Monthly Hot Topic: March

National Kidney Month

Kidneys are the workhorses of the urinary tract, filtering waste from the bloodstream and keeping your body moving. These bean-shaped organs keep the composition, or makeup, of blood stable, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Think of them as regulating filters for your body. When these filters go bad, your body suffers. The most prominent risk comes in the form of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

CKD affects nearly 30 million Americans, making it more common than diabetes. If you have CKD, that means your kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood properly. As a result, waste builds up in your body, which can lead to numerous health complications. Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney disease all increase your risk for CKD, according to NIDDK. The most alarming part of CKD is that there are no signs or symptoms until the disease is very advanced. The only way to check for CKD is through blood and urine tests.

Talk to your doctor about getting a blood and urine test for CKD. Your doctor will be able to assess your health status and will tell you if a test is necessary based on your lifestyle and current conditions.

Monthly Hot Topic: February

American Heart Month

Everyone knows how important the heart is to the body’s overall health. What some people don’t know is how factors like poor diet and limited exercise can lead to serious heart conditions, putting your whole body at risk. Diet and exercise are the best ways to reduce your risk for heart complications. Some of these complications include cardiac arrest, heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes and high cholesterol.

Cardiac arrest, heart attacks and strokes are some of the most serious heart conditions and their symptoms should be monitored closely. You should call 911 if you or someone you know starts experiencing the following signs:

  • Chest discomfort lasting more than a few minutes
  • Arm weakness or numbness
  • Slurred speech
  • Unresponsiveness when tapping on shoulders

For more information about heart health and early warning signs, visit heart.org.

Monthly Hot Topic: January

Thyroid Awareness Month

The thyroid is a small gland in the neck, but it influences your body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain and skin. In fact, the hormone created by the thyroid controls virtually every cell and tissue in the body. Thyroid disease results in too much or too little of the gland’s critical hormone being produced, causing your body’s systems to speed up or slow down. A dysfunctional thyroid can spur a variety of complications, like heart disease, osteoporosis and infertility.

If you have a family history of thyroid complications or if you are undergoing radiation therapy to the neck region, consider speaking to your doctor about a thyroid evaluation. A number of drugs exist to help treat thyroid disease, so identifying issues early can prevent more severe conditions later in life. Visit thyroidawareness.com for more information.

 

 

Monthly Hot Topic: September

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Alzheimer’s disease is often difficult to distinguish because the early signs closely resemble natural signs of aging.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain gradually destroying the ability to remember, reason, imagine and learn. The condition progresses over time.

There are 100 billion nerve cells in the brain. Each of these cells joins with others to form “communication networks.” Alzheimer’s disease prevents some of these cells from operating correctly, although scientists are unsure why. As the damage spreads, the cells cannot function and eventually die.

During normal aging, most people’s brains develop plaques (deposits of a protein fragment) and tangles (fibers of another protein). It has been discovered during autopsy people suffering from Alzheimer’s have significantly more plaques and tangles. Scientists believe this may play a role in blocking nerve cell communication.

Risk Factors

Some risk factors for Alzheimer’s include the following:

  • Increasing age
  • Family history and genetics
  • Being of African-American or Latino descent
  • Serious head injury

Symptoms

The Alzheimer’s Association identifies 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease to watch for:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships
  • Trouble speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood or personality

Diagnosis and Treatment

The first step is to take the person you are concerned about to a physician. There is no specific type of doctor for this disease, but in some cases, you may be referred to a specialist such as a neurologist or psychologist. Your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter can assist you in locating the proper physician.

At the doctor’s office, the patient will undergo a physical exam, diagnostic testing and a neurological exam. If diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the patient will likely be prescribed a cholinesterase inhibitor and/or memantine. Taking vitamin E may also be recommended.

Prevention

Research shows that keeping the brain healthy may help prevent Alzheimer’s. Take the following steps:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Stay socially active.
  • Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol.
  • Exercise.
  • Stimulate the brain with activities such as logic or word puzzles.

 

Support

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating for both the patient and his or her loved ones. It can be especially difficult for the primary caretaker, so it is important to have a network of family and friends to lend a hand.

Monthly Hot Topic: August

PSORIASIS

Psoriasis affects about 7.5 million people in the United States, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. The disease occurs equally in men and women, and people typically have their first outbreak between the ages of 15 and 25. Psoriasis most often occurs on the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, face, palms and soles of the feet.

Normally, skin cells mature and shed from the body after about a month. If you suffer from psoriasis, cell maturation increases, taking only three to four days. This causes dead skin cells to accumulate in thick patches resulting in lesions, which can itch, burn, crack or cause restricted movement.

Types of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is chronic and unpredictable. Symptoms can come on suddenly and disappear just as quickly. There are five common types of psoriasis, each with its own characteristic skin lesion:

  • Plaque psoriasis – Raised, inflamed, red lesions covered by a silvery, white buildup of dead skin cells primarily affecting the trunk, elbow, knees, scalp, fingernails and toenails. This is the most common form of psoriasis.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis—Red, swollen lesions that appear on large areas of skin.
  • Guttate psoriasis—Small, drop-like lesions that appear on the trunk, limbs and scalp.
  • Inverse psoriasis—Large, dry, smooth, red lesions that appear in the folds of skin.
  • Pustular psoriasis—Small, blister-like lesions that contain white pus found either all over the body or confined to the palms and soles. This form of psoriasis occurs most often in children.

Causes

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but it seems that the immune system somehow mistakenly triggers T cells in the skin. T cells trigger excessive skin cell reproduction, speeding up the growth cycle. Your genetic makeup may determine if you are likely to develop psoriasis, but not everyone with a genetic predisposition will develop the condition. Instead, certain triggers seem to awaken and activate the disease in those with a genetic predisposition, including:

  • Emotional stress
  • Injury to the skin
  • Immune system response to disease
  • Some types of infections
  • Reactions to certain drugs

People suffering from psoriasis may also notice that there are times when their skin worsens and then improves for no apparent reason. Some factors that may cause flare-ups include:

  • Changes in climate
  • Dry or sunburned skin
  • Alcohol
  • Medications
  • Infections

Treatment

There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are things you can do to help control your symptoms:

  • Keep the skin lubricated.
  • Use a humidifier in colder, dryer months.
  • Do not get too much sun.
  • Use mild soaps or soap-free cleansers.
  • Eat a nutritionally balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Do not scratch, rub or pick the lesions.
  • Bathe daily to soak off the scales.
  • Use soaps, shampoos, cleansers or ointments containing coal tar or salicylic acid.

Monthly Hot Topic: July

SWIMMING SAFETY

Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the United States. Knowing how to swim and following these safety tips will help keep you and your children safe. Explain swimming safety to children when young, and reinforce its importance regularly.

Swimming Pools

  • Do not dive unless it’s deep enough to dive safely—it is recommended not to dive head-first in water less than nine feet deep, and not to dive at all into water less than five feet deep. If depth is not posted, ask a lifeguard.
  • Always monitor children, even if lifeguards are present.
  • Always review and follow posted water safety rules.
  • Avoid swimming alone, and make sure your child uses the buddy system if swimming with friends.
  • Never run near a pool—slipping can be dangerous.
  • If you are just learning to swim, stay in an area of the pool where you can stand.
  • Pool toys are not designed to be safety flotation devices—keep life jackets or life rings close at hand.

Lakes and Ponds

  • Wear water shoes to protect your feet from jagged rocks, broken bottles, trash, etc.
  • Be careful of weeds, which can trap your feet. If you do get tangled, slowly pull and shake your arms and legs to get loose.
  • Stay away from boats, jet skis and other motorized water vehicles.
  • Be cautious and inch out to avoid unexpected drop-offs.

Oceans

  • Pay attention to water conditions and wave strength. If it seems unsafe, don’t go in the water.
  • Strong currents can carry swimmers away from shore quickly. If you get caught in a current, swim parallel to the shoreline until the water stops pulling you, and then swim straight back to shore. If you cannot safely make it back, tread water and call or signal somebody for assistance.
  • Watch out for jellyfish. If you get stung, find a lifeguard immediately to seek treatment, or call 911 if you have a severe reaction.
  • Never swim alone or at night.
  • Always swim in an area that is easily visible to others.
  • Wear water shoes to protect your feet from jagged rocks, broken bottles, trash, etc.
  • Do not swim extremely far out.
  • Avoid swimming close to piers and boats; if a big wave comes, you could get thrown into something and injured.

 

Monthly Hot Topic: June

June is Men’s Health Month

Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

The leading cause of death for males in the United States is heart disease—followed closely by cancer. Adhering to a healthy lifestyle can help you avoid becoming part of a statistic.

Watch What You Eat

What you eat and drink can make a significant difference in your overall health. Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, little saturated fat and no trans fats can improve your health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Know Your Risks

Your genetics, environment and lifestyle all contribute to your health. These factors may put you at an increased risk for developing certain diseases or conditions. Since you can’t change some of those factors (like your genes), focus on addressing any behaviors you do have control over, such as your diet, activity level and smoking. Make as many changes as you can to improve your well-being.

Get Moving

Nearly 80 percent of Americans do not get enough physical activity. For adults, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day is recommended. Being active does not take a lot of time or money, but it does require a commitment. Start slowly, work up to a satisfactory level, and do not overdo it. Develop a workout routine or try something different every day. Find fun ways to stay in shape and feel good, such as gardening, swimming, walking the dog or jogging.

Manage Your Stress

Perhaps now more than ever before, job stress poses a threat to the health of workers and, in turn, to the health of organizations. Balancing obligations to your employer and your family can be challenging.  Protect your mental health by engaging in activities that decrease your stress, such as enjoying your favorite hobby, exercising, reading or spending time with friends or family. Managing your stress can help keep you stay healthy.

Get Routine Exams

Based on your age, health history, lifestyle and other important factors, you and your doctor can determine how often you need to be screened for certain diseases. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and cancers of the skin, prostate and colon. When problems are found early, your chances for treatment and survival are greater, so getting routine checkups could help save your life.

By following the tips in this article, you can start living a healthier lifestyle today.

 

Monthly Hot Topic: May

Food Allergy Action Month

A food allergy occurs when the body has a specific immune response to certain foods. Sometimes, the body’s response can be severe or life-threatening. Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also estimated that between 4 and 6 percent of U.S. children are affected by some type of food allergy.

Among other things, Food Allergy Action Month was created to spread awareness about what food allergies are, how to recognize a food allergy and how to help someone who is having an allergic reaction. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to food include the following:

  • A tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue and throat
  • Itching, hives and a rash throughout the body
  • Cramping, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness

Monthly Hot Topic: April

National Autism Awareness Month

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) refer to a group of developmental disabilities that vary in severity and affect socialization, communication and other behaviors in those that have them. Researchers are still currently searching for answers, as the exact causes of ASDs remain unknown. However, experts agree that there is no link between vaccines and developing an ASD. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccine ingredients do not cause autism.

In honor of National Autism Awareness Month, take some time to familiarize yourself with the three types of ASDs:

Autistic disorder is characterized by impaired social interaction, communication issues (including problems with language), and unusual, repetitive or severely limited activities and interests. People with this disorder also often have intellectual disabilities.

Asperger’s syndrome is often associated with some of the symptoms of autistic disorder, but they are less severe. While problems with socializing and unusual behaviors and interests are not uncommon, Asperger’s syndrome is not associated with language difficulties or intellectual disability.

Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) is a term used to describe individuals who display only some of the signs of autistic disorder or Asperger’s syndrome. These individuals’ symptoms are often milder and only affect socialization and communication.

Monthly Hot Topic: March

Workplace Eye Wellness Month

The workplace can present a variety of dangers to one’s eyes. Eye injuries can be caused by flying objects in the air, chemical splashes, tools and particles. The good news is that approximately 90 percent of all work-related eye injuries can be prevented by wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) while on the job.
In honor of Workplace Eye Wellness Month, reduce your risk of eye injuries by taking steps to eliminate hazards and wearing the appropriate eye protection. Consider the following recommendations:

Select safety glasses or goggles that are appropriate for the job and your facial features. Glasses should rest firmly on the top of your nose and close to, but not against, the face.

Always keep safety goggles and glasses clean. Scratches and dirt can reduce vision and may contribute to accidents.

Wear glasses or goggles that are properly ventilated for the work you are performing.

Identify and eliminate the dangers in your workplace before beginning your tasks for the day.