMhhwmgjwwAAAAA%3AGCWVA9vjFX68S2DdKbCFl4jwTAjMeqVDoT3GtXTSjA7SMEc3ksktOMCUSz9ArikD4XhBM5v08nGCvmVF0g">specific filling materials or crowns</a> that can protect your teeth from cracking or breaking.</p> <h2>2. Share the load</h2> <p>If you are missing molars or premolars, distribute chewing forces evenly to prevent overloading your remaining teeth.</p> <p>Replace missing teeth with <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S010956411100858X?casa_token=4vrj3ssj0PEAAAAA:UODaFxNDCKmQ_lQs1faL6lh0xIeIfSFrRQBq-s0KF1ZvUJd6ytbXX37TVaiHLRzJPJaSDF_2aVmL">bridges</a>, <a href="https://aap.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1902/jop.2008.080188?casa_token=uA0r7imcRbUAAAAA%3AeXGszI5-Dcu4oKi33FCrRRviiAj0uyoP7V5wApIRQD1-1Zu-rkLAcoLhKMAJYVnC9tEnxj33UdNJIndEBA">implants</a> or well-fitted <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/13/6776">dentures</a> to support your bite. Get your dentures <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022391320301554">checked regularly</a> to ensure they fit and support adequately, and replace them at least every ten years.</p> <h2>3. Preserve your enamel</h2> <p>Reduce <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpe.12330?casa_token=W2Ib34A77-QAAAAA%3AnLZtwwqZuueyHf1CMX0K9MERSW_Pvc3w0KlpArFT1KNusuopjEUcWmGd8pDUA7fQcj6DMkcS-JnXISFV1w">further enamel and dentine loss</a> by selecting soft-bristled <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00016350802195041?casa_token=E-ErdP543QUAAAAA%3A0Wz5AWwQxntBIc3UndFX_5nVbAYoPDx-PX1tg7Umxjr_QepX3CSIFVXYcrrxWV9iTx99Afk8c_zff-o">tooth brushes and non-abrasive toothpastes</a>.</p> <p>Certain whitening toothpastes can be abrasive, which can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8874033/">roughen and wear</a> the tooth surfaces. If you are unsure, stick with toothpastes that are labelled “sensitive”.</p> <p>Reduce your exposure to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj.2012.722">acid</a> in food (think lemons or apple cider vinegar) or illness (reflux or vomiting) where possible to maintain enamel and prevent erosion.</p> <h2>4. Enhance your saliva</h2> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jtxs.12356?casa_token=1moXbwnrDQIAAAAA%3AHz3Im9lmR3h75TmG8FSUQH-8_0UGnQ9TNkgaPL79LlrCmwC3kzZZJaAB2mSZHf4X7PX5y3GKaVoY5cm5JA">Saliva</a> protects against acid attacks, flushes our teeth, and has antibacterial properties to reduce erosion and decay (holes forming).</p> <p>Saliva is also important to help us chew, swallow and speak.</p> <p>But our saliva quality and quantity reduces because of age-related changes to our salivary glands as well as certain medications prescribed to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19392837/">manage chronic illnesses</a> such as depression and high blood pressure.</p> <p>Speak to your doctor about other medication options to improve your saliva or manage reflux disease to prevent erosion.</p> <h2>5. Treat gum disease</h2> <p>Aesthetically, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37358230/">treating gum disease (periodontitis)</a> reduces gum shrinkage (recession) that typically exposes the relatively darker tooth roots that are more <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00220345231166294">prone to developing holes</a>.</p> <h2>6. Manage and prevent senescence</h2> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36908187/">Cellular senescence</a> is the process that changes DNA in our cells to reduce our ability to withstand physical, chemical or biological damage.</p> <p>Cellular senescence enhances new cancer formation, the spread of existing cancers and the onset of chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.</p> <p>You can prevent cell damage by managing lifestyle factors such as smoking, uncontrolled diabetes and chronic infections such as gum disease.</p> <h2>7. Adapt and ask for help</h2> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jan.15769?casa_token=SC-LouFQThsAAAAA%3A4jcvLRuJ56dGEm7ttvMad65hvUoZ7V5nvILg5sLFVZo8jxyQGR6YFeTcfM8sByTbdVrCWR1O5ytI3Z_crA">Ageing</a> can affect our cognition, hand dexterity and eyesight to prevent us from cleaning our teeth and gums as effectively as we once could.</p> <p>If this describes you, talk to your dental care team. They can help clean your teeth, and <a href="https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/full/10.12968/bjon.2020.29.9.520?casa_token=_rol0NXx9c8AAAAA%3Aq8zgxiMSASwF1MRQZnZzfzmttn2x7FfGwsiIv71C_s_PTTmGD9JOIbqqtLNXa0oF9ogOjOCZwwpwB94">recommend products and tools</a> to fit your situation and abilities.<!-- 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/215786/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/arosha-weerakoon-792707"><em>Arosha Weerakoon</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer, School of Dentistry, The University of Queensland and General Dentist., <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</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/what-happens-to-teeth-as-you-age-and-how-can-you-extend-the-life-of-your-smile-215786">original article</a>.</em></p>

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What does El Niño do to the weather in your state?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kimberley-reid-767059">Kimberley Reid</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>You’ve probably heard El Niño brings hot and dry weather to the eastern states, but what about the rest of Australia? Are we all in for a scorcher this summer?</p> <p>El Niño is what scientists call a <a href="https://www.climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au/en/overview/climate-system/australian-climate-influences/">climate driver</a>. But it’s just one of many.</p> <p>These climate drivers control year-to-year variations in the weather. Some years are hotter and drier, while others are cooler and wetter.</p> <p>Australia is particularly prone to weather whiplash because our continent is buffeted by climate drivers to our north, south, east and west. The dominant driver in your state may be one of the lesser-known influences.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iVhi1wq2sTY?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Understanding Climate Drivers (Bureau of Meteorology)</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>East: El Niño Southern Oscillation</h2> <p>The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the resident climate driver in the Pacific Ocean and the driver with the biggest influence over Australian weather. Differences in sea surface temperatures and winds across the Pacific determine whether we swing towards El Niño (the boy) or La Niña (the girl).</p> <p><a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=enso">During the El Niño phase</a>, sea surface temperatures near South America are warmer than normal and they are cooler than normal off the coast of eastern Australia. Additionally, trade winds that blow from east to west across the Pacific weaken.</p> <p>El Niño brings hotter daytime temperatures, but often <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/#tabs=Pacific-Ocean&amp;pacific=History">cooler nights</a>. That’s because reduced cloud cover allows more heat to escape into space overnight. So the same process that increases the chances of heatwaves can also raise the <a href="https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/climate-weather/historical-frost-and-heat-maps-south-west-land-division">risk of frost</a> in Western Australia, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.</p> <p>Australia as a whole is typically drier during an El Niño event. In the tropical regions, El Niño can delay the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a008-el-nino-and-australia.shtml">onset of the monsoon and reduce the likelihood of tropical cyclones</a>. In the southern states, the hot and dry conditions increase the chance of intense bushfires.</p> <p>La Niña is the opposite phase. Waters off eastern Australia are warmer than usual, increasing the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/#tabs=Pacific-Ocean&amp;pacific=History&amp;enso-impacts=La-Ni%C3%B1a-impacts">chance of tropical cyclones</a> and an earlier start to the monsoon for WA, the Northern Territory and Queensland.</p> <p>So what does El Niño do to the weather in your state? Hover over your state in the interactive map to find out.</p> <p><iframe id="tc-infographic-1008" class="tc-infographic" style="border: none;" src="https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/1008/7f37ae91389db072906b320ffd54d0fefd840c0d/site/index.html" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>West: Indian Ocean Dipole</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=iod">Indian Ocean Dipole</a> is like ENSO’s Indian Ocean cousin. A positive Indian Ocean Dipole is declared when ocean temperatures near Africa are warmer than normal and ocean temperatures off the coast of Sumatra are cooler than usual.</p> <p>A positive dipole tends to bring warmer and drier conditions, particularly to western and central Australia. A negative Indian Ocean Dipole is the reverse and is associated with wetter than normal weather and an increase in <a href="https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/why-more-clouds-can-mean-less-rain-in-australia">northwest cloudbands</a>.</p> <h2>North: Madden-Julian Oscillation</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=mjo">Madden-Julian Oscillation</a> is a pulse of storms that start in the Indian Ocean, travel over Northern Australia and Indonesia and die in the Pacific Ocean. Ahead of the pulse, the air sinks, causing sunny and dry weather. Under the pulse is high storm activity and typically heavy rainfall.</p> <p>We describe the Madden-Julian Oscillation based on whether the pulse of storms is <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/mjo/">active or inactive</a> and where the storm activity is located on its path between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. As well as causing rainfall, the Madden-Julian Oscillation can control the timing of the monsoon onset and <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=tc">tropical cyclone formation</a>.</p> <h2>South: Southern Annular Mode</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=sam">Southern Annular Mode</a> controls the north and south position of the westerly winds that whizz around the globe in the Southern Ocean. When the winds are further north than usual, we call this the negative phase. But when the westerly wind move towards Antarctica, we call this the positive phase.</p> <p>The phase of the Southern Annular Mode <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/joc.1370">affects how many weather systems</a>, like cold fronts, make landfall over southern Australia. A positive mode may also draw tropical moist air south, which happened in 2022 during the extensive flooding over eastern Australia.</p> <h2>Climate drivers control the odds, but not the result</h2> <p>These four key climate drivers affect the weather on average (over months and seasons), but they do not dictate the exact day-to-day weather we experience. As the Gippsland region of Victoria <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/05/victoria-floods-flooding-warnings-gippsland-region-flood-and-fires-evacuation">saw in October</a>, heavy rainfall can still occur during an El Niño.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=407&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=407&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=407&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=512&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=512&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/561494/original/file-20231124-16-ip8fja.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=512&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Map of Australia showing the difference from normal rainfall during October 2023, with a large wet patch around Gippsland, Victoria." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Difference from normal rainfall during October 2023, showing defined wet area around Gippsland, Victoria surrounded by drier conditions.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">The Bureau of Meteorology</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Climate drivers are like a football coach. They can select the best players and develop ingenious strategies, but that doesn’t guarantee a win every time.</p> <p>Players can get injured on the field or simply have a bad game. These uncontrollable factors are challenging to predict and may change the result from what we would expect. Scientists call this stochasticity. The climate drivers are the football coach, but the day-to-day weather systems are the players.</p> <p>The Bureau of Meteorology <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/">releases an update</a> on all of these drivers every two weeks. The update explains which drivers are currently active and the forecast for the next few weeks.</p> <p>So, if you are wondering why the weather is cooler during summer, or it’s raining in the middle of the dry season, perhaps take a look at which driver is steering Australia’s weather at the moment.<!-- 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/218257/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/kimberley-reid-767059">Kimberley Reid</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Atmospheric Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</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/what-does-el-nino-do-to-the-weather-in-your-state-218257">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How household gas leaks affect your home in Adelaide

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If you're an Adelaide local, you'll know the city is as notorious for its hot summers as it is for its icy winters. One common necessity across all seasons is the reliance on gas. Be it for the central heating in winter or that gas oven whipping up a delightful roast, we can't really do without it. However, any discussion about gas and electricity supply here would be incomplete without addressing household gas leaks in Adelaide.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The Silent Stalker: Gas Leaks</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Often undetected and woefully underestimated, gas leaks can become a real concern if not addressed promptly. The main culprit in residential settings usually boils down to faulty gas appliances. An incorrectly installed gas appliance or ageing unit can develop leaks over time, silently emitting gas into your living space.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Signs of a Gas Leak</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">So, what are the </span><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="https://cyberairconditioning.com.au/blog/what-do-gas-leaks-smell-like/"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #1155cc; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">indicators of a gas leak</span></a><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">? In the absence of an instinctive warning, we might unknowingly be dealing with a perilous scenario right at our fingertips. Luckily, nature offers us a clear heads-up: our sense of smell. Indeed, that rotten-egg-like aroma you sniff is likely due to the addition of a chemical called Mercaptan to your natural gas supply, which serves as a leak alert. Thus, if your nose detects something unpleasant in the air, it's a credible signal that a gas leak is present.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/12/GasLeaks02.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Apart from the smell, other signs include a higher-than-usual gas bill, dead patches on your lawn, or the persistent sound of a hissing near gas lines.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">So what do you do if you suspect a gas leak? Well, common sense and caution are your top mates here.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">When a Gas Leak Occurs</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Start by making sure you're not creating an ignition source. This means avoiding lighting matches or using a cigarette lighter inside your home. Similarly, don't operate electrical equipment close to the suspected leak area.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Ensuring good air circulation is paramount in such situations, so swing open your doors and windows to facilitate the diffusion of the gas. If the odour is overpowering, promptly guide your loved ones and pets to a secure location outdoors.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/12/GasLeaks03.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Once you're in a safe position, immediately dial emergency services. And remember, attending to a gas leak isn't a task you just anyone can do.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">What Happens If a Gas Leak Goes Unnoticed</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">A frequently unobserved gas leak can pose significant dangers in your home. While it's crucial to heed the signs, smell gas, and call in professional help, it's also vital to understand what can happen if a gas leak goes unnoticed. As Adelaide homeowners, it's our responsibility to remain well-informed on the consequences of an ignored gas leak and be prepared to take swift action.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Health Hazards</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The primary danger of an unnoticed gas leak is its potential health impacts. Being exposed to leaking gas—from devices like stoves, heaters, or your gas water heater—can induce an array of symptoms, including <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/body/6-ways-to-combat-headaches-without-painkillers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">headaches</a>, dizziness, nausea, and weariness. These minor symptoms could potentially worsen to more critical health conditions, such as breathing difficulties, memory impairment, and in severe situations, unconsciousness.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Furthermore, carbon monoxide, an invisible and odourless hazardous gas that occurs from malfunctioning gas or electrical appliances, can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. This condition can display symptoms resembling flu but can escalate to chronic neurological impairment or even prove fatal in the long run.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Fire or Explosion Risk</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">A more immediate danger of an unnoticed gas leak is the potential for a fire or explosion. When the concentration of leaked gas in the air reaches a threshold level, even the smallest spark or open flame can ignite it. This might result from someone lighting a match or a cigarette lighter or inadvertently switching on an electrical device near the gas leak source.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Consequently, the ignited gas can cause a destructive fire or explosion, leading to significant property damage, serious injuries, or fatalities.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Environmental Impact</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Say, for example, your outdoor gas metre is damaged or the gas pipes buried in your garden develop leaks. The escaped gas can cause harm to your plants and lawn, creating dead patches of grass, discoloured vegetation, or stunted growth. Furthermore, prolonged leaking of natural gas can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, aggravating the issues of air pollution and climate change.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Call in the Experts: Licensed Gas Fitter</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">When it comes to gas leaks, it's critical not to mess with things you're not licensed to handle. In Adelaide, turn to a licensed gas fitter for gas leak repairs. Your gas fitter is trained in gas leak detection and repair gas leaks to ensure the safety of your home.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/12/GasLeaks04.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Further, regular inspections and proper installation of gas appliances can prevent gas leaks in the first place. If you've been regularly revamping your home with advanced gas installations and didn't already know this, well, you've been living under a rock, mate.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Proactive steps in your gas supply system, like the installation of carbon monoxide detectors and reviewing your gas metre's location, can help identify potential leaks and prevent dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning, exhibiting your perfect gumption.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Wrapping Up</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">As part of the Adelaide community, it's essential to be aware of the potential hazards that household gas leaks can introduce into our homes. A gas leak can spell disaster, from health risks to damage to our property. Being alert for the signs and knowing when to call in the professionals is our best defence against these leaks.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Secure your home from gas leaks with trusted </span><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="https://cyberairconditioning.com.au/locations/sa/air-conditioning-adelaide/"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #1155cc; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Air Conditioning Services in Adelaide</span></a><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">. Remember, it's always better to have a professional tend to leaks or complications with your plumbing gas system, rather than trying to be a hero and tackling it yourself. Prevent gas leaks, save lives, Adelaide!</span></p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-3fcd498c-7fff-1283-e93c-4b331fcbd12d">Images: Supplied.<br /></span></em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Cyber Air Conditioning.</em></p>

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Readers respond: What is your go-to movie when you need a good cry?

<p>There's an abundance of movies out there, but not many that can bring you to tears. </p> <p>While <em>The Notebook </em>and <em>Beaches </em>are clearly the fan favourites for our readers, here are a few other recommendations that you can watch this holiday season. </p> <p>Get those tissues ready! </p> <p><strong>Carol Wardley </strong>- Its a wonderful life</p> <p>Watch the trailer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLR3gZrU2Xo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>, and stream the movie on Stan.</p> <p><strong>Denyse Galle</strong> - Me Before You and A Walk to Remember </p> <p>Watch the trailer for <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh993__rOxA" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Me Before you</a> and stream it on YouTube, Apple TV or Amazon Prime Video.</p> <p>Watch the trailer for <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3B2XBcp7vA" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Walk to Remember</a> and stream it  on Apple TV or Amazon Prime Video</p> <p><strong>Kerrie Anne</strong> - The Remains of the Day</p> <p>Watch the trailer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jALmEb72beg" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a> and stream it on <em>Netflix</em>.</p> <p><strong>Ken Smyth </strong>- Dancer in the Dark. That ending...</p> <p>Watch the trailer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53vr9EiOH7g" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a> and stream it on <em>Apple TV</em>.</p> <p><strong>Michael Kopp</strong> - Bambi</p> <p>Watch the trailer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDGv4GIR7A4" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a> and stream it on <em>Disney+.</em></p> <p><strong>Anne Connolly Finnegan</strong> - The Bridges of Madison county </p> <p>Watch the trailer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up-oN4NtvbM" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a> and stream it on YouTube.</p> <p><strong>Leone Mitchell </strong>- Love Story with Ryan O’Neal and Allie MacGraw beautiful</p> <p>Watch the trailer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYhS8q66L38" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a> and stream it on Foxtel Go,  Binge or YouTube</p> <p><strong>Julie B</strong> - The Colour Purple</p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Watch the trailer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFMCW5-jdqM" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a> and stream it on Netflix. </span></p> <p>Are there any other movies that make you cry? Let us know. </p> <p><em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Image: Getty </span></em></p> <p> </p>

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