Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Health Care and Christmas 2010

Over 2,000 years ago there was a moment in time that neither Earth nor Heaven will ever forget. In that moment, God's eternal Word, His extravagant love, His wisdom, power, and mercy became a flesh and blood human being and was born on Earth as a baby. Earth beheld His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. This wonderful story of a Holy Child born in a humble stable is the story about Christmas. This amazing gift is the miracle celebrated at this Season.

The New Testament in the Bible tells the Christmas story beginning in the book of Luke 2:1-20 (NIV): 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Can you imagine giving birth to a child in a stall filled with animals, straw, and dirty conditions? Wow, what a way to have a baby! Anyone in the health care field would tell you in a heartbeat that this is no way to bring a newborn into the world. However, things were pretty different in Middle East two millenia ago, and although conditions have vastly improved, delivering a child is still a challenge. The miracle of birth is still an awesome event. Those who have experienced the delivery process--Mom, Dad, Doctor, Nurse, Midwife--know that there are plenty of things that can go wrong. The birthing process can be difficult and painful, and women who have had babies can tell horrible stories about going through the event.

However, once the newborn is delivered alive and well, and then laid upon it's mother's breast right away, the sheer joy of this brand new little person outweighs the pain and suffering just a few minutes before. Mothers who care for their babies are always concerned about the safety and welfare of their little boy or girl when arrival is imminent, during the delivery process, and then afterwards as the child is cleaned by the birthing nurse, checked by the medical staff, and then placed in the nursery and then in the mother's room for care and feeding. How often do babies come into the world and then must be monitored closely because they are premature, or have health issues, or must have more intense medical attention? With the improvement of medical conditions in much of the world, those types of situations can be thwarted to some degree, and the wellbeing of the newborn is paramount.

Yet, in many parts of the world, birth is dangerous, and the mortality rates of newborns is much higher than in America and the civilized nations on the planet. In some areas of the world, babies are discarded or left for little less than disposable property. Life is perceived in those locations as cheap or of no value. Certainly, the worth of every child born on the planet is of significant value and should be regarded as precious. When life is valued more than gold, silver, or precious gems, then reality and perception are combined with each other to force recognition of the fact that all life, especially children, is precious no matter who or where people live.

When you prepare to celebrate the Christmas Holiday, remember who is the Reason for the Season! A tiny baby born in a manger who was born to die--now that is a dose of reality. The Christ child became a man  who died for all. Emanuel--God with us. Remember why you give gifts during this time, and remember that life is precious. Wise men still seek Him!

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Health Care and Holiday Pet Safety

During the Holiday Season, the fun part of enjoying the time with family and friends can be overshadowed with issues regarding your pets. When it comes to taking care of your animal friends, you should know that as wonderful this time of year is for humans, it can be very dangerous for your four legged family members. Dogs and cats especially have very curious natures, and without the proper care extended to them during the Holidays, they can suffer health issues and safety concerns that are much more dangerous than at other times during the year. Watching out for your pets is of paramount importance when it comes to celebrating Christmas, New Years, and other important days.

Holiday foods we enjoy cooking and eating can be a problem for your pet, according to Rich, fatty foods, like gravy or grease, can cause problems ranging from stomach upsets to pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas resulting in pain, vomiting, and dehydration. Dogs with this serious condition often require hospitalization for treatment. Chocolate, coffee, and tea all contain dangerous components called xanthines, which cause nervous system or urinary system damage and heart muscle stimulation. Chocolate, with theobromine, is especially a problem because dogs love its flavor. Problems from ingestion range from diarrhea to seizures and death. Unsweetened baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the worst culprits, but all chocolate, fudge, and other candy should be placed out of your dog's reach. Remember, dogs have an exceptional sense of smell – juices on plastic or aluminum foil left on countertops are very tempting. If ingested, plastic or foil wrap (cellophane candy wrappers or food wrap) can cause choking or intestinal obstruction. To be safe, put away food immediately, and pet-proof your garbage. Garbage contains all kinds of other hazards for your dog such as plastic wrap and bags, 6-pack beverage holders that could cause strangulation, fat trimmings, bones, and pieces of ribbon or tinsel. Feed your pet(s) before a party so they will not be so apt to beg or steal food.

What do twinkle lights, tinsel, and wreaths all have in common? (Hint: Christmas is not the answer.) They can all kill your pet, according to the Huffington Post. Apparently the film "Christmas Vacation" took no artistic liberties when their cat chewed through Christmas lights and electrocuted himself... this is a real threat, so twinkle lights should be draped high enough on the tree that pets can't reach them. Same goes for tinsel, which cats love to eat, but apparently can cause their intestines to accordion. Tinsel's not the only intestinal hazard - dried pine needles can actually puncture your pet's intestines. 

All that glitters is not gold – it could be dangerous for your pet, according to Pet Education. Ribbons, yarn, and string can cause intestinal obstruction and bunching of the intestine along the length of the string. These conditions require surgery and can be fatal. Ribbons around your dog's neck may be cute, but they can also be dangerous. Adhesives and glues can be toxic and are often attractive to animals.

Many holiday plants can lead to health problems in dogs and cats, according to Among the plants to keep out of reach are holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and lilies. Anchor Christmas trees to the ceiling with a string to keep it from falling on pets. Do not let pets drink the holiday tree water. Some may contain fertilizers, and stagnant tree water can harbor bacteria. Check labels for tree water preservatives and artificial snow, and buy only those that are nontoxic. Some folks use screens around trees to block access to electrical cords and gifts. Very important: do not put aspirin in the water (some folks do this thinking it will keep the tree or plant more vigorous). If a pet ingests the aspirin-laced water, his health or even life can be at risk.

Keep other ornaments out of reach of pets. Ingestion of any ornament, which might look like toys to pets, can result in life-threatening emergencies according to Paw Rescue. Even ornaments made from dried food can lead to ailments. And remember, shards from broken glass ornaments can injure paws, mouths and other parts of the body. Put away toys after children open their gifts. Small plastic pieces and rubber balls are common causes of choking and intestinal blockage in dogs. Ingested plastic or cloth toys must often be removed surgically. And, avoid toxic decorations. Bubbling lights contain fluid that can be inhaled or ingested, snow sprays and snow flock can cause reactions when inhaled, styrofoam poses a choking hazard, tinsel can cause choking and intestinal obstruction, and water in snow scenes may contain toxic organisms such as Salmonella.

New pets are not good holiday gifts, according to Pet Education. If someone is thinking about getting a new pet, give the new prospective owner a variety of dog toys, food, or books on dog care. You may also wish to give a gift certificate so the person can choose his or her own pet after the holidays. Similarly, if thinking about getting a new pet for yourself, remember pets need routine and a time to bond with you. With its noise, commotion, and special hazards, the holiday season is anything but routine. Think about getting your new dog after the holidays. Why not make the holidays more enjoyable for homeless pets? Contact your local animal shelter to see if you can donate food, kitty litter, toys, or time. When choosing a holiday gift for your special friend, be sure it is safe – no small pieces that could come off and be swallowed. Choose healthy holiday treats for your dog and give them in moderation. Much more detailed info can be found at this site:
Holiday guests and other activity can be very stressful and even frightening to pets. It can also trigger illness and intestinal upset, according to Paw Rescue. Make sure pets have a safe place to retreat in your house. And make sure they are wearing current I.D. in case they escape out a door when guests come and go. You can reduce stress by keeping feeding and exercise on a regular schedule. Always make time to care for your pets. Some folks get lax about walking their dogs, and a few resort to letting pets out on their own. This puts the animal in danger, while also leading to nuisance complaints and dog bite incidents. Remind pet owners not to take a holiday from responsibly caring for their pets. When pets are stressed by holiday activity or during travel, they may require more water. Dogs typically pant more when they feel stressed. Keep fresh water available for them to drink.
According to Paw Rescue, If your pet ingests glass, broken plastic, staples orother small, sharp objects, call your veterinarian. In the meantime, you can give your dog supplemental fiber in the form of whole wheat or other high-fiber bread, canned pumpkin or Metamucil, any of which can help bulk up the stools the help the foreigh material pass through the dog's digestive system. Dosages depend on the size of the dog. For Metamusil, try a teaspoon for a small dog, a tablespoon for a big dog. For pumpkin, feed one-quarter to two-thirds of a cup. Some folks recommend feeding the dog cotton balls to help pass the foreign objects, but others in the veterinary field caution against this since cotton balls can compound the problem.
According to the Humane Society, the holiday season includes inclement weather conditions. Follow these tips to keep your pets safe as the temperature falls:

•Bring pets indoors, especially during winter months. Most animals cannot endure winter weather conditions. If a dog must be outside, which the Humane Society of Scott County does not recommend, make sure it is completely protected from the elements. Use straw in place of rugs or carpeting, as these will freeze. Use a heated water bowl, as dogs do not know how to break ice. Give your dog extra food as it will burn more calories trying to stay warm outside.

•During the winter, cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars to keep warm. Before you start your car, bang loudly on the car hood and allow time for the cat to escape to ensure their safety.

•Always keep your dog on a leash- dogs can easily lose their scent during snowfall. Thoroughly wipe of your dog's legs and stomach after taking him outside. This will prevent your dog from ingesting salt or any other harmful substances while licking their paws, and will also prevent your dog's paw pads from bleeding due to snow or encrusted ice.

•Grooming your dog is also very important. Never shave your dog down to the skin in the winter, as a long coat will provide warmth. If your dog is a short-haired breed, consider getting him a coat or sweater, or limit their time outside.

•Do not leave animals alone in cars. Also make sure anti-freeze is out of reach at all times and any spillage from cars is cleaned up so your pets cannot ingest the deadly substance.

Additionally, winter in general is a dangerous time for strays. Please call animal control to report the location of strays in your neighborhood. Holidays can create special dangers for your pets. Each year during the various holiday seasons, thousands of pets are seriously injured and/or become deathly ill. It's a busy time ... a time of much planning, shopping, cooking and baking, rushing to and from parties and get-togethers with relatives and friends. Oftentimes people forget about their little four-legged members of the family during the rush and festivities. They are curious and anxious as well, and there are many hazards waiting for their curiosity, according to

With all of the festivities, do not forget to relax and spend some quality time with your pet. They will think that is the best gift of all.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Health Care and Holiday Shopping

During the December Holidays, a frenzy builds among the citizenry to buy gifts for family, friends, and co-workers. The shopping season officially kicks off the day after Thanksgiving Day, affectionately referred to by retailers as "Black Friday." Most Americans are off work that day, and the malls are packed with people looking for the best deal on all kinds of merchandise. And without fail, every year has its stories broadcast on TV about those massive hoards of individuals ready to barge through the front doors of every store in the country, many which open while it's still dark in the wee hours of the morning, so they can be the first in line to capture that "Early Bird Special." And also every year, along with those massive hoards of credit card crazed shoppers, is typically at least one headline and video of someone getting trampled as the doors are flung open. Tragically, the holiday shopping season can be injurious if you are not careful.

After the initial stampede, shoppers usually find that the pace slows down a bit until the final week before Christmas. However, it is still very wise to be conscious of your surroundings when you are out looking for those last minute sale items. According to the Aurora Public Schools Risk Management Department, before heading out to do your holiday shopping here are a few tips to keep in mind:

--Be extremely careful using ATM machines: Use them in populated places and be constantly paying attention to what’s going on around you. Try to go during the daylight hours. If you must go at night, pick a machine that is well lit and visible to passing traffic. If anyone is lurking near the machine, pass it up and find another.

--At the Mall: Try to shop when the mall is less crowded -- during the weekday, or at night when malls stay open late for holiday shoppers. Avoid the weekend rush, when it's easy to lose children among crowds. And, don't dangle your handbag from your shoulder. You are creating a perfect setup for a purse-snatcher; keep your purse tucked tightly under your arm, or better yet, don't even carry a purse. Wear a fanny pack facing the front instead. Besides allowing your hands to be free to hold onto or carry your child, you’ll eliminate the possibility of leaving your purse behind or having it stolen.

--Paying for Purchases: If you use pockets, place your checkbook, cash, or credit cards in your front pockets. Only bring one or two credit cards and a limited amount of cash with you. Spread your money around in different pockets. That way a pickpocket can't clean you out in one fell swoop. Avoid carrying your checkbook, cash, and credit cards all together in one wallet, because a thief who gets the whole package together can cash checks with your identification and run up a large credit card bill in a short amount of time. Keep your keys separate, too. Don't "flash" large rolls of money in public. You never know who's watching! Check to see you’ve been given back your card once you’ve paid for what you bought. Watch your credit card slip being filled out - and make sure it's not passed through the machine more than once. Ask for your carbons if those are used in some stores. Destroy the carbons, but keep your credit card receipts and check them against monthly bills. Make a list of your major credit cards, their account numbers and the phone numbers to call if cards are lost. Keep this list at home. If you’re not sure a shopping bag will be available, take one of your own to the mall. Consolidate as many packages as possible, or make several trips to your car to deposit packages in the trunk. Don't allow yourself to become so burdened down with packages that you become a tempting target. Avoid carrying large, heavy packages that block your vision and make you a target for purse-snatchers.

--Taking care of Children while Shopping: Keep an eye on your child. It's okay to let children look around and have fun while they shop, but they also need to understand that it's important to stay near their parents.

Bring a babysitter, friend or older child to help watch your youngest, especially when waiting in long lines.
Teach your son or daughter what to do in the event you get separated. The best option is to instruct your child to look for a security guard or police officer, or go to the customer service desk where people are trained to help.

--In the Parking Lot: Always park where there is plenty of light, not only around your car, but also from your car to the mall or store entrance. Once your car is parked, familiarize yourself with its location so you can find it without delay. Don't hesitate to ask for a security escort if you feel unsafe. Use the trunk of your car to keep your packages out of sight. Keep your car locked at all times. When walking through parking lots, be sure that you are aware of your surroundings. Walk with authority. Don't look like a victim! Have your keys in your hand before you go to your car.

As the holiday shopping season moves into high gear, police are beefing up their patrols around shopping centers. Shoppers need to be alert more than ever as thieves target people parking in dark areas, walking alone or seeming preoccupied with numerous packages and roaming children. During the holidays, the potential for thefts and robberies increases. More people are out and about, and they are carrying more gifts and money than during other times of the year. Additionally, the East Valley Tribune in Arizona has some more holiday shopping safety tips to help you weather the retail season:

• Be aware of your surroundings and make eye contact with others you walk pass through the parking lot.
• Be aware of who is walking behind you.
• If shoppers see any suspicious people groups or activity, they are encouraged to go inside the store and report it to store security.
• Carry a cell phone. If someone makes you suspicious or uncomfortable, notify security or call the police.
• Don’t display reminders of high-dollar purchases while taking out the trash and recycling. Break down the boxes of TVs, stereos, computers, etc., and turn them inside out before disposing of them.
• If you are traveling for the holidays, make your home look “lived in”. Have a friend or neighbor collect your mail and newspapers or have your service suspended while you are away.
• Use timers to turn lights off and on. Also, while leaving your home to go shopping, leave lights on inside and outside your home and make sure all doors and windows are locked.

The Holidays can be very stressful. That self induced desire to please all those you love with just the right gift can create situations where you leave common sense at home in front of the TV instead of bringing it along with you. When you are out and about, searching for that bauble you just can't do without, please make time to consider your personal safety and well being. Taking the proper precautions during this time of year helps to prevent, or at least mitigate the severity of, incidents that cause harm or worse. Your health care doesn't take a vacation during this season, and neither should your intelligence. Stay safe, and be happy. Make sure that your Holidays can be celebrated at home, and not in the hospital because you weren't mindful of your own personal safety.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Health Care and Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into specific body points to improve health and well-being, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. American practices of acupuncture use medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea and other countries. In the United States, the best-known type involves putting hair-thin, metallic needles in your skin, and research has shown that acupuncture reduces nausea and vomiting after surgery and chemotherapy. It can also relieve pain. Researchers don't fully understand how acupuncture works. It might aid the activity of your body's pain-killing chemicals. It also might affect how you release chemicals that regulate blood pressure and flow.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Traditional Chinese theory explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as qi or chi (chee) — believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance. In contrast, many Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This stimulation appears to boost the activity of your body's natural painkillers and increase blood flow.

Needles are put just deep enough into the skin to keep them from falling out and are usually left in place for a few minutes. Skilled acupuncturists cause virtually no pain. The acupuncturist may twirl the needles or apply heat or a weak electrical current to enhance the effects of the therapy, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Sonopuncture is similar to acupuncture, but needles are not used. Instead, an ultrasound device that transmits sound waves is applied to the body's acupoints. Sonopuncture is sometimes combined with tuning forks and other vibration devices. Proponents claim this approach is useful to treat many of the same disorders as acupuncture.

Electroacupuncture, according to the ACS, is considered an enhanced version of traditional acupuncture. It uses tiny electrical charges, with or without needles, to stimulate the same acupoints that are used in traditional acupuncture. Electroacupuncture devices are sometimes promoted for diagnosis or testing. In acupressure, a popular variation of acupuncture, therapists press on acupoints with their fingers instead of using needles. This technique is used by itself or as part of an entire system of manual healing, such as in shiatsu. In other variations of acupuncture, heat, friction, suction, magnets, or laser beams are directed to acupoints. Acupuncture is sometimes used along with less well-known traditional healing techniques, such as moxibustion and cupping. Acupuncture may sometimes be referred to as Zhenjiu, which is the standard Mandarin word for needle.

Originally, 365 acupoints were identified, corresponding to the number of days in a year. Over time, the number of acupoints grew to more than 2,000. Traditional acupuncture needles were made of bone, stone, or metal, including silver and gold. Modern acupuncture needles are made of very thin sterile stainless steel and are disposable. In 1996, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of acupuncture needles by licensed practitioners. By law, needles must be labeled for one-time use only to prevent infection and the transmission of germs, according to the ACS. In China, acupuncture is commonly accepted as a treatment for many diseases. Acupuncture has also become quite popular in the United States and Europe, where the technique is mainly used to control pain and relieve symptoms of disease, such as nausea caused by chemotherapy, but not to cure the disease itself. In 2010, there are an estimated 18,000 licensed acupuncturists in the United States. More than 40 states have set up training standards for licensing or certification to practice acupuncture. There are also about 8,000 medical doctors in the United States who have been trained to practice acupuncture. Medicare does not cover acupuncture, but it is covered by some private health insurance plans and HMOs.

According to the NIH, acupuncture has been studied for a wide range of pain conditions, such as postoperative dental pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headache, low-back pain, menstrual cramps, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, and tennis elbow. Overall, it can be very difficult to compare acupuncture research results from study to study and to draw conclusions from the cumulative body of evidence. This is because studies may use different acupuncture techniques (e.g., electrical vs. manual), controls (comparison groups), and outcome measures. People use acupuncture for various types of pain. Back pain is the most commonly reported use, followed by joint pain, neck pain, and headache, and it is being studied for its efficacy in alleviating many kinds of pain. There are promising findings in some conditions, such as chronic low-back pain and osteoarthritis of the knee; but, for most other conditions, additional research is needed. Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed correctly. Tell all your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

If you are planning to use acupuncture service, it is important to understand about payment before you begin treatment according to the NIH. Here are some questions to ask the practitioner:

--Costs: What does the first appointment cost? What do follow-up appointments cost? How many appointments am I likely to need? Are there any additional costs (e.g., tests, equipment, supplements)?

--Insurance (if you have a health insurance plan): Do you accept my insurance plan? What has been your experience with my plan's coverage for people with my condition? Do I file the claims, or do you take care of that?

--Payment options (if it would be difficult for you to pay the full fee for each visit): Could you arrange a payment plan over time? Do you offer a sliding-scale fee (i.e., fees based on income and ability to pay)? Much more info can be found at this site: .

You may be concerned about complications with acupuncture. According to the ACS, when done by a trained professional, acupuncture is generally considered safe. Relatively few complications have been reported, but there is a risk that a patient may be harmed if the acupuncturist is not well trained. Traditional needle acupuncture can cause dizziness, fainting, local bleeding or bruising, internal bleeding, convulsions, dermatitis, nerve damage, and increased pain. Rarely, punctured lungs have happened, resulting in a few deaths. Traditional acupuncture also poses risks such as infection from contaminated needles or improper delivery of treatment. In the United States, sterile, single-use needles are required by law. This minimizes the risk of infection from diseases like hepatitis B or C, as well as the risk of local infection where the needle was put into the skin. People who are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) may have bleeding problems with traditional needle acupuncture. People with cardiac pacemakers, infusion pumps, or other electrical devices should avoid electroacupuncture. Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer, may have serious health consequences. More information about this can be found at this website: .

No special preparation is required before acupuncture treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you're considering acupuncture, do the same things you would do if you were choosing a doctor:

■Ask people you trust for recommendations.
■Check the practitioner's training and credentials. Most states require that nonphysician acupuncturists pass an exam conducted by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
■Interview the practitioner. Ask what's involved in the treatment, how likely it is to help your condition and how much it will cost.
■Find out whether the expense is covered by your insurance.

Don't be afraid to tell your doctor you're considering acupuncture. He or she may be able to tell you about the success rate of using acupuncture for your condition or recommend an acupuncture practitioner for you to try. Each person who performs acupuncture has a unique style, often blending aspects of Eastern and Western approaches to medicine, according to the Mayo Clinic. To determine the type of acupuncture treatment that will help you the most, your practitioner may ask you many questions about your symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle. He or she may also closely examine:
■The parts of your body that are painful.
■The shape, coating and color of your tongue.
■The color of your face.
■The strength, rhythm and quality of the pulse in your wrist.

This initial evaluation may take up to 60 minutes. Subsequent appointments usually take about a half-hour. A common treatment plan for a single complaint would typically involve six to 12 treatments, scheduled over a few months. Several maintenance sessions a year also may be recommended. Before you start treatment, make sure that your acupuncture practitioner uses single-use, sterile packaged needles. You can visit this site and see more about acupuncture: , or you can visit this site: .

If you are open to complementary alternative medicine, choose a CAM provider that is licensed and credentialed. Also, make sure that they will work with you concerning appointments. Careington International ( has a great discount plan for wellness that includes a network for these types of providers. For a low monthly membership fee for a program called MyWellCare, you can use the plan as often as you wish and get a substantial discount off the cost of services on an unlimited basis. If you have an FSA or HSA, use those pre-tax dollars to pay for treatments and make your money work for you as well as feel better. Pain reduction and relaxation therapy are at least two good results from using acupuncture. Just make sure you are a good candidate and let your primary care physician know you are taking treatments. After all, saving money and better health are key ingredients to a better quality of life.

Until next time. let me know what you think.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Health Care and Bicycle Safety

When you were a kid, did you ride your bicycle for hours on end all over town? If you grew up in a more rural area, was your bike your mode of transportation to school or a host of other great locations? Did your Mom or Dad help you get started when you went you were ready to take off the training wheels? Did you ever have a major crash on your bicycle? What did you do--get back on or just never ride again? What about going out for rides with your friends? How many great experiences did you have when you were a kid and your bike was the best thing you owned?
Learning to ride a bicycle is one of the greatest lessons anyone can learn, especially as a child. The memories you make last forever, and they often remind you of much simpler, care free times. Rolling down the road on your Schwinn or any other type of bike with the wind blowing your hair, and the warm breezes during Spring, Summer, or Fall when the riding is best, are times that are worth repeating even as adults. Lots of people ride bikes for lots of different reasons, according to Here are the top five reasons why you should be out there too.

1. For Your Body--Riding a bike offers many health benefits. Here are just a few:
•Increased cardiovascular fitness.
•Increased strength.
•Increased balance and flexibility.
•Increased endurance and stamina.
•Increased calories burned.
It can be done by people of all ages, from childhood up even through the adult years when achy joints don't allow for more stressful exercise like jogging.

2. For Your State of Mind--Riding a bike is a proven stress releaser. Regardless if you are riding purely for pleasure or for a specific purpose, you will arrive at your destination feeling relaxed, energized and happier about the world and yourself. Plus, being out on your bike is just flat-out fun. The more time you spend on two wheels, the harder it is to take yourself too seriously.

3. For Your Community--Being out on your bike is good for the people around you as well. You are able to go the places you want to go and yet put one less car on the road. You don’t bring with you the noise that a car generates and are actually able to interaction with people as you move. From your bike, you can wave to a neighbor, say hi to a kid, smell someone’s dinner cooking and be a warm and friendly human presence on the streets. Also, not insignificant: operating a bicycling does not harm the environment. There is no polluting exhaust released, no oil or gas consumed. And the energy and materials used to manufacture one automobile could be used to created a hundred bikes.

4. For Convenience--There is an undeniable convenience factor you’ll discover when riding a bike. Front row parking spaces are guaranteed no matter where you go. Traffic jams are also irrelevant. Though cars will certainly make better time on long trips, you’ll find for many short trips or through heavy traffic, you can travel just as fast or faster on your bike. Have you ever been to a massive festival or concert in a park somewhere, the type of event that draws so many people that just getting there is a problem? Going in on a bike is a perfect solution. Zip in, zip out. You don’t have to get there hours early to get a parking spot or else face parking miles away from the event. And you won’t have to wait hours in traffic to get out once it’s over. 

5. For Your Pocketbook--It costs 30 cents or more per mile to operate a car, depending on the vehicle. This is based on expenses like gas, oil, maintenance, etc., that go up when you drive more. This figure doesn’t include the hidden costs of vehicle ownership like depreciation, taxes, and insurance. These factors make the actual per mile cost to operate a car much higher. When you start multiplying cost per mile to operate a car by the distance you ride, you can easily calculate how much money you save by riding a bike. And if you would otherwise have to pay for parking, tolls, and the like, don’t forget to factor that in too. It can add up quickly.

According to, there are definite health and economic benefits with bicycle riding. For example: If a person weighs about 220, and rides a bicycle 30 minutes one way in commuting to work, he could burn 1056 calories in the hour he spends commuting to and from work. That would work out to 5280 calories per week. With a diet designed to simply maintain your weight, you could lose 1.5 pounds per week without any serious dieting. You will have to adjust your calorie intake until it just meets your daily requirements, and you should consult your physician for help in this area, and to insure you are fit enough for the riding you want to do. You will find that you feel better and better as you exercise more, and you will find that cycling is one of the more enjoyable forms of exercise. If you can also reduce your commuting costs, the benefit of bicycling may produce an economic benefit as well.

There is, however, a potential downside to biking, according to; sitting on the bicycle seat may result in the compression of nerves and blood vessels of the vulnerable area of the body called the perineum. The perineum is the area between the anus and the base of the penis in males and between the anus and the vagina in females; it contains both blood vessels and nerves. Compression of the perineum can lead to nerve damage, swelling, artery insufficiency (lack of blood flow through the vessel), and even occlusion (blockage) of blood vessels, which in turn can lead to temporary or permanent groin numbness, tingling sensations, decreased penile blood supply, erectile dysfunction (impotence), decreased orgasm sensitivity, and pain. The interaction between the bicycle seat (saddle) and the perineum is the culprit in all cases of perineal symptoms in cyclists. The interaction is dependent on the vertical (downward) and shear (backward) force of the perineum on the saddle, the weight of the rider, the height and angle between the saddle and the handlebars, the saddle tilt angle, and the shape of the saddle. For much more detailed information about groin numbness, check out this website:

According to, the overall health benefits of bike riding are very positive in spite of certain health concerns. Cycling offers one of the best cardiovascular workouts you can find. Because you are seated and not bearing your weight as you cycle, you can get in a "zone" on a bike and ride for very long periods of time compared to running, where you typically get tired after a relatively short time. This ability to maintain your heart rate for a long time is a major benefit of riding a bike. Doctors will tell you that in order to get a benefit from exercise, you need to maintain your heart rate at an elevated level for at least 20 minutes. Many runners, especially beginners, may find this difficult or at least uncomfortable. However, on a bike this is a very easy goal. Three and four hour rides at a low intensity level are quite simple, even for a beginner cyclist.

Cycling also offers a great way to exercise without exposing your relatively fragile joints to severe impact such as you get while running, according to Associated Content. Over time this can greatly extend your ability to maintain your exercise program. There is some risk to your knees while cycling, however if you are properly fit on your bike and are using your gears correctly this is typically not a problem. Many of the chronic injuries runners have to deal with are similar in cycling, but they happen at a much lower rate due to the low impact nature of riding a bike. Many cyclists also have problems with their backs, especially those who are riding more aggressive "racing" bikes where the rider in is a very forward and aerodynamic position. The key to avoiding this type of problem is to make stretching a regular part of your workout routine. Staying flexible has many health advantages, and is very important while riding a bike. Also available to cyclist with bad backs are recumbent bikes. Known as "bents" in the cycling word, these bikes are low to the ground and have a seat with a back, much like sitting in a sports car. They can be a lot of fun to ride and offer quite a different cycling experience from the more common upright bikes. Recumbent bikes are great for people with back problems as your back is supported during your ride. They are also very stable and hard to fall off of, but they are lower to the ground and are less visible to traffic around you. A good exercise routine is a vital aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In America today we are facing increasing rates of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, all of which are made worse if you don't keep fit. Riding a bike can be a fantastic way to stay in shape and lower your risk of significant health problems.

Be careful. Bike riding is a lot of fun, but accidents happen. The safest way to use your bike is for transportation, not play. Every year, about 300,000 children go to the emergency department because of bike injuries, and at least 10,000 kids have injuries that require a few days in the hospital. Some of these injuries are so serious that children die, usually from head injuries, according to A head injury can mean brain injury. That's why it's so important to wear your bike helmet. Wearing one doesn't mean you can be reckless, but a helmet will provide some protection for your face, head, and brain in case you fall down. For great info on safety tips when riding bicycles, especially for children, spend time reading the info at this site: . Lots of great content for safety. Even more info can be found at

Family bike rides can be great fun for your whole family. They provide recreation and exercise at the same time. With attention to safety and the addition of a few nice surprises, your bike rides will be happily anticipated and fondly remembered. Whether alone or in a group, bicycle riding offers many health benefits.
Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Health Care and Dental Sedation

If you are one of the many people who have a fear of dental work, then consider dental sedation when you visit your dentist. Dental sedation is used for those individuals who are very afraid of having dental work done, regardless of their age. Sedation dentistry is used to provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for certain people receiving dental treatment. It enables individuals too afraid to go to the dentist to receive the dental care they need while avoiding the common apprehension known as dental phobia. According to to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS Education), a professional dental organization dedicated to ensuring that patients receive safe, comfortable and anxiety-free dental care, 30 percent of the population avoids the dentist due to fear. This all-too-common “dental phobia” prevents people from receiving necessary routine dental care, potentially compromising the health and functionality of their mouth and smile, as noted by

According to, there can be a conflict between your dental fears, on the one hand, and your need for control on the other. If you choose sedation, this pretty much eliminates your anxiety about discomfort or pain from the dental procedures, if that's what you're afraid of. Or, if you're afraid of a panic attack while sitting in the dentist's chair, sedation might eliminate that fear, too. But if you want to be consulted if anything unusual comes up, or if you're more generally worried about not being in control of proceedings, "sleep dentistry" may be a hindrance rather than a help. It may be worth discussing inhalation sedation (laughing gas) with your dentist if you don't like the idea of loss of memory for the procedure, and if some sense of control is important to you. What you choose will depend on what you believe is most important.  Most people have some degree of ambivalence about being in control of, or aware during, a delicate or potentially painful situation, medical or dental. You and your dentist should discuss whether the procedure would be uncomfortable or distressing to you. It may be useful to talk to others who have undergone the procedure. For a few reasons it may be wise to have a friend or family member present during the procedure. This may ensure that your basic dignity and privacy are not compromised. Also the dentist may relate useful information to them during the procedure.

Sedation is a process used to establish a relaxed, easy and calm state through the use of sedatives, according to Your Dentistry Guide. Sedative drugs (tranquillizers, depressants, anti-anxiety medications, nitrous oxide, etc.) can be administered in a variety of ways. In the past, intravenous (IV) sedation – sedatives delivered via injection into the blood vessels of the hand or arm – was predominantly used to sedate a dental patient. IV sedation is both safe and effective when administered by a trained professional. Today, however, sedation dentistry has evolved to be even more conducive to a relaxing experience. Patients have alternatives to the traditional modalities of inhalation (nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”) and IVs, such as those offering a "no needle” (meaning, no injection) approach that many people find more appealing. Oral sedation dentistry is now the most common technique used in the United States and Canada to quell patient fears. The technique is easy and requires no needles. Best of all, the medications create such a comfortable experience that most patients do not remember the visit; it is as if they slept through the treatment. In reality, oral sedation dentistry maintains a level of consciousness in the patient for safety and cooperation. To learn more, visit . Note that sedation is different from anesthetic injections. Although some forms of sedation (such as nitrous oxide gas) may raise your threshold for pain, most dental treatments still require a local anesthetic injected in the mouth, even when sedation dentistry techniques are performed.

According to, the procedure for sedation involves three different degrees of depressing the central nervous system and can range from minimal to moderate to deep sedation. When sedation dentists administer minimal sedation, the patient has reduced anxiety, but can still respond verbally and physically to his surroundings. In moderate sedation, the patient is even more relaxed, but will respond only to a larger stimulus in his environment. In deep sedation, the patient usually does not who any signs of consciousness and is not responsive to anything going on in his local environment. Oral sedation dentistry offers the flexibility of all three sedation states, depending on the level of anxiety of the patient. What usually happens is a dentist will give a patient a prescription for a sedative to be taken the night before the procedure is scheduled. The sedative serves two purposes: 1) It helps the patient to get a good sleep during the night, and 2) it ensures the patient will wake up relaxed for the procedure. This is considered a no-needle approach. The patient can either take whole pills or allow the dentist to give the pills to him sublingually (under the tongue). Drugs taken sublingually in sedative dentistry get to the bloodstream much quicker.
Dentists who administer the meds used during conscious sedation dentistry have usually already measured the safety of these drugs on the therapeutic index, according to My Sedation Dentistry. The larger the med measures on the scale, the safer it is. Because some of the meds make you remember little after you take them, they are sometimes lumped into a category called “comfort dentistry” or “relaxation dentistry.” The terms are meant to describe how patients feel after taking the meds: free of fear and quite relaxed. Sedation in dentistry requires that a dentist knows which drug is appropriate for weight, height and level of anxiety. Some of the drugs a patient will take are given after he arrives for the procedure and after he has taken the sedative pill the night before. Those drugs might include laughing gas (also call nitrous oxide), valium, Ativan, Sonata and a few others. They take a while to wear off after the procedure, so the patient may need someone to drive him home. The patient may also experience an amnesic side effect and not remember much, but memory does return

One of the major benefits of sedation dentistry is that people often feel like their dental procedure lasts only a few minutes, when in fact it might have taken hours to perform. Therefore, complex dental procedures such as smile makeovers or extensive rebuilding procedures that normally require multiple visits can often be performed in fewer appointments. If you are reluctant to change the appearance of your smile because you are afraid or anxious about undergoing long or complicated dental procedures, sedation dentistry can make you feel comfortable during the treatment process and help you achieve a smile you can be proud of. Also, because sedation dentistry addresses some of the fears that keep people from going to the dentist on a regular basis, sedation dentistry patients are more likely to receive recommended routine care. As a result, they are less likely to neglect their oral health or allow oral health problems to build to the point when drastic dental treatments become necessary, according to Your Dentistry Guide.
Dental sedation is definitely a great option for many people, but it is not for everyone. Plus, depending on where you live, sedation may not be widely offered - and it's more expensive. If you suffer with dental phobia, it can be very disconcerting, if not scary, to read statements along the lines of "the only way people like you can be treated is when you're sedated". Not true in most cases! So, according to Dental Fear Central, don't have a nervous breakdown if you can't avail of it - generally speaking, pain can be controlled extremely well with the use of local anaesthetic, and anxiety can often be controlled using psychological methods. However, if you have an instinctive feeling that behavioural methods can't help you, make sure you seek out a dentist who offers sedation. Many dentists who offer sedation simply do so as an adjunct to empathetic treatment, to patients who desire to know as little as possible of the procedure or who want to get things fixed in the least amount of time possible. However, there are also some who offer it because they lack the people skills needed to make frightened clients feel at ease.

It’s important to know that a visit to the dentist can be a positive experience, even when treatment is necessary. Millions of Americans, nearly 30%, are afraid of the dentist. They avoid dental care at all costs, even when they are in pain or discomfort, according to But it no longer has to be that way. Modern dentistry offers safe, effective, and comfortable treatments to anxious and fearful patients. Dental fear is a hidden phobia, like many people, you may be embarrassed to admit your fears and even more afraid to confront them. Often times not even your loved ones are aware of your apprehension. Worse yet, you may have never known that sedation care is an option. When you talk with your dentist, look at the options with the office for this procedure if you feel you need it to help calm your anxiety. There are various considerations, but make the choice that best suits your dental health. After all, it's your smile. Take care of it, and your teeth and gums will thank you.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Health Care and Sneezing

Ahhhhchoooo! Usually this sound means that someone has sneezed, and sometimes it can be pretty loud depending on the type of person who has experienced it and those closest to the person who let fly a spray from their nose and mouth. Sneezing is very common, and everyone does it--kids, adults, babies, even pets. Sneezing used to be thought of as a means for the body to drive out evil spirits. Today we know that the sudden forceful expulsion of air through the nose and mouth is caused by irritation of the mucous membrane, according to Men's Health on Functional and less scary, but more, well, boring?
Sneezing, also called sternutation, is your body's way of removing an irritation from your nose, according to the inside of your nose gets a tickle, a message is sent to a special part of your brain called the sneeze center. The sneeze center then sends a message to all the muscles that have to work together to create the amazingly complicated process that we call the sneeze. Some of the muscles involved are the abdominal (belly) muscles, the chest muscles, the diaphragm (the large muscle beneath your lungs that makes you breathe), the muscles that control your vocal cords, and muscles in the back of your throat. Don't forget the eyelid muscles! Did you know that you always close your eyes when you sneeze?
According to, a sneeze can leave the body at a speed of about 150km an hour. A sneeze involves muscles in the face, throat, chest and abdomen. It is probable, therefore, that a young, fit man can sneeze more forcefully than someone older or someone who has a smaller body frame, but it's clearly dependant on a number of variables whether or not men sneeze more forcefully than women. Common causes of sneezing include:

•Nasal irritants like dust, pepper, powders, pollens
•Viral infections like the common cold
•Drug withdrawal
•Corticosteroid inhalation
•Exposure to sunlight

Do you know anyone who sneezes when they step outside into the sunshine? About 1 out of every 3 people sneezes when exposed to bright light, according to They are called photic sneezers (photic means light). If you are a photic sneezer, you got it from one of your parents because it is an inherited trait. You could say that it runs in your family. Most people have some sensitivity to light that can trigger a sneeze. Have you ever had the feeling that you are about to sneeze, but it just gets stuck? Next time that happens, try looking toward a bright light briefly (but don't look right into the sun) — see if that doesn't unstick a stuck sneeze!

There are plenty of myths that circulate about sneezing. Strange sneezing facts aside, there are some beliefs about sneezing that just aren't true, according to WebMD. For instance, it's not true that your heart stops when you sneeze. When your chest contracts because of a sneeze, your blood flow is momentarily constricted as well. As a result, the rhythm of your heart may change, but it definitely doesn't stop. And your eyeballs cannot pop out of your head when you sneeze. Most people naturally close their eyes when they sneeze, but if they are able to keep them open, their eyes stay firmly planted in their heads where they belong. While a person's blood pressure behind the eyes may increase slightly when he sneezes, it's not enough force to dislodge the eyeballs from the head. Plus, some people believe other sneezing folklore, including the notion that if you sneeze, company is coming over, and if your cat sneezes, it's going to rain. As for the blessing many people say after someone sneezes,  the Greek word for sneeze is "pneuma," which means "soul or spirit." A post-sneeze blessing stems from the ancient belief that sneezing is a near-death experience, and that a blessing will prevent your soul or sneeze from escaping your body and will deter the devil from entering in.

Also, for almost anything you want to know about sneezing can be found at this website with exhaustive information about the subject: . Want to know how to stop a sneeze? You can find a lot of info here: . If you want to know why your dog sneezes, visit this site: .

According to WebMD, here are 10 Surprising Sneezing Facts:

1. "Sneezes start in your nerves," says Neil Kao, MD, an allergy and asthma specialist at the Allergic Disease and Asthma Center in Greenville, S.C. Everyone's nervous system is basically wired in the same way. But signals traveling along nerves can take slightly different paths to and from the brain, resulting in different sneeze scenarios from person to person. It's a nerve transmission that tells your brain something is in your nose that needs to come out.

2. Sneezing helps keep your body safe. Sneezing is an important part of the immune process, helping to keep us healthy and sniffle-free. Sneezes protect your body by clearing the nose of bacteria and viruses. When something enters your nose or you encounter a trigger that sets off your "sneeze center" in your brain, located in the lower brain stem, signals are rapidly sent to tightly close your throat, eyes, and mouth. Next, your chest muscles vigorously contract, and then your throat muscles quickly relax. As result, air -- along with saliva and mucus -- is forced out of your mouth and nose. Voila, you've sneezed.

3. Sneezes are speedy. "Sneezes travel at about 100 miles per hour," says Patti Wood, author of Success Signals: Understanding Body Language. Also, a single sneeze can send 100,000 germs into the air.

4. Plucking your eyebrows may make you sneeze. Plucking may set off a nerve in your face that supplies your nasal passages. As a result, you sneeze.

5. You don't sneeze in your sleep. When you sleep, so do your sneezing nerves -- which means you usually don't sneeze when you doze.

6. Your workout may make you sneeze. Exercise can make you sneeze. You hyperventilate when you're over-exerted, and as a result, your nose and mouth start to dry up. So your nose reacts by starting to drip, making you sneeze.

7. The longest sneezing spree: 978 days, a record set by Donna Griffiths of Worcestershire, England, according to background information on the Library of Congress' web site.

8. Sex can be a sneezing trigger. Have sex, must sneeze? It happens more often than you might think. Researchers believe that the stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system fires off signals in some people to not only enjoy the act of sex, but to sneeze when it's over.

9. The sneeziest animal: the iguana. Iguanas sneeze more often and more productively than any other animal, according to research. Sneezing is how they rid their bodies of certain salts that are the normal byproduct of their digestive process.

10. How do you stop a sneeze? While it's not foolproof, try breathing through your mouth and pinching the end of your nose.

Sneezing in itself is not a life-threatening situation, but it may trigger other health issues. Sneezing is a phenomenon that is common to all humans and is widespread in the animal kingdom as well. It may, according to play an important role in maintaining health in ways that people do not currently understand. It is rarely a sign of serious illness or impending disaster as feared by previous generations. On the other hand, it can be remarkably annoying, as anyone with significant seasonal allergies or a bad cold can tell you. Perhaps the most important "take-home" message is to mention again the importance of covering your mouth and nose when you have a cold that triggers a sneeze.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.