Monday, August 29, 2016

Is Gambling a Medical Addiction?

Gambling can be a lot of fun, when enjoying in moderation, of course, pretty much like every other source of pleasure. People have always been aware of the dangers of gambling too much or too often, but it seems that nowadays, the awareness of compulsive gambling is higher than ever. Casino operators cooperate with other independent bodies, trusts, government and non-governmental organizations in order to tackle problem gambling and especially compulsive gambling. Check out this responsible gambling guide if you want to know how to recognize and how to avoid becoming a problem gambler. We all think that we can recognize when someone has a gambling problem, but it is not as easy as it may seem. Gamblers are often not aware themselves and don’t realize who serious things are.

Cause of Gambling Addiction

There is a part of the brain that is believed to play a role in gambling addiction and it is called the insula. Whenever a person has a hyperactive insula they are prone to compulsive gambling. The activity of the insula can give a person an unrealistic view on what is going on. Those people tend to see regularities in arbitrary sequences of number and they are convinced that they can predict outcomes which they can’t possibly do. A gambling addiction makes the addicted person react to gambling just like an alcoholic reacts to a drink. Just like with alcoholism, there are people who have a natural tendency to become gamblers. The more they gamble the more likely it is for them to become addicted. However, if they learn how to control themselves, they may overcome the addition. So, in short, it is a medical addiction.

It Is a Serious Problem

Moderate gambling, wagering and all other forms of risking a small amount of money for an opportunity to earn more, is accepted. It is fun, it is a social activity and there is nothing wrong with it. But addictive, compulsive gambling hurts not only the person’s financial well-being, but also their personal relationships and their general well-being. Addicted gamblers tend to be depressed and gambling often causes them to lose their job and/or partner. The story of Justyn Rees Larcombe who lost three quarters of a million, shows just how serious gambling problems can be.

It Can Be Cured

Fortunately, like all other addictions gambling can also be treated and cured. Sure, there are many people who are addicted to gambling, but there are even more who are able to gamble in moderation, have fun and still not suffer financial or other losses. There are several approaches that can help cure compulsive gambling. Organizations like Gamblers Anonymous, GambleAware, GamCare and few other have a lot of programs that help people with a gambling addiction. 


The first thing that you need to do if you suspect that you, or a person who is close to you has a gambling problem is to check if the person in questions is experiencing some of the symptoms. The list of symptoms includes, but is not limited to:

• Postponing other commitments in order to gamble.
• Being obsessed with gambling and using every opportunity to engage in some form of gambling.
• Constantly stating “I can give up whenever I want, I just don’t feel like it right now”, and “I am going to get very lucky soon, I can feel it”.
• Lying about gambling and their gambling habits.
• Feeling guilty about gambling, but not being able to stop it.
• Spending money that was planned for something else on gambling.

Gamblers often lose their possessions, including their houses and cars, because they sell them in order to have more gambling money available. Remember that the frequency is not the only indicative of a gambling habit. Some people may gamble more frequently without being addicted. The strongest indication is not being able to stop once you start gambling.

Treatment Methods 

There’s more than one method to treat problem gambling and they could be combined. The first important step, and probably the most difficult one for every person with an addiction is to stop gambling altogether, at least for a certain period of time. That is why most operators nowadays offer self-exclusions that can last from several months up to few years.

• People whose problems are very serious may enter a treatment programme at a rehabilitation centre. That measure should be a last resort only and most people would be able to cure their gambling addiction without staying a facility.

• Psychological and regular medical therapy in combination with other hobbies and activities that will take their mind off gambling is a viable option. Patients will still be able to function normally and do their everyday chores.

• Gamblers Anonymous has its own 12-step program which might be helpful as well. People meet other people who have the same problem and together they fight to overcome the addiction.

• In some cases the gambling addiction is caused by another mental illness or condition and in such cases it is essential for the person to take the prescribed medication regularly, as that will not only help them with their condition, but it may also lead to overcoming the gambling addiction.

• Gambling condition like other conditions is a state of the mind and the reasons why people resort to gambling are mostly psychological. It takes a lot of willpower and determination to be able to defeat the problem and the help from friends and family is essential. Addicts should always be honest with their close ones.

This is a guest blog post.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

How Liposuction Can Bring Hope to Cancer Sufferers with Lymphoedema

For most cancer patients, early detection and timely treatment is usually enough to contain or even end the problem. However, after treatment, there are those who may end up experiencing swollen limbs (either legs or hands). This usually happens due to a condition known as lymphoedema, which is caused by accumulation of lymph in tissues.

The consequences of this rarely-talked-about problem can be dire. The swelling can significantly alter one’s physical appearance and even paralyze them psychologically and physically. Such is the story of Sharne Willoughby, a cervical cancer survivor who shared her experience with the debilitating problem in a recent interview.

“I was unable to work full time, moving was difficult. It was debilitating, both physically and emotionally. I felt uncomfortable around people” said Sharne Willoughby.

The 46 year old talked about her struggles with a problem that only seemed to get worse by the day. How she battled low self-esteem. How she struggled accomplishing daily tasks. And finally, how she triumphed amidst all odds – all thanks to liposuction surgery.

Effectiveness of Liposuction in Dealing with Lymphoedema 

Liposuction is an excisional procedure through which fatty tissue is removed from under the skin using a vacuum tube. In the case of lymphoedema, the fat tissue is not the only one removed but also the swollen lymph vessels that are embedded on it.

The decrease in the volume of fat cells can reduce the swelling because the lesser the size of fatty tissue there is, the lesser the fluid it retains.

It’s a delicate procedure that is only handled by trained surgeons (do your research and preferably choose a clinic with positive reviews). And while it is highly effective, the surgery should be limited to cases where the excess tissue is comprised of adipose tissue, which is often the case in the late stage of lymphoedema.

Scientific literature suggest that large amounts of excess tissue can be removed when liposuction is performed correctly. In addition, the incidence of bacterial infection can be reduced by up to 75%.
What You Should Know About Liposuction

Lipo is considered safe, effective and minimally invasive. It makes a very tiny incision to the skin through which the excess liquid is sucked out. And although that alone may not entirely eliminate the problem, it can control lymphoedema to manageable levels.

It’s An Outpatient Procedure

One good thing with lipo is that it is an outpatient procedure. You can be up and about in just a few hours after the surgery. To top it up, the results are apparent immediately after. Usually, the swelling reduces and normal movement is restored within days.

Side Effects

Bruising and scarring are the main side effects of liposuction. The incision, which is just about a quarter of an inch long can be painful in the first few days but it is gone in several weeks’ time. Also, one may need to wear a compression sleeve to prevent lymphoedema from coming back in the long term.


On the flip-side, though, the liposuction costs can be prohibitive. In addition to the procedure itself, you may need to pay various fees including medications, surgical garments and appropriate medical test fees. However, considering the great benefits it provides to cancer survivors, the cost is definitely worth paying.

Additional Tips for Dealing with Lymphoedema after Liposuction


Taking care of your skin is vital, because it reduces the risk of developing an infection such as cellulitis.

Exercises and movement

Lymphoedema can damage your limb muscles. It is therefore important to devise a movement and exercise plan to help strengthen the tissues involved in lymph drainage. Exercise may involve limb exercises alongside gentle activities that encourage whole body movement such as walking and swimming.


You can use self-massage techniques in addition to manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) which are usually carried out by a therapist. Specialized massage routines can play a huge role during the maintenance phase of recovery, to help avert long-term effects of lymphoedema.

Final Word

If left unattended, lymphoedema can significantly affect your day-to-day life and ruin your self-esteem. The condition can impair your physical movement and even cause a skin infection. Fortunately, like in the case of Sharne Willoughby, there is a scientific way to manage the problem – and that is through liposuction. That’s the kind of hope cancer survivors need to overcome all odds.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Fighting Through Withdrawal Symptoms

Perhaps the least-discussed topic in addiction recovery is the process of handling withdrawal. As a person's body begins to adapt to functioning without the presence of drugs or alcohol, there can be a very painful process of readjusting to a chemical-free life.

Withdrawal can be the strongest force drawing an addict back to substance abuse. The pain is real, and the misery is so deep that even the strongest willpower can give way simply in search of relief from the withdrawal symptoms.

When a person is making progress in a 12-step or other program to conquer addiction, withdrawal must be managed to help solidify the gains being made. If these symptoms are left untreated, the entire process can fail.

There are several ways that addicts can combat withdrawal symptoms.

Getting Monitored Medically

The most important thing throughout the entire withdrawal process--both acutely and over the long term--is to make sure that health is monitored and maintained. Because withdrawal can last for months, there may be multiple withdrawal episodes that require medical care.

Bear in mind that most addictive substances being dealt with today are not conducive to "cold turkey" treatment. Cigarettes and other milder addictions can largely be conquered with this mental approach, but opioids and many other hard narcotics have chemical triggers that cannot be overcome with sheer willpower. As a result, certain medical interventions may be needed to treat withdrawal effectively and keep recovery on track.

Nutritional Management

Because most people take on a very poor diet while in the throes of a chemical addiction, most are badly malnourished. As recovery begins, the addict needs every bit of strength available to be able to withstand the withdrawal process, as well as to maintain the energy needed to sustain the psychological elements of recovery.

Eating a diet with appropriate levels of needed nutrients and adequate fiber, water, and vitamins can be very helpful. Proper hydration and fiber intake encourage good excretory function, which in turns helps to eliminate substances of addiction from the body. Vitamins and minerals help improve overall health so that the person is as strong as possible in this battle for life. The combination of a balanced diet and therapy for the psychological demands of recovery can give a person a good chance at sustaining the withdrawal process.

Redirecting Attention

Often it's simply the need to get the addict's mind off the withdrawal symptoms that is necessary to get through the process. Obviously, it takes more than a crossword puzzle or a game of Frisbee, but an activity that requires a lot of concentration and activity can do wonders for helping the person push through. And exercise in between withdrawal flare-ups can strengthen the body to fortify it for the next episode.

It doesn't take intense exercise if the person is unable to do it. Yoga, stretching, or simple aerobics can be enough. These activities build physical strength, improve cardiovascular health, and pull mental focus away from addiction and onto something more constructive.

Withdrawal is an inescapable process. For some people, it can be incredibly difficult. A good detox process and a strong recovery program, accompanied by skilled medical monitoring, can help the addict conquer all the powerful side effects of overcoming addiction. The key is to find what works and to stick with it.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What Is an Electrocardiogram?

In traditional pictures, doctors always examine their patients using a stethoscope. This is a useful tool that allows them to listen to some of the body’s internal functions, including the intestines, lungs, and heart. However, what it doesn’t do is really tell you how something is operating.

If a doctor wants to know if the heart is beating, a stethoscope is more than enough. If, however, they want to know how it is beating, they will need a bit more information. This information can be measured through ECG electrodes. So what do they measure and how?

Resting ECG

ECG stands for electrocardiogram. A resting ECG shows physicians how the heart works when the person is resting. This allows them to check on the overall condition of the heart. Resting ECGs are often used after someone has had cardiac surgery, angioplasty, an angiogram, or if their heart medication has changed. It takes between 15 and 20 minutes to complete a resting ECG.

Exercise ECG

The exercise ECG is better known as the stress test. Patients are placed under stress by exercising or through medication, determining how the heart works when it has to beat harder. This shows whether blood is flowing to the heart tissue properly. Stress tests have to be completed in controlled environments at all times. It is often used if coronary artery disease is suspected and can help people prevent heart attacks.

Holter ECG

The Holter is a portable monitor that measures the heart’s electrical activity for a 24 hour period or more. This allows doctors to diagnose a heart arrhythmia, whereby they can find out whether there are specific irregularities within the heart. To complete this test, ECG electrodes are placed over specific bones, which means they won’t accidentally pick up on muscular activity. The electrodes are attached to the Holter device, which the patient wears around their belt or neck. This is usually done after someone has had a heart attack, requires new heart medication, or is believed to have an arrhythmia.

ICU Monitoring

When someone is in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), it is quite common for them to be attached to an ECG. In fact, it is one of the ICU’s most commonly used pieces of equipment. If someone is in the ICU, they must be monitored properly 24/7, and a problem with the heart is often indicative of something else going wrong. As a result, it is almost standard procedure to ensure someone is constantly monitored with an ECG.

OR Monitoring

While it is very common for someone in the ICU to be attached to an ECG, it is even more common for this device to be used in the OR (Operating Room). When someone is going through surgery and are under the effects of the anesthetic, they are no longer able to vocalize any problems. As a result, should they be in distress, they would be incapable of telling the physicians about this. By attaching them to an ECG, any changes can be detected immediately.

This is a guest blog post.

Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins - What's the Difference?

Spider veins and varicose veins have similarities, but they look different and have a different diagnosis. Learn more about their differences and similarities below, including how to treat them.

Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins - What are they?

The main difference between spider veins and varicose veins is their appearance.

Spider veins are small, thin blood vessels visible underneath the skin on the legs or face. Though typically harmless, spider veins can be caused by poor circulation and lead to varicose vein formation.
Varicose veins are enlarged, “ropey” veins which protrude beneath the skin. They often develop on the legs and feet when valves in the veins aren’t working properly.

What Causes Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

Spider veins and varicose veins are often caused by increased pressure on the lower body due to standing or walking.

Other risk factors can include:

Age – As you get older, veins often lose elasticity. Valves in your veins may weaken allowing blood to flow backward instead of moving to your heart. As the blood pools, your veins can enlarge and often appear large and blue because they contain deoxygenated blood being re-circulated through the lungs.
Pregnancy – Pregnant women often develop spider veins or varicose veins due to increases in blood volume and decreases in blood flow from the legs to the pelvis. This supports a growing baby, but can cause enlarged veins in the legs. Symptoms often worsen late in a pregnancy, but most women are symptom-free three to 12 months following delivery.
Genetics – If you have a family history of spider veins or varicose veins, there’s a high chance you may get them too.
Obesity – Extra weight puts pressure on the veins causing blood to pool.
Sitting or Standing – When sitting or standing for long periods of time, blood flow in the legs decreases. 

What Are the Symptoms?

Often, spider veins or varicose veins have no symptoms other than an undesirable cosmetic appearance. Symptoms may include:

• Blue or dark purple veins
• Twisted, bulging veins
• Achy or heavy feeling in your legs
• Pain after sitting or standing for long periods of time
• Muscle cramping, throbbing, or burning in your lower legs
• Itching around your veins
• Inflammation of the skin near your ankle, color changes, and hardened veins that could be symptomatic of vascular disease, which requires medical attention

How Are Spider Veins and Varicose Veins Treated?

A health care professional can examine the affected area to diagnose spider veins or varicose veins. Most cases don’t require treatment except for complications or cosmetic reasons.

Symptoms can be alleviated by lifestyle changes including regular exercise, weight loss, and avoiding sitting or standing for extended periods. Elevating the legs while sitting or sleeping can also improve circulation and decrease leg swelling.

If spider veins or varicose veins are painful or irritating, innovative vein treatment can eliminate them for good. At Coastal Vein Aesthetic Institute, we help patients get relief from spider veins and varicose veins through non-invasive vein treatments. Contact us to learn more about our vein services.

This is a guest blog post.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Choose Low Cholesterol Alternatives

If you have been surprised by high cholesterol readings from your latest visit to the doctor, you are not alone. Whether through heredity, lifestyle, or a combination of both, having high cholesterol is a common health problem that raises the chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

The good news is that cholesterol numbers can improve through lifestyle changes. Healthy eating is one of the most significant lifestyle changes recommended by the Mayo Clinic to help lower cholesterol. Here are some ways you can choose low cholesterol alternatives to help improve your health.

Better Snacking

Potato chips are on their way out as a snack food, but that does not mean that you have to feel deprived. In addition to snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts are a great option. They quiet a rumbling stomach before dinner time, and are full of protein, omega-3 and essential minerals. They may even lower LDL cholesterol levels. Walnuts are a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. To make vegetables more palatable to snack on, try a mashed chickpea dip called hummus. It has tons of fiber and no saturated fat.

Healthy Salad Toppings

Salads full of nutritious and high fiber fruits and vegetables are great, but their benefits can almost be cancelled out by creamy high fat dressings and high sodium croutons with little nutrition. Choose a simple dressing made from olive oil, your choice of vinegar, and a salt free spice blend. Add some canned beans such as kidney or cannellini for extra color and texture in your salad that will add extra nutrition without cholesterol. Here are some great ideas for assembling a great heart healthy salad. They include adding extra vegetables, whole grains, fruit, herbs and proteins to the standard salad that make it a meal.

Good Meat Choices

In order to increase the effectiveness of your efforts to lower your cholesterol, consumption of red meat must be reduced. Increasing fish consumption is one way to promote lower cholesterol. Replacing red meat with fish such as salmon gives you a rich taste that is full of fats that are good for you. Lean ground turkey can replace ground beef in your favorite casseroles and burgers, especially if you season it with a high quality herb and spice blend. There are some good turkey bacon options that can satisfy your craving as well. Even if you are a pork bacon purist, there is an option for you. Canadian bacon is actually lean ham slices and contains one quarter of the fat of standard bacon.

Go Plant Based

By choosing more foods made from plants, you are reducing your exposure to foods that are heavy in saturated fat and carbohydrates. Vegetables, fruits, and legumes should be the centerpiece of your low cholesterol diet. Thanks to forward thinking food producers, the choices will not need to be so hard into the future, because even foods that are in packages at the market can be healthy and plant based. Hampton Creek is a company that started out by making Just Mayo, a mayonnaise alternative that substitutes yellow field peas for eggs in order to emulsify its spread.

Smarter Bread Choices

Skip the saturated fat-laden pastries made with butter and sugar for breakfast. Instead, choose whole grain toast dressed up with a little peanut butter or no sugar added jam. You will avoid the fat while adding fiber to the first meal of the day.

Choose Dark Chocolate

Even though you want to adapt to a healthier diet, you can still have a treat once in a while. Skip the carbohydrate heavy candy and opt for dark chocolate. The oleic acid in cocoa butter is a monounsaturated fat that can lower LDL cholesterol. You will want to skip milk chocolate because it contains saturated fat, but dark chocolate with 70 to 80 percent cocoa is a great treat choice that may raise the level of your good HDL cholesterol.

There have been many advances in the treatment of high cholesterol, from the awareness of the importance of diet to cholesterol lowering medications. Treating high cholesterol as soon as possible after its onset will decrease your chances of a heart attack or stroke. Proper low fat eating, combined with exercise and quitting smoking, may be enough to avoid having to take statin medication. Even if you inherited your high cholesterol, making modifications to your eating habits and lifestyle can positively impact your cholesterol numbers.

This is a guest blog post.

Friday, July 15, 2016

How Technology Is Changing the Face of Healthcare

When we think about medical tech, big things like MRIs come to mind. Biotech like automatic insulin injectors might also make the list. Then, there is the more fanciful sci-fi solutions like medical tricorders, Emergency Medical Holograms, and pills that can grow back kidneys.

While these technologies capture the headlines, and our imaginations, the healthcare tech that most affects your outlook is likely much smaller, less expensive, more common, and something you might already have. These less ambitious technologies have the benefit of being available now, and are already being implemented.

In many parts of the world, a health app like Epocrates can do more to prevent deaths than an MRI machine. Here is how current medical tech is saving the lives of people closer to home, perhaps even yours:

Healthcare Management Software

Electronic health record (EHR) software has got to be tied with payroll software for the most boring technology to a consumer. But that boring software distinguishes itself by helping doctors save lives.

The top EHR software does this by:

•    Allowing doctors to share notes
•    Facilitating the sharing of test results in an accurate and timely manner
•    Providing patient care via chat

These are just a few of the things being enabled with software in more healthcare systems across the US and around the world.

But when it comes to EHR, we still have a long ways to go. As the world becomes more mobile, it has to get easier to share and transfer records across various systems. The EHR silos still have to be broken.

Medical records also need to travel across borders. This can be especially useful in tracking, or even preventing the spread of disease from one part of the world to another. Finally, EHR has to become a lot more portable so that it can benefit people in developing nations and remote villages.

None of these changes will happen overnight. And they will require more than technology. Certain geopolitical realities have to be addressed. But once fully implemented globally, EHR might be the biggest advance to healthcare in the 21st century.

Fitness Tracking and the Quantified Self

Apple Watches and Fitbits have done a lot more than give the tech press another meaningless fan war to cover. They have given people a reason to care about their health. Once people have a simple and compelling way to track certain health metrics, they do.

Among others, one of the benefits of this sort of tracking is that people can have a better idea of when they need to visit a doctor. One instance of elevated blood pressure after a big fried chicken dinner is not overly concerning. But a pattern of high blood pressure is reason enough to make an appointment.

People who think they are getting enough exercise are often surprised by how little they stand, have productive movement, or get their heart rate up to the level of exercise. Equally, people are often unaware of how poorly they sleep. This is the sort of data fitness trackers can provide.

But until the average fitness tracker can provide things like blood pressure and glucose monitoring, they will have limited appeal. Right now, the people interested in such devices tend to be some of the fittest people in the world. Progress will have taken a leap forward when less healthy people get more benefit from these devices.

A Call for Help

At WWDC 2016, Apple introduced a feature to the Apple Watch via watchOS 3 that is sure to see uptake from all other competitors in the space. It turns the device into an emergency call button. Press and hold the side button, and the watch will make an emergency call wherever you happen to be in the world. Because it knows your location, it also knows the proper number to dial.

Simultaneously, it sends a message to a predefined contact list and a map location letting them know where you are. There are plenty of ways for this kind of feature to go wrong but even more ways for it to go very right.

We needn't look to science fiction to find lifesaving technology. Look no further than your computer, smartphone, and wrist.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The History of Health Records

While health records have become big business in recent history, the keeping of health records is actually less than 100 years old. Though today we take for granted the easy access that can provide connections between past and current illnesses, symptoms, and health providers; catch drug interactions and allergies; and provide on overall picture of our lifetime of health, our health information systems have come quite a ways from their simple beginnings.

The Beginning of Health Records

Keeping health records goes back to the 1920s, when medical professionals recognized the need for access to previous health information for accurate treatment of patients.

The concept of keeping and using records to provide better care spread quickly. In 1928, the Association of Record Librarians of North America was established by the American College of Surgeons to facilitate accurate record keeping. The organization went through several incarnations, eventually becoming the American Health Information Management Association in 1991.The scope of their work has greatly expanded over the years, but they started out keeping basic health records for hospitals and clinics.

Records in this era were kept on paper, and that continued to be the case for many decades until the technology revolution started to change the face of health record keeping.

Evolution to Electronic Records

The evolution from paper to electronic record keeping actually took many decades as well. The idea to create an electronic system for health records goes back to the first days of computers in the 60s and 70s. The technology was slow to develop and cost-prohibitive in the early years.

Computers were very expensive, very large, and limited in their capabilities during those first record-keeping steps the 60s and early 70s. It took the technological advancements of the late 70s and early 80s to make the consistent use of electronic record keeping feasible on a large scale.

Early healthcare software focused on very narrow areas and was useful only for specific departments. In the 80s, however, software began to advance and develop at a rapid pace, though it was still lacking an all-encompassing system of electronic record keeping that could connect the access to patient information in new and multiple ways. This more robust integration came with the advent of the Internet age, when networks began allowing the sharing of information that healthcare software needed to be more effective.

Electronic Health Records in the New Millennium

As the new millennium dawned, technology advanced expeditiously in nearly every industry. Healthcare records were one of the areas that grew by leaps and bounds.

New Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems appeared on the market, and by 2004 the government began backing a push to move health records to a new electronic system. In 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. This law included a provision requiring all medical records to be transferred to electronic systems and 70% of healthcare providers to comply by 2014.

Naturally, the move to widespread adoptions of electronic health records brought hurdles with it, including problems with the security of sensitive information as it was passed through insurance and billing systems.

This was addressed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which was enacted to provide safeguards and rules to ensure all patient data are handled carefully and securely. HIPAA compliance became a large part of the health records industry, requiring that all healthcare entities ensure that their systems were aligned with the rules.

Health Records Today

From the humble beginnings of doctors’ basic handwritten notes, the health information industry has taken on a new life. Records no longer simply track the history of a patient. Today they provide a vast pool of knowledge that improves patient care and makes the work of doctors easier.

Now there are Regional Extension Centers of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology across the nation, offering support and assistance as providers make the shift to new electronic systems. These systems are continuously improving with the fast pace of technology.

With many providers already working on a 100% electronic system, the handling of security, backup and recovery, and accurate record keeping has created an even larger health record industry that will continue to grow into the future.

This is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

CT vs. MRI – What’s the Difference?

Has your doctor ever told you that you may need further testing with a CT scan or an MRI? Maybe you’re familiar with taking x-rays for broken bones, but what are CT scans and MRIs? And how are these two tests different?

Here we’ll explain how CT scans and MRIs work and why one may be better than the other depending on the medical issue and the patient.

What Is a CT Scan?

Computerized Axial Tomography, often shortened to CAT or CT Scan, uses rotating x-rays to generate images of the body. These tests are often recommended for diagnosing serious injuries or fractures to the head, chest, spine, abdomen, and pelvis. They may also be used to find the location and examine the size of tumors.

Radiation exposure can occur during CT scans and is not recommended for pregnant women or children unless absolutely necessary.

Advantages of a CT Scan

CT scans offer many advantages. The following are a few reasons why doctors may choose a CT scan over an MRI.

•  CT is great for viewing bone structures, soft tissue, and blood vessels at the same time.
•  CT scans are cheaper than MRI scans and take less time to complete. The process typically takes five minutes with only 30 seconds of actual scanning.
•  CT can be a more comfortable test for patients who are claustrophobic (although open MRIs are available).
•  CT is widely used for emergency rooms patients.
•  Patients with cardiac monitors, pacemakers, and certain metallic fragments or surgical clips cannot have an MRI, but they can have a CT scan.

What Is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, uses powerful magnets and pulsing radio waves to collect images. An MRI is best used for collecting soft tissue images.

MRI is more versatile than CT and can be used to examine a wide range of health conditions. An MRI scan may take 10-15 minutes to complete or can take as long as two hours.

Advantages of an MRI

MRIs offer different advantages than CT scans. The following area few important advantages.

•  MRI scans offer better detail for soft tissue structures, spinal cord injuries, brain tumors, and ligament or tendon injuries.
•  MRI uses a magnetic field to build an image without the use of radiation. Radiation exposure is not a concern when getting an MRI.
•  With MRI, the imaging plane can be changed without moving the patient.
•  The contrast agent used in MRI does not contain iodine.
•  MRI offers the ability to adjust the sharpness of black, white, and gray images by making subtle changes to the magnetic fields and radio waves. These different settings can highlight many types of tissue.

When scheduling a CT scan or an MRI, it’s crucial to choose professional, trained doctors and nurses who use the latest technology and offer quality healthcare services. Vidius Healthcare Solutions offers doctors and clinics innovative radiology IT solutions and services so you always get the experience you deserve.

This is a guest blog post.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Why A Specialist's Opinion Is Necessary For Varicose & Spider Veins

Age, work stress, obesity, and hormone fluctuation are just a few factors causing you to suffer from unpleasant varicose and spider veins. Though generally harmless, the appearance of these veins can make you want to cover up, even during the summer months.

Varicose veins are blue or purple in color and appear inflamed. Spider veins are somewhat similar to varicose veins, but they’re closer to the skin’s surface and smaller in size. Spider veins can expand to the face.

Millions of people suffer from varicose and spider veins, so it’s surprising how little is known about treating these ailments. If left untreated, they can cause long-term health problems, including general discomfort, leg swelling, deep vein thrombosis and leg fatigue.

Due to these reasons, people suffering from varicose and spider veins are encouraged to educate themselves by reading expert resources and seeking specialist treatment. Listed below are some benefits of taking a specialist's opinion and seeking treatment under their guidance.

Specialists Help You Understand the Disease

iVein and other top specialist treatment centers will educate you on these venous diseases. They do this through informative articles, visuals and videos about the signs and symptoms of the disease. For instance, you may not be aware that a large quantity of reflux inside the venous system feeds spider veins. You are then informed if their treatment requires non-invasive, minimally-invasive or invasive procedures. Some centers will also provide free screening to patients who have noticed signs of venous diseases.

Specialists Address the Root Cause of a Disease 

While several home remedies exist for treating varicose and spider veins, they rarely address the root cause of these diseases. While some patients are fortunate enough to treat the venous diseases through home-based cures, the majority continue to suffer from symptoms even after attempting all types of “natural cures." When natural remedies don’t work for you and you don’t want to take further risks, specialists will inform you about treatment options that will address the root cause of your disease. By addressing the root cause, you would increase your chances of being free from venous diseases for life.

Specialists Have More Experience in Treating Patients

There are a number of general doctors who have experience in treating varicose and spider veins, when the symptoms are minimal, collaborating with specialists on a regular basis if there is a slight increase in the intensity of the symptom. However, the majority of general doctors are inexperienced in treating patients with profound symptoms of venous diseases. These patients usually find comfort in specialists, who not only have more experience in treating patients, but also use advanced treatment principles to address the disease. When you have venous disease symptoms beyond what a general practitioner can handle, it’s a smart move to visit a specialist.

Specialists Ease Your Worries

Perhaps the most underrated benefit of visiting a specialist to get varicose and spider veins treated is that they know several others like you. Top specialists may even give you contact details of previous patients so that you’re able to connect with them and ask about their struggles. Specialists ease your worries by telling you that anyone can suffer from varicose and spider veins and that you’ll be able to get back your flawless skin and health after treatment.

Due to these reasons, a specialist opinion is recommended for treating varicose and spider veins. 

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How Safe are E-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are a fairly new phenomenon born from research into new ways to cut down on the population’s cigarette use. There are 500 brands of e-cigarettes on the worldwide market and their popularity is growing. With approximately 2.8 million e-cigarette smokers in Great Britain alone (47% being ex-smokers), the rise of e-cigarette use continues to grow. But are they safe?

Table (click to enlarge):

What Is an E-cigarette?

An e-cigarette, also known as an e-cig, is an electronic means of inhaling nicotine.

They are formed as cigarettes so users can hold and inhale the ‘smoke’ as if they were smoking a traditional cigarette. A rechargeable heating battery warms a cartridge of chemicals and nicotine transforming it into breathable aerosol. The act of breathing in the aerosol is often called ‘vaping’. Nicotine or ‘e-liquid’ cartridges are sold in pharmacies and supermarkets.

What’s in them and how are they different?

E-cigarettes fundamentally differ from traditional tobacco cigarettes because they contain no tar or ‘smoke’ substances. Because tar and the chemicals associated with it are the main cause of lung cancer, e-cigarettes are viewed as healthier alternative.

There are no governing bodies for standards in the e-cigarette market and brands contain different ingredients that are not monitored by health agencies.

Diagram (click to enlarge):

Here are the main ingredients usually included:

•  Nicotine. Nicotine is the substance smokers are addicted to. It stimulates the nervous system, raises the heart rate and blood pressure.

•  Propylene glycol. This is the liquid used to make artificial fog at concerts. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

•  Glycerin. Also viewed as safe by the FDA, it’s used in many food and drug products.

•  Flavourings. There are over 7,000 flavourings available worldwide including sweet flavours such as cherry, cinnamon and even tobacco flavour. These chemicals are used in food but there’s no research into their effects on the lungs.

When these substances heat up they form other chemicals including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein, which are probable carcinogens, that is, cancer causing substances.

The Health Aspects

Researchers simply don’t know about the long term effects of e-cigarettes because they haven’t been used for long enough to show any benefits or otherwise. Trials into their ingredients have taken place, which show they are not completely safe. However, in comparison to traditional smoking they are a safer and a healthier option.

The pros of E- cigarettes include:

•  They help people quit smoking - a huge plus for the population’s health and the burden on health systems.

•  Traditional smoking is well known for its cancer causing habits. The American Lung Association reports a traditional cigarette releases 7000 chemicals when burnt and that 69 of those cause cancers. Cigarette smoking can cause a number of health problems. Along with lung cancer, live cancer, mouth and bladder cancer, cervical cancer, cigarette smoking can also lead to kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and male impotence. There are no pros to traditional cigarette smoking.

•  E-cigarettes contain nicotine but no tar, which is the cause of cancer. The National Health Service will soon be clear to prescribe them to those seeking to quit tobacco cigarettes.

•  E-cigarettes don’t cause passive smoking. Nearly all the aerosol is inhaled by the user, whereas cigarettes pollute the air and other people’s lungs. Neal Benowitz, MD former member of the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee said “Seventy-five percent of the smoke generated by cigarettes is side-stream smoke, and that goes into the environment.

The cons of e-cigarettes include:

Researchers don’t know much about the downside of e-cigarettes, but this doesn’t mean they are risk free.

•  Researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health investigated 52 types of flavoured e-cigarettes for the chemical diacetyl which is used as a flavouring but causes ‘popcorn lung’ when inhaled. 92% of the e-cigarettes tested flagged it up. Popcorn lung describes tiny tears in air sacs which lead to lung scarring and shortness of breath.

•  Another study from the University of California re-created e-cigarette vapours and tested it on human cells. Cells exposed to the vapour developed DNA damage and died more quickly than untreated cells. Nicotine free e-cigarettes caused 50% more DNA strand breaks than untreated cells.  The researchers suggest that the study shows e-cigarettes are not as safe at the marketing makes out.

•  A reliance on e-cigarettes is still an addiction. Addictions have physical and psychological side effects and disruption everyday life. A nicotine addiction cannot be described as healthy.

•  Some experts are concerned that the nicotine cartridge can be easily replaced with other substances making them a new way to deliver health damaging drugs.

Use In Teenagers

Experts have debated over the use of e-cigarettes in teens. In 2015 UK law changed to make e-cigarettes available to over 18s only, but not all US states have the same law. E-cigarettes are easily ordered online making them available to anyone with an internet connection.

Teens have been subjected to anti-smoking campaigns all their lives. At no point for them has it been ‘safe’ to smoke real cigarettes, but teenagers who take up e-cigarettes as a way of safely smoking may cause themselves harm.

E-cigarettes are products for adults trying to quit smoking, not for recreational enjoyment but the sweet flavouring used to mask the taste of nicotine is appealing to teens who are increasingly taking up the habit. Evidence shows this leads to an uptake of traditional smoking.

Safer Than Traditional Smoking

Although e-cigarettes are healthier than traditional tobacco, and a helpful way for smokers to gradually decrease their smoking habit, e-cigarettes are not without their own risks.

Perhaps the biggest risk is that researchers simply don’t know what the longer term effects are yet. In the past tobacco was prescribed as a cure for asthma so e-cigarettes may well hold undiscovered side effects in store and this in itself is a risk.

Current research shows that inhaling the cocktail of chemicals created by e-cigarettes is potentially harmful. Public bodies and legislators worldwide are evaluating new evidence before implementing regulatory controls.

When taken in relation to traditional tobacco, e-cigarettes are currently a safer alternative, but they should be used as a short-term tool for smokers trying to quit, not as a healthy risk-free habit for non smokers.

This is a guest blog entry.

Travel Insurance Is a Great Idea for the Over 50s Crowd

Traveling on holiday is an event many people look forward to every year, but if you are over the age of 50, it comes with a few special challenges. One of these is the fact that as people get older, they are more likely to have certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart problems.

Even if you are on medication for these conditions, it is always a good idea to use extra caution when traveling, because you never know when there might be an emergency of some type. Because of this possibility and many others, it is a good idea to take out medical travel insurance if you have any type of medical challenge. Travel insurance for people over 50 is inexpensive, easy to purchase and provides peace of mind before traveling anywhere in the world. Best of all, there are now companies that offer access to dozens of insurance providers, so that you can choose the plan that is right for you before you leave on your trip.

Different Coverage Types Are Available

Many people incorrectly assume that if they are over the age of 50, medical travel insurance is just too expensive to purchase, but this is no longer the case. Today there are insurance companies that specialize in providing coverage for people over 50, so their coverage is both efficient and inexpensive. Most medical conditions are covered in the policies, as long as they are disclosed beforehand. The policies cover things such as epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, lupus, stroke, asthma, HIV, high blood pressure and heart problems. Once again, these conditions must be disclosed to the insurance provider in order to be covered, but will, in fact, be covered once you purchase the policy.

Websites that help you compare different insurance companies’ rates are easy to find and even simpler to use. In fact, you can check out this price comparison for over 50s travel insurance to determine how best to get the policy that you need. These websites allow you to enter a few pieces of basic information, click on the Enter button, and receive quotes from dozens of companies. Since each policy may differ somewhat, it is wise to carefully read over the details of the policy you are considering, but most policies provide excellent coverage and are reasonably priced as well.

Medical Travel Insurance Is Well Worth the Price

Medical travel insurance policies are so inexpensive that it is a wonder why more people do not participate in them. Policies provide coverage for travel almost anywhere in the world, and can be purchased for a single trip or multiple trips during the course of a year. You can also add extras, such as coverage for winter sports and for cruises, so the policies are as personalized and unique as the travelers themselves. Regardless of your medical condition or your destination, purchasing a medical travel insurance policy can provide the peace of mind you need when traveling across the country or across the globe.

This is a guest blog entry.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Top 5 Diabetic Friendly Recipes – Remain in the Pink of Health without Depriving Your Taste-buds

After being diagnosed with diabetes, keeping your blood sugar levels in check is solely dependent upon lifestyle regulation with the help of a balanced diet and proper workout regimen. Trading refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and sugar-loaded edibles with healthier options can lead to a radical positive change.

Have a look at these amazing, yet simple recipes which strike a perfect balance between taste and health.

Tangy Salmon Salad

Protein is an inseparable aspect of recommended meal plans for diabetics. This yummy protein-rich salad is an excellent way of getting started on a low-calorie trip!

List of required ingredients:

•    Salmon fillets – 4 units

•    Hard-boiled eggs – 2 units, sliced into halves

•    Extra-virgin olive oil – 1 tablespoon

•    Kosher salt – 1/4th teaspoon, divided

•    Red wine vinegar – 1/4th cup

•    Black pepper – 1/4th teaspoon, divided

•    Sliced sweet onion – 1/4th cup

•    Minced shallots – 1 tablespoon

•    Dijon mustard – 2 tablespoons

•    Assorted salad greens – 4 cups

•    Pound beans (green)

How to prepare this dish:

At first, preheat your grill by selecting medium-high temperature. Cook the beans in a pan of boiling water for a couple of minutes and plunge those into icy-cold water after draining the hot water. Now drain once more and mix the olive oil, mustard, shallots and vinegar along with 1/8th teaspoon each of pepper and salt in a bowl for dressing. Thoroughly stir with a whisk.

Spray olive oil on both sides of the salmon fillets and sprinkle with the remaining quantities of salt and pepper. Arrange the fillets on your grill rack and allow both sides to be done perfectly, till the flesh gets fragmented easily with a fork. Place the mixed greens in a bowl, topping with egg slices, onions and beans. Put the salmon on top, followed by the dressing.

Zesty Lentil Broth

Set your taste-buds on fire with this super-healthy, steaming appetizer!

•    List of required ingredients:

•    Split red lentils – 150g

•    Canned chickpeas – 200g

•    Chopped tomatoes – 400g

•    Red onion – 1 unit, chopped

•    Cumin seeds – 2 teaspoons

•    Water/vegetable stock – 800 ml

•    Chopped coriander leaves

•    Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

•    Greek yogurt (0%) – 4 tablespoons

•    Chili flakes

How to prepare this dish:

Dry-fry the chili flakes and cumin seeds for a minute in a heated pan. Add olive oil plus the chopped onions and stir for 5 minutes. Now pour in the water/stock, chopped tomatoes, lentils, and bring to a boil. Allow 15 minutes simmering time so that the lentils soften. Use a food processor or a blender for whizzing the broth into a thick puree. Replace the soup in the pan and heat after adding chickpeas, coriander and seasoning. Garnish with coriander leaves and top with a dollop of yogurt.

Sugar-Free Granola

What better way of fueling your energy than waking up to a bowl of fruitylicious granola!

•    List of required ingredients:

•    Rolled oats – 2 cups

•    Hung yogurt – 2 tablespoons

•    Flax seeds – 14gms

•    Almonds – 10 units, sliced

•    Sesame seeds – 1 tablespoon

•    Olive oil – 2 tablespoons

•    Sunflower seeds – 1 tablespoon

•    Orange juice – 1/4th cup

•    Assorted berries – raspberries, strawberries and blueberries

How to prepare this dish:

Preheat your oven to a temperature of 325F. Pour the orange juice into the rolled oats, mix all the ingredients and spread evenly on the baking tray. Turn the mixture from time to time, baking for about 45 minutes. Bring out the tray and allow some cooling time before adding the berries, almonds and yogurt immediately prior to serving.

Pork Roast

Fortify your iron levels with this succulent, flavorful dish without giving your system a tough time at all!

List of required ingredients:

•    Fat-free pork fillet – 2 units of 1lb each

•    Couscous – 250g

•    Ground cumin – 3 teaspoons

•    Sultana raisins – 100g

•    Olive oil – 2 teaspoons

•    Lemon zest & lemon juice

•    Grated ginger – 4 teaspoons

•    Fat-free yogurt – 200g

•    Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon, finely ground

•    Chopped mint leaves

How to prepare this dish:

Heat your oven to a temperature of 190C. Place the pork fillets in a non-sticky pan. Keep the flame high and cook till brown, turning them a couple of times. Combine 2 teaspoons of ginger with olive oil, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of cumin, seasoning, and brush the pork fillets with this mixture. Roast to perfection for about half an hour.

Mix the remaining cumin with sultanas, couscous and lemon extracts before poring over 350ml of boiling water. Stir well, keep it covered for a few minutes and add the chopped mint. Stir the yogurt with the leftover ginger and seasoning. Slice the pork and serve with the spicy yogurt.

Baked Apricot-Stuffed Peaches

With the availability of such fabulous options, you can always indulge in a guilt-free ‘sweet’ recess once in a while!

List of required ingredients:

•    Large, ripe peaches – 5 units

•    Egg white – 1 portion

•    Crumbled amaretti cookies – half a dozen

•    Brandy – 1 tablespoon

•    Apricot halves (dried) – 10 units, finely chopped

•    Almond extract – 2 teaspoons

•    Packaged brown sugar (light) – 1/4th cup

How to prepare this dish:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Remove the pits after cutting 4 peaches into halves. Place the halves in boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes till they start becoming tender. Drain and arrange the peaches on a shallow baking tray with the cut sides up. Chop the remaining peach after peeling and pitting. Put the amaretti crumbs, chopped apricots, brandy, almond extract, egg white in a bowl and mix thoroughly with continuous stirring.

Stuff the cavities of peach halves with this filling, gently press and sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Put a foil covering on the tray. Bake for about 25 minutes till soft. Finally, uncover and bake at a temperature of 400F till the topping turns golden-brown.

It has been observed that figuring out an appropriate diabetic dietary plan often involves a trial and error method under medical supervision, since the nature of metabolism tends to significantly vary from one individual to another.

Danielle Ward

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How to Improve Your Overall Health Starting Today

It's almost impossible to get through the week without hearing about different ways people try to improve their overall health. There are some who skip eating meat on Mondays and increase the amount of vegetables they eat on that same day, those who stopped eating gluten and those who found easy and convenient ways to workout more.

You may also hear about the growing number of people taking health supplements and wonder if those supplements are right for you. Before you start shopping for supplements, you need to look at other ways you can start improving your health today.

Get More Sleep

The human body needs sleep to remain healthy, but if you are like most people, you probably don't get enough sleep every night. Most adults need a minimum of six hours of sleep each night. If you have problems drifting off, you can cut back on your caffeine intake, spend some time relaxing at the end of the night and use a white noise machine in your bedroom. Taking out your television and any other distractions in the room can also help.

Become a Meditation Enthusiast

Meditation is one of the best ways to improve your mental health. Though you might imagine people sitting on yoga mats and communing with nature, meditating is something you can do in the middle of your home or even in the office. All you need is a quiet place that makes you feel relaxed. Sit down in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing. Clear your mind as you slowly inhale and exhale. Spending just 10 minutes meditating every day can help you regulate your moods and feel happier.

Eat Healthier

If you want to look better and feel healthier, you need to make some dietary changes. Aim to eat at least three servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. You might grab a handful of berries before leaving for work in the morning, snack on carrot and celery sticks in the middle of the work day and treat yourself to a ripe apple as a dessert. Keep single-serving snacks on hand too. When you bring home fresh fruits like berries and grapes, portion those fruits into individual bags that you can take with you. You'll also want to make sure that your serving of vegetables at every meal is larger than the serving of meat that you take.

Cut Back on Bad Habits

Smoking is extremely bad for you. It can increase your risks of suffering from a stoke or developing lung cancer. While smoking is bad, other habits are just as bad for you. Leading a sedentary lifestyle that has you sitting on the couch for hours at a time or lounging in bed all day can increase your risks of suffering a stroke or a blood clot. Today is the day that you finally cut back on those bad habits and start seeing your overall health improve.

Play Games

Playing simple games is a great way to boost your mental health. Some even believe that playing mind games can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's in the future. Look for simple games like puzzles that require you use your brain. You can download those games right to your phone or tablet and take those games with you. The next time that you find yourself waiting in line at the DMV or sitting in the waiting room at your doctor's office, play a few levels instead of flipping through a magazine.

Take Supplements

Many of the top health supplements today contain an ingredient called shilajit. This is a natural ingredient that functions in the same way that fulvic acid does. It can help remove toxins from your bloodstream, improve the look of your skin and reduce the impact of environmental pollutants and toxins on your body. As more than 90% of the supplements containing this ingredient found on the market today are counterfeit though, it's important that you buy from a reputable source and a company that guarantees all the products it sells. Other supplements contain ingredients that can help improve blood flow, reduce stress, boost your memory and reduce your risks of contracting certain diseases.

Improving your overall health can help you feel better about yourself and increase your lifespan too. Though you might think that it takes years to improve your health, you can make some simple changes today like taking health supplements, eating better and meditating more.

This is a guest blog post.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Don’t Stress Getting a Second Opinion

Our interactions with the medical field can be stressful, especially when a diagnosis or treatment plan is considered serious. Critical conditions or life-threatening illnesses evoke a level of fear not found in most other life situations, and oftentimes, there is a sense of urgency that surrounds a medical professional’s recommendation for how to get back to a healthy status. Despite the sense of urgency, making quick decisions when it comes to medical care is not always the best course of action. Taking the time to fully understand your diagnosis and course of treatment options is one of the best steps we can take to ensure a positive end result.

Part of that process is obtaining a second opinion.

Doctors are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases, and so it is natural to simply go with the initial advice from your primary care physician. However, they don’t always get it right the first time, resulting in misdiagnoses, unnecessary treatment plans or prolonged symptoms. According to a recent study, over one third of patients within the United States never get a second opinion, despite the fact that just under 10% of all patients do not fully comprehend their diagnosis or plan for care. Seeking out the advice or counsel of a medical professional above and beyond your current provider is a smart way to combat these issues, but the process of getting a second opinion is often wrought with discomfort – most of us wish to not rock the proverbial boat.

To ensure you are receiving the most suitable treatment for your medical condition, getting a second opinion is incredibly important. Here’s how to tackle the process.

What Prompts a Second Opinion?

Seeking out a second opinion is highly recommended when your diagnosis or condition is severe; however, that does not mean a second opinion cannot be obtained for less serious cases. Getting advice from another medical professional should be the norm when you experience the following:

•    Little understanding of your diagnosis or prognosis
•    A diagnosis of a severe or life-threatening disease or condition
•    When the FDA has not yet provided clear guidance on approved treatments for your condition
•    When a trial drug or treatment is recommended
•    If your provider is not able to provide clear answers on why or how a treatment will be completed
•    When complications take place during treatment

Receiving a second opinion soon after any of these circumstances take place is important in maintaining control over your medical care. Additionally, second opinions are helpful in protecting you against malpractice or questionable treatment plans implemented by your doctor. Patient Claim Line, a medical negligence solicitors firm, reports that 14% of medical claims within the UK are directly related to information provided during a second opinion. Safeguarding yourself from adverse outcomes related to your health is necessary, no matter how big or small your condition or illness.

Our Rights as Patients

Obtaining a second opinion feels a bit awkward in practice, especially when the relationship between you and your primary doctor is strong. However, it is important to remember that we all have the right to seek out a second opinion when we deem it necessary, as it is our responsibility to take as much control as possible over our own medical care. The majority of health care coverage plans afford patients the ability to get a second opinion for serious conditions without too much of a hassle. Others, however, make it more challenging to receive the advice from a specialist or another physician for a condition already diagnosed or after treatment has begun. Regardless of the circumstances under which you fall, it is necessary for you to be heard if you feel a second opinion is needed or otherwise desired.

Doctors are often willing to lend a hand for patients who want a second opinion, and most understand this to be a basic right of all patients. Take the stress out of asking for a second opinion by being open and honest with your primary medical professional about your concerns or questions surrounding a diagnosis or treatment plan. If they seem put off by your request, or disinterested in assisting you, work directly with your health care coverage provider to find another medical professional to assist you in achieving the best possible care.

Keeping your Doctor Informed

Second opinions need not be an awkward or uncomfortable request, but it is natural to feel some level of uneasiness when your desire to get a second opinion comes up. To help fight off that unrest, use the following phrases to start the conversation with your doctor or medical professional:

I want to get a second opinion before starting any treatment plan. Can you help me with this?

Would you get a second opinion if you were in my shoes?

My family has urged me to get a second opinion about my diagnosis/treatment plan.

This diagnosis and treatment plan concern me. To feel comfortable making this decision, I want to consult with another doctor for a second opinion. 

Starting the second opinion discussion off with one of these phrases will help eliminate some of the stress that comes with seeking out additional/different advice. If you choose to seek out a second opinion without asking your doctor for help, know that it is necessary to still keep them informed. Medical records including lab results, notes and current or past prescriptions need to be shared with secondary doctors in a timely manner to ensure there are no delays in receiving additional advice or care.

As much as second opinions are an important aspect of maintaining control over your health care and treatment, the process seems arduous to most patients. Obtaining a second opinion does not have to be a challenging or uncomfortable process, however. Start by knowing when a second opinion is warranted, and how obtaining this supplemental information is beneficial to your well-being on a multitude of levels. Work with your primary doctor first, and take advantage of your health insurance provider should you run into any issues. Know that obtaining a second opinion is one of your basic patient rights, and don’t be afraid to follow your gut when the need arises.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

How Do Diabetes Test Strips Work?

Diabetes test strips or blood glucose test strips are an essential component when it comes to testing levels of blood glucose. These small, disposable plastic strips may look insignificant, however they actually play a hugely important role in helping people with diabetes to better monitor and manage their condition. In the majority of cases, each meter will take one type of test strip only. However, there are certain blood glucose meters which also test for ketone levels and take blood ketone strips. So, how do diabetes test strips work?

Royalty free photo

How Do Test Strips Work?

The specifics of how diabetes test strips work is something that crops up a lot in diabetic FAQ. When it comes into contact with the test strip, the blood will react with the glucose oxidase chemical, which produces gluconic acid from the glucose in the blood. The meter then transfers a current to the test strip via electronic terminals which allows the meter to measure the current. Depending on the amount of gluconic acid which has been produced, the current between the terminals will vary. The blood glucose meter will then use an algorithm to determine the level of glucose in the blood based upon the difference in current.

Where Can I Get Test Strips?

Diabetes test strips and meters can be obtained on prescription from your doctor. They can also be purchased in certain pharmacies and online pharmacies. Whether or not you are able to get diabetes test strips on prescription will depend on the type of diabetes that you have and the severity of the condition. You can also get test strips from ‘diabetic strips for cash’ schemes, which buy unused and unwanted test strips from people and sell or give them to diabetics who need them. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will be able to tell you whether or not you need to use test strips in order to manage your condition.

How Long Do the Strips Last?

Blood glucose test strips will normally have a use by date, either on the strip itself or displayed on the box in which they arrived. Once opened, the majority of diabetic test trips will be good to use for around three to six months, however it’s crucial that you refer to the box or the information slip provided with your test strips to ensure that you do not end up using out of date blood glucose test strips, which may produce inaccurate results.

How Should Diabetes Test Strips Be Stored?

Blood glucose test strips should be stored at room temperature, and within the sealed vial. You should never refrigerate your diabetes test strips or expose them to heat, as extreme temperatures can cause serious damage. Exposure to humidity and direct sunlight can also render your test strips unusable. You should not use any test strips which have come into contact with other substances or if they have been damaged in any way.

Diabetes test strips are absolutely crucial to managing diabetes day to day.

This is a guest blog post.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

EMGs: What You Need To Know

An EMG, otherwise known as electromyogram, is a test used to measure the electrical activity in muscles. It's typically done alongside a nerve conduction velocity test (NCV), which measures nerves ability to send signals.

The tests are usually performed by an electromyographer, who is typically a Psychiatrist or Neurologist. In some cases, the NCV test is performed by a trained technician. This is a procedure that can be done in-office and doesn't require hospitalization. The average EMG takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours, depending on how extensive the testing is. In most cases, it doesn't require any preparation and can be done at any time of the day.

What Happens During These Tests

At the time of the test, you'll be in a room with one or more EMG machines. They look like a regular laptop or desktop computer and aren't as intimidating as they sound. The test usually consists of two parts, and you'll be laying comfortably on an examination table while they are performed.

The first test, the NCV, the doctor will attach some small electrodes to the surface of your skin and then touch you in another area with electrodes to produce a small electric shock. This is to determine how well your nerves conduct the current - an indication of how healthy they are. You may feel a slight tingling sensation during this test, but the electrical current is always at a safe level. This procedure is normally repeated a few times to ensure all nerves in the area are tested.

The second part of the test is known as a needle examination. In this test, the doctor will insert very thin needles into relaxed muscles and gently moved around to record the muscle activity. The needle insertion itself may cause a little pain, but once inserted you should only feel a little pressure or discomfort.

Why an EMG is Performed

EMG tests are most often performed when a patient has symptoms that might indicate a muscle or nerve disorder. These symptoms can include, numbness, tingling, muscle pain, weakness or cramping and some types of limb pain. Also, a patient experiencing difficulty walking, handling objects or buttoning clothes may need an EMG.

Disorders EMG Tests can Diagnose

The results of EMG tests can be used to rule out or diagnose many conditions including muscle disorders like polymyositis and muscular dystrophy.

Results may also help in the diagnosis of nerve disorders such as a pinched nerve, peripheral neuropathies and carpel tunnel syndrome and disorders that affect the root of the nerve like a herniated disk or sciatica.

EMG test results are also used to diagnose disorders that affect motor neurons in the spinal cord or brain like polio and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

The EMG test is a relatively new procedure, with electrodes and the cables necessary to produce signals being mass produced in the mid-1980s, and is one of the fairly recent medical testing advances that can detect and diagnose conditions and save lives. 

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Egg Freezing: The Fertility Process That Gives You Options

Did you know your age significantly impacts your fertility? As you get older, the quantity and quality of your eggs begins to decline, reducing your chances of having a healthy pregnancy. You’re most fertile in your twenties, followed by your early thirties, but what if you’re not ready to start a family within this time frame?

Thanks to advanced egg freezing technology, you can now preserve your fertility at its peak. This opportunity extends your childbearing years, giving you more options for the future. If you’re considering egg freezing, take some time and learn what you can do to be successful.


Freezing your own eggs for future pregnancy involves four key phases:


Your first step is consulting with a reproductive endocrinologist to review your medical history and discuss your pregnancy goals. Bloodwork is drawn to test your hormone levels, and then an ultrasound is performed to assess your ovarian reserve. Finally, if you are not on the birth control pill, your doctor may ask you to start taking it for a month or two to regulate your menstrual cycle.


To prepare your body for egg retrieval, you will receive hormone injections that stimulate the ovaries to produce as many mature eggs as possible. During this time, which usually lasts five to 10 days, you will have regular bloodwork and ultrasounds to monitor egg follicle growth in your ovaries. Medication dosages may be adjusted based on follicle development. After about two weeks, once your follicles have reached maturation, you are given a “trigger” shot 36 hours before your retrieval. Timing is very important! The trigger shot, or hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), causes your follicles to release the mature eggs just when you are ready for retrieval.


Eggs are retrieved during a 10-15 minute procedure in which you are under mild anesthesia.
Your doctor will use an ultrasound-guided needle attached to a catheter to remove the eggs from your ovaries. You may experience some cramping following the procedure; it takes about two weeks for your ovaries to fully recover from stimulation and retrieval.


Once retrieved, the eggs are taken to a lab where an embryologist separates the mature from the immature eggs. All mature eggs undergo vitrification, a new technology that is the most effective way to preserve eggs. To prevent damaging ice crystals from forming, eggs are exposed to liquids known as cryoprotectants, then placed into liquid nitrogen and stored. Until recently, egg freezing happened through a slow-freeze process that often led to ice crystals forming in the eggs, destroying them. Now, the vitrification process freezes eggs so rapidly that ice crystals are unable to form, keeping the cell structure together. As a result, eggs that have been vitrified are virtually indistinguishable from freshly retrieved eggs. Within 24 hours of your retrieval, the fertility clinic will let you know the number of eggs retrieved, and the number of mature eggs frozen.


The beauty of egg freezing is you have control over the timeline in which you would like to conceive. You can access your frozen eggs whenever you are ready to proceed with in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Prepare For IVF Transfer

You begin by taking medications, including estrogen and progesterone, for about four weeks to prepare the endometrial lining of your uterus to accept the embryos during the IVF transfer.

Receive and Fertilize Eggs

When it’s time for the transfer, the egg bank sends your frozen eggs to the fertility clinic, where they are removed from storage and quickly rehydrated and warmed. Next, the embryologist examines your eggs to determine their quality. Then, eggs are combined with your partner's sperm using a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in which a single sperm is injected directly into each egg with a needle, instead of allowing sperm to penetrate the egg in a Petri dish.

IVF Transfer

After fertilization, the embryos begin to develop. The embryologist selects the most viable embryo(s) to place in your uterus three to five days after the egg retrieval. The doctor will transfer these embryos into your uterus by inserting a thin tube called a catheter through your cervix. You and your doctor will discuss the optimal number of embryos to transfer based on several parameters.

Pregnancy Test

Two weeks after the transfer, you will return to the fertility clinic to take a pregnancy test; specifically, a blood test that measures the level of hCG, also known as the pregnancy hormone. At that time, you will learn whether the cycle was a success.

Make Future Fertility Yours

Egg freezing is a reliable option to explore when considering your future family; don’t let your biological clock - or anything else - determine when the time is right for you to have children. 

This is a guest blog post.