Monday, October 16, 2017

Paving The Way to A Healthy Weight in Children

Obesity continues to be a priority health challenge in the US which it is putting children at jeopardy for poor physical, social and emotional outcomes throughout their lifetime.  Despite recent declines in the prevalence among preschool-aged children (according to the CDC children aged 2 to 5 years decreased from 13.9% in 2003-2004 to 9.4% in 2013-2014) , obesity among school aged children (6- 19) is still too high. In that age group 1 in 5 are overweight or obese. It is a frightening reality that "today's children may live a shorter life than their parents".
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term impacts. Obese children are at higher risk of chronic health conditions (sleep apnea, joint problems, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart disease) often once only seen in the older population. Obese children are teased and bullied more than their healthier weight peers leading to social isolation, depression and low self-esteem.
The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight begins early in life. Parents must set good example of what healthy eating, hydration, exercise, stress management and daily rest & rejuvenation looks like. Parents should also seek the assistance of their children's physician for programs that focus on lifestyle behaviors that help maintain a sense of well being for the entire family. One such program is the care process model (CPM) which was created to promote proven approaches to lifestyle and weight management that can be implemented in routine primary care.
Check out "Rx to Live Well" as an example of where you as parents can begin. 
We must all learn to develop a healthy relationship with food which uses food for what it was intended for...nourishment for the body. There is a lot to be gained from the saying..."we should eat to live and not live to eat".

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hidden Danger in Your Car

The season for the family trip to mom's/grandma's house for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas is just around the corner. Before hitting the road, most seasoned drivers know it is always a smart idea to get your vehicle road ready. This often includes getting a tune-up, tire pressure check, rotation or new tires if needed, fluid level checks and topped off, and often replacement windshield wipers. But wait...there is a hidden danger that before today I never considered a risk...carbon monoxide leaks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50,000 people are hospitalized each year, and 430 die from carbon monoxide. Drivers suffering from carbon monoxide intoxication think slow and irrational, become confused and are not able to safely operate a motor vehicle. Within minutes of exposure, severe neurological damage can occur. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless by the time you feel its' effects it may be too late.
There are recommendations to help avoid vehicular carbon monoxide exposure:
  • Include periodic exhaust system checks and never operate a car with a defective exhaust system.
  • Maintain the suggested vehicle maintenance scheduling to maintain a tuned engine and emission system
  • Avoid driving your vehicle with the trunk lid or rear tailgate open.
  • Avoid driving a vehicle with holes in the car body.
  • Never allow children to ride under a topper on a pick-up truck.
  • Avoid warming the car in a garage
  • During snow storms...before starting the engine be sure the exhaust tail pipe is free of packed snow covering it
  • Consider investing in a car carbon monoxide detector designed for use in a vehicle 
Wishing you safe passage!!!!



Sunday, September 17, 2017

Maintaining Your Balance

Have you ever thought of yourself as being accident prone or a klutz. You are not alone. At some point in life we all take a tumble with the worst outcome being a bruise or sprain. But it is important to be aware, falls can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, unintentional falls cause more than 18,000 deaths and nearly 450,000 hospitalizations per year in the United States. The vast majority of these falls take place among people over the age of 65, but it is incorrect to assume younger people aren't at risk too.
Most of our everyday normal activity is achieved by having good balance. It is something we often never think about until there is a problem. The motor skills needed for good balance can be maintained or even improved with exercises which help keep the hips, knees and ankles strong. Check out "6 Simple Ways to Regain Your Balance and Prevent Falls".
 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Out With The Summer...In With The Flu

While many of us are holding on to our memories of summer's warmth as long as possible, my local pharmacist has already begun to warn us...we are on the cusp of the flu season. For many people the flu is a nuisance inconvenience, but for the young, elderly and individuals with a compromised immune system, the flu can be much more...it can be deadly. According to the CDC, in 2015 influenza and pneumonia were the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 55,200 people. So the question that struck me is "what accounts for such a high number of fatalities"? The answer...on average only 40-50% of people get the flu vaccine. The reason for this low number varies...with the prevailing reasons being...the shot does not work or getting the shot will cause you to get the flu. Until recently, I did not know the intent of the flu shot is not to prevent you from getting the flu but to help lessen the severity of the flu and associated hospitalizations and to help boost the immune system of younger people and healthy adults.
After having to be hospitalized for 7 days the year I did not get the flu shot, I am a proponent of getting it every year now. I respect everyone's right to choose what they feel is best for them and their family but all of us can begin now to do things which will help boost our immune system. To learn ways to burst your immune system...read"5 Fast Ways to Boost Your Immune System".
Because the flu virus mutates it is important to get the flu shot annually.
Keep up to date on this years flu activity on the CDC's Weekly US Map. Whether you decide to get the shot or take other measures to boost your immune system...remember thorough hand washing and practicing good health habits will help prevent and spreading the flu.
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Eye Safety During the Solar Eclipse

On August 21, 2017 many in the United States will be able to view a total solar eclipse. This for many will be a must see event. According to the Old Farmers Almanac this will be the first total solar eclipse to traverse the United States in nearly a century. If you are one of the many, you need to take steps to protect your vision to avoid permanent eye damage which could lead to total loss of sight. Take a few moments to read the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) guidelines on protecting your eyes during a solar eclipse
Beware, some of the protective glasses/viewers sold do not meet the requirements to safely protect your eyes. Make reference to the American Astronomical Society for a listing of authorized manufacturers and dealers of glasses and viewers certified as safe.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Happy Feet

Have you noticed that  within less than a mile radius from home or work it is not hard to locate a nail salon where men/women spend on average around $960 annually on a no frills pedicure.  But you have to wonder is this really enough care for one of the most important parts of your body...your feet. I am amazed just how complex the foot really is. According to Wellness Magazine, the foot contains 26 bones, 133 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles. The average wear and tear measured by the distance of a person's lifetime is about 115,000 miles. In order to maintain healthy feet, it takes more than the bi-monthly care we give them. Our feet need us to focus daily on keeping them pain free, protected from bacterial and fungus infections and well hydrated.This becomes even more important as we age.
There are several foot care practices that will not only help protect your feet but also will have some positive benefits for your overall health. You can help maintain healthy feet as you age by the use of the essential oils of eucalyptus and peppermint, tea extract topical, squalene, coconut oil, and shea butter into your daily foot care. Incorporating routine foot massage and reflexology has proven to be also extremely beneficial to not only your feet but to your well being.
Read more about the process of revitalizing your aging feet and the health benefits of foot massage.
Remember we want to have happy feet because if the feet hurt...I can personally vouch...when the feet hurt you will feel like you hurt all over. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wellness is Not An All or Nothing Journey

Striving for a healthier lifestyle can become unhealthy if it becomes an obsession. Instead of approaching the task with an open mind...for some it becomes an overwhelming drive to one's view of self perfection. It is important to remember that wellness is a lifetime journey and like any other trip we take detours and traffic jams can happen. Unlike a road trip which we can use a map or navigator to put us back on the right road, we often embark on the wellness journey without mapping out a reasonable and diverse course. For many it becomes all or nothing and we leave no room for a slip or fall.
Millennial's are putting a lot of pressure on themselves for being the leaders of  the new health craze (gluten free, all organic, juicing, vegan diets & exercise junkie) to meet their own expectations of self worth and what they feel others perceive about them. It is causing many to be emotionally stressed and often overwhelmed.
So you may ask...how does one strive to live a healthier lifestyle...for me it was taking baby steps as I focused on one area at a time. I worked on what I ate and what I drank first. I moved next to ways to removed stress from my life which in turn helped with getting more restful sleep since my mind slowed down and was not going 90mph. When I looked for ways to be more active, I choose activities which I enjoyed doing and just needed to commit to doing them on a frequent basis. To create a more environmentally friendly living space I looked for ways to eradicate caustic products in the home. By creating a step method for myself, I never feel overwhelmed. I also realized early in this game the road will be rough at times but it was OK to veer off course from time to time as long as I am willing to jump back on the course.
I'll share a good article which I see is a great template to start "9 Steps To Help Start a Lifelong Journey to Health and Wellness". However you decide to walk the path be sure to enjoy the ride.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Milk...Not The Only Game In Town

To help build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis which leads to fractures as we age, our diet should include a good source of calcium. I'm sure many know the slogan "milk does the body good" or seen the milk mustache person advertising the need for you to consume milk...a rich source of calcium...for strong bones and teeth. I hate to be the bearer of news that contradicts everything our moms have told us for years but studies are leaning towards milk not being the best source for  strengthening our bones to prevent osteoporosis in our senior years.
Several studies have found that women who consumed three or more glasses of milk a day had a higher risk of fracture and a higher risk of death. Men who drank three or more glasses of milk a day had a slightly higher risk of death -- mostly associated with cardiovascular death -- compared to those who drank less than one glass a day. And there was no reduced risk of fracture as milk consumption increased. Another thing to consider is that 65% of people are lactose intolerant so dairy causes stomach upset and sometimes chronic diarrhea.
Bone health is not only about calcium and there are definitely some lifestyle practices which  contribute to better bone health:
  • Adequate Vitamin K and D  
  • Weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercise
  • Not getting too much preformed (found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products) Vitamin A
 Read more about working to build and maintain bone health and alternate sources of calcium.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Becoming The Empowered Health Consumer

Better healthcare arises when it's consumers assume responsibility for their health and become empowered in their care . In addition to remaining current with routine and preventive health checks, the ability to help guide your practitioner throughout your relationship is vital. So what are some ways the healthcare consumers can be in partnership with their practitioner?
  1.  Know and have an understanding of what medications you take, how they should be taken (with/without food, morning/night, are there foods or other medications that interact, etc.) and why are you taking them. Be aware of possible side effects and always report them to your practitioner.
  2. If you have a chronic disease such as hypertension or diabetes, monitor and record your levels  between appointments and carry your record with you to your appointments. A health log can be a valuable tool to determine the need for medication adjustments or understand new symptoms. 
  3. Be prepared and learn helpful strategies of communication with your practitioner. As I was researching to do this post I came across the acronym OLD CARTS. This is the first step most practitioners use to help asses problems patients present with.  When you tell your practitioner you have a pain...they will ask a series of questions. When did it start (Onset), where is the pain (Location and radiation), how long does it last...is it all the time or intermittent (Duration), how bothersome is the pain...is it sharp, dull, stabbing, gnawing, achy and the intensity (Character), what makes it worst...walking, standing, sitting (Aggravating factors) what makes it better...heat/ice, rest, medication (Relieving factors), how many incidents are there say in a week (Timing) and how bad is the pain...usually gauged on the scale of 1-10 (Severity).
  4. Be prepared with notes containing concerns and questions you would like addressed.
Remember, time spent with your practitioner is limited (hopefully 15-20 minutes) so the better prepared you are the better he/she can address your need. It isn't difficult to learn to be your own advocate...it takes time and work but who knows you better than you?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Green Goodness

My parents, probably just like yours, warned me that cannabis was not good for you. In fact when I was growing up it was considered the gateway substance to "harder drug use". But think, have you ever considered that although tobacco and alcohol use often precede marijuana use, they have never been coined as gateway substances. Though there may be a correlation that an individual who has tried marijuana would be exposed to and some receptive to trying a harder substance, there is no conclusive evidence that the effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.
When cannabis use became legal in the District of Columbia, I began to do my research. Having lived years with chronic pain from degenerative arthritis and recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, my biggest fear was giving into using addicting pain medications for relief. The use of cannabis was not initially favorable either since I wanted to be functional and not stoned all day. From research I learned there was a way to consume cannabis without the undesired psychoactive effects. Using a tincture high in CBD and very low in THC relieved the chronic pain without the fuzzy head you get when you smoke it. Just recently I discovered another great way to benefit from the cannabis plant...juice it. Discover "10 Reasons Why You Need To Start Eating Raw Cannabis".
I have to interject I support learning and following the rules of safe and responsible cannabis use.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Safety During the Storm

I remember growing up while at summer camp whenever it stormed the camp director insisted all lights out, televisions off and there be minimal conversation between us. My mother's storm warnings have always been never talk on the telephone and refrain from taking baths. I have to say I really didn't believe there was danger in any of them since we were inside. I now know they both were for the most point correct. Not too sure about the one where we couldn't talk with one another.
According to The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) "over the last 20 years, the United States averaged 51 annual lightening strike fatalities placing it in the second position, just behind floods for deadly weather. In the US, between 9% and 10% of those struck die".
You can read more on the yearly lightening strike statistics at Struck By Lightening an advocacy non-profit started by a lightening strike survivor website.
In order to remain safe during thunderstorms it is important to know how to prepare and what to do  during and immediately after them. Take time to read Thunderstorm Safety to help keep you and your loved ones safety during the storm.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Grilling...The Flame Are Not The Only Hazard

There is a not so thought about hazard lurking around your grill that can cause severe injury. Many of us before we light up the grill grab that wire brush to clean off residue left from the previous grill. It is that wire brush that can be extremely hazardous if precautions are not taken. Read more about this hazard and how you can prevent injuries from wire bristles..." Wire-bristle brushes: A barbecue health hazard" 
Don't know about you but after seeing the caption picture I am finding an alternate way to clean my grill.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

They crawl up

As we begin to spend more time outdoors during the warmer months the threat of contracting a tick-borne disease increases. Personally I have already spotted two deer ticks on my clothing just from walking my dogs. Tick-borne disease pose a major health concern to the public nationally. Most of us are aware of the more common disease associated with tick bites...Lyme disease and spotted fever, but according to the Tick Encounter Resource Center, there are seventeen known tick-borne diseases of which eleven are known to infect humans.
It is important to develop a good plan to help protect yourself and your family members from the wide variety of tick-borne disease. Prevention strategies from a through body examine after being outdoors to the use of repellent sprays, tick repellent clothing or special designed leg covers
are your biggest defense against becoming infected. In addition to protecting yourself don't forget your four legged friends. Consult your vet as to the best treatment for your pet. Treatment for pets should be year round as it is possible for ticks to still be around in colder weather months.
Check out more helpful information and track ticks in your area on the website Tick Encounter Resource Center. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Six in one hand...half dozen in the other" Sunscreen &Vitamin D

Just in time as we are about to venture out to take in the spring/summer rays...studies are indicating that our use of sunscreen is contributing to the high incidence of low Vitamin D levels. According to a May, 2017 article in the Daily Mail.com..."three-quarters of the US population are deficient in the 'sunshine vitamin' including 95 percent of African Americans".
This finding definitely necessitates the need for finding a way to continuing the use of sunscreen to protect your skin exposed to sunlight and to maintain healthy Vitamin D levels. The study suggest midday walk in the sun of 5-30 minutes without sunscreen twice weekly and eating foods rich in Vitamin D may help maintain normal Vitamin D levels. The exposure time is dependent on where you live geographically and the pigmentation of your skin. Lighter skin synthesizes more Vitamin D than a darker pigmented person.
It is best to discuss your Vitamin D level with your physician who can guide you on the best solution for you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Striving for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul



Putting self first had long been viewed as being very selfish. However, you may find if you never incorporate an attitude of self care first, your efforts to achieve optimum health can never be achieved. Many seek our sense of serenity from things around them but the core of such a sense of peace is the alignment of the mind, body and soul. Explore how to incorporate 10 practices to have a healthy mind, body and soul.

Friday, March 3, 2017

More Than Screening...A Lifetime Affair

I, perhaps like many of you, received a mailing from Life Line Screening, which when read may seem like a smart preventive healthier living strategy. Who would not you want to know if they are at risk for a stroke, aneurysm or other life threatening vascular disease? They outline however that they only do the testing and if any of your test results are abnormal, you will need to see your own personal physician. The results are provided in the format of "normal", mild risk, moderate risk, significant risk or normal/abnormal. None of the test they offer are insurance covered but the seemingly low cost of the screenings and the ease of receiving your online results makes it seem like a bargain.
So, is this really something worth you investing your money in and if not why? Testing not collaborated between you and your primary care physician is not wise. If your Life Line Screening has any abnormal result, your primary care physician will need to evaluate your personal risk factors and if warranted order testing that will be covered by your insurance company. Mass screenings done by private entities can do more harm than good. To get a more en-depth perspective read  "Don't Reach for Life Script Screenings".
Preventive health focuses on taking measure to prevent disease as opposed to treating disease. Routine screenings based on risk factors, family history, and age are a facet of preventive health. However, more importantly, it is vital to establish a working relationship with a medical professional (primary care physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant) who can help evaluate, coordinate and monitor your healthcare. Striving to make healthier food choices, reduction of stress, smoking cessation, adequate sleep and exercise can help reduce your risk of disease. Together you and your practitioner can outline your wellness objectives and seek to achieve them over your lifetime.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Medical Technology Aide To Heart Health

For years I had noticed I had a fast heart rate. Because it presented no obvious problems, I just shrugged it off as just a normal thing for me. One day suddenly without warning, I experienced an event which sent me off to the emergency room. On that visit all that could be determined was my heart rate indeed was fast, my EKG was abnormal but did not pinpoint exactly any definitive pathology, blood test indicated I had not suffered a heart attack, stress test was normal, so I was released after 3 day observation. I was prescribed a medication that would help regulate my heart rate but me being me, declined taking because I just didn't believe you should take a medication without knowing what the underlying cause of the issue was.
Hidden malfunctions of the heart can be so obscure that even for the most skilled Cardiologist they can be difficult to detect. Thankfully, following a procedure to detect electrical malfunctions, my fast heart rate was corrected.
Computer technology is making great strides to assist physicians pinpoint those hard to figure out cases or problems that may go overlooked. Read more about IBM Watson imaging technology slated to help diagnose heart disease.
As we are about to close out Heart Awareness Month, take time to learn about the sign and symptoms of heart attack, listen to your body and work towards living a healthier lifestyle to prevent it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Oh My Aching Back

Some years ago I was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis of the lumbar spine. To add injury in addition to how the aging process was changing things, I had a couple of injuries to compound the problem. When I was first diagnosed, the standard treatment was heat, rest and anti-inflammatory medications. As we became a world which thrived on instant gratification, some physicians, often under pressure from their patients, began prescribing narcotics for pain relief. This practice has lead to the rising number of people addicted to opiod pharmaceuticals. Time has proven that heat was about the only good 1st line treatment being offered many patients for back pain.
Without doubt, I can attest that relief from low back pain is challenging. One of the best things for lower back pain is to strengthen your core muscles. A good physical therapy program can guide you on the best exercises for core strengthening. Meditation, yoga,Thai chi, massage and acupuncture have proven to be great alternative modalities in achieving pain relief.
Take a little time and explore further "six overlooked remedies for lower back pain relief" and remember...though in the beginning it may be a challenge...for better back health...keep it moving.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Can You Hear What I Hear


When it comes to the loss of hearing there is more to consider than just the inability to converse with others or doing things you enjoy, such as watching television or going to a movie. Recent studies are showing hearing loss not only impacts your social welfare but can have some serious impact on your health. The loss of hearing can be correlated with depression, dementia, and difficulty ambulating, leading to falls. Knowing the loss of hearing has hidden risk factors makes it important to consider when you should begin testing. 
There is a misconception that hearing loss is only prevalent in "older" people or there is no need to have your hearing tested unless it is apparent that your capacity to hear has diminished. Hearing loss is subtle making it very difficult to detect in the earlier stages without being accessed by a board certified Audiologist.
The Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals recommend hearing test begin as early as age 18, regardless of noticeable hearing loss. Testing should be done every five years until age 45 when testing intervals become every three years until age 60. After age 60 it becomes necessary to increase testing to every two years. If a parent suspects their child has some degree of hearing loss, always speak with your pediatrician for their recommendation.
Unfortunately the cost of hearing aids, which can be anywhere from $1500 to $3000 or more per ear, is usually not covered by medical insurance making this an investment that many people cannot afford. Don't let this fact prevent you from exploring sources for insurance and financial  assistance that may be available to help cover the cost.
Hearing loss has several causes which can range from the correctable as wax build up in the ears to the more serious as the ruptured ear drum. We can do nothing to change father times impact on our hearing but each on of us can make changes to environmental factors that over time lead to noise induced hearing loss. So...the next time you put those headphones on...turn it down a notch.

Monday, February 13, 2017