A Woman’s Story of Overcoming PCOS | 20 (plus) things you Need to Know

If you are looking for the stuff you “need to know” from the title, it’s further on down in the article.  In observance of PCOS Awareness Month, we thought we would share the true story of a young woman living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  I know her well but interviewed her for the article anyway.  She’s my super cool middle, Delaney.

Delaney grew up a very active, wonderfully gregarious kid who moved around a few times with the Navy until we exited and settled in SoCar – that’s South Carolina, for those who don’t know.  A natural athlete, fast, nimble and taller than her peers, she quickly found herself to be a standout soccer player.  She didn’t know she couldn’t score every time she had the ball at her feet, and so she did.  Because she was quick and had incredible endurance, she also was recruited by the track coach to run the varsity 800m in seventh grade, along with a teammate who was her opposite on the field.

But soccer was her thing, and she eventually dropped the spikes to focus solely on futbol.  Running upwards of 8 miles every day in practice – anywhere from trotting to full Sprint, even backwards and sideways as an outside midfielder, she was fit in all the ways a peak performing Athlete would be.  To fuel it all, she would eat FOUR big meals every day – each bigger than those her 220 lbs weight Training father would consume.  She ate it and burned it with a ferocity on the Field we all admired.

Attack, fight, victory was her personal motto, in everything and in all ways.  Then came college.  She decided to focus on her studies and didn’t go out for the team.  In fact, just about every bit of working out came to a screeching halt.  And then, her period stopped….for a full year.

She had gained the average “freshman fifteen”, which wasn’t surprising when considering her eating habits, if anything, were filling her with added calories, and she had stopped using those calories on the field.  So, if she had always had her period as an athlete and now had even more body fat, why was she experiencing amenorrhea  (the technical term for missing your period)?   Stress?  All the life changes in general?  Purely hormonal?

Poly cystic ovarian syndrome is, at its most basic level, a hormonal imbalance, where too much of the “male” hormones are produced in a female.  While the only apparent symptom she displayed at the time was amenorrhea, her ever diligent homeopathic healer in residence, aka, her mom, was convinced she had PCOS.

First stop, her old pediatrician, who told her everything was normal; but she could go on birth control to start her period again.  After all, having one is important for so many other things in a young woman’s life, like the other hormones it generates that aid in creating increased bone density.

Not enough info, so on to an Ob/Gyn.  There, the feedback was little more along the lines of what her mom had already assumed, but they were even skeptical.  “So, let’s get an ultrasound,” my wife suggested.  The physician said you couldn’t see PCOS on an ultrasound.  As a DMS, my wife knew better.

On ultrasound, it was clear her ovaries were encased in cysts.  They were covered in follicles too numerous to count – today, 20 on an ovary will typically be used as a clear diagnosis.

Diagnosis in hand, the physician gave her the long list of troubles she was set to endure in her life – infertility, type II diabetes, a constant struggle with weight gain, hirsutism, and skin issues to name a few.  And, as if on queue, while the lack of period was the only thing she went to the physician for, she began to experience all of the negative symptoms save diabetes.

“I started to use PCOS as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted,” she says today.  “I just stopped caring about what I put in my body,” and she may have even begun to somewhat celebrate the new-found freedom from lack of discipline around diet.  Pictures of food became the standard in her social feed, and she did start to suffer the weight gain her MD predicted.  Along with that came the added pain of body image issues.

She started taking birth control to manage her cycle, and it worked.  At least, it did ensure she became regular; but deep down inside, she knew it wasn’t fixing the problem.  “I knew it was a bandaid put on to cover what was really wrong, so I quit after a year.  It wasn’t really doing anything.  It definitely was not helping fix whatever was at the root,” she said to me this Labor Day morning.

She finished college as a star student, winning all but one of the math awards given out by the University of South Carolina.  I guess I forgot to mention, she’s also brilliant, and I am very proud, of her and all of our kids.  On to New York City!

Always called to serve, Delaney decided to teach in the high schools of the Bronx.  She was not sure if it was the added stress or the increased disregard for dietary discipline, but she added even more weight with the move, though she began to workout more than before.  And, the skin issues and extra hair growth kicked in….

“I began to understand I had to do something.  Thankfully, Mom has always been a huge proponent of natural healing, so I started a few different regiments of eating more mindfully and living more intentionally,” Delaney says now.  She went through a few rounds of Whole 30, and really started to stop eating when full.  “I used to empty my plate, no matter what;… but now come home with leftovers routinely,” she says.  “If I want to have pizza, I still have pizza.  I just don’t eat a WHOLE pizza.”

The changes in diet and exercise, along with a few other healthy changes in her life, over a two-year period, have restored this vivacious young lady to the same level of health she had when she entered college in 2011.  She would say her PCOS is in remission.

“I still wonder, on occasion, about my ability to have a family; but, since my cycle is normal, naturally, I am ovulating, and my health is optimized, I think that won’t be a problem, either.”  We hope not!  We love grandkids!

Delaney would tell anyone asking her results may not be normal.  She would encourage you to seek to control PCOS in the most natural ways possible – through diet, exercise and healthy living – but she also acknowledges those methods may not be for everyone.  Definitely seek medical counsel.

So, What Is PCOS, Really?

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal condition. Hormones are substances your body makes to help make different processes happen. Some are related to your ability to have a baby, and also affect your menstrual cycle. Those that are involved in PCOS include.

  • Androgens: Often called “male” hormones, women have them, too. Those with PCOS tend to have higher levels, which can cause symptoms like hair loss, hair in places you don’t want it (such as on your face), and trouble getting pregnant.
  • Insulin: This hormone manages your blood sugar. If you have PCOS, your body might not react to insulin the way that it should.
  • Progesterone: With PCOS, your body may not have enough of this hormone. That can make you to miss your periods for a long time, or to have periods that are hard to predict.

With PCOS, your reproductive hormones are out of balance. This can lead to problems with your ovaries, such as not having your period on time, or missing it entirely.  In women who have it, it can:

  • Affect your ability to have a child (fertility)
  • Make your periods stop or become difficult to predict
  • Cause acneand unwanted hair
  • Raise your chances for other health problems, including diabetesand high blood pressure

There are treatments for the symptoms, and if you want to get pregnant, that’s still possible, though you may need to try different methods.  Many women who have PCOS don’t have cysts on their ovaries, so “polycystic” can be misleading. You might have cysts, and you might not.

What Are the Symptoms of PCOS?

If you have things such as oily skin, missed periods, or trouble losing weight, you may think those issues are just a normal part of your life. But those frustrations could actually be signs that you have polycystic ovary (or ovarian) syndrome, also known as PCOS.

The condition has many symptoms, and you may not have all of them. It’s pretty common for it to take women a while – even years – to find out they have this condition.

Things You Might Notice

You might be most bothered by some of the PCOS symptoms that other people can notice. These include:

  • Hair growth in unwanted areas. Your doctor may call this “hirsutism” (pronounced HUR-soo-tiz-uhm). You might have unwanted hair growing in places such as on your face or chin, breasts, stomach, or thumbs and toes.
  • Hair loss. Women with PCOS might see thinning hair on their head, which could worsen in middle age.
  • Weight problems. About half of women with PCOS struggle with weight gain or have a tough time losing weight.
  • Acne or oily skin. Because of hormone changes related to PCOS, you might develop pimples and oily skin. (You can have these  PCOS, of course).
  • Problems sleeping, feeling tired all the time. You could have trouble falling asleep. Or you might have a disorder known as sleep apnea. This means that even when you do sleep, you do not feel well-rested after you wake up.
  • Headaches. This is because of hormone changes with PCOS.
  • Trouble getting pregnant. PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility.
  • Period problems. You could have irregular periods. Or you might not have a period for several months. Or you might have very heavy bleeding during your period.

How Do I Know If I Have PCOS?

There’s no single test that, by itself, shows whether you have polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and give you a physical exam and blood tests to help find out if you have this condition.

PCOS is a common hormone disorder that can cause problems with your period, fertility, weight, and skin. It can also put you at risk for other conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. If you have it, the sooner you find out, the sooner you can start treatment.

What Your Doctor Will ask

Your doctor will want to know about all the signs and symptoms you’ve noticed. This is an important step to help figure out whether you have PCOS, and to rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms.

You’ll need to answer questions about your family’s medical history, including whether your mother or sister has PCOS or problems getting pregnant. This information is helpful — PCOS tends to run in families.

Be ready to discuss any period problems you’ve had, weight changes, and other concerns.

Your doctor may diagnose PCOS if you have at least two of these symptoms:

  • Irregular periods
  • Higher levels of androgen (male hormones) shown in blood tests or through symptoms like acne, male-pattern balding, or extra hair growth on your face, chin, or body
  • Cysts in your ovaries as shown in an ultrasound exam

What’s the Treatment for PCOS?

Treatments can help you manage the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and lower your odds for long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

You and your doctor should talk about what your goals are, then you can come up with a treatment plan. For example, if you want to get pregnant and are having trouble, then your treatment would focus on helping you conceive. If you want to tame PCOS-related acne, your treatment would be geared toward skin problems.

Healthy Habits

  • One of the best ways to deal with PCOSis to eat well and exercise
  • Many women with PCOS are overweightor obese. Losing just 5% to 10% of your body weight may ease some symptoms and help make your periods more regular. It may also help manage problems with blood sugar levels and ovulation.
  • Since PCOS could lead to high blood sugar, your doctor may want you to limit starchy or sugary foods. Instead, eat foods and meals that have plenty of fiber, which raise your blood sugarlevel slowly.
  • Staying active helps you control your blood sugar and insulin, too. And exercisingevery day will help you with your weight.
  • Staying active helps you control your blood sugar and insulin, too. And exercisingevery day will help you with your weight.

Hormone Treatments and Medication

Birth control is the most common PCOS treatment for women who don’t want to get pregnant. Hormonal birth control — pills, a skin patch, vaginal ring, shots, or a hormonal IUD (intrauterine device) — can help restore regular periods. The hormones also treat acne and unwanted hair growth.

These birth control methods may also lower your chance of having endometrial cancer, in the inner lining of the uterus.

Taking just a hormone called progestin could help get your periods back on track. It doesn’t prevent pregnancies or treat unwanted hair growth and acne. But it can lower the chance of uterine cancer.

Metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage) lowers insulin levels. It can help with weight loss and may prevent you from getting type 2 diabetes. It may also make you more fertile.

If birth control doesn’t stop hair growth after 6 months, your doctor may prescribe spironolactone (Aldactone). It lowers the level of a type of sex hormone called androgens. But you shouldn’t take it if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, because it can cause birth defects.

Weight Loss

When a healthy diet and regular exercise aren’t enough, medications can make losing weight easier. Different drugs work in different ways. For example, orlistat (Alli, Xenical) stops your body from digesting some of the fat in your food, so it may also improve your cholesterol levels. Lorcaserin (Belviq) makes you feel less hungry. Your doctor will prescribe the medication they think will be the most successful for you.

Weight loss surgery could help if you’re severely obese and other methods haven’t worked. The change in your weight afterward can regulate your menstrual cycle and hormones and cut your odds of having diabetes.

Hair Removal

Products called depilatories, including creams, gels, and lotions, break down the protein structure of hair so it falls out of the skin. Follow the directions on the package.

A process like electrolysis (a way to remove individual hairs by using an electric current to destroy the root) or laser therapy destroys hair follicles. You’ll need several sessions, and though some hair may come back, it should be finer and less noticeable.

Fertility

Your doctor may prescribe medication to help you get pregnant. Clomiphene and letrozole encourage steps in the process that trigger ovulation. If they don’t work, you can try shots of hormones called gonadotropins.

A surgery called ovarian drilling might make your ovaries work better when ovulation medications don’t, but it’s being done less often than it used to. The doctor makes a small cut in your belly and uses a tool called a laparoscope with a needle to poke your ovary and wreck a small part of it. The procedure changes your hormone levels and may make it easier for you to ovulate.

With in vitro fertilization, or IVF, your egg is fertilized outside of your body and then placed back inside your uterus. This may be the best way to get pregnant when you have PCOS, but it can be expensive.

What Are the Complications of PCOS?

If you have polycystic ovary syndrome, your ovaries may contain many tiny cysts that cause your body to produce too many hormones called androgens.

In men, androgens are made in the testes. They’re involved in the development of male sex organs and other male characteristics, like body hair. In women, androgens are made in the ovaries, but are later turned into estrogens. These are hormones that play a vital role in the reproductive system, as well as the health of your heart, arteries, skin, hair, brain, and other body parts and systems.

If you have PCOS and your androgen levels are too high, you have higher odds for a number of possible complications. (These may differ from woman to woman):

Trouble Getting Pregnant

  • Cysts in the ovaries can interfere with ovulation. That’s when one of your ovaries releases an egg each month. If a healthy egg isn’t available to be fertilized by a sperm, you can’t get pregnant.
  • You may still be able to get pregnant if you have PCOS. But you might have to take medicine and work with a fertility specialist to make it happen.

Insulin Issues

Doctors aren’t sure what causes PCOS. One theory is that insulin resistance may cause your body to make too many androgens.

Insulin is a hormone that helps the cells in your body absorb sugar (glucose) from your blood to be used as energy later. If you have insulin resistance, the cells in your muscles, organs, and other tissue don’t absorb blood sugar very well. As a result, you can have too much sugar moving through your bloodstream. This is called diabetes, and it can cause problems with your cardiovascular and nervous systems.

Other Possible Problems

You might have metabolic syndrome. This is a group of symptoms that raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as high triglyceride and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels.  Other common complications of PCOS include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bleeding from the uterus and higher risk of uterine cancer
  • Sleep problems
  • Inflammation of the liver

Some complications of PCOS may not be serious threats to your health, but they can be unwanted and embarrassing:

  • Abnormal body or facial hair growth
  • Thinning hair on your head
  • Weight gain around your middle
  • Acne, dark patches, and other skin problems

Most women at some point have to contend with weight, but for women with polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS), losing weight can become a constant struggle.

PCOS is the most common hormonal disorder in women of childbearing age and can lead to issues with fertility. Women who have PCOS have higher levels of male hormones and are also less sensitive to insulin or are “insulin-resistant.” Many are overweight or obese. As a result, these women can be at a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, and uterine cancer.

If you have PCOS, certain lifestyle changes can help you shed pounds and reduce the disease’s severity.

Why does polycystic ovary syndrome cause weight gain?

PCOS makes it more difficult for the body to use the hormone insulin, which normally helps convert sugars and starches from foods into energy. This condition — called insulin resistance– can cause insulin and sugar — glucose — to build up in the bloodstream.

High insulin levels increase the production of male hormones called androgens. High androgen levels lead to symptoms such as body hair growth, acne, irregular periods — and weight gain. Because the weight gain is triggered by male hormones, it is typically in the abdomen. That is where men tend to carry weight. So, instead of having a pear shape, women with PCOS have more of an apple shape.

Abdominal fat is the most dangerous kind of fat. That’s because it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other health conditions.

What are the risks associated with PCOS-related weight gain?

No matter what the cause, weight gain can be detrimental to your health. Women with PCOS are more likely to develop many of the problems associated with weight gain and insulin resistance, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Infertility
  • Endometrial cancer

Many of these conditions can lead to heart disease. In fact, women with PCOS are four to seven times more likely to have a heart attack than women of the same age without the condition.

Experts think weight gain also helps trigger PCOS symptoms, such as menstrual abnormalities and acne.

What can I do to lose weight if I have polycystic ovary syndrome?

Losing weight not only cuts your risk for many diseases, it can also make you feel better. When you have PCOS, shedding just 10% of your body weight can bring your periods back to normal. It can also help relieve some of the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity. That will reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other PCOS complications.

To lose weight, start with a visit to your doctor. The doctor will weigh you and check your waist size and body mass index. Body mass index is also called BMI, and it is the ratio of your height to your weight.

Your doctor may also prescribe medication. Several medications are approved for PCOS, including birth control pills and anti-androgen medications. The anti-androgen medications block the effects of male hormones. A few medications are used specifically to promote weight loss in women with PCOS. These include:

  • Metformin (Glucophage). Metformin is a diabetes drug that helps the body use insulin more efficiently. It also reduces testosterone production. Some research has found that it can help obese women with PCOS lose weight.
  • Thiazolidinediones. These should be used with contraception. The drugs pioglitazone (Actos) and rosiglitazone (Avandia) also help the body use insulin. In studies, these drugs improved insulin resistance. But their effect on body weight is unclear. All patients using Avandia must review and fully understand the cardiovascular risks. Research has found that Flutamide (Eulexin), an anti-androgen drug, helps obese women with PCOS lose weight. It also improves their blood sugar levels. The drug can be given alone or with metformin.

In addition to taking medication, adding healthy habits into your lifestyle can help you keep your weight under control:

  • Eat a high-fiber, low-sugar diet. Load up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid processed and fatty foods to keep your blood sugar levels in check. If you’re having trouble eating healthy on your own, talk to your doctor or a dietitian.
  • Eat four to six small meals throughout the day, rather than three large meals. This will help control your blood sugar levels.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day on most, if not all, days of the week.
  • Work with your doctor to track your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
  • If you smoke, get involved in a program that can help you quit.

PCOS and Your Fertility — and What You Can Do About It

One of the most common reasons a woman has trouble getting pregnant is a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  It’s a hormone problem that interferes with the reproductive system.   When you have PCOS, your ovaries are larger than normal. These bigger ovaries can have many tiny cysts that contain immature eggs.

Hormone Differences

PCOS causes a woman’s body to produce higher-than-normal levels of androgens. These are hormones that are usually thought of as male hormones, because men have much higher levels of androgens than women.

Androgens are important in the development of male sex organs and other male traits.  In women, androgens are usually converted into the hormone estrogen.

Ovulation Problems

Elevated levels of androgens interfere with the development of your eggs and the regular release of your eggs. This process is called ovulation.

If a healthy egg isn’t released, it can’t be fertilized by sperm, meaning you can’t get pregnant. PCOS can cause you to miss your menstrual period or have irregular periods. This can be one of the first signs that you may have a problem such as PCOS.

Regulating Your Period

Fortunately, there are some treatments that can help women with PCOS have healthy pregnancies.

Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills that contain man-made versions of the hormones estrogen and progestin. These pills can help regulate your menstrual cycle by reducing androgen production.

If you cannot tolerate a combination birth control pill, your doctor might recommend a progestin-only pill.

You take this pill for about 2 weeks a month, for about 1-2 months. It’s also designed to help regulate your period.

Medicines to Help You Ovulate

You won’t be able to get pregnant while you’re taking birth control pills for PCOS. But if you need help ovulating so that you can become pregnant, certain medicines may help:

  • Clomiphene is an anti-estrogen drug that you take at the beginning of your cycle.
  • If clomiphene doesn’t help with ovulation, you may be prescribed the diabetes drug metformin.
  • If clomiphene and metformin don’t work, your doctor may prescribe a medication containing a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and a luteinizing hormone (LH). You get this medicine in a shot.
  • One other drug that helps with ovulation is letrozole. It’s sometimes used when other medications aren’t effective.

If you have PCOS and you want to get pregnant, you should work with a doctor who is a specialist in reproductive medicine. This type of doctor is also known as a fertility specialist.

A specialist will help make sure you get the right dose of medicines, help with any problems you have, and schedule regular checkups and ultrasounds to see how you’re doing. (An ultrasound is a machine that uses sound waves to create images of the inside of your body. It’s a painless procedure that can track the growth and development of your baby).

Lifestyle Changes

For some women, gaining a lot of weight can affect their hormones. In turn, losing weight, if you’re obese or overweight, may help get your hormones back to normal levels. Losing 10% of your body weight may help your menstrual cycle become more predictable. This should help you get pregnant.

In general, living a healthier lifestyle with a better diet, regular exercise, no smoking, less stress, and control of diabetes and other medical conditions should improve your fertility odds.

Remember, if your period isn’t happening when it should, or you’ve already been diagnosed with PCOS, work closely with your doctor to help get it under control. And if you want to get pregnant, talk with a fertility specialist.

Getting Help  

If you’re having irregular periods or are unable to get pregnant, see your doctor. The same holds for:

  • Mood changes
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Changes in your hair or skin

These symptoms may might not be caused by PCOS but could signal other serious health issues.

If anything is this article sounds like something you are dealing with, get connected with a doctor in your area who can help.  Using HealthLynked, you can find a physician and securely share relevant health information with them, collaborating more closely on your healthcare than ever before possible.

Ready to get Lynked?  Sign up today for Free at HealthLynked.com!

Adapted from – WebMd

10 Facts about A [little] Fib that May Surprise You

Atrial fibrillation, also called AF or AFib, is the most common type of heart rhythm disorder. People with this condition are at higher risk for serious medical complications, such as dementia, heart failure, stroke, or even death. Too many of those affected by the condition don’t realize that they have it, and many who have it don’t realize the seriousness of the affliction. All too often, healthcare providers may also minimize the effects of the condition.

September is Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, designated to help patients and healthcare providers learn more about this complex condition. In addition to stroke prevention, additional know-how can improve the overall wellness of those suffering from AFib. Often, those with AFib have a lower quality of life than those who have suffered a heart attack. And, unfortunately, some healthcare providers may not know about treatment options that can essentially put a stop to the condition.

For those who have AFib, seeking information about the ailment and  finding early treatment are imperative. The longer someone has AFib, the more likely they will convert from intermittent AFib to enduring it all the time, making it much more difficult to stop or cure.

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.  A racing, pounding heartbeat that happens for no apparent reason should not be ignored, especially when other symptoms are also present — like shortness of breath with light physical activity or lightheadedness, dizziness, or unusual fatigue. AFib occurs when the heart muscles fail to contract in a strong, rhythmic way. When a heart is in AFib, it may not be pumping enough oxygen-rich blood out to the body.

Why is AFib associated with a five-times-greater risk for stroke?

When the heart is in AFib, the blood can become static and can be left pooling inside the heart. When blood pools, a clot can form. When a clot is pumped out of the heart, it can get lodged in the arteries which may cause a stroke. Blocked arteries prevent the tissue on the other side from getting oxygen-rich blood, and without oxygen the tissue dies.

Any person who has AFib needs to evaluate stroke risks and determine with a healthcare provider what must be done to lower the risks. Studies show that many people with AFib who need risk-lowering treatments are not getting them. Learn more about stroke risks with the CHA2DS2–VASc tool.

If I don’t have these symptoms, should I be concerned?

There are people who have atrial fibrillation that do not experience noticeable symptoms. These people may be diagnosed at a regular check-up or their AFib may be discovered when a healthcare provider listens to their heart for some other reason.

However, people who have AFib with no symptoms still have a five-times-greater risk of stroke. Everyone needs to receive regular medical check-ups to help keep risks low and live a long and healthy life.  Many may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • General fatigue
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Fluttering or “thumping” in the chest
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath and anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Faintness or confusion
  • Fatigue when exercising
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain or pressure

Are there different types of AFib?

The symptoms are generally the same; however, the duration of the AFib and underlying reasons for the condition help medical practitioners classify the type of AFib problems.

  • Paroxysmal fibrillation is when the heart returns to a normal rhythm on its own, or with intervention, within 7 days of its start. People who have this type of AFib may have episodes only a few times a year or their symptoms may occur every day. These symptoms are very unpredictable and often can turn into a permanent form of atrial fibrillation.
  • Persistent AFib is defined as an irregular rhythm that lasts for longer than 7 days. This type of atrial fibrillation will not return to normal sinus rhythm on its own and will require some form of treatment.
  • Long-standing AFib is when the heart is consistently in an irregular rhythm that lasts longer than 12 months.
  • Permanent AFib occurs when the condition lasts indefinitely and the patient and doctor have decided not to continue further attempts to restore normal rhythm.
  • Nonvalvular AFib is atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve issue.

Over a period of time, paroxysmal fibrillation may become more frequent and longer lasting, sometimes leading to permanent or chronic AFib. All types of AFib can increase your risk of stroke. Even if you have no symptoms at all, you are nearly 5 times more likely to have a stroke than someone who doesn’t have atrial fibrillation.

How are heart attack symptoms different from AFib symptoms?

Fluttering and palpitations are key symptoms of AFib and are the key differences, but many heart problems have similar warning signs. If you think you may be having a heart attack, DON’T DELAY. Get emergency help by calling 9-1-1 immediately. A heart attack is a blockage of blood flow to the heart, often caused by a clot or build-up of plaque lodging in the coronary artery (a blood vessel that carries blood to part of the heart muscle). A heart attack can damage or destroy part of your heart muscle. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — where no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help.

People living with AFib should know the Warning Sings

As stated earlier, having atrial fibrillation can put you at an increased risk for stroke. Here are the warning signs that you should be aware of:

Heart Attack Warning Signs

Chest Discomfort

Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in Other Areas of the Upper Body

Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of Breath

With or without chest discomfort.

Other Signs

May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Stroke Warning Signs

Spot a stroke F.A.S.T.:

  • Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness : Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you notice one or more of these symptoms, even if they are temporary or seem to disappear.

10 ATRIAL FIBRILLATION FACTS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU

  1. AFib affects lots of people.  Currently as many as 5.1 million people are affected by AFib — and that’s just in America. By 2050, the number of people in the United States with AFib may increase to as many as 15.9 million. About 350,000 hospitalizations a year in the U.S. are attributed to AFib.  In addition, people over the age of 40 have a one in four chance of developing AFib in their lifetime.
  2. AFib is a leading cause of strokes.  Nearly 35 percent of all AFib patients will have a stroke at some time. In addition to leaving sufferers feeling weak, tired or even incapacitated, AFib can allow blood to pool in the atria, creating blood clots, which may move throughout the body, causing a stroke. To make matters worse, AFib strokes are fatal nearly three times as often as other strokes within the first 30 days. And according to a recent American Heart Association survey, only half of AFib patients understand that they have an increased risk of stroke.
  3. The U.S. Congress recognizes the need for more AFib awareness. StopAfib.org, along with several other professional and patient organizations, asked Congress to make September AFib Month. On September 11, 2009, the U.S. Senate declared it National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month.
  4. Barry Manilow has AFib. In 2011, Manilow spoke to Congress about AFib, urging the House of Representatives to pass House Resolution 295, which seeks to raise the priority of AFib in the existing research and education funding allocation process. The resolution does not seek any new funding. Other celebs with AFib include NBA legends Larry Bird and Jerry West, politicians George H. W. Bush and Joe Biden, Astronaut Deke Slayton, Billie Jean King, music mogul Gene Simmons and Helmut Huber, the husband of daytime TV star Susan Lucci.
  5. Healthcare professionals often minimize the impact of AFib on patients.  According to recent research in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, “Compared with coronary artery disease and heart failure, AFib is not typically seen by clinicians as a complex cardiac condition that adversely affects quality of life. Therefore, clinicians may minimize the significance of AFib to the patient and may fail to provide the level of support and information needed for self-management of recurrent symptomatic AFib.”
  6. AFib patients may go untreated.  AFib can fly under the radar as some patients don’t have symptoms and some may only have symptoms once in a while. Thus, patients may go for a year or two undiagnosed, and sometimes not be diagnosed until after they have a stroke or two. Because some health care professionals perceive that AFib doesn’t affect patients’ everyday lives, a common approach is to just allow patients to live with the condition. But…
  7. The quicker the treatment, the greater the chance AFib can be stopped.  For those who have AFib, information about the ailment and treatment options are imperative. The longer someone has AFib, the more likely they will convert from intermittent to constant AFib, which means it’s more difficult to stop or cure.
  8. AFib changes the heart.  Over time, AFib changes the shape and size of the heart, altering the heart’s structure and electrical system. Research at the University of Utah shows that this scarring (fibrosis) from long-term remodeling is correlated with strokes.
  9. Treatments continue to rapidly evolve.  For years, the standard treatment for AFib patients was to send them home with medications, some of which caused harm. Now there are additional options for stopping AFib, including minimally invasive ablation procedures performed inside and outside the heart. For stubborn and long-lasting AFib, open-heart surgery may provide a cure.
  10. You can make a difference in an AFib patient’s life.  This month, forward a link to someone you may know who could have the condition. Attend an AFib awareness raising event or webinar. Or share StopAfib.org siteand ALittleFib.org with patients and friends.  Something as simple as that can help someone become free of AFib.

Prevention and Risk Reduction

Although no one is able to absolutely guarantee a stroke or a clot is preventable, there are ways to reduce risks for developing these problems.

After a patient is diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, the ideal goals may include:

  • Restoring the heart to a normal rhythm (called rhythm control)
  • Reducing an overly high heart rate (called rate control)
  • Preventing blood clots (called prevention of thromboembolism)
  • Managing risk factors for stroke
  • Preventing additional heart rhythm problems
  • Preventing heart failure

Getting Back on Beat

Avoiding atrial fibrillation and subsequently lowering your stroke risk can be as simple as foregoing your morning cup of coffee. In other words, some AFib cases are only as strong as their underlying cause. If hyperthyroidism is the cause of AFib, treating the thyroid condition may be enough to make AFib go away.

Doctors can use a variety of different medications to help control the heart rate during atrial fibrillation.

“These medications, such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, work on the AV node,” says Dr. Andrea Russo of University of Pennsylvania Health System. “They slow the heart rate and may help improve symptoms. However, they do not ‘cure’ the rhythm abnormality, and patients still require medication to prevent strokes while remaining in atrial fibrillation.”

AFib Treatment Saves Lives & Lowers Risks

If you or someone you love has atrial fibrillation, learn more about what AFib is, why treatment can save lives, and what you can do to reach your goals, lower your risks and live a healthy life.

If you think you may have atrial fibrillation, here are your most important steps:

  1. Know the symptoms
  2. Get the right treatment 
  3. Reduce risks for stroke and heart failure

Finding the right physician who gets your AFib, understands all the options for treatment, and will openly collaborate with you in your care is key.  Use our first of its kind healthcare ecosystem to find one near you.

As a patient, you can take control of your healthcare.  Go to HealthLynked.com, right now, to sign up for Free!

 

Sources:

Heart.org

Aug 29, 2012 | ArticlesDoctor’s Voice | 12  |

 

 

Tobacco, Nicotine, & E-Cigarettes | Drug Facts for Teens

What are tobacco, nicotine, and e-cigarette products?

broken cigarette sitting alongside an e-cigarette ©Shutterstock/CatherineL-Prod

Also known as:

Cigarettes: Butts, Cigs, and Smokes

Smokeless tobacco: Chew, Dip, Snuff, Snus, and Spit Tobacco

Hookah: Goza, Hubble-bubble, Narghile, Shisha, and Waterpipe

Tobacco is a leafy plant grown around the world, including in parts of the United States. There are many chemicals found in tobacco leaves or created by burning them (as in cigarettes), but nicotine is the ingredient that can lead to addiction. Other chemicals produced by smoking, such as tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, and nitrosamines, also can cause serious harm to the body. For example, tar causes lung cancer and other serious diseases that affect breathing, and carbon monoxide can cause heart problems.

Teens who are considering smoking for social reasons should keep this in mind: Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarettes cause more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke—about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths, or 1,300 deaths every day. An additional 16 million people suffer with a serious illness caused by smoking. So, for every 1 person who dies from smoking, 30 more suffer from at least 1 serious tobacco-related illness.1

How Tobacco and Nicotine Products Are Used

Tobacco and nicotine products come in many forms. People can smoke, chew, sniff them, or inhale their vapors.

  • Smoked tobacco products.
    • Cigarettes (regular, light, and menthol): No evidence exists that “lite” or menthol cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes.
    • Cigars and pipes:  Some small cigars are hollowed out to make room for marijuana, known as “blunts.” Some young people do this to attempt to hid the fact that they are smoking marijuana. either way, they are inhaling toxic chemicals.
    • Bidis and kreteks (clove cigarettes): Bidis are small, thin, hand-rolled cigarettes primarily imported to the United States from India and other Southeast Asian countries. Kreteks—sometimes referred to as clove cigarettes—contain about 60-80% tobacco and 20-40% ground cloves. Flavored bidis and kreteks are banned in the United States because of the ban on flavored cigarettes.
    • Hookahs or water pipes: Hookah tobacco comes in many flavors, and the pipe is typically passed around in groups. A recent study found that a typical hookah session delivers approximately 125 times the smoke, 25 times the tar, 2.5 times the nicotine, and 10 times the carbon monoxide as smoking a cigarette
  • Smokeless tobacco products. The tobacco is not burned with these products:
    • Chewing tobacco. It is typically placed between the cheek and gums.
    • Snuff: Ground tobacco that can be sniffed if dried or placed between the cheek and gums.
    • Dip: Moist snuff that is used like chewing tobacco.
    • Snus: A small pouch of moist snuff
    • Dissolvable products (including lozenges, orbs, sticks, and strips)
  • Electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems, or e-cigs). Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine and flavorings without burning tobacco. In most e-cigarettes, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The resulting vapor is then inhaled (called “vaping”). See What About E-Cigarettes? to learn more.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts. Atlanta, GA. December 2015. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm.

What happens in the brain when you use tobacco and nicotine?

Like other drugs, nicotine increases levels of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is released normally when you experience something pleasurable like good food, your favorite activity, or spending time with people you care about. When a person uses tobacco products, the release of dopamine causes similar effects. This effect wears off quickly, causing people who smoke to get the urge to light up again for more of that good feeling, which can lead to addiction.

A typical smoker will take 10 puffs on a cigarette over the period of about 5 minutes that the cigarette is lit. So, a person who smokes about 1 pack (25 cigarettes) daily gets 250 “hits” of nicotine each day.

Studies suggest that other chemicals in tobacco smoke, such as acetaldehyde, may increase the effects of nicotine on the brain.

When smokeless tobacco is used, nicotine is absorbed through the mouth tissues directly into the blood, where it goes to the brain. Even after the tobacco is removed from the mouth, nicotine continues to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Also, the nicotine stays in the blood longer for users of smokeless tobacco than for smokers.

What happens to your body when you use tobacco and nicotine?

When nicotine enters the body, it initially causes the adrenal glands to release a hormone called adrenaline. The rush of adrenaline stimulates the body and causes an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.

Most of the harm to the body is not from the nicotine, but from other chemicals in tobacco or those produced when burning it—including carbon monoxide, tar, formaldehyde, cyanide, and ammonia. Tobacco use harms every organ in the body and can cause many problems. The health effects of smokeless tobacco are somewhat different from those of smoked tobacco, but both can cause cancer.

Secondhand Smoke

People who do not smoke but live or hang out with smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke—exhaled smoke as well as smoke given off by the burning end of tobacco products. Just like smoking, this also increases the risk for many diseases. Each year, an estimated 58 million Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and more than 42,000 nonsmokers die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure.2 One in four U.S. middle and high school students say they’ve been exposed to unhealthy secondhand aerosol from e-cigarettes.3

The chart below lists the health problems people are at risk for when smoking or chewing tobacco or as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Increased Risk of Health Problems
Health Effect Smoking tobacco Secondhand Smoke Smokeless tobacco
Cancer Cancers: Cigarette smoking can be blamed for about one-third of all cancer deaths, including 90% of lung cancer cases. Tobacco use is also linked with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, ureter, bladder, and bone marrow (leukemia). Lung cancer: People exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk for lung cancer by 20% to 30%. About 7,300 lung cancer deaths occur per year among people who do not smoke.4

 

Cancers: Close to 30 chemicals in smokeless tobacco have been found to cause cancer. People who use smokeless tobacco are at increased risk for oral cancer (cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue, and pharynx) as well as esophageal and pancreatic cancers.

 

Lung Problems Breathing problems: Bronchitis (swelling of the air passages to the lungs), emphysema (damage to the lungs), and pneumonia have been linked with smoking.

Lowered lung capacity: People who smoke can’t exercise or play sports for as long as they once did.

Breathing problems: Secondhand smoke causes breathing problems in people who do not smoke, like coughing, phlegm, and lungs not working as well as they should.  
Heart Disease / Stroke Heart disease and stroke: Smoking increases the risk for stroke, heart attack, vascular disease (diseases that affect the circulation of blood through the body), and aneurysm (a balloon-like bulge in an artery that can rupture and cause death). Heart disease: Secondhand smoke increases the risk for heart disease by 25% to 30%. It is estimated to contribute to as many as 34,000 deaths related to heart disease.5 Heart disease and stroke: Recent research shows smokeless tobacco may play a role in causing heart disease and stroke.
Other health Problems Cataracts: People who smoke can get cataracts, which is clouding of the eye that causes blurred vision.

Loss of sense of smell and taste

Aging skin and teeth: After smoking for a long time, people find their skin ages faster and their teeth discolor.

  Mouth problems: Smokeless tobacco increases the chance of getting cavities, gum disease, and sores in the mouth that can make eating and drinking painful.
Pregnant Women and Children Pregnant women: Pregnant women who smoke are at increased risk for delivering their baby early or suffering a miscarriage, still birth, or experiencing other problems with their pregnancy. Smoking by pregnant women also may be associated with learning and behavior problems in children. Health problems for children: Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, lung infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma.  
Accidental Death Fire-related deaths: Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths—more than 600 deaths each year.6    

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts. Atlanta, GA. December 2015. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm.

3 Wang TW, Marynak KL, Aguku IT, et al. Secondhand Exposure to Electronic Cigarette Aerosol Among US Youths. JAMA Pediatrics. 2017, e1.

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke. Atlanta, GA. February 2016. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/index.htm.

5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke. Atlanta, GA. February 2016. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/index.htm.

6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use. Tobacco-Related Mortality. Atlanta, GA. February 2016. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/.

 

Can you die if you use tobacco and nicotine products?

Yes. Tobacco use (both smoked and smokeless) is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. It is a known cause of cancer. Smoking tobacco also can lead to early death from heart disease, health problems in children, and accidental home and building fires caused by dropped cigarettes. In addition, the nicotine in smokeless tobacco may increase the risk for sudden death from a condition where the heart does not beat properly (ventricular arrhythmias); as a result, the heart pumps little or no blood to the body’s organs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths, or 1,300 deaths every day.7 On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.8 People who smoke are at increased risk of death from cancer, particularly lung cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, and accidental injury from fires started by dropped cigarettes.

The good news is that people who quit may live longer. A 24-year-old man who quits smoking will, on average, increase his life expectancy (how long he is likely to live) by 5 years.9

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: 2014 Surgeon General’s Report: The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. Atlanta, GA. 2014. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/50th-anniversary/index.htm.

8 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts. Atlanta, GA. December 2015. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm.

9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA. 1990. HHS Publication No. 90-8416.

Are tobacco or nicotine products addictive?

Yes. It is the nicotine in tobacco that is addictive. Each cigarette contains about 10 milligrams of nicotine. A person inhales only some of the smoke from a cigarette, and not all of each puff is absorbed in the lungs. The average person gets about 1 to 2 milligrams of the drug from each cigarette.

Studies of widely used brands of smokeless tobacco showed that the amount of nicotine per gram of tobacco ranges from 4.4 milligrams to 25.0 milligrams. Holding an average-size dip in your mouth for 30 minutes gives you as much nicotine as smoking 3 cigarettes. A 2-can-a-week snuff dipper gets as much nicotine as a person who smokes 1½ packs a day.

Whether a person smokes tobacco products or uses smokeless tobacco, the amount of nicotine absorbed in the body is enough to make someone addicted. When this happens, the person continues to seek out the tobacco even though he or she understands the harm it causes. Nicotine addiction can cause:

  • tolerance: Over the course of a day, someone who uses tobacco products develops tolerance—more nicotine is required to produce the same initial effects. In fact, people who smoke often report that the first cigarette of the day is the strongest or the “best.”
  • withdrawal: When people quit using tobacco products, they usually experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which often drive them back to tobacco use. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:
    • irritability
    • problems with thinking and paying attention
    • sleep problems
    • increased appetite
    • craving, which may last 6 months or longer, and can be a major stumbling block to quitting

What about e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are fairly new products. They’ve only been around for about ten years, so researchers are in the early stage of studying how they affect your health.

How E-cigarettes Work

E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine without the other chemicals produced by burning tobacco leaves. Puffing on the mouthpiece of the cartridge activates a battery-powered inhalation device (called a vaporizer). The vaporizer heats the liquid inside the cartridge which contains nicotine, flavors, and other chemicals. The heated liquid turns into an aerosol (vapor) which the user inhales—referred to as “vaping.”

How E-cigarettes Affect the Brain

E-cigarettes may be less harmful than regular tobacco cigarettes because users do not inhale burning smoke, which has cancer causing and other harmful ingredients. But we don’t yet have enough research to show potential harmful effects of the vaping mist.  Also, recent research shows that many teens start smoking regular cigarettes soon after being introduced to nicotine through electronic vaporizers. It is important to remember that nicotine in any form is a highly addictive drug. Health experts have raised many questions about the safety of these products, particularly for teens:

  • Testing of some e-cigarette products found the aerosol (vapor) to contain known cancer-causing and toxic chemicals, and particles from the vaporizing mechanism that may be harmful. The health effects of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear.
  • There is animal research which shows that nicotine exposure may cause changes in the brain that make other drugs more rewarding. If this is true in humans, as some experts believe, it would mean that using nicotine in any form would increase the risk of other drug use and for addiction.
  • Some research suggests that e-cigarette use may serve as a “gateway” or introductory product for youth to try other tobacco products, including regular cigarettes, which are known to cause disease and lead to early death. A recent study showed that students who have used e-cigarettes by the time they start 9th grade are more likely than others to start smoking traditional cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products within the next year.10
  • The liquid in e-cigarettes can cause nicotine poisoning if someone drinks, sniffs, or touches it. Recently there has been a surge of poisoning cases in children under age 5. There is also concern for users changing cartridges and for pets.
  • Some research shows that secondhand e-cig vapor pollutes the air quality with particles that could harm the lungs and heart.11
  • Some research suggests that certain brands of e-cigs contain metals like nickel and chromium, possibly coming from the heating of coils.12

Regulation of E-cigarettes

Yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in 2016 that the FDA will now regulate the sales of e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, and cigars. Therefore:

  • It is now illegal to sell e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, or cigars in person or online to anyone under age 18.
  • Buyers have to show their photo ID to purchase e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, or cigars, verifying that they are 18 years or older.
  • These products cannot be sold in vending machines (unless in an adult-only facility).
  • It is illegal to hand out free samples.

FDA regulation also means that the Federal government will now have a lot more information about what is in e-cigarettes, the safety or harms of the ingredients, how they are made, and what risks need to be communicated to the public (for example, on health warnings on the product and in advertisements). They will also be able to stop manufacturers from making statements about their products that are not scientifically proven.

Regulation does not mean that e-cigarettes are necessarily safe for all adults to use, or that all of the health claims currently being made in advertisements by manufactures are true. But it does mean that e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, and cigars now have to follow the same type of rules as cigarette manufacturers.

10 Rigotti NA. e-Cigarette use and subsequent tobacco use by adolescents: new evidence about a potential risk of e-cigarettes. JAMA. 2015;314(7):673-674.

11 Schober W, Szendrei K, Matzen W, et al. Use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) impairs indoor air quality and increases FeNO levels of e-cigarette consumers. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. 2014; 217:628-637.

12 Hess CA, Olmedo P, Goessler W, Cohen E, Rule AM. E-cigarettes as a source of  toxic and potentially carcinogenic metals. Environmental Research. 2017;152:221-221.

 

How many teens use tobacco and nicotine products?

Smoking and smokeless tobacco use generally start during the teen years. Among people who use tobacco:

  • Each day, nearly 3,200 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette.13
  • Every day, an estimated 2,100 youth and young adults who have been occasional smokers become daily cigarette smokers.14
  • If smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans under the age of 18 – or about 1 in every 13 young people – could die prematurely (too early) from a smoking-related illness.15
  • E-cigarettes are the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States.
  • Young people who use e-cigs or smokeless tobacco may be more likely to also become smokers.16, 17
  • Using smokeless tobacco remains a mostly male behavior. About 490,000 teens ages 12 to 17 are current smokeless tobacco users. For every 100 teens who use smokeless tobacco, 85 of them are boys.18

A survey of teens in the United States shows cigarette smoking is on the decline. That could be in part due to the introduction of e-cigarettes. Teens today are more likely to smoke an e-cigarette than a regular cigarette.19

Past-year e-vaporizer use and what teens are inhaling: Nearly 1 in 3 students in 12th grade report past-year use of e-vaporizers, raising concerns about the impact on their long-term health.

Below is a chart showing the percentage of teens who use tobacco and nicotine products:

Swipe left or right to scroll.

Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs for 8th Graders, 10th Graders, and 12th Graders; 2017 (in percent)*
Drug Time Period 8th Graders 10th Graders 12th Graders
Cigarettes (any use) Lifetime 9.40 15.90 26.60
Past Month [1.90] 5.00 9.70
Daily [0.60] 2.20 4.20
1/2-pack+/day 0.20 0.70 1.70
Smokeless Tobacco Lifetime 6.20 9.10 [11.00]
Past Month [1.70] 3.80 [4.90]
Daily 0.40 0.60 2.00
Any Vaping Lifetime 18.50 30.90 35.80
Past Year 13.30 23.90 27.80
Past Month 6.60 13.10 16.60

* Data in brackets indicate statistically significant change from the previous year.

For more statistics on teen drug abuse, see NIDA’s Monitoring the Future study.

13 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts. Atlanta, GA. December 2015. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm.

14 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts. Atlanta, GA. December 2015. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm.

15 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts. Atlanta, GA. December 2015. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm.

16 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Smokeless Tobacco Use in the United States. Atlanta, GA. July 2016. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/smokeless/use_us/.

17 Leventhal AM, Stone MD, Andrabi N. Association of e-Cigarette Vaping and Progression to Heavier Patterns of Cigarette Smoking. JAMA. 2016; 316(18):1918-1920.

18 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Smokeless Tobacco Use in the United States. Atlanta, GA. July 2016. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/smokeless/use_us/.

19 Miech RA, Schulenberg JE, Johnston LD, et al. National adolescent drug trends in 2017: Findings released [Press release]. Ann Arbor, MI. December 2017. Retrieved from http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/.

 

What do I do if I want to quit using tobacco and nicotine products?

Treatments can help people who use tobacco products manage these symptoms and improve the likelihood of successfully quitting. For now, teen and young adult smokers who want to quit have good options for help. Find out more at SmokeFree and Tips From Former Smokers.

Nearly 70% of people who smoke want to quit.20 Most who try to quit on their own relapse (go back to smoking)—often within a week. Most former smokers have had several failed quit attempts before they finally succeed.

Some people believe e-cigarette products may help smokers lower nicotine cravings while they are trying to quit smoking cigarettes. However, several research studies show that using electronic devices to help quit cigarette smoking does not usually work in the long term, and might actually discourage people from quitting21.  One recent study showed that only nine percent of people using e-vaporizers to quit smoking cigarettes had actually stopped smoking a year later22.

If you or someone you know needs more information or is ready to quit, check out these resources:

Teens

Adults

  • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), a national toll-free number that can help people get the information they need to quit smoking.
  • Visit SmokeFree.gov.

20 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts. Atlanta, GA. December 2015. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm.

21 Kulik MC, Lisha NE, Glantz SA. E-cigarettes Associated With Depressed Smoking Cessation: A Cross-sectional Study of 28 European Union Countries. Am J Prev Med. 2018;54(4):603-609. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2017.12.017

22Weaver SR, Huang J, Pechacek TF, Heath JW, Ashley DL, Eriksen MP. Are electronic nicotine delivery systems helping cigarette smokers quit? Evidence from a prospective cohort study of U.S. adult smokers, 2015–2016. PLOS ONE. 2018;13(7):e0198047. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0198047

Where can I get more information?

Drug Facts

NIDA Resources:

Other Resources:

Statistics and Trends

NIDA Resources:

Other Resources:   

Syndicated Content Details:
Source URL: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes
Source Agency: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Captured Date: 2018-08-31 17:14:00.0

Top 10 Hidden Hazards to Baby’s Safety at Home

This year, we had the great privilege of being introduced to our first grandbaby.  She’s an incredibly beautiful bundle of energy who will soon be moving about to explore on her own.  Luckily, our home has always been “baby proofed”, but feeling this great responsibility for her wellbeing, and not having had a baby around in quite a while, it is time to seriously think about what else needs to be done.

September is Baby Safety Month, sponsored annually by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), so there is no better time than now to survey the safety of your abode.

The Basics

Ideally, the best time to babyproof is early in your pregnancy, before you register, so you can include needed safety items on your registry list.  The best way to babyproof? Get down on your hands and knees and think like a baby! This is a great activity for both mom and dad, as males and females may look for and inspect different aspects of the home and safety measures in general.

Take care of all the obvious hazards, such as exposed electrical sockets and blind cords, but be on the lookout for those not-so-obvious items – empty dishwashers, hanging tablecloths that can be easily pulled down, and poisonous plants.  Remember,  babies at any age are curious explorers and want to touch, feel, lick, smell, and listen to everything and anything they can get their little hands on. Your job is to make your home as safe as possible so they can roam without worry. After all, this new addition is not a temporary guest and should be able to safely investigate every space in your home.

Consider child-proofing an ongoing process.  Monitor your child’s growth and development and always try to stay one step ahead. For example, don’t wait until your baby starts crawling to put up stairway gates. Install them in advance so the entire family gets used to them and baby doesn’t associate his new-found milestone with barriers.

If you are preparing for baby #2 or #3, don’t underestimate your “seasoned” approach to babyproofing from the first time around. In fact, having an older sibling creates additional hazards – you should be aware of small parts from toys and your toddlers’ ability to open the doors, potty lids, and cabinets you have so ingeniously secured.

Top Hidden Hazards

  • Magnets — Small magnets can be easily swallowed by children. Once inside the body, they can attract to each other and cause significant internal damage. Keep magnets out of your child’s reach. If you fear your child has swallowed magnets, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Loose Change — Change floating around in pockets or purses may wind up on tables around the house, where curious children may be attracted to the shiny coins and ingest them. A wonderful way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to assign a tray or jar for loose change and keep it out of a child’s reach.
  • Tipovers — Tipovers are a leading cause of injury to children and the best way to avoid them is to make sure all furniture and televisions are secured to the wall.
  • Pot Handle Sticking Out from Stove — When cooking, it is best that pot handles turn inward instead of sticking out from the stove where little ones may reach up and grab the hot handle. In addition, if holding a child while cooking, remember to keep the handles out of the child’s reach.
  • Loose Rugs or Carpet — Area rugs or carpet that is not secured to the floor causes a tripping hazard for little ones who may already be unstable on their feet. Make sure that all corners are taped down and bumps are smoothed out.
  • Detergent Pods — It is estimated that thousands of children have been exposed to and injured by detergent pods. Easily mistaken by children as candy, these pods pose a risk to the eyes and, if ingested, to their lives. It is important to keep these items out of reach of children.
  • Hot Mugs — A relaxing cup of coffee or tea can quickly turn into an emergency if hot mugs are left unattended or are placed to near the edge of tables where little hands can grab them.
  • Cords — Cords can pose strangulation hazards to children, whether they are connected to blinds, home gym equipment or baby monitors. It’s important to keep cords tied up and out of reach of children. In addition, remember to keep cribs away from cords that the child may reach while inside the crib.
  • Button Batteries — Button batteries are flat, round batteries that resemble coins or buttons. They are found in common household items such as flashlights, remotes or flameless candles.
  • Recalled Products — Make sure you’re aware if a product you own has been recalled. In addition, check that any second-hand products you own have not been recalled. The best ways to ensure your products are safe is to fill out your product registration card as well as check for recalls at recalls.gov.

How to Choose and Use Products

Choose a baby carrier or sling made of a durable, washable fabric with sturdy, adjustable straps.  Use a carrier or sling only when walking with your baby, never running or bicycling.

Choose a carriage or stroller that has a base wide enough to prevent tipping, even when your baby leans over the side.  Use the basket underneath and don’t hang purses or shopping bags over the handles because it may cause the stroller to tip.

Choose a swing with strong posts, legs, and a wide stance to prevent tipping.  Never place your swing or bouncer on an elevated surface such as sofas, beds, tables or counter tops.

When choosing a changing table, before leaving home, measure the length and width of the changing area available on the dresser and compare to the requirements for the add-on unit before purchasing. Check for attachment requirements.  When changing baby, always keep one hand on baby and use restraints.

It is vital the car seat/booster is appropriate for a child’s age, weight, and height.  Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for both the vehicle and the seat.  As of this writing, the American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend rear-facing seats for children until at least age 2. Now, the organization is updating its guidelines and wants parents to keep their children in rear-facing seats until they reach the seat’s maximum height and weight limit — even if they’re older than 2. Under the new guidelines, most kids would keep using rear-facing seats until they’re about 4 years old.

Choose a crib mattress that fits snugly with no more than two fingers width, one-inch, between the edge of the mattress and the crib side.  Never place the crib near windows, draperies, blinds, or wall-mounted decorative accessories with long cords.

Choose the right gate for your needs. Before leaving home, measure the opening size at the location the gate will be used.  Gates with expanding pressure bars should be installed with the adjustment bar or lock side away from the baby.

Use waist and crotch strap every time you place a child in the high chair to prevent falls from standing up or sliding out.

And, consider these things when introducing products to your inventory:

  • Safest Option – Keep in mind that new products meeting current safety standards are the safest option.
  • Second-Hand Products – It is recommended secondhand products should not be used for baby. However, if it is necessary to use older products, make sure all parts are available, the product is fully functional, not broken, and has not been recalled.
  • Register your products — Through product registration, parents can establish a direct line of communication with the manufacturer should a problem arise with a product purchased. This information is NOT used for marketing purposes.

Fun Tips and Tricks for New Parents

  • Trying to lose the baby weight? Cut down on late night snacks by brushing your teeth after you put the kids to bed so you won’t be likely to ruin clean teeth.
  • Keep allergens away from your toddler and older children simply by changing their pillow. Don’t know when the last time you changed it was? Buying a new one every year on their birthday is an easy way to remember!
  • While nursing or feeding baby #2, encourage your toddler or older children to read stories to the new baby. Even just telling a story through the pictures keeps your toddler in site and occupied during this already special time.
  • For toddlers working on mastering stairs, install a child safety gate two or three steps up from the bottom stair to give your child a small, safe space to practice.
  • If the sight of blood terrifies your child, use dark washcloths to clean up cuts and scrapes. Better yet, try storing the cloths in plastic bags in the freezer  the coldness will help with pain relief.
  • Keep baby happy and warm during baths. Drop the shampoo and soap in the warm water while you are filling the tub. When it’s time to lather baby, the soap won’t be so cold.
  • Cranky teething baby? Wet three corners of a washcloth and stick it in the freezer. The rough, icy fabric soothes sore gums and the dry corner gives them a “handle”.
  • Having a tough time getting baby to stay still while diaper changing? Wear a silly hat or bobble headband. As a reward for staying still, be sure to let your baby or toddler wear the hat when finished!
  • Before baby #2 arrives, put together a “fun box” for the older sibling that she is only allowed to play with when you nurse or feed baby #2. Inexpensive toys, coloring books, and snacks are all great ideas to include. Be sure to refresh the items once a week to keep an active toddler interested.
  • Put a plastic art mat underneath the high chair while they learn to eat to contain the mess.
  • Tape pics of family members or animals to the ceiling or wall near of your changing table so baby has something to look when diaper changing.
  • Baby or kid yogurt containers make great snack cups on the go. Some yogurt containers cannot be recycled, so why not wash and reuse? They are perfect snack size portions, easy for little hands to grab and even fit in the cup holders of stroller trays. They can also hold just the right amount of crayons for on the go coloring!
  • Can’t get little ones to sit still while you brush or style hair? Put a sticker on your shirt and tell them to look at the sticker. As they get older, make it a game and see if they can count to 50 before you can get those ponytails in!

It’s A Fact

Most injuries can be prevented! Parents and caregivers play a huge role in protecting children from injuries.  Choosing the right baby products for your family can be overwhelming, but safety should never be compromised.

What Can You Do?

  1. Choose and use age and developmentally appropriate products.
  2. Read and follow all manufacturer’s instructions, recommendations for use, and warning labels.
  3. Register your products and establish a direct line of communication with the manufacturer.
  4. Actively supervise — watch, listen and stay near your child.
  5. Frequently inspect products for missing hardware, loose threads and strings, holes, and tears.
  6. Monitor your child’s growth and development and discontinue use when needed.

Newborns in your home or on the way?  In addition to getting your home in order, you’ll want to find a great pediatrician you can really connect with….Find one in our first of its kind social ecosystem built for healthcare.  In HealthLynked, you can make appointments with your providers on the go and create your own personal, portable medical records.  You can also create and manage one for baby.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com today, sign up for Free, and take control of your healthcare!

 

Source:  BabySafetyZone.com