Category Archives: Top Healthcare Products

Give The Gift Of Health This Holiday Season

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.

Dangerous Allergies

When someone with an allergy to something comes into contact with whatever it is, it causes an allergic reaction. A common type of allergic reaction, affecting as many as 15 percent of the population, is called anaphylaxis or, when it is sudden and severe, anaphylactic shock. People experiencing an anaphylactic reaction will experience itching, a tightening of the throat and swelling of the tongue which make breathing difficult, dizziness, a rapid pulse, and nausea or diarrhea.

Anaphylactic shock can be dangerous, even fatal. In fact, anaphylactic shock kills about 1,000 Americans each year. It is generally the result of a food or medicine allergy—the "Big Eight" allergens are milk, eggs, fin fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy, and penicillin allergies are common—or bee or wasp stings, though it can result from a variety of factors, including latex and even exercise. The reaction often gets more severe with each exposure.

Now researchers say a new discovery gives a clearer picture of the causes and mechanisms behind anaphylaxis than ever before. The reaction involves a chemical, platelet-activating factor, released by cells as part of the immune response, sch as to an allergen. Ordinarily, this chemical is broken down shortly after it is produced and has done its work by a enzyme called PAF acetylhydrolase. When someone is having an allergic reaction, PAF is released despite there being no actual need for an immune reaction. In addition, in some people, there are low levels of PAF acetylhydrolase, meaning it breaks down PAF more slowly. The researchers found that people with the most severe anaphylactic reactions were the people with the lowest levels of PAF acetylhydrolase.

The best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to avoid thing that trigger it, though that can be difficult for people who’ve never had a reaction to anything before. An allergy to one thing doesn’t necessarily mean an allergy to anything else, but as the immune system develops a response to a particular trigger, the reaction tends to get worse as more PAF is produced each time. People who know they are prone to allergic reactions should always have epinephrine available; the hormone, which when administered immediately can help attenuate the reaction, is available in auto-injection pens. A person who has had an anaphylactic reaction needs emergency care even with a pen.

Fellowship And Treatment For Migraine

For reasons scientists are not at all clear on, approximately 45 million Americans suffer migraines—though for many of them, the actual headaches are so infrequent, so mild, or so far from the usual migraine pattern that neither they nor their doctors even recognize that as what is occurring, rather than an ordinary, if perhaps unusually strong, headache. A tendency to suffer migraines, particularly with aura—light sensitivity coupled with a slight visual disturbance lasting a few minutes to an hour signaling the onset of a migraine headache—seems to have a strong genetic component, but heredity is not the whole story.

The headaches are largely random, but there are often broad patterns. Sufferers are particularly prone to migraines after triggers. These triggers vary from person to person, but the common ones include onions, nitrates in cured meat, the compound tyramine in some aged or preserved foods, alcohol, secondhand smoke, and MSG. Menstruation or pregnancy can also trigger migraine headaches in some people. Caffeine withdrawal can also bring them on. Stress is also frequently a trigger, with one study finding that people with migraine going through a period of stress had over four percent more headaches. Headaches often strike when the stress goes away.

Researchers are also working to learn more about other aspects of migraine. One tool is social media. Twitter and other social media services are invaluable tools for researchers of all stripes because they provide more or less anonymous self-reports of a wide variety of human experiences, including medical conditions, and migraines are no exception. It turns out migraine headache sufferers—seeking sympathy, looking for advice, or just self-documenting—frequently share their pain on Twitter. Researchers are using this vast amount of data to glean important information about where, when, and to whom migraines happen.

This information can help in developing treatments. Some existing treatments are truly off-the-wall. One company created a headband with an electrode placed so as to stimulate the nerves found behind the eyes. Powerful magnets run over the skull—called transcranial magnetic simulation—can also be effective. Medication is also helpful, though not always with the usual delivery method. A patch that administers medicine through the skin was recently introduced, and migraine is one indication for medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana

One of the longest-cultivated medicinal plants is marijuana, or Cannabis sativa, which is also used recreationally. For a long time, marijuana was completely illegal in most places, but in recent years, more and more attention has been paid to the medical aspects of the drug, and of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. As a result, a growing number of states and countries have changed their laws to allow marijuana to be bought, sold, prepared, and used medicinally. The most common uses of marijuana as medicine have been for chronic pain, eye pressure due to glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis, but it is also used as an anti-nausea drug to counteract the effects of chemotherapy, and for a wide range of other conditions, including Huntington’s disease, sleep disorders, and schizophrenia.

The medical uses of marijuana were described in Egyptian medical papyri nearly 4,000 years ago. Physicians employed it as a pain reliever, an anti-inflammatory drug, and for hemorrhoids. The Chinese word for cannabis is derived from elements meaning "big numbness"; an ancient Chinese physician who mixed powdered cannabis into wine is believed to be the first to use cannabis as an anesthetic. In India it was used for insomnia, labor pain, and gastrointestinal problems.

In modern times, an Irish doctor working in Kolkatta, discovering cannabis being used there, introduced it to the West through his experiments, first giving it to European patients for pain and stomach cramps, later experimenting with it more formally for migraines, sleeplessness, and pains. Until 1937, around the time laws against marijuana began to be passed in the United States, over 2,000 patent medicines containing marijuana were sold by more than 280 manufacturers.

Marijuana is renowned for being very safe, but it is not wholly without side effects. The general consensus is that there is almost no addiction potential, though some studies have found evidence that daily use can lead to addiction. However, the recreational effects of marijuana occur with medical use as well, where they are classified as side effect. Dizziness can occur, for example. Marijuana has effects on blood sugar levels, something diabetics should be aware of, and it can increase bleeding risk and lower blood pressure. However, these can generally be managed with a little planning.

Vitamin B12

Normally food, once eaten, is broken down by the body, and the components used to assemble needed nutrients. However, some compounds, called essential nutrients cannot be made in the body, but instead must be gotten from outside sources. One of these is vitamin B12, also called cobalamin. However, while vitamin B12 cannot be manufactured in the body, it is possible for any of the varieties of the vitamin to be converted into the kinds that the body can use. Vitamin B12 is needed to produce red blood cells and effects the functioning of the brain and nervous system; B12 deficiency can lead to anemia and dementia.

A person can get vitamin B12 from eating fish and shellfish, meat, eggs, and dairy products. In the United States, synthetic B12 is often added to livestock feed in the United States, making farmed meat an especially good source. That means B12 supplementation is important for vegetarians, and especially vegans—all the more so because soy, a common ingredient in vegan cooking, can actually contribute to B12 deficiency. A compound found in soy products can reduce B12 levels by, in effect, mimicking B12 despite not being useable by the body, thus distracting the B12 utilization mechanisms.

Similarly, some medical conditions can prevent the body from properly absorbing or using vitamin B12. Supplements need to be taken with the drug metformin, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes. People infected with HIV have trouble absorbing sufficient amounts of B12. Patients who have gastrointestinal illness or have had intestinal surgery may be prone to B12 deficiency. Interestingly, B12 can both cause and result from anemia.

Due to cobalamin’s role in building and maintaining brain tissue, it is necessary for cognitive functioning. B12 doesn’t boost cognition in people with normal levels of functioning, but it can prevent cognitive problems or dementia, or slow the progress of dementia in people who already have it. Overdose is nearly impossible, because the vitamin is water-soluble—an excess amount is simply removed from the body. More than half of Americans have the opposite problem: deficiency, which can cause fatigue, rapid heartbeat, stomach upset, and bleeding gums. Oral and sub-lingual supplements are usually enough to get B12 to normal levels.

Are you prepared for an emergency?

Regardless of if it's a natural disaster, power outage or pileup, it's always a good idea to have an emergency medical kit on hand. While first aid kits provide a number of great supplies for treating minor scrapes and bumps, you may need to pack a bit more in the event of a serious emergency. On Friday, February 14, 2014, a 100-car pileup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike left more than 30 individuals injured.1 This is one event in which such supply kits could do tremendous amounts of good.

The incident
Along an 8-mile stretch of Interstate 276, a chain reaction of accidents took place on the morning of February 14. In fact, there were two separate 25-car wrecks within the cluster. At this time, the cause of the crashes is said to be road conditions due to the weather.

"This is one of the largest crashes that I've ever heard of volume, size and scope," Adam Reed, trooper with the Pennsylvania State Police, told the New York Daily News. "We're certainly fortunate that there were no fatalities."

And while it certainly is good news that there were no deaths reported as a result of this gridlock, a number of individuals were injured. In fact, of the 16 patients who were taken to Abington Memorial Hospital, five have suffered serious injuries. Again, the source was eager to report that none of those admitted were said to have life-threatening issues.

While a first aid kit or an emergency medical supply kit can be very helpful in these types of situations, it's important that those using the supplies know what they are doing. All of the products found in these kits should be handled with care and caution as to avoid infection or further danger to the patient. And, in the event you are unsure how to address a wound or injury, it's best to wait for a professional – especially if the individual has been seriously hurt.

Those who are looking to purchase these types of kits and other emergency medical supplies can contact Medex Supply, an online medical supply distributor. Available products are sold to both individuals and professionals, including everything from blood pressure monitors to disposable gloves and other wound care supplies.

1 Daily News, "Pennsylvania Turnpike turned into parking lot after 100-car pileup" February 14, 2014

A New Kind Of Prosthetic Hand

Touching things, feeling them, is one of the most neurologically complex things human beings do. The sense of touch is the responsibility of what is called the somatosensory system. This is the collection of nerves receptors, and brain connections that gathers data about the outside world—and the body’s state—from the nerve endings on the skin and elsewhere and interprets the data in order to recognize textures and how things feel.

Among the problems faced by people with prosthetic limbs is the loss of a crucial component of this system. Prosthetic limbs, after all, lack these nerve endings, and can’t gather data to give to the brain. The science of neuroprosthetics is looking to change that. Neuroprostheses are artificial limbs wired directly into the brain, not merely to allow natural movement, but to allow natural sensation as well. Research into such devices is only in its infancy, but it is hoped that artificial limbs that function like natural ones will soon be on the horizon.

Indeed, experimental devices are already being tested. A Danish man who lost part of his arm in a fireworks accident is among the first subjects. With his experimental prosthetic, which he used for a month after it was attached in Switzerland nine years after the accident, Dennis Aabo Sørensen was able to feel things for the first time in nearly a decade. He was able to identify things he was holding while blindfolded, using only the sensation of touch from the artificial hand.

Scientists implanted electrodes in his arm to convey sensory signals and nerve impulses from hand to brain and brain to hand, respectively. To allow Sørensen to feel with the hand, artificial tendons in the prosthesis register pressure much as natural ones do. The biggest technological advance was the ability to do this at the same speed as the human brain, allowing for touch—and such related activities as adjusting the grip—to occur naturally. The model of limb tested used implanted electrodes, whereas previous models had used electrodes that were attached on the outside, a significant improvement in useability. Further challenges, however, lie ahead. The technology still can’t detect temperature, or subtle, as opposed to large, differences in texture. In addition, the limbs need to be suitable for long-term use.

Dealing With The Winter Blues

Between the cold weather, the short days and long nights, and the after-holiday crash, the early months of the year are often a downer for people. For some, in fact, the winter blues can reach the level of full-blown depression, reaching its nadir in the depths of winter. Mental health experts call it seasonal affective disorder, and it affects as many as 20 percent of people in some parts of the country.

Seasonal affective disorder is considered a type of clinical depression—the fact that it fades as spring approaches does not mean it is any less serious. However, many sufferers feel that the temporal, and temporary, nature of the condition marks it as not worthy of treatment, or as something that can’t be treated. Seasonal affective disorder can occur in people who have no symptoms of depression at other times of the year, or people who are depressed can find it worsening in the fall and winter.

It most likely happens because people, like a lot of animals, go into a sort of shutdown mode in the wintertime. Humans don’t hibernate as thoroughly as bears do, but a general cutting back on activity saves energy during a time of year when our ancestors may have found food relatively scarce. In addition, the changes in the amount of sunlight affects the circadian rhythm—the body’s sleep-wake cycle. This affects the levels of chemicals in the brain that regulate mood, making people broodier in the wintertime. This can be exacerbated by other factors. For example, the cold weather means most leisure time is spent in isolation at home. Residual holiday stress may linger, no longer balanced by the distractions of holiday festivities, and paying for it adds another layer of worry.

Whatever the cause, it’s important not to let seasonal depression keep you down. Spend low-impact time—coffee, bowling, something indoors and inexpensive—with friends you may not have seen during the holidays. Keep up your exercise habits, or the habits you resolved to develop. If you’re already in therapy for depression, make sure to make and keep appointments during the winter. A doctor may be able to help you get a light therapy box, a special light designed to offset the effects of winter darkness on mood. Even without a light box, getting as much light as you can will help smooth things out, as can fresh air.

Helping People With Parkinson’s Lead Independent Lives

Parkinson’s disease affects almost a million Americans; famous sufferers of the neurodegenerative disease include the actor Michael J. Fox, boxer Muhammad Ali and former Attorney General Janet Reno. As many as 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. The condition occurs when dopamine-producing cells in the brain become damaged due to a protein called alpha-synuclein. This causes clumps of cells called Lewy bodies to form.

The most common and the clearest effect of the disease is the loss of motor control. Studies have found ways to slow this process and possible regain some degree of lost function. Weight training has been shown to help slow the loss of motor control in many patients. Tai chi also appears to have beneficial effects. However, a lot of research is focused on helping people adapt.

Now technology is helping Parkinson’s patients in one of the most important areas of day-to-day life: eating. People with Parkinson’s sometimes have trouble getting enough to eat when symptoms make it difficult for them to get food to their mouths. Tremors can move the hand as much as an inch off course, making precise motions difficult and tiring. To address this, the same mechanisms that make it possible for someone using a digital camera to get a steady shot have been adapted into a special spoon that corrects for the effects of eating with shaky hands.

A stabilization system in the handle can detect vibration in real time, and move the bowl of the spoon at the same speed but in opposite direction, compensating for the initial movement. The inventors say the spoon cancels out more than 70 percent of tremors, making it possible for people to eat despite tremors. The spoon uses computer models of normal movement to help distinguish intended from unintended motions. The bowl is detachable for washing. The electronics in the spoon handle can also be used to measure and record tremors. This information can then be synchronized with a computer program, allowing people with the condition to have a record of ow bad the tremors are, if they’re getting worse or better, and how rapidly.

About Glaucoma

There is fluid in your eye called aqueous humor that helps maintain the shape of the eye and provide necessary nutrients. It circulates, flowing in from ducts in the area around the lens and out between the lens and the iris, maintaining the proper level of pressure in the lens. When the drainage channels are blocked, the fluid builds up, creating too much pressure, resulting on primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common kind.

Primary open-angle glaucoma is painless, but it can rob someone of their sight, and it happens so gradually it may not even be noticeable until it’s too late. The damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible even once treatment has started, so it’s important to get regular eye examinations. That is the only way to detect the condition while it is still easily treatable and before too much vision is lost.

Possibly one of the best known treatments for glaucoma, in certain circles, is medical marijuana. While it does relieve the pressure, the effect fades with the others after a few hours. Eye-drops and oral medications offer longer term relief, as can relaxation techniques, with medicine or by themselves. Scientists recently developed a contact lens that dispenses glaucoma medication, so patients don’t have to remember the drops or work to get the proper dose. In some cases, surgery may be needed to clear the blocked channels and let the aqueous humor flow out of the eye.

Because the damage can’t be reversed, glaucoma prevention is important, particularly in people who are especially susceptible, such as African Americans, people with a family history of glaucoma, people with type 2 diabetes, or anyone over 60. Steroid use can lead to glaucoma. This can’t always be avoided, but if you are at risk, talk to your doctor about an alternative to steroids for asthma or auto-immune disease. Similarly, there appears to be a connection with certain types of oral contraceptives. Studies have linked some surprising things to the development of glaucoma. People who consume caffeine seem to be at increased risk of the condition, though the precise mechanism is not clear. People who already have glaucoma may find it getting worse if they sleep on one side, in the lower eye.