Tag Archives: health

Give A Heart On Valentine’s Day

organdonorribbon

Today, 19 people will die who could have been saved. It isn’t yet known who they are, but they are among the more than 120,000 people awaiting organ transplants in the United States. Some of them are children. A small number are infants under one year old. One person will have die waiting for a transplant for every four patients who get transplants. These people will die because there are ten times as many people waiting for organs as there are willing donors, including living donors for some organs, and not all of those donors can donate to every, or even any, would-be recipient.

Organ transplants are necessary. In fact, because they are so difficult—they require not only an exact match, but anti-rejection drugs that suppress immune response to the transplanted organ isn’t rejected for the remainder of the recipients life—transplants are only performed when the recipient has a good chance with a transplant but essentially no chance without one. These people need donors who agree to allow their kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, and intestines to be removed posthumously and given to someone who needs it, if it is useable, or for a part of any of these organs except the heart to be removed from a living donor and transplanted into a patient in need.

People who volunteer to donate organs are given the same treatment as other patients when they themselves are hospitalized. There’s no rush to declare them dead to use their organs. In fact, their organs require more extensive testing, to determine what is useable and how it can best be used. This testing is paid for by the recipients insurance, or by charitable organizations. These are also the sources of funding for living tissue donors; no expenses are born by the donors or their families. Modern donated organ and tissue recovery techniques mean it’s even possible for someone to have an open-casket funeral after donated tissue is removed. No one is too old or too sick to donate tissue; even people with illnesses affecting some organs are generally able to donate the rest. In most states, enlisting as a donor is done though the department of motor vehicles. but any health care facility should have information on how to volunteer.

Give The Gift Of Health This Holiday Season

gift

It’s holiday time, and that means shopping for holiday presents. A common problem a lot of gift-givers have is the proverbial person who has everything. One thing they always need more of is health. Medical products make unique gifts.

A lot of people start new exercise regimens around this time of year, whether as part of a New Year’s resolution or to work off extra holiday eating. Walking is a fun and inexpensive form of exercise, requiring little in the way of equipment, but walkers do need to know how far they’ve gone. The Fabrications ThinQ Pocket Pedometer is the size of a credit card and can be carried in a pocket, and still help someone keep track of the distance they’ve walked and the calories they’ve burned.

Walking is made even better exercise with the addition of weights such as the Thera-Band Ankle and Wrist Weight Set. Weights up to 2.5 pounds on the wrists and ankles provide extra resistance for a better workout, without a gym membership or bulky training machines.

After a workout, a nice relaxing massage can help soothe tired muscles. In fact, experts say massage after physical exertion can help prevent strains and muscle pain. Therapeutic touch can also help with stress and anxiety. The Thumper Sport Personal Massager is ergonomically designed to reach whatever parts are under strain, to help promote relaxation and improve circulation of blood.

For deep tissue massage at home, the Theracane Massager is just the thing. This tool allows the user to apply pressure to important muscle areas to help relieve muscular tension, stiffness, tenderness, and soreness. Deep tissue massage involves applying intense pressure to the "trigger points" of the muscles to lessen chronic pain, restore mobility, alleviate symptoms of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders, and help with recovery after a workout.

These gifts can help that special someone achieve their health goals for 2015. Getting more exercise is one of e most common New Year’s resolutions among Americans and people will appreciate gifts that make this easy to do. The people who love them will also appreciate their getting presents that will make them healthier so they’ll stick around longer.

Mistakes People Make Losing Weight

scale

For too many people happiness means thinness. These people believe that their weight is the only thing standing between them and fulfillment. While this can lead to unhealthy behavior, such as anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, it is also demonstrably not the case even if it is approached in a healthy manner. A study earlier this year of successful dieters—those who had lost more than five percent of their body weight—were physically healthier, but more prone to glumness. Another study found that women who exercised to lose weight were less happy than those who exercised out of a love of exercise. Both studies suggest that the emotional effort required for sustained self-control offset any mood benefits from being thinner.

Moreover, a lot of dieting techniques are less effective than they could be. The biggest example is probably counting calories. Calorie counting is intuitively the most direct way to lose weight—fewer calories, less fat. However, it’s not actually that simple. Eating fewer calories affects metabolism, meaning the body doesn’t burn calories as efficiently, and more of the calories consumed are retained. In addition, many people who try counting calories for weight loss are still counting too many of them; most people who are trying to lose weight overestimate their base metabolism, and thus the number of calories they should consume.

Diet foods, too, would seem to help dieters, but can actual hinder. Research has shown that people who eat diet foods actually consume more calories. That’s because the lower calorie count of each portion becomes, in the dieter’s subconscious, license to indulge in the foods more than they otherwise might. Instead, experts They compensate for the lower-calorie foods by eating larger portions of what is available.

Instead, experts say the better strategy is to eat smaller portions of ordinary food. Other strategies that can be helpful are to leave space for cheating. A person who insists on being perfect about sticking to the diet at all times will consider themselves doomed to failure after a single lapse. However, someone who knows that these things happen will see a lapse as an occasional thing that shouldn’t derail the grand plan.

Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

Thursday will be Thanksgiving in the United States. It’s time for celebrating with family, but for many people, it’s also a time for stress. In some cases, the stress is something that can be dealt with. It may for example, be the result of comparing one’s own gathering with a hypothetical, Norman Rockwell ideal family, even though the ideal family is vanishingly rare outside of paintings. Another source is dread of a fight at the dinner table. People don’t suddenly change on Thanksgiving, so expectation management—being aware that people will be pretty much the way they always are—will go a long way towards keeping calm.

On a more basic level, avoiding holiday stress means minimizing holiday stressors. One of the biggest things people worry about is forgetting something, and one way to avoid that is to make lists of everything. Even things that would seem so obvious that there’s no possible way to forget them should go on the list. That means the list is made when there’s time to sit down and think about it, and then when things are rushed, it is necessary only to follow it.

Thanksgiving is also a time of eating. The typical Thanksgiving meal is five or six times the size of a normal meal. Indeed, this, more than the tryptophan in the turkey, is responsible for the sleepiness many people feel after Thanksgiving dinner—the body is devoting much of its energy to processing all that food, and many people have alcohol as well. Of course, the occasional blow-out isn’t bad—while no one should eat a holiday dinner every night, a few times a year on special occasions is unlikely to do any lasting harm.

Some Thanksgiving foods can even be beneficial. Cranberry sauce, for example, contains a substance that can destroy the plaque responsible for tooth decay, as does red wine. Cranberries are also a good source of antioxidants, which can protect the body from some types of cancer. Turkey has selenium and other necessary nutrients, and if based in broth or wine, it’s low in saturated fat. In addition, the vegetables provide important nutrients even when incorporated into dressing or other rich holiday side dishes. Even gravy provides some health benefits.

Mal de Debarquement

cruise ship

A disease called mal de debarquement is caused by ocean cruises. It can also be caused be any other long trip, such as a long car ride, but it is most commonly cruises. The name is French for "disease of disembarkation," as in getting off the ship or plane, or out of the car. The primary symptom of mal de debarquement is the feeling that the person is still at sea. The condition can also cause the cognitive impairment known as "brain fog," or fatigue and trouble concentrating, along with dizziness, headaches, confusion, and often tinnitus and hearing problems.

Although there is commonly a period after getting off a ship or airplane during which a person may experience unsteadiness or confusion, mal de debarquement sufferers have these symptoms for weeks, months, or even years, though with some relief while traveling. In addition, while it can be brought on by cruises or flights, it can also be caused in some cases by high speed elevators or even noting at all. The disease is the result of a neurological disturbance but the exact cause—the reasons travel can cause these symptoms—is unknown, though research points to the inner ear, responsible for balance. It most commonly effects women in their mid-40s, but anyone can acquire the condition.

There is no known cure for the condition, but treatment are mostly about addressing the symptoms; that is the same sort of treatments for any similar movement problem. The common treatments are exercises and physical therapy. Medications that help with balance are effective in patients with this condition. However, motion sickness drugs do not seem to be helpful for mal de debarquement. Even untreated, however, symptoms generally go away on their own. More than half of all cases cleared up within three years.

Researchers have recently found a new type of treatment they say promises to help people with mal de debarquement get their legs back. The treatment procedure aims to stabilize the balance mechanism in the patient’s inner ear by means of rocking movements to help reset the balance reflex. Treatments helped most subjects who were studied in clinical trials with minimal side effects, and the technique is expected to help other patients.

Detecting Sepsis

lister

Infections, indirectly if not directly, cause a substantial amount of strife. The pathogen can get into the bloodstream and cause high fever, flushed skin, fast heart rate, low blood pressure, delirium, and swelling of the whole body that can continue even once the infectious agent itself is entirely gone. This condition is known as sepsis, and if not properly treated, it can be fatal. In all, more people die each year from sepsis than from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS put together; according to a study released earlier this year, only one in ten hospital patients have sepsis, but it is responsible for half of all hospital deaths.

Sepsis is not always apparent until it is already occurring; there are few warning signs, though patients with certain conditions are more prone to developing it. That means it is especially important for doctors and other health care personnel to be alert, looking out for signs. One factor that makes a tremendous difference in survival rates, researchers have found, is how often the staff at a particular hospital is called on to treat patients with sepsis. Hospitals with high volume of sepsis patients treated it more effectively, overall, than hospitals in which it was a rarer occurrence, and at approximately the same cost per patient. The mortality rate for sepsis at busier hospitals was nearly 25 percent lower.

Testing for sepsis is an important part of providing treatment. Unfortunately, testing can take a long time, time health care professionals don't always have. Researchers have recently found a biomarker—a protein or other chemical characteristic of a condition, found in the blood of people who have it—that may make it possible to find sepsis with a simple blood test. That means more cases caught in the early, more tractable stages, and it means getting patients the treatment they need in hours, rather than days. The blood test, if it proves effective, would also be more precise, reducing guesswork and curtailing the role of intuition and fallible judgment.

In addition to better testing, more effective treatment may be available in the near future. A protein found in cells has properties that scientists believe could make it possible for the protein to fight sepsis. The treatment is still being investigated but laboratory tests have found it effective.

Infected Wounds

wound

Most people are surrounded by germs most of the time. But this isn’t cause for concern—the body is very good at warding off illness. Most of the time, people don’t even notice. However, the first line of defense against infection is the skin, and when that is breached—when a wound or injury happens—the danger increases. When bacteria enters a wound, the immune system normally springs into action. When the immune system is compromised, or even just overwhelmed, however, the result is an infection that can, depending on what and where the infection is, can be anywhere from unpleasant to deadly.

That’s because wound infection can cause sepsis, inflammation over the entire body that results from the immune system kicking into high gear to fight a particularly strong bacterial barrage. However, the inflammation itself can cause organ and tissue damage throughout the body. That is why it is important to take steps to avoid infection. In hospitals—where a "e;wound,"e; often deliberately inflicted in the form of surgery, may be sizable, and the patient’s immune system is likely to be compromised due to illness or aspects of the surgery, steps are taken to avoid sepsis. Wounds in other settings are likely smaller, but in the absence of such precautions as incisions made with careful attention, and in clean rooms, more effort may be needed after the fact.

Cuts and scrapes are common types of injuries—in fact, someone who has a scrape or even a cut may not even notice until it scabs over. Puncture wounds are less common, but not unknown. In either case, it is necessary for the bleeding to be stopped before the wound is cleaned. Bleeding itself is a part of the defense against infection, washing out the initial wave of bacteria. After cleaning the wound, antibiotic cream is applied to get rid of bacteria, and a dressing or bandage provides protection.

Even with precautions such as these taken, infection is still possible. Most infection is minor and passes within a few days, but in some cases people with infected wounds require medical attention. Infection can be spotted under the dressing. Infection is likely present when the wound is red, painful, or swollen, or smells foul. Bleeding after the wound should have scabbed, or pus coming out, may also be an indicator of infection. In addition, a person with an infected would may complain of dizziness, or have a fast heartbeat.

Health Benefits Of Aerobic Exercise

aerobics

Aerobic exercise is exercise for the heart. These forms of low-intensity, long-duration workout activity involving what are called "slow-twitch" muscle fibers build strength and endurance, rather than speed, focusing on sustained activity rather than short bursts. These exercises have a number of important health benefits. Heart rate increases and blood vessels widen. This not only delivers needed oxygen to the muscles- the source of the term "aerobic"—it helps carry away metabolic and respiratory waste products that build up in muscles, causing stiffness and soreness. Aerobic exercises release the endorphins that are responsible for the "runner’s high" people feel after working out.

These types of exercise help more than just heart and mood. Aerobics is the best for of exercise for weight loss—both getting it off and keeping it off, in conjunction with a proper diet. Doing aerobics can boost the immune system, help lower cholesterol, strengthen the heart, and keep blood pressure under control. That means that people who do aerobics are less prone to obesity, type 2 diabetes and a pre-diabetic condition called metabolic syndrome, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and even some types of cancer. In addition, people who do aerobics are reported to have longer lifespans, and to be healthier and more active in their later years. At all ages, aerobic exercise builds stamina.

Aerobics can be particularly good exercise for people with certain conditions, including some that at first blush would seem unlikely candidates for benefiting from any sort of workout. Age-related macular degeneration is a condition in which the retina slowly becomes more and more damaged, eventually leading to blindness in people with the condition. It affects at least 2 million Americans over age 50, but experts say that aerobics can help slow this seemingly inexorable march. Aerobic exercise raises levels of a particular protein in the brain that appears to protect retinal cells, preventing people at risk for or in the early stages of macular degeneration from totally losing their sight.

Multiple sclerosis is another chronic condition that can be attenuated by aerobics. Half of all people with multiple sclerosis suffer memory loss. This appears to be a result of cell death in the brain, particularly in a region known as the hippocampus. Aerobic exercise provides a boost to the hippocampus, helping to mitigate this otherwise intractable problem. In a study, patients who had done aerobics had less damage in the hippocampus and showed better memory function after three months.

Why Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Laugh

A positive outlook can help you stay healthy, and keeping your spirits up is good for you. Happy and jolly people are less prone to sickness and tend to recover faster when they do fall ill. There’s even an entire field of medical research—gerontology—devoted to looking at how laughter can work as medicine. Here are some proven medical benefits of humor and comedy:

  • It increases alertness and improves creativity.
  • It keeps blood pressure down.
  • It helps get oxygen to the brain, improving thinking.
  • It increases blood flow and improves the efficiency of circulation.
  • It helps boost immune activity.
  • It improves memory and boosts learning ability.
  • It prevents respiratory infections.
  • It lowers the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones.
  • It helps exercise major muscle groups, including the abdominal and respiratory muscles.

Studies have found indirect health benefits as well. Humor has been found to help health-care and palliative care providers such as home health aides and hospice staff deal with the stress of caring for terminally ill patients. Emergency room professionals are also known for (very dark) humor. In fact, anyone working a stressful job can benefit from the relief that humor is able to provide. It is a proven coping mechanism for stressful situations.

Donating Life

organdonorribbon

Right now, there are more than 120,000 people waiting for an organ transplant. Today, 19 of them will die waiting—nearly one-quarter of the number who will successfully receive transplants—because there aren’t enough organs for transplant to meet the need. There’s only around one donor for every ten patients. Donors and patients have to be matched in blood type and body size, as well as more pragmatic considerations like how fast the organ can be delivered to the hospital where the transplant surgery will take place.

Some people are reluctant to enroll as donors because they don’t have a clear understanding of how organ donation works. For example, some people think that donors get worse treatment at hospitals. They fear that the hospital will not try to save them, or will rush to declare them dead. In fact, hospital staff members don’t take into account whether someone is a donor during treatment; in addition, declaring someone dead is more involved, with more rigorous testing done, when the patient is planning to donate organs or tissue. This testing, and the donation itself, are not paid for by donors or their families. Modern donated organ and tissue recovery techniques mean it’s even possible for someone to have an open-casket funeral after donated parts are removed.

Another big concern is eligibility. People who aren’t in perfect health, or who are old, often fear that they would not be accepted. Age, however, is no obstacle—there’s no maximum age to donate, and organs and tissues are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Generally speaking, any transplantable part that is in working order on the patient’s death can be transplanted, regardless of the donor’s age or overall health. Even people with medical conditions affecting the heart, lung, kidneys, liver, skin, or some other part may still have perfectly healthy organs or tissue elsewhere that can be used.

Fortunately, it’s easy to help alleviate the shortage. By some estimates, each person willing to donate organs or tissue can save as many as 50 lives. You can arrange to become a posthumous donor by registering in advance through the transplant registry where you live or, in many U.S. states, through the DMV. If you’re not registered, a hospital is required to get consent of next-of-kin, and many hospitals will even if you are, so make sure your wishes are in writing.