Stay “Happy” During the Holidays

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year. But for some people, they can be a time of sadness and longing as old memories return… reminders of good times past and loved ones who are no longer with them. And the feelings of loneliness can be overwhelming. Those adjusting to life after a recent move can face even more challenges. But there’s no reason to feel alone – help is available.

Tips for coping with holiday stress and depression:

  • Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
  • Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  • Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
  • Live and enjoy the present.
  • Volunteer.
  • Limit your drinking.
  • Try something new.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people.
  • Make time for yourself!
  • Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
  • Keep track of your holiday spending.

If none of these tips help with your feelings of depression, seek professional help with Cathy Rigg and the counseling services available at the Taylor Clinic. There is a wide array of treatment options available and sometimes just talking to someone is help enough.

Breathe Easier and Get Relief from Lung Disease Right Here

Suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or (COPD), can feel like there’s an elephant right on your chest. COPD – a collective term for progressive lung disease including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma and some forms of bronchiectasis – can also put a huge weight on families.

More than 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from COPD – and estimates say more than half of them don’t know it. Don’t let COPD take over your life – get screened before you lose lung function.

“If you start finding yourself susceptible to respiratory infections or you’re having shortness of breath regularly, it may be time to consider the risk factors and symptoms to see if you are at risk,” says Pradeep Kulkarni, MD, Pulmonary Clinical Care & Sleep Specialist.

Should I get tested?
“People who have smoked for more than 10 years should always consider themselves at risk for COPD,” says Dr. Kulkarni. A simple, non-invasive spirometry test will measure how well your lungs are working.

You may also have COPD and should get tested if you:

  • Have a history of smoking
  • Have long-term exposure to air pollutants (including pollution and second-hand smoke)
  • Have frequent chronic coughing with or without sputum
  • Experience a tightness in the chest
  • Cannot keep up with people your own age
  • Have a history of COPD in your family
  • Have wheezing
  • Have shortness of breath that has become worse over time

Heredity can play a role… even if you’ve never smoked or been exposed to irritants at work. Emphysema2 is connected to common genetic risk factor, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD). If you don’t have enough Alpha-1 Antitrypsin protein in your bloodstream, white blood cells begin to harm the lungs, and your lungs begin to deteriorate.

Why should I get tested?
It’s important to find the right treatment. “Not all shortness of breath is COPD, and not all shortness of breath in smokers is COPD,” says Dr. Kulkarni. Untreated COPD symptoms often get worse faster than if they are treated with the right therapy or medication. You can’t get lung function back once it’s lost and there is no cure for COPD, but there is hope for a better life with early treatment and screening.

What can I do about COPD?
If you’re diagnosed with COPD, your doctor will work with you to design a treatment plan around your unique condition. That may include oxygen therapy, medication, breathing techniques, pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise, tips for staying healthy and improving the air quality at home. Above all, quit smoking. “Specialty clinics go a long way in helping patients quit smoking,” says Dr. Kulkarni. “A specialty clinic can educate you about the disease, as well as clarify the diagnosis and any misconceptions.”

Watch for Unwanted Guests – Head Lice

If you have children in the house, especially young ones, it’s time to watch for head lice. Although these pests are fairly harmless, parents never like finding them on their children.

What you should know

Lice are more easily spread during cooler weather because children are typically closer to one another. When children share infested winter coats and hats or combs, brushes and hair ornaments, lice can spread more readily. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 6 to 12 million cases affect U.S. children ages 3-11 each year.

Easily mistaken for dandruff, head lice are tiny parasites that are the size of a sesame seed. The nymphs are even smaller and more difficult to see. Because lice are small, move around and flee light, they aren’t easy for an inexperienced person to identify. On closer inspection, however, you may find the tiny nits (eggs) cemented to the hair within a quarter-inch of the base of the hair shaft. If your child complains of an itchy scalp, or you see him or her scratching more than usual, take a closer look. Concentrate on the hair at the back of the head and behind the ears. Sometimes a severe infestation can extend to the eyebrows and eyelashes. If you discover lice, it’s time to spring into action.

If you’re not sure, see a doctor for a diagnosis.

How lice are treated

Once lice are discovered, it’s important to check everyone in the household, along with anyone who may be in close contact with your children. Some experts believe all household members should be treated at once to avoid spreading these parasites. A doctor can offer the best insight for your family. Some preparations kill the eggs and may require only one application, while others must be repeated after all eggs have been hatched but before the young lice can produce more eggs. Follow the package directions and your doctor’s instructions. Check the hair regularly for several weeks after treatment to be sure all lice are gone.

Visit cdc.gov.parasites/lice/head for more information.

Give Diabetes a Holiday by Putting Prevention at the Top of Your List

At many holiday celebration, sweet treats and big eats traditionally come into play – a contributing factor for diabetes and a minefield for those already dealing with the disease. Healthy eating is one of the most important prevention steps in lowering your risk for diabetes, a challenge any time of the year that’s made even more difficult during the holidays.

As with any food choices, moderation is key. Try these simple tips to prevent sabotaging yourself during the holiday season:

  • Prevent overeating by eating a healthy snack before the event.
  • Potluck? Bring a better-for-you option – many delicious recipes are out there!
  • Check the menu ahead of time so you can make your choices before you go.
  • Make a one-trip limit, especially at buffets.
  • Make healthy choices – water and unsweetened or diet drinks; limit heavy holiday traditions like glazed ham, turkey with gravy, etc.
  • Watch out for butter-laden side dishes, fried foods or marshmallow toppings.
  • Look for low sugar or carb options.
  • Minimize alcohol intake.
  • Manage your portion sizes.

One of the best ways to keep both temptation and diabetes at bay? Keep moving. Staying active for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week offers benefits for your heart and bones, lowers stress, improves circulation – and that’s on top of reducing your risk for diabetes. Don’t let chilly weather and gray skies be an excuse for being a couch potato. Enjoy a brisk fall walk or run, and when it’s too cold to be outside, look for other options like a mall or health club. Do stretches or other exercises at home and consider incorporating strength training or light weights into your routine for bone building and other benefits.

By incorporating these and other tips into your lifestyle, you can prevent diabetes – and live longer and healthier! For more ideas on how to prevent diabetes, talk to your doctor or visit www.diabetes.org.

 

 

Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Your throat is scratchy. You feel tired. You can’t stop coughing. Do you have a case of the common cold, or could it be the flu?

Both the cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses. Though the cold and flu can feel very similar at first, colds tend to be minor and not a major disruption to your life. However, flu symptoms tend to be more severe, and the flu can become dangerous in some cases.

Common cold symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Mild fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

Common flu symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat

Because the two illnesses can seem so similar, if you’re at high risk for flu complications and develop a fever accompanied by other flu symptoms, call your doctor. How do you know if you are high risk? The list includes the elderly, children, pregnant women, those with a weakened immune system because of cancer treatment or HIV/AIDS or any other condition, people with a chronic lung or heart condition, those with asthma, diabetes, anemia or kidney disease, those who are morbidly obese, nursing home residents, or anyone who has chronic health problems or who has been advised by their physician that they are at risk of flu complications.

Keep Your Illness to Yourself

Colds are contagious the first few days, so if you can stay home and rest, you can help prevent transmitting your illness to others. Wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Nothing has been proven to “cure” the common cold, but treatment of symptoms with over-the-counter medications can help you feel less miserable. Do not give any aspirin-containing medication to a child with cold or flu symptoms, as it can cause a potentially fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome. Do not ask your doctor for an antibiotic; antibiotics treat only bacterial infections, not viral infections like colds and flues. For a cold, rest, drink lots of fluids and wait for the cold to run its course, about two weeks.

If it’s the flu, however, three FDA-approved antiviral treatments can help: Tamiflu, Relenza and Rapivab. These drugs can help prevent certain flu complications, including pneumonia. However, you need to start them within the first 48 hours of getting sick for them to work most effectively. That reinforces how important it is to contact your doctor immediately if you are at risk of flu complications. Two of the drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, can be taken by children, so call your child’s doctor right away if you suspect your child has the flu.

Prevention

For the common cold, there’s little to do except to try to keep yourself healthy, avoid sick people and wash your hands often. For the flu, medical authorities recommend an annual flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lots of information about this year’s vaccine at ccdc.gov.

October Is Mental Health Awareness Month

Millions of Americans are living with a mental health condition. Mental illnesses affect everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends and coworkers. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also widespread.

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. will experience mental illness.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. will experience a serious mental illness that interferes with one or more major life activities.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition are receiving mental health services.
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14.
  • Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–14 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.
  • Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.

Knowing the warning signs can help you determine if you need to speak to a professional. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in a treatment plan.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  •  Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations)
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

After diagnosis, a health care provider can help develop a treatment plan that could include medication, therapy or other lifestyle changes.

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step. Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor or state/country mental health authority for more resources.

If you or someone you know needs help now, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.

Are you aware of your risk?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the perfect time to remind, both women and men, early detection saves lives. When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 100%. Early detection includes monthly breast self-exams and yearly clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Some facts you should know:

  • Mammography continues to be the best first line of defense for early breast cancer screening yet nearly one third of American women do not get regular mammograms.
  • 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer within her lifetime.
  • Men can develop breast cancer, however less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • 8 out of 9 women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.
  • Breast cancer risk increases with age – 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women over 55.

Breast cancer screening is vital for all women, especially those at higher risk. Here are some contributing factors and preventative tips:

Exercise: With as little as three hours of exercise per week, or about 30 minutes a day, a woman can lower her risk of breast cancer.

Stop Smoking: Smoking is a confirmed risk factor for many types of cancer. Smoking also directly contributes to heart and other lung diseases, too.

Alcohol: Consuming just one drink a day has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. Having more than one drink per day has shown to be a more significant risk factor. If you drink alcohol, this is an important topic to discuss with your doctor so that you will know what limits are best for you to observe.

Birth Control: There is an increased risk of breast cancer for women who have been using birth control pills for more than five years. However due to the low amount of hormones in birth control pills today, the risk is relatively small.

Hormone Replacement Therapy: HRT was added to the carcinogenic list by the American Cancer Society in the early 2000s. It is recommended that women with known risks not be placed on HRT to control menopausal symptoms.

Family History: Although women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only 5-10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.

Reproductive History: Women who began their menstrual cycles before age 12, have no biological children, or had their first child at 30 or older, or began menopause after 55 are at a higher risk.

Childhood Obesity – Nothing to Kid About

Obesity in children is a very real and increasing problem. Lack of planned activity and structure, along with increased accessibility to sugared drinks and snack foods contribute. Quite simply, they’re eating too much and doing too little.

Our American society promotes the consumption of unhealthy food and snacks, so it’s hard for children to make healthy choices. They are surrounded by these choices at home, fundraisers and sporting events, and they can buy snacks easily at the grocery store or gas station.

Helping kids follow a few simple guidelines can make huge strides toward prevention and promoting a healthy lifestyle:

  • Try to discourage eating in front of the TV, and limit TV time. It’s too easy to overeat and mindlessly reach for sugary or salty snacks. If that’s not possible, designate TV-friendly snacks in premeasured amounts.
  • Watch portion size. Consider preparing bags of healthy snacks, especially for travel, such as if you’re going to watch or play in a game or your child is going to a park or playdate.
  • Stock the house. Make healthy choices the staples. Fruits and vegetables should be abundance – easily and readily available. Throw in a few options like unsalted pretzels, yogurt, peanut butter, hummus or cheese cubes to keep things interesting.
  • Get moving. Encourage at least 60 minutes of physical exercise every day – aerobic activity is best. Try walking, biking (with a helmet of course), playing outside, running, playing group sports like baseball or soccer and swimming if a pool is accessible. Be smart about heat and sun exposure too. If it’s too hot or humid, have them go early in the morning or at sunset, and always apply sunscreen!
  • Join them. Just like adults, kids tend to be more active in groups, so plan family activities around movement and exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. Set family bikes or hikes, make a contest out of ‘round the block runs, or join an exercise class. You’ll benefit, and so will they!

You want them to eat well and not gain weight. It’s all about helping them be happy and stay well. Back to school is a great time to introduce a new structure and develop better snacking habits.

Irregular heartbeat?

Have you ever had a quivering or irregular heartbeat that you just weren’t sure about? It could be AFib (atrial fibrillation) which can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure or other heart related complications. In addition to heart palpitations, other symptoms might include shortness of breath and fatigue.

Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. With AFib, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) so your blood isn’t moving properly, potentially causing blood clots. This clot risk is why patients with AFib are put on blood thinners.

If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, it will result in a stroke. 15–20 percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia. AFib is a serious condition but can be treated. Left untreated, the risk of heart-related death doubles and the risk of stroke increases significantly. It’s important to see your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms or have a history of irregular heartbeat.

Some people are more likely to experience AFib. If you have one or more of the following conditions, you may be at a greater risk.

  • Longstanding, uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Anyone with heart disease or a history of heart attack
  • Binge drinking
  • Having a family member with AFib
  • Sleep apnea
  • AFib is common in athletes and can be triggered by a rapid heart rate.
  • Others at risk are people with thyroid problems (specifically hyperthyroidism), diabetes, asthma or other chronic medical problems.

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, and have one or more of the conditions mentioned above, it’s important you talk to your doctor and ask to have the appropriate tests done to find out if you have AFib. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you will recover with less damage to your heart.

 

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men? The American Cancer Society’s estimates that in 2018, the United States will see:

  • 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer
  • 29,430 deaths from prostate cancer
  • 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

Prostate cancer develops mainly in men 65 and older and in African-American men. It is rare to see a case before the age of 40 and 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older.

Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but fortunately most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. However, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer. It’s important to keep up with your screenings to detect prostate cancer early.

Prostate cancer can often be found before symptoms start with a simple blood test and a rectal exam. If prostate cancer is found at an early stage, it will be at a more treatable stage than if no screening were done.

Many of the risk factors for prostate cancer, such as your age, race, and family history can’t be controlled. But there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of prostate cancer like maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly.

It’s also important to see your doctor regularly, and schedule regular screenings starting at age 50.

 

*Statistics provided by American Cancer Society.