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Sunday, 17 July 2016 22:46

Tips For Heading Off Migraines

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Migraines often cause intense throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It's usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. An attack can last for hours or even days, causing debilitating pain. Early warning symptoms known as aura may occur before or during a headache. You may experience flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or in your arm or leg.

The Mayo Clinic offers these steps to head off migraine pain.

Find a Calm Environment

  1. Turn off the lights. Migraines often increase sensitivity to light and sound. Relax in a dark, quiet room. Sleep if you can.
  2. Try temperature therapy. Apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. Warm showers or baths may have a similar effect.
  3. Drink a caffeinated beverage. In small amounts, caffeine alone can relieve migraine pain in the early stages or enhance the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and aspirin.

Sleep

Migraines are often triggered by a poor night's sleep. Here are some tips to encourage sound sleep.

  1. Establish regular sleep hours. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day — even on weekends. If you nap during the day, keep it short. Naps longer than 20 to 30 minutes may interfere with nighttime sleep.
  2. Unwind at the end of the day. Anything that helps you relax can promote better sleep: listen to soothing music, soak in a warm bath or read a favorite book.
  3. Watch what you eat and drink before bedtime. Intense exercise, heavy meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can interfere with sleep.
  4. Minimize distractions. Save your bedroom for sleep and intimacy. Don't watch television or take work materials to bed. Close your bedroom door. Use a fan to muffle distracting noises.
  5. Don't try to sleep. The harder you try to sleep, the more awake you'll feel. If you can't fall asleep, read or do another quiet activity until you become drowsy.
  6. Check your medications. Medications that contain caffeine or other stimulants — including some medications to treat migraines — may interfere with sleep.

Eat Wisely

Your eating habits can influence your migraines. Consider the basics:

  1. Be consistent. Eat at about the same time every day.
  2. Don't skip meals. Fasting increases the risk of migraines.
  3. Keep a food journal. Keeping track of the foods you eat and when you experience migraines can help identify potential food triggers.
  4. Avoid foods that trigger migraines. If you suspect that a certain food — such as aged cheese, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol — is triggering your migraines, eliminate it from your diet to see what happens.

Medications can help prevent some migraines and make them less painful. Talk to your doctor about different migraine treatment options if you can't find relief. The right medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, may help.

In Minnesota we sometimes joke that the mosquito is the state bird. While the number of mosquitoes actually capable of causing infection in humans is fairly small, it is important to take preventive steps to protect you and your family from potentially serious diseases. While the Zika virus is getting a lot of attention today, it is not a threat in the northern part of the U.S. The two most serious mosquito-born diseases found in Minnesota are West Nile virus and La Crosse Encephalitis

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is found in all lower 48 states and was first discovered in Minnesota in 2002. It remains a public health threat because the virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in some people. Thankfully, most bites by infected mosquitoes result in no symptoms or only mild illness.

The typical incubation period for West Nile is 2-6 days, although it can be as long as 15 days. West Nile fever symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of high fever (usually greater than 102°F)
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Backache
  • Joint pain
  • Prominent muscle aches and weakness
  • Prolonged fatigue
  • Rash (more commonly associated with West Nile fever than encephalitis)
  • Swollen lymph nodes

La Crosse Encephalitis

Like West Nile, La Crosse Encephalitis (LAC) is a virus. Most people infected with this virus will have either no symptoms or a mild flu-like illness. A small percentage of people (especially children) may develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Most of the severe cases start with headache, fever, nausea, and lethargy. The illness may rapidly progress into disorientation, seizures, and coma. There is no treatment for the illness other than supportive care until the illness is over.


The Minnesota Department of Health Offers These Prevention Tips

  1. Because mosquitos can breed in only a small amount of water, check your yard to ensure there are no containers like old buckets, tires, kid's pools or other containers that can collect water. Remove the containers or turn them upside down.
  2. The riskiest time of year for mosquitos in Minnesota is mid-summer through early fall as disease-carrying mosquitoes are more common at this time of year and the viruses that cause disease have had time to become widespread in these mosquitoes.
  3. Wear mosquito repellent containing DEET (up to 30%).
  4. Concentrations up to 30 percent DEET are also safe for children (according to reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics). Do not use insect repellent on infants under two months of age.
  5. Apply repellents containing permethrin to your clothing or gear. Do not use permethrin on your skin.
  6. Other alternatives are available, including picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  7. Only use products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  8. Wear loose fitting, light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants. Head nets can also be used in areas with high mosquito populations.


For more information on mosquito-transmitted diseases, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.

With the arrival of spring many households will be putting away winter clothes, cleaning out the clutter in closets, washing windows and getting ready for warm weather. Just like your refrigerator, your medicine cabinet should also be cleaned out regularly.

Old medications kept in home medicine cabinets can easily fall into the wrong hands. According to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, more than 4 in 10 teens who have misused or abused prescription drugs found them in a home medicine cabinet.

When opioid painkillers, such as Percocet, are prescribed about half of patients leave unused pills in their home. This creates easy access to opioids and contributes to the drug overdose crisis that is set to surpass motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury and death.

What To Do With Unused Medications

First, check the label and follow any disposal instructions on the label or information pamphlet that came with the medicine. Never flush medicines down the drain unless the label instructs you to do so.

If there are no instructions for disposal, look for programs in your community that take unused drugs for proper disposal. Some local law enforcement and health agencies sponsor medicine take-back programs. Your city or county government are a good place to check for medication disposal options and guidelines in your area.

For more information on safely disposing of prescription drugs, visit the FDA's consumer information website.

 

 

Type 2 Diabetes, less commonly called adult-onset diabetes, makes up about 95 percent of all diabetes cases. While more common in middle age and older adults, it can also occur during childhood. Being overweight and inactive are the main risk factors for developing diabetes, but there are many other risk factors, including:

  • Being 45 or older
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having a family background that is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander American
  • Having blood pressure
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Having a history of cardiovascular disease

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body does not make or use insulin efficiently. Insulin is a hormone that allows your cells to process glucose for energy. When there is too much glucose in your blood it can lead to serious health problems affecting your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth. Because a person can have Type 2 Diabetes for years and not know it, it's important to recognize the often subtle onset of one or more of the following symptoms and see your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst, especially at night
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss without reducing caloric intake.
  • Feeling tired
  • Blurry vision
  • Sores that are slow to heal

Have questions about diabetes? Talk with your doctor. They can help access your risk and perform blood tests to determine if you have diabetes or are at increased risk. 

Public health officials strongly encourage immunizing children on a schedule, starting at birth with a hepatitis B vaccine. A child who is not immunized is at risk for serious many diseases, and may also be putting the community at risk. 

A vaccination contains killed or weakened disease germs that are delivered into the body, usually by injection. The immune system reacts to the disease, just as if it were exposed to a disease, providing effective immunity. Immunizations are given to prevent the following diseases:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hib
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus) - related Cancers
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal Disease
  • Mumps
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

What are the Risks of Vaccines?

As with any medication, even aspirin, side effects can happen with vaccines. When a child does have a reaction to a vaccine, the side-effects are likely to be minor and include a sore leg, a slight rash, or a mild fever that goes away in a day or two. Some children have more serious reactions like a high fever and chills. Thankfully, serious reactions are extremely rare. One of the most serious – a life-threatening allergic reaction to a substance in a vaccine – occurs only about once in every million vaccine doses.

The long-standing vaccine safety system in the U.S. ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible. Because of this system the United States now has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history.

Safety monitoring begins with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who ensures the safety, effectiveness, and availability of vaccines for the United States. Before a vaccine is approved by the FDA for use by the public, results of studies on safety and effectiveness of the vaccine are evaluated by highly trained FDA scientists and doctors. FDA also inspects the sites where vaccines are made to make sure they follow strict manufacturing guidelines.

Have questions or concerns about vaccinations? Talk with your physician, they can help ensure your child's vaccinations are up-to-date and address any concerns you may have.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 14:25

Treating Lower Back Pain

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There are many causes of lower back pain, they include:

  • An injury from impact or repetitive motion that strains or sprains the soft muscle tissue to 
  • Fractures and compression of the joints in the spine
  • A herniated disc that puts pressure on the spinal nerves
  • Osteoarthritis caused by aging, injury, and obesity
  • In rare cases, a bacterial infection or spinal tumors

Usually, lower back pain will subside with regular activity such as walking and treatment with over the counter pain medications.

Regular exercise, especially walking, can be effective at preventing back pain by strengthening muscles, maintaining healthy weight and improving blood circulation.

Exercises like core stabilization can strengthen the muscles in your trunk, improving your posture while keeping your body in better balance, lowering your chance of injury.

Each of the various treatments for back pain work for some people but not for others. You may need to try different things to see which work best for you. If your back pain is a result of trauma, is debilitating, or persists for more than a week, see your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the specific cause and recommend exercises to help your back get stronger.

Published every 5 years by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services for public health professionals, the government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans reflects the current body of nutrition science. The recommendations help Americans make healthy dietary choices and help shape nutrition policies and programs like school lunches and food benefits for mothers and children.

Sugar and Salt

The biggest changes are that cholesterol counting is not as important, while there is now a recommended limit on added sugar, which should make up no more than 10 percent of your daily calories. In keeping with the last guidelines issued in 2010, the government still advises people to eat less than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fat and less than 2,300 mg of sodium (salt) every day.

In addition to providing a cap on added sugar, the guidelines also include a chart of where Americans get most of their added sugars. The  term "sugar-sweetened beverages" is broken down into easily identifiable terms like soft drinks, sports and energy drinks and sweetened "fruit drinks."

Saturated fat

The committee’s report contained specific warnings to reduce red meat and processed meat consumption. Lower intakes of meats, including processed meats; processed poultry; sugar-sweetened foods, particularly beverages; and refined grains have often been identified as characteristics of healthy eating patterns.

For more information on the government's new 2015 dietary guidelines, visit http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

During the holiday season when we are surrounded by delicious treats and meals with friends, family and co-workers it's easy to over indulge and add on extra pounds. So what's the problem with putting on some extra weight over the holidays when you can take it off in the new year? According to the National Institutes of Health, the pounds most Americans put on over the Holidays are not so easily taken off and actually accumulate year over year, contributing the obesity.

The best strategy is to avoid putting on the extra pounds in the first place. Here are some tips for keeping the calories under control.

1. Watch the portions. The good news is that you should be able to can the food you want, the key is how much you consume.

2. Don't go to holiday gatherings hungry. Having a nutritious and fulfilling snack ahead of time will make it easier to resist over eating and control your portions.

3. Drink water instead of high calorie drinks. Those holiday cocktails don't just contain lots of calories themselves, they can also stimulate your appetite and make you lose track of how much you have eaten.

4. Offer healthy snacks. If you're contributing to the holiday menu consider offering healthy alternatives like fruits and vegetables and low calorie dips.

5. Focus on the real meaning of the season. The reality is most holiday gatherings are centered around food. By focusing your attention on friends and family, you can take pleasure in good conversation.

 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015 18:58

The Facts About Tinnitus

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If you regularly experience the sensation of ringing or whistling sounds in your ears you have a very common condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus affects approximately 50 million Americans and for most people it is just an annoyance and not a serious problem. However, for some tinnitus can cause problems like sleeplessness and difficulty concentrating.

The Causes of Tinnitus

While tinnitus is sometimes associated with loss of hearing, many people with tinnitus experience no hearing loss and some may even become more sensitive to sound.

The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing that has been damaged by exposure to loud noise, which can cause permanent damage to the cochlea in the inner ear. Because even a single exposure to loud noise can damage the ear and cause tinnitus, it's important to protect your hearing when you're near loud music, power equipment, gunshots, aircraft engines and other loud noises.

Other common causes include:

  • Earwax buildup of wax and ear infections
  • Many drugs (Over 200 prescription and nonprescription drugs list tinnitus as a potential side-effect)
  • The aging process
  • Meniere's disease
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems and high blood pressure
  • Stress and fatigue

If you're concerned about tinnitus or have other hearing problems, speak with your doctor.

 

As we approach the fall season many people begin to experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. SAD is a very common mood disorder that is characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year.

The symptoms of SAD include feeling tired, depressed, hopelessness, and withdrawing socially.

Causes

The exact causes of SAD are unknown, but there are several factors that seem to increase the likelihood of experiencing the condition, these include:

  • Reduced levels of light in the fall and winter can disrupt your body's biological clock (circadian rhythm).
  • A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood. Low levels of sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin, trigger depression.
  • Changing seasons can disrupt the body's level of melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep patterns and mood.

When to See Your Doctor

Having an occasional day when you feel down is normal, but don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal depression that you have to deal with on your own.

Feeling depressed to days at a time that leads to a lack of motivation and activity can signal a major depression. It's especially important to see your doctor if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, have suicidal thoughts, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), talk therapy and medications. Your doctor can also give you tips to keep your mood and motivation on an even keel throughout the year.

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