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Hypertension--thumb-size

What is Hypertension?

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High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

High blood pressure generally develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Hypertension is generally a silent condition. Many people won’t experience any symptoms. It may take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may be attributed to other issues.

Symptoms of severe hypertension can include:

  • headaches
  • shortness of breath
  • nosebleeds
  • flushing
  • dizziness
  • chest pain
  • visual changes
  • blood in the urine

These symptoms require immediate medical attention. They don’t occur in everyone with hypertension, but waiting for a symptom of this condition to appear could be fatal.

The best way to know if you have hypertension is to get regular blood pressure readings. Most doctors’ offices take a blood pressure reading at every appointment.

Causes of high blood pressure

There are two types of high blood pressure.

Primary (essential) hypertension

For most adults, there’s no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure, called primary (essential) hypertension, tends to develop gradually over many years.

Secondary hypertension

Some people have high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension, including:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Kidney problems
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Thyroid problems
  • Certain defects you’re born with (congenital) in blood vessels
  • Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines

When to see a doctor

You’ll likely have your blood pressure taken as part of a routine doctor’s appointment.

Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re 18 to 39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year.

Blood pressure generally should be checked in both arms to determine if there’s a difference. It’s important to use an appropriate-sized arm cuff.

Your doctor will likely recommend more frequent readings if you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure or have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Children age 3 and older will usually have blood pressure measured as a part of their yearly checkups.

If you don’t regularly see your doctor, you may be able to get a free blood pressure screening at a health resource fair or other locations in your community. You can also find machines in some stores that will measure your blood pressure for free.

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How to make kids wear Mask

If you’ve ever tried to persuade a willful toddler to wear sunglasses or a hat on a sunny day, you know how tricky it can be to get kids to do something they don’t want to. Convincing a young child to wear a face mask may feel like a similar struggle.

Keep in mind that the CDC recommends that children under age 2 not wear a face mask because of the danger of suffocation.

Generally, everyone ages 2 or older have to wear a face mask when leaving the house, regardless of whether symptoms are present.

Tips to Encourage Your Child to Wear a Mask

Face masks seem scary for some kids, while others may simply not want to wear one. Here are tips to encourage children to wear them when needed.

Lead by example. If you have a toddler over age 2 or a preschooler, introduce the concept of wearing a face mask by putting one on at home with your child. A little practice for a few days can help kids feel comfortable wearing a mask before they actually need it.

Keep it positive. Answer your child’s questions about masks simply in a way your child can understand. You might say, for example, that wearing a mask when we go to the grocery store helps keep us healthy. Or, that by wearing a mask, you’re helping others stay healthy and being a good helper in the community. Your child just might feel proud to wear a mask.

Make it playful. Incorporate a face mask as part of your child’s playtime — put a face mask on a favorite stuffed animal or doll. Have your child play with the masked stuffed animal or doll for a day or two until the mask seems less noticeable. Have your child draw face masks on animals in coloring books, too.

Get creative. Decorate the mask with your child. Markers can turn your child’s disposable mask into art and make wearing it more fun.

Show others modeling mask-wearing. Do so by showing your child pictures of other kids and adults wearing masks. A quick Google or social media search can show your child lots of examples of others just like him. “See, everybody’s wearing one!”

Make it fun. Whether you’re making your own masks or buying them, try to choose a pattern that your child likes. Think kid-friendly superheroes, favorite characters, animals, cars and trucks or a favorite color, and then talk it up. “Look, it has dinosaurs on it!” Try finding one for yourself in a matching pattern or color to show your child you’re in this together.

Make it comfy. If your child complains that a mask is uncomfortable, try a different style, such as a mask with ties instead of elastic around the ears

How to Get the Right Fit  

Once your child is used to the idea of wearing a mask in public, talk with them about how to wear a cloth face mask correctly. Remind them that it should cover both your nose and mouth. Before helping your child put on a face mask, help them wash their hands. Help your child fit the mask over their mouth and nose and make sure it is snug against the sides of their face.

Encourage your child not to touch the face covering when it’s on his face and to wash his hands if he does. Then, ask your child if he can breathe easily. If everything’s all good, give your child an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Once your outing is over and you’re home again, be sure to praise your child for doing such a good job wearing his or her mask. Positive reinforcement can empower kids to keep up the good work.

Remind your child to keep at least six feet from anyone who isn’t part of your household. And provide lots of praise and positive reinforcement as they adjust to this new aspect of everyday life.

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