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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Red Blood Cells: Most Comprehensive Entry Published by MedFriendly

On 7/25/13, MedFriendly, LLC, published the most comprehensive online review of red blood cells on the internet. Red blood cells are cells that circulate in the blood that specialize in delivering oxygen to the body’s tissues. Comprehensive topics are covered such as how red blood cells are made and reasons for high and low red 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 red 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, July 15, 2013

What Is Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy?

Animal therapy is a growing aspect of treating psychological conditions with our furry (and sometimes not-so-furry) pets and friends. One growing trend in animal treatments is equine therapy, the use of horses to help psychological issues, developmental challenges, or emotional growth in patients.

Riding on a horse, even if it is only infrequently, allows a patient to develop a bond with the animal that creates confidence, trust, social skills, and self-value that may have been difficult to foster using traditional therapy. Equine facilitated psychotherapy is a common method of treatment for many conditions.

What But A Horse, Of Course

What makes a horse such a helpful companion to development and therapy? Horses are different than other pet therapy animals like dogs: though both are social animals, dogs are eager to please while horses are much more aloof. Horses respond to commands, but do not do so in ways that a human would expect: yelling or clapping or whistling does not do much to stir them, leaving patients with the lesson that not all problems in life can be overcome with yelling. Rather, horses obey commands when they trust the person giving them, creating a lesson with patients about the need to trust on both sides of a relationship, even if one is giving more commands than they receive.

Activities

One of the first lessons that a patient will learn with equine therapy is how to get your horse to come over to them without actually touching the animal. This can be used for patients with social anxieties or who need to develop a sense of confidence; it is a common exercise at a drug rehab facility on a horse ranch.  The students who can figure out how to cajole a horse and come to their side will then learn how to lead a horse out of its pasture, and finally how to ride it.

Ride On

One of the great moments in equine facilitated psychotherapy is where a horse allows a patient to ride. This can be an exhilarating experience for a patient, since getting around by horse is so different than a bicycle or car. Riding a horse requires a patient to develop a connection, minimizing their feelings of isolation while giving them a new perspective of teamwork and cooperation. Since the horse is a steady and methodical animal, it works to increase a patient's impulse control and patience as they learn how to ride.

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

Friday, July 12, 2013

How Do Energy Healing Techniques Work?

Energy healing is a holistic approach to healing and health. Healers believe that physical and emotional health problems can be treated with directing healing energy to the person. Most healers use energy healing techniques that involve transmitting energies through their hands, sometimes by placing the hands on the person and sometimes holding the hands just above the body.

Types of Energy Healing

Energy healing techniques include spiritual healing, Reiki and other methods, but all are based on similar principles. The theory behind energy healing is that there is a natural life energy that flows in everyone, and when that energy is blocked, illnesses can result. The job of the healer or the Reiki practitioner is to direct energy from a higher source to the client. Some practitioners talk about universal life energy and some talk about divine energy. In all cases the healer is said to connect to this universal life energy and transmits it to the client.

What Happens in a Session?

Clients often describe feelings of warmth or relaxation during a healing session. Many people feel the energy as heat that radiates from the practitioner's hands. Most clients feel relaxed and peaceful after the treatment, and many say they have slept better than for a long time. Even animals react to healing, and Reiki healing has been especially popular when treating domestic pets. Reiki can be used to help animals that are nervous or tense, and it can be used together with veterinary medicines and treatments.

How to Become a Healer

Different practitioners learn their energy healing techniques in different ways. Some people recognize their own healing abilities early on in life, and some start to learn healing later. Some work as full-time energy healing practitioners, and others give occasional treatments to family and friends.

To become a Reiki practitioner you will need to study with a Reiki Master Teacher. The master helps you to connect to the universal Reiki energy in a process called "attunement". The student always works together with the master over a period of time to discover his or her healing abilities and to tune into the energies.

Reiki healing and energy healing are used to relieve stress and tension, to bring relief to emotional imbalances, and to speed up the body's natural healing abilities in many other conditions. Healers do not claim to treat illnesses or to provide medical services. However they can often provide healing and comfort while the patient is receiving medical treatment.

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Types of Urinary Incontinence and Treatments

Urinary incontinence is a condition where the bladder is unable to store liquids, resulting in involuntary urination. Urinary incontinence occurs in both genders, but it is more common in women. There are several types of urinary incontinence, and they all have different causes and treatments.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when there is pressure, or stress, on the bladder that causes small amounts of urine to leak. This stress can occur with exercise, sneezing, and even laughter. Stress incontinence is usually caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by age and childbirth, as well as certain medications.

Urge Incontinence

Urge Incontinence is characterized by a sudden, urgent need to urinate. Urge incontinence could cause large amounts of urine to leak, and sometimes the urge is so sudden that it's impossible to get to the bathroom in time. Urge incontinence is usually caused by nerve damage or by damage to the bladder muscles. Neurological diseases, such as Parkinsons, and long-term drug and alcohol abuse can contribute to the nerve damage that causes urinary incontinence.

Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence occurs when you can't empty your bladder properly causing it to leak, or overflow, when it fills up again. This form of incontinence is more common in men, and can cause varying amounts of urine to leak from the bladder. Overflow incontinence can be caused by an enlarged prostate, weak bladder muscles, and tumors or other structures, blocking the flow of urine.

Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence occurs when an external influence prevents someone from going to the bathroom in time. These external influences could include mobility issues, impaired motor skills, or mental and cognitive issues. This type of incontinence does not directly affect the bladder, and can involve a variety of ancillary factors including arthritis and traumatic brain injury.

Treatments for Urinary Incontinence

Stress Incontinence

Treatments include exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises or weights,  pessaries that help reduce leakage, and biofeedback monitors. Cases of extreme pelvic floor weakness could require surgery to reposition the bladder.

While the incontinence is active, patients can wear incontinence pads to trap minor leakage. Incontinence pads are similar to menstrual pads but they are designed specifically to deal with the moisture and odor associated with urine. If the leakage is heavy, or it the patient suffers from more than one type of incontinence (or mixed incontinence) adult diapers might be necessary.

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is usually treated with medications that prevent the bladder spasms that cause the immediate urge to go. Lifestyle fixes, like bladder training and timed voiding, can be used in conjunction with the medication. Bladder training involves keeping track of when the urge hits and attempting to avoid situations that might cause a spasm. Timed voiding is intentionally emptying the bladder before it has a chance to spasm. As with stress incontinence, patients can wear incontinence pads or adult diapers to avoid soiling their clothing.

Overflow and Functional Incontinence

In some cases, treating the underlying condition – such as removing an enlarged prostate – can correct the condition. If muscle or nerve damage is the issue, surgery or medication could be the solution. For patients with mobility or memory issues, bladder training and timed voiding can help. In either case, protecting the clothing with pads or diapers can have positive psychological effects.

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Holistic Alcohol Treatment For Men

In life, moderation is very important, but many are times when humans go overboard and when this happens, dire repercussions usually follow. One of the areas where excess can be very dangerous is alcohol consumption. Be this as it may, there are millions of people across the country who are struggling with alcohol addiction.

Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause liver and brain damage; heart failure; increase the risk of diabetes among other things. From a social perspective, alcohol addicts are more likely to abscond from their duties as parents, employees etc than those who don't drink or do so moderately.

Needless to say, alcohol addiction is a very dangerous disease and should, therefore, be dealt with as soon as it manifests. For males who are affected by this problem, help is readily available. One can sign up for a men only drug rehab program either on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Different approaches can be used to fight alcohol addiction including the holistic approach to recovery which has been proven to be quite effective over the years.

One of the main reasons why the holistic approach works so well is because the focus is not just on healing the body but the mind and spirit, as well. The aim is to bring about balance in an individual; balance is what promotes well being and consequently healing. Various techniques are used under this approach including massage, mediation, healthy eating, body cleansing among others.

Alcohol rehab treatment programs for men are specifically designed with men in mind. This means that all those who run the program are well aware of the typical challenges that men are faced with on a daily basis. As mentioned, these programs are available both on an inpatient and outpatient basis.

Inpatient alcohol treatment programs require that one checks into a rehab center where they will remain for a specific period of time. While there, addicts don't have to worry about cooking food, cleaning laundry or any other such chores because there are people who are employed to do just that. On the other hand, outpatient addiction treatment for men only requires part time dedication. This means that addicts can continue with their day to day engagements as they receive treatment.

Before signing up for an alcohol treatment program or checking into a rehab center, it is important to carry out sufficient research. Fully familiarize yourself with all the options available so as to be able to make the most informed decision.

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Important Reasons for Electronic Health Record Implementation

Electronic health records (EHR) are quickly becoming the standard medium by which personal health information is created, stored, and archived by health care providers and health care agencies. Some reasons for this paradigm shift towards EHR implementation and away from paper records includes:

1. Incentive payments: Eligible health care providers and hospitals providing care to Medicaid and Medicare patients will be provided a financial incentive for transitioning to EHR software and for meeting what are known as EHR meaningful use guidelines. These guidelines are pre-specified benchmarks that can be tracked electronically and compared to national averages to determine if patient care is being improved. If the benchmarks are met and patient care is improved, incentive payments result. 

2. Easier storage:
Storing reams of paper is expensive, takes up extensive physical space, and can be difficult to access from storage when needed. Conversely, storing records electronically is relatively inexpensive, does not take up physical space, and can be quickly accessed when needed.

3. More efficient, coordinated, and improved medical care: EHR systems make it easier for health care providers from various settings to quickly and easily access information from each other. This helps to reduce redundant treatments and medical tests, avoid dangerous drug interactions when there are multiple prescribers, and speeds up treatment. As an example of family medicine EHR software, family practitioners can quickly and efficiently enter and monitor trends in vital signs (blood pressure, pulse), quickly order laboratory and diagnostic tests, and monitor trends in important biomarkers. This allows health care providers to identify problems quicker and treat them faster, with the goal of improving patient health outcomes. Pediatricians will also benefit from electronic medical records (EMR) software (as it is sometimes called) because it will allow for all of these features and will also allow for efficient tracking of immunization records and developmental growth chart data (e.g., height, weight, head circumference).

4. E-prescribing: Electronic prescribing allows health care providers to quickly send prescriptions to the pharmacy, check if the patient’s insurance will cover the suggested medication, and provide alerts about possible harmful medication interactions.

5. Other: Auto check-in saves time for patients and office staff, referrals can be made electronically and tracked easier, health maintenance reminders can be sent to patients, scheduling is improved, billing denials are reduced, reimbursement is faster, and much more.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Family Doctors & Disability

Just because family doctors have the ability to diagnose and treat patients doesn’t mean that they aren’t also vulnerable to the threat of injury or illness. In this infographic you’ll learn how susceptible doctors are to the threat of disability and how to prepare yourself financially should the unexpected occur. Visit AAFP Insurance for more information, today!


The above entry is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Polymyalgia Rheumatica: Most Comprehnsive Review Published by MedFriendly

On 5/27/13, MedFriendly, LLC, published the most comprehensive online review of polymyalgia rheumatica, a painful condition of the muscles and joints that affects older people. In addition to being comprehensive (covering issues such as signs, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis) 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 condition.

The polymyalgia rheumatica 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. Also, if you are looking for great healthcare discounts, be sure to check out the daily discounts and other items at the MedFriendly Market.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Oklahoma City Tornado Medical Aftermath: What to Expect

The tornadoes that struck the Oklahoma City area on 5/20/13 will be recorded as one of the worst disasters in U.S. history. The damage is almost indescribable. Thousands of homes and cars were destroyed.  Buildings were also destroyed, including at least one elementary school.

Many other schools were damaged along with at least one hospital. The situation remains fluid as of this writing, with 24 people killed, 9 of whom were children. In addition to those who died, there will be many survivors who are left to deal with serious medical injuries.

FEATURED BOOK: Disaster Response and Recovery

Here is what we can expect based on similar tornado disasters in the past.

Implementation of hospital disaster plans: All hospitals have disaster management plans, with leaders identified in various departments who will coordinate emergency care and response activities. These drills are practiced throughout the year so that the proper medical management guidelines are followed, proper rapid decisions are made, secondary teams of medical staff are well-rested, and other patients who are not tornado victims still receive medical care when disaster.  In addition, stockpiled supplies and equipment will be used to serve the needs of disaster victims.  Patients at damaged hospitals will need to be transferred to more secure locations.

Neurological injuries in adults and children: Many of the injuries will involve damage to the brain, spinal cord, or nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, with the latter generally presenting in a delayed manner. These injuries typically occur due to falling or flying debris (e.g., concrete slabs, wood products, glass) but can also occur from being trapped in vehicles that are picked up and thrown and/or pelted with debris.  The most common injuries will involve the head and bones. Traumatic brain injuries will likely be the leading cause of death.

Examples of specific injuries will likely include skull fractures, scalp lacerations, crushing bone injuries, brain bleeds (some of which can compress the brain tissue), leakage of fluid that cushions the brain and spine, loss of oxygen to the brain, fractures of the bone surrounding the spinal cord, narrowing of the spinal canal, degloving injuries (removal of extensive areas of skin from the underlying tissue, severing the blood supply), nerve damage, wounds contaminated with soil and debris (e.g., wood, gravel), blunt trauma to the chest or abdomen, sprains, strains, and ligament damage. A ligament is a tough band of tissue that attaches to joint bones. Injuries will also occur during the search and recovery and cleanup phase.  Injuries outside the brain and spinal cord may initially be overlooked due to medical staff tending to more life threatening matters.

Emergency surgeries and treatment: Neurosurgeons will be critical to treating patients in the first 12 to 24 hours after the tornado strikes.  Some patients may need to be resuscitated, stabilized, and transferred to other hospitals. Blood transfusions may also be needed. Surgeries will likely include placing drainage tubes in the brain to decrease swelling (edema) and blood accumulation, placing pressure monitors  in the brain, removal of excessive brain  bleeding, placement of a tube in the windpipe to assist breathing, placement of chest tubes to assist breathing due to lung damage, repairing fractures and lacerations, stopping fluid leakage, surgery to decompress the spinal cord, fusion of bones surrounding the spinal cord, placement of pins and rods to stabilize the spinal cord, and placement of skin grafts. Many patients will be placed in intensive care units.

Serious to deadly fungal infections: As noted earlier, wound contamination is a serious problem in tornado related injuries. Within a few days, some patients may suffer fungal infections that can invade the soft tissue and can be deadly even after surgical and medication treatment.  The fungus can come from soil, as was the case in Joplin, Missouri, in which five people died from Apophysomyces trapeziformis, a toxic fungal infection found in soil, decaying vegetation, and water containing living or formerly living materials (e.g., leaves).

Ongoing care: In addition to many patients needing ongoing physical rehabilitation, the emotional impact of living through a tornado and its aftermath (e.g., personal property destruction) cannot be overstated. Many of the patients will be significantly traumatized emotionally and will need access to psychological counseling to address depression, anxiety, and/or anger.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013) Tornado-related fatalities--five states, southeastern United States, April 25-28, 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 61(28):529-33.

Chern JJ, Miller JH, Tubbs RS, Whisenhunt TR, Johnston JM, Wellons JC 3rd, Rozzelle CJ, Blount JP, Oakes WJ. (2011). Massive pediatric neurosurgical injuries and lessons learned following a tornado disaster in Alabama. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 8(6):588-92.

Comstock RD, Mallonee S. (2005). Get off the bus: sound strategy for injury prevention during a tornado? Prehosp Disaster Med. 20(3):189-92.

Kanter RK. (2012). The 2011 Tuscaloosa tornado: integration of pediatric disaster services into regional systems of care. J Pediatr. 161(3):526-530.

May BM, Hogan DE, Feighner KR.(2002). Impact of a tornado on a community hospital. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 102(4):225-8.

Weinhold B. (2013). Rare fungal illness follows tornado. Environ Health Perspect.121(4):A116.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hepatitis C: A Summary of Recent Research

Hepatitis is an infection of the liver that causes liver inflammation. There are several forms of hepatitis. Hepatitis C is one type that is caused by the hepatitis C virus, which infects 170 million people across the world.  Most patients with this condition suffer from a chronic form of the infection, but 40-80% of these patients can clear with standard treatment.

FEATURED BOOK: Curing Hepatitis C

While some patients with hepatitis C will not have symptoms, some will develop scarring of the liver (known as fibrosis) and/or fatty deposits in the liver (known as steatosis). As fibrosis worsens, so does liver stiffness.  As a painless alternative to liver biopsy (invasive tissue sample) for monitoring of liver stiffness, this can now be done with an FDA-approved, painless, and non-invasive imaging procedure known as Fibroscan. Research shows that liver stiffness measured by Fibroscan is linked to the degree of liver fibrosis, liver activity, and fatty liver (Boursier et al., 2013). Hepatitis C can also cause hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is the most common type of liver cancer (Takagi et al., 2013). In worst cases, it can cause death.

In addition to causing liver damage, hepatitis C can also result in brain damage. Advanced neuroimaging technology has shown poor integrity and impairment of the white matter (nerve fibers that conduct information very fast),  underactivity of the cerebral cortex (the outermost layer of brain tissue),  and abnormalities in the basal ganglia (an area of gray tissue deep inside the brain that controls movement), the latter of which may be an indicator of brain inflammation (Bladowska et al., 2013).

Current standard treatment for hepatitis C includes antiviral medications and interferons (proteins that “interfere” with viral reproduction). Research shows that combining interferons with the antiviral drug, ribavirin, results in an absence of detectable hepatitis C virus in RNA (a type of genetic material) for 6 months after stopping treatment (Dogan, Akin, & Yalaki, 2013). When this happens, a patient is said to have achieved a sustained virological response (SVR).

Unfortunately, interferon treatment can have toxic effects and newer oral treatments regimens are being developed to avoid the use of interferons. These newer medications are known as direct acting antivirals (DAA).  The DAAs for hepatitis C are types of protease inhibitors known as telaprevir, simeprevir, and boceprevir,  which all prevent viral reproduction. Recent evidence indicates that cure rates are exceeding more than 90% with 12 weeks of oral DAA treatment that does not use interferons, including hard to treat patients (Luetkemeyer, Havlier, & Currier, 2013).

Because transmission of hepatitis C can occur via intravenous drug use and intercourse, many patients with hepatitis also have HIV.  In Brazil, most of these patients are male and in their mid-20s, with the average con-infection rate among HIV patients  being 20.3% (Kuehlkamp & Schuelter-Trevisol F, 2013).

For patients co-infected with hepatitis C and HIV, cure rates are presently at 75% with combined treatment of simeprivir, interferon, and ribavirin (Luetkemeyer, Havlier, & Currier, 2013). Incidentally, cardiovascular problems in HIV are worsened with hepatitis C co-infection (Syed & Sani, 2013). HIV patients with hepatitis C are also known to be at increased risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis (an abnormal loss of bone thickness and a wearing away of bone tissue), which is partly explained by liver disease severity (Maalouf et al, 2013). One of the markers of liver disease in hepatitis C is the level of bilirubin, a yellow-orange substance excreted by the liver. If the bilirubin levels are high for long periods, this usually indicates severe liver damage. In patients with hepatitis C and HIV, the antiviral (protease inhibitor) medication, atazanavir, only resulted in small changes in bilirubin level, which is good (Cotter et al., 2013).

Many patients with hepatitis C do not receive treatment due to lack of insurance, poor financial resources, and serious psychiatric illness, and/or substance abuse.  However, in one study, when treatment for hepatitis C was initiated in nine individuals with serious mental illness and substance abuse, adherence to antiviral treatment was high and the SVR was comparable with published studies (Sockalingham et al, 2013). 

References:

Bladowska J, Zimny A, Knysz B, Małyszczak K, Kołtowska A, Szewczyk P, Gąsiorowski J, Furdal M, Sąsiadek MJ. (2013). Evaluation of early cerebral metabolic, perfusion and microstructural changes in HCV-positive patients: a pilot study. J Hepatol. (Epub). 

Boursier J, de Ledinghen V, Sturm N, Amrani L, Bacq Y, Sandrini J, Le Bail B, Chaigneau J, Zarski JP, Gallois Y, Leroy V, Al Hamany Z, Oberti F, Fouchard-Hubert I, Dib N, Bertrais S, Rousselet MC, Calès P; Multicentre group. (2013). Precise evaluation of liver histology by computerized morphometry shows that steatosis influences liver stiffness measured by transient elastography in chronic hepatitis C. J Gastroenterol. (Epub).

Cotter AG, Brown A, Sheehan G, Lambert J, Sabin CA, Mallon PW. Predictors of the change in bilirubin levels over twelve weeks of treatment with atazanavir. (2013). AIDS Res Ther. 10(1):13.

Dogan UB, Akin MS, Yalaki S. (2013). Sustained virological response based on the week 4 response in hepatitis C virus genotype 1 patients treated with peginterferons α-2a and α-2b, plus ribavirin. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. (Epub).

Kuehlkamp VM, Schuelter-Trevisol F. (2013). Prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus/hepatitis C virus co-infection in Brazil and associated factors: a review. Braz J Infect Dis. (Epub).

Luetkemeyer AF, Havlir DV, Currier JS. (2013): CROI 2013: Complications of HIV disease, viral hepatitis, and antiretroviral therapy. Top Antivir Med. 21(2):62-74.

Maalouf N, Zhang S, Drechsler H, Brown G, Tebas P, Bedimo R.(2013). Hepatitis C co-infection and severity of liver disease as risk factors for osteoporotic fractures among HIV-infected patients. J Bone Miner Res. (Epub).

Sockalingam S, Blank D, Banga CA, Mason K, Dodd Z, Powis J. (2013). A novel program for treating patients with trimorbidity: hepatitis C, serious mental illness, and active substance use. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. (Epub).

Syed FF, Sani MU. (2013). Recent advances in HIV-associated cardiovascular diseases in Africa. Heart. (Epub).

Takagi K, Fujiwara K, Takayama T, Mamiya T, Soma M, Nagase H. (2013). DNA hypermethylation of zygote arrest 1 (ZAR1) in hepatitis C virus positive related hepatocellular carcinoma. Springerplus.10;2(1):150.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Marijuana (Cannabis) Use: A Summary of Recent Research

Marijuana is the most commonly smoked illegal substance in many countries (Underner at al, 2013). Recent research in France has shown that the public views marijuana as having the highest perceived benefit for users (Reynaud et al., 2013) despite its effect on brain structure and thinking abilities remaining controversial (Cunha et al., 2013).

FEATURED BOOK: Overcoming Your Marijuana Dependency

Smoking marijuana  has a known negative impact on breathing functions (e.g., more breathing symptoms and development of acute bronchitis) due to the increased time that the smoke stays in the lungs as a result of the inhalation technique differing from that of tobacco inhalation (Underne et al., 2013). Bronchitis is a type of common lung disease characterized by increased mucus in the windpipe and bronchi (small airways). While marijuana use rapidly dilates the bronchi, chronic marijuana irritates the bronchi, inflames the airway, increases airway resistance, and alters the activity of macrophages in the alveoli that normally get rid of bacteria and fungi (Underner at al, 2013). Macrophages are types of white blood cells that engulf and digest (eat) harmful substances in the body. The alveoli are balloon-like sacs in the lungs that air travels to.

People are known to use marijuana as a way to cope with negative emotions, are more likely to use it in social situations (especially if they see others using it) than when alone, and use more behavioral than cognitive strategies to quit using it (Buckner et al, 2013).

Marijuana is known to induce psychosis, in which a person loses touch with reality. However, in an interesting new study from Brazil, researchers found that patients who used marijuana with a first episode of psychosis had fewer structural brain abnormalities (better brain tissue preservation) and fewer problems with aspects of attention, concentration , and executive functioning (carrying out a speeded verbal searching strategy) compared to other psychotic patients who did not report a history of marijuana use (Ciunha et al., 2013, 2013).

In a process known as mulling, some people add tobacco to marijuana (technically cannabis resin) for its consumption, which results in significant nicotine exposure (Belanger et al., 2013). One cigarette containing tobacco and cannabis resin is more harmful than a cigarette only containing tobacco (Underner et al., 2013). Recent case study evidence shows that the anti-psychotic medication, Abilify, can completely stop such psychotic reactions after marijuana consumption but that it has no effect on smoking level (Rolland et al., 2013).

Evidence continues to emerge that marijuana is a gateway drug. For example, recreational Ecstasy use is partially predicted by early marijuana use although other factors were found to play a more important role such as knowing people who use Ecstasy or attendance at dance music events (Smirnov et al., 2013). Ecstasy is an illegal drug known for causing distinct social-emotional effects.  Research has also emerged showing that patients who ingest large quantities of seeds from the Convolvulaceae family (also known as bindweed or early morning glory) are frequently known to use marijuana (Juszczak and Swiergiel, 2013.  These seeds are known to have significant psychoactive effects when consumed in large quantities.

Some people abuse synthetic marijuana (known as synthetic cannabinoid) which is a designer drug created from natural herbs that imitates the effects of marijuana when consumed. A recent case study reported on a young man with schizophrenia (a type of psychotic disorder) who developed the first known case of severe and life-threatening catatonia rapidly after synthetic marijuana use that was successfully treated with ECT (electrconvulsive therapy) after a failed trial of benzodiazapines (a type of anti-anxiety medication) (Leibu et al., 2013). Catatonia is a condition characterized by a lack of movement, rigid muscles, and agitation. Electroconvulsive therapy is the process of causing convulsions (abnormal, severe, involuntary muscle movements) by passing controlled levels of electricity through the brain. In the aforementioned case study, non-adherence to anti-psychotic medication in addition to synthetic marijauana use was believed to cause the rapid onset of catatonia.

Recent research has shown that marijuana is one of the most commonly abuse substances among HIV-infected persons entering jail. In such individuals,  use of marijuana (and other drugs) is associated with not having an HIV provider, not being prescribed antiretroviral therapy (medications that treat HIV), and low levels of antiretroviral medication adherence if they were prescribed the medication (Chitsaz et al., 2013).

For these reasons and others, attempts to detect cannabis dependence is important in medical settings. This generally involves the use of self-report scales as a non-invasive screening tool. However, one such measure, the Severity of Dependence Scale, was not recommended for use as a screening instrument due to difficulties differentiating between those with a marijuana dependence versus non-dependence (van der Pol et al,  2013). When detected, clinicians are encouraged to offer patients support in quitting marijuana smoking to bring about important benefits in lung functioning (Underner at al., 2013) and other health benefits.

References:

Bélanger RE, Marclay F, Berchtold A, Saugy M, Cornuz J, Suris JC. (2013). To What Extent Does Adding Tobacco to Cannabis Expose Young Users to Nicotine? Nicotine Tob Res. (Epub).

Buckner JD, Zvolensky MJ, Ecker AH. (2013). Cannabis use during a voluntary quit attempt: An analysis from ecological momentary assessment. Drug Alcohol Depend. Epub.

Chitsaz E, Meyer JP, Krishnan A, Springer SA, Marcus R, Zaller N, Jordan AO, Lincoln T, Flanigan TP, Porterfield J, Altice FL.(2013). Contribution of Substance Use Disorders on HIV Treatment Outcomes and Antiretroviral Medication Adherence Among HIV-Infected Persons Entering Jail. AIDS Behav. (Epub).

Cunha PJ, Rosa PG, Ayres AD, Duran FL, Santos LC, Scazufca M, Menezes PR, Dos Santos B, Murray RM, Crippa JA, Busatto GF, Schaufelberger MS. (2013). Cannabis use, cognition and brain structure in first-episode psychosis. Schizophr Res. (Epub).

Juszczak GR, Swiergiel AH. Recreational use of D-lysergamide from the seeds of Argyreia nervosa, Ipomoea tricolor, Ipomoea violacea, and Ipomoea purpurea in Poland.(2013). J Psychoactive Drugs. 45(1):79-93.

Leibu E, Garakani A, McGonigle DP, Liebman LS, Loh D, Bryson EO, Kellner CH. (2013). Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) for Catatonia in a Patient With Schizophrenia and Synthetic Cannabinoid Abuse: A Case Report. J ECT. (Epub).

Reynaud M, Luquiens A, Aubin HJ, Talon C, Bourgain C. (2013). Quantitative damage-benefit evaluation of drug effects: major discrepancies between the general population, users and experts. J Psychopharmacol. (Epub).

Rolland B, Geoffroy PA, Jardri R, Cottencin O. (2013). Aripiprazole for treating cannabis-induced psychotic symptoms in ultrahigh-risk individuals. Clin Neuropharmacol. 36(3):98-9.

Smirnov A, Najman JM, Hayatbakhsh R, Wells H, Legosz M, Kemp R. (2013). Young adults' recreational social environment as a predictor of Ecstasy use initiation: findings of a population-based prospective study. Addiction. 2013. (Epub).

Underner M, Urban T, Perriot J, Peiffer G, Meurice JC. (2013). Cannabis use and impairment of respiratory function. Rev Mal Respir. 30(4):272-85.

van der Pol P, Liebregts N, de Graaf R, Korf DJ, van den Brink W, van Laar M. (2013). Reliability and validity of the Severity of Dependence Scale for detecting cannabis dependence in frequent cannabis users. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res. (Epub).

Monday, May 13, 2013

Featured Recipe: Kathy's Kahlua Cake

In honor of Mother’s Day, I decided to break the mold of this blog a bit and put up my favorite recipe from mom. I call it Kathy’s Kahlua Cake. It is by far, the BEST cake I have eaten in my life which I why I want to make sure I make a permanent record of the recipe.

When it comes out, it looks like the picture to the left.  It is delicious, moist, and great to eat morning, noon, and night. Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

1.    Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Golden Cake Mix
2.    One small package of vanilla instant pudding
3.    Four eggs
4.    Half cup of vegetable oil
5.    One cup of luke warm water
6.    Three teaspoons of maple extract
7.    Three teaspoons of Kahlua coffee liqueur
8.    Half cup of chopped walnuts (do NOT use this ingredient for people with tree nut allergies)

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, except for the walnuts.

Blend in the walnuts at the end.

Grease a bundt pan thoroughly. 
Pour mixture into bundt pan

Heat at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Test with a toothpick and increase baking time slightly if the toothpick does not come out clean.

Remove cake from oven, place plastic wrap over the open side, and let cool for 10 minutes.

When you see too much condensation on the plastic wrap, remove it and place a new plastic wrap on it. Do this about two more times in the first hour. This is the secret aspect to making the cake so moist. ENJOY!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

7 Healthy Lunch Snacks Your Child Will Actually Eat

Finding a healthy snack to put in your child’s lunch bag can be a challenge. After all, it is very easy to just throw in a bag of potato chips, a candy bar, or a lollipop and most children will be perfectly happy with that. But these days, parents are more health conscious and want to try other alternatives.

While nuts are healthy and tasty, these are problematic in school settings because someone usually has a significant peanut or tree nut allergy.

This topic was mentioned last night on the MedFriendly Facebook page where one person suggested raisins and banana chips. Raisins are a good choice but they need to be packed properly so they do not dry out. Some also come in very small boxes that will still leave the child hungry. Also, in my opinion, yellow raisins are much tastier than black raisins, yet I never see them in the small boxes. One could always put them in a baggy though with a twist. Banana chips are definitely tasty and they are made from fruit but they contain a high level of saturated fat.  This is typically due to coconut oil. This can be bad if the oil is partially hydrogenated but good if it is extra virgin coconut oil (non-hydrogenated). The problem is that most labels don’t tell you which type of oil was used.           

Some websites which have discussed this topic give choices that are clearly very healthy such as bean dip and broccoli bites, but… seriously, how many 3rd graders really wants to eat bean dip or broccoli bites? Not many. Some suggest making homemade snacks as opposed to relaying on manufactured brands. But most parents don’t have time to make home made products such as fresh granola and are looking for something quick and easy. Some sites suggest making kabobs out of fresh fruit but that runs the risk of children hurting someone with the left over skewer sticks.

After doing some thinking and reading, I’ve listed my top 7 quick and easy choices for healthy lunch snacks that most children will actually eat. If you have others feel free to post them in the comment section.     

1. OCEAN SPRAY CRAISINS: Dovetailing off the raisin suggestion above, Craisins are a delicious healthy snack most kids will eat. They common in many different fruity flavors and have a candy like sweet taste while remaining healthy. Simply place in a small plastic bag and close with a twist tie.

2. ALL NATURAL FRUIT SNACKS:
Most kids love gummies and related fruit snacks. The hard part is finding ones with all natural ingredients. All natural fruit snacks are usually found in warehouse club stores or online here.     

3. VEGGIE CHIPS:
Many children will actually enjoy veggie chips by having them focus more on the color than the taste. They are very tasty and this is coming from someone who does not usually like many vegetables.    

4. APPLE SAUCE: An oldie but a goodie. With so many options and flavors (e.g., pear apple sauce), most children will find an applesauce they like. The tricky part can be finding all natural applesauce but it  is out there. A recent twist is making it in a squeezable pouch form.

5. MEAT JERKY:
All natural and organic beef jerky is a tasty treat for kids who want something besides fruit and veggies. If you don’t want to give them red meat, try the turkey jerky version.

6. CLIF BARS:  These are organic energy/protein bars, available in numerous flavors.

7. KASHI PRODUCTS:
Available in most stores, Kashi sells a variety of healthy but tasty food products, including cookies and brownies that most children will enjoy. The company even makes various snack chips.