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Monday, June 24, 2013

Could My Loved One Be Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol?

Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious medical issue with potentially grave consequences for the individual suffering, as well as their families and friends. A large measure of the harm caused by alcohol and drug addiction is inflicted on loved ones, and the pain and suffering is often shared with the family.

Any addiction can be extremely troubling, but how can you be certain you or your loved one is in fact addicted? Many times those with addiction attempt to hide their problem and end up causing more harm in the end while delaying treatment.

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction as soon as possible to begin the often long process of healing.  If your loved one:

  • Has been increasingly missing school, work or social obligations
  • Has mysterious changes in personality, thoughts and actions
  • An increase in irritability, anger and mood swings
  • Are engaging in mysterious behaviors
  • Have changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain
  • Have changes in sleeping patterns
  • Has reduced care in personal grooming 
  • Has changes in activities and friendships
They may be addicted to drugs or alcohol. 

There are many substances used by people to “get high,” each representing different challenges, health drawbacks and symptoms. Some of the most commonly abused substances are:

Alcohol-- Alcohol causes impairment to judgment, coordination, decision making, results in an increase in engagement in risky behaviors, and can adversely affect the liver, heart, and brain

Methamphetamine-- Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug with stimulant properties-- occasionally abusers will stay awake for days. Long time users age prematurely, can lose teeth and tax their internal organs to a great degree. Methamphetamine manufacturing is extremely dangerous, and has caused the death of many innocent Americans. 

Cocaine-- Cocaine is a drug derived from the coca plant, and is an incredibly addictive substance. Cocaine may be snorted through the nose or smoked, as in “crack cocaine.” Cocaine use causes feelings of euphoria and energy. Over time cocaine can degenerate the heart, lungs, and liver, and can cause serious brain chemistry changes, behavior changes and death.

Heroin and other prescription “Opioids”-- This category includes prescription pain medications such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Codeine and Morphine. Usage of these drugs are on the rise amongst adolescents and are just as dangerous as heroin or opium. Opioids are one of the most addictive substances known and many abusers use daily.

Prescription Drugs-- Just because they are prescribed by a doctor doesn’t mean they are safe for recreation. Many prescription drugs, including opioids and other narcotics, carry the potential for abuse, and their use and abuse is climbing for teenagers and Americans as a whole.  

If you think your loved one is addicted to any of these substances, or displays any of the signs and symptoms of drug an alcohol abuse, it is important to seek help as quickly as possible. The earlier addiction and abuse can be noticed, the earlier it can be treated, and the earlier your friends and family can become whole once again. 

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The A1C Test for Diabetes Diagnosis and Management

The A1C test is used both for screening and for diabetes management. As a screening test it is used to diagnose diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions. As a management tool, it keeps track of your blood glucose levels over a three-month period.

How A1C Works

When sugar enters your blood stream, most of it should go into your cells for conversion into energy. What does not go into the cells stays in the blood and attaches to the red blood cells. The attachment of blood sugar, or glucose, to these blood cells is called hemoglobulin A1C, glycohemoglobin, or just HbA1c.

The test measures the percentage of sugar attached to the red blood cells. Since red blood cells live approximately three months, the test records the average percentage of sugar in the blood for that time period. A high percentage means a large amount of sugar is staying in the blood and could indicate pre-diabetes or full-blown diabetes.

A1C for Diagnosis


Traditionally diabetes is diagnosed using a standard blood glucose test. This type of test only measures the amount of sugar in the blood at the time the blood is drawn; it cannot provide readings for any points prior.

Standard blood glucose tests also require the patient to fast for at least eight hours prior to the blood draw to get accurate results.

Because the A1C does not require the patient to fast, and reports blood sugar over a longer period of time, it can be used to effectively diagnose diabetes. A doctor could use the A1C alone, or use the test in conjunction with the standard blood glucose test, to reach a diagnosis.

An A1C between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent is considered pre-diabetic and a reading at 6.5 percent or higher is considered diabetic.

It is possible to have conflicting results between the A1C and standard glucose tests – one test might indicate diabetes while the other doesn’t. If the tests conflict, the physician will usually advise lifestyle changes, such as exercise and a healthier diet, and retest after a reasonable timeframe has passed.

A1C for Management

The A1C is a valuable management tool because it shows your average glucose control over a period of months. When used in conjunction with daily glucose readings, it helps paint a clearer picture of how the patient is managing her blood sugar.

Diabetes Treatment and Management


Individuals who have been diagnosed pre-diabetic can often prevent developing full-blown diabetes with small lifestyle changes

For individuals diagnosed as diabetic, the treatment depends on the type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetics are initially prescribed drugs like Metformin, which help the body use insulin to get sugar out of the blood. Type 1 diabetics, and type 2 diabetics who don’t respond to Metformin, are typically prescribed insulin.

You can also purchase your diabetic medications from a Canadian pharmacy if you don’t have insurance or can’t afford to purchase your medications from a US pharmacy.  If you decide to get your prescriptions from a Canadian pharmacy, make sure it is registered as a CIPA Pharmacy (Canadian International Pharmacy Association).

Diabetic medications are only available by prescription, but certain diabetic supplies – glucose meters, lancets, and test strips – are available over the counter. You can purchase them from a brick-and-mortar store, or from an online retailer, including an online Canadian pharmacy.

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Weight Loss: An All Natural Personalized Approach

Weight loss is an important health objective for people across the world. There are many reasons for this including but not limited to health benefits, physical comfort, emotional well-being, and improving one’s appearance. It is well known that diet and exercise are important to losing weight because to lose weight one has to burn more calories than are taken in.

While this simple formula sounds easy to apply in theory, it can be quite a challenge for those with sedentary jobs (e.g., office jobs), those who have easy access to calorie rich foods, those who work long hours, and/or those who have additional responsibilities after work (e.g., child care, home projects). All of these factors can make it very difficult to find time to exercise and follow a healthy diet.  

As a result of these aforementioned problems, many people find it difficult to meet their weight loss goals without following a weight loss system. The problem is that there are so many different systems to choose from that people trying to lose weight often have difficulty deciding which one to commit to. 

While there are some programs that sell pre-packaged  foods mailed to the home to eat throughout the week, many people complain about the taste of the food, limited options, and the cost (e.g., $10 a day = $300 a month). Other programs focus primarily on drink formulations that are consumed throughout the day but many complain about not having enough actual food to eat. Another complaint many people have with some diet programs is a one size fits all approach.

An alternative option is a program such as Herbal Magic, which uses a combination of natural products, foods from all food groups, and personalized coaching and support tailored to meet one’s individual needs and to help maintain gains.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

What should I do about teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding, also referred to as bruxism, is a common problem. While you may not realize you are bearing down hard with your teeth each night, grinding them together in your sleep, you could be keeping your family up with the noise.

If you live alone and wonder if you are a victim of bruxism, waking up with a sore jaw or dull headache could be indicators that you habitually grind your teeth. When this occurs on a regular basis, it can lead to harmful effects.

What are the effects of teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding can result in the following:
  •  damage to teeth or dental work
  •  the need for a root canal or dentures due to damage
  •  TMJ, soreness or locking of the jaw
  • Hearing loss
  • Migraine headaches
  • Alteration of the face's appearance
What can be done to stop teeth grinding?

If you know bruxism is a problem, or your dentist has confirmed your suspicions, there are solutions to teeth grinding. A dental guard is one of the most common places to start. A dental guard is used to protect your teeth from harm. While it will not stop your grinding, it will keep your teeth from wearing down. There are several types of mouth guards, including stock mouth guards, boil and bite guards, and custom-made guards. A dentist will recommend using a custom-made guard that is tailored to fit your mouth. You'll have the most comfort, allowing you to breathe easily and sleep better with a guard that has the perfect fit. Your dentist may even recommend a bite splint or nocturnal bite plate, which also helps reposition your jaw, for the best results.

You need to avoid stress!

Using a dental night guard for teeth grinding is all well and good, but you want to get to the root of the problem and stop the grinding. Stress is a common cause of bruxism. Do things that you really enjoy. Consider going to therapy to relieve your stress, exercising regularly, or trying yoga. You can also go for regular massage to help your body to relax. Soothe your jaw before bed by pressing a warm washcloth to your jaw by your earlobe. Stretch and massage your jaw muscles as well before turning in. Avoid exercise shortly before bed because it will make it harder to sleep. Relaxing music and a book before bed are other good ways to wind down.

Make lifestyle changes!

There are lifestyle changes you can make as well when it comes to bruxism. One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself is to cut out the caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the body and the grinding process. Alcohol has been known to aggravate the condition and should be avoided. If you find yourself chewing on pens or pencils, it is time to stop. Chewing gum actually trains the teeth to grind together and should be avoided. Be conscious of your habits. If you catch yourself clenching your jaw during the day, force yourself to stop. Add extra calcium and magnesium to your diet through foods or supplements. They will promote healthy bones, muscles, and nervous system functioning. With diligent effort, you can stop teeth grinding and have a peaceful night's rest once more.

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

You've Found a Grey Hair! Interesting Facts on that Fiesty Follicle Foe

Whether it is grey hair or white hair, many people dread its appearance as a sign of aging and mortality.  As much, many people go to great lengths to disguise it, usually by artificially dying the hair, trimming or plucking it, shaving it off entirely, or covering it in some way.

FEATURED: Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well- Being

In addition to being aesthetically unpleasing to some, many people complain that grey hairs are more cosmetically difficult to manage. Recent research using hair sample analysis supports this complaint by showing that grey hairs are indeed drier and less manageable with different mechanical properties and higher moisture loss than normally colored hair.

Hair greying is caused by a decrease in melaoncytes in the hair, which are cells that produce a natural pigment known as melanin. There is a myth that in 50% of the population, 50% of the hair will turn grey by age 50. This is known as the 50-50-50 rule of thumb. The problem is that this particular rule of thumb  is not true. In a recent study of over 4000 healthy people, 6 to 23% of people (depending on geographic location) had at least 50% of their hair turn grey by age 50. What is true and is found repeatedly in the scientific literature is that Caucasian people’s hair turns grey earlier than that of Asians and African-Americans. Common causes of grey hair include smoking, stress, and genetic predispositions.

Some young people only have a specific hair turn grey while the others are normal color. This is known as acquired ciliary circumscribed grey-hair and has been found to be associated with a high degree of sulfur (a chemical element) and structural differences compared to normal hair.

Contrary to what many people believe, grey or white hair does not only happen in older people. For example, it is known to happen in an extremely rare condition known as progeria (click for a picture), in which the signs of old age are present before they should be -- when the person is a young child. There are other rare conditions in which silvery hair can occur in children. One example is Griscelli syndrome, a form of immunodeficiency (weak immune system) in which there is not enough pigment in the body. 

Another rare immunodeficiency syndrome, known as Chediak-Higashi syndrome also presents with silvery hair (or silvery blonde hair) in children due to not enough pigment present.  These syndromes are sometimes referred to as silvery grey hair syndrome. Differentiating between the two syndrome partly requires a microscopic analysis of the hair and skin.  There is also a condition known as adult progeria (Werner’s syndrome) which is a genetic disorder characterized by premature graying (e.g., grey hair since the early 20s).

The medication, Tamoxifen, has been known to occasionally cause hair to turn from grey to a repigmented color by stimulating the production of melanin. Tamoxifen is a medication that is often used to treat breast cancer because it blocks the receptor for estrogen that come breast cancer cells require to grow.  When tamoxifen undergoes metabolism, a substance is derived known as 4-hydroxy-tamoxifen, which also promotes the stimulation of melanin. Another medication, known as Clofazimine, which is used to treat leprosy, is also known to repigment the skin, because it contains a red dye and is slowly excreted by the body.

References:

Commo S, Gaillard O, Bernard BA. (2004). Human hair greying is linked to a specific depletion of hair follicle melanocytes affecting both the bulb and the outer root sheath. Br J Dermatol.150(3):435-43.

Kaplan PD, Polefka T, Grove G, Daly S, Jumbelic L, Harper D, Nori M, Evans T, Ramaprasad R, Bianchini R. (2011). Grey hair: clinical investigation into changes in hair fibres with loss of pigmentation in a photoprotected population. Int J Cosmet Sci.33(2):171-82.

Matamá T, Araújo R, Preto A, Cavaco-Paulo A, Gomes AC. (2013). In vitro induction of melanin synthesis and extrusion by tamoxifen. Int J Cosmet Sci. (in press).

Panhard S, Lozano I, Loussouarn G. (2012). Greying of the human hair: a worldwide survey, revisiting the '50' rule of thumb. Br J Dermatol. 167(4):865-73.

Philip M, Samson JF, Simi PS. (2012).Clofazimine-induced Hair Pigmentation. Int J Trichology. 4(3):174-5.
Reddy RR, Babu BM, Venkateshwaramma B, Hymavathi Ch. (2011). Silvery hair syndrome in two cousins: Chediak-Higashi syndrome vs Griscelli syndrome, with rare associations. Int J Trichology. 3(2):107-11.

Romero AG, Calatayud JC. (2001). Acquired ciliary circumscribed grey hair (ACCG). Acta Dermatovenerol Croat. 2001 Dec;9(4):275-7.

Sahana M, Sacchidanand S, Hiremagalore R, Asha G. (2012). Silvery grey hair: clue to diagnose immunodeficiency. Int J Trichology. 4(2):83-5.

Trüeb RM. (2003). Association between smoking and hair loss: another opportunity for health education against smoking? Dermatology. 206(3):189-91.

Yamamoto K, Imakiire A, Miyagawa N, Kasahara T. (2003). A report of two cases of Werner's syndrome and review of the literature. J Orthop Surg (Hong Kong). 11(2):224-33.

Friday, June 07, 2013

White Blood Cells: Most Comprehnsive Review Published by MedFriendly

On 6/6/13, MedFriendly, LLC, published the most comprehensive online review of white blood cells, which are cells that help fight infections and protect the body against diseases and foreign substances. In addition to being comprehensive (covering issues such as the various types of white blood cells and reasons for high and low white blood cell counts) the entry is also written in an easy to understand format which will be helpful for older individuals and their families who are trying to learn about this important cell that is routinely tabulated during routine blood tests.

The white blood cell entry is the latest in hundreds of easy to understand entries available for free at MedFriendly.com. All entries on MedFriendly are written in an easy to understand format, with all complex terms defines within the same entry. This prevents the reader from needing to do extra research to understand what the writer is trying to convey. All entries are written on a single page, exposing the reader to fewer ads. Please share this link with others, bookmark MedFriendly and the MedFriendly Blog, and follow us on the MedFriendly Facebook and Twitter pages.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Seeking Compensation for Severe Medical Conditions

Most of us now take for granted the fact that the work we do to earn a living is as safe as it possibly can be. Of course, some jobs, such as fire-fighter or police officer, carry an inevitable amount of risk with them, and this is something which the people performing them readily accept and cope with.

However, for the vast majority of people work is something which they should be able to do without suffering illness or injury. It’s easy to forget that this wasn’t always the case. In the first onrush of industrialization factories were dirty, dangerous and squalid places in which to work, the people doing the work tended to be looked upon as being pretty much as dispensable as the machinery they were using, and even seemingly tranquil pursuits such as agriculture have, through the years, frequently proved injurious.

By listening to the popular media and some of our politicians it would be easy to assume that Health and Safety measures are nothing more than meddlesome red tape. Tales of councils banning games of conkers and horror stories about an out of control ‘compensation culture’ can obscure the fact that the correct safety procedures diligently applied do nothing less than keep tens of thousands of people alive on a daily basis.

Despite the measures now in place, however, accidents can sometimes still happen, and if you’re injured or become ill through the negligence of your employer then you have every right to seek compensation from them. Many people hesitate to launch such a claim, fearing the effect it might have on their working life, but the truth is that any reputable employer will have insurance in place to cover such eventualities, meaning that the money paid out won’t be coming from their own funds or from the wage packets of your workmates. Another fear holding people back is that they will be discriminated at work following the claim. This is strictly illegal, however, and any employer mistreating their staff in this manner will find themselves facing punishment far more severe than the original claim.

It’s tempting to assume that most accidents at work involve fairly minor injuries brought about by trips or falls, but the truth is that being hurt at work can be serious and have huge ramifications on the rest of your life. Even a simple fall, for example, if it results in damage to your spine, can have a devastating effect upon your ability to walk and thus pursue a full social and working life. In other cases, machinery might damage a limb so much that it has to be removed and falling stock or debris in a poorly managed warehouse could bring about severe head injuries. Despite the advances recently made, peoples still get killed at work every year, a chilling fact which spells out just how badly things can sometimes go wrong.

It’s not always a dramatic one-off incident which causes the problems either. Many people, when they should be relaxing and enjoying their retirement, find themselves succumbing to devastating illnesses caused as a direct result of the work they did. If your employer didn’t take every step necessary to protect you from the environment in which you worked, or the tasks you carried then it’s possible you might fall victim of one of these more common workplace illnesses:

Pneumoconiosis, Mesothelioma and Asbestosis
Lung conditions commonly manifesting themselves amongst people who have been exposed to asbestos dust

Industrial Deafness
Loss of hearing or tinnitus which develops after working in a noisy environment without sufficient protection.

Vibration White Finger
A painful condition which blights the fingers of those who have worked with vibrating equipment such as drills, again without the requisite protection in place.

RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) 
RSI covers a range of conditions which cause inflammation of the tendons in the arm and it is generally brought on by the multiple repetition of a single individual movement, such as clicking a computer mouse.

Dermatitis
Painful inflammation occurring when the skin is unprotected and exposed to dangerous substances.

Bronchitis and Emphysema
Severe lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust particles and particularly prevalent in mining industries.

Any severe injury at work will have a major effect upon your own life and the lives of your family. It may mean you have to have your home completely modified and could prevent you from earning a living in the future. Recovery may be long and difficult and, even when you’re as well as you’re going to get, you might still be a shadow of the person you once were. These are all the reasons why seeking compensation is not only possible but is in fact the right and proper thing to do. No amount of money can replace good health, but it can make dealing with the consequences of ill health that little bit easier. 

The above entry is a guest blog entry