All posts by CHOP Health

The Community Healthcare Outreach Program (CHOP) is an evolution of the ground breaking work of the late Dr. Alfonse Salerno, founding member of the second generation, family-run Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Originally called SHOP (Senior Healthcare Outreach Program), it was launched in 2002 as a return to the traditional house-call program for urban community seniors by Dr. Salerno’s son, Dr. Alexander G Salerno.

Is Melanoma a Fatal Disease? What Is the Survival Rate of Melanoma?

Melanoma is defined as a cancer of the skin where skin cells or melanocytes, which usually function in an orderly and controlled manner, undergo a change in their DNA and start growing out of control. They form a mass of cells which leads to cancer of the skin or melanoma.

 

Melanoma is a common form of cancer, being the most common form of cancer in the United States of America among men and women alike. Melanoma is usually not a fatal disease unless it escalates and penetrates to other parts of the body.

 

Statistics reveal that melanoma is generally seen more often in women than in men, especially in the age group of people in their 50s. However, as the age of the group increases, the number of male patients is found to be higher than female patients. In fact, by the age of 65 the number of men likely to be suffering from melanoma is two times more and in the age group of people above 80 years of age men are three times more likely to be suffering from melanoma than women.

 

Is Melanoma Fatal?

Fortunately, in the majority of cases, if detected early, melanoma is not fatal and can be treated and cured completely. The diagnosis is also easier to make once the symptoms are visible and thus early diagnosis can help provide early treatment. However, if not detected in time, melanoma advances and can spread to other parts of the body, where it can be difficult to treat, and in such situations it can be fatal.

 

Survival Rates of Melanoma

The survival rate for any disease gives an idea as to the percentage or number of people who are suffering from the same disease and are at the same stage and are likely to survive it within a given frame of time. When the survival rate is calculated over a period of time, it is termed as a relative survival rate.

So, in the case of a specific case of melanoma, for example, the relative survival rate for 5 years is 90 percent, which means that at that stage of the disease people who have that particular melanoma have a 90 percent chance of surviving as compared to those who do not have the disease (once the cancer has been detected).

Thus for melanoma, the survival rate varies according to the stage of the disease, such as localized (where the cancer is only present in the place it was found and has not spread), regional (the cancer has spread from the skin, where it was found, to nearby lymph nodes or structures), and distant (where the cancer has spread to distant organs of the body, such as liver, lungs, or skin that is distant from the place of origin).

 

Thus, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma at a:

  • Localized stage of melanoma is 98 percent
  • Regional stage of melanoma is 64 percent
  • Distant stage of melanoma is 23 percent

However, these numbers are over a period of time and advances in treatment options can improve the survival rate at all stages.

 

 

 

What Is Melanoma? What Are Its Types and Signs?

Cancer is one of the chief diseases affecting a majority of the population around the world. One of the more serious types of cancer of the skin is melanoma. This is the cancer that affects skin cells that produce the skin color or melanin, known as melanocytes. Though melanoma is termed as skin cancer, in some rare cases it can form in the eye or in internal organs, such as the intestines.

 

 

Types of Melanoma

Melanoma is categorized into four different types depending on where they occur. Of these four types, three occur in-situ or only on the top layer of the skin and are rarely invasive. One type is invasive right from the beginning and penetrates deep within the skin, thus taking a serious invasive form.

The four categories are

  • Superficial spreading melanoma—this is the most common and mostly seen in young adults. This type can occur anywhere on the skin and grows along the top layer of the skin before it penetrates deep within the skin.
  • Lentigo maligna—this type of melanoma is similar to the superficial spreading type, but commonly seen in older adults. This melanoma spreads similarly to the superficial spreading melanoma, but is found on sun-exposed surfaces. It is a common type of skin cancer in Hawaii.
  • Acral lentiginous melanoma—this type is more commonly seen in Asians and African Americans compared to Caucasians. This type of melanoma starts as a brown or black discoloration on the palms of the hand, soles of the feet, or under the nails and spreads superficially before penetrating deep into the skin. Owing to its symptoms, this kind of melanoma is detected much later compared to the other types.
  • Nodular melanoma—this most aggressive and malignant type of melanoma is found in the trunk of the leg and arms as well as the scalp of men, especially in the elderly population. It is penetrative and metastatic when detected itself. The melanoma is in the form of a bump, which is usually black, but the color might vary.

 

 

Symptoms of Melanoma

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, but is usually formed in the areas that are most exposed to the sun and its UV rays. In darker people (most often) melanoma can even develop in areas not exposed to the sun, such as the soles of the feet, fingernail beds, or palms.

The first visible symptoms of the disease are unusual growth on the skin, or new pigmentation on the skin and/or a change in the appearance of existing moles on the body.

 

Unusual moles can be identified by considering the following ABCDE:

A – asymmetrical moles or ones with irregular shapes

B – borders of moles are irregular with scalloped or notched borders

C – color of the moles has an uneven distribution or has several colors

D – diameter of moles, especially new moles that are one-fourth inch, is worrisome

E – moles that keep evolving, either growing in size or changing shape or color

 

Moles of melanoma usually display ABCDE characteristics.

 

Sometimes the moles can also be hidden, such as under a nail or in the mouth, vaginal area, urinary tract, or digestive tract. Melanoma can even be developed in the eye behind the white sclera.

 

Any irregular moles or patches must be checked and examined.

 

 

Vaccination and Autism – The Truth behind the Controversy

Autism is a complex developmental disability, especially detected in children as old as 3 years in whom neurobehavioral impairments are observed.

 

The disorder impairs a patient’s ability to develop communication skills along with impaired social interactions and language development skills. Those suffering also display rigid behavior that is often repetitive. Children with autism often suffer from an inability to express themselves, even via gestures, touch, or facial expressions and also have trouble understanding what others think and feel.

 

Cause of autism

The cause of autism has still not been ascertained and because it is found to run within families, it is considered to be caused due to a combination of genes that predispose children to autism. The chances of autism are also found to be increased if the age of a mother or father of an unborn child is advanced. Exposure to toxic environmental factors and substances is also thought to cause autism, but has not been proven.

 

Vaccination and autism

Since the exact cause of autism is still unclear, a number of theories exist along with likely risk factors. One of the theories is that vaccination in infants can lead to autism, especially the MMR vaccine, which is for measles, mumps, and rubella. The belief that the MMR vaccine leads to autism was due to an erroneous report published in 1998, which stated that exposure to the vaccine or even to the disease can lead to those viruses causing autism. This study, which has since then been revoked, caused a panic situation between doctors and parents alone. Even after the study was considered to be baseless, parents are still wary of vaccinating their children for fear of it leading to autism.

 

Does vaccination cause autism? The truth

In fact to prove the theory wrong, studies have been carried out with ingredients of the MMR vaccine, especially thimerosal, which is a mercury-based preservative used in the vaccine to prevent contamination. It was believed that this preservative was one of the chief causative agents of autism among children. For a few years the use of this preservative was even avoided in the vaccines. Further, the studies that were carried out showed no connection between thimerosal or any of the ingredients of the vaccine and autism. Also, no connection has been found between any of the three diseases—measles, mumps, rubella—and autism.

 

Scientists further compared the autism rate in those who received the MMR vaccination and those children who had not been vaccinated and found no significant observations. No increased risk in those who had received the vaccine has been found.

 

All of this proves there is no connection between vaccines and increased risk of autism.

 

 

ASD symptoms

Autism is often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD since it covers a spectrum of symptoms and includes certain neurobehavioral disorders within this broad term. The symptoms could range from—

  • Stereotyped repetitive behavior, such as pacing, rocking, or flapping of hands
  • Unusual attachment to things
  • Unusual response to people
  • Self-injurious or aggressive behavior
  • Resistance to change in the daily routine
  • Inability, at times, to acknowledge people, objects, or activities in their surroundings
  • Seizures, in severe cases

There are a lot of other varied symptoms too. In addition, those suffering from autism, unlike other cognitive development disorders, display uneven skill development whereby they experience problems in certain areas, but in other areas they demonstrate unusually developed skills, like in creative areas.

 

 

Kids and Autism – Why More Children Are Being Diagnosed with Autism

In earlier years, not much was known about neurological and neurobehavioral disorders, especially those such as autism. Autism, which is often referred to as autism spectrum disorder or ASD, is a neurobehavioral disorder in which patients display a range of behavioral symptoms. Autism is detected usually in children when they are three to four years of age.

 

Symptoms of Autism

Autism is a complex disorder whereby a range of neurobehavioral symptoms are observed including impairments in social interactions. Symptoms of autism also include rigid behavior that is repetitive, and impairments in communication skills and developmental language.

 

Autism signs can differ in severity too along with differing symptoms. Thus, someone can just suffer from a handicap or impairment that affects certain aspects of their day-to-day functioning while in others it can be severe enough to be seen as a disability that requires constant care or even institutional care.

 

In the past few years, a rise in the number of cases of those suffering from autism or ASD has been seen. This rise is a cause for concern and has sent many researchers and doctors into overdrive trying to find out the reason behind it.

 

Why are more children being diagnosed with autism?

Children who suffer from autism experience trouble understanding the feelings of others or how others think. They face difficulty with communicating about their own feelings. It becomes very difficult for them to express themselves via words or gestures, or even through facial expressions or via touch.

 

Given the difficulty experienced by children suffering from autism, the rise in the number of children suffering from it is a major cause for concern. Earlier the percentage of children suffering, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was 1.5, and this has shot up to 1.7 percent. This rise was mostly noticed in the minority population. The rise in number of cases is such that the Black and Hispanic population cases are almost catching up to those of the Whites.

 

The reason for it is still being researched, but one of the observations made is that previously not much was known about the disorder and many parents, especially those who were Black or Hispanic, were not aware of the symptoms of autism.

 

With increases in awareness regarding this disorder and with more thorough diagnosis, more cases are being identified. Researchers feel that it is due to a greater outreach by doctors into minority communities and more efforts being taken to screen children within these communities such that they can get the treatment and therapy that they need earlier.

 

Many conclude that there is no increase per se in the percentage of children suffering from autism; rather there is greater diagnosis and detection of the disorder. Thus, those who were previously undetected due to lack of awareness and screening facilities in their vicinity have now been diagnosed. So, the previously undetected but prevalent cases have supposedly caused the rise in the number of cases of autism in the last few years.

 

Doctors view this rise in the number of patients positively, stating that the greater the number of disorders diagnosed, the more patients will receive appropriate therapy and that the gap between the actual number of sufferers and the number of known cases closes, thus ending the disparity.

 

 

 

 

What Are the Two Types of Thyroid and How Are They Distinguishable?

Hormones are the chemical messengers that are vital for carrying out various vital processes and functions of the body and are secreted directly into the blood by glands of the body. There are several hormones present in the body (some only in males, some only in females, while the majority are present in both) carrying and regulating several functions, such as the insulin, testosterone, cortisol, estrogen, serotonin, progesterone, adrenaline, growth hormone, prolactin, and the most important—the thyroid hormone.

 

The thyroid is a small gland in the shape of a butterfly present at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple.

 

The thyroid gland helps with various functions of the body such as growth, metabolism, as well as development of the body. By releasing the thyroid hormone constantly, it regulates a number of bodily functions. There are two thyroid hormones, namely thyroxine or T3 and triiodothyronine or T4, and they are secreted by glands using iodine from the food consumed. These hormones help with digestion and other functions that regulate the body.

 

Thyroid disease is when there is a problem in the secretion of these hormones that can result in either of the two types of thyroid diseases—hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Several functions and aspects of the body are affected by either of the thyroid disorders, including usage of energy, management of weight, sleep pattern, and neurological function.

 

Hyperthyroidism

When the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroxine hormone, the condition is known as hyperthyroidism. When suffering from hyperthyroidism, the body tends to lose weight rapidly as the metabolism accelerates and the heartbeat also accelerates and becomes irregular. The thyroid usually produces an adequate amount of hormones, but when suffering from hyperthyroidism, the body overproduces the T4 hormone. And this could be owing to several reasons, such as Graves’ disease, thyroiditis, and Plummer’s disease.

 

The symptoms in hyperthyroidism, which can distinguish the two types of thyroid disease, include:

  • Sudden weight loss and inability to gain weight
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Fluctuations in energy levels
  • Excessive sweating
  • Palpitations, etc.

 

Hypothyroidism

This is the second type of thyroid disease where the gland is an underactive thyroid and produces a lesser quantity of thyroid hormone, that is the T3 and T4, thus slowing down the body functions, especially metabolism, which is not easy to notice in the initial stages of the disease.

The cause of hypothyroidism is chiefly autoimmune disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, over-reaction to thyroid surgery, radiation, medication, pregnancy, pituitary disorder, congenital disease, and iodine deficiency—all of the conditions in which the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient triiodothyronine or T3 and thyroxine or T4 hormones.

The symptoms of hypothyroidism, which help to distinguish it from hyperthyroidism, include:

  • Weight gain and difficulty in losing weight
  • Depression
  • Weakness and muscle pain
  • Low libido and infertility
  • Thinning hair
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Dry skin and puffy face
  • Decreased sweating

 

The two types of thyroid diseases can be distinguished by the entirely opposite symptoms observed with each.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Does Thyroid Condition Affect Individuals and Females in Particular?

 

Thyroid is a small gland in the neck, below the Adam’s apple, which is shaped like a butterfly. This gland might seem tiny but it handles several important functions of the body, including regulation of metabolism by producing hormones in the required quantity, such as thyroxine and triiodothyronine. When a thyroid condition affects the body, the glands either become overactive or underactive, affecting the level of hormones in the body. This consequently alters other functions of the body that rely on hormones, including heart rate and metabolism.

 

The two common thyroid conditions are:

  • Hypothyroidism – here the hormone level is too low for the body to carry out metabolism functions effectively
  • Hyperthyroidism – here the thyroid gland is overactive and produces higher levels of the hormone

 

Hyperthyroidism affects the body such that the metabolism happens at a faster rate and the body loses weight even when the appetite and diet is adequate; hyperthyroidism also accelerates and causes excessive sweating and palpitations. On the other hand, in hypothyroidism, the underactive gland and low production of hormones slows down metabolism and results in weight gain, anxiety, fatigue, high cholesterol, depression, and menstrual problems too.

 

Thyroid disorders more common in women

Thyroid conditions have been on the rise and nowadays statistics reveal that nearly one in every third person is suffering from thyroid disease, especially women. In fact, numbers and studies say that women are at least five to eight times more likely to develop thyroid disorder as compared to men. And the type of thyroid condition that women suffer from more commonly is hypothyroidism.

 

The cause for hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder in which the body itself acts against the thyroid gland. This affects production of the hormones and leads to thyroid disorders which affect the well-being of the entire body.

 

Women are more susceptible because they undergo menstruation and pregnancy, during which the level of other hormones in the body such as estrogen is high and progesterone is low. This further leads to hormone imbalance, which causes problems in the functioning of the body.

 

To elaborate further, the body maintains a fine balance between the estrogen and progesterone levels in the body. But when in stress, the estrogen level increases in comparison to the progesterone, creating an estrogen-dominance in the body. With lesser progesterone to block the estrogen, the estrogen hormones go on a rampage and put pressure on other glands and affect the tissue too. Estrogen in higher levels can enhance the immune system’s inflammatory process. This means the immune system has an inflammatory effect on the thyroid glands, which in turn leads to underactive thyroid and low production of the hormones, thereby leading to hypothyroidism. The stress situation is experienced in women during pregnancy too.

 

This explains why women tend to be more prone to disorders related to the thyroid glands and must therefore be careful and carry out routine check-ups.

 

 

Pelvic Vein Insufficiency: Everything You Need to Know About the Disease

Pelvic Vein Insufficiency: Everything You Need to Know About the Disease

Pain in the pelvic region is due to a number of reasons and often seen more in women than men. Similarly, for pelvic vein insufficiency, there are thought to be a number of reasons, but it has been found to be connected to the presence of ovarian as well as pelvic varicose veins.

There are veins throughout the body and within them are valves that are designed to aid in the back flow of blood when the veins are returning the blood back to the heart. When the valves do not work, the blood pools in the veins and puts pressure on them, resulting in bulging veins. When these varicose veins are found in the pelvic region, the condition is known as pelvic venous insufficiency or PVI. The disease is also known as pelvic congestion syndrome.

 

Symptoms of pelvic venous insufficiency

Owingto the backward flowing blood, the following signs and symptoms are observed for pelvic congestion syndrome:

  • Pain in and around the pelvis, and in the lower abdomen
  • Legs experiencing a feeling of fullness
  • Stress incontinence seeing further worsening
  • Dragging sensation in the pelvis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms also worsening further

Chronic pain for more than 6 months is observed and worsens during sexual intercourse, pregnancy, lifting things, standing for long, and when one is tired. Onset of the menstrual cycle every month also worsens the pain.

The causes of pelvic venous insufficiency are not clearly understood, but it is predominantly seen in women, especially in their 30s, and at childbearing age. Multiple pregnancies can increase the risk of PVI along with hormonal dysfunction and polycystic ovarian syndrome. The absence of valves within the veins due to abnormal development of the body can also be a cause for backward flow of blood, leading to varicose veins and thus causing pelvic venous insufficiency.

 

Diagnosis and treatment of pelvic venous insufficiency

Diagnosis

One of the first things to check for is visible varicose veins and other symptoms of PVI. During pregnancy, the vulva region also shows varicose veins, which might extend to the inner thigh and run along the tendon, thus helping diagnose the disease. Ultrasound examination can also be done to diagnose the disease; and when veins are not clearly visible through this non-invasive method, a probe is placed in the vagina and then ultrasound imaging carried out to see the veins. Further examination can be done via MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography). A proper and accurate diagnosis is done via pelvic venography.

Treatment

Treatment options include drugs, such as medroxyprogesterone acetate, which provide relief to around 70 percent of patients. Another effective treatment is pelvic vein embolization using a percutaneous transcatheter. This treatment option is minimally invasive, done in a day, and has been found to be effective in patients, especially in women, where the ovarian vein is the culprit varicose vein. Surgery, both open and laparoscopic, is among other treatment options for tying the veins that are the culprits.

 

Endometriosis: Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of the Disease

Endometriosis: Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of the Disease

Endometriosis is a condition that affects the female body and involves reproductive organs. It is a condition in which the tissue lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium, grows outside of it. It can be a very painful condition. The pelvic organs involved in endometriosis include the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and tissues that line the pelvis. The displaced endometrial lining in endometriosis acts the same way as the normal lining in the uterus, thickening before the menstrual cycle and breaking down and bleeding during menstruation. The displaced tissue, however, has no place to escape and thus can cause cysts if the ovaries are involved; this is termed as endometriomas and results in fibrous tissues that can lead to the organs sticking to each other.

Causes of endometriosis

The exact cause of endometriosis has not been ascertained, but possible causes could be retrograde menstruation in which bleeding flows from the fallopian tube back into the pelvic cavity, where the endometrial cells stick to the pelvic organs and continue to grow there. Embryonic cell transformation, peritoneal cell transformation, implantation of a surgical scar, transport of endometrial cells, and disorders of the immune system are other probable causes of endometriosis.

Symptoms and risk factors of endometriosis

The symptoms include dysmenorrhea or painful periods where the cramping and pelvic pain begins days before the period and is quite severe—worse than the pain experienced normally during menstruation. Pain is also experienced during urination, with bowel movements, and during sexual intercourse. Occasional heavy bleeding is also seen, even between menstrual cycles. Infertility is another symptom along with diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, bloating, and constipation.

The risk for endometriosis increases if a woman’s periods start at an early age, or if she has never given birth, or if menopause is at an older age, or if menstrual cycles are fewer than 27 days. Consumption of alcohol, lower BMI or body massage index, uterine abnormalities, a history of endometriosis, higher estrogen level in the body, or a medical condition that prevents the usual menstrual flow out of the body are also included as risk factors.

Endometriosis, if not treated in time, can lead to complications, such as infertility and ovarian cancer.

Diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis

To diagnose any pelvic condition, first the symptoms are investigated by the doctor, followed by a pelvic exam to check for abnormalities, including cysts in the reproductive organs. An ultrasound also helps diagnose problems in the area, especially a transvaginal ultrasound. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and laparoscopy are other ways to diagnose problems with the endometrial lining and pelvic area.

The treatment depends on how far the condition has escalated, and pain medication is the first course of action to deal with the chronic pain. Further hormone therapy is also done for endometriosis, including hormonal contraceptives, Gn-RH or gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists and antagonists, aromatase inhibitors, and progestin therapy. Some patients might need conservative surgery for endometriosis or treatment for infertility; in some cases surgery might be needed to remove the ovaries, a procedure known as a hysterectomy. Lifestyle changes, alternative therapies, and support from family can also help with the treatment.

 

Celiac Disease: Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

There are approximately 3 million Americans who are suffering from celiac disease. It is defined as an autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion or consumption of gluten leads to damage to the small intestine of the body. This disease is seen in individuals who are genetically predisposed. Celiac disease is often called gluten sensitive enteropathy or coeliac or sprue. Gluten is a protein that is usually found in wheat, rye, barley, and other similar grains and is the protein responsible for lending a chewy texture to bread and making the dough elastic. When this gluten is eaten by those intolerant to it (celiac disease sufferers), their bodies overreact to the protein and their villi, which are small, finger-like projections found on the inner walls of the small intestine, become damaged. Over a period of time, this damage can cause malabsorption, whereby the absorption of nutrients is prevented; this can further lead to complications, such as bloating, fatigue, weight loss, diarrhea, anemia, and even serious complications. When seen in children, it can seriously affect their development and growth.

Risk factors leading to celiac disease

Because it is a genetic disorder, celiac disease is commonly seen in the family when a parent, brother, or sister has it, but having the gene for celiac disease does not mean that one has the disease. Certain stressful events can also trigger the disease, such as a surgery, viral infection, emotional trauma, or even post pregnancy. The disease is commonly seen in Caucasians and also in those individuals who are suffering from other conditions, such as type 1 diabetes, Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and/or Addison’s disease.

Symptoms of celiac disease

The symptoms of celiac disease tend to vary and are drastically different in children and adults. Usual symptoms in adults include diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, nausea, constipation, bloating, gas, vomiting, and abdominal pain along with signs that are not related to the digestive system, such as anemia, mouth ulcers, loss of bone density, dental enamel damage, blistered and itchy skin rash, joint pain, acid reflux, heartburn, fatigue, headaches, injury to the nervous system, such as tingling sensation in the hands and legs plus numbness, imbalance problems, and, sometimes, cognitive impairment.

The symptoms seen in children are vomiting, swollen belly, poor appetite, chronic diarrhea, wasting of muscles in those under 2 years; and constipation, diarrhea, weight loss, delayed puberty, short stature, irritability, and neurological symptoms.

Diagnosis and treatment

The symptoms vary greatly, thus making it difficult to diagnose the disease; also, the damage to the small intestine occurs over the years. However, tests such as genetic testing (for leukocyte antigens) and serological test to find antibodies may be conducted. An endoscopy follows a positive blood test.

Following a strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment available, and this includes avoiding wheat, barley, rye, semolina, malt, graham flour, durum, bulgar, spelt, farina, and triticale and items like pasta, bread, cakes, baked items, beer, and other gluten-containing products. Gluten-free vitamins and mineral supplements may be prescribed.

Benefits of Alternative Methods of Patient Care and Treatment

The usual mode of treatment includes a patient seeing mainly a specialist for his or her condition and visiting a clinic or hospital for either one-to-one treatment from the doctor, or a treatment program from a team, which usually includes allopathic medications with the standard protocol of treatment method being followed. Even when following a disease management or chronic care program, the treatment includes a standard protocol by which the specialist along with care and support providers follow a set of treatment methods consisting of medication and regular follow-up with evaluation of the outcome, if any.

 

But now there are various alternative methods of patient care as well as patient treatments that are being explored and found to be effective.

 

Alternative medicine involves anything that is a break from the usual allopathic medications. This stream of treatment includes acupuncture, or herbal medicine, or energy healing, and other forms of healing that were earlier not considered a form of medication, especially in the West, whereas the methods are centuries-old practices in the East.

 

Other means of providing care to patients are often termed as complementary methods, and this term is used in conjunction with alternative medicine. These can include meditation, massage therapy, and yoga, which complement the traditional treatment methods for better healing and care.

 

Apart from alternative medications such as those mentioned above, there are often alternative treatment options too. These treatment methods include hospice care and palliative care—the treatment methods for patients suffering from certain diseases, or those requiring special care or treatments and care, which aim at alleviating the pain and minimizing the symptoms rather than treating the disease per se.

 

Benefits of alternative methods of patient care

Alternative methods of patient care have a number of benefits. However, there is a need to explore many of them further to take advantage of them and combine them with traditional methods.

 

Complementary methods often aim to relieve the pain and minimize symptoms without interfering with the usual medication and treatment.

 

Alternative medicine and care often does not limit itself to medication and treatment of physical symptoms, but also aims at targeting the mind, body, and spirit. Thus, the healing process is aimed at the entire body along with the mind, an approach which has often been found to be effective in speedy recovery along with a positive attitude.

 

Cancer patients can sometimes spiral down into darkness and depression while suffering from symptoms physically in terms of pain and mentally in terms of depression along with stress. Complementary and alternative methods of patient care have been reported to benefit from these other forms of care that aim at mental well being in addition to reducing the physical pain and treating the symptoms.

 

Energy healing and healing arts have been found to be especially beneficial for cancer patients exploring alternative care methods. Herbal remedies, massage therapy, vitamin use, and special diet have also found benefit among cancer patients, while yoga, acupuncture, homeopathy, Tai chi, relaxation, and chiropractic methods did not have significant physical benefits, but helped improve mental health.

These findings, among many others, point towards the benefit of alternative methods of patient care.

 

Alternative Patient Care Methods vs. Traditional Hospital Treatment – Which Is the Best?

Treatment for diseases, irrespective of the kind of disorder, is a norm and is necessary for recovery. What differs is the type of treatment method that is followed.

 

A traditional hospital treatment refers to a visit to a doctor or specialist in a clinic or hospital and further if the need is hospitalization with medication on the advice of the doctor by the nursing staff and support providers. Certain diagnostic tests are usually conducted prior to hospitalization for the purpose of evaluation and monitoring. The medication recommended is allopathic therapy, consisting of approved drugs and medicines in the doses specified by a physician.

 

Alternative patient care methods, on the other hand, are not so rigid in terms of the protocol followed. These can either be combined with the traditional treatment or can be a stand-alone treatment and care option followed by the trained staff, which could sometimes be the nursing staff or also those specialists trained in alternative patient care.

 

Which is the better care method—alternative patient care or traditional hospital treatment?

To make a choice between the traditional hospital treatment method and alternative patient care is a debate which is still tough to take sides on, because each method has its own share of pros and cons, with some findings in its favor and others against it.

A traditional treatment method is based on scientific proof along with years of clinical research and backed by scientific research and writings. The conventional and therefore “traditional” medicine is backed by scientific knowledge of how the human body works and follows treatments that have proven to be effective via scientific research. Alternative care methods, on the other hand, do not have clinical trials and findings to back them up but are based on the belief that medical care providers must be able to treat the entire person—that is the mind, body, and the spirit too. These treatment methods are usually non-invasive as they do not rely on surgery or conventional medication. Very few of the alternative care methods are supported by scientific evidence, which doesn’t mean that the treatments don’t work, but instead points to the fact that experts acknowledge the results of the alternative care methods but are still trying to figure out how they work.

Traditional hospital treatments are limited only to the healing of the body and taking away or reducing the pain and symptoms by way of medicines, drugs, and hospital stays. Alternative care methods, on the other hand, have a more holistic approach and make use of healing energies and the art of energy healing to treat the mind and spirit along with the body.

Nursing staff and care providers usually need to be specially trained and need to move away from the traditional training pattern to be able to apply alternative care methods to patients. This could further broaden their employment horizons, which is not the case for nurses who dole out conventional treatment.

The best approach, however, would be to have a combination of the conventional, traditional treatment along with alternative care methods to include the best of both.

 

cannabis-leaf-marijuana

Comparison of the Side Effects, Benefits, and Pros and Cons of Cannabis with Those of Alcohol and Tobacco

Cannabis usage, especially for recreational purposes, is still under a lot of scrutiny, as many consider it the worst kind of abuse, with drastic effects on the body. In fact, cannabis is known to be the most commonly abused illegal substance in the whole world. It is still considered an illegal drug in many parts of the world. However, marijuana, as cannabis is popularly known, has several medicinal benefits as well, apart from its use as a recreational drug. It is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, glaucoma, seizures, and lung function and is even believed to kill cancer cells.

The myth that marijuana consumption is worse than drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco has not been completely researched, and the truth is in fact just the opposite.

Alcohol is more addictive than marijuana

There have been no instances reported of overdose due to marijuana consumption, the only complaints being of constipation and lethargy, indicating that cannabis is the least toxic of all drugs. But the same cannot be said about alcohol, with a rising number of deaths being reported due to excessive alcohol consumption. Anyone who consumes ten times the regular dose of alcohol runs the risk of dying sooner.

Cannabis has cell protective properties that alcohol does not

Contrary to the belief that marijuana can lead to the death of brain cells, studies have revealed that marijuana has neuroprotective properties, thus showing less brain damage than that done by alcohol consumption. Fewer signs of damage to the white blood cells are observed in teenagers who used weed along with alcohol than with those who consumed alcohol alone.

Depression is commonly seen in alcoholics

Those who consume alcohol are susceptible to becoming patients of clinical depression. Avid drinkers are in fact most likely to be victims of dementia and psychosis and are also more at risk of harming themselves or even committing suicide, especially regular drinkers.

Side effects with alcohol users are commonly seen

There are no hangovers with marijuana or any hangover symptoms or headaches the next morning. Side effects and hangovers are the norm with regular alcohol drinkers. Bar brawls, drunken driving, and violent behavior are some common negative behaviors seen in regular drinkers.

Smoking causes more harm than weed

Smoking tobacco has a negative impact on the lungs and is considered to be 140 times more harmful than marijuana.

Summing up

Alcohol and smoking have a number of deleterious effects in comparison to marijuana. In fact, marijuana has certain medical benefits as well. Also, marijuana seldom causes addiction or overdose or leads to side effects. But still marijuana is considered illegal while alcohol is considered an integral part of many societies and there are no strict laws against smoking either. It is time to rethink and re-evaluate the harms caused by alcohol and smoking and restructure the existing laws.

The Economic Benefits of Legalizing Cannabis Usage

Cannabis is a drug obtained from the cannabis plant that is considered to be a psychoactive drug, and until recently cannabis was only considered to have recreational use. However, cannabis, also known as weed or marijuana, has been found to have various benefits, especially of a medical nature, thus aiding in removing some of the stigma associated with it. Cannabis was illegal in a number of states in the United States of America, but that too is changing as the benefits of medical marijuana are being highlighted.

 

Benefits of marijuana including medical purposes

Before listing the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana, first its benefits in terms of medical purposes must be noted. Marijuana is known to cure all kinds of chronic pain including those associated with certain illnesses. Cannabis is even being researched further as it has been shown to kill cancer cells, and this use can be tapped further for tremendous benefits. The lung function is also said to improve after smoking pot, and it has been found to improve mood as well. Glaucoma and spasms have also been treated with marijuana. In the case of seizures, medical marijuana use has been found to reduce their intensity or to control them altogether; a reduction in overall symptoms has also been noted.

 

Economic benefits of legalizing marijuana

Legalizing marijuana means that it would be legally allowed for adults who are 21 years of age and older.

Contrary to the belief that legalizing marijuana would lead to an increase in the rates of unemployment and homelessness or a greater number of youth using marijuana or becoming addicted to it, marijuana legalization would in fact actually help the economy. States such as California, Colorado, and Washington have legalized the use of recreational as well as medicinal marijuana, and these measures have caused a drastic improvement in their economy even as other states are still contemplating the issue.

 

Legalizing cannabis production would give rise to a lot of employment opportunities, even for individuals who grow the crop over several acres and cultivate it. There is the cost of cultivation involved as well as the cost involved in legalizing cannabis, such as law enforcement and various social services, but still the net profit is comparatively higher. The steady rise in income for the state upon legalizing marijuana shows that apart from helping the economy, surplus funds can be used for various other sectors, such as education, rehabilitation facilities, better health care, and scholarships for deserving students, to name a few.

 

Legalizing thus seems to be beneficial, but there are a few things that need to be kept in mind which include:

  • The laws must be clear, thoroughly researched, and spelled out for all citizens.
  • The enforcement of the law must also be done strictly in order to curb illegal growing or use of cannabis.
  • The laws must be very clear and stable so as to keep law enforcement officers from getting confused or having to keep updating themselves on ever-changing laws, rules, and regulations.

 

marijuana buds

What Are the Benefits of Marijuana, including Medical and Health Benefits?

The image of marijuana ingrained in the minds of many people is that it leads to addiction and its users are unemployed individuals who are always red-eyed and on the verge of turning into psychopaths. This image might exist thanks to several movies and commercial media materials which showcase marijuana users as psychopaths, but the truth is that marijuana is not that bad.

 

In fact, medical marijuana is a hot topic of discussion (though controversial and debatable), and studies and research have revealed that marijuana has quite a few medical benefits and is not so detrimental after all. Several states in the United States have lifted the ban on marijuana and made it legal, especially for medical purposes. (When cannabis is used for medical purposes it is termed as prescription marijuana).

 

Benefits of marijuana, including medical purposes

  • Medical marijuana provides relief from pain

A lot of medical conditions cause pain, irrespective of the organ that has been affected. Chronic pain, apart from being uncomfortable and at times severe, can also interfere with daily activities such as physical movements, mobility, moods, emotions, and even job opportunities and leisure activities.

Cannabis is known to possess pain-killing properties, thanks to the cannabinoids present in them that connect with the brain and help to relieve the pain.

 

  • Cannabis helps treat mood disorders and anxiety

We know that physical pain can be relieved through cannabis, but emotional pain in the form of conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc., can also take a toll on the well-being of individuals, straining relationships and affecting performance at work. Cannabis has been found to work well on patients with mood disorders, especially those currently taking psychiatric medications. Prescription cannabis is also known to have close to zero negative side effects and is thus highly recommended for serious emotional health conditions.

 

  • Cancer cells have been found to be killed by cannabis

The U.S. government’s website has admitted (in a bid to rationalize the legalization of cannabis) that marijuana has been found to shrink cancer cells. However, this result has mostly been seen in rodents, and further studies are needed for it to be used in humans as well.

 

  • Lung function is improved with marijuana

As compared to the lungs of a chain smoker, the lung function of those smoking marijuana is significantly improved. In fact, lung function is even better than that of non-smokers, and researchers believe that cannabis might be having an effect on the lungs, thus “training” them to work more efficiently.

 

  • Cannabis improves creativity

Creativity has been found to increase in those using marijuana, especially in terms of the use of language. Verbal fluency was significantly improved in those with high creativity as well as those with comparatively lower creativity.

 

  • Performance of athletes is improved by cannabis

A study shows that some athletes have revealed that marijuana use has been found to improve their performance, quicken recovery, and help fight soreness, too, especially after workouts.

 

These are some of the benefits of prescription marijuana.

 

 

Facts and Fiction Surrounding Cannabis and Its Use

Facts and Fiction Surrounding Cannabis and Its Use

 

Cannabis or marijuana is a popular drug, not just among those who use it, but also among those who do not use the drug, thanks to the misinformation surrounding the drug and the lack of clarity distinguishing fact from fiction. It would help to clear up the misconceptions regarding some myths and get clarity on the facts about cannabis.

 

Some myths surrounding cannabis and the facts

  • Myth: Cannabis use can kill brain cells

There is a false notion that cannabis abuse can lead to the destruction of brain cells. However, research conducted by the University of Louisville has found that marijuana does not kill brain cells and a similar study published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society in the year 2003 backs the research.

 

  • Myth: Use of marijuana leads to cancer

This statement is not clearly in the true or false category because the smoke of marijuana has been found to contain carcinogens, similar to those found in tobacco smoke. But the extent of harm done by smoking tobacco-laden cigarettes is much higher compared to the harm caused by the ingestion of weed, a popular name for cannabis. It has been found that more than marijuana, it is the act of smokingthat is a risk factor with higher chances of leading to cancer.

 

  • Myth: Eating of weed in the raw form can give a “high”

Eating raw marijuana is like consuming stems that have no effect and definitely do not make one “high.” The effect of marijuana is felt when it is orally consumed after it has been heated and combined with a substance that has fatty substances, such as butter.

 

  • Myth: It is easier to quit smoking cannabis

Those who smoke pot (cannabis) casually and once in a while can quit it easily, but heavy smokers will find that marijuana is extremely addictive and very difficult to quit, requiring all the will power one can muster. Quitting becomes even more difficult due to withdrawal symptoms, such as loss of appetite, insomnia, and irritability. These symptoms are more severe for other drugs, but still make quitting pot difficult for users.

 

  • Myth: Marijuana can impact the memory

Cannabis use has been found to have no impact on the long-term memory of users or on existing memories. In fact, marijuana is found not to be linked with dementia, but it can cause short-term memory loss to some extent.

 

  • Myth: Marijuana can help improve focus

It is quite the opposite, as heavy use of marijuana can lead to impaired thinking and affect the attention span too, and the symptoms might be drastic in case of abuse or withdrawal.

 

  • Myth: Marijuana use is completely harmless (considering it has been given medicinal title in some places)

This is far from the truth because heavy use of marijuana is quite harmful. Those smoking marijuana are at risk of developing respiratory illnesses and bronchitis, which are usually seen in those smoking tobacco. Also, driving under the influence of weed is extremely dangerous.   

drug-use-substance-abuse

What Is Cannabis and Why Is Cannabis Usage Termed as Abuse?

Marijuana, which is the popular term for cannabis, is a form of drug that comes from the plant cannabis sativa or the hemp plant. A drug is a substance that, when ingested, causes an alteration in the functioning of the body, either a physical change or a psychological change. Some of these drugs are legal whereas many are illegal. Cannabis is one such drug that is illegal in most parts of the world. Cannabis is often referred to as weed, pot, or hash and is ingested via a smoke or can be mixed into a drink. It can also be baked into foods and thus eaten. The effects after taking the drug are feelings of excitement, happiness, and a general high, and these are usually felt right after ingesting the drug and last up to 3 to 4 hours, depending on how the drug was consumed, that is—either eaten or smoked.

Drug use is often under scrutiny and illegal as well because of the ill effects that it has on the body. Usage of drugs over a period of time has short-term as well as long-term effects on the body. The effects might vary depending on the person’s age, health, fitness, gender, diet, mood, and physical size. It also depends on the kind of drug ingested and its quantity as well as purity.

The effects may include aggressiveness, anger, depression, feelings of being unmotivated, sleepiness, anxiousness, talkativeness, and feelings of paranoia. Emotional and social effects that negatively impact one’s relationship with family and friends are also often observed.

What is cannabis abuse?

The excess use or consumption of cannabis is termed as abuse.

Drug abuse is so termed because it is a patterned use of the substance by the user beyond normal levels, and this excessive usage can have a harmful impact on the user as well as on others. Cannabis abuse is often referred to as a pattern that causes a number of problems, both physical and mental. Often, users get into arguments with family and friends regarding their usage and can feel helpless if they are not experiencing the “high” after using the drug, which is a form of abuse.

What are the effects of cannabis on the body?

Marijuana abuse can affect work or even daily activities, such that one is unable to drive or take care of children, concentrate on work, or one must take leave from work entirely. Driving a vehicle under the influence of cannabis is dangerous for the driver and passengers as well as for those around the vehicle.

The medical effects on the body from cannabis abuse include increased risk of blood vessel disorder and heart disease. One’s immunity is also affected, making the body susceptible to infections and illnesses. The long-term use of cannabis can even increase the risk of developing cancer of the throat and lungs.

Mental illnesses are also more likely, because individuals tend to lose their judgment due to high usage of the drug and can develop schizophrenia, depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Also, chances of injuries increase due to a decrease in judgment.

Viruses Carried by Ticks and Mosquitoes and Their Consequences

Mosquitoes and ticks have been a pesky problem for a long time, but the alarming news reports that diseases caused because of them have tripled from 2004 to 2016 in the US alone have highlighted the menace caused by them. This further indicates that it is time to deal with the issue head-on after gaining the requisite information.

Mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas spread diseases by being the carriers of various viruses. Infected ticks and mosquitoes bite various individuals, thus acting as vectors and spreading diseases. A steady rise has been seen in the number of cases of diseases caused by the viruses the mosquitoes and ticks carry owing to the increase in the number of ticks and mosquitoes as well as because they have now spread to a wider geographical area, thus infecting a greater number of people.

Types of viruses and diseases caused by the carrier mosquitoes and ticks

Viruses being carried by ticks and mosquitoes give rise to diseases, such as chikungunya, yellow fever, dengue, etc.

Chikungunyais caused by the Alphavirus and is transmitted to humans via the Aedes genus mosquito. This disease can often be confused with other diseases, and though its progression is favorable, in certain cases it can result in the death of patients. The best way to prevent this disease is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, since a vaccine is not yet available for the disease.

Dengueis caused by the Flavivirus and is transmitted by the mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, which usually breed in stagnant waters close to various habitations. The disease has recently seen a resurgence, as it has spread to a large part of the world.

Japanese encephalitisis another disease caused by the Flavivirus and transmitted via mosquitoes of the Culex genus. This disease is endemic in rural areas with rice fields and irrigation regions.

West Niledisease, also caused by Flavivirus, is spread via the Culex genus mosquito that thrives around birds.

Yellow feveris caused by yellow fever virus (part of the Flavivirus family) and is transmitted via Aedes genus mosquitoes.

Ticks cause diseases, such as Lyme, meningoencephalitis, and tick-borne relapsing and spotted fevers, most of which are due to various bacteria strains.

Measures to prevent the diseases caused by virus-carrying mosquitoes and ticks

Public health authorities can undertake serious health programs by listing the diseases caused in the area by the viruses and the mosquitoes and ticks that transmit them; undertaking vector control and prevention activities by developing a team; and educating the residents about the same. As citizens, individuals can also make use of repellents to deal with mosquitoes. They can wear covered, long-sleeved clothing as a form of prevention, and also avoid as well as treat ticks that might trouble their pets and which can spread in the house. They must also take care of the home and its surroundings to prevent infestation of mosquitoes and ticks. Items such as boots, pants, tents, and socks can also become infected, and must be treated by using permethrin.

Safety measures and knowledge regarding the diseases caused by viruses and carried by ticks and mosquitoes can help curb the rise in the number of cases.

Summer Hazards – Sunburn

Many people get excited with the beginning of summer and look forward to days of fun and frolic out in the sun. They also develop a nice tan while out in the sun. With that aim in mind, they often overdo the time spent outdoors (especially on the beaches) and end up suffering from one of the common summer hazards, namely, sunburn.

In fact, sunburn is so common that despite warnings from health departments, approximately one third of adults and close to 70 percent of children end up looking like a lobster that stayed in the pot for too long. And this is owing to the number of hours spent outdoors, getting burned by the strong and harmful rays of the sun.

What is sunburn and how is it caused?

As the name suggests, sunburn is when the skin gets burned and turns red as well as irritated after being out in the sunny weather for too long. The harmful rays of the sun include three types of ultraviolet radiations of differing wavelengths, namely, the UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. The UVC light is not harmful as it does not reach the earth, but the other two types of light, the UVA and UVB, reach the earth and can even penetrate the human skin, leading to skin disorders, with sunburn being one of them. It even leads to premature aging. Ultraviolet light can cause serious damage to the skin and lead to conditions such as melanoma, a type of skin cancer. This highlights that spending too much time out in the sun can cause sunburn and related disorders.

However, the skin type and the geographical location, along with the intensity of the sun and time spent outdoors, also play a part in determining the chances of developing sunburn. Fair-skinned individuals are more susceptible to sunburns compared to those who are dark skinned. Also, the intensity of the sun in tropical areas, closer to the equator, is higher compared to places further away from the equator or places that are relatively cooler.

Symptoms of sunburn

Common signs of sunburn include reddened skin that burns and itches along with blisters and swellings, in severe cases. Further symptoms include weakness, headaches, and chills with a feverish feeling, similar to those experienced during the flu. The body eventually heals in a few weeks as the sun-damaged skin peels off, but the healing period is accompanied by itching.

Treatment and prevention of sunburn

For relief against sunburn, one can apply cold compresses or take cold baths to cool the skin, apply gels or creams containing aloe, menthol, and/or camphor, take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the swelling and pain, remain hydrated, and stay out of the harmful sun. In case of blisters, fever, or symptoms of dehydration, medical help needs to be sought.

Sunburns can be prevented by avoiding the sun, especially when its rays are the strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wearing protective gear when out in the sun, such as loose-fitting and whole-body-covering clothes, sunglasses, and hats, will help prevent sunburn. Applying sunscreen diligently is also necessary to prevent sunburn.

Summer Hazards – Heat Rash

Summer is the season of sunny days and time spent outdoors. In the summer months, the temperature rises and the sun shines more brightly as compared to the other seasons of the year. Usually, summertime is always welcome for the pleasing weather and because it gives people a chance to enjoy the outdoors. However, summer is also accompanied by woes, thanks to the sweltering heat, rise in temperature, and humidity. Dehydration and sunstroke are extreme cases of the harmful effects of the sun and its heat; however, there are a few other disconcerting conditions caused in the summer months, such as heat rash.

 

What is heat rash and how is it caused?

Heat rash is also referred to as miliaria or prickly heat; heat rash is the generic name given to a host of skin problems that are caused or aggravated by overheating and sun exposure. Most believe that rashes are commonly seen only in babies, but heat rash affects both adults and babies, especially in the summer months when the weather is humid and hot.

 

In the summers, people tend to perspire a lot, and when the sweat ducts or pores are blocked (usually due to excessive perspiration), they trap the perspiration within the skin, thus leading to heat rash. Clogged sweat ducts are the cause of heat rash, where the perspiration, instead of evaporating, tends to get trapped within the skin, leading to inflammation and rash. There could be a number of reasons for clogged pores, ranging from:

  • immature sweat ducts such as those of babies, who are more prone to rashes
  • intense physical activity, which leads to excessive sweating
  • residing in tropical climates where the weather can cause rashes
  • being on bed rest for a prolonged period of time
  • overheating, for instance by using an electric blanket while sleeping
  • overdressing in warm clothes

 

A mild case of heat rash can usually clear out on its own, but a severe case requires medical attention and care.

 

Symptoms of heat rash

The appearance of heat rash is usually characterized by small red or pink bumps that look like pinpoints present at the entrance of the sweat glands. Severe heat rash might be accompanied by a higher degree of discomfort and irritation along with raised red bumps (which could sometimes be filled with pus) along with large welts. The common places where the rashes appear are the areas where the body tends to sweat more, such as the elbow folds, armpits, groin, buttocks, shoulders, underneath the breasts, back, neck, face, and abdomen.

 

Treatment and prevention

The treatment for heat rash includes avoiding overheating of the area and cooling the skin for the rash to clear. Ointments can be applied for severe forms of rash, such as calamine lotions, topical steroids, and anhydrous lanolin. However, for heat rash, prevention is the best form of treatment; therefore, wear lightweight, soft cotton clothing and avoid overdressing in summer or wearing tight-fitting clothes that can cause irritation. Sleep in a well-ventilated area, which is cool. During the day, avoid stepping out when the sun is overhead and it is very hot outside; stay in a shaded area or simply stay indoors or in an air-conditioned building.

 

Heat rash can easily be avoided by taking precaution and care.

Hazards of Summer – Heat Stroke and Dehydration

Summer is the most awaited time of the year, where the outdoors calls out to everyone, young and old alike. It is the holiday season when all the activities are planned outdoors and the sunny weather is enjoyed to the fullest. Barbeques, pool parties, picnics, and outdoor sports are all eagerly planned and enjoyed in the summer months.

However, the summer days also bring with them common summer hazards, especially serious conditions, such as heat stroke and dehydration. These are common occurrences which can be quite grave; their occurrence is attributed to the summer months and the accompanying excessive heat and weather conditions.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is an extreme condition resulting from a combination of outside heat and rising temperatures that beat the cooling mechanism of the body, leading to a drastic rise in the body’s temperatures during which the core heat of the body soars up to 40 c or 104 F in adults and approximately 40.5 c or 105 F in children. When suffering from heat stroke, the body fails to sweat in order to cool down. This rise in the core heat is also accompanied by a change in one’s mental status.

Heat stroke is caused by extreme heat in the environment, doing a vigorous activity in the sun, and during high levels of humidity in which the body gets dehydrated. Those at higher risk are children, the elderly, and patients suffering from mental illness. Obese people or those suffering from poor blood circulation are also prone to suffer from heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat stroke include dizziness, rise in temperatures of the body, flushed skin, headaches, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, seizures, hallucinations, disorientation, and loss of consciousness.

The best treatment involves cooling off the patient by taking them to a cool, shaded area, and removing clothes to pour water or use ice packs in the armpits or groin in order to cool down. In severe situations, electrolytes can be given via IV.

Dehydration

This is a heat-related condition where the body loses its water content either due to overexposure to the sun or by not consuming enough water in the heat. Sometimes conditions such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and medication use can also cause dehydration.

The typical symptoms of dehydration include dry skin, thirst, fatigue, urination becoming less frequent, dry mouth and mucous membranes, dizziness, increased breathing and heart rate, confusion, and lightheadedness. Children display symptoms such as listlessness, crying without tears, not urinating for hours, dry tongue and mouth, and irritability. Eyes, cheeks, and abdomen also appear sunken.

The treatment for dehydration includes replenishing the body with fluids, either in the form of fluids and oral electrolytes or sports drinks that rehydrate, in the case of mild dehydration. For moderate cases, giving fluids through IV might be necessary, whereas severe cases need immediate medical attention.

Both heat-related conditions—heat stroke and dehydration—can be prevented by staying appropriately hydrated, maintaining the electrolyte balance, wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothes, partaking in physically exhausting activities in the later part of the day, and avoiding the direct sun. Wearing sunglasses and hats to protect against the sun and taking appropriate measures to avoid extended exposure to the sun, especially for the elderly and children, are recommended.

Drowning Accidents – Facts and Statistics

Accidents involving drowning have become quite common in recent years, with it being estimated that every single day approximately 10 individuals lose their lives due to unintentional and accidental drowning. Of these 10, two are children and young teens under the age of 14. For every two of the children who die, five are rescued every day, but they often suffer from unintentional drowning-related injuries and require emergency care for non-fatal drowning accidents. In fact, accidental drowning is considered the second most common cause of death in preschoolers and toddlers. And over all, unintentional injuries and drowning accidents are the fifth major cause of death in the United States.

 

Drowning incidents are a major cause of concern. Especially in the summer months, when many individuals are likely to be spending more time in pools or in bodies of water, one needs to be more careful and alert.

 

Statistics related to drowning accidents

The number of individuals who have lost their lives due to accidental drowning from 2005 to 2014 has been pegged at 3,536 deaths, which approximates to ten deaths per day. This figure does not take into account the deaths caused due to boating-related drowning and accidents.

 

Statistics also reveal that of the victims rescued from drowning accidents and treated at EDs (or emergency departments), more than fifty percent of them need to be transferred or require hospitalization for further treatment. These accidents can cause brain damage, which can further lead to disabilities, such as memory loss, permanent loss of basic body functioning, or learning disabilities.

 

Risk factors that increase chances of drowning

There are a few risk factors that can amplify the chances of drowning:

  • The lack of ability to swim is one of the chief factors that can result in drowning accidents. It has been found that many adults and children enter the water without knowing how to swim; therefore, learning to swim is highly recommended.
  • The lack of supervisors and supervision can result in drowning as it happens so quietly and quickly.
  • The lack of barriers and fencing around swimming pools whether at home (in the backyard) or in community pools increases the chances of kids falling in accidentally and drowning.
  • The use of alcohol while swimming can disorient the swimmer, leading to drowning accidents.
  • The failure to wear safety gear, such as life jackets, while swimming and boating increases the chances of drowning.
  • Suffering from a disorder, such as a seizure disorder, can lead to fatal consequences, with drowning (even in bathtubs) being one of the main reasons for the deaths of those suffering from such conditions.

 

Prevention of drowning accidents

Since drowning occurs so quietly and quickly, there are barely any noticeable symptoms on the outside. Thus, it makes it necessary for lifeguards and supervisors to be very attentive and for swimmers to take necessary precautions and preventive measures.

 

Safety measures, including learning how to swim, using life jackets, and learning CPR (or cardiopulmonary resuscitation), can help save others. Additionally, following the buddy system, which means to swim with a buddy rather than swimming alone, helps in case of accidents. Also, ensure there is supervision, especially while kids are swimming, and avoid alcohol (for adults). In addition, foam toys and floaters should not be considered as safety devices, and fencing should be installed for pools in the backyard.

 

 

Prevalence of Depression and Undiagnosed or Underdiagnosed Depression

The recent suicide of famous celebrities and TV personalities due to depression highlights the sharp rise in the number of individuals suffering from depression. It also emphasizes the fact that some individuals who otherwise seem fine are actually shattered from within, giving rise to concerns regarding the growing prevalence of depression and a large portion of it going undetected or undiagnosed. The figures revealing the number of patients suffering from depression are alarming, with the United States alone having more than 16 million adults (which equates to approximately 6.9 percent of the population) battling with some form of depression, and a shockingly high number of children as well.

 

Prevalence of depression

The number of people suffering from depression is rising year after year. In fact, it is assumed that one individual out of six in the USA will suffer from some form of depression in their lifetime. However, the lack of awareness regarding symptoms and the fact that not many cases meet the required criteria to make a diagnosis (even though they might be suffering from a version of depression), makes it difficult to arrive at a figure regarding the population suffering from the disorder and the prevalence of this mental health disease.

 

Certain findings reveal that the disorder that turns out to be most costly to employers is depression, followed closely by obesity. The cost is not only in terms of money and expenditures but in terms of productivity, as depressed individuals, while present at work, might take a longer time to complete a certain task or might not be able to concentrate on it. Also, those depressed employees are often absent from work owing to the condition and its symptoms.

 

The prevalence of depression is higher in the following populations:

  • Women
  • Elderly patients (especially those suffering from some type of chronic illness or condition)

 

The point of concern and contradiction is that despite the higher prevalence of depression, it is one of the most underdiagnosed conditions; it is also undertreated.

 

Depression—why is it an underdiagnosed disorder?

Depression bears the brunt of often being an undiagnosed or underdiagnosed mental disorder. The lack of information regarding its signs and symptoms is one of the important causes. Also, there is a stigma attached to the disorder that makes those experiencing the symptoms hesitate in getting help. What they need are informed family members and observant doctors to help them acknowledge the problem and guide them through the treatment.

 

Another primary cause is that the disorder and its symptoms are often not acknowledged by primary care providers. While visiting a physician for the treatment of minor maladies, depressed patients usually do complain of “not feeling quite themselves” or “experiencing problems with sleep” and similar accounts, but these are either ignored or they are not taken seriously. Further probing and investigation by the physician can often help diagnose the problem in time and nip it in the bud.

 

Pharmacists and physicians must review the regimen of daily medication with patients while also patiently discussing all the symptoms and reviewing possible side effects of the drugs. They should also counsel older patients and teens about depression, its symptoms, and the reasons why it is underdiagnosed.

 

To help with timely diagnosis of depression, we need a society that has attentive and informed families, friends, and physicians.

Depression as Rooted in a Medical Cause and not as a Social Stigma

A spate of recent suicides by well-known public figures reaffirms the fact that depression is a silent killer and must be spoken about more openly and more often.

 

Depression is a mental disorder, rather than a disease, which would be treated as a contractible illness, and which can easily be remedied through treatment and therapy. It basically refers to a condition whereby the individual suffering from it is constantly in a depressed or low mood, lacking interest in any activities, even day-to-day activities, thus adversely affecting daily life as well as health. Depression can further give rise to health problems, such as insomnia, sleep disorder, anxiety, hypertension and high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke, and can prove fatal as well as recently seen in the news and in many other previous instances.

 

Occurrence of depression

Depression in some form is present in almost all countries, across continents, borders, races, religions, economic and social strata, and also all age groups and genders (though women and the elderly who are suffering from chronic health conditions are more at risk). In fact, it is believed that one out of six Americans suffers from depression or one of its forms.

The question then is, if depression is prevalent around the world, why is so little known about it and even less spoken about it? Do you remember encountering a friend, family member, or acquaintance who tells you outright that he or she is suffering from depression and is seeking or undergoing treatment for the same? And if or when that happens, do you remember your own reaction of uneasiness? Why is it that many cases of depression are still not diagnosed or not treated while depression continues to assert its presence as a silent killer? Why is there a lack of information regarding its symptoms and ways to access help regarding the same?

The reason is that there is a stigma attached to the disorder. Depression may be viewed as a mental disease (with the emphasis on the word “mental”) that only the weak (mentally and physically) can suffer from.

Many also view the symptoms of such psychopathological disorders as either uncomfortable or threatening, thus giving rise to hesitation or discrimination with patients who display symptoms, thereby leading to a stigma.

 

Depression—it is a disorder, not a stigma

Anyone can suffer from depression, at any point in one’s life. The stigma associated with it being a disease of those with poor upbringing or character flaws or due to chemical imbalances of the brain or a genetic problem, apart from being baseless, are also the reasons for the discrimination against those suffering.

 

Additionally, it must be noted that depression, bipolar disorder, and similar conditions are referred to as “disorders” and not diseases because a disorder is something that is not in order or is out of the ordinary. On the other hand, disease is defined as “a condition that impairs the normal functioning of the body and is distinguished by clear signs and symptoms.” Diseases have diagnostic tests for affirming the condition whereas there might be no standard diagnostic test for depression, but it is a mental condition nonetheless requiring counseling, therapy, and treatment from trained professionals instead of discrimination and stigma.

 

Depression and Sleep Disturbance

Sleep disturbances are any changes in sleeping habits or sleep patterns that have a negative impact on one’s health. Sleep disturbances affect approximately 10 to 35 percent of the population and can be an agonizing experience that has physical and physiological repercussions. Sleep disturbances can be due to a number of reasons, ranging from stress, to anxiety, to trauma, to something as serious as bipolar disorder and even depression.

 

Whatis depression?

All of us tend to feel sad and downtrodden in our experiences with people and surroundings at certain times. These feelings might feel amplified during trying times and difficult situations. However, when the feelings of sadness are persistent, along with lack of interest in any of one’s daily chores (even those that were once enjoyed), coupled with anxiety and a sense of hopelessness, then they point towards depression. Depression affects a major chunk of the population, and the growing number of people suffering from it is a cause of concern. This condition can have a tremendous impact on the way we function on a daily basis, such as the way we eat or work or even the way we sleep.

 

Depression and sleep disturbance

Sleep disturbances and depression share a very complex relationship. Disturbances in one’s sleep patterns can lead to depression; on the other hand, sleep disorders and problems with sleep can lead to depression. The onset of depression can display sleep problems in some cases while in other cases sleep disturbances can be one of the gradual symptoms pointing towards depression. In fact, the risk factors as well as biological features tend to overlap for both conditions, leading to a similar treatment strategy that is effective for both conditions at various times.

 

Types of sleep disorders and their connection with depression

  • Insomnia

Depressed individuals often complain of insomnia. In the same vein, statistics revealed that the chances of individuals developing depression is ten times greater in those suffering from insomnia compared to those who do not. Individuals who are depressed can suffer from sleep onset insomnia (which refers to the inability to fall asleep) or from sleep maintenance insomnia (which refers to the inability to remain asleep for long). Depressed individuals might also display daytime sleepiness symptoms or experience unrefreshing sleep.

On the other hand, those suffering from sleep onset insomnia or sleep maintenance insomnia are at risk of developing depression.

 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA

According to studies, depressed individuals were at five times greater risk of developing OSA or sleep disordered breathing. It has also been found that treating OSA and improvement in the condition can lead to improvement in depression as well, even displaying significant and lasting improvements.

 

Diagnosis and those at greater risk

Owing to the similarities in symptoms and risk factors and the complex relationship between the two, depression and sleep disturbances can often be misdiagnosed. A depressed mood could be an indication of insomnia whereas persistent insomnia (or even conditions like restless leg syndrome) could be an indication of depression.

Children with sleep disorders are at greater risk of developing depression, and with effects that are long lasting and severe.

The older population is at greater risk of developing depression because of the physical illnesses that they suffer, which can lead to disturbances in sleep and thus to depression. Women also suffer sleep disturbances after childbirth and during hormonal changes, which could lead to depression.

 

Sleep disturbance and depression thus share an interrelated relationship.

How to Diagnose Autism

How to Diagnose Autism

 

Autism is defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the social and behavioral aspects of patients, mostly children. Since it is a behavioral disorder, often the symptoms of one child or adult who is suffering from autism can differ from another. This makes it difficult to pinpoint exact, precise symptoms of the disease as there are a number of signs that differ from patient to patient and can be seen in one and absent in another. This further aggravates the process of making a diagnosis for the disorder.

 

How to diagnose autism

Because it is difficult to diagnose autism in the absence of any medical test, such as a blood test, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that doctors screen children for autism during their regular visits. This will help identify whether the child has crossed all his or her developmental milestones or not and aids to diagnose the disease at a very early stage (sometimes even at the age of 18 months). The advantage of early detection is to make sure the child gets timely and complete treatment.

 

There are two steps involved in diagnosing autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, which include:

  • Developmental screening or behavioral assessment
  • Comprehensive diagnostic evaluation or physical assessment including medical tests

 

Behavioral assessment

  • The medical history of the child is assessed via a questionnaire about the child’s basic development. The questions include information regarding how a child points to objects to show his or her parents. An autistic child generally points at things, but does not check if his or her parents are looking at the object.
  • Similar observations are made following a guideline provided to check for any risks or symptoms.
  • Developmental delays in the child are observed and further evaluated to rule out any other medical conditions. This is followed by an intelligence test to see if thinking ability is affected by the developmental delay.

 

Laboratory tests and physical assessments

  • Physical tests of the child are carried out to examine the weight, height, and head circumference and evaluate whether they follow normal growth patterns.
  • Hearing tests are also conducted to determine whether developmental delay, such as use of language and social skills, is due to hearing loss.
  • A test for lead poisoning, especially a condition called pica, in which kids crave old paint or dirt even after passing the age when this stage is seen during their development.
  • Chromosomal analysis is carried out to check for intellectual disability, such as fragile X syndrome, and also to determine whether there is a family history of intellectual disability.
  • An EEG or electroencephalograph is done if developmental regression and seizures are witnessed.
  • An MRI is also carried out to check for any signs that point to differences in the brain structure.

The basic developmental assessment of all children must be carried out when they are 9 months old, 18 months old, and 24 months or 30 months old. Additionally, screening specifically for autism during regular doctor visits must be carried out at 18 and 24 months of age.

 

These evaluations can help make a diagnosis at a very early stage and provide the full potency of the treatment.

Signs and Symptoms Parents Should Be Concerned About for Autism

Autism is steadily on the rise in the last decade, which is a matter of grave concern. It is therefore important that the disorder be detected early for timely intervention and treatment. It has been shown that if autism is detected early in a child and treatment is also started immediately, the outcome is very encouraging, with improvements observed in social and communication skills along with learning abilities in children with ASD or autism spectrum disorders.

 

If parents are observant and also aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for, autism can even be detected as early as in a one-year-old, as has been shown by studies. Thus, parents should look out for the red flags that might point towards a developmental and learning disorder.

 

Signs and symptoms

Looking for signs of autism is difficult because autism is a spectrum disorder wherein each child is unique, thus displaying unique symptoms; in addition, their disabilities may be seen and thus recognized at different ages.

 

However, the main areas to observe, as suggested by experts, are their communication and social skills along with any repetitive or restricted behavior.

 

The signs to look for include:

  • Child not responding when his or her name is called out
  • Experiencing difficulty in making eye contact
  • Experiencing difficulty coping with situations where there is loud noise (or music) or bright lights
  • Displaying repetitive movements, for instance repeatedly flapping the hands
  • Experiencing trouble using body language or gestures of the body to convey something and communicate, for instance, by pointing at something
  • Displaying resistance to any kind of change introduced in their routine. For instance, insisting on eating from the same plate every day or wanting to eat the same meal every day

 

Other signs to be noticed, even in smaller babies, are:

  • Not displaying any joyful or loving expressions, such as smiles or giggles, even after reaching 6 months of age or older than that
  • Unable to display back-and-forth sharing of expressions, such as smiles, facial expressions, or various sounds, by the age of 9 months and up
  • Not babbling even after reaching the age of 12 months and not using any words to communicate, by or after 16 months of age
  • Not mouthing or uttering meaningful words, even words of two phrases, either by repeating or imitating, by 2 years of age
  • Displaying lack of social skills, babbling, or any form of speech at any of the milestone ages and above

 

Parents must be aware of the milestones most children usually reach at various ages and look out for any warning signs noticed in their child or inability to reach those milestones. Also, play times must be keenly observed to notice red flags in terms of behavior or responses of the child.

 

Regular check-up visits to the pediatrician can further help to examine any warning signs; thus, visits to the doctor must not be skipped.

 

Heeding the warning signs early on can help with timely diagnosis and tremendously speed up the treatment and bring about improvements.

 

Different Categories of Autism and Conditions that Look Like but Are Not Autism

Autism—commonly referred to as ASD, which stands for autism spectrum disorder—is the term used to address a collective group of disorders related to brain development that affect the behavioral skills of the sufferer. Autism is often addressed as a neurodevelopmental disorder in which neurological causes related to the brain lead to developmental disabilities in terms of social, behavioral, and communication skills.

 

This brain development disorder is characterized by repetitive behavior, difficulty in nonverbal and verbal communication, and inability to carry out social interactions along with normal leisure as well as play activities, all or some of which are observed at varying degrees in different patients.

 

The signs and symptoms of autism are observed more frequently in children, especially those between 2 and 3 years of age.

 

 

Types and categories of autism

ASD comprises a spectrum of disorders and thus is categorized in the following subtypes:

 

  • Autistic Disorder

This category of autism is often termed as “classic autism.” Those suffering from classic autistic disorder display considerable language delays, unusual interests as well as behavior, and challenges in communicating and interacting socially. Intellectual disability is also seen in many classic autistic cases.

 

  • Asperger Syndrome

Those suffering from Asperger syndrome display symptoms that are milder compared to autistic disorder. These patients encounter social challenges along with unusual interests and behavior, but they do not display intellectual disability or difficulties with language.

 

  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified

This type is often abbreviated as PDD-NOS. Sufferers of this type display a few symptoms of autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but the patients may not display all symptoms. The symptoms are milder and they are fewer than that of autistic disorder, which causes major communication and social problems.

 

  • Childhood disintegrative disorder

This is a rare and severe disorder in which children develop normally and then, usually between the age of 2 and 4, lose their language, mental, and social skills along with experiencing seizure disorder.

 

Conditions similar to autism

Owing to similar symptoms, a few disorders can be found that are similar to autism spectrum disorder even though they are not the same. These conditions include:

  • Specific developmental disorder—in this condition the language disorder and other developmental disorders are similar to autism.
  • Intellectual disability—severe intellectual disability patients may behave similarly to autistic patients. Also, certain autistic patients might suffer from intellectual disability as well.
  • Schizophrenia—this condition, when developed in children, is often mistakenly considered to be autism.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)—symptoms of unusual and repetitive behavior might be similar in autistic and OCD patients, but OCD sufferers develop communication and social skills normally.
  • Selective mutism—in this condition, the child can speak in certain situations but is unable to speak and is mute in other situations.
  • Avoidant personality disorder—this condition is characterized by feelings of anxiety while having to deal with social situations, which is also seen in cases of autism.
  • Reactive attachment disorder—here a child suffers from a high degree of neglect and develops language and social skills only after receiving attention and love.

 

These are conditions that are thought to be autism as the symptoms mimic the disorder but are in fact different.

 

 

 

Facts and Fiction about Childhood Vaccines and Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder in which the nervous system is adversely affected, thus having a negative impact on the ability to communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, and interact socially. This neurodevelopmental disability is a lifelong condition and cannot be “cured.” There are medications that can manage or reduce some of the symptoms but there is no medicine or treatment to cure autism. However, there is no fixed set of symptoms for those suffering from autism; in fact, there is a “spectrum” of symptoms which are considered to be signs of autism. Thus, medication is not effective in all cases or for all patients. And these are just some of the hurdles faced by those suffering from autism and their caregivers and parents. The other obstacles include the numerous myths that surround autism, especially related to vaccines.

 

Myths and facts related to vaccines and autism

Parents and caregivers of those suffering from autism are already riddled with a lot of concerns and difficulties in taking care of patients with developmental disorders. To top it off, the rumors and myths surrounding the disease can add to their woes. Vaccination, especially childhood vaccines, has borne the brunt of these baseless rumors, with the popular myth being that these vaccines lead to autism or aggravate the condition.

 

It is a common myth that MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine) causes autism. In fact, there was even a single fraudulent paper making this particular claim, but it has now been withdrawn. This speculation must have started due to the signs of autism appearing in the same age group as those who receive the MMR vaccine.

 

It was even claimed that the component thimerosal, present in vaccines as a preservative, also led to a rise in the number of children being diagnosed with autism. However, this myth was refuted when there was still a steady rise in the number of patients even after the preservative thimerosal stopped being used in vaccines.

 

The probable reason for the fictional statement that vaccines lead to autism could be traced to the fact that there was a rise in the number of vaccines being received by children and at the same time there was a rise in the number of children suffering from autism. The two facts were clumped together and it was assumed that vaccines cause autism. There are, however, no scientific studies or any evidence to date that suggest that this claim is true.

 

Another possible reason why these rumors made (and still make) the rounds is that now children with even a few or mild symptoms are diagnosed as autistic in order to receive proper and timely treatment as compared to previously when not that many children were diagnosed as suffering from autism. The rise in the number of sufferers of autism might have been linked to the rise in vaccines for children.

 

Patients and their caregivers require accurate information as well as guidelines to prevent them from believing evidence-less myths and to help them provide proper care and treatment.

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How Many People Are Living with Some Form of Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease is a cause for concern given that the number of patients suffering from it has been increasing over the years instead of diminishing. The number of patients in the US alone suffering from chronic kidney disease is estimated to be around 30 million for the year 2017, which amounts to approximately 15 percent of the adult population of the country. The occurrence of chronic kidney disease has in fact escalated over the years such that from being ranked 27th in a list of diseases that led to death for the year 1990 worldwide, the disease has jumped to the 18th position for the year 2010, thus indicating that the overall severity of the disease and those suffering and dying from it has risen exponentially.

 

A global study has estimated that of the number of patients suffering from kidney disease (approximately 661,000 Americans alone), only 10 percent are receiving appropriate treatment, including dialysis. These figures include developed nations (such as America, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Brazil) as well as countries such as India and China that have a large, growing population of elderly citizens suffering from kidney disease and needing medical attention.

 

Since the symptoms of kidney disease are silent and not easily detected in the initial phases, the disease often goes undetected, thus leading to a large number of patients suffering from it. Also, a greater percentage of patients suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure usually suffer from kidney disease too. In fact, in the US, the majority of cases of end stage renal disease (ESRD) are patients 18 years and older, suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure. Also, Hispanics as well as African Americans and Mexican Americans are at greater risk of developing renal/kidney diseases, compared to non-Hispanic and Caucasian citizens.

 

 

Facts and figures: The number of people suffering from kidney disease or kidney-related disorders

Chronic Kidney Disease

The number of people suffering from the disease is high, even higher than those suffering from cardiovascular disease. It has been estimated that every 1 in 10 individuals is suffering from kidney disease. The risk also increases with age, and approximately 69.6 percent of the population over 66 years of age suffers from kidney disease.

 

Apart from chronic kidney disease, the figures for people suffering from other types of renal disorders are also rising at an alarming rate.

 

End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

The number of people suffering from ESRD was 117,162 in 2013, whereby the number of cases were increasing by approximately 21,000 patients each year as compared to the numbers in 2010, which were steady for a few years. The numbers of children in the US itself suffering from ESRD and receiving treatment were approximately 1,462 in 2010 whereas 9,921 children were being treated for ESRD in the year 2013.

 

Kidney transplants

According to 2013 figures, the total number of kidney transplants carried out in the US was about 17,600, which is quite low considering the number of patients still waiting for transplants.

 

All the numbers and figures for kidney disease can be controlled by timely diagnosis of the disease since the disease is treatable and not that severe or fatal. Timely treatment will also save many countries millions of dollars that they spend in the care of patients with kidney disease, including their dialysis and Medicare costs.

 

 

 

Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid or Limit When Living with Kidney Disease

Food forms the basis for the survival of all individuals. Apart from being the fuel that drives our bodies, the food we eat can also define the way we are, how our body operates, and what disorders or conditions develop or are likely to develop. Thus, it is safe to say that the food we eat defines how healthy or unhealthy we are. Foods can also help change the way we feel or improve the condition of the body in case of a disease or disorder. For instance, having food that is low in fat content and has less sugar helps improve blood sugar levels as well as keeps diabetes in check.

 

The same is the case for chronic kidney disease. Patients suffering from kidney disease can feel better, prevent further damage, and even ease some of the symptoms by consuming food that is kidney friendly.

 

Considering a meal plan and nutrients

For the well-being of the body in general and also in the case of kidney disease, it is important to have planned meals such that they have all the required nutrients, including:

  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Calorie content
  • Fats

The right kind of foods along with optimum portions are needed to ensure essential nutrients are being provided to the body and in correct quantities. Reading the food labels is necessary too, to learn the “nutrition facts” in order to understand about ingredients and quantity in the food, even the sodium content.

 

The labels provide information regarding key products such as:

  • Proteins

Proteins are termed the “building blocks” of the body as they are required to remain healthy, to grow, and to heal.

However, those with kidney disease must consume proteins in moderation as a high protein diet exerts greater pressure on the kidneys thereby damaging them further.

Low protein foods include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread

While high protein foods are:

  • Poultry
  • Red meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish

 

  • Carbohydrates

This is an essential ingredient for the body that provides energy. However, certain carbohydrate sources might be high in phosphorus and potassium content, which is not recommended for kidney disease patients.

Potassium in too high or too low quantities is harmful for the kidneys, and can cause muscle weakness, muscle cramps, and problems with your heartbeat.

Thus, foods low in potassium that are recommended include:

  • Cranberries, strawberries, grapes, apples, and pineapple
  • White bread, tortillas, and pita
  • White rice, chicken, beef
  • Peppers, cauliflower, lettuce, radishes, onions, and summer squash

Foods high in potassium to avoid are melons, bananas, oranges, prunes, avocado, raisins, spinach, artichokes, potatoes, plantains, tomatoes, brown rice, beans, granola, and bran products.

 

Phosphorus is another ingredient that though required by the body can accumulate in the blood and cause weak bones in kidney patients.

Foods to eat include:

  • Rice cereals, corn, and cream of wheat
  • Sourdough, Italian, and French bread
  • Lemonade or light-colored soda
  • Popcorn (unsalted)

Foods to avoid include oatmeal, bran cereals, sunflower seeds, nuts, whole grain bread, and dark-colored sodas.

 

  • Water

For kidney disease patients, too much water can take a toll on the kidneys as they cannot remove extra fluids efficiently. Thus, foods rich in water content must be avoided. Also, sodium must be cut down to reduce thirst and water must be taken in sips.

 

  • Vitamins

Vitamins, such as iron, folic acid, and vitamin D, need to be supplemented via pills to help combat anemia and related weaknesses due to kidney disease. These must be consumed in consultation with doctors as too much of certain vitamins can have ill effects too.

 

The above stated are a few diet suggestions to be followed by kidney disease sufferers.

 

Side Effects and Other Systems Affected When You Have Kidney Disease

Kidneys flush out the toxins and wastes from the body and help in the hurdle-free functioning of the entire body (including the other multi-organ systems). However, when the kidneys fail to function properly, as in the case of chronic kidney disease, the repercussions are faced by the entire body and have a direct effect on several systems of the body.

 

Systems affected by kidney disease

  • Cardiovascular system

Kidney failure can adversely affect the cardiovascular system due to the buildup of fluid around the lungs, body tissue, and heart, which exerts a greater pressure on the heart thus leading to blood pressure or a rise in it. The excess amount of urea in the body that accumulates due to loss of kidney function is toxic in nature and causes inflammation of the heart’s pericardium. Additionally, the buildup of salts and fluid due to kidney disease along with production of renin damages the blood vessels, thereby leading to atherosclerosis and hypertension.

Thus, kidney disease has serious side effects on the cardiovascular system, which can even lead to strokes and heart attack.

 

  • Blood and circulatory system

Anemia and iron deficiency are consequences of damaged kidneys because the kidneys affect the production of the erythropoietin hormone, which in turn causes anemia. Further dizziness, shortness of breath, tiredness, and irritability are caused due to anemia, which can lead to organ or heart failure if left untreated.

 

  • Skeletal and musculoskeletal system

Kidney disease leads to high levels of parathyroid hormone, which in turn draws out the calcium content from the bones, thereby making the bones thin, weak, and malformed because of the mineral imbalance. The risk is greater for women who are post-menopausal and the elderly.

Kidney failure also leads to deposits of amyloid protein within the joints and tendons, thus causing amyloidosis. This disorder causes fluid to build up in the joints along with stiffness and pain.

 

  • Integumentary system

The skin (integumentary system) is harmed due to the imbalance of minerals including calcium and phosphorus caused by kidney disease. Also, the presence in kidney disease patients of the parathyroid hormone, which draws calcium from the bones, leads to itching on the skin of the hands, legs, back, and chest. Severe scratching and itching can further cause wounds, sores, and punctures to the skin.

 

  • Digestive system

The high levels of urea in the body can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as poor appetite, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, peptic ulcers, bad taste in mouth, and inability to consume required minerals, all due to kidney disease.

 

  • Circadian system

Renal failure leads to an inability to sleep or to remain asleep, thus affecting the sleep or circadian cycle. Sleep apnea, breathing problems, and restless leg syndrome, which causes pain and restlessness, all affect the quality of sleep, which further leads to lower immunity and exhaustion, thus affecting daily life. This further affects the ability to fight diseases.

 

  • Nervous system

All of the above effects of kidney disease on the body along with hormonal and mineral imbalance can cause depression, thus affecting day-to-day living.

 

 

How to Diagnose Kidney Disease

The kidneys are vital organs of the body, and though they might not enjoy as much attention as the heart or the lungs, their function is crucial for the body to function well. The kidneys help filter out excess fluids and waste from the blood, and in turn from the body, and discard it in the form of urine. When the kidneys fail to carry out their function, it causes the excess fluids and toxic wastes as well as electrolytes to accumulate, leading to bloating, which is referred to as kidney disease.

 

Kidney disease is also termed as kidney failure, since it refers to the gradual failure of the functioning of the kidneys. By eliminating the wastes from the blood, the kidneys also play a vital role in maintaining blood pressure, regulating production of white blood cells, and electrolyte balance. Thus, kidney disease can affect these functions of the body as well.

 

The symptoms of chronic disease, which progress gradually, include swelling, lethargy, shortness of breath, confusion, and weakness.

 

Diagnosis of kidney disease

An early diagnosis of kidney disease can prevent it from progressing further and thereby help with timely treatment. The first step taken by the doctor to diagnose the disease is to inquire about the family as well as personal history. The inquiry will also include questions regarding a history of blood pressure or any medication taken that might adversely affect the kidneys; any changes observed in urinary habits; and details regarding family members suffering from or having suffered previously from any form of kidney disease.

 

This consultation is followed up with a physical examination in which the following tests are carried out:

 

  • Urine test

This tests urine samples to check for any abnormalities that are caused due to kidney failure.

 

  • Imaging test

This usually includes an ultrasound test to observe the size and structure of the kidneys, which might be different (for instance bloated or dilated) in case of kidney disease. Other imaging tests may also be carried out to assist in the diagnosis.

 

  • Blood test

These are called kidney function tests, and they check the levels of urea, creatinine, and other wastes in the blood, which helps with the diagnosis. The usual blood tests carried out include a creatinine test, a BUN test, and a GFR (glomerular filtration rate) test. The GFR test helps to decide the stage of the kidney disease.

 

Glomerular filtration rate

The glomerular filtration process of the kidneys helps to filter out the excess fluids and wastes from the blood. The rate at which this filtration is carried out is determined by the age of the individual, their race and gender, and also the serum creatinine level, all of which are used in a formula to calculate the GF rate. A reading of 60 mL/min/1.73 m² and lower may indicate the presence of kidney disease, where lower readings may indicate the severity of the disease and kidney function. However, GFR is not an ideal test to indicate kidney disease in the case of patients who are either too old or young or those who are obese or who are amputees.

 

 

Conditions (Medical and Social) that Increase the Risk for Kidney Disease

Kidneys carry out the important function of flushing out all the excess fluids, electrolytes, and other wastes including urea and creatinine from the blood in the form of urine. This vital function, if not carried out properly and efficiently, can lead to a build-up of all the wastes within the body, which could lead to bloating and other disorders such as kidney disease or kidney failure.

 

The present number of cases of those suffering from renal disease is high, and even more alarming is the high number of patients receiving renal transplant. All of this can put an economic burden on countries’ health systems along with the patients. However, this burden as well as the shocking number of cases can be reduced by early intervention to detect and treat chronic kidney disease. This early intervention can be accomplished by identifying the risk factors that cause kidney disease as well as individuals who are at great risk.

 

The risk factors of kidney disease

Medical reasons

  • Obesity

Obesity has an effect on the body in general, including affecting the glomerular filtration process, thereby leading to tension on the capillary walls and causing hyper filtration. Disorders such as oxidative stress, inflammation, hypervolemia, endothelial dysfunction, adipokine derangements, and a prothrombotic state slowly lead to damage of the kidneys and are all due to excess weight. Also, excess weight around the abdomen has been linked to greater risk of kidney disease.

 

  • Nephrotoxins

Exposure to nephrotoxins such as heavy metals, recreational drugs, alcohol and analgesics used excessively along with smoking increased the likelihood of kidney disease compared to those who were not exposed.

 

  • Hypertension

The pressure on the arteries that leads to hypertension further extends pressure on the intraglomerular capillaries, further leading to failure of kidney function. Those suffering from hypertension have been found to suffer from kidney disease later on.

 

  • Diabetes mellitus

Another leading cause of kidney disease is diabetes, which causes hyperinfiltration injury, species of reactive oxygen, and end products of advanced glycosylation.

 

Acute kidney injury also greatly increases the risk of chronic kidney disease. Obstructive sleep apnea has also been recently identified as a risk factor for kidney disease.

Other medical risks leading to kidney disease include autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, scleroderma, vasculitis, cirrhosis, kidney stones, and cancer of the kidneys or bladder.

 

 

Social and other risk factors

  • Ethnicity

African Americans are at a five times higher risk of developing kidney disease as compared to Caucasians.

 

  • Family history and genetic component

Chronic kidney disease has a component that is heritable, and further mutations have been identified that are carried by a population, increasing the risk of kidney disease.

Similarly, kidney disease has been found to have greater prevalence in members of a family in which another family member has kidney disease.

 

  • Age

The elderly population are at greater risk for kidney disease as the renal functions decrease with age.

 

  • Gender

Studies have revealed that kidney disease is more prevalent in men compared to women, except for the population in Turkey, where it is vice-versa.

 

  • Low birth weight

Low birth weight can lead to a lower number of nephrons, thus predisposing these individuals to renal disease and hypertension.

 

  • Socioeconomic status

Those families coming from lower socioeconomic status in terms of wealth, education, income, occupation, and housing were more likely to suffer from kidney diseases.

 

These factors sum up the major risks leading to kidney disease.

Risks that Increase Heart Disease and Individual Behavior and Choices that Reduce Risk

Heart disease is a major cause of death among individuals in the United States. It is one of the leading ailments affecting people, most of them being individuals who are in their middle age and relatively young. There are a number of factors that lead to heart disease, such as heredity, gender, age (over 55 in women), reaching menopause (for women), suffering from preeclampsia during pregnancy, and to a certain extent, genetic makeup. All of these factors are beyond the control of humans. However, there are many lifestyle choices and behavior that lead to diseases of the heart that are within human control and can easily be avoided to prevent heart disease.

 

Factors that increase risk of heart disease

The behavioral and lifestyle choices that increase the risk of heart diseases include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Not being active physically
  • Having a diet that is unhealthy and one that might increase the cholesterol levels in the body
  • Suffering from high levels of blood cholesterol, where the LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels are high and the HDL or the “good cholesterol” levels are low
  • Suffering from high blood pressure or hypotension
  • Suffering from high levels of blood sugar or having uncontrolled diabetes
  • Suffering from uncontrollable anger and high levels of stress
  • Consuming high levels of alcohol and tobacco

 

 

Individual choices and behaviors that will reduce the risk of heart disease

  • Quit smoking and drinking alcohol

Smoking is one of the primary factors that lead to heart disease, and thus individuals must make conscious efforts to quit smoking or encourage family members to quit the habit. The task may seem difficult to achieve, but it is worth it to avoid suffering a stroke or chronic heart ailments. Alcohol must be used moderately, as excessive drinking leads to weight gain and also endangers the health of the heart.

 

  • Opt for a healthy, nutritious diet

The diet is one of the best shields against cardiovascular disease. The food we eat along with the amount consumed has a deep-rooted effect on the body and it also affects the other risk factors which may increase the chances of heart disease such as diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, hypertension, weight gain, and obesity. The diet has a direct effect on these health factors, which in turn affect the health of the heart.

The diet can be enlivened by adding a lot of fruits and vegetables to it. Additionally, adding legumes, whole grains, dairy products that are low fat, nuts, fish, poultry, vegetable oils that are not tropical, beans, etc. helps provide proteins and other nutritional elements into the diet. Ideally, the diet should be high in nutritional values consisting of minerals, vitamins, fiber, protein, and less fat. Foods to avoid are those that are high in sugar and salt, calorie laden, red meat, sweetened drinks, processed foods, and carbohydrates that are digested rapidly, such as white rice, white bread, potatoes, etc.

 

  • Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active

Being overweight puts more stress on the arteries and the heart. So, by losing weight the pressure on the heart is less. Maintaining a healthy weight also highlights the importance of being physically active, which reduces the risk of cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and thus heart disease. Exercise also reduces stress, high levels of which could lead to heart disease.

 

These basic things subsequently help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, maintain sugar levels, and reduce blood pressure, all of which need to be done to prevent heart disease.

 

Thus, heart disease can be prevented by making changes in lifestyle and diet and being motivated enough to stick to the goals.

The Cost of Heart Disease in Dollars and Lives Affected

Statistics reveal that heart disease is the number one reason for death among men and women around the world. In fact, of the deaths occurring in 2017, every 1 death out of 4 was due to cardiovascular problems. In the U.S. alone, figures from 2014 reveal that almost half of the population, especially African American citizens, suffers from diseases of the heart. Approximately one in every three citizens suffers from some type of cardiovascular health problem, which adds up to around 86 million citizens; note that these figures are for the U.S. alone.

 

These alarming figures and statistics, apart from proving the fact that cardiovascular diseases are a major cause of concern, also highlight the fact that heart diseases are increasingly a burden on the economy of a nation as well.

 

Effects of heart ailments on an individual

Heart diseases can be a burden on one’s health, but it is equally taxing on the finances of an individual. Strokes and myocardial infarction (heart attack) lead to hospitalization, which in the short term can amount to huge hospitals bills as well as costs of the ambulance ride to the hospital, the diagnostic tests undergone, a stay at the hospital, medicines, and treatments. And in case of the need for surgery—for instance, bypass heart surgery—the costs further escalate. Apart from these short-term costs for cardiovascular diseases, the long-term cost can also be burdensome as it includes the costs of medicines to be consumed regularly, doctors’ fees for regular appointments, as well as expenses for diagnostic tests that are routinely done to check for either progress of the disease or to monitor improvements. To top it off, these patients might not be productive or earning an income when ridden with heart ailments, and this further compounds the financial burden.

 

Effects of cardiovascular diseases on the economy of a nation

When individuals are affected by heart diseases and their productivity decreases, it automatically reflects on the productivity and economy of the nation. Additionally, the money spent on heart diseases adds up in the overall cost of the disease for the nation. In fact, figures reveal that in the U.S. itself, approximately 1 billion dollars is spent per day on heart diseases in the form of medical bills and the indirect costs accounting from loss of productivity. Of the total money spent on healthcare in America, for every six dollars spent, one dollar is for cardiovascular diseases. If this situation persists, it is projected that by 2030 the total medical costs of cardiovascular diseases would amount to 818 billion dollars annually and the indirect costs due to loss of productivity would exceed 275 billion dollars for a year.

 

The way ahead

This situation is disconcerting, but one that can definitely be prevented. If a nation spends a little amount of time, money, and effort on educating people on the benefits of keeping weight gain in check, insisting on an active lifestyle that involves being physically active for at least 30 minutes for most days of the week, stringent rules on smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, the financial burden of heart diseases will definitely ease. Spreading awareness regarding good health is also a highly recommended step.

 

 

Role of Aspirin in Heart Disease Prevention

We all know about the humble aspirin being popped when we’re in pain, or when suffering from an inflammation or a fever. However, aspirin has other uses too, apart from being an anti-inflammatory medication. Aspirin therapy is undertaken by many for the treatment of heart diseases including stroke, as well as prevention of the same.

 

Role of aspirin to protect the heart

  • Aspirin tackles inflammation

Chemicals, such as plaque, cause strokes or heart attacks when they are inflamed. Cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that causes inflammation, is blocked by aspirin, thus preventing production of chemicals that lead to strokes.

 

  • Aspirin prevents formation of blood clots

Certain chemicals that are present in the body provide the triggering signal to form blood clots even when not bleeding or when not needed by the body. By taking the aspirin therapy, the chemicals that trigger blood clot formation are restricted, thus slowing down the process of clot formation. Otherwise, these clots might block the arteries that carry blood to the brain and heart, thereby leading to strokes and increasing the chances of heart attacks.

 

  • Aspirin helps reduce the risk of death

Aspirin prevents inflammation within the body or reduces it. It also slows down the formation of blood clots that might clog the arteries. Thus, in the long term aspirin helps reduce the risk of death among the elderly, physically unfit individuals, and those who are suffering from heart ailments if the anti-inflammatory medication is taken regularly.

 

Benefits and risks associated with aspirin therapy

This therapy is beneficial for those who have already suffered a heart attack, or have atherosclerosis, pulmonary artery disease, or have undergone an angioplasty, stent placement, or a bypass surgery, as well as those who have suffered an ischemic stroke. The benefits include:

  • Reduction in the risk of suffering from a stroke
  • Reduction in the risk of suffering from heart problems in the future after already having suffered a heart attack
  • In case of a heart attack, reduction in the risk of damage caused to the heart

 

There are, however, a few risks to consider with aspirin therapy, which include:

  • The risk of developing stomach ulcers and experiencing bleeding in the abdomen increases
  • In case of suffering a stroke, aspirin might increase the risk of bleeding occurring in the brain

 

Instructions on how to take aspirin for preventing heart disease

The dosage of aspirin must be taken in consultation with a doctor since it is recommended to take a dose between approximately 80 milligrams (mg) to 160 mg in a day. Also, before starting the therapy, it must be ensured that the patient is not allergic to aspirin or ibuprofen.

 

Other instructions to remember include:

  • Aspirin must be taken with meals or after meals but definitely not before a meal.
  • Capsule or extended release aspirin tablets must not be crushed or broken into half or chewed. Instead, chewable aspirin can be taken.
  • Aspirin must never be taken along with alcohol as it can lead to bleeding of the stomach.
  • Aspirin must not be taken in place of other medications.

 

Other side effects include nausea, nervousness, troubled sleep, and upset stomach.

 

This summarizes the role of aspirin in heart diseases.

Latest Changes in Blood Pressure Guidelines

High blood pressure and hypertension are lifestyle diseases that affect a large section of the population. The term blood pressure can itself shoot up the pressure for a number of people. However, it is important to understand what blood pressure is and how to decipher its readings, especially since the base guidelines changed in 2003.

 

What Is Blood Pressure (BP)?

Blood pressure refers to the force that helps drive and circulate the blood through the body. This circulation is vital as it helps provide oxygen and nutrients throughout the body to the tissues and the organs. At the same time, toxic wastes as well as carbon dioxide are picked up from the kidneys and the liver to be exhaled. The blood that is circulated around the body originates from the heart, where the pressure is the strongest. Thus the pressure or force that the heart makes use of to circulate blood is termed blood pressure. This blood pressure is measured in terms of systolic pressure and diastolic pressure, where systolic refers to when the blood is pushed out of the heart for circulation and diastolic refers to the pressure when the heart is resting between the beats.

 

Blood pressure depends on the condition of the heart as well as the arteries that transport the blood. If the walls of the arteries are weak or they are clogged or constricted, greater force is required to pump the blood, thus increasing the blood pressure.

 

Blood pressure readings: What is normal and what is not

As mentioned, the blood pressure readings are measured as systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Before 2003, the normal blood pressure readings were considered to be 120/80, where the systolic pressure of 120 and diastolic pressure of 80 were considered normal. Readings that indicated a high BP were 140/90. However, the new guidelines set by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology has lowered the limits of when the blood pressure can be defined as “high.” As per the latest guidelines, the new readings of 130/80 would be considered as high blood pressure stage 1, and stage 2 high BP would be when the readings are 140/90 and above.

 

This new guideline will thus include a lot more individuals in the bracket of those suffering from high BP. But this does not entirely spell bad news for them as it will help detect cases of high BP early and provide timely treatment.

 

The 2017 guidelines

Apart from “lowering” the reading for high BP, the new guidelines also specify in detail how blood pressure must be monitored, to get a “correct” reading. Plus, it also elaborates on techniques and exact steps on how to monitor BP at home with the help of a device. Additionally, even if more people are now within the high BP bracket, the first line of treatment is one that focuses on lifestyle and diet changes instead of medications.

Thus, the new guidelines regarding blood pressure are insightful and helpful and should be welcomed by patients and doctors alike and put into practice.

 

Cervical Cancer—Signs and Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Ways to Prevent It

Cervical cancer ranks among the top five leading cancers found in women and is a major cause of death among women due to cancer.

 

Cervical cancer usually does not have any symptoms in the early stages or the pre-cancer stage. The signs and symptoms appear when the cancer has advanced and become invasive, affecting the tissues surrounding the cervix.

 

The signs and symptoms at the advanced stage include:

  • Unusual bleeding

Abnormal bleeding from the vaginal region is the primary symptom that is linked to cancer of the cervix. This bleeding occurs either between periods or after intercourse. Unusual bleeding post menopause or periods with heavier than usual bleeding are also warning signs of cervical cancer.

 

  • Pain in the pelvic region

Pain in the pelvis is another big sign for cervical cancer. This pain could occur throughout the region or at a specific location; it could be a dull pain or a sharp ache, but something that is not usual for the body. Pain experienced during urination or while having sex can also be a sign.

 

  • Unusual discharge

A discharge which smells foul and is cloudy in appearance is another warning sign. Sometimes, the discharge could be watery too. However, the discharge could be due to other reasons as well and thus a doctor must be consulted about it.

 

  • Abnormal bowel movements

Changes in the quality of your bowel movements or constantly having to urinate or feeling like urinating are often other likely symptoms, provided these signs are persistent and last for more than a week.

 

  • Fatigue

Feeling sluggish or fatigued most of the time is another symptom, along with the signs listed above.

 

These are the signs and symptoms, but it is also better to know the risk factors that could increase the chances of developing cervical cancer.

 

The risk factors that aggravate the chances of cervical cancer include:

  • HPV or human papillomavirus infection

Infection with HPV, probably by having sex with an infected individual, increases the risk of cervical cancer greatly.

  • Herpes

Those suffering from genital herpes are at greater risk.

  • Deficiency of the immune system

A compromised immune system ups the chances of developing cervical cancer.

  • Smoking

Women who smoke are at a two times greater risk compared to nonsmokers.

  • Age

Those in their late teens to mid-30s are more at risk as well as women aged 40 years and above.

  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure

Mothers of women who have been exposed to the DES drug during their pregnancy are now putting their daughter at risk for developing the cancer.

Additionally, those who belong to a socioeconomic class that cannot afford regular Pap smears are at risk along with those using oral contraceptives (as per studies).

 

Ways to prevent cervical cancer

Cervical cancer can be prevented by regular Pap smears along with considering the following points:

  • Avoiding sexual intercourse till reaching into the late teens or older.
  • Avoiding intercourse with multiple partners or those who have multiple partners or those who have genital warts and infections.
  • Using a condom during intercourse.
  • Avoiding or quitting smoking.
  • Getting HPV vaccination.
  • Getting screened regularly.

 

This helps women recognize the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, become aware of the risks, and take suitable preventive measures at the right time.

Pap Smear—Who Needs It and When

Cervical cancer is one of the top five cancer risks affecting women globally and a leading cause of cancer-related death. And the main factor to consider is that it can be prevented by regular check-ups and identifying the risk factors in an individual early, because timely detection can increase the chances of being cured from the disease.

 

One such method to check for any risks and early detection of cervical cancer is to undergo a Pap smear. This test, which is also termed as cervical smear or as Pap test, checks for the presence (or subsequent absence of) abnormal cells in the cervix of a woman. Apart from being used to detect cancer of the cervix, this test also helps detect inflammation as well as infection of the vagina.

 

Guidelines regarding when to take the Pap smear test and associated age criteria

There is often a question among women regarding the time for a Pap smear. Age is also a concern. It usually depends on the risk factors, however the basic guidelines are as follows:

  • Those who are 21 years and under and are not sexually active or known to have any risks do not have to undergo a Pap smear
  • Those who are under 21 years of age but are sexually active need to have a Pap smear done every 3 years
  • Those between 21 and 29 years of age also need to go for a test every 3 years
  • Those women in the age bracket of 30 to 65 years old need to have a Pap smear done every 3 years and can later even increase the time gap to every 5 years if their routine test is negative and they also test negative for HPV. Another testing recommended for this age group is for HPV, which combined with Pap smear is termed as co-testing, and can be done together every 5 years
  • Those over 65 years old might not need a Pap smear once they have consulted their physician and ruled out all risk factors

A point to remember is that no one needs to undergo yearly screening for any of the 2 mentioned screening tests unless the previous screening results show abnormality, in which case a repeat screening might be recommended in 6 months or within a year.

Those who have had a hysterectomy also do not need to undergo a Pap smear.

 

Things to keep in mind while preparing for a Pap test

A Pap smear is at the most a little uncomfortable but is not painful. However, for accurate results a few things need to be considered, such as:

  • Not having sex at least 48 hours prior to the test
  • Avoid using tampons prior to the test
  • Avoid douching for 2 days prior to the Pap smear
  • Do not use vaginal medications, lubricants, powders, or vaginal sprays 48 hours prior to the test

All these things might affect the tests and avoiding them will provide accurate results.

 

Pap smears can help with early detection of cervical cancer and aid in timely treatment and cure and are thus recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

What Tests to Undertake and Precautions to Adhere to When Suffering from Diabetes

The number of people suffering from diabetes worldwide has risen to 422 million (according to current yearly statistics) as compared to 108 million in the year 1980. These statistics display an exponential rise in the number of patients suffering from diabetes, which is a major cause of concern.

 

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to appropriately utilize the insulin produced by the body or the body’s insulin production itself is problematic. This in turn affects the process of utilizing the body’s glucose in order to produce the energy required to carry out the day-to-day functioning of the body. Hampering this energy production results in high levels of blood sugar in the body. This rise in blood sugar further leads to the narrowing and constricting of blood vessels, especially the blood vessels that are thin and delicate, sometimes even leading to clogging. This adverse effect of diabetes can further lead to other serious complications.

For instance, the narrowing of the blood vessels owing to high sugar levels can severely affect the delicate vessels supplying blood to the eye, thus leading to problems with vision including cataract and glaucoma, which might even lead to blindness. That is the reason why diabetic patients are advised to get eye checkups done on a regular basis, every year from the time of detection of diabetes.

 

High blood sugar levels can even damage the nerves of the body, leading to a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. Many diabetic patients might not be able to recognize any symptoms of this condition while others might feel sensations of tingling, or even loss of any feeling or sensation in the arms, hands, legs, and feet. The numbness and loss of normal pain signals to the brain can sometimes cause severe complications, especially of the leg, such as blisters and ulcers. In extreme conditions, the leg might also need to be amputated. These conditions are difficult to spot as diabetic patients do not feel the pain. That is why patients are advised to have leg examinations carried out every year without fail.

 

The adverse effect that diabetes has on the arteries also leads to atherosclerosis—a condition in which the arteries become narrower. Atherosclerosis in turn leads to cardiovascular problems as well as hypertension. Thus, it is a common observation that those suffering from diabetes are more prone to hypertension and high blood pressure conditions. If untreated, this hypertension can even lead to stroke, kidney failure, heart attack, and also heart failure. Thus, diabetic patients need to take precautions against high blood pressure and cholesterol.

 

In recent years, diabetes patients had been advised by their doctors to take a low dose of aspirin to prevent cases of heart disease. Diabetes patients were at greater risk of developing heart ailments and aspirin seemed to lower the risk.

However, according to recent studies, it has been found that aspirin has certain side effects, including bleeding in the stomach. Thus, patients (women under 60 and men under 50) who otherwise have had no heart problems should not follow the low-dose aspirin therapy.

 

These are some of the precautions diabetic patients need to take along with following the right diet and exercising.

 

Metformin and Victoza: Drugs Used for the Treatment of Diabetes and Their Effectiveness

A disease that is currently the cause of major concern for medical professionals and patients alike is diabetes. With a sizeable portion of the population worldwide being plagued by high blood sugar levels and diabetes, it is definitely an issue worth serious attention, requiring appropriate measures to control the problem.

 

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is either unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin or unable to utilize the insulin produced in the appropriate manner. This insulin is the hormone responsible for controlling the blood sugar levels in the body. With diabetes creating havoc with insulin production or levels of insulin, blood sugar levels increase significantly in the body, thus leading to damage of the nerves and blood vessels as well as the organs. This can be quite a debilitating condition that can in severe cases also turn fatal.

 

The line of treatment to control diabetes relies significantly on inculcating lifestyle changes that include exercising and making significant changes in one’s diet so as to avoid food that is high in sugar or rich in carbohydrates. In addition to diet and exercise, taking the required medication plays a big part in controlling diabetes. Medication is equally important to control the high sugar levels and also to produce the appropriate amounts of insulin in order to generate energy.

 

Insulin therapy is one line of treatment that can be required in certain cases while treating the disease.

 

Metformin is the other most commonly used drug treatment for diabetes.

 

Metformin

One of the first drugs developed for diabetes treatment is metformin. This drug helps by improving the body tissues’ sensitivity towards insulin, thus aiding the body in using the insulin more productively. Metformin is an oral antidiabetic drug whose major role is to control the blood sugar levels of the body by making diabetic patients respond better to their own insulin. Metformin is often administered in combination with insulin or other diabetes drugs.

Apart from having negligible side effects, metformin has also been found to be effective in reducing the number of cases of cancer, according to several studies.

Additionally, results of a study conducted by NCBI suggest that metformin, as a monotherapy, reduces cardiovascular-related mortality and morbidity, and in combination with sulphonylurea, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disorder.

 

Victoza

Victoza is a newer medicine on the market for the treatment of diabetes. This drug is an injectable that is often combined with another diabetes medication.

Victoza is a GLP-1 receptor agonist and works by helping to stimulate the secretion of the body’s insulin and also by suppressing the secretion of the blood sugar glucagon.

Victoza also aids in weight loss since it allows the stomach to empty slowly, thereby keeping hunger at bay for a longer period.

Victoza has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders, namely stroke, heart attack, and death due to cardiovascular attack in diabetes patients. Because patients with diabetes are more likely to suffer from heart ailments, this drug can help change the scenario.

However, its side effects, especially on the pancreas, remain an open question until further studies can be made.

 

Overweight man

Weight Gain and Type 2 Diabetes: Are They Related?

Diabetes is known to be a kind of disorder, characterized by a rise in the level of glucose present in the blood (hyperglycemia). This happens when the body is not functioning sufficiently enough to produce insulin, which helps to regulate a high glucose level.

Even though diabetes is characterized into two groups, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, the latter one seems to be more prevalent than the former one. More than 90 percent of the cases of diabetes are related to type 2. It is found in both adults and children. People who are gaining weight or are obese must particularly be more careful when it comes to type 2 diabetes. This is because diabetes goes way beyond chronic hyperglycemia.

Weight gain, obesity, and type 2 diabetes

As noted by many health professionals, the percentage of obese or fat people is increasing. They have also estimated that about 26 million people are coming closer to the level of obesity, which is not a healthy sign at all! With a growing waistline, one needs to be quite cautious about one’s health. People who are fat or obese tend to be affected with type 2 diabetes, cancer, and severe heart-related diseases. You need to be aware of the fact that getting fat or obesity is not something that only affects the older generation now. Even though it is more likely to hit people who are approaching old age, the number of young people getting fatter and closer to obesity is alarming.

According to data from Public Health England, we know that approximately 31.2% of children who are between the ages of 2 to 15 years do stand a chance of gaining weight or hitting stages of obesity.

Weight gain and type 2 diabetes are connected:

Even though the real causes behind diabetes aren’t completely recognized, it is, however, a known fact that people who are on the fatter end of the spectrum do stand a chance of being affected with type 2 diabetes.

People who are obese, or even overweight, or those whose BMI (body mass index) is 30 or higher than 30, have a greater chance of being affected with diabetes. In fact, people who are overweight are 80 times more prone to being affected by diabetes. Also, they have a greater chance of being affected by cardiovascular complications and heart strokes.

How does your weight become linked to diabetes, especially when you are overweight?

People who are overweight or obese carry more pressure on their body. This is because their body needs to employ insulin correctly so that it can measure and control the blood sugar level. This eventually leads to one developing type 2 diabetes, due to the external pressure that the body has to face.

What can one do to prevent type 2 diabetes?  

The good news here is that type 2 diabetes is preventable. You need to ensure that you start making lifestyle changes. You have to become cautious about your weight. Do ensure that you have a proper diet. You must include exercise sessions every day and make the right lifestyle alterations. Also, ensure that cholesterol intake (in any form) is restricted on your end, as much as that is possible.

 

monitoring glucose

Type 1 Diabetes and Associated Complications

Diabetes is one of the most commonly occurring diseases that have plagued many lives across the globe.

 

Diabetes refers to a condition in which the body is unable to produce the insulin hormone or cannot respond appropriately to the hormone. This results in abnormal carbohydrate metabolism, which leads to drastically higher blood glucose levels. The patient needs to take insulin externally to balance the glucose levels and must make drastic lifestyle changes, especially in terms of diet.

 

Diabetes does not just impair insulin production and carbohydrate metabolism; it also has an adverse effect on a number of other functions of the body, some of which can further lead to serious implications.

 

Complications of diabetes

High sugar levels because of diabetes can damage blood vessels that supply blood to various body parts, which in turn leads to damage of the nerves, eyes, kidney, heart, feet, and associated disorders. The narrowing and blocking of blood vessels throughout the body gives rise to peripheral vascular disease.

 

Nerves

For those suffering from diabetes, high sugar levels over the years cause damage to the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the nerves, thus providing low levels of oxygen, which impairs the functioning of the nerves and the signaling of pain and other responses. Impaired signaling of nerves is known as diabetic neuropathy. This can even lead to dementia in the long run. Also, diabetes can lead to depression and depression in turn increases the risk of diabetes.

 

Eyes

The blood vessels supplying blood to the eyes are small and delicate. With diabetes and an increasing sugar level, these vessels become damaged over time and can eventually lead to problems with the eyes, sometimes even resulting in blindness.

 

Heart

The blood vessels going to the heart are comparatively larger. However, with increased blood sugar levels and a decrease in the supply of sufficient oxygen, fat can start building up in the vessels, leading to heart ailments, such as stroke and heart attack.

 

Kidneys

Kidneys are vital organs that filter out unwanted toxic wastes while retaining what is required by the body. The blood vessels to the kidney are small and delicate and high sugar levels due to diabetes can make them narrow and clogged. This in turn affects the filtering process, keeping waste inside the body and thereby leading to diabetic kidney disease.

 

Feet

Diabetic neuropathy affects the process of sending approximate pain signals to the feet due to damaged nerves. Additionally, blood circulation to the legs is adversely affected because of diabetes. This leads to sore feet and infections that take longer to heal and in extreme conditions can even result in amputation.

 

Other functions that are affected due to diabetes and associated neuropathy include:

  • Erectile dysfunction and adverse effects on sexual performance
  • Skin infections and complications

 

The cost of medication for diabetes may not be much, but the resulting complications can severely escalate the cost of treatment. These, however, can be prevented by following a diabetic diet, eating healthy, exercising regularly, losing excess weight, and taking medication on time. Additionally, regular eye checkups and examining feet for blisters, swelling, and redness is highly recommended.

 

Two Overweight Women On Diet Preparing Vegetables in Kitchen

Diabetes Type 1 vs. Type 2 vs. Prediabetes

When it comes to diabetes, they are of two types and both are chronic in nature. They tend to affect the way in which the body regulates glucose or blood sugar. Glucose is an essential part of the body. It feeds the cells that are present in the body. However, it enters and reaches those cells due to insulin.

People who have type 1 diabetes are not capable of producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops quite quickly. On the other hand, people who suffer from type 2 diabetes are not capable of responding to insulin as soon as their body should. Later, when the disease worsens, it will not be able to make the required amount of insulin. This could be regarded as a broken key. In the case of type 2 diabetes, it develops with time. In fact, many times, one is not aware of it as it goes unnoticed for several years.

Eventually, both of these kinds of diabetes will lead towards an increase in blood sugar level. This is why the risk related to diabetes-related complications tends to increase in the body.

Both of these kinds of diabetes, if not checked and controlled in time, will show the following kinds of symptoms:

  • Feeling thirsty most of the time; hence once will feel the urge to drink a lot of water
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling hungry most of the time
  • Vision becoming blurred or dim
  • Feeling lazy and fatigued most of the time
  • Sores and injuries not healing quickly or properly

Prediabetes

The term prediabetes denotes that the blood sugar level is much higher than the normal stage, but it has not reached the level of type 2 diabetes. If an individual who has been diagnosed with prediabetes does not make necessary lifestyle changes, he or she may be more liable to fall into type 2 diabetes. This eventually leads one into the long-term damage of diabetes. It may end up damaging your kidney, blood vessels, or even the heart. If not diagnosed in time, it has probably already started to cause damage to your system. But the good news is if you start eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight, then there is a chance that the blood sugar level will come down to its normal level. Prediabetes affects both children and adults. But with changes in lifestyle, one will be effective in bringing back the sugar levels of the blood to their normal stage.

Symptoms

Prediabetes in most cases does not have any significant signs. One sign could be that you have darker skin tone in certain areas of your body. The areas that are affected could be the armpit, elbow, knuckle, knee, and neck.

We have mentioned below some of the classic signs that might strongly suggest that one has moved from the stage of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes:

  • Feeling tired and exhausted
  • Urinating quite frequently
  • Vision becoming dim and blurred
  • Feeling quite thirsty, most of the time

Global Women’s Health Issues and Women’s Health Care

Women’s health care is a major cause of concern around the globe. Women have progressed successfully in the last decade, taking giant leaps in terms of empowerment and equality. In fact, women have made their mark in almost every field and given an example of their exemplary spirit and strength. However, one sector that still needs to be given due time and effort, and that in fact requires changes, is women’s health issues.

 

Statistics have proven that women usually live longer than men, but that does not translate into meaning that they are living healthier and better lives as compared to men. This is especially true in the developing nations of the world. Some global factors that affect the health of women include poverty, violence faced by women, discrimination, gender issues, and changes in demographics, including childbirth and a population that is aging.

 

Gender-based disparity still exists, especially in developing nations. The foremost of these health issues affecting women that demand our attention and subsequent steps against it include:

  • Cancer

Deaths due to the two most common types of cancer, namely cervical cancer and breast cancer, are alarmingly high although preventable. Yearly, close to half a million deaths occur due to breast cancer and another estimated half million due to cervical cancer. Routine screening, timely prevention, and required treatment can help reduce the number of deaths due to these cancers and keep the women alive and healthy.

 

  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases Caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (or HIV) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Sexually transmitted diseases, like AIDS, continue to be a leading cause of suffering among women, especially younger women. Even after so many years, young women are still vulnerable to diseases caused by the HIV and HPV viruses.

Apart from diseases caused due to these viruses, women worldwide are also suffering from sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. In fact, syphilis is the highest cause of stillbirth, early fetal death, and a rising number of deaths in newborns. Awareness and initiatives must be taken to prevent these infections.

 

  • Reproductive health

Closely related to sexually transmitted diseases is another women’s health issue that women are suffering from—reproductive health problems. Statistics show that, for women in the age group of 15 years to 44 years, one third of their health issues result from poor reproductive and sexual health care. In this area, unsafe sex accounts for major health problems in young and middle-aged women. These statistics stress the need for better contraception services to be provided to women in developing countries.

 

  • Maternal health

Other health issues that women suffer from are those experienced during pregnancy and childbirth. Figures reveal that 3,000,000 deaths occurred in 2013 alone due to complications arising in pregnancy and during childbirth. These are issues that can be taken care of by providing basic health services along with knowledge regarding family planning.

 

Other health concerns affecting women include:

  • Mental health issues, as more women than men suffer from depression, anxiety, and related disorders
  • Violence against women, particularly physical and sexual violence
  • Non-communicable diseases, such as obesity and drug, alcohol, or substance abuse, are also alarming issues

 

 

 

Facts about Cancer That Women Must Know

One of the deadliest diseases that we humans can ever suffer from is the big “C,” that is, cancer. Cancer is a very harsh disease because it involves a lot of pain and suffering. Additionally, given that the cancer cells often multiply and spread, it is extremely difficult to treat and control them. However, we have now made enough progress in the field of medicine to successfully treat a number of types of cancer and even completely eradicate quite a few types of tumors.

 

Because cancer is such a harsh and deadly disease, a lot of myths and misconceptions surround it. So, let us clear up some facts relating to cancer.

 

Facts about cancer

  • Do not consider it to be a stigma

Dealing with cancer is difficult; add to that the stigma associated with it, especially in some societies, settings, and cultures. Women especially associate a stigma with the disease and do not tend to talk about it openly. In fact, talking about the disease openly can play a big part in helping to change attitudes towards the disease. Additionally, the outcomes can improve on an individual level as well as a community level if the disease is spoken out about. Speaking openly about cancer can also encourage positive policy making. In fact, speaking openly about cancer can help prevent the disease or detect it in the early stages, thus making it easier to treat the cancer rather than suffering from the consequences.

 

  • Cancer does have its own signs and symptoms

Most are of the belief that cancer has no signs and symptoms as compared to other diseases. However, cancer has its own set of warning signs that need to be heeded in time for early detection and prevention. This requires awareness about the disease along with routine checkups and screenings that will provide early diagnosis. Knowledge regarding the early signs of cancer can also help save lives.

 

  • It is a misbelief that nothing can be done to treat or prevent cancer

Many are of the opinion that once cancer is detected nothing can be done or, relatedly, that nothing can be done to prevent cancer. That is far from the truth as a lot can be done on an individual, community, and policy level that will help prevent cancer.

Making lifestyle changes, such as eating right, cutting out smoking tobacco or any other substance completely, exercising to maintain a healthy weight, working in the right environment, and getting regular checkups and screenings can prevent quite a few types of cancer.

 

  • Cancer care is for everyone

Many sufferers, especially in developing and poor countries or those belonging to the lower income strata of families, often feel that developing cancer is the end of life since they cannot afford treatment or care. However, cancer care is for everyone and all those suffering have the equal right to treatment as well as related care services.

 

Women are especially susceptible to cancers such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. Knowing these facts will help clear the air about some common myths related to cancer and its subsequent treatment.

Age-Specific Health Risks in Women

Women are often found to neglect their health. As they juggle work, family, household chores, children, and a myriad other things, taking care of their own health often takes a back seat.

 

Often a number of illnesses, diseases, and complications can be avoided if we are aware about them and take timely precautions and preventative measures—for instance, routine examinations and screenings.

 

If women knew what complications are likely to develop at around what age, they might be able to take preventative steps and avoid further illnesses.

 

Health risks that women are susceptible to at various stages as they age are discussed here.

 

Health scares in the 30s

The 30s are considered the prime age where women have settled into life, a career, family, and probably motherhood, and a time when they are enjoying good health too.

 

However, women need to watch their cholesterol and blood pressure during this age period as these are often silent killers; thus periodic screening is recommended. At the same time, screenings for HPV (human papillomavirus) and PAP screenings for cervical cancer need to be done routinely in the 30s as well to eliminate risks. Breast cancer is another concern women need to take timely screenings against.

 

Other factors that take a toll in the 30s include

  • Fertility (which starts declining around the age of 32 and sharply drops beyond 37 years)
  • Metabolism (women tend to put on weight around their middle in their 30s and due to lower metabolism find it hard to lose the weight too)
  • Muscle mass (cardiovascular activities alone cannot suffice post age 30 as women tend to lose muscle mass)
  • Skin (acne affects the skin of women in adulthood; also, the chances of skin cancer are high and need to be considered)

 

Health risks in the 40s

The 40s is when the body is transitioning into middle age. The body can develop a number of health problems if proper care and measures are not taken.

 

Common health concerns in the 40s include osteoporosis, heart ailments, and developing cancer.

 

  • Osteoporosis affects almost every woman and corrective measures are necessary, including changes in diet, calcium supplements, and exercises, including those that are weight bearing. By detection of weak bones, the disease can be prevented.
  • Heart disease is a concern too; therefore cholesterol and blood pressure must be examined regularly.
  • Diabetes is also a threat that can be kept in check with routine examinations.
  • Cancers, especially breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer, must be screened for routinely.
  • Other tests to conduct include mole examination, thyroid checks, and eye examination.
  • Stress and related disorders can also develop in the 40s, so healthy diet, strength training, and socializing with women friends and partner alike is recommended.

 

Health concerns in the 50s

The 50s are no longer considered old age, as many are up and about at this age. However, health concerns to look for in this age period include:

  • Hormonal changes are a major concern, especially if women are menopausal. Thyroid problems must also be heeded at this age.
  • Chronic pain including arthritis, back pain, and osteoporosis are a major concern.
  • Mental illness, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, is a major threat that requires early attention for timely detection and prevention.
  • Eye examination and steps against hearing loss are a must in the 50s.
  • Examinations including PAP smear, mammogram, colorectal cancer screening, and blood pressure and cholesterol checks must all be part of a routine by this age.
  • Weight gain and muscle loss can be a concern that will require extra efforts, exercise, and a healthy diet.

 

These are health concerns that usually affect women from their 30s to 50s and beyond.

 

Part 2 of Top Cancers that Affect Women and Related Risk Factors

Part 2 of Top Cancers that Affect Women and Related Risk Factors

 

This article is in continuation of the previous topic, which describes the top cancers that affect women and may subsequently lead to death. The risk factors related to these cancers are also discussed here, because by taking the appropriate preventative measures these cancers can often be avoided, or with the required screening they can be detected earlier, thus saving lives. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the associated risk factors for these common cancers that affect the health of women.

 

The top cancers affecting women are:

  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

 

Having discussed breast, lung, and colon cancer, let us educate ourselves in detail about the others.

 

  • Uterine cancer

Uterine cancer is also referred to as endometrial cancer and is the cancer of the endometrium—that is, the lining of the uterus. It is the most commonly occurring cancer of the reproductive organs and is found to occur more often than ovarian cancer or cervical cancer. The factors that increase the risk of developing uterine cancer include:

  • Hormonal changes in the body, especially an increase in the estrogen level, which uterine cancer feeds on
  • Consuming estrogen, especially after menopause
  • Taking pills for birth control
  • Having a higher number of menstrual cycles in the span of a lifetime
  • Never experiencing pregnancy
  • Having used tamoxifen for treatment of breast cancer in the past or presently
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Presence of tumors in the ovary or suffering from PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • Consuming a diet that is high in terms of calories and fat
  • Suffering from diabetes
  • Older age also makes one vulnerable to the disease
  • Family history of uterine cancer or even cancer of the colon
  • Having personally suffered from ovarian cancer or breast cancer in the past
  • Having a thicker uterine lining, termed as endometrial hyperplasia, also increases the risk

 

All of these factors increase the chances of uterine cancer, whereas using intrauterine devices for birth control decreases the chances.

 

  • Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is due to hormones and accounts for five percent of the various occurring cancers and for three percent of deaths caused due to cancer. Because they are hormonal, most of the risk factors for thyroid cancer cannot be prevented, but it is better to be aware of the risks:

  • Being a female is itself a potential risk for this cancer
  • Those who are in their 40s and 50s are at greater risk
  • A history of thyroid disorders in the family, such as familial adenomatous polyposis, medullary thyroid cancer, Carney complex type 1, Cowden disease, and other types of cancers of the thyroid
  • Presence of mutational genes such as the RET gene
  • Consuming a diet that has lower amounts of iodine
  • Being exposed to radiation

 

Other cancers that affect women are cervical cancer and skin cancer. Occurrence of these cancers is lower compared to the other top cancers affecting women, but regular screening, a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and a nutritious diet can help reduce the risk of most of these cancers.

 

Urban Healthcare Initiative Program Wins International Hermes Creative Awards

Urban Healthcare Initiative Program Wins International Hermes Creative Awards For Program Created to Redefine and Reinvent Healthcare in African American and Latino Communities

Groundbreaking “Knowledge Is Power” Web-Based Video Series, which Seeks to Empower Urban Communities through Straight Talk about Dire Health Issues, Wins Gold in Three Categories

EAST ORANGE, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Urban Healthcare Initiative Program (UHIP) has won three gold statuettes at this year’s international Hermes Creative Awards for its groundbreaking, innovative web-based video series aimed at addressing the dire need for better quality of life in urban communities.

#UHIP Wins Int’l Awards 4 Program Reinventing #Healthcare in #AfricanAmerican & #Latino Community. #KnowledgeIsPower

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UHIP’s “Knowledge Is Power” video series was singled out for its outstanding work in the Non-Profit, Educational and Medical categories. “We are so honored to be recognized and to have won,” said founder, Dr. Alexander Salerno.

Dr. Alexander Salerno is a second-generation physician of Salerno Medical Associates, a primary care, multi-specialty practice serving Northern New Jersey’s urban communities since the early 1950’s. Dr. Alexander Salerno launched the Urban Healthcare Initiative Program, also known as UHIP, in 2010 after becoming frustrated with healthcare outcomes in his urban community. “There is a growing disparity when it comes to healthcare metrics and healthcare outcomes in our urban communities. As a result, there is failing quality of life. It does not have to be that way. Through education, I believe we can empower people to take control of their health,” said Dr. Alexander Salerno.

The series features respected physician influencers, including Dr. Alexander Salerno, taking on some of the most pressing health issues in urban communities. Video topics range from “Man Up,” which addresses the need for prostate screenings, to “Cut Your Hair, Cut Your Health Risks,” an event held at a local barber shop. In addition to physicians, UHIP teams up with notable celebrities like Hip Hop legend Rev Run of RUN-DMC, Indy race-car driver Charlie Kimball, and legendary actor and performer Ben Vereen to help spread the message of health. They reach out to the community through community mainstays like churches, community centers and barber shops. “We are up against long-held cultural attitudes toward healthcare and the healthcare system,” said UHIP Community Outreach Liaison, Kelvin Roberson, “By joining forces with local religious leaders and respected members of the community, we find the community is more receptive to our message.”

“We hope awards like this can help us expand our reach and bring this important message of health to urban areas across the country and around the world,” said Dr. Alexander Salerno. To find out more about the videos series and see the videos that were honored click here. To see UHIP’s complete video library, visit www.uhipnj.org.

About UHIP

UHIP (Urban Healthcare Initiative Program) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, community-based urban healthcare provider founded in 2010. Its mission is to educate inner-city residents in northern New Jersey about health problems affecting their communities, promote preventive healthcare, regular medical screenings, and coordinate the provision of healthcare services to individuals who may not have the ability to receive such services. UHIP reaches out to the community in innovative ways through local pillars and mainstays of the community like churches, barbershops, and community centers. For more visit www.uhipnj.org

About Hermes Creative Awards

The Hermes Creative Awards are an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional materials and programs, and emerging technologies. The Awards are sponsored by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The Association was started in 1995 as a means to honor outstanding achievement and service to the communication profession. As part of its mission, AMCP fosters and supports the efforts of marketing and communication professionals who contribute their unique talents to public service and charitable organization

Contacts

For Urban Healthcare Initiative Program
Kendra O’Connor, 917-583-4336
212-520-4295
info@eliasworldmedia.com

Top Cancers that Affect Women and Related Risk Factors

The big “C”—cancer—affects a wide swath of the population and is one of the leading causes of death. In fact, statistics show that one out of three women is likely to be affected by cancer considering the risk factors. Cancer can result from family history or the surrounding environment; it is often caused by a person’s particular lifestyle. Of these, family history is not within our control and even the surrounding environment can be controlled to only a certain extent. However, our lifestyle is completely under our control, including the choices we make, such as smoking, diet and eating habits, weight gain, physical exercise and activity or the lack of it. Being aware of the risks and using appropriate preventative measures goes a long way in reducing the chances of developing cancer.

 

The top cancers that affect women are elaborated upon here along with associated risk factors, which can often be addressed in time to lower the chances of developing cancer.

 

Cancers that affect women and their risk factors

 

Breast cancer

In years past, statistics have shown that one in eight women suffer from breast cancer. Since those studies were conducted, the number of affected women has been reduced thanks to prevention and treatment. However, the number of cases per year is still quite high, making it the most common cancer, second only to skin cancer.

The risk factors to keep in mind are:

  • Women 55 years of age and older are more susceptible, thus mammography for women after the age of 45 is highly recommended.
  • The risk is greater for those with a family history (daughter, mother, or sister) of breast cancer.
  • White women are at greater risk compared to African American women; however, the tumors grow faster in African Americans.
  • Those with dense breast tissue, a history of radiation treatment to the breast, postmenopausal hormone therapy, and treatment with the drug diethylstilbestrol are at risk.
  • Those having a greater number of menstrual periods, or a first pregnancy after the age of 30, or no pregnancies, are at higher risk of breast cancers. Taking birth control pills or not breastfeeding also increases the risk.
  • Lack of exercise, being obese, and excessive drinking of alcohol also increases the chances of cancer.

 

Bronchus and lung cancer

Deaths due to lung cancer are alarmingly high, but preventable by taking into consideration the risks:

  • Smoking or even inhaling secondhand smoke has severe repercussions and increases the chances of developing lung cancer drastically.
  • Exposure to harmful elements, such as soot, tar, arsenic, and radon gas increases the chances of developing lung cancer.
  • Lifestyle choices, such as improper diet, lack of exercise, and alcohol consumption all increase the risk.

 

Rectal and colon cancer

This cancer is completely preventable if detected early because the tumor cells take 10–15 years to grow. That is why regular colonoscopies and checking after a certain age are recommended. Consumption of dairy products has also been found to lower the risks. Other risk factors to consider are:

  • Drinking heavily
  • Smoking
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having a diet that is high in fat and low in fiber with fewer fruits and vegetables and more meat
  • Family history of inflammatory bowel, polyps, or colorectal cancer

 

Common Causes of Death in Women

As we all know, death is a part of life that is certain and unavoidable; however, death can be caused by a multitude of reasons. Some of these reasons can be prevented or avoided if known about beforehand, thus prolonging life. Here we are going to discuss the common reasons behind the occurrence of death in women. Take note that instead of simply listing diseases, we will be discussing the underlying causes of death and disease.

 

Common causes of death in women

  • Heart disease

Women, in particular those over 65 years of age, are more likely to die from heart diseases as compared to men, which is quite contrary to popular belief. This is because women do not experience the usual symptoms of heart attack seen in men and thus often fail to seek medical attention in time.

 

  • Cancer

Cancer is the second most common reason for death among women, the top three types of cancers being

  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer

Smoking is the primary culprit behind lung cancer and deaths caused by lung cancer. It should be noted, however, that all three of these cancers can be prevented through regular screening and being aware of risks. In fact, the chances of survival are 95% greater if the cancer is detected early.

 

  • Stroke

Women have been found to die from strokes at a higher rate as compared to men, especially in the case of ischemic strokes.

 

  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases

These include diseases such as bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema. Most of these lung diseases are caused by excessive smoking and, surprisingly, recent statistics reveal more women dying because of these diseases as compared to men.

 

  • Alzheimer’s disease

This disease and its related symptoms are observed only later in life, usually after the age of 60. Alzheimer’s affects one’s thinking ability and skills along with one’s memory.

 

  • Injuries that are unintentional

This refers to accidents and injuries that can lead to the death of the victim. Common accidents that lead to death among women are:

  • Suffocation
  • Burning/burns that result from a fire
  • Poisoning
  • Falls
  • Car crashes
  • Drowning

Women, especially older women suffering from osteoporosis, are more prone to falling and thus suffering injuries.

Also, cases of death because of accidental poisoning are on the rise, usually caused due to overdosing on prescribed medications.

Another cause of death—suicide—is an intentional act and thus is not listed among deaths caused by unintentional accidents.

 

  • Diabetes

With an increase in the number of obese women, the cases of diabetes have also been on the rise, which leads to further medical illnesses and complications.

Gestational diabetes can even lead to birth defects and miscarriage.

 

  • Pneumonia and influenza

Among those greatly affected by pneumonia and influenza are pregnant women and the elderly population.

 

  • Septicemia

Septicemia refers to an infection in the blood. Certain infections can become aggravated, leading to septicemia and death in certain cases.

 

  • Kidney disorders

Diseases related to the kidney are usually caused due to diabetes and its related complications. Kidney diseases that usually lead to death include nephrosis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephritis.

 

These are the top causes of death among women.

Zostavax—Introduction, Facts, and Fiction about the Vaccine

Zostavax is a live zoster vaccine that is used to provide protection against the virus that causes herpes zoster disease, better known as shingles.

 

In children, the varicella virus is the causative agent of chicken pox. When this varicella virus is activated in an adult, it causes shingles or herpes zoster. This activation of the virus, leading to the disease, can be prevented by getting a zostavax shot that contains a live but weakened virus that boosts the production of antibodies to provide immunity against the disease. Zostavax, however, does not treat the disease itself, but rather is a vaccine against it.

 

The vaccine is usually intended for those who are aged 50 years and older.

 

Who should get zostavax?

  • Individuals who are 60 years of age and older are recommended to receive a dose of the herpes zoster vaccine zostavax
  • This vaccine has no booster dose and is only given once. It is more effective when given to those just crossing the 60-year age limit, and its effectiveness is reduced in those aged 69 years and older
  • Irrespective of the patient’s previous history of herpes zoster virus, a single dose of the vaccine is recommended

 

 

When should you not get the vaccine and why?

  • If someone has a mild case of cold, they can still receive vaccination.
  • However, the vaccine cannot be given to individuals in the following situations:
    • Individuals who are suffering from cancer that affects the bone marrow, such as leukemia and lymphoma
    • Individuals who have tuberculosis that is untreated
    • Individuals receiving chemotherapy or steroid medication that weakens the immune system or those who have immune system disorders such as AIDS or HIV
    • Individuals who are pregnant or under 19 years of age

Before getting the vaccine, it is recommended that the patient inform the doctor whether there is a previous history of chicken pox or of allergic reactions to vaccines, or if a live vaccine has been administered within the previous four weeks.

 

How is the vaccine administered?

Zostavax is given to individuals via an injection subcutaneously, that is, under the skin in the deltoid region. The vaccine is not to be given intramuscularly or intravenously. Also, in the majority of cases the vaccine is only given once and boosters are not suggested. In fact, booster doses of zostavax have not been evaluated or tested.

 

Facts about the zostavax vaccine

If you have previously suffered from shingles or think you may have had chicken pox, you can still take the zostavax dose to protect against the chances of it occurring in the future. A specific time limit after having shingles during which to receive the vaccine is not specified, but usually it is safe to wait for the rashes to disappear before getting vaccinated.

 

Myths about shingles and zostavax

  • It is a myth that only elderly people can get the disease; shingles can be contracted by individuals of any age.
  • The zostavax vaccine does not completely negate the chances of contracting the disease but significantly reduces the chances.
  • Having had chicken pox previously does not reduce the chances of shingles. Also, if you have never had chicken pox but have been exposed to the varicella vaccine, the virus is present in your body and can at an older age become activated to cause shingles.

 

Flu and Flu HD Vaccines

Influenza or “flu” is a respiratory disorder caused by the virus strains influenza A or influenza B. Influenza is a commonly occurring disorder and is contagious too, where it affects the upper or the lower respiratory tract. It commonly occurs in the winter months and in the early spring season.

 

Flu symptoms are similar to those of a common cold, but are more severe. The symptoms include chest congestion, coughing, body ache as well as headaches, fever, and weakness. In certain cases when influenza becomes severe, it results in pneumonia, which can be a life-threatening disorder.

 

Prevention is the best way to avoid a bout of flu, and vaccines are available against the influenza viruses.

 

Flu vaccine

The traditional flu vaccine is a trivalent or quadrivalent alternative that is effective against three or four virus strains that cause influenza. It is an inactivated vaccine and is called trivalent when it has three components and quadrivalent when it has four components. The flu vaccine is usually administered via injection into the muscle, but a nasal spray variant, which was not recommended in the flu season of 2016 and 2017, is also available. An intradermally administered shot, recommended for those between the ages of 18 and 64, is also available.

 

It is recommended that the flu vaccine be given every year ahead of the flu season. The vaccine must definitely be given to—

  • Adults who are 65 years and older
  • Children who are aged 6 months to 5 years
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Those suffering from health conditions
  • People of Alaskan Native and Native American ethnic groups
  • People who are staying in nursing homes or are in long-term care facilities
  • Those who travel often, especially abroad

 

Those who must not be administered the flu shot include

  • Children who are under the age of 6 months
  • Individuals who are allergic to ingredients present in the flu vaccine such as eggs, or those who are allergic to the vaccine itself

Those with symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome and those feeling unwell must also not take the flu shot without consulting a doctor.

 

Flu HD vaccine

Fluzone HD or Fluzone high dose is the inactivated influenza vaccine recommended for those who are aged 65 years and over. Fluzone HD also comes in an injectable formulation and is made up of three strains of the flu virus.

 

This vaccine, however, differs from the regular flu vaccine in that the antigen present against the flu virus is found to be four times greater in quantity than that present in the regular flu vaccine. The antigen is present in four times greater strength because senior citizens produce antibodies that protect the body at a 50 to 75 percent lower level compared to young adults. Studies revealed that a higher dose of antigens produced more antibodies in older adults, thus compensating for the lower count and providing protection against the influenza viruses. Statistics also revealed a 25 percent drop in the occurrence of flu in those older adults receiving a higher-dose flu vaccine.

 

Prevnar 13 vs. Pneumovax 23 Vaccines

Pneumonia is an infection that develops in the lungs. This infection is caused by fungi, viruses, and bacteria.

Symptoms of Pneumonia:

The symptoms include problems with breathing, very high fever, pain in the chest, and a variety of respiratory issues. This is why this infection tends to be quite hazardous when children are affected by it. However, it also affects adults.

Prevnar 13 vs. pneumovax 23 vaccines: Who gets these vaccines?

Patients who have suffered from pneumonia in the past as well as people 50 or older, people with a past or present history of smoking, a history of asthma or COPD, or a history of immunocompromising conditions (e.g., diabetes, chronic kidney disease, HIV, hepatitis) need to get vaccinated. There are at the moment two vaccines which have been approved by the FDA and they are effective for the prevention of pneumococcal disease. The two vaccines are called Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. But you cannot simply go ahead and choose one vaccination over another. You need to ensure that the patient gets the right one for him or her.

Pneumovax 23 vaccination:

Doctors recommend that individuals who are between 2 to 64 years old are eligible to receive the vaccine called Pneumovax 23. But they should ensure that candidates meet one or more of the criteria mentioned below:

  • Cigarette smokers who are nineteen or over the age of nineteen
  • Candidates who are recipients of cochlear implants
  • People who are suffering from chronic liver disease
  • People who have undergone organ transplantation
  • People who are suffering from chronic problems and health conditions such as COPD, nephrotic syndrome, renal failure, diabetes, and heart diseases
  • The CDC has also suggested that people who are over the age of 65 years must opt for the vaccine Pneumovax 23, even if they have received any other dose of vaccine for pneumonia.

Prevnar 13 vaccination and who should receive it

On the other hand, doctors have recommended that people who meet the following criteria should receive Prevnar 13:

  • Adults whose age is 50 years or older
  • Those individuals who have not before received the vaccine Prevnar 13 and whose age is between 19 to 64 years. Also, individuals who are suffering from conditions like asplenia, cochlear implant, an immunocompromising condition, or those who have a cerebrospinal fluid leak.
  • Infants and children who are 6 weeks of age or older.

Pneumovax 23 and Prevnar 13: What is the chief difference between the two?

The chief difference that is noted between the two vaccines is the strength or the amount of bacteria that the vaccine is capable of protecting against. Pneumovax 23 is useful and effective against 23 kinds of pneumococcal bacteria. On the other hand, Prevnar 13 is also quite useful and helps to prevent pneumococcal bacteria of 13 different kinds.

How does one administer these vaccines?

Pneumovax 23 can be administered intramuscularly or even subcutaneously. On the other hand, the vaccine Prevnar 13 should always be administered intramuscularly.

You need to keep in mind that the shots taken for pneumonia are quite different from ones that are taken for the flu. Deciding which pneumonia vaccinations to take depend on one’s age and the kind of risks associated with it. This is why one must always ensure that both the vaccines Pneumovax 23 and Prevnar 13 are provided by a specialist or at a local pharmacy. But, one might not always require a prescription for it. It will again depend on your medical state. This is why you must ensure that you have the proper amount of information in hand and take account of all the details from your pharmacist.

Pertussis Booster

Importance of pertussis booster

Whooping cough is a disease, basically a respiratory disease that is caused by the bacteria called Bordetella pertussis bacteria.

One of the best ways by which an individual can prevent whooping cough or pertussis is by getting a vaccine. There are vaccines for pertussis available for babies, teenagers, and adults. DTaP is the vaccine used for children. On the other hand, the Tdap is used for adults and preteens and teenagers. However, always make sure that you do have a check-up and discussion with a professional before you get the pertussis vaccine.

Who gets them and when?

The pertussis booster vaccine is recommended for children, babies, and teenagers and also for women who are pregnant. DTaP is recommended for children who are under seven years of age. Tdap is recommended for children who are over the age of seven and for adults as well.

Before getting the whooping cough vaccination for your child, ensure that you have a word with your healthcare provider.

Signs and symptoms of whooping cough

Pertussis is known to be a bacterial infection. This happens when the bacteria enters your throat through the nose. This is a disease that can easily spread. But with the use of DTaP and Tdap vaccines, it can be prevented in both children and adults.

What happens?

If a person who is suffering from whooping cough sneezes or coughs, a small droplet of water that is infected by bacteria spreads all through the air. Hence, if you breathe the air, you may end up becoming sick too.

Symptoms

The very first symptom is the common cold, in the case of whooping cough. Then it goes through the following stages:

  • Mild amount of coughing
  • Then sneezing
  • Then you start to experience a runny nose
  • Then you get sick and have a fever, but the temperature is not very high
  • A few patients also experience diarrhea, but at an early stage

After about a week or ten days, the “coughing spells” arise. This leads to the whooping sound. It happens whenever the person tries to breathe. You will not be able to find mucus in the cough, since it is a dry cough. The spell might last for about a minute. At times it may also turn the color of your face to purple or red, after an intense coughing session.

In the case of infants, they might not produce the whooping sound. However, keep note of infants gasping for breath or they might try to catch their breath in between coughing spells.

How to diagnose whooping cough

Through medical tests, you may find out from confirmed reports whether or not you are suffering from whooping cough ailment. A few tests need to be taken. They are:

  • Throat or nose test
  • A chest X-ray
  • Blood tests

Whooping cough risk factors

Children who are younger than six months old are at a greater risk when they are infected with whooping cough. They would need to take three shots of DTaP vaccine to stay safe from this disease.

As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one or two infants are hospitalized due to whooping cough and they even die due to this disease.

 

The Annual Cost of Flu and Pneumonia in the USA and the Number of Cases of Hospitalization / Deaths and Causes of Deaths Due to Heart Attacks

Influenza and pneumonia are two of the most commonly occurring diseases found in the United States, caused by viruses and bacteria such as the influenza virus and the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium or pneumococcus. Influenza, commonly referred to as flu, is a respiratory disorder that is contagious and affects the lungs, throat, and nose via a viral infection, whereas pneumonia is a bacterial infection that affects the lungs and is severe—and where apart from lung infection, severe cough, fever, and difficulty in breathing is observed. Both of these infections are very common and affect a large number of people in the USA and the world in general. This is the situation, in spite of the fact that vaccines are available for both of these diseases.

 

Annual expenditure for pneumonia and influenza in the US

In fact, statistics reveal that the incidence of community-acquired pneumonia is quite high in the United States, even in adults apart from the elderly and those at higher risk. The cost of hospitalization and other medical costs for pneumonia in 2011 were greater than 10 billion dollars and this cost has not seen much of a decrease in the ensuing years. In 2013, the annual cost of healthcare for pneumonia and flu combined was 19.9 billion dollars with 81% or 16.2 billion dollars being used for treatment and care of pneumonia patients, whereas 3.7 billion is spent annually on influenza healthcare.

 

Number of hospitalization cases due to pneumonia and influenza

The rate of hospitalization for pneumonia and influenza in 2010 was 36.6 percent and 0.2 percent respectively, with 1,128,000 individuals with pneumonia and 7,000 individuals with influenza being hospitalized. Separate studies conducted to analyze the hospitalization rate of individuals with pneumonia and influenza revealed that from 2002 to 2011, hospitalization rates for the disease pneumonia caused by Klebsiella species, Pseudomonas species, S. aureus, and the influenza virus saw an increase whereas pneumonia caused by H. Influenzae and pneumococcus saw a decrease.

 

Deaths and causes of deaths due to heart attacks

Another disease which has a high rate of hospitalization and death is heart disease. Data reveals that the number of deaths due to heart disease were 614,348 in America, with the percentage of death in a population of 100,000 individuals being192.7. Death due to SCD (sudden cardiac death)—where the heart stops functioning—is the leading cause of mortality in the US and on an average 325,000 deaths are caused per year because of the condition in the US alone.

 

The causes of deaths due to heart attacks

Sudden cardiac death is caused due to arrhythmias, which are defined as abnormal rhythms of the heart. The most common type of arrhythmia that results in death is ventricular fibrillation, where disorganized and erratic impulses are fired from the ventricles, which are the lower chambers of the heart.

Urban Healthcare Initiative Program Wins Prestigious Telly Awards

Urban Healthcare Initiative Program Wins Prestigious Telly Awards for Groundbreaking Health Education Aimed at Empowering the Urban Community to Take Control of their Health

“Knowledge Is Power” Web-Based Video Series is Redefining and Reinventing Urban Healthcare in the African American & Latino Communities and is Recognized for its Work in Education and Social Issues Categories

EAST ORANGE, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Urban Healthcare Initiative Program (UHIP) has received top honors and has won several awards at this year’s prestigious Telly Awards for its groundbreaking, innovative video series aimed at addressing the dire need for better quality of life in our urban communities.

#UHIP Wins #Tellys 4 Groundbreaking #HealthEducation Aimed at #Empowering #UrbanCommunity 2 Take Control of #Health!

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UHIP’s “Knowledge Is Power” video series took home two Bronze Telly Awards in the Education and Social Issues categories. The series features respected physician influencers, like Dr. Alexander Salerno, a second-generation physician of Salerno Medical Associates, a primary care, multi-specialty practice serving Northern New Jersey’s urban communities since the early 1950’s. The videos take on some of the most pressing health issues in the African American and Latino communities.

Creative video topics range from “Man Up,” which addresses the need for prostate screenings, to “Cut Your Hair, Cut Your Health Risks,” an event held at a local barber shop. In addition to physicians, UHIP teams up with notable celebrities like Hip Hop legend Rev Run of RUN-DMC, Indy race-car driver Charlie Kimball, and legendary actor and performer Ben Vereen to help spread the message of health.

Founded by Dr. Alexander Salerno in 2010, the Urban Healthcare Initiative Program, also known as UHIP, is a non-profit, community-based program that uses a 360-degree, fresh approach to health literacy, “We are honored to be recognized and to have won,” said Dr. Alexander Salerno, who launched the program after becoming frustrated with healthcare outcomes in his urban community. “There is a growing disparity when it comes to healthcare metrics and healthcare outcomes in our urban communities. Because of that, there is failing healthcare and failing quality of life. I want to change that. If we can educate the public on the importance of preventive healthcare, we will not only save lives but also reduce the burden on our healthcare system” said Dr. Alexander Salerno.

Based on the belief that knowledge really is power, UHIP reaches out to the community through community mainstays like churches, community centers and barber shops. “We have found that reaching out to the community in places where they are most comfortable, they’re more receptive to the information,” said UHIP Community Outreach Liaison Kelvin Roberson, “Our goal is to combat long-standing cultural attitudes toward healthcare, change the way people think, and motivate them to take control of their health.”

“Awards like this are so important to raise our visibility and help get more support, said Dr. Alexander Salerno, “My ultimate goal is to expand UHIP and its message to urban areas across the country.” To find out more about the videos series and see the videos that were honored click here. To see UHIP’s complete video library, visit www.uhipnj.org.

About UHIP

UHIP (Urban Healthcare Initiative Program) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, community-based urban healthcare provider founded in 2010. Its mission is to educate inner-city residents in northern New Jersey about health problems affecting their communities, promote preventive healthcare, regular medical screenings, and coordinate the provision of healthcare services to individuals who may not have the ability to receive such services. UHIP reaches out to the community in innovative ways through local pillars and mainstays of the community like churches, barbershops, and community centers. For more visit www.uhipnj.org

About the Telly Awards

Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards is the premier award honoring outstanding content for TV and Cable, Digital and Streaming, and Non-Broadcast distribution. The Telly Awards annually showcases the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world. The Telly Awards is a widely known and highly respected national and international competition and received over 12,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents.

Contacts

For Urban Healthcare Initiative Program
Kendra O’Connor, 917-583-4336
212-520-4295
info@eliasworldmedia.com

How Mosquitoes Cause Zika Virus

Zika virus, also known as Zika fever, is an infectious disease that is a rising risk. It is mainly caused by a virus that is transmitted to the human body via the bite of Aedes mosquitoes. Aedes mosquitoes are also responsible for causing yellow fever, chikungunya, and dengue. This mosquito-borne flavivirus was first identified in monkeys in 1947 in Uganda. In 1952, for the first time the virus was found in humans, in the countries of Tanzania and Uganda. After that, various outbreaks of the Zika virus have been reported in Africa, Asia, America, and the Pacific. The last major outbreak of the virus was in 2015.

Transmission of Zika virus
The primary mode of transmission of the virus is via mosquito bites of the Aedes family of mosquitoes, especially the Aedes aegypti variety that are found in tropical regions. These mosquitoes bite in the daytime, normally between early morning and late afternoon. It can also be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn child, the fetus. The virus can also be sexually transmitted, and the probability of its transmission via blood transfusion is being confirmed.

Signs and symptoms of Zika virus
Symptoms of Zika fever are not evident immediately and the virus might already be present within the body for a period of time, usually known as its incubation period. These symptoms are mild to moderate and patients suffering from it rarely need to be hospitalized. Some of the common symptoms of Zika fever are:
● Rashes
● Fever
● Pain in the joints
● Pain in the muscles
● Red eyes or conjunctivitis
● Headaches

The above-stated symptoms last for a few days, ranging from 2 to 7 days.

Complications of Zika virus 
It has been found that if a pregnant woman is infected with the Zika virus, the fetus can be affected such that the virus causes microcephaly, a birth defect of the brain, along with other brain defects. The virus can even lead to miscarriage or stillbirth in the infected pregnant mother. Additionally, in the areas that have been affected by the Zika virus there is an increase in the number of cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is a sickness of the body’s nervous system that is quite uncommon.

Diagnosis of Zika virus
Presence of Zika is determined by studying a patient’s symptoms, travel history within a recent time period, and results from tests (a urine test or a blood test). Because the symptoms of Zika virus are similar to those for normal mosquito bites, chikungunya, and dengue, further tests are required to rule out the possibilities of other infections and diseases.

Treatment for Zika virus
Because there is presently no medicine or vaccination available for Zika fever, treatment includes medications such as acetaminophen to relieve pain and fever, along with drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated and plenty of rest.

Prevention of Zika virus
With a lack of vaccine against the infection, prevention is recommended, especially against mosquitoes.
● Long, covered clothing must be worn, preferably treated with permethrin.
● Insect repellents must be used, but care must be taken around children.
● At home, mosquito nets or air-conditioning and ventilation can keep the mosquitoes away. Also, preventative steps must be taken to keep mosquitoes away from the house—indoors and outdoors.
● Sexual transmission can be curbed by using condoms or avoiding sex.

Causes and Treatment of Swimmer’s Ear

The medical condition in which the outer ear canal is infected such that the infection runs from the eardrums to the outer portion of the head is known as swimmer’s ear. Otitis externa is the alternate name for swimmer’s ear. The infection results from bacteria that invade the skin inside the ear canal.

Swimmer’s ear is usually caused by water that remains in the ears after swimming, which becomes a moist breeding ground for bacterial growth and subsequent infection. That is how the infection gets its name. The infection can also be caused by putting foreign objects in the ear, such as ear swabs or one’s own finger.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include redness in the ear combined with itching in the ear canal, along with a fluid that is odorless and colorless being drained out of the ear. Discomfort is also experienced with either a feeling of pulling on the outer ear or a pushing sensation on the tragus, which is in front of the ear. These symptoms may increase from mild, moderate, and advanced as the infection progresses.

Causes of swimmer’s ear
The causative agent for swimmer’s ear is bacterial growth that normally occurs in moist areas in water and soil. In rare cases, the infection could be caused by a virus or a fungus.

The ear is built with its own natural defenses, including the slope of the ear which is in a downward direction to help drain out water. The ear glands also secrete cerumen, which is a waxy substance that protects the ear.
When these defenses are overwhelmed due to the following factors, swimmer’s ear infection develops:
● Presence of excess moisture in the ear due to swimming, perspiration, or humid weather
● Abrasions or scratches present in the ear canal caused by ear buds, headphones, or scratching with one’s finger
● Sensitive reactions to jewelry or hair products.


Treatment for swimmer’s ear

Swimmer’s ear, if ignored, can elevate to serious conditions such as:
● Temporary hearing loss
● Chronic otitis externa, which is a prolonged infection
● Cellulitis, which is an infection of the deep tissue
● Damage of the bone and cartilage

Treatment for swimmer’s ear starts with cleaning of the outer ear canal with eardrops to clear the debris, flaky skin, and earwax so that the eardrops reach the desired location.

Eardrops are the recommended treatment for swimmer’s ear. These drops contain the following ingredients:
● Antibiotics that fight the bacteria
● Steroid that reduces inflammation
● Acidic solution that restores the antibacterial environment of the ear
● Antifungal medication that fights fungal infection

Along with eardrops, certain pain medications are also prescribed to relieve the discomfort and pain. These are ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium.

Patients are advised to either use cool drops and lie down with the infected ear facing up or ask for assistance when administering the eardrops.

Further measures to help speed up the treatment include avoiding air travel, staying away from swimming, and avoiding the use of earplugs or headphones.

Common Medical Issues Due to the Sun and Warm Weather 

The sun is a must in our lives and has various benefits, the most crucial being that it is the best natural source of Vitamin D, which is essential for our bodies. Vitamin D helps regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus by the body, thereby ensuring healthy maintenance of the bones of the body along with the teeth.

Apart from the vital vitamin D, the sun also has beneficial effects on several types of skin disorders including psoriasis, acne, and eczema. A few types of fungal infections also benefit from exposure to the sun.

However, too much exposure to the sun and its harmful UV radiations can be a bane too, as it can lead to fatal conditions, such as skin cancer. Apart from serious medical conditions, such as cancer, exposure to the sun for long periods of time can cause other medical illnesses as well, most of them being skin-related disorders.

Medical diseases caused due to the sun and warm weather
● Heat stroke
Prolonged exposure to the sun or warm temperatures or physically exerting oneself in sunny temperatures can lead to overheating of the body, which is called heat stroke. When the body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or even higher, then it is considered to be a heat stroke. Heat stroke is a progression from exhaustion, cramps, and fainting due to the heat and is often accompanied by dehydration. Symptoms include seizures, disorientation, confusion, nausea, and even going into a coma. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention as it can further lead to damage of the kidneys, muscles, heart, and brain.

● Dehydration
Dehydration is another condition caused by the heat that can become serious if left untreated. Our bodies are constantly losing water in the form of urine, sweat, stool, tears, and breathing, and replacing it too via fluids and food ingested. However, when the fluid content in the body is drastically reduced, either due to overexposure to the sun or because of vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, it leads to dehydration. Along with water, the body loses various essential salts too, like potassium, calcium, phosphate, and calcium bicarbonate. Symptoms include fatigue, dry skin, thirst, reduction in frequency of urination, dizziness, increased breathing and heart rate, confusion, and dry mucous membrane and mouth.

● Sunburn
When overexposure to the sun and its harmful UV radiations cause the skin to turn red in patches accompanied by rashes that burn, the condition is called sunburn. Sunburn is just an external symptom of the harmful radiations of the sun penetrating the skin, altering the DNA and often causing skin cancer. Other symptoms include swelling and blisters along with rashes. In severe cases, nausea, headache, weakness, and fever with chills are also seen.

Other conditions that may arise due to the sun are heat rashes, heat exhaustion, and skin disorders, like freckles, tanning, or dry skin.

The solution for most of these is to avoid going out in the sun for long periods of time, especially in the afternoons, and to stay covered in light clothing while out in the sun.

Who Are Most at Risk of Skin Cancer Due to the Sun and UVs?

Cases of skin cancer are found to be on the rise, and statistics reveal that it is one of the most common forms of cancer reported in the United States. Skin cancer is characterized by growth of abnormal cells that lead to tumors. These tumors can be benign and harmless, or malignant and harmful.

 

The primary reason for skin cells to form tumors leading to cancer is excessive exposure to the sun and its harmful ultraviolet radiation or UV rays.

 

Skin Cancer – Who Is at Risk?
Skin cancer can be diagnosed with anyone, but there are certain groups of people who are more at risk for getting the disease.

 

General risk factors

  • Male gender

As compared to women, men are twice as susceptible to skin cancer, both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The reason could possibly be attributed to greater time spent out in the sun along with genetic makeup.

 

  • Weak immune system

Immunosuppression therapy required for an organ transplant or similar conditions where the immune system is weakened can significantly increase the chances of developing skin cancer.

 

  • Older generations

Those in old age have been found more likely to develop skin cancer because of their greater number of years spent out in the sun, exposed to UV rays.

 

Bodily risk factors

  • Skin type

Fair-skinned individuals, such as Caucasians, are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. The risk increases for those with certain bodily features, such as green or blue eyes, hair that is blonde or red in color, and those who have more freckles or whose skin burns easily while out in the sun.

 

  • Skin inflammation that is severe or long term

Individuals with skin that has endured damage due to severe burns, inflammatory skin disease, or any underlying bone infection may be more prone to develop skin cancer, although the chances are low.

 

  • Moles

The risk of developing skin cancer, especially melanoma, is high in those who have a large number of moles. Also, the presence of dysplastic nevi, moles that resemble melanoma to a certain extent, increases the risk of skin cancer by ten percent. Although not all dysplastic nevi develop into melanoma, individuals with such moles need to undergo regular skin examinations with a dermatologist.

 

Genetics

  • Personal or family history

Individuals whose siblings or parents have been diagnosed with skin cancer are at greater risk of developing the same. Also, those who have been diagnosed with cancer of the skin once can be at risk of developing the cancer again as they get older.

 

  • Inherited conditions

Those suffering from inherited diseases, such as XP or xeroderma pigmentosum, are at higher risk of developing skin cancer at a young age. This is because the condition hampers the ability of the skin to repair damage done by UV radiation.

 

Lifestyle

  • Exposure to chemicals

Those who are exposed to chemicals, such as industrial tar, arsenic, paraffin, coal, and various types of oil, have an increased risk of developing non-melanoma types of skin cancer.

 

  • Smoking

The chances of developing squamous cell cancer are high in smokers, especially on and around the lips.

 

Treatments undergone previously and other conditions

Those who have undergone radiation treatment as well as treatment for psoriasis are at risk of developing skin cancer.

Additionally, preexisting conditions, such as HPV (human papillomavirus infection) and basal cell nevus syndrome (or Gorlin syndrome), increase the risk of skin cancer.

 

 

 

Different Types of Skin Cancer Due to Sun Exposure

Often we hear that being in the sun has given someone a glow and a radiant complexion. Being out in the sun might feel good and there are a few benefits the sun has for our health too. The sun is a natural source of Vitamin D, which is not produced by the body and has to be obtained from outside sources.

 

However, there is a “darker” side to being out in the sun for too long. Exposure to the sun for prolonged periods of time can lead to a number of diseases and disorders. Exposure to the sun leads to an accelerated process of aging because the sun and the UV rays of the sun cause harm to the elastin fibers of the skin, thus leading to sagging skin, which takes longer to heal. This is called elastosis. Exposure to the sun also leads to freckles, wrinkles, discoloration or pigmentation, small blood vessel dilation, and sallowness. One of the more drastic side effects of prolonged exposure to the sun is skin cancer.

 

Causative agent for skin cancer and types of skin cancers

As the immunity of the skin decreases after repeatedly being exposed to the sun for long periods of time, cancerous or noncancerous tumors may result. In fact, statistics reveal that skin cancer, benign or malignant, is one of the most commonly found types of cancers in the United States. The ultraviolet radiation of the sun is the main cause of skin cancer.

 

The three main types of skin cancer are:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

 

Of these, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are more common and less harmful; thus they are likely to be cured and treated completely if detected in time. They are even referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers.

 

Melanoma is a more severe form of skin cancer, leading to death of the patient 75% of the time. Melanoma derives its name from melanocytes, which are abnormal skin pigment cells found in the tumors. If melanoma is undetected or, worse, untreated, it can be difficult to control because it can spread to other organs as well.

 

Symptoms of skin cancer

Skin cancer symptoms usually include any changes in the skin, such as discoloration, the appearance of lesions or new moles, or a change in the size of existing moles.

 

  • Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma include a bump on the face, ear, or neck that is smooth in texture, waxy or pearly, but small in size. Other than that, flat lesions can be seen on the arms, legs, and trunk that are red, brown, or pink colored.

 

  • A red-colored firm nodule or flat, scaly, rough lesions that can bleed and become crusty are symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma.

 

  • Melanoma symptoms include a bump or patch that is pigmented, red or white in color. The tumor appears like a mole with an appearance that is irregular, such as:
    • A – asymmetrical;
    • B – borders are blurred or ragged;
    • C – color in an uneven tone of red, black, white, brown, blue, or tan;
    • D – diameter is greater than 6mm or more, and the size is changing abnormally;
    • E – evolving skin to form new moles that change in size, shape, and color.

 

 

 

What Is Balance Therapy and How Does It Reduce Fall Risks?

Balance therapy is also called vestibular rehabilitation therapy. Vestibular disorders refer to problems of the inner ear and the sense of balance which is controlled by the inner ear. Balance therapy is applied to improve the primary problems caused by the vestibular disorders, such as dizziness, vertigo, gaze instability, falls, and imbalance. It is also applied to related secondary disorders, such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and inability to concentrate. These problems can affect the day-to-day functioning of those suffering from it, which in turn can lead to emotional distress, depression, and anxiety. It also pushes patients towards a sedentary lifestyle for fear of aggravating the vestibular disorders upon making more movements.

 

Balance therapy is used to treat these problems and is primarily an exercise-based physical therapy program. This includes customized exercises being prescribed to patients, keeping in mind their specific vestibular problem. Further, balance therapy consists of three principles that are applied depending on the patient’s problem. These include—

  • Habituation
  • Gaze Stabilization
  • Balance Training

 

Habituation exercises are recommended to alleviate dizziness symptoms that are caused by self-motion or visual stimuli. For instance, certain patients experience dizziness because of sudden movements, like turning the head around suddenly. Moving the position of the head, as when bending over or looking up over the head to view objects, also results in the symptoms. Habituation exercises make patients repeat the movements that cause dizziness slowly, but in a continuous fashion until the patient’s brain feels that these movements are normal. Thus, after several repeated exposures, the patient becomes habituated to the movement and dizziness does not occur.

 

Gaze Stabilization involves exercises that improve the patient’s control over eye movements when trying to move the head so that objects appear clearly and vision is not blurred. This exercise is for patients who experience a bouncing or jumping around of images when they move, especially when reading or when seated in a vehicle or moving around. The exercises help to stabilize the gaze during head movements, thus minimizing blurred vision and thereby reducing the chances of falling.

 

Balance Training involves exercises that improve the patient’s balance and feeling of steadiness. This will, in turn, help patients carry out daily activities without the risk of falling.

 

Balance therapy reduces the chances of falling

The exercises that are designed in balance therapy help patients improve their balance through various dynamic and stationary movements, via visual cues, through strategies involving coordinated movements, and by performing dual tasks. Slowly the body overcomes feelings of dizziness while performing sudden movements that had acted as stimuli, such as bending, standing, walking, turning, and reaching out for things. Also, the therapy trains patients in outdoor uneven surfaces and in the dark too, so that after the therapy patients can carry out tasks without the risk of falling.

 

Thus, balance therapy reduces the risk of falling by—

  • Reducing spells of dizziness.
  • Improving stability while in motion.
  • Reducing dependency on somatosensory and visual inputs to make movements.
  • Improving neuromuscular coordination.
  • Decreasing anxiety caused due to vestibular disorders.

 

Thus, these approaches contribute to reduced chances of falling.

Neurological Causes of Dizziness

Dizziness, commonly described as a feeling of being unbalanced and lightheaded, can be caused by a number of factors. It could be due to motion sickness or disturbances in the inner ear that lead to imbalance. It can even be due to certain types of medication. Dizziness can also be a symptom in the case of an injury, or an infection, or owing to poor circulation of the blood. Some instances of dizziness are also attributed to neurological causes, like injured nerves. Other symptoms associated with spells of dizziness along with the circumstances that trigger dizziness can shed light on the actual cause.

 

A few neurological causes of dizziness have been elaborated herewith, especially their signs and symptoms.

 

Neurological causes of dizziness

Vestibular Dysfunction

The vestibular system refers to the area that joins the inner ear to the brain and controls the balance of the body. Any damage or injury to this area results in vestibular dysfunction and disorders. Owing to vestibular disorders, one can suffer from dizziness and in certain cases one’s sense of hearing as well as vision may also be affected. Depending on the symptoms and causes, there are a number of possible vestibular dysfunctions. Some of these vestibular disorders are outlined below:

 

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo

This disorder, abbreviated as BPPV, is a type of vestibular dysfunction where the sufferer feels like he is swaying or everything is spinning, while actually it is not. This positional vertigo is caused when a small crystal of calcium belonging to the inner ear moves its position. This change in position sends signals to the brain making one feel as if one is moving when one is not. Head movements to reposition the calcium crystal in its original location help treat the disorder.

 

  • Labyrinthitis

The labyrinth is a part of the inner ear that is fragile and situated deep within. When this structure becomes inflamed, causing labyrinthitis, one experiences dizziness, ear pain, problems hearing, nausea, and fever along with pus inside the ear. Antibiotics and steroids are prescribed for bacterial causes of the infection.

 

  • Vestibular neuritis

When the body suffers from viral infections, such as measles or chickenpox, the virus can even affect the nerves of the inner ear that ideally convey information regarding balance and sound to the brain. The symptoms of this disorder include dizziness, difficulty in walking, vomiting, and nausea. Treatment includes targeting the causative virus.

 

  • Meniere’s disease

Meniere’s disease is caused when an excessive amount of fluid is present in the inner ear, which could be due to an autoimmune disorder, a viral infection, or an allergy. The symptoms include dizziness, vertigo, ringing in the ears (called tinnitus), and loss of hearing. Some patients might suffer from permanent loss of hearing due to the disease. Treatment includes lifestyle changes, such as cutting down on consumption of alcohol, coffee, and salt, along with medications. In some cases, surgery is required to cut the affected part and regularize the process of sending signals to the brain.

 

  • Perilymphatic fistula

This disorder is caused because of a tear or a defect in the area between the inner ear, which is filled with liquid, and the middle ear. This, in turn, causes hearing loss and dizziness. This disorder is due to head injury, pressure in the ear, lifting heavy items, or an inborn deficit.

Ways to Minimize Falls at Home

Statistics reveal that one out of three senior citizens experiences a fall in the very place that is most familiar to them, namely, at home. Also, the elderly are most likely to be injured while falling, given their higher tendency to lose their balance and fall. One’s home is usually a safe confine for most people, and it should thus be the least likely place where one might experience falls or be injured.

 

A few changes around the house and some precautionary measures will minimize the risk of falls at home.

 

5 Strategies to prevent falls at home

  • Visit your doctor

The first step towards minimizing the risk of falling is to make an appointment with a doctor. First, rule out any medical conditions that could lead to spells of dizziness. Usually, ear problems and eye disorders can lead to feelings of unsteadiness. Other symptoms that can increase the chances of falling are joint pains, numbness in the feet and legs, shortness of breath, and dizzy spells. Also, certain medications can cause dizziness and make one feel faint. Check out these drugs, prescriptions, and OTCs, and ask for substitutes. Certain antidepressants and sedatives also cause dizziness and increase the risk of falling. Additionally, if there have been previous incidences of falling, fainting, or feeling unsteady, they need to be discussed in detail with the doctor. Even the causative situations and surroundings need to be discussed.

 

  • Exercise regularly

Being physically active and agile also reduces the chances of falling. Activities that strengthen the flexibility, coordination, and balance such as tai chi, workouts in the water, yoga, or evening walking are recommended. A doctor or physiotherapist might suggest exercises to improve muscle strength, balance, and gait as well as flexibility.

 

  • Opt for the right shoes

Sometimes the wrong kind of footwear can also greatly increase the risk of falling. Some types of footwear lack friction and can be quite a hazard. These include high heels, soles that are slick or floppy, or even plain stockings that can be slippery. Instead choose sensible, sturdy footwear with anti-skid soles. The right footwear reduces joint pain as well.

 

  • Light the home appropriately

Dim lighting and soft glow beams might make your house aesthetically very chic, but can pose a hazard as far as safety is concerned. Get sufficient light fittings to illuminate every corner, thereby reducing the chances of falling. Also, light up the hallways and basement, and have night lamps that are easy to access. Additionally, to make the light switches visible even in the dark, one can get glow-in-the-dark stickers to go around them.

 

  • Get the house suitably equipped

First and foremost, do away with any clutter that might be the cause of a fall, such as boxes, wires, cords, loose carpets or rugs, and potted plants in the doorway. Next, ensure safety features, such as stairways with railings or handles on both sides, flooring that is skid proof, handles in the bathrooms, and carpets that do not have loose ends.

 

All of these measures will help minimize the risk of falling for you and your loved ones.

 

 

Typical Meds that Cause Dizziness

Dizziness is defined as a feeling of lightheadedness and being unbalanced, also known as feeling “woozy.” Dizziness in itself cannot be considered a disorder. However, dizziness is often a symptom of a number of disorders, ranging from vertigo and ear infections to disorders of the nervous system. Endocrine system diseases, such as diabetes and even heart ailments, can be the cause of dizziness. Thus, dizziness can be due to any of the above causes; some instances of dizziness are harmless and rare whereas other instances of it are severe and recurrent.

 

Another causative agent that can lead to spells of dizziness is certain medications. Many drugs and medicines come with dizziness as a side effect. These include medications such as antidepressants, sedatives, anti-seizure drugs, antibiotics, and tranquilizers; medicines used for chemotherapy to treat cancer; and drugs that are taken to control high blood pressure.

 

Medications that may cause dizziness

  • Antidepressants

Drugs that are used to treat anxiety and depression, such as fluoxetine and trazodone, can lead to dizziness and a feeling of lightheadedness. A doctor must be consulted before changing or stopping the medication. Other alternative therapies that could be applied include counseling as well as psychotherapy; both have shown results in minimizing symptoms of dizziness.

 

  • Drugs for blood pressure

Examples of drugs that are used to control blood pressure include ACE inhibitors, diuretics, beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers. Examples of each are as follows:

  1. ACE inhibitors – lisinopril
  2. Diuretics – hydrochlorothiazide and furosemide
  3. Beta blockers – propranolol
  4. Calcium channel blockers – nifedipine

An alternative to these drugs is to exercise and follow a healthy diet in order to lose weight. Results have revealed that this might eliminate the need for blood pressure medication altogether. Alternatively, physicians can be asked to prescribe drugs other than the one presently being consumed.

 

  • Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsants are the group of drugs used to treat epilepsy, bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy. Examples include pregabalin, gabapentin, and divalproex. These drugs, especially those for epilepsy, must continue to be taken. However, in case of dizziness, the doctor can be consulted to check the drug levels or to adjust the dosage of the prescribed drug.

 

  • Muscle relaxants

These include drugs such as metaxalone and cyclobenzaprine, which are used to relieve headaches, back pain, and neck pain. Alternative therapies can be used to reduce the pain, such as exercise, a heating pad, physical therapy, yoga, massage, biofeedback, and progressive relaxation. Other than that, pain relievers found over the counter can be used too. Certain pain relievers can also cause dizziness, and different medicines must be tried.

 

  • Sleeping pills

The pills that help induce sleep in cases of insomnia include temazepam, diphenhydramine, zolpidem, and eszopiclone. To prevent dizziness from drugs, cognitive behavioral therapy can be used. It is a form of talk therapy and may be more effective than medicines. Also, lifestyle changes can be made to improve sleep and sleeping conditions.

 

  • Nitroglycerin

This medication for chest pain or angina causes dizziness but cannot be avoided nor are alternatives available. Instead, it is advised to take the medication in a seated position and to remain seated a few minutes after consuming it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Causes of Dizziness Related to the Ear

Dizziness is described as feeling unsteady or having a sensation of whirling, or some kind of movement when actually there is none. It can either be a one-time thing, a common occurrence that is temporary, or a serious condition.

Dizziness is further characterized into types depending on the causative agent, with the most common type termed vertigo.

As we know, the inner ear controls our sense of balance and homeostasis. A problem, such as an infection in the inner ear, leads to a feeling of imbalance and spells of dizziness, known as vertigo. The condition—vertigo—can be caused due to:

  • disorders or problems in the central nervous system
  • inner ear problems

3 major causes of dizziness due to ear problems

  • Labyrinthitis, also known as vestibular neuritis, is a disorder in which the inner ear is inflamed. This leads to episodes of dizziness and can sometimes even cause loss of hearing. Vertigo caused by such an ear infection is usually due to a virus or bacteria, such as Epstein-Barr virus, rubella, mumps, measles, influenza, hepatitis, polio, and herpes virus. Symptoms of dizziness along with other symptoms last as long as the inner ear is inflamed.
  • Infections that lead to cough and common cold also cause infection of the inner ear, thereby leading to temporary spells of vertigo and dizziness. This infection of the ear is usually viral and is harmless, subsiding within six weeks.
  • Another cause of vertigo and dizziness is Meniere’s disease. The disease is characterized by three typical symptoms and signs:
  1. A ringing sensation in the ear, referred to as tinnitus;
  2. Vertigo or dizziness, and loss of hearing. Those suffering from this disease experience fluctuating episodes of being free of symptoms and bouts of hearing loss and severe dizziness. These symptoms can occur abruptly and just as abruptly go away;
  3. The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown but it is thought to be caused by infections present in the inner ear as well as allergies, injury to the head, and hereditary factors.

Other causes of dizziness related to the ear

Another form of vertigo, namely acoustic neuroma, is not commonly seen. Its symptoms include loss of hearing, ringing on one side of the ear, and dizziness. This form of dizziness is caused by a tumor forming in the inner ear’s nerve tissue.
BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) is when the patient experiences a sensation that the head is turning when in reality it is not. This is caused by a sand grain-sized calcium particle, called an otolith, moving from the gravity-sensing part of the ear to the part that aids in sensing the position of the head. This condition can be corrected by the Epley maneuver, which lasts for two minutes and can be done in the doctor’s office.
Experiencing a bouncing feeling where everything seems to go up and down is another form of dizziness termed Dandy’s syndrome. This type of vertigo is caused due to having antibiotic medication that has toxic side effects on the ear. Over time the condition improves.

Autonomic Dysfunction Causing Orthostatic Hypotension, Leading to Dizziness

Introduction

Autonomic dysfunction refers to a condition in which there is damage to the nerves of the autonomous nervous system of the body. The autonomous nervous system, which comprises the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system (PANS) and sympathetic autonomic nervous system (SANS), controls normal body functions, such as the temperature of the body, rate of breathing, heart rate, feeling of sensation, and digestion. These two systems, PANS and SANS, either slow down certain body functions or stimulate them as the situation demands.

 

Damage to the nerves of this autonomous nervous system gives rise to the condition that is termed autonomic dysfunction. This condition, in turn, can affect the autonomous nervous system in parts or completely. An improperly regulated autonomic nervous system can lead to a condition termed orthostatic hypotension.

 

Orthostatic hypotension: Definition

Orthostatic hypotension is one type of orthostatic intolerance, in which orthostatis means an upright position and hypotension refers to low blood pressure levels. Orthostatic intolerance is when a patient commonly experiences discomforting symptoms when trying to change positions of the body. These symptoms are usually feelings of dizziness and lightheadedness accompanied by nausea, fainting, and excessive sweating.

 

Symptoms of orthostatic hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension is caused by a sharp drop in blood pressure when trying to stand up. This change in position brings with it heart palpitations, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, weakness, blurred vision, and fainting due to a significant drop in blood pressure. Other symptoms of orthostatic hypotension include pain in the chest, dry skin owing to excessive sweating, impotence, and incontinence (i.e., an inability to hold one’s urine).

 

Causes of orthostatic hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension is primarily caused by a drop in blood pressure. Normal daily activities, such as trying to stand or get up after being seated for a long time, can also lead to dizziness. One may experience other symptoms of orthostatic hypotension as well.

 

Dehydration has also been found to be a culprit in orthostatic hypotension. Dehydration could be due to long hours in the sun or it could even be due to bleeding, vomiting, or diarrhea, all of which lower the blood volume and in turn cause dizziness. Excessive exercising can also lead to dehydration and in turn cause weakness and dizziness.

 

The older population has been found to be more susceptible to spells of dizziness, lightheadedness, and other associated symptoms caused by orthostatic hypotension. In the older generation, the likelihood of orthostatic hypotension-like symptoms is also seen commonly after meals are consumed.

 

Other causes of orthostatic hypotension include heart ailments. Orthostatic hypotension due to autonomic dysfunction is also caused due to nerves being injured or damaged because of conditions such as diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. In general, disorders of the endocrine and nervous system can also lead to orthostatic hypotension.

 

The valsalva maneuver (attempting to exhale forcefully against blocked airways), when performed during a bowel movement or unintentionally, like when clearing the throat, can also lead to dizziness. Interestingly, this maneuver is also used as a diagnostic test for dizziness.

 

These are some of the daily activities and other medical causes that lead to orthostatic hypotension-induced dizziness.

What Is a Polyp? What Are the Risk Factors for Polyps? And When Can Polyps Turn into Cancer?

What are polyps of the colon?

Polyps found in the colon are small, fleshy, clump-like growths on the inner colon lining or the rectum that might become cancerous. When the genetic material within the cells that line the colon mutates and grows abnormally, it forms clumps or polyps. Under normal circumstances the cells lining the colon, which are initially immature, divide, mature, and then eventually die in a timely and consistent manner. But when mutation occurs, the cells undergo a genetic change and do not mature or die. Instead, they accumulate and form clumps called polyps.

What are the risk factors for polyps? 

There are a few risk factors that can lead to the formation of polyps and, if undetected or untreated, cancer of the colon.

  1. Age

The risk of colon polyps is greater in people over 50 years of age, as statistics have revealed greater numbers of patients over 50.

  1. Race

It has been found that those of African American origin are at a greater risk of developing cancer of the colon.

  1. Family history

If a parent, child, or sibling in a family has colon polyps, the chances of developing polyps are high in the other family members. In case several family members suffer from polyps, the chances increase greatly. However, in some cases of colon polyps, no hereditary connection was found.

  1. Inflammatory intestinal conditions

Conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis greatly increase the risk.

  1. Type 2 diabetes

In cases of uncontrolled diabetes, the risk of developing polyps increases.

  1. Alcohol and tobacco

Use of alcohol and tobacco is also considered a risk factor for polyps.

  1. Lack of exercise and obesity

The chances of polyps developing in the colon increase in case of obesity and lack of physical exercise.

Additionally, those suffering from hereditary disorders, such as Gardner’s syndrome, Lynch syndrome, serrated polyposis syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, MYH-associated polyposis, and familial adenomatous polyposis, are also at risk of colon polyps.

When can colon polyps turn into cancer? 

Not all polyps are cancerous, but 95 percent of colorectal cancer arises from polyps. Generally, most of the polyps remain benign and are referred to as hyperplastic polyps with the chances of them turning into cancer being very low. Some other polyps are benign, but have a chance of turning into cancer, if not removed in time. These are referred to as precancerous, with hamartomatous and adenomatous being two examples. Adenomatous polyps with stems or cilia have been found to turn cancerous. But normally it is difficult to identify which polyps will turn into cancer. The polyps go through a number of abnormalities before they can give rise to cancer. These changes are a result of mutations in the DNA of the cells. So, post mutations, benign cells might have earlier undergone low-grade abnormal cell growth or dysplasia, which then can escalate to high-grade dysplasia and eventually into cancer. This happens over a span of years. Therefore, most of the time, patients with polyps undergo a colonoscopy and have the polyps removed, irrespective of them being benign or malignant.

How Does Colon-Guard Offer a New Alternative to Screen for Polyps?

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. The number of deaths due to colon cancer can easily be prevented as colon cancer is a slow-progressing type of cancer, which takes years to develop into a malignant form. During these years, the cancer can easily be prevented by removing the polyps from the colon. All this can be achieved via regular screening for colorectal cancer. The most recommended form of screening is a colonoscopy. Therefore, most health care providers prescribe colonoscopies to patients over 50 years of age. However, this does have a downside to it as well. First, the unpleasantness of the procedure for colonoscopy makes people unwilling to undergo it. Also, the procedure is an invasive one where a tube is passed through the patient’s colon to check for polyps. Apart from the procedure being invasive and unpleasant, another reason why people tend to avoid it is the huge cost involved.

Thankfully, there are now several alternatives to the colonoscopy that can be resorted to for screening against colon cancer and checking for the presence of colon polyps. One such screening alternative is the use of the colon-guard.

What is a colon-guard? 

A colon-guard is an at-home stool test kit that checks for the presence of genetic markers indicating the presence of cancer or precancerous growths. The kit performs two tests—one is to analyze the stool sample for changes in the DNA and another is for checking the presence of blood in the stool sample. Essentially, the kit consists of a small bucket along with a sample container to collect the stool sample. Plus, a separate tube is also provided in the kit to collect samples for testing the presence of blood. After taking the samples, the patient can hand them to a laboratory for further testing. These kits are available only on a doctor’s prescription.

How is the colon-guard an alternative to regular screening?

A colon-guard has a few positive points, making it a more favorable option compared to a colonoscopy.

  • A colonoscopy requires patients to fast and to have a distasteful liquid laxative the night before the procedure. Thus, the dietary restrictions, preparation, and medication before a colonoscopy are all eliminated when using a colon-guard for screening. The discomfort and unpleasantness of a colonoscopy is replaced with the ease of a colon-guard kit.
  • The cost is significantly reduced as compared to a colonoscopy procedure. A colonoscopy procedure requires hospitalization and the patient is usually sedated while the doctors insert the camera-attached tube into the colon to look for polyps. The visit to the hospital is also eliminated when using the colon-guard.
  • Also, patients who are perhaps too old to be undergoing a colonoscopy or for whom the procedure might be a greater risk can do the screening via the colon-guard.
  • Further, the colon-guard is easy to use.

The only drawback is that the colon-guard is not recommended for patients who have a history of cancer, or if they are under 50 years of age or have other risk factors.

Risk Factors that Increase the Chances of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is a matter of concern because it is the second most common cause of death related to cancer, and it can easily be prevented. Regular screening can help detect the presence of malignant clumps of cells and a colonoscopy can remove the clumps during screening itself. Those who are at a higher risk should undergo screening periodically to nip the bud of colon cancer in its nascent stage.

Risk factors that increase the chances of colon cancer 

Some risk factors for colon cancer are genetic whereas others are based on lifestyle.

  • Age

Although colorectal cancer can occur at any age, in 95% of the cases patients are over 45 years of age. Thus usually, tests and screenings are recommended after 50 years of age, when the risk for colorectal cancer is high.

  • Family history

A history of cancer, especially of the colon, in the family increases the chances of colorectal cancer. The reason could either be genes that are inherited or exposure to similar environmental factors or it could be a combination of various factors. But family history determines the age for colorectal cancer screening and other preventative measures.

  • Ethnicity and racial background

The occurrence of colorectal cancer has been found to be the highest in the African American population of America. Similarly, the risk for colon cancer is high in Ashkenazi Jews. These races and ethnic backgrounds might be recommended to go in for a colonoscopy around the age of 50 if there are no other risk factors.

  • Inherited syndromes

Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer and familial adenomatous polyposis are two commonly known inherited syndromes that are linked to colon cancer. Lynch syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, and Turcot syndrome are other inherited syndromes that increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

  • Lifestyle choices

Those leading a sedentary and inactive lifestyle are at risk of developing colon cancer. In the same vein, obesity also increases the chances of developing the cancer. Also, habits such as heavy alcohol consumption and smoking increase the chances of developing colorectal cancer. A diet rich in processed or red meat, such as lamb, beef, and hot dogs, also increases the risk. Cooking meat by broiling, grilling, or frying it at high temperatures can lead to the formation of chemicals and thus be a risk factor. A diet rich in high-fiber whole grain, vegetables, and fruits is ideally recommended for better health and to reduce the chances of developing colon cancer.

  • Presence or history of medical conditions

Those suffering from or having a history of irritable bowel syndrome, which can include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, have a greater risk of developing colon cancer. The same applies to those who have a history of cancer, either colon or recurrent cancer. Presence of polyps in the body, even though benign or those removed via colonoscopy, increase the chances of colorectal cancer. Patients of type 2 diabetes are also at higher risk for the disease and diabetes interferes with the prognosis as well.

These are the risk factors that are most likely to increase the chances of developing colon cancer. Some of these can be avoided whereas some are genetic reasons that cannot be changed. However, high-risk individuals can be cautious and undergo timely screening or modify lifestyle to reduce the risk.

Lifestyle Choices to Reduce Colon Cancer

Colon cancer develops when the cells lining the membrane of the colon undergo mutation and stop maturing and dying on their own. Instead, these cells divide and form clumps and these clumps can later develop into cancer of the colon. This process happens over a span of years and certain precautionary measures can help reduce the chances of the cancer developing. The measures include regular screening and stool tests. There are a few lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce the chances of developing colorectal cancer.

Lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of colon cancer 

Colon cancer can be prevented by applying a two-pronged approach. One is via tests and screenings done regularly, especially for those who are at a higher risk. The other is by inculcating positive lifestyle changes into daily life.

  • Diet

Eating a well-balanced and healthy diet goes a long way in keeping all kinds of diseases and disorders at bay, including the risk of cancer. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage, reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by half in comparison to a diet devoid of these. A fiber-rich diet is especially recommended for reducing colorectal cancer risks. This is because it has been found that 10 grams of fiber reduces colon cancer risk by 10 percent. Red meat must be avoided as well as broiled, fried, and grilled meat cooked at high temperatures because it increases the chances of rectal cancers.

  • Physical activity

A sedentary lifestyle is bad for overall health in general. Also, research has revealed that as compared to a physically active lifestyle, a sedentary life increases the chances of colorectal cancer by 25%. The physical activities can be included in routine daily chores, such as cleaning the house, exercises in on the chair, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and moving around while watching TV instead of sitting in one place.

  • Taking NSAIDs daily 

It has been found that having low doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, such as aspirin, daily can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, but it must be followed upon consultation with the doctor.

  • Quitting smoking

Smoking is mostly associated with health problems related to the lungs and heart. But smoking also increases the risk of developing colon cancer and can turn the cancer into becoming fatal as well. By quitting smoking, the risk of developing cancer reduces over time to that of the non-smoking population.

  • Drinking alcohol in moderation

Reports suggest that drinking alcohol increases the chances of colorectal cancer in men and probably in women as well. So, it is suggested that people drink alcohol in moderation if at all, with the recommended quantity being no more than two drinks of standard quantity for men and one drink for women.

  • Consuming garlic

A diet rich in garlic has been shown to lower the risk of developing colon cancer and is thus recommended. The right way to cook garlic is to chop it up and then wait for 10 to 15 minutes. This is because the ingredients that promote good health get activated post-chopping in that time frame.

Facts vs. Fiction about BP and Cholesterol Medication

Heart ailments are presently a matter of great concern given their occurrence in a wider percentage of the population. A number of factors affect the health of the heart, two of them being the blood pressure (BP) and cholesterol levels of a person.

High BP is a very common condition found in a lot of people. In this condition, the blood exerts a very high force on the walls of the arteries for a long duration. This force, further, leads to other disorders and diseases, such as heart diseases.

Facts and fiction about BP medication

There are a lot of myths surrounding blood pressure medications. A few of them are:

The myth – BP medicines lead to impotency in male patients.

The fact – This is false. However, the sexual performance of men suffering from high blood pressure is affected. This is because the increased pressure of blood causes damage to the linings of blood vessels. This, in turn, leads to narrow and hardened arteries, known as atherosclerosis, which reduces the flow of blood via these arteries. Since less blood reaches the penis, it becomes difficult for the man to achieve and maintain an erection. This condition is known as erectile dysfunction and it often affects one’s sexual pleasure. High blood pressure has also been found to affect the process of ejaculation.

Thus, those suffering from high blood pressure for a long time often experience a drop in their sexual drive due to the above reasons.

The myth – Certain medications for blood pressure make the problem worse.

The fact – Water pills or diuretics can decrease the flow of blood to the penis in a forceful manner, making it difficult to achieve an erection. Also, these medications affect the zinc content of the body, by depleting the mineral that is required for the sex hormone, testosterone. Apart from diuretics, beta blockers medication has also been found to cause sexual dysfunction. But, these medicines, when taken as prescribed, do not always have such severe side effects.

Facts and fiction about cholesterol and its medication

Cholesterol is the fat found in the body and can be obtained externally from certain food types.

The myth – Cholesterol acts as a villain for the heart.

The fact – In fact, it is actually vital for the body. Cholesterol allows proper functioning of the membranes of the cells and provides cellular rigidity and strength. Cholesterol in limited quantities is good, but a high level of cholesterol in the body is a sign of future problems, such as blocked arteries and heart conditions.

Cholesterol is divided into two types—LDL and HDL. LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins and is often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol. This is because too much of LDL found in the blood can lead to a buildup of cholesterol and eventually block the arteries. HDL or high-density lipoproteins, on the other hand, is referred to as the “good” cholesterol because it aids in transporting cholesterol from the different parts of the body to the liver where the liver will function to remove it from the body. Thus, HDL prevents a piling up of cholesterol and blockages whereas LDL is believed to cause heart problems.

Facts about cholesterol medication

Medications given for cholesterol, on the other hand, have a number of side effects. Statins are effective in keeping cholesterol levels under control, but have a number of side effects, mainly muscle pain. Simple tasks, such as walking or climbing the stairs, become uncomfortable due to statins. This is because statins inhibit the production of Coenzyme q10 (CoQ10), which is beneficial for the health of the heart and muscle function. Therefore, depletion of CoQ10 might eventually lead to heart failure. Other side effects of statins include cognitive impairment or loss of memory, muscle damage, damage to the liver, and diabetes.

Thus, the truth about cholesterol is that in itself it will not cause heart disorders, but the cholesterol-limiting medications can surely lead to serious side effects.

How to Have a Healthy Heart

Having a healthy heart is a necessity to living a healthy life. Thankfully, there are a few smart and clever ways to prevent minor as well as serious heart problems, which can lead to a fatal consequence, if not checked in time.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions

Non-pharmaceutical interventions can be practiced to keep an outbreak at bay. Similarly, for heart failure, pharmacological treatment goes hand in hand with the non-pharmaceutical approach. The non-drug treatment for heart failure management includes:

  • Diet – it must be adequately nutritional and obese patients must reduce their weight.
  • Compliance – care must be taken while giving advice on the disease, its treatment, and self-help strategies.
  • Salt – patients must avoid foods with high salt content and also stop adding extra salt to food.
  • Alcohol consumption – alcohol must be consumed in moderation and for patients of alcohol-related cardiomyopathy it must be completely abstained from.
  • Fluid – patients with severe episodes of congestive heart failure and those who are overloaded must restrict their intake of fluid.
  • Smoking – must be completely avoided.
  • Vaccinations – the patients must get pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations.
  • Exercise – patients must be encouraged to exercise regularly.

These non-pharmaceutical steps can help deal with the recurrence of heart ailments.

Mediterranean diet 

The Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower the risk of people suffering from heart attacks according to research that has been conducted. The heart-friendly diet reduces the LDL cholesterol levels in the body and lowers the risk of mortality due to cardiovascular reasons. The key components of the diet are:

  • The diet primarily consisting of plant-based sources of food, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and a variety of nuts.
  • Substituting butter with canola oil and olive oil, which are healthy sources of fat.
  • Replacing salt with spices and herbs to flavor the food.
  • Restricting consumption of red meat to only a few times a month.
  • Including poultry and fish a minimum of two times in a week.
  • Consuming red wine in moderate quantities.
  • Having meals in the company of family and friends.
  • Exercising regularly and consistently.

The above pointers are recommended by doctors for lowering the odds of cardiac disorders and cancer in women.

Aspirin therapy 

Daily consumption of a baby aspirin has been found to lower the chances of a heart attack. This is because aspirin interferes with the clotting mechanism of blood, thereby reducing the chances of blockage of arteries due to clumping platelets. This therapy, however, is not for everyone. It is recommended only for those

  • Who have had a stroke or heart attack already
  • Who have not had an attack but have a stent placed in their coronary artery, or had a coronary bypass surgery done, or those who experience heart ache due to angina
  • Who are at a high risk of having a heart attack
  • Who have diabetes and either smoke or have high blood pressure and are over 50 years of age (for men) and over 60 (for women)

Aspirin therapy might be beneficial for those who fit the above description, but they must start the therapy only upon recommendation of their physician.

Folic acid for the heart 

As per studies, folic acid has been found to lower the risk of stroke and heart disease by about 20%. Folic acid has been found to lower the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the blood. A high level of homocysteine is believed to cause blood clots and increase the chance of heart failure. Thus, folic acid reduces homocysteine and subsequently the chance of heart diseases.

Walking

It has been found that walking for 20 to 40 minutes a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases by approximately 18 to 20 percent.

Omega acids from flaxseed 

Flaxseeds, apart from being a rich source of omega 3, are loaded with antioxidants or lignans that have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Lower cholesterol can further reduce the chances of heart ailments.

Top Signs and Symptoms that You May Be Having a Heart Attack: Men vs. Women

Heart attack is one of the foremost causes of death in the U.S. Its occurrence can be reduced by looking out for signs and symptoms, thereby taking precautionary measures.

In the past, chest pain was considered one of the sure signs of a heart attack. However, further studies have revealed a lot of other symptoms as well. Interestingly, the symptoms in men and women differ and depend on factors such as age and the type of heart disease a person is suffering from.

It is vital to identify the early symptoms of a heart attack and get emergency care in time to prevent extensive damage to the heart or to recover completely. It has been found that up to 85% of the damage to the heart occurs within the first 2 hours of a heart attack. Thus, it is important to know the early signs and symptoms:

  • Pain experienced in the neck, shoulder, and jaw
  • Sweating profusely
  • A stuttering pain in the chest that comes and goes, making one uncomfortable
  • Breathlessness
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Feeling confused or experiencing severe anxiety
  • Fainting or feelings of lightheadedness
  • Sense of impending doom

These are general symptoms, but it is helpful to know the distinguishing symptoms in men and women as well.

Symptoms of a heart attack seen in men 

Men are more likely than women to experience a heart attack, especially at an earlier age as compared to women. The chances of a heart attack are even higher if the person has a history of heart ailments in the family or a history of obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

The symptoms experienced by men during an attack include:

  1. Discomfort or pain in the upper body including the jaw, neck, left shoulder, arms, back, and stomach
  2. It feels like an elephant is sitting on the chest, along with a sensation of squeezing that may be constant and intense or intermittent
  3. Heartbeat is irregular or rapid
  4. Breathlessness or shortness of breath is experienced, even while resting
  5. Indigestion and discomfort in the stomach
  6. Breaking into a cold sweat
  7. Feeling dizzy or as if you are going to pass out

Symptoms of a heart attack seen in women 

Women experience different symptoms compared to men prior to a heart attack, such as:

  1. Feeling sudden and severe fatigue or unusual fatigue that lasts for quite a few days
  2. Anxiety
  3. Disturbances in sleep
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Lightheadedness
  6. Gas-like pain or indigestion
  7. Pain in the shoulder, upper back, or throat
  8. Pain spreading to the jaw or jaw pain
  9. Pain or pressure experienced in the center of the chest, which spreads to the arms

Women over 50 or menopausal women should be more careful because the drop in estrogen levels post-menopause increases the chances of a heart attack, which is usually fatal, as compared to men. Women over 50 experience additional symptoms such as irregular or rapid heartbeat, sweating, discomfort or pain in one or both arms, in the jaw, neck, back or stomach, and severe pain in the chest.

Any symptom that seems out of the ordinary, whether for men or women, must be reported to the doctor and consulted about.

Heart Disease: Risk Factors and Family History

Heart disease is one of the most prevalent causes of death in the U.S. From cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, and a bigger waistline to diet, smoking, and family history—all are considered to be risk factors for heart disease.

Prominent risk factors for heart disease

Obesity and an increasing waistline, leading to diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis

Unfortunately, if you are overweight, you ought to be extremely careful as there is a high chance of developing the above-mentioned health problems, which would inevitably lead to heart disease.

Level of triglyceride and high blood cholesterol

Again, in the case of high blood cholesterol, your blood contains a lot of cholesterol, which is basically a fat-like, waxy substance. If the level of blood cholesterol gets higher, the risk of having a heart attack or coronary heart disease elevates.

Low-density lipoproteins 

LDL cholesterol is usually referred to as the “bad” cholesterol because it transmits cholesterol to the tissues, including the heart arteries. This increases the risk of heart disease.

High-density lipoproteins

HDL cholesterol is referred to as the “good” cholesterol because it assists in eliminating fat from your arteries. But if it is too low, it may raise the risk of coronary heart disease or CHD. Hence, you need to ensure that you maintain a healthy level of both cholesterols, which includes LDL and HDL.

Triglycerides

This is a particular kind of fat that is found in the blood and is at quite high levels in the case of women. Therefore, ensure that the level of triglycerides is maintained; if not, it may give rise to coronary heart disease.

Diabetes 

When the body’s blood sugar level is quite high, one may stand a risk of being hit with diabetes.

Smoking

When you smoke tobacco for a lengthy period of time, it exposes you to the danger of having a heart attack or CHD.

However, all of the above-mentioned risk factors can be modified. But the risk factor of family history is not as modifiable as other risk factors.

Family history 

If your mother or father has had a stroke or heart attack, or even if your grandparents have had heart disease, then chances are that you are at a higher risk of being affected with any of the diseases related to the heart. If you have a heart disease, it does not mean that your children or your grandchildren will be affected by it. Nevertheless, the chances of the disease developing are higher, as compared to the general population. The risks of being affected by a heart attack or any heart disease would certainly be higher if it is a family disease.

You need to understand the risks that you are exposed to if you have a family record associated with heart disease. If anyone in your family has had a stroke, the chances are higher of you too being affected by it, sooner or later. This is why it is imperative for you to get in touch with your family’s healthcare provider quickly. Do try finding out if your parents, grandparents, sister, or brother have had a heart-related disease and their age when the disease developed.

Sufficient Sleep: Does Melatonin Help but Alcohol Hurt?

There are so many scientific research studies today that have shown the correlations between insufficient or poor sleep qualities with bad health, including depression, diabetes, or even hypertension. When the sleep pattern is not right or sleep is insufficient, the ability of the body to use insulin is impaired. This may eventually lead to the start of diabetes. Together with this, due to insufficient or lack of proper sleep, a person undergoes poor hormone secretion and this too is linked to obesity. Because the amount of hormone secretion starts to lessen, one may also become affected with obesity.

Can melatonin help you sleep?

Melatonin might help in improving your sleep pattern. In fact, there are several scientific research studies and findings stating that you undergo the state of “fall sleep,” which is also known as “sleep latency.” This means you start feeling that the sense of “sleepiness” increases and it may also increase your sleep duration.

Melatonin has been quite effective in the case of sleep enhancement for healthy people. Also, those who undergo the feeling of jet lag during global travels have experienced respite through melatonin. It is a natural hormone that is also now being tested as a sleeping aid for older people as well as other populations, as per one’s needs. Additionally, studies are still going on as to whether or not it would be effective for people suffering from depression.

Risks involved with melatonin

Melatonin is known to be a dietary supplement, but for a long time it had been untested and unregulated for long-term human use. There are also many people who feel melatonin causes fatigue and depression. On the other hand, there are others who feel they do fall asleep quite quickly with melatonin, but they then wake up in the middle of the night. Yet studies show that melatonin is safer for use when taken for a short term, say for about three months or even less.

Drinking and how it affects your sleep

There are so many people who get tricked into thinking that alcohol helps them sleep better. But the truth is, you may fall into sleep quicker due to alcohol, but this will definitely affect the quality of your sleep. If you drink frequently, you will awaken the next day feeling quite restless and uneasy.

Alcohol and what it actually does to your sleep

Melatonin is known to be a sleep hormone, and does influence humans to sleep. When it is not present, people start to suffer from sleep-related problems. A very recent study stated the fact that alcohol does greatly affect one’s sleep and the timing of one’s biological clock. Hence it causes de-synchronization. Other research studies also suggest that when a person consumes acute alcohol, after a few hours, the production of melatonin is hugely suppressed in the system. This eventually leads towards sleep problems.

This makes you understand how alcohol eventually affects one’s sleep pattern. Even if you only consume a few drinks, it will eventually affect the normal sleep pattern. However, the more drinks you consume the greater the effects will be, especially before you go to sleep.

 

 

Dr Alexander Salerno discusses Sleep

Sleep Requirement Based on Age Group

Sleep is often an undervalued activity that in fact has quite a few benefits. Sleep is essential for the body to rest and restore itself. The sleep one has is an indicator of overall well-being and health. In fact, sound sleep has often been known to do wonders in terms of healing the body and helping it recuperate. A good night’s sleep can replenish energy levels and make you ready to face the day with renewed vigor. However, confusion arises about how much sleep is enough or what the ideal required sleep duration actually is. For each age group, the required hours of sleep vary.

 

Also, many of us are aware that eight hours of sleep is optimum or ideal, but it’s been ages since most people have actually gotten those many hours of “shut eye.” This could be owing to busy and hectic lives, numerous social engagements, and add to that the allure of logging online to surf the web or logging in to social network sites. Add to that external stimulants, which wreak havoc on the normal sleep pattern. These include energy drinks, coffee, as well as the light emitted from electronic devices such as smartphones and alarm clocks. All of these factors interfere with the human body’s natural cycle of sleep. This makes us feel like we are in a state of “sleep debt.” These factors impact the sleep cycle at differing levels according to age. Thus, the lifestyle and health of a person acts as the deciding factor for the optimum amount of sleep required by the individual.

 

Sleep required for various age groups

The National Sleep Foundation carried out studies and analysis with the help of 17 other medical boards and departments and has charted a modified sleep requirement chart that recommends the ideal sleep needed by individuals based on their age:

  • Newborns (aged 0 to 3 months) require 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day, which is narrowed down from the previous 12 to 18 hours.
  • Infants (aged 4 to 11 months) require 12 to 15 hours of sleep each day, which is widened from the previous 14 to 15 hours.
  • Toddlers (aged 1 to 2 years) require 11 to 14 hours sleep daily. The previous guidelines stipulated it as 12 to 14.
  • Preschoolers (aged 3 to 5 years) previously had recommended hours of sleep as 11 to 13, which is now widened to 10 to 13 hours.
  • School-going children (aged 6 to 13 years) require 9 to 11 hours of daily sleep.
  • Teenagers within the age bracket of 14 to 17 years require 8 to 10 hours of sleep. This was earlier stipulated as 8.5 to 9.5 hours.
  • Young adults (aged 18 to 25 years) need 7 to 9 hours of daily sleep.
  • Adults within the age range of 26 to 64 years require 7 to 9 hours sleep per day.
  • Older adults, above 65 years, need 7 to 8 hours of sleep in a day.

A conscious effort needs to be made to make sleep a priority and maintain healthy sleeping habits.

Four Stages of Sleep, When the Best Hours of Sleep Are, and the Benefits of a Nap

 

When you fall asleep into sweet slumber, you might not realize it but there is still a lot of activity going on in the brain. There are actually stages through which the sleep cycle progresses over the course of the night. This was first analyzed through the invention of the electroencephalograph.

 

The study of sleep revealed that there are basically two broad types of sleep. These include:

  • NREM or Non Rapid Eye Movement sleep or Quiet sleep.
  • REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep, which is also referred to as paradoxical sleep or active sleep.

 

Stages of sleep

In the initial phase of sleep when one is still alert, the brain produces fast to small beta waves. As the brain slows down, alpha waves are produced. Also, hypnagogic hallucinations and myoclonic jerks are experienced in this phase.

 

Sleep is categorized into the following 4 stages:

  • NREM Stage 1

This stage is a transition state between being awake and asleep. This period of sleep lasts only about 5 to 10 minutes, and high amplitude theta brain waves are produced in this stage.

 

  • NREM Stage 2

In this stage, the brain produces rhythmic, rapid “sleep spindles.” Also, there is a drop in body temperature in this stage along with regular breathing and heart rate. People experience less awareness of their surroundings in this phase and spend close to 50% of their sleep in this phase.

 

  • NREM Stage 3

This is a transition state between light sleep and deep sleep, and in this phase delta waves are produced by the brain. In this stage there is a drop in the breathing rate and blood pressure, the muscles relax, and deep sleep is experienced in this period.

 

  • REM Stage

This stage is characterized by an increase in brain activity as well as respiration rate along with increased eye movement. The muscles, on the other hand, become more relaxed and immobilized. Dreams occur in this paradoxical phase, and this stage makes up approximately 20% of the entire sleep cycle.

 

The body enters stage 1 while sleeping, followed by stages 2 and 3. After this, stage 2 is repeated before entering the REM sleep stage. After this, stage 2 is repeated again and this entire cycle repeats about 4 to 5 times during the night.

 

Best hours of sleep

The body’s circadian rhythms influence the body’s functions, including the sleep and waking cycle, release of hormones, and body temperatures. This circadian rhythm is governed by environmental factors, like the temperature, sunlight, and darkness. Thus in the dark, the body releases melatonin hormones that promote sleep. In the mornings, melatonin levels decrease and cortisol levels rise to provide energy for the day ahead. The level of melatonin decrease is age dependent. Thus, with age people tend to wake up earlier and therefore must accordingly adjust their sleep time in the night to get the required 7 to 9 hours of sleep. After 8:00 p.m. to before midnight is a good time to go to sleep.

 

Benefits of a nap

A short power nap of 20 to 30 minutes is recommended as it enhances one’s performance throughout the day, makes one alert, lifts one’s mood, and reduces the chances of making mistakes. However, a nap during the day must be short in order to experience the benefits.

 

 

Exercises—Fun Ways to Stay Fit

Staying fit and being physically active is definitely one of the New Year’s resolutions on everyone’s list. Everyone starts the New Year with a renewed vigor of staying true to their resolutions, but give it a week or two and things don’t look the same anymore.

Often hitting the gym can put you off before you even put on your shoes. The mundane routine of a gym can really endanger your New Year’s resolution. However, working out in a gym is not the only way to exercise; there are many other interesting options that will ensure you stay on track with your resolution.

Alternative fun exercise forms

Dancing 

With dancing, it will hardly seem like a workout and you will still be sweating it out unknowingly. There are a host of dance forms to choose from to keep the calories burning, such as salsa, jive, ballet, freestyle, or classical. Each dance style has its own nuances, thus giving you a chance to learn something new while trying to stay fit. In fact, Zumba is a great dance-based workout style where aerobic exercises are paired with foot and body movements from salsa, flamenco, merengue, and other dance forms. These moves help burn fat and tone the body while you enjoy the music and the dance. For someone seeking a bold and sensuous workout, pole dancing is a great option. Apart from increasing stamina with all the dance form workouts, you even increase your confidence.

Adventure activities 

  • For someone seeking an adrenaline rush while working out, rock climbing is an adventurous option. The popularity of indoor rock climbing is catching on, as it is a workout that builds strength and balance along with burning close to 800 calories in an hour. The muscles of the arms and legs get strengthened during this workout.
  • Another competitive workout that will keep you on your toes is fencing. Fencing is a fast-paced workout where you have to defend yourself and anticipate the opponent’s every move. This improves mental agility too, along with improving speed, coordination, and flexibility while toning thigh, buttock, and stomach muscles.
  • If all these activities seem too much for you, you can take up jumping rope. It’s a full-body cardiovascular workout that helps burn more than 200 calories in less than an hour. All you will need is a skipping rope and the right shoes to help ease the pressure of landing on your heels. The right posture while skipping will improve the beneficial effects on the body.
  • Hiking is also a great way to burn calories and strengthen leg and lower body muscles while exploring new scenic locales.

Team activities 

If you hate working out in solitude, then you can take up team sports, such as softball, football, cricket, or similar team sports. Playing as a team will keep you motivated, as you will have teammates waiting for you at practice sessions, thus ensuring you do not miss out on the workout.

You can conclude a great day with some fun between the sheets and count that as a calorie-burning activity too.

Resolution to Help Others in the New Year

As the current year is coming to an end, most of us are busy making resolutions to start the New Year afresh and on the right note. The most common resolutions on anyone’s list include becoming more physically fit, shedding excess weight, climbing the success ladder, pursuing a new hobby, or giving oneself more time.

If read once again, you will realize that we are often selfish enough to think only about ourselves and our own betterment. Have we ever thought about how we can make a difference in the lives of others? How we can help them, not necessarily in monetary terms?

Let the coming year start on a positive note of you vowing to help others in whatever small way possible. If the selfish mind within you is asking “what’s there in it for me?,” there is actually plenty for you to get back. It will make you feel happy and help you connect with someone other than yourself; it will improve someone else’s life and make the world a better place. Eventually, the good you do will come back to you in some form or another.

Ways in which you can make a difference in someone’s life

  • It can all start with a simple smile. Often we are so engrossed in ourselves we fail to acknowledge those around us. A smile and inquiring about their well-being or wishing them a good day can help usher in positivity.
  • Volunteering is the best way to help others. It need not be a soup kitchen at which you volunteer. There are a number of charity organizations that need volunteers whether it is with teaching, rebuilding of lives, spending time with the elderly, or helping the disabled or underprivileged. You can choose a charity that you like and promise to volunteer some time every month.
  • You could consider making a donation to a worthy cause or to a charity. Even gifts for yourself during birthdays or Christmas can be redirected directly to a charity. Also, donations might not always be monetary. You could consider donating things that you do not use or have in excess. For instance, a sweater or a blanket in this cold weather to the needy will truly be appreciated. And better still, you could consider donating food to the homeless and poor. There is no better way to get blessings from the truly needy.
  • You could also give the gift of your time to those around you. Say a colleague is depressed and all he needs is a patient listener or even a warm hug, comforting him with assurance that things will be better soon. A person recently inactive for whatever reasons can be prodded to get back to an active life. Just spending some time with those who are lonely or depressed can make them feel a lot better.

Start the year with the resolution of spreading love to those around you—your family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers. And rest assured that what you give will multiply and come back to you in greater measure.

Smart Money Resolutions for the New Year

One of the most common resolutions featured on almost everyone’s list is to hit a gym or become physically fit. It is now time to tweak this resolution a little and to vow to become financially fit for the coming year. Sound financial health is equally important and goes a long way in making your future secure.

Often a few smart or creative money-saving moves either per week or even per day can amount to a significant savings at the end of the year.

Smart money resolutions

Often the smallest of savings goes a long way. For example, instead of eating out every weekend you can try to cut back. This means skipping takeout or dinner out and switching to healthy soups twice every week. If on average a single visit to a takeout restaurant or cafe amounts to $10, then each week you end up saving 20 dollars, which amounts to 1,040 dollars in a year of 52 weeks. Thus, you have added a significant amount into your savings account and at the same time made healthy choices as well.

Other such practical and innovative methods include:

  • Give up a gym membership and switch to cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, cycling, or hiking. And the best form of a full-body exercise is yoga. This dual-purpose exercise helps save hundreds of dollars spent on a gym membership and keeps you fit and active too.
  • Another money-saving tip is to pay insurance premiums annually. People have insurance policies for their houses, vehicles (including car and equipment), and for themselves and their families as well. If all these insurance premiums are paid upfront annually, they are subject to a discount.
  • Exercise a 30-day rule before going out to purchase that new pair of shoes or latest gadget that you have been lusting over. This means that you wait for 30 days instead of making impulse buys. And usually at the end of the month you might realize that you do not need that product at all.
  • This tip might sound downright cheap at first, but if you are a coffee addict, it’ll add up to a lot at the end of the year. Carrying your cup to a barista, such as Starbucks, saves you a few cents each time. But adding up at the end of the year, the amount could well be 100 dollars.
  • Maximize the usage of things that might otherwise seem insignificant, such as toothpastes, detergent, and shampoo. We often squirt out more paste or shampoo than necessary, eventually resulting in wastage. Being mindful and careful to maximize the usage of these things will prolong their use and in turn save money in the long run.

 

In conclusion

This New Year, try making resolutions to use your money more smartly and practically. This will lead to an improved financial condition and in turn improved mental and physical health. Isn’t that a dual advantage?

Apnea

Signs, Symptoms of Sleep Apnea and Complications if Not Detected or Treated

Sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes repeated stopping and starting of breathing. It is regarded as a potentially dangerous disorder.

 

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea

There are a number of types of sleep apnea, but the most common case is that of obstructive sleep apnea. The signs and symptoms for it are as follows:

  • Loud snoring
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Excessive sleepiness in the daytime
  • During sleep, episodes of breathing cessation are observed
  • Eventual awakening is found to be accompanied by a sore throat or dry mouth
  • Awakening abruptly, often accompanied by choking or gasping
  • Experiencing difficulty in concentrating throughout the day
  • Sweating during the nighttime
  • Mood changes, such as irritability or depression, experienced throughout the day
  • Blood pressure is found to be high
  • Decrease in libido

 

Other signs that should ring the warning bell and make you seek a consultation with a doctor immediately include:

  • Excessive and extreme drowsiness during the day that gets in the way of daily activities, such as working or watching television or even while driving, causing you to fall asleep during these activities
  • Experiencing choking and gasping upon waking up
  • Loud snoring such that it disturbs your own sleep and that of others
  • While sleeping, experiencing intermittent pauses while breathing

 

Complications detected if sleep apnea is untreated or not detected

  • Excessive fatigue in the daytime

Normal sound sleep needed for the body to restore its energy and heal itself is impossible for those suffering from sleep apnea because of the constant awakenings. Due to disturbed sleep, those suffering from sleep apnea experience extreme fatigue, irritability, and drowsiness. This reflects as lack of concentration in their daily activities. Often sufferers feel extremely sleepy while working, watching TV, or worse still, while driving. Fluctuations in mood are also experienced due to sleep apnea, along with depression and ill temper. Sleep apnea in children and adolescents can result in poor performance in school along with behavioral problems.

 

  • Diabetes mellitus or type 2

Those suffering from sleep apnea are more prone to developing resistance against insulin and suffering from type 2 diabetes compared to non-sufferers.

 

  • Heart ailments or high BP

Blood pressure tends to increase and subsequently puts a strain on the cardiovascular system due to drops in oxygen levels of the blood owing to sleep apnea. The risks of stroke, atrial fibrillation, and death due to low oxygen levels increase due to sleep apnea.

 

  • Metabolic syndrome

This includes an increase in blood sugar, increased blood pressure, abnormal levels of cholesterol, and an increase in weight, especially around the waist. All of these are risk factors for heart diseases too.

 

  • Problems with the liver

Sleep apnea patients are more prone to receive abnormal results when a liver function test is carried out, with signs of scarring as well. Such a condition is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

 

  • Complications faced during surgery and with medications

With anesthesia and certain medications, sleep apnea patients suffer from different problems. Especially during major surgery when patients are sedated and lying on their back, they experience breathing problems. Therefore, they must inform doctors prior to surgery.

 

  • Partners suffering sleep deprivation

Owing to loud snoring, partners of sleep apnea patients often have to sleep in other rooms and in general are sleep deprived.

Breast Cancer Screenings

I’m Dr. Alexander Salerno. Did you know that breast cancer, after skin cancer, is the second leading cancer in American women today? Regular check-ups and screenings play a major role in early detection and treatment. But recent, new, conflicting guidelines from various national organizations has led to confusion for many women. So, let’s break it down.

Until recently, the standard guideline for a mammogram was age 40 for most women. Now, the American Cancer Society has changed our recommendations to 45 and older. The American College of OB-GYN still recommend starting at the age of 40. While the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends waiting until the age of 50. The three groups also differ on how often a mammogram should be performed.

The American Cancer Society suggests screenings between the ages of 45 and 54, annually, and then every two years thereafter. The American College of OB-GYN recommends annual checkups and the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends every two years.

So which choice is right for you? Well, this is an important conversation you need to have with your doctor. Whether you go early, whether you go later, it’s going to be based on your own personal background, family history and the facts.

So more than ever it’s important to you ask questions, get answers and remember knowledge is power.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Hi, I’m Dr. Alexander Salerno and today we’re gonna have a conversation about Alzheimer’s Disease. This is a topic very near and dear to me because my grandmother lived and died with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a disorder that affects the memory and the brain; things like higher reasoning, learning, remembering gradually become destroyed as the disease progresses. It’s a debilitating disease, not only to the patient , but also to the family and loved ones. So today we’re going to separate the facts versus fiction about Alzheimer’s disease.

True or false? If you suffer memory loss like forgetting your keys or where your glasses, are you’re developing early Alzheimer’s. False. Senior moments are not Alzheimer’s disease. Memory loss is experienced by most of us at some point in time. It is a cause for concern when the functioning of daily living activities and the ability to communicate are affected.

True or false? Only older Americans are subjected to Alzheimer’s Disease. False. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can affect people as early as 30, 40 and 50 years of age. This is usually due to a dominant gene that is passed on from one generation to another.

True or false? Alzheimer’s Disease is fatal. False. The disease itself is not fatal, but Alzheimer’s Disease can lead to conditions such as pneumonia, falls and trauma, and gradual debility and malnutrition. Patients typically live eight to ten years after diagnosis is made.

True or false? Alzheimer’s can be cured. This too is false. Currently, there are no treatments that can prevent or cure Alzheimer’s Disease.

We only have medications to slow the rate of progression. If you have questions about Alzheimer’s Disease, have a conversation with your doctor.

Ask questions. Remember, knowledge is power.

Breast Cancer Risks

Hi I’m Dr. Alexander Salerno and today we’re going to have a conversation about breast cancer, the second most common occurring cancer in the U.S.

So it’s really important that you know your risk factors some risk factors that cannot be changed or altered include gender, age and family history, Other factors include dense breasts, ethnic background and race. Studies show caucasian women are more likely to get breast cancer compared to Asian, Latino and African-American women.

So what are some of the modifiable risk factors that you can do to reduce your chance of getting breast cancer? Limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, diet and exercise, and quitting smoking. If you have a child, breastfeeding has been shown to lower the risk of breast cancer as well. And finally, hormone therapy. If you need to be on hormone therapy it’s best to discuss the options with your doctor and together to choose a short-term therapy and ideally replace it with non-hormonal therapy when or if possible.

So if you’re concerned about breast cancer. talk your doctor. Ask some questions. Remember, knowledge is power.

Hepatitis C Prevention and Treatment

Did you know that the Center of Disease Control reports that as many as five million Americans today are infected with the Hepatitis C virus.

Hep C is caused by a virus which ultimately infects the liver. In due time, Hep C can result in liver failure, otherwise termed cirrhosis, and in some instances may progress the liver cancer.

Hep C is primarily spread through blood-borne products. Some common modes of transmission of Hepatitis C include IV drug use, unprotected sex, sharing razors, scissors, toothbrushes with an infected person. Also tattooing and body piercing can increase your risk if proper hygiene is not practiced. If you were born between 1945 and 1965, your chances of Hepatitis C maybe higher.

Presently, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C like we have for Hep a and Hep B, but there are new treatments that can cure Hepatitis C in as much as ninety-six percent of cases. So if you have questions about Hepatitis C, ask your doctor. Remember, knowledge is power.

End of Life Care and HealthCare Proxy

Hi, my name is Dr. Alexander Salerno and I’m going to talk to you today about end of life and health care proxy.

What is the healthcare proxy you ask? That’s a person that you designate to make healthcare decisions when or if the time comes that you can’t. These decisions can include whether or not to have surgery, medical testing, medical care and even end-of-life care.

Why do you need a healthcare proxy? Well the old adage too many chefs in the kitchen comes to mind. When it comes to making decisions regarding your health it’s important that you designate a family member or friend to speak on your behalf.

It’s never easy to discuss about your end-of-life, but nevertheless it’s an important conversation you need to have with your loved ones again. Again, ask the questions, make the choices and remember knowledge is power.

The Cost of Alcoholism

KnowledgeIsPower: The Cost of Alcoholism. Salerno Medical Associates’ Dr Alexander Salerno talks about the cost of this common addiction. “It’s a disease just like diabetes or hypertension. There is no shame. The only shame is in not getting help.”

Heart Disease in Women

Hi, I’m Dr. Alexander Salerno and I’m here today to talk about women and heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in this country. One-in-three African-American women die from heart disease versus one-in-thirty-three African-American women die from breast cancer. As a medical community, we’re doing a poorer job in recognizing, protecting and treating women over the age of 50, compared to men over the age of 50, when it comes to heart disease.

So risk factors for heart disease in women include genetics, the concept that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Number two, diabetes. Number three, chronic kidney disease, which affects one in nine americans. Number four, hypertension and hypertensive heart disease. And finally, obesity.

So how do we reduce this risk?

As my father used to say, a pound of prevention is better than a ton of treatment. See your physician, check your blood pressure, understand your cholesterol, look at your waistline and look at your diet. What you put in your body counts.

Number two, a baby aspirin a day keeps the cardiologist away. And number three, drugs like statins, which reduce not only cholesterol, but inflammation proteins, that are the building blocks to heart disease and cardiovascular events.

So what are the next steps? Ladies, you have to own it. Take control. Ask the right questions.

Knowledge is power. Until you know the facts can’t make a difference.

Pneumonia Vaccine

The pneumonia vaccine, I like to consider this the Rodney Dangerfield of vaccines, cause it gets no respect.

The pneumonia vaccine is a simple injection. One shot protects you for five years from what some statistics show at the 9th leading cause of death and hospitalizations. So many people in our community misunderstand this vaccine and are afraid of this vaccine, because they feel that it can make them sick. Unlike the flu vaccine, which has side effects, the pneumonia vaccine has no side effects other than injection site pain.

So who should get the vaccine? Anybody under the age of five, anybody over the age of 50 and then anyone who smokes, regardless of age, anyone who has asthma or COPD or emphysema or any other lung condition should get the vaccine. In addition to the pneumonia vaccine we have now Prevnar, it’s an additional booster, typically given one year after the pneumonia vaccine, that allows for even greater protection of some new strains of pneumonia that have been identified. Again, understand the facts over the fiction, make the right decision, talk to your doctor. Knowledge is Power.

Find out why #SalernoMedicalAssociates’ #DrAlexanderSalerno calls the #PneumoniaVaccine “The #RodneyDangerfield of #Vaccines” #KnowledgeIsPower.

Hospice Care: Fact Vs Fiction

One should consider hospice, and have a discussion with hospice, when you have a loved one that is frequently visiting emergency rooms and hospitals for the same chronic condition. Conditions like terminal cancer, terminal congestive heart failure and advanced Alzheimer’s Disease.

The idea of hospice is for us to die with dignity and die with our families close to us, not into a sterile, cold environment like a hospital intensive care unit. Studies have shown that people under hospice live a little bit longer, live a lot better and die a lot better than they do in the overused intensive care units of hospitals today. Have a conversation with your doctor, and your doctor can always then direct you to even more knowledgeable organizations and centers where, again, people can come out to your house and sit down in the comfort of your living room to have this difficult conversation.

If you have questions, ask. Remember, Knowledge is Power and you have to be an informed consumer to make the right choice.

Salerno Medical Associates’ Dr Alexander Salerno talks Hospice Care: The Facts Vs Fiction. Hospice – Terminal Illness – Dying with Dignity. Find out why #Knowledge Is Power.

A tough but important topic. #SalernoMedicalAssociates’ #DrAlexanderSalerno talks #HospiceCare: The Facts Vs Fiction. Find out why #KnowledgeIsPower. Please help us spread the word, like and share! #Hospice #TerminalIllness

Dizziness & Elderly‬

One of the top, most common complaints I see in the geriatric elderly population, in my office, is the complained of dizziness. So as a senior you should mention dizziness because dizziness results in fear of falling. Fear of falling results in changing your lifestyle and then ultimately a poor quality of life. When you look at dizziness, in some instances there are curious, cause sometimes it could be due to a complication of a sinus infection, something called labyrinthitis, in which case there are some medicines that can help. And then also, when it comes to just general, overall dizziness, Tau Chi, which is an exercise, has been shown to dramatically improve balance and reduce falls in the elderly.

So, again, not always do you have to go to a bottle and yet a pill, sometimes you have to actually go to putting in some time, effort. And in most instances, a form of exercise that correct and rectify dizziness, balance, gait disorder, all of which can lead to falls and emergency room visits. If you have questions, ask.

Remember, Knowledge is Power and you have to be an informed consumer to make the right choice.

Salerno Medical Associates’ Dr Alexander Salerno talks Dizziness in Elderly & Seniors: Causes & Treatment. Knowledge Is Power.

Anxiety & Panic Disorder

Anxiety disorder and panic disorder, they’re medical conditions. In the old days it was considered taboo, and a sign of weakness, but really it’s a medical condition no different than asthma or hypertension or heart disease. These disorders are due to chemical imbalances in the brain, but also can present with physical manifestations. They can imitate stroke, they can imitate heart attack, they can imitate migraine headaches, they could imitate irritable bowel syndrome.

So that’s why we call anxiety the great imitator. About 50% or more of patients that walk through a primary care doctors door, every day, has a form of anxiety that goes completely undiagnosed and unmanaged. There’s not a test, there’s not an x-ray that can tell us about whether or not you have anxiety, it’s truly based on the good old fashioned history and discussion and communication that you have with your physician.

If you have questions, ask. Knowledge is Power. You can’t fix a problem until you recognize one exists.

Salerno Medical Associates’ Dr Alexander Salerno addresses Anxiety & Panic Disorder: Causes and Treatment. Learn why Knowledge Is Power.

Alzheimers

Risk Factors and Diagnosis for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive mental condition that affects brain functioning and worsens with the passage of time. In fact, in the late stages of the disease, patients need assistance in their daily, everyday activities, such as eating, bathing, and even dressing.

Alzheimer’s disease does not have a cure, and scientists have yet to ascertain the causes of this disease. However, there are a few risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Most of these risk factors are beyond our control, but a few can be kept in check by making lifestyle changes.

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease 

  • Age

There are higher chances for developing Alzheimer’s with increasing age. Thus, one in nine individuals over 65 is likely to develop Alzheimer’s, whereas the frequency increases in one in three people over 85 years of age.

  • Gender

Women are more likely to get Alzheimer’s than men—at rates almost 1.5 to 3 times higher as compared to men. This could be because women live longer than men and the chances of Alzheimer’s increase with age, thus making women more susceptible.

  • Genes

Two classes of genes correlated to Alzheimer’s have been identified by researchers. The deterministic gene, when found in individuals, guarantees the onset of the disease at an earlier age, usually in a person’s 30s, 40s, or 50s. The second gene is the risk gene. The presence of this gene in individuals increases the chances of developing Alzheimer’s, but does not guarantee its onset, as in the case of the deterministic gene. The apolipoprotein E-e4 gene has been found to be the risk gene most commonly correlated with the occurrence of Alzheimer’s.

  • Family history

A family history of Alzheimer’s increases the chances of getting the disease, especially if more than one member, including parent, child, or siblings has the disease, in which case the chance is compounded.

  • Head trauma

In case of serious head injuries that involve loss of consciousness or repeated injuries to the head, the chances of Alzheimer’s increase.

  • Smoking

Research has revealed that smokers are more likely to get Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia compared to non-smokers.

  • Brain abnormalities

Abnormalities found in the brain, such as plaques (tiny clumps of protein), tangles (twisted protein strands), tissue shrinkage, inflammation, and loss of brain cell connections are all signs that Alzheimer’s might develop in the future.

Other lifestyle habits and disorders that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s include high blood pressure, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and obesity. Also, a lack of social interaction and mental activities increases the chances of the disease. Mental stimulation can be achieved via reading, obtaining higher education, playing musical instruments, solving puzzles, and performing jobs of interest.

Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s 

The disease can be diagnosed by doctors through a combination of diagnostic measures, including administering tests to evaluate loss of memory and thinking capacity, looking for changes in behavior, and assessing functional capabilities. Additional laboratory tests, such as brain image testing and memory testing, are carried out to rule out other impairments and confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer's

Present and Future Treatments + Risk Reduction of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive case of dementia in which the patient’s cognitive ability, memory, and normal functioning are diminished. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease has been found to be the most common cause of dementia. Dementia due to Alzheimer’s is directly proportional to age and with passing time the number of patients also increases. In the same vein, according to statistics, the number of sufferers is expected to double in the future, even surpassing death by stroke and heart disease. Therefore, the need for medication that works against the disease has gained further importance and momentum. The present treatment for the disease only targets its symptoms, but new medications are on the horizon.

Present treatments for Alzheimer’s

The present treatment is only for managing symptoms of Alzheimer’s; it can’t cure the disease or stop or delay its progression. Two classes of FDA-approved drugs are currently being used to manage the symptoms. These include N-methyl-D-aspartate or NMDA, which is a receptor antagonist, and cholinesterase inhibitors or ChEIs. Upon diagnosis, the initial treatment consists of cholinesterase inhibitors. These include rivastigmine, tacrine, galantamine, and donepezil. The NMDA receptor antagonist memantine is used either as a monotherapy or as an adjuvant to cholinesterase inhibitors for managing the symptoms of the disease.

Future treatments

There are a number of medications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s that are in the pipeline, with studies being conducted to judge their effectiveness.

  • The first medication is to target beta amyloid clumps called plaques, the presence of which is a sign of Alzheimer’s. The plaques can be targeted using monoclonal antibodies, such as solanezumab and aducanumab. Beta amyloids combine with the Fyn protein to destroy nerve cell synapses during the course of the disease. The cancer drug saracatinib is being tested to prevent this destruction of nerve connections. Another strategy is to block the production of beta amyloid itself using enzyme inhibitors.
  • When the tau protein twists into tangles, which are microscopic fibers, it leads to collapse of the transport system of the brain. A tau vaccine and tau aggression inhibitors are being studied as likely treatments.
  • Low levels of brain cell inflammation are caused by Alzheimer’s, and research is being carried out to combat this.
  • Research is even being conducted to study insulin resistance and its effect on Alzheimer’s.
  • The connections among heart, health, and brain are also being studied, revealing that with an increase in heart conditions the chances of Alzheimer’s also increases. Thus, treatments for heart conditions are being developed too.

Reduction of risk for Alzheimer’s

The risk of Alzheimer’s, especially in the aging population, is high. A few steps can be taken to reduce the risk. These include being physically active and exercising regularly. Muscle building exercises must be inculcated to pump the brain along with coordination and balance exercises. A healthy diet and quality sleep are equally important. Stimulation of one’s mental abilities is also highly recommended, such as solving puzzles, learning something new, and testing one’s memory. Being socially active helps keep the disease at bay too. All of these reduce stress and in turn reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia

Other Causes of Reversible and Non-Reversible Dementia

Dementia is a mental disorder that is chronic or persistent. A few of the symptoms of this disorder include personality changes, lapses in memory, and impaired capabilities such as reasoning. In short, dementia is not a specific disease but an array of symptoms which can be attributed to a number of causes.

Reversible and non-reversible dementia

Dementia can be caused by various factors. Some of these causes can be treated while others are beyond treatment. The dementia that is treatable is termed reversible dementia and the one that cannot be treated per se is termed irreversible dementia or non-reversible dementia.

  • The treatment for reversible dementia aims to delay the progress of the disease and, in certain exceptional cases, can even reverse the symptoms.
  • For non-reversible dementia, on the other hand, the treatment is intended to treat certain symptoms such that it makes daily living a little easier and manageable for the patients.

Causes and Cure 

The causes of dementia are what classify the mental disorder as non-reversible or reversible.

Reversible dementia could be due to one of the following causes:

Alcohol consumption 

Various forms of dementia are caused by excessive consumption of alcohol either intermittently or consistently. This is because heavy drinking leads to liver disease, malnutrition, or vitamin deficiency, all of which result in damage of the brain.

Cure

Vitamin-rich proper diet and staying away from alcohol can reverse early signs of dementia or abate the disease.

Injury to head

Auto accidents or a fall can lead to head injuries such that the external force hits the skull and thereby damages the brain. The decline in brain functioning and cognition post-injury is termed dementia.

 

Cure

Brain function can be restored or improved even 5 years after the injury by rehabilitation and emotional support.

Hydrocephalus 

This is a condition in which cerebrospinal liquid abnormally builds up in the internal brain spaces. This fluid leads to harmful pressure which causes dementia. The condition is further accompanied by loss of mental [word missing here—acuity?] and incontinence.

Cure

If diagnosed early, the fluid can be diverted by using a tube called a shunt, thereby relieving the pressure.

Non-reversible dementia is caused by one of the following:

Parkinson’s disease 

Dementia is caused at a later stage in Parkinson’s disease, especially in the elderly. This dementia leads to impaired memory, reasoning, judgment, and even impaired speech in some patients. All this is accompanied by characteristic limb stiffness associated with Parkinson’s.

Cure

Presently, there is no cure available for these conditions.

Vascular dementia 

Vascular dementia is when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted due to multiple strokes. This form of dementia is the second most common form.

Cure

There is no treatment for this type of dementia, but its progress can be hindered by treating diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease.

Alzheimer’s disease 

This disease is the most common cause of dementia with no treatment or cure. Gradual loss of the brain’s nerve cells takes place in the condition, which leads to impaired brain functions, such as memory and judgment.

Cure

As noted, it cannot be cured. But if diagnosed early, the symptoms can be managed with disease management techniques and drugs.

Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity. It’s a major epidemic in our country today. It’s having devastating effects on social, physical, psychological and economical outcomes, not just today but for the future as well.

Causes of childhood obesity can be broken down into three categories.

Category number one, genetics. If our parents are obese there’s a strong likelihood that their children will be obese.

Number two, the environment in general. As pollution is increasing so is the negative impact it’s having on our youth today.

And finally, lifestyle. Gym classes have been replaced by the technology of X boxes, smartphones and computers.

So we know the causes of childhood obesity, now we need to know what are some of these solutions and cures. It starts, first, at the home with our parents and grandparents. Set an example, fill the cupboard with healthy snacks and meals. Partake in daily family activities that involve the great outdoors.

And also, it’s not just parents that need to set an example but our educators, our leaders, our athletes and our community in general. So ask questions. Get the facts. Knowledge is power.

Whooping Cough

So whooping cough is a condition in which patients typically complain about chronic nagging cough. It’s a rather benign condition, it’s a very easily treated condition, but it’s an extremely infectious and contagious condition. And it’s very common actually, nowadays, we’ve been seeing epidemic proportions, even in my own office, I’ve seen 30, 40 cases a year, each year, over the last several years.

WHOOPING COUGH

The risk factors for whooping cough is really exposure, especially to little children, so daycare workers, teachers, grandparents, babysitters, things like that. We make the diagnosis by either a blood test or swab test and once we make the diagnosis it’s easy to treat. It’s just one pill that you take for 5 days, extremely effective.

But a key to any condition is always prevention and that starts with a vaccine. It’s a simple vaccine, no side effects, one shot and protects you from whooping cough. But, again, it all starts with “Knowledge is Power.”

Have a conversation with your doctor and take it from there.

#WhoopingCough is on the rise. Protect yourself. #SalernoMedicalAssociates’ #DrAlexanderSalerno tells you how. #KnowledgeIsPower. Please help us spread the word by liking and sharing!

FluVaccine: Fact and Fiction

So flu vaccine, it’s typically given once a year, cause each year we have different strains of the flu. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. We typically like to give it to the elderly, as well as to those under the age of five, but also those that have certain conditions like diabetes, dialysis patients, cancer patient’s and HIV patients, because they are at higher risk.

It’s one shot, it’s painless shot. The only problem is it is a live vaccine, any live vaccine can give you a bit of the flu. So a lot of people are concerned because they hear that the flu vaccine can make them sick, which is true, but sickness from the flu vaccine is far less severe in signs and symptoms than getting the actual flu.

If you have any questions about the flu vaccine or the flu itself, again, ask your physician. Knowledge is Power, you can’t fix a problem until you understand one.

#SalernoMedicalAssociates’ #DrAlexanderSalerno talks the #FluVaccine: Fact & Fiction. Find out why #KnowledgeIsPower. And please help us spread the #knowledge by liking and sharing!

SleepApnea: Causes and Treatment

Patients with sleep apnea, it’s the old saying, quality versus quantity. They do not get the quality sleep because they don’t get enough oxygen. That, in turn, can lead to daytime fatigue, lack of energy, headaches, uncontrolled and difficult to control blood pressure. When the oxygen levels go down they could actually increase your risk for a cardiac arrhythmia, which means an irregular heartbeat. So that’s why you really can call sleep apnea a silent killer.

Take your smartphone, hit the recording button, put it by your bedstand, and then replay it in the morning and listen to what happens at night while you’re sleeping. Snoring, choking, not breathing for several seconds, or waking up gasping suddenly or choking for air, those are the signs or symptoms. Weight loss obviously is a major option, surgery is a second option and then third, and most common, is sleeping with an oxygen machine. So when you wake up the next day, you actually wake up refreshed. If you have questions, ask.

Remember Knowledge is Power and you have to be an informed consumer them make the right choice.

Salerno Medical Associates’ Dr Alexander Salerno talks Sleep Apnea: Causes and Treatment. Find out why Knowledge Is Power.

#SalernoMedicalAssociates’ #DrAlexanderSalerno talks #SleepApnea: Causes and Treatment. Find out why #KnowledgeIsPower. Please help us spread the word, like and share!

Fact Vs. Fiction about Alzheimer’s

 

Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder of the brain in which the person’s ability to reason, to learn, and to remember things is gradually destroyed as the disease progresses. Eventually, the patient loses the ability to communicate or even to carry out tasks of daily living. Patients of this degenerative disease also undergo personality changes, such as fearfulness, suspiciousness, confusion, and dependency. Apart from this, this debilitating disease is also shrouded in myths and baseless allegations, all of which need to be cleared up.

Fact and fiction about Alzheimer’s disease

Fiction—If you experience memory loss, then you have Alzheimer’s.

Fact—Memory loss is experienced by almost all of us at some point, whether we are old or young. Forgetting keys or glasses is not Alzheimer’s. It is a cause for concern when the functioning of daily living activities and the ability to communicate are affected due to memory loss. Also, when the ability of reasoning and judgment are impaired, a doctor must be consulted.

Fiction—Alzheimer’s occurs only in the elderly.

Fact—Early onset Alzheimer’s can affect people in their 30s, 40s, or 50s too, and is usually due to genes passed on from one generation to another.

Fiction—Alzheimer’s disease is not fatal.

Fact—Alzheimer’s disease per se is not fatal, but statistics reveal that in the US it is the sixth leading cause of death. People suffering from the disease do live for 8-10 years post diagnosis or more. But there are no survivors. The symptoms and associated dementia can lead to death. For instance, in advanced stages sufferers can forget to chew and swallow their food, thus resulting in choking. Or they can forget to drink fluids and die of dehydration. Or due to loss of memory, they can wander off and become victims of accidents.

Fiction—Alzheimer’s can be completely treated.

Fact—There is currently no treatment to alter the effects of Alzheimer’s or cure the disease altogether. The available treatments or medication is to alleviate the symptoms associated with the disease. The FDA-approved medications for treating symptoms of Alzheimer’s include Razadyne or galantamine, Aricept or donepezil, Namenda or memantine, Cognex or tacrine, and Exelon or rivastigmine. The FDA has not approved any diet, supplement, or health regimen to improve or completely eradicate Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Fiction—Silver fillings, aluminum, aspartame, and flu shots cause Alzheimer’s disease.

Fact—To date, the cause, prevention, or cure of dementias, such as Alzheimer’s, have not been found even through studies that are scientifically designed. Therefore there is no truth in the myth that aluminum, aspartame, silver filings, or flu shots cause the disease. In fact, flu shots boost the immunity of the body, reducing the chances of contracting diseases in general. Thus, rumors that eating out of aluminum pots and pans and drinking via aluminum cans can cause Alzheimer’s are baseless and without proof.

Tips to preserve cognitive health

Being spiritually and socially active, solving puzzles, and other similar activities that challenge the brain reduce chances of disorders or at least delay them. Trauma to the brain must be avoided too.

Concluding

Feelings of depression and anxiety must be recognized, and facts must be distinguished from fiction for a better understanding of Alzheimer’s.

Risks of Increasing and Ways to Decrease Breast Cancer

The awareness and hype around breast cancer is not for nothing. Breast cancer has earned the title of the second most common form of cancer in the US among women. Thus, it is advisable to be aware of all the risk factors that increase the chances of breast cancer.

Risk factors that increase the chances of breast cancer 

There are some risk factors that cannot be changed or altered. These include gender, age, and family history and genetics. Studies over a period of time have shown that older women are more at risk, especially post-menopausal. Family history, with any first relative such as mother, sister, or daughter having suffered from breast cancer, increases your chances too. Other factors such as dense breasts and ethnicity or race also increase the chances of contracting the cancer. White women are more likely to suffer from the cancer compared to Asian, Hispanic, and African American women.

Ways to decrease the chances of breast cancer 

Besides the above reasons, there are a few other risk factors that increase the chances of developing breast cancer. Most of these factors are lifestyle conditions and are within our control to alter. Thus, addressing these factors decreases the risk.

  • Alcohol consumption

Limiting alcohol intake can positively impact the chances of developing cancer. Studies have shown that even a small amount of alcohol increases the risk.

  • Obesity and weight management

Chances of breast cancer increase in those who are obese and overweight, especially in those women who put on weight post-menopause. In fact, leading an active life has various health benefits, one of them being reducing the risk of breast cancer.

  • Smoking

A direct link has been identified between smoking and breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women.

  • Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been shown to lower the risk of breast cancer. The protective effect is more if you breastfeed longer.

  • Hormone therapy – duration and dose

The risk of breast cancer increases if you are on combination hormone therapy for approximately three to five years. Taking hormone therapy for symptoms of menopause must be opted for with a doctor’s consent, for a short-term therapy and in lower doses. Ideally, the hormone therapy can be replaced with non-hormonal therapy if possible.

  • Radiation and environmental pollution

Research has revealed a connection between exposure to high radiation and breast cancer. Medical tests, like computerized tomography, make use of very high doses of radiation. Such tests must be carried out only when absolutely necessary.

Lifestyle changes to reduce breast cancer risk 

Apart from taking steps against the above risk factors, healthy lifestyle changes, when implemented, can also reduce the risk of breast cancer. A healthy diet, preferably the Mediterranean diet, comprising extra virgin olive oil, mixed nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, can lower the chances of developing breast cancer. Regular exercising and staying fit also help with long-term benefits.

In conclusion

Breast cancer risks can be lowered by keeping in mind the above-mentioned factors that increase the chances of developing breast cancer. Additionally, being vigilant and getting regular checkups and tests post-menopause help too.

How to Detect and Screen for Breast Cancer in Women Who Have Had Breast Augmentation Surgery

Breast cancer is gaining greater prevalence, with more attention being given to screening for the cancer. However, there has been a lot of confusion regarding the appropriate age to get the first mammography done. The new guidelines suggest getting screened post 50 every year or once every two years. The confusion is even greater for women who have breast implants. Apart from “when,” they also have queries about “how” the screening will be done.

Breast implants and screenings

Women with breast implants can also undergo mammography screenings. However, the breast cancer screening can be difficult to perform in women with implants. That is because during breast cancer screening, breasts are flattened between the two mammogram plates to get images. With implants the breasts cannot be flattened. Also, the saline or silicone implants prevent x-rays from going through them. Thus, images of parts of the breast below the implants are difficult to take. This in turn makes it difficult to obtain clear images of the breasts and additional pictures are needed during the mammography to check for cancer. For doctors, to view as many breast tissue images as possible, four extra pictures are taken by women with implants apart from the standard four images taken during a mammogram. These extra images are termed as “implant displacement” or ID views. To get these ID images, the implants are pushed back against the walls of the chest and the breast is pulled over it in the forward direction. This helps obtain better images of the front parts of the breast.

Breast implants and screening risks

There is in most of the mammogram screenings no risk or damage to the breast implants. They do not rupture either. However, women with implants are exposed to radiation of x-rays during screening for a longer duration owing to the extra images needed for a better view of breast tissues. Also, the discomfort while flattening the breasts to obtain images would be more compared to that of women without implants.

Even though there are no significant risks, women with implants must inform the technologists about their implants while booking an appointment for mammography. This helps in finding a facility that is experienced in obtaining breast images with implants. Also, the technologists must know of the manufacturer of the implants, along with information on the style, design, and volume. This helps them identify whether unusual changes are due to the implants or the natural breast tissues.

The detection of breast cancer implies removal of the implants even if a mastectomy is not performed.

In conclusion 

Breasts must be felt for lumps, even for those who have implants. Additionally, women must undergo breast screening before getting implants and after it as well. This helps get images of the breasts in normal conditions, which can then be referred to during subsequent screenings. After all, as the saying goes, safety is better than cure.

Screenings – The New Ages and Rules

Breast cancer is surpassed only by skin cancer as the most common type of cancer in women in the United States. Regular check-ups and screenings play a major role in diagnosis of the disease and hence are highly recommended. Screenings are diagnostic tests conducted as a preventative measure and a means of early diagnosis of diseases.

Screening mammograms

Thanks to the advancement of medical science, with the use of modern technology and procedures, diagnosis of breast cancer can be made even if there are no symptoms visible. Known as mammogram screening, the test screens breasts for breast cancer.

Breast cancer screening – Mammograms 

As noted earlier, regular screenings are helpful to detect the disease early. It makes it easier to treat as well as apply lifestyle changes for preventing the disease altogether. A mammography involves each breast being placed against two plates on an x-ray radiation machine, which compresses and flattens the breast to get an image. This procedure lasts for 20 minutes and is only slightly uncomfortable. The images are reproduced on film.

Alternatively, digital mammography can be chosen, where the report is presented in a digital format in place of x-ray films. The accuracy of both digital mammography and traditional mammography is the same.

Appropriate age for mammography screening and new guidelines 

As per earlier mammogram guidelines, on reaching the age of 40, women were advised to undergo screening. However, current guidelines from various medical groups are conflicting with regard to the age at which to get the first mammogram done.

  • The American Cancer Society, or ACS, which until recently recommended that women over 40 have mammograms, has now changed the age group to women over 45.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, recommends starting at the age of 40.
  • The U.S Preventative Services Task Force Services, or USPSTF, recommends waiting until the age of 50 before having a mammogram done.

These groups differ even on how often women should get tested. According to the USPSTF, they can have it done every 2 years; on the other hand, the ACOG recommends annual checkups. Also as per the new rules, ACS suggests annual screenings for those between the ages of 45 and 54, and beyond that, every two years.

The best way to decide is to consult the family physician who knows the patients personally; he or she will know their family history, age, and other risk factors that decide whether or not a mammogram is necessary earlier.

Outcome of the New Rules

The medical groups pushing for an earlier age for mammograms are doing so to prevent the disease at an earlier stage. However, the medical groups pushing for later ages for the screenings are also justified. They are preventing overdiagnosis and false positives. A false positive is when a mammogram image shows irregularities or something suspicious but further testing confirms it to be nothing more than a false alarm. Occurrences of false positives are more frequent before menopause because breasts are dense.

Conclusion

The ultimate decision for a woman to go earlier or later for her mammogram depends on her personal background. Those with a family history of breast cancer or presence of BRCA gene mutation or other risk factors need not wait until 40. They must have a screening done earlier.

What Is Digital Mammography?

Digital mammography is an advanced and specialized type of mammography conducted to examine breast tissues in women in order to detect breast cancer. Using digital receptors and computers, this method differs from traditional mammography screenings; here, instead of x-ray films the records are stored in a digital format.

Mammography and breast cancer

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women in the U.S. And mammography is the term indicating screening of breasts to check for cancer. Thus, screening and testing for the disease is a required precautionary measure against the disease.

How digital mammography differs from traditional screening

The traditional screening method involved an x-ray mammography whereby the breasts were scanned via radiation by a machine. X-ray report images were examined by doctors to check for irregularities, and these x-ray images of mammography were stored on film for years. With advanced technology, the drawbacks of traditional screening were taken care of by digital mammograms.

How digital mammography works

The method for obtaining film screens as well as digital mammograms is the same. The breasts are placed between two plates by a technician and subsequently flattened and compressed, and then images of breasts are taken from top to bottom and from one side to another. This process could be painful for some; however, the whole process lasts only 20 minutes at the most. The end result or the images are stored as electric signals in the computer, unlike traditional screening where the reports were stored as physical hard copies only.

Benefits of digital mammography

When a study was conducted to compare reports of healthy women who had undergone film screening as well as digital mammography, it was found that digital mammograms were helpful while making a diagnosis of patients who were under 50 years of age, those who had dense breasts, and those who had not gone through menopause yet or had been in menopause for less than a year.

5 Prominent benefits of digital mammograms 

  • Greater analysis – digital mammograms can be studied repeatedly and in greater detail by radiologists along with clinicians as the images are stored electronically on the computer. Thus, images can be studied or referred to easily at a later time too.
  • Clearer images – digital images can be electronically manipulated to provide greater visibility and clarity, which is not possible to achieve with film mammograms.
  • Ease of second opinion – digital images can be easily mailed for further analysis and a second opinion.
  • Easy-to-keep record – because digital mammograms are saved on a computer and there is no physical copy, it is easier to store even multiple records, compared to bulky film mammograms.
  • Lower radiation – breasts are exposed to about 25% less radiation comparatively. Interestingly, digital mammograms use less radiation but take more images of each breast. Each view has images of smaller areas of the breast, therefore using a lower average dose of radiation.

In conclusion

The accuracy of film mammograms and digital mammograms is the same. However, digital mammograms provide opportunities for manipulation to view greater details and have a number of other advantages too. Thus, they are a better option over traditional mammography screening images.

Macular Degeneration

Aging brings with it a variety of disorders, and macular degeneration is one such disease. It has been found to be the foremost cause of vision loss in the older American population, especially those over 80 years of age. Also termed as age-related macular degeneration, ARMD, or AMD, this disease is on the rise as the population of older citizens increases. Statistics have revealed that white Americans over 80 are most affected at 14%, compared to 2.1% of Americans over 50. Again, comparatively, whites were found to be more affected by macular degeneration compared to blacks, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups.

What is macular degeneration?

Deterioration of the macula, the central small area of the retina that defines visual acuity, causes macular degeneration. The ability to recognize faces, read, drive, work on a computer, watch television, or carry out tasks requiring detail visualization depends on the health of the macula.

 

Types of macular degeneration

There are two types of macular degeneration:

  • dry or non-neovascular
  • wet or neovascular

Dry macular degeneration 

This form is more common and is caused mainly due to aging, when macular tissue starts thinning or pigment gets deposited in the macula. Sometimes, both of these underlying factors result in the disease.

Diagnosis

This disease is diagnosed when yellow deposits called drusen are found accumulated around the macula. Vision loss or defects are very gradual and no characteristic symptoms are detected.

Treatment

Due to the absence of an approved treatment, prevention is the way to manage this problem. Preventive measures include following a healthy diet, exercising, and wearing sunglasses to guard against harmful rays and radiations.

Wet or neovascular macular degeneration 

This condition is a progression of dry macular degeneration and occurs when new blood vessels start to grow underneath the retina, thus leading to leakage of blood and fluid. The leakage permanently damages the retinal cells, which are sensitive to light, thus resulting in blind spots. Occult wet macular degeneration occurs when blood vessel growth is not pronounced and there is less severe leakage and vision loss. When the growth and scarring of blood vessels is evident, with delineated outlines clearly observed and severe vision loss, the condition is termed classic wet macular degeneration.

Symptoms and likely causes of AMD

Vision loss is slow, gradual, and painless, with symptoms such as fuzzy or distorted vision along with the detection of shadowy areas in central vision.

The condition is diagnosed via a retinal exam followed by an Amsler grid test. Further confirmation is carried out via a fluorescein angiography.

Age is the number one cause of macular degeneration, but other causes have also been found, including heredity, inactivity and obesity, hypertension or high blood pressure, smoking, and the side effects of drugs. Those with lighter eye color are also more susceptible.

Treatment and prevention 

To date there is no FDA-approved treatment for macular degeneration, especially for dry AMD. The growth of blood vessels is stopped in wet AMD with medication such as Eylea, Lucentis, Visudyne, and Macugen, combined with photodynamic therapy.

Studies suggest that good nutrition and a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids can prevent macular degeneration.

Clinical Depression

Bipolar disorder is a condition that is, by the definition, “bi” having two phases.

The first phase is mania, which oftentimes, patients actually love because they’re extremely productive, they have high energy, they’re accomplishing many things. Unfortunately, the other part of bipolar depression is the depression part and that’s the real challenge, because these patients, during that phase, have no energy, no motivation, can’t get out of bed, no productivity, no social interaction. It’s just a complete polar opposite.

Bipolar disorder, there’s not really a one-size-fits all approach. Treatment options include non-traditional methods like biofeedback and one-on-one counseling, the more traditional pharmacological options, which include medications, but the most important thing is you really just need to acknowledge that there is a problem and that starts by having a conversation with your physician or your
clinician.

Again, Knowledge is Power. You can’t fix something until you realize that it exists.

Salerno Medical Associates’ Dr Alexander G Salerno talks about Bipolar Disorder: Causes and Treatment. Learn why Knowledge Is Power.

Bipolar Disorder

Salerno Medical Associates’ Dr Alexander Salerno addresses Anxiety & Panic Disorder: Causes and Treatment. Learn why Knowledge Is Power.

Anxiety disorder and panic disorder, they’re medical conditions. In the old days it was considered taboo, and a sign of weakness, but really it’s a medical condition no different than asthma or hypertension or heart disease. These disorders are due to chemical imbalances in the brain, but also can present with physical manifestations. They can imitate stroke, they can imitate heart attack, they can imitate migraine headaches, they could imitate irritable bowel syndrome.

So that’s why we call anxiety the great imitator. About 50% or more of patients that walk through a primary care doctors door, every day, has a form of anxiety that goes completely undiagnosed and unmanaged. There’s not a test, there’s not an x-ray that can tell us about whether or not you have anxiety, it’s truly based on the good old fashioned history and discussion and communication that you have with your physician.

If you have questions, ask. Knowledge is Power. You can’t fix a problem until you recognize one exists.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder is exactly what the word sounds like. Seasonal changes affect our mood. So when we go from summer to winter, with the change in the time and change in the weather, it certainly has an direct impact on our mood, on our energy and our overall well-being.

The symptoms for seasonal affective disorder can vary. It can be as subtle as sleep disturbance, change in diet, change in appetite, change in energy levels to more serious conditions in that sense that it can affect your daily activities of living from work to social relationships to professional activities and outcomes.

Treatments include biofeedback, light therapy, exercise, weekend trips even out of the Northeast region. Some of these have been really shown to benefit seasonal affective disorder. Change the location, you changed the mood. If you feel that you’re suffering from seasonal affective disorder, don’t be shy, have a conversation with your clinician or doctor.

Again,
Knowledge is Power

CHOP stands for Community Healthcare Outreach Program

Learn about CHOP! Find out what we can do for you!

CHOP stands for Community Healthcare Outreach Program, a program that can provide fully integrated primary care for your behavioral health facility. CHOP is an evolution of the ground breaking work of the late Dr. Alfonse Salerno, founding member of the second generation, family-run Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Originally called SHOP (Senior Healthcare Outreach Program), it was launched in 2002 as a return to the traditional house-call program for urban community seniors by Dr. Salerno’s son, Dr. Alexander G Salerno. Since then it has become the longest running house-call program of its type the area. In 2015, Dr. Alexander G Salerno renamed the program CHOP and expanded its services to include the state’s mentally ill population, which has long been underserved by the community. CHOP is still committed to local seniors, but has added screenings, healthcare and chronic disease management to all populations in need, including those with psychiatric and other adult disorders.

Cataracts

 

Eyes are the mirrors to the world, and life can be quite blank and difficult to imagine without them. Thus, disorders of the eye may be comparatively few in number, but they deserve our full attention. Cataract is one such common disorder, whereby the lens of the eye is clouded, thus making it difficult to see things clearly. Cataract is such a common disorder, especially in the older population, and it is estimated that more than half of Americans over 65 suffer from this condition.

 

Causes and types of cataract

When proteins accumulate in the lens of the eye, making them appear cloudy, a cataract starts forming. The build-up of protein obstructs the passage of light through the eye lens, resulting in blurred vision. When new cells in the lens of the eye are formed on the outside of the lens, they push the older cells into the center, forming a compact protein deposit in the center, which in turn is termed a cataract.

There are a few types of cataracts depending on the causative agents, such as

  1. Age-related cataract caused by growing old.
  2. Traumatic cataracts caused due to an injury to the lens and the eye in general.
  3. Congenital cataract, which is when babies are born with the condition because of an injury, infection, or poor development before birth. This cataract can develop during childhood too.
  4. Secondary cataracts are found as a consequence of another primary medical condition, such as exposure to drugs, toxic chemicals, radiation, or ultraviolet light. It is also caused by diabetes.

Lifestyle habits such as heavy drinking, smoking, and exposure to air pollution can also lead to cataracts.

 

Symptoms of cataract

A cataract progresses slowly and there are no significant symptoms but rather gradual stages of vision loss. These include blurry, cloudy, filmy or foggy vision, inability to view colors distinctly, facing problems while driving at night due to glare from the headlights of vehicles, suffering daytime glare problems, and encountering double vision. Other symptoms include changes in the prescription of glasses; sometimes the elderly witness improvement in nearsightedness such that they can read without the help of glasses, however distant vision keeps getting worse. Such a symptomatic condition is called second sight.

Cataracts are diagnosed with an eye examination to test vision, as well as an examination of parts of the eye including the lens.

 

Treatment and prevention

If the condition is minor, it is curable by wearing the correct glasses or contact lenses prescribed by a doctor. However, if vision is still not clear post glasses, then cataract surgery is required. The surgery involves removing the lens of the eye, to be replaced with an artificial one. With close to 1.5 million cataract surgeries performed per year in the United States, it is categorized as the most frequently performed surgery and has a success ratio of greater than 90%.

 

Since the reason protein gets deposited on the lens is unclear, there is no prevention for cataract. However, since it is common among the elderly, regular eye examinations, especially after 50 years of age, are recommended. Also, those suffering from diabetes or having a history of eye problems must be cautious.

 

Conclusion

Cataract is a commonly occurring condition in America, especially in the older population; it cannot be prevented but it can easily be treated.

What Is Diabetic and Hypertensive Eye Disease?

Diabetic retinopathy is known to be a diabetes complication that happens due to a high blood sugar level which eventually leads to damaging the retina, the back section of the eye. If one does not get treated in time, it could lead to blindness.

Generally, diabetic retinopathy will take time to reach the threatening stage and people who are diabetic need to be quite cautious. They need to ensure that their cholesterol, sugar level, and blood pressure are always under control and are checked from time to time. They should also opt for diabetic eye screening appointments to ensure everything is fine with their eyes and overall system.

Diabetes can affect your eyes and you need to be aware of it. How?

The retina at the back of the eye is the light-sensitive layer of cells that helps convert light into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the brain, which transfers them into images that you generally see. The retina should be constantly supplied with blood by a network of small blood vessels. But if an individual has been experiencing high blood sugar levels persistently, the blood vessels can eventually become damaged in three stages. They are:

  • Blood vessels may experience small bulges that will start to bleed but may not affect your vision. This is called background retinopathy.
  • When rigorous and pervasive changes take place it affects blood vessels, where the eye may start to bleed more; this is called pre-proliferative retinopathy.
  • New blood vessels and scar tissue that are fragile may start to bleed easily and start to develop on the retina. This is called proliferative retinopathy, and eventually one may become blind at this stage.

However, one can avert such a condition by making an early lifestyle change or starting the treatment in time.

Diabetic and hypertensive eye disease: Symptoms

Generally, one cannot understand or detect the symptoms until the condition deteriorates or has advanced extensively. A few of the symptoms of this disease include:

  • Swollen eyes
  • Reduced vision
  • Blood vessels start to burst
  • Double vision, which is generally attendant with headaches

You should make sure that you quickly see a doctor if your blood pressure starts to rise and you notice changes in your vision.

Diabetic and hypertensive eye disease: Causes

One of the chief causes is hypertension or protracted high blood pressure. You need to understand that high blood pressure is a chronic problem wherein the force of the blood against the arteries is quite high. This force happens when blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries and the heart rests between the heartbeats after the force is created. When the blood moves throughout the body at a higher pressure, the tissues that makes up the arteries start stretching and as time proceeds they become damaged. With this, one starts encountering several other problems as time moves on.

Diabetic and hypertensive eye disease in the United States

High blood pressure or hypertension is a quite commonly found condition in the United States. And in most cases it leads to hypertensive eye disease. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 3 adults in the United States are affected by hypertension. It is known to be a silent killer since it generally does not have any evident symptoms.

African American adults have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes as compared to non-Hispanic whites. African American adults are also quite likely to develop diabetes and die due to diabetes-related complications. One of the commonly found conditions is diabetic retinopathy, a condition that could lead to loss of vision permanently or retinal damage.

Blacks and Mexican Americans have a higher tendency of being affected with moderate to severe retinopathy. Conversely, blacks who have not been diagnosed with diabetes stand a lesser chance of developing retinopathy.

Conclusion

Diabetic retinopathy is undeniably a condition that may damage the retina of the eye, and it is vision threatening. As reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it has been the cause of blindness amongst working-age Americans. However, one can prevent such occurrences with regular eye examinations as well as proper treatments.

Glaucoma

Disorders of the eye, though serious, often do not have any precautionary steps, thus making it difficult to prevent them. However, timely treatment can make a difference and save vision. One of such common eye disorders, glaucoma, can lead to blindness if not treated and controlled in time.

 

Glaucoma is caused owing to buildup of pressure within the eye. This increased pressure, termed as intraocular pressure, has detrimental effects on the optic nerve, which could ultimately lead to loss of vision over a period of time. Glaucoma, if left untreated, can cause permanent and complete blindness in a few years time.

 

Causes of glaucoma

The increase in pressure on the eye that causes glaucoma is because the fluid within the eye does not circulate normally. The fluid, known as aqueous humor, circulates out of the eye via a channel that resembles a mesh. When this mesh-like channel gets blocked, the fluid cannot flow, thus building up pressure, which causes glaucoma. Sadly, the cause of the channel blockage is still unknown.

 

Glaucoma can even, in a few cases, be caused due to blunt trauma or injury to the eye by exposure to a chemical. It can also be caused due to a severe eye infection or because of an eye surgery for some other condition. Inflammation of the eye or blockages of eye blood vessels can also lead to glaucoma.

 

Types of glaucoma

Glaucoma can be of two types:

  • open angle glaucoma
  • angle closure glaucoma

 

Open angle glaucoma

 

This is the most common type and is also known as wide angle glaucoma. In this condition, the eye structures appear normal, but the aqueous humor is unable to flow properly via the drains of the eye, which are termed trabecular meshwork.

 

Treatment – Laser surgery helps increase the fluid outflow from the eye.

 

Chronic angle closure glaucoma

This type, which is more common in Asia than in the Western population, is also known as narrow angle glaucoma, acute glaucoma, or angle closure glaucoma. In this type, drainage of eye fluid is poor because the angle between the cornea and iris of the eye is narrow or small and is blocked by the iris physically. This causes pressure to build up from the liquid, thus causing the disorder. Acute angle glaucoma is associated with a higher degree of farsightedness along with clouding of the eye lens which leads to cataract.

 

Treatment – In angle closure glaucoma, laser surgery helps with elimination of blockages caused by fluid buildup.

 

Facts about glaucoma

Research has shown that glaucoma can be inherited. Thus, those who are over 40 and have a history of glaucoma in their family must be careful and have regular eye checks once a year.

The African American population is more likely to suffer from glaucoma, at a comparatively earlier age and with a greater degree of loss of vision. Other demographic populations more inclined to develop glaucoma include Hispanic, Russian, Irish, Japanese, Scandinavian, or those of Inuit descent.

 

Those suffering from diabetes or under steroid medication as well as those suffering from eye trauma are more likely to develop glaucoma.

 

Conclusion

Glaucoma, whether open angle or closed angle, does not have major symptoms and thus it cannot be prevented. However, regular check-ups and timely treatment can help prevent loss of vision due to glaucoma.

 

 

 

 

travel vaccinations

Common Travel Vaccines for Certain Travel Destinations

 

Travelling to exotic destinations is on the wish list for many travel fanatics. Going on a wildlife safari, visiting pristine white beaches, or camping in the tropics is an escape route that many embrace. While on tour, souvenirs are bought that recall pleasant memories of the place; however, nobody wishes to bring back souvenirs in the form of illness, such as yellow fever or typhoid or “Montezuma’s revenge.” Such illnesses need not put a wrench in the works as far as travel plans are concerned. The answer to protecting the body against foreign illnesses is travel vaccinations.

 

About travel vaccinations

Before embarking on travel to certain parts of the world, travellers can get shots, termed as travel immunizations or travel vaccines, to protect themselves against diseases and illnesses. The vaccines are composed of live attenuated or dead bacteria or viruses of the disease they cause. These organisms do not harm the body but stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against the virus or bacteria. Thus, when exposed to a disease that causes live bacteria or viruses, the body is ready to fight them off.

 

Types of vaccines

  • Routine vaccines

There are several routine vaccines that need to be taken by young and old alike, irrespective of whether they are planning to travel or not. These include adult vaccination for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus as well as a measles vaccine for adults who are not up to date. These are routine vaccines for illnesses that could be quite common in certain countries, and thus it is best to get them weeks in advance before travelling abroad.

 

  • Recommended vaccines

These are vaccines for certain types of illnesses that can be taken when travelling to high-risk areas. These recommended vaccines protect travellers and prevent diseases from spreading from one country to another.

 

  • Required vaccines

These vaccines are a must and are at times mandatory when travelling to certain parts of the world. For instance, when travelling to parts of South America and Africa, the vaccine for yellow fever is required. Similarly, those travelling to Mecca for the annual hajj pilgrimage need to take the meningococcal vaccine.

 

A few common diseases and illnesses that are travel related and that can be prevented by vaccination, apart from yellow fever and meningococcal disease, include typhoid and paratyphoid fever, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis.

 

Factors determining the need for vaccination

The vaccine needed before travelling abroad depends on a lot of factors. It also differs from person to person when travelling to the same place. This is again decided by several factors, such as

  • whether the areas they are travelling to are urban or rural;
  • whether they will consume food at a hotel or at local joints;
  • whether they are backpacking throughout the country or living in a resort.

All of the above factors are considered because the exposure to germs and organisms as well as the risk profile varies depending on the itinerary. The season in which travel is scheduled, mode of transport, and planned activities are also taken into consideration. Previous immunization history as well as health status, such as current medications, also help decide whether to vaccinate and which vaccinations are required before travelling.

 

Conclusion

It is advisable to be updated on routine vaccinations regularly to prevent illnesses during travel abroad. If travelling to high-risk areas, visiting a travel vaccination center for advice on required vaccines is a must. In addition, practicing basic hygiene rituals, such as washing hands, using sanitizers, and using mosquito repellents, helps prevent illnesses.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

live vs dead vaccines

Differences between Live and Dead Vaccines

 

Vaccines are a vital component of the medicine and drug industry that can keep diseases and illnesses at bay. There are different types of vaccines classified on the basis of how they are made. These include:

  • Live or attenuated vaccines
  • Dead or inactivated vaccines
  • Conjugate vaccines
  • Recombinant vaccines
  • Toxoid vaccines
  • DNA vaccines

 

The two main classifications of vaccines are: live and dead vaccines.

 

Live attenuated vaccines

These vaccines are termed as live because they are derived from disease-causing “wild” bacteria or viruses. These bacteria and viruses are weakened or “attenuated” by culturing them in a laboratory. After being injected, live attenuated vaccines grow and replicate inside the vaccinated person’s body to produce an immune response. This works so that the vaccine organism grows until the human body recognizes it as a foreign pathogen and produces antibodies against it. Thus when the body is exposed to actual disease pathogens, it is armored with antibodies to fight the disease. The immune response to an attenuated live vaccine is strong, and a single dose is sufficient for life. However, since the pathogen is live, it could mutate inside the body and no longer elicit the required immune response. There even exists a remote possibility of the microbe in the vaccine reverting back to its virulent form and causing disease.

 

Dead or inactivated vaccines

These vaccines consist of killed or inactivated forms of the pathogen, killed with either heat, chemicals like formalin, or radiation. These vaccines function when the immune system responds to the introduction of the virus, bacteria, or toxin produced by the germ. However, the immune response for these vaccines is not as strong as attenuated vaccines and thus repeated booster doses are required after a certain period of time for longer lasting immunity against diseases.

 

Differences between dead and live vaccines

Live attenuated vaccines consist of weakened viruses or bacteria and are therefore highly unstable. They require mandatory refrigeration so that the microbes remain weakened and the chances of mutation are lower. Dead inactivated vaccines, on the other hand, are quite stable and do not pose the risk of dead microbes mutating. Therefore they can be stored without refrigeration.

 

Another difference is that live vaccines elicit a strong immune response, similar to fighting the actual disease, and therefore a single dose is sufficient to last a lifetime. On the other hand, dead vaccines produce a comparatively weak response and therefore repeated booster doses are required periodically to refresh the immune system’s memory.

 

Since live vaccines are unstable, they cannot be given to individuals with suppressed, damaged, or weakened immune systems, such as AIDS patients or those undergoing chemotherapy, as the reaction to the live microbe could cause the actual disease itself. Dead vaccines, on the other hand, are completely safe and can be administered to those with weak or damaged immune systems as well.

 

Examples of live and dead vaccines

Live viral vaccines are available for diseases such as mumps, rubella, measles, yellow fever, varicella, and influenza (administered intranasally); the oral polio vaccine also falls in this category. Attenuated live bacterial vaccines include the oral typhoid vaccine and BCG.

Dead inactivated whole viral vaccines are available for diseases such as rabies, polio, influenza, and hepatitis A. Dead inactivated whole bacterial vaccines provide protection against cholera, typhoid, pertussis, and plague. Fractional vaccines that contain subunits provide protection against influenza, acellular pertussis, and hepatitis B. Toxoid dead vaccines are available for tetanus and diphtheria.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

sick-and-healthy

Pneumonia versus Flu Vaccine

People are often confused about whether they are suffering from flu or pneumonia, given that both share a few common symptoms. But these are two different diseases with differences in causes and treatment.

 

Before we discuss the vaccines for pneumonia and flu, let us have a quick look at these two health issues, their symptoms and distinguishing factors.

In a nutshell

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a chest infection or lung inflammation that can result from infectious and non-infectious causes. Pneumonia can also escalate to a severe fatal condition. Treatment for pneumonia includes antibiotics and antivirals. Vaccination helps prevent the infection.

 

What is influenza (flu)?

Influenza is a viral infection caused by various strains of the influenza virus. Regular vaccination helps fight the flu.

 

Symptoms of flu and pneumonia and the distinguishing factors

Many confuse the start of a pneumonia infection with the flu since both infections have several common symptoms, such as fever, cough, a general feeling of being unwell, chills, and sweats. Both conditions can take a severe turn and become life threatening as well. However, flu starts with chills, fever, sore throat, sweats, weakness, headache, and pain in the joints and muscles, whereas pneumonia symptoms primarily include sputum or mucus production that may be yellow or green in color and bloody, along with chest pain, difficulty in breathing, rapid pulse, and rapid breathing.

 

Distinguishing factors

  • Sputum, especially green or yellow colored, is produced when suffering from pneumonia, whereas there is usually no mucus produced in flu, and if present it is clear or white.
  • Also, chest pain is not observed in influenza, but is a common symptom of pneumonia.
  • Flu typically lasts for a few days and the person can recover on his or her own or with a mild antibiotic, whereas to recover from pneumonia, treatment is required.

 

A note: It is worth mentioning that flu can increase the risk of a pneumonia infection, as the immune system is weak owing to the flu virus, making the body susceptible to pneumonia caused by a bacterial attack.

 

Vaccination for pneumonia and flu

Two types of pneumonia vaccinations are available against only Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria—these are called Pneumovax (or PPSV23) and PCV13 (or Prevnar). Those above 65 must take the PCV13 vaccine followed by PPSV23 after a year, and if they have taken PPSV23, then PCV13 must be taken after a year’s gap. High-risk populations must take these vaccines too. Vaccines, such as measles, pertussis, varicella, pneumococcus, influenza, and haemophilus influenzae type b, also help prevent pneumonia by blocking some of the viruses or bacteria that cause pneumonia.

 

Influenza vaccination or the flu shot, on the other hand, is recommended yearly for everyone over 6 months of age, especially the high-risk category of the population. Interestingly, the flu shot is found to prevent pneumonia too. This is because the flu virus can cause viral and bacterial pneumonia. Both vaccines have negligible side effects.

 

Conclusion

The flu shot must be taken by all individuals on a yearly basis, and it can also double as protection against pneumonia. However, individuals at high risk of contracting pneumonia must also take pneumonia vaccinations in consultation with their physicians.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Childhood immunization fact vs fiction

Facts versus Fictions about Childhood Vaccines

Facts versus Fictions about Childhood Vaccines

When we delve deeper into the source and history of vaccines, we realize that it’s been quite a bumpy ride for many of us. At one point in time, they were regarded as lifesaving wonders of modern technology; nevertheless, there have been many myths revolving around this subject. This is why it is important for us to sort out fact from fiction and make everyone aware of the real deal with vaccines.

Let us become more knowledgeable about the real facts of vaccines:

  • There are a few vaccines which contain mercury

Fact. Thimerosal is known to be a preservative that contains about 50% mercury. It helps to prevent contamination through bacteria. It is quite commonly used in flu shots.

But after 2001, thimerosal has not been a part of routine vaccines for children under 6 years of age. A few vaccines together with flu shots, for adults and children alike, are available in thimerosal-free versions, or may simply contain traces of it.

  • Autism can occur due to vaccines

Myth. Andrew Wakefield did a little experiment in 1998, and he claimed to find some links between mumps, measles, rubella vaccine, and autism. This undeniably alarmed all concerned. This is why the rate of immunization has fallen drastically.

Yet this study was considered to be an imperfect one, and it has since been retracted by the journal that published this report. The Institute of Medicine likewise in 2004 stated that there was no scientific evidence behind such claims and that there was no link to be found between autism and the MMR vaccine. In the year 2010, the CDC stated that it was in fact a risky step for children not to be vaccinated.

  • Vaccines do come with side effects

Fact. Yes, vaccines are not free from risks; one of the frequently felt side effects is tenderness at the injected area with fever, and it is best treated with ibuprofen and acetaminophen. A few of the less commonly cited effects are seizures, the risks of which depend on the kind of vaccine taken. A few children tend to be at a higher risk of side effects than other kids.

  • If you are vaccinated, you are completely protected

Myth. Though vaccines are safe, they will not provide you with a 100% guarantee that you will not become sick. However, yes, they are quite helpful.

If you get the flu vaccine, there is still a chance for you to be infected by the flu; however, the intensity would be much less. This is why, to provide best for the majority of people, experts believe in “herd immunity,” wherein the more people vaccinated, the higher the chances of keeping everyone protected. This would include people who are not capable of taking shots due to heath issues, old age problems, or religious reasons.

  • Taking a lot of shots will end up weakening the immune system

Myth. On the contrary, it is believed that the opposite is true. With every dose, your system gets properly fortified and the body’s resistance power is higher. It will also be able to fight away real infection, in case it shows up anytime. These days, children are given numerous vaccinations at one point in time so that they are well protected and can battle infections faster.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

The Infamous Hepatitis C and Some of Its Famous Victims

 

The Infamous Hepatitis C and Some of Its Famous Victims

Hepatitis C (HCV) is one of the most painful diseases that cause inflammation of the liver. It is one of those rare diseases that is difficult to diagnose early. During the early phases the symptoms may be negligible, but with time, it becomes painful and fatal. It contaminates the blood cells and causes inflammation of the liver, with progressive deterioration in the later stage as it attacks the immune system of the victim. Patients suffer from nausea, yellow eyes, breathlessness, fever, fatigue, and many other symptoms.

Contagious HVC

The main cause of HVC is through blood contamination. It can be due to alcohol intake as well as intake of certain toxins or chemicals that affect the liver. With a little carelessness, it easily spreads to others. The main reason for transfer is sharing used needles for injections or making tattoos. The cure and treatment is expensive. Many celebrities are also victims of this deadly disease. In many cases, the exact cause of transmission remains unknown, even if it may be guessed that the cause is sharing needles. Let’s take a look at the celebrities who have been victims of HVC.

Famous celebs with HVC

Pamela Anderson, who became famous with Baywatch and her steamy photo shoots, was diagnosed with HVC. She claims that she developed this disease by sharing needles with her ex-husband Tommy Lee. She was quite upset that Tommy had hidden the fact that he had the HVC.

Ken Watanabe, the famous Japanese star, who was undergoing treatment for leukemia, was an unfortunate victim of HVC during a blood transfusion.

Underground musician Lou Reed met an unfortunate death after his liver was transplanted. Sadly enough, the transplanted liver was affected by HVC virus and it led to the tragic demise of the star.

Handsome Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was a famous soap actor as well as a writer, was affected by HVC. It is said that his drug addiction induced the disease in his body.

The famous singer Natalie Cole was almost a victim of this disease. Heavy drug intake during her youth led to this fatal case of HVC, but there were hardly any symptoms of the disease in her body. This led to a very late diagnosis of this fatal disease.

Gregg Allman, the legendary singer of the song “Rolling Stone,” was saved from HVC when he underwent a liver transplant after HVC was diagnosed in his body. The reason for the infection is as of yet unknown.

The beautiful Naomi Judd, who is a singer by profession, got this infection by a needle while she served as a nurse. She came to know about the disease in 1990, and with lots of hope and hard work, she was able to cure herself from this deadly disease.

Steven Tyler of the famous band Aerosmith got HVC; now that he has been cured after an intensive treatment of 11 months, he is positive about the cure of HVC. He feels that a lot of development and research has made HVC curable, and with proper diagnosis and treatment people can again live a normal life, free from HVC.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

The Newest Treatments of Hep C

The Newest Treatments of Hep C—Why They Are So Much Better than Previous Treatments

Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis C virus. The initial acute stage of the infection does not have any symptoms, and thus the virus can go undetected until the condition becomes chronic, posing a threat of liver damage, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. The virus is transmitted via the blood of the infected person from sharing and injecting with used needles and syringes, sexual contact with infected individuals, or body piercing with reused needles. The virus can also be transmitted from an infected pregnant mother to her unborn child as well as from healthcare workers who handle and work with blood samples. Presently, there is no vaccine available for Hepatitis C, so it is wise to be careful and take precautions.

 

Treatment for Hepatitis C

The acute phase of the infection is often not treated immediately; however, the virus spread must be checked periodically to find out if the body has fought against the spread of the virus. The chronic condition, however, requires medical intervention along with lifestyle changes. These lifestyle measures include stopping smoking and alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, having a balanced and healthy diet, keeping personal items away from others, and not sharing syringes or needles.

 

New treatments and its benefits

The new treatment includes medications such as simeprevir, sofosbuvir, and daclatasvir, combinations of ombitasvir and paritaprevir, along with ribavirin, a combination of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir. Some of these are taken alone while others are administered along with interferon and/or ribavirin.

 

The dosage of these medications is tablets taken once or twice daily; thus they are easily consumed. Also, the treatment time is reduced significantly to 12 to 24 weeks for most of the patients with the new medication. The cure rate for most of these drugs is much higher than with older medications; for instance, the combination of ombitasvir, paritaprevir, and ritonavir along with dasabuvir is found to cure 95% of patients. The side effects are also drastically reduced, thus encouraging patients to stick to the therapy.

 

Older treatment method

The older treatment for Hep C included a combination of medications that sometimes lasted for 48 weeks. The combination therapy included the drugs pegylated interferon and ribavirin. The interferon was administered as a weekly injectable dose that encouraged the immune system to fight against the virus. The ribavirin acted as an antiviral that halted the reproduction of the virus and was administered in capsule form twice daily.

 

Consequences of these treatments

This combination therapy was accompanied by severe side effects including depression, fatigue, anemia, loss of appetite, problems going to sleep, rash, itchy skin, and general flu-like symptoms. The treatment was also found to bring about cognitive deficits, such as impaired concentration and attention, which negatively affected the health-related quality of life of patients as well as their social life. Also, the recovery rate using this therapy was only about 40-45%. The profound side effects of treatment and lower rate of cure made way for newer medication.

 

 

Conclusion

The newer treatment for Hep C is simpler, effective, and has reduced treatment time to as few as 8 weeks in some cases. The percentage of cured patients is also significantly higher, with negligible side effects.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C—When Was Hepatitis C Discovered? What Causes Hepatitis C?

 Hepatitis C and its discovery

The disease Hepatitis C is caused by a virus which ultimately contaminates the liver. In due course of time, it can even lead to liver cancer, failure of the liver, and cirrhosis.

It is a communicable liver infection and is caused by the Hepatitis C virus, also known as HCV, discovered in 1989. Before this period it was associated with blood transfusions and was known as non-A, non-B hepatitis since it was hard for doctors to identify the particular virus. There are several groups of people who are simply unaware of the fact that they are infected with Hepatitis C until they come across liver damage. It can take many years to finally uncover the fact of being infected by the virus. Such are the facts of Hepatitis C.

What causes Hepatitis C?

One can become infected with Hepatitis C by coming into contact with the blood of a person who is infected by this virus. There are several other bodily fluids that also contain this virus; however, the percentage tends to be higher in the case of blood. It is believed that at room temperature, the virus is capable of sustaining and enduring outside the body in dried blood patches on surfaces for several weeks.

A few common ways of being infected by this virus are mentioned below:

  • Injecting drugs

Those who regularly inject drugs, including illegal recreational drugs as well as performance-enhancing drugs, like anabolic steroids, tend to be at a high risk of becoming infected by the Hepatitis C virus. In the UK alone, more than 90% of Hepatitis C cases occur in people who have injected themselves with drugs in the past or with those who are currently injecting them. It’s been estimated that about half of the drug-injecting population of the UK are infected with this virus.

This infection easily spreads when needles and associated devices are shared. Injecting a needle that’s contaminated is enough for an individual to become infected with this disease.

Some of the other common causes are:

  • Unprotected sex

Hepatitis C does have a chance of being transmitted when one has unprotected sex (by not using condoms); nevertheless the risk is quite low. The danger of transmission through sex tends to be higher amongst men who have sex with men. The risk increases when there is any genital ulcer or sores or if either of the partners has HIV. However, if you have had a steady partner for years, then the risk is drastically lowered even if one engages in unprotected sex.

  • Blood transfusions

If you have had any dental or medical treatment overseas or a blood transfusion during which the medical devices were not properly sterilized, there are chances of you being infected with Hepatitis C, as the virus has strong endurance power, especially in traces of blood that were left on the equipment.

  • Sharing scissors, toothbrushes, and razors

The risks of being infected with Hepatitis C are higher when certain items are shared, like razors and toothbrushes, as these can be easily contaminated with blood that’s infected.

Even devices that are used by hairdressers, such as clippers or scissors, can pose a threat of being contaminated with infected blood. This is why it is important for them to be cleaned well and sterilized between customers.

  • Tattooing or getting body parts pierced

People who get tattooed or body pierced stand a greater chance of being infected with the Hepatitis C virus if the device was not sterilized. However, most tattoo parlors are regulated by the law and operate at high standards, which lowers the risk.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Fact or Fiction—Fatigue and Quality of Life with Hepatitis C

 

Fact or Fiction—Fatigue and Quality of Life with Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C, caused by the Hepatitis C virus or HCV, is a chronic viral infection that primarily affects the liver. The disease can be spread via contact with the blood of those who are suffering from the Hepatitis C virus; this includes transmission via infected needles and syringes, sexual contact without using a condom, and getting a tattoo or body piercing done when the needle could be infected. People who are more susceptible to infection include those who have had transplants, healthcare workers who are regularly in contact with blood samples, and the unborn child of an infected pregnant mother. However, it does not spread through casual contact, such as holding hands, sneezing, or coughing.

 

Hepatitis C and its risk

 

Since there aren’t any visible symptoms in those who have recently been infected by the virus, it often goes unnoticed and can become a chronic condition from an acute infection. People suffering from chronic Hepatitis C are at risk for developing cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver, as well as liver cancer. Once infected, the virus can be confirmed via a blood test; subsequent tests are also carried out to determine damage to the liver. Treatment to rid the body of the virus and minimize damage to the liver is followed post-infection. With the lack of a vaccine for the Hepatitis C virus, one needs to exercise caution to prevent contracting the virus. It is better to be safe than sorry, since once infected, the chronic infection adversely affects the health-related quality of life of patients.

 

Fatigue and quality of life of HCV patients

It is a known fact that there are profound health-related effects on the quality of life of those undergoing treatment for Hepatitis C, with fatigue being the most predominant. Apart from fatigue and flu-like symptoms, other adverse effects include depression, muscle aches, and neurocognitive deficits. The neurocognitive deficits include changes in the patient’s neurotransmitter levels, specifically in the frontal white matter of the brain, which is correlated with reduced concentration and attention. The chronic condition is even found to be associated with sexual dysfunction along with depression. The other symptoms affecting quality of life include mental tiredness, sleep problems, poor appetite, malaise, physical tiredness with reduced vitality, abdominal pain, reduced cognitive functioning, and gastrointestinal problems. The rate of psychiatric disorders especially was found to be much higher in Hepatitis C patients compared to the general population. All of these symptoms were evaluated in association with psychopathological, sociodemographic, and psychiatric factors and were found to affect the social and economic quality of life along with health. Many case studies have even suggested that the treatment itself brought upon the impaired health-related quality of life.

 

Conclusion

Numerous studies and reviews in different parts of the world, including rural as well as urban areas, confirm the observation that the health-related quality of life of those suffering from chronic Hepatitis C virus infection is adversely affected compared to the normal population. Most prominently, symptoms of fatigue are found in patients. Thus it could be concluded that fatigue and other symptoms as well as subsequent treatment impair the patient’s ability to function in society.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Role of Lifestyle in Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is on the rise and it’s no surprise. With a number of contributing factors, kids between the ages of 6 and 19 are becoming more prone to childhood obesity. There are many different childhood obesity factors that contribute to the worsening of this condition. Most of these factors are related to changes in our society and in people’s lifestyles. In addition, parents have been negligent in their responsibilities as far as understanding the risk factors and possible causes of this widely prevalent epidemic called obesity.

Among all factors, lifestyle plays a major role in the overall health of children and in contributing to this epidemic. An unhealthy lifestyle can be an immediate cause of children suffering from obesity. When we talk of lifestyle, it mostly comprises diet habits, exercise, and physical activities.

Lack of Exercise
Nowadays, many kids prefer indoor games and indoor activities instead of venturing out regularly. Lack of physical exercise is an important factor that is one of the causes of childhood obesity. Nowadays, kids are increasingly addicted to video games, computer games, and play stations. It has been observed that these children have a greater risk of childhood obesity compared to kids who go outside to play or engage in sports. Advances in modern technology have contributed to this childhood obesity. With advances in technology, the lifestyle of kids has changed. For instance, instead of going out for outdoor soccer or basketball, they love to play these games technologically indoors. Diet also has a connection with lack of physical activities. Children eat fast food while playing video games or watching television.

In the past, kids loved to play sports and enjoy outside activities. They loved outdoor entertainment and walking to school. Nowadays, instead of going out to play, children prefer to do more of watching television, surfing the Internet, playing computer games, and chatting online. These activities let children exercise only their minds and their hands. Combined with poor choices of food, lack of exercise is contributing to obesity in a significant manner. The fat that they are accumulating by eating high-calorie food and junk and convenience items is not burned by staying indoors and playing computer games. In addition, with the rising pressure of school homework and studying, children now hardly have time to exercise outside. They are confined to interior spaces where their only job is to eat, sleep, study, and play.

Diet Problem
Coupled with the above problem, the way food is cooked in modern times is completely different from what our ancestors did. In earlier days, food was cooked from scratch. However, now preparation of food is simpler and faster. The dominance of fast-food joints in our diet is another factor responsible for obesity among children.

Instead of including plenty of fruits and veggies in meals, children mostly choose sugary items, fried food, junk food, and other convenient stuff. Parents are also responsible for this as they encourage their kids to go to fast-food joints. Instead of pizzas and burgers, parents can easily pack bananas, carrots, apples, and salads in their lunch boxes.

Bad Habits
Lifestyle also includes bad eating habits. Children nowadays eat food that is low in nutrition and high in fat, including aerated drinks, rich desserts, and fast foods. In addition, they overeat to deal with emotional problems and while watching TV. Hence, they consume a lot of empty calories.

These lifestyle problems lead to childhood obesity.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Diziness in elderly article Alexander G Salerno

Dizziness in the Elderly — Causes and Treatment

Dizziness is a common symptom or effect seen in many different body states and conditions. People are usually familiar with the feeling of dizziness but might find it hard to describe. It can best be described as a feeling of light-headedness along with a sense of whirling, motion, and spinning. Dr. Alexander Salerno, MD, of Salerno Medical Associates, states that dizziness in the elderly may be due to a mild but annoying condition or it could be due to a life-threatening condition.

Dizziness is one of the leading health concerns for the elderly above the age of 60. Statistics have revealed that about 20% to 40% of adults above the age of 65 living at home experience falls due to dizziness. As noted by Dr. Salerno, the consequences of dizziness and subsequent falls may be disastrous and can cause serious impairments such as hip fractures or other bone fractures or dislocation, as well as creating fear and in turn negatively impacting the daily activities of living.

Due to these serious health concerns, it is vital that the cause of dizziness and imbalance be determined and addressed in an attempt to reduce significant health hazards.

Causes of Dizziness in the Elderly

The causes of dizziness, like its symptoms, are varied, and may be due to simple reasons such as motion sickness; on the other hand, dizziness might be the symptom of a complicated disorder such as diseases of the heart and blood vessels or stroke.

Some of the causes of dizziness are:

  • Inner ear problems, which affect the body balance mechanism; these problems include ear infection, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, motion sickness, and Meniere’s disease.
  • Dizziness can be due to reduced blood flow to the brain due to dehydration, atherosclerosis, orthostatic hypotension, heart arrhythmias, and transient ischemic attack.
  • Certain types of drugs and medications, such as sedatives, antidepressants, blood pressure-controlling drugs, anti-seizure drugs, and tranquilizers, also cause dizziness.
  • Anemia is known to cause dizziness.
  • Migraine, concussion, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety disorders can lead to dizziness.
  • Hypoglycemia often causes dizziness.
  • Conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy affect the vision of the elderly, leading to imbalance of the legs and feet and degeneration of the vestibular system, which cause dizziness.
  • Muscle strength and the mobility of joints lessen with age and thus lead to imbalance and dizziness in older adults. This part of the normal aging process, combined with age-related conditions such as arthritis and a sedentary lifestyle, make the bones and muscles weak, making mobility unsteady.
  • With growing age, one’s diet might also be affected, and poorly balanced meals can also cause symptoms of dizziness.

Treatment of Dizziness in the Elderly

Dr. Alexander Salerno emphasizes that dizziness can be due to a number of reasons and may be an indication of several conditions, ranging from vertigo to inner ear problems, blood vessel-related problems to problems with vision, as well as muscle and bone impairments or serious conditions such as heart disease. However, the actual cause needs to be determined and treated. Because dizziness is a symptom of so many different conditions and diseases, it is vital to discuss the problem with a doctor and ascertain the cause.

Medical treatments and medication such as benzodiazepines can be used for conditions causing dizziness. The elderly should be cared for at home with proper meals, rest, safety measures around the house, and reassuring care.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Is Shingles Vaccine Effective?

Shingles, which is also known as Herpes Zoster, is defined as a viral infection that causes a painful skin rash which is accompanied by blisters. Shingles can affect any part of the body but it usually appears as a single stripe of rashes and blisters around one side of the torso. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus and is therefore also known as zoster. The varicella zoster virus also causes chickenpox and when a person is affected by chicken pox the virus does not fully clear but remains dormant in the body in the nerve tissues. When the immunity of the body weakens because of physical or emotional stress the virus, which was dormant, reactivates and spreads along the nerve fibers of the skin, leading to rashes and blisters, says Alexander Salerno MD.

Rashes and pain from shingles remain for 2 to 3 weeks during which the first symptoms observed are a tingling pain or burning sensation or even numbness or itch on a particular location on one side on the body followed by development of painful rashes a few days of the after the appearance of the first few symptoms. Sometimes the pain from shingles lingers on and goes on for months or even years. This is termed as postherpetic neuralgia or PHN where the pain is excruciating and severe and further leads to depression, anxiety, lack of concentration, loss of appetite and weight loss, and these can have a detrimental effect on daily routine such as bathing, eating, cooking, travelling etc.

To avoid these complications and symptoms associated with shingles the only form of treatment is immunization using the shingles vaccine or the herpes zoster vaccine as there is no medication to treat shingles, only the severity of the symptoms can be reduced with treatment. The shingles vaccine consists of attenuated varicella virus against which antibodies are produced in large numbers to fight the infection, explains Dr Alexander Salerno.

Vaccination for shingles is highly effective and the most full-proof way to fight shingles which is usually seen in those above 60 years for whom the pain can be severe to bear.

Effectiveness of Shingles Vaccine

Shingles vaccine is recommended for those above the age of 50 and has been found to reduce the risk of shingles by up to 70% for those who take the vaccine between the ages of 50 to 59. Those who take the vaccine at the age of 60 or above find the risk of shingles to be reduced by 51 to 55% via vaccination. The vaccine is most effective in those below 69 years but it has shown to be effective in the older generation too.

Also, effectiveness of the vaccine against post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN, a serious complication of shingles, was also found to be 59% in individuals, states Alexander Salerno MD.

Also, shingles vaccine provides a longer duration of protection and needs to be administered only once, subcutaneously, thus adding to its effectiveness.

The only drawback is that shingles vaccine is effective only when administered beforehand and not after being infected with shingles.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

An Overview Of Human Papilloma Virus

Human Papilloma virus is one of the common viruses that affects human beings and hence is the name. These are viruses that can lead to warts. Also commonly know as HPV, there are almost 100 different types of such virus affecting men and women all across the world. Dr Alexander Salerno says that though most of them are harmless, about 30 of them can prove to be dangerous and life threatening. These harmful viruses can prove to be fatal for you as they increase your risk for cancers. Certain kinds typically affect the genital area and the patient usually develops them through sexual contact with an infected person.

According to Dr Alexander Salerno, Human Papillomavirus can be either high risk or low risk. While the low risk viruses can cause genital warts, the high risk ones put you at risk for cancers of vulva, cervix, vagina, anus and penis as well as oral pharynx.

HPV is a virus belonging to the papillomavirus family that infects the human skin as well as the moist membranes lining the body like feet, mouth, throat, anus, cervix and nails. These DNA viruses establish productive infections in the keratinocytes of the mucous membrane or skin. Most of these viruses cause no physical symptoms. In around 90% of infections,our immune system can successfully treat and manage the virus from progressing. However, there is no guarantee the the virus may not develop into a cancer at a later point in life.

How HPV Spreads?

Sexually transmitted HPV are highly contagious and spread through infected bodily fluids, genital skin and can pass through oral sex or intercourse. However, using condom during intercourse does not fully protect a person from this virus.

Causes

Besides sexual lifestyle, young age and compromised immune systems are also the characteristics of hosting this infection. To be more specific, people with weak immune system stand a greater chance of getting infected with Human Papillomavirus. For instance, patients with organ transplant, those who are HIV positive and those who are receiving chemotherapy along with diabetes patients have chances to be inflicted with HPV. Dr Alexander Salerno also says that if you have skin lesions, cuts and tears, you are more likely to get infected.

Diagnosis

While you visit a doctor, the doctor makes the diagnosis if he observes any warts in the genital area. The doctor might ask you do the following:

  • DNA test where the doctor checked if you have been affected by high risk HPV.
  • Pap test where a sample of vaginal or cervical cells are sent to the lab for examination.
  • Vinegar solution test where vinegar solution is applied to the genital area to observe if the infected areas turn white.

Treatments

Options range from medical treatments to cryotherapy (burning or freezing). Surgical treatments are for the final stage of this virus infection.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Diziness in elderly article Alexander G Salerno

Dizziness In Elderly

Dizziness in elderly – causes and treatment

Dizziness is a complaint frequently encountered among the aging population

According to some statistics relating to the issue of dizziness among the aged this is something which is observed more frequently among females and especially from the age of 70 and onwards on average 35% plus females are suffering from dizziness compared to slightly less than 30% among males. The percentage of dizziness occurring increases as the person grows older and by the time when a person turns 80 dizziness is observed in at least 50% of such people. Although such spells of dizziness could be found among young people also but not nearly as frequently as it is encountered among older people and in young people this situation is not as severe as it is among older people where it could definitely affect the well-being and independence of such a person.

Common location / origin of dizziness

The inner ear is responsible for hearing and balance. The subjective complaint of dizziness is often a result of an inner ear problem. Dizziness can result due to inflammation or infection occurring in the inner ear. In the United States alone well over a million people visit clinics annually specifically for the treatment of dizziness. Therefore it can be clearly seen that this is a relatively widespread problem which has a very definite impact upon our society.

One example of a dizziness is known as BPPV or Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo a result of when a person is traveling by boat for the first time and the continual shifting of that boat due to wave motion can cause vertigo problems in many passengers leading to acute seasickness. Like we already said about 50% of all vertigo related problems are experienced after the age of 80 while less than 20% are experienced by people who are younger than this.

Yet again, father time is another common cause resulting in dizziness

A critical system which are required for effective balance of the human body is the vestibular system which is actually a very complex system of fluids and chambers which are part of the inner ear system. There are very sensitive nerve endings in this area that are able to very accurately detect the position of the head as well is the direction of gravity. The brain are vitally dependent on the effective operation of the system in order to maintain the balance of the human body. Many systems which ensure the well-being of the human body are dependent on this vestibular system. Scientific research which has been done in this critical area has shown that the nerve endings in the vestibular system decreases after the age of 55. Likewise effective blood flow to this area also starts to decrease after the age of 55.

Naturally this is not good for the balance of such a person

Such decreases in the effectiveness of the vestibular system will have serious effects on the balance of a person but it might not necessarily accompanied by dizziness. However such problems with the vestibular system will be more noticeable when a person is walking in the dark or when walking on soft or uneven surfaces. The deterioration of the vestibular system can mostly be ascribed to the buildup of debris in the inner ear. This debris are mostly comprised of small crystals of calcium carbonate sometimes referred to as ear rocks. When the head moves these crystals also move resulting in the communication of signals to the brain resulting in dizziness or vertigo. Virtually any kind of head movement will result in a feeling of dizziness when in fact the brain are being fed false information. Although not life threatening this condition can be life changing as it impacts daily activities and often results in fear of falling and this negatively impacts anyones quality of life.

How to deal with dizziness and vertigo

There can be no doubt that this type of affliction can be confusing and could be very stressful on a person over the age of 70. There are however some things which could be done about the situation. The overall physical condition of an older person will contribute positively to excellent physical balance. However when the physical condition of an older person are not so good then it will be significantly more difficult to control this condition. Some of the things which are particularly important are a healthy diet, regular exercise and an overall healthy lifestyle. There are many people who feel that at least some basic tai chi exercises can be helpful in this regard. There are many older people who have been seriously injured due to falling experiences because of dizziness. In fact some reports from the Center of Disease Control and the National Institute of Health account for falls as the leading cause of emergency room visits in the elderly population. A large number of these people have broken bones especially hip bones as well as blunt head trauma. When such a condition are diagnosed as early as possible it is possible to start effective treatment which may be able to prevent serious physical injury.

Analyze the home of such an old person

Is there anything which could increase the risk of serious injury? Naturally it will be vital that all such equipment or furniture or absolutely anything else that could threaten the well-being of such an old person should be removed as soon as possible. Where possible make use of handrails which could be fitted to the walls of a home and ensure that handrails are fitted to the side of the bath. Another important consideration is the lighting in such a home since that would help the old person to see well and to take the necessary precautions where necessary. Because of the significant advances in technology they are many other things which are available in the retail shops like antiskid materials which could be placed in the bathroom where wet surfaces could be a real risk to such an old person. Furthermore look out for cords (phone cords, electrical cords), throw rugs, stacks of news papers and magazines that are about to collapse… all of these are commonly seen in the homes of our elderly and pose significant walking hazzard.

The important thing is not to think as a victim but to be proactive

There are an amazing amount of things which could be done in order to ensure the safety of such an old person and to prevent them from serious injury. Although it will be virtually impossible to remove all risks the reality is that anything which has been accomplished already significantly reduces the risks which are possible. This gives new meaning to the saying that prevention is better than cure and therefore absolutely anything which could be done to make the environment where an older person is living safe may just prevent that person from struggling through a painful injury.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Get Proper End-of-Life Care Without Wasting Money

The last few days of life are the most critical phase in one’s life. It is that phase of life where the individual virtually steps back into infancy and loses physical as well as mental strength, completely relying on the help and care of someone else.

Minimizing cost for maximum care at the end of life

The legal structure in the United States has defined the legal formalities by which there is an exercise of power of attorney with regard to medical matters as a health care proxy. This medical agent has been given extensive power to make any medical decision associated with the client, with a concurrent process of legal documentation.

Choosing the right agent is necessary to minimize cost

A health care agent is selected to be a person who can be reliable during critical situations to make appropriate decisions for the patient. The medical agent should be at least 18 years of age and should be able to act for the benefit of the patient. Selecting a proper health care agent to act as a proxy for the individual is a critical decision, as the person acting as medical power of attorney must understand the gravity of the situation and not exhaust medical and financial resources recklessly. Proper medical arrangements and budgeting should be planned wisely, striking a balance between expenditures and the financial budget of the patient. According to a Dartmouth study, medical care expenditure for patients with similar kinds of illnesses and levels of severity was 69% higher per beneficiary in Los Angeles as compared to Sacramento, California.

Many patients may have to go through a number of treatments or tests, so failure to budget accordingly will result in a difficult situation. Whether the patient is under the influence of anesthesia and thus in an unconscious state during an operation or the patient is in a vegetative state with little capacity to function, a health care proxy is required. The health care agent can make a number of decisions on behalf of the patient. It can be anything from approving medical tests, medicines, and surgeries, to accepting or declining the health support system. Even the mode of transport of the patient and a change in medical institutions or the right to allow the release of medical reports for further treatments and medications are decided by the medical proxy agent, and each choice has its own financial impact. It is important that you select the right person—someone who is not only capable of making crucial decisions during a crisis period, but also has a good sense of budgeting which ensures that the money is not wasted.

Expenditure of society for end-of-life care

It has been noted that expenditures vary substantially from one state to another depending on the decisions and budgeting capability of proxy agents. According to a Dartmouth study, in the last two years of the lives of patients with severe chronic illnesses, 13 states had expenditure levels greater than the national average while 37 states had expenditure levels below the national average. And among these 37 states, 14 states had 85% less spending than the national average.

How to Save Money on End-of-Life Care

We celebrate the blessed birth of an individual though we are equally aware of the inevitability of death. However, many people are uncomfortable even talking about death or the quality of end of life. Thus when the topic of end-of-life care arises, most of us are tongue-tied and bewildered. The issue of attaining a balance between care, quality of life, and cost for end-of-life patients continues to baffle practitioners and policy makers as well as patients and their families.

 

Dartmouth study on end-of-life care

The quandary faced by many is whether to continue aggressive treatment therapies and medical intervention or to opt for peaceful death at home without machines and medications. Also, these types of medical interventions, including hospitalization, intensive care units, and rounds of tests and medication, are costly. In addition, they often fail to alter the patient’s condition and rarely prolong life. A Dartmouth study has found that there is a lack of a uniform protocol across the country for end-of-life care and course of treatment. In fact, according to this study, US healthcare resources and medi-claim funds are being spent on aggressive end-of-life care, with little positive outcome. So, the question that arises is how to save money on end-of-life care.

 

Saving money on end-of-life care

Before considering how to save money that is spent on end-of-life care and treatment, it should be taken into consideration what the patient’s wishes are and whether he wants to spend his last days surrounded by machines and monitors or in the company of family and friends. Many wish for a peaceful death, but often end up breathing their last in a hospital, as the high quality of modern end-of-life care often prolongs life against the wishes of the patient and also protracts pain after the patient has already undergone aggressive intervention; these types of measures also increase the overall cost of medicare. The solution to this is palliative care, which results in enhancing the well-being of the patient and saving money as well.

 

Palliative care is an interdisciplinary specialty that seeks to improve the quality of life of those suffering from advanced and terminal illnesses. Palliative care can be administered at special palliative centers in hospitals, at hospice facilities, or at home. It also focuses on using traditional therapies to improve well-being of the patient apart from managing pain and symptoms of their respective illnesses. Studies have shown that palliative care manages to do that with the help of qualified coordinators and nurses and has even resulted in shorter intensive care unit stay for the patient. With palliative care the use of intensive interventions is limited and thus the quality of life improves for end-of-life patients and medicare cost is saved.

 

Save money through palliative care

Data from a Dartmouth study reveals that those under palliative care had fewer hospital stays and the cost of end-of-life care was lower by almost 16% compared to normal treatment. Those opting for end-of-life care at home or palliative centers saved approximately $2400 for 7 days of treatment compared to hospitalization, and the amount increases as the number of days increases.

 

The need is for doctors and the medical team to take it upon themselves to initiate discussions with patients and their families, and direct them towards palliative care instead of prolonging pain through further interventions. Also, the number of such palliative facilities needs to increase. Hence palliative care that offers coordinated end-of-life care can improve patient well-being and result in cost savings too.

Importance of Decision Making in End-of-Life Care

In professions related to medicine or nursing, end-of-life care is a term for a particular kind of healthcare. It not only deals with patients in the last few hours or days of their lives, but more specifically with the care of all those patients suffering with terminal diseases or life-threatening illnesses in which the condition has become complex, progressive, and fatal. End-of-life care needs a lot of decision making as to what should be the approach of the treatment, the right of the patient to make decisions regarding his or her treatment and life, and decision making based on ethics. So, the role of decision making in end-of-life care is of utmost importance. This article aims to probe into this issue in a detailed manner.

Making decisions about healthcare treatment for your last days

It is often said that people have the capacity to make decisions if they are capable of understanding, retaining, and evaluating pertinent information and then making a choice. A person’s ability to make decisions may be negatively affected by a number of continual or acute diseases. So, the capability of decision making may differ over a period of time and naturally demand re-evaluation on a periodic basis.

A grown-up patient with the capacity to make decisions may agree to or decline some life-supporting treatments, although that decision might lead to serious worsening in health or even death. It is vital that the patient is properly educated about the penalty of declining such treatment. A patient may make a decision based on his or her choices about the treatment and the values he or she carries, even if the decision might be different from the recommendations of the treating team.

It should be noted that a patient who has the capacity to make decisions does not share the authority of decision making with the treating team. Rather, the treating professionals act as advisors and enable the patient to make suitable choices about sensible treatment options. These patients have the liberty to make decisions without any intervention from their family members or relatives.

The best solution

When the patient does not have the capability to decide his or her own care, it is recommended to go for an approach of consensus building for the purpose of end-of-life decision making that takes into account the patient’s best interests. This process of collaborative approach intends to bring into sync the patient’s values and current medical condition with the awareness and understanding of those values and conditions by the family and treating team. An agreement is required within the team responsible for treatment. Then another agreement is made between the same treating team and the family about a process of care in line with the patient’s values as much as possible, at the same time supporting the degree of the family’s wishes to be involved. The agreed-upon decision for end-of-life care related to life-sustaining treatment has to be properly documented and communicated to all the team members of the treating team.

 

Since 2001, Dr. Alexander Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues, including end-of-life care.

Why Do You Need to Focus on a Healthcare Proxy for End-of-Life Care?

A Health Care Proxy, commonly known as a Health Care Agent, Medical Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, or Health Care Power of Attorney, is one who is able to go ahead and make necessary healthcare decisions on your behalf, if you are not capable of making your own decisions. This is a kind of document in which you allow someone (an agent or a proxy) to go ahead and express your wishes, in case you are not capable of speaking for yourself.

Why do you require a Health Care Proxy?

There is a possibility that you might become debilitated or injured to the extent that it would be difficult for you to speak for yourself. In such a situation, you would obviously want to appoint someone who is close to you, understands you well, and can make the best decisions on your behalf regarding your health. After you have named him or her as your Health Care Proxy, you will be able to avoid unnecessary discrepancies and arguments amongst your family members about your medical care. Thus, you will have one person appointed who will legally speak for you and make decisions accordingly. You will also feel confident that you have chosen a person who will make the right decisions. The person would even assist you in getting proper medical care as and when you want, even if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Your Health Care Proxy would be able to make decisions on your behalf

  • The person can make appropriate medical choices with regard to surgery, medical tests, and medicine
  • The person has the right to reject or even request life-support treatments
  • The person can make decisions regarding pain management, including authorization or rejection of medical procedures or medication
  • The person can make decisions regarding admission to a hospice living facility, nursing home, or hospital
  • The person can decide where to obtain medical treatment; he or she has the right to move you from one state or hospital to another facility
  • The person has the right to watch and agree about the release of one’s medical records
  • The person is free to take any legal action on your behalf to properly support your health, your wishes, and your healthcare rights
  • A health care proxy has the right to apply for insurance benefits and programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and many more on your behalf

The duties of a Health Care Proxy

The duty of an appointed proxy would depend on the needs of a patient. Generally, the person will need to follow your “living will” and will avoid the sort of treatment and care you would probably want to stay away from.

Even though it is not possible to foresee every situation that would eventually arise, it is always a good idea to talk to and carry forth a frank conversation with the person about your wishes. It would be good to talk to this person about how you would like to be treated and the different kinds of care you’d wish to receive.

 

Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander G. Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues, including end-of-life care.

 

The 3 Deadliest Cancers in Women

The world is at war every day with deadly cancers. It is really a difficult battle to fight and women are no exception. It is good that nowadays many such battles against cancer are won; however, many still remain unresolved and take the lives of people in their youth or middle age. We should all have awareness about the types of cancer that are deadliest for women. We are all unique and so are the different types of cancer. It has to be noted that the diagnosis of a cancer can very often be linked directly to the medical history of one’s family, as well as one’s lifestyle and environment. No one can control the medical history of his or her family, and only a very few areas of one’s environment can be controlled. However, different aspects of one’s lifestyle such as diet, level of activity, and smoking or drinking are under an individual’s complete control, so these areas should be targeted to control the rise of cancer in the world.

3 cancers that are the deadliest for women

Out of many, the three deadliest cancers that affect women worldwide are lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon and rectal cancer. The order may not necessarily be the same everywhere, as the degree of occurrence may vary from one location to the other. We will discuss each one of them in more detail.

Lung cancer is the most prominent type of cancer that leads to death in women. The death rate has gone up over the years in women as a result of intake of tobacco products. The key to fighting this cancer seems to be the early detection of the disease. Quite a few research studies are being undertaken worldwide to detect lung cancer at a very early stage. Doctors are also trying to look at improved diagnostics to decide the best course of treatment for their patients. Women can avoid using tobacco products to rid themselves of the chance of developing this deadly cancer.

Breast cancer is one of the leading types of cancer that takes the lives of women worldwide. The rate has come down over the years with advanced treatment and awareness among people. However, breast cancer still remains a big threat to women and the risk doubles if someone in the family has also had the same type of cancer. A few other causes of breast cancer are no pregnancies at all or having had the first pregnancy after the age of 30 years; not breast feeding, having a highly fat diet, and lack of exercise add to the causes too.

Colon and rectal cancer: The chance of having this cancer among women is 1 out of 20 females. It has been observed that a majority of the colon and rectal cancers occur at the age of 50 or older. Family history, inflammatory bowel disease, inactivity, smoking, heavy drinking, and intake of a low fiber and high fat diet are the major causes of this type of cancer. Early detection can save lives, so it is advisable to have colonoscopy screenings on a regular basis and take necessary actions.

 

 

 

Causes of Depression in Women

It is twice as likely that women will suffer from depression than men. This disparity persists across financial, cultural, and racial divides. In fact, this rate of gender disparity in depression rates duplicates itself in almost every country across the globe.

There are a variety of reasons and theories as to why women suffer through depression more than men. Several factors have been implicated in this list, including social, psychological, and biological reasons.

Biological and hormonal changes

  • Pre-menstrual problems – During the menstrual cycle, hormonal changes can end up causing symptoms such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and a woman might experience bloating, petulance, disturbing reactivity, tiredness, and fatigue. However, PMS for many women is mild. But in a few cases, the symptoms can be quite severe, so much so as to interrupt their normal day activities. This is when the diagnosis for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is made.
  • Infertility and pregnancy issues – During pregnancy, a lot of hormonal alterations occur that may contribute to depression, and it turns into quite a big risk. The other problems that usually occur relating to pregnancy are unwanted pregnancy, miscarriage, and infertility, which can lead to depression in some women.
  • Post-partum depression – Some mothers who have just given birth undergo the feeling of the “baby blues.” This tends to be a normal phase that sinks away within a few weeks’ time. Yet in a few women the condition may be persistent, severe, and longer lasting, spiraling into depression.
  • Menopause and perimenopause – At the stage of perimenopause, there are many women who stand the chance of being affected with depression; this is the stage that leads to menopause. At this period, there is vigorous fluctuation of the reproductive hormones. Women who have had experienced depression issues in the past stand a high risk of being hit by depression again at the menopausal phase.

Psychological causes

  • To keep rehashing or dwelling on negative feelings – Women tend to think and reflect a lot when they get depressed. This mostly leads towards crying to mitigate emotional nervousness, trying to understand why and what is the reason for getting depressed, and continuously talking and discussing with friends about one’s depression. On the other hand, men usually try to distract themselves, and this lowers the risk of depression in men.
  • Extreme stress and pressure at school, home, or work – Studies show that women tend to release more stress hormones as compared to men. Also progesterone, which is the female sex hormone, thwarts the stress hormone system from turning itself off, while in the case of men, it is just the opposite.
  • Problems relating to body image – At the phase of adolescence, gender difference in depression occurs. At the phase of puberty, the surfacing of sex differences plays a huge role. A few studies have depicted body discontent or dissatisfaction, which is common in girls during the sexual development of puberty.

Social causes

  • Relationship or marital issues, failing to balance personal and career stages effectively
  • Continuous monetary issues
  • Death of someone very close or a traumatic life event that leaves one feeling helpless, worthless, vulnerable, alone, or intensely sad.

 

Impact of Domestic Violence on Women

A house can never be a home without love, affection, and peace. One of the worst situations that a person can experience in life is domestic violence. This act of violence affects men, women, and children; it leaves a scar that might take a lifetime to heal. It is observed worldwide that about 40% of the total female population, if not more, are victims of domestic violence. However, the numbers of men affected by domestic violence is much lower. No matter what part of the world is observed, domestic violence victims are found everywhere.

Effects of domestic violence on women
The victim who goes through this trauma suffers from severe after-effects. The damage may be done physically, mentally, or in both areas. It changes the way in which the victim perceives the world around him or her. In some cases it has been noticed that, even after reaching the saturation point, women are not able to step out of the abusive relationship.

Domestic violence and its negative impact on women
The physical injury that happens to the body creates mental and emotional scars. Even after recovering from injuries, the mind can experience severe stress. One of the most common outcomes is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This disorder develops in extremely stressful situations that leave behind terrifying mental scars. It disturbs the normal balance of regular life. The patient is unable to sleep, eat, or continue basic routine activities, and there are strong flashbacks of the past experience and terrifying nightmares during sleep.

A victim of domestic violence suffers from depression
Women who are victims of domestic violence are often depressed and experience a loss of interest in life:

  • They feel extremely lonely and unworthy of themselves.
  • They do not find happiness in activities that they previously enjoyed.
  • Their appetite increases to compensate for the mental depression, or it might diminish completely, resulting in a fragile body.
  • The trigger of fear of being struck or tortured again is often accompanied by severe crying.
  • This often leads to the development of suicidal traits and self-harm.

The immediate effect of domestic violence is even more grotesque
Women are often struck with hands, fists, sharp objects, and in the worst cases small weapons such as scissors and knives. Fractures, cuts, bruises, swollen eyes, and wounds are very common results of women being beaten up by their partners. Many women deny the fact that this is how their partners are by claiming they are behaving violently because of substance abuse and alcohol intake. This worsens the condition; instead of ending the relationship of pain and hatred, they still cling on, hoping things will change for the better, which in most cases never happens.

Apart from direct bodily injuries, the victims experience severe panic and fear triggers while witnessing the violence inflicted on them. Common outcomes are loss in appetite, nervous breakdowns, fatigue, breathing problems, disruptions in a proper menstrual cycle, and sexual dysfunction.

Getting rid of domestic violence
The only way to end this is by stepping out of the feeling of vulnerability and realizing one’s own potentials—speaking out loud about one’s rights and choices. Women need to accept the truth when a relationship does not work; they need to focus on their happiness rather than continue with the suffering.

Depression and Women – An Overview

Depression and Women – An Overview

Depression is twice as likely to strike a woman than a man. It is observed that at least 8 out of 10 women are victims of severe depression once in their lives. Women are always vulnerable to depression; the challenges that a woman might experience are more difficult to overcome than those of a man, be they physical, mental, or both. Depression levels show a similar linear progression up until puberty for both genders. However, the tables turn as a girl steps into puberty and gradually enters adult society.

Signs and symptoms of depression in women
The symptoms and expression of depression are often quite the opposite in women compared to what a man would display:

  • She becomes sadder, with lower self-esteem and more nervousness than a man.
  • Depressed women will often avoid any kind of conflict and blame themselves for the situation.
  • She may feel lonely and avoid activities that once attracted her.
  • As thyroid plays a major part in mood swings, a woman might have a big increase in her appetite and gain significant weight, or she might give up on eating.
  • Lack of confidence is vividly visible in depressed women.
  • In severe depression, the anxiety and feeling of guilt might be devastating enough to prompt suicidal thoughts.

Causes of depression
There are many underlying causes of depression, which can be categorized into biological, psychological, and social causes.

Biological causes—Depression can be caused due to hormonal imbalances during the pre- and ongoing menstrual cycle. It can devastate the normal life of women. For some women it might not affect them much, but for others it might lead to premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can be severe enough to affect mental peace. Other reasons might be unwanted pregnancy, miscarriage, or infertility. Post-delivery, mothers often experience the baby blues, which can make them upset and unhappy. Also, the threat of depression is very common during menopause due to hormonal disturbances in the body.

Psychological causes—There are many psychological causes for depression in women. The onset of puberty upsets a girl; however, with time this depression might fade away. Also, stress at work, domestic issues, and financial difficulties affect women more than men. They might feel guilty if they are working mothers and not be able to spend much time with their children and family. Rape victims or abused females can develop severe depression due to feelings of vulnerability and traumatic memories.

Social causes—Social factors contributing to depression in women are numerous. Loss of a loved one, the breakup of a stable relationship, domestic violence, marriage issues, earning more or enjoying a higher social status than her male counterpart, aging parents, and shifting homes or jobs are among the major and prevalent causes. Depressed women often end up crying and isolating themselves from a proper social life.

How to get rid of depression
Self help is the best help in treating depression in women. Exercise, meditation, and social involvement along with proper medicines can perform miracles in fighting depression. The patient should be active and willing to end this feeling of negativity toward life. After any necessary medical or psychiatric steps have been taken, the best way to fight depression is to engage oneself and take up meaningful work and play, and the situation will most likely take a positive turn.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

How Much Do You Need to Spend to Treat Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol can never be blacklisted from life—it is a part of celebration and joy; but as the saying goes, too much of something is not good, and the same holds true for alcohol. If an individual cannot spend a day without alcohol, it means it is controlling one’s life more than one is controlling the alcohol intake. This is the time that the dependency should be ended. However, sometimes this dependency becomes the need and the person cannot live without the liquor. If one becomes an addict, however, it doesn’t mean that it is the end of the road; with proper care and willpower this addiction can be eliminated completely.

Addicts develop strong excuses to continue alcohol use; this is the time when love, care, and encouragement are required from family members. People all over the world are struggling to end this dependency, but they cannot take the first step due to lack of adequate information and knowledge.

The common doubts are

  • Where to go?
  • What would be the cost?
  • Will the withdrawal symptoms be too severe to handle?

Treating alcohol
Today, fortunately, there is help for all, be it the rich and famous or the struggling earners with families to take care of. It depends on the option one chooses to free the body and mind from this danger. There is a wide scope of available solutions, from luxurious treatments to treatments fitting everyone’s budget. Many social health care centers offer free treatment, which would include detoxification, followed by proper medication, designed according to the income of the individual.

The step following detoxification is a crucial stage during which patients experience withdrawal symptoms and need medical assistance. The duration of stay in the rehab facility depends on the severity of the addiction and the damage already done to one’s health.

Cost involved in alcohol addiction
Most of the rehab centers have a structured 30-day program for treating the individual, and it costs around $2000 in total to $2000 monthly. Sometimes, the rehab stay might be extended and the cost might go up. Rehabs offering luxurious facilities such as golf courses, meditation centers, chefs, spas, and more could be as high as $30,000 to $800,000 monthly. Generally, rehabilitation centers provide meals, lodging, doctors, and medical care and that is the reason the cost accompanying it might be a bit higher than other treatments.

Today, rehabs have started accepting insurance and this is really helpful for the patient, as many of the treatments are covered by insurance plans, such as medication during detoxification, expenses for treating withdrawal symptoms, overall monitoring costs, and psychological counseling. The payments can be made with monthly payment plans as well.

Get rid of alcohol addiction to start a new life
After detoxification and rehabilitation, patients need a supportive environment. They should not feel that they are left out and unwanted. There are certain social groups too that help people to adjust with social life. This therapy is free, where groups of people share individual experiences in leaving the addiction behind and starting a new life. There is a cost for everything, but the desire to start a new life is all it takes to get rid of the addiction.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Expenses a Family Needs to Bear for an Alcoholic Member

Addiction to alcohol drains a family both financially and emotionally. A family is ruined when even a single member becomes an alcoholic. Those who are addicted to alcohol view their lives as stressful, and they are often found to be unhappy and depressed. Mostly, they use drugs and alcohol to live a fake life, where they escape to an unrealistic world of pleasure. The situation becomes more difficult when the effect spreads across their personal and professional lives.

The devastating consequences of alcoholism
An alcoholic never wants to face up to the fact that he is actually ruining himself and his family. The person might end up with no money for food, but still sacrifices the basic necessities to get the daily supply of alcohol. Alcoholism lowers one’s energy and takes a toll on one’s health. The immunity system is damaged, and so is the appetite. Loss of job and alcoholism are very closely linked. Studies and research indicate, as one’s potential diminishes with the intake of alcohol, one’s physical vigor and strength to perform simple tasks is also lost. When caught at the workplace, the worker has every potential threat of losing his job for being drunk at work. Even if they do not lose the job, they become unproductive.

With alcoholism comes poverty
Poverty and alcoholism are interlinked. With loss of a job, there is a financial crunch in the family. The responsibility for children and groceries is neglected, and to supplement their addiction needs, individuals also lose morality. Alcoholics, under this circumstance, can even undertake criminal activities to satisfy their addiction needs.

The price of alcoholism to an individual’s life and society
The worst situation takes place when pregnant mothers are alcoholic. The baby is born with birth and brain defects. The growing children are also victims of the effect of alcoholism. They feel guilty and depressed. This again leads to criminal tendencies and juvenile delinquencies.

The spouse of an alcoholic pays the price of alcoholism by enduring domestic violence and a very poor social life. The family has to compromise on basic necessities of life. Treatment of addiction is not easy either financially or emotionally. The addict often refuses to get professional help; they throw away or hide the medicine.

Medication and rehabilitation are expensive. There are many independent humanitarian organizations that try to help to eliminate alcoholism, but other options require monthly expenses of up to $2000 for the basic level of treatment. The other family members have to meet the basic financial needs of the family as well as the cost of the treatment. Family life becomes stressful and unhealthy. There is a lot of emotional cost involved in a family that has an alcoholic member in the family. The treatment demands immense patience from other family members and at the same time arrangements for proper food and medicine.

It has been calculated that consuming a cheap $9 beer twice a day would cost $126 in a week and yearly it would be $6552. However, an alcoholic cannot limit himself to just two glasses of beer, so the financial damage to the family expenses would be more devastating. However the only saving grace of alcoholism is that it is curable, but it takes more than just willingness and effort; it also requires equal contributions from other family members to cure alcoholism in the family.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

The Hidden Cost of Alcoholism to Society

Addiction to anything costs a lot to society as a whole. Addiction to alcohol is especially, costly to one’s health, one’s near and dear ones, and to society. Also, alcohol itself costs a lot of money, which one can certainly spend and utilize in more productive ways. It’s not just in terms of money; alcoholism also takes a toll on one’s career, health, the legal system, and overall society.

Cost to the government and society
Let’s consider the effect that alcoholism has on society. You can’t even imagine the amount of social loss that alcohol abuse has caused to society.

  • The total cost of alcoholism includes the cost of drunk driving accidents and the expense of curing related health problems.
  • It has been found by a leading organization that alcoholism can cost up to $224 billion annually to society. Out of this total amount, almost 70% of it is lost owing to productivity loss in the workplace.
  • Again, health issues account for almost 10%, drunk driving cases account for almost 5%, and increased law enforcement accounts for 10%.
  • Out of the total economic costs of alcoholism, 42% of it is being paid by local, state, and federal governments, while the rest is being borne by drinkers and their near and dear ones.

Health costs
When it comes to the health factor, alcohol-addicted individuals suffer from negligent exercise and poor nutrition. These, in turn, lead to a number of health issues. These issues again can lead to higher insurance costs, expensive prescriptions, and unprecedented medical costs.

Costs to career and income
Considering career and income, alcoholism can create an adverse impact on society due to a loss in the productivity of addicted individuals. These people, owing to their intense craving for drinking, tend to put less effort and dedication into their jobs. This results in a lack of efficient and optimal performance, missed work, as well as eventual termination from the workplace. If young people become alcohol addicted at an early age during their school years, then it takes a toll on their graduation, career growth, and entry into the job market. Alcohol addiction can eat up a person’s income and can even lead to homelessness.

Legal fees
People suffering from alcohol addiction and alcoholism are more prone to paying expensive legal fees. Such alcoholic individuals have to bear the legal fees for things like drug possession, DUI, divorce, as well as associated fines and attorney fees. Also, drunkards often have to spend time in jail or court owing to nuisances which again hamper their employment and family life.

 

Suicides
Alcohol-related car collisions and head-on crashes always kill a larger number of teens. Alcohol use is often associated with suicides, homicides, and drowning, all of which cause heavy costs to society.

Violent crimes
Alcohol use drives youth towards violent crime, provokes them into suicide attempts, and leads to traffic crashes and other related consequences.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Striking Differences between an Alcoholic and a Social Drinker

Drinkers can be of various types. While some drink as a part of their social life, some drink to erode their worries and frustrations, and others are addicted. People who drink are not always alcoholics. As alcohol drinking is a popular social activity, so there are significant differences between social drinkers and alcoholics. By becoming aware of the warning signs of a high functioning alcoholic, one can pay heed to them and avoid becoming one. Long-term alcoholics need intervention.

Addicted alcoholics hide their habit
When people veer from social drinking to alcoholism, they usually try to conceal their drinking from those who are close to them. This is a warning sign because they deliberately wish to hide their drinking habit from their loved ones so as not to alarm or disappoint them. The fact is, the more they try to hide their drinking habit, the more serious their drinking problem becomes.

Way of coping
When people are social drinkers, they mostly loosen themselves up and relax with others. However, drinking is not something that they seek to de-stress themselves or when somthing goes very wrong in their life. However, an alcoholic drinker always drinks to cope with the most difficult situations in their life. They drink on a regular basis when they turn from social drinker to alcoholic. When someone needs the help of alcohol drinking to remain functional, this certainly means he or she has already developed a dependency on something dangerous like alcohol to change his or her life for the worse.

Drinking to get drunk
Social drinkers just drink for fun. However, alcoholics drink to get drunk. Drinking in excess can create problems with the body. So, when people want to get drunk, this means they can no longer set any boundaries on alcohol drinking.

Missing work
Alcoholics tend to miss their important work, damage other people’s lives, and miss out on other obligations, etc., because they stay busy drinking. Social drinkers will drink at specific times when they are usually free so that no important work is hampered. Social drinkers make sure that they do not over-drink, which ensures that they can attend to the important obligations of their lives. If they start ignoring these obligations because of drinking, they have certainly become alcoholic.

Drinking and driving
Alcoholics end up in alcohol-related accidents, while social drinkers do not. Alcoholics end up in drinking and driving situations, which is a danger to them and to others. However, for a social drinker, they know that drinking and driving is not permitted and can be fatal. So, even if they over-drink on a particular social occasion, they ensure not to drive on their own.

Striking differences between alcoholic and social drinkers
The most striking differences that distinguish between alcoholics and social drinkers can be noticed by some unique traits found in alcoholics, such as:

  • Alcoholics are unable to control their drinking
  • Alcoholics repeat unwanted drinking patterns
  • Alcoholics, after getting drunk, behave in ways that are detrimental to their lives
  • Alcoholics, though set drinking limits, cannot adhere to them
  • Alcoholics are obsessed about alcohol
  • Alcoholics always love to stay surrounded by heavy drinkers

The above characteristics are not exhibited by social drinkers.
 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

End of Life Care

How to Plan for the Cost and Arrangement of Your End of Life Care

Death is inevitable, but still the very thought of bidding the final goodbye to all your family members and loved ones can be terrifying. So, how do you deal with this inescapable loss that you are going to succumb to? This is where the importance of end of life care that has been designed for those people who are nearing their end comes in. So, if you have a perennial illness and are approaching the end of your life, it is definitely a good idea to plan for end of life care.

Planning

Planning for the end of your life might sound a bit unusual, but it is well worth doing. Planning for the last days of your life is also known as advance care planning as it involves talking and thinking about your last wishes. It involves your wishes for how you want to be cared for in the penultimate days and months of your life. There are many people, nearing the end of their life, who carry out advance planning as their condition might get worse. This inevitably means that in the later days of their life, they might not be in a position to communicate or form any kind of decisions. Hence, advance care planning or end of life care planning is immensely helpful. This can allow your wishes to be communicated to your near and dear ones.

Services

For people nearing the end of their life, there are specialized care services like palliative care, end of life care, hospice care, etc., which can offer additional support and help through different therapies and other services. The sole aim of such services is to offer emotional, physical, spiritual, and cultural support to patients as well as the people around them.

Home

Such end of life care services can be planned at home. This is meant for those who feel comfortable spending their last moments in the comfort of their home. Here, general care services are provided.

Support for caregivers and families

If you do not have time to provide the much-needed care to someone who is nearing the end of his or her life, then you can always find caregivers or healthcare professionals who can counsel the person and provide the care.

Aged care homes

One can also plan for end of life care at aged care homes. These places can make you feel comfortable among your peers.

Why is it needed?

Advance care planning allows all the people involved in the care process to know about the wishes of the person who is about to bid farewell. It ensures that the person’s last wishes are fulfilled and can also help with those challenging, last-ditch decisions about treatment when the person will not be in a condition to have his or her say.

Cost

The costs that one incurs in planning for end of life care vary depending on the fees that the healthcare professionals charge as well as the cost incurred at aged care homes. Usually, the cost peaks as you age.

Skilled nursing facility charges, home health costs, and hospice care costs increase as you approach the end. Hence, you need to plan properly to save enough for your last days.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

End of Life

Live Your End of Life with Care and Bid Adieu Gracefully

Can you even imagine bidding a happy farewell to your loved and close ones? Can you bear the very thought of leaving behind the people with whom you shared special moments, feelings, and thoughts? Honestly speaking, the thought of living the last days of your life and the feeling that your life is nearing the end are unbearable and frightening. No person on this Earth can actually imagine their last days on this beautiful Earth.

End of life care

There are millions of people who endure a number of terminal illnesses or complicated health issues that are non-treatable or non-curable. While they near the end of their life, they might not be in a condition to even express their wishes and last thoughts. This is where end of life care becomes of high significance. It is a specialized care that is designed to address the issues of people nearing the end of their life and those suffering from perennial diseases. Such care is offered by expert healthcare professionals and social caregivers who can change the complete thought process and lifestyle of people counting the last days of their life. At this stage, people do suffer from mental trauma. The very thought of saying goodbye to this world makes them gloomy. Those involved in caring for them also get disheartened thinking of the inescapable loss that they are going to face after you leave.

Services provided

End of life care is solely meant to address these issues. This kind of care aims to provide you with physiological, psychological, emotional, and social support so that your last days get even better. Such care also strives to take care of the loss and mental trauma that your near and dear ones experience. Hence, this is a holistic approach that deals with you as a complete person and provides all kinds of possible support to you and your caregivers and close friends and family members.

Advance planning

You might have also come across the terms hospice and palliative care, which are quite similar to end of life care. These can be provided at hospitals, aged care homes, your residence, etc., according to the availability of healthcare professionals as well as your need. Also, it goes without saying that the cost that you will incur while under such care will depend on nursing facilities, the place of caregiving, the fees of the healthcare professionals, etc.

However, such care is worth it and you can plan for it in advance. During the later stage of your life, you might not be in a position to plan for it. Hence, planning for end of life care can be done beforehand, when you can express and communicate your last desires to your loved ones. You can also make certain significant decisions regarding the end of your life. Such planned end of life care, in light of all the possibilities, will strive to consider and fulfill your last wishes.

Hence, planning for such care makes it possible for you to end your life with comfort, care, and allow you to bid adieu to the people close to you and this beautiful world gracefully.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Palliative Care

How Palliative Care Can Help You to End Your Life with Dignity

Even though death is an inevitable part of life, still the very thought of dying is petrifying. The thought of leaving behind this beautiful world and its amazing and caring people is all the more frightening. Spending the last days of life in loneliness and pain is something that is unbearable. So, this is when palliative care comes to the rescue.

Palliative care

You might have come across the term palliative care, but you might still feel that you don’t know much about it. Well, palliative care is often used interchangeably with the term end of life care. Now, you might find these terms to be confusing. So, here is the write-up to help you understand the term better and know how it helps to end life in a better way.

How it helps

Palliative care is basically meant for patients who are surviving terminal or perennial illnesses. Such diseases might no longer be curable or treatable. Palliative care can also be used for people enduring complex diseases that require their symptoms to be controlled carefully. People in such a state of physical and mental trauma are often made to feel that life will no longer get better for them. Such people often suffer from the misperception that life has already come to a halt and things are not going to change for the better, but this is not always the case.

How it helps in ending life in a positive way

Palliative care addresses this sensitive issue. To a large extent, it aims to manage, address, or treat pain as well as other physical problems. The reason that such specialized care helps to end life with dignity is because this care helps patients with spiritual, social, and psychological needs—the three factors that have a major role to play when patients are already nearing the end of their life. In other words, palliative care is simply meant to care for people who are not going to live long. Hence, it is rightly called end of life care too.

Palliative care lets you end your life in a better way by helping not only you, but also those who are emotionally involved with you. It helps them to cope with the sudden upcoming loss and the grief and trauma of losing you. Palliative care is often given alongside other specialized treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

End of life care

As palliative care is aptly connoted as end of life care, the latter is especially considered for those who are in the last year or last segment of their life. However, the exact timeframe of their survival cannot be predicted. Such care not only helps patients to end their life with dignity, but also facilitates a better way of living. It also refers to the utmost care provided during such a sensitive time and often includes extended support in legal matters as well.

The reason that you will not feel the sharp pain of leaving your loved ones and this world is because palliative care makes you feel as comfortable as possible by ameliorating your symptoms and managing your pain. This is a holistic approach in the sense that it deals with you as a complete person.

Palliative care is provided at hospitals, hospices, care homes, the patient’s home, etc. by social and healthcare professionals.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Hospice Care

Hospice Care: Definition, Misunderstanding, and Reality

Since 2001, Dr. Alexander Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues, including hospice care.

Hospice Care

You might have come across the term hospice care a lot in your everyday life, and it’s not surprising, as this term has become a relatively popular one in the medical industry. To start with, hospice care deals with end of life care.

Definition

Hospice care is usually offered by a specialized team of healthcare volunteers and experts. This professional team offers comprehensive care in the sense that they provide spiritual, psychological, and medical support. The sole aim of hospice care is to provide dying patients with comfort, peace, dignity, and complete care. Volunteers and healthcare professionals try their level best to ease patients’ pain as well as other symptoms to enable them to remain as comfortable as possible. There are specialized hospice programs designed for the families of the sufferers.

Aim

The sole aim or goal of hospice care is to make you comfortable and to improve the quality of your life. Such programs offer services at hospice centers or at patients’ dwellings. Also, hospice care may be available at long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals depending on the patient’s condition, the availability of caregivers, and the affordability factor.

Misunderstanding

A common misunderstanding regarding hospice care is that it is the last resort of the dying patient. Many believe that starting hospice is equivalent to giving up on life. There are also many people who have the notion that hospice care refers to a low level of medical care. However, these are myths, not realities. Hospice care is simply the type of specialized care that focuses on improving care as well as quality of life. Hence, instead of less care, it inevitably means greater care!

Reality

Often, during the later stages of life when a patient is suffering from critical illness, there are people who feel that they have completely lost control over their lives. Also, they feel completely hopeless, realizing that there is nothing good left to happen to them. The reality is that hospice care can actually make you aware of favorable options, which can help you regain some control over your life. Such specialized care lets you make decisions about important things regarding your well-being.

What it includes

By now, you might be curious about what this service consists of. Well, to answer your inquisitiveness, hospice care basically includes:
• social support along with counseling, which helps the patient as well as the family with much-needed emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs
• support and counseling for loved ones after you say goodbye to them
• access to medical equipment and supplies as needed
• access to members of the hospice care team 24/7
• respite care for the family, caregivers, and those who are regularly in touch with you
• basic medical care with an emphasis on easing pain and symptoms
• volunteer support, which includes running sundry tasks and preparing meals
• support and guidance with the most normal yet difficult and challenging issues of life closure
Hence, do not be misled by the term hospice care, as its aim is to improve your life, regardless of the circumstances.
 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Heart Attack in Men

Risk Factors, Warning Signs, and Symptoms of Heart Attack in Men

Many people begin to suffer from more health problems after they reach their 50s. However, the majority of the population, both men and women, are diagnosed with cardiovascular problems as compared to other diseases. Heart disease, especially coronary artery disease, leads to more than 1.2 million heart attacks each year, in which 40% of the patients die before reaching a treatment center. The numbers of incidents of heart attack in men is increasing day by day because of various uncontrollable risk factors.

The risk factors for heart attacks in men

Men over 50 or 60 years of age suffer from heart attacks due to several risk factors, which can be categorized in three subcategories:

  • Major risk factors – These are due to a considerable increase in cardiovascular disease related to the heart and blood vessels.
  • Contributing risk factors – These include factors such as age, sex, family history of heart attack and race (origin and region), which significantly contribute toward the possibility of heart attacks.
  • Controllable risk factors – These mainly depend on human lifestyle (smoking, alcohol consumption, and irregular eating habits), physical inactivity, obesity or overweight, stress, diabetes, bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and anger, and can lead to massive cardiovascular problems.

The basic fact is that, if you indulge in an improper lifestyle and do not go for routine health check-ups, it can advance your heart problems. Heart attacks are basically of two types—controllable and uncontrollable. You will not be able to do much about the uncontrollable risks related to heart attacks. However, for controllable heart problems, you can do several things, such as:

  • Maintaining a routine life and eating properly
  • Giving up smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Engaging in healthy activities like going to the gym, running, swimming, jogging, etc.
  • Getting proper sleep
  • Not taking on unwanted stress
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Taking medication to control diabetes

Warning signs and symptoms of heart attacks in men
You should try to keep blood pressure under control in order to avoid severe heart attack risks. However, detecting the symptoms in advance or identifying the warning signs can help you a lot when it comes to taking the right steps to lower the risk. Usually, the risk of heart attack starts gradually. Hence, timely treatment can help you stay away from it. Chest pain and pressure on the heart are the most common symptoms, while there are a myriad of other warning signs which you need to know.

  • Squeezing sensation on the left side along with chest discomfort and heartburn.
  • Headache, toothache, or pain in the jaw can also be considered as a warning sign of heart attack.
  • Breathing problems and nausea often indicate cardiovascular disease.
  • Discomfort in the abdomen.
  • Vomiting or uneasiness in the stomach is also an early sign. Indigestion can also be considered as a warning sign.
  • Excessive sweating
  • Pains in the arms or upper back are common symptoms of a heart attack.

Besides the above, there are a few other symptoms that can help you to understand the possibilities of a heart attack. However, even with caution and awareness, one-fourth of heart attacks take place without any prior sign. People suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes should always keep these under control to avoid cardiovascular disease.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women over 50

It’s a known fact that women are at higher risk of heart disease as compared to men. It is also a fact that the risk of cardiovascular disease in females increases with their age. As they age, they stay at a greater risk of complicated heart disease. In fact, heart disease has been the prime cause of death among women who are around 50 years of age. To be more precise, the risk factor surges after 55 years of age. This is due to the fact that around this age, women approach or reach menopause. Over the years, a large number of women in the United States have died because of cardiovascular disease. This equals approximately one death every minute. So, you can see how dangerous and life-threatening heart disease is.

Menopause is the major factor that causes the risk of heart disease in women. This is a normal phenomenon in every woman’s life. It consists of certain changes that happen to a woman prior to or following menopause. While the woman approaches the stage, her ovaries over that period of time create less estrogen, which is a female hormone. This leads to certain physical changes as well as changes in the menstrual cycle.

The common symptoms of heart disease in women above 50 are:

  • Discomfort in the chest

Women having a previous history of heart attack or blocked artery can feel chest discomfort like pressure in the chest, tightness, or mild pain. This discomfort lasts for a few minutes until it disappears.

  • Heartburn, stomach pain, and nausea

Women over 50 often have these symptoms. In case you detect any of the above symptoms along with indigestion, immediately rush to the hospital.

  • Arm pain and dizziness

This is a classic heart disease symptom among women in their 50s. This is a pain that almost paralyzes the left portion of your body starting from the chest and proceeding towards the arm. Many times, you also start feeling dizzy and lose your balance.

  • Tiredness and snoring

Women above a certain age can also face tiredness and can get exhausted very easily. Snoring at night is also a common problem related to heart disease.

  • Irregular heartbeat and sweating

Irregular heartbeats, swollen feet and ankles, as well as excessive sweating are considered to be the common symptoms of heart disease in women.

Risk factors for heart disease in women over 50

The traditional risk factors of heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. However, the risk factors that are most common in women over 50 years of age are:

Depression and mental stress, which affect a woman’s heart more as compared to men.

Metabolic syndrome is another risk factor which is a combination of high BP, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, and accumulation of fat around the abdomen.

Diabetes is another risk factor raising the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

Smoking as well as lack of physical activity is a common risk factor that triggers heart disease in women in their 50s.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Prevention and Treatment of Heart Disease in Men

In the hustle and bustle of modern-day life and the strenuous schedule men follow in their day-to-day lives, the risks of being affected by heart disease, such as angina, heart attack, and arrhythmia, have gone up considerably in recent years. In general, coronary disease occurs when the arteries responsible for delivery of oxygen to the heart become narrowed due to accumulation of fat and cholesterol within their walls. This reduced oxygen supply results in minor to major heart disease, especially among men.

Prevention that must be taken
As they say, prevention is better than cure, so awareness about heart disease in men is an important aspect of prevention that must be spread and followed, especially in today’s busy times.

Cardiovascular exercise
The easiest and most effective form of prevention of heart disease is to maintain a healthy body by exercising regularly for about thirty minutes. Daily exercise not only reduces the possibility of heart disease creeping into the body, it also prevents other ailments such as stroke, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and many more. Research says that men who participate in recreational activities, like bicycling or group sports, have half the chance of having a heart attack compared to men who don’t.

Eating habits
While most men love to indulge in sumptuous meals, the side effects are plenty. When eating more healthfully, antioxidants help reduce free radicals, preventing them from depositing in the artery walls. Vitamin C and Vitamin E strengthen the heart and the artery walls. They protect blood against oxidation, lower blood pressure, and increase concentration of the good cholesterols in blood. Vitamin C is widely obtained in citrus foods, broccoli, and other green leafy vegetables. Almonds and spinach are rich in Vitamin E. Beta-carotene, garlic, and calcium are also quite effective in preventing heart disease.

No smoking
Smoking is perhaps the biggest killer of them all, with millions dying each year from its ill effects. People who quit smoking have a 25% lower risk of stroke than smokers in the first two years. Quitting smoking along with limited consumption of alcohol goes a long way in reducing cardiovascular attacks.

Common treatments of heart disease in men
With the advancement of medical technology, treatments for heart disease have come of age. While in some cases people are treated by medication alone, others require surgical procedures.

Medication
Beta blockers are commonly used by practitioners to slow down the heart rate and control blood pressure. Blocked arteries are dilated using calcium channel antagonists and nitrates. Aspirin prevents blood clots within the vessel and is used quite frequently in treating heart patients.

Angioplasty
Angioplasty is a non-surgical technique used to widen the arteries and insert a stent that helps keep the artery open. Traditionally, stents have been made of metal, although some modern stents have been developed which are bio-absorbable. Stents are also coated with drugs that reduce re-narrowing of the arteries.

Bypass surgery
Bypass surgery involves a complicated procedure of taking a blood vessel from another part of the body, usually the forearm or the leg, and grafting one end of it to allow smooth blood flow beyond the blockage in the coronary artery. It usually takes a few hours for the surgery to be completed and patients are advised to limit physical activities for several weeks, at the very least.

While medical science has scaled new heights in treating heart disease, men are always advised to stay healthy to stay happy!

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Prevention and Treatment of Heart Disease in Women

Heart disease or cardiovascular disease is consistently among the primary reasons for death in women. Over the years, a greater number of women than men have breathed their last due to cardiovascular disease. The best way to prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease in women is by adhering to a healthy as well as a hearty lifestyle. Also, the prevention process must include detecting in advance the major risk factors and treating them. Preventative measures should be taken by all women.

Shift in emphasis

There are a number of organizations around the world that provide physicians with a particularly lucid plan for treating as well as assessing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In years past, a lot of emphasis was given to preventive efforts and treatment of individual heart disease cases in isolation. Over the years, the priority has shifted from treatment of individual cardiovascular risk to the overall cardiovascular risk in women.

Prior history of coronary heart disease, chronic kidney problems, or diabetes can further enhance the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Risk factors of cardiovascular disease in women

Before looking into the preventive measures for limiting the risk of heart disease in women, let’s shed some light on the risk factors for heart diseases. They are:

  • high cholesterol level
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • age factor
  • family history of heart problems
  • birth control pills
  • smoking
  • atrial fibrillation
  • gender (where women are at greater risk than men)
  • excess alcohol intake
  • prior case of heart attack or stroke
  • physical inactivity
  • hormone replacement therapy

 

Preventive measures

The ideal conditions to render a woman free from the risk of heart or cardiovascular disease are:

  • ideal total cholesterol level, i.e., less than 200mg/dL
  • absence of clinical cardiovascular disease
  • ideal blood pressure level, i.e., less than 120/80 mm Hg
  • ideal level of fasting blood glucose, i.e., less than 100mg/DL
  • abstinence from smoking
  • maintaining lean body mass index, i.e., less than 25kg/m2
  • engaging in regular physical activities at recommended levels
  • maintaining a healthy eating pattern and emphasizing a plant-based Mediterranean diet

Hence, lifestyle changes play a major role in eliminating the risk of heart disease in women.

Other preventive measures that can keep a woman away from stroke and heart disease are:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Maintaining or reducing weight
  • Undergoing statin therapy
  • Using diet therapy
  • Taking aspirin as prescribed

Awareness is another important factor that determines the amount of risk you have for heart disease. There should be an overall enhancement in the level of awareness for heart disease among women. Also, community and national prevention programs along with educational programs play a significant role in improving awareness and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. It has been observed that awareness of heart attack risk is particularly low among black and Hispanic women.

Going for regular check-ups from a reputable healthcare service provider, hospital, or clinic can detect the risks of heart disease in women.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Managing Forgetfulness in the Elderly

Since 2001, Dr. Alexander Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues, including alcohol addiction.

Forgetfulness is often a common symptom of aging. If you live or work in a different part of town, then it also becomes difficult to manage elderly parents suffering from forgetfulness. You may feel really overstressed while caring for your family and parents. The first time you notice that your parent is becoming forgetful, you might become frightened. Have you ever had an elderly member in your family who has become confused or disoriented? Memory loss or forgetfulness are often the initial signs of dementia.

 

If the elderly family members’ forgetfulness puts them at risk, then you have to be quite cautious. Even though you may be busy in your own personal and professional life, you still have to be aware and on the alert about their changes and symptoms. If you can’t take care of them due to lack of time or other reasons, you need to appoint a nurse or a caretaker who can take care of their problems.

 

Flexibility and patience

If needed, give them repeated reminders so that they do not face problems in doing their daily chores. Also, make sure that you do not shout at them in your annoyance. This will make them all the more forgetful and irritated. At this stage, they might feel neglected or as though they are a burden on you. This is highly detrimental to their memory loss.

 

So, when you leave for the day’s work, make sure you leave a written reminder by the door. This will remind them to take their keys when they go out. You can also fit a special device which would cut off the gas supply if they forget to turn it off. Help them continue doing their daily routine jobs and let them remain independent. This will always be better for their healthy living and overall well-being. Also, try to be as patient and flexible as possible. Do not make them feel stressed out or pressured.

 

Other measures to cope with forgetful elderly loved ones

  • Make sure you give them ample emotional support along with practical help.

 

  • Also, make sure there are not a lot of distractions and help them concentrate on doing one thing at a time.

 

  • Make sure you provide verbal cues to them instead of asking questions.

 

  • Help them to get adequate sleep and also ensure they have sufficient meaningful activities to do so that their brain gets enough exercise.

 

Memory aids

To manage them better, you can even put in place a regular routine so that they feel all the more secure. These tactful reminders will remind them what will happen next and they will not feel lost. Also, you can seek the help of memory aids like clocks and calendars, diaries, lists, etc. These will have written instructions to help jog their memory.

 

The problems of forgetfulness in the elderly are extremely dangerous and need proper care and attention. So, at this stage, elderly parents or other elderly members of the family need acute care. Therefore, you have to take precautions so that they can still live a safe and happy life.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Is Memory Loss Common in the Elderly?

With age, elderly people tend to become forgetful in doing even the most ordinary things in life. In such situations, caring for an older member of the family often becomes difficult, especially if you are working. The elderly person might start having brief lapses in memory, like forgetting the name of someone familiar or misplacing keys. Also, they might get lost in familiar places or tend to forget to turn off the water faucet or stove, or burn food due to forgetfulness. This would be an indication of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The memory lapses can increase with aging as well as when the elderly get stressed. If the elderly family member already has dementia, then the memory-related problems will become all the more persistent. Also, they will develop symptoms such that you will feel it is increasingly difficult to cope with them.

A common complaint

Forgetfulness is often a common complaint among the elderly. You often start a conversation with them where you feel that they are unable to remember a few things that have happened recently. For instance, if you watched a movie last week and you start discussing it, the elderly person might just forget the title of the movie. This is an initial sign of forgetfulness. For instance, if you are giving directions for the way to your house, you might suddenly find that your elderly family member can’t remember a familiar street name.

Common problems

Often it happens that they stand in the middle of the house wondering what they are actually looking for there and how they ended up there. These are common symptoms of memory loss in the elderly. However, this is not the case with all elderly people. There are many elderly people around who are strong in their mind and health. They do not suffer from forgetfulness. This might be because of genetic reasons or their healthy lifestyle or adequate mental exercise. For this reason, you also have to understand the difference between the symptoms of forgetfulness in adults which indicate cognitive problems and normal age-related memory loss.

Care needed

Memory lapses can be annoying for the elderly as well as for you. However, if you find any such symptoms or signs, do not hesitate to take them to the doctor. At this stage, they need critical care and attention. They need to be independent, happy, and healthy. If you are not savvy in taking care of them, then it’s important to take them to a concerned physician, nurse, or caretaker.

Reasons for age-related memory loss

While you age, you often experience physiological transformations which lead to hindrances in brain functions. At times, it can take longer than usual to retain and recall basic information. It becomes apparent that you are not as quick or sharp as you once were. This might just be the result of retardation in brain function, in other words, slowing of mental processes, instead of actual memory loss.

Health habits, lifestyle and eating habits, along with daily activities can actually have a significant impact on the health of the brain. So, the memory loss problem in elderly adults depends on these factors to a great extent too.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Symptoms of Forgetfulness and Memory Loss in the Elderly

Memory loss and forgetfulness are often intrinsically connected with the aging process. Elderly people often become worried about becoming forgetful. And this forgetfulness can become the initial sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms such as confusion have traditionally been a common part of memory loss during aging. However, scientists have also observed that many elderly people remain able and alert as they age.

Dementia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s

Dementia is the usual forgetfulness that happens in older age. It is characterized by loss of memory and saying the same things repeatedly.

Memory loss is something that actually disrupts regular, normal life and can also be an initial symptom of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Alzheimer’s refers to a brain disease which leads to a slow decline in thinking, memory, and reasoning skills.

Symptoms of memory loss and forgetfulness

Lack of sleep is a common symptom associated with memory loss and forgetfulness during aging. In addition, mood swings and anxiety are common symptoms associated with memory loss in the elderly.

The other common symptoms are:

  • getting lost in familiar places
  • inability to recall things
  • inability to follow directions
  • repeating the same story again and again
  • asking the same question
  • staying confused about people, time, and places
  • challenges in solving problems and planning

Planning

Some people experience changes in their ability to follow or develop a plan. Also, people might face problems in sticking to a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. In addition, they might have difficulty in concentrating and hence end up taking a longer time in doing the regular chores.

Daily errands

People with memory loss also find it difficult to accomplish daily tasks, including leisurely activities. For instance, the person might encounter difficulty driving to his or her own address, remembering the rules of a highly popular and favourite game, or managing budget at work.

Confusion

Elderly people with the problem of memory loss are also perplexed regarding time and place. They tend to lose track of seasons, dates, and passage of time. They also often face difficulty comprehending events that are not occurring in the moment or immediately in the future.

Annoyance

A major, prominent symptom of memory loss in the elderly is that they tend to get irritated due to the problem of forgetfulness. Because they have become unmanageable in their own eyes, this specific realization makes them annoyed with themselves. In particular, if a family member speaks out that the elderly person is not able to remember even the basic things, then they get even more irritated and this is a common symptom.

Vocabulary

With forgetfulness, the elderly often find it difficult to write common words or speak out loud what they want to say. This is often a symptom of Alzheimer’s as well. The elderly have trouble in continuing or joining a conversation. Also, if they get stuck in the middle, they have trouble figuring out how to continue the same conversation. They also face this problem with their general vocabulary.

Finally, with memory loss, they tend to lose the ability to retrace their steps. If they lose anything, they tend to forget where they have dropped it and hence accuse others of stealing.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Can Lack of Sleep Cause Alzheimer’s?

Often, deficiency in sleep is linked to Alzheimer’s, but to what extent is this true? Let’s find out!

Waking up a number of times during the night or deficiency of sleep or insomnia can prove to be adverse for the brain. It also enhances the risk of Alzheimer’s, according to some new studies.

Reason for this

According to a research study, it’s been observed that lack of adequate sleep leads to increased levels of beta-amyloid deposition in the brains of the elderly, which is a sign of Alzheimer’s. Beta-amyloid is a toxic protein which builds up in your brain and leads to plaque within the brains of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Hence, a sleepless night not only affects your memory power the next day; it also increases the odds of developing Alzheimer’s. According to researchers, lack of adequate sleep causes the accumulation of memory-robbing protein in the brain. This, in turn, leads to high levels of beta-amyloid protein which disrupts sleep, thereby causing a vicious cycle resulting in Alzheimer’s. Hence, sleep therapies can in fact delay the onset of this disease.

Sleep, in fact, is a normal therapeutic target for combating memory impairment in older adults. A lot of sample studies have been done on selected men and women to find that lack of sleep can indeed put you at risk for Alzheimer’s.

No clear findings

However, the researchers could not state whether poor sleep led to accumulation of beta-amyloid or if beta-amyloid accumulation led to poor sleep. The chain of events and the causal effects are still not clear among researchers. However, both may be true; in other words, poor sleep might lead to beta-amyloid build-up, which then actually disrupts sleep. Further research has been called for to find out the facts about whether optimizing sleep can slow down, delay, or prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Another research study has suggested that the reason that poor sleep might be linked to Alzheimer’s disease is because sleep helps to get rid of toxic molecules in your brain.

Mice results

Research has been conducted on mice. When mice sleep, the cells within their brains actually shrink. This makes space for a better flow of fluids through the brain. As a result of the increased flow of fluids, harmful and toxic waste substances like beta-amyloid are flushed out. The link between lack of sound sleep and brain plaque in mice is definitely a hallmark of this disease.

In an additional study, the researchers observed that sleep dulled the effect of a gene, known as APOE-E4, which predisposes a person to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. According to scientists, among people who carry this gene, those who sleep most soundly exhibited more preservation of thinking skills and memory.

Previous studies show that lack of adequate sleep can cause thinking problems and loss of memory, even among healthy people. Sleep apnea along with poor sleep is often a common cause of Alzheimer’s in the elderly.

Hence, a sound night’s sleep along with a healthy lifestyle can keep this disease at bay.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Whooping Cough and Its Vaccine for Adults

Whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, is basically a respiratory tract infection, and it is extremely contagious. Generally, it is characterized by uneven cough followed by an acute intake of breath. Deaths due to this infection are not very common; however, it is most frequently observed in infants. This very reason makes it essential for women and anyone in close proximity with infants to be vaccinated against whooping cough. Symptoms usually develop within 5 to 10 days after being exposed, while at times it takes 3 weeks or more.

Whooping cough in adults
Whooping cough begins with cold-related symptoms and spreads from one person to another. The infection, known as pertussis, leads to spells of coughing that can turn out to be so severe that it becomes difficult to eat, breathe, and sleep. This infection that leads to whooping cough can lead to pneumonia and hospitalization. Whooping cough makes adults extremely sick. Also, adults who are carriers of this infection are at risk of infecting babies.

The initial symptoms might last for 1 to 2 weeks and include:

  • Mild cough
  • Runny nose
  • Apnea – a pause in breathing (in babies)
  • Low-grade fever (generally minimal throughout the course of the disease)

Vaccination
In recent years, the number of people falling victim to whooping cough has been increasing. Whooping cough can be extremely contagious even before coughing begins. Hence, the most effective way to prevent it is Tdap, which is a tetanus, diptheria, acellular pertussis or booster vaccine meant for adults.

It is recommended for adults between the ages of 19 and 64 to get a single dose of Tdap instead of their next tetanus-diptheria booster, which is advised once in 10 years. This booster is meant for adults over 65 years of age or for those who are in close contact with infants under 12 months of age.

Tdap vaccine is also meant for pregnant women, most preferably during their second or third trimester, which is after 20 weeks of pregnancy. After this, the pregnant woman should be vaccinated immediately right after her delivery, even before she is discharged from the birthing center or hospital.

Tdap vaccine is also recommended for those adults, irrespective of their age, who have or are predicted to have intimate contact with infants under 12 months of age, such as grandparents, parents, childcare providers, etc. They are advised to take the vaccine at least two weeks before initiating intimate contact with infants.

Tdap vaccine is also advised for all healthcare professionals working in ambulatory care settings or hospitals. Here, priority is given to the vaccination of healthcare providers who work in close contact with infants under 12 months of age.

The vaccine for whooping cough is extremely safe and is meant for adults. The reaction, if any, to this vaccine is mild. The most common reaction from this vaccination is soreness and minor pain at the injection site.

Because pertussis in its early stages appears to be nothing more than the common cold, it is often not suspected or diagnosed until the more severe symptoms appear.

 

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Uses of Flu Vaccine

Without a doubt, the flu vaccine is always the safest and most effective way of restricting infection and other critical outcomes caused by influenza infection. Vaccination is especially important for those who are at higher risk of being affected by severe influenza complications. In addition, flu vaccinations are meant for people who stay with or provide care services to high-risk individuals.

Flu vaccination is recommended for women who are pregnant, elderly adults, children between 6 and 59 months of age, health care professionals, and people with specific chronic medical issues.

Flu should also be taken seriously. In order to protect yourself from this contagious disease, you should take a flu vaccine to keep yourself and your family free from flu.

Flu vaccine
Flu vaccine refers to a vaccine shot that protects the receiver from the flu virus. It is usually injected into the arm, but can also be ingested as a nasal spray. It is usually made from 4 kinds of flu viruses that would make you sick with flu. A yearly flu vaccine is always the best tool available to protect you from the infection and all of its serious complications.

Flu vaccinations can protect the receiver from flu illnesses and help decrease missed days at work and school, doctor’s visits, and hospitalization.

Uses of flu vaccine
There are ample reasons for getting a flu vaccine.

Recipients at higher risk of being affected by the flu can benefit immensely from a flu vaccination. This ideally means older adults, young children, and individuals who have chronic health conditions.

Flu vaccination can help you avoid getting sick from flu. With flu vaccine, you can keep yourself and others around you who are at higher risk of developing the flu protected from serious flu illness.

This vaccination also reduces the severity of any illness that might befall a person.

It has been researched that flu vaccine lowers the chances of doctor visits due to flu sickness by about 60%. Even though flu vaccine does not completely guarantee protection against the flu, people who have received the flu vaccine are less likely to be affected by flu, compared to people who have not been vaccinated.

According to research findings, flu shots can help reduce cardiovascular problems and prevent strokes. This is because with the flu, the body and health mounts an immune response which leads to inflammation. Because of this, the plaque within the blood vessels can turn unstable, leading to blockage and heart attack.

Flu vaccination can lower children’s risk of ending up in the pediatric intensive care unit due to flu.

The shot is also good to prevent chronic health conditions.

Flu vaccination can protect pregnant women from getting sick due to flu. Also, it helps babies for many months following their birth. A study revealed that flu vaccine is 92% effective for pregnant women in preventing the hospitalization of infants suffering from flu.

Some other research studies have revealed that flu vaccination can lower hospitalization rates of older adults due to flu.

 

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Can Pneumonia Be Prevented?

Pneumonia, a common disease affecting many, can prove to be very dangerous and even fatal at times. Hence, it is always imperative to take preventive measures in order to restrict the infection right from the start, especially if you are part of a high-risk group.

Pneumonia refers to an infection of the lungs leading to mild to severe illness in people spanning all age groups. Adults who are over 65 years of age are at higher risk for this disease. Children who are under 5 years of age are also at higher risk for pneumonia. Those who are chain smokers and those who have medical backgrounds of diabetes, asthma, and heart disease are more likely to develop this disease.

Prevention
There are a number of steps that you can take in order to prevent pneumonia right at its inception.

Quit smoking
It is always advisable to quit smoking or reduce the habit of smoking, as you are more likely to be a victim of this disease if you are a chain smoker.

Sick people
It is essential to stay away from people who are already suffering from respiratory tract infections, contagious flu, infectious colds, etc.

Vaccines
It may also become necessary to take vaccines against measles or chickenpox. Also, it is wise to stay away from people who are already suffering from these diseases.

Wash hands
It is advisable to wash your hands quite often, especially when you are coming from outside. This facilitates in preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses that often carry the infection of pneumonia.

Some other kinds of vaccines that can also help prevent this contagious disease are:

Flu vaccine
Taken yearly, this vaccine can help you avoid the flu, which often results in pneumonia, especially for people in high-risk groups, such as older people, children, and those who have chronic diseases. You can take this flu vaccine while taking the pneumococcal vaccine.

Measles vaccination
It is important to give the measles vaccination to children. Also, adults might want to take the vaccination against measles, if they have not suffered from this disease during their childhood.

Chickenpox vaccination
Chickenpox vaccination can also help prevent pneumonia in many cases, as this is caused by viruses, which also cause chickenpox.

Quit alcohol
It is also important to indulge in less alcohol drinking, as it leads to a high risk of developing pneumonia. Intravenous drug use also leads to an increased risk of developing pneumonia.

Tissue
Make sure to sneeze and cough into a tissue or into a piece of cloth or into your sleeve and elbow.

Clean surfaces
As a prevention method, it is important to clean surfaces that are touched a lot.

Diabetes
Finally, in order to prevent a disease like pneumonia, it is important to prevent and treat other diseases, such as diabetes.

The above preventive measures can help you to steer clear of pneumonia.

 

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

All About Adult Pneumonia Vaccine

Pneumonia is a lung infection that can lead to trouble in breathing, coughing, and slight fever.

People who suffer from pneumonia exhibit the symptoms of fever, cough, and troubled breathing. In order to prevent pneumonia, it is always advisable to stay away from people who are sick.

Though many adults are at risk for this disease, there are various vaccines that can prevent the deadly disease. You can consult with your healthcare professional to inquire about which vaccination is best for you.

Every year, thousands of adults succumb to death because of this fatal and infectious disease. Children and older people are usually the victims of this disease. Pneumococcal disease causes severe infections in the lungs, lining of the brain, blood stream, and spinal cord, and the best way to restrict pneumonia in adults is to get vaccinated.

Pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine
This vaccine is available to prevent pneumonia in adults. One shot of this vaccine is good for at least 5 years of protection. The vaccine is usually prescribed for people who are older than 65 years of age. It is also for those who have chronic diseases and serious, long-term health problems. Pneumococcal vaccination is also suitable for people who have weak immune systems. People suffering from HIV/AIDS, asthma, cancer, and removed or damaged spleens will also benefit from this vaccine.

PCV13
PCV13 protects victims from 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. It also provides protection against illnesses like bacteremia and meningitis. PCV13 provides protection against pneumonia. These highly recommended vaccines are safe, with no serious complications. The few mild side effects of this vaccine are arm swelling and soreness, but nothing serious.

Prevnar 13
PCV13 or pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, such as Prevnar 13, is also recommended for children younger than 5 years old, along with adults over 65 years of age. PCV13 is also recommended for those with sickle cell disease, anatomic or functional asplenia, chronic renal failure, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, leukemia, generalized malignancy, Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, solid organ transplant, cochlear implant, etc.

PPSV23
Pneumovax refers to a 23-valent PPSV23, i.e., pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. This is prescribed for use in adults who are over 65 years of age. It is also recommended for adults who are at higher risk of pneumococcal disease. PPSV23 is usually prescribed for adults between 19 and 64 years of age who have asthma or who smoke cigarettes. This vaccination is also recommended for those who have chronic cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and congestive heart failure. This vaccine is also recommended for those who are addicted to alcohol, have chronic liver disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic pulmonary disease, etc. This polysaccharide vaccine was the first pneumococcal vaccine; it was licensed in 1977.

Adults who are older than 65 years of age and have not previously received the PCV13 vaccination should get a dose of PCV13 followed by a gap of 6 to 12 months, and then a dose of PPSV23.

Adults over 19 years of age with no previous vaccination should take a dose of PCV13 and then continue with the recommended dose of PPSV23.
People who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction should consult with a doctor before taking the vaccination.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Diabetes

Increasing numbers of people are suffering from diabetes. Diabetes, type 1 and type 2 levels, develop gradually. However, the symptoms can be observed suddenly, in a child or in an adult.

Diabetes in children

Children are equally the victims of diabetes, with signs and symptoms developing gradually. Years ago, it was a rare syndrome for kids to be victims of this disease. However, according to recent data, almost 208,000 children (under the age of 20) are suffering from childhood diabetes.

Extreme craving

Extreme craving for food is a prominent risk factor for childhood diabetes. This occurs as the organs and muscles of the child become depleted of energy. This, in turn, is triggered by the fact that there is not enough insulin to move the sugar into the cells of the child.

Increased frequency of urination and thirst

With excessive amounts of sugar accumulating in the kid’s bloodstream, fluid is pulled from their tissues. This leads to increased urination and thirst in the child.

Yeast infection

This is another sign and symptom of childhood diabetes. Often, young girls with diabetes have genital yeast infections.

Fatigue

When the child’s cells are deprived of sugar, the child may feel lazy, lethargic, and tired. This may also result in longer term fatigue.

Weight loss

Since children with diabetes have extreme hunger, they tend to eat a lot more. However, in spite of this fact, the child might suffer from unexplained weight loss. Often, this weight loss is extremely rapid. Without enough energy and sugar supplies, the fat stores and muscle tissues shrink. This is often the first sign that is noticed in children suffering from diabetes.

Unusual behavior

Children diagnosed with diabetes are often observed to be irritated or moody.

Blurred vision

Children suffering from diabetes or with high blood sugar may suffer from blurred vision. This is because fluid is pulled from the lenses of their eyes, leaving them unable to focus clearly.

If the parents observes one or more of the aforementioned symptoms in their children, they should immediately consult a doctor for early detection, prevention, diagnosis, and cure.

Diabetes in adults

Though the above factors are the possible signs and symptoms of childhood diabetes, they are not specific to juveniles. These same signs and symptoms can also lead to detection of adults suffering from diabetes. Beside the above risk factors, there are a few more that indicate diabetes in adults. Let’s look at them.

Areas with dark patches of skin

This is an additional sign or symptom that you can observe in an adult diagnosed with diabetes. Specifically, adults develop these areas of darkened skin when they suffer from type 2 diabetes. The areas may have velvety skin within the creases and folds of their bodies, like in the neck and armpit. This condition is often referred to as acanthosis nigricans. This is a sign of resistance to insulin.

Lower resistance

Adults diagnosed with diabetes are often observed to have reduced power to resist and heal from infections.

 

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

10 Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Are you suffering from type 2 diabetes? Are you terrified of this disease and afraid to fight it? Well, you would be surprised to know that Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Paula Deen, Randy Jackson, Delta Burke, Larry Kind, and many other famous personalities are victims of type 2 diabetes.

Americans are most likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 40 or above, while South Asian people are diagnosed at a much lower age. Addiction to smoking and alcohol can also severely damage the body balance and insulin resistance and lead to type 2 diabetes in people at a lower age.

Type 2 Diabetes

According to a reputed organization, almost 382 million people across the world are living with diabetes. This figure is not expected to decrease by 2035. So, in the face of rising numbers, you might wonder what the risk factors are for type 2 diabetes. Well, researchers are not fully confident about their assessment of risk factors, but they are certain about the factors mentioned below. Hence, we may include the following 10 items as risk factors for diabetes type 2.

Overweight

Obesity or being overweight is one of the primary risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Four out of every five obese people suffer from type 2 diabetes. This is the single greatest risk factor for this disease. The higher the amount of fatty tissues you have, the higher the chance that you will become a victim of type 2 diabetes. This is because your cells become resistant to insulin.

Inactivity

Inactivity is another risk factor. Physical activity helps you to keep type 2 diabetes under control by controlling your weight, using up glucose for energy, and making your cells sensitive to insulin.

Family history

Genetic linkage is a risk factor. You will be at increased risk if your parents have developed this disease.

Prediabetes

Prediabetes is another risk factor for type 2 diabetes. It is a condition where your blood sugar levels are beyond the normal level, but have not yet reached the level for diabetes diagnosis.

Birth of an overweight baby

If you have given birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds, then you are likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Fat distribution

If your body happens to accumulate all the body fat in your abdomen, then you are at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes. If the fat is distributed throughout your body, your risk is lower.

Race

People of certain ethnicities, such as Blacks, American Indians, Hispanics, and Asian Americans, are at greater risk. However, the precise reason for this is still unclear.

Age

Age is another risk factor. As you grow older, you are more likely to develop this disease. At ages over 45, people are likely to exercise less, gain weight, and lose muscle mass, leading to this disease.

PCOD

Nowadays, a greater number of women are becoming victims of polycystic ovary syndrome. This condition is characterized by obesity, excess hair growth, and irregular periods. This is a prominent risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

High blood pressure

Hypertension is another risk factor.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

5 Major Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

Tom Hanks
Halle Berry
Paula Deen
Randy Jackson
Delta Burke
Larry Kind

Do you know them? Well, certainly you are familiar with all these names as they are famous celebrities who have reached the peak of success. However, you would be surprised to know that all these celebrities are fighting type 2 diabetes just like you. So, type 2 diabetes can affect anyone and everyone.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

There are various factors that trigger type 2 diabetes in people all across the world. Though genetic factors and age are associated with the rate of type 2 diabetes, there are many more reasons that cause type 2 diabetes to develop in people of all ethnicities. Doctors as well as researchers have listed a few major causes that are most probably the reasons behind a person developing type 2 diabetes.

  1. Genetic factor
    Type 2 diabetes is genetic or hereditary. You have a high chance of inheriting it from your father or mother if one or both have been diagnosed with this type of diabetes. In recent research that is ongoing, doctors are trying to figure out the genetic mutations that cause the risk.
  1. Obesity or overweight
    Irregular lifestyle and obesity can heighten the risk of type 2 diabetes in people of all ages. Fat decomposition in the lower abdominal area or in other body parts can change the response to insulin, which leads to insulin resistance. The body is no longer in a condition to produce sugar from your blood, which leads to a higher level of blood sugar in your body. Insulin resistance can also result from an improper lifestyle. However, not everyone with insulin resistance will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but some certainly will.
  1. Improper physical activity
    An adequate amount of physical training as well as exercise can increase lean muscle mass, which plays a significant role in safeguarding the body from type 2 diabetes by preventing insulin resistance.
  1. Poor dietary plan
    Eating well and staying healthy will help you fend away this disease to a certain extent. Following a strict, low-calorie food chart that includes a high amount of fruits, milk, vegetables, nuts, etc. can significantly trim down the chances of type 2 diabetes. People addicted to eating sodas, packed and processed foods, high-calorie junk foods, and alcohol are more likely to be diagnosed with this type of diabetes compared to others. Irregularity in eating habits and obesity combined with genetic factors can trigger the risk as well.
  1. Improper sleeping and watching TV
    A lethargic or irregular lifestyle can disturb the blood sugar and insulin balance. If you continue to maintain a sedentary lifestyle and sleep less, you will be at a risk for type 2 diabetes. Watching TV is often accompanied by gobbling snacks, which increases calorie intake, leading to obesity. If you reduce watching TV to 10 hours a week and get engaged in some kind of physical activities, you can reduce the risk by a high percentage.

These are the 5 major causes of type 2 diabetes in 90% of recorded cases.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Are the New Guidelines for Mammography Acceptable?

Mammography is an advanced and modern medical imaging technique used to screen for breast cancer. It uses low-dose X-rays to observe the interior of the breasts. The screening of mammography is known as a mammogram.

It is indeed an essential screening mechanism to detect early cancer and help women to cure the problem. This screening tool is life-saving, by diagnosing breast cancer at a young age when the patient has ample time to prevent its development.

New Guidelines

However, according to recent news, the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer examination guidelines have undergone certain changes. The new recommendations state that women can wait to undergo mammography until the age of 45 instead of 40. The recent amendment recommends that women start receiving annual mammograms at the age of 45. Before this change, the guidelines for this screening mechanism had undergone several other changes as well.

Drawbacks

However, in response to these changed recommendations, the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging still strongly advocate the idea of going in for mammography at the age of 40. However, the snag with this recommendation is that breast cancer has been increasingly observed in young women, starting at the age of 25. Hence, those women who develop breast cancer will reach an advanced level in their 40s by the time they go in for mammography. Hence, the recent recommendations apparently deter the early detection, prevention, and diagnosis of breast cancer in young women.

If mammography were done at an earlier age, it could reduce death, improve life expectancy, and enhance life expectancy. Early detection of breast cancer also reduces the need for extensive surgery, aggressive chemotherapy, and lesser mastectomies.

Controversies

The new guidelines for mammography have attracted a lot of debate and news. There has been a lot of backlash from organizations, societies, and individuals, leading to controversies.

Under the new recommendations, the American Cancer Society propagates that women between the ages of 45 to 54 can undergo annual mammography. After the age 55, the screening can be every other year.

The new guidelines have stated that women between the ages of 40 to 44, instead of going for mammography, should consult with their doctor regarding the possibility and symptoms of breast cancer.

Reason for the Change

These guidelines were developed keeping in mind that women nearing menopause are at a greater risk of breast cancer. The people who were behind this fresh set of guidelines suggested that women within the age group of 45 to 49 and those within the 50 to 54 age group have similar threats of breast cancer and similar chances of dying from cancer. Hence, the officials decided to put forth these changed guidelines.

Insurance Companies Reaping Benefits

However, this has greatly benefitted the insurance companies. For instance, if a woman suffering from breast cancer has a life expectancy of 70 years and if the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer are done earlier or at the age of 40 (as they had been done previously), the insurance companies would have to pay for the treatment for 30 years or more. On the other hand, if the mammogram is done between the ages of 45–54, clearly the insurance companies would only have to pay for, at the most, 15 years. Hence, owing to these recommendations, insurance companies are trying to save money at the cost of lives of young women, which is a very depressing fact.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Breast Cancer Causes in Young Women

Young women are now at a greater risk of breast cancer. Young women aged between 25 and 39 are being diagnosed with breast cancer at its advanced levels. Also, a record number of women below the age of 50 are being detected with advanced breast cancer. This is the case for one out of every five women.

The prime causes of rising breast cancer in women are still not known for certain. However, it’s safe to say that there are multiple causes for the rising number of breast cancer cases among young women. Most of the causes are environmentally based. Researchers, doctors, and medical experts have discovered a few causes that are mostly likely to contribute to breast cancer at a young age.

The Major Causes

The most prominent factors of all are the hormonal factors. Hormonal factors have also contributed to breast cancer among older women as well as to other health problems, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid imbalances, etc.

Having children at a later stage in life is another cause among younger women. Taking birth control pills regularly or having fewer children are other known contributors to this disease.

It has been observed that women consuming synthetic hormones for other hormonal problems are at a greater risk. Women with lower levels of estrogen often take synthetic estrogen hormonal tablets to compensate for the deficiency. This practice is known to be responsible for the development of many cases of breast cancer.

Parabens are chemicals that also affect the development of breast cancer at an early stage. Parabens are commonly found in lotions, shaving gels, shampoos, deodorants, cosmetics, etc.

Nutritional deficiency is another prime cause of breast cancer. In addition, inflammation, environment toxicity, resultant breakdown in genetic integrity, estrogen dominance as well as immune surveillance are the other primary factors responsible for breast cancer among young women.

Girls receiving radiation or chemo to their chests to cure childhood cancer also have a greater risk of developing breast cancer at a tender age. A family background or personal history of breast cancer can put you at greater risk of breast cancer at a young age. Young women with dense breasts have a greater chance of developing breast cancer.

Excessive alcohol and cigarette smoking is also responsible. Excessive consumption of red meat can also increase the chances. Sugary foods promote cancer.

What to Avoid

Here are some points that you should take note of to prevent breast cancer among young women. Ignoring the points mentioned below puts you at greater risk of this disease.

  • To prevent the chance of developing breast cancer, young women should avoid eating sugary foods
  • They should optimise their vitamin D level
  • They should take ample amounts of vitamin A
  • They should stay away from charred meats
  • They can go in for lymphatic breast massage
  • They should quit using unfermented soy products
  • Young women should avoid addiction to alcohol
  • They should increase their insulin receptor sensitivity
  • They should take more curcumin, which is plentifully available in turmeric
  • They should maintain a healthy body weight
  • They should have green leafy veggies daily along with omega-3 fatty acids
  • Young women should not wear underwire bras and should avoid electromagnetic fields
  • They should not undergo synthetic hormone replacement

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

7 Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer among women is rising at an alarming rate all across the world. Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and develops in one in every eight women.

This dangerous disease develops initially through a small tumor in the tissue of the breasts. If the disease is cancerous, it spreads gradually through the lymph nodes.

  1. Breast pain

The first symptom of breast cancer is chest or breast pain. This disease, which has often proved to be fatal, starts with seed-like lumps. These cause different kinds of discomfort or pain. If the pain is occurring frequently, inform a doctor immediately.

  1. Breast lump

A doctor can detect a lump while performing a breast exam. You can also try this yourself at home. A lump is one of the earliest warning signs of breast cancer. While you carefully press your breast as well as its surrounding areas with your fingers, you will find a small lump if you have developed breast cancer. Both malignant and benign breast lumps form beneath the armpit. While the former is cancerous, the latter is non-cancerous. As an early warning, you can find small lumps near lymph nodes in the collarbone as well as surrounding the nipples. The lumps are tender, rigid, and hard, and don’t move when you apply pressure to them.

  1. Itchy breasts

Itchy breasts are another symptom of breast cancer. This is mostly associated with inflammation or tenderness of the breast. Often, dermatologists may suggest creams for a rash. However, if it is extremely itchy and you feel like scratching, do not hesitate to consult with the doctor. The itchy sensation can also be accompanied by another symptom, which is nipple discharge when you are not breast-feeding. Also, you may find changes in the texture of the breast tissue.

  1. Breast shape change

Change in breast shape, appearance, or size is another symptom. You or your partner might notice this change when you put on your bra. The extra growth of tissue might push your breast out of its original shape or size.

  1. Change in nipple sensitivity

As another warning symptom, you can also observe a transformation in the appearance or sensitivity of the nipple. You might observe that the nipples have become indented, flattened, or inverted. Also, you may observe a reduction in the sensitivity of the nipples or they may stick up less. In addition, the skin of the nipple becomes scaly, inflamed, or crusty.

  1. Inflammation and redness in breasts

Redness or swelling in the breasts may be another early sign of breast cancer. You may experience sore and swollen breasts or redness and hotness in the underlying tissue and skin. They may also turn purple. Breast tumors push on the tissue, causing sore and swollen breasts.

  1. Stiffness or pain in neck, shoulder, and upper back

This can also be one of the early signs of breast cancer in women. You may feel pain in the bones that is deep and throbbing. This is because initially the breast cancer has spread to the ribs or the spine.

If you observe any of the above symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

5 Things You Should Know about Mammograms

Mammogram refers to an image produced by an X-ray that takes an impression of your breast. This image plays an important role in detecting early breast cancer and can save you from the fatal disease. Over the years, mammograms have helped considerably to reduce deaths due to breast cancer. While the X-ray image is being taken of your breasts, they are usually compressed between two rigid surfaces to stretch out the breast tissue. The word mammography, or mastography, refers to the procedure of examining your breast with the use of low energy X-rays; mammogram refers to the actual image. The mammogram is used as a screening and diagnostic tool.

So, here are 5 important things you should know about

mammograms:

  1. What is a mammogram?

This is the first question that will come to your mind. As noted above, it is an X-ray image of the human breast using a safe and low dose of radiation.

  1. Why should you go for a mammogram regularly?

This image helps in early screening of breast cancer. By detecting it at its initial stage, it is easier to treat successfully. By having mammograms regularly, you will have multiple X-ray images that can be compared with the earlier ones to identify any changes in them. Also, if you have a strong family history or high risk of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, it is recommended that you undergo mammography at around 30 years of age.

  1. Is a mammogram sufficient to detect breast cancer?

For the most part, the answer is yes. Although mammography is an effective screening process, this technique might not be able to determine 15-20% of breast cancers. In cases in which a tumor is suspected but cannot be detected, you should go for multiple screening tests to be certain about the development of the disease. You can opt for other screening tests, such as a clinical breast examination, a breast self-exam, an MRI, an ultrasound, etc. These can be used as complementary tools over and above mammography. However, there are no replacements or substitutes for the mammogram.

  1. What does it feel like to have a mammogram?

While the image is taken of your breast, you may feel a little pressure on your breast. The pressure will be similar to the blood pressure cuff used on arms. However, the pressure lasts for only a few seconds. There is nothing to be afraid of in this process as the discomfort level is minimal. Also, the process is safe as your breasts are exposed to only a small amount of radiation.

  1. How should you prepare for it?

On your appointment day, it’s better to wear two-piece outfits that can be easily removed for the X-ray. Avoid any kind of body lotions, antiperspirants, deodorants, perfume, talcum powders, metals, etc.

There are some early warning signs of breast cancer that can help you to detect breast cancer in its initial stage and alert you to go in for this preliminary diagnosis and screening. This can save you from a spreading of the cancer and protect you from the fatal form of the disease.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

How to Treat Childhood Obesity

Overweight in childhood can lead to various health disorders in kids as they grow older, such as childhood obesity. With the modernization of society, children have been greatly affected by its ill effects and improper lifestyle. A survey says that almost 15% of children are overweight irrespective of their parental weight and sex. Treatment should be started immediately if a kid is becoming obese at an early age.

The treatment of obesity in children is done through three steps:

  • Changing the child’s diet or food habits
  • Encouraging the child to exercise
  • Simple medication

Weight loss surgeries are also considered an option, but surgeries like these at such a young age should not be the only solution. Parents, teachers, and doctors should advise and encourage the child to take the aforementioned three steps very seriously. Still, if the kid is not able to reduce his or her weight, then parents may consider surgery.

Treatment for Overweight Children

Change in Food Habits
A diet can remove excess fat in kids between the ages of 6 and 10. This process will work very slowly, but it ensures proper weight loss. Kids need to eat food (nutrition-rich foods) at regular intervals in small quantities. Some tips for parents to remember while purchasing foods and serving their children:

  • Avoid buying and serving sugary foods such as chocolates, ice cream, cake, cookies, etc. Sugary foods are high in fat and calories.
  • Do not buy processed or preserved foods from retail stores.
  • Minimize fast foods in the diet. Fast foods and junk foods will never help your kid to reduce his or her weight.
  • Allow your kid to eat the proper amount of food. Overeating or undereating can both adversely affect your child’s health.
  • Eat your meals with your kid so that it becomes a habit for him or her. Discourage your kid from watching TV or playing games while eating.
  • Buy larger amounts of fruits and green vegetables and make a balanced diet.
  • Ask your kid to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water on a daily basis.

Physical Activities and Games
Emphasize outdoor games and activities rather than indoor games. The calories need to be burned, so a good amount of physical exercise is required. Enroll your kid in football, swimming, or tennis classes, and take him or her for a morning walk or jogging every day. The diet will not work effectively until and unless physical exercises are paired with it. Cycling or skating can also be good options.

Medication for a Limited Period
You can take your kid to doctors to prescribe some weight loss drugs. These drugs, although they don’t have many side effects, should be avoided in larger quantities. You should stress good food habits and exercise more than weight-reducing medicines.

Fat removal surgeries are very popular nowadays and your kid can also try it. However, make sure your kid can withstand such surgeries without facing any complications. Weight loss surgeries have some side effects in the long term, so it’s better not to rely only on this process for weight loss.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Risks of Childhood Obesity

With the increasing popularity of sedentary lifestyles, obesity has become all the more prevalent among adults. However, in recent times, the syndrome named obesity is no longer confined to adults. Children are also prone to becoming overweight and obese. It has been observed that childhood obesity has doubled in children and almost quadrupled in adolescents in the past 3 decades.

In the U.S., 18% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are obese, while 21% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 are considered to have this problem. While overweight is defined as gaining excess body weight for a specific height from muscle, fat, water, bone, or a combination of these factors, obesity is defined as having only excess body fat.

Risks of Childhood Obesity

Obesity in children can be a result of caloric imbalance, environmental factors, genetic problems, or behavioral reasons. It can be harmful to their current health and also result in a number of ongoing health risks. There are a number of risks or contributing factors that may work in unison or individually to result in childhood obesity.

Lack of Exercise

The first one is lack of exercise. Nowadays, parents are working longer hours, and they often do not have time to take their kids out for healthy exercise or playing. Also, with the increasing pressure of studies, school, and tuition, children can hardly find time to go out and exercise. They are restricted to playing video games, computer games, and other indoor games and become couch potatoes.

Diet

Diet is another risk and contributing factor for childhood obesity. If your kid is eating high-calorie foods regularly, such as cheese, fast foods, soft drinks, desserts, candies, ice creams, baked items, processed foods, deep-fried products, vending machine snacks, etc., this can cause your child to gain excess body weight and develop fat in the lower abdomen and other core areas of the body.

Family Factors

Family factors are increasingly significant in contributing to childhood obesity and overweight. If obesity runs in your family, your child is also at a greater risk of developing obesity. This is more common in families and environments where physical activity is not at all encouraged and high-calorie foods are always available.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors are also known to be responsible for obesity among kids. Many children have been observed to overeat in order to cope up with emotional problems or deal with other factors, such as stress. Often, children overeat to fight boredom. In such family environments, their parents also have similar tendencies, which are then further inflicted on their children.

Socioeconomic Factors

Socioeconomic factors are strong enough to result in childhood obesity. In today’s hectic work and busy life, parents hardly have time to prepare 4–5 meals for their children or for themselves. Also, people living in high rise buildings have little access to grocery stores, supermarkets, vegetable stores, fruit stalls, etc. This makes them opt for convenience and packaged foods that stay preserved for a longer period of time. These include crackers, aerated drinks, frozen meals, cookies, etc. This leads to obesity among children.

Children from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and lower income neighborhoods do not have access to safe places to exercise, leading to obesity among some of these kids at an early age.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

United Healthcare Top Healthcare Metrics Provider

Salerno Medical Associates and Dr Alexander G Salerno recognized by United Healthcare as a top healthcare metrics provider for innovative and pioneering healthcare outcomes.

Award Winning Outcomes as Healthcare Metrics Provider

healthcare metrics provider

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

NJBIZ Honors Dr. Alexander Salerno

Dr. Alexander G Salerno of Salerno Medical Associates was named a finalist in the Physician of the Year category in the 2011 NJBIZ Healthcare Heroes awards program. The award program, produced by NJBIZ, New Jersey’s premiere business news publication, is sponsored by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey Hospital Association, NJTopDocs.com, and WithumSmith+Brown, PC.

The Healthcare Heroes awards program recognizes excellence and innovation, honoring individuals and organizations making a significant impact on the quality of healthcare in New Jersey. Finalists were selected in eleven categories: Corporate Achievement, Education Hero–Individual, Education Hero–Organization, Hospital of the Year, Innovation Hero–Individual, Innovation Hero–Organization, Nurse of the Year, Nursing Home/Assisted Living Facility of the Year, Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Center of the Year, Physician of the Year, and Volunteer of the Year.

HealthcareHeroes-SalernoFinalists and winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges including: Donald J. Cinotti, MD, Medical Society of NJ; David Knowlton, New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and D.N. Lombardi, Ph.D., USMC.

The Healthcare Heroes awards finalists were recognized and the winners in each category were announced during a breakfast awards ceremony on June 21, 2011 at the Palace in Somerset Park in Somerset, New Jersey.

For more information about the NJBIZ Healthcare Heroes awards program or to register for a future event, please visit www.njbiz.com/events.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

NJBIZ Honors UHIP

NJBIZ Honors UHIP

Somerset Park, NJ (June 23, 2015). Urban Healthcare Initiative Program (UHIP) has been named a finalist in the Innovation Hero Organization category in the 2015 NJBIZ Healthcare Heroes awards program. The award program, produced by NJBIZ, New Jersey’s premier business news publication, was sponsored by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Hackensack University Medical Center, CareOne Management, LLC, Comcast Business, Brach Eichler, LLC, New Jersey Hospital Association, and New Jersey Innovation Institute.

The Healthcare Heroes finalists were recognized and the winner in each category was announced during an awards breakfast and ceremony on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at The Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset, New Jersey. The honorees were also highlighted in a special supplement to NJBIZ.

The Palace at Somerset Park hosted over 400 guests, where everyone came together to celebrate these courageous and noble healthcare specialists and organizations. The event began promptly at 8 AM with networking and breakfast and was followed by the awards presentation. The presenting and major sponsors, Kevin Conlin, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, Jose Lozano, Hackensack University Medical Center, Tim Hodges, CareOne Management, LLC, Rich Scheid, Comcast Business, John Fanburg, Esq., and Brach Eichler, LLC, presented the awards on stage to each honoree.

The finalists and winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges including: Wardell Sanders, New Jersey Association of Health Plans, Dr. Chadwin Sandifer, Fairleigh Dickinson University | School of Pharmacy and Judy Schmidt, New Jersey State Nurses Association. The three judges evaluated the nominations using a scoring system based on heroic actions or programs, impact of nominee’s heroic actions and accomplishments within healthcare.

For more information about the NJBIZ Healthcare Heroes awards program, please visit www.njbiz.com/events.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

What Is Hospice and When Should It Be Considered?

When a loved one is suffering from a terminal illness and all treatment options have been tried and exhausted, the next best option is hospice care. More is not better; in fact, it has been demonstrated that more when it comes to healthcare in terminally ill patients results in more suffering rather than an improved quality of life. Some studies have defined “more” as an approach that results in as many as twelve different medical specialists involved in the care of a loved one during this terminal period. “More” has been defined as treatment that results in an imbalance of expenses, in which 85% of Medicare expenditures are spent reactively on 10-15% of Medicare beneficiaries in this terminal period. As a physician and a son of two physicians, I too was faced with this difficult decision with my father. Despite all my medical training and rational medical reasoning, I was conflicted in making this choice. Do I, for selfish reasons, try to extend my father’s life, or, being a father’s son and knowing how he chose to live life, allow him to die on his own terms? It is a very humbling and awakening event caring for a dying parent, regardless of one’s career and background. In this article, I maintain that one needs to put personal guilt, fear, and selfishness aside, and when faced with making a decision on behalf of terminally ill loved ones, one must make the decision with their best interest, not one’s own, in mind.

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is a specialized care provided by healthcare professionals that is designed to provide medical services, emotional and psychological support, and spiritual and social resources to offer the maximum comfort possible. It aims to improve quality of life for those who are terminally ill or who are in the last stages of serious illnesses such as cancer or heart failure. Hospice care also helps family members of the patients by providing them with counseling, practical support, and respite care to deal with the emotional challenges of caring for a loved one, explains Dr. Alexander Salerno.

Hospice care can be summarized as a place where professional caregivers and experienced physicians and nurses provide personalized choices so that patients can receive help with basic, hour-by-hour physical needs, along with up-to-date pain and symptom management approaches that provide peace of mind to the patients and help them live better lives despite their illness.

Hospice care does not provide medical treatment to cure the underlying disease; rather, its goal is to provide care to support the highest quality of life possible to those who have little time left. Hospice care is a type of palliative care, states Dr. Salerno.

Dr Salerno says that hospice care is for anyone who is terminally ill, chronically ill, or seriously ill and who is expected to have only six months or less to live. The length of hospice care may extend past six months when needed; it is provided as long as the patient’s doctor and caregiver team consider it to be appropriate for the patient. Hospice care is not only for those suffering from cancer, but is also for those suffering from other diseases such as heart disorders, kidney failure, dementia, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Hospice care can be provided at home, or is also available at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and dedicated hospice facilities.

When to Consider Hospice Care

Hospice care is to be considered when:

  • An individual has a disease or illness that is expected to shorten his or her life.
  • The treatment option to cure the illness or prolong life has been fruitless and instead of benefiting from it, the patient sees it as a burden.
  • The patient who is suffering wishes to spend her remaining life peacefully and comfortably in a setting of her choice, such as at home.
  • The patient wants family members and friends around him and wants them to participate in the care management.
  • The relatives of the patient want their loved one to have a comfortable and quality life at home instead of going through painful medication and treatment at the hospital.

Hospice care can be considered when the person suffering from the terminal illness or his family wishes to change the focus from disease-modifying care to care that provides comfort and improves the quality of life. This sensitive issue can be discussed with hospice care providers, and then the appropriate hospice care-providing facility can be chosen.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Shingles — Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

When we see older adults complaining of severe, unbearable pain from rashes and blisters, there is a probability that they are suffering from shingles. Shingles is a viral infection caused by the virus that also causes chicken pox—the varicella zoster virus—which is why it is also known as zoster or herpes zoster. The infection is mostly seen in those 60 years and older and occurs when an individual is suffering due to emotional or physical stress and the stress leads to lower immunity. The shingles rashes are usually found on only one side of the body. The infection is not life-threatening, but the pain from the rashes and accompanying blisters can be quite severe and excruciating.

Causes of Shingles

The causative agent for shingles is the varicella zoster virus that has not cleared out completely after a bout of chicken pox, which probably occurred during childhood. The virus remains dormant in the nervous system for years and reactivates when the body’s immunity is low and travels along the nerve pathway to the skin, causing rashes and blisters and leading to shingles.

This disease is seen more often in older adults because their immune systems become weak with age as far as their ability to fight against infections, explains Dr. Alexander Salerno of Salerno Medical Associates.

Dr. Salerno also states that the shingles causative virus, varicella zoster, can be passed on from anyone who is infected to someone who does not have immunity against chicken pox or who has not previously been infected with chicken pox. The virus is passed through the open sores of the shingles rash; however, when the virus is passed on, it causes chicken pox. Therefore, sometimes it is advised to avoid physical contact with others when suffering from shingles.

Symptoms of Shingles

Initial symptoms before the rashes appear are:

  • a tingling pain or burning sensation in a specific part of the body
  • itchiness and numbness in a particular part of the body

Shingles symptoms are seen on one side of the body and may manifest as red rashes that are sensitive to the touch, fluid-filled blisters that can burst open and crust over, along with itching. Some individuals might also experience fatigue, fever accompanied by headaches, and sensitivity to light. These symptoms last for 2 to 3 weeks.

In some cases with serious complications, the symptoms do not subside even after weeks, and the pain can linger on for months or even years, says Alexander Salerno, MD. This condition is known as post-herpetic neuralgia, in which the pain is very severe and can sometimes have adverse effects on routine schedules such as bathing, cooking, eating, or even travelling. In addition, post-herpetic neuralgia can also lead to anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, and difficulty concentrating.

Treatment of Shingles

To date, a cure for shingles has not been found; but the symptoms can be minimized and will subside faster with prompt treatment and antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. Treatment and medication can also be prescribed for specific symptoms.

The best precautionary measure is vaccination, which contains attenuated varicella zoster virus in high concentrations to produce antibodies.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Is Shingles Vaccine Safe?

Shingles can be prevented via the shingles vaccine, which is suitable to be administered to those over 50 years of age as a single dose given subcutaneously, says Dr. Salerno.

According to Alexander Salerno, MD, shingles is characterized as a viral infection that causes severe, painful rashes and blisters and is caused due to the dormant varicella virus from a previous infection of chicken pox. This virus reactivates during emotionally or physically stressful situations and causes rashes along nerve fibers lining the skin. The initial indications of being infected by shingles include a tingling pain or a burning sensation on a particular part of the body or even an itch or numbness at a particular location. A serious complication of shingles is post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN, in which the pain lingers on beyond the normal 2- to 3-week duration for shingles and can remain for months or even years. The excruciating pain of PHN is accompanied by anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, and difficulty in concentrating.

Because shingles is mostly found in adults aged 60 and over, who already have weak immunity, it is wise to take precautions against it rather than suffer from it, as there is no curative treatment for shingles, only medications to reduce the symptoms.

The Safety of the Shingles Vaccine

The shingles vaccine contains a large concentration of attenuated varicella virus that stimulates the body to produce antibodies against it. The vaccine is safe to be injected in those over 50, but care should be taken that after its reconstitution the vaccine must be administered immediately to minimize the loss of potency. In addition, unused vaccine must be disposed of within 30 minutes of its being opened.

The vaccine is safe enough to be administered only once, and it is not known what the repercussions would be if injected twice. Also, it is recommended that the vaccine be administered subcutaneously and not intramuscularly, but in cases in which it is injected intramuscularly, the dose is not to be repeated, explains Dr. Salerno.

Shingles vaccine is not safe for those who have an allergic reaction to gelatine, neomycin, or any component of the vaccine, or for those who have a weakened immune system because of AIDS or other, similar immune system illnesses. In addition, vaccination is not recommended for those receiving immune system-suppressing treatments or medication or for those who have cancer affecting the lymphatic system or bone marrow. Those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant must not take the vaccine.

Side Effects of the Shingles Vaccine

Common side effects of the shingles vaccine include tenderness, redness, pain, itching, and swelling at the site of injection, often accompanied by headaches. In some individuals, the vaccine also causes a chicken pox-like rash. Serious side effects have not yet been reported for this vaccine.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

IS HPV VACCINE USEFUL IN TREATING CERVICAL CANCER?

HPV, or human papillomavirus, causes a number of infections, most of which are transmitted sexually. The virus, apart from causing genital warts and infections, can even cause cancers such as cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, or anal cancer. HPV is responsible for most cases of cervical cancer, and a person can get the virus by having sexual contact with someone who already has the human papillomavirus.

Most adults are at some time in their lives infected with the human papillomavirus, but most of the time the infection goes away on its own and might not come to their notice, states Dr. Alexander Salerno. However, sometimes the infection leads to serious conditions such as cervical cancer, which is why regular screening via Pap tests and HPV vaccination are advised to help prevent the cancer.

In a Pap test, a few cells are collected from the cervix and then microscopically examined to look for signs of cervical cancer in its precancerous or early stages. Women over the age of 21 can get the test done once every two years, and those over 30 with previously normal screenings can screen once every 3 years, notes Alexander Salerno, MD.

The Pap test is a safe screening method, but to ensure even further prevention against cervical cancer, women must opt for vaccination with the HPV vaccine in order to be immunized. There are many types of HPV strains that cause infections, but the HPV vaccine provides protection against the main four types of HPV, which cause about 70% of cervical cancers.

Usefulness and Effectiveness of the HPV Vaccine in Treating Cervical Cancer

The HPV vaccine is a powerful protection against cervical cancer, and it is believed that widespread HPV immunization can considerably lower the incidence of cervical cancer worldwide.

Dr. Salerno says that the HPV vaccine is highly effective when given before a person can be exposed to and infected with the human papillomavirus—this is when the person is not yet sexually active. That is why the vaccine is recommended for girls as young as 9 through the age of 26. The drawback, however, is that the vaccine does not provide protection against an already present infection, and all types of HPV strains are not restricted by the vaccine.

Of the two types of HPV vaccines available, one type is exclusively for girls, and the other can be given to both girls and boys, which is helpful because if boys are immunized against HPV infections, it decreases the probability of transmitting the virus to girls via sexual contact. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of treatment! Vaccinating men can also reduce the chances of anal cancer and genital warts in men and women.

The HPV vaccine is highly effective against human papillomavirus types 6, 11, 16, and 18, which are responsible for about 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts, and the vaccine reduced the risk of high-grade cervical lesions caused by these types by almost 19%. However, the downside of the vaccine is that it does not protect against all types of HPV, and thus the strains responsible for 30% of cervical cancer cases can be detected with regular screenings and Pap tests.

Overall, the HPV vaccine is a safe, effective, and powerful form of protection against cervical cancer risks.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

How to Treat Cervical Cancer

The decision to undergo treatment and the choice of what kind of treatment to use for cervical cancer depend primarily on the stage that the cancer has reached. You simply cannot decide it on your own, and the number of variables informing these decisions can be highly confusing. This is why hospitals utilize multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) for the treatment of cervical cancer. MTDs are composed of a diverse set of specialists who combine their knowledge and work together for the treatment.

General Treatment Information for Cervical Cancer

The selection of options for treating every patient will differ, as it depends entirely on the stage the patient is in. Determination of the stage of a cervical cancer depends chiefly on the depth, size, and the incursion made by the virus (how much or how far it has grown in your cervix) and how far it has spread.

After the stage of your cervical cancer has been established, the team of doctors will recommend the treatment approaches to be taken. If you still have any kind of doubt, go ahead and ask the team of doctors, as knowledge is power and a powerful patient is likely to be more accountable and understanding, comments Dr. Alexander Salerno.

Cervical cancer, both the disease and the treatment, can affect your sexual life and the ability to reproduce. These are common concerns that also need to be discussed at the time the decision about treatment is made. Ensure that you understand the entire list of risks and effects that come with the treatment before you make any decisions, states Dr. Salerno. Also, depending on your age and the size and stage of the cancer, a woman may have to undergo more than one treatment.

The team of doctors who will be involved with your treatment process would include:

  • A gynecologist: A doctor who treats all kinds of infections and issues related to the female reproductive system.
  • A gynecologic oncologist: A doctor who is a specialist in cancers of the female reproductive system.
  • A radiation oncologist: A doctor who will use the means of radiation to cure the cancer.
  • A medical oncologist: A doctor who will utilize the chemotherapy approach together with a list of medications for the treatment of cancer.

 

Dr. Salerno adds that there may be several other specialists who will be part of the treatment process; the team may include psychologists, rehabilitation specialists, nurse practitioners, social workers, nurses, and other health professionals, if the need arises.

Common types of treatments involving cervical cancer are:

  • Chemotherapy (chemo).
  • Surgery.
  • Targeted therapy.
  • Radiation therapy.

If cervical cancer is in the early stage, then a combined process of radiation or surgery together with chemotherapy will most probably be used. With cancers in later stages, the process of chemotherapy together with radiation is generally the major treatment course. For advanced cervical cancer treatment, the process of chemotherapy is the mainstay.

It is essential that all of your treatment options are discussed thoroughly, together with their possible goals and the common side effects that a patient may encounter. Your cancer team of specialists will deliberate carefully and recommend what treatment option is best for you; however, it is the patient who must make the final decision.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Clinical Depression

Clinical Depression

Its Chief Causes and Symptoms

If you are constantly in despair and feeling a sense of hopelessness and despondency, then this is an indication that you may be suffering from clinical depression, commonly known as major depressive disorder.

 

What Is Clinical Depression or Major Depression?

Clinical or major depression is a mental disorder or illness in which patients suffer from mood swings. With this disorder, sufferers find it difficult to sleep, work, carry on with everyday tasks, or enjoy fun activities with friends and loved ones around, notes Dr. Alexander Salerno, a board-certified internist. Furthermore, primary care physicians are typically the first-line clinicians who encounter depression in their patients. Some statistics state that as many as 55% of patients entering primary care doctors’ offices have some form of clinical depression, and what is worse is that a majority of these patients go undiagnosed and untreated.

 

Chief Causes of Clinical Depression

There are quite a number of underlying causes and conditions that may tend to increase the incidence of factors related to depression. Some of the common causes are:

  • Abuse: Sometimes thoughts and memories of abusive physical activities or emotional abuse experienced in the past linger long after the actual event, which may cause depression at various stages of the lifespan, including late in life.
  • Medications: There are certain drugs and medications, such as Accutane—which is generally prescribed for the treatment of acne—that may increase signs of depression. Also, both corticosteroids and the antiviral drug interferon-alpha increase a tendency toward depression. And then there are various abused substances, such as alcohol and recreational drugs, which once caused euphoria but subsequently cause profound listlessness and depression.
  • Conflict/Disagreement: Many times, personal conflicts or disputes with close friends or family members may end up increasing depression problems in an individual.
  • A Severe Loss or Death: Anguish, the death of a close one, or deep sorrow may at times amplify depression risks.
  • Genetics: A family history of depression may tend to increase the risk. People are generally aware that depression is quite a complex trait, which can be inherited from one generation to another. However, the genetics of psychiatric disorders is not at all plain or simple, as found in genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s chorea.
  • Serious Sickness or Illness: In some cases, the onset of or reaction to major illness, such as cancers, dementia, and hypothyroidism, may cause depression, and post-open heart surgery patients are also susceptible.

 

Symptoms of Clinical Depression

Dr Alexander G Salerno, MD, of Salerno Medical Associates has found that many people do feel depressed and low at some phase of their lives; however, a person who is suffering from clinical depression will be in a state of depression all through the day, most particularly during the morning time, and will no longer show interest in everyday activities and relationships.

 

Let us go through the symptoms that are commonly found in patients who are suffering from clinical depression:

  • Loss of energy, tiredness, and fatigue throughout almost all of the day.
  • Feeling insignificant and unimportant most of the time, almost every single day.
  • Damaged and impaired concentration, a sense of hesitancy.
  • Hypersomnia, which is a habit of excessive sleeping, much of the day, and insomnia at night.
  • Feeling weak and slowed down along with signs of restlessness.
  • Recurring thoughts about committing suicide and death.
  • No pleasure in any kind of activities practically every single day.
  • A significant loss or gain in weight, generally more than 5 percent of body weight, in about a month’s time.

 

Some people during their lifetime undergo one or two event cycles of clinical depression, whilst there are others who experience it at a far greater frequency and for longer intervals, as clinically reported by Dr. Salerno. Furthermore, in a few families signs of clinical depression may occur from one generation to the next; depression is thus an inheritable condition.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.

Seasonal Depression

Symptoms of and Remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder (or Seasonal Depression)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression, is a kind of mood disorder that sets in around the same time every year and is related to changes in seasons. Most people might ignore the yearly feeling, taking them as “winter blues” or seasonal changes, and might brave the disorder on their own without discussing it, but the condition should be given due attention as it saps the body of energy and makes the patient feel very moody and socially withdrawn.

Dr. Alexander Salerno of Salerno Medical Associates states that in most people, the symptoms are usually seen at the start of fall and continue through the winter months, ending in spring; as the leaves blossom, so do our spirits. Sometimes, less often though, seasonal depression is seen in late spring or early summer and ends in fall.

With the exact cause of the disorder being unknown, scientists think that specific hormones present in the brain might be triggering these mood-related changes, seen only at certain seasons of the year. Another plausible explanation is that less sunlight in winter and fall lowers the production of serotonin in the brain, and serotonin is linked to brain pathways that control moods.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is seen more commonly in women compared to men and usually starts in early adulthood, states Dr. Salerno. Sometimes it can vary in intensity from mild to severe; when symptoms are severe, the disorder can even have detrimental effects on work and relationships.

Symptoms of SAD

Common signs of depression are observed in people suffering from SAD, and these symptoms may start off being mild and become severe as the season progresses. Symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Experiencing low energy and fatigue
  • Feeling of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Experiencing trouble concentrating
  • Feeling depressed for most of the day, every day
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Change in weight or appetite
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Increased desire to be alone
  • Feeling irritated or sluggish
  • Experiencing frequent thoughts of suicide or death

Symptoms of winter depression might also include problems getting along with others, feeling heavy in the arms and legs, being hypersensitive to rejection, weight gain with cravings for high carbohydrate foods, and oversleeping.

On the other hand, summer depression symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, insomnia, and agitation.

Remedies for SAD

Treatment of SAD may include medications, light therapy, and psychotherapy.

Light therapy or phototherapy is specifically given for winter depression and includes exposure to a bright light in a therapy box. Light therapy triggers secretion of feel-good chemicals in the brain and works similarly to how natural daylight works, without having any side effects, says Dr. Salerno.

Medication for SAD includes antidepressant treatment such as bupropion; however, medication might take time to show improvements.

Psychotherapy or talk therapy helps by identifying negative thoughts and behavior and changing them, guiding patients to manage stress and showing ways to cope with SAD in a healthy manner.

Conscious lifestyle changes can also be remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder, such as getting out in the sun or going outside even on a cloudy day, making one’s surrounding environment bright and sunny, and exercising; all of these will lift one’s mood.

 


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.