Fun in the Sun

It’s finally getting warm out! Time for tank tops, shorts, sundresses, and flip flops. Also time for sun block. According to skincancer.org, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Especially for young adults and those who use tanning beds. Regardless, here is information on the effects of tanning and some ways to keep your skin safe this summer.

More research is coming out to prove that indoor tanning is extremely harmful and much worse than tanning outside. “Just one indoor tanning session increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another two percent” (skincancer.org). This is an enormous increase and something many people don’t take into account.

Blisters caused by sunburn.

Blisters caused by sunburn.

The threat of cancers may not be enough to keep some people from tanning, but its affect on the aesthetics just might. WebMD states that UV exposure (whether through tanning beds or outside) is known to cause fine lines and wrinkles. It can also increase freckles and cause dilation of small blood vessels. Using tanning oils, whether outside or in, will also amplify these effects.

Enjoying time outside is important, so here are some tips to keep yourself safe from skin damage caused by the sun:

1. Wear sunblock! Apply about 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply on average every 2 hours you are outside. Use SPF 15 or higher.
2. Wear a broad-rimmed hat, long sleeves, clothes that cover your skin.
3. Avoid being outside during the peak sun hours (around 11-2pm).
4. Examine your skin for new and irregularly shaped moles.
5. See your physician for a professional skin exam.

With these tips and being aware, you can keep your skin safe! Have a warm and happy summer.

Everybody Poops!

Number 2. Dropping the kids off at the pool. Drop a Bomb. Doo-doo. Dookie. Poop. Whatever you call it pooping is not something we discuss with others very often. Not with our friends, family, not even our doctors. Many of us don’t even like to admit we poop (I’m talking to you, ladies). We have all heard the very common saying “girls don’t poop”, and after discussing pooping with my own mother and sister, I learned that we try to live up to this tall-tale. Moving to college I was nervous about so many things; would I like my roommates? Would they like me? What if I got lost going to class? Where am I going to sit? How am I going to adjust not living at home? So many thoughts bombarded my mind causing me to be frantic and overly stressed. But these thoughts could not compare to the morning after I moved into my dorm, after a long night of binging on junk food and the all-you-can-eat desserts, French fries, pizza and other glorious foods that were available at the cafeteria. I woke up in the morning and was watching a movie with my new roommates when my stomach started to cramp up and grumble. Oh how I tried to turn up the volume of the television to tune out the grumbles of my stomach and how I squeezed together my butt cheeks to keep in the flatulence that I knew would ruin the potential friendship with my new roommates. I became petrified as I realized what my body was telling me: I had to poop. Pooping at home was easy, but my home now was also home to 30 other girls. After about twenty minutes of my painful attempt to squeeze it all in I couldn’t handle it anymore; I put on my slippers and made my way down the hall to the community bathroom. With squeezed cheeks I opened the door to the bathroom and blew a sigh of relief when I saw nobody in there. I scurried quickly into the corner stall just to make it in time to let ‘er rip. But, of course, as soon as I took a seat on the throne, I heard the door swing open and the bathroom fill with the voice of my new hall mates. So what does any person do? I played around with the tampon disposal box, slamming the tin lid as I would much rather have everyone know I was on the rag than taking a deuce, I rolled and unrolled the toilet paper, I even began coughing, anything to cover up the sound and the smell that was happening in the corner stall. But that sort of distraction can only last so long for it to be believable. I just sat there, waiting and hoping they would leave. This was a struggle for the two years I lived in the dorms. It is a struggle for many of my friends and even my mother and sister. Although I have learned to become comfortable with dropping bombs in any public restroom, there are many people who are still crippled with anxiety over pooping in public.

Although pooping can be utterly embarrassing, you have to remember that EVERYONE poops. Yes, that’s right, everyone does it and the consequences of pinching it off when nature calls can be quite alarming.  

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Avoiding going number two can lead to constipation. As food moves through the colon, the colon absorbs water from the food white it forms waste products, or stool. If stool sits in the rectum longer than it should, water will continue to be absorbed from the stool. This will cause constipation where stools are usually hard, dry, small in size, and difficult to eliminate. Some people who are constipated find it painful to have a bowel movement and often experience straining, bloating, and the sensation of a full bowel. Holding it in can also lead to painful side effects, including hemorrhoids and/or anal fissures (tears in the skin around the anus). These may occur when a person strains to have a bowel movement. Holding it in can lead to serious damage to your internal sphincter: The muscle in your rectum that relaxes to allow for quick and easy bowel movements. Ignoring the need to go causes the internal sphincter to stop relaxing entirely. Once this occurs, almost every bowel movement requires straining and pushing, which is unnatural and unhealthy. Allowing your body to act naturally is the best thing to keep your health in check. Also, your poop can give you a sneak peek into your health. Your poop can reveal signs of infections, digestive problems, as well as early signs of cancer.

Water makes up about 75% of bowel movements. The rest is an often stinky combination of fiber, dead and live bacteria, other cells and mucus. Soluble fibers found in foods like beans and nuts are broken down during digestion and form a gel-like substance that becomes part of your poop. Other foods that are packed with insoluble fiber, such as corn, oat bran, and carrots are more difficult for your body to digest, which explains why they may emerge in the toilet seemingly unchanged. This is ok and normal. Poop can be an array of colors depending on the foods you’ve ingested and other factors such as eating an abundance of green leafy veggies or red foods as well. The food you eat typically takes three days from the time you eat it until it finishes its journey in your toilet. If it takes a shorter time, the result may be greener stool because green is one of the first colors in the rainbow of the digestive process. Color can also be signs of trouble, that is, when it is a drastic change. If stool is black, it can mean that you are bleeding internally, possibly as a result of an ulcer or cancer. Stool that is black due to bleeding is also sticky or tarry and smells bad. However, black stools are also common when taking a vitamin that contains iron or medications that contain bismuth subsalicylate. Stool that is light in color, such as grey clay, can also mean trouble if it is a change from what you normally see. Although it doesn’t happen often, very light-colored stool can indicate a block in the flow of bile or liver disease.

Poo can also come in all different shapes and sizes. Part of getting that log-style shape, compared to poo that comes out more pebble-looking comes from eating fiber which lends bulk to stool and acts as glue to keep the stool stuck together as it exits your body. Fiber is very important to keep your body regular. 

Odor can be a sign of something more serious happening in your body. Particularly pungent stool is often a sigh of infection. It can be a side effect of one stomach bug as well as a sign of more serious digestive condition such as ulcerative colitis, Chron’s disease, or celiac disease. Now don’t start panicking, it is normal for your bowel movements to stink. Even if it means that your family may have to avoid that part of the house for a bit after you relieve yourself. Your intestines are swarming with trillions upon trillions of bacteria that enhance digestive and metabolic processes. They are also the reason why poop smells, a direct result of the bacterial activity in your GI tract. Smell is a good sign that your guy is abundant with bacteria that is working hard to keep you healthy. Only if the smell has a sudden change, or your bowel movements have a sudden change should you get things checked out.

Now there is no normal amount that a person should go number 2. As long as you are consistent for your own routine, the amount you go is whatever is normal for you. However, a big decrease in output could be due to a diet change, such as a decrease in fiber intake, or even working out less often. Both of these promote healthy digestion. Now when you do go, does your poop float or sink? Floating stools are often an indication of high fat content, which can be a sign of malabsorption; a sign of Celiacs or chronic pancreatitis.

Pooping is completely normal, something that we need to do to be a healthy individual. With pooping comes flatulence, or farting. Farting is the result of harmless bacteria breaking down food in the large intestine. Your colon is filled with bacteria that release gas as a byproduct of digesting the food you eat. It is normal to pass gas anywhere from 10 to 18 times a day.

Pooping in public can still be an anxiety causing thought, but in order to keep your body healthy and to look out for signs of disease or other problems, we need to poop. There are many products out there that can mask the smell, such as PooPourri, which can help with masking the smell of poop as well as other strategies that can cover up the sound such as putting toilet paper in the toilet as a buffer of padding or coughing loudly. Some will even bring in their phones to play music as they go. This last idea is a terrible idea, but I should waive some caution to that. Researchers have discovered that one in six cell phones may be contaminated with fecal matter that can spread E. Coli bacteria. Washing your hands and sanitizing your phone is very important since cell phones tend to come with us wherever we go, including places where we eat like counters, tables and desks playing a role in spreading illness.

Remember everybody poops, being comfortable with your own body is very important in keeping your body in tip-top health. So the next time you feel the urge, don’t fight it just go ahead and let it out.