Friday, November 30, 2012

Health Care and Alcohol Poisoning During the Holidays

Drinking alcohol has significant consequences, especially if imbibing is done in excess. During the Holidays, many individuals push themselves to participate in as many parties and activities as possible. Also, during this Season is when most accidents occur due to alcoholic consumption, and the death rate also increases as a higher percentage of adults and teens are guilty of drinking and driving—definitely not smart. Plus, it’s against the law.

Another popular sport, particularly in the college age crowd, is binge drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours. More info can be found at this site: .

Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent. According to the CDC, national surveys show the following statistics about binge drinking:

• One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
• While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month.
• Binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more than among those with lower incomes.
• Approximately 92% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
• Although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older.
• The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.
• Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.
• About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
• More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.

According to Medical News Today, when somebody consumes an alcoholic drink, their liver has to filter out the alcohol, a toxin, from their blood. We absorb alcohol much more quickly than food - alcohol gets to our bloodstream much faster. However, the liver can only process a limited amount of alcohol; approximately one unit of alcohol every hour. If you drink two units in one hour, there will be an extra unit in your bloodstream. If during the next hour you drink another two units, you will have two units floating around in your bloodstream at the end of two hours after your drinking session. The faster you drink, the higher your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) becomes. If you drink too fast, your BAC can spike dangerously high.

Rapid drinking can bring your BAC so high that your mental and physical functions become negatively affected. Your breathing, heartbeat and gag reflex - which are controlled by types of nerves - might not work properly. You become breathless, you may choke, and your heart rhythm might become irregular. If your BAC is high enough, these physical functions can stop working, the patient stops breathing and passes out (loses consciousness). In the USA approximately 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning are reported annually. About one patient dies each week in the USA from alcohol poisoning. Those at highest risk of suffering from alcohol poisoning are college students, chronic alcoholics, those taking medications that might clash with alcohol, and sometimes children who may drink because they wish to know what it is like, according to Medical News Today. A significant amount of additional info can be found at this website: .

Do you know the signs of acute alcohol poisoning? Do you know what to do if someone is suffering from its effects? Your friend who had way too much to drink, may not just be sleeping it off. If he or she is suffering from acute alcohol poisoning, as a result of drinking too much too quickly, they could die if you do not intervene. How do you tell the difference between being passed out and alcohol poisoning?

According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol poisoning symptoms include:

• Confusion, stupor
• Vomiting
• Seizures
• Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
• Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
• Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
• Low body temperature (hypothermia)
• Unconsciousness ("passing out"), and can't be roused

It's not necessary for all of these symptoms to be present before you seek help. A person who is unconscious or can't be roused is at risk of dying. If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning — even if you don't see the classic signs and symptoms — seek immediate medical care. In an emergency, follow these suggestions:

• If the person is unconscious, breathing less than eight times a minute or has repeated, uncontrolled vomiting, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Keep in mind that even when someone is unconscious or has stopped drinking, alcohol continues to be released into the bloodstream and the level of alcohol in the body continues to rise. Never assume that a person will "sleep off" alcohol poisoning.

• If the person is conscious, call 800-222-1222 (in the U.S.), and you'll automatically be routed to your local poison control center. The staff at the poison control center or emergency call center can instruct you as to whether you should take the person directly to a hospital. All calls to poison control centers are confidential.

• Be prepared to provide information. If you know, be sure to tell hospital or emergency personnel the kind and amount of alcohol the person drank, and when.

• Don't leave an unconscious person alone. While waiting for help, don't try to make the person vomit. Alcohol poisoning affects the way your gag reflex works. That means someone with alcohol poisoning may choke on his or her own vomit or accidentally inhale (aspirate) vomit into the lungs, which could cause a fatal lung injury.

• Much more information can be found at this site: .

Alcohol poisoning is a life threatening situation. During the Holidays, don’t let yourself or any friends or relatives over indulge with alcohol of any type. The festivities of the Season should not be tragically interrupted by someone who has not learned self control with alcohol. Do yourself and everyone around a favor when it comes to drinking. Slow down, or just don’t drink. And, in particular, if you are out in a crowd at a restaurant or home, have a designated driver or call a cab to take you home. You sure don’t want to be on the evening news as the next lead story of a traffic fatality.

Until next time.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Health Care and Holiday Foods

It’s time once again to break out the stretchy pants. The holidays are upon you, and you’re thinking “Let the feasting begin!” Have you noticed that as the years go by, your waist line is an indicator of your appetite? Have you been feeding at the trough so many years during November and December that you don’t even notice that your clothes are getting tighter as the season progresses? What about all those calories that get consumed once the parties, buffets, and gift baskets start flowing? Are you guilty of surfing the wave of the holidays’ food tsunami?

For many, the holidays are the most wonderful — and least heart-healthy — time of the year. Grandma’s fudge is a sentimental favorite, and the neighbor’s cake balls are a decadent habit. Indulging a little won’t hurt — but planning ahead will make for merry meals that are healthy too. Do you decorate for the holidays with a lot of color? Treat your dinner plate the same way, according to the American Heart Association.

“Half of a meal should comprise fruits and vegetables that consist of a variety of colors,” said Vilma Andari, president and founder of Nutra Health Food and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. “The other two quarters should be whole grains and healthy proteins.” Make your holiday meals festive and healthy with a variety of richly colored fruits and vegetables — and don’t forget the herbs and spices. “Try to work fruits and veggies into everything from soups and stews to casseroles instead of just side dishes,” Andari said. See more details at this website: .

‘Tis the Season to be jolly—you pack on pounds that you promise to take off next year. According to, if you simply cannot resist a calorie-laden holiday treat, at least consume it in moderation. Here are 50 holiday diet hazards you and your family should avoid, along with healthy options that only taste indulgent, found at this website:,,20440821,00.html .

Your tactic for avoiding temptation may be to steer clear of all the special treats and divert yourself with only healthy foods, according to Great in theory, but not so perfect in practice. Lots of foods that are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are also full of calories. And when you're mindlessly munching as you're mingling, those calories can add up fast.

Don't assume that just because something is healthy it is also low-cal. If you like the healthy treats that sometimes show up at holiday parties, that's great! Have them—in moderation. If you'd rather sample some of the special seasonal treats, just put two or three of the most delicious-looking hors d'oeuvres on your plate and enjoy. Before you head out to party, check out these surprisingly unhealthy holiday calorie bombs and better bets to choose instead. More information can be found at .

According to Men’s Health magazine online, the average person consumes an extra 600 calories a day between Thanksgiving and New Year's, which translates to an extra six pounds of belly fat heading into January. Whether your weakness is mayo-spiked deviled eggs or rum-spiked eggnog, there are more than enough temptations to go around in these merry times. And while everybody is entitled to a bit of indulgence during the holidays, there's a fine line between festive and fattening. To help you better understand that line, Men’s Health has pinpointed the very worst of the season's eatings and suggested some satisfying alternatives that should make your New Year's resolution a little easier to attain. You can find more information at their website: .

Feeling like you want to skim some fat off your own thighs instead of the turkey's? Surprise! There are actually a lot of holiday foods that, if you prepare them in a healthful way and watch your portions, reap countless nutritional benefits and can even help you lose weight, according to Find out what works best for you. There are healthy tips for preparing and eating good food located at .

However, if you are looking for really good holiday food treats that you just can’t resist, the Food Network has some great options at their site: .

So, if you’re waiting for that jolly old elf to show up at your fireside hearth, at least try not to consume all the cookies on the plate your kids left for Santa. If you get tempted, remember to go fat free. At least that way you’ll be able to justify your sweet tooth. And speaking of your teeth, make sure you brush before you toddle off to bed over the next few weeks. You may be going into a food coma if you over indulge, but at least your oral hygiene is better off after you take care of your smile.

Until next time.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Health Care and Spit (Saliva)

When you are born, one amazing physical action starts immedicately so you can begin to swallow. Your body begins to create saliva in your mouth, and it is an essential body fluid created on a constant basis. When you are a child, you start calling that liquid spit. But it is technically known as saliva, which is part of your physical makeup and stays with you for the rest of your life.

Spit, or saliva, is a clear liquid that's made in your mouth 24 hours a day, every day. According to, spit is made up mostly of water, with a few other chemicals. The slippery stuff is produced by the salivary glands. These glands are found on the inside of each cheek, on the bottom of the mouth, and under the jaw at the very front of the mouth. They secrete, or ooze, about 2 to 4 pints (or about 1 to 2 liters) of spit into your mouth every day!

Spit is necessary, according to KidsHealth, for lots of reasons. Saliva wets food and makes it easier to swallow. Without saliva, a grilled cheese sandwich would be dry and difficult to gulp down. It also helps the tongue by allowing you to taste. A dry tongue can't tell how things taste — it needs saliva to keep it wet. Spit helps begin the process of digestion, too. Before food hits your stomach, saliva starts to break it down while the food's still in your mouth. It does this with the help of enzymes special chemicals found in the saliva. The combination of chewing food and coating it with saliva makes the tongue's job a bit easier — it can push wet, chewed food toward the throat more easily. Saliva also cleans the inside of your mouth and rinses your teeth to help keep them clean. (But remember that spit isn't enough to keep teeth in tip-top shape; you still need to brush and floss.) The enzymes in saliva also help to fight off infections in the mouth. More info can be found at this site: .

Spit, or saliva, has historically been used in common cases to help reduce infection, and even Jesus is recorded in the Bible to have used His own saliva to heal blind people. Jews regarded spittle as medicinal to the eyes when diseased, according to Barne’s Commentary on the Bible. In the New Testament book of the Gospel of John 9:6, Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. When the man went to a nearby pool, and washed his eyes, he could see. A healing occurred that was recorded as a miracle.

According to, the largest of the salivary glands -- the parotid -- secretes important proteins into the saliva. As with all salivary glands, it has multiple secretion pathways, therefore it must sort proteins destined for saliva into the correct pathway for secretion. This can be tricky as there are seven possible pathways. One pathway takes proteins to the salivary duct, other pathways carry different proteins to the 'back' side of the cell to be secreted into the blood or to form a supportive matrix for the cells. Transport along these pathways occurs by sorting the proteins into vesicles (hollow membrane sacs) that carry their "cargo" to the correct destination. More details on production of saliva and, especially treatment for people who suffer “dry mouth,” can be found at this website: .

Many seniors and other individuals suffer from "dry mouth," which is a condition that is created when you are taking certain medications, including chemotherapy. Often, this results in bleeding and receding gums and significant oral hygiene problems. There is not enough saliva created dute to the body's inablility to produce it when too many medications are being taken that affect the glands' ability to generate spit. Called xerostomia, "dry mouth" is the feeling that there is not enough saliva in the mouth, according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH). Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while--due to being nervous, upset, or experiencing stress. But, if you have dry mouth all the time, it can be uncomfortable and lead to more serious health problems. It can also be a sign of certain diseases and conditions, such as using certain drugs. Much more info can be found about this topic at this site: .

According to, since people have different eating habits in different places, you might think an American's saliva might look a lot different from, say, a South African's. But a new study published in the journal Genome Research finds that bacteria in saliva may not be as related to environment and diet as you might think. In fact, researchers found that the human salivary microbiome -- that is, the community of bacteria in saliva -- does not vary greatly between different geographic locations. That means your saliva is just as different from your neighbor's as someone's on the other side of the planet. Additional material about this research can be found at this site: .

According to, that frothy fluid in your mouth holds all kinds of clues to the body’s happenings. A significant amount of data can be found at this website: . Here are six positive results from testing spit:

--Drug use: Saliva can reveal drug use, whether for therapy or recreation.
--Hormones: Commercial test kits gauge estrogen, testosterone and cortisol levels from saliva.
--HIV: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a test that looks in oral fluid for antibodies known to be present in people with HIV infections.
--Age: A recent study suggests that genetic clues in spit can pinpoint age to within five years.
--Cancer: Messenger RNA signatures for breast and pancreatic cancer have turned up in saliva.
--Heart disease: The protein troponin T in spit may pinpoint people having heart attacks.

The production of saliva in your mouth is critical for your overall health. Too little can result in significant dental and other medical issues. Too much is not good either. If you suffer from any health related problems relative to your salivary glands, dry mouth, or other issues, see your doctor. They can help prescribe treatment and offer suggestions for specialty care. Spit, you need it.

Until next time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Health Care and Your Immune System

As the weather begins to cool down and the days get shorter, thoughts naturally turn to strengthening and protecting your immune system to prevent seasonal colds, flu and other illnesses. While nothing listed in this blog should be considered a substitute for the advice and care of a trained medical professional, the thirty blogs listed below with do offer up plenty of food-for-thought information that can help you make the most of all your natural defenses this cold and flu season. Nor should they be seen as a substitute for advice from your doctor or medical personnel. According to this site, you can find a lot of material about this topic: .

Your immune system is like a sentry on guard 24 hours a day, according to FC&A Publishing. Or a militia ready to stop any intruder that poses a threat to your health. But who guards the guards? Who protects the protection? You do. That's where a smart diet and healthy lifestyle come in. By knowing how your immune system works and what foods strengthen it, you can help your immune system run at maximum efficiency. Trouble can strike your body at any time. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites attack from the outside, while cancer cells attack from within. Any of these foreign substances, called antigens, stimulate the immune response. Your body counters with its army of white blood cells, including phagocytes, T-cells, and B-cells. They recognize the intruder, mobilize forces, and attack.

For example, according to FCA, T-cells recognize foreign invaders and kill them by breaking them apart. B-cells respond to infection by releasing antibodies, proteins that surround and immobilize the antigens. T-cells and B-cells also have great memories. Once they're exposed to an antigen, they remember it in case it comes back. That's how vaccines work. Of course, your immune system doesn't always work perfectly. It can overreact to a harmless substance, resulting in an allergic reaction, like hay fever or hives. Sometimes your immune system can even turn against your own body. That's what happens in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes. When you get sick, it's often because the antigen was able to do some damage before your immune system destroyed it. Or because your immune system wasn't strong enough to fight it off.

Help your body help you. A car needs more thn just fuel to run smoothly - it also needs some preventive maintenance. It’s the same with your immune system. Besides eating the right foods, you should also take care of your body in other ways. Here are a few tips according to FCA:

--Exercise. Regular, gentle exercise, like walking, helps fortify your immune system by stimulating natural killer cells that stop viruses and bacteria. Exercise is especially helpful for seniors. Women over 67 who walk or exercise regularly reportedly have fewer respiratory infections than others.

---Get enough sleep. Your body needs rest to stay in tip-top shape. When it's working to fight off a cold or the flu, sometimes rest is the best medicine.

--Relax. Find ways to reduce stress, which can weaken your immune system. Listen to music, do yoga or tai chi, go for a walk, practice deep breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques, or just talk to someone about your problems.

--Wash your hands. It's an easy and effective way to fight germs. When Navy recruits lathered up five times a day, they watched their rate of respiratory illness drop by 45 percent. Wash vigorously with regular soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds. When you eat right and take care of your body, your immune system will take care of you.

More information can be found at their site: . And, according to CNNHealth, the bloodstream is the route along which infection-fighting cells travel throughout the body to where they're needed. When cold and flu season comes around, many people head to their medicine cabinets in search of relief. But a trip to the kitchen may be the smarter move. Given the complexity of the immune system, there isn't one specific food that will magically make you repel cold germs and flu viruses. Instead, eating a healthful, balanced diet is your best investment in immunity. A significant amount of material about healthy eating and how it affects your immune system can be found at this site: .

If you’re one of the many thousands who get sick without fail every fall and winter, this article is for you. Because as you are probably aware, getting sick is NOT an inevitable part of the change in seasons. You surely know a handful of people who seemingly never get sick -- maybe they work in your office or even share your home. These people are able to avoid illness not because they aren’t exposed to germs, but because their immune system is able to keep them healthy, according to CNCA Health. There’s a common misconception that if you get the flu it’s because you were exposed to a flu virus, whereas if your officemate stays healthy it’s because he was not. But the truth is germs are literally everywhere, and while taking commonsense measures to avoid them, like washing your hands regularly, is smart, it’s na├»ve to think you can avoid them entirely.

But this isn’t really a big deal if you’re healthy, because your body is built to deal with these pathogen exposures and will keep you from getting sick as long as your immune system is strong. In fact, new research in PLoS Genetics revealed that when 17 healthy people were exposed to a flu virus, only half of them got sick. All of them had an active immune response, but the responses yielded different outcomes, with some avoiding illness and others manifesting symptoms like sniffles, sneezing and fever. The researchers therefore concluded that your immune system’s response to the flu virus is an important factor in whether or not you get sick, likely an even more important one than virus exposure. For some great tips on improving your immune system, see this site: .

Naturally, there are some medical reasons why your immune system may be challenged, probably due to illness or other health related issues such as HIV/AIDS. For those special cases, your medical professional or primary care doctor is your best source for care. If you suffer from immune system deficiencies due to chemotherapy or other drug related situations, you should always consult your physicians and specialists on how best to treat your personal health and medical needs. This type of case is a significantly greater risk than your standard seasonal health issues and should be treated in like manner.

Until next time.