Friday, November 17, 2017

Dementia and Risk of Falling

A 2017 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed encouraging data regarding rates of dementia in the U.S. Over 21,000 adults 65+ were tracked in a longitudinal study called the “Health and Retirement Study” sponsored by the Social Security Administration and the National Institute on Aging.

The findings reflected sweeping improvements in population brain health as the prevalence of dementia dropped from 11.6% to 8.8% between the years 2000 and 2012.

Rates of Dementia
While that is exciting news for older adults, the truth is that the cases of dementia will only rise as the second largest generation in the U.S., Baby Boomers, all age into the 65 and over age group in the next 15 years. While dementia is not a guaranteed part of aging, it does largely affect older adults.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are debilitating diseases that rob many seniors of the basic faculties with which they need to function. Over 5.5 million people in the U.S. currently live with some form of dementia, with Alzheimer’s accounting for roughly 60 to 70% of dementia cases according to the World Health Organization.

Damaged and dying neurons and synapses in the brain contribute to dementia symptoms including a deterioration in thinking, learning ability, memory, judgment, language, comprehension, and orientation. In addition to difficulty completing daily tasks, dementia can negatively impact a person’s behavior and emotional control. Dementia is typically a progressive and chronic degeneration of the brain, and in some forms of dementia, can actually result from conditions which prevent enough oxygen from reaching the brain.

Vascular dementia as it is called, or vascular cognitive impairment, is on the rise according to some researchers, in part due to the higher rates of heart disease, stroke, and other conditions which affect blood vessels. When widespread small vessel damage reduces the amount of or blocks blood flowing to the brain, it deprives brain cells of the oxygen and nutrients they desperately need.

Dementia and Falling
  • Medical providers and home health networks need to educate the caregivers of someone with dementia about increased fall risk and how to manage it in order to prevent life-threatening injuries. While falling is the leading cause of fatal injuries for older adults, when it comes to seniors with dementia, their chances of experiencing a harmful fall are even higher due to:  
  • Poor judgment - as cognitive decline progresses, poor decision-making can put an elderly person at risk of not just getting scammed on the internet, but in falling too. Mistakenly deciding to descend a steep staircase or head outside when it is icy, for example, can quickly lead to falls.
  • Impaired memory - when a senior with dementia is a “fall risk,” precautions are taken in their home or hospital room to prevent them from falling. This might include putting fall rails on the bed, setting up fall monitors, and making sure a patient is always accompanied out of bed and into the bathroom. Memory issues can lead a senior to forget that they have been asked to call for assistance if they need to get out of bed, or they may forget where they are and become disorientated and fall.
  • Vision problems - difficulties with vision and spatial awareness often accompany cognitive decline and can make safe mobility impossible. Oftentimes, people with vascular dementia will specifically have vision impairment due to blood vessel damage in the brain. Regular vision checks with a doctor, as well as mobility aids, home lighting audits, and home accessibility upgrades can help.
  • Clutter - some dementia patients will exhibit habits of hoarding and filling their living environment with unnecessary items and furniture. This clutter is a huge risk factor for falling, as the more “stuff” you have to move around or walk over to successfully navigate the home environment, the more likely you are to trip or lose your balance.
  • Physical weakness - being unable to exercise regularly or stay physically active, dementia patients will experience muscle loss and weakness as well as a reduction in bone density compounded with deterioration in balance, coordination, agility skills, and the risk of falling increases. 
  • Medication side effects - some medicines which are used to treat forms of dementia as well as other age-related diseases like Parkinson’s, can actually cause hypotensive side effects. A sudden drop in blood pressure when standing can lead to dizziness and loss of balance, increasing the potential to fall.

What Can Caregivers Do
In addition to learning as much as possible about dementia’s side effects and increased risk for falling, family members and caregivers of seniors with dementia should fall-proof the home. Grab bars, toilet seat risers, and a non slip bath mat in the bathroom are a must. Ramps up to outside doorways and porch railings help secure outside walking areas, and clearing clutter and trip hazards inside may include removing area rugs and large pieces of furniture too.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Beware of These Common Home Health Hazards

Your home is where you and your family come together for shelter, security, and safety. As comfortable and safe as your home may feel, there could be dangers lurking that you weren’t aware of.

What many homeowners may not realize is that a lot of the illnesses they experience come from the things they do and have in the home. In order to improve your health and keep your loved ones safe, you’ll need to identify the health hazards in the home and remove them. Below, are some of the most common health hazards in the home.

1.  Lead Paint

Those who live in a home that was built before the 1970’s could have an issue on their hands with lead paint. Though not hazardous just to sit on the walls, when lead paint starts to chip, it can present a hazard for pets and young children. When chips of paint are ingested it can cause led poisoning.

If you believe you have led paint in your home, purchase a kit from the store. While you can remove the paint yourself, it would require you to remove your kids and pets from the home and strip all the paint. Therefore, it is best to hire professionals to remove the paint for you.

2.  Pests

You may have thought that pests like mice or cockroaches were nothing more than gross looking and embarrassing to have in the home, but it’s actually a lot worse. Both mice and roaches leave behind bodily fluids and feces that if touched or ingested can cause you to get sick.

Some people try to remove infestations of mice and cockroaches on their own with no such luck. DIY pest control isn’t always advised as it can result in more harm. The harsh chemicals found in store sprays and the hazards of traps and devices to catch pests can really harm you and your family. Companies like Moxie Pest Control are skilled in safely removing pests like mice and cockroaches from the home safely.

3.  Mold

Mold is one of those hazards that you are likely aware is bad for your health, but can be tricky to find. Most often people can smell mold and mildew before they ever see it. Exposure to certain molds can result in upper respiratory problems. This can include difficulty breathing, sore throat, stuffiness, runny nose, eye irritation, and in some cases, skin rashes.

If you believe there is mold in your home, you need to have it removed. Identifying it can be hard but you should check places like the basement or attic where there is dampness and moisture. While you can remove small amounts of mold on your own with a bleach solution, it is best to hire a mold remediation expert for larger amounts.

4.  Asbestos

Asbestos was a building material used to build homes more than 30 years ago. Asbestos was determined to be unhealthy and could lead to serious medical conditions including shortness of breath, lung damage, and other illnesses and diseases.

Asbestos is harmless unless disturbed. This often happens during renovations and home improvement projects. If you have an older home and believe there could be asbestos present it is best to contact the experts to safely remove it.

5.  Dust and Allergens

Dusting might be a chore that you hadn’t gotten around to doing but too much dust and allergens in the home can wreak havoc on your health. Dust and allergens tend to accumulate on everything from the carpets to the floors. Too much dust in the home can lead to upper respiratory issues that include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy throat, and more.

Dust enters the home from all over. The best way to get rid of dust is to go beyond dusting certain surfaces. You need to clean the carpets, clean the vents, and even consider an air purifier to get rid of allergens and improve the indoor air quality.

To the untrained eye, the above-mentioned hazards might not seem like anything to worry about. However, when ignored, these hazards could ruin your health. Checking the home periodically for these hazards and hiring an expert to remedy the problem is the best course of action to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Low Back Pain: Are You at Risk?

Have you ever experienced a sudden, sharp sensation in your lower back? How about a dull, constant ache just below your waist? If yes, then you belong to the 80% of adults who experience low back pain.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), low back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability and a major contributor to absences from work. The severity of the pain could range from a mild ache to an intense pain which could limit your mobility.

The onset of low back pain could be sudden or gradual, depending on the cause. Some diseases could present with low back pain. Among these are sciatica (compression of the sciatic nerve), scoliosis (lateral curvature of the thoracic spine) and a herniated disc (compression or bulging of the intervertebral discs).

The anatomy of the lower back
The lower back is composed of the lumbar region of the spine. This region has 5 vertebrae (lumbar 1 to lumbar 5) that bear and support the weight of the upper body. Intervertebral discs are located between each vertebrae. They function as shock absorbers and cushions. They also protect the spinal cord in the middle of the spine.

There are 31-pairs of spinal nerves attached to the spinal cord and they are responsible for the transmission of signals to the brain as well as body movement. Lumbar ligaments keep the vertebrae in place and lumbar tendons connect the muscles to the spinal column.

Are you at risk?
There are certain factors that can put you at risk of having low back pain, including:

•    Age. Pain in the lower back becomes a common concern as you age. The symptom usually occurs between ages 30 and 50. As you age, your muscle mass, tone, and elasticity gradually decrease. This could make you prone to having tears in your tendons and muscles. Osteoporosis could also predispose you to brittle bones. Your intervertebral discs also lose flexibility and fluid, compromising their function as shock absorbers.

•    Fitness level. Low fitness activity could make you prone to having back pain. Having weak abdominal and back muscles might not support your spine properly, especially if you are someone who tends to do exercises and intense outdoor activities in the weekends after being inactive for the rest of the week.

•    Pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called ‘relaxin’ that serves to relax your pelvic ligaments in preparation for labor. This could make the ligaments that support your back unstable. The growing baby also adds additional weight to your upper body. These could lead to low back pain, a complaint which is common in pregnant women. The symptom usually resolves after childbirth.

•    Weight gain. Your lumbar spine supports the weight of your upper body. Being overweight or obese can put too much weight and stress on your back, leading to low back pain.

•    Occupational risk factors. Doing jobs that require pushing, pulling, lifting heavy objects, especially those that involve twisting of the spine, can lead to back injury and low back pain.

•    Poor posture. Poor posture can put undue stress on your spine as well as constrict your blood vessels and nerves. It can lead to low back pain, especially if you sit all day in a chair that has inadequate back support.

    Back pain in children. Low back pain is not common in children. However, carrying a heavy backpack loaded with school supplies can lead to muscle strain and muscle fatigue. It is recommended that a child’s backpack should weigh 10–15% of his or her body weight. Obese children, however, are recommended to carry a bag that is one-third lighter in weight than the other children’s.

How to deal with low back pain?
Low back pain can restrict your movements and make daily activities difficult to do. If you are experiencing low back pain, even the simple act of bending over to put your shoes on could be hard. A dressing aid like a long shoe horn makes it easier to slip on your shoes without the need to bend over and tug at the heel tab, no matter how high-cut your shoes are. These benefits of using a long shoe horn could prevent your back pain from being aggravated by bending movements.

Applying cold packs could ease pain and inflammation in your lower back, as can heat therapy and massage, improving your mobility. You should limit your bed rest and resume daily activity as soon as you can. Prolonged bed rest could further diminish your muscle tone and might do you more harm than good. Just be careful to avoid movements that exacerbate the pain.

If the pain persists despite these home remedies, you should consult your doctor for further diagnosis.

This is a guest blog entry.

Five Products Everyone Can Use to Treat Knee Pain

Knee pain is extremely common, especially among active individuals and those with arthritis. If you are looking for a way to relieve your pain without giving up your favorite activities, keep reading.

Listed below are five highly effective pain relief products that everyone with knee pain should have at the ready.

Knee Braces

Knee braces are helpful for people who suffer from both acute and chronic knee pain. A quality knee brace will provide extra support, prevent injury, and make sure the knee moves in a controlled way.

It can be difficult to find the best knee brace for working out. If you’re having a hard time making a decision, make sure you understand the different types of braces and what kind of pain and injuries they work best with.

•    Hinged braces are best for people who need extra protection and stabilization after an ACL, MCL, or PCL injury or surgery.
•    Compression sleeves can minimize mild or moderate chronic knee pain or arthritis-related pain.
•    Wraparound braces are good for mild or moderate pain, as well as those who often experience patellar instabilities or dislocation.
•    A band or strap can be used for those who have runner’s knee, patellar tendonitis, or acute knee pain.

Topical Painkillers

Topical painkillers, also known as analgesics, are products that can be rubbed or sprayed on the skin to help treat sore muscles or painful joints. Whether they come in spray, cream, or gel form, topical painkillers often feature a combination of the following ingredients:

•    Counterirritants like menthol, methylsalicylate, and camphor, which create a burning or tingling sensation.
•    Salicylates, which are also used in products like aspirin to relieve pain.
•    Capsaicin, which causes a burning or tingling sensation to relax tension and relieve pain.

Knee Pillows

Many people, especially those with arthritis, are kept awake at night by pain in their knees and hips. A knee pillow will help relieve your pain by allowing you to keep your legs, hips, knees, and spine properly aligned while you sleep on your side.

They also reduce stress on the knees since they keep the legs farther apart to avoid uneven pressure. This lack of pressure allows for better blood circulation, which prevents muscle tension and soreness in the knees and legs.

When you’re shopping for a knee pillow, look for a memory foam pillow for the most comfort. Some pillows also come with a strap that helps keep your knees in place throughout the night, which can be especially helpful for people who toss and turn a lot.

Electrical Stimulator

If you’ve ever visited a chiropractor or physical therapist, you’ve probably experienced electrical stimulation for your knee pain. There are lots of portable machines available so that you can continue to treat your pain at home.

Many people like the near-instant relief that these machines bring, as well as the fact that they don’t have to rely on any painkillers.

Electrical stimulators are easy to use and can be adjusted for your specific tolerance level.

Before using one at home to help your knee pain, make sure you get clearance and instructions on how frequently to use it from your doctor or physical therapist.


There are a number of nutritional supplements out there that are actually very beneficial for those who suffer from knee pain. Supplements like collagen, glucosamine, and chondroitin are especially useful, as they aid in repairing tissue damage and reducing pain and inflammation.

Krill oil and fish oil are also good to supplement with to ensure you’re getting the recommended daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, which is especially important for those whose knee pain is related to arthritis.

Vitamin C is another good supplement to take for those who suffer from arthritis-related pain. Meeting your recommended daily dose also helps prevent the development of osteoarthritis. When your body gets an adequate amount of vitamin C, cartilage loss and joint inflammation are reduced and bone density improves.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from knee pain and feel like you’re running out of treatment options, give one (or more) of these products a try today. Whether you need a more aggressive remedy like electrical stimulation or just a better night’s sleep, one of them might provide the relief you’re looking for.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Expert Tips for Preventing Bedsores

When it comes to managing the care of bed and chair-limited patients or loved ones, a primary concern for any care team will be preventing bedsores (or pressure ulcers). Not only does a prolonged amount of time spent lying or sitting in a bed increase the risk of developing a bedsore, but so do the debilitating chronic diseases which often confine people to beds in the first place.

Bedsores form on the body where bony protrusions poke into vulnerable tissues - like on the tailbone, shoulder blades, hips, elbows, and heels. In constant contact with the surface of the bed, a patient’s body feels added pressure from these bony points, especially when the patient cannot move very much or stimulate blood flow and muscle contraction.

Over time, a reddish discoloration will appear on the skin where a bedsore is developing. If the skin opens due to maceration or tearing, an ulcer will form that breaks down layers of skin and then subdermal tissue, potentially all the way down to the bone. These types of pressure ulcers can become infected if not treated, blood circulation can become cut off, and the internal tissues can actually start to die.

Because bedsores can quickly progress to life-threatening stages, preventing their development in the first place is key to longevity and overall health for people limited to beds, recliners, or wheelchairs. Don’t miss these expert tips for preventing bedsores:

Specialty Mattresses
The typical bed mattress is often composed of foam, springs, and cotton batting. Specialty mattresses, on the other hand, are engineered with better weight disbursement in mind and incorporate materials like memory foam, gel, and even air. Often used in hospitals and long-term care facilities, specialty mattresses help prevent bed sores by better disbursing a patient’s weight to relieve critical pressure points, as well as by increasing a patient’s blood circulation.

An air mattress for hospital bed use, for example, might feature pockets or cells which fill with air and deflate based on custom settings set with the mechanical controls. As different parts of the mattress expand and decompress, it helps to shift a patient’s mass to keep them from lying on one part of their body for too long and to more evenly distribute their weight over extended periods of time.

With similar effects of specialty mattresses, manual repositioning of a bed-limited patient can help prevent bed sores by keeping patients off susceptible pressure points when lying in bed. Studies show that repositioning a patient every 2 to 4 hours can have a positive effect in preventing pressure ulcers from developing, and it keeps that patient more comfortable.

As an integral part of a bedsore prevention strategy, repositioning is typically done simply by shifting a patient’s weight from side to side with pillows placed under specific areas of their back and bottom. Pillows should also be placed under the legs to raise the heels of the feet off of the bed. Heels are prone to rub against the bed surface and overtime can develop serious pressure ulcers.

Barrier Creams
Wound care management is its own medical field entirely, and dressing mid to late-stage bedsores requires medical training as well as specific dressings and wound supplies. When it comes to preventing bedsores, however, barrier creams are an accessible and effective tool any medical provider or caregiver can use.

Barrier creams are topical aids comprised of ingredients which span the occlusive, emollient, and humectant categories (like zinc oxide, beeswax, and lanolin). They are applied to a healed or early stage bedsore and keep the skin nourished while repelling excess moisture and contaminants which can break down or irritate skin (like urine, feces, and sweat). Examples of barrier creams include Corona Cream and Extra Protective Cream (EPC).

What you put inside the body can play just as important of a role as how you treat and handle the outside of the body when it comes to preventing bedsores. Proper nutrition to fuel tissue repair and reinforce skin can help fortify the body to protect itself against the development of pressure ulcers.

Nutrients like protein, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamins C and E play particularly important roles in helping the body both repair damaged tissues as well as promote better blood circulation. Care networks should help patients consume lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables (especially those with vitamin C like broccoli, bell peppers, and spinach, and those with potassium like acorn squash and avocado), as well as nuts, seeds, and calcium-rich dairy.

In addition to diet modifications, barrier creams, mattress upgrades, and repositioning, bedsore prevention is most effective with keen and vigilant monitoring. Medical providers and caregivers can best keep bedsores from developing (or progressing) by taking daily scans of patients and loved ones to make note of any skin discolorations or areas of concern.

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, November 06, 2017

What is Bed Management?

Bed Management goes beyond assigning one bed to each patient showing up in the long queue of hospitals’ emergency services. Bed Management systems are computer software that assess the needs of a patient, his/her conditions, the level of care required, and matches that information with an available bed in the building.

Furthermore, recent software can identify which beds are clean and ready to receive a new patient and which beds, that might be a suitable match, need to be cleaned. A good system will even dispatch the cleaning team to ensure that the bed is ready in a reasonable amount of time to minimize waiting and crowding the emergency room.

Physicians, nurses and patients deplore the fact that too often, patients must wait, sitting in hospital chairs, for a bed to be ready. Even though these chairs can be quite comfortable in design and in cushioning, they do not replace the need to eventually find a bed for that patient. Chairs are fantastic for certain treatments, like dialysis and chemotherapy, but other conditions require a patient to be hospitalized and in that case, staff must find a bed.

Depending on the mobility of the patient, the diagnosis posed on his/her condition, or his behaviour, not all beds are suited to meet his/her needs. A good Bed Management software will be able to identify the best bed for each patient. If the perfect bed is occupied already or needs to be cleaned, the software will identify and respond accordingly. A cleaning team might be sent, or a second choice might need to be found. When the perfect bed is ready, an alert will advise the admission team and transportation will be arranged. Having a great Bed Management system means that patients’ wait time decreases, fewer calls need to be made between departments, and everyone is more satisfied with their hospital experience.    

As hospitals are accountable to governments or boards of directors, it is in their advantage to maximize the number of patients they can process in one day. Having the right Bed Management system helps hospitals admit patients more efficiently, care for them in a timely manner, and dispatch doctors and nurses more effectively to treat their conditions. Some say time is money. In the healthcare system, time is the element that might make the difference between life and death. When hospitals shift their focus from managing beds to caring for patients, everyone gains. Using a good Bed Management system can certainly help the process.

As money is an important factor in managing a hospital, directors should consider investing in the most efficient Bed Management system for their institution. Overseeing many aspects of a patient’s journey through the system, the right software will maximize the hospital’s assets and resources while minimizing time and effort. It avoids doubling on certain tasks from cleaning a bed to transporting a patient from room to room until a bed is ready. In sum, it makes sense for hospitals to have the right Bed Management software in use.

This is a guest blog entry.

How To Keep Your Underarms Healthy And Dry

Underarms are usually the last thing that anyone wants to talk about. We all have them, though, and we all have to deal with the challenges that go along with trying to eliminate sweat and odor. Although there are many different deodorants available on the market, they are not all created equal. The ingredients in certain brands can wind up doing a lot more harm than good, sometimes even putting your health at risk.

Because of that, more and more people are turning to deodorants that contain natural ingredients such as Schmidt's Deodorant. Not only are natural deodorants effective, but they often even perform better than the chemical laden deodorant brands that you can find at the store. Our goal is to change your perspective about deodorant and about underarm care, helping you to control sweat without jeopardizing your health in the process.

How To Correctly Use Deodorant

1. Underarms require a little bit of pampering.

Even though underarms often get a bad rap because they can have an unpleasant odor, they do require ongoing care if you want to keep the skin healthy. There are a lot of lymph nodes and nerves located in the underarm area. Additionally, the skin itself is quite thin on this part of the body and rarely sees the sun, making it particularly delicate. That is why it is so important to give it the proper care.

Tip: The skin under your arms should be treated with as much care and respect as the skin anywhere else on your body. That means exfoliating it to remove dead skin cells and keeping it hydrated with a moisturizer. Because the skin in this area is so sensitive, consider using moisturizers and exfoliation products that are designed for the face. If you want, you can even massage your underarms to activate the lymph nodes.

2. Don't be afraid of a little bit of sweat.

Along with controlling odor, most people want their deodorant to keep their underarms dry. This isn't always a good thing. There is a reason why the human body sweats. The sweat itself is designed to not only remove toxins but also to help control the temperature of the body. Most deodorants that you can find at the drugstore contain aluminum. This ingredient blocks the ducts that release sweat, keeping the sweat trapped inside. Avoiding these types of deodorant is usually a good idea.

Tip: Natural deodorants that are formulated to help keep you dry without the use of aluminum are a good choice. For instance, even though Schmidt's is not marketed as an antiperspirant, it does contain powders derived from plants that are designed to absorb sweat. The benefit of this is that it allows your body to release the sweat while still helping to keep you dry.

3. Prevent staining.

Have you ever had a piece of clothing ruined by stains in the underarm region? A common misconception is that these stains are caused by sweat. In fact, however, they are usually the result of your sweat interacting with your deodorant. Deodorants that contain aluminum are particularly likely to cause this problem since they can react with the urea found in human sweat, leaving behind stains in the process.

Tip: Wearing the right clothing can make it much easier to control sweat. Opt for clothing made from natural fabrics rather than synthetic fibers. Synthetic materials can cause irritation and can make sweating worse. Additionally, be sure to thoroughly dry your armpits before you put on deodorant.

4. Make your skin less sensitive.

As strange as it may seem, the skin under your arms can actually become quite dry. This is in part due to the fact that the ingredients that are found in most deodorants can dry out the skin. Dore Aesthetics advice that because of that, you need to make sure that your armpits stay hydrated through the use of a moisturizer.

Tip: After shaving, apply moisturizer to your armpits. Allow it to soak in completely, making sure that your armpits are totally dry before you put on deodorant. When you shave, always use a sharp razor and a shaving cream that has built-in moisturizers. Again, to prevent irritation, opt for loose clothing that is made from natural fibers.

5. Periodically allow your skin to rest.

Because the skin under your arms has a tendency to be sensitive, it is important to give it a chance to breathe without being covered by deodorant.

Tip: Wait as long as you can to apply deodorant after you shave. If possible, you may even want to try shaving at night and waiting to apply deodorant until the following morning. This will give your skin a chance to recuperate.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tips to Be a More Successful New Nurse

Being a nurse is rewarding. That probably sounds very cliché, but it is the truth. It is a very diverse field, so it is easy to find an area that interests you. However, when you are first starting out, you want to make sure that you begin on the right foot. There are some tips that new nurses can use to make the transition into their new career a little easier. It is all about being humble and making sure that you extend respect for the other nurses that you are going to be working with.

Plan to Increase Your Education

When you first get started, you will want to get used to the flow of the nursing world. From there, you want to give yourself a chance to become more education and knowledgeable about the field. If you are starting out with a bachelor’s degree, you might consider moving up to a master’s degree or a doctorate. You can click here to learn more about this path. When you achieve this level of education, you are opening up a lot more doors and helping to further your career.

Find a Mentor

Having someone in your corner who is willing to teach you and listen when you have had a bad day is one of the most valuable things a new nurse can have. You want to make sure that you can trust your mentor and that they have the right level of experience. This could be a former teacher or even one of your new colleagues who has been on the job for a long time. Just make sure to choose wisely.

Be Patient

You just got out of nursing school and received your license. You are not going to be the perfect nurse the day you start your first job. You need to be patient, especially with yourself. Do not beat yourself up if you are not perfect. Make sure that you ask for help when you need and do not be shy about asking questions or for clarification. The nurses you are going to be working with know what it is like to be new and they are always willing to help and answer questions. Know that it takes a good year or two to become comfortable in this field.

Reflect Every Day

Remember that being a new nurse is a learning experience and when you take your experiences each day and turn them into lessons, you will learn a lot more. After you get off work, reflect on your day while you make your way home. Focus on the positive, but take note of any mistakes you made or any negative interactions since you can learn from these. When you get home, you might consider jotting down the new things you learned or some things you want to reinforce your knowledge on.

Be Teachable

It has been said several times that when you are new, you have to be focused on learning. Nursing school certainly teaches you a lot, but it does not cover everything. When you are teachable, you can prevent mistakes that could have serious consequences on your career, so be open and never be afraid to question yourself.

You can see that it is not too hard to get started off right as a new nurse. Make sure that you take every opportunity possible to learn since this field is constantly evolving and something new is always happening. You can also chat with your fellow newer nurses and get some advice on how to approach your first job. This can help you to integrate and ensure that you are doing everything right to keep your employer, coworkers and patients happy.

This is a guest blog entry.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Common Causes of Balance Problems

Taking your sense of balance for granted? You might be surprised how much sensorimotor effort goes into keeping you upright when walking, standing, and sitting. Balance problems can often negatively impact mobility and increase your risk of injury from falling. The ability to control your center of mass and adapt to balance shifts is key to your longevity.

Key players in your mechanical balance and postural control include:
  • Vision - balance is actually a result of multiple inputs from your body, including the rods and cones in your eyes (sensory receptors) which convey to your brain visual cues regarding your position in space with those things around you (spatial orientation).
  • Inner ear - sensory hair cells and endolymph fluid in your inner ear canal constantly respond to horizontal and vertical motion, helping your brain detect changes in your position relative to the pull of gravity.
  • Muscles and joints - the feedback from your muscles and joints helps your brain stimulate limbs to evenly distribute your weight and keep you upright. Your skin also plays an important role in transmitting changes in the pressure or stretch over your tissues as you move.
Balance problems might include any of those which make you dizzy, unsteady, or physically unstable. If you experience a sense of spinning motion (vertigo), if you feel faint when standing or sitting, if you tip over when you stand or walk, or if you simply feel dizzy, you should see your healthcare provider about what might be causing your balance problems.

Oftentimes, balance problems can stem from:

  • Vestibular issues - the vestibular, or inner ear, system responsible for your equilibrium is composed of the utricle and saccule, which detect linear movement as well as gravity, and three semicircular canals which identify rotational movement. Issues with any of part of this apparatus can disrupt your sense of balance. Vertigo is one of the most commonly known vestibular conditions and is marked by a spinning sensation of motion in your head, especially when tilting your head up.
  • Vestibular neuritis is an inflammatory disorder which affects the nerves in your inner ear. Other vestibular conditions may include Ramsay Hunt syndrome where the shingles virus impairs the facial nerve near one of your ears, and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), where calcium crystals become dislodged and move around the inner ear.
  • Meniere's disease - this rare condition typically affects adults between the ages of 20 and 60 and can lead to sudden dizziness, hearing loss, moderate to severe vertigo, a buzzing or ringing in the ears, or a feeling of pressure in the ear. An inner ear disease which largely affects online 1 ear, the root cause of Meniere’s is not currently known, and there is not yet a cure for it though treatments to lessen the severity of symptoms exist.
  • Medicinal side effects - disequilibrium, lightheadedness, or dizziness can be side effects of certain medications including many used to treat blood pressure problems, depression and anxiety, cancer (i.e. chemotherapy), bacterial infections, and pain.
  • Neurologic conditions - some neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis can negatively affect balance. With Parkinson’s, for example, damaged and dead neurons in the brain which are unable to produce dopamine can cause the motor cortex to malfunction as well as induce a muscle rigidity which challenges a patient’s postural stability.
  • Chronic disease - other chronic conditions which affect heart and blood vessel health can cause balance problems associated with reduced blood flow, while diseases like diabetes can damage nerves in the feet and legs (peripheral neuropathy) and make balancing to stand and walk difficult.
  • Aging process - even a healthy and normal aging process may be accompanied by joint inflexibility, loss of muscle strength, reduced reaction times, and impaired vision - all factors which contribute to balance and coordination issues. Adults over 65 have a 25% chance of experiencing a fall, often from a loss of balance.
Additional sources of balance problems include head trauma, motion sickness, low blood pressure (hypotension), and some psychiatric disorders. If balance problems, dizziness, faintness, or frequent falls are proving dangerous to your mobility and health, it’s important to talk to a doctor right away.

For older adults with balance problems, simple home upgrades can help keep you safe like a bed rail, fall mat, bath step, grab bars, and stair railings. Discussing medicine side effects, especially dizziness and faintness, can play an important role in maximizing your balance capabilities too.

In the cases where an underlying condition is causing your lack of stability, even if there isn’t a “cure,” there are often treatments available to help you stay active. These might include medicine, physical therapy, or mobility supports. Customized balance retraining (also called vestibular rehabilitation) may be helpful in educating someone with balance problems on how to compensate for lack of stability and maintain physical activity.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Kick The Back Pain This Holiday Season And Visit A Chiropractor

The holidays sometimes move at a breakneck pace, requiring you to move from one engagement to another, hauling gifts and pushing around a shopping cart – in brief, it’s no time to let back pain slow you down. Here’s a quick overview of a few things that cause back pain, as well as how you can find help during the holiday season.

Most people will face an issue of back pain in the coming months, and it’s how you deal with the issue that defines how much of a role it will play in your holiday season. Seeing a professional is of the utmost importance, as a good chiropractor will help you develop the right game plan for getting rid of that winter discomfort. 

Structural Correction
A professional chiropractor specializing in structural correction can leave a lasting impact, as they don’t only treat the symptoms, but get to the heart of underlying issues in the spine’s structure. Based on recent discoveries, this advanced method of chiropractic, which Toronto’s own practices, treats the body holistically, as a synchronized unit, and therefore treats fundamental issues of structure. By correcting the structure of your spinal column, professionals encourage whole body health, allowing you to enjoy the finer things the holiday season has to offer. It's true, back pain can slow you down, but it doesn’t have to – inquire about structural correction and get to the root of the problem before it negatively affects your life.

Once the holiday season winds down, a good New Year’s resolution would be to visit a chiropractor regularly and take a proactive stance toward your back pain. Your health hangs in the balance, and only a professional chiropractor can offer the experience – and accompanying know-how – to help you get back on your feet (so to speak). Try seeking out a chiropractor that balances experience with openness to new methods and techniques, that way you reap the rewards of both experiential knowledge and progressive ideas.

A Free Consultation
Make use of a chiropractor’s free consultation (provided, of course, that they provide one), as it’s a good opportunity for you to ask questions of them, and for them to get a sense of what your issues are. Don’t be afraid to let them know where and when you normally experience discomfort, as well as what your daily routine looks like, because the more information you give them during this initial consultation, the better care they’ll be able to provide. The value alone, of speaking with an experienced chiropractor, will provide some much needed clarity and direction.

Holidays are a tough time, as the weight of stress can compound with the very real physical demands of working, spending time with family and attending events. It would be a shame to “stiff upper lip” the kind of back pain that can ruin a perfectly good holiday season. It’s far better to book a consultation with a chiropractor, one who specializes in the holistic structural correction of you spine, and start taking steps towards looking and feeling your best this year. 

This is a guest blog entry.

Fall-Related Injuries in Elderlies and How to Prevent Them

Fall-related injuries are the most common cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the reported rate of fall-related injuries and death increase rapidly with age. This is attributed to the fact that as you age, your general body functions also decline.

Since aging is true to all people regardless of gender, nationality and socio-economic status, fall-related injuries have become a global concern. Findings of a research study conducted in September 2011 proved that these injuries have great societal impact not only because they reduce the quality of life of the elderlies but also due to their high hospitalization cost.

These consequences lead to the emergence of advocacies aimed at preventing fall-related injuries in the older population. A 2013 study claims that fall-preventive programs have been shown to reduce the incidence of falls, most especially in the high-risk population.

Fall Injuries in Elderlies

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2015 report shows that unintentional falls account to a total of 3 million cases, or 63.8% of nonfatal injuries, for ages 65 and older. Reported death secondary to falls totaled to 28,000 in the same year alone.

Those are alarmingly high numbers. What could be the reason why elderlies are prone to falls?

As you age, your body’s central nervous system experiences a progressive decline. This could lead to loss of coordination, hearing and visual impairment, diminished proprioception, and reduced hand-eye coordination. Body tissues also lose mass (a process called atrophy) and may decrease in size and tone. Connective tissues become rigid and stiff.

Aside from these physiologic changes, the majority of older people tend to take maintenance medications, making them at risk of suffering from the side effects of these drugs. Warfarin, for example, increases the risk of bleeding following an injury because it serves to diminish blood clotting.

Some fall-related injuries are mild and promise full recovery. These include minor abrasions and bruises. However, severe cases like fractures, dislocations, and brain injuries could also happen. Ground level falls (GLF), although less traumatic to younger people, has been shown to result in death of elderlies according to a 2010 research.

Fall-Preventive Measures

Now that you know the facts, it’s time for you to apply certain measures to prevent falls:

1.Raising awareness - Talk to your elderly loved ones about their fear of falling. Discuss with them the factors that contribute to that fear. Doing so could give you a clue on certain areas that you might need to change such as routines and equipment.

2. Health conditions - Ask them about how they are feeling. You could start with their senses. Are they having trouble with vision or hearing? Then you can go to their medication and its side effects. Help them manage their well-being by raising these concerns to their doctor.

3. Balance exercises - Poor body coordination related to aging makes it harder for older people to do daily activities. Regular balance exercises like Tai Chi address this problem while promoting a fun and engaging activity for elderlies.

4. Hazard modification - The primary mechanisms of fall injuries in older patients are stumbling, tripping and slipping These 3 causes contribute to 30% of geriatric fall cases. Hazard modification efforts could reduce the risk of fall injuries. Some practices include:

  • Providing adequate lighting especially in hallways, stairs, bathroom and bedroom. Some elderlies might have trouble seeing the dark.
  • Installing handlebars in the bathtub and grab bars on the walls of the bathroom so that they can hold onto them for support.
  • Making sure that the stairs and balconies are secured with rails.
  • Removing clutters on the floor to prevent tripping accidents.
  • Orienting them when changes have been made in the house like rearranged and added furniture.
  • Immediately drying any spilled drink or water on the floor to prevent slipping accidents.
  • Placing fall safety mats beside the bed so that you’d be alerted when your elderly loved ones have fallen from their bed. These mats also provide some cushion to reduce the impact of the fall. Click here for more information.
  • Opting for non-slip mats all over the house. Wearing non-slip shoes and socks are also great options.
  • Choosing clothes that fit well. Clothes that have long hems and are too loose could make movement difficult for them.
Various efforts to raise public awareness regarding falls have also been initiated. In fact, National Falls Prevention Awareness Day is being celebrated every September for this very purpose.

It is unwise to dismiss the risk of falling, especially in older adults. You could work with your family members and family caregiver to provide them with comfortable life. Taking these necessary measures to prevent fall incidence could ensure that your elderly loved ones are safe and as healthy as they could be.

Do you know any other measures to avoid fall injuries? Share your comments in the comment section below.

This is a guest blog posting.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

3 Expert Medical Tips for Family Caregivers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a guest blog post.

Friday, October 20, 2017

How to Read Blood Pressure Manually

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a guest blog entry.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tips for Naturally Lowering Your Cholesterol Levels

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

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

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

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

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

Be Smart About the Fats You Eat

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

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

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

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

This is a guest blog post.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hormone Replacement Therapy for Weight Loss

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

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

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

Hormones that Contribute to Weight Gain

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

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

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

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

How Human Growth Hormone Helps Weight Loss

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

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

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

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

How Testosterone Helps Weight Loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a guest blog posting.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Is vaping harmful to health?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a guest blog post.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Essential Guide to Psoriasis

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

What is Psoriasis?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a guest blog post.