Thursday, April 27

Health Care and Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine's lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption). The intestinal damage often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia, and can lead to serious complications, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In children, malabsorption can affect growth and development, in addition to the symptoms seen in adults. There's no cure for celiac disease — but for most people, following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing. Because people with celiac disease must avoid gluten — a protein found in foods containing wheat, barley and rye — it can be challenging to get enough grains. More information about this medical issue is located at this website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/home/ovc-20214625.

Celiac disease cannot be "caught," but rather the potential for celiac disease is in the body from birth. Its onset is not confined to a particular age range or gender, although more women are diagnosed than men, according to the Celiac Support Association. It is not known exactly what activates the disease, however three things are required for a person to develop celiac disease:

·         A genetic disposition:being born with the necessary genes. The Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) genes specifically linked to celiac disease are DR3, DQ2 and DQ8...and others.
·         An external trigger: some environmental, emotional or physical event in one’s life. While triggering factors are not fully understood, possibilities include, but are not limited to adding solids to a baby’s diet, going through puberty, enduring a surgery or pregnancy, experiencing a stressful situation, catching a virus, increasing WBRO products in the diet, or developing a bacterial infection to which the immune system responds inappropriately.
·         A diet: containing gluten and related prolamins.
·         Auto-antigen enzyme, tissue transglutaminase (TG2) also TG4 and TG6.
·         Production of proinflammatory cytokines, especially interferon (IFN-γ).

The damage to the small intestine is very slow to develop and is insidious. For more information, visit this website:  https://www.csaceliacs.org/celiac_disease_defined.jsp.

According to this health website: https://familydoctor.org/condition/celiac-disease/, celiac disease can cause a wide range of symptoms, symptoms that change, or sometimes no symptoms at all. Symptoms of celiac disease may include:

·         Infants and young children who have celiac disease are more likely to have digestive symptoms, such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea (even bloody diarrhea) and constipation, and may fail to grow and gain weight. A child may also be irritable, fretful, emotionally withdrawn, or excessively dependent. If the child becomes malnourished, he or she may have a large tummy, thin thigh muscles, and flat buttocks. Many children who have celiac disease are overweight or obese.
·         Teenagers may have digestive symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation. They may hit puberty late and be short. Celiac disease might cause some hair loss (a condition called alopecia areata) or dental problems.
·         Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms. Instead, they might have a general feeling of poor health, including fatigue, bone or joint pain, irritability, anxiety and depression, and missed menstrual periods in women. Some adults may have digestive symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation.
·         Osteoporosis (loss of calcium from the bones) and anemia are common in adults who have celiac disease. A symptom of osteoporosis may be nighttime bone pain.
·         Lactose intolerance (a problem digesting milk products) is common in patients of all ages who have celiac disease.
·         Dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy, blistery skin problem) and canker sores in the mouth are also common problems in people who have celiac disease.

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems, as reported by the Celiac Disease Foundation, such as these healthcare issues:

·         Iron deficiency anemia
·         Early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia
·         Infertility and miscarriage
·         Lactose intolerance
·         Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
·         Central and peripheral nervous system disorders, including ataxia, epileptic seizures, dementia, migraine, neuropathy, myopathy and multifocal leucoencephalopathy
·         Pancreatic insufficiency
·         Gall bladder malfunction

Celiac disease is associated with a number of autoimmune disorders and other conditions, with the most common being thyroid disease and Type 1 Diabetes. More details are available at this site: https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/what-is-celiac-disease/.

According to this advocacy website, https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/, there are more than 300 symptoms of celiac disease, and symptoms can be different from person to person. If you have symptoms of celiac disease, especially ones that last a long time, you should ask your doctor for a celiac disease blood test. Left untreated, people with celiac disease are at-risk for serious health consequences, like other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and even certain cancers.

According to the National Institutes for Health, foods such as meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, rice, and potatoes without additives or seasonings do not contain gluten and are part of a well-balanced diet. You can eat gluten-free types of bread, pasta, and other foods that are now easier to find in stores, restaurants, and at special food companies. You also can eat potato, rice, soy, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, or bean flour instead of wheat flour.

In the past, doctors and dietitians advised against eating oats if you have celiac disease. Evidence suggests that most people with the disease can safely eat moderate amounts of oats, as long as they did not come in contact with wheat gluten during processing. You should talk with your health care team about whether to include oats in your diet.

When shopping and eating out, remember to:
·         Read food labels —especially on canned, frozen, and processed foods—for ingredients that contain gluten.
·         Identify foods labelled “gluten-free;” by law, these foods must contain less than 20 parts per million, well below the threshold to cause problems in the great majority of patients with celiac disease.
·         Ask restaurant servers and chefs about how they prepare the food and what is in it
·         Find out whether a gluten-free menu is available.
·         Ask a dinner or party host about gluten-free options before attending a social gathering.

Foods labeled gluten-free tend to cost more than the same foods that have gluten. You may find that naturally gluten-free foods are less expensive. With practice, looking for gluten can become second nature. If you have just been diagnosed with celiac disease, you and your family members may find support groups helpful as you adjust to a new approach to eating. A significant amount of additional support material is found at this website:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024528/.

According to Today, could a normally harmless virus cause a sensitivity to gluten? A new study has found that a certain type of virus could trigger a person’s immune system to overreact to gluten, leading to celiac disease. The findings, published this month in Science, provide an explanation for why certain people develop celiac disease.

People with celiac disease had more antibodies to reoviruses in their blood compared to healthy individuals. Furthermore, these people with more antibodies were found to have more of the celiac disease inflammation. Whether a person was infected with reoviruses at some point in the past could explain why they develop celiac at a certain age or had worse symptoms compared to others who were not infected. More information about this research is found here: http://www.today.com/health/celiac-disease-may-be-caused-virus-new-study-finds-t110119.

Regardless of your sensitivity to gluten, you should take preventive measures to ensure you have all the answers about celiac disease. You may suffer from it and not even know you have it. See your family doctor or a health care specialist if you have questions or may be experiencing some of the symptoms. Celiac disease has definite consequences to your health. Don’t take chances.

Until next time.
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Friday, March 31

Health Care and Body Piercings

The popularity of getting various body parts pierced has been growing over the past few years, but the concept is as old as humanity itself going back to ancient times. Ever since mankind figured out that it could poke a hole through some physical part of the body, piercings have been seen as a statement of individuality and fashion.

People from many different cultures have pierced their bodies for centuries. If you look in a history book, you will find that Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans decorated their bodies with piercings and tattoos. Many pierced their bodies to show their importance in a group, or because they thought it protected them from evil. Today, we know much more about the risks of body piercing. Body piercing is a serious decision. Before you decide to get a piercing, ask your parents, trusted adults, and friends what they think. More information is available at this site: http://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/08/07/body-piercing/.

In recent modern times the art of body piercing has grown to include more and more unique piercing placements and designs. There are now dozens of piercing styles used on the face, chest, back and other parts of the body. This website shows the various types of body piercings and how to manage and care for them: http://www.almostfamouspiercing.com/body-piercings/.

According to KidsHealth, a body piercing is exactly that — a piercing or puncture made in your body by a needle. After that, a piece of jewelry is inserted into the puncture. The most popular pierced body parts seem to be the ears, the nostrils, and the belly button. Other areas of the body can be pierced but may only be for adults and not children or teens.

If the person performing the piercing provides a safe, clean, and professional environment, this is what you should expect from getting a body part pierced:

·         The area you've chosen to be pierced (except for the tongue) is cleaned with a germicidal soap (a soap that kills disease-causing bacteria and microorganisms).
·         Your skin is then punctured with a very sharp, clean needle.
·         The piece of jewelry, which has already been sterilized, is attached to the area.
·         The person performing the piercing disposes of the needle in a special container so that there is no risk of the needle or blood touching someone else.
·         The pierced area is cleaned.
·         The person performing the piercing checks and adjusts the jewelry.
·         The person performing the piercing gives you instructions on how to make sure your new piercing heals correctly and what to do if there is a problem.

More details on this topic are found at this site: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/body-piercing-safe.html.

The piercing disrupts the protective barrier that normally prevents bacteria from entering, according to US News & World Report, and in the worst-case scenario, a staph infection on the skin or inside the nose develops. People who have had major surgery, diabetes or HIV are at a higher risk of infection. Plus, people who have undergone nose surgery should wait at least six months before considering a nose piercing, while those prone to sinus infections should probably not do it at all.

The body treats jewelry in the body like a foreign object, so a little bit of swelling, numbness, redness or tenderness is common. To stave off a potential infection, piercers recommend you clean the piercing site with warm salt water as well as an antimicrobial soap. You should also maintain a hygienic environment, so use paper products to pat dry your piercing as opposed to towels, which harbor bacteria. For the same reason, you should change your bedding regularly and wear clean clothes.

Also, keep yourself healthy. Even though your piercing might seem as harmless as a splinter, it’s a permanent fixture your body is taking in, so you should boost your immune system by eating a good diet and getting plenty of rest – especially during the first few months following your piercing. If an infection does develop, you can most likely use a topical antibiotic to treat it. More details on this subject are located at this site: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2014/10/28/how-to-care-for-body-piercings.

Additionally, according to the AAFP, American Association of Family Physicians, the trend of body piercing at sites other than the earlobe has grown in popularity in the past decade. The tongue, lips, nose, eyebrows, nipples, navel, and genitals may be pierced. Complications of body piercing include local and systemic infections, poor cosmesis, and foreign body rejection. Swelling and tooth fracture are common problems after tongue piercing.

Minor infections, allergic contact dermatitis, keloid formation, and traumatic tearing may occur after piercing of the earlobe. “High” ear piercing through the ear cartilage is associated with more serious infections and disfigurement. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are advised for treatment of auricular perichondritis because of their antipseudomonal activity. Many complications from piercing are body-site–specific or related to the piercing technique used.

Navel, nipple, and genital piercings often have prolonged healing times. Family physicians should be prepared to address complications of body piercing and provide accurate information to patients. More information on the hazards of body piercings is located here: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1115/p2029.html.

There are also location-specific risks with body piercings, according to HealthLine. A tongue piercing can cause damage to your teeth and cause you to have difficulty speaking. Additionally, if your tongue swells after getting the piercing, swelling can block your airway making it harder to breathe. A genital piercing can cause painful sex and urination. The risk of complications is higher if you have other medical conditions like:

·         Diabetes.
·         Allergies, especially if you’ve ever had a reaction that caused breaking out in red bumps, swelling of the throat, or difficulty breathing.
·         Skin disorders, such as eczema or psoriasis.
·         A weak immune system.

Talk to a doctor before getting a piercing if you suffer from any these conditions. More details on this subject can be seen at this site: http://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care-tattoos-piercings#healthrisks2.

Making a decision about the location of the piercing on the body, according to the California State University Long Beach, should be based on the following questions to ask yourself:

·         Why am I doing this?
·         What does it mean to me?
·         How will I feel if people see my piercing?
·         How long am I willing to wait for it to heal? Healing times vary depending on the body location.
·         How much am I willing to spend on a quality piercing? Remember that good piercings are not cheap and cheap piercings are not good!

So if you still want to get a piercing, you have to make some important choices. First, choose your piercer carefully by getting recommendations from friends and other people you trust. Look at the piercers portfolios and watch them work. Meet with the piercer before you decide to find out if you like their work, their personality, price and professionalism. Find out if the piercer has been properly trained and uses hygienic procedures. A piercer should NEVER use a gun for piercing!

Here are some questions to ask the piercer before making the decision:
·         Does the piercer wear gloves?
·         Does the piercer use sterile, non-disposable equipment?
·         Does the piercer remove needles from the packaging in front of the client?
·         Does the piercer sterilize the station between clients?
·         Are they recognized by the Association for Professional Piercers (APP)?
·         Do they have a permit from the local Health Department to operate?

The APP is the industry standard for piercers. They set the standards for piercing studios and abide by all cleanliness guidelines and federal regulations. If the salon has an APP license, then you can have a greater level of confidence about hygienic practices.. However, it is important to note that the APP license expires. You should also look to see if the studio has a permit from the public health department. A significant amount of additional information about body piercing that you should strongly consider is available at this website: http://web.csulb.edu/divisions/students/hrc/health_topics/BodyPiercing.htm.

Body piercings, although considered by many to be fashionable or personal taste, can have associated risks beyond the nature of the piercing itself, and your health care could be put at risk if there are complications. Before you take the plunge to poke a hole in anything that really doesn’t need it, familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of body piercing. Talk with your doctor if you have any particular physical or medical issues that may be compromised if you get this procedure done anywhere on your body. It’s always safe to be prepared and knowledgeable.

Until next time.
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Wednesday, March 29

Health Care and Pregnancy Massage

A growing trend in pre-natal care is pregnancy massage. Massage therapy during pregnancy is a wonderful complementary choice for prenatal care, according to Massage Envy. It is a healthy way to reduce stress and promote overall wellness. Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and edema (or swelling).

In addition, massage for pregnant women reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, encourages blood and lymph circulation, helps to relax nervous tension -- which aids in better sleep -- and can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes. More information is available at this site: https://www.massageenvy.com/massage/massage-types/prenatal-massage/ .

If you’re visiting or living in the UK, here’s a website that can direct you to a local massage therapist for this type of care:  http://www.bodyworkmassage.co.uk/ .

According to Massage Envy, massage therapy during pregnancy is a wonderful complementary choice for prenatal care. It is a healthy way to reduce stress and promote overall wellness. Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and edema (or swelling). In addition, it can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes.

While a massage can't promise that your newborn will sleep through the night, it can provide you with a better night's sleep both during pregnancy and afterwards. Regular massage therapy not only helps diminish anxiety and discomfort but boosts relaxation as well. This ultimately can lead to improved sleep patterns. In addition, the serotonin, endorphins and dopamine released by your body in response to massage provide an extra helping of those natural chemicals. More details on this subject are located at this site: https://www.massageenvy.com/massage/massage-types/prenatal-massage/.

According to the American Pregnancy Association,  massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. Many women have experienced a significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through massage. Although most massage training institutions teach massage therapy for women who are pregnant, it is best to find a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage. The APA works with some massage therapists who are trained to work with pregnant women, but it is still important to ask about qualifications.

As with any therapeutic approach to pregnancy wellness, women should discuss massage with their prenatal care provider. The best way to address the risks of prenatal massage is to be informed and to work together with knowledgeable professionals, as noted by the APA.Many professionals consider the best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying.

Tables that provide a hole in which the uterus can fit may not be reliable and can still apply pressure to the abdomen, or allow the abdomen to dangle, causing uncomfortable stretching of the uterine ligaments. Consult your massage therapist before your first appointment to verify what position they place their clients in during the massage. Additional info on pregnancy massage is available at this website: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/prenatal-massage/.

During pregnancy, there are several physiological and endocrinological changes that occur in preparation for creating the environment for the developing baby, according to chiropractors who specialize in this type of therapy. The following changes could result in a misaligned spine or joint:

·         Protruding abdomen and increased back curve
·         Increased weight
·         Pelvic changes
·         Postural adaptations, including ligament relaxation due to the increased production of relaxin(a hormone produced during pregnancy which causes the pregnant woman's body to increase its elasticity preparatory for birth)

Establishing pelvic balance and alignment is another reason to obtain chiropractic care during pregnancy. When the pelvis is misaligned it may reduce the amount of room available for the developing baby. This restriction is called intrauterine constraint. A misaligned pelvis may also make it difficult for the baby to get into the best possible position for delivery. The nervous system is the master communication system to all the body systems including the reproductive system. Keeping the spine aligned helps the entire body work more effectively. More information is located at this site: http://www.northtexasspinalhealth.com/pregnancy---prenatal-care.html.

A trained prenatal massage therapist knows where a pregnant woman's sore spots are likely to be and may be able to provide some relief. (She'll also know which areas and techniques to avoid.) Still, it's important to communicate with her and tell her where you need attention. Let her know right away if anything during the massage – including your positioning – is causing you any discomfort.  More material on pregnancy massage can be found at this site: https://www.babycenter.com/0_prenatal-massage-help-for-your-pregnancy-aches-and-pains_11931.bc.

According to this site by What to Expect, http://www.whattoexpect.com/prenatal-massage.aspx,  massage is a generally benign treatment. Still, some massage therapists are leery about giving therapeutic massages during the critical first trimester. In addition, there are pregnancy complications that can make massage somewhat risky. Check with your practitioner before receiving a prenatal massage if you have diabetes, have morning sickness or are vomiting regularly, have been diagnosed with preeclampsia or high blood pressure, have a fever or a contagious virus, or have abdominal pain or bleeding.

If you are in the second half of your pregnancy, don't lie on your back during your massage; the weight of your baby and uterus can reduce circulation to your placenta and create more problems than any massage can cure. The good news is that prenatal massage has become so popular that many therapists and spas provide specialized services just for moms-to-be (always tell your therapist you're pregnant). Plus, there are prenatal massage tables and pillows that can make the experience safer and more comfortable.

Although there aren’t any unusual physical demands for working with pregnant women, working with women during the labor process can be very physically demanding, according to the American Massage Therapy Association. This website is primarily geared toward information for the practitioner who may be considering or is already offering pre-natal massage therapy to pregnant women: https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/2419.

If you are pregnant and thinking about getting massage to help with some of the physical and emotional demands you have during your pregnancy, this therapy may be for you. Always consult your doctor or medical professional before proceeding with massage therapy, and always let your therapist know about your situation in every aspect of your health. In cases where the risk may be greater, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Seek medical attention immediately if any problems occur. Safety for you and your baby is always the best course of action.


Until next time. 
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Wednesday, March 8

Health Care and Java

How do you feel about coffee--that java that makes you jump, that black elixir of silky goodness, the cuppa joe for the morning wakeup call? Well, believe it or not, adding coffee to your daily diet can help with your health. If you already drink it, you’ll be glad to know that in addition to providing a boost to get you going, and the taste that may make you happy, coffee has some remarkable powers to help your body and brain.

According to this website, http://coffeeandhealth.org/ , a new study examined the relationships between coffee (total, caffeinated or decaffeinated) and tea consumption and risk of melanoma in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). EPIC is a multi-centre prospective study that enrolled over 500,000 participants aged 25-70 years from ten European countries in 1992-2000.

Consumption of caffeinated coffee was inversely (i.e. favorably) associated with melanoma risk among versus non-consumers, but not among women. There were no statistically significant associations between consumption of decaffeinated coffee or tea and the risk of melanoma among both men and women. The authors suggest further investigations are warranted to confirm their findings and clarify the possible role of caffeine and other coffee compounds in reducing the risk of melanoma.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, more than half of American adults drink coffee every day. Recent scientific studies suggest moderate consumption may help reduce some disease risks. These studies are observational, meaning that researchers draw conclusions based on differences between the number of disease cases in coffee drinkers versus non-drinkers. More information is located at this site: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/multimedia-article/benefits/.

Not only is this information good news, but this article by blogger Jenn Miller shows that there are many health care pluses for coffee consumption:  https://www.jenreviews.com/coffee/.

You may wonder when you see various reports over the past few years about the efficacy of drinking coffee and its health affects on you. The verdict is thumbs up, according to CNN, with study after study extolling the merits of three to five cups of black coffee a day in reducing risk for everything from melanoma to heart disease, multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, liver disease, prostate cancer, Alzheimer's, computer-related back pain and more.

To stay completely healthy with your coffee consumption, you'll want to avoid packing it with calorie laden creams, sugars and flavors, per the CNN article. And be aware that a cup of coffee in these studies is only 8 ounces; the standard "grande" cup at the coffee shop is double that at 16 ounces.  And how you brew it has health consequences. Unlike filter coffee makers, the French press, Turkish coffee or the boiled coffee popular in Scandinavian countries fail to catch a compound called cafestol in the oily part of coffee that can increase your bad cholesterol or LDL.

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Finally, people with sleep issues or uncontrolled diabetes should check with a doctor before adding caffeine to their diets, as should pregnant women, as there is some concern about caffeine's effect on fetal growth and miscarriage. And some of the latest research seems to say that our genes may be responsible for how we react to coffee, explaining why some of us need several cups to get a boost while others get the jitters on only one. For much more detailed information on this subject, visit this website: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/14/health/coffee-health/.

Caffeine, the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, is the best known ingredient of coffee, according to Warrior Coffee. Its beneficial effects on the human body have been researched quite well, but coffee as a whole is a complex beverage with a thousand different substances. Some studies argue that decaf and caffeinated coffee may have the same health effects and suggest that it’s not the caffeine that is responsible for most of coffee's health benefits. This company has put together a list of  Pro’s and Con’s about coffee drinking and is well worth reading to give you both sides of the story: https://www.warriorcoffee.com/news/2/12-health-benefits-and-6-disadvantages-of-coffee-smashing-it.

For those on the healthy side of coffee consumption, this website, https://www.healthambition.com/negative-effects-of-coffee/, has some negative aspects listed about this liquid: In small, occasional cups there is possibly a case to be made for some benefits to coffee. If it’s fresh, high-quality and ideally organic (regular coffee is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world) then a raft of studies have shown that it can improve alertness and long term it may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, gallstones, kidney stones and liver cirrhosis for heavy drinkers.

Conversely, in the longer term it has been associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Good-quality ground coffee is a source of antioxidants like chlorogenic acid that may help with weight loss and Green Coffee Bean Extract, particularly high in this antioxidant, are the latest popular supplement for body fat reduction. While there is evidence one way and another about drinking coffee, a case can be made for either side of the java wars.

Is coffee associated with the risk of death from all causes? According to a report in the New York Times, there have been two meta-analyses published within the last year or so. The first reviewed 20 studies, including almost a million people, and the second included 17 studies containing more than a million people. Both found that drinking coffee was associated with a significantly reduced chance of death. There’s possibly no other product that has this much positive epidemiologic evidence going for it. For more details on this product, read this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/upshot/more-consensus-on-coffees-benefits-than-you-might-think.html?_r=0.

But, you need to be careful about how you drink your coffee. According to the Atlantic Monthly magazine a few years ago, there were no major differences in risk reduction between regular and decaf coffee suggests there's something in it, aside from its caffeine content, that could be contributing to these observed benefits. It also demonstrates that caffeine was in no way mitigating coffee's therapeutic effects.

Of course, what you choose to add to coffee can just as easily negate the benefits -- various sugar-sweetened beverages were all significantly associated with an increased risk of diabetes. A learned taste for cream and sugar (made all the more enticing when they're designed to smell like seasonal celebrations) is likely one of the reasons why we associate coffee more with decadence than prudence. More details are available at this site: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/11/the-case-for-drinking-as-much-coffee-as-you-like/265693/

So, should you drink that little black cup of java that so eagerly calls your name every day, or give it up for what may be considered healthier beverages like water, fruit juices, or other non-caffeinated types of liquid? That is a personal choice, and one that needs to be evaluated by you and your family doctor if you have mitigating health circumstances.


Until next time.  
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Tuesday, February 28

Health Care and Marfan Syndrome

One of the more exotic diseases known in the medical community is called Marfan Syndrome -- a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. Connective tissue holds all the body’s cells, organs and tissue together. It also plays an important role in helping the body properly grow and develop.

Because connective tissue is found throughout the body, Marfan syndrome can affect many different parts of the body, as well. According to the Marfan Foundation, features of the disorder are most often found in the heart, blood vessels, bones, joints, and eyes. Some Marfan features – for example, aortic enlargement (expansion of the main blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body) – can be life-threatening. The lungs, skin and nervous system may also be affected. Marfan syndrome does not affect intelligence.

About 1 in 5,000 people have Marfan syndrome, including men and women of all races and ethnic groups. About 3 out of 4 people with Marfan syndrome inherit it, meaning they get the genetic mutation from a parent who has it. But some people with Marfan syndrome are the first in their family to have it; when this happens it is called a spontaneous mutation. There is a 50 percent chance that a person with Marfan syndrome will pass along the genetic mutation each time they have a child. Much more detailed information is found at this site: https://www.marfan.org/about/marfan.

According to the National Institutes for  Health (NIH), individuals with Marfan syndrome are usually tall and slender, have elongated fingers and toes (arachnodactyly), and have an arm span that exceeds their body height. Other common features include a long and narrow face, crowded teeth, an abnormal curvature of the spine (Scoliosis or Kyphosis), and either a sunken chest (pectus excavatum) or a protruding chest (pectus carinatum). Some individuals develop an abnormal accumulation of air in the chest cavity that can result in the collapse of a lung (spontaneous pneumothorax).

A membrane called the dura, which surrounds the brain and spinal cord, can be abnormally enlarged (dural ectasia) in people with Marfan syndrome. Dural ectasia can cause pain in the back, abdomen, legs, or head. Most individuals with Marfan syndrome have some degree of nearsightedness (myopia). Clouding of the lens (cataract) may occur in mid-adulthood, and increased pressure within the eye (glaucoma) occurs more frequently in people with Marfan syndrome than in those without the condition.

The features of Marfan syndromecan become apparent anytime between infancy and adulthood. Depending on the onset and severity of signs and symptoms, Marfan can be fatal early in life; however, the majority of affected individuals survive into mid- to late adulthood. More information on this health care issue is located at this website: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/marfan-syndrome.

Another related NIH site that has more detailed clinical data is located here: https://www.genome.gov/19519224/learning-about-marfan-syndrome/.

According to KidsHealth, several different types of doctors may be involved in diagnosing and caring for someone with Marfan syndrome. They include a geneticist (a doctor who specializes in disorders of the genes), a cardiologist (heart doctor), an ophthalmologist (eye doctor), and an orthopedist(bone doctor).

Symptoms of Marfan syndrome may be apparent when a child is very young, while some people don't have noticeable symptoms until their teen years or even adulthood. But some people go through life never knowing they have the disease, and that can be dangerous. Getting diagnosed early means doctors can do a lot to help keep someone healthy.

Teens with Marfan syndrome must be followed closely by a team of doctors. Because teens' bodies grow and change so quickly, most teens will need echocardiograms at least once a year, plus frequent eye and bone exams. This helps doctors stay on top of any new problems. Many of the complications of Marfan syndrome can be managed with medications and, if necessary, surgery.

Doctors may prescribe special medicines called beta blockers and ARBs (angiotensin-receptor blockers), which work to lower blood pressure and reduce wear and tear on the blood vessels. This can often delay the progression of aortic dilation. If the aorta does eventually widen to a potentially dangerous size, or if valve leakage becomes a problem, a doctor may recommend surgery to repair or replace the damaged parts of the heart.

Marfan syndrome affects people differently, so life is not the same for all teens who have it. Some have severe cases of Marfan syndrome and many symptoms that require lots of medical care. Others have such a mild form that they simply need to have a checkup once a year. There are lots of things people with Marfan syndrome can do to help keep themselves healthy. The most important is to avoid putting extra stress on the heart.

That means avoiding any sport where there's a lot of running, physical contact, muscle straining, or the chance of getting hit in the chest — things like basketball, football, baseball, gymnastics, weightlifting, and track. One thing people who have Marfan syndrome should never do is smoke or use tobacco products. More information is available at this website: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/marfan.html.

According to the March of Dimes, here’s what you need to know about Marfan syndrome:
·         Marfan syndrome usually is inherited. This means it’s passed from parents to children through genes.
·         If you or a family member has Marfan syndrome, talk to a genetic counselor to learn about the chances of your baby having it.
·         People with Marfan syndrome can have a range of health problems and may need special medical care.
·         With the right treatment, people with Marfan syndrome can live as long as people without the condition.

Marfan syndrome is a birth defect. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works. More details are located at this website: http://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/marfan-syndrome.aspx.

Marfan syndrome should be diagnosed as early as possible if you suspect that your child may be symptomatic, especially if one parent is already suffering from this disease. Early diagnosis is key to preventing a serious medical situation later in the child’s physical development. Consult your doctor or a medical professional if you feel that testing should be done.


Until next time.
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Thursday, February 16

Health Care and Fleas

Sometimes a dog just has to scratch. But people shouldn’t be doing the same, especially if your dog has fleas, or if your home all of a sudden has an infestation of those pesky little bugs. They seem to be everywhere once they show up, and it feels like they multiply like…. Well, like fleas!

Fleas are small flightless insects that form the order Siphonaptera. As external parasites of mammals and birds, they live by consuming the blood of their hosts. Adults are up to about 3 mm long and usually brown. Covered with microscopic hair and are compressed to allow for easy movement through animal fur.

According to Orkin, the pest control company, adult fleas are parasites that draw blood from a host. Larvae feed on organic debris, particularly the feces of adult fleas, which contain undigested blood. Fleas commonly prefer to feed on hairy animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice and other domesticated or wild animals. Fleas do not have wings, although they are capable of jumping long distances. Eggs are not attached to the host. Eggs will hatch on the ground, in rugs, carpet, bedding, upholstery or cracks in the floor. Most hatch within two days.

Fleas depend on a blood meal from a host to survive, so most fleas are introduced into the home via pets or other mammal hosts. Orkin reports that on some occasions, fleas may become an inside problem when the host they previously fed on is no longer around. Then fleas focus their feeding activity on other hosts that reside inside the home. An example of such a situation is when a mouse inside the home is trapped and removed, the fleas that previously fed on the mouse are then forced to feed on pets or people. Much more detail on this issue can be found at this site: http://www.orkin.com/other/fleas/.

According to this website, https://www.doyourownpestcontrol.com/fleas.htm, most of the time, fleas prefer nonhuman source for feeding, but if infestations are heavy, or when other hosts are not available, fleas will feed on humans. Fleas usually require warm and humid conditions to develop. A flea can jump 7 to 8 inches vertically and 14 to 16 inches horizontally with their long and powerful legs. A skin reaction to a flea bite appears as a slightly raised and red itchy spot. Sometimes these sores bleed.

Due to the flea life cycle (complete metamorphosis) and feeding habits, many people don't realize they have a flea problem until they are away from their house for an extended period. The flea problem is discovered, because the fleas get hungry while the hosts (you and your pets) are away. When you return, they become highly active because they are looking for food.

People tend to think putting the pet outside will solve the flea problem, but that typically makes the fleas turn to human hosts instead. There are several types of fleas, but the most common is the cat flea, which also feeds on dogs and humans. Fleas are attracted to body heat, movement, and exhaled carbon dioxide. The best time to start a flea control program is in the late spring, prior to an infestation, since adult fleas comprise only 5% of the total flea population. To contain an active flea infestation, fleas must be controlled at every stage.

When pet owners are asked what they dread most about the summer months, the topic that invariably comes up most is fleas! Fleas on dogs and cats! These small dark brown insects prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees and humidity levels of 75-85 percent -- so for some areas of the country they are more than just a "summer" problem.

How do you know if fleas are causing all that itching – formally known as pruritus? Generally, unlike the burrowing, microscopic Demodex or Scabies Mites, fleas can be seen scurrying along the surface of the skin. Dark copper colored and about the size of the head of a pin, fleas dislike light so looking for them within furry areas and on the pet's belly and inner thighs will provide your best chances of spotting them. A lot of additional information about fleas and how to treat them is found at this website: http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_fleas_on_dogs_and_what_you_can_do_about_them.

Fleas are tiny, irritating insects, according to HealthLine. Their bites are itchy and sometimes painful, and getting rid of them is hard. Sometimes professional pest control treatment may be required. Fleas reproduce quickly, especially if you have pets in the household. But even if you don’t have pets, your yard can potentially play host to fleas, and you may end up with a bunch of mysterious bites. For more details, visit this website: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/flea-bites.

According to the University of Kentucky School of Entomology, if you neglect to treat the pet's environment (the premises), you will miss more than 90% of the developing flea population -- the eggs, larvae and pupae. If the pet spends time indoors, the interior of the home should also be treated. Before treatment, the pet owner should:

·         Remove all toys, clothing, and stored items from floors, under beds, and in closets. This step is essential so that all areas will be accessible for treatment.
·         Remove pet food and water dishes, cover fish tanks, and disconnect their aerators.
·         Wash, dry-clean or destroy all pet bedding.
·         Vacuum! -- vacuuming removes many of the eggs, larvae and pupae developing within the home. Vacuuming also stimulates pre-adult fleas to emerge sooner from their insecticide-resistant cocoons, thus hastening their contact with insecticide residues in the carpet. By raising the nap of the carpet, vacuuming improves the insecticide's penetration down to the base of the carpet fibers where the developing fleas live. Vacuum thoroughly, especially in areas where pets rest or sleep. Don't forget to vacuum along edges of rooms and beneath furniture, cushions, beds, and throw rugs. After vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag in a garbage bag and discard it in an outdoor trash container. 

It is important that the pet be treated in conjunction with the premises, preferably on the same day. Adult fleas spend virtually their entire life on the animal -- not in the carpet. Untreated pets will continue to be bothered by fleas. They may also transport fleas in from outdoors, eventually overcoming the effectiveness of the insecticide applied inside the home. Much more detailed info on this subject is located here: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef602.

Both indoor and outdoor areas can be sprayed with insecticides to eliminate fleas, if necessary. According to this website, http://www.petsandparasites.org/dog-owners/fleas/, treatment of your home or yard is best performed by a trained pest control expert. Consult with your veterinarian as to which flea products will break the flea life cycle in the environment. Most flea problems can be managed by treating and preventing fleas on your pet. It is important to keep in mind that flea problems may be different from pet to pet or between households, and each problem may require a special method of control.

See your veterinarian for advice on your specific situation. Your veterinarian can recommend safe and effective products for controlling fleas and can determine exactly what you need. Your veterinarian can also determine whether you should consult with a pest control specialist about treating your home and yard.

There are both chemical and natural ways to treat fleas, and for those who are more inclined to treat flea infestation naturally, fleas in the home can be easily and effectively eradicated without the use of poisons. The age-old scourge of fleas, usually associated with pet dogs or cats, can affect any home. And while chemical-based flea treatments can be effective, they may pose health hazards to occupants as well as pets. Natural and non-toxic flea control methods, such as Diatomaceous Earth, and electric flea traps, are safer options.

Surveys show that as many as 50% of American families report using some kind of flea and tick control product on pets, exposing millions of children to toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Initial research also shows that thousands of pets may be sickened or die each year as a result of chronic low-dose exposure to organophosphate-based insecticides through their flea and tick collars.

But while there are countless stories of pets, and even people, who have suffered the ill effects of flea treatments, finding alternatives can be a problem for most people. For a significant amount of information about natural applications to treat an infestation of fleas, visit this website: http://eartheasy.com/live_natural_flea_control.html.

Fleas are a common problem if you have pets. Getting ahead of the problem with preventive measures to kill and control fleas is the best way to avoid a much bigger issue for both your pets and your family and home. Use quality products and have regular veterinarian visits to make sure your pets and family are well and remain free from this itchy, and sometimes dangerous,  situation.


Until next time.
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