6.5 Ways to Refocus on Health this Father’s Day

At HealthLynked, we believe every day is a great day to focus on wellness and remind those around you health is true wealth.  Today, Father’s Day, is another great opportunity to heighten the awareness of preventable health disorders and disease and encourage the men in your life to be more active and health conscious.

For Father’s Day, we serve up these gentle reminders of 6 ways you can refocus on your health, courtesy of the CDC:

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Aim for seven to nine hours per night.  Your mind and muscles need the recovery.

  1. Stop Smoking

If you quit now, you’ll lower your risk for cancer, COPD, and other smoking-related illnesses.

  1. Exercise More

Enjoy at least 2 ½ hours of aerobic activity, plus muscle-strengthening exercises, each week.

  1. Eat Healthy

Your diet should include a variety of well proportioned proteins and fruits and vegetables daily.

  1. Reduce Stress

You’ll feel much more relaxed if you avoid drugs and alcohol, connect socially, and find support.

  1. Get Regular Checkups

You need to know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers; if they’re elevated, your risk for heart disease and stroke goes up…. High blood pressure may even increase your risk for erectile dysfunction!  You also need screening for colorectal and prostate cancer.  Across every spectrum of disease, positive outcomes are more likely with early detection.

The Truth

Men simply do not visit caregivers as often as they should. According to a CDC report, women are 100% more likely to visit a physician for preventive services and routine checkups.  The same report remarks men are 33% less likely to see their doctor for any reason, even when symptomatic.

The American Heart Association outlines the following 10 common excuses men give for not seeing a doctor:

“I don’t have a doctor.”

Step one toward staying healthy is finding a doctor you trust, and you’ll never know if you trust one unless you try. Check your insurance company and our healthcare ecosystem for one in your area. Call their offices and ask questions.

“I don’t have insurance.”

Everybody should still have insurance under the Affordable Care Act. If you don’t, there are plenty of resources available from state, local and charitable organizations to pay for your care.  Seek them out….

“There’s probably nothing wrong.”

You may be right, but Some serious diseases don’t have symptoms. High blood pressure is one, and it can cause heart attack and stroke. (That’s why they call it “the silent killer.”)  High cholesterol is another often-symptomless condition. Ditto diabetes. Finding a health problem early can make an enormous difference in the quality and length of your life.

“I don’t want to hear what I might be told.”

Maybe you smoke, drink too much, or have put on weight. Even so, your doctor’s there to help you. You can deny your reality, but you can’t deny the consequences. So be smart: Listen to someone who’ll tell you truths you need to hear. Be coachable.

“I don’t have time.”

There are about 8,766 hours in a year, and you want to save … two? When those two hours could save your life if you really DO need a doctor? If you want to spend more time with your family, these two hours aren’t the ones to lose.

“I don’t want to spend the money.”

It makes more sense to spend a little and save a lot than to save a little and spend a lot. If you think spending time with a doctor is expensive, try spending time in a hospital.

“Doctors don’t DO anything.”

When you see a barber, you get a haircut. When you see the dentist, your teeth get cleaned. But when you get a checkup, the doctor just gives you tests. It may seem like you don’t get anything, but you do. You get news and knowledge that can bring better health, if you act on it.

“I’ve got probe-a-phobia.”

You don’t need a prostate cancer exam until you’re 50. Even then, remember that your chances of survival are much better if it’s caught early. So, it’s worth the exam, and it’s only one small portion of a physical. Don’t let one test stop you from getting all the benefits of an annual physical.

“I’d rather tough it out.”

If pro athletes can play hurt and sacrifice themselves for the team, you ought to be able to suck it up, right? Wrong! The Game of Life is about staying healthy for a long time – a lifetime.

“My significant other has been nagging me to get a checkup. I’m a Rebel!”

OK, so you don’t want to give in, but isn’t it POSSIBLE you could be wrong? Give in on this one. See the doctor.

The risks of avoiding preventive care are real and can be devastating. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 10 leading killers of American men (regardless of age or ethnicity and in order) are:

Heart disease

Cancer

Unintentional injuries

Chronic lower respiratory diseases (such as COPD)

Stroke

Diabetes

Suicide

Alzheimer’s disease

Influenza and pneumonia

Chronic liver disease

Unlike the majority of women, who tend to seek medical care when even when they do not have symptoms, men often believe if you “feel fine,” there’s no reason to go to the doctor. It is important to note many can feel normal with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or abnormal blood sugar levels. Even when men don’t feel so great, they tend to wait for symptoms to go away on their own — like when they drive around aimlessly because asking for directions admits weakness!

Be aware, you do not need a “one-size-fits-all” physical.  Collaborate with your healthcare provider, and depending on your profile and lifestyle, decide which screenings, diagnostic tests, and immunizations are right for you. The timing and frequency should be based on your risk factors for developing a condition or disease, including family or personal history, age, ethnicity, and environmental exposure.

In honor of Father’s Day, dads and those who care for them, go to the HealthLynked.com to find a physician you really connect with….Spend a few moments building a healthier life by collaborating with physicians who care, and begin building a health record for yourself that will help you set records for living a full life.

From all of us here at HealthLynked, consider our Free profiles a great gift for becoming the best version of you!  We all wish you the very best today and every day!

 

 

What are the Signs of Not Eating Enough?

What are the signs of not eating enough

Typical signs that you’re not eating enough can include feeling tired, getting ill more often, hair loss, or skin problems.

While obesity and related conditions are on the rise, the dangers of undereating are relatively overlooked. Undereating can have a range of adverse effects on a person’s health and wellbeing.

In this article, we look at the risks and reasons for undereating. We also highlight nine signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate a person is undereating.

 

Risks of undereating

The primary risk of undereating is becoming underweight. This is typically determined using body mass index (BMI).

BMI uses a person’s height and weight to give an approximate indication of whether a person is within a healthy weight range or not. Typically, a BMI of under 18.5 is considered underweight.

You can determine your BMI using one of our BMI calculators or charts.

The health risks associated with being underweight include:

  • osteoporosis and bone fractures
  • infertility
  • developmental problems
  • a weakened immune system
  • malnutrition
  • increased risk of surgical complications
  • anemia
  • chronic fatigue

Reasons for undereating

Some people undereat intentionally, often as a result of adhering to restrictive diets or following popular health trends. Sometimes, these diets and trends can be misinterpreted or contain inappropriate nutritional advice, which can lead to undereating.

In other cases, a person might undereat due to an eating disorder or simply without realizing they are doing it. Sometimes people who have an abnormally high metabolism or high levels of physical activity do not eat enough to keep up with their body’s demands.

 

Nine signs and symptoms of undereating

Signs and symptoms that a person may not be eating enough include:

1. Fatigue

One of the most obvious and widespread symptoms that might indicate that a person may be undereating is constantly feeling tired.

A body gets its energy from the calories in the food and drinks a person consumes. The body requires a certain amount of energy calories to function properly. Functions include the basic and automatic bodily processes, such as breathing, as well as more complex processes such as actively thinking.

The number of calories needed to maintain a healthy weight will vary from person to person and depends on a variety of factors, such as body size, metabolism, and physical activity levels.

When someone is undereating, they are consuming fewer calories than their body needs to function correctly. This can have a severe impact on energy levels, causing feelings of physical tiredness and mental fatigue, which may impair a person’s daily functioning.

Low energy levels can also have an adverse impact on physical activity performance and fitness. In a 2013 review, researchers found that people with an eating disorder consumed too few calories, which had a negative impact on physical fitness and sports performance.

2. Getting ill more often

Undereating can also lead to an imbalanced diet. This can mean that a person’s body does not receive enough of specific nutrients to maintain a healthy immune system and fight off illnesses. It can also mean that illnesses, such as the common cold, last longer than they should.

Maintaining a healthful nutritional intake is particularly important for people who already have a weakened immune system, such as young children or older adults.

In one study, researchers found that providing people over the age of 65 with nutritional supplements resulted in significant improvements in the functioning of their immune systems.

3. Hair loss

Undereating can cause hair loss if nutritional intake is not sufficient. In a 2013 review, experts suggested that deficiencies in proteins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and vitamins can cause hair loss or other abnormalities, such as changes in hair color or structure.

4. Reproductive difficulties

When a person’s body is not receiving enough nutrition, it prioritizes which processes to focus on maintaining, such as the life-supporting processes of breathing and blood circulation. As a consequence, sex hormone production can become impaired, which can reduce a person’s desire for sexual activity and can interrupt reproductive processes.

Researchers have shown that a diet that contains insufficient calories can have an adverse impact upon reproductive functioning in both males and females. This can prevent pregnancies from occurring.

People require a sufficient level of calories to maintain a healthy body temperature. Consuming too few calories may cause a person’s core body temperature to drop, which can create a constant feeling of being cold.

In a 2011 study, researchers found that people who consumed a restricted number of calories had a significantly lower core body temperature than those who consumed more calories.

6. Impaired growth in young people

Good nutrition is vital to proper development in young people. Undereating can cause nutritional imbalances that impair certain aspects of development, such as healthy bone growth.

During puberty, proper nutrition is essential to allow bones to grow and strengthen. Without this, a person might remain permanently smaller or weaker than their peers.

7. Skin problems

Skin problems are another sign that someone may be undereating. If a person’s body does not get a sufficient amount of nutrients, such as vitamin E, it can lead to skin problems. Without enough vitamin E, a person’s skin may become more easily damaged by inflammation or UV exposure.

Other vitamins necessary to maintain healthy skin include vitamin B-3 and niacin.

8. Depression

Depression is a highly complex mental health condition that can have a range of interlinked causes. It is not always possible to determine what is causing a person’s depression, and the condition is not necessarily a sign of malnutrition. However, recent evidence has suggested there may be a link between poor nutrition and depression.

In a study of people who were pregnant, researchers found that symptoms of depression were associated with lower intakes of omega-3 fatty acid. In another study that used data from 31,424 adults, the authors found that those with depression had lower vitamin D levels than others.

9. Constipation

Eating too few calories can also lead to constipation. People with constipation experience fewer bowel movements than other people. They may also have harder stools that can be difficult or painful to expel.

When a person undereats, their body has less food to convert into stools, which can cause constipation. Constipation tends to mean having fewer than three bowel movements per week.

 

How to deal with undereating

 

Where possible, the most effective way for a person to tackle undereating is to increase the number of calories they consume. However, it is crucial to do this healthfully.

Foods high in sugar or unhealthful fats, such as trans-fats and saturated fats, contain a significant number of calories and may be a tempting way to increase overall calorie intake. However, these foods may also contribute to a whole range of other health risks, such as type-2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.

Some tips for healthfully increasing the intake of calories include:

  • eating meals more frequently throughout the day
  • eating meals high in protein
  • eating more complex carbohydrates, such as rice or pasta
  • consuming more monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, such as nuts and avocados
  • including a good selection of vegetables in the diet
  • cutting down on cardiovascular exercise only if advised by a doctor

People with eating disorders, or other health conditions that contribute to undereating or malnutrition, should seek the advice of a doctor.

9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

As an ancient folk remedy, Apple cider vinegar  has been used over centuries for various household chores, as a preservative and in cooking.  Today, it is the most popular vinegar in the natural health community, which promotes many of its benefits.  A few find some support in research, including weight loss, reduced cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes.

Below are 9 health benefits of apple cider vinegar supported by scientific study.

1. Boasts Potent Biological Effects

Apple cider vinegar is made in a two-step process related to how alcohol is made.  In French, the word “vinegar” actually means “sour wine.”  The first step exposes crushed apples (or apple cider) to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol.  In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, further fermenting the alcohol turning it into acetic acid — the main active compound in vinegar.

9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s) also contains “mother” – strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance.  Some people believe the “mother” is responsible for most of the health benefits, although there are few published studies to support this.

Apple cider vinegar only contains about three calories per tablespoon, which is very low.  There are not many vitamins or minerals in it, but it does contain a small amount of potassium. Quality apple cider vinegar also contains some amino acids and antioxidants.

2. Kills Many Types of Harmful Bacteria

Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria.  It has traditionally been used for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar for wound cleaning over two thousand years ago.  Vinegar has also been used as a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria (like E. coli) from growing in food and spoiling it.  If you’re looking for a natural way to preserve your food, apple cider vinegar could be highly useful.

There have also been anecdotal reports of diluted apple cider vinegar helping with acne when applied to the skin, but there is not strong research to confirm this.  The main substance in vinegar, acetic acid, can kill harmful bacteria or prevent them from multiplying. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.

3. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Fights Diabetes

By far, the most successful application of vinegar to date is in patients with type 2 diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels, either because of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.  Also, high blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes. It is believed to be a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases.

Pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range. The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar can also have a powerful effect.

Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19–34% and significantly lowers blood sugar and insulin responses.
  • Reduces blood sugar by 34% after eating 50 grams of white bread.
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugar in the morning by 4%.
  • Numerous other studies in humans show that vinegar can improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels after meals.9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

Apple cider vinegar may also increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the blood to the tissues where it can be used as fuel. Sustaining elevated levels of insulin can cause insulin resistance, which reduces its effectiveness and leads to high blood sugar and diabetes.  A study in Diabetes Care showed that vinegar ingestion helped significantly improve insulin sensitivity by up to 34 percent in those with either type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. (1)

To keep blood sugar levels stable, try diluting one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water and consuming before meals. Additionally, be sure to moderate carbohydrate intake, increase your consumption of fiber and protein foods and get in plenty of regular physical activity to drop blood sugar levels even more.

For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low for other reasons.  If you’re currently taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, check with your doctor before increasing your intake of any type of vinegar.

4. Helps You Lose Weight and Reduces Belly Fat

Surprisingly, studies also show that vinegar can help you lose weight.  Several human studies demonstrate vinegar can increase satiety, help you eat fewer calories and lead to actual pounds lost on the scale.  For example, when people take vinegar along with a high-carb meal, they get increased feelings of fullness and end up eating 200–275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.

9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

A study in 175 people with obesity showed that daily apple cider vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat and weight loss:

  • 15 mL (1 tablespoon): Lost 2.6 pounds, or 1.2 kilograms.
  • 30 mL (2 tablespoons): Lost 3.7 pounds, or 1.7 kilograms.

However, keep in mind that this study went on for 3 months, so the true effects on body weight seem to be rather modest.  Just adding or subtracting single foods or ingredients rarely has a noticeable effect on weight.  It’s an entire diet and improved lifestyle that matters;  you may need to combine several effective changes to see results.

Overall, it seems like apple cider vinegar is useful as a weight loss aid, mainly by promoting satiety and lowering blood sugar and insulin levels.  While it won’t work any miracles on its own, studies suggest vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help people eat fewer calories, which leads to weight loss.

5. Lowers Cholesterol and Improves Heart Health

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can build up in the arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. High blood cholesterol puts a strain on your heart, forcing it to work harder to push blood throughout the body.

Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death.  It is known that several biological factors are linked to either a decreased or increased risk of heart disease.  Several of these “risk factors” may be improved by vinegar consumption, but many of the supporting studies were done in animals.

These animal studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with several other heart disease risk factors.  There are also some studies showing that vinegar reduces blood pressure in rats, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and kidney problems.

The only human evidence so far is an observational study from Harvard showing women who ate salad dressings with vinegar had a reduced risk of heart disease.  However, this type of study can only show an association – it cannot prove that the vinegar caused anything.

As mentioned above, human studies also show that apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and help fight diabetes. These factors should also lead to reduced risk of heart disease.

Besides including a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar in your diet each day, other ways to lower cholesterol fast include minimizing your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, including a good variety of healthy fats in your diet and eating a few servings of fish per week.

6. May Have Protective Effects Against Cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells.  There is a lot of hype online about the anti-cancer effects of apple cider vinegar.  In fact, numerous studies have shown that various types of vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.  However, all of the studies on this were done in isolated cells in test tubes, or rats, which proves nothing about what happens in a living, breathing human.

That said, some observational studies in humans have shown that vinegar consumption is linked to decreased esophageal cancer in China, but increased bladder cancer in Serbia.  It is possible that consuming apple cider vinegar may help prevent cancer, but this needs to be researched more before any recommendations can be made.

7.  Improves Skin Health

Apple cider vinegar doesn’t just benefit your internal health; it has also been shown to treat acne and reduce scarring. Certain strains of bacteria often contribute to the development of acne. Vinegar is well-known for its antibacterial properties and has been shown to be effective against many strains of harmful bacteria.

Apple cider vinegar also contains specific components like acetic acid, lactic acid, succinic acid and citric acid, all of which have been shown to inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, the specific strain of bacteria responsible for causing acne.

These beneficial components may also reduce scarring. A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology showed that treating acne scars with lactic acid for three months led to improvements in the texture, pigmentation and appearance of treated skin as well as a lightening of scars.  Adding some probiotic foods into your diet, using healing masks and toners and keeping your skin well-moisturized are some other effective home remedies for acne as well.

8.  Reduces Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It forces the heart to work harder, causing the heart muscle to weaken and deteriorate over time.

Apple cider vinegar benefits your blood pressure levels, helping to keep your heart healthy and strong. An animal study in Japan showed that giving rats acetic acid, the main component in vinegar, resulted in reduced levels of blood pressure. Another animal study had similar findings, demonstrating that vinegar effectively blocked the actions of a specific enzyme that raises blood pressure.

Other natural ways to lower blood pressure include increasing your intake of magnesium and potassium, upping your fiber intake and swapping the salt and processed foods for whole foods.

9. Relieves Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD or acid reflux, is a condition characterized by acid backflow from the stomach up into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, belching and nausea.  Acid reflux is often a result of having low levels of stomach acid. If this is the case for you, drinking apple cider vinegar may help provide relief from acid reflux symptoms by introducing more acid into the digestive tract to prevent acid backflow.

For best results, dilute one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in an 8-ounce glass of water and drink just before eating. Additionally, remember to follow an acid reflux diet rich in vegetables, healthy fats and fermented foods to slash symptoms even more.

Dosage and How to Use

The best way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to use it in your cooking — for salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise and that sort of thing.

Some people also like to dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 ml) to 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) per day, mixed in a large glass of water.

It’s best to start with small doses and avoid taking large amounts – too much vinegar may have harmful side effects.  It is recommended to use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother.”

The Bottom Line

There are a number of likely over-inflated claims about apple cider vinegar.  Some say it can increase energy levels and deliver all sorts of beneficial effects on health.  Unfortunately, many of these claims are not supported by science.  Of course, absence of proof does not invalidate that something is happening, and anecdotes often end up becoming supported by science down the line.

Apple cider vinegar also has various other non-health related uses like hair conditioning, deoderant, dental care, pet use and as a cleaning agent (to name a few).  These can be highly useful for people who like to keep things as natural and chemical-free as possible.

From the little evidence available, it appears apple cider vinegar may be useful and is definitely a viable candidate for some experimentation if you’re interested and your physician agrees.  At the very least, apple cider vinegar seems to be safe as long as you don’t go overboard and take excessive amounts.

Precautions

While apple cider vinegar appears to be very healthy, it is not a “miracle” or a “cure-all” like so many seem to believe.  It does clearly have some important health benefits, especially in lowering blood sugar and aiding in weight control.  Still, it should not be viewed as a quick fix when it comes to your health.  Instead, it should be paired with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle for best possible results.

Although apple cider vinegar is healthy and safe for most people, consuming large amounts may lead to some negative effects on health. Apple cider vinegar side effects include erosion of tooth enamel, burning of the throat or skin and decreased levels of potassium.

Be sure to always dilute apple cider vinegar in water instead of drinking it straight to prevent negative side effects. You should also start with a low dose and work your way up to assess your tolerance, and always consult with a physician.

If you’re taking blood sugar medications, talk to your doctor before using apple cider vinegar. Because apple cider vinegar may help reduce blood sugar levels, you may need to modify your dosage of diabetes medications to prevent hypoglycemia symptoms.

To find the right physician to talk with you about the benefits of adding vinegar to your diet and improving your overall wellness, use HealthLynked.com today to truly take control of health.  Using HealthLynked, you can maintain all of your health information in one place, find and make appointments with medical professionals, and collaborate with physicians who care for you.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com to sign up for free now!

 

Sources:

  1. Johnston CS, et al. Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes Care. 2004 Jan;27(1):281-2.
  2. MedLine
  3. com

 

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Hard Word, Harder Disease: Scleroderma

Scleroderma (skleer-oh-DUR-muh) is a group of rare diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues — the fibers that provide the framework and support for your body.  “Sclero” means “hard” and “derma” means “skin”.

The combined forms of scleroderma, including localized, systemic, recurring and related conditions, affect an estimated 300,000 Americans – primarily females who are 30 to 50 years old at onset. The overall occurrence is approximately 1 in 1,000, or .1% of the 328+ million U.S. population, and the ratio of women to men is about four to one.  While there is currently no cure for this rare autoimmune disorder, a variety of treatments can ease symptoms and improve quality of life.

Hardening of the skin is just one of many symptoms scleroderma sufferers experience. Stiff joints, digestive issues, lung scarring,  kidney failure—all can result and sometimes be fatal. Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease with no known cause and no cure.  Research is vital, but because so few people are aware of the disease, researchers don’t always get the resources they need.   Patients often find themselves becoming their only available expert.

The Scleroderma Foundation has been fighting to spread awareness, help educate the public about and improve funding for research around this devastating disease for more than 15 years. Please join the fight and stand alongside them for June’s Scleroderma Awareness Month.   All they are asking this year is that you pledge to tell at least one person and to help put an end to “sclero-what?”

Symptoms

Scleroderma’s signs and symptoms vary, depending on which parts of your body are involved:

  • Nearly everyone who has scleroderma experiences a hardening and tightening of patches of skin. These patches may be shaped like ovals or straight lines and may cover wide areas of the trunk and limbs. The number, location and size of the patches vary by type of scleroderma. Skin can appear shiny because it’s so tight, and movement of the affected area may be restricted.
  • Fingers or toes.One of the earliest signs of scleroderma is an exaggerated response to cold temperatures or emotional distress, which can cause numbness, pain or color changes in the fingers or toes. Called Raynaud’s disease, this condition also occurs in people who don’t have scleroderma.
  • Digestive system.In addition to acid reflux, which can damage the section of esophagus nearest the stomach, some people with scleroderma may also have problems absorbing nutrients if their intestinal muscles aren’t moving food properly through the intestines.
  • Heart, lungs or kidneys.Scleroderma can affect the function of the heart, lungs or kidneys to varying degrees. These problems, if left untreated, can become life-threatening.

Causes

Scleroderma results from an overproduction and accumulation of collagen in body tissues. Collagen is a fibrous type of protein that makes up your body’s connective tissues, including your skin.

Doctors aren’t certain what prompts this abnormal collagen production, but the body’s immune system appears to play a role. In some genetically susceptible people, symptoms may be triggered by exposure to certain types of pesticides, epoxy resins or solvents.

Risk Factors

Scleroderma occurs much more often in women than it does in men. Choctaw Native Americans and African-Americans are more likely than Americans of European descent to develop the type of scleroderma that affects internal organs.

Complications

Scleroderma complications range from mild to severe and can affect your:

  • The variety of Raynaud’s disease that occurs with scleroderma can be so severe that the restricted blood flow permanently damages the tissue at the fingertips, causing pits or skin sores (ulcers). In some cases, gangrene and amputation may follow.
  • Scarring of lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis) can result in reduced lung function, reduced ability to breathe and reduced tolerance for exercise. You may also develop high blood pressure in the arteries to your lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
  • When scleroderma affects your kidneys, you can develop elevated blood pressure and an increased level of protein in your urine. More-serious effects of kidney complications may include renal crisis, which involves a sudden increase in blood pressure and rapid kidney failure.
  • Scarring of heart tissue increases your risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) and congestive heart failure; it can cause inflammation of the membranous sac surrounding your heart (pericarditis). Scleroderma can also raise the pressure on the right side of your heart and cause it to wear out.
  • Severe tightening of facial skin can cause your mouth to become smaller and narrower, which may make it hard to brush your teeth or to even have them professionally cleaned. People who have scleroderma often don’t produce normal amounts of saliva, so the risk of dental decay increases even more.
  • Digestive system.Digestive problems associated with scleroderma can lead to acid reflux and difficulty swallowing — some describe feeling as if food gets stuck midway down the esophagus — as well as bouts of constipation alternating with episodes of diarrhea.
  • Sexual function.Men who have scleroderma often experience erectile dysfunction. Scleroderma may also affect the sexual function of women by decreasing lubrication and constricting the vaginal opening.

Diagnosis

  • Because scleroderma can take so many forms and affect so many different areas of the body, it can be difficult to diagnose.
  • After a thorough physical exam, your doctor may suggest blood tests to check for elevated blood levels of certain antibodies produced by the immune system. He or she may remove a small tissue sample (biopsy) of your affected skin so that it can be examined in the laboratory for abnormalities.

Your doctor may also suggest breathing tests (pulmonary function tests), a CT scan of your lungs and an echocardiogram of your heart.

Treatment

In some cases, the skin problems associated with scleroderma fade away on their own in three to five years. The type of scleroderma that affects internal organs usually worsens with time.

Medications

No drug has been developed that can stop the underlying process of scleroderma — the overproduction of collagen. But a variety of medications can help control scleroderma symptoms or help prevent complications. To accomplish this, these drugs may:

  • Dilate blood vessels.  Blood pressure medications that dilate blood vessels may help prevent lung and kidney problems and may help treat Raynaud’s disease.
  • Suppress the immune system.  Drugs that suppress the immune system, such as those taken after organ transplants, may help reduce scleroderma symptoms.
  • Reduce stomach acid.  Medications such as omeprazole (Prilosec) can relieve symptoms of acid reflux.
  • Prevent infections.  Antibiotic ointment, cleaning and protection from the cold may help prevent infection of fingertip ulcers caused by Raynaud’s disease. Regular influenza and pneumonia vaccinations can help protect lungs that have been damaged by scleroderma.
  • Relieve pain.  If over-the-counter pain relievers don’t help enough, you can ask your doctor to prescribe stronger medications.

Therapy

Physical or occupational therapists can help you to:

  • Manage pain
  • Improve your strength and mobility
  • Maintain independence with daily tasks

Surgery

Used as a last resort, surgical options for scleroderma complications may include:

  • If finger ulcers caused by severe Raynaud’s disease have developed gangrene, amputation may be necessary.
  • Lung transplants.People who have developed high blood pressure in the arteries to their lungs (pulmonary hypertension) may be candidates for lung transplants.

Lifestyle and home remedies

You can take a number of steps to help manage your symptoms of scleroderma:

  • Stay activeExercise keeps your body flexible, improves circulation and relieves stiffness. Range-of-motion exercises can help keep your skin and joints flexible.
  • Don’t smoke . Nicotine causes blood vessels to contract, making Raynaud’s disease worse. Smoking can also cause permanent narrowing of your blood vessels. Quitting smoking is difficult — ask your doctor for help.
  • Manage heartburn.  Avoid foods that give you heartburn or gas. Also avoid late-night meals. Elevate the head of your bed to keep stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus (reflux) as you sleep. Antacids may help relieve symptoms.
  • Protect yourself from the cold.  Wear warm mittens for protection anytime your hands are exposed to cold — even when you reach into a freezer. When you’re outside in the cold, cover your face and head and wear layers of warm clothing.

Coping and support

As is true with other chronic diseases, living with scleroderma can place you on a roller coaster of emotions. Here are some suggestions to help you even out the ups and downs:

  • Maintain normal daily activities as best you can.
  • Pace yourself and be sure to get the rest that you need.
  • Stay connected with friends and family.
  • Continue to pursue hobbies that you enjoy and are able to do.

Keep in mind your physical health can have a direct impact on your mental health. Denial, anger and frustration are common with chronic illnesses.

At times, you may need additional tools to deal with your emotions. Professionals, such as therapists or behavioral psychologists, may be able to help you put things in perspective. They can also help you develop coping skills, including relaxation techniques.

Joining a support group, where you can share experiences and feelings with other people, is often a good approach. Ask your doctor what support groups are available in your community.

Finding the Right Physician

You’ll probably first bring your symptoms to the attention of your family doctor, who may refer you to a rheumatologist — a doctor specializing in the treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bone. Because scleroderma can affect many organ systems, you may need to see a variety of medical specialists.

To get the right help, find a rheumatologist or other physician who knows how hard it is to endure a disease so few understand and can truly help.  Go to HealthLynked.com today to build a Free patient profile and begin communicating there with those who will collaborate on your wellness.

 

Note:  This writing is strictly  informational. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are intended to spark discussion and raise awareness about issues herein.

 

Sources:

MayoClinic.org

sclerodermaaware.org

scleroderma.org

 

 

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Low vitamin D levels could raise bowel cancer risk | Medical News

Low vitamin D levels may raise bowel cancer risk

Published
In the largest study of its kind, low levels of vitamin D are linked with a significant increase in colorectal cancer risk. Conversely, higher levels appear to offer protection.

 

Vitamin D is produced in the skin after contact with sunlight, as well as absorbed in our guts from several dietary sources — including fortified foods and fatty fish.

Its primary role was long considered to be bone maintenance. But, as researchers dig deeper, vitamin D’s sphere of influence widens.

For instance, vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, among many other conditions.

Scientists have also investigated its influence on the progression of cancer.

Vitamin D and bowel cancer

Recently, researchers from a host of organizations, including the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Atlanta, GA, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, and the United States National Cancer Institute in Rockville, MD, combined forces to investigate vitamin D’s role in colorectal cancer risk.

Aside from skin cancers, colorectal cancer — which is also called bowel cancer — is the third most common cancer in the U.S. It is expected to claim more than 50,000 lives in 2018.

Some previous studies have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and colorectal cancer, but others have not. This new, large-scale effort was designed to iron out the creases and present more concrete evidence.

The researchers’ findings were published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Co-senior study author Stephanie Smith-Warner, Ph.D. — an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health — says, “To address inconsistencies in prior studies on vitamin D and to investigate associations in population subgroups, we analyzed participant-level data, collected before colorectal cancer diagnosis, from 17 prospective cohorts and used standardized criteria across the studies.”

In all, the team used data from studies conducted on three continents that included 5,700 cases of colorectal cancer and 7,100 controls.

Previously, researchers found it difficult to pool data from different studies because of the variety of ways that vitamin D was measured. These researchers calibrated the existing measurements so that a direct comparison could be made between multiple trials in a meaningful way.

Vitamin D’s influence on cancer

The researchers compared each individual’s vitamin D levels with the current National Academy of Medicine recommendations for bone health.

People who had vitamin D levels below the current guidelines had a 31 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer during the follow-up — an average of 5.5 years. Those with vitamin D above the recommended levels had a 22 percent reduction in risk. The link was stronger in women than in men.

These relationships remained significant even once the team had adjusted the data to account for other factors that are known to increase colorectal cancer risk.

But, it is worth noting that the reduced risk did not become more pronounced in the people with the highest levels of vitamin D in their system.

“Currently,” notes co-first study author Marji L. McCullough, “health agencies do not recommend vitamin D for the prevention of colorectal cancer.”

Article Source https://www.medical news today.com/articles/322143.php

Someone Needed Blood While You Read this Title

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.  Someone needed a blood product as you read that sentence.  Blood is essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. Whether a patient receives whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma, lifesaving care starts with one person making a generous donation.

On 14 June of every year – the birthday of the Austrian physician who discovered blood groups – countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day (WBDD).  Established in 2004 as one of only eight medical observances supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), the event serves to raise awareness for the need of safe blood and blood products and to thank blood donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts.

History of World Blood Donor Day

Blood donation dates back to the 17th century. The medical practitioners of the time knew blood was vital to life and losing too much of it would have tragic consequences for the patient. Experimentation began, and a whole new breed of heroes was born – those that  contribute their blood so that others may live.

The first transfusions were done using poorly understood mechanisms and little science, resulting in some rather tragic results. Stronger science emerged as Richard Lower became the first to examine  blood circulation and discovered ways to stop blood clotting. While only working with animals, he managed to drain the blood off of a medium sized dog and then transfuse the blood of a larger mastiff into the smaller animal. Both dogs recovered with no appreciable ill effects.  He gained great notoriety for his efforts and was asked to speak on and teach this technique to the Royal Society.

There were some odd beliefs about blood back then, and the first human transfusion involved putting the blood of a sheep into a patient who was suffering from a mild form of insanity. In 1667, Jean-Baptiste Denis, physician to King Louis XIV, thought perhaps the blood of so gentle a creature might help calm him. The act of transferring animal blood into patients was strongly questioned by the highly superstitious and morally rigid authorities of the time, and the practice was outlawed. Transfusion vanished for almost 150 years.

In 1818, an obstetrician brought blood transfusions back into useful medical technology, replacing the blood of  a woman who had hemorrhaged terribly after giving birth.  He started publishing works on how it was done.  Throughout his life, he performed 10 transfusions, 5 of which saved the lives of the recipients.

In 1901, Karl Landsteiner, the Austrian physician on whose birthday we mark WBDD, discovered the first human blood groups, ensuring transfusion would become a safer practice. By performing experiments in which he mixed blood samples taken from his staff, Landsteiner discovered blood groups A, B and O and established the basic principals of ABO compatibility. In 1907, an American surgeon, Reuben Ottenberg, suggested that patient and donor blood should be grouped and cross matched before a blood transfusion procedure.

World Blood Donor Day celebrates the hard work and daring of these early medical professionals and donors and recognizes the efforts they put into developing a technology that saves so many lives today.

Blood Supply Statistics

The Red Cross supplies about 40% of the United States’ blood and blood components, all from generous volunteer donors. Still, supply can’t always meet demand – only about 10% of eligible people donate blood yearly. Each new donor helps meet patient needs.

  • Each year, an estimated 6.8 million people in the U.S. donate blood.
  • 13.6 million whole blood and red blood cells are collected in the U.S. in a year.
  • About 45% of people in the U.S. have Group O (positive or negative) blood; the proportion is higher among Hispanics (57%) and African Americans (51%).
  • Type O negative red cells can be given to patients of all blood types. Because only 7% of people in the U.S. are type O negative, it’s always in great demand and often in short supply.
  • Type AB positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all blood types. Since only 3% of people in the U.S. have AB positive blood, this plasma is usually in short supply.
  • Red blood cells must be used within 42 days (or less).
  • Platelets must be used within just 5 days.

Blood Needs & Blood Supply

  • 1 donation can potentially save up to 3 lives.
  • Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Nearly 21 million blood products are transfused each year.
  • Less than 38 percent of the population is eligible to give blood or platelets.
  • Blood donors can give every 56 days. Platelet donors can give every 7 days.
  • Blood and platelets cannot be manufactured; they can only come from volunteer donors.
  • Adults have around 10 pints of blood in their bodies. About 1 pint is given during a donation.
  • Platelets, critical for cancer patients, must be transfused within 5 days of donation.
  • Only 7% of people in the U.S. have the universal blood type, O negative.
  • The Red Cross began collecting blood donations for patients in 1940.
  • The Red Cross holds about 500 blood drives every day.

Facts About Blood Needs

  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • Sickle cell disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, about 1.7 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.

How to Celebrate World Blood Donor Day

Transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and perinatal care. Access to safe and sufficient blood and blood products can help reduce rates of death and disability due to severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth.

In many countries, there is not an adequate supply of safe blood, and blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety.  An adequate supply can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors. The WHO’s goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020. In 2014, 60 countries have their national blood supplies based on 99-100% voluntary unpaid blood donations, with 73 countries still largely dependent on family and paid donors.

The best way to celebrate World Blood Donor Day is to go out and give blood! There’s a powerful need for blood of all types, and there’s rarely enough of it to go around. Blood Donors save lives every day by giving of themselves so accident victims and those in need of transfusions or replacement during surgeries might live.

This year’s WWBD Theme is:  “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life”.  Just a single contribution now will help, so get out and give!

 

Sources:

WHO.INT

RedCross.ORG

 

 

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#WorldBloodDonorDay

#GiveBloodShareLife

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#WBDD

#plasma

#RedCross

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10 Truths about Migraines and Myths They BUST!

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, a dedicated time for migraine specialists and other health care providers, patient advocates and the migraine community to unite their voices to advocate for migraine recognition and treatment. The 2018 theme is “You Are Not Alone,” and it reminds people living with migraine that more than 37 million other people empathize and can feel their pain.

My wife routinely gets  headaches that might level a normal human.  While she still keeps going as if nothing is happening, I say this, not because I can feel her pain or truly know the level, but because she tells me she is in pain. If she says it, I know it would take me out, because she has superhuman pain tolerance – she labored, at home, for 36 hours without meds!

I suspect she is having migraines.  She just keeps moving.

Myths and misconceptions around migraines abound. They perpetuate themselves and feed the stigma associated with Migraines.  Below are some of the most prevalent Migraine myths and the corresponding truths as reported on Migraine.com:

Myth #1: A Migraine is just a bad headache.

Truth: Migraine is a neurological disease characterized by flare-ups most commonly called simply, “Migraines,” or “Migraine attacks.” The headache, when there is one, is only one of many possible symptoms of a Migraine attack. Migraine attacks can and do sometimes occur with no headache at all. These are classified as “silent” or “acephalgic Migraines.” There are four possible phases of a Migraine attack, and many possible symptoms. In fact, for a true diagnosis of Migraine, there must be symptoms other than headache.

Myth #2: Migraines don’t last for days, and nobody has a Migraine every day.

Truth: The “typical” Migraine lasts from four to 72 hours, but Migraines can last longer. They sometimes last days, weeks, or even months. When they last longer than 72 hours, contact about physician. Unfortunately, some people do have Migraines nearly daily and even daily. Chronic Migraine (CM) is all too real. By definition, CM is having Migraines or tension-type headaches 15 or more days per month. Although the symptoms and pain levels of CM are similar to those of episodic Migraine (less than 15 days per month), studies have shown that the frequency of the Migraines dramatically increases the burden and causes CM to have significantly higher impact than episodic Migraine. Other studies have shown that the stigma associated with CM is also higher.

Myth #3: Migraines aren’t life-threatening, just annoying.

Truth: Although a Migraine itself may not be life-threatening, complications of Migraines and risk factors associated with Migraine can be. Studies have confirmed a link between Migraine and stroke and other cardiovascular diseases and events. Studies have also confirmed a link between Migraine and suicide. Much could be written on this topic, but consider just these two statistics.

  • “Greater than 1,400 more U.S. women with Migraine with aura die annually from cardiovascular diseases compared to women who do not have Migraine.”
  • “Based on a sample of Americans, suicide attempts are three times more likely in individuals with Migraine with aura compared to those with no Migraine, whether or not major depression is also present.”

Myth #4: Any doctor will recognize and properly treat Migraine.

Truth: Mainly due to a lack of adequate physician education, this is definitely a myth. It’s also a misconception that all neurologists are Migraine specialists. They’re not; nor are all Migraine specialists neurologists.

In a 2011 report, the World Health Organization stated, “Lack of knowledge among health-care providers is the principal clinical barrier to effective headache (including Migraine) management.” This same report revealed that non-specialist physician undergraduate medical training included just four hours about headache and Migraine; specialist (neurologist) training included 10 hours.

Myth #5: Only women have Migraines.

Truth: 18% of women and 6 to 8% of men suffer with Migraines.

Myth #6: Only adults have Migraines.

Truth: People of all ages have Migraines. Some children have Migraines while very young, before they’re even old enough to tell anyone what’s wrong. With children that young, diagnosis is achieved by reviewing family medical history and observing the child’s behavior.

Myth #7: If you don’t have auras, you don’t have Migraines.

Truth: Only 25 to 30% of sufferers have Migraine with aura, and few of them have aura with every Migraine attack. Most people who have Migraine with aura also have Migraine without aura.

Myth #8: People who get Migraines are intelligent, highly-achieving, high-strung people with a “Migraine personality.”

Truth: At one time, there was a theory a set of “personality features and reactions dominant in individuals with migraine” existed that included “Feelings of insecurity with tension manifested as inflexibility, conscientiousness, meticulousness, perfectionism, and resentment”, referred to as the “Migraine personality.”  These “notions regarding a generalization of the migraine personality have not withstood the test of time; in fact,  current research suggests that there is no one dominant personality profile among those with migraine.”

Myth #9: There’s nothing that can be done about Migraines. We have to “just live with them.”

Truth: This is far from the truth. Although there is no cure for Migraine disease at this time, one dies not have to “just live with them.” With the help of a doctor who truly understands the disease, work on trigger identification and management and treatments aids in effective Migraine management. There are many options for Migraine prevention…more than ever before. There is a small percentage of sufferers, approximately 5%, with chronic and intractable (do not respond to medications) Migraines who continue to struggle, even with these options. The need for increased awareness and research funding on a federal level is largely responsible for the lack of progress in this area.

Myth #10: A Migraine is a Migraine is a Migraine. They’re all alike.

Truth: To begin with, there are several different types of Migraine. The two main types are Migraine with aura and Migraine without aura. Then there are subtypes of Migraine with aura: basilar-type Migraine, sporadic and familial hemiplegic Migraine, There’s also retinal Migraine; abdominal Migraine; complications of Migraine such as chronic Migraine, and more.

One person’s Migraines can be dramatically different from another’s and even one person’s Migraines can vary from one to the next.

Get help for your headaches and understanding of the suffering and how to handle triggers.  Find the right physician that is trained and at the ready using HealthLynked.  We are the first ever healthcare social network designed to Lynk patients with the physicians who will more closely collaborate with them than ever before using our novel applications.

Ready to get Lynked and get help?  Go to HealthLynked.com now to sign up for free.

 

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CMV is Serious – 1 in Every 150 Children is Born with Cytomegalovirus

National legislation has been passed designating the month of June as “National Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month” recommending “more effort be taken to counsel women of childbearing age of the effect this virus can have on their children”.   In this second week, the theme is “CMV is Serious”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 1 in every 150 children is born with congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus). CMV is the most common congenital (meaning present at birth) infection in the United States and is the most common viral cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and death.

CMV is a common virus, present in saliva, urine, tears, blood, and mucus, and is carried by 75 percent of healthy infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children who contract the virus from their peers. About 60 percent of women are at risk for contracting CMV during pregnancy, posing a major risk to mothers, daycare workers, preschool teachers, therapists, and nurses. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the CDC recommend that OB/GYNs counsel women on basic prevention measures to guard against CMV infection. These include frequent hand washing, not kissing young children on the mouth, and not sharing food, towels, or utensils with them.

CMV is Serious

  • Every hour, one child is permanently disabled by CMV
  • CMV is the leading non-genetic cause of childhood hearing loss
  • CMV also causes vision loss, mental disability, microcephaly, cerebral palsy, behavior issues, and seizures
  • 90% of babies born with CMV will appear healthy at birth
  • 400 children die from CMV every year
  • Scientific research has found a connection between CMV and miscarriage

Want to help raise awareness of CMV?  Join National CMV’s hashtag awareness campaign and share infographcs, photos, and stories on social media!  National CMV maintains a website-based tagboard – a curated public display of all social media posts with the hashtags #stopcmv and #cmvawareness. You can check out the tagboard by simply scrolling down on their homepage!

Each week of June will have a different themed awareness infographic, as well as ideas for a weekly photo that you can post to social media to tell the world about your experience with CMV. They suggest you get creative and be authentic, even if the suggested photos may not apply to your experience–all of our stories are important!

#KnowAboutCMV

#CMVAwareness

#pregnancy

#patientcare

#StopCMV

#HealthCare

#HealthLynked

 

 

 

A Little Bug with a Monster Name: Cytomegalovirus

Cytomegalovirus is a common herpes virus. Like so many other common viruses, many people are unaware they have it because they may show no symptoms.  Legislation has set aside June as National Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month.  In this second week of the observance, the theme is “Cytomegalovirus is Serious”.

The virus, which remains dormant in the body, can cause complications during pregnancy and for people with a weakened immune system.  It spreads through bodily fluids and can be passed on from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby – the most common viral transfer known.

Also known as HCMV, CMV, or Human Herpes virus 5 (HHV-5), cytomegalovirus is the virus most commonly transmitted to a developing fetus.  Many complications can occur because of the in vitro infection, and it represents the number one non-genetic cause of deafness,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 50 percent of adults in the United States are infected by the age of 40 years. It affects males and females equally, at any age, and regardless of ethnicity.

Types

There are three main types of CMV infections: acquired, recurring, or congenital.

  • Acquired, or primary, CMV is a first-time infection.
  • Recurring CMV is when the patient is already infected. The virus is dormant and then becomes active due to a weak immune system.
  • Congenital CMV is when infection occurs during pregnancy and affects the unborn child.

CMV is generally not a problem, except when it affects an unborn child or a person with a weak immune system, such as a recent transplant recipient or a person with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.

In people with HIV, CMV infection can lead to organ failure, eye damage, and blindness. Improvement in antiviral medication has reduced the risk in recent years.

Organ and bone marrow transplant recipients have to take immunosuppressants to lower their immune systems, so that their bodies do not reject the new organs. Dormant CMV can become active in these patients and lead to organ damage.  Transplant recipients may receive antiviral medicines as a precaution against CMV.

During pregnancy, CMV infection can pass from the mother to the fetus. This is called congenital CMV.  According to the CDC, around 1 in 150 newborns are already infected with CMV at birth.

Most of these infants will have no signs or symptoms, but around 20 percent of them will have symptoms or long-term health complications, including learning difficulties.  The symptoms may be severe, and they include vision and hearing loss, vision loss, small head size, weakness and difficulty using muscles, problems of coordination, and seizures.

Symptoms

Depend on the type of CMV.

Acquired CMV

Most people with acquired CMV have no noticeable symptoms, but when symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • fever
  • night sweats
  • tirednessand uneasiness
  • sore throat
  • swollen glands
  • joint and muscle pain
  • low appetite and weight loss

Symptoms will generally go away after two weeks.

Recurring CMV

Symptoms of recurring CMV vary, depending on which organs are affected. Areas likely to be affected are the eyes, lungs, or digestive system.

Symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • diarrhea, gastrointestinal ulcerations, and gastrointestinal bleeding
  • shortness of breath
  • pneumoniawith hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen
  • mouth ulcers that can be large
  • problems with vision, including floaters, blind spots, and blurred vision
  • hepatitis, or inflamed liver, with prolonged fever
  • encephalitis, or inflammationof the brain, leading to behavioral changes, seizures, and even coma.

A person with a weakened immune system who experiences any of these symptoms should seek medical attention.

Congenital CMV

Around 90 percent of babies born with CMV have no symptoms, but 10 percent to 15 percent of them will develop hearing loss, normally during their first 6 months of life. The severity ranges from slight to total hearing loss.

In half of these children, just one ear will be affected, but the rest will have hearing loss in both ears. Hearing loss in both ears can lead to a higher risk of speech and communication problems later on.

If there are symptoms of congenital CMV at birth, they may include:

  • jaundice
  • pneumonia
  • red spots under the skin
  • Purple skin splotches, a rash, or both
  • enlarged liver
  • enlarged spleen
  • low birth weight
  • seizures

Some of these symptoms are treatable.

In about 75 percent of babies born with congenital CMV, there will be an impact on the brain. This may lead to challenges later in life.

Conditions that they may face include:

  • autism
  • central vision loss, scarring of the retina, and uveitis, or swelling and irritation of the eye
  • cognitive and learning difficulties
  • deafness or partial hearing loss
  • epilepsy
  • impaired vision
  • problems with physical coordination
  • seizures
  • small head

Treatment

Scientists have been searching for a CMV vaccine, but as yet there is no cure.

People with acquired CMV, who are infected for the first time, can use over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), ibuprofen, or aspirin to relieve symptoms, and should drink plenty of fluids.

Patients with congenital or recurring CMV can use anti-viral medications such as ganciclovir to slow the spread of the virus.

These medications may have adverse effects. If there is extensive organ damage, hospitalization may be necessary.

Newborns may need to stay in the hospital until their organ functions return to normal.

Prevention

The following precautions may help lower the risk of contracting CMV:

  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Avoid kissing a young child, including tear and saliva contact.
  • Avoid sharing glasses and kitchen utensils, for example, passing round a drink.
  • Dispose of diapers, paper handkerchiefs, and similar items carefully.
  • Use a condom to prevent the spread of CMV via vaginal fluids and semen.

The CDC urges parents and caregivers of children with CMV to seek treatment as early as possible, whether it is medication or seeking services such as hearing checks.

Causes

Acquired cytomegalovirus can spread between people through bodily fluids, such as saliva, semen, blood, urine, vaginal fluids, and breast milk.  Infection may also occur by touching a surface infected with saliva or urine, and then touching the inside of the nose or mouth.

Most humans become infected during childhood, at daycare centers, nurseries, and places where children are in close contact with each other. However, by this age, the child’s immune system is normally able to deal with an infection.

Recurring CMV can occur in patients with a weakened immune system due to HIV, organ transplantation, chemotherapy or taking oral steroids for over 3 months.

Congenital CMV normally occurs when a woman is infected with CMV for the first time, either during her pregnancy or shortly before conceiving.  Occasionally, a dormant CMV infection may recur during pregnancy, especially if the mother has a weakened immune system.

Complications

Healthy people very rarely become significantly sick from CMV infection.  People with a weakened immune system, however, may develop CMV mononucleosis, a condition in which there are too many white blood cells with a single nucleus. Symptoms include sore throat, swollen glands, swollen tonsils, tiredness, and nausea. It can cause liver inflammation, or hepatitis, and spleen enlargement.

CMV mononucleosis is similar to classic mononucleosis, caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus. EBV mononucleosis is also known as glandular fever.

Other complications of CMV are:

  • gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, colon inflammation, and blood the in feces
  • liver function problems
  • central nervous system(CNS) complications, such as encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain
  • pneumonitis, or inflammation of lung tissue.

Diagnosis

A blood test can detect the antibodies which are created when the immune system responds to the presence of CMV.

A pregnant woman has a very small risk of reactivation infecting her developing baby. If infection is suspected, she may consider amniocentesis, which involves extracting a sample of amniotic fluid to find out whether the virus is present.

If congenital CMV is suspected, the baby must be tested within the first 3 weeks of life. Testing later than 3 weeks will not be conclusive for congenital CMV, because the infection could have happened after birth.

Any patient with a weakened immune system should be tested, even if there is no active CMV infection. Regular monitoring for CMV complications will include testing for vision and hearing problems.

While symptoms are rare, an infection may be serious, especially in congenital CMV.  If you are ever feeling ill, whatever the reason, or you suspect your infant has been infected, seek help through HealthLynked.  We are a one-of-a-kind, social healthcare ecosystem designed to connect You with medical professionals who care.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com to take control of your healthcare today.

 

SOURCES:  Medical News Today, National CMV

 

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#CMVAwareness

#pregnancy

#patientcare

#StopCMV

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Medical News Florida | Can mangoes protect heart and gut health

Can mangoes protect heart and gut health?

Published

 

Mangoes have been cultivated in South Asia for thousands of years, and they now find homes across many of the warmer regions of Earth.

They are the national fruit of India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, and for good reason: they’re delicious.

As far as nutrition goes, the mango contains a range of vitamins and minerals, though not in particularly high concentrations.

That is, with the notable exceptions of vitamin C and folate.

Mangoes also contain a range of polyphenols such as flavonoids, a group of compounds that has gained popularity in health food circles over recent years.

Mangoes and polyphenols

The potential health impact of polyphenols has proven a controversial topic; they are considered to have an antioxidant effect, but studies have shown that our guts break the majority of them down before they get a chance to affect our body.

However, the breakdown products of these molecules could also have an impact on health. To date, though, evidence to support their health benefits is contradictory.

That said, sometimes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. With this in mind, a group of researchers from the University of California, Davis set out to see whether they could measure specific health benefits of consuming mango.

To this end, they recruited 24 healthy postmenopausal women and asked them to consume 330 grams of mango each day for two weeks. Specifically, they chose the honey mango because of its relatively high levels of polyphenols.

After the 2-week mango intervention, the participants returned to their standard diet for 13 days, avoiding mango.

The researchers’ findings were presented recently at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting, Nutrition 2018, held in Boston, MA. They have been published in The FASEB Journal.

In order to assess the bioactivity of mango, the researchers took measurements at various points throughout the trial, including heart rate and blood pressure.

The team also sampled blood and breath. By analyzing breath samples, it becomes possible to gain an understanding of gut health. This is due to the fact that they provide a snapshot of the gases produced during fermentation in the intestine.

The scientists found that systolic blood pressure — that is, the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts — was significantly lower than the baseline reading 2 hours after consuming mango.

Pulse pressure — which is a measure of the force that the heart generates every time it contracts — was also significantly lower 2 hours after eating mango.

The breath test measured hydrogen and methane levels. Some participants had methane, some had hydrogen, others had neither, and others still had both. In this type of test, methane is considered a sign of poor gut health.

Of the 24 participants, one quarter produced methane at the start of the trial. Of these six people, half showed reduced methane output after consuming mango.

So, a study that used a small group of a specific cross-section of society seemed to show some benefits of eating mangoes in a study partially funded by the National Mango Board.

More work is needed to back these findings up. Until these results are corroborated, mango can still be safely enjoyed, with or without specific gut and cardiovascular health benefits.

What is knee arthroscopy | Medical News Florida

Knee arthroscopy is a surgical procedure. A surgeon inserts a tool called an arthroscope through a small incision. Using this scope and the camera attached, they can confirm diagnoses and often correct any issues affecting the joint. In this article, learn how to prepare and what to expect from knee arthroscopy.

Uses and benefits

Knee arthroscopy is less invasive than open forms of surgery. A surgeon can diagnose issues and operate using a very small tool, an arthroscope, which they pass through an incision in the skin.

Knee arthroscopy may be helpful in diagnosing a range of problems, including:

  • persistent joint pain and stiffness
  • damaged cartilage
  • floating fragments of bone or cartilage
  • a buildup of fluid, which must be drained

In most of these cases, arthroscopy is all that is needed. People may choose it instead of other surgical procedures because arthroscopy often involves:

  • less tissue damage
  • a faster healing time
  • fewer stitches
  • less pain after the procedure
  • a lower risk of infection, because smaller incisions are made

However, arthroscopy may not be for everyone. There is little evidence that people with degenerative diseases or osteoarthritis can benefit from knee arthroscopy.

How to prepare

Many doctors will recommend a tailored preparation plan, which may include gentle exercises.

It is important for a person taking any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications to discuss them with the doctor. An individual may need to stop taking some medications ahead of the surgery. This may even include common OTC medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil).

A person may need to stop eating up to 12 hours before the procedure, especially if they will be general anesthesia. A doctor should provide plenty of information about what a person is allowed to eat or drink.

Some doctors prescribe pain medication in advance. A person should fill this prescription before the surgery so that they will be prepared for recovery.

Procedure

The type of anesthetic used to numb pain will depend on the extent of the arthroscopy.

A doctor may inject a local anesthetic to numb the affected knee only. If both knees are affected, the doctor may use a regional anesthetic to numb the person from the waist down.

In some cases, doctors will use a general anesthetic. In this case, the person will be completely asleep during the procedure.

If the person is awake, they may be allowed to watch the procedure on a monitor. This is entirely optional, and some people may not be comfortable viewing this.

The procedure starts with a few small cuts in the knee. Surgeons use a pump to push saline solution into the area. This will expand the knee, making it easier for the doctors to see their work.

After the knee is expanded, the surgeons insert the arthroscope. The attached camera allows the surgeons to explore the area and identify any problems. They may confirm earlier diagnoses, and they may take pictures.

If the problem can be fixed with arthroscopy, the surgeons will insert small tools through the arthroscope and use them to correct the issue.

After the problem is fixed, the surgeons will remove the tools, use the pump to drain the saline from the knee, and stitch up the incisions.

In many cases, the procedure takes less than 1 hour.

Recovery

Recovering from arthroscopy is usually quicker than recovering from open surgery.

Most people leave the hospital on the day of the operation with specific instructions about how to handle recovery.

General recovery tips can include:

  • applying ice packs to the dressing and surrounding area to reduce swelling and pain
  • keeping the leg elevated for several days after surgery
  • resting well and often
  • changing the dressing regularly
  • using crutches and following the doctor’s recommendations about applying weight to the knee

Doctors will typically give specific instructions before a person leaves the hospital. They may also prescribe painkillers or recommend OTC drugs for pain management.

In some cases, doctors may recommend taking aspirin to reduce the risk of blood clots.

Recovery times can vary. A person may be able to return to light activity in 1–3 weeks and resume most other physical activities in 6–8 weeks.

Source – https://www.medical news today.com/articles/322099.php

Can tea tree oil treat eczema?

Tea tree oil is a typical ingredient in many skin care products designed for oily skin and acne. But, can it also help treat eczema? This article looks at the research on tea tree oil and its potential use as a treatment for eczema. Learn more about its antiviral, anti-itch, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Benefits of tea tree oil for eczema

 

While there are few studies specifically on tea tree oil as an eczema treatment, researchers do know quite a lot about its many skin-improving properties.

For example, a 2011 study found that tea tree oil was more effective in treating eczema than topical treatments of zinc oxide or ichthammol.

Other potential benefits of tea tree oil for eczema include:

1. Reducing inflammation

Tea tree oil contains the compound terpinen-4-ol. This compound has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help alleviate some of the redness, irritation, and swelling associated with eczema.

2. Wound healing

According to an article in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, tea tree oil reduced healing times for people with wounds infected with Staphylococcus aureus.

However, the experimental study was small, so more research needs to be done to test tea tree oil’s wound-healing abilities.

3. Reducing allergic reactions

One study found that applications of high-dose tea tree oil helped to reduce skin hypersensitivity reactions to nickel in people with a nickel allergy.

Eczema is sometimes triggered or made worse by skin allergens and irritants, such as nickel.

However, applications containing lower doses of tea tree oil did not produce the same results.

High-dose tea tree oil applications may produce unwanted side effects, especially in people with sensitive skin. A person should test the preparation on a small patch of the skin before applying to a larger area. People who are sensitive to tea tree oil can dilute it in a carrier oil.

4. Fighting off viruses

Not only can tea tree oil help to kill unwanted bacteria, but it also has antiviral properties.

An antiviral treatment, such as tea tree, can reduce the chances of an infection developing if the eczema causes broken skin or it is weeping.

5. Reducing dandruff

Tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties, which can help to reduce the activity of specific yeasts, such as those known to cause dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic form of eczema.

Tea tree oil is also used to treat athlete’s foot and nail fungus.

6. Relieving itching

Itchy skin is a hallmark of eczema. One review found that tea tree oil was effective in reducing itching when used for eczema on the scalp.

Where to use tea tree oil

While it is okay to use tea tree oil on virtually any external area of the body, it is essential to do so safely.

If applying to the face, use preparations specifically designed for the face, scalp, or eyelashes. The skin on the face and scalp is sensitive, so a person should take care when treating eczema, acne, and dandruff.

If using a pure essential tea tree oil, it is crucial to mix just a few drops into a carrier oil, such as coconut or almond oil.

It is best to do a test patch by applying a small amount of tea tree oil to a small area of skin and waiting 24 hours. If there is no reaction after 24 hours, it may be safe to use.

A person should always check with their doctor before using tea tree oil preparations to ensure they will not interfere with other eczema treatments.

Source MNT