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You may have hoodwinked your mind to believe that your back pain is the result of some small stress at work. Or that the computer is to blame for the eye problems you’ve experienced recently. Or that the infection on your scalp is just a natural process of dead skin sloughing. The truth, however, may drop your jaw – to the floor.
In the fast paced life of the modern woman, characterised by long work hours, tedious gym sessions, planned friendships, weekend parties, lifestyle seminars, professional conferences and (maybe) motherhood, it is not easy to notice minute – but often costly – flaws in what women do as days swing by. It may be the food you eat, the products you use, the car you drive, the shoes you wear, the make-up you apply, and so forth.
Don’t be shocked if all which, hitherto, seemed trendy and stylish turns to be your bane; the constant bug wriggling under the thin line that defines wellness and lack of health. So, pick up your jaw, read through; you may just change for the better.
1. Hair extensions
Not long ago someone went online to brag about hair extensions worth half a million. It is the latest craze – among a plethora of modern-day beauty shenanigans. The procedure that adds fullness and length to a head of hair is now mainstream. The trouble, however, is when the mesh work of hair extensions start causing headaches and severe scalp pain. Through American station ABC, Santiler-Nowik, the president of the Professional Beauty Association’s, recently warned that women with hair extensions have to visit the salon regularly to have the extensions removed and replaced, as well as take a break. This, she said is because tight extensions cause pressure on the head leading to disturbing pains. But the problem with extensions go beyond headaches. Dr Orly Avitzur, a US based specialist, has published materials showing that extensions also cause permanent hair damage, and even a kind of baldness called traction alopecia, caused by the pulling and weight of the extensions.
2. Fast-food snacks
“Crunch! Crunch!” the crisps get crushed. It is then swiftly washed down with a gulp of sugar-laden fizzy drink. While it is not entirely exclusive to women, there is no denying that ladies love snacking. The tastier the better. Sausages, burgers, cakes, cookies and other confectionaries are the main culprits. According to AAR consultant nutritionist, Kepha Nyanumba, a lot of fast foods either have too much of salt or sugar. “Both are dangerous in high proportions. They cause obesity, diabetes, hormonal imbalances and metabolic disorders,” says Kepha. “A lot of fast foods also lower the ratio of roughages and vegetables, which are good for bowel movements and the health of the alimentary canal.” The best nutrition ratio, according to Kepha, is “half the plate vegetables, quarter starch, and the remaining quarter, proteins, fruits, and fats.”
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The use of emergency pill has increased several folds since its introduction into the Kenyan market. According to Dr John Ong’ech of Kenyatta National Hospitral (KNH) Department of obstetrics and gynaecology, the frequent use of E-pills amounts to abusing the pill. “E-pills are meant for emergencies only. However, emergencies can’t occur on consecutive days or even weeks. Ignorance and a laissez faire attitude towards sex contribute to abuse of E-pills. With time, they will cease to work and may damage – at times completely – the reproductive system,” he explains. “Furthermore, E-pills makes sex seem ‘not dangerous’ at all. It eliminates the need to worry about unprotected sex. Getting infected with an STI is, therefore, a real threat.”
4. High heels
Your average quintessential lady today wears high heels like her life depends on them. They actually do, according to Dr Richard Muraga, a resident doctor at KNH. In a previous interview with us, Muraga pointed out that even though stylish and trendy, high heels have no benefit to the physical health of a woman’s body. Over time, he says, wearing high heels can tamper with the muscles in the calves causing painful muscular spasms. Apparently, Achilles tendon shorten on heels. Stretching it again when switching to flats can be a painful experience. “Muscles on the legs are flexible. With repetitive wear, you can develop unhealthy patterns that can persist long after ditching high heels,” he says. In layman terms, high heels interfere with the natural gait – bone and muscular arrangement – which in the long run, causes posture troubles.
5. Eye contacts
They come in varied colours. Many times, women wear them for the beauty of the eye; a greenish or bluish iris for some reason looks more appealing than the dark melanin that colours African eyes. Findings of a study presented last year at a seminar by the Society for General Microbiology in Liverpool, England, indicate that bacteria, which cause serious eye infections are able to survive longer in contact lens cleaning solution than previously known. Over a period of time, these bacteria eat the surface of the eye, causing inflammation and ulceration of the cornea, which, if not attended to by an eye specialist, may easily cause loss of vision, the University of Liverpool researchers found. Eye contacts should only be used under prescription by specialists, followed by frequent check-ups to ascertain the need for replacements.
6. Skin whitening creams
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The notion that the fairer the skin the more beautiful one is, has driven some to the boutique to find instant solutions to their dark complexions. Have you seen pictures of ladies (mostly public figures) with lighter extremities but dark skin underneath the clothes? Most creams sold in the market are a cocktail of chemicals, which are dangerous on application; the long term use of which leads to permanent pigmentation, skin cancer, liver damage, mercury poisoning and others, as documented in research and dermatology papers. The stigma shrouded in skin lightening may not be causing sleepless nights; the damage they cause, however, may be irreparable.
7. Tight clothing
What could possibly go wrong when you put on skinny jeans? Or tight pants? Or tight skirts?
According to Dr Nicholas Morrissey, a vascular surgeon with New York-Presbyterian Hospital, beyond the extra appeal it reflects on the eyes of on-lookers, there will be meralgia paresthetica to contend with. This is when the wearer experiences a numbness going down one’s thigh. Speaking to American press, Morrissey explained that there is a sensory nerve from the pelvis that provides sensation to parts of the thigh. Skinny jeans cause constriction of the nerves. After a period of sitting, one stands up and feels like their foot is extremely heavy. Years of tight clothes may eventually cause permanent damage to the nerves, says Morrissey. Tight clothes may also be responsible for characteristic abdominal discomfort, heartburn and belching.
8. Plastic water bottle
It is only until recent times that studies on leaching properties on compounds used to make plastics have pointed to potential problems plastic water bottles may be causing to a long-term user. Polycarbonate, a compound used in manufacturing of many plastics, contains bisphenol A (BPA). As the plastic breaks down over time, BPA (which has been linked to cancer) is released into the water held in polycarbonate bottles, particularly when the bottle is heated or repeatedly washed.
Whether it is current fashion or keeping up with the eight glasses a day doctors have often prescribed, prolonged use of water bottles – which some ladies fancy carrying along everywhere they go – may be hazardous in the long run. It is not yet clear the extent of damage these bottles can cause but the World Health Organisation (WHO) has previously expressed concern as published research has gotten more and more explicit.
9. Nether hygiene
Have you ever known there is life under your knickers? Probably. It is common practice that ladies love scrubbing off germs around the nether regions. The obvious reason being, wanting to keep clean as well as keeping off foul smell. From today onwards, whatever you do, don’t use soap to clean private/intimate parts. According to Terry Mungai, cosmetologist and Chief Executive Officer of Ashley’s Beauty, use of soap interferes with natural flora within a woman’s private anatomy. “There are special cleansers used to clean the area. But even without the cleanser, washing with pure water only will do a good job. No chemical – soap or otherwise – should come close to the vagina,” she says.
10. Being jealous of others
Have you heard a woman describe a peer she deems ‘threatening’? The words she lets slip off her tongue are like wild fire meant to consume everything on its path. This, according to studies, is not healthy behaviour. The fortieth volume of Developmental Psychology concludes that jealousy induces aggression, which in turns pushes one to make irrational decisions that don’t uplift but rather destroys character. An angry person, according to psychologist Catherine Mbau, hurts themselves and not the target of their jealousy.
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