9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

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

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

1. Boasts Potent Biological Effects

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

9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

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

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

2. Kills Many Types of Harmful Bacteria

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

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

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

3. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Fights Diabetes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Helps You Lose Weight and Reduces Belly Fat

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

9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

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

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

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

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

5. Lowers Cholesterol and Improves Heart Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. May Have Protective Effects Against Cancer

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

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

7.  Improves Skin Health

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

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

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

8.  Reduces Blood Pressure

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

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

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

9. Relieves Symptoms of Acid Reflux

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

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

Dosage and How to Use

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

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

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

The Bottom Line

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

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

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

Precautions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sources:

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

 

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Someone Needed Blood While You Read this Title

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

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

History of World Blood Donor Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blood Supply Statistics

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

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

Blood Needs & Blood Supply

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

Facts About Blood Needs

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

How to Celebrate World Blood Donor Day

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

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

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

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

 

Sources:

WHO.INT

RedCross.ORG

 

 

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10 Truths about Migraines and Myths They BUST!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myth #5: Only women have Migraines.

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

Myth #6: Only adults have Migraines.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

CMV is Serious

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

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

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

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A Little Bug with a Monster Name: Cytomegalovirus

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

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

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

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

Types

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Symptoms

Depend on the type of CMV.

Acquired CMV

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

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

Symptoms will generally go away after two weeks.

Recurring CMV

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

Symptoms may include:

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

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

Congenital CMV

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

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

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

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

Some of these symptoms are treatable.

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

Conditions that they may face include:

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

Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

Prevention

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

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

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

Causes

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

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

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

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

Complications

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

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

Other complications of CMV are:

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

Diagnosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SOURCES:  Medical News Today, National CMV

 

#KnowAboutCMV

#CMVAwareness

#pregnancy

#patientcare

#StopCMV

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#HealthLynked

 

 

 

8 Great Ways to Create a Healthy LifeStyle

In 1994, Congress declared National Men’s Health Week should be observed during these days leading up to Father’s Day. It represents an opportunity to raise awareness of the diseases and illnesses that are most prevalent among American men and to reiterate the importance of early detection and preventative health practices.  During this week,  all men are encouraged to evaluate both their mental and physical health and to focus on living a healthy lifestyle.

Establish Healthy Habits

There are many factors that contribute to your health including diet, exercise, stress management, and mental and emotional wellness.

  • Eat healthy portions of proteins and include a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables have many vitamins and minerals that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
  • Regular physical activity has many benefits. It can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and can improve your mental health and mood. Find fun ways to be active. Adults need a minimum of 2½ hours of physical activity each week.
  • Set an example by choosing not to smoke and encourage others in your life to quit smoking. Quitting smokinghas immediate and long-term benefits. You lower your risk for several types of cancer and don’t expose others to secondhand smoke—which causes health problems. Call your state’s tobacco quit line (for English speakers, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW [1-800-784-8669]; for Spanish speakers, call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA [1-855-335-3569])
  • Recognize and reduce stress. Physical or emotional tension are often signs of stress. They can be reactions to a situation that causes you to feel threatened or anxious. Learn ways to manage stress including finding support, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol?
  • Use a Condom, Every Time. It is that time of the year when Zika carrying mosquitoes will become a greater health hazard.  Although primarily spread through mosquitoes, Zika can also be spread through sex by a person with Zika to his or her sex partner(s). If you’ve traveled to an area with Zikause a condom to protect against infection every time you have sex.  This is especially important if your partner is pregnant because Zika can cause serious birth defects.  Condoms can also protect against HIV and other 

Get Regular Checkups

See a doctor or health professional for regular checkups and learn about your family health history.

  • Men are less likely than women to visit their healthcare providers, often missing out on critical treatments that can protect their overall health and wellbeing.  Individuals who have routine check-ups better understand the association between a healthy lifestyle and a greater quality of life.
  • Men can prepare for doctor’s visits and learn which preventive tests or screenings they need. Certain diseases and conditions may not have symptoms, so checkups help identify issues early or before they can become a problem.
  • It’s important for men (and women) to understand their family health history, which is a written or graphic record of the diseases and health conditions present in your family. It is helpful to talk with family members about health history, write this information down, and update it from time to time.

Know the Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Every 43 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack. Know the signs of a heart attack; and if you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Major signs of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

Seek Help for Depression

Depression is one of the leading causes of disease or injury worldwide for both men and women.  Although Americans are living longer, healthier lives, we cannot ignore emotional and mental health, or the stigmas that prevent individuals from seeking treatment and recovery support services as part of their overall welfare.  Serious mental illness, such as major depressive disorder, has robbed too many of fathers, brothers, and sons of their potential, and has contributed to rising suicide and drug overdose rates.  Learn to recognize the signs and how to help the men in your life.

  • Signs of depressioninclude persistent sadness, grumpiness, feelings of hopelessness, tiredness and decreased energy, and thoughts of suicide.
  • Those that suffer from depression or anxiety should seek help as early as possible.If you or someone you care about is in crisis, please seek help immediately.
    • Call 911
    • Visit a nearby emergency department or your health care provider’s office
    • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor
    • Contact the National Helpline by calling1-800-662-HELP (4357).  It is a free service offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that can make confidential referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.  It is available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

As we observe Men’s Health Week, we celebrate the advances being made to improve healthcare for everyone and champion the importance of prioritizing both physical and mental health.  HealthLynked.com is one of those great advances and a great place to start living a healthier life.  With HealthLynked, you can easily and securely compile all of your relevant health information and share it with those you choose.

HealthLynked will also start offering you great health reminders to ensure you are maintaining the best possible  levels of health for yourself and those who depend on you.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com to get started in the future of HealthCare, here today!

 

Sources:

Whitehouse.gov

CDC.gov

 

Hashtags:

#zika

#depression

#heartattack

#menshealth

#menshealthweek

#menshealthmonth

#menshealthweek2018

#DontForgetDads

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When Sharing What’s On Your Mind is a Struggle

My former Academy roommate had a brain tumor – an Oligodendroglioma, to be exact.  The operation to remove it was a remarkable success.  He was in fantastic hands at the major cancer center caring for him….and his family.

Weakened by the cancer and the operation, while at home, he fell and injured the other side of his brain opposite the tumor.  When I first saw him post operation, he was trying to come out the resultant coma and could not speak.  In the weeks and months that followed, speech returned slowly, and the brilliant comedic repertoire of my good friend returned along with it.

A family member had a major stroke a few years back.  While almost all motor function returned to this vibrant man – He would dance up a storm and still carry on like no other – he could no longer speak.  There was no “hitch in his giddy-up”, just an inability to share what was in his mind.

He used props, an always funny and sometimes inappropriate sign language of his own making,  and a pad of paper to communicate with those around him.  He carried pictures to tell his story – one of a strong and valiant military veteran with a lengthy service career who loved his large family, especially his grandkids.

As a result of my friend’s fall and our family member’s stroke, these two amazing men suffered from aphasia.

June is Aphasia Awareness Month.  It is time to Talk About Aphasia (the Theme).

WHAT IS APHASIA ?

While Aphasia is currently impacting the lives of over 2,000,000 Americans, and the number of new cases each year is expected to triple by the year 2020,  nearly  85% of people surveyed say they have never heard the term.  Aphasia is a disturbance of the comprehension and expression of language caused by disfunction in the brain.  Aphasia is a language disorder; a = not and phasia = speaking.  It is not a speech disorder.

Some people with aphasia can understand language but have trouble finding the right words or lack the ability to construct sentences. Many people with aphasia confuse letters of a word. Others speak a lot, but what they say is difficult to understand; these people often have great difficulty understanding language themselves.

Aphasia may make it difficult to:

  • Speak
  • Read
  • Write
  • Understand spoken language
  • Use numbers and complete calculations
  • Use non-verbal gesturing

For people with aphasia, their difficult, daily reality is being unable to share with others what is clearly churning in their mind. They struggle with understanding and producing language.

Because people with aphasia have difficulty communicating, others often mistakenly assume they have problems with normal mental function, but the person’s intelligence is almost always intact.  While people suffering from aphasia cannot reach their language, cannot use the words in their language, and/or do not understand language normally, Aphasia does not affect intelligence!

WHAT IS DYSARTHRIA?

There is a difference between aphasia and dysarthria: Aphasia is language impairment while dysarthria is speech impairment. Literally dysarthria means: articulation difficulty. This may be due to coordination problems or muscle paralysis around the mouth.

Dysarthria may occur as a symptom in specific neurological disorders, for example, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA, more commonly known as stroke), a brain tumor, a brain injury, or a disease – such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS ), Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

A dysarthria may arise suddenly (for example, after a stroke), or gradually, in the case of a progressive disease.  The muscles of the lips, tongue, palate and vocal cords cannot be used properly. Talking is unclear, monotonous, nasal and voice production is weak.  One speaks with irregular intervals.  In short, there is little control when speaking.

Aphasia and dysarthria may co-occur in a single patient making rehabilitation much more difficult.  IN most cases where pure aphasia condition occurs, patients generally return to normal articulation compared to dysarthria patients, for whom speech will almost always be distorted.

Features of dysarthria:

  • Unclear to unintelligible speech
  • Change in the rate of speech, someone is going to talk more quickly or speaks very slowly and precisely.
  • Monotonous voice: no emphasis
  • Too high or too low voice
  • The voice may sound hoarse or very soft
  • Superficial and feeble respiration or very audible breathing in and out
  • Accidental repetition of syllables, syllables or phrases (not to be confused with stuttering)
  • The person may be heard as stuttering while they try to pronounce each syllable separately, or syllables can just blend too much.

WHAT IS APRAXIA (OF SPEECH)?

Apraxia is a disorder of the motor planning of the brain. This kind of disorder is caused by damage that occurs in the cerebrum. While Aphasia is caused by wounds on the left hemisphere of the brain making language function difficult, in Apraxia, the problem is how to control the muscles of mouth and tongue. It’s not always the same words or sounds that are challenging. The person with verbal apraxia simply struggles to pronounce words correctly.


In brief:

  • Aphasia is language impairment caused by stroke, degenerative diseases or head injury that damages that part of the brain where language area is located.
  • Dysarthria is speech impairment that might also be caused by stroke, traumatic head injury, or even impairment from drug or a Phil use. It affects the central or peripheral nervous system resulting in weak or improper muscle control.
  • Apraxia is a disorder of the motor planning of the brain making it a struggle to pronounce words correctly.

HOW DO YOU GET APHASIA ?

Aphasia usually occurs after a hemorrhage in the left hemisphere, because 90% of our language function is situated here…. Strokes that damage the frontal and parietal lobes in the right hemisphere of the brain can also cause a person to have difficulty expressing and processing language.

TYPES OF APHASIA

Aphasia types include expressive aphasiareceptive aphasiaconduction aphasiaanomic aphasiaglobal aphasiaprimary progressive aphasias and many others.  They may be acute or progressive.

Acute aphasia disorders usually develop quickly as a result of head injury or stroke.  Progressive forms of aphasia develop slowly from a brain tumorinfection, or dementia.

The terms Broca’s Aphasia (difficulty with speaking and language) and Wernicke’s Aphasia (impaired language comprehension in listening and reading) are common in diagnosis.  However, the brain is complicated, and understanding the real damage done by injury is even more complicated and extensive.  There is almost always a mixed picture, and many will have global aphasia.

Global Aphasia

Global Aphasia is the most severe form, applied to patients who can produce few recognizable words and understand little or no spoken language. Persons with Global Aphasia can neither read nor write. Like in other milder forms of aphasia, individuals can have fully preserved intellectual and cognitive capabilities unrelated to language and speech.

Global Aphasia is caused by injuries to multiple language-processing areas of the brain, including those classified as Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas. These brain areas are particularly important for understanding spoken language, accessing vocabulary, using grammar, and producing words and sentences.

Global aphasia may often be seen immediately after the patient has suffered a stroke or a brain trauma. Symptoms may rapidly improve in the first few months if the damage has not been too extensive. However, with greater brain damage, severe and lasting disability may result.

Damage to Broca’s region of the brain

In this form of aphasia, speech output is severely reduced and is limited mainly to short utterances of less than four words. Vocabulary access is limited, and the formation of sounds by persons with Broca’s aphasia is often laborious and clumsy.

The person may understand speech relatively well, and even be able to read, but be limited in writing. Broca’s Aphasia is often referred to as a ‘non-fluent aphasia’ because of the halting and labored quality of speech.

Patients with this disorder have problems with spontaneous speech as well as with the repetition of words or phrases. Their speech is often jerky. They also have difficulty understanding grammatical aspects of language, also called agrammatism – the inability to speak in a grammatically correct fashion.  People with agrammatism may have telegraphic speech.

This is evident not only in language expression, but also the understanding of sentences. For example, the phrase, “The boy ate the cookie,” is less problematic than the more complex sentence, “The boy was kicked by the girl”.  The second sentence is more difficult. If the patient is asked to repeat this sentence, he will probably say, “Boy kicks girl”.

Wernicke’s Aphasia

Damage in Wernicke’s area of the brain – the region of the brain that plays a role in understanding language – is  named after the discoverer Carl Wernicke.  It is also called the sensory speech center and is distinctly different than the motor speech center.

In this form of aphasia, the ability to grasp the meaning of spoken words is chiefly impaired, while the ease of producing connected speech is not much affected. Therefore, Wernicke’s aphasia is referred to as a ‘fluent aphasia.’

However, speech is far from normal. Sentences do not hang together and irrelevant words intrude-sometimes to the point of jargon, in severe cases. Reading and writing are often severely impaired. Disease or damage in Wernicke’s region can lead to dyslexia and sensory aphasia.

The spoken language of Wernicke patients usually sounds smooth but lacks meaning. The Wernicke’s area is found in the left temporal lobe of the brain.

THERAPY AND RECOVERY

Aphasia is different for everyone. The severity and extent of aphasia depend on the location and severity of the brain injury, their former language ability and even one’s personality.  While a full recovery from aphasia is possible, if symptoms persist long enough – usually more than six months – a complete recovery becomes increasingly unlikely.

Speech therapy is the most common treatment for aphasia. Other types of therapy have also proven effective for some stroke survivors, including:

  • Melodic intonation therapy sometimes allows stroke survivors to sing words they cannot speak. Also called Speech Music Therapy Aphasia/ SMTA
  • Art therapy
  • Visual speech perception therapy focuses on associating pictures with words.
  • Constraint-induced language therapy involves creating a scenario in which spoken verbal communication is the only available option, and other types of communication, such as visual cues from body language, are not possible.
  • Group therapy and support groups

If you have aphasia:

  • Stay calm. Take one idea at a time.
  • Draw or write things down on paper.
  • Show people what works best for you.
  • Use props to make conversation easier (photos, maps).
  • Use the Internet to connect to people via email or to create a personal webpage.
  • Take your time. Make phone calls or try talking only when you have plenty of time.
  • Create a communication book that includes words, pictures and symbols that are helpful.
  • Carry and show others a card or paper explaining what aphasia is and that you have it. Keep it in your purse or wallet.

It is important to speak with medical professionals about finding speech and language therapy as soon as possible after aphasia has been diagnosed.  You might use HealthLynked to find the right physician for you.

In HealthLynked, patients and physicians “Lynk” together in ways they never have been able to in the past, creating a network of practitioners and those seeking their services where enhanced collaboration on wellness is enabled through the most efficient exchange of health information.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com today to get started for free!

Sources:

aphasia.org

strokeassociation.org

HashTags:

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#PatientCare

#BrainInjury

#Stroke

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Slowly Silenced:  How Alzheimer’s Quiets Beautiful Minds

Most have been touched by the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s. We have lost family and friends to the disease that snuffs the light in bright minds.  For us, the first to lose their fight was a friend’s mom, way too young with a rapid onset.  Most recently, it was my wife’s dad, who went from being a Gifted and passionate performer to a man locked in motionless silence for years.  When he missed calling on her birthday, my wife knew his humorous attempts at covering his forgetfulness hid something deeper.  I knew when he no longer remembered the words to his own gold Records as he played at our daughter’s graduation party.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.  More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and over 15 million Americans are providing unpaid care and support.  Worldwide, 50 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

These numbers are expected to triple by 2050 without significant breakthroughs.  And, while death from heart disease has decreased in the last few years, death from Alzheimer’s has increased by 123%.  It is the only Top 10 leading cause of death in the United States without a cure, prevention or even a truly promising way to slow progress.

ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA BASICS

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia – a general term for memory loss and other decline in intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.  It is the sixth leading cause of death in the US.

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its initial stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.

SYMPTOMS OF ALZHEIMER’S

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information.

Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains change as we age. Most of us eventually notice some slowed thinking and occasional problems with remembering certain things. However, serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work may be a sign that brain cells are failing.

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.

10 WARNING SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Below are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS DAILY LIFE

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over, increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g. reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.

 CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING PROBLEMS

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS AT HOME, AT WORK OR AT LEISURE

People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE

People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING VISUAL IMAGES AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Vision changes related to cataracts.

NEW PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR WRITING

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

 MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.

DECREASED OR POOR JUDGMENT

People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Making an unwise decision once in a while.

WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

CHANGES IN MOOD AND PERSONALITY

The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.


RESEARCH AND PROGRESS

Today, Alzheimer’s is at the forefront of biomedical research.  Researchers are working to uncover as many aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as possible. Ninety percent of what we know about Alzheimer’s has been discovered in the last 15 years. Some of the most remarkable progress has shed light on how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. The hope is this better understanding will lead to new treatments.

A worldwide quest is under way to find new treatments to stop, slow or even prevent Alzheimer’s. Because new drugs take years to produce from concept to market—and because drugs that seem promising in early-stage studies may not work as hoped in large-scale trials—it is critical that Alzheimer’s and related dementias research continue to accelerate. To ensure that the effort to find better treatments receives the focus it deserves, the Alzheimer’s Association funds researchers looking at new treatment strategies and advocates for more federal funding of Alzheimer’s research.

Currently, there are five FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drugs that treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but these medications do not treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s. In contrast, many of the new drugs in development aim to modify the disease process itself, by impacting one or more of the many wide-ranging brain changes that Alzheimer’s causes. These changes offer potential “targets” for new drugs to stop or slow the progress of the disease.

Many researchers believe successful treatment will eventually involve a “cocktail” of medications aimed at several targets, similar to current state-of-the-art treatments for many cancers and AIDS.

WITH EARLY DETECTION, YOU CAN:

  • Get the maximum benefit from available treatments
  • Have more time to plan for the future
  • Participate in building the right care team and social support network
  • Locate care and support services for you and your loved ones

People with memory loss or other possible signs of Alzheimer’s may find it hard to recognize they have a problem. Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends. Anyone experiencing dementia-like symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and intervention methods are improving dramatically, and treatment options and sources of support can improve quality of life.

WHEN YOU SEE YOUR DOCTOR

If you need assistance finding a doctor with experience evaluating memory problems, your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter can help. Your doctor will evaluate your overall health and identify any conditions that could affect how well your mind is working. They may refer you to a specialist such as a:

  • Neurologist – specializes in diseases of the brain and nervous system
  • Psychiatrist – specializes in disorders that affect mood or the way the mind works
  • Psychologist – has special training in testing memory and other mental functions
  • Geriatrician – specializes in the care of older adults and Alzheimer’s disease

Everyday, there are physicians in the HealthLynked system ready to care for Alzheimer patients and support the caregivers who offer so much to help them live the best lives possible.  If someone you love is showing signs of memory loss beyond what might be considered normal for their age, go to HealthLynked.com to connect and collaborate with any number of specialists at the ready.

 

Ready to get Lynked and get help?  Go to HealthLynked.com today to register for free!

Sources:

ALZ.org

NYTimes.com

 

Hashtags

#endalz

#alzheimersawarenessmonth

#gopurple

#patientcare

#dementia

#research

#HealthCare

#HealthLynked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Leading Cause of Blindness Impacts 24 Million Americans

A family member hit a pole in a parking deck at full Speed a few years back.  While that is just around 15 miles an hour in a garage, you can still total a car at those speeds when dueling concrete.  She did.  More shocking to hear was that She just didn’t see it.  We all learned cataracts were making her nearly blind.  As they worsened over the years, and she compensated, she had no idea how bad they had gotten.

I was sitting with my Dad one morning early this weekend, and it dawned on me he wasn’t wearing his bifocals.  We live far apart and hadn’t seen each other in almost a year.  I’d never known him not to have them on….or the New graduated lenses he moved to a few years back.  When I joined him, he was watching TV, so I asked him if he was just listening.  He shared with me his cataract surgery had restored his vision to 20/20, and even reading the paper was easy.  At almost 80y/o, that was awesome news!

More than half of Americans either have a cataract or have had surgery for them by his age. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision impairment in the US and the number one cause of blindness around the world.  This month, designated Cataract Awareness Month, “shines a light on the prevalent problem of cataracts”.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision and is especially common in older adults. In the US, a full 17% of Americans age 40 and over have cataracts in one or both eyes.

In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina (tissue filled with light sensitive cells at the back of the eye). There, light is converted by those special cells into signals transmitted by nerves to create images in the brain. For the retina to receive a sharp image, the lens must be clear. When it is not, as with a cataract, what one sees will be blurry.

Make time to schedule an appointment with an eyecare professional when you experience any of the following 7 signs you may have cataracts:

Cloudy days

Cataracts start small and initially may have negligible effect on your vision. Things might seem a little blurry — like looking at an impressionist painting. This effect usually increases over time. The world will seem increasingly cloudy, blurry, or dim.

No more wild nights

As cataracts become more advanced, they begin to darken with a yellow or brown tinge.  This begins to affect night vision and makes certain nighttime activities, such as driving, more difficult.  A study from Curtin University in Australia found that treating cataracts reduced the risk of car accidents by 13 percent.

If you suspect you have cataracts, be very careful at night and don’t drive when your vision is compromised.  Would have been great advice for our family member.

The glare of bright lights

Light sensitivity is a common symptom of cataracts. The glare of bright lights can be painful, especially to those with posterior subcapsular cataracts, according to the Mayo Clinic. These types of cataracts start at the back of the lens, blocking the path of light and often interfere with your reading vision.

Halos everywhere?

The clouding of the lens can result in diffraction of light entering your eye. This can cause a halo to appear around light sources. Rings around every light, sometimes in a variety of colors, can make driving very difficult. This is another reason why driving at night, especially when there are streetlights and headlights, can be dangerous if you have a cataract.

Your Glass is Half Full

If you find yourself frequently needing stronger glasses or contacts, you may have cataracts. Simply buying a strong pair of reading glasses from the drugstore isn’t going to fix the problem. See an eye doctor if your eyesight is changing rapidly. You may have cataracts or another eye condition that will benefit with prompt treatment.

Living in a yellow submarine

As cataracts progress, the clumps of protein clouding your lens may turn yellow or brownish. This results in all the light coming into your eye having a yellow tint. It’s almost as though you are wearing “blue-blocker” sunglasses, as advertised on TV, which block blue and violet light. This changes how you see color and reduces your ability to tell the difference between colors.

Double trouble

Diffraction from the lens clouding in a cataract can actually lead you to see two or more images of a single object. Many things can cause double vision, also called diplopia, including:

  • brain tumor
  • corneal swelling
  • multiple sclerosis
  • stroke
  • cataracts

Binocular double vision, which causes two images to be visible only if both eyes are open, can be a sign of serious health concerns, including:

Monocular double vision, which causes multiple images to appear in one eye but not the other, is more likely to be an issue with your eye’s cornea or lens. Cataracts is a common cause of diplopia. As the cataract grows larger, this effect may go away.

More Insights into Cataracts

What is the treatment for cataracts?

While so very prevalent, they are also very simple to treat. The solution for the clouding of the eye with cataracts is often surgery requiring the removal of the deteriorated lens.  The unhealthy lens is replaced with an artificial, intraocular lens, or IOL. Over 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery annually, making it one of the most common surgeries in the United States. In fact, the entire surgery lasts only about 20 minutes, and most people can resume normal activities fairly rapidly.

Is cataract removal safe?

Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries, enjoying a success rate of 95 percent. Your surgeon will remove your clouded lens and replace it with an intraocular lens through a minuscule incision in the cornea – the highly organized tissue covering the eye.  Only 15 minutes are required to complete the procedure in an outpatient surgery center.

Do cataracts only affect seniors?

Cataracts can affect anyone! Although most people do not show symptoms of cataracts until at least the age of 40, cataracts can also affect young adults and even children. Heredity, disease, eye injury and smoking are causes for cataracts to develop at an earlier age.

Can I prevent cataracts?

There is no proven way to prevent age-related cataracts. However, choosing a healthy lifestyle can slow their progression. Some ways to delay the progression of cataracts include smoking abstinence, minimizing exposure to UV rays and radiation, eating healthy foods, maintaining healthy blood sugars and blood pressures, and wearing proper eye protection to avoid eye injury.

A patient and their optometrist should discuss any of these symptoms and options for care.  While some of these might suggest a variety of vision problems, an eyecare practitioner will be able to determine whether the patient may have cataracts through a comprehensive eye exam.  They will then collaborate with the individual on the best course of action.

THE GOOD NEWS:  While cataracts are — in most cases — a natural part of aging, removal typically results in vastly improved vision!!  Looking to get connected to a great eyecare professional near you?  Go to HealthLynked.com to find a practitioner who will help you sharpen your focus and get you seeing more clearly in no time.

With HealthLynked, you can find physicians and practitioners who want to collaborate closely with you to help you live in the very best possible state of wellness and avoid immobile concrete pillars.

Sources:

YourSightMatters.com

HealthLine.com

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

 

Hashtags

#eyespy2018 #healthyvisionmonth #ophthalmology #optometry #eyecare #cataracts #nationaleyewearday

 

Ground Breaking App is the Future of HealthCare – Meet HealthLynked!

People who saw the Demo in December of 1976 might have guessed they were witnessing the birth of something big.  However, it was not at all clear then the little machine and the team showing it off were more significant than any number of other exhibitors at the West Coast Computer Faire –  a smaller tech conference akin to the Worldwide Developer Conference going on today through Friday in San Jose.

Soon thereafter, it became increasingly evident the new gadget was really going to matter. The first of its kind product started selling on this day, May 5th,  in 1977.  By the end of the year, it was gaining fame as one of the best among a new tech genre – microcomputers.  Before this unique platform came to market, predecessors were aimed at techno-nerd gearheads who knew how to sling solder, build their own and at least had Basic code in their repertoire.  This new one was practically plug-and-play.

The Apple ][ has sometimes been named the first personal computer.  It certainly was one of the best selling and had the longest run of home computers, built well into the 1990s.  What really made it stand out was its visionary design.  It was created as the clearest idea of what a PC should be and where it could really take us.  Eventually, it even returned us to space as the computers used to monitor the clean rooms around our shuttle builds.

The vision it embodied married the widely different yet wildly complementary gifts of two Steves – Jobs and Wozniak. To help it break out of the Homebrew Computer world, the Apple II, like future Apple products, had the right features and best vision in place. While it didn’t have what would later be known as a graphical user interface, it did have a richer, more interactive feel than other PCs.  It was one of the first models to host color graphics and sound right out of the box, and even came with two paddles as standard equipment. Such features made it a natural for games and educational software; they also made it a uniquely inviting device.

The platform Woz built and Jobs shaped and marketed was, indeed, a platform — the best and most successful container of its generation for interesting and useful hardware and software add-ons, much like the iPhone and iPad today. “Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication”, read the headline on the first Apple II brochure. A nod to the wisdom of Leonardo Da Vinci often quoted by Einstein, it captured Apple’s philosophy, then as now.

The Apple II readied the world for the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and, likely, every other major technology gadget or platform of the past 41 years. Countless others have followed its lead.

On this day, the 41st anniversary of this amazing platform, we at HealthLynked are launching our own.  We believe it will be the kind of breakthrough in its own genre the ][ was.  That’s a lofty ideal and bold belief, yet we want the whole world to have access to their own medical information in the ways Woz and Jobs wanted the whole world to compute.

And we built the HealthLynked platform to make that possible.  It has all the right stuff to let patient members really take control of their healthcare,… and the right vision for providers to really have access to all the real-time health information that makes the best possible care a reality.

We are Improving HealthCare!  Go to the Apple store or HealthLynked.com today to download the first of its kind, universal, portable health record and connection and collaboration tool that is clearly paving the way to a much better medical future.

Sources:

TIME.com

Computerhistory.org

 

#apple #iPhone #iPad #iOS12 #WWDC18 #PatientCare

#HealthCare #HealthLynked

Some Eating Disorders Increase the Odds of Death 18-Fold

 

Trigger WarningThis article covers one or more eating disorders in graphic detail.

We began to notice eating out was often a struggle, even around the sixth grade.  Just a picky eater, right?  I mean, we all have our preferences. We made room for her to assert her will as she began to grow into adulthood.

Then, favorite foods started to disappear from her diet, exercise amount and intensity really picked up, and anxiety started to reach pressure cooker levels around foods she considered “disgusting”.  Finally, on a trip with friends to the beach, we witnessed our daughter abandon the group to workout.  The ultimate alarm: in a fit of desperate anguish, she ran out of a restaurant sobbing…panicked about the menu choices.

The rest of our drive home, my wife researched eating disorders on her phone and decided Piper had Orthorexia –  a term with varying levels of acceptance in the eating disorder treatment community to describe a collection of behaviors that focus on “perfect” eating.  We agreed to intervene and seek help.

In the weeks that followed our initial discussions with her – she, in complete denial; we, in utter despair –  the physical signs of her disordered eating were becoming readily apparent.  She was way too thin and had stopped menstruating – especially essential at her age for continued development and strengthening of bones.  She was wasting away before our eyes, and we started to consider in-treatment programs while we tiptoed around tough topics to prevent another frightening blowup.

While we waited for an opening with professionals skilled in eating disorder recovery and lobbied mental health experts for help, we continued to clumsily insert ourselves into the decisions she was making around food and exercise.  The gym trips on top of swim team practice had clearly become a way for her to purge without actually throwing up, so we sat her down one night to tell her there would be no more working out…She leapt from our kitchen table, ran to a drawer, pulled a knife, and started to try to slice her wrists in rage.  Luckily, we were able to restrain her, her superhero sister calmed her down, and we got her to a hospital.

The months that followed were not easy, and Some of the way too deep talking was often tougher than I had imagined it could be.  The struggles were complex and very real.  I still spend many nights not wanting to leave her alone, but our youngest is well on the road to recovery.  We were able to find a great team, which included us, to help her restore mostly normal eating and thought patterns, and we are confident she will be able to head off to school next year without concern for her mental health.

What was happening?

An eating disorder is any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. This pattern of eating leads to disruption in one’s behaviors, thinking, and mood and can eventually leave one unable to function in any number of areas: interpersonal relationships, social situations, school, and work. Ultimately, it can lead to severe disruptions in overall health, and even death.

In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental health issues.  Eating disorders may seem benign, but every 62 minutes, someone dies as a direct result of an eating disorder.

Actual Mortality Rates

Studies report varying death rates from eating disorders, but there are common findings. Anorexia is the most lethal psychiatric disorder, carrying a sixfold increased risk of death — four times the death risk from major depression. A meta-analysis by Jon Arcelus, MD, PhD, of the University of Leicester, England, and colleagues found these standardized mortality rates: 5.86 for anorexia nervosa, 1.93 for bulimia nervosa, and 1.92 for eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Research has demonstrated higher death rates for bulimia nervosa and EDNOS than these figures. According to one study, the mortality rate for anorexia nervosa patients aged 25 to 44 followed after hospital discharge was 14 times that of age-matched non-eating disordered peers. (That’s 14 times!)

According to Arcelus, et al, age plays a major role.   Those diagnosed in their 20’s face the worst odds at 18 times the death risk of healthy people their age.  Overall,  Anorexia increases death risk:

  • Threefold when diagnosed before age 15.
  • Tenfold when diagnosed at ages 15 to 19.
  • 18-fold when diagnosed at ages 20 to 29.
  • Sixfold when diagnosed at ages 30 and older.

Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

One who suffers from an eating disorder will continue damaging and destructive behaviors despite such compelling evidence these behaviors are not in that person’s best interest. Their driven actions may be caused by any number of factors and serve any number of purposes.  Early intervention markedly improves treatment outcome, which is one reason to ensure individuals with eating disorders receive a prompt diagnosis and access to treatment, preferably evidenced-based wherever possible.  If you or someone you love is showing any of the signs below, especially in combination, get help immediately:

Alterations in Weight

  • Unusually marked weight loss. If the person weighs less than 85 percent of their ideal body weight and exhibits other characteristic signs of an eating disorder, this person can be diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.
  • Many can still be close to, at, or even above their ideal body weight and still have an eating disorder. This is somewhat often seen in binging and purging behaviors typical of patients diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa and includes restrictive, rigid rule based eating.

Preoccupation with Body Image

  • May spend an inordinate amount of time looking in the mirror.
  • Often makes negative comments about her physical appearance and insists they are overweight.
  • May become preoccupied with certain celebrities and models on the Internet and in magazines, comparing themselves unfavorably to them.
  • Wearing baggy clothing to hide their body shape. I am a 220 pound barrel chested bear of a man, and my sweatshirts became de riguer for my little girl.

Disruptions in Eating Patterns

  • Stops eating with the family
  • Develops strong dislikes to previously enjoyed foods
  • Preoccupied with counting calories and fat grams
  • Eats noticeably smaller portions or refuses to eat at all
  • Starts binging on certain foods
  • Drinks excessive amounts of water and caffeine to suppress appetite
  • Goes to the bathroom after meals to vomit what they just ate
  • May develop eating rituals such as:
    • Chewing for long periods of time before swallowing
    • Cutting food into small portions
    • Not allowing different foods to touch
    • Moving food around on the plate
    • Taking a long time to eat
    • Hiding food into napkins to throw away later

Preoccupation with Nutritional Content of Foods

  • Classifies foods as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, safe or unsafe
  • Searches out organic, low-fat diet foods
  • Frequently visits Internet websites focused on nutrition
  • May suddenly decide that they are going to become vegetarian, vegan, etc.
  • All of the above became concerns around our house, and this obsession with “right” eating became her “religion”

Changes in Exercise Patterns

  • Becomes preoccupied with physical fitness
  • Spends hours exercising in a ritualistic, rigid manner
  • Talks about the number of calories that they burned and the time they spent exercising
  • Becomes perturbed if their exercise routine is disrupted and eats even less to compensate

Use of Laxatives, Diuretics, and Diet Pills

Mood Fluctuations

  • May show signs of irritability, depression, and anxiety
  • May stop socializing and lose interest in previously enjoyed activities

Physical Eating Disorder Symptoms

  • Fainting spells from malnutrition and dehydration
  • Chapped lips and grey skin
  • Hair loss
  • Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Musculoskeletal injuries and pain from excessive exercise
  • Dental erosions from self-induced vomiting.
  • Chronic constipation, gastro-esophageal reflux, and other gastro-intestinal problems
  • Markedly low blood pressure and pulse
  • Prone to upper respiratory infections
  • Low energy
  • Overall poor health

Nine Truths about Eating Disorders

Nine Truths” is based on Dr. Cynthia Bulik’s 2014 “9 Eating Disorders Myths Busted” talk at the National Institute of Mental Health Alliance for Research Progress meeting.

  • Truth #1:Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
  • Truth #2:Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
  • Truth #3:An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
  • Truth #4:Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
  • Truth #5:Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
  • Truth #6:Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
  • Truth #7:Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.
  • Truth #8:Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.
  • Truth #9:Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.

What Are the First Steps to Recovery?

If you, or someone you know and love, shows any of these signs or exhibits patterns of the behaviors described above, it is important to get help as soon as possible. An eating disorder can quickly take on a life of its own and lead to a downward spiral of:

  • Functional disruptions
  • Broken relationships
  • Loss of educational and occupational opportunities
  • Deterioration in health
  • Possible premature death

The treatment process can be started by contacting the person’s primary care physician for a physical evaluation, including laboratory studies and an EKG, and ask for or initiate finding the appropriate level of treatment for the eating disorder. This may be a therapist that is comfortable working with eating disorders, an outpatient eating-disorder program, or even an in-patient facility that specializes in eating disorders.

As I reread the lists and statistics above, I now see so clearly all we were missing, or more accurately, dismissing as normal teenage “junk”.  We would celebrate a milkshake eaten on a weekend and convince ourselves we were seeing things.  That is how the eating disordered individual wants it, or, more accurately, the disease wants it.

An eating disorder, or ED for short, represents the closest thing I have seen to the metaphorical little devil and little angel on the shoulder scenario.  The devil – the disease – is lying and convinces the individual to lie….Then, that little devil, ED, puts on airs of being the little angel and starts to consume the mind…and the minds around the individual in the fight.  So insidious.  So scary.

Since today is World Eating Disorders Day, we challenge you to avoid being lulled into complacency or denial!  Because eating disorders can often be successfully treated, especially when they are caught early, little can be gained—and everything stands to be lost—if one takes a hurry-up and do-nothing attitude towards this pervasive problem.  Gather together a team.  Stay strong in the journey.

Get help as soon as possible.

If are looking for a health professional who can help begin your journey to recovery, you might find them using HealthLynked.  It is the first of its kind medical network built as a social ecosystem with a Higher Purpose – Improving HealthCare.  Go to HealthLynked.com to learn more and find our additional resources on mental health information.

DISCLAIMER:  You must know, I am just a half-a-brain helicopter pilot and mechanical engineer turned accidental sales person who became an occasionally adept commercial leader.  My wife, who lead our charge against ED, has been an incredible CEO of our home for almost 30 years.  I am not a medical professional, so what I am sharing here should be in no way misconstrued as health advice.  This list is not exhaustive.  It is only some of what we learned in facing the fearsome specter of mental health gone askew in our own home.

Sources:

WebMD

Stanford Daily

AEDWeb.org

VeryWellMind.com

 

HashTags:

#WorldEatingDisordersDay

#WeDoAct2BreakStigma

#WeDoAct

#EatingDisorder

#MentalHealth

#Anorexia

#Orthorexia

#HeatlhCare

#HeathLynked

 

 

7 Red Flags of Teen Depression to Look for Today

Adolescence is not an easy time for most. My wife – the bright, outgoing cheerleader daughter of a 60’s rock legend – often says she breezed through it. Me – the geeky, gangly marching band punk son of a minister – not so much!

No matter who you are, the journey into adulthood from dependence is a moral, physical and mental juggernaut. As children advance through the various tumultuous transitions that accompany adolescence — body changes, emotional upheaval, hormonal overdrive, sexual awareness, social norms, intellectual development, increased access to just about anything, and the complex ways these all intertwine — the pressures and problems encountered can all too often seem overwhelming. For many, these and other challenges lead to one or more of a variety of mental health disorders; all matters of concern, and some truly life-threatening.

Adolescence is tough on parents, as well. Any who have braved the task (and blessing) of nurturing a young life and directing another human into independence know Well the bouts of grumpiness, solemness and silent brooding interlaced with joy and downright giddiness. Some of the darker, “I’m going to withdraw inside my headphone silenced digital world and be a sad rock” sulking is normal, yet how do you know?

As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and today is Childhood Depression Awareness Day, it is important to take note of this shocking statistic: as of this writing, teen suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States and the leading cause of death among young women worldwide, surpassing accidental injury. Thankfully, in our home, as the threat of self harm became all too real, we already had a sense the normal teenage angst of our youngest had gone way too deep and was consuming her. We are among the lucky ones who still had a chance to intervene and surround her with a team of professionals and a lot of focused attention that helped restore healthy thinking. I mourn for and with those who were not.

There are a multitude of signs we can all be looking for, whether it is as parents, medical professionals, teachers or friends. And, there are a multitude of resources for finding help. Here are just a few of the ways you might get engaged, understand what warnings to watch for and find the places you can go when you know you need a hand.

If you read no further, at least checkout these Top Tips for Parents:

  • Keep communication constant, open, and honest: Your children should not only know they can talk to you about anything, you must be committed to broaching topics of concern with great transparency. Talk about your own experiences and fears when you were an adolescent. Be prepared to push through certain push-back and denial. Even today, my mostly happy recovering teen reminds of the time I first asked if she was depressed but failed to go deeper when she silenced me with supreme “stink-eye”. Let them know that they are not alone; nor are their anxieties unique.
  • Understand mental health disorders are treatable: Arm yourself with information about the most common mental health disorders among adolescents; speak with your child’s physician, your local health department, religious leaders, and your child’s school representatives about what sorts of information are available from them.
  • Be attentive to your teen’s behavior: Adolescence is, indeed, a time of transition and change. Still, some severe, dramatic, or abrupt changes in behavior might be strong indicators of serious mental health issues and not just pure rebellion.

Going Deeper, Watch for these Mental Health “Red Flags”:

  • Excessive sleeping, beyond usual teenage fatigue, which could indicate depression or substance abuse
  • Difficulty sleeping, insomnia, and other sleep disorders
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Abandonment or loss of interest in favorite pastimes
  • Unexpected and dramatic decline in academic performance
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite, which could indicate an eating disorder
  • Personality shifts and changes – such as aggressiveness and excess anger sharply out of character – could indicate psychological, drug, or sexual problems

Possible Mental Health Issues (Just a few)

Depression – While most of us are subject to an occasional bout of “the blues,” clinical depression is a serious medical condition requiring immediate treatment. Watch for:

  • Unexpected weeping or excessive moodiness. A sad or irritable temperament for most of the day. Your teen may say they feel sad or angry or may appear more tearful or cranky.
  • Eating habits that result in noticeable weight loss or gain
  • Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Self-mutilation, or mention of self harm
  • Obsessive body-image concerns
  • Paranoia or excessive secrecy
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Excessive isolation
  • No longer wanting to be with family.
  • Abandonment of friends and social groups.
  • Not caring about what happens in the future.
  • Aches and pains when nothing is really wrong.
  • A lack of energy or feeling unable to do simple tasks.

Note: Any of these signs can occur in children who are not depressed, but when seen together, nearly every day, they are definite red flags for depression.

Eating disorders – Body image concerns can become obsessions, resulting in startling weight loss, severely affecting the adolescent’s health:

  •  Anorexia: Avoidance of food and noticeable restrictions in eating habits should trigger concern. NOTE: This is the deadliest of all mental disorders.
  • Bulimia: Purging (forced vomiting) after eating. Be alert for both dramatic weight loss without changes in eating habits (which could, of course, indicate other health issues that require a doctor’s attention). Also, be alert for immediate trips to the bathroom or other private spot after a meal.

Drug abuse – In addition to peer pressure, mental health issues can lead adolescents beyond experimentation with alcohol and drugs to use of substances for “self-medication.” In addition to being alert to the behavioral and physical signs of alcohol and drug abuse — drug and alcohol paraphernalia or evidence, hangovers, slurred speech, etc. — parents should also:

  •  Watch for prescription drug misuse and abuse: According to the AAP, prescription drug misuse by adolescents is second only to marijuana and alcohol misuse. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include Vicodin and Xanax, with a sharp rise in opioids.
  • Know that over-the-counter-medications can be abused as well: Teenagers also frequently abuse OTC cough and cold medications. Heck, there are popular songs about it.

Up from Adolescent Depression: What Parents Can Do to Help

No matter what is going on, concern about your adolescent’s mental health should first be addressed directly with your child. This fosters open dialogue and goes a long way toward building sound adolescent mental health habits. Talk to your child about his/her feelings and the things happening at home and at school that may be bothering them. For us, these talks quickly escalated from denial to cries for help. We had to move to professional intervention, FAST!

If your concerns are serious, discuss them with your physician. Because so many mental health issues display physical manifestations — weight loss being the most dramatic, but not the only one — your pediatrician can offer both initial medical assessment and also refer you to appropriate mental health organizations and professionals for counseling and treatment when called for.

Promote health

  • The basics for good mental health include a healthy diet, enough sleepexercise, and positive connections with other people at home and at school.
  • Limit screen time and encourage physical activity (depending on the disorder) and fun activities with friends or family to help develop positive connections with others.
  • One-on-one time with you, catching them doing great things, encouragement for seeking care and pointing out strengths build the parent-child bond.

Provide safety and security

  • Talk with your child about bullying. Being the victim of bullying is a major cause of mental health problems.
  • Look for grief or loss issues. Seek help if problems with grief do not get better. If you as a parent are grieving a loss, get help and find additional support for your teen.
  • Reduce stress, as most teens have low stress tolerance. Accommodations in schoolwork are critical as well as lowered expectations at home regarding chores and school achievements.
  • Guns, knives, long ropes/cables and medicines (including those you buy without a prescription), and alcohol should be locked away.

Educate others

  • Your teen is not making the symptoms up….
  • What looks like laziness or crankiness can be symptoms of depression.
  • Talk about any family history of depression to increase understanding.
  • Get the school involved. I have to say, while I expected the medical and mental health professionals to respond the way they did – after all, that’s their job – I was most impressed with how the School staff rallied around us. They surrounded her with supportive teachers and counselors and covered her with intense levels of understanding while making allowances for exceptions to work under a 504 plan. Get one!

Help your teen learn thinking and coping skills

  • Help your teen relax with physical and creative activities. Focus on the his/her strengths.
  • Talk to and listen to your child with love and support. Encourage teens to share their feelings, including thoughts of death or suicide. Reassure them this is very common with depression.
  • Help your teen look at problems in a different, more positive way.
  • Break down problems or tasks into smaller steps so your teen can be successful.

Make a safety plan

  • It is critical to remember you are a key element in your child’s recovery and an essential part, if not the real leader, of their care team. Stay deeply involved in every portion of their recovery.
  • Follow the treatment plan. Make sure your teen attends therapy and takes any medicine as directed.
  • Treatment works, but it may take a few weeks, months or even years. The depressed teen may not recognize changes in mood right away and may become discouraged with initial side effects of treatments (such as antidepressants).
  • Develop a list of people to call when feelings get worse.
  • Watch for risk factors of suicide. These include talking about suicide in person or on the internet, giving away belongings, increased thoughts about death, and substance abuse.
  • Locate telephone numbers for your teen’s doctor and therapist, and the local mental health crisis response team.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1 800-273-8255 or online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

DISCLAIMER: Look, I am just a half-a-brain helicopter pilot and mechanical engineer turned accidental sales person who became an occasionally adept commercial leader. I am not a medical professional, so what I am sharing here should be in no way misconstrued as health advice. This list is not exhaustive. It is only some of what we learned in facing the fearsome specter of mental health gone askew in our own home.

There are plenty of great people and resources, beyond those cited as sources, ready to give you any assistance you need, especially when it comes to the real potential for self harm. Below are just a few:

If you or someone you know needs help, go to The Mighty’s suicide prevention resources. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Finally, if you are looking for a health professional, you might find them using HealthLynked. It is the first of its kind medical network built as a social ecosystem with a Higher Purpose – Improving HealthCare. Go to HealthLynked.com to learn more and find our additional resources on mental health information.

Sources I borrowed liberally from:

Posner, Kelly. “Preventing suicide: Teen deaths are on the rise, but we know how to fight back,” Published 1:08 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2018.  https://philanthropynewyork.org/news/preventing-suicide-teen-deaths-are-rise-we-know-how-fight-back

“Mental Health and Teens: Watch for Danger Signs”, Adapted from Healthy Children Magazine, Winter 2007

“Adolescent Depression: What Parents Can Do To Help”, Adapted from Addressing Mental Health Concerns in Primary Care: A Clinician’s Toolkit (Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics)

Schuster, Sarah. ” Here’s What We Should Be Sharing Instead of the Latest Details About Avicii’s Suicide”, The Mighty, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/apos-sharing-instead-latest-details-185503533