Friday, March 30, 2018

The Painful Muscle Cramp

From time to time all of us will experience an involuntarily contraction of a muscle that does not relax...also know as a muscle cramp. Muscle cramps can occur at any time for several different reasons. Some common reasons for muscle cramps are dehydration, lack or depletion of specific nutrients in the diet (calcium, magnesium or potassium), compression of a spinal nerve,  improper or inadequate stretching before exercise and certain medications. As one ages, they tend to experience muscle cramps more frequently due to the lack of muscle mass which can cause the muscles to become over-stressed more easily.
Most muscle cramps will resolve on their own but there are some instances where you may want to consult with your physician. These include
  • The cramp causes severe discomfort
  • The cramp is associated with leg swelling, redness or skin changes
  • If you are experiencing muscle weakness
  • Cramps occur frequently
  • You have no improvement with self-care
  • Cramps are not associated with an obvious cause
Several home remedies have been found to be very effective in relieving occasional muscle cramps. Start with stretching and massaging the affected muscle followed by the application of heat.
Always try to remain well hydrated, especially during exercise and warm weather.  Read more about Home Remedies for Muscle Cramps.
As always if you are under the care of a physician for a chronic medical condition or are taking medications, confer with him/her before using any of the above home remedies.


Monday, March 26, 2018

It's June....Do I Really Have the Flu

So...we're finally reaching the end of the flu season, which this year was especially brutal. Did you know that as the flu season ushers out, there is another virus that we have to be on guard for...the adenoviruses, which can be lurking year round. Adenoviruses are a group of viruses, causing several illness, which have been identified since the 1950s.  Recent reports indicate they are causing more flu like illnesses than have been previously recognized.
Though most cases of adenoviruses are usually mild and resolve themselves generally within 10 days with over-the-counter and/or natural remedies, plenty hydration and rest, they are of greater concern in individuals with existing respiratory disease or who are immune compromised.
You may wonder if I am feeling bad does it really make a difference whether I have the flu or an adenovirus. Yes, especially in the instance where one develops pneumonia or if you are immune compromised.  The treatment approach is different for the flu vs. the adenovirus.
Tamiflu which is the antiviral given for the flu is not effective for the adenovirus.  The antiviral cidofovir can be used to treat immune compromised individuals and ribavirin for those who develop an adenovirus-related pneumonia.   
As with the flu, practicing good hand washing technique is the best defense in preventing illness from the adenoviruses. To learn more about adenoviruses read "What are Adenoviruses Infection".