How to Measure Your Blood Sugar – Mayo Clinic Patient Education

In this short video, a Mayo Clinic Certified Diabetes Educator introduces us to the equipment and walks us through the process of checking blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.

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Positive Parenting | NIH News in Health

Building Healthy Relationships With Your Kids

Parents have an important job. Raising kids is both rewarding and challenging. You’re likely to get a lot of advice along the way, from doctors, family, friends, and even strangers. But every parent and child is unique. Being sensitive and responsive to your kids can help you build positive, healthy relationships together.

“Being a sensitive parent and responding to your kids cuts across all areas of parenting,” says Arizona State University’s Dr. Keith Crnic, a parent-child relationship expert. “What it means is recognizing what your child needs in the moment and providing that in an effective way.”

This can be especially critical for infants and toddlers, he adds. Strong emotional bonds often develop through sensitive, responsive, and consistent parenting in the first years of life. For instance, holding your baby lovingly and responding to their cries helps build strong bonds.

Building Bonds

Strong emotional bonds help children learn how to manage their own feelings and behaviors and develop self-confidence. They help create a safe base from which they can explore, learn, and relate to others.

Experts call this type of strong connection between children and their caregivers “secure attachment.” Securely attached children are more likely to be able to cope with challenges like poverty, family instability, parental stress, and depression.

A recent analysis shows that about 6 out of 10 children in the U.S. develop secure attachments to their parents. The 4 out of 10 kids who lack such bonds may avoid their parents when they are upset or resist their parents if they cause them more distress. Studies suggest that this can make kids more prone to serious behavior problems. Researchers have been testing programs to help parents develop behaviors that encourage secure attachment.

Being Available

Modern life is full of things that can influence your ability to be sensitive and responsive to your child. These include competing priorities, extra work, lack of sleep, and things like mobile devices. Some experts are concerned about the effects that distracted parenting may have on emotional bonding and children’s language development, social interaction, and safety.

If parents are inconsistently available, kids can get distressed and feel hurt, rejected, or ignored. They may have more emotional outbursts and feel alone. They may even stop trying to compete for their parents’ attention and start to lose emotional connections to their parents.

“There are times when kids really do need your attention and want your recognition,” Crnic explains. Parents need to communicate that their kids are valuable and important, and children need to know that parents care what they’re doing, he says.

It can be tough to respond with sensitivity during tantrums, arguments, or other challenging times with your kids. “If parents respond by being irritable or aggressive themselves, children can mimic that behavior, and a negative cycle then continues to escalate,” explains Dr. Carol Metzler, who studies parenting at the Oregon Research Institute.

According to Crnic, kids start to regulate their own emotions and behavior around age 3. Up until then, they depend more on you to help them regulate their emotions, whether to calm them or help get them excited.

“They’re watching you to see how you do it and listening to how you talk to them about it,” he explains. “Parents need to be good self-regulators. You’re not only trying to regulate your own emotions in the moment, but helping your child learn to manage their emotions and behavior.”

As kids become better at managing their feelings and behavior, it’s important to help them develop coping skills, like active problem solving. Such skills can help them feel confident in handling what comes their way.

“When parents engage positively with their children, teaching them the behaviors and skills that they need to cope with the world, children learn to follow rules and regulate their own feelings,” Metzler says.

“As parents, we try really hard to protect our kids from the experience of bad things,” Crnic explains. “But if you protect them all the time and they are not in situations where they deal with difficult or adverse circumstances, they aren’t able to develop healthy coping skills.”

He encourages you to allow your kids to have more of those experiences and then help them learn how to solve the problems that emerge. Talk through the situation and their feelings. Then work with them to find solutions to put into practice.

Meeting Needs

As children grow up, it’s important to remember that giving them what they need doesn’t mean giving them everything they want. “These two things are very different,” Crnic explains. “Really hone in on exactly what’s going on with your kid in the moment. This is an incredibly important parenting skill and it’s linked to so many great outcomes for kids.”

Think about where a child is in life and what skills they need to learn at that time. Perhaps they need help managing emotions, learning how to behave in a certain situation, thinking through a new task, or relating to friends.

“You want to help kids become confident,” Crnic says. “You don’t want to aim too high where they can’t get there or too low where they have already mastered the skill.” Another way to boost confidence while strengthening your relationship is to let your kid take the lead.

“Make some time to spend with your child that isn’t highly directive, where your child leads the play,” advises Dr. John Bates, who studies children’s behavior problems at Indiana University Bloomington. “Kids come to expect it and they love it, and it really improves the relationship.”

Bates also encourages parents to focus on their child’s actual needs instead of sticking to any specific parenting principles. It’s never too late to start building a healthier, more positive relationship with your child, even if things have gotten strained and stressful.

“Most importantly, make sure that your child knows that you love them and are on their side,” Metzler says. “For older children, let them know that you are genuinely committed to building a stronger relationship with them and helping them be successful.”

By being a sensitive and responsive parent, you can help set your kids on a positive path, teach them self-control, reduce the likelihood of troublesome behaviors, and build a warm, caring parent-child relationship.

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Inflammatory Breast Cancer – Suzy’s Story

Suzy Underhill, a patient at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, shares her story battling inflammatory breast cancer. She explains the diagnosis, treatment and how she managed to keep a positive outlook during the process. Learn more about breast cancer treatment at Mayo Clinic: http://mayocl.in/2lulFoe

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The Basics: Signs of Diabetic Neuropathy

Don’t write off that tingling sensation in your hands and feet. If you have diabetes, it may be a sign of neuropathy.

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Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis: Search for a Cure

 

NIH studies look for new medications and improved outcomes

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a tricky disease.

No one knows what causes it, but while there isn’t yet a cure for the autoimmune disease, it can be treated. Arthritis is an extremely common problem but not all forms of arthritis are alike.

Just as symptoms of RA can vary, medical treatments can vary, but the important thing to know is that over the last 20 years the treatment of RA has changed dramatically with the approval of many new, highly effective drugs.

These can help slow or stop joint damage, minimize disability, and reduce inflammation, pain and swelling. Lowering, stress, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and getting enough rest are all suggested lifestyle changes.

Some medicines are taken by mouth, while others require regular injections; these drugs are highly effective, but do have side effects. Thus, it’s essential to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor who specializes in rheumatic diseases, understands all the different causes of arthritis—in adults and children—and has experience with the new drugs, advises John O’Shea, M.D., scientific director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

“RA and other autoimmune diseases don’t just affect the joints, they cause inflammation throughout your body,” Dr. O’Shea says.

The main goal in treating RA is to reduce inflammation and pain, stop more joint damage, and to be able to function normally.

“We now have better treatment therapies to keep you safe, as well as clinical studies that specifically look at inflammation,” Dr. O’Shea adds. The RA drug tofacitinib, approved for the treatment of RA in 2012, targets a protein that was discovered in the early 1990s by O’Shea and his colleagues.

Dr. O’Shea and his team at NIAMS are studying the molecular and genetic basis of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases in an effort to identify potential strategies for future therapies.

Researchers are also studying the natural history of the disease in children and adults to understand more fully how RA progresses and impacts people’s lives.

In addition, NIAMS researchers are collaborating with investigators outside of NIH to explore whether people with RA who are in remission (no symptoms of the disease) while taking TNF inhibitors are at risk of having symptoms come back if they stop taking the medicine.

Another study funded by NIAMS focuses on RA patients with inflammation in the blood vessels and heart tissue, which can eventually lead to heart disease.

“People who have rheumatoid arthritis have a 50 percent increase in chance of experiencing a stroke or heart failure,” says Joan Bathon, M.D., chief of the division of rheumatology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

Known as the TARGET study, the clinical trial aims to see if treatment of arthritis in individuals with RA will also reduce inflammation in blood vessels. Inflammation in blood vessels is believed to be an early predictor of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which leads to heart attacks and strokes. If RA medications reduce inflammation in blood vessels, this may reduce future chances of heart attacks and strokes. “We want to aggressively treat rheumatoid arthritis, to see if it will help the heart,” Dr. Bathon says.

Joining a clinical study such as the TARGET study will help researchers find a cure more quickly. There are 30 sites in the U.S. focusing on the TARGET study, with more to come soon.

“We have a lot of treatments, but none of our treatments cure the disease,” Dr. Bathon says. “In lieu of a cure is prevention of related complications from the disease. RA is treatable. We’re focusing on outcomes right now and getting people with RA back on track.”

The bottom line: If you have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, early diagnosis is essential. It is critical to get aggressive treatment as early as possible to help slow RA and help prevent permanent joint damage.

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Ebstein’s Anomaly – Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic cardiovascular surgeon, Joseph Dearani, M.D., talks about the diagnosis and treatment of Ebstein’s anomaly. Visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ebsteins-anomaly/home/ovc-20199183?mc_id=global&utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=sm&utm_content=cardiacanomalyheart&utm_campaign=mayoclinic&geo=global&placementsite=enterprise&cauid=10394 for more information on Ebstein’s anomaly or to request an appointment at Mayo Clinic.

Ebstein’s anomaly is a congenital heart defect that can differ from patient to patient. An Ebstein’s anomaly patient who is highly symptomatic can require urgent surgery as a newborn while others may not know they have this condition until late into adulthood. However, with advances in prenatal ultrasounds, this diagnosis can oftentimes be made prenatally. The timing of surgical treatment for Ebstein’s anomaly can vary depending on severity of the diagnosis as well as other compounding factors such as a hole in the heart or cyanosis.

The ultimate goal of surgical treatment for Ebstein’s anomaly is to repair the native tricuspid valve. If the tricuspid valve is too abnormal to repair, replacement is also an option. Patients who have undergone tricuspid valve repair or replacement for Ebstein’s anomaly require continuous followup for things such as irregular heartbeats, arrhythmias, recurrent tricuspid valve problems, and ventricular function abnormalities.

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Multiple Sclerosis: An Overview | NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine

 

What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). A patient’s clinical course is difficult to predict.

It damages myelin, a substance that wraps around nerve fibers and helps protect them.

Damaged myelin exposes our nerve fiber and disrupts key communication between our nervous system and brain. This creates pain, coordination issues, vision problems, and more.

MS is considered to be an autoimmune disease, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your body.

Know the symptoms

Multiple sclerosis signs and symptoms appear in many ways. They can range from minimal to disabling, depending on how much nerve damage there is and which nerves are affected.

The majority of MS patients are mildly affected, but in the worst cases, MS can make a person unable to write, speak, or walk.

MS symptoms usually appear in people between ages 20 and 40 and can include the following:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Red-green color distortion or blindness in one eye
  • Severe tiredness
  • Muscle weakness in hands or feet
  • Problems with coordination or balance
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Partial or complete paralysis
  • Numbness or prickling “pins and needles” sensations
  • Speech problems
  • Tremors or dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Depression
  • Memory loss or difficulty concentrating

Check with a health care provider if you experience any or some of these symptoms and suspect it may be MS.

Treatment

Some people with MS do well without therapy, and in some cases, medications can have serious side effects. Some have major risks, which requires close monitoring. Unfortunately, MS can worsen slowly enough that patients are not always aware of it, and this can happen in the absence of new lesions in the brain or spinal cord.

SOURCES: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Opens new window National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Definition of MS Opens new window

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Olympic Gymnast Shares Training Secrets

From the WebMD Archives:

Olympian gymnast Gabrielle Douglas reveals the grueling details of her daily workout, how she mentally prepares for competition, and the foods she eats to stay charged.

Discover how Olympic athletes stay fit. Plus, get food and fitness tips for the everyday Olympian.
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/summer-olympics-12/default.htm

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Reviewed By: Michael W. Smith, June 2012
SOURCES: Team USA Olympic Athletes, Uinterview, http://www.uinterview.com
© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Learn how to reduce stress through Mindful Living techniques – Mayo Clinic

Mindful Living is a four-week course offered at Mayo Clinic to patients and caregivers taught by Teri Pipe, Ph.D., Director of Nursing Research and Innovation at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Interim Dean of ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation. The course incorporates mindfulness techniques to help participants better cope with stress.

In the following video, Dr. Pipe will explain how the concept of Mindfulness works and ways to achieve it.

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