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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