Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Getting Older: How to Keep the Aging Mind Sharp

We’re all given a vehicle at birth. How we handle it and care for it in the years to come will determine how long it runs. While some of us may be blessed with a vehicle capable of taking abuse, others may be given one with limited capabilities. But one way or another, how we treat these vehicles will affect the lifetime mileage.

This vehicle being talked about is not a car, but the human body. The older we get, the more likely our parts aren’t going to perform as well as they did in years past, not unlike an automobile. It’s therefore important to do what we can to keep ourselves in running condition for as long as possible.

Folks in their late-50s and onward have a particular obligation to keep their minds running properly. It’s no secret our thinking starts to get a bit muddled as we get older. Most aged care training courses focus heavily on dealing with declining mental agility among the elderly, a clear indicator of how much brain power influences independence later in life.

To help older readers out, here are five ways to keep the mind sharp past 60 years of age:

Read Regularly

Studies strongly suggest that reading books on a regular basis can help prevent dementia in adults as they age. While all forms of reading are welcome ways to exercise the brain, it appears that books and other longform writing are best for keeping the mind healthy.

Play Games

The same studies which point to the brain benefits of reading also point to puzzle solving and similar games as a great way to help the mind stay sharp. While we can’t definitively say your favorite bird themed video game is good for the brain, anything requiring critical thinking is likely to count. This includes everything from the ancient game of chess to strategy based MMO (massively multiplayer online) games.

Question Things

The older we get the more we settle into certain grooves of thought. We align ourselves politically, culturally, and socially, and feel confident we’re in the right. The unfortunate side effect is a reduced amount of scrutiny placed on the information we receive. It’s critical to continue applying skepticism to seemingly trusted facts and figures. Otherwise we begin to build inaccurate webs of self-deception in the final chapters of life.


Visiting a foreign city is a mentally enriching event at virtually any stage of life. It certainly keeps the mind on nonstop absorption mode, taking in all the exotic sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Travel as much as possible in older age to encourage a well rounded brain. If you’re financially incapable of globe trekking, or even going out of state, a simple walk around town can invigorate the mind in a similar fashion. The goal is to expose your senses to different things.

Eat Properly

The benefits of healthy eating in old age are shown to help prevent bone and muscle injuries common among the elderly. However, a proper diet can also help prevent mental deterioration. The right ratio of vitamins, proteins, and complex carbohydrates results in a brain receiving its desired balance of nutrients.

Whether it’s Volvo or BYD, every automobile will run longer if well maintained. The same is true for the human body. The better we take care of our personal vehicle, the more miles we’ll rack up before the timing belt breaks.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Helping a Friend Deal with Depression

Depression is a common disorder in the United States, with reports showing that 1 out of 10 people will suffer from this debilitating condition in their lifetime. With modern stressors, genetics, and mystery factors not yet understood combining to increase the frequency of this disease, it is likely you will personally know someone struggling with depression at some point in your lifetime.

If you’re worried your friend might be suffering from depression and want to help as much as possible through this difficult period, consider these tips.

How is Depression Different?

Everyone has periods of sadness, but clinical depression is another type of beast. A severely depressed individual may find it a struggle to complete even the most simple of daily tasks, rendering them unable to function effectively in their normal routines. It’s not something that can always be overcome with positive thinking, and it affects so many different facets of life, including namely, relationships—don’t let yours with your friend become a victim to this disease.

Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help

Your friend might be very resistant to reach out to you, let alone reach out to a therapist or other licensed professional. However, depression is a scary condition, and it’s worth talking to your friend about accessing care should the situation require it. It can be hard to know whether they need care or not. There are certain signs to look for: if he or she mentions suicidal thoughts, if they aren’t able to eat, or if sleep has become impossible, they need to seek help and work out some sort of treatment.

Get Educated

While mental illness is more talked about in recent years than it has ever been, there’s still plenty of misconceptions about depression and anxiety. To fully be there for your friend, you need to take your time to understand the condition. Do your research; go online, check out books, look at recent studies. The more you know, the more helpful you can be.

Be There

Your friend likely won’t reach out for you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need your support. Stay in touch as much as possible. It may be frustrating when they aren’t returning your texts or answering your calls, but it’s essential that you continue reaching out. Their retraction from life is no reflection of their feelings towards you or your friendship; depression makes even basic functions feel impossible. Part of being there might mean taking initiative to do the things he or she can’t handle anymore. This might mean picking up groceries, doing their laundry, or even dropping off prepared meals to make sure they’re eating. If you live far away, you can help do many of these things through services. You can send a cleaning brigade to their home with Merry Maids, have groceries or recipe boxes like Hello Fresh dropped off at their door, and ask close-by friends to check in on them every now and again.


You should strive to become a listener more than a talker when it comes to your interactions with your friend. Listen to their concerns, prompt them with open ended questions that will get a conversation going, and be wary of offering advice. Don’t feel compelled to say something; depression doesn’t always make sense, and there isn’t always an answer. You can, however, always provide words of support and hope, without diminishing the pain your friend is currently experiencing. Everyone deals with and overcomes depression in a different way, so what works for someone else you knew might not work for this particular friend.

Little Surprises

By no means will gifts help them “get over” their illness, but providing little bits of happiness will put bright spots into a week that might have been otherwise difficult. Grab a special gift to let them know you’re thinking of them, or drop off a bouquet of flowers just because. This is another way to show you care without overwhelming your friend, and lets them know you’ll be patient while they work through their illness.

Watching a friend suffer from depression is tough, but you can make the difference by being a pillar of support while they work to get better. Use these guidelines to be there for your friend and give them hope of a brighter future.

This is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Top 10 Books on Motherhood for Mother’s Day

Motherhood is one of the most cherished societal roles that requires much physical and emotional sacrifice, unexpected challenges, and periods of great joy and sadness. In recognition of the amazing job that so many mothers do, flowers, chocolates, dinner, breakfast in bed, and new clothes are some of the many traditional gifts mothers receive on Mother’s Day. However, what many people forget when shopping for mom is that many mothers enjoy having some down time to read a good book. Along those lines, here is MedFriendly’s list of the Top 10 books on motherhood (based on reader review ratings) that mothers with different lifestyles should enjoy reading on Mother’s Day. At the end of each description, we highlight the type of mother who would best like each particular book.
1. Motherhood Realized: An Inspiring Anthology for the Hardest Job You'll Ever Love by Power of Moms. Power of Moms. This is a tangible representation of a living, breathing community of mothers (Power of Moms). The book is a collection of the best articles the Power of Moms has shared online. Each chapter is one article, so they are very easy and quick to read (10 min or less). The chapters are grouped into meaningful sections and do not need to be read from beginning to end.
Ideal for mothers with a fast-paced life.
2. Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected by Kayla Aimee. Both poignant and humorous, Anchored recounts Kayla’s gripping story of learning to navigate her newfound motherhood (premature delivery) in the most unexpected of ways, from holidays in the hospital and middle-of-the-night phone calls to the joy of coming home. With vulnerability and plenty of wit, Kayla lays bare her struggle to redefine her faith, her marriage, and herself within the context of a tragedy she never saw coming. For anyone who has felt their faith in God falter, Anchored extends a gentle invitation to join her as she uncovers a hope that holds.
Ideal for mothers who have given birth to children prematurely.
3. The Single Mom and Her Rollercoaster Emotions by Pam Kanaly. Christian guidance for single parenting. Single moms face ups and downs, and this personal testimony offers advice on how to navigate the emotional roller coaster. After highlighting and defining nine specific negative emotions that often overwhelm single parents, Pam Kanaly explains how to transform these common characteristics into corresponding positive traits. Founded on love and biblical teaching, these words of wisdom and compassion will offer hope and consolation to struggling moms.
Ideal for single Christian mothers.
4. Tales from Another Mother Runner: Triumphs, Trials, Tips, and Tricks from the Road by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. Every mother runner has a tale to tell. A story about how she realized, fifteen years after being told that she's best being a bookworm, that there is an athlete inside her. Or the one about how she, fifty pounds overweight and depressed, finally found the courage---and time---to lace up her running shoes. Ideal for the running mother or the mother who needs motivation to get more active.
5. A Mother's Dance: One Step Back, Two Steps Forward, Full Circle by Pattie Welek Hall. A touching story about hope, resilience, fortitude, faith, and about the value of family and friends. Pattie relays her story of a mother trying to balance life goals with the need to care for a child in a coma from a traumatic brain injury.  She is later tested again when her oldest son dies. Ideal for the mother who has lost a child and/or has cared for children with serious medical issues.
6. Tilt: 7 Solutions To Be A Guilt-Free Working Mom by Marci Fair. Juggling work and family has never seemed more possible than in Marci Fair's parenting guide, TILT. It was written out of the difficult struggles and unexpected answers that Fair has found on her journey through the TILT of life, work, and motherhood. Ideal for the working mother.
7. Reclaiming Home: The Family's Guide for Life, Love and Legacy by Krista Gilbert. This is the go-to guidebook, helping families cultivate solid roots of meaning, connectedness, and family identity in the ever-shifting soil of modern family life. Ideal for the mother looking to simplify her chaotic family life.
8. The Mindful Mom-To-Be: A Modern Doula's Guide to Building a Healthy Foundation from Pregnancy Through Birth by Lori Bregman. Strengthening your own foundation is one of the very best beginnings you can give your child. In The Mindful Mom-to-Be, doula and pregnancy coach Lori Bregman guides you in your journey toward motherhood by empowering you to find what works best for you and your baby. In addition to concrete, prescriptive health information, including nutritional advice, natural remedies, developmental milestones, and techniques for labor, she offers simple and enjoyable spiritual and emotional exercises to help you prepare for motherhood. Ideal for the pregnant mother.
9. Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter--A Guide for Mothers Everywhere by Colleen O’Grady. Written by a popular family therapist, "Dial Down the Drama "reveals how to reclaim your center and reconnect with your teen. It helps you: Regain perspective - Break the cycle of conflict - Tune in to your daughter without drowning in her drama - Foster spontaneous conversations - Understand the developing adolescent brain and how it influences behavior - Appreciate her for who she is now--a wonderful, work in progress - Replace worrying and overreacting with effective communication and action - Forge a healthy and lasting bond together Moodiness, anger, and defiance can stress the best of us. This empowering guide gives you the tools you need to defuse the drama--and dial up the joy. Ideal for mothers of teenage daughters.
10. Changed By Chance: My Journey of Triumph Over Tragedy by Elizabeth Barker. Elizabeth Barker spent years planning and working hard to achieve her version of the American dream - one that is supposed to culminate in parenthood and the role of supermom. But when her first child is born with Down syndrome and a fatal heart condition, her dream suddenly becomes a nightmare. Liz’s new reality is a detoured obstacle course of life altering encounters, medical mishaps, a breast cancer diagnosis, and cruel hardships. From the moment of her daughter’s birth, she is pummeled with life lessons that no schooling or formal education could have ever taught her.  
Ideal for mothers of children with special needs.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

10 Facts About Malaria

Malaria is a tropical disease that poses a risk for residents of and travelers to parts of Africa, Asia, Central America and South America. There is no vaccine and the symptoms are severe, but with preventative medicine, transmission is unlikely.

Below are some facts about malaria.

1. What Is Malaria?

It’s a blood-borne disease spread by the bite of an infected female mosquito. Malaria can cause serious complications and is potentially fatal.

2. Where Does It Come From?

A particular mosquito called the Anopheles mosquito can harbor a parasite called Plasmodium. This is the most deadly parasite out of the five that cause malaria.

Image source:

When an Anopheles mosquito bites and infects a person with parasites it causes malaria.

3. How Does It Make A Person Ill?

When the parasite enters the human blood stream via an infected mosquito it travels to the liver where it infects red blood cells. This leads to red blood cells bursting.

If an uninfected Anopheles mosquito bites a person with malaria, it picks up the parasite in its salivary glands and so the life-cycle continues.

4. The Anopheles Mosquito

There are over 400 species of Anopheles mosquito and 30 of these are of malarial importance.

They bite at dawn and dusk, but the veracity of the infection is dependent on the human, the environment and the parasite itself. Anopheles mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, even managing to breed in the rain-filled hoof print of horses, which means there are a great deal of breeding habitats available to them.

Although the Anopheles mosquito is the main risk of malaria transmission a person can also become infected through a blood transfusion or organ transplant. Sharing infected needles is another route as is mother to baby during birth - known as congenital malaria.

5. Symptoms

Malaria symptoms can be mild to begin with and can be mistaken for other illnesses. This is dangerous as malaria such as the P. Faciparum strain can lead to serious complications if not treated within 24 hours.

Some people develop partial immunity to malaria in areas that are particularly prone to the parasite. Symptoms of the disease can vary for person to person.

Well-known symptoms are:

•    High temperature or fever
•    Chills and sweating
•    Headaches
•    Vomiting
•    Diarrhea
•    Muscle pains
•    Children can develop anemia and breathing difficulties

6. Incubation Period

Because the parasite needs time to develop a person won’t feel ill with malaria symptoms right away. Usually symptoms appear a week after infection but it can take up to 18 days and sometime up to a year. It depends on the parasite’s life cycle.

7. The Global Effect

Parasites need time to grow and complete their life cycle, so severe malaria is more frequent in areas where the mosquito lives longer. Some mosquitoes also prefer to bite humans. This converges in Africa where 90% of malaria cases occur. Malaria is one of the main reasons for poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Conditions for optimum mosquito breeding are when there’s heat and dampness. When humidity is high epidemics can occur. Rainy seasons or when a large group of people with no immunity move to an infected area, such as refugees, there may be an upsurge in cases.

There is some concern that global warming may mean currently uninfected areas start to see tropical diseases such as malaria. Researchers in the UK for example believe a two-degree rise in temperature could lead to pathogens such as malaria, becoming a risk in the UK.

8. Who Is At Risk?

Sub-Saharan Africa had 88% of malaria cases and 90% of malarial deaths in 2015. It kills approximately 438,000 people every year. In 2015, 300,000 children in Africa died of malaria under the age of 5.

Asia, Latin America and some parts of the Middle East have high malaria risks but 97 countries have malaria transmission. It’s thought 3.2 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria.

Everyone exposed to the virus is at risk, but some are in especial danger. Pregnant women and their unborn children are at risk of dying from complications or experiencing spontaneous miscarriage. The immune-compromised, such as HIV or chemotherapy patients, infants and children under 5, the elderly, and those with no immunity, such as travelers, are particularly at risk.

All travelers to North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands should be aware of the dangers of malaria.

9. Prevention

There’s no vaccine for malaria although research is underway and shows promise.

Malaria can be prevented by following these steps:

•    Researching malaria areas before travel.
•    Use insect repellent, covering arms and legs, and using a mosquito net. Insecticidal nets provide good protection
•    Take anti-malaria tablets and finish the course. They are 90% effective. Brand names include mefloquine, doxycycline, atovaquone and proguanil. Some of these medications need to be taken in advance of traveling.
•    People feeling unwell after travel to a malarial area should seek medical advice immediately and up to a year afterwards.

10. Treatment

A blood test will confirm malaria and treatment must begin immediately afterwards.

Treatment usually consists of taking anti-malarial tablets. Those already taking medicine will not be treated with the same type, so keeping a note of medication is essential during and after travel.

A treatment will be selected depending on the type of malaria, where it was transmitted, severity of the symptoms, what medicines have already been taken, age, and in women - whether or not she is pregnant because some anti-malarial treatments are not suitable for pregnant women.

In severe cases malaria may be treated intravenously in hospital.

Many people who are not affected by malaria underestimate its effects. Those traveling to infected countries must ensure they have taken the appropriate anti-malarial treatment. Those not able to take medication should seriously reconsider their plans.

Despite efforts to eradicate malaria, The World Health Organization says that anti-malarial drug resistance and insecticidal resistance are growing concerns. Malaria is still a threat to human life and must be taken seriously.

This is a guest blog entry.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Children Are Getting Fatter and Their Home Environment Is to Blame

We know that the world is getting fatter. Take one look around you, and you will be bombarded with diets, exercise equipment and more. We know that we should lose weight, and we know that obesity is bad. Yet, we don’t really seem to do anything about it. And, unfortunately, it is starting affect our children.

When you consider there is a staggering rise in the number of people looking for bariatric procedures for children, it becomes clear that something must be done.

Understanding Obesity

The obesity statistics are frightening and sobering to look at. The percentage of people over the age of 15 who are obese in different countries is as follows:

•    30.6% in the USA
•    24.2% in Mexico
•    22.4% in the United Kingdom
•    21% in Australia
•    17% in New Zealand
•    14.9% in Canada
•    12.9% in Germany
•    9.4% in France

What Causes Obesity?

Very simply put, obesity is caused by three things:

•    Eating too much
•    Eating the wrong things
•    Not moving enough

We are sedentary, yet stuff our faces full of high calorie, high sugar, high fat, high cholesterol, processed food that contains almost no nutrition.

What it Mean to Be Obese?

Around the world, the most important contributor to poor health is now obesity, overtaking even infectious diseases. Some 300,000 people in this country alone die each year as a direct result of an obesity-related illness, including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes,  sleep apneas and more. It is even believed that, unless something is done soon, more people will die of obesity than what they will of smoking.

The most frightening thing, however, is the impact this has on our children. The chance of the child of an obese parent becoming obese themselves is frightening. In fact, most children of obese parents reach a dangerous level of weight by the time they are just four years old.

Children and Obesity

It is now increasingly normal for children to be obese. Over the past 10 years, there has been an increase of 30% in obese children in our country. It is obvious why this is happening: children copy the lifestyle of their parents. At the same time, our consumerist society plays an important role as well. There has been a 300% increase in fast food outlets between 1977 and 1996, for instance. The various industries involved in treating obesity are worth billions of dollars as well. So we are fighting a losing battle: our own poor lifestyle choices, and the constant drive from commercial institutions to continue to make poor lifestyle choices.

What it Means for a Child to Be Obese

Obese children have to deal with many difficulties. The first is that the health dangers for them are as high as what they are for adults. Not just that, however, but fat cells developed in childhood are even more difficult to get rid of. Then, there is the significant psychological impact as well. While more and more children are obese, they still experience greater levels of bullying. Something needs to be done.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

7 Amazing Health Benefits to Playing Wind Instruments

While most might assume that playing a musical instrument is nothing more than a hobby, there’s a lot more to it. Learning to play an instrument provides you with skills that include hand/eye coordination, improved motor skills and memory, as well as better concentration.

Depending on the type of instrument you learn, there are increased benefits that directly relate to your health. Let’s take a look at how playing musical instruments like the trumpet, tuba, or saxophone can benefit your health in the long run:

1.  Builds Confidence – If you’re looking for a real confidence booster, you should consider learning how to play a wind instrument. With the right instructor from sources like, you can receive personalized instruction at your own pace. There’s simply something about the sense of accomplishment once you’ve mastered the hurdles of learning an instrument.

2.  Strengthens Breath and Lung Capacity – Your diaphragm is one of the most utilized parts of the body when playing a wind instrument. It assists you in being able to blow air in and out of your lungs and into the instrument to create sound. Through controlled and measured breaths, you can begin to strengthen your breath and lung capacity. In fact, pulmonary rehabilitation experts that help those who  suffer from chronic lung and respiratory illnesses, agree that music therapy, such as playing wind instruments, as a method for healing and speeding up recovery actually works on a physical and emotional level.

3.  Strengthens Core Muscles – As you’re utilizing your diaphragm which is located just beneath the lungs, you’re also using your abdominal muscles. The in and out movement of your breaths flex the abdominal muscles which help to strengthen your core.

4.  Boosts Adrenaline – Did you know that an adrenaline rush in some ways can be a great benefit to your health? In fact, small spurts of adrenaline can help to boost energy levels and help you burn calories. Well, as you learn how to play an instrument and perform for others, you find an adrenaline rush as you belt out musical notes to your favorite tune.

5.  Improved Hand/Eye Coordination – There’s a lot that goes into playing a wind instrument. Aside from learning how to control your breaths to generate a positive sound, you must also learn how to push the right buttons, where to position your fingers and more. The more you practice with your instrument, the better your hand-eye coordination becomes.

6.  Relieves Stress – When looking for safe ways to relieve the stresses of life pick up a wind instrument. Whether you’ve mastered the instrument completely or not, the sound of music and the feeling of accomplishment you feel from playing it (to the best of your abilities) can help to minimize cortisol – the stress hormone. The better you get at playing, the more you will find your instrument to be a tool for relieving stress.

7.  Helps You Set and Accomplish Goals – Learning a musical instrument is a great and fun way to begin setting and accomplishing goals. In the beginning, your goal might be to learn all the notes on the instrument. Once you’ve accomplished that you might move on to learning a new song. As you conquer each of these goals, you begin to feel more accomplished and motivated to set goals not just with music – but in other parts of your life as well.

You don’t have to be a musical genius to enjoy the above-described benefits of learning a musical instrument. All you have to do is have the willpower to try something new. As you begin to master each concept of playing wind instruments, you’ll begin to see the above-mentioned benefits materialize in your life. If you haven’t the faintest idea how to play a musical instrument – it’s never too late to learn. With the help of a music instructor, you could be well on your way to enjoying the many healing powers of music.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Monday, March 14, 2016

What Are Skin Tags?

Skin tags are small parts of skin that are soft and benign knobbly growths of skin cells on the exterior of the skin. Their scientific name is ‘acrochordons’ or ‘fibroepithelial polyps.’  They can occur on any area of the body but mainly in areas such as the neck, back, armpit, breasts, eyelids and groin area.

They are absolutely harmless and nothing to worry about. They are a natural occurrence, and many people have them. Dermatologists and doctors see them every day and they’re very simple to treat.

Why Do They Occur?

Unlike warts, they are not contagious and occur naturally due to a number of reasons such as:

•   Changes in hormonal levels – for this reason they are common in pregnant women and anyone with fluctuating hormones from treatment or a pre-existing condition.

•   Things rubbing against skin for a long term period, like clothing – this commonly occurs where there are folds of skin. For instance in people who are overweight or have lost weight resulting in an excess of skin.

•   Sometimes they appear for no reason at all

Why Remove Them?

Some people feel self-conscious about them and they can affect your self-esteem if you feel they are unsightly. If you feel like you’d rather not have a skin tag, there are always options for removal if you choose, no matter how small or large they are. You can find many skincare experts that can help you with skin tags, such as Sk:n who can offer a variety of safe treatments dependent on your needs. Sometimes, skin tags can cause issues when it comes to shaving as they get irritated easily and are at risk of being cut with blades of razors.

How Are They Removed?

Skin tags are easily dealt with and only need a very minor procedure which involves a minimum of discomfort. The 3 ways medical professionals remove skin tags are as follows:

1.  Excision – the part of skin will be removed surgically using a scalpel.

2.  Cryotherapy – much like the treatment for warts, cryotherapy freezes the skin until the unwanted area’s cells die, and it simply falls off.

3.  Hyfrecation – a therapy that uses electrical pulses to damage only the cells of the skin tag, so the unwanted skin naturally falls away,

These treatments all ensure skin tags are gone permanently, but won’t stop new ones arising in the future.

All of these treatments are very minor procedures and are considered cosmetic surgery. They don’t take very long – usually a matter of a few minutes – and they don’t cause much in the way of pain.

This is a guest blog entry.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Benefits of Eating Organic Foods

Whether or not to choose organic food products over conventional is regularly a hot topic of debate. Some opponents do not believe that eating organic is worth the additional cost, while others don't believe that it provides a more nutritious product.

On the other hand, supporters of organic foods strongly believe that the benefits are indeed very real and will testify to those benefits. For example, certain people with allergies to artificial preservatives and chemicals will notice that eating organic products helps to lessen or completely rid them of symptoms. No matter which side of the aisle you fall on, it is clear that organic products are more natural, less artificial, and there are certain benefits that come with that. Below are some of the main benefits that people can expect to receive from eating organic foods.

Fewer Pesticides

Many crops grown today are grown with the use of pesticides. These are chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. While the use of these chemicalsis to help keep the crops from being attacked by bugs and such, they tend to leave residue on the foods that we eat. Therefore, many of the non-organic foods we eat have pesticides on them that we ingest.

Fresher Foods

Everyone agrees that food that is fresher just tastes better overall. Organic foods generally have a shorter lifespan in the stores because they don't contain preservatives in them that most other products do in order to last longer. However, because of this the organic foods are always fresher and usually have a better taste overall. Most organic produce comes from local farms nearby wherever it is sold.

Better for the Environment

Organic farming leads to less pollution in the air, water and soil. It also helps to reduce soil erosion, conserve water, increase soil fertility and uses less energy. Farming practices done without the use of pesticides is better for nearby wildlife such as birds and other small animals.It is also a better environment for people who may live close by the farms or the workers that work the farms and crops.

Better for Animals

Organically raised animals are not given growth hormones, antibiotics or fed any animalbyproducts. When farmers use antibiotics in conventional meat production, it leads to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains. If someone eating the conventionally raised meat gets sick from a strain of bacteria, it could lead to them not being able to be treated with the use of antibiotics. In addition, the risk of mad cow disease is less when no animal byproducts are used to feed and raise the animals.

Better for Immune System

For many food growers and farmers, genetic modifications have been some of the biggest projects in recent decades. While making produce such as tomatoes six times their original side may seem like a great way to solve some hunger issues around the world, there are also some downsides to it. Genetically modifying foods is still a relatively new idea. Because of this, it is unsure about what the long-term side effects on humans could be. When tested on animals, it was proven that eating genetically modified foods caused a big reduction in many things such as immune system strength. It was also noticed that there was an increase in birth mortality and certain sexual dysfunctions.

Antioxidant Capacity

There have been many studies showing that the effects of antioxidants derived from organic foods better effect your overall health compared to antioxidants that come from the conventionally grown foods. The main reason that this is true may be because the foreign chemicals used in non-organic foods are not present to negatively interact with the numerous minerals and vitamins in the foods. These are essential to help fruits and vegetables aid in the prevention of numerous diseases such as heart disease, cancer, vision problems, premature aging and cognitive malfunctions. Other recent research has suggested that choosing to eat organic foods can lead to an increase of consumed antioxidants as well as a reduced exposure to certain toxic heavy metals.

More Nutrients and Less GMOs

According to a recent European study, organically grown meat and milk had upwards of fifty percent higher nutrients in them such as omega-3 fatty acids. The study shows this to be true because the milk and beef comes from cows that are able to graze and eat a natural grass diet while conventional meat and milk comes from cows that are fed with grain instead. Organically grown foods are GMO (genetically modified organisms) free. Genetically modified foods from plants and animals could possibly lead to long-term negative effects that have yet to be studied.

While eating organic foods may not be the only choice when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it can certainly help. Sometimes, it boils down to making healthier choices in the products you buy, such as products sold by Hampton Creek foods.

This is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

7 of the Most Common Medical Billing Mistakes

Many errors can occur during the medical billing process. These errors delay payments, cause confusion and reflect poorly with patients who often have to help correct the problem. An essential part of medical billing is minimizing errors, but that is often easier said than done.

When you’re dealing with dozens of data points, mistakes happen. The key is knowing where problems usually occur in the process and how to prevent them.

Not Entering the Right Amount of Digits on a Code

With so many minute details, it’s easy to overlook a letter or digit. Not entering the correct number of digits for a code is one of the top mistakes made during the medical billing process. ICD codes are designators for symptoms, diagnosis and causes of death. It helps decrease confusion because the universal codes are understood by health providers around the country.

Being just one digit off can create serious issues during the billing process. This can also affect the patient’s medical records if it isn’t corrected. Billing specialists have to be familiar with the current codes and have a way to verify codes before filing.

Inputting the Wrong Code

Another common problem is inputting the wrong code entirely. Using the wrong code on a medical bill is one of the top reasons claims are rejected and denied.

Often it is the ICD-9-CM and the new ICD-10 codes that are incorrect. Because there are multiple code sets and ICD codes are updated regularly, it can be difficult for billing specialists to determine which code is correct. Online management systems like Practice Suite's free ICD 10 code lookup can help circumvent this common medical billing mistake. These systems have tools that help billing specialists look up the latest codes, which are significantly different for ICD-10.

Treatment and Diagnostic Codes Are Mismatched

One other common billing mistake related to ICD codes is mismatched coding for treatment and diagnosis. Usually one of the codes is correct but the other is not, and it’s clearly unrelated. Here again a billing management system with updated ICD code tools can help billing specialists find and use the right codes before sending out the bill.

Incorrect Patient Information

The front desk and doctor may be very familiar with a patient, but that doesn’t mean the medical billing specialist is. Incorrectly inputting patient information is much easier than most people realize. Again, one wrong letter or number in the patient information is all it takes for a claim to be rejected.
A patient management system with built-in billing functions makes this mistake near impossible because the patient’s information is automatically populated in electronic claims.

Incorrect Insurance Information

The insurance company information also has to be 100% accurate on the billing records. Even though these types of errors can be slight, it can be enough to delay the bill processing and payment.
It’s also fairly common for the patient’s insurance information to be incorrect on bills. Patients can switch health insurance plans or providers from one year to the next. Their plan may also be updated or changed, sometimes without the patient realizing it. For this reason, medical billing specialists have to verify insurance coverage before filing a claim.

Incorrect Health Provider Information

Some medical billing specialists work for multiple health care providers. Juggling the information of various providers makes it easy to accidentally input the wrong name, address or contact information.

Duplicate Bills

Without a management system that documents and tracks billing, it’s easy for the same medical service to be billed twice. It usually happens when more than one person in the office reports that the services were performed. The billing specialist should catch this on a superbill, but a patient management system that’s shared by everyone will help eliminate duplicate bills.

Medical ethics extends well beyond the examining room. Proper handling of patient information and billing is a joint effort between the physician, administrative staff and billing specialist. Each person must be honest and accurate in their documentation or mistakes are going to happen.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Say Goodbye to Back Pain by Introducing These Easy Lifestyle Changes

Back pain is one of the most common health problems affecting the people of all ages and genders. According to the survey, out of total patients visiting a doctor about 20% have a back pain complaint. This issue is mostly recurring and would come your way again and again if you continue with the wrong lifestyle or do not take up a well-planned fitness regime to get over it.

If you have already been attacked by mild or severe back pain by now then it is your trigger for a lifestyle change. Here are the simple tips that will help you cure the back pain to large extent and also help you prevent any future attacks.

 1. Weight Management

If the reason for frequent back pain attacks is not known then first check your weight because being overweight is the major reason behind this problem. The excess weight concentrated on the middle portion of your body would put extra pressure on the spinal cord and the result would be unexplained back pain. You need to bring down the weight in the normal range through proper weight management strategy. Heavy exercise is also strictly prohibited as this will put extra pressure on the joints and back. Following a diet and some natural weight loss supplement would definitely be a better choice.

2. Activity Level

Some people think that lot of movement and activity are the root causes of back pain. This is not true as your muscles are weakened due to lack of exercise. You can take rest for some time until you get relief but do not make it a habit. Indulge in routine chores and light activity as this will strengthen the muscles slowly. Increase the level of activity as you start feeling comfortable.

3. Watch Your Diet

Watch your diet but not for weight loss. You may watch your diet to get proper nutrition as lack of key nutrition would weaken bones and muscles. Increase calcium and protein intake for muscle building. Healthy diet would result into healthy body, so keep a close watch on your diet.

4. Posture Problems 

Wrong posture while sitting, standing, or walking may wrongly affect the back. Stand straight with your tummy tucked in, head up, shoulders pulled backwards, and back straight. Keeping your back straight even at the time of sitting or walking would help in avoiding back problems. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your knees above the hip level. While traveling or when you have to sit for long hours, keep a pillow behind the lower back to provide appropriate support.

5. Sleeping Posture

More than any other position, your posture at the time of sleeping may have the maximum impact on your back. Sleeping on the back would exert lot of pressure on the muscles. You may sleep better on your sides. Take a pillow with the thickness good enough to keep the head straight. While sleeping on your back, avoid putting the pillow below the neck as it will worsen the situation. Putting the pillow below the knee and lower back would ease out the pain.

Apart from the above mentioned modifications, you can introduce some easy changes like –

-    Avoid wearing high heels and even if your attire calls for one then do not stand for long or walk much.

-    Skinny jeans look good but would hinder the blood circulation. Wear loose clothes especially when you sleep as this would be the time to recover from a full day’s stress.

-    Lifting heavy weight on your shoulders or bending from the waist to lift heavy weights would immediately trouble your back. If you have to pick up anything from the ground then sit and pick it up.

-    Handbags and laptop bags are major sources of damage. The heavy weight carried in these bags would put strain on both your back and shoulder muscles. You may end up weakening the upper back too. Simple lifestyle modifications and little care would keep the chronic back pain at bay. If the condition worsens then you may visit the medical practitioner as he would recommend some muscle relaxants and pain killers for immediate relief followed by physiotherapy, which will make the pain bearable.

About Author:

Karishma Pandey is a freelance writer. She writes her views on health issues. Currently she is associated with IshaPur Turmeric Curcumin, an online shop for turmeric curcumin that helps in reducing joint pains.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Periodontal Disease: Linked to Breast Cancer in Post-Menopausal Women

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a relatively common condition that will affect many of us at some stage in our lives, and while it can be treated with antibiotics and online doctors that prescribe pain meds to ease toothache and inflamed gums, new research suggests it could lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and breast cancer if left untreated.

During a study on 73,737 postmenopausal women, scientists at the University at Buffalo's School of Public Health and Health Professions in New York, discovered that women with periodontal disease are 14% more likely to develop breast cancer than those women without gum disease.  This risk increased to over 30% in women who smoked or had smoked in the last 20 years.

This is not the first time that gum disease has been linked to cancer, previous studies found links between periodontal disease and oesophageal, head, neck, lung, and pancreatic cancers, but for the first time, the Women’s Health Initiative Observation Study has highlighted a risk between this chronic inflammatory condition and breast cancer, and it is postmenopausal women who are most at risk.

Smoking & Gum Disease

Toothache, bleeding gums, loose teeth and unpleasant breath are all signs of gum disease, and there is a plethora of scientific evidence to suggest that periodontal disease is made worse by smoking.

Tobacco and nicotine can lead to a variety of different dental problems including tooth discoloration, an increased build-up of plaque, loss of bone within the jaw, and stunted blood vessels, which can prevent the gums from bleeding, even when periodontal disease is present. This is why researchers took smoking into consideration during the study, and the results, although not statistically significant, are a clear warning to postmenopausal women who smoke.

The Link Between Gum Disease and Breast Cancer

While the link between gum disease and breast cancer is still unclear, some scientists believe that the blood stream could become infected with bacteria from the gums, which then spreads to breast tissue causing the formation of cancerous cells.

However, researchers who carried out the study confirmed that more research is needed to pinpoint a specific cause-and-effect link between the two, and that more evidence is required to establish a clear connection between periodontal disease and breast cancer.

Jo Freudenheim PhD, a distinguished professor and lead author of the Women’s Health Initiative Observation Study said, “These findings are useful in providing new insight into what causes breast cancer.” She continued, "We know that the bacteria in the mouths of current and former smokers who quit recently are different from those in the mouths of non-smokers."

"There is good evidence, though, that good dental care is important in any case and that treatment of periodontal disease is important for the health of the mouth," she said, “but more study is needed before there is enough evidence to say that gum disease causes breast cancer or other diseases”.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

In the early stages of gum disease, common symptoms include red swollen gums and bleeding when brushing the teeth.  If left untreated, the jaw bone and surrounding tissues may become affected, leaving sufferers with loose teeth, bad breath, painful gum abscesses, and in severe cases, tooth loss.  It is therefore essential that gum disease is diagnosed quickly.

One of the easiest ways to avoid gum disease is with good oral hygiene. By brushing twice per day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing regularly, and not smoking, you can reduce the risk of gum disease, and regular visits to the dentist (every 6 months), will keep toothache and dental problems at bay.

This is a guest post by Dr Anderson, a health physician.

Monday, December 14, 2015

What To Do If Your Doctor’s Prescribed Drug Worsens Your Condition?

Beth Botelho was shocked after finding out her newborn daughter had a chronic congenital heart defect. She revealed the baby needed open heart surgery and required life support. It was an extremely overwhelming situation for the mother.

According to her story, it was an “off-label” prescribed drug called Zofran she took during the first trimester that caused the defect. The first trimester is the time when the heart of the baby develops in the mother’s womb. But the drug was never approved to treat morning sickness.

Beth’s case shows that a healthcare provider’s negligence can worsen your condition, or affect you in an indirect way (like Beth suffered). If your personal health has been affected due to such negligence, there are certain steps you can take to get reimbursed. Mentioned below are some of these steps:

1. Know your professional options 

Preparing documentation to file a lawsuit is a complex process. While you can self-learn this process, a slight error could make it favorable for the doctor whose prescription led to the worsening of your condition.

Personal injury lawyers are a professional option that can offer their training, knowledge, and extensive experience to you while supporting your journey for a positive outcome. For individuals who’ve been injured by defective drugs, they will feel at ease with the prospect of taking on a large defendant. Such cases require the finely-tuned dedication of personal injury lawyers that remain determined to help you win the lawsuit case.

1. Know the damages you can claim 

While a professional lawyer will help you understand the damages you can claim, it is good to have an idea in advance. Apart from the medical and income damages, you can also get reimbursed for loss of enjoyment; personal injuries that stop you from enjoying daily activities like exercise and recreational activities.

Likewise, you can claim damages for loss of consortium. This happens when the injury impacts the relationship you have with your spouse. The loss of sexual health or companionship, for example, is considered in the list of damages. In some states, loss of consortium includes the impact on the relationship between children and parents if one suffers a personal injury. This is different from emotional damages because the latter could be considered as a part of “pain and suffering” damage.

1. Know the deadline

It is important to know the deadline by which the lawsuit can be filed. Only in rare cases can the lawsuit be filed shortly after the deadline has passed. Each state has different deadlines and requirements that should be met before the case is filed. Professional lawyers can help meet the lawsuit requirements before the deadline. There’s also a deadline to file an appeal if you lose the case because an appellate court may reverse it or refer it to the trial court with directions to solve legal errors. To avoid any twists and turns along the way, professional support can be blessing in disguise.

Also, if you apply for insurance, you should inform them as soon as you know about the lawsuit (many insurance companies list this as a strict requirement). Perhaps you could get the insurance company to pay for the professional lawyer or provide its own. Lastly, you should note that there is a deadline to inform the insurance company as well.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Friday, November 20, 2015

3 Ways You Can Live Safer with Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is a condition that affects the inner ear, causing unpredictable episodes of vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and sometimes hearing loss.  Most people experience these symptoms in one ear.

The medical world isn’t sure what causes Meniere’s.  Believed to be triggered by a variety of factors including head trauma, allergies, improper fluid drainage from the ear and other possible factors, the condition isn’t well understood.  Researchers do know that symptoms originate from the labyrinth—a combination of bones and membranes that make up the inner ear. Inside the labyrinth are tiny hair-like structures that sense the movement or change of fluid inside the ear. Any alterations in the amount, pressure or chemical composition of this fluid could cause symptoms like those seen with Meniere’s.  While there’s no cure for the condition, there are a variety of medications that can help manage Meniere’s symptoms.

Stay safe with Meniere’s

Meniere’s can affect a person’s balance, and can impact their ability to walk or even stand in one place without feeling like falling over. That’s why it’s important to be aware of possible triggers and activities that might put you at risk for injury.

1)  Avoid heights.  It doesn’t take a high fall to cause serious injuries. Climbing a ladder to clean the gutters or standing on a chair in the kitchen can put you at risk if an episode should occur. If you must climb, let someone know what you are doing, ask for their assistance, or consider hiring a professional for big jobs.

2)  Don’t drive a car or operate heavy machinery.  If you have frequent episodes of vertigo it may not be safe to operate a car or other machinery. Try to learn what activities or movements tend to trigger an attack and do your best to avoid them if you must drive. If possible, get someone to drive you where you need to go or take public transportation if it’s available.

3)  Sit or lay down immediately.  This may seem obvious, but getting your body into a safe position is important. If possible, try to assume a position that helps relieve your symptoms. There are several approaches your doctor or physical therapist can show you to help resolve symptoms. Stay in a safe position until your symptoms clear.

It may not always be possible for you to have someone around to help at all times. If this is the case, consider keeping your phone or an emergency alert system available if you find yourself injured or in need of medical assistance after an attack.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Friday, October 30, 2015

How Lasik Eye Surgery Has Changed Over the Years

Lasik (laser in-situ keratomileusis) is a type of eye surgery that’s widely used to treat myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. It’s been around for many years, and provides a solution for people suffering from common eyesight problems and diseases.

Nowadays, it’s one of the most common and well-known eye surgeries that exist, and it keeps developing to ensure increased safety, speed, and a shorter recovery time.

A Brief History of Lasik 

The first studies were conducted in Columbia in the 1940s. In 1948, Dr. Jose Barraquer Moner developed a technique called keratomileusis, which was the first stromal sculpting method to correct refractive error. According to “The History of LASIK,” published by, “Barraquer’s first procedures involved freezing a disc of anterior corneal tissue before removing stromal tissue with a lathe.”

He continued to develop this procedure for years, and with help a non-freeze technique was eventually developed. It was refined until such a time when disc could be replaced without sutures. In 1988, the breakthrough was perfected and the first sighted eyes were treated.

After many more years of research and technique development, the Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) was combined with keratomileusis, and Lasik surgery was born. An excimer laser was used to sculpt from under the hinged flap, thus the breakthrough received the shortened moniker, Lasik.

Although eye surgery has come a long way, only skilled eye doctors and surgeons should perform Lasik surgery. For example, Dr. Yaghouti of Global Laser Vision is a “board certified, leading corneal and refractive surgery specialist educating eye surgeons from all over the world…” This is the sort of description you should look for when considering Lasik surgery for yourself.

How Does Lasik Work?

Lasik is performed using what’s commonly referred to as the protective flap method. A small flap is made onto the surface of the eye, using an instrument called microkeratome, at the cornea. The flap is raised, and an excimer laser is used to clear the corneal tissue. The laser reshapes the cornea to correct optical errors.

After a few hours, the surface of the cornea heals and seals the flap. Ultimately, the Lasik technique is the result of several years of research and the combination of various techniques, which has improved the recovery time to just a few hours. The reason why Lasik is so safe and effective is because the laser removes tissue from the cornea without damaging the remaining tissue.

Recovery Time and the Future of Lasik 

When compared to PRK laser vision correction, Lasik is a better option because it’s more comfortable for the patient and requires very little recovery time. It’s expected that patients should be able to see better after only 24 hours. The surgery itself requires only a local anesthesia, which wears off after about two hours.

Lasik is currently being used to treat a number of complications, including clouded vision and night vision problems. It’s anticipated the method will improve, and thus further improve these sight issues. The most recent technological developments are helping the method improve its accuracy with computer guidance. Combined with laser precision, the likelihood of a serious complication post-Lasik is less than 1 percent.

Lasik is incredible, and the reward of many years hard work by its innovators. It’s the pinnacle of years of study and ocular improvements. For everyone, Lasik is an easy and accessible solution for common eye problems. It’s quick, relatively painless, and also safe and effective with twenty years of proven results.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

3 Medical Technologies Currently Revolutionizing Health Care

These days, the medical world is experiencing an upheaval in the way they deal with patient care. Medical students are encouraged to be more proactive and think outside the box to find ways to build closer relationships with patients, and institute ground-breaking chances to medicine. Doctors and engineers around the world are looking forward to the future of medicine by creating innovations that change medical care.

There are hundreds of developments still being considered and researched, but these three advancements are already being used or that we will see become a reality in the near future.

1) The Da Vinci Machine

Specially trained surgeons operate this machine to perform procedures which are minimally invasive. The Da Vinci machine uses tiny wristed surgical arms and a small camera to allow for greater rotation during surgery than a human wrist can use. The incisions are very small, often less than an inch long. A trained surgeon watches on a high-definition 3D screen as he/she remotely operates the machine arms. Da Vinci allows for greater accuracy and less risk of infections, and has already been used to help more than 2.5 million patients worldwide. Though it isn't in use in every hospital yet, it won't be long before all surgeons in all hospitals are using this for less invasive and more accurate surgical procedures.

2) Medical Cloud Software

More and more hospitals and clinics are turning to cloud software to improve overall patient care. Cloud software allows doctors to access information not just internally within a hospital, but externally with hospitals outside of their networks. Patient records can be more accurately passed along, paperwork is reduced, and care becomes more streamlined. Most of this software goes beyond just sharing information between doctors. Programs like AdvancedMD All-in-one medical software allow doctors to electronically send prescriptions to pharmacies without paperwork, manage billing with insurance companies, and even allow patients to go online to request appointments with their doctors. This means no more sitting on the phone waiting for a receptionist to pick up. Patients input their needs and availability, and a receptionist calls them to offer appointment times within that availability. While several hospitals are turning to the cloud, not all of them are there... yet.

3) 3D Printing

Right now, doctors are using 3D printing to render exact replicas of patient organ issues in order to assist with the diagnosis more accurately. While this is helpful to save lives, the possibilities for this sort of printing is incredible. It won't be long before doctors are able to use 3D printers to create exact replicas of a healthy organ to use for transplant, or artificial arteries as a solution to ruptures. It is entirely possible that within the next 10 years 3D printed organs could replace the need for an organ donor or transplant waiting list.

These three advancements are only the tip of the iceberg. In the coming years, we will see a number of revolutionary medical advancements that will change the way we experience health care.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How Modern Medical Scans Have Evolved

An MRI scan of the brain
Nowadays, the names of many medical imaging techniques (e.g., X-rays, ultrasound, CT Scans, MRIs) are commonly used in everyday conversations even though the average person may not know what the terms stand for or how the imaging techniques work. Medical imaging scans are an essential part of daily medical practice, from the family practitioner, the varicose veins treatment specialist, the cardiologist, and the neurologist, just to name a few.

Although physicians are likely familiar with the history of medical imaging, a brief summary is provided below to show how far the field has come.

The first X-ray was taken of the hand almost 120 years ago, on December 22, 1895 by a German physicist (Wilhelm Rontgen). Rontgen did not know what type of rays he was dealing with, which is why he referring to them with the letter “x” (to designate an unknown quality). He discovered the rays when noticing a light green glow that looked like the bones of his hand on a fluorescent screen. The screen was about three feet away from an energy discharge tube he was experimenting with that was covered in black cardboard to prevent light from escaping. He reasoned that the glow was caused by invisible energy that even passed through items on his desk. He took the x-ray picture of his wife’s hand bones soon thereafter and medical imaging was born.

X-rays became a useful way to quickly image the bones and became widely used by physicians at the time to improve diagnosis (e.g., bone fractures, dental cavities) and treatment. Although many people associate x-rays with images of bones, they are also able to provide images of other bodily structures such as the lungs. This is why they are often used to help diagnose pneumonia. A downside of x-rays is radiation exposure, which has long-term health risks that increase with the amount of radiation exposure. These effects became more well-known in the early 1900s. Medical ultrasound imaging, which produces images of body parts from the reverberation of sound waves, does not involve any radiation and has been used for the last 50 years or so. This is why ultrasounds are used instead of x-rays to obtain images of the fetus during pregnancy.

Although ultrasound is not considered harmful, the images produced are of low resolution and quality. The same is true for x-rays. To correctly assess and diagnosis conditions that require higher imaging quality, more advanced techniques were created such as CT (computerized tomography) scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans. CT scans, which were first used in 1971, uses a combination of x-rays, cameras that scan the entire body while rotating around the patient, and computer technology to provide high quality 3D images.

While the image quality of the CT scan is much better compared to the x-ray, CT scans use much more radiation (e.g., hundreds of times more) than a traditional x-ray. MRI scans (first used on humans in 1977) get around this problem by providing even higher quality 3D images without the use of radiation. Instead, MRIs use high powered magnets to exploit the magnetic properties of cells in the body. The result is an image that is a very close replica of the body part being imaged. The downside to MRIs compared to CT scans is that they take much longer, are more expensive, are not as good at visualizing internal bleeding, and cannot be used in patients with certain types of metallic implants. This is why CT scans tend to be used over MRIs in emergency rooms because the physician needs to quickly determine if there is evidence of internal bleeding that requires emergency intervention. In non-emergency situations, however, the MRI tends to be used.

Medical imaging continues to make dramatic advancements and as a result of the above technologies, there are many specialized imaging techniques used throughout the various medical specialties. It will certainly be interesting to see what the next 120 years brings!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How You Can Benefit From Diet Aids

Most people know that weight loss is best achieved by balancing a proper amount of exercise with a well-balanced diet. Doing so helps reduce obesity, reduces the risk of numerous diseases (e.g., diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure), and improves one’s mood and self-esteem.

For some people who are having difficulty losing weight using the standard techniques or who are overweight and already have significant medical problems as a result, diet aids may be helpful.

A common diet aid most people are aware of is the food and drink category. This includes meal replacement shakes, meal replacement snacks, and low calorie snack bars. SlimFast, for example, makes many of these dietary food and drink products. These products are popular even among people who are not overweight but who want to prevent excessive weight gain. Meal replacement shakes come pre-made or in mix form in many tasty flavors such as milk chocolate, French vanilla, or cappuccino. The shakes can control hunger for up to four hours by containing a high amount of protein (e.g., 14 grams), which creates a sense of fullness. They also contain vitamins and nutrients that help you lose weight and are high in fiber, which promotes healthy intestinal activity. By being low calorie, meal replacement shakes will not cause weight gain, provided that they are used as directed. 

For people who do not like shakes, meal replacement bars are a solid alternative with the same health benefits. These also come in many tasty flavors, often in chocolate form. The use of low calorie (e.g., 100 calorie) snack bars helps further reduce weight if they are used as directed and replace high calorie snacks and/or foods between meals.

Weight loss tablets are also used as diet aids. Some are available over-the counter, some by prescription, and others can be obtained from a pharmacy online. These medications work in different ways such as preventing absorption of a third of the fat that is consumed, suppressing appetite, and making your brain feel like the stomach is full. While these medications can be very helpful for some, like any medication, they can cause side effects. Because of this, you should always check with your health care provider before deciding to take one of these medications. In addition, it is important to remember that weight loss tablets are not a substitute for proper diet and exercise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Best Brain Training Exercises to Keep Your Brain Healthy

There have been wild claims in the past about what can be accomplished by using brain training. Most of these have since been debunked by neuroscientists as nonsense but that is not to say that these activities provide no benefit to your health.

No, there aren’t any guarantees that brain training will stop your cognitive facilities from deteriorating in the long-term but it can help you think faster, remember the words you need or just to react quicker if it meets certain standards. Here are some of the best brain training exercises to keep your brain healthy:

Playing card games

It may sound silly, but maintaining an active interest in playing card games can help train your brain. When you think about it, these card games whilst they are a source of fun usually involve strategy, numeracy and keep you on your toes! This can be combined into a social activity by finding a local Bridge group, or you could visit the likes of and take advantage of the opportunity to make yourself some cash whilst keeping your brain active.

Try something new

The older we get, the more inclined we are to stick to activities which are familiar to us. Whilst it is undoubtedly comforting to only do things we are sure of with people we know, by challenging yourself to try something new you will utilize otherwise lost skills. No, you don’t need to be an instant expert in your new activity but simply by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone you may find a new social group, fun activity, and increased brain health!

Don’t forget to exercise the rest of your body

It can be easy to forget about the connection between the health of your brain and that of your body but of course everything is linked! Getting up and going for a brisk walk once a day or joining an exercise class has endless health benefits for you both physically and mentally (remember your teacher telling you to open up the windows for the oxygen necessary for your hard work?).

Have a look at the various activities online

The internet has a wealth of activities and programs which are designed for this exact purpose and a quick search on Google will soon have a plethora of websites to keep you busy. The BBC for instance has compiled some activities in collaboration with top neuroscientists which combine fun games with mental activity – brain training doesn’t have to be boring!

This article was written by Alex Saunders.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What Happens When You Get Addicted?

Everybody thinks they know what addiction is or what it probably feels like. This is because addiction is typically described in language that is deceptively simple sounding. Everybody knows what it feels like to “need” something that isn’t good for them.

For example, people who decide to quit eating sugar often feel that need for sugar even though they know it isn’t good for them.
What many do not realize however, is that where science is concerned: the need of addiction isn’t just a metaphorical or existential need. It is literally a physical need. Here’s why.

What Do Drugs Do?

Everybody knows that drugs can wreak havoc on our bodies. Everybody knows that if you drink too much you’ll damage your liver and that if you smoke you increase your chances of developing lung cancer. What not everybody knows is that most of the changes that occur in our bodies when we are drinking or on drugs originate in our brains. Drug use inhibits our brains' control of our moods, mental functioning, communication ability and even our motor skills. All of those things change because drugs and alcohol change the way our brain processes stimuli. Specifically, taking drugs causes the brain stem, the cerebral cortex, and the limbic system to behave differently and, often, erratically.

A Normal Brain

A brain functions by sending and receiving millions of chemical and electrical signals. Those signals are passed from neuron to neuron in the brain with the aid of chemicals called neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter carries a signal into a neuron’s receptor and, for lack of better term, plants it there for the neuron to process. Imagine that spark that happens when you put a plug very close to an outlet. There is a great breakdown of how signals are transmitted between neurons here.

A Brain on Drugs

Most drugs (and alcohol) have chemical components that cause the different parts of the brain to “misfire.” For example, marijuana has a chemical structure that is similar to that of a neurotransmitter. So, when those chemicals enter the brain, the brain thinks that it is receiving more signals than it actually is and because a drug’s chemical makeup does not behave in the same fashion as a neurotransmitter when it enters a neuron’s receptors, the brain can’t figure out how to process it. This is why drugs like marijuana and heroin have a slowing effect on the brain.

Other drugs, like cocaine, cause the brain to release more natural neurotransmitters while also preventing those neurotransmitters from being sent back to receive more messages (or being “recycled”) so the brain is constantly bombarded with more messages than it can process, which causes it to speed up--which is why drugs like cocaine or meth have a “hyping” effect.

Great So How Does Addiction Work

Our brains’ primary goal is to keep all of the chemicals flying around within it balanced out. So, as you keep sending manufactured neurotransmitters (and chemicals that act like neurotransmitters) to it, it will slow its own production of those neurotransmitters to keep everything even and balanced.

This is why, if you have been using drugs for a while and you suddenly stop, you have a hard time feeling normal. Your brain literally isn’t getting the chemicals it needs to function normally and it takes time for your brain to adjust to the change and re-start its own natural production. So, in this sense, your brain literally needs your drug of choice for you to continue functioning like a normal person. This is particularly problematic in adolescents. According to a blog post from, adolescents’ brains are still forming and introducing an addictive substance can cause irreparable damage.

Suddenly the character House seems a lot more sympathetic, doesn’t he?

What to do About Addiction

Many people, even the addicts themselves, assume that the best method for dealing with an addiction is to simply quit their drug of choice “cold turkey.”

Almost all of the time, this is a bad idea--especially when attempted alone. Because of how dependent upon a drug a person becomes, the detoxification process can be quite dangerous. It is always better to go through detox and withdrawal with the help of a trained professional. This is why so many people check into rehabilitation facilities to detox; rehab centers have trained medical professionals who can watch for and treat any detox side effects or problems.

It is important to seek treatment sooner rather than later. The sooner you can admit you have a problem the better chance you have of lasting recovery. And though it will take time for your brain to start functioning normally again, it is important to understand that it is possible.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.