| 5 ways to potect your hearing this New Year’s Eve

Hearing loss is no longer a trait of old age. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 12 and 35 years of age are at risk of hearing loss.

The WHO says this is due to exposure to loud noise in recreational environments.

New Year’s Eve gatherings are often hubs of loud noise – here are five ways to protect your hearing during the celebrations.

1. Wear earplugs

According to Dangerous Decibels, a music concert can generate more than 110 decibels (dB) which is almost twice the amount generated during a conversation.

Exposure to loud music can damage your hearing within two minutes. If you find yourself at a music concert this New Year’s Eve, use earplugs to protect your hearing and prevent ringing ears long after the concert has ended.

2. Take short breaks

The countdown to New Year’s Day only lasts about an hour but the loud conversations may leave your ears feeling irritated.

While normal conversations take place at around 60dB, group conversations can be louder at 70dB.

At parties, group conversations can generate more than 85dB of noise, which is the daily recommended safe level. Should conversations become louder, you may be exposing your ears to harmful noise levels. 

Save your hearing by moving to a quieter spot to give your ears a much-needed break.

3. Keep your ears dry


Planning on having an afternoon swim before hitting the town in the evening?

Invest in some swimmer’s earplugs to prevent swimmer’s ear (otitis externa), which can cause temporary hearing loss. Swimmer’s ear occurs when bacteria found in lakes and oceans enters the ear canal leading to pain.

Swimming earplugs and thorough drying of the ear can prevent this painful ear infection.

4. Lower the music

Playing some party jams on the way to a New Year’s Eve braai may be a great way to get you into the festive mood. But make sure you protect your ears and avoid listening to music at more than 60% of the volume.

Similar to being at a concert, loud music in your car or earphones can cause permanent hearing loss.

5. Avoid fireworks

fireworks, hearing

While fireworks may be one of the best parts of New Year’s Eve celebrations, they can damage your ears.

Fireworks generate between 150dB to 175dB of noise – an airplane produces as much noise as 150dB on take off. Don’t want to miss the show? Then find spot that is at least 15 to 20 metres from the fireworks.

If you prefer to be up close, pop some earplugs in to protect your hearing. 

Image credits: iStock | How many road deaths will we see this year?

The Department of Health in Limpopo says it is ready for the expected high volumes of accidents that are anticipated during the festive season, and ambulances and rescue teams are ready to be dispatched to busy roads across the province.

Increase in fatalities

In December 2016, 1 714 lives were lost in road accidents across the country, an increase of 5% from the previous December.

Limpopo was one of the provinces that recorded high road fatalities together with the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Gauteng alone recorded 61% of the death toll.

Limpopo Department of Health spokesperson Thabiso Teffo said the Limpopo Health Emergency and Rescue services would work closely with the Department of Roads and Transport to render services on all major routes in the province over the coming festive season.

Stand-by rescue units

“A total of 33 ambulances and 10 rescue units will be placed strategically next to major routes, to support Roads and Transport. These ambulances will be staffed by highly skilled advance life support paramedics, intermediate life support staff and personnel trained specifically in rescue operations, where they might be a need to assist trapped patients. This stand-by situation will run until 12 January 2018,” said Teffo.

He said ambulances placed at standby points would receive backup from the EMS stations, with a further 192 ambulances ready to be deployed to any major incident.

The department also has a fully equipped disaster bus that can be deployed to a major incident and a daylight aero-medical (chopper) service will be available to transport critically injured patients to an appropriate health facility. – Health-e News

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Getting a vasectomy may give your sex life a huge boost

Vasectomies may take away your ability to have children, but they also give something back: more sex, according to new research.

A study on 294 couples by researchers at Germany’s Frankfurt University found that men who had vasectomies reported having more sex, a better sex drive and stronger erections and orgasms.

Their female partners also reported an increase in sexual arousal. The researchers concluded that the boost in overall bedroom antics could be attributed to the “absence of anxiety of unwanted pregnancies”.

Read more: This guy had a vasectomy and then got his wife pregnant twice

Four out of 10 men surveyed said their sex lives had “significantly improved” after a vasectomy and 12.4% reported having sex more often, according to the Daily Mail.

Four-and-a-half percent of guys reported having less sex since the snip – but still, the report concluded that “the sexual satisfaction of men improved” and that it “did not diminish” for their female partners.

Read more: The most surprising side effect of a vasectomy

The researchers did note that there may have been some selection bias in the results. Only 30% of couples who received the researchers’ survey responded, and the team thinks it may be possible that couples who were having great post-vasectomy sex would be more likely to want to tell the scientists about it.

Read more: How a vasectomy works

The Frankfurt study largely backs up data that separate researchers at Stanford found in a study of nearly 6 000 men in 2015. The Stanford study found that men with vasectomies had sex 5.9 times per month, compared to 4.9 times for intact guys.

The author of that study, Dr David Guo, told Men’s Health that he thought couples would be more likely to get busy now that the risk of an unplanned pregnancy is completely off the table.

For a 20-minute procedure (with a few days of soreness), that’s not too bad.

Your sex life is just one of the many things to consider before going under the knife. But if you do, it could provide an extra spark in the bedroom.

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | 6 things that happen to your body when you don’t have sex for a while

According to 2016 research, millennials are having less sex than any generation since the 1920s. This is a bad thing for a few reasons:

1. Sex is fun, and you should be having as much of it as you can; and

2. They’re all missing out on the many well-documented health benefits of having sex regularly.

Read more: Why sex could be your best prescription

Of course, that’s not always possible for various reasons – maybe your partner is out of town, or you’re just in between relationships.

But what actually happens to your body when you don’t have sex for a long time? Here are six of the most surprising side effects.

1. Your rhythm gets thrown off the next time you have sex

You know that old expression, “if you don’t use it, you lose it?” Science suggests that to a degree, that might be true. 

A 2008 study in the American Journal of Medicine concluded that men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s who weren’t sexually active were more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

This makes some sense: on an intellectual level, navigating all those arms and legs and erogenous zones can get pretty confusing, so imagine trying to navigate the core mechanics of intercourse after months and months of not having sex at all.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution: even if you don’t have a partner, the research suggests ejaculating regularly can help alleviate some of these effects.

Read more: 10 annoying things you do during sex

2. If you don’t masturbate, your risk of prostate cancer goes up

If your dry spell extends to the self-pleasure zone – that is, if you’re not masturbating at all – research says that’s unhealthy. In fact, multiple studies have pointed to the conclusion that “high ejaculation frequency” (a.k.a. jerking off at least 4.6 to seven times a week) is linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer.

So get out those baby wipes and turn on Pornhub for the sake of your own health.

Read more: 11 shocking facts you never knew about masturbation

3. Your blood pressure can spike

A great night of lovemaking can make literally everything else in the world feel better. Even if your boss won’t stop breathing down your neck or if you’re under a bunch of deadlines, you’re consistently getting laid, so all of that stuff seems super manageable.

Science says that’s not a coincidence. In fact, a 2006 study in the medical journal Biological Psychology found that people who were having regular sex had lower levels of blood pressure than those who weren’t.

Read more: 11 ways you can lower your blood pressure naturally  no meds required

4. You get more stressed out

Apparently, there’s a scientific reason for that. Neuroscientist Dr Debra W Soh said in an interview with Men’s Health that during orgasm “endorphins are released that can help to improve your mood. So, if you tend to use sex as a way of coping with stress, a dry spell can be doubly frustrating.”

5. Your immune system gets weaker

Orgasms are incredibly beneficial to your immune system, as psychologists Carl Charnetski and Francis Brennan Jr found.

They conducted a study where they asked patients who were having sex once or twice a week to provide saliva samples. Those samples were found to contain an extremely high concentration of the common-cold busting antibody immunoglobulin A.

Who knew that extremely close contact was a net-positive in terms of preventing illness?

Read more: 23 cheats to bulletproof your body

6. Your work performance might slip

Most dry spells have two parts: the part where you’re insanely horny and turned on by even a slightly curvaceous frying pain; and the part where you’re down in the dumps and can’t even be motivated to get off the couch.

Apparently, that can even spill over into your employment satisfaction. An Oregon State University study found that couples with an active sex life were much happier at work.

“Maintaining a healthy relationship that includes a healthy sex life will help employees stay happy and engaged in their work, which benefits the employees and the organisations they work for,” says Keith Leavitt, an associate professor at the college.

There you go, guys: feel free to blame missing that meeting on not getting laid. I’m sure your boss will understand.

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Why these HIV+ teens are keen to speak out

Future Leaders is a group of Kuruman youth living with HIV who have decided that they want to attend the 2018 Aids Conference in Durban.

The group was founded in 2014 by Get Ready Information Services, an NGO funded by the National Department of Health, to run programmes for people living with HIV in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district.

Challenging journey

The group is for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18, who usually meet at their local clinics to discuss issues affecting their lives and share their personal stories of how they live with HIV as kids and teens.

The group gathered at Marrick Farm in Kimberley recently to celebrate life and its challenges, presenting their journey through the year and sharing what they had learnt and what they hope to see in future.

Mpho, an 18-year-old girl in Grade 11, told how she felt that the poor attitudes displayed by local healthcare workers are so bad that they could lead to young people defaulting on their treatment.

Mpho (not real name) said she had an argument with one HIV counsellor who had given her the wrong date for the collection of her medication and then blamed her for not coming back on that date.

“Luckily I didn’t wait for my treatment to completely finish, but I decided to go back when I had tablets for three days left,” she said.


The Northern Cape Department of Social Development has agreed to apply for group members who will be 18 and older next year for scholarships to attend the Aids Conference.

The department also encouraged them to send their school reports to the department so that they can start applying for sponsors and bursaries.

“We all have a story to tell,” said Kabelo Komaetsile, an 18-year-old boy who was born with HIV.

“I think sharing our stories will help others growing up with HIV to understand the journey of being a child and living with HIV,” he said, explaining why he so badly wants to attend the conference. – Health-e News

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Go Jozi! Here’s how the City of Gold is staying healthy

In order to shed extra kilos and stay healthy, Joburgers have joined the City of Joburg in their numbers to participate in a new healthy lifestyle initiative called Go Jozi.

The initiative involves aerobics workouts held in regions around the city every two weeks.

Combating lifestyle diseases

The city said the aim is to encourage residents to lead an active lifestyle and prevent lifestyle-related diseases, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, stroke and diabetes.

Sessions have been held since May 2017, and Mandla Mahlangu from the City’s Sports and Recreation department said the turnout has generally been impressive.

“Another reason why we are doing this – besides a healthy lifestyle – is to correct social ills and promote nation building and social cohesion among community members.”

He said opportunities were made for participants to socialise after the workout.

“The sessions have grown phenomenally well. At each session we see about 30 community members coming to participate, irrespective of their gender, size and age,” he said.

One of the participants, Nthabiseng Ramatsokotla, who has since became the instructor, said the benefit has been immense.

“I’m now a role model to majority of young people in my community. This has turned me into a good example on and off the field. In a community that is ravaged by drugs and alcohol, we need things like this to show there is an alternative life,” she said. Health-e News

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | 7 steps to a healthier braai this summer

Summer is here and all of us are looking forward to our favourite summer braais. Whether we watch sport, series or just get together around the pool on the lazy weekend afternoons, the “braai” is one of the most popular ways we as South Africans spend our time together.

When it comes to what we are planning to eat, most of us stop at the shop to pick up the charcoal, meat, bread rolls and some chips to snack on.

But for people who prefer to eat healthily, this menu may raise some alarming thoughts:  

  • It has a high carbohydrate content and large amounts of saturated fats.
  • Should I bring my own food?
  • How will this meal impact on my effort to control my weight?

The best approach is to set a healthy example when you invite your friends over to your home. You may find that over time the quality of the braais in your circle of friends will improve.

To create a healthy and nutritious braai, here are some of the things you should pay attention to:

1. Plan ahead

Keep on track of your weight loss or health goals by keeping a calendar of your upcoming social events. Plan ahead by making sure there are healthy choices available or offer to bring your own dish to share.

woman writing list

2. Shop appropriately 

Shop for seasonal vegetables and lean protein sources. Replace sugary desserts with seasonal fresh fruit. 

woman shopping for groceries

3. Create some colour and crunch

Include salads and vegetables to your meal. This will help you eat smaller portions of starch and protein. It will also lower the energy, fat and carbohydrate value of the meal without you feeling hungry afterwards.

Salads and vegetables provide our bodies with valuable fibre and a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. These nutrients are important for supporting essential metabolic processes, such as liver detoxification and optimal blood sugar and cholesterol control.

making salad

4. Adding fibre

In addition to vegetables, choosing high fibre, unprocessed wholegrain, such as corn on the cob, heavy seed/health breads or lentil and barley salads, will increase the fibre and nutrient content of the meal significantly.

An adequate fibre intake is essential to ensuring good gastrointestinal health. This helps support our immune system and combats inflammation that can contribute to developing diabetes type 2 and heart disease.

vegetable and quinoa bowl

5. Choose lean proteins

Choose a meal with a leaner protein source to lower the total fat, saturated fat and energy content of the meal. Examples include lean beef fillets, ostrich, fish fillets wrapped in foil, vegetable patties or chicken (skin removed afterwards).

Selecting one type of meat (versus three types of meat) also helps reduce the saturated fat content of the meal significantly.

grilled fish in foil parcel

6. Be mindful of the extras 

Snacks and drinks can add a significant amount of carbohydrates, fat and kilojoules to your meal. Choose a lower fat and kilojoule snack, and don’t refill the snack bowls too often.

The amount we drink is often a function of the time we spend at the event. Choose a light beer and alternate alcoholic drinks with sugar-free, alcohol-free drinks. A Rock Shandy, for example, is a great thirst quencher on a hot summer’s day.

beer and nuts

7. Add some flavour

Limit sprinkling salt on the food after cooking and use a low-salt alternative, such as Himalayan salt, instead. Select a variety of condiments to serve with the meal: light salad dressings, olive oil, lemon juice, Atjar, chutney, tomato sauce, horseradish and light mayonnaise.

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Here’s what energy drinks actually do to your body

Energy drinks can give you a boost when Monday morning hits you hard. But that fizzy beverage isn’t doing much for your body beyond your temporary pep, according to a new review published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

Read more: The diet fizzy drink you thought was healthy could be giving you dementia

After reviewing the current studies surrounding the risks tied to energy drinks, researchers concluded that they might be associated with a wide-ranging slew of health problems.

You might already know that energy drinks can screw with your sleep, make you gain weight or even spike your blood pressure. But overarching evidence suggests they may lead to substance abuse, mental health problems, a higher diabetes risk, tooth decay and kidney damage, too.

“The wide range of conditions that energy drinks can negatively impact was quite astounding,” study author Josiemer Mattei, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health told Men’s Health.

The sweet stuff may be to blame, she says. Energy drinks typically contain high amounts of added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

In fact, an average 500ml can contains roughly 54g of sugar, the review found, which is well beyond the American Heart Association’s recommendation of no more than 36g per day for men.

Read more: This man lost 64 kg after cutting out these foods from his diet

When you down too much sugar, your body will eventually have a hard time responding to it, requiring more and more insulin to help glucose enter your cells. This insulin resistance can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases.

Plus, consistently high blood sugar levels can damage your nerves and blood vessels over time, which can set the stage for heart disease and kidney problems.

And it’s not entirely surprising that sweetened drinks can pile on the pounds. In one meta-analysis, researchers found that people who ate whatever they wanted typically weighed more when their diet contained more sugar and less when they didn’t consume as much.

Read more: 
Six things that happen when you stop eating sugar

Energy drinks also pack a perky punch, with some cans containing as much as 207mg of caffeine per 56g, according to the review. While the researchers note that a moderate intake of up to 400mg per day for adults is considered safe, the health implications can get a little dicey when you start to go overboard.

That’s one potential reason why the drinks are associated with anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts. One Korean study suggests that caffeine dependency may influence your irritable mood and screw with your sleep, which can be linked to stress and symptoms of depression.

Mattei believes this excess caffeine may also play a role in certain cardiovascular issues, like high blood pressure. However, other stimulants that contribute to the buzz – like gaurana, taurine and ginseng – may have an influence as well, according to a study from the American Heart Association.

Read more: 11 ways you can lower your blood pressure naturally – no meds required

That’s a bit up in the air, though, says Mattei, and further research needs to be done to understand exactly how those ingredients affect your body. The review itself is limited, since there are only a small number of studies surrounding energy drinks, most of them focusing on young, healthy adults at one point in time.

Mattei emphasises that the current evidence does support that the health risks outweigh any short-term perks you might experience from your energy drink.

Read more: This green shake will give you an energy boost – no caffeine needed

Your move, then, is to nix them from your diet altogether. As obvious as it sounds, reaching for water can help, she says. Staying hydrated naturally keeps your body running no funky ingredients or added sugar necessary.

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