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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Key Risk Factors for Low Back Pain

Suffering from chronic low back pain? Looking to prevent old back pain from returning? Turns out a handful of activities you do and don’t do could be putting you at risk.

Low back pain is essentially any ache or soreness targeted to the lumbar spine region of the back where the spine is curved inwards toward the abdomen. The comprehensive system of musculoskeletal components that make up the lumbar spine area include bones, muscles, tendons, nerve roots, spinal discs, and joints. Any of these can potentially be involved in injury or strain.

Pain typically results from inflammation of muscles, tendons, and joints which puts pressure on vulnerable nerve endings. Additionally, sometimes the spongy pads (discs) that sit between each of the vertebrae and serve as shock absorbers degenerate or herniate, which can also cause moderate to severe pain.

So what are you doing that is putting you at risk for low back pain?

Sedentary Lifestyle
You may have heard the new saying “sitting is the new smoking” which refers to the health dangers associated with prolonged sitting. A new study from the Annals of Internal Medicine has found in the most serious degree that prolonged sitting, 12+ hours a day, especially for folks spending 60 to 90 minutes sitting at one time, can increase your risk of early death. Back pain from sitting might not seem as grave as those findings, however, it could be a more prevalent reality in your life.

When you spend significant amounts of time sitting down, you place up to 90% more pressure on the spine than you do when you’re standing. A hunched, rounded back can lead to muscle tension, pelvic imbalance, and constant strain in muscles and other connective tissues coming off the spine. Experts recommend never going more than 30 minutes sitting without standing up to stretch and briefly walk around.

Overweight / Obese
An astonishing 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. is obese according to StateofObesity.org. In addition to generating chronic low back pain, being overweight or obese increases risk for developing debilitating conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and dementia. There are a handful of indirect ways obesity can cause low back pain including promoting inactivity and altering center of gravity.

When you carry extra weight, especially around the abdomen/midsection of the body, your center of gravity is actually pulled forward. This can impact the way you sit, stand, and walk, causing you to pull forward than you normally should and causing your spine and back muscles to work harder to keep you supported and the aligned. Inactivity in the form of avoiding exercise also contributes to low back pain by preventing tense muscles and stiff joints from becoming stretched and lubricated, which allows for more circulation and less inflammation.

Physical Labor Job
One of the top causes of acute low back pain would have to be strain and injury from physical labor jobs which either require heavy lifting or repeated movements involving the back. Good examples include baggage handling jobs at airports, working in a warehouse, nursing involving lifting patients, or even hauling a growing baby and diaper bag daily like many new moms do.

The continuous bending, arching, twisting of the back combined with pulling, pushing, and lifting of heavy work pulls on crucial muscles in the back causing them to become inflamed, tense, and stiff. In addition to pain, you might experience spasms and limited range of motion. Experts recommend people in these fields avoid lifting more than 50 pounds at a time, wear proper fitting and supportive shoes, consider wearing an orthotic aid like a back brace, do gentle spinal stretches to lengthen and reinforce the spine, and always use help (from others or equipment) when possible.

Poor Posture Habits
Say you don’t have a job that requires awkward body positions or heavy lifting, and that you don’t spend most of the day sitting, could you still be doing something that is causing your back pain? Absolutely. Poor posture habits, either with sitting or standing are possibly the biggest culprit when it comes to back pain. Everything from slouching and slumping when sitting, to crossing your legs, leaning on one leg when standing, and craning your neck and head past your shoulders when staring down at a device like your laptop or smartphone.

The more work your back muscles have to do to keep your spine straight, aligned, and supported, the more inflamed and strained they become. Don’t fret though, there are myriad ways you can address bad posture and reverse those dangerous habits. Fortify the back with exercises that gently stretch back muscles and strengthen your core. Use ergonomic cushions like a lumbar support pillow for the car or desk chair. Sit on a stability ball when working at a desk instead of in a chair, or invest in a standing desk. There are even smartphone apps you can download like Perfect Posture Workout (iOS) and Perfect Posture (Android) that alert you when you need to correct your posture.

This is a guest blog post.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Health Benefits of Volunteering


When it comes to enhancing your own health and well-being, diet and exercise are typically top of mind, however, there are a handful of other activities that play important roles too. Volunteering covers all your bases - physical activity, social engagement, and feeling the positive effects of helping others. Healthwise, volunteering has been shown to:

Combat High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, hypertension, plagues millions of Americans and is a key risk factor for developing a host of conditions including heart disease and diabetes. When the blood vessels in your body narrow or your heart becomes weakened, your heart must pump blood through with greater force to keep up with the circulation needs of all your organs, nerves, and so on. The higher that force, or pressure, the more stress and strain it places on the cardiovascular system and critical organs, even the brain. Findings from a 2013 study found specifically that older adults who volunteer regularly are less likely to develop hypertension than non-volunteers.

Relieves Stress
While a calming yoga session or relaxing music might be your go-to stress relievers, getting busy helping others might also do the trick. Volunteering has the unique power to help those serving others gain new perspectives and outlooks on life, don a sense of purpose and fulfillment to life, as well as engage them with groups that share their interests and passions. Even altruistic volunteering done largely to make one feel good about oneself can bring about feelings of confidence, self-reliance, and purpose that may have been lacking.

Improves Cognitive Function
As volunteering requires both physical and emotional contributions, it can be a powerful activity for improving brain health. A 2009 study from John Hopkins University found that elderly adults at higher risk for cognitive decline benefitted from volunteering as mentors for young people. Brain scan evidence revealed that crucial regions of the brain responsible for planning and decision-making actually experienced short-term gains and were matched by positive behavioral improvements too.

Boosts Mood
You know that little high you get when you eat chocolate or spend time with a good friend? That “pleasurable” feeling is actually the result of the hormone dopamine being produced in your brain. Turns out volunteering can also stimulate dopamine release, turning your time helping others into a feel-good sensation you will want to get more of. Prioritizing giving back by scheduling time to serve even when you are busy has also been shown to enhance feelings of personal efficiency and know-how.

Can Give You a Workout
Volunteering and service projects which incorporate physical labor can be beneficial to your mind and body by providing a low-impact workout that gets your heart pumping and your body sweating. Everything from building houses to highway cleanups, running camp activities, or volunteering to walk dogs for the local animal shelter can provide a physical workout that helps strengthen your muscles and bones.

Looking for health-benefiting volunteer ideas for the fall?

The beautiful weather of fall matched with an abundance of holiday activity make the last few months of the year the perfect time for volunteering. Fall service ideas include:

•    Volunteering at a fall festival or carnival in your community
•    Running or walking in a fall or holiday charity athletic event that raises money for a good cause
•    Installing fall prevention equipment like shower grab bars, railings, and ramps for an elderly neighbor
•    Serving at a local food bank or homeless shelter during the holidays
•    Walking and grooming dogs for the local animal shelter
•    Helping rebuild houses and communities impacted by recent hurricanes
•    Participating in a highway, neighborhood, park, trail or river cleanup
•    Rake leaves or shovel snow for a local nonprofit or homeless shelter

Where time and budget allows, volunteering also affords you the opportunity to travel and widen your horizons. “Voluntourism” is popular in many countries where people who want to travel and help others are put up for weeks or months at a time and can do a range of things from teaching to building houses and helping the environment. Look for volunteer opportunities near your with free online services like CreatetheGood.org and Volunteermatch.org.

This is a guest blog entry.

8 most common Sleep disorders that plague adults


In this busy life we all lead, sleep is one of the most important factors, combined with exercise and nutrition, that keeps us going. To ensure that we can accomplish everything we do every single day, we must get a good night sleep. Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is the best scenario, but unfortunately it is an impossible target for about one third of the population. Several sleep disorders plague about 30% of the population, all over the world.

REM sleep behaviour disorder is extremely rare and consists of intense movement during sleep. The affected person could suddenly trash about in their sleep and even fall off their bed on occasion.

Narcolepsy occurs when the brain does not control the REM sleep cycle appropriately. This causes a person to fall asleep at the most peculiar moments or spend their days in some kind of daze; stuck in an in-between state where they are neither fully asleep nor fully awake. Bruxism, or teeth grinding is not only annoying for the people sleeping near the affected person, it has significant side effects. The person who grinds their teeth during their sleep will generally wake up with a sore jaw and severe headaches. This condition can be helped with the use of a mouth guard, but the underlying cause of stress should be identified to help the person reach better sleep.

Sleep terrors and sleep walking, although different, are generally more frequent in children. Sleep terrors manifest themselves with the person screaming in their sleep and waking up terrified, having a deep feeling of fear and danger. Adults suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could also experience night terrors. Sleepwalking occurs when a person is walking about while not fully awake or conscious. It is generally due to fever, lack of sleep, or medication.

RLS or restless leg syndrome is a sleep disorder that reaches more than the legs. The affected person has an uncontrollable urge to move the limbs over 100 times during the night. Fortunately, the condition can improve with regular physical activity and diminution of caffeine absorption.

The last two disorders are the most frequent, affecting a large percentage of the population. Sleep apnea can be found in 10% of the population. It happens when a person’s airways, in the throat, get obstructed, therefore preventing the affected person from breathing properly. The brain then signals the person to wake up to re-open the obstructed airway. Far from ideal, this condition can cause side effects such as high blood pressure and constant tiredness. Someone suffering from sleep apnea might not be aware of their condition, but their loud snoring is sure to have been noticed by their partner.

Aside from losing weight, a good solution to this condition is the use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device such as ResMed machines that push air through your throat, forcing it to remain open. Finally, insomnia is the most common of all sleep disorders and can be caused by stress, anxiety, depression as well as drug or alcohol abuse. A person suffering from insomnia might have difficulty falling asleep or might wake up during the night and not be able to get back to sleep. Aside from medication, cognitive behavioral therapy might be necessary to resolve the problem.     

For more detail on each disorder, consult the articles provided by the sleep foundation. Because of the seriousness of sleeping disorders, it is important to consult a sleep doctor if you or someone you know suffer from one of the conditions mentioned in this article. Trying to solve the issue on your own might prove more problematic in the long run. Don’t delay and contact your sleeping expert rapidly.

This is a guest blog entry.

Friday, September 15, 2017

3 Alternative Remedies for Epileptic Seizures

An epileptic seizure occurs when the brain experiences an abnormal electrical discharge. It can be produced by anything that is irritating to the brain. In some cases, the discharge affects just a tiny part of the brain and only results in the person noticing an odd taste or smell.

In other instances, it may affect bigger areas and cause jerking-convulsion and muscle spasms throughout the victim’s body. The individual may also lose muscle control and suffer brief attacks of unconsciousness. Seizures can and do affect those who aren’t epileptic.

Natural remedies, although not a substitute for conventional treatment, can help address the symptoms of epileptic seizures without the side effects that arise from the use of anti-epileptic medication. If you’ve been wanting to add something new to your seizure treatment regime, you can look into the following alternative therapies.

1. Natural Supplementation

Nutritional and dietary interventions are considered useful and even therapeutic. For instance, low dose (less than 1000 mg) of omega-3 supplementation can reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures. A dosage of Vitamin E can increase antioxidant capabilities, which can help reduce epilepsy symptoms that aren’t responding to conventional medication. Cannabis oil supplementation has been reported to stop life-threatening seizures. The right supplementation, therefore, can work wonders for your recovery.

You can find cannabis oil for sale, as well as other supplements, on health product websites. Look for quality assurance that has been done in-house, as well as verified through third-party labs that conduct high-performance testing, to ensure purity and potency in every bottle. Reliable vendors will also instruct you to do your own research and consult with your healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplement.

2. Biofeedback

This is a technique of using imagery or relaxation to alter body functions including blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. The practitioner uses a monitor and an electrode to measure these functions. Patients are first asked to envision a stressful situation and then the practitioner teaches them various calming techniques.

The procedure can help people with seizures, migraine headaches, high blood pressure and pain. The patients are able to see the differences between relaxed and stressful situations on the monitor. They can then use the techniques to control their body functions and feel more relaxed. After ample training sessions the frequency of seizure goes down and so does the aura rate.

3. Acupuncture 

Acupuncture can help lessen the severity and frequency of epileptic seizures. The technique helps in restoring the flow of energy (qi) throughout the patient’s body. Qi energy flows through pathways called meridians and this is the force that is said to play a role in the functioning of the body. A person without epilepsy is believed to have a balanced qi. In a person with the condition, the qi flow is believed to be distorted. The goal of acupuncture is to rebalance qi flow throughout the patient’s body.

To restore qi flow, tiny needles will be inserted by the acupuncturist into certain areas of the body; this helps the professional in analyzing the meridians via which the energy flows. If a person is suffering from epileptic seizures, key points would be manipulated by the acupuncturist to increase the flow of qi energy to the head. After restoration, the therapist will recommend natural exercises and dietary supplements to keep the qi in its balanced state.

Patients dealing with the stresses of epileptic seizures are likely to benefit from these measures. 

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fall Prevention Outside The Home


September 22, 2017, the first day of fall, is also the 10th Annual Fall Prevention Awareness Day, created in an effort to bring more awareness to the issue of fall prevention in seniors.

While most falls occur inside the home, many also happen right outside in nearby vicinities like the yard or driveway. In-home upgrades like installing grab bars, using shower chairs, placing guide tape at stairways, and updating room lighting can make a huge difference in helping seniors see and navigate their home environments better. But what can be done for fall prevention outside the home? Don’t miss these go-to tips and best practices:

Getting In and Out of The Car

Getting in and out of the car might seem like an easy feat when you’re young, but as joints stiffen and leg muscles weaken with age, it can become more and more difficult. Retaining the ability to drive plays an instrumental role in helping seniors maintain their confidence and independence, but ensuring their safety when getting in and out of the car is also important for preventing immobilizing injuries like hip fractures.

A variety of car transfer tools exist which simplify the process of getting in and out of the car, no matter how tall or short it is. These include:

•    Swivel seat - a swivel seat is simply a cushion, usually made of comfortable gel or foam, that pivots (slide turns) to help people enter and exit the seat of a car without having to twist or turn their body.

•    Car cane - a car cane (car standing aid) is a reinforced handle that slides into the steel door latch of your car and gives you an extra supportive handle to hold on to when exiting the car.

•    Seat belt reacher - a seat belt reacher is a super basic tool that attaches to the seat belt and features and extra long loop handle with which someone can more easily reach  over to grab their seatbelt.

Walking the Dog
Going for a leisurely walk with your trusted canine companion may seem like a ‘walk in the park’, however, a sudden tug or pull of your dog chasing down a squirrel can leave even the sturdiest senior having to catch their balance. Dogs may also have a tendency to wrap the leash around their leg when walking, requiring their owner to bend over and adjust it.

These risk factors can make walking a dog a huge fall hazard, especially for seniors who have experienced a fall before. If you are a senior with a dog, consider finding a neighbor, family member, or friend who will join you in walking the dog, or ask a young person to walk your dog regularly as a way to earn a little bit of cash.

Yardwork/Gardening
The bending, squatting, and lifting associated with many yardwork and gardening duties can put seniors at risk of not only falling outside, but of potentially injuring themselves in ways that can contribute to a fall. For example, bending over for an hour working on the garden can lead to muscle strain and inflammation in the lower back, which in turn could slow down response times and flexibility for a senior.

When working outside, avoid sitting, bending or squatting for more than 30 minutes at a time without standing up to walk around and stretch for a few minutes. Hauling heavy loads makes seniors more susceptible to injuring themselves as well, so get help when moving large items and use assistive equipment like wheelbarrows for transporting leaves, grass, mulch, hay, etc.

Other contributing factors to outdoor falls include poor outdoor lighting, debris and trip hazards around door entryways and on porches, slippery surfaces (ramps, porches, driveways), and uneven curbs or outdoor stairways. Simple steps like weather proofing the porch, adding non-slip grip tape to outdoor walkways, and installing sturdy railings around steps and stairs can go a long way to keeping you or your favorite senior upright and mobile!

This is a guest blog entry.

All I want for Christmas is a new front tooth

Everyone loves going to see the dentist, right?  Right?

Then again, maybe not; I could be wrong…  However the difficulties if you do not go are even more difficult to deal with.

But healthy teeth and gums are important for more than just a pretty smile.  Taking care of your mouth is vital to your oral health, your overall health, and especially your appearance.  Practicing good dental hygiene at home and with the assistance of professional care helps maintain that smile that you like to flash around.

Your oral health - This one is obvious.  The regular maintenance of your teeth and gums helps keep them looking good and feeling good.  And you should always pay attention to the warning signs.  Increased sensitivity to hot and cold food, hot and cold beverages, or sugar can indicate an issue.  And it is always better to get the issues fixed sooner rather than later.  Filling a cavity is significantly easier than a root canal or a dental crown.  This is truly a case of an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Brushing twice a day, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly are all keys to healthier teeth and gums.  Gum care is also critical to your mouth’s health.  Untreated teeth problems can lead to gum disease and vice versa. 

Your overall health - Not only can gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) cause mouth pain and discomfort, it can also can lead to even more serious health complications such as strokes, heart complications, diabetes complications and respiratory issues.  Also an important point to note, certain very serious health conditions can begin with signs and symptoms in the mouth, such as ulcers, swollen gums, and receding gums.  If you start to show any of these symptoms, it is most certainly time to visit your dental professional to see if there’s anything else going on.

Your appearance - No one really wants to have the smile that might be discolored, crooked, or gapped.  If you have ever had these or similar issues with your smile, you are well aware of how self-conscious it can make you.  And whether you realize it or not, your teeth also affect the size and shape of your face.  Have you ever seen an older person without their dentures in place?  Their jaw looks smaller, and their lips disappear without the support of the teeth.  The teeth do affect the entire face!

Your potential solution options


Besides pain and discomfort, the first visible sign of teeth problems is usually a cavity.  If you can catch it early enough, it can usually be fixed with a simple filling.  However, sometimes cavities can get too deep for a filling to repair.  More than likely, at that point you are facing crowns and possibly even a root canal.

If you do not get to the dentist quickly enough, the decay can spread and ultimately cause tooth loss.  One of the most difficult complications of not taking care of your teeth is the actual loss of a tooth.  Depending on where the loss is located, one of the main reasons people get dental implants is for aesthetic reasons.  But there are deeper reasons to replace those missing teeth.  Not only do most people not want a gap in their smile, but when one tooth falls out of the lineup, other effects start happening.

• The jaw bone underneath the missing tooth area starts to weaken without that support piece.
• The other teeth in the area are no longer held in place by the missing one.  They can start shifting around, causing further gaps and possibly even requiring orthodontia to correct.
• The general bite of your teeth and jaws can become affected, depending on where the loss occurs and how everything else overcompensates.
• There can even be an increased risk of losing the other teeth in the area because of the weakness and shifting.

Replacing the missing tooth is critical to maintaining the overall health of your mouth.  Quite honestly, the crowns that are used to complete the dental implant can even be color-matched to the rest of your teeth so that they just blend right in.  Dental implants can reduce or eliminate the effects of that missing tooth by filling in the gap and replacing the loss.

• It can aid digestion.  When you are able to properly tear and chew your food before swallowing, your body can more effectively and more efficiently digest your food.
• It can assist in speaking.  Whether you realize it or not, the teeth play a critical role in helping your speech patterns.  The way your tongue and lips and teeth interact affects the sounds that you make when you speak.
• It can make you look younger.  That really is not an exaggeration.  When one or more teeth are missing, especially in the same area, the face can look saggy or sunken in that area.  The teeth help keep the facial structure in place.
• It will help your feel better about yourself.  Sometimes we don’t even realize how much our teeth affect our self-esteem, until there is an issue.  When our teeth start to deteriorate, we don’t even want smile any more.  And everyone’s mood is improved when you smile.  To quote, “If you see someone without a smile, give them yours!”

Personally, I have had my own dental implants for over twenty years and love them.  I can’t imagine not having the teeth there, and I don’t want to imagine the damage that could have been caused by leaving the gaps.  My issue was that I did not have the permanent teeth, only the baby teeth.  I finally had them pulled and had the implants put in.

While it is not an easy procedure, completing the process of installing your dental implants will give you the confidence that you might have lost when you lost that tooth.  And having your tooth back is something to smile about!

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, September 11, 2017

8 Fall Fitness Activities for Seniors

Fall into a fresh, new fitness habit this Autumn with inspired exercise ideas that might surprise you. Whether it’s the cooler temperatures or simply the energetic excitement of a holiday season around the corner, fall is the perfect time for seniors to find motivation to stay active and fit. Don’t miss these 8 fall-inspired fitness activities for seniors:

Hiking
Take in the sights and smells of fall with a mountain hike through the beautiful changing colors of the season. Hiking in nature is a great way for seniors to stay active, burn calories, and strengthen muscles and bones. Not only that, but hiking makes for great balance and coordination practice as well, which is essential in preventing falls in seniors. Just remember that the autumn season brings shorter days and cooler weather, so wearing layers and making sure you have appropriate lighting with you is a must when hiking.

Outdoor Yoga
Take your newest favorite fitness hobby outside into the crisp, cool air of fall and practice amongst the beautiful golds, oranges, yellows, and reds Autumn’s foliage has to offer. Yoga practice has been shown to help build bone density, relieve low back pain, reduce high blood pressure, and boost feelings of positivity. Combine the mindfulness of yoga with the outdoor setting in nature and take exercise to the next level this fall.

Pumpkin Carving
Rock some fine motor skills by getting in on the pumpkin carving fun with the grandkids this year! Just like crafting, knitting, or folding origami, pumpkin carving which requires the use of small tools, creativity, and grip strength can help older adults support good brain health and exercise weaker arm and hand muscles.

Cycling
Swap out your summer swimming routine for some bicycle action this fall! While cycling might seem high risk, it is actually a superior low-impact activity for seniors. Cycling helps increase heart rate, boost circulation, tone and strengthen muscles, as well as hone coordination and balance skills, all while taking it easy on older joints. The cooler weather and beautiful scenery of fall is simply the cherry on top!

Rake Leaves
Approach your favorite fall chore instead as what experts call “functional fitness.” Did you know you can burn over 100 calories in one half hour of raking leaves? Combine that with bagging and carrying them to the curb and you have a real low-impact exercise on your hands! Don’t have a yard? Offer to rake leaves for a neighbor or friend, or join a community/neighborhood cleanup service project happening in your area.

Fall Proof Your Home
Take a note from the season of “fall” and find time this season to fall-proof your own home by removing clutter and installing helpful tools for getting around your house safely. Update your bathroom with helpful nonslip grip tape, grab bars, and a shower stool or chair. Check that all lighting is bright and consistent from room to room, and remove trip hazards like cords and turned up corners of rugs from common walking pathways.

Go Apple Picking
Apple season has arrived, and what better way to spend time with family and give your body a little exercise than with an apple picking adventure. Not only does the movement of walking the orchard and picking apples help you loosen joints and build up bone strength, but apples themselves make great additions to a healthy diet. Packed with fiber and Vitamin C, apples are also great sources of antioxidants which can help protect you against cancer and other diseases.

Volunteer
Lots of fall volunteer opportunities offer an added bonus of physical fitness, and are a great way for seniors to spend their free time. Volunteering at a holiday festival, joining a trail or river cleanup, participating in an animal adoption event, even walking in a Thanksgiving 5K - the ideas are endless! The last handful of months of the year are also full of awareness events for important causes like ending childhood hunger, fighting prostate and breast cancer, and celebrating family caregivers.

This is a guest blog entry.

What Snoring Means for Your Child

Children snore from time to time, and it isn’t often a concern for parents. Snoring comes in a variety of forms, from slight grunts and gasps during one’s sleep to freight train-esque noises that can be startling. Although most snoring is more of an endearing thing when coming from a small child, parents may have a reason to pay closer attention to those cute sounds. Mild health issues, like a common cold or a respiratory infection may be behind snoring in some children, but in other cases, persistent snoring could be a warning sign of sleep apnea.


Among children aged one to nine, nearly twelve percent have sleep apnea in some form. That pales in comparison to the nearly 20 million adults who are diagnosed with sleep apnea, but it does require some understanding of the condition among parents with young children. In the advanced world of medicine we live in today, being diagnosed with sleep apnea does not mean a life of uncomfortable breathing or restless sleep. Instead, sleep apnea can be treated and controlled, even in young children, so long as early intervention takes place. Parents who have a child that snores more than three times a week are smart to evaluate other behaviors to determine if a doctor’s visit is the best next step. Here’s what parents can do to take charge of their child’s health and well-being when snoring may be a consistent issue.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea, whether diagnosed in a child or an adult, is defined as the obstruction of normal airflow during a night’s sleep. Being unable to breathe throughout the night can take place two to three times or a few hundred, depending on the severity of the sleep apnea. During sleep, an individual’s breathing temporarily stops because the natural flow or air is impeded. This causes the brain to signal the person sleeping to wake up abruptly so that normal breathing can resume. While most children with sleep apnea fall back asleep shortly after the forced wake up, the condition can cause mild to severe medical issues that take away from their quality of life.

Sleep apnea comes in three main categories. Obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common among children and adults, as it is caused by the relaxing of muscles in the throat. OSA takes place when the muscles become so relaxed that they allow the fatty tissue surrounding the throat and the tongue to fall back, blocking the normal airflow during sleep. Some experience a partial blockage while others have a complete blockage. In either case, breathing is halted during the night which causes the child to wake up briefly so that they can breathe again. Gasping for air and choking may occur each time a child wakes up after the airflow is blocked, but once they have enough air again, sleep resumes.

Different from obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea occurs when signals sent from the brain to the throat muscles are not received correctly. The muscles do not react, leading to a blockage of airflow that causes breathing to stop. Similar to obstructive sleep apnea, children with central sleep apnea may experience gasping or choking when the brain sends the signal to wake up and begin breathing again. Central sleep apnea is far less common than obstructive, but snoring can be a warning sign as well.

Mixed sleep apnea is the last category, which combines elements from obstructive and central sleep apnea. There are many misfires of communication in the brain along with the relaxing of the throat muscles, all which cause a child to stop breathing during sleep.

Warning Signs in Children

Each type of sleep apnea carries similar warning signs that parents should be able to recognise in their children. Drowsiness during the day, even after what seemed like a full night’s rest, is a common sign of sleep apnea in children. Snoring more than a few times per week over an extended period of time is also a cause for concern. Children may experience behavioural issues at school or throughout the day, which can be linked to sleep apnea and the reality that they are not getting enough rest to remain healthy. If it is difficult to wake a child up in the morning, they sweat during sleep, or they wet the bed, these could all be signs of sleep apnea as well.

Getting the Best Treatment

Even though the diagnosis of sleep apnea in a child may seem overwhelming, parents have plenty of options for treatment to help their children get a good night’s rest. However, a specialist firm of medical negligence solicitors that works with several ear, nose, and throat cases, advise parents always to seek out a second, or even third, opinion when sleep apnea is a suspected issue. This is because ear, nose, and throat specialists may recommend a treatment like surgery that could not deliver any respite for the child, leaving them with the same symptoms as before. In some cases, a misdiagnosis may lead to other unnecessary treatments that simply prolong the issue instead of making it better. Parents should understand that treatment options come in a variety of forms, including non-invasive and at-home options that may be more beneficial and less traumatic for the child.

Sleep apnea affects more children than parents are aware, and because snoring seems like a non-issue, the condition may go undiagnosed for longer than necessary. Paying close attention to your child’s sleeping habits as well as their behaviours throughout the day are pertinent to recognising sleep apnea as a potential issue. Once the correct diagnosis is made, children with sleep apnea can begin treatment and ultimately lead a healthier, more comfortable life that includes restful sleep.

This is a guest blog entry.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Keep Your Family Safe & Healthy on Your Trip

Whether you're traveling to an exotic land or to the next state over, traveling with your family is fun, exciting and sometimes a little stressful. You are busy booking plane tickets, hotel rooms and activities that everyone in the family will love, and you're almost ready to go. But have you thought about your health? Traveling can be a big change on your eating, sleeping and exercise patterns, so you need to be prepared to keep everyone feeling their best. Here are a few tips:

Pack Wipes & Sanitizer

Babies and toddlers love putting everything in their mouths — toys, keys, basically whatever is in reach. When you're traveling, you're going to be in a lot of areas where you can't control the cleanliness and your baby will be exposed to new germs. Be as prepared as possible with plenty of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. Wipe down the seat and tray table when you get on the plane.

Lather your kids' hands with sanitizer before they even think of touching a snack. And be prepared to wash their hands extra thoroughly after using a public restroom. The last thing you want is for your baby or young child to have an upset stomach, so do what you can to avoid germs and bacteria.


Plan Activities


Your teenagers stay up all night and sleep all day when you're home, so how are they going to adjust to a travel schedule? Start by battling jet lag. Make sure everyone gets on the local time of the place you're traveling to as quickly as possible. If you need to keep everyone up that first day, plan something active to keep everyone moving. For the rest of the trip, put a limit on screen time and cellphones, not only to keep your teens engaged in your vacation, but also to help them keep a normal sleep cycle. Sleep is a crucial part of keeping your immune system strong, so insist that your teens keep to the family sleep schedule.

Bring Snacks & Probiotics


You're going to be busy making sure all of your plans stay on track. You're in charge of making sure the kids are dressed, everyone is in the car with plenty of time to make your flight and everyone is having a good time. That can be a lot of pressure, and it's easy to forget to take care of yourself.

Traveling can wreak havoc on your stomach and digestive system, so be sure to include some healthy foods and drinks along with all the tasty vacation treats. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated all day long (if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated). You also should consider taking a probiotic to help build up healthy bacteria so you don't encounter any stomach problems in the middle of your trip.

Consider Mobility & Movement

If grandma and grandpa are coming along on your vacation, you may need to make some special arrangements. You still should plan all of your active and physical excursions, but make sure they are safe for everyone. For example, you should see if there's a place where they can sit or take a break if necessary. You also should plan for some down time between activities or even plan for an entire day of relaxation. You also may want the grandparents to wear a medical alert system so they can keep track of their heart rate and their other health stats. And if you do run into an emergency, the medical alert device can notify certified agents to respond quickly.

You don't need to do anything crazy to keep everyone in your family healthy while you travel. Be prepared with a few extra items, and you're sure to enjoy your vacation.

This is a guest blog post.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

How Do Orthopedic Aids Help Shoulder Pain?

Anything that braces and partially immobilizes an injured or painful shoulder is usually a good thing because it effectively prevents further injury while the muscles are at their most vulnerable point. After a doctor, trainer, or physical therapist evaluates the injury, you’ll know how long to keep the brace on, and it’s important to keep the brace in place for the entire period, even if you feel better.

Braces also provide gentle compression and thus support the area until the muscles heal. That same compression also reduces swelling and inflammation, thus speeding recovery. The compression creates a good feeling that, at least in part, offsets the pain, which is why a good arm sling can actually prevent shoulder pain. More on that below.

Kinesio Tape

Kinesio Tex Tape is more than just that wide, sticky tape that you wrap around and around an injured area. Properly done, the Kinesio Tape Method speeds healing and has other benefits as well. Largely because it’s inexpensive, easy to apply, and free from any latex or any other possible harmful side effects, these benefits are available to almost everyone. They include:
  • Pain Relief: The tape ever so slightly raises the skin, placing it away from irritated nerve endings and reducing pressure on sensitive pain receptors. Furthermore, the stimulating effect of the compression effectively counteracts pain messages, especially for things like shoulder injuries, where the pain is out of proportion to the severity of the wound.
  • Reduced Swelling: Not to get too technical, but the decreased pressure also channels away fluids that would otherwise collect underneath the skin. This process is good news for patients suffering from both sports and non-sports injuries, like lymphedema. 
  • Prevents Cramps: Kinesio tape promotes good blood circulation, and when the blood moves like it should, muscles are much less likely to lock up. The same thing applies for the muscle spasms commonly associated with overuse.
  • Unrestricted Support: In terms of the opening discussion, this benefit is the big one. K-tape supports the area and prevents re-injury while not restricting range of motion. That’s key for things like injured shoulders that do not get better without at least a little exercise.
Kinesio tape’s elasticity can also help enhance strength in poorly-toned muscles, thus helping to prevent future injury.

Arm Slings


Almost everyone who fractures a wrist, elbow, or shoulder needs to wear an arm sling for at least a few weeks. These devices are also good for post-surgical patients, because of the immobility and pan reduction aspects of an arm sling, and also for stroke patients, whose arms tend to painfully hang.

It’s very important to wear the sling properly, or else fluid may accumulate in your wrist or hand, and the sling will be incredibly uncomfortable.

•    Pull the sling all the way over your arm and elbow,
•    There should be no cutting sensation around your wrist or hand,
•    Pull the strap tight so your hand is close to your chest and slightly above your elbow, and
•    If there is a thumb loop, use it.

Arm slings are much more advanced than they were a few years ago, so it’s easy to find one made of lightweight and durable fabric.

Shoulder Brace

Neoprene shoulder braces are usually the best, because they not only provide compression and support, but also protect the skin and tendons. These braces also have a substantial placebo effect, because you simply feel better and more supported.

Braces also decrease the risk of dislocation, especially because about 95 percent of such injuries occur during anterior motion when the arm is pulling away from the body. Most shoulder braces permit all kinds of movement except the one most likely to dislocate the shoulder, which is a very good thing. Furthermore, similar to Kinesio tape, neoprene shoulder braces also increase muscle tone, which causes less pain.

If you properly protect an injured shoulder, you can help it heal faster and decrease pain during the recovery period.

This is a guest blog posting.

How to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis during Pregnancy


Several physiological changes take place when a woman becomes pregnant. From morning sickness to swelling ankles and feet, the glow of being pregnancy also comes with less than ideal side effects. While most health conditions related to pregnancy are temporary and have a minimal impact on long-term health, expectant mothers are at risk of developing various medical issues that can be more serious. Deep vein thrombosis, also known as DVT, is one condition that requires some understanding and attention throughout one’s pregnancy.

Deep vein thrombosis is a condition where a blood clot forms, most often in the deep veins of the leg. When clotting takes place, the legs can become more swollen than usual, and women can experience ongoing pain or tenderness where the clot occurs. While DVT is not a serious threat to the well-being of an expectant mother, should the clot break off and travel to the lungs, the results could be life-altering. In the UK, deep vein thrombosis affects one in every 1,000 pregnancy women, and although this may not seem like an astonishing amount, pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing DVT than those who are not expecting. Here’s what pregnant women and their partners need to know about deep vein thrombosis, from the risk factors and symptoms to strategies for prevention.

High-risk Patients

Deep vein thrombosis can affect anyone at any point in adulthood, but pregnant women are at a much higher risk than others. Part of the increased possibility of developing DVTs can be linked to the rapid shift in hormones pregnant women experience from the beginning of their pregnancy up to six months after giving birth. Additionally, a growing baby places pressure on the pelvis which causes compression that could lead to clotting. In some cases in pregnant women the blood’s clotting agents change early in the process, creating a greater risk of developing DVsT later in the pregnancy.

In addition to these common physiological changes within pregnant women, individuals may be more at risk of experiencing deep vein thrombosis when they have previously been diagnosed with a blood clot, if they have recently had a caesarean section, or if they smoke. Women who are over the age of 35, those who have a body mass index of 30 or higher, or those who have undergone fertility treatment are also more likely to develop DVTs during pregnancy. Being immobile for extended periods of time and carrying multiple children during a single pregnancy also increase the risks.

Warning Signs

In most cases when a pregnant woman develops deep vein thrombosis, the warning signs are similar regardless of the cause. DVT is most often found in a single leg, not both, and can cause swelling of the legs or ankles, pain at the site where the clot occurred, or tenderness of the leg. Some may also experience a warming of the skin on the leg or redness that appears below or behind the knee.

Pregnant women should note that some of these symptoms are similar to other issues that naturally take place while carrying a child to term, many of which may not cause any harm aside from the occasional discomfort.

When any or a combination of these symptoms occur, and they seem out of the ordinary, medical attention should be sought out as soon as possible. Speaking with a medical professional about the discomfort that is taking place, when it began, and what’s being done to minimize the symptoms is pertinent to getting the correct diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

Ways to Prevent DVT during Pregnancy

While deep vein thrombosis has the potential to cause a variety of symptoms during one’s pregnancy, there are several steps to prevent it from taking place from the start. Eddie Chaloner, vein specialist at Radiance Vein Clinic, explains that preventing blood clotting throughout pregnancy always begins with ensuring the blood is flowing on a consistent basis. Regular exercise that is doctor-approved during one’s pregnancy, and walking or stretching a few times a day helps keep the blood flowing as it should. Similarly, not allowing the legs to be idle for extended periods of time is beneficial in preventing DVTs from developing. Lifting the legs while sitting or lying down helps in this regard.

If routine physical activity is not an easy option, Chaloner states that some doctors may prescribe compression stockings to help with consistent blood flow. Compression stockings are easily worn on the legs during the day, working to put slight pressure on the veins to reduce idle time. In addition to compression solutions, a doctor may also provide a preventative dose of an anticoagulant throughout the pregnancy, especially when a woman carries multiple risk factors.

When deep vein thrombosis is diagnosed and treated early on, the potential for a blood clot to break off and travel to the lungs is greatly reduced. Pregnant women and their partners can work to prevent DVTs from developing in the first place by focusing on being active during the pregnancy and speaking to a doctor as soon as any of the warning signs begin to show.

This is a guest blog entry.