Thursday, October 26, 2017

3 Expert Medical Tips for Family Caregivers

Every November, organizations around the country including the American Heart Association recognize family caregivers near and wide for National Family Caregiver Month. Over 40 million caregivers in the U.S. provide some version of care for a family member or other loved one - from managing prescription refills and doctors appointments to dressing wounds, administering medicine, and helping their loved one eat and drink.

As more and more members of the Baby Boomer generation enter their Golden Years (65+) in the next decade, more and more of their children will be called on to help provide care. Skills like being organized and communicating well will help family caregivers wrangle health insurance companies and medical providers. However, knowledge of a handful of medical and skilled nursing duties will go a long way as well. These include:

Monitoring Vitals
Being able to monitor vitals, whether your aging parent is perfectly healthy or suffering from a chronic condition, will come in handy as a family caregiver in helping you detect early signs of illness and take action. Tracking blood pressure can be done manually with a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and pressure reading device, or more simply with a digital monitor that goes over the arm or wrist. 

Monitoring temperature to track a fever (which can indicate an infection) is made easy with an array of digital ear, forehead, or oral thermometers. And digital pulse oximeters which read oxygen saturation levels can easily slip onto a finger and give you an accurate picture of your loved one’s oxygen intake. All of these helpful devices can be found online or in most drugstores. Family caregivers should aim to track vitals regularly (daily if possible) and record them to maintain a baseline for their loved one’s condition. That way, if something is off, like a high temperature or low blood pressure, you’ll be quick to seek medical attention.

Preventing Falls
Did you know that if the loved one you look after is over the age of 65, they have a 1 in 4 chance of falling in or around their home? Falls can lead to debilitating hip fractures, hospitalization, and other life-threatening complications. As a family caregiver, preventing falls should be a primary concern, especially if your loved one has mobility problems, is elderly, or has a chronic condition which impairs their vision, balance, or strength.

Equipment like bed rails, grab bars, and raised toilet seats can be easily installed or assembled and offer extra support for your loved one when they are rising, sitting, or navigating challenging environments like stairways. Check out the 10 best bed rails for adults here. Other actions which can help prevent falls in the home include clearing away excess clutter and trip hazards, making sure consistent lighting is accessible from room to room, and placing guide tape and nonslip fall mats by beds and in bathrooms.

Recognizing Infections and Dehydration
Often what monitoring vital signs helps to do is pick up on early clues that your loved one has developed an infection or is dehydrated. However, other common symptoms can be just as indicative. For example, did you know that when an elderly person or someone with existing cognitive decline has a urinary tract infection, they’ll often appear disoriented and confused? Or that pneumonia might actually cause a dry, unproductive cough and low oxygen saturation levels? Or that dehydration can cause your loved one’s blood pressure to rapidly drop?

Common infections of older adults like pneumonia and UTI’s, as well as chronic dehydration among seniors can have a huge impact on you and your loved one’s life. Having a basic knowledge of well known symptoms and warning signs of potential medical issues that could sneak up on your loved one will help you in multiple ways. You will know when to seek medical attention sooner, you might be able to skip a trip to the hospital by speaking with your doctor or home health agency first, and you could even end up saving your loved one’s life.

This is a guest blog post.

Friday, October 20, 2017

How to Read Blood Pressure Manually

For clinicians, nurses, and caregivers managing care and treatment for patients with chronic illness, skills like taking pulse and heart rate, reading temperature, measuring oxygen saturation levels, and tracking blood pressure readings are basic day to day necessities.

Many of these vitals rely on digital devices for accurate and fast measuring and reading, however, it is helpful that care providers know how to manually record stats in the event that a device malfunctions (i.e. low battery, error, etc).

Reading blood pressure manually requires only a few tools and a handful of basic steps. Equipment needs include:

-    Good quality stethoscope
-    Blood pressure cuff that appropriately fits the patient
-    Blood pressure reading device like an aneroid sphygmomanometer

Keeping equipment in good condition means storing or carrying it around in a case or bag that prevents it from colliding with other instruments or getting damaged. Click here to read more about the best stethoscope cases.

Following these steps for manually reading blood pressure is critical to accurate readings and patient comfortability.

First a patient must be relaxed for as little as five minutes, and if possible, sitting upright in a chair with their feet flat to the ground. For patients with mobility limitations, sitting up in a wheelchair or hospital bed will also suffice. Avoid speaking with the patient while taking a blood pressure reading so that they are not agitated or excited, and so you can properly hear through your stethoscope. Remove any excess clothing that could cut off blood flow to the arm or cause an erroneous reading like jacket sleeves, etc.

Secondly, you’ll want to have your patient raise their left arm so the upper arm is positioned at the height of the heart. You will want to wrap the blood pressure cuff around the patient’s upper arm high enough so the bell of the stethoscope can fit easily in the crease where the arm bends over the brachial artery. Use the range notations on the cuff to make sure the circumference of your patient’s arm falls within the recommended index and you know you don’t need a larger or smaller cuff. A mark on the cuff which points to artery should be positioned above the brachial artery - this artery runs along the inside of the upper arm.

Put your stethoscope on, place the bell accordingly on the antecubital fossa (bend of the arm) on top of the brachial artery and listen for strong pulse sounds. Inflate the cuff by pumping the bulb until pulse sounds are no longer audible through your stethoscope. Inflate until you reach between 160 to 180 mmHg on the dial (or 30 to 40mg over your patient’s normal blood pressure reading). There should be a few seconds between deflating and hearing pulse sounds again, so if you hear them right away, try inflating the cuff to a higher level.

Begin deflating the cuff at around 2 to 3mmHg per second, listening out for two distinct sounds. The first will be your systolic pressure reading. A tapping or rhythmic sound as you deflate the cuff and blood begins flowing back through the brachial artery will begin. Note the reading at this point, and listen on for the moment when the pulsing sound stops (that will be your diastolic pressure reading).

Write down or digital record the reading in a log that track blood pressure over time. For patients and caregivers, make sure you are checking blood pressure at roughly the same time each day to formulate a clearer baseline.

The Mayo Clinic recommends taking two readings at a time to measure for accuracy, about five minutes apart. Patients who have recently smoked, drank coffee, are stressed, are cold, or are on certain medicines may have slightly higher than normal readings for them. In these cases, two readings can help to record a successful measurement. White coat syndrome, or the phenomena where patients exhibit higher than normal blood pressure readings but only at a doctor’s office or other clinical setting, can also lead to inaccurate readings that require a second measurement.

With rates of hypertension at an all time high, 1 out of 3 adults over 20 living with hypertension, understanding how to precisely and successfully read a blood pressure reading manually is a helpful skill for clinicians, caregivers, and patients.

This is a guest blog entry.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tips for Naturally Lowering Your Cholesterol Levels

Worried about high cholesterol? If a recent blood test has you fretting over high blood cholesterol levels, don’t miss these helpful tips for lowering them:

What is cholesterol?
Turns out, all the cholesterol your body needs it actually produces itself. All the cholesterol you consume through food is only surplus. Cholesterol as a critical component of your biology is a fatty and soft, wax-like substance that resides in your cells. Cholesterol plays a handful of important roles in helping your body make vitamin D, hormones, and substances like bile which help you digest food.

When cholesterol is transported through your body, it travels in molecular packages called lipoproteins. These lipid (fat) protein vehicles move through your bloodstream in two ways. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol from your liver and deliver it to cells and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol from your cells back to your liver. LDL is sometimes referred to as “bad cholesterol” because it can cause dangerous buildup in your artery walls, while HDL is sometimes refers to as “good cholesterol” because it helps your body to eliminate excess cholesterol.

Why is high cholesterol bad?
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute shares that high cholesterol levels increase your risk for developing coronary artery disease which is a condition that results from atherosclerosis, or the buildup of cholesterol, fat, and other substances on the walls of your arteries - these are called plaques. When blood vessels and arteries have less and less room for blood to pass through, your heart has to work harder and harder to pump blood through your circulatory system. This places stress on the heart, artery walls, and organs.

How can you lower cholesterol levels?
The good news is that with basic lifestyle changes, reversing high cholesterol is completely possible. Check out these quick expert tips for lowering high cholesterol and decreasing your risk for heart disease:

Be Smart About the Fats You Eat

Big fan of animal-based foods like red meat, butter, ice cream, and cheese? The saturated fats in these foods are a big no-no when it comes to lowering bad cholesterol levels especially. The Mayo Clinic  shares that in fact only 7% of the calories you consume in a day should come from saturated fats. Instead, you want to consume more foods with unsaturated fats, specifically mono-saturated fats which are derived from plant sources. Cooking with olive oil instead of butter is a good example of replacing a saturated fat with a mono-saturated fat. Avocados, almonds, cashews, and pecans are other good sources of mono-saturated fats.

Eat More Soluble Fiber
Fiber has a unique way of lowering bad cholesterol by reducing how much cholesterol is actually absorbed in your bloodstream. Soluble fiber, also referred to as viscous fiber, both slows down the motility of food through the small intestine as well as disrupts bile absorption. The body compensates for this by triggering the liver to make more bile silts which requires cholesterol. The liver starts pulling more bad cholesterol out of the bloodstream to aid the process, thus lowering overall levels. Getting 10 to 25g of soluble fiber a day can be effective in lowering cholesterol levels - look for foods like whole oats, barley, apples, kidney beans, pears, lentils, and vegetables.

Increase Daily Exercise
The Centers for Disease Control recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily for lowering risk of developing all types of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. When it comes to battling high cholesterol, exercise is just as important as diet changes! Low impact activities like swimming, cycling, yoga practice, hiking, dancing, and rowing help keep the heart muscle strong, help you lose weight, and can increase good cholesterol levels in your bloodstream. Additional strength training activities like light weight lifting and resistance training are also important. The best resistance bands will facilitate fun and safe strength training, especially for older adults.

Additional lifestyle modifications which support not only reducing cholesterol but lowering risk for high blood pressure and heart disease include quitting smoking and being vigilant about little to moderate alcohol consumption. Anything you can do to help power a strong heart, clear arteries, and manage a healthy weight is guaranteed to add years to your life.

This is a guest blog post.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hormone Replacement Therapy for Weight Loss

Part of losing weight is the ability to “train your brain” to accomplish that goal. This takes more than mental focus, at times, as the brain is the primary organ that controls functions such as metabolism, health, and aging, all in the process of hormonal regulation. It only seems right that a change in any or some of these very same hormones could be the cause of weight gain, necessitating the need for hormone therapy to lose weight.

This is a simple concept to understand:
  • Hormones regulate everything in the body from energy to sleep to hunger to stress to mood to libido to stimulating the secretion of other hormones.
  • When certain hormones decline in production, others tend to increase production to counteract their actions.
  • In some cases, the increase in certain of these chemical messengers can cause bodily functions to change, such as a lack of energy stimulating the need to consume larger quantities of foods – especially those high in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates for instant energy.
  • As a person ages, the brain tends to lose some of its effectiveness at providing the various hormonal signals from places such as the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and thyroid. This signal reduction affects many of the body’s organs, weakening their abilities to function. Health begins to decline, weight begins to increase, and these factors, in turn, cause further problems for hormonal production.
The goal of using hormone replacement therapy for weight loss is to do more than help a person get rid of excess fat, as that is not going to be a valid reason for a doctor to prescribe some form of bioidentical treatment. The real goal is to put the body back into a state of homeostasis – balance – so that it can function properly.

When the body is in a state of balance, everything will be working as it should, including the metabolism. Food consumed will be properly converted into usable fuel, or energy, rather than stored away as fat. Although a person will lose weight with hormone therapy, that is only a small part of the benefits that will be achieved. The purpose and goal of this treatment are going to be to reverse all of the symptoms associated with the particular hormonal decline that has occurred.

Hormones that Contribute to Weight Gain

There are approximately sixty different hormones in the body, and some of them can have a direct influence on hormonal weight gain. When a person has tried diet after diet to no avail, it may be time to examine how one of these three types of chemical messengers are influencing weight gain:
  1. Stress hormones
  2. Thyroid hormones
  3. Sex hormones
We are going to begin with a look at how stress affects the body and causes weight gain. Many people will automatically associate stress with eating. Think about how comforting it is to grab that donut, pint of ice cream, or bag of chips when stress levels are skyrocketing. The real reason why people grab food at times like this are:
  • Cortisol
Cortisol is the stress hormone. When the body has too much cortisol in the bloodstream, hunger levels will increase. Hunger causes a person to eat and overeating packs on the pounds. Cortisol is the antithesis to growth hormone, which will be covered in further detail in the next section. When growth hormone levels are low, cortisol levels are high. This also interferes with the ability to fall asleep at night, and decreased sleep, as we will also discover, increases the odds of weight gain.
  • Ghrelin
Ghrelin is being included here because it has a direct response to an increase in cortisol. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. In study findings, individuals who were overweight showed increased cortisol, ghrelin, stress, and hunger following a laboratory stressor. ( )

Continuing the examination of hormone replacement therapy and weight loss, we move to the role of thyroid hormones in fat accumulation.
  • Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine
These thyroid hormones work to increase metabolism. If the thyroid is not putting out enough of its hormones, metabolism will slow down, and weight gain will ensue. A sluggish, tired feeling will also be present, again leading to the need to increase caloric intake. An individual may also feel a greater sensitivity to cold, have dry skin, and be subject to bouts of constipation.

Finally, we have the sex hormones. Testosterone and estrogen have their own significant roles in changing body shapes, as will be discussed below:
  • Estrogen
As estrogen levels decline during menopause, the numbers on the scale tend to go up. Doctors have now realized that this may, in fact, also be due to decreasing testosterone levels, especially since some of the excess testosterone in the body is converted into estrogen.
  • Testosterone
The primary male sex hormone is directly involved with weight gain in men and women as they age. This is due to the natural decrease in production of this chemical messenger from the testes and the ovaries, along with the adrenal glands.

The use of hormone replacement for weight loss relies on blood analysis to determine which, if any, of these hormones are at levels that are not optimum for the maintaining an ideal weight.

How Human Growth Hormone Helps Weight Loss

Human growth hormone plays a critical role in metabolism. It aids in the conversion process of turning body fat into muscle mass. HGH reduces both subcutaneous and visceral fat while inhibiting the formation of body fat. A person who is experiencing growth hormone deficiency will find that falling asleep is difficult to achieve at night. He or she will be tired in the daytime, and this fatigue will increase the production of both cortisol and ghrelin. In order to increase energy, food consumption will be required. Higher cortisol = lower GH = weight gain. Since sleep is where more than half of the day’s supply of growth hormone is secreted, this creates a vicious cycle.

Keeping all of this in mind, how can hormone therapy help lose weight for a person dealing with low GH levels?

It is quite simple – give the body back what it needs in order to thrive and let it do its own thing. Now, that does not mean HGH injections provide the impetus to go out and consume an entire pizza. Lifestyle choices do still hold a place in any weight loss program. Please note that HGH is not a diet or weight loss plan. As with any other type of hormone replacement therapy, it will only be prescribed when a deficiency has been diagnosed, and there are symptoms of the deficiency (besides weight gain) present in the individual.

In addition to the many benefits achieved with HGH therapy for people diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency, the average person can expect to increase lean body mass by about 10% and decrease fat mass by about the same amount during a six-month course of therapy.

How Testosterone Helps Weight Loss

Low testosterone levels in the body typically cause a number of unwanted symptoms, including weight gain. In the past, declining estrogen production was blamed for menopausal weight gain, but science has now found a correlation between Low T and higher estrogen levels, so it may actually be that this is the cause of weight gain in women dealing with menopause. That makes testosterone treatment the better option for helping with weight loss.

Once again, it is essential to point out that testosterone replacement therapy for weight loss will not be prescribed, per se. This is not a diet program. If weight gain is the only symptom that a person is experiencing, the doctor will look elsewhere for another form of treatment. Low T therapy with bioidentical testosterone should only be prescribed when there are other symptoms present, and blood analysis shows a valid decline in testosterone levels.

Testosterone weight loss is also attributed to the reversal of the sugar cravings that are present during Low T. These sugar cravings can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.

How to Choose the Right Hormone Therapy to Help with Weight Loss

Choosing the right weight loss, hormone replacement therapy is not a decision that a person can make on his or her own. Treatment with bioidentical HRT medications is not often prescribed for the sole purpose of ridding the body of excess pounds. There has to be a viable deficiency before it is approved and even makes sense, to prescribe these treatments.

Each hormone has a natural range of where it should be in the body - its normal level. If blood test results show a deficiency, then that is when it is possible to provide treatment. Remember, there will also be other symptoms present that can be attributed to that particular hormonal decline, and these will also reap tremendous benefits from the prescribed therapy.

Receiving hormone therapy to lose weight means that there has been a decline in the production of a particular hormone in the body. Raising its level will bring a higher level of functioning to the body. Many people experience changes in mood, energy, libido, memory, cognitive functions, and appearance, along with a decrease in excess fat.

At National HRT, our medical staff and doctors are here to provide free consultations, answers to questions, guidance, diagnostic testing, support, and treatment medications to adults with hormonal deficiencies or imbalances. Call today and discover the ways that we can help you.

This is a guest blog posting.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Is vaping harmful to health?

When it comes to vaping, there’s one big question that continues to be debated - is vaping harmful? It’s a divisive subject that’s having a huge impact on how vaping is being viewed and the regulations that are being put in place in the U.S. and beyond. But with so much conflicting information out there it can be difficult to untangle the facts from the myths.

The first thing you need to understand when it comes to vaping is that in medical and research terms it’s still a very new phenomenon. That means that reliable, long-term studies have yet to emerge and many of the studies that have been conducted have been done on a small sample, making it difficult to gain a bigger picture of the health implications of vaping. But there is research that’s being conducted and findings already released now that can help us assess whether or not vaping is harmful to health.

Many of the research has been centered on comparing vaping to smoking traditional cigarettes. As vaping is being used as an aid to give up tobacco, these pieces of research help to inform policy decisions. An expert independent review published by Public Health England in 2015 concluded that when compared to tobacco, e-cigarettes were 95% less harmful. The landmark findings have been used extensively since, with many policymakers recognizing the potential benefits of using vaping in place of smoking.

These findings have been further supported by another study which found similar results.

One of the key reasons that vaping is so much better (in terms of harm caused) than tobacco cigarettes is the chemicals each contains. A typical cigarette contains over 4,000 chemicals, including over 40 that are known to cause cancer. Other chemicals are toxins. This is significantly higher than those that are in e-juice, even those that have complex flavors. Choosing natural e-liquid further reduces the chance that what you’re vaping contains nasty chemicals that could have a negative impact.

While nicotine doesn’t cause much of the harm that results from smoking cigarettes, it is the addictive agent that keeps people reaching for another. E-liquids are available in varying degrees of nicotine, including those containing no nicotine at all. It puts vapers in control of what they’re inhaling, allowing them to reduce health risks and cut their dependence of the chemical.

While vaping has been found to be significantly less harmful than traditional cigarettes, there are still some health risks. Many of the claims are still in the study phase, so how likely they are to happen and whether they’re connected to vaping is often a little uncertain. However, understanding the potential risks is important to help vapers make an informed decision. It also means that vapers can keep an eye out for symptoms that could be linked to vaping.

Among the health concerns of vaping are:
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Higher chance of stroke
  • Causing ‘popcorn lung’
  • Affecting the immune system
How harmful vaping is to your health is still unknown. Research shows that when compared to smoking it is a better alternative. But if you’re not switching from traditional smokes to vaping, it’s uncertain how you could be raising your chance of serious health concerns. Over the coming months and years, there will be plenty of research conducted on this topic.

It’s also important to note that some of the risks associated with vaping may be linked to regulation. It’s only recently that governments around the world have taken steps to improve the regulation of the fast growing industry and in the past some e-liquids have been found to have misleading labels and claims relating to nicotine levels and ingredients. With greater oversight and improved awareness of why vapers should choose reputable sellers, these risks could be cut even further.

This is a guest blog post.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Essential Guide to Psoriasis

Concerned a patch or red, itchy skin could be something more than simple dermatitis? You may have heard about psoriasis on TV, but still aren’t  sure exactly what it is or if you should see a doctor about your own concerns over getting it. If that sounds like you, don’t miss this go-to psoriasis guide:

What is Psoriasis?

While referred to as a common skin condition, psoriasis is actually a diagnosable autoimmune disease. Characterized by reappearing small to large patches of abnormally red, dry, or scaly skin on the body, psoriasis is a chronic condition currently without a cure.

What Causes Psoriasis?
Somewhat baffling to the medical and scientific communities, psoriasis occurs when the normal life cycle of skin cells is rapidly sped up, leading to a buildup of cells on the surface of the skin. These buildups may present as patches of specific regions of the body or in some cases, covering almost the entirety of the body. Symptoms of psoriasis include:
  • Discolored patches of skin, often red, shrouded in thickened, silvery scales
  • Thick nails with pitting, or shallow or deep depressions
  • Soreness, itching, burning of scaly skin patches
  • Tight, stiff, and swollen joints
  • Dehydrated, cracked skin (that may break and bleed)
Interestingly, flare-ups of psoriasis may dissipate after some time and potentially even go into remission. The root cause of the sped up skin cell replication is still unknown, however, researchers believe it has something to do with overactive T cells in the body. T cells play an important role in helping your body stave off infection by traveling around and eliminating foreign entities like bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

In patients with psoriasis, T cells mistake healthy skin cells for infectious agents and attack them instead. The body then triggers production of new skin cells to travel up to the top layer of skin where they die and accumulate. While this process should normally take weeks, psoriasis sufferers will experience it within days, leading to the rough, scaly buildup of itchy patches on their body.

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Psoriasis?
Unfortunately, scientists are still trying to figure out what causes the hyper-normal T cell activity in the first place. They have, however, nailed down some key risk factors including:
  • Genetics: Having a parent with psoriasis does increase risk for developing it.
  • Excess weight: Obesity boosts risk for developing psoriasis and especially acquiring psoriatic plaques (lesions) in the creases and folds of excess skin.
  • Chronic infections: Adults and children who develop regular bacterial or viral infections are at increased risk for developing psoriasis.
  • Smoking: Smoking is believed to contribute to initial development and severity of psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation shares findings that smoking might double the risk of getting psoriasis.
  • Stress: High stress levels can suppress the immune system and open the window for psoriasis.
For people with psoriasis, flare-ups are often triggered by external factors like an existing injury or sunburn of the skin, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, an infection, certain medications like beta blockers, smoking, and vitamin D deficiency. Harvard Medical School research reveals that vitamin D produced in the body from sunlight helps to keep skin healthy and strong and that people with plaque psoriasis are often deficient in this nutrient.

What are the Types of Psoriasis?
Depending on the severity and location of your psoriatic symptoms, doctors may diagnose you with one of these types:

Plaque psoriasis - around 90% of psoriasis sufferers develop this type which is marked by red, itchy patches of skin covered in scales of silver tinting. Patches may be small or large, and appear anywhere, including in the soft tissue linings of the mouth.

Guttate psoriasis - characterized by drop-shaped lesions, this type of psoriasis is most common in children and young adults who develop a bacterial infection.

Nail psoriasis - irregular nail growth, nail pitting, discoloration, and even a separating of the nail from the nail bed might be caused by this type of psoriasis in either the fingernails or toenails.

Erythrodermic - this rare form of psoriasis will cover almost the entirety of the body with a red, flaking and peeling rash that is significantly itchy or burns.

Inverse - largely found under the breasts, in the groin, genitals, or armpits, this form of psoriasis is exacerbated by fungal infections and the friction and sweat of body regions which rub together.

Pustular - Sometimes accompanied by fever, chills, diarrhea, and severe itching, pustular psoriasis looks like red and tender patches of skin that develop pus-filled blisters.

Psoriatic arthritis - mild to severe joint stiffness, inflammation, and pain may accompany an episode of psoriasis patches and nail changes. Progressive joint damage from this type of arthritis can lead to long-term deformity.

How is Psoriasis Treated?
While many preventative measures can help keep psoriasis symptoms from flaring up, there are some medical and natural treatments which can mitigate existing symptoms and tackle the skin cell buildup, itchiness, and pain.

Topical corticosteroids are medicated ointments which can be rubbed on psoriasis patches to relieve itching and reduce inflammation. A back lotion applicator can help psoriasis sufferers apply topical agents to hard to reach places - see more here.

Vitamin D analogues are synthetic forms of Vitamin D, which can be administered as topical therapy; the analogues bind to vitamin D receptors in the body helping to stave off the worsening of psoriasis symptoms. Other topical aids like Anthralin and Calcineurin inhibitors help to slow skin cell growth, remove built-up scales and plaques, and reduce inflammation. Ointment-based moisturizers should be applied to the skin following bathing to help lock in moisture and prevent excessive water loss that makes psoriasis patches burn and itch more.

Phototherapy is another avenue for treatment and involves exposing the skin to controlled amounts of sunlight and lasers to help it fortify itself against breakdown. Severe and resistant cases of psoriasis may require prescriptions for oral or injected medications that suppress the immune system, fight inflammation, and slow skin cell growth. These types of medications often come with a laundry list of dangerous side effects and are typically only administered when other treatments have failed to work.

If persistent skin irritation like you see with psoriasis patches is inhibiting your day to day life and making tasks like going to work and hanging out with friends hard or embarrassing, talk to your doctor about evaluating you for psoriasis. Early detection and helpful information can have you tackling psoriasis symptoms before they lead to further complications or pain.

This is a guest blog post.

Monday, October 09, 2017

How To Reduce Dental Anxiety

Visiting the dentist is an essential part of your healthcare regime. You have just one set of teeth to last you a lifetime, to achieve this you need the help of professionals! Yet, despite knowing it is good for you, that does not stop and estimated one in five people being scared of visiting them.

It doesn’t matter if you use the best dentist Bankstown has to offer or one that has just qualified; these tips will help you to reduce your dental anxiety and get the best possible care for your teeth.

Make the Appointment

The first step is to simply make the dental appointment. It is advisable to do this by phone as you can persuade yourself that you are making a different type of appointment.

The alternative is to get a friend to make an appointment for you.

Whether you or your friend calls make sure you tell the dentist that you suffer from dental anxiety. This will enable them to help you at the appointment and they will know in advance to take it slowly.

Take A Friend

Unfortunately the waiting room is one of the most nerve racking places to be, even without dental anxiety! It is, therefore, important to take a friend with you for moral support. They can keep your mind busy by chatting about all sorts of other things.

Breathe Slowly

As you start to get nervous you will probably find that you are holding your breath. Unfortunately this will reduce the amount of oxygen getting to your brain and other vital organs; increasing the feeling of panic.

Simply practice breathing slowly and deeply before, during and after the appointment.


When making an appointment specify that you merely want a check-up. Yes, you may need cleaning or dental work but that doesn’t mean you have to undergo it straight away. By visiting for just a check-up all you are doing is letting the dentist inspect your mouth and tell you about the condition of your teeth.

You can worry about any treatment which is needed later.


Visiting the dentist is stressful. It is, therefore; imperative that you choose the best time for your appointment. You need to have no pressing demand for your time; this will simply add stress to your day.

Instead make sure you have at least a 2 hour window clear; this will help you remain calm.

Talk To The Dentist

There are so many people with dental anxiety that your dentist will be used to dealing with it. Talk to them about your concerns and they will be able to help you. A good dentist will take it slowly, allowing you several appointments before they do anything to your teeth.

It is also a good idea to discuss hand signals with your dentist; you may not be able to talk when they are poking round your mouth. Having a set of signals means that you can remain in control and stop the appointment any time you need to.

However, you will be surprised at how quickly you feel comfortable in the chair.

This is a guest blog post.

Three Unique Ways to Beat Insomnia

Insomnia can be a debilitating issue.  Lack of sleep for a prolonged period of time can sap your energy and make it difficult for you to work or enjoy life.

It can also lead to several health problems.  But what are you supposed to do when you've tried all the common methods to beat insomnia, and sleep still won't come?  Chances are there are a few methods you have yet to try. Here are three unconventional ways to beat insomnia that are worth checking out.

Try Math Problems

You have probably heard about counting sheep to get to sleep.  Unfortunately, counting sheep doesn't work very well because it's such a boring exercise that instead of making you sleepy, makes your mind wanders off to other subjects.  The act of counting sheep is also not mentally challenging.  You won't spend much energy on it, which won't make you tired.

A better idea is to try doing mental math: specifically, math that is easy enough to do in your head, but difficult enough to give your brain a workout.  One idea is to start at 300 and then count backwards in threes until you hit zero.  

Although subtracting by three is not difficult to do, you do have to put some thought into it, which will keep your mind off of other worries that may be keeping you up. If you are still having trouble falling asleep by the time you hit zero, start at a higher number and try again.

Listen to a Boring Podcast or Audio Book

Like math problems, the idea here is to distract your mind from the day's worries without making you think too hard.  Find something that is interesting enough to distract you without keeping you awake.  Choosing a speaker with a soft, pleasant voice is another helpful idea.  Some options you can try include documentaries or instructional podcasts or audio books.  Some podcasts are even made specifically to induce sleep, so try doing a search for those.

Wear Blue-Blocking Lenses Before Bed

Our brains naturally produce a hormone called melatonin at bedtime, which makes us sleepy.  Unfortunately, the light emitted by electronic devices such as smartphones, televisions, and computers blocks the production of melatonin.  This can cause sleep issues in several people. 

For many of us, electronics are a fact of life and it's not easy to avoid using them before bedtime.  If that's the case for you, you may find blue-blocking glasses to be a solution.  These glasses, which can be bought at a variety of places online, are amber-colored and block the blue light emitted by electronics.  This encourages your body to produce melatonin.  For many people, wearing the glasses for a few hours before bed every night makes a huge difference when it comes to falling asleep.

Insomnia that lasts for more than a few weeks can be indicative of a more serious health problem, so be sure to see a doctor if your sleeplessness concerns you.  Hopefully, with a little bit of help from these techniques, you'll be sleeping soundly again soon.

This is a guest blog post.

Friday, October 06, 2017

7 Ways to Naturally Stimulate the Lymphatic System

Want to give your body a fighting chance come cold and flu season? In addition to being smart about washing hands, getting vaccinated, and avoiding areas of flu outbreak, you might want to consider boosting your own lymphatic flow.

What exactly is the lymphatic system? You may have had a doctor check you for swollen lymph nodes when you have felt under the weather so you’ve likely heard the term before. Lymph nodes are a key component to the lymphatic system, an intricate network of lymphatic vessels, nodes, glands, organs, and ducts through which lymph fluid flows helping to filter out toxins from your system and fight potential infections.

Unlike your circulatory system which pumps blood from the heart all around your body (upwards of 2,000 gallons a day!), your lymphatic system relies on the contracting and relaxing of muscles to push fluid down and around through lymphatic vessels and back up to the heart to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Lymph fluid carries white blood cells with it which play an important role in detecting pathogens (infectious viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc) and eliminating them before they spread. The glands and organs of the lymphatic system including the tonsils and spleen help to filter out toxin build-up and waste by-products that could potentially make you ill.

There are many ways you can naturally stimulate your own lymphatic system, some of which might surprise you:

Dry Brushing - brushing your skin in long upwards strokes from your feet and hands inwards towards you chest with a dry brush has been shown to trigger lymphatic drainage. The best skin brushes for dry brushing will have long handles and coarse bristles made with natural hair. Dry brushing also serves as an exfoliator, helping to clear skin congestion and soften skin tone and texture.

Inversion -  while gravity does its job pulling you towards the earth and keeping you from floating into the sky, when it comes to supporting a lymphatic flow back up towards your heart, gravity isn’t helping. That’s where inversion, or hanging upside down with secure foot straps, comes into play. Inverting the body helps to decompress joints and fill muscles and tissues with blood where the lymphatic system then drains the toxic build-up.

Rebounding - don’t skip out, join your kids on the trampoline, it could be good for your health! Rebounding, or essentially jumping up and down on a bouncy surface like a trampoline for at least ten minutes passively mobilizes lymph flow and boosts your blood circulation too.

Massage - manual lymphatic drainage techniques, or lymphatic massage, can be used to boost lymph flow through targeted, deep pressure manipulation of muscles and tissues. Stagnant lymph fluid will build up with toxins and congest the entire system; specialty massage like this can help mobilize that fluid and get it flowing once more to be filtered out.

Practicing Yoga - the gentle, flowing movements, stretches, and poses of yoga are great for enhancing flexibility, while the deep breathing practice and meditation supports stress relief and mindfulness. When it comes to boosting lymphatic flow though, it is many of the inversion poses of yoga which help, as well as the twisting and contorting that causes a natural contraction and release of muscles which the lymphatic system relies on.

Drinking Water - staying properly hydrated essentially helps to flush the lymphatic system along, preventing lymph fluid from sitting and building up more toxins. While drinking glasses of water regularly throughout the day helps, so does eating water-rich foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, soups, and smoothies.

Hydrotherapy - sure a nice warm soak in the bath sounds lovely, but when it comes to lymphatic flow, alternating between cold and warm water is actually key. Best done in the shower, switching from hot to cold water when bathing will cause your muscle tissues and blood vessels to expand, contract, expand, contract, and so on. This acts like a natural pump to cue the movement of fluid through your lymphatic system as well as kick start your immune system.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Herbal Treatments for CTS Symptoms

We all know what life is like these days. From a young age children are huddled over remote controls for either the television or gaming stations. Tablets, computers and mobile phones are commonplace. It is no secret that as this transition has taken place the instance of carpal tunnel syndrome has increased considerably.

What Is Carpal Tunnel?

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs in the wrist and is caused through the compression of the meridian nerve which basically controls the function of your hand. It is a painful condition that often carries with it feelings of numbness and tingling and an overall weakness of the hand. In severe cases the mobility and function of the hand may be hindered.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel?

There are a number of different causes and reasons for the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. These may include but are not limited to aging, diabetes, ganglion cysts, lupus, gout, injuries that have not healed correctly or entirely, and even repetitive motions like those used when typing on a keyboard or pressing the buttons on a gaming remote.

Treatments Available

While carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated non-invasively, surgery does sometimes become necessary. The pain associated with carpal tunnel can be severe and pain medication is often a necessity. If you suffer from carpal tunnel and you are feeling the pain, consider all your options before settling on one.

One natural treatment that many have used for pain relief is CBD. If you’re curious about CBD oil - what is it and how it can help you?- it’s a natural extract of the cannabis, or hemp, plant. The difference between the two is the level of THC.

THC is the chemical element that is picked up through urine testing or blood testing and this is the chemical that is illegal in most countries. THC causes the “high” that is associated with marijuana smoking. Although THC and CBD are found in both marijuana and hemp plants, hemp has a higher amount of CBD, and the medicinal value of the CBD oil extracted from hemp is considerable. It can act as a an effective pain management aid and also assists in calming and relaxing which in turn puts less stress on the joints.

This form of self-medication can be taken both orally and topically. There are a variety of strengths available. It is best to find one that is suited to your needs and easy for you maintain regularly. A trained professional should always oversee your treatment and of course, the recommended dosages should always be followed.

Carpal tunnel syndrome at the end of the day is a man-caused ailment. Our lifestyles and the work we do have a lot to do with its causes. Too quickly these days do we turn to chemical-filled medication that often does more harm than good. It is time to turn back to mother nature and use what she so graciously provides.

Using CBD oil from the hemp plant does not mean you are addicted to marijuana and certainly won’t be the cause of a failed drug test. Take your health into your own hands. You might be pleasantly surprised at the overall health benefits you achieve. CBD oil can also boost your health in other areas.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

What is the Klotho Protein, and What is its Role in Aging?

The klotho protein has been hailed by biologists around the world as having the potential to help slow the aging process, as well as slow the progression of common age-related health problems (like heart disease and kidney failure). But what is klotho protein, and what is its role in aging?
Read on for an overview of the klotho protein, which will provide you with the information you need about its potential use in the field of anti-aging medicine.

What is the Klotho protein?

Klotho is a protein encoded by the Klotho gene (or “KL” gene), which was originally identified in mice as a protein that extends their lifespan when overexpressed.  This means that mice whose bodies produce more klotho protein tend to have longer lifespans than those who produce less of it.  In fact, mice with lower-than-average levels of klotho protein tend to see more signs of aging earlier than those with higher klotho levels.

Klotho is most known for regulating vitamin D and mineral metabolism, and may have some effect on heart and kidney health. Scientists have found an unexpected connection between human metabolism and the specific way that the klotho gene ages. This has led some scientists to believe that the klotho protein might be able to slow down the human aging process, theoretically preventing some age-related illnesses.

Doctors have theorized that the klotho protein might be able to play a role in shrinking tumors, reducing diabetes symptoms, slowing aging and improving cognitive function.  One review of multiple studies found that reduced klotho production may be linked to a higher prevalence of coronary artery disease, and that “high Klotho gene expression was independently associated with lower risk for CAD.” These findings have generated interest within the scientific community around assessing whether klotho protein could be used to prevent disease and extend human lifespan.

How is the klotho protein involved in the aging process? It’s clear that there is a connection between klotho protein and the aging process, with many scientists theorizing that it may be able to be used to extend the lifespan of a human being.

Scientists with the Mayo Clinic have reported that the klotho protein might act as an aging suppressor (in addition to suppressing the growth of tumors). Researchers noted that klotho levels in older mice, rats and monkeys were substantially diminished. They observed that, in all the brain tumors they studied - klotho was “downregulated” (it’s production was reduced) - which leads many scientists to believe that klotho could be used to treat brain tumors.

While many studies have focused on the effects of a lack of klotho, it has been shown that increasing a mouse’s klotho levels can increase lifespan among many other benefits. According to many members of the scientific community, it might be possible to see a similar effect in humans.

What are scientists doing now?

A number of scientific studies are currently under way with the goal of assessing the klotho protein’s ability to extend a person’s lifespan, as well as help treat brain tumors, coronary artery disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Biotech companies like Klotho Therapeutics are conducting research and making klotho protein available to the public in a clinical setting.

In the future, many are optimistic that the klotho protein could be used to decelerate the progression of age-related diseases, and change the way that we think about aging. Though we’re far from having klotho come into common use by general practitioners in the United States, the benefits are becoming clearer with each published study.


This is a guest blog entry.