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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Dangers Of Prescription Drugs

There are many cases where prescription drugs have positive results for people. However, if you ask most people they'll likely complain about the many side effects they've experienced from their prescriptions. So, are prescription drugs helping or hurting people?

There are people on both sides that will argue their belief, either that there is nothing wrong with them and how they heal people and make them healthier or that they are bad. No matter what you believe, you have to admit that it seems prescriptions only mask people's ailments.

There are more natural ways of healing what ails you that can keep prescriptions out of your bathroom cabinet. One way is to eat healthy, get regular exercise and cut out bad habits like smoking. Living a healthy life is definitely the best way to ward off illnesses.

Why Prescription Drugs Don't Help

Have you ever taken the time to look at the paperwork your pharmacist gives you when you pick up your prescription? The one that tells you the possible side effects? While not everyone is going to suffer from those side effects you may notice that many of the side effects are the direct opposite of what you were prescribed that medication for.

When drug commercials for anti-depressants list possible thoughts of suicide as a possible side effect, don't you start to question prescription drugs in general? Why would a depressed person take something that might make them want to kill themselves?

It seems like there may be better options over taking prescription medications for certain illnesses. In the case of depression seeing a therapist may be safer and better than a prescription.

The next time you pick up a new prescription read that warning sheet. If your pharmacist doesn't give you one, request it. However, always talk to your doctor before you stop taking a prescribed medication so that they can help you come up with other ways of treatment.

What About Prescription Drug Addiction?


You may think that prescription drug addiction only happens to people that take drugs from other people that weren't prescribed to them. However, that thinking is way off.

Even people with a prescription to a drug can become addicted to that drug. This is really common with people on pain killers. They can get used to the high they get from the pills when they do need them and then they'll fake the pain to keep getting them.

Addicted To Someone Else's Prescription

As already mentioned, people can get addicted to someone else's prescription. It can also cause your own death to take another persons prescribed drugs. You may think they are safe since they were prescribed by a doctor, but they were meant for whatever specific ailment the person who got them has.

There is help for people that are addicted to prescription drugs, and this type of addiction is just as bad as being addicted to heroin. It can still kill you, or at least cause you to lose your job, family or relationships. It is important to get treatment for prescription drug addiction with a program that is specifically designed to manage your particular addiction and its associated withdrawal symptoms.

If you suspect someone is taking your prescription drugs you should start keeping them in a locked cabinet for which only you have a key. Some prescription drugs can also cause withdrawal symptoms when you quit them, which makes unwarranted use even more risky.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Choose the Right Dental Chairs and Stools for Your Clinic

Every dental office needs to have a dental chair. It is here that diagnostics and treatments are performed. The chairs allow a dentist to be properly positioned, thereby being able to access their mouth and teeth with ease. Additionally, they allow the patient to be comfortable and they allow the dental assistant to do their job. If you are considering purchasing dental chairs, there are a few considerations you need to make.

Padding

A padded chair gives extra comfort to both the patient and the dentist. Hence, you should always choose a chair with excellent padding. Try to find one that is ergonomic, so that it is able to adjust to different body types as well.

Height

The cylinder height is particularly important for the dental stool. This is because, as a dentist, you must make sure that you will not start to suffer from lower back pain. The stool must be suitable for your personal height, be that shorter or taller than the norm. Do also consider a stool with a waterfall edge, as this is more comfortable than a stool with a simple round design. Furthermore, it should come with an adjustable back rest, as well as tilting seat pan. Put together, this leads to greater comfort and less back pain, as well as ensuring you can access the patient with ease.

Operations and Adjustments


Once you receive your new dental chair or your new stool, make sure you get to know them so you know exactly how to operate them. You must be able to make adjustments with ease as and when required, otherwise the ergonomic features will be wasted. Make sure you study the paperwork and instruction manuals that came with the chairs. If you can take up a trial period, do use this as it will allow you to find out whether or not the equipment is right for you before you part with your money.

Maintenance and Care

Dental chairs are not cheap, unfortunately. This is why you need to make sure that you maintain them properly and look after them according to the instructions, so you don’t have to replace them too often.

Naturally, you can expect that you will receive some sort of warranty and guarantee on your chairs and stools when you first purchase them, but this doesn’t last a lifetime. Many dentists find that they prefer chairs and stools with removable padding, as this is also what tends to break the soonest, while at the same time being the cheapest element of the chair itself. If it is removable, you can simply replace that part of the chair itself. You may also want to consider entering into a service contract with the supplier or manufacturer of the equipment.

As you can see, there are quite a few things to think about. There is no way around purchasing a dental chair, as you simply cannot run an office without one. However, this does not mean you should buy the first one you come across either.

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Using Apps to Improve Your Health

There are lots of little things that you can do to improve your and your family’s health. You can make sure to eat a nutritious and natural diet. You can get more exercise. You know all of the basics already.

The problem for most people who want to get healthy isn’t a lack of knowledge. It’s getting into the habit of putting that knowledge into practice.

For some weird reason we believe that the only way to really get healthy is to force ourselves into new habits organically and through sheer force of will. Why we put so much pressure on ourselves to get healthy independently is a mystery--especially since there is so much help out there for people who seek it. There are nutritionists, personal trainers, life coaches and even apps that will help you set up and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Yes. They do, as cliche as it sounds, make an app for that. Here are some of the best:

TruClinic

Featured in the ADP AdvancedMD marketplace, TruClinic is an app that connects you to your doctors, face-to-face and in real time via your mobile device. Billed as a way to “bring back the house call,” TruClinic is a great way to see your doctor without having to actually take the time to schedule, show up and then be kept waiting for what might turn out to be a five minute appointment for something very minor. It’s also a great way to get initial diagnoses when you notice that something about your health has gotten out of whack.

FitBit

It’s so commonplace now that we debated whether or not to put it on this list. It seems like everybody has a FitBit now and for good reason: it works and it works well. In addition to tracking your steps, the FitBit can also track your sleeping patterns, your nutrition, your weight, and your progress in these areas. What makes FitBit superior to many of the other apps out there is that it is cross-app compatible. The wristband and pedometer can be synced with other apps like Lose It, Spark People, Map My Run, and BeeMinder. It’s a many trick pony and one that you want in your arsenal.

My Fitness Pal

Rated as one of PC Mag’s top 25 Fitness Apps, My Fitness Pal is great because it doesn’t just track calories consumed and burned, it tracks the different kinds of calories consumed and burned. You can log specific recipes as well as general foods. In addition to the food you take in, it provides you with a variety of weight loss plans and a pedometer to help you take care of your overall health.

Spotify

Yes, Spotify is a music app. Why, then, is it on this list? Because the Spotify app can be used to build playlists built on your workout pace. For example, it will track your steps as you run an then build a playlist that focuses on songs that match your beat. It might not necessarily help you get healthier but it’s still pretty cool--especially if you depend on music to make your workout easier to deal with.

Zombies Run/The Walk

These are separate apps: Zombies Run and The Walk, respectively. They’re paired up here because they offer the same basic experience. Zombies Run is for runners: you listen to a story about zombies through your earbuds and you have to keep running to keep them from catching you (and to complete a variety of missions). For people who hate running, The Walk offers the same basic experience except you walk instead of run.

Gorilla Workout

Unlike a lot of the other fitness apps out there, this app doesn’t assume that you have already reached any specific level of fitness. It assumes you’re starting from the point of not even being able to do a single pushup. Do each daily workout and, feel your body actually get stronger and healthier as you progress. If the feelings aren’t enough to keep you going, you can also watch the monkey on your screen go from being a baby monkey to a fully grown gorilla by the time you’ve finished all the workouts.

First Aid

There is more to health than simply exercises and counting calories. First Aid, an app offered by the American Red Cross and has information about what to do in the event of a lot of different accidents and injuries. The app features videos as well as photos, diagrams and written instructions for a wide variety of injuries and accident situations.

Do you have a favorite app that helps you track, monitor and improve your health, let us know in the comments!

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Your Nurse May Be More Important Than Your Doctor

Nursing is a profession that many take for granted. Although we’ve all been helped by nurses, we often overlook their abilities and knowledge base and give doctors the high praise. The truth of it is that nurses have a wide skillset and deep understanding of the medical field. Many take the time to pursue additional higher education, including online DNP programs to receive doctoral degrees, and some spend as much time receiving specialized training as doctors.

Nurses do more than just administer medications and assist doctors. Many of them save lives on a regular basis without receiving any type of gratitude. Additional important jobs a nurse takes on during his or her workday include:

Taking the Time to Know You

Doctors are often in and out of a patient’s room, and don’t particularly take the time to really get to know a patient – especially in a hospital setting. Nurses, on the other hand, work more closely with patients and really take the time to get to know their personalities and needs. By knowing a patient more intimately, nurses are better able to determine how a patient is feeling and how they are progressing in their recovery. The ability to get to know patients more closely also allows nurses to work more collaboratively with patients, and patients who have a hand in creating their treatments are more likely to succeed.

Traveling to Where They Are Needed


As the number of people needing healthcare due to age has increased, the demand for nurses has increased exponentially. Hospitals and care facilities throughout the United States have had a high demand for well-trained nurses, and offer temporary contracts and high salaries to nurses who are willing to travel. Travel nursing jobs in Hawaii offer nurses beautiful ocean beaches while those in Colorado afford nurses who prefer the snowbird lifestyle a chance to regularly visit the Rockies. Regardless of the scenery, many nurses are willing to fulfill the need of different hospitals, and sacrifice a more stationary lifestyle to offer people great healthcare.

Focusing on Prevention

Traditionally, the healthcare model was focused on treating patients after they were diagnosed with an illness. However, as the cost of healthcare rises in the United States, current healthcare professionals are shifting their focus on disease and illness prevention. Prior to this shift in healthcare, nurses always predominately focused on prevention by educating patients on how to live healthier lifestyles. As efforts continue to focus on disease and illness prevention treatment models, nurses will only become more important in their roles.

Monitoring Patients

A doctor may be the one to come in and give a final say, but nurses are the individuals who actually take the time to provide one on one care. They make sure that patients receive their medications on time, make sure patient conditions remain hygienic, and ensure that patient needs are met. Nurses are often first responders as well, and are the ones who notice when a patient’s condition is deteriorating, stable, or improving – ensuring that quality care is met as soon as it is needed.

Serving as a Liaison

Because nurses work closely with both patients and doctors, they serve as liaisons. Doctors aren’t always the best at using nonmedical jargon to explain a patient’s condition and often aren’t trained to have the best customer service. To ensure that patient’s understand their diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis, nurses take the time to thoroughly explain doctor’s orders. Nurses will also relay the patient’s needs, concerns, or questions to doctors to make sure that the patient is actually receiving the care they desire.

Nurses work long hours and overnight shifts. They clean up the messes no one else wants to deal with. They provide support to not only patients, but their family members as well. They give shots, medications, check vitals, and offer recommendations to both patients and doctors. Nurses are a vital part of any care facility, and they will only continue to grow in their importance as we develop more sustainable healthcare models.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Dual Diagnosis Disorders: Addiction and Mental Illness among Men

When it comes to treating addiction, a multi-step approach is necessary. From treating the physical effects of long-term substance abuse to addressing the root cause of addictive behaviors, a lasting recovery requires in-depth comprehensive care.

For example, for men struggling with addiction, underlying conditions like depression, PTSD and bipolar disorder often contribute to substance abuse, and can also worsen the effects of addiction.

Therefore, to effectively treat addiction and prevent relapse with addictive substances, addressing underlying mental illness is crucial. Keep reading for more on mental illness and substance abuse among men, including information on symptoms, risk factors and available treatment options.

Dual Diagnosis in Men

Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe co-occurring disorders like addiction and mental illness. In patients with dual-diagnosis disorders, drugs and alcohol are often used in an attempt to numb or self-medicate the symptoms of mental illness, which can result in both physical and psychological dependence. Among men, addiction typically co-occurs with conditions like the following:

• Post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is triggered by a stressful or traumatic event, and is associated with symptoms like severe anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbances and flashbacks of the event in question. Men with PTSD are at an extremely high risk for addiction, as over half of all men with this disorder experience problems with drugs or alcohol.
  
• Bipolar disorder. Characterized by severe mood swings and extreme behavioral disturbances, bipolar disorder is extremely common among men suffering from addiction. What's more, bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose and treat, which increases the risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse.
 
• Depression. Though women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, men suffer from this illness in growing numbers. Men are also less likely to seek treatment, and are at greater risk for complications like substance abuse, self-harm and other destructive behaviors.

• Schizophrenia. Men are more likely than women to suffer from schizophrenia, and many use drugs or alcohol to relieve symptoms like extreme paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety and more.

• Anxiety. Anxiety is typically viewed as a female issue; however, men and women suffer from social anxiety in near-equal numbers, and men with this disorder find it difficult to perform simple, everyday tasks. Symptoms of anxiety can vary, but can include feelings of fear or panic, as well as physical symptoms like high blood pressure and shortness of breath. 

Treating Dual Diagnosis Disorders

Even when addiction occurs on its own, treatment can mean the difference in life and death; when addiction co-occurs with mental illness, the need for professional help is even more critical. Combined, the effects of mental illness and substance abuse can have a severe impact on health and quality of life, and can increase the risk of complications like overdose, suicide and aggressive or violent behaviors. Thankfully, dual-diagnosis disorders can be treated, safely and effectively. Methods like the following are typically included in dual diagnosis residential treatment for men:

• Counseling. Talk therapy is necessary in the treatment of both addiction and mental illness. One-on-one counseling encourages patients to explore their issues with addictive substances, as well as formulate a plan for long-term health and sobriety. Plus, talk therapy is often necessary in identifying the mental illnesses that often contribute to substance abuse. Group counseling is beneficial, as well, as it provides peer support, accountability and the opportunity for men to discuss their problems, honestly and without fear of judgment.

• Medication. Prescription medications are often necessary in treating mental illness. For example, with illnesses like schizophrenia and depression, medications can relieve symptoms and enhance quality of life so that the urge to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol is significantly reduced.

• Followup care. Followup care methods, such as continued counseling and group therapy, are crucial in preventing relapse and ensuring sustained mental health.

• Dual diagnosis disorders can have a severe impact on health and quality of life. Thankfully, though, with intensive, comprehensive care, recovery is possible. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction and/or mental illness, get help today, and take the first step toward a better, brighter tomorrow.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Right to Fail – Should We Give it to Doctors?

No one goes out of their way to be bad at their job. But when you’ve settled into your routine, the grinding repetition of chores can wear you down. In the medical profession, a lack of alertness through boredom can be disastrous – for both doctors and patients.

Despite popular belief, doctors are allowed to make mistakes. There may be a misdiagnoses here or a poor bedside manner there but, provided your mistakes don’t derive from apathy, there are always safeguards in place. 

The General Medical Council (GMC) asked medical student Lucy-Anne Webb about the pressures of making mistakes in the medical world: “The unwillingness of medics (students and doctors alike) to discuss mistakes or misunderstandings with colleagues for fear of being judged and the highly self-critical nature with which we conduct ourselves is prevalent and apparent in the medical community.”

In a culture where medical professionals feel judged for the occasional misstep, the fear of failure can be crippling – and place patients in grave danger.

The consultation fix

Without consultation and discussion, the medical world would never have progressed beyond leeches to cure the plague. Your entire career should act like a medical journal, peer reviewed at every juncture and improved upon with every input.

Indeed, you don’t have to wait for criticism. A number of doctors appraisal experts can give you a helping hand, for a small fee. This is a vital process showing the GMC that you’re still fit to practice and can maintain modern medical standards.

While the foundations of your training will always be relevant, the goalposts are always moving when it comes to the nuances of rules and regulations. With regular input from appraisal experts, failure need not be a career killer.

A fallible professional

It’s understandable that the transparency to show failures makes a number of hospital executives anxious, especially in Britain, where NHS figures are continually skewed by the media and politicians.

With an increased openness to admit failure comes a greater number of opportunities to portray the NHS as a beleaguered institution.

But mistakes are leading to a wasteful medical industry. In the US, for instance, one in every three dollars is spent on fixing previous errors. Moreover, around 1.2 million incidents are reported on the NHS every year.

For the general public, admitting that your doctor is fallible is an understandable struggle. Television shows like House show a Sherlock-like god figure as doctor. He can sniff out illness like a drug detection dog can sniff cocaine. Yet these lofty portrayals are ultimately harmful to the practice in general.

With increased communication within the medical community and greater transparency with the public, people might begin to appreciate the fallibility of medical practitioners.

Written by Paul Watson.

How to Slash Health Hazard Risks in Hospitals

It’s natural to think of our healthcare establishments as relatively safe places.Whether we’re in for an appendectomy or simply visiting a poorly family member, few of us expect to come to harm after we walk through the sliding doors – but several dangers are stalking the nation’s hospitals.

One of the biggest health risks are hospital-acquired infections (HAI), including pneumonia, urinary tract infections and surgical site infections, with one in 16 people treated in the NHS picking up an infection which can hinder their recovery.

Prof Gillian Leng, the deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “Although there have been major improvements within the NHS in infection control, particularly in relation to Clostridium difficile and MRSA bloodstream infections in the last few years, healthcare-associated infections are still a very real threat to patients, their families and carers and staff.”

So what can be done?

Getting to Grips with Infection Control


According to Tom Sandford, director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, infection prevention and control are vital to ensuring the safety of patients, with every health service organisation urged to make this a top priority.

Additionally, dealing with healthcare waste is equally as important.
While around 80 per cent of waste generated by healthcare activity is general waste, the remaining 20 per cent is hazardous material that may be infectious, radioactive or toxic, which presents a real danger to patients and visitors.

Worldwide, an estimated 16,000 million injections are administered every year, but not all needles and syringes are properly disposed of – but this is an area where healthcare establishments can alleviate risk by hiring the services of a specialist medical waste team.

Indeed, according to statistics from the World Health Organization, high-income countries generate an average of 0.5kg of hazardous waste – sharps, chemicals, pharmaceuticals etc – per bed per day, all containing potentially harmful microorganisms.

Trust the Medical Waste Experts


Clearly, disposing of medical waste is an issue in healthcare establishments around the world.
Worryingly, inadequate training in proper waste management, as well as the seemingly low priority many healthcare establishments give to this issue, not to mention some countries without appropriate regulations, means various health hazards are likely to continue unabated.

By employing a specialist firm to dispose of medical waste, however, healthcare establishments abide by legislation controlling its safe handling and make sure it’s dealt with in an efficient and environmentally considerate manner.

This often involves supplying a range of colour coded disposal bins, as well as training healthcare professionals to segregate waste at source, which should help hospitals reduce the risk of harm to vulnerable patients and concerned visitors alike.

Written by Paul Watson.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Fighting Common Types of Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, and it often becomes fatal because people simply do not know enough about it. Individuals are not educated on the most common types of cancer, and they often overlook the importance of regular physical exams and check-ups that can help catch cancer before it becomes untreatable.

To help protect yourself from becoming a victim of cancer, take the time to educate yourself on a few of the most prevalent types of cancer and the tests needed to determine whether or not they exist.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is by far the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and it isn’t just a diagnosis in smokers. Those exposed to secondhand smoke over a long period of time, workers surrounded by high concentrations of chemicals, and those with no history of carcinogen exposure at all may be diagnosed with lung cancer. The disease is highly treatable if caught in the early stages, and those who may be at high risk need to remain vigilant.

Lung cancer may first be noticed during your annual physical exam. Swollen lymph nodes above your collar bone, abnormal sounds in chest cavity, and a dullness in your chest when tapped can all suggest lung cancer. If your doctor notices anything irregular, he or she may order a CT scan. If the results of the scan are abnormal, a biopsy and bone scan are done to get a more accurate diagnosis and to determine the extent of the potential cancer.

KRAS testing to detect gene mutation can be used after a lung cancer diagnosis. This test helps individuals determine how well their bodies will respond to the typical epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor therapies commonly used as treatment patients with advanced stage lung cancer. Knowing how well your body will respond to treatment will make it easier to cater treatment to your needs which may ultimately increase your likelihood of survival.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second most leading cause of cancer-related death, and can be a little trickier to detect in those suffering from it. If you notice a constant change in bowel movements or have notice blood regularly in your stool, it may be time to consult your physician.

Upon noticing irregularity, your doctor may order a colonoscopy to see if polyps are in your colon. While a colonoscopy normally is not recommended until individuals reach the age of 50, if you have a familial history of colorectal cancer, you should have a colonoscopy 10 years before the age of the last person diagnosed in your family. So if your grandmother was diagnosed at age 50, you should have your first colonoscopy at age 40.

If your doctor notices polyps in your colonoscopy, he or she may remove a polyp to have a biopsy performed. A CT scan may also be ordered to determine the extent of any growths that may be occurring.

Like lung cancer, colorectal cancer has can also use a KRAS test to determine how well the body will respond to EGFR inhibitor therapies. This test is highly recommended as colorectal cancer can become highly aggressive and difficult to treat.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer has a 97 percent survivability rate if found while the cancer is still in the breast tissue. However, if left untreated, breast cancer can spread throughout the body, and require intense chemotherapy and numerous surgeries to combat.

One of the best ways to start screening for breast cancer is through your own breast exams and by attending your annual well-woman exam. Should your doctor notice any lumps, he or she may order a mammogram, breast ultrasound, or MRI to determine whether or not the irregular tissue should be of any concern. If the tissue is found to be abnormal, your physician may order a biopsy to get an accurate diagnosis.

Women who have a history of breast cancer in their families, as well as those who have tested positive for the gene, should consider having regular check-ups. These regular check-ups will help make sure that you stay healthy, and that breast cancer can be caught immediately should you become diagnosed.

No one wants to be confronted with cancer. However, ignoring its possibility won’t make cancer go away. By catching cancer in its early stages, those diagnosed have a much higher survival rate and are more likely to avoid the more aggressive cancer treatments. Keep yourself safe. Regularly attend your annual check-ups, and don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with your doctor should you notice anything irregular with your body.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

13 Ways to Protect the Health of Your Family

Everyone wants their family and loved ones to stay healthy and lead a happy and healthy life, but it's not always easy to do so in the modern world. It's hard to know what is and isn't healthy and it's often harder still to stick to those things which are best for yours and your family's health.

So here are 13 simple guidelines to follow to ensure your family is healthy and to make sure you spend more time having fun and less time at the doctor's.

Get out of the house

Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of diabetes and other health problems and on average increase time spent in hospital. So ban your family from spending every evening on the sofa. Going for family walks in the country side will make you all happier and healthier, and increases family bonding.

Talk about your health

One of the best things you can do with your family is to make health an easy to talk about topic. Don't let health issues become awkward or taboo, create a culture where you share your concerns. This will ensure that any problems are out in the open and that no one ever suffers in silence.

See your doctor regularly

We're not advocating hypochondria here, but there are a lot of people who strangely pride themselves on never going to the doctor. You may think it reduces the load on health services or saves money, but in reality, regular GP visits help to ensure that any minor problems are caught before they become bigger problems. Getting a regular check up should be an integral part of your family's health routine.

Get insured

Health insurance may not be a big priority for you, and you may even think it's something you shouldn't worry about until you're older, but when you have a family health insurance policy it is a great investment because it gives you the peace of mind of knowing that no matter what happens you can get the best treatment available. Additionally, good quality private cover will ensure that you can get the treatment you need quickly.

No TV in bedrooms

Sleeping soundly is super important and not getting enough good sleep can cause all sorts of health issues, now and in the future. One simple way to ensure better sleep is to remove your TV from your bedroom. Make your bedroom a place for sleeping.

Eat more vegetables

This is perhaps the simplest tip on here, but it can't be stated too strongly that eating lots of fresh vegetables is perhaps the healthiest thing you can do. It's natural and there is no better way to ensure that your body gets everything it needs to be strong and healthy. Vitamin tablets and supplements can be helpful, but never under-estimate the power of broccoli.

Learn to relax

Feeling stressed? Long-term low-level stress is a modern problem which can cause many health problems. You may think it only a mental issue, but stress can manifest in physical ways and can even have a negative impact on the emotional health of your family. So if you feel stressed regularly, resolve now to make positive changes and reduce those stress levels.

Keep your air clean

Low quality air can cause and worsen respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis and certain common chemicals may even be carcinogenic, so try to use non-toxic cleaning products, never smoke in the house and get some plants to keep your air clean.

Ban (unhealthy) snacking

Obesity in children and adults is on the rise and snacking on processed foods such as crisps and chocolate is a bit part of the problem. Ban such snacks and instead have fruit. If they don't want a banana, maybe they're not that hungry after all!

Cook everything you eat

One nutritionist famously said "the simplest way to get healthier is to eat whatever you like, just so long as you cook it yourself." Microwave meals, ready to eat rice and takeaways are all much less healthy than the same food would be if you made it from scratch yourself. You get to avoid potentially harmful chemicals and you become more aware of what's in your food.

Don't sit down all day

According to numerous studies, sitting down for many hours a day can be unhealthy and reduces life expectancy as well as increasing risk of back problems and heart problems. Equally, standing up all day has its own health risks, but if you have an office job, do your best to avoid long stretches of sitting in the same position.

Keep vaccinations up to date

Vaccinations have been incredibly effective over the past 100 years at reducing and even wiping out certain diseases and continue to do so today, but it's easy to forget which ones you need and when you might need a top up, so make sure you ask your family's doctor whether you need any boosters.

Take care of yourself

This goes without saying really, but it's not just for your benefit. If you want your children to grow up healthy you need to lead by example and live a healthy lifestyle yourself. Children of parents who smoke, eat unhealthily, are overweight or who fail to look after themselves are far more likely to develop those same bad habits.

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How Compression Clothing Actually Helps

Compression clothing refers to skin-tight articles of clothing such as socks, tops, tights, stockings and shorts specifically made to enhance one's physical well-being by increasing the flow and blood in the compressed area and enhancing oxygen delivery. Although it may seem like compression clothing is a new invention, it actually has been around for centuries.

In fact, the wearing of such clothing is often called compression therapy - the inclusion of compression therapy is often praised and recommended in both western medicine and in the world of alternative health.

There are many impressive benefits that can come from continuously wriggling into various forms of compression clothing. These benefits can be especially valuable for athletes, aging adults and persons that experience bouts of achy muscles.

Below are the top five benefits of wearing compression clothing:

5 Benefits of Wearing Compression Clothing:

• Compression clothing can improve workout: One of the biggest benefit of wearing compression clothing is the positive support it can provide to any workout regime such as running, biking and strength training. The enhanced blood flow and improved oxygen delivery is said to help improve workout efficiency while also increasing stamina and shortening recovery time.
  
• Supports healthy veins: Wearing a pair of the industry's best compression socks during the day is one of the easiest ways to support healthy veins. This fact can be especially valuable for persons that may suffer from poor leg circulation, spider veins, and varicose veins. Continuously wearing compression socks can drastically increase circulation to the legs while also lessening harsh symptoms and helping to prevent the formation of deep vein thrombosis and other serious vein disorders.

• Regulates body temperature: The materials used to create most high-quality pieces of compression wear can help wick moisture away from the body, which in turn can help regulate the core temperature of the body. Facilitating thermoregulation can help keep you warm in the colder months and cool in the hotter months. Such temperature regulation can increase comfort levels and deter the layering of clothing.

• Increases internal alkalinity: An internal alkaline environment is ideal for enhanced mental and physical health. Wearing compression clothing can help increase alkalinity due to the fact that the enhanced blood circulation and oxygen delivery encourages the detox of lactic acid and metabolic waste thus creating a cleaner, more alkaline body.

• Compression clothing can help suppress pain: Not only does compression clothing shorten recovery time during workouts, wearing them can also deter general muscle soreness, inflammation, aches and sprains as well as body pain associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

The almost magical ability to transform your figure into that of a tight muscled superhero by simply sliding on pieces of snug-fitting compression wear can certainly do wondrous things for your self-esteem. However, in addition to helping you look good, continuously wearing compression clothing while maintaining a healthy diet, staying positive and working out regularly can definitely improve the integrity of your health, regardless of your age.

This is a post by Nancy Evans.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Implementing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) at Healthcare Organizations: An Infographic

As you complete your Master in Health Administration and start your career, you will undoubtedly encounter new technologies that are continually being integrated into the health care system. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) constitute an important technology, as widespread implementation has proved challenging. See what goes into this implementation at Healthcare Organizations in the infographic below (click to enlarge):
 


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Treatment Options For Substance Abuse In College & University Students

Substance abuse is one of the fastest growing drug intake problems in the US. While the condition is often linked to adults, stats about substance abuse and students are alarming. According to (1) the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, abuse of prescription drugs is second to abuse of marijuana among adults in the age range 18-25.

DrugWatch further reports (2) that college students today are abusing more drugs than was the number in early the 90s. The source also cites a Columbia University study, stating that almost 50 percent of full-time students abuse prescription drugs or develop the habit of binging, and almost 25 percent of those students are categorized as having a medical issue related to dependence or substance abuse.

Why do students become victims of substance abuse? Some find it the best resort to relax, have fun, relieve stress of studies, and forget problems. Female students may become victims due to these reasons or in an attempt to keep up with male students, while some may be under relationship pressure and rely on alcohol to disinhibit the desire. College trustees and societies are busy in holding events, raising funds, introducing new facilities, so the substance abuse issue gets low priority.

Also, students with the tendency to seek thrills or perform extraordinary well in exams may be at a risk of substance abuse due to the ‘high’ feeling achieved from drug intake. While everyone enjoys the adrenaline from appropriate sources, some students rely on substances to get feeling, and it causes them to continue their consumption despite the negative consequences. A student with low self-worth may also engage in abuse behaviors to counter degrading factors in his/her life. Another possible reason could be to enhance their performance in sports and other similar activities.

As a result, educational institutes need to realize that substance abuse on college and university campuses across the country is pervasive, and reliance on alcohol, drugs, and other substances can inhibit a student’s ability to be professionally and academically successful.

Treatment options

To bring a significant change to this trend, college and university staff members need to work with societies, alumni, parents, and federal and state organizations. As parents bear significant responsibility of their children, they should educate the college-and-university going teens to spend their funds wisely and about the dangers of living a substance-fueled lifestyle.

According to Future of Palm Beach (3), immigration may also bring challenges and experiences to a student. With a new culture to adapt in, and trying to get recognition in a foreign land, new students face many tests and may engage in addiction when they feel homesick or when they are under pressure to assimilate. Cultural clash may also tempt them to abuse controlled substances. In such and other instances mentioned before, students can seek help by joining recovery groups or speaking to a counselor about their condition.

Lastly, college and university should introduce substance abuse prevention and success programs to encourage responsible behavior among students through compliance, education and awareness about campus policies and state laws. With best practices, an institute can reduce substance abuse risk and its negative consequences among its students. The programs can be coordinated with community and educational partners for greater reach.

Sources:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/Fact_Sheets/prescription_drug_abuse_fact_sheet_4-25-11.pdf

http://www.drugwatch.com/students/

http://www.futuresofpalmbeach.com/addiction-treatment/immigrants-addiction/

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beyond 40: Common Skin Problems & Treatment Options

Your body undergoes profound changes after you cross your 40s; it’s a time when several skin problems can exist simultaneously. The signs of aging include discoloration, emerging of skin tags, fine lines, wrinkles, and laxity that progresses quickly through the decade.

All of these issues arise because the fourth and fifth decade of life is marked with a decline in various growth factors and hormone levels. Cell damage accumulates in the tissues, and the skin is the most affected. As a result, the rate at which the skin repairs and renews itself becomes an extremely slow process.

Wrinkles

If you haven’t seen any already, you will likely witness your first wrinkles in your 40s. Sun habits, harsh skin care routines, and genetics are some of the factor that contribute to skin aging. They appear in two categories: deep furrows and surface lines. The former have little to do with aging, and surface lines are the wrinkles that really bother people.

The usual recommendation for wrinkle treatment is the use of retinoid creams, as they simulate collagen to slow aging, but people with sensitive skin should use over the counter retinal as a less intensive treatment. Botox (botulinum toxin) can be used in tiny doses for wrinkles around the forehead and eyes.

Skin dullness

As cell turnover in the skin slows down with aging, it leads to a lackluster complexion, causing skin dullness. Dullness can also be a result of a combination of reduced skin turnover, decreased blood circulation and dead skin building. Other causes include smoking, sun damage, and medical problems such as circulatory and neurologic.

To reintroduce the glow in your skin, stay out of the sun and stop smoking. You can also exfoliate the dull area with glycolic acid creams, as well as undergo microdermabrasion to slough off dead skin cells and recharge the cell turnover process. In other cases, treating underlying medical issues will also improve skin tone. Exfoliation should be the prime treatment option as it can be performed at home and works gently to remove dead skin skills.

Skin tags

This is a small, benign area of skin that connects to the underlying skin through a thin stalk. They appear as small bits of hanging skin and occur when skin rubs against skin (which usually happens in older age). Prone areas include underarms, upper chest and neck. The hormonal changes of aging and pregnancy can also lead to the growth of skin tags, particularly after the 40s.

Skin tag removers and/or surgical removal by a dermatologist are some of the options to treat this condition. The former works well to safely flake away skin tags, and the process doesn’t involve any scarring or pain. Home remedies such as duct tape removal and dental floss are not recommended as they can result in pain and damage the skin.

Shingles

These are rashes of raised dots that can turn into painful blisters. They cause your skin to itch, tingle, burn, and become very sensitive. After 40s, shingles can be severe, and in some case, everlasting. They often show up on the buttocks and trunk.

Starch and colloidal oatmeal baths can help relief painful skin. The products should be added to lukewarm water; avoid hot water as it may further irritate the skin.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Treat and Prevent Back Pain, Simply and Effectively

For many people, back pain and other spinal issues are a part of life. From old injuries to daily stresses and strains, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to chronic back pain, some of which can result in reduced mobility and poor quality of life. Thankfully, though, there are simple, yet effective, ways to treat back pain, as well as prevent injuries and other complications. Keep reading for tips on addressing discomfort and protecting your back in the interest of long-term health and mobility.

Stay Strong

One of the best ways to prevent pain and injury is to keep the back strong and toned. Core strength can help, too, as a strong midsection will aid in balance and promote healthier posture. Exercises that target the back and core include swimming, elliptical workouts, yoga, pilates, dance workouts and free weights. Also, since being overweight can add excess train to the back, as well as affect balance and stability, cardiovascular exercise is extremely important. For maximum benefits, 30 minutes of cardio activity, three or four times a week, is recommended.

Since exercise can result in injury and wear and tear to the back, safety tips like the following are beneficial:

•    Don't overdo it. To prevent injury, it's important to take it slow, and match activities to your overall health and skill levels.
   
•    Use the right gear. The proper footwear, supportive braces for the back and knees, and other types of protective fitness gear can enhance safety and stability, which can reduce the risk of stress and injury.
 
•    Pay attention to form. When performing any type of exercise, paying attention to form and alignment can prevent injury and enhance the effectiveness of physical activity.

Preventative Care

During the course of a normal day, the back can bear a fair amount of stress and strain. Over time, daily activities, both at home and at work, can result in repetitive stress injuries to the bones, nerves and tissues of the back and spine. For example, sciatica, herniated discs, and tight muscles are often caused by simple, everyday activities like lifting, twisting and even walking. To relieve stress and prevent complications, the following methods can be helpful:

•    Massage. When it comes to issues like muscle soreness, spinal compression, nerve pain and aching joints, massage can be extremely effective in providing relief and preventing injury and discomfort. In fact, for individuals who suffer from chronic back pain, frequent massages can provide significant advantages to both health and quality of life. For these people, at-home massage using professional massage tables can offer sustained relief from pain and discomfort, as well as prevent future flareups.
   
•    Stretching. Stretching exercises can relieve tension, stiffness, soreness and compression, and may also prevent injury to the spine. What's more, frequent stretching can enhance range of motion, which aids in stability and mobility.
   
•    Awareness. In protecting the back and overall health, in general, a little awareness goes a long way. For example, by paying attention to posture, as well as taking the proper precautions when working, exercising and performing other tasks and activities, stress, discomfort and a variety of injuries can be prevented.
   
•    Sleep. Sleep gives the body time to heal and repair; without sufficient rest, pain and discomfort can worsen, and the risk of injury is increased. Also, individuals who suffer from chronic back pain may benefit from changing sleeping positions or using pillows between the knees or beneath the lower back.

Although back pain and injuries are extremely common, the tips provided here can help address discomfort, as well as prevent injury and a worsening of symptoms. If you suffer from back pain or a spinal injury, talk to a doctor about available treatment options.


This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Best Ways of Dealing with Stress

Individuals are under constant pressure to do better at their jobs, to work harder, to provide for their families. We as human beings are not made this way. This is something that was imposed on us by society. From our first baby steps, they teach us that we need to be first and best in everything.

Even some silly games which we play as children have specific underline. It is expected from us to be the best because anything else would be a disappointment. With all of this riding on our back, it is no wonder that many people turn to pills and alcohol so they can deal with enormous amount of stress coming their way. Luckily, there are certain ways to nullify all of this stress and live a better and healthier life. Naturally, we are not talking about the medicine from your local, online pharmacy.

The first thing that we need to take into consideration is our own wishes. When we were children, people often asked us what we want to do when we grow up. Given that we are different people, the answers varied but one thing was similar for the most of the kids. Many of them never had an opportunity to live out their childhood dream. Somewhere along the way, the reality of life altered their path, usually making them unhappy with their daily job. Do not forget your dreams. Always try to follow them no matter what because you are the one that needs to do the job, no one else. If you are feeling bad about the thing which you do, you will never be happy. Instead, you will be constantly under a lot of stress.

As we all know, stress is something that comes from the brain. It is sometimes caused by different traumas. In daily life, it is caused by the things which we don’t wish to do but we do them anyway. This goes against our nature and our better judgment. It throws us into a position where we don’t feel good in our skin. The point is that you shouldn't always be selfish, but at the same time, you should allow other people to trample all over you. Find something in between, something that will allow you to be a productive member of society but at the same time it will give you a chance to be honest towards yourself.

Whatever you do and no matter how much stress you have, don’t try to solve all of the problems with things such as the medicine. Each US based and Canadian pharmacy has the solution to your problem but it doesn't mean that you should take the easy way out. These online pharmacies offer you a quick solution in a bottle. The way to correct your life is much harder and more rewarding in the end.

Don’t forget that you are personally responsible for your life. Don’t hide behind excuses and other people. Instead do the right thing for yourself and those close to you.

This is a guest blog entry

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Healthy Holiday Advice for Over 65s

When someone crosses the retirement age threshold, organising and undertaking travel can become quite complex. There can be more issues, health concerns and costs, as well as additional planning and research before booking. Therefore, there are extra precautions for an elderly traveller to take when going on holiday.

Seek Doctor's Advice

This is one of the most important factors for elderly travelers. Discussing a pre-existing condition with a doctor will allow the individual to be prepared and know if there are any extra precautions that they should take. In addition, it may be wise to discuss possible destinations and travel options before booking.

For over 65s that have a heart condition, it is advised to avoid destinations that are at a high altitude, due to the lower level of oxygen. There are also precautions to take when flying – in extreme cases a doctor may even advise to avoid air travel – as there is an increased risk of blood clots in the legs.

It is also wise to stock up on medication and take a larger quantity on holiday than is required, in case of delays. It is always best to carry medication in hand luggage, as it will still be on hand if baggage goes missing. Also keep a note of any tablets and treatment in your wallet/purse, in case of an emergency.

Appropriate Travel Insurance

For many younger travelers, finding and purchasing travel insurance can be a quick and painless process, but for the over 65s, there are more things to consider. In the majority of cases, basic cover will not be sufficient.

Due to the increased risk of injury, accident and illness associated with older individuals, those over 65 are often faced with higher travel insurance premiums. There are cheaper prices, but the most important thing is to find appropriate insurance that covers any pre-existing illness as well as a high level of emergency medical cost.

Healthy on Holiday

Holiday destinations often mean extreme temperatures, whether colossal heat or snowy climates. Therefore it is incredibly important for travelers aged over 65 to take extra care of themselves.

It is essential that elderly holiday makers drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, avoid too much alcohol as it is an ant diuretic, protect against extreme weather with hats and sunglasses, make healthy food choices and use sun cream. For extra information, Age UK have a wealth of tips for elderly travelers.

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Dementia Patients and the Vital Role Nurses Play

When someone is diagnosed with dementia, whether caused by Alzheimer’s or something else, it is devastating for patient and family. The difficulty in thinking clearly, memory loss and mood changes can be exceedingly difficult to cope with, particularly if the sufferer is living at home.

There are organisations that can help with information and advice, such as the Alzheimer’s Society, but the treatment, care and support provided by the team of nursing professionals can be a vital lifeline to all concerned.

Specialist Dementia Nurses

These are Registered Mental Health Nurses who have undergone further training and specialized in dementia. They have an expert level of skill and knowledge in the care, treatment and support of people with dementia, their caregivers and families. They can visit patients at home to perform in-depth assessments, which will include observing the patient and their surroundings. They will take a detailed life history and ask for information on day-to-day life. In cases where care need is high, the specialist dementia nurse may work alongside other health and social care professionals. They may also advise other visiting nursing staff on the best care and treatment for a patient.

The charity, Dementia UK, provides specialist dementia nurses, known as Admiral Nurses, to patients living at home. They provide expert, practical and emotional support to caregivers and families, as well as to the patient.

Community Mental Health Nurses

Also known as Community Psychiatric Nurses, CPNs also offer much-needed support to dementia patients and caregivers. They make assessments in the home, removing the need for a trip to the surgery, which some sufferers find stressful. They also offer advice to all concerned on how best to cope, as well as how to improve the patient’s health and quality of life. For loved ones looking after someone with Alzheimer’s, this care and support from a mental health professional is of vital importance. To see what jobs are available in the NHS for mental health nurses, visit Nursing Personnel.

District or Community Nurses


Part of the primary care team, district nurses come to the home to perform more general nursing duties, such as changing dressings, as well as carrying out tests and assessments. As most visits will tend to be from a community nurse, it’s arguable that their role is most crucial, as the regular visits should encourage a sense of trust and rapport with the patient, caregivers and family.

Deciding to care for a dementia patient in the home is not a decision to be taken lightly, as it can have a profound effect on carers and loved ones. The help and support provided by the nursing team, together with other health and social care professionals, can ease the trauma considerably.

This is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Overcoming Addiction: Seeking Treatment and Getting Your Life Back

Personal growth often requires a lot of hard work. It also means overcoming obstacles and facing challenges as they arise. And, for so many people, some of these challenges involve substance abuse and addiction. Indeed, addiction affects millions of people each and every day, preventing them from living the lives they want and deserve.

If you are one of these people, you know that beating addiction is easier said than done. Thankfully, though, recovery is possible. Keep reading for tips on achieving and maintaining sobriety, and, in the process, enhancing your health and quality of life.

Seeking Treatment

First and foremost, seeking professional help is essential to overcoming addiction and living life to the fullest. And when it comes to addiction rehabilitation, facilities can differ in a number of ways. For example, some treatment centers focus on traditional recovery methods, while others offer an alternative, holistic approach to addiction therapy. And since choosing the right facility can significantly enhance your odds of success, be sure to gather all the information you need in making the right decision. The right facility will offer a recovery plan suited to your own unique needs, which will help you address your individual problems with addictive substances. 

Making the Most of Recovery

Addiction treatment isn't easy, especially in its earliest stages. When faced with withdrawal symptoms and other complications, many patients experience depression, anxiety and other issues, which, in some cases, can derail treatment and stand in the way of recovery. However, by making the effort to live in the present and do the work, patients can increase the odds of a successful recovery. In the average young adult rehab program, patients may be encouraged to work the 12 steps of addiction recovery. By truly devoting themselves to the stages of recovery, patients can play a more active role in treatment, and lay the groundwork for a sober and healthy future.

Changing for the Better

Change, even when it's for the better, can be frightening. And, for recovering addicts, this change involves facing life and its challenges without the crutches of addictive substances. Naturally, this type of change can be terrifying, and is often to blame for relapse with drugs or alcohol. However, by embracing change as a positive, individuals in recovery can improve the odds of sustained sobriety. To truly appreciate the changes associated with recovery, it can help to keep a running list of all the benefits of sobriety. For example, one positive change commonly afforded by recovery is a stronger bond with friends, family members and loved ones. Another is improved physical health and psychological well-being. Either way, to experience a lasting recovery, change should be welcomed, embraced and truly appreciated.

Getting Your Life Back

Once you've completed addiction treatment, you may think you're in the clear. However, while inpatient care can help you build a solid foundation for recovery, you still have a long road ahead of you. Thankfully, though, getting your life back on track, free from the clutches of drugs and alcohol, can be an extremely joyous, liberating experience. Use the following tips to prevent relapse, enhance health and live life to the absolute fullest:

•    Stay positive. Avoid negativity in all its forms. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people, and focus on all the good things sobriety has to offer.

•    Stay busy. Keep your mind, body and soul occupied with enjoyable and fulfilling activities. Spend time with your family and friends, dive headfirst into your career, and fill your free time with fun, fascinating hobbies.

•    Self-monitor. To promote a lasting recovery, it's important to keep a close watch on your addictive tendencies. If you need help monitoring your thoughts and behaviors, seek long-term counseling from a trained addiction specialist.

Addiction can be an overwhelming, and even deadly, disease. However, with the proper treatment, and some hard work and determination, recovery is well within your reach. With the information provided here, you can overcome addiction, and live the life you want and deserve.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Living with Disabilities: Ways and Means for Living More Independently

According to statistics from England’s National Health Service, around one in five adults in the UK are disabled and more significantly, one million of these individuals live by themselves. As particularly distressing as this latter statistic is, for many the situation is further compounded by having the “obese” label added to them. To qualify for this (if you’ll forgive this rather blunt term) your Body Mass Index (BMI) needs to be above 30 on the scale.

Unfortunately, society is very quick to judge and make assumptions about why people are obese and invariably such assumptions are made by those with little understanding of obesity. It makes you question if they’ve ever considered that a person’s weight might stem from factors such as a disability? Or that they may struggle with physical mobility or suffer from a mental health issue like acute anxiety or depression which has contributed to their weight gain?

If this is the situation you face, you’ll appreciate how it can be a self-perpetuating cycle which massively affects your day-to-day living. You may feel trapped, scared and indeed frustrated by being unable to do the basic things.

This need not be the case though, since there are ways and means for you to gain some of your independence and dignity back. Read on to find out more:

More Mobility at Home

Making your home as accommodating as possible is one of the best ways for you to feel and become more independent. After all, your home is somewhere you should feel safe and secure. In the UK there are many charity services available like the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) that can offer you guidance and advice about improvements you can make, such as:

-    The installation of access ramps
-    Providing centralised controls for easier access to utilities like heating,
     lighting and water.
-    Improving space by widening doors and hallways
-    Moving bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs to a more accessible
     place, or installing lifts or stair lifts.

Going Places

Another big part of gaining more independence is to be able to go out and travel. Even if it’s only something small like going to the shops, or visiting with friends and family, these trips can have a real positive effect on your life.

Again, you can invest in a number of options, such as mobility scooters, powered wheelchairs, wheelchair accessible vehicles and walking frames and supports.

Emotional Support

Mental health issues can be an incredibly hard challenge to manage and there’s often no quick and easy fix. What you might find helpful is emotional support, from attending group therapy sessions to one-on-one counseling and even specialist home visits that provide a kind ear to talk to. Charities and NHS services can provide this and help you take those steps forward to dealing with distressing symptoms and coping with stressors.

It may be true that everybody’s needs are different, but be sure to try some of the above to help get some of the positive aspects of your life back. Don’t fall foul of adversity and narrow-minded stereotypes, help yourself to claim the independence you deserve.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Drug Addiction: Understanding How Addiction is Effecting Your Loved One

Finding out that someone you care for deeply is suffering from drug addiction can be challenging. You watch as they slowly delve deeper into addiction and what appears to be no regard for how it affects their personal relationships. While it may seem as though your loved one has checked out and cares about nothing but getting high, the truth of the matter is that addiction is a complex disease of the brain.

It is not until you fully understand how addiction affects your loved one that you’re able to reach out to them and get them the help they need.

Addiction is Not What it Seems

From the outside looking in, it may seem as if your loved one lacks the willpower and moral principles to stop using drugs. You assume that they can stop using anytime they please. However, for some reason they choose not to. However, the truth is that someone who has become addicted to drugs is suffering from a complex disease. Quitting essentially will require more than a strong will or moral principles. Because of the affect that addiction has on the brain, your loved one believes they need the high to sustain a decent quality of life.

Drug Addiction Defined

According to MayoClinic, drug addiction is referred to as a chronic brain disease that causes the individual to become dependent upon the use of drugs. Despite what the consequences might be for their use of substances, the brain tricks the body into believing it is a necessity. Addiction is certainly not something that happens after the first use (in most cases). Drug use is voluntary in the beginning; however, as chemicals in the brain change it hinders the individual’s sense of self control.

The Brain and Drug Addiction

Drugs contain certain chemicals that interfere with the brain’s ability to communicate properly. Drugs have the ability to disrupt the nerve cells that are responsible for sending, receiving, and processing information. Clinical studies show that this happens in one of two ways: either by taking on the form of the brain’s natural chemical messengers or through overstimulation the “pleasure circuits” of the brain.

The more a person uses drugs, the more the brain begins to adapt to the various changes. The chemicals found in drugs send signals to the reward part of the brain. When the “high” wears off, it leaves the user feeling incapable of enjoying life as they once did. As a result, the brain begins to crave the chemicals from the drugs in order to reach a level of pleasure again.

Getting Help for Your Loved One

Now that you see that addiction is not something that your loved one can control, it is best to try and get help for your loved one. It must be understood however, that in most cases, they are not aware that they have a problem and may be resistant to your request that they get help. Below are a few factors to keep in mind as you reach out to your loved one:

•  Come from a place of love – no matter how their drug use may be affecting your life it is important that you don’t scold them or come from a place of anger. Compassion is your best tool when talking about addiction.

•  Offer Your Support – addiction requires more than just a talk, it will require the support of others. Be sure to offer your support to your loved one so that they don’t feel alone.

•  Give it Time – you can’t rush the process, as recovery efforts are best when your loved one is doing it willingly. If they’re not receptive to what you have to say, give it time.

Seek Treatment

Seeking treatment for drug addiction is the next step for your loved one. There are various options for treatment that include addiction therapy, rehab facilities, and in some cases, medication for underlying issues or mental disorders. If your loved one is ready to get help, go over the various options with them and help them make the decision that is best suited for them. Also, look into treatment options for yourself so that you can learn how to help your loved one as they begin their recovery process.

The road to recovery or your loved one is certainly going to be a challenging one, but with you by their side, the chances of full recovery are more likely. If you suspect that a friend or family member is suffering from drug addiction, don’t sit by and watch their lives spiral out of control. Educate yourself on addiction and reach out to them about your concerns for their well-being. When they’re ready, support them in getting the help they need from the right medical professionals.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Becoming a Doctor, From School to License

While not every child dreams of being a doctor, some do. It takes a lot to make that dream come true, from a dedicated college career to time spent in residency. Dedication and drive are important for a future doctor. The important thing is, the world will always need doctors.

The medical field is one of those fields that will always have career options and always be looking for talented, caring individuals.

While some will strive just for a family practice, another direction for the aspiring doctor to go towards is surgical, which requires even more dedication and schooling. If you want to be a doctor, you can help children, adults, and seniors. Use your first four years of college to decide where you want to go with your career as a doctor.

School

Education Portal points out that someone wishing to become a medical doctor must first earn a bachelor’s degree, in no specific major. This takes an average of four-years. It does help if you pick a major that relates to your career choice, however. That can include working towards a Bachelor of Science, maybe in something like biology.

Once you have your Bachelor degree it's time to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This test will determine whether or not you are accepted into medical school.  Medical school is another four years of school.

There are different things to learn for different medical professions. You need to understand the human body and how it functions. You won't always have a textbook under your nose in order to help your patients, so it takes someone with a great ability to retain information.

Residency

After that minimum of eight years of school, it is time to do a residency in a hospital. You will need three- to seven-years of medical residency. Once you've completed residency it's time to take another test. For someone wanted to be a surgeon, there may be an added three more years of residency on top of the three to seven needed for a general medical doctor (MD).

It requires passing the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) in order to obtain a medical license.

Getting the Job

It may be wise to start looking for work while in residency. While some residencies may lead to a job at the same hospital where you train, it doesn't hurt to keep your options open. Look into staffing agencies that specialize in healthcare staffing.

There are numerous outlets available for job searching these days:

Check the newspaper classifieds often.
Use staffing agencies.
Search online for jobs.
Visit hospital websites.
Look at local college websites for job listings.

Make sure to have a resume written up that shows your specialty. Include your education, residency and any internships you've done. Long periods of unemployment do not look good on a resume, especially for a doctor.

If your dream job doesn't come right away, keep looking. Talk to the people at your healthcare staffing center. They may have some tips for your job search that could be the answer to your problems.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans

Friday, January 16, 2015

Guest Post on Concussion: The Neuropathology of CTE in the United States

Introduction by Dominic A. Carone, PhD, ABPP-CN

These days, it is difficult for someone to turn on the television, open a newspaper, or surf the internet without coming across a story on the dangers of concussions, particularly repeat concussions. This has caused a great deal of concern among many athletes and their loved ones regarding participation in sports.

One of the greatest concerns that has emerged is the possibility of developing CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) – which is described as a degenerative brain disorder caused by repeat brain trauma. But how much do we really know about CTE? Recently, Dr. Ann Mckee (neuropathologist) and colleagues published a review of CTE and other topics in a paper entitled “The Neuropathology of Sport.” While McKee and colleagues discuss CTE as an established disease entity, contrasting opinions exist in the literature on the associations between athletic head trauma and neurodegenerative disease.

A neuropsychologist colleague of mine, Dr. Jim Andrikopoulos has been one of the most vocal critics of the existence of CTE. Below is a response by Dr. Andrikopoulos to the aforementioned article by Dr. McKee. Dr. McKee will be contacted and given a chance to respond. Presenting this material in blog format provides maximal exposure to the public, most of whom are not avid consumers of health care journals. Respectful comments are welcome.

Note: The views expressed by guest authors on this blog are not necessarily those of my own. For my own review of CTE and dementia pugilistica, see Carone, D., Bush, S. (2014). Dementia pugilistica and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. In R. Dean & C. Noggle (Eds.), The Neuropsychology of Cortical Dementias. New York: Springer, pp. 303-326.

The Neuropathology of CTE in the United States

Jim Andrikopoulos, Ph.D., ABPP-CN

This letter is in reference to a recent review by McKee et al. (1). To judge the validity of the core observation made in the review one needs an understanding, particularly non-Americans, of the current sociological context in the United States as it relates to contact sports. McKee begins by outlining the physical, emotional, cognitive and health benefits of sports. This can be contrasted with the current state of affairs in the United States, especially in American football. McKee reports that contact sports “rarely” results in the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). However, McKee found CTE in 34 of 35 professional football players, all nine college players, six high school athletes, and all four professional hockey players (reference 128 in [1]).

Despite McKee stating the incidence of CTE is unknown; her message to the American media is different: “I am really wondering, on some level, if every single football player doesn’t have this” (2). CTE in contact sports in the United States is now an “epidemic.”Since 2010, participation in youth football has dropped by 9.5% (3). What is the merit of the science that has created this concussion craze?

The symptoms outlined by McKee bear no clinical likeness to the CTE of the last century. CTE is now characterized as a mood and behavioral disorder. The clinical features of CTE are parkinsonian and speech symptoms at a relatively young age. McKee treats these hallmark features in her review as a historical footnote, mentioning them once. The observations of Martland (references 118 in [1]) defined the disease through the 20th century only for CTE to now to be morphed into an unrecognizable clinical entity.

While classic papers are cited, the parkinsonian clinical descriptions are ignored (references 38 and 44 in [1]). The seminal epidemiological study that confirmed this parkinsonian phenotype and addresses prevalence is not cited at all (4). CTE is now artificially dichotomized. McKee proposes those with an early onset tend to have mood and behavior symptoms and later onset patients cognitive impairment. She states the earlier literature suggests this dichotomy. This is false based on my literature review and indirect proof is that no references are offered by McKee in support of this claim.

There is an observation that merits special comment because of its conspicuous absence. McKee has proposed four stages of CTE. There is no mention that the clinical features that accompany each progressive stage were not developed based on an examination of the patient. The clinical features were collected post-mortem. Alois Alzheimer was the first to give us a neuropsychiatric syndrome and a neuropathology to go with it. Remarkably, he did this in one patient.

As of today, McKee has conducted 85 neuropathological examinations and no clinical examination of a patient (reference 128 in [1]). Proposing a neuropathological entity in the absence of a clinical syndrome is unprecedented in neurological medicine as is being told that a presumably degenerative disease, CTE, cannot be diagnosed in the living patient but instead requires an autopsy.

What remains to be addressed is the neuropathology of CTE. The classic description was given by Corsellis in boxers (reference 38 in [1]). CTE in football was first described by Omalu(5). The publication was so contentious that some, rightfully, called for the paper to be retracted. Among a number of shortcomings of the paper was that the neuropathological case description bore no resemblance to Corsellis (6). In turn, McKee’s original neuropathological observations appeared at odds with Omalu (reference 127 in [1]). McKee has made no effort in her published studies to reconcile these differences. It would stand to reason that a neuropathological "discovery" with dissimilar descriptions would result in a collegial scientific exchange to reconcile any discrepancies.

What are these disparate neuropathological differences? Omalu initially commented on the absence of tau in the medial temporal lobes while McKee reported it as a preferential location(reference 127 in [1]). McKee added two observations not reported by either Omalu or Corsellis. Citing Hof, McKee reported tau to be found disproportionately in the superficial cortical layer II and the upper layer of III versus Alzheimer’s disease where tau is preferentially in layers V and VI (reference 91 and 92 in [1]). Second, citing Geddes, tau is observed in perivascular locations (reference 65 and 66 in [1]). In turn, Geddes who published her observations after Hof made no reference to the distribution of tau in the superficial layers but stated it was found in all cortical layers (reference 65 in [1]).

The last point is on what it means to be “encephalopathic,” a source of contention in the Omalu paper (6). Unlike Omalu and McKee, who consider a patient with tau to be encephalopathic, Geddes does not suggest an encephalopathy, only that the tau present at autopsy may suggest repetitive trauma as the cause. The encephalopathy in CTE refers to the symptoms in a living patient not a neuropathological finding.

Braak has reported the presence of tau in patients under 30 years of age (reference 15 in [1]). McKee’s criticism of Braak was that the sample was not screened for head injury. If we accept McKee’s logic, does that obligate Braak to render a postmortem CTE diagnosis in those he can show had an antemortem head injury or two? This is how the neuropathology of CTE is currently practiced in the United States.

References
 
1. McKee AC, Daneshvar DH, Alvarez VE, Stein TD. (2014). The neuropathology of sport. Acta Neuropathol. 127(1):29-51.

2. League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis transcript. Frontline, PBS.

3. Pop Warner participation dropping. Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2013.

4. Roberts AH (1969) Brain damage in boxers: A study of prevalence of traumatic encephalopathy among ex-professional boxers. London: Pitman Royal College of Physicians.

5. Omalu BI, DeKosky ST, Minster RL, Kamboh MI, Hamilton RL, Wecht CH (2005). Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a national football league player. Neurosurgery, 57(1): 128-134.

6. Casson IR, Pellman EJ, Viano DC (2006). Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a NationalFootball League player. Neurosurgery,58(5): E1152.

Author Affiliations: Mercy Hospital Medical Center, Ruan Neurology Clinic, Des Moines, Iowa Corresponding Author: Jim Andrikopoulos, Ph.D. Ruan Neurology Clinic, 1111 6th Avenue, East Tower, Suite A100, Des Moines, Iowa 50314., Tel: 515 358-0020, Fax: 515 358-0099 neuroclinic@msn.com

Conflicts of Interest Disclosures: Dr. Andrikopoulos has provided expert testimony.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Infographic on Lyme Disease Incidence

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

MedFriendly Publishes First Infographic: The Human Brain

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