Friday, December 23, 2011

Health Care and Christmas

Hustle and bustle, buying and selling, travel and crowds, rich and poor, teens giving birth to babies---not much has changed in 2,000 years, except there is more of the same, and at a faster pace. Over the last two millenia, the focus on this time of year has waxed and waned depending on how religious societies have been. Most people know the story, in America. That's because the nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles by Believers who were seeking asylum from religious persecution. Granted there were plenty of secular reasons to come to the New World--gold, freedom, land, safety, and more. But there are many parts of the world where the population does not know the story of the manger.

But the story of a baby born to a teenage virgin Jewish girl is one that has stood the test of time, and it is the Reason for the Season. When a bunch of ragged shepherds outside the ancient town of Bethlehem were startled, or practically scared to death, by a heavenly host of angels that night, it was pretty apparent that this particular birth of a newborn infant boy was no regular occasion. Admit it, how many times have you been given a personal message by celestial beings who covered the night sky? Then, when you checked out the story, it turned out to be true? So there it is--nothing short of miraculous.

In those days, the life span of most people was pretty short, and there was a lot to fear. Death was common; and for the poor, it was an everyday experience. Not a great future for most people--slavery for many, disease, bad food, and horrific living conditions. Good times it was not. Then, if that wasn't enough, you had the Roman army on your case all the time, and everyone else in the countries around wanted you dead, too. Talk about having no reason to celebrate new life!

However, when Jesus who is called the Christ, was delivered to Mary, His mother, and to His earthly father Joseph, the story only just began. Although His parents were stunned at the attention, and often confused by the meaning of it all, they knew there was something special about this child. Although there is no recording in the Bible of Joseph's thoughts or words, and very little is mentioned about him, it is recorded that Mary pondered all these things in her heart. A classic song by recording artist Mark Lowry, "Mary did you Know?" puts the birth of the Christ child into perspective. Listen to it here:

Healthcare in ancient Biblical times was, at best, difficult. According to Biblical Archeology Review (BAR) Magazine, Both the Bible and archaeology indicate that numerous options were available. Generally, however, cult and healing were closely related. Of one thing we may be sure: Raging bellyaches—as well as the other infirmities that flesh is heir to—were not uncommon in ancient times. Archaeoparasitologists (archaeologists who study the remains of ancient parasites) have found evidence of intestinal diseases—both tapeworm (taenia) and whipworm (trichuris trichiura) infections—in ancient Israel. Lice infestation was doubtless a problem if we may judge from lice combs recovered at Megiddo and elsewhere (see scarred skull from Dimona). Numerous other medical problems, from infertility to epidemics, are referred to in the Bible and other ancient literature.

As in modern times, patients usually followed a hierarchy of options, beginning with simple and inexpensive ones, and, if circumstances required, moving to more complicated and expensive ones. Today, our first option for a stomachache might be an antacid from the medicine chest. If the stomachache persists, we seek help from a specialist. Much more detail about medical treatments during the ancient times in the Middle East can be found at this site:  Plus, much info about women, puberty, menstruation, and child birth can be found at this site:

Regardless of the times, what is known concerning the birth of Jesus has been repeated down through the ages by both the spoken and written word. The evidence abounds even in secular literature that He did exist, and there is plenty of evidence that His life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection happened. Eye witness accounts from the 33 years of His life, career, and ministry have been substantiated, and the entire calendar of time exists as a result of His birth divided into before (B.C.) and after (A.D). The history of the world has been based on that one single fact.

Believers celebrate this time of year as one of the most days. Those who are not still celebrate the holiday because it's an excuse to party, give gifts, and spend time away from work and see family and friends. In fact, Jesus wasn't even born in December. Most scholars believe His birth occurred in the Spring during the time that shepherds would have been tending flocks of sheep outside at night. Christmas was officially recognized initially by the Church in the third century as a way to piggyback on the Roman pagan holiday of Saturnalia, which was the celebration of the winter solstice typically held on the 25th of December each year. Rather than buck the trend, the thought was, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." As a result, Christians have been worshipping the birth of the Savior, the Son of God, on December 25 since then. It is a holy day to be sure, but don't miss the purpose of His birth in the midst of all the fun, food, and fellowship.

Christ came to earth to be a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He is the perfect lamb that shed His blood over three decades after Mary delivered Him in an animal food trough, in a stable, behind a Jewish Motel 1. He is God with us--Emmanuel. His life was sinless, and He gave it up willingly so men, women, boys, and girls would have a way to escape eternal separation from the Creator. He is the Great I Am. No matter what your religious philosophy or beliefs may be--you're not gonna make it without a personal relationship with Him. That's a given.

So, it's okay to join in the celebrations, the parties, the concerts, the caroling, the food, the memories of Christmases past, the family reunions, the friends, the gifts, the movies and TV shows that Hallmark and others produce showing happy endings, Santa Claus (the Spirit of Christmas), and all the rest -- within moderation of course. And you shouldn't feel guilty about it, unless you overindulge. Then, that is a problem. But, remember, when you pause and give thanks for the gifts you have given and received this Christmas, it's not about all of these things. It's about Him, the real Reason for the Season.

Merry Christmas!

Until next time.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Health Care and Bruising

Have you ever bumped into furniture or some other large item and felt pain in your body where the accident happened? Do your arms or legs sometimes show up black and blue from hitting them against large objects or perhaps from other incidents? Bruising can occur with the least of bumps, to the most serious of physical trauma, and leave the victim in pain and severe skin discoloration if they are sensitive to that type of physical contact, either from inanimate or living objects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Most bruises form when small blood vessels (capillaries) near the skin's surface are broken by the impact of a blow or injury — often on the arms or legs. When this happens, blood leaks out of the vessels and initially appears as a bright or dark red, purple or black mark. Eventually your body reabsorbs the blood, and the mark disappears over time. Generally, harder blows cause larger bruises. However, if you bruise easily, a minor bump — one you might not even notice — can result in substantial discoloration. Some people — especially women — are more prone to bruising than are others. As you get older, several factors can contribute to easy bruising, including:

Aging capillaries. Over time, the tissues supporting these vessels weaken, and capillary walls become more fragile and prone to rupture.Thinning skin. With age, your skin becomes thinner and loses some of the protective fatty layer that helps cushion your blood vessels from injury. Excessive exposure to the sun accelerates this process. 

According to, different types of bruises include contusions, hematomas and purpura:

Contusions are common types of bruises that are caused by trauma, often blunt-force injury, that damages and breaks open the tiny blood vessels in the tissues of the skin, mucus membranes or other organs. Contusions are often accompanied by pain and swelling due to the body’s inflammatory response to injury. This is why a bruise on your shin caused by bumping a table can become swollen. When a contusion develops in your skin, it turns red, then black and blue or purple, and finally a greenish-yellow shade as the blood is broken down and absorbed by the body. Bone contusions and deep muscle contusions can be very painful and take longer to heal than contusions that only affect the skin tissues. The most serious type of contusions are contusions of important organs, such as the brain, kidneys, spleen, liver, lungs and heart. These contusions can be life threatening and are generally caused by severe trauma, such as a fall from a significant height, being hit by a car, serious crush injury, or motor vehicle accident, especially without wearing a seat belt.

Hematomas are a type of bruising in which there is significant bleeding that results in a collection of blood that pools at the site of injury. Hematomas can be caused by the same forces that cause contusions but generally cause more pain, swelling and complications than contusions. Hematomas can be also be caused by surgical procedures or spontaneous rupture of a blood vessel, such as a ruptured aneurysm. Hematomas can occur in any area or organ of the body, and when they occur in certain organs, such as the brain or spleen, they can be life threatening. Common hematomas include:

• Epidural, subdural and intercerebral hematomas are collections of blood in the brain and/or under the skull, which can cause a critical increase in pressure in the skull and brain.
• Nasal septum hematoma is a collection of blood that pools in the septum that divides the nose.
• Subcutaneous hematoma is a collection of blood that pools just beneath the skin.
• Subungal hematoma is a collection of blood that pools under a fingernail or toenail.
A shearing injury can also cause a hematoma in major organs. For example, shaking a baby can cause dangerous shearing forces inside the brain, a brain hematoma, irreversible brain injury, and death.

Purpura is caused by spontaneous leaking of blood from tiny blood vessels (capillaries). It is a type of bruising that causes purple or red flat spots or patches on the skin and mucus membranes. Purpura that results in tiny spots on the skin is called petechiae. A large area of purpura is called ecchymosis, although any type of bruising of the skin is often referred to as ecchymosis. Purpura is not caused by trauma, as are contusions, but by a variety of medical diseases, disorders and conditions including:

• Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
• Certain infectious diseases, such as meningitis, mononucleosis and measles.
• Certain medications, such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, antihistamines, and blood thinners.
• Insect bites.
• Leukemia.
• Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count that causes problems with clotting).
• Vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels).

If you experience easy or frequent bruising, especially if it is associated with nosebleeds or bleeding gums, seek prompt medical care. If you, or someone you know, develops petechiae, which are small, flat, purple-colored spots that can indicate meningitis or other serious conditions, seek immediate medical care (call 911).

You know how a bruise changes color over time? That's your body fixing the bruise by breaking down and reabsorbing the blood, which causes the bruise to go through many colors of the rainbow before it eventually disappears. You can pretty much guess the age of a bruise, according to, just by looking at its color:

--When you first get a bruise, it's kind of reddish as the blood appears under the skin.
--Within 1 or 2 days, the hemoglobin (an iron-containing substance that carries oxygen) in the blood changes and your bruise turns bluish-purple or even blackish.
--After 5 to 10 days, the bruise turns greenish or yellowish.
--Then, after 10 or 14 days, it turns yellowish-brown or light brown.
--Finally, after about 2 weeks, your bruise fades away.

It's hard to prevent bruises, but you can help speed the healing process. When you get a bruise, you can use stuff you find right in your freezer to help the bruise go away faster. Applying cold when you first get a bruise helps reduce its size by slowing down the blood that's flowing to the area, which decreases the amount of blood that ends up leaking into the tissues. It also keeps the inflammation and swelling down. All you have to do is apply cold to the bruise for half an hour to an hour at a time for a day or two after the bruise appears.

You don't need to buy a special cold pack, although they're great to keep on hand in the freezer. Just get some ice, put it in a plastic bag, and wrap the bag in a cloth or a towel and place it on the bruise (it isn't such a good idea to apply the ice directly to the skin). Another trick is to use a bag of frozen vegetables. It doesn't matter what kind — carrots, peas, lima beans, whatever — as long as they're frozen. A bag of frozen vegetables is easy to apply to the bruise because it can form to the shape of the injured area. Also, like a cold pack, it can be used and refrozen again and again (just pick your least-favorite vegetables as it's not a good idea to keep thawing and freezing veggies that you plan to eat!).

Another way to help heal your bruise is to elevate the bruised area above the level of your heart, according to KidsHealth. In other words, if the bruise is on your shin, lie down on a couch or bed and prop up your leg. This will slow the flow of the red blood cells to the bruise because more of the blood in your leg will flow back toward the rest of your body instead of leaking out into the tissues of your leg. If you keep standing, more blood will flow to your bruised shin and the bruise will grow faster.

According to, on occasion, instead of going away, the area of a bruise will become firm and may actually start increasing in size. It may also continue to be painful. There are two major causes for this. First, if a large collection of blood is formed under the skin or in the muscle, instead of trying to clean up the area, the body may wall the blood off causing what is called a hematoma. A hematoma is nothing more than a small pool of blood that is walled off. This may need to be drained by your health-care practitioner.

A second and much less common problem occurs when the body deposits calcium, the material that makes up the majority of bone, in the area of injury. The area becomes tender and firm. This process is called heterotopic ossification or myositis ossificans. This condition is diagnosed by x-ray and requires a trip to your health-care practitioner.

The terminology describing different types of bruising often refers to not only their appearance but also to their cause. Petechiae refer to very small, 1- to 3-millimeter accumulations of blood beneath the skin. These can appear like multiple tiny red dots on any part of the body (most commonly the legs). Most often these are multiple, and they can suggest that there is serious health problem present. Examples of these are an infection of the valves of the heart (endocarditis) or abnormal function of the blood-clotting elements (platelets). Bruising around the navel (belly button) can be a result of bleeding within the abdomen. Bruising behind the ear (Battle's sign) can indicate that there is a skull fracture. Lastly, bruises that are raised, firm, multiple, and occur without any injury can be a sign of various types of "autoimmune" diseases (diseases in which the body attacks its own blood vessels). Each of these should be evaluated by a health-care practitioner.

Also, avoid taking the medications that can contribute to bruising, according to MedicineNet. If you have any questions about whether or not your medication can contribute to bruising, ask your health-care practitioner or pharmacist. Do not stop any prescription medications without first contacting your health-care practitioner. Finally, pressure applied to the area (by hand, not with tourniquets) can reduce bleeding. People who take medicines that reduce clotting ("blood thinners") or have clotting abnormalities should seek the advice of a physician or other health-care provider immediately, as should the elderly or those who have experienced significantly severe trauma.

Bruising can be caused by many reasons; but they are never to be taken lightly if the bruised area has been exacerbated by a serious health reason or physical issue, or if the bruising appears to be life threatening or critical. Make sure that your doctor is aware of any serious bruising issues, or if you are the caretaker of anyone who has suffered a serious trauma with bruising or from other reasons they have been bruised. Use common sense to treat bruises, and follow up with your primary care provider if there are any complications or additional problems concerning the healing process or other side effects. Use medication correctly to resolve any bruising issues. Bruises are not pretty, but they can be treated.

Until next time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Health Care and PTSD

PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a symptom that develops after someone has experienced a significant life situation creating a huge amount of stress, typically from an incident that is extremely traumatic such as exposure to death or some other major reason like injury or potential loss of life.

After a traumatic experience, it’s normal to feel frightened, sad, anxious, and disconnected, according to Usually, with time, the upset fades and you start to enjoy life again. But sometimes the trauma is so overwhelming that you find that you can’t move on. You feel stuck with a constant sense of danger and painful memories that don’t fade.

According to the US National Library of Medicine (NLM), PTSD can occur at any age. It can follow a natural disaster such as a flood or fire, or events such as:

•Domestic abuse
•Prison stay

For example, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 may have caused PTSD in some people who were involved, in people who saw the disaster, and in people who lost relatives and friends. Veterans returning home from a war often have PTSD. The cause of PTSD is unknown. Psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors are involved. PTSD changes the body's response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters). It is not known why traumatic events cause PTSD in some people but not others. Having a history of trauma may increase your risk for getting PTSD after a recent traumatic event.

According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while. But with time and taking care of yourself, such traumatic reactions usually get better. In some cases, though, the symptoms can get worse or last for months or even years. Sometimes they may completely shake up your life. In a case such as this, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder. Getting treatment as soon as possible after post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms develop may prevent long-term post-traumatic stress disorder. Some factors may make you more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event, including:

--Being female.
--Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma.
--Having experienced other trauma earlier in life.
--Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression.
--Lacking a good support system of family and friends.
--Having first-degree relatives with mental health problems, including PTSD.
--Having first-degree relatives with depression.
--Having been abused or neglected as a child.

Women may be at increased risk of PTSD because they are more likely to experience the kinds of trauma that can trigger the condition. Post-traumatic stress disorder can disrupt your whole life: your job, your relationships and even your enjoyment of everyday activities, according to the Mayo Clinic, and also may place you at a higher risk of other mental health problems, including:

--Drug abuse
--Alcohol abuse
--Eating disorders
--Suicidal thoughts and actions.

In addition, PTSD may increase your risk of certain medical illnesses, including:

--Cardiovascular disease
--Chronic pain
--Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease
--Musculoskeletal conditions.

The traumatic events that lead to post-traumatic stress disorder are usually so overwhelming and frightening that they would upset anyone, according to Help Guide. Following a traumatic event, almost everyone experiences at least some of the symptoms of PTSD. When your sense of safety and trust are shattered, it’s normal to feel crazy, disconnected, or numb. It’s very common to have bad dreams, feel fearful, and find it difficult to stop thinking about what happened. These are normal reactions to abnormal events. For most people, however, these symptoms are short-lived. They may last for several days or even weeks, but they gradually lift. But if you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the symptoms don’t decrease. You don’t feel a little better each day. In fact, you may start to feel worse.

After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock. But as you make sense of what happened and process your emotions, you come out of it. With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise suddenly, gradually, or come and go over time. Sometimes symptoms appear seemingly out of the blue. At other times, they are triggered by something that reminds you of the original traumatic event, such as a noise, an image, certain words, or a smell. While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms:
--Re-experiencing the traumatic event.
--Avoiding reminders of the trauma.
--Increased anxiety and emotional arousal.

1.) Symptoms of PTSD: Re-experiencing the traumatic event.
--Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event.
--Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again).
--Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things).
--Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma.
--Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating).

2.) Symptoms of PTSD: Avoidance and numbing.
--Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma.
--Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma.
--Loss of interest in activities and life in general.
--Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb.
--Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career).

3.) Symptoms of PTSD: Increased anxiety and emotional arousal.
--Difficulty falling or staying asleep.
--Irritability or outbursts of anger.
--Difficulty concentrating.
--Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”).
--Feeling jumpy and easily startled.

There are no tests that can be done to diagnose PTSD. According to the NLM, the diagnosis is made based on certain symptoms. Your doctor may ask for how long you have had symptoms. This will help your doctor know if you have PTSD or a similar condition called Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). In PTSD, symptoms are present for at least 30 days. In ASD, symptoms will be present for a shorter period of time. Your doctor may also do mental health exams, physical exams, and blood tests to rule out other illnesses that are similar to PTSD.

Treatment can help prevent PTSD from developing after a trauma. A good social support system may also help protect against PTSD, according to the NLM. If PTSD does occur, a form of treatment called "desensitization" may be used. This treatment helps reduce symptoms by encouraging you to remember the traumatic event and express your feelings about it. Over time, memories of the event should become less frightening. Support groups, where people who have had similar experiences share their feelings, may also be helpful. In most cases, these problems should be treated before trying desensitization therapy. Medicines that act on the nervous system can help reduce anxiety and other symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can be effective in treating PTSD. Other anti-anxiety and sleep medicines may also be helpful. You can get more information about post-traumatic stress disorder from the American Psychiatric Association --

Another great site for PTSD support services is Military Ministry through Campus Crusade for Christ ( has materials available for returning veterans, and they have partnered with the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) to help those military personnel dealing with stress and PTSD.

Although traumatic events can cause distress, not all feelings of distress are symptoms of PTSD. Talk about your feelings with friends and relatives. If your symptoms do not improve soon or are making you very upset, contact your doctor. Seek help right away if:
--You feel overwhelmed.
--You are thinking of hurting yourself or anybody else.
--You are unable to control your behavior.
--You have other very upsetting symptoms of PTSD.

PTSD is a serious condition and should be treated as soon as possible upon diagnosis. If you or a loved one are suffering symptoms, visit a primary care physician, specialist, counselor, or psychologist to establish treatment. There are ways to treat this emotional and mental situation. Don't put it off.

Until next time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Health Care and Hair Loss

Over time, all people lose hair which is typically going to be evident on the scalp. Losing hair can be as simple as a few at a time all the way to complete baldness. According to the Mayo Clinic, Baldness typically refers to excessive hair loss from your scalp and can be the result of heredity, certain medications or an underlying medical condition. Anyone — men, women and children — can experience hair loss. Some people prefer to let their baldness run its course untreated and unhidden. Others may cover it up with hairstyles, makeup, hats or scarves. And still others choose one of the medications and surgical procedures that are available to treat hair loss. Before pursuing any treatment option, talk with your doctor about the cause of and best possible treatments for your hair loss.

According to WebMD, hair loss, or alopecia, is a concern for anyone experiencing it. The cause of hair loss varies. Treatments for hair loss include medications such as Proscar, Propecia, and Rogaine, hair replacements, and hair restoration. Hair loss can be caused by any number of conditions, reflected in a specific diagnosis. Some diagnoses have alopecia in their title, such as alopecia areata or scarring alopecia, but many do not, such as telogen effluvium. Alopecia can be caused by many factors from genetics to drugs. While androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness, AGA for short) is by far the most common form of hair loss, dermatologists also see many people with other forms of alopecia. Several hundred diseases have hair loss as a primary symptom.

Probably the most common non-AGA alopecias a dermatologist will see are telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, ringworm, scarring alopecia, and hair loss due to cosmetic overprocessing. Other, more rare forms of hair loss may be difficult to diagnose, and some patients may wait months, even years for a correct diagnosis and undergo consultation with numerous dermatologists until they find one with knowledge of their condition. Plus, with rare diseases, there is little motivation for research to be conducted and for treatments to be developed. Often, even when a correct diagnosis is made, a dermatologist can offer no known treatment for the condition.

Research into hair biology and hair diseases is a very small field, and even research on androgenetic alopecia is quite limited. Perhaps 20 years ago there were fewer than 100 people worldwide who studied hair research in a major way. In recent years, there may be five times as many. This is still a small number compared to, say, diabetes research, but the expanding numbers of researchers investigating hair biology is positive, and eventually should lead to a better understanding and more help for those with rare alopecias, according to WebMD.

According to, A number of things can cause excessive hair loss. For example, about 3 or 4 months after an illness or a major surgery, you may suddenly lose a large amount of hair. This hair loss is related to the stress of the illness and is temporary. Hormonal problems may cause hair loss. If your thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, your hair may fall out. This hair loss usually can be helped by treatment thyroid disease. Hair loss may occur if male or female hormones, known as androgens and estrogens, are out of balance. Correcting the hormone imbalance may stop your hair loss.

Many women notice hair loss about 3 months after they've had a baby. This loss is also related to hormones. During pregnancy, high levels of certain hormones cause the body to keep hair that would normally fall out. When the hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, that hair falls out and the normal cycle of growth and loss starts again. Some medicines can cause hair loss. This type of hair loss improves when you stop taking the medicine. Medicines that can cause hair loss include blood thinners (also called anticoagulants), medicines used for gout, high blood pressure or heart problems, vitamin A (if too much is taken), birth control pills and antidepressants. Certain infections can cause hair loss. Fungal infections of the scalp can cause hair loss in children. The infection is easily treated with antifungal medicines. Finally, hair loss may occur as part of an underlying disease, such as lupus or diabetes. Since hair loss may be an early sign of a disease, it is important to find the cause so that it can be treated.

Hair loss in children is more common than most people realize, according to WebMD. Currently children's hair loss is responsible for about 3% of all pediatric office visits in this country. The American Hair loss Association recognizes that children's hair loss can be an extremely devastating issue. However, you can take solace in knowing that most pediatric alopecia patients can be successfully treated with the proper diagnosis. The ALHA recommends seeking the advice of your pediatrician as soon as you notice the onset of even the smallest amount of hair loss in your child.

A complete medical history, family history and physical examination can help in a diagnosis, according to the Mayo Clinic. The pattern and rate of hair loss, the appearance of nearby hairs (for example, if hairs are broken off), and accompanying symptoms are considered when making the diagnosis. Tests may be necessary if the cause isn't apparent after the examination. These include:

--Pull test: Several dozen hairs are gently pulled to see how many come out. This helps determine the stage of the shedding process and can help diagnose or rule out telogen effluvium.
--Skin scrapings: Samples taken from the skin or from a few hairs plucked from the scalp can help verify whether an infection is causing hair loss.
--Punch biopsy: When a diagnosis is difficult to confirm, especially in the case of alopecia areata or scarring alopecia, your doctor may perform a punch biopsy. During this test, the doctor uses a circular tool to remove a small section of your skin's deeper layers.
--Screening tests for related diseases: Your doctor may perform tests to determine if you have a medical condition that causes hair loss, such as thyroid disease, diabetes or lupus. Your doctor may also ask questions about the types of medications you're taking.
--Sometimes hair loss is a side effect of certain drugs, such as those that treat gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems and high blood pressure.

According to, Depending on your type of hair loss, treatments are available. If a medicine is causing your hair loss, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine. Recognizing and treating an infection may help stop the hair loss. Correcting a hormone imbalance may prevent further hair loss. Medicines may also help slow or prevent the development of common baldness. One medicine, minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine), is available without a prescription. It is applied to the scalp. Both men and women can use it. Another medicine, finasteride, is available with a prescription. It comes in pills and is only for men. It may take up to 6 months before you can tell if one of these medicines is working. If adequate treatment is not available for your type of hair loss, you may consider trying different hairstyles or wigs, hairpieces, hair weaves or artificial hair replacement.

According to the Mayo Clinic, The following tips can help keep your hair healthy and may minimize the appearance of hair loss:

--Eat a nutritionally balanced diet.
--Handle your hair gently. Whenever possible, allow your hair to air-dry naturally.
--Avoid tight hairstyles, such as braids, buns or ponytails.
--Avoid compulsively twisting, rubbing or pulling your hair.
--Check with hair care experts about hairpieces or styling techniques that help minimize the effects of balding.
--The over-the-counter (nonprescription) medication minoxidil (Rogaine) promotes new hair growth and prevents further hair loss in a small percentage of people. Other over-the-counter hair growth products have no proven benefit.

According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), the following organizations are the only hair loss related non-profit or consumer organizations currently recognized by AHLA:
1. The American Academy of Dermatology :
2. International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons :
3. National Alopecia Areata Foundation :
4. Children's Alopecia Project :
5. The Bald Truth :
6.  The Rapunzel Project :

For more information about this organization, go to their site: .

Until next time.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Health Care and Holiday Foods

During the Holiday Season--Thanksgiving through New Year's Day--there seems to be an abnormal overabundance of delicious foods available to consumers, more so than any other time of the year. With this ode to food and drink, people like to over indulge, using the excuses that it's the Holidays, "everyone is doing it", there are so many parties to attend, and they can lose it after January 1. And foodies go nuts during November and December with all the tremendous options available at specialty stores, online food merchants, department and grocery store locations, warehouse clubs, and more. So much food, and so little time!

According to WebMD, wherever you come from or wherever you're going home to this season, here's how to serve up fare that is both festive and light. Whether your table offerings lean toward Norman Rockwell-worthy all-American, Latino, Jewish, Italian, or German traditions, the time-honored dishes you love can be made with less fat and fewer calories -- without sacrificing taste. Inspired by the foods ladled up by the Pilgrims, the traditional American meal has come to mean eggnog, hot apple cider, and gingerbread cookies on Dec. 24. Christmas Day is usually spent with relatives over a big meal centered around an oven-roasted turkey, honey-baked ham, or other impressive cut of meat -- accompanied by all the fixins. Here are some options to eat more healthy fare:

Traditional treat: What's a holiday office cocktail party without savory finger foods, creamy dips, and fried canapés?

Leaner eat: Bypass the chips and other fried pound-packers and help yourself to a small handful of nuts, reduced-fat cheese and fresh fruit, or chilled shrimp, says Arthur Agatston, MD, author of The South Beach Diet Parties and Holidays Cookbook: Healthy Recipes for Entertaining Family and Friends. Or serve a hummus dip with a holiday-themed veggie platter: red or green pepper, zucchini, and jicama strips.

Traditional treat: Dark turkey meat covered in gravy -- because nobody, but nobody, wants to eat the breast meat (not till the next day, that is, when everyone wants white-meat turkey sandwiches, slathered with mayo).

Leaner eat: Choose lower-fat white meat without the skin and enjoy it with just a drizzle of gravy made with defatted pan juices, dry white wine, and low-sodium chicken broth, Agatston tells WebMD.

Traditional treat: A "must" at most Americans' holiday table is a big mound of mashed potatoes drowning in butter and salt.

Leaner eat: Enjoy vitamin-rich mashed sweet potatoes or baked sweet potato rounds or fries. Spritz the strips with cooking spray, add a dash of cinnamon, and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Traditional treat: Corn bread stuffing cooked inside a turkey is a mainstay of the meal for many and usually loaded with a variety of meats, nuts, and veggies, with plenty of butter, of course.

Leaner eat: Try wild rice as stuffing instead, and bake it separately in a covered casserole. Cooked inside the turkey, the stuffing absorbs too much fat from the meat.

Traditional treat: Sweet, rich, oh-so-fattening pecan pie is a holiday highlight. While the antioxidant-packed nuts are good for you, in moderation, the corn syrup, butter, and sugar can pad your hips with up to 800 calories per slice.

Leaner eat: Opt for a small slice of pie minus the crust, and make it pumpkin, which is lower in fat and calories and also provides a good dose of beta-carotene. Or try a couple of strawberries dipped in  dark chocolate.

According to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Parties, family dinners, and other gatherings where food is served are all part of the holiday cheer. But the merriment can change to misery if food makes you or others ill. Typical symptoms of foodborne illness are vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms, which can start anywhere from hours to days after contaminated food or drinks are consumed. The symptoms usually are not long-lasting in healthy people—a few hours or a few days—and usually go away without medical treatment. But foodborne illness can be severe and even life-threatening to anyone, especially those most at risk:

--Older adults.
--Infants and young children.
--Pregnant women.
--People with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or any condition that weakens their immune system.
--People who take medicines that suppress the immune system; for example, some medicines for rheumatoid arthritis.

Combating bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other contaminants in our food supply is a high priority for the Food and Drug Administration. But consumers have a role to play, too, especially when it comes to safe food-handling practices in the home. The good news is that practicing four basic food safety measures can help prevent foodborne illness.

1. Clean: The first rule of safe food preparation in the home is to keep everything clean. Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food. For children, this means the time it takes to sing 'Happy Birthday' twice. Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next item. Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt. Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking. Washing these foods makes it more likely for bacteria to spread to areas around the sink and countertops.

2. Separate: Don't give bacteria the opportunity to spread from one food to another (cross-contamination). Keep raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from foods that won't be cooked. Take this precaution while shopping in the store, when storing in the refrigerator at home, and while preparing meals. Consider using one cutting board only for foods that will be cooked (such as raw meat, poultry, and seafood) and another one for those that will not (such as raw fruits and vegetables). Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood—and from kitchen utensils used for those products. Do not put cooked meat or other food that is ready to eat on an unwashed plate that has held any raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices.

3. Cook: Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. To check a turkey for safety, insert a food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165ºF. If the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165ºF. Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. When making your own eggnog or other recipe calling for raw eggs, use pasteurized shell eggs, liquid or frozen pasteurized egg products, or powdered egg whites. Don't eat uncooked cookie dough, which may contain raw eggs.

4. Chill: Refrigerate foods quickly because harmful bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature. Plus, refrigerate leftovers and takeout foods—and any type of food that should be refrigerated—within two hours. That includes pumpkin pie! Set your refrigerator at or below 40ºF and the freezer at 0ºF. Check both periodically with an appliance thermometer. Never defrost food at room temperature. Food can be defrosted safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately. Allow the correct amount of time to properly thaw food. For example, a 20-pound turkey needs four to five days to thaw completely when thawed in the refrigerator. Don't taste food that looks or smells questionable. A good rule to follow is, when in doubt, throw it out. Leftovers should be used within three to four days.

5. Use care with stuffing: Whether it is cooked inside or outside the bird, all stuffing and dressing must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165ºF. For optimum safety, cooking your stuffing in a casserole dish is recommended. Stuffing should be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it's placed in the oven. Mix wet and dry ingredients for the stuffing separately and combine just before using. The turkey should be stuffed loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. Any extra stuffing should be baked in a greased casserole dish.

With all the fun and food you have available during the Holidays, it pays to be very careful when eating. If you overindulge, you definitely will feel the after effects. If you aren't careful in food preparation, you and your family and guests may suffer later. Regardless of the edible options you have at this time of year, make sure you make wise choices when it comes to eating and drinking. Too much fun can be too much. After the first of the year, make up for your lack of resistance now. At least pace yourself til the end of the year, then as you make your New Year's resolutions--especially about losing weight--keep in mind that consuming lots of great food means lots of exercise to shed the pounds. Enjoy the Season!
Until next time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Health Care and the Day of Infamy

Seventy years ago today, the nation was rocked with a surprise attack on American naval forces at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. On an early Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the government of Japan launched a deadly raid that killed thousands of service men and women and destroyed a huge portion of the US Sixth Fleet. The next day, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the American public by radio and announced the horrific deed as the Day that will live in infamy. Congress immediately declared war on Japan, and then Americans were thrown into the largest worldwide conflict in history. Besides the nearly 2,400 who were killed, the attack left 1,178 people wounded, sank or heavily damaged a dozen U.S. warships and destroyed 323 aircraft, badly crippling the Pacific fleet.

Today, seven decades later, there are far fewer survivors left to remember and give honor to those that were casualties on that dark day. In 1991, which marked the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Congress established the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal. This is also known as the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Medal and can be awarded to any veteran of the United States military who were present in or around Pearl Harbor during the attack by the Japanese military. The medal can be awarded to civilians, who were killed or injured in the attack.

Memorials have been built to remember or to symbolize the day. For example, the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor is a marble memorial built over the sunken USS Arizona, which was dedicated in 1962. The memorial remembers all military personnel who were killed in the Pearl Harbor attack. The memorial was designed by architect Alfred Preis, an Austrian-born resident who lived in Honolulu and was placed at a detainment camp after the Pearl Harbor attack as part of the internment policy of Japanese and German Americans at the time.

Another memorial that commemorates Pearl Harbor Day is the USS Utah, a battleship that was attacked and sunk in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. A memorial to honor the crew of the USS Utah was dedicated on the northwest shore of Ford Island, near the ship's wreck, in 1972. The ship was added to the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989. It is also Utah’s official state ship. Memorabilia, books, and movies about the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 have also been made available to the public over the years.

According to the New York Times, for more than half a century, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association gathered here every Dec. 7 to commemorate the attack by the Japanese that drew the United States into World War II. Others stayed closer to home for more intimate regional chapter ceremonies, sharing memories of a day they still remember in searing detail. But no more. The 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will be the last one marked by the survivors’ association. With a concession to the reality of time — of age, of deteriorating health and death — the association will disband on Dec. 31.

The fact that this moment was inevitable has made this no less a difficult year for the survivors, some of whom are concerned that the event that defined their lives will soon be just another chapter in a history book, with no one left to go to schools and Rotary Club luncheons to offer a firsthand testimony of that day. The association was founded in 1958 with a roster of 28,000, all members of the military who had been on the island of Oahu the morning of the attack. It was granted a Congressional charter in October 1985. Membership had fallen to 2,700 as of Sept. 1; given the continuing death toll and the declining health of men who are all around 90 years old or older, that figure exaggerates the actual strength of the organization, which is why the their board voted to close down. Deaths were only part of the problem. Most of the survivors are well into their 90s; and a lot are housebound and can’t travel. Plus, a lot are in rest homes, so it becomes a tremendous problem at this age.

Due to the aging of these veterans, and many in poor or declining health, Pearl Harbor Day has now started to fade in the memories of survivors from that fateful day. Although horrific in its impact, the sacrifices made by those who paid the ultimate price should never be forgotten by a nation who continues to be at the forefront of international military action. Providing for the health care of those who are still living is a way to honor those now in their late 80's and 90's. May America remember, and may it stand beside the memorials of those who kept it safe. May those who still live from that time and continue to draw breath know that their service will not be forgotten. Give thanks today for our liberty and freedom, and never forget.

Until next time.