Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Health Care and Giving Thanks

Almost 400 years ago, the first Americans and the first immigrants came together to celebrate to celebrate the goodness of God to the community known as Plimouth in the New World. The survivors of the Mayflower who were able to make it through the first winter in America had reason to meet with their Native American hosts and have 3 days to feast on the bounties of the land, their meager harvest, and the ability to live in a new land protected by friendly tribal members, including the highly respected Massasoit, leader of the Indians in the area.  Our national holiday really stems from the feast held in the autumn of 1621, by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag to celebrate the colony's first successful harvest.

One child's diary survived since then and reports about the First Thanksgiving in America: "To celebrate our first harvest our Governor, Master Bradford, called for a celebration. Four men went hunting wild fowl and brought back enough geese, ducks and other birds to last nearly a week! We ate, played at games, and the men practiced shooting their muskets. The Indians came amongst us as well, among them their greatest King Massasoit and more than 90 men! I was most frightened at first, but they stayed for three days and we entertained and feasted them. And they went out and brought us five deer. While they were here I even saw some of their children!"

According to, the following year the Pilgrims harvest was not as bountiful, as they were still unused to growing the corn. During the year they had also shared their stored food with newcomers and the Pilgrims ran short of food. The 3rd year brought a spring and summer that was hot and dry with the crops dying in the fields. Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and it was soon thereafter that the rain came. To celebrate - November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. This date is believed to be the real true beginning of the present day Thanksgiving Day. The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

According to General George Washington and his army, as instructed by the Continental Congress, they stopped in bitter weather in the open fields on their way to Valley Forge. And, Washington, as the nation's first President, declared November 26, 1789, as a national day of "thanksgiving and prayer." A few months after his inauguration, Washington issued "Presidential Proclamation Number One", his Thanksgiving as the first President. According to the, he voiced his personal conviction that "it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God."

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday. Congress officially declared Thanksgiving as a National Holiday in 1941, not long before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that year.

Over the years, Americans have deemed Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and celebrate. Friends and families come together and enjoy a wonderful turkey dinner. By following simple storage, handling and cooking suggestions, your family can enjoy a safe, healthy Thanksgiving dinner, according to Fletcher Allen's Health Care blog. Follow these tips to keep away an unwanted Thanksgiving guest – food poisoning.

■Handle food carefully. Wash hands, dishes, kitchen equipment and work surfaces before and after handling raw food. Don’t forget to clean knives after each use. Even frozen food can contain bacteria.

■Cook food thoroughly. Salmonella is a common food poisoning typically found in raw meats, poultry, milk and fish – and it can only be destroyed by cooking foods thoroughly. You can’t tell if the turkey is done just by looking at it. Use a food thermometer to be sure (temperatures above 140 degrees). To learn more about how to use a food thermometer check out this United States Department of Agriculture website – .

■It is okay to thaw a turkey in its original plastic for up to two days. After that, move the turkey to another container such as plastic wrap or foil. Store the thawing turkey in the fridge, rather than on the kitchen counter.

■Remove all stuffing from the turkey before refrigerating leftover meat. Keep the stuffing, gravy or broth in a separate container.

Symptoms of food poisoning include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and sometimes fever. Some symptoms may happen soon after eating and some make take hours to days to develop.

It doesn’t hurt to plan your menu early, either, according to  Once you’ve set your menu, start thinking about what you can make ahead and store in the fridge or freezer. You can make cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie a few days in advance, which really minimizes the stress of cooking for a crowd. Also, if you’ve invited someone whose family always serves a particular dish at their Thanksgiving dinner, ask them to bring it! They’ll appreciate having their traditions included and you’ll appreciate having one less thing to make. Then, on Thanksgiving day, you’ve planned and purchased and made-ahead and now the day has finally arrived! There is no way around this—you will have to get up early. Once your bird is in the oven though, time is on your side. If your dinner guests are your houseguests as well, enlist someone to take the gang out for the morning. Many towns and cities have parades and a game of touch football or a walk around the neighborhood is a nice way to get ahead of those Thanksgiving calories. In the meantime, you can prep your remaining menu items, set out cheese and crackers, set the table—and enjoy a cup of coffee in the last quiet you’ll get all day. Once everyone gets back (or starts to arrive), let them entertain themselves while you finish everything up. Don’t worry about serving dinner at 2:00pm on the dot—as long as your guests have something to nibble and drink, you can relax about the timing.

And, if you need help with recipes for Thanksgiving, there is a bounty of offerings to be found at the Taste of Home site:

Whatever your background and history of family traditions surrounding this holiday, Thanksgiving is truly an American celebration. Families and individuals are able to meet and express their thanks for all the blessings they have and how much they have to celebrate. Even if your year has been tough due to economic problems, job loss, illness, loss of loved ones, or other stressful issues, life can always be worse. Be thankful for even the smallest of blessings, and give thanks to God for providing your needs. 

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Health Care and Pre-Natal Care

Taking care of baby when they are in the mother's womb is a vital way to make sure you have a healthy child. Doing all you can to protect your infant pre-birth is in your best interest and for the child. Knowing what to do to promote a healthy child is critical when it comes to pre-natal care, especially during the days when you and your baby are most vulnerable. To find a great OB-GYN is only part of what you as a newly expectant mother needs to learn as your baby grows inside the womb. Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care, according to

Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly, according to Womens Health. This allows doctors to treat them early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others. Doctors also can talk to pregnant women about things they can do to give their unborn babies a healthy start to life. You should start taking care of yourself before you start trying to get pregnant. This is called preconception health. It means knowing how health conditions and risk factors could affect you or your unborn baby if you become pregnant. For example, some foods, habits, and medicines can harm your baby — even before he or she is conceived. Some health problems also can affect pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before pregnancy to learn what you can do to prepare your body. Women should prepare for pregnancy before becoming sexually active. Ideally, women should give themselves at least 3 months to prepare before getting pregnant. The five most important things you can do before becoming pregnant are:

1.Take 400 micrograms (400 mcg or 0.4 mg) of folic acid every day for at least 3 months before getting pregnant to lower your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine. You can get folic acid from some foods. But it's hard to get all the folic acid you need from foods alone. Taking a vitamin with folic acid is the best and easiest way to be sure you're getting enough.

2.Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Ask your doctor for help.

3.If you have a medical condition, be sure it is under control. Some conditions include asthma, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, obesity, thyroid disease, or epilepsy. Be sure your vaccinations are up to date.

4.Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are using. These include dietary or herbal supplements. Some medicines are not safe during pregnancy. At the same time, stopping medicines you need also can be harmful.

5.Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials at work and at home that could be harmful. Stay away from chemicals and cat or rodent feces.

Prenatal development is divided into three trimesters. During the first two months the developing human is referred to as an embryo. The embryo has three layers from which all body organs develop. During the second trimester the developing human is referred to as a fetus. During the third trimester, the individual is a baby which if born prematurely could survive with extra support. Premature births prior to the third trimester are less likely to survive, even with extraordinary medical care in a neonatal intensive care unit, according to More detailed information about what happens in each trimester can be found at this site:
Every parent-to-be hopes for a healthy baby, but it can be hard not to worry: What if the baby has a serious or untreatable health problem? What would I do? Is there anything I can do to prevent problems? Concerns like these are completely natural, according to Fortunately, though, a wide array of tests for pregnant women can help to reassure them and keep them informed throughout their pregnancies. Prenatal tests can help identify health problems that could endanger both you and your unborn child, some of which are treatable. However, these tests do have limitations. As an expectant parent, it's important to educate yourself about them and to think about what you would do if a health problem is detected in either you or your baby.

Why are prenatal tests performed? Prenatal tests can identify several different things:
•treatable health problems in the mother that can affect the baby's health.
•characteristics of the baby, including size, sex, age, and placement in the uterus.
•the chance that a baby has certain congenital, genetic, or chromosomal problems.
•certain types of fetal abnormalities, including some heart problems.
The last two items on this list may seem the same, but there's a key difference. Some prenatal tests are screening tests and only reveal the possibility of a problem. Other prenatal tests are diagnostic, which means they can determine — with a fair degree of certainty — whether a fetus has a specific problem. In the interest of making the more specific determination, the screening test may be followed by a diagnostic test, according to Kids Health. More details about prenatal tests can be found at this site: .

The objective of prenatal care is to monitor the health of the pregnant mother and fetus. It is important to visit the doctor as soon as you suspect you are pregnant. At each visit the doctor will examine you. This examination includes: monitoring weight gain or loss, blood pressure, circumference of the abdomen, position of the fetus and fetal heartbeat. Such variables are going to be closely followed during the course of your pregnancy. Other tests your doctor may recommend are: Ultrasound and Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring. Your doctor may schedule your visits monthly during the first two trimesters (from week one to week 28 of pregnancy), every two weeks from 28 to week 36 of pregnancy and weekly after week 36 (until the day of delivery that could be between week 38 and 40 weeks). More information about what to expect when women become pregnant can be found at this site: .

Proper pre-natal care is very important to the health of the baby and the mother. All precautions should be made to enhance the overall health of both Mom and Baby. Find a very good doctor and good health coverage, if at all possible before becoming pregnant, and don't skimp on any measures when it comes to getting ready for your new bundle of joy. Remember, when the newborn looks up at you and coos her/his first sound, you'll be glad you followed directions.

Until next time. Let me know what you think. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Health Care and Pertussis

In recent months, a very noticeable rise in the cases of pertussis has occurred in the US, and children have been the most affected by this highly contagious disease. Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. In advanced stages, it's marked a severe, hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like "whoop." In the first half of the 20th century, whooping cough was a leading cause of childhood illness and death in the United States. But after the introduction of a vaccine, the number of cases gradually declined, reaching a low in the mid-1970s. Since then, however, the incidence of whooping cough has been increasing, primarily among children too young to have completed the full course of vaccinations and teenagers and adults whose immunity has faded, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It is a serious disease that can cause permanent disability in infants, and even death, according to Google Health.When an infected person sneezes or coughs, tiny droplets containing the bacteria move through the air, and the disease is easily spread from person to person. The infection usually lasts 6 weeks. Whooping cough can affect people of any age. Before vaccines were widely available, the disease was most common in infants and young children. Now that most children are immunized before entering school, the higher percentage of cases is seen among adolescents and adults.

Initial symptoms, similar to the common cold, usually develop about a week after exposure to the bacteria.

Severe episodes of coughing start about 10 to 12 days later. In children, the coughing often ends with a "whoop" noise. The sound is produced when the patient tries to take a breath. The whoop noise is rare in patients under 6 months of age and in adults. Coughing spells may lead to vomiting or a short loss of consciousness. Pertussis should always be considered when vomiting occurs with coughing. In infants, choking spells are common, according to Google Health. Other pertussis symptoms include:
•Runny nose
•Slight fever (102 °F or lower)

Pertussis can be a very serious disease, especially for infants. Rates of hospitalization and complications increase with decreasing age. Children age 3 months and younger accounted for 85% of these death, and the breathing difficulties associated with this disease can be very distressing and scary for the patient and his or her family. Although adults are less likely than infants to become seriously ill with pertussis, most make repeated visits for medical care and miss work, especially when pertussis is not initially considered as a reason for their long-term cough. In addition, adults with pertussis infection have been shown to be an important source of infection to infants with whom they have close contact, according to
Younger patients have a greater chance of complications from pertussis than older patients. The most common complication is secondary bacterial infection, which is the cause of most pertussis-related deaths. Pneumonia occurs in one out of 20 cases; this percentage is higher for infants younger than age 6 months. Infants are also more likely to suffer from such neurologic complications such as seizures and encephalopathy, probably due to the reduction of oxygen supply to the brain. Other less serious complications include ear infection, loss of appetite, and dehydration. Adults with pertussis can have complications such as pneumonia (up to 5% of cases) and rib fracture from coughing (up to 4% of cases). Other reported side effects include (among others), loss of consciousness, female urinary incontinence, hernias, angina, and weight loss.

According to the California Department of Public Health, about half of infants infected with pertussis get it from their parents, most often from their mothers. Even if parents and caregivers received pertussis vaccine when they were children, the immunity wears off. It is highly recommended that in addition to those for whom pertussis vaccine is already administered, parents and caregivers of infants receive Tdap, the booster shot against pertussis, preferably before contact with a new baby. 

According to the South Carolina Department of Health, everyone between the ages of 10 and 64 should be vaccinated against pertussis. Talk to your healthcare provider now to be sure you and your family are protected. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the spread of pertussis. Some people with pertussis might not feel very sick and might not develop the coughing spells or ‘whoop,’ but they are still able to pass the infection to others. Seeking treatment when pertussis symptoms first start is important. If you or a family member are ill and worried about pertussis or have been exposed to someone with pertussis, contact your healthcare provider. Antibiotics can help prevent spreading the disease to people who have spent a lot of time around the infected person and are necessary to stop the spread of pertussis.

Antibiotics are somewhat helpful in treating pertussis. The drug of choice is usually erythromycin that is given to all household and other close contacts of the patient to minimize transmission, regardless of age and vaccination status, according to All close contacts younger than seven years of age should complete their DTaP vaccine series if they have not already done so. If they have completed their primary four dose series, but have not had a dose within the last three years, they should be given a booster dose. Patients also need supportive therapy such as bed rest, fluids, and control of fever. Reinfection appears to be uncommon but does occur. With natural infection, immunity to pertussis will likely wane as soon as seven years following the disease; reinfection may present as a persistent cough, rather than typical pertussis. Unfortunately, it is difficult to verify pertussis infection with existing laboratory methods.

Infants younger than 18 months need constant supervision because their breathing may temporarily stop during coughing spells. Infants with severe cases should be hospitalized. An oxygen tent with high humidity may be used. Fluids may be given through a vein if coughing spells are severe enough to prevent the person from drinking enough fluids. Sedatives (medicines to make you sleepy) may be prescribed for young children. Cough mixtures, expectorants, and suppressants are usually not helpful and should NOT be used, according to Google Health. Call your health care provider if you or your child develops symptoms of pertussis. Call 911 or get to an emergency room if the person has any of the following symptoms:
•Bluish skin color, which indicates a lack of oxygen.
•Periods of stopped breathing (apnea).
•Seizures or convulsions.
•High fever.
•Persistent vomiting.

DTaP vaccination, one of the recommended childhood immunizations, protects children against pertussis infection. DTaP vaccine can be safely given to infants. Five DTaP vaccines are recommended. They are usually given to children at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years. The Tdap vaccine should be given around age 11 or 12, and every 10 years thereafter. During a pertussis outbreak, unimmunized children under age 7 should not attend school or public gatherings, and should be isolated from anyone known or suspected to be infected. This should last until 14 days after the last reported case. Some health care organizations strongly recommend that adults up to the age of 65 years receive the adult form of the vaccine against pertussis, according to Google Health.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, can be deadly. Make sure you and your children have been immunized, and keep up with booster shots at appropriate times. Staying healthy is in your best interest, and in the best interest, especially, for children and infants. Talk to your doctor for more details about this disease if you have questions or need help with a possible diagnosis. Don't get the "whoop."
Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Health Care and Armistice Day--Saluting Veterans

On November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m, an agreement was signed to unofficially end conflict known as World War I. It was fought as "the war to end all wars." The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery, according to the Veterans Administration. The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces. The Veterans Day National Committee also selects a number of regional sites for Veterans Day observances throughout the country. From stirring parades and ceremonies to military exhibits and tributes to distinguished veterans, these events serve as models for other communities to follow in planning their own observances.

However, the conflict and war's official ending in 1919, with the Treaty of Versailles, was certainly not the last war, and likely was perceived to be the worst of its kind at that point in history. Unfortunately, nations do not abide by sentiments, or treaties in many cases. Veterans Day continues to be observed in America on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Many Americans mistakenly believe that Veterans Day is the day America sets aside to honor American military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained from combat. That's not quite true. Memorial Day is the day set aside to honor America's war dead. Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors ALL American veterans, both living and dead. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for dedicated and loyal service to their country. November 11 of each year is the day that we ensure veterans know that we deeply appreciate the sacrifices they have made in the lives to keep our country free.

Veterans Day is a great time to educate your children about the history of this holiday and the sacrifice and dedication of our U.S. veterans, according to So, how do you celebrate this holiday in a creative and constructive way with your children? Here are a few ideas, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs and

1. Teach your children about the history of Veterans Day by having them create a time line of events leading to the observance of the holiday.

2. Have your kids write short articles or essays of how veterans are honored around the world. And if you know any veterans locally, propose that your kids interview them about what it's like to serve in the U.S. military.

3. Research how American veterans were treated after they returned from various military conflicts, ranging from the French and Indian War to the Persian Gulf War. Ask your children to compare and contrast their findings. Also compare and contrast how women and minorities who served in those conflicts were treated.

4. Have children draw a picture of Veterans Day, and what this holiday means to them. Military children can draw a picture of a parent who is currently deployed, or a relative who has served.

5. Make a thank you card for veterans. Children can give this card to veterans that they know or to veterans who are listed through the local VA medical facility.

6. Ask your children's teacher to invite veterans to their classroom. Veterans can discuss what it's like to serve in the military, and how important it is to observe this holiday.

7. Have your kids make a colorful and fun poster with the names and pictures of relatives who are veterans.

There are a variety of ways to celebrate Veterans Day with your children. And teaching children about the significance of this holiday will help give them a deep appreciation of our nation's servicemembers and veterans.

This Veterans Day we all have a chance to do something very important: remember the sacrifice of our greatest heroes. Too often we think about what has been done for us by our Veterans only on this day. And while it is important as a nation to take time out to reflect on all of our Veterans, we should remember their sacrifice every day of every year. Today is a great time to stop to remember all of our active duty service men and women who are serving around the world. And remember their families who also pay the price for their loved ones to serve. Americans must never forget its retired Veterans and those Veterans who have fallen in the line of duty for our Country.

Today, in Afghanistan and Iraq, US troops are fighting for democracy. And many others are returning home with grave injuries. They need your help. And you must give it to them. This Veterans Day, you are encouraged to support the Wounded Warrior Project. This is a private organization that helps provide support and resources to troops who return home with serious injuries. What better way to honor Veterans than to help these brave wounded warriors? Also, urge others to get involved and show support. Please go to  and find out how you can help.

One of the most personal and meaningful Veterans Day activities for people is to send notes or cards to hospitalized veterans or those living in veterans homes. Or, better yet, visit a veteran in a local veterans hospital or veterans home. The best way to have a "happy Veterans Day" is to do something special to make a veteran happy.

May God always bless our military and keep it strong!

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Health Care and Incontinence

INCONTINENCE refers to involuntary leakage of urine. There are several types of incontinence according to Urology Northwest. Half of all women experience some form of incontinence at some point in their lives and approximately one third develop a significant regular problem. After the age of 60 the incidents of incontinence increase, but many women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have incontinence. A study has shown that 25 million Americans suffer from incontinence and many do so in silence because they think it's normal or are too embarrassed to discuss the condition with their healthcare provider. People suffering from incontinence will often also suffer from a poor quality of life. This may include low self esteem, sleep deprivation symptoms of anxiety and depression, social isolation. It is not uncommon for these patients to struggle with handling normal activities of daily living such as working, shopping, participating in family and other social activities primarily due to the fear of having an urination accident in public. It is also not uncommon for people suffering from urinary incontinence to also have some degree of fecal incontinence.

The main symptom of urinary incontinence is a problem controlling urination. The circumstances and type of problem affecting urination vary with the cause, according to WebMD. Symptoms of stress incontinence involve the involuntary release of urine, especially when coughing, sneezing, or laughing. It is the most common type of urinary incontinence in women. It usually results in a small to moderate amount of urine leaked. Symptoms of urge incontinence include the need to urinate frequently and a sudden, urgent, and uncontrollable need to urinate. It can result in a moderate to large amount of urine leaked, although it often occurs when the bladder contains only a small amount of urine. It is common for a woman to have mixed incontinence, usually a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

Overactive Bladder is the common catch phrase for a variety of incontinence issues medically referred to as; urge, frequency, urgency, urgency-frequency, overflow, functional and transient. You may most likely associate these problems with situations like "the feeling of not being able to get to the bathroom in time"; starting to urinate "when the key is in the lock"; having an intense urge to urinate but little urinary production, according to Urology Northwest. Functional incontinence is when the patient has some communication barrier and can not let others know of their bathroom need. Transient incontinence is temporary and usually the result of an infection or a side effect of a medication.

According to Fox News, more than 5.5 million Americans suffer from fecal incontinence. It affects people of all ages but is most common in women and older adults. Fecal incontinence is the inability to hold gas or stool and it is a problem that affects 7% of the population in the US. The majority that it affects is women, but there are men affected with this problem as well. The reason why women are mostly affected by this is that when women get pregnant its very often related to birth trauma and carrying and passing a baby which puts a lot of stress on anal muscles. Doctors take special care to lessen trauma to the area during childbirth, and there is help for this problem and that they shouldn’t have to live with the discomfort. Treatment to the muscle improves bowel control and makes incontinence easier to manage. Instead of trying to hide the problem seek help to remedy it.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), UI can be slightly bothersome or totally debilitating. For some women, the risk of public embarrassment keeps them from enjoying many activities with their family and friends. Urine loss can also occur during sexual activity and cause tremendous emotional distress.

Women experience UI twice as often as men. Pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and the structure of the female urinary tract account for this difference. But both women and men can become incontinent from neurologic injury, birth defects, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and physical problems associated with aging. Older women experience UI more often than younger women. But incontinence is not inevitable with age. UI is a medical problem. Your doctor or nurse can help you find a solution. No single treatment works for everyone, but many women can find improvement without surgery. Incontinence occurs because of problems with muscles and nerves that help to hold or release urine. The body stores urine—water and wastes removed by the kidneys—in the bladder, a balloon-like organ. The bladder connects to the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the body. A significant amount of detail on this subject is also available on thier website: .

The NAFC estimates that approximately 80 percent of people who have urinary incontinence can find relief or even a cure. Depending on the type of incontinence, treatment may include changes in lifestyle or behavior, medication, special muscle exercises, surgery, or various devices and products to manage incontinence; often, a combination of these is used. So while you'll need to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and a treatment plan, there are several home remedies to help you remain dry and free from embarrassment according to the NIH. Here are 16 listed at this website: .

You've established that you have a form of incontinence, but what do you do now? The initial doctors' visits, testing, diagnosis, and possible treatments are now in motion or complete, but, according to Health Central Incontinence Network, here is where you can change your current knowledge and lifestyle:

--Following Up With Doctors: Now is a good time to consider following up with your diagnosing physician, in case you have new questions. Also, if you aren't satisfied with your current doctor, you might consider switching. And if you haven't already, you may now streamline your medical care by letting any of your other doctors know about your diagnosis.

--Finding a Support Network: If you've found yourself here, then you've already worked on finding a trusty support network. There are also many in-person groups for conditions such as incontinence. A great way to learn more about these are through a local hospital system or a non-profit agency such as the United Way or the Red Cross.

--Considering Therapy: Sometimes group support is not the right route. If you feel that you need individual time with a trained professional, perhaps you'd be wise to find a therapist. They can be located through hospital systems or through insurance coverage plans.

--Evaluating Road Blocks: Is there anything standing in your way right now? A lack of communication with others or things in your life that are hindering you from making the most of what you've got? Now is the time to reassess anything that is holding you back.

--Doing Further Research: Do you feel that you know enough about incontinence and all of its ramifications? If not, try getting more information--- in written form--- from your doctor, or possibly the links to valuable websites. You can then do research on your own.

--Altering Your Schedule or Re-evaluating Your Lifestyle: Do you need to change some of your lifestyle issues to better handle your incontinence? Do you need to confide in your boss to have a better schedule or a desk with better access to a bathroom? Do you need any home adaptions? Changes in daily patterns can reduce stress levels.

--Changing Diet: A change in eating and drinking patterns may not always change incontinence issues, but contacting your doctor about this issue may return unexpected helpful hints. You may also be referred to a nutritionist.

--Considering Physical Therapy and/or an Exercise Plan: Consulting with a physical therapist can be beneficial; there are some pelvic exercises that can strengthen bladder and sphincter mucles. This may not be an option for everyone, but it's worth a try to find out. Therapists can be found through your primary care doctor, and one might make a personal exercise plan for you.

--Finding a Place of Peace and Gratitude: Incontinence definitely isn't fun or joyful, but carving out a personal corner of happiness in life can greatly impact dealing with the condition. Consider starting a gratitude journal or trying meditation. Therapists or support groups can often help with these ventures

Incontinence can be embarrassing, but there are ways to help you handle this health care issue. Visit your doctor and discuss various options, then find ways to help improve your situation. If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from this medical problem, you have options that are available to help you.
Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Health Care and Statins

How does your heart feel on a normal day? Are you in relatively good shape physically and mentally for someone your age, or are you prone to suffering fits of depression, anxiety, and some heart related issues? When was the last time you had a stress test or a check up for blood pressure or cholesterol counts? Have you considered using medications to help your health condition if you fall into the ranks of Americans who suffer from these maladies?  If you have high cholesterol, or at risk for heart attack, then you may be a candidate for a statin drug. Definitely, a conversation with your doctor is in order.
"Statins" are a class of drugs that lower the level of cholesterol in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver. Statins block the enzyme in the liver that is responsible for making cholesterol, according to Statins block the enzyme in the liver that is responsible for making cholesterol. This enzyme is called hydroxy-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA reductase). Scientifically, statins are referred to as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.

Cholesterol is critical to the normal function of every cell in the body. However, it also contributes to the development of atherosclerosis, a condition in which cholesterol-containing plaques form within arteries, according to MedicineNet. These plaques block the arteries and reduce the flow of blood to the tissues that arteries supply. When plaques rupture, a blood clot forms on the plaque, thereby further blocking the artery and reducing the flow of blood. When blood flow is reduced sufficiently in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, the result is angina (chest pain) or a heart attack. If the clot occurs on plaques in the brain, the result is a stroke. If the clots occur on plaques in the leg, they cause intermittent claudication (pain in the legs while walking). By reducing the production of cholesterol, statins are able to slow the formation of new plaques and occasionally can reduce the size of plaques that already exist. In addition, through mechanisms that are not well understood, statins may also stabilize plaques and make them less prone to rupturing and promoting the development of clots. The important role of cholesterol in atherosclerosis is widely accepted by scientists. Research from the last few years shows that aggressive cholesterol reduction is more beneficial than modest reductions.

According to the FDA, There are no warning symptoms of high cholesterol. But a simple blood test by your doctor will measure the different kinds of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol can clog the arteries. Lower numbers of LDL are best. The higher the LDL level, the greater the risk for heart disease. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol carries bad cholesterol out of your blood, back to the liver, where it can be eliminated, to keep it from building up in the arteries. The higher the HDL level, the lower the risk for heart disease. For information on what your cholesterol numbers mean, visit .

According to the FDA, the following factors affect blood cholesterol levels:

--Certain foods - eating too much saturated fat, found mostly in animal products, and too much cholesterol, found only in animal products.
--Heredity - genes play a role in influencing the levels.
--Weight - excess weight tends to increase the levels.
--Exercise - regular physical activity may not only lower LDL cholesterol, but it may increase the level of desirable HDL cholesterol.
--Smoking - cigarette smoking lowers HDL cholesterol.
--Age and gender - cholesterol levels naturally rise as men and women age. Menopause is often associated with increased LDL cholesterol in women.

Statins are drugs that are used to lower cholesterol but they might be beneficial for people with cholesterol levels within the normal range. Whether you need to be on a statin depends on your cholesterol level along with your other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, according to Cooper University Health. If you have high cholesterol, meaning your total cholesterol level is 240 mg/dL or higher, or your "bad" cholesterol (LDL) level is 130 mg/dL or higher, the numbers alone won't tell you or your doctor the whole story. Other risk factors including heredity, diet and whether you are a smoker all need to be considered. High cholesterol affects all arteries, not just those in the heart. Its negative effects permeate the body, so it's likely that the benefits of lowering cholesterol might have widespread health benefits as well. So who should take statins and what can they do for you?

According to the FDA, statins are relatively safe for most people, but some can respond differently to the drugs. Certain people may have fewer side effects with one statin drug than another. Some statins, in particular Lovastatin and Simvastatin, also are known to interact adversely with other drugs. This information, coupled with the degree of cholesterol-lowering desired, will help guide the decision about which statin to use, or whether another type of drug should be used. Statin medications (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors)
work in the liver to prevent formation of cholesterol, are effective in lowering bad cholesterol levels and raising good cholesterol. They are not recommended for pregnant patients or those with active or chronic liver disease, and statins can cause serious muscle problems. Currently available statins are listed here:
--Lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev).
--Pravastatin (Pravachol).
--Simvastatin (Zocor).
--Fluvastatin (Lescol).
--Atorvastatin (Lipitor).
--Rosuvastatin (Crestor).

Although statins are well tolerated by most people, they do have side effects, some of which may go away as your body adjusts to the medication, according to the Mayo Clinic. Common, less serious side effects include the following symptoms:
--Muscle and joint aches (most common).

Potentially serious side effects, according to the Mayo Clinic, include the following symptoms:
1.) Liver damage. Occasionally, statin use causes an increase in liver enzymes. If the increase is only mild, you can continue to take the drug. If the increase is severe, you may need to stop taking it, which usually reverses the problem. If left unchecked, increased liver enzymes can lead to permanent liver damage. Certain other cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as gemfibrozil (Lopid) and niacin, increase the risk of liver problems even more in people who take statins. Because liver problems may develop without symptoms, people who take statins have a blood test six weeks after starting a statin medication to check their liver function. After that, your doctor may recommend yearly blood tests.

2.) Muscle problems. Statins may cause muscle pain and tenderness (statin myopathy). The higher the dose of statin you take, the more likely you are to have muscle pains. In severe cases, muscle cells can break down (rhabdomyolysis) and release a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin can damage your kidneys. Certain drugs when taken with statins can increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. These include gemfibrozil, erythromycin (Erythrocin), antifungal medications, nefazodone, cyclosporine and niacin. If you take statins and have new muscle aching or tenderness, check with your doctor.

It's important to consider the effects of statins on other organs in your body, especially if you have health problems such as liver or kidney disease. Also, check whether statins interact with any other prescription or over-the-counter drugs or supplements you take. Keep in mind that when you begin to take a statin, you'll most likely be on it for the rest of your life. Side effects are often minor, but if you experience them, you may want to talk to your doctor about decreasing your dose or trying a different statin. Don't stop taking a statin without talking to your doctor first.

According to the FDA, there are simple steps you can take concerning cholesterol:
--Have your blood cholesterol levels checked at least once every 5 years if you are an adult 20 years or older.

--Check with your doctor. You may be able to lower your cholesterol levels by eating better and exercising more.
--Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease.
--Stay active every day.
--Use the food label to choose foods lower in saturated fat, including trans fats, and calories.
--Eat more fruits and vegetables.
--Don't stop taking any cholesterol-lowering medications you may be on without first talking to your doctor.

Statins, based upon all current research and patient results, are considered a good way to reduce the risk of heart attack. However, they are not for everyone. Plus, they are expensive. Only your doctor can help you with this diagnosis and suggested medication for your particular medical situation. Don't try any self-diagnosis, but if you have concerns about the decision to begin a regimen including statin drugs, make sure to investigate all the options before moving forward.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Health Care and the Big D (Vitaminlicious)

All children know that they need to drink milk. They are told from a very early age that drinking milk gives them healthy, strong bones and bright, white teeth. Is this an urban legend, an old wives' tale, or truth in healthcare? Well, according to, vitamin D was once known as simply a bone builder. It's true that vitamin D works with calcium to help keep bones strong. You can't absorb calcium without vitamin D. And, vitamin D may affect inflammation and gum health, which could lead to tooth loss - independent of bone density. But new and emerging research suggests vitamin D may be far more versatile, offering an array of wellness benefits. Some preliminary research suggests vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and helps support heart health, normal blood pressure, healthy blood sugar and healthy aging. And, ongoing research continues to explore the potential connection to certain diseases, including some cancers.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure, food, and supplements is biologically inert and must undergo two hydroxylations in the body for activation, first in the liver and then in the kidneys.  Vitamin D is essential for promoting calcium absorption in the gut and maintaining adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and prevent hypocalcemic tetany. It is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Vitamin D has other roles in human health, including modulation of neuromuscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation. Many genes encoding proteins that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis are modulated in part by vitamin D.

To repeat, vitamin D is essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system, according to While a limited amount of vitamin D can be obtained from exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the health risks of UV exposure — including skin cancer — are great. Instead, The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests you get your recommended daily 1,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D a day from food sources like oily fish, fortified dairy products and cereals, and supplements. Because vitamin D is vital to good health, many foods have been enriched with the vitamin. However, it is naturally present in very few foods, and vitamin D supplements may be necessary to ensure adequate intake. But an excellent natural source of vitamin D does exist: oily fish.

Oily, or fatty fish, contain about 15 percent healthy fat, whereas white, or non-oily, fish contain less than two percent. Which oily fish are at the head of the class? A 3.5-ounce fillet of cooked salmon contains 360 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D, essentially a full day's adequate intake (AI) for anyone under age 70; the same amount of mackerel has 345 IUs; and 1.75 ounces of sardines contain 250 IUs. For a full list of oily fish, see below.
•Mackerel* (High in Mercury)
•Tuna (fresh)* (High in Mercury)
•Swordfish* (High in Mercury)
•Jack fish
•Orange roughy

Unfortunately, not all fish are safe to eat. Mercury, a naturally occurring metal, is also released into the air by pollution. When it reaches water, bacteria transform mercury into soluble, toxic methylmercury, which fish absorb. When you eat fish high in methylmercury, the toxin accumulates in the bloodstream and can endanger the nervous systems of unborn babies and young children as well as the cardiovascular and neurological systems of adults. Nearly all fish contain trace amounts of methylmercury. The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children completely avoid the large, predatory, oily king mackerel and swordfish, and the non-oily shark and tilefish. These long-lived fish have had time to accumulate high levels of methylmercury in their bloodstreams.Women not of childbearing age and men should also limit their consumption of these fish to no more than eight ounces per month. There is some concern about the safety of tuna. If you are pregnant, you may want to avoid both canned and fresh tuna; otherwise, consume no more than six ounces per week. Bluefin, yellowfin (ahi), and albacore ("white") tuna have higher levels of mercury than skipjack.

Rickets and osteomalacia are classic vitamin D deficiency diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic. In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, which results in skeletal deformities. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, which results in muscular weakness and weak bones. Populations who may be at a high risk for vitamin D deficiencies include the elderly, obese individuals, exclusively breastfed infants, and those who have limited sun exposure. Also, individuals who have fat malabsorption syndromes (e.g., cystic fibrosis) or inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn's disease) are at risk.  Dosing instructions for vitamin D supplements can be found here: .

According to the Food Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, which created the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), people should be intaking the following amounts of vitamin D if nothing is being synthesized (no sunlight exposure):
--Children up to 13 years - 5 mcg (200 IU).
--14-18 years - 5 mcg (200 IU).
--19-50 years - 5mcg (200 IU).
--51-70 years - 10 mcg (400 IU).
--71+ years - 15 mcg (600 IU).

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that exclusively or partially breastfed babies should receive supplements of 400 UI per day shortly after birth, and when they are weaned they should consume a minimum of 1,000 mL/day of vitamin D fortified formula or whole milk. Non-breastfed infants consuming less than 1,000 mL/day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU per day. It also recommends that older children and adolescents who do not get 400 IU per day through vitamin D fortified milk and foods should take a 400 IU vitamin supplement each day.

It appears that Vitamin D is an essential part of helping your immune system and other body functions in good working order, including bone and teeth health. If you need a supplement, visit your family physician for recommended dosage. Also, find out from your pharmacist what the most highly efficient brands are in his store for you to purchase that are safe and comply with your doctor's suggestion. And, if you aren't lactose intolerant, there's nothing like a big class of ice cold milk every day to help out. While your at it, throw in a big toll house chocolate chip cookie for good measure.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.