HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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One symptom of COVID-19 is losing the ability to smell. This is called hyposmia. (Osme in Greek means odor.) Like many other bodily functions, the sense of smell gradually begins to decline after about age 40 years in most people. Total loss of smell is called anosmia. Misperception of smells is dysosmia, and the perception of phantom smells is called phantosmia. According to the National Institutes of Health, 12 percent of adults in the United States have lost some of their sense of smell.


Hyposmia can be a temporary condition that goes away without treatment, but in many cases, it is a symptom of some important medical conditions and may either be permanent or temporary. Loss of smell may occur as a result of problems in the brain, nose or nervous system. Other conditions that can lead to an impaired sense of smell include neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, dementia, allergies, a head injury or a nasal tumor. Polyps in the nose or sinuses or a deviated nasal septum can also trigger hyposmia. Some medications can also affect the sense of smell; smoking does, too. Obesity, type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure can also cause hyposmia.


The human olfactory system can detect between 10,000 and 100 billion different odors. While hyposmia can be distracting, it can also have

WHAT IS HYPOSMIA?

more serious implications. You may not notice warning signs such as the smell of gas or smoke that indicate a possibly dangerous situation. Indeed, a smell screening test is one way to diagnose hyposmia. An otolaryngologist may perform a nasal endoscopy to inspect the nasal passages and sinus cavities, looking for swelling, bleeding or polyps. The physician may also do a trigeminal nerve assessment. Trigeminal nerve endings detect tactile pressure, pain and temperature sensations in the areas of the mouth, eyes and nasal cavity. They can alter the processing of information in olfactory receptors. Neuroimaging such as a CT scan or an MRI may be necessary to rule out intra-cranial or peripheral nerve abnormalities.


Treatment options for hyposmia include medication such as steroids, antibiotics (for sinus infections) and antihistamines and/or surgery to remove polyps. Smell and taste loss can lead to depression, which may necessitate the use of antidepressants. To counter the inability to detect smoke or gas, people with hyposmia should take special precautions, such as installing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in their homes. Use household cleaners a well-ventilated area. Check the expiration dates on food to make sure it is safe to eat.