Seven Signs of Autism | Autistic Pride Day

The annual Autistic Pride Day is observed each year on June 18 using an ongoing theme of neurodiversity. The pride label – all colors across the spectrum with an infinity symbol –  is intended to encourage a celebration of autistic differences, rather than reinforcing stereotypical perceptions of autism as a disease. Autistic Pride Day educates people directly, drawing on the experiences of autistic people themselves and celebrating autistic lives.  The aim: to promote progress in awareness and recognize the achievements of autistic people.

The first event was celebrated in June 2005, and it is lead by several organizations supporting the children and their families who are living with autism.  Society is still far from understanding and accepting the range of autistic differences, and changing attitudes is a necessary step towards enabling autistic people to lead fulfilling lives without discrimination, allowing them to participate in and contribute to all aspects of society.

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a set of diverse neural development variables that are characterized most commonly by difficulty with social interactions and behavioral integration while providing potentially heightened or advanced skills in certain areas. The condition starts in childhood, and the characteristics may be visible within the first two years of the child’s development.

Manifested in a range of presentations affecting how an autistic person thinks, learns, uses their senses, moves their body, communicates, and relates to other people, the spectrum is increasingly described by the autistic community, and by some clinicians and researchers, as a condition rather than a disorder.

Prevalence is 1–1·5% of the population – that is 1 in 68 children in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Autism has previously been thought to be more common in men and boys, but current debates suggest this might be an effect of basing diagnosis on behavior, which varies between sexes. Diagnoses centered on behavioral issues can lack precision, as behavior may be suppressed, camouflaged, and “normalized” by autistic people in order to fit in and avoid social stigma.

Causes of Autism

There is great concern rates of autism have been increasing in recent decades without acceptable explanation as to why.  Scientists believe both genetics and environment likely play a role in ASD. Researchers have identified a number of genes associated with the disorder. Imaging studies of people with ASD have found differences in the development of several regions of the brain.

Studies suggest that ASD could be a result of disruptions in normal brain growth very early in development. These disruptions may be the result of defects in genes that control brain development and regulate how brain cells communicate with each other. Autism is more common in children born prematurely.

Environmental factors may also play a role in gene function and development, but no specific environmental causes have yet been identified. The flawed theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved.

Symptoms of Autism

Neurodiversity encompasses the breadth of autistic characteristics; every person has a unique experience of autistic life. A society that accepts neurodiversity requires cooperation and input from multiple stakeholders, including autistic people, neurologists and mental health professionals, parents, teachers, researchers, and employers. Society needs to embrace neurodiversity in order to accept differences and variation, and to reduce stigma. Mental health professionals can provide interventions and support if there is an understanding of the details of autistic experience.

The  terms “Autistic” and “autism spectrum” often are used to refer inclusively to people who have an official diagnosis on the autism spectrum or who self-identify with the Autistic community. While all Autistics are as unique as any other human beings, they share some characteristics typical of autism:

  1. Different sensory experiences.For example, heightened sensitivity to light, difficulty interpreting internal physical sensations, hearing loud sounds as soft and soft sounds as loud, or synesthesia.
  2. Non-standard ways of learning and approaching problem solving.For example, learning “difficult” tasks (e.g. calculus) before “simple” tasks (e.g. addition), difficulty with “executive functions,” or being simultaneously gifted at tasks requiring fluid intelligence and intellectually disabled at tasks requiring verbal skills.
  3. Deeply focused thinking and passionate interests in specific subjects.“Narrow but deep,” these “special interests” could be anything from mathematics to ballet, from doorknobs to physics, and from politics to bits of shiny paper.
  4. Atypical, sometimes repetitive, movement.This includes “stereotyped” and “self-stimulatory” behavior such as rocking or flapping, and also the difficulties with motor skills and motor planning associated with apraxia or dyspraxia.
  5. Need for consistency, routine, and order.For example, holidays may be experienced more with anxiety than pleasure, as they mean time off from school and the disruption of the usual order of things. People on the autistic spectrum may take intense pleasure in organizing and arranging items.
  6. Difficulties in understanding and expressing language as used in typical communication, both verbal and non-verbal. This may manifest similarly to semantic-pragmatic language disorder. It’s often because a young child does not seem to be developing language that a parent first seeks to have a child evaluated. As adults, people with an autism spectrum diagnosis often continue to struggle to use language to explain their emotions and internal state, and to articulate concepts (which is not to say they do not experience and understand these).
  7. Difficulties in understanding and expressing typical social interaction.For example, preferring parallel interaction, having delayed responses to social stimulus, or behaving in an “inappropriate” manner to the norms of a given social context (for example, not saying “hi” immediately after another person says “hi”).

Diagnosing Autism

An autism diagnosis most commonly takes place in the first 2 years of a child’s life—early detection brings more effective intervention. However, there is a need to improve detection and accommodation of autism in adulthood. A diagnosis late in life can help people to understand why they feel they are different to others, can help to understand accompanying mental health challenges, and may provide the beginning of a helpful clinical pathway—as well as providing clarity, it can be a signpost to relevant support.

Autism is a relatively new diagnosis, becoming widely used only since the 1990s. In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published in May, 2013, the diagnostic criteria were broadened as various diagnostic entities were pulled together.  Pre-school children were included, and prevalence subsequently increased considerably as a range of autistic traits were newly identified as part of the spectrum.

Neurological research in the field remains difficult and sometimes controversial, and there is an ongoing lack of knowledge of the neurological bases for autism. Future understanding of causes, including genetic causes, will hopefully help to shape a more tailored approach to diagnosis and treatment management.

Treatment of Autism

Regarding treatment and societal support, external systems need to adapt to embrace variations in behavior that include adults with late diagnoses. This shift is elusive: Public and even medical perception still has some way to go to embrace differences among those with autism.  Each child or adult with autism is unique and, so, each autism intervention plan should be tailored to address specific needs.

Management can be complex, as people with autism are more likely to have additional mental health diagnoses and higher rates of suicidal ideation. Approaches to intervention need to be highly personalized to suit each individual and to identify comorbidities correctly. Professionals also need to understand and accept neurodiversity—a lack of empathy could lead to a repeat of past approaches that forced people to conform to “normal” behavior, which is neither effective nor acceptable.

There is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, but there are several behavioral and therapeutic interventions that may improve some symptoms.  Intervention can involve behavioral treatments, medicines or both. Many persons with autism have additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbance, seizures and gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Addressing these conditions can improve attention, learning and related behaviors.

Early intensive behavioral intervention involves a child’s entire family, working closely with a team of professionals. In some early intervention programs, therapists come into the home to deliver services. This can include parent training with the parent leading therapy sessions under the supervision of the therapist. Other programs deliver therapy in a specialized center, classroom or preschool.

Typically, different interventions and supports become appropriate as a child develops and acquires social and learning skills. As children with autism enter school, for example, they may benefit from targeted social skills training and specialized approaches to teaching.  Adolescents with autism can benefit from transition services that promote a successful maturation into independence and employment opportunities of adulthood.

Typically, autism treatment involves:

  • Behavioral and educational interventions – this is where therapists use intensive and high structured skills in training an autistic child so that they can improve language and social skills.
  • Medications – the physician may prescribe drugs that can help in management of some of the symptoms, like depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Alternatively, or in addition, novel Therapies are being developed.  These therapies, including light and sound treatments, might be introduced to families living with autism.  Some are controversial, and parents should be cautious before adopting any method.

Purpose of Autistic Pride Day

The day helps to create an awareness  in society  around the condition and how it is managed. The day asserts that autism is not a sickness but rather a state in which the individual affected will exhibit varied characteristics that may provide them with challenges or rewards unlike their peers who do not have autism.  Autistic pride day helps in coming up with initiatives where the public is educated on the challenges that are faced by autism community.

Autistic pride day helps in organizing rights movements for people who are living with autism. The movement is usually led by self advocates of autism who ensure that autistic people are given a voice and are recognized in the society. The movement encourages community members to accept people living with autism in the society.

The autistic pride day also provides a good platform for the care giver to be appreciated. The people who take care of autistic children may have diminished physical and emotional energy as they can be drained while responding to the needs of autistic children. Care givers are encouraged to take care of themselves and to get as much help as possible to provide their best while offering their services.

What can be Done on Autistic Pride Day?

Participation on this day may  include providing information to families that include people who live with autism by teaching them on the causes, signs and symptoms , management and treatment. The family members will also be taught how to participate most fully in the life of someone with autism and to embrace their neurodiversity.

You might provide financial support for the organizations that pioneer autism research or volunteer and give to those groups who promote awareness and provide support to families and those with autism.

Caregivers and those with autism can come together and share their stories of life with autism or loving and caring for people with autism. This will help to reduce any stigmas associated with the disorder as each person expresses themselves.

Message Shared on Autistic Pride Day

Autistic pride day is a time set aside to appreciate and celebrate those who live with autism.  The message shared on this day is that the people who suffer from autism are not sick, they are neurodiverse. Autism should not be viewed as a disease but as a different state of being.

If you are looking for the right specialists and way to really join your care team together, consider HealthLynked.  Our platform is designed so that medical practitioners and the diverse patient population they care for can truly collaborate on wellbeing, and it is designed to especially enhance the efficient exchange of health information.

As teams work to discover the causes and research cures, the effective exchange of relevant health information becomes essential in caring for those with ASD.  Safe, secure and convenient, HealthLynked allows patient members and their providers to immediately share and collaborate on their must up to date medical information. This exchange ensures the best possible care is provided, critical when working with autism.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com today to sign up for free!

 

Sources:

autismspeaks.org

ninds.nih.gov

autisticadvocacy.org

thelancet.com

 

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6.5 Ways to Refocus on Health this Father’s Day

At HealthLynked, we believe every day is a great day to focus on wellness and remind those around you health is true wealth.  Today, Father’s Day, is another great opportunity to heighten the awareness of preventable health disorders and disease and encourage the men in your life to be more active and health conscious.

For Father’s Day, we serve up these gentle reminders of 6 ways you can refocus on your health, courtesy of the CDC:

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Aim for seven to nine hours per night.  Your mind and muscles need the recovery.

  1. Stop Smoking

If you quit now, you’ll lower your risk for cancer, COPD, and other smoking-related illnesses.

  1. Exercise More

Enjoy at least 2 ½ hours of aerobic activity, plus muscle-strengthening exercises, each week.

  1. Eat Healthy

Your diet should include a variety of well proportioned proteins and fruits and vegetables daily.

  1. Reduce Stress

You’ll feel much more relaxed if you avoid drugs and alcohol, connect socially, and find support.

  1. Get Regular Checkups

You need to know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers; if they’re elevated, your risk for heart disease and stroke goes up…. High blood pressure may even increase your risk for erectile dysfunction!  You also need screening for colorectal and prostate cancer.  Across every spectrum of disease, positive outcomes are more likely with early detection.

The Truth

Men simply do not visit caregivers as often as they should. According to a CDC report, women are 100% more likely to visit a physician for preventive services and routine checkups.  The same report remarks men are 33% less likely to see their doctor for any reason, even when symptomatic.

The American Heart Association outlines the following 10 common excuses men give for not seeing a doctor:

“I don’t have a doctor.”

Step one toward staying healthy is finding a doctor you trust, and you’ll never know if you trust one unless you try. Check your insurance company and our healthcare ecosystem for one in your area. Call their offices and ask questions.

“I don’t have insurance.”

Everybody should still have insurance under the Affordable Care Act. If you don’t, there are plenty of resources available from state, local and charitable organizations to pay for your care.  Seek them out….

“There’s probably nothing wrong.”

You may be right, but Some serious diseases don’t have symptoms. High blood pressure is one, and it can cause heart attack and stroke. (That’s why they call it “the silent killer.”)  High cholesterol is another often-symptomless condition. Ditto diabetes. Finding a health problem early can make an enormous difference in the quality and length of your life.

“I don’t want to hear what I might be told.”

Maybe you smoke, drink too much, or have put on weight. Even so, your doctor’s there to help you. You can deny your reality, but you can’t deny the consequences. So be smart: Listen to someone who’ll tell you truths you need to hear. Be coachable.

“I don’t have time.”

There are about 8,766 hours in a year, and you want to save … two? When those two hours could save your life if you really DO need a doctor? If you want to spend more time with your family, these two hours aren’t the ones to lose.

“I don’t want to spend the money.”

It makes more sense to spend a little and save a lot than to save a little and spend a lot. If you think spending time with a doctor is expensive, try spending time in a hospital.

“Doctors don’t DO anything.”

When you see a barber, you get a haircut. When you see the dentist, your teeth get cleaned. But when you get a checkup, the doctor just gives you tests. It may seem like you don’t get anything, but you do. You get news and knowledge that can bring better health, if you act on it.

“I’ve got probe-a-phobia.”

You don’t need a prostate cancer exam until you’re 50. Even then, remember that your chances of survival are much better if it’s caught early. So, it’s worth the exam, and it’s only one small portion of a physical. Don’t let one test stop you from getting all the benefits of an annual physical.

“I’d rather tough it out.”

If pro athletes can play hurt and sacrifice themselves for the team, you ought to be able to suck it up, right? Wrong! The Game of Life is about staying healthy for a long time – a lifetime.

“My significant other has been nagging me to get a checkup. I’m a Rebel!”

OK, so you don’t want to give in, but isn’t it POSSIBLE you could be wrong? Give in on this one. See the doctor.

The risks of avoiding preventive care are real and can be devastating. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 10 leading killers of American men (regardless of age or ethnicity and in order) are:

Heart disease

Cancer

Unintentional injuries

Chronic lower respiratory diseases (such as COPD)

Stroke

Diabetes

Suicide

Alzheimer’s disease

Influenza and pneumonia

Chronic liver disease

Unlike the majority of women, who tend to seek medical care when even when they do not have symptoms, men often believe if you “feel fine,” there’s no reason to go to the doctor. It is important to note many can feel normal with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or abnormal blood sugar levels. Even when men don’t feel so great, they tend to wait for symptoms to go away on their own — like when they drive around aimlessly because asking for directions admits weakness!

Be aware, you do not need a “one-size-fits-all” physical.  Collaborate with your healthcare provider, and depending on your profile and lifestyle, decide which screenings, diagnostic tests, and immunizations are right for you. The timing and frequency should be based on your risk factors for developing a condition or disease, including family or personal history, age, ethnicity, and environmental exposure.

In honor of Father’s Day, dads and those who care for them, go to the HealthLynked.com to find a physician you really connect with….Spend a few moments building a healthier life by collaborating with physicians who care, and begin building a health record for yourself that will help you set records for living a full life.

From all of us here at HealthLynked, consider our Free profiles a great gift for becoming the best version of you!  We all wish you the very best today and every day!

 

 

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9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

As an ancient folk remedy, Apple cider vinegar  has been used over centuries for various household chores, as a preservative and in cooking.  Today, it is the most popular vinegar in the natural health community, which promotes many of its benefits.  A few find some support in research, including weight loss, reduced cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes.

Below are 9 health benefits of apple cider vinegar supported by scientific study.

1. Boasts Potent Biological Effects

Apple cider vinegar is made in a two-step process related to how alcohol is made.  In French, the word “vinegar” actually means “sour wine.”  The first step exposes crushed apples (or apple cider) to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol.  In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, further fermenting the alcohol turning it into acetic acid — the main active compound in vinegar.

9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s) also contains “mother” – strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance.  Some people believe the “mother” is responsible for most of the health benefits, although there are few published studies to support this.

Apple cider vinegar only contains about three calories per tablespoon, which is very low.  There are not many vitamins or minerals in it, but it does contain a small amount of potassium. Quality apple cider vinegar also contains some amino acids and antioxidants.

2. Kills Many Types of Harmful Bacteria

Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria.  It has traditionally been used for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar for wound cleaning over two thousand years ago.  Vinegar has also been used as a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria (like E. coli) from growing in food and spoiling it.  If you’re looking for a natural way to preserve your food, apple cider vinegar could be highly useful.

There have also been anecdotal reports of diluted apple cider vinegar helping with acne when applied to the skin, but there is not strong research to confirm this.  The main substance in vinegar, acetic acid, can kill harmful bacteria or prevent them from multiplying. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.

3. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Fights Diabetes

By far, the most successful application of vinegar to date is in patients with type 2 diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels, either because of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.  Also, high blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes. It is believed to be a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases.

Pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range. The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar can also have a powerful effect.

Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19–34% and significantly lowers blood sugar and insulin responses.
  • Reduces blood sugar by 34% after eating 50 grams of white bread.
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugar in the morning by 4%.
  • Numerous other studies in humans show that vinegar can improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels after meals.9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

Apple cider vinegar may also increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the blood to the tissues where it can be used as fuel. Sustaining elevated levels of insulin can cause insulin resistance, which reduces its effectiveness and leads to high blood sugar and diabetes.  A study in Diabetes Care showed that vinegar ingestion helped significantly improve insulin sensitivity by up to 34 percent in those with either type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. (1)

To keep blood sugar levels stable, try diluting one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water and consuming before meals. Additionally, be sure to moderate carbohydrate intake, increase your consumption of fiber and protein foods and get in plenty of regular physical activity to drop blood sugar levels even more.

For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low for other reasons.  If you’re currently taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, check with your doctor before increasing your intake of any type of vinegar.

4. Helps You Lose Weight and Reduces Belly Fat

Surprisingly, studies also show that vinegar can help you lose weight.  Several human studies demonstrate vinegar can increase satiety, help you eat fewer calories and lead to actual pounds lost on the scale.  For example, when people take vinegar along with a high-carb meal, they get increased feelings of fullness and end up eating 200–275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.

9 Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar Supported by Science

A study in 175 people with obesity showed that daily apple cider vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat and weight loss:

  • 15 mL (1 tablespoon): Lost 2.6 pounds, or 1.2 kilograms.
  • 30 mL (2 tablespoons): Lost 3.7 pounds, or 1.7 kilograms.

However, keep in mind that this study went on for 3 months, so the true effects on body weight seem to be rather modest.  Just adding or subtracting single foods or ingredients rarely has a noticeable effect on weight.  It’s an entire diet and improved lifestyle that matters;  you may need to combine several effective changes to see results.

Overall, it seems like apple cider vinegar is useful as a weight loss aid, mainly by promoting satiety and lowering blood sugar and insulin levels.  While it won’t work any miracles on its own, studies suggest vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help people eat fewer calories, which leads to weight loss.

5. Lowers Cholesterol and Improves Heart Health

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can build up in the arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. High blood cholesterol puts a strain on your heart, forcing it to work harder to push blood throughout the body.

Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death.  It is known that several biological factors are linked to either a decreased or increased risk of heart disease.  Several of these “risk factors” may be improved by vinegar consumption, but many of the supporting studies were done in animals.

These animal studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with several other heart disease risk factors.  There are also some studies showing that vinegar reduces blood pressure in rats, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and kidney problems.

The only human evidence so far is an observational study from Harvard showing women who ate salad dressings with vinegar had a reduced risk of heart disease.  However, this type of study can only show an association – it cannot prove that the vinegar caused anything.

As mentioned above, human studies also show that apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and help fight diabetes. These factors should also lead to reduced risk of heart disease.

Besides including a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar in your diet each day, other ways to lower cholesterol fast include minimizing your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, including a good variety of healthy fats in your diet and eating a few servings of fish per week.

6. May Have Protective Effects Against Cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells.  There is a lot of hype online about the anti-cancer effects of apple cider vinegar.  In fact, numerous studies have shown that various types of vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.  However, all of the studies on this were done in isolated cells in test tubes, or rats, which proves nothing about what happens in a living, breathing human.

That said, some observational studies in humans have shown that vinegar consumption is linked to decreased esophageal cancer in China, but increased bladder cancer in Serbia.  It is possible that consuming apple cider vinegar may help prevent cancer, but this needs to be researched more before any recommendations can be made.

7.  Improves Skin Health

Apple cider vinegar doesn’t just benefit your internal health; it has also been shown to treat acne and reduce scarring. Certain strains of bacteria often contribute to the development of acne. Vinegar is well-known for its antibacterial properties and has been shown to be effective against many strains of harmful bacteria.

Apple cider vinegar also contains specific components like acetic acid, lactic acid, succinic acid and citric acid, all of which have been shown to inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, the specific strain of bacteria responsible for causing acne.

These beneficial components may also reduce scarring. A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology showed that treating acne scars with lactic acid for three months led to improvements in the texture, pigmentation and appearance of treated skin as well as a lightening of scars.  Adding some probiotic foods into your diet, using healing masks and toners and keeping your skin well-moisturized are some other effective home remedies for acne as well.

8.  Reduces Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It forces the heart to work harder, causing the heart muscle to weaken and deteriorate over time.

Apple cider vinegar benefits your blood pressure levels, helping to keep your heart healthy and strong. An animal study in Japan showed that giving rats acetic acid, the main component in vinegar, resulted in reduced levels of blood pressure. Another animal study had similar findings, demonstrating that vinegar effectively blocked the actions of a specific enzyme that raises blood pressure.

Other natural ways to lower blood pressure include increasing your intake of magnesium and potassium, upping your fiber intake and swapping the salt and processed foods for whole foods.

9. Relieves Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD or acid reflux, is a condition characterized by acid backflow from the stomach up into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, belching and nausea.  Acid reflux is often a result of having low levels of stomach acid. If this is the case for you, drinking apple cider vinegar may help provide relief from acid reflux symptoms by introducing more acid into the digestive tract to prevent acid backflow.

For best results, dilute one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in an 8-ounce glass of water and drink just before eating. Additionally, remember to follow an acid reflux diet rich in vegetables, healthy fats and fermented foods to slash symptoms even more.

Dosage and How to Use

The best way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to use it in your cooking — for salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise and that sort of thing.

Some people also like to dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 ml) to 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) per day, mixed in a large glass of water.

It’s best to start with small doses and avoid taking large amounts – too much vinegar may have harmful side effects.  It is recommended to use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother.”

The Bottom Line

There are a number of likely over-inflated claims about apple cider vinegar.  Some say it can increase energy levels and deliver all sorts of beneficial effects on health.  Unfortunately, many of these claims are not supported by science.  Of course, absence of proof does not invalidate that something is happening, and anecdotes often end up becoming supported by science down the line.

Apple cider vinegar also has various other non-health related uses like hair conditioning, deoderant, dental care, pet use and as a cleaning agent (to name a few).  These can be highly useful for people who like to keep things as natural and chemical-free as possible.

From the little evidence available, it appears apple cider vinegar may be useful and is definitely a viable candidate for some experimentation if you’re interested and your physician agrees.  At the very least, apple cider vinegar seems to be safe as long as you don’t go overboard and take excessive amounts.

Precautions

While apple cider vinegar appears to be very healthy, it is not a “miracle” or a “cure-all” like so many seem to believe.  It does clearly have some important health benefits, especially in lowering blood sugar and aiding in weight control.  Still, it should not be viewed as a quick fix when it comes to your health.  Instead, it should be paired with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle for best possible results.

Although apple cider vinegar is healthy and safe for most people, consuming large amounts may lead to some negative effects on health. Apple cider vinegar side effects include erosion of tooth enamel, burning of the throat or skin and decreased levels of potassium.

Be sure to always dilute apple cider vinegar in water instead of drinking it straight to prevent negative side effects. You should also start with a low dose and work your way up to assess your tolerance, and always consult with a physician.

If you’re taking blood sugar medications, talk to your doctor before using apple cider vinegar. Because apple cider vinegar may help reduce blood sugar levels, you may need to modify your dosage of diabetes medications to prevent hypoglycemia symptoms.

To find the right physician to talk with you about the benefits of adding vinegar to your diet and improving your overall wellness, use HealthLynked.com today to truly take control of health.  Using HealthLynked, you can maintain all of your health information in one place, find and make appointments with medical professionals, and collaborate with physicians who care for you.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com to sign up for free now!

 

Sources:

  1. Johnston CS, et al. Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes Care. 2004 Jan;27(1):281-2.
  2. MedLine
  3. com

 

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Someone Needed Blood While You Read this Title

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.  Someone needed a blood product as you read that sentence.  Blood is essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. Whether a patient receives whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma, lifesaving care starts with one person making a generous donation.

On 14 June of every year – the birthday of the Austrian physician who discovered blood groups – countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day (WBDD).  Established in 2004 as one of only eight medical observances supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), the event serves to raise awareness for the need of safe blood and blood products and to thank blood donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts.

History of World Blood Donor Day

Blood donation dates back to the 17th century. The medical practitioners of the time knew blood was vital to life and losing too much of it would have tragic consequences for the patient. Experimentation began, and a whole new breed of heroes was born – those that  contribute their blood so that others may live.

The first transfusions were done using poorly understood mechanisms and little science, resulting in some rather tragic results. Stronger science emerged as Richard Lower became the first to examine  blood circulation and discovered ways to stop blood clotting. While only working with animals, he managed to drain the blood off of a medium sized dog and then transfuse the blood of a larger mastiff into the smaller animal. Both dogs recovered with no appreciable ill effects.  He gained great notoriety for his efforts and was asked to speak on and teach this technique to the Royal Society.

There were some odd beliefs about blood back then, and the first human transfusion involved putting the blood of a sheep into a patient who was suffering from a mild form of insanity. In 1667, Jean-Baptiste Denis, physician to King Louis XIV, thought perhaps the blood of so gentle a creature might help calm him. The act of transferring animal blood into patients was strongly questioned by the highly superstitious and morally rigid authorities of the time, and the practice was outlawed. Transfusion vanished for almost 150 years.

In 1818, an obstetrician brought blood transfusions back into useful medical technology, replacing the blood of  a woman who had hemorrhaged terribly after giving birth.  He started publishing works on how it was done.  Throughout his life, he performed 10 transfusions, 5 of which saved the lives of the recipients.

In 1901, Karl Landsteiner, the Austrian physician on whose birthday we mark WBDD, discovered the first human blood groups, ensuring transfusion would become a safer practice. By performing experiments in which he mixed blood samples taken from his staff, Landsteiner discovered blood groups A, B and O and established the basic principals of ABO compatibility. In 1907, an American surgeon, Reuben Ottenberg, suggested that patient and donor blood should be grouped and cross matched before a blood transfusion procedure.

World Blood Donor Day celebrates the hard work and daring of these early medical professionals and donors and recognizes the efforts they put into developing a technology that saves so many lives today.

Blood Supply Statistics

The Red Cross supplies about 40% of the United States’ blood and blood components, all from generous volunteer donors. Still, supply can’t always meet demand – only about 10% of eligible people donate blood yearly. Each new donor helps meet patient needs.

  • Each year, an estimated 6.8 million people in the U.S. donate blood.
  • 13.6 million whole blood and red blood cells are collected in the U.S. in a year.
  • About 45% of people in the U.S. have Group O (positive or negative) blood; the proportion is higher among Hispanics (57%) and African Americans (51%).
  • Type O negative red cells can be given to patients of all blood types. Because only 7% of people in the U.S. are type O negative, it’s always in great demand and often in short supply.
  • Type AB positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all blood types. Since only 3% of people in the U.S. have AB positive blood, this plasma is usually in short supply.
  • Red blood cells must be used within 42 days (or less).
  • Platelets must be used within just 5 days.

Blood Needs & Blood Supply

  • 1 donation can potentially save up to 3 lives.
  • Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Nearly 21 million blood products are transfused each year.
  • Less than 38 percent of the population is eligible to give blood or platelets.
  • Blood donors can give every 56 days. Platelet donors can give every 7 days.
  • Blood and platelets cannot be manufactured; they can only come from volunteer donors.
  • Adults have around 10 pints of blood in their bodies. About 1 pint is given during a donation.
  • Platelets, critical for cancer patients, must be transfused within 5 days of donation.
  • Only 7% of people in the U.S. have the universal blood type, O negative.
  • The Red Cross began collecting blood donations for patients in 1940.
  • The Red Cross holds about 500 blood drives every day.

Facts About Blood Needs

  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • Sickle cell disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, about 1.7 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.

How to Celebrate World Blood Donor Day

Transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and perinatal care. Access to safe and sufficient blood and blood products can help reduce rates of death and disability due to severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth.

In many countries, there is not an adequate supply of safe blood, and blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety.  An adequate supply can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors. The WHO’s goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020. In 2014, 60 countries have their national blood supplies based on 99-100% voluntary unpaid blood donations, with 73 countries still largely dependent on family and paid donors.

The best way to celebrate World Blood Donor Day is to go out and give blood! There’s a powerful need for blood of all types, and there’s rarely enough of it to go around. Blood Donors save lives every day by giving of themselves so accident victims and those in need of transfusions or replacement during surgeries might live.

This year’s WWBD Theme is:  “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life”.  Just a single contribution now will help, so get out and give!

 

Sources:

WHO.INT

RedCross.ORG

 

 

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10 Truths about Migraines and Myths They BUST!

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, a dedicated time for migraine specialists and other health care providers, patient advocates and the migraine community to unite their voices to advocate for migraine recognition and treatment. The 2018 theme is “You Are Not Alone,” and it reminds people living with migraine that more than 37 million other people empathize and can feel their pain.

My wife routinely gets  headaches that might level a normal human.  While she still keeps going as if nothing is happening, I say this, not because I can feel her pain or truly know the level, but because she tells me she is in pain. If she says it, I know it would take me out, because she has superhuman pain tolerance – she labored, at home, for 36 hours without meds!

I suspect she is having migraines.  She just keeps moving.

Myths and misconceptions around migraines abound. They perpetuate themselves and feed the stigma associated with Migraines.  Below are some of the most prevalent Migraine myths and the corresponding truths as reported on Migraine.com:

Myth #1: A Migraine is just a bad headache.

Truth: Migraine is a neurological disease characterized by flare-ups most commonly called simply, “Migraines,” or “Migraine attacks.” The headache, when there is one, is only one of many possible symptoms of a Migraine attack. Migraine attacks can and do sometimes occur with no headache at all. These are classified as “silent” or “acephalgic Migraines.” There are four possible phases of a Migraine attack, and many possible symptoms. In fact, for a true diagnosis of Migraine, there must be symptoms other than headache.

Myth #2: Migraines don’t last for days, and nobody has a Migraine every day.

Truth: The “typical” Migraine lasts from four to 72 hours, but Migraines can last longer. They sometimes last days, weeks, or even months. When they last longer than 72 hours, contact about physician. Unfortunately, some people do have Migraines nearly daily and even daily. Chronic Migraine (CM) is all too real. By definition, CM is having Migraines or tension-type headaches 15 or more days per month. Although the symptoms and pain levels of CM are similar to those of episodic Migraine (less than 15 days per month), studies have shown that the frequency of the Migraines dramatically increases the burden and causes CM to have significantly higher impact than episodic Migraine. Other studies have shown that the stigma associated with CM is also higher.

Myth #3: Migraines aren’t life-threatening, just annoying.

Truth: Although a Migraine itself may not be life-threatening, complications of Migraines and risk factors associated with Migraine can be. Studies have confirmed a link between Migraine and stroke and other cardiovascular diseases and events. Studies have also confirmed a link between Migraine and suicide. Much could be written on this topic, but consider just these two statistics.

  • “Greater than 1,400 more U.S. women with Migraine with aura die annually from cardiovascular diseases compared to women who do not have Migraine.”
  • “Based on a sample of Americans, suicide attempts are three times more likely in individuals with Migraine with aura compared to those with no Migraine, whether or not major depression is also present.”

Myth #4: Any doctor will recognize and properly treat Migraine.

Truth: Mainly due to a lack of adequate physician education, this is definitely a myth. It’s also a misconception that all neurologists are Migraine specialists. They’re not; nor are all Migraine specialists neurologists.

In a 2011 report, the World Health Organization stated, “Lack of knowledge among health-care providers is the principal clinical barrier to effective headache (including Migraine) management.” This same report revealed that non-specialist physician undergraduate medical training included just four hours about headache and Migraine; specialist (neurologist) training included 10 hours.

Myth #5: Only women have Migraines.

Truth: 18% of women and 6 to 8% of men suffer with Migraines.

Myth #6: Only adults have Migraines.

Truth: People of all ages have Migraines. Some children have Migraines while very young, before they’re even old enough to tell anyone what’s wrong. With children that young, diagnosis is achieved by reviewing family medical history and observing the child’s behavior.

Myth #7: If you don’t have auras, you don’t have Migraines.

Truth: Only 25 to 30% of sufferers have Migraine with aura, and few of them have aura with every Migraine attack. Most people who have Migraine with aura also have Migraine without aura.

Myth #8: People who get Migraines are intelligent, highly-achieving, high-strung people with a “Migraine personality.”

Truth: At one time, there was a theory a set of “personality features and reactions dominant in individuals with migraine” existed that included “Feelings of insecurity with tension manifested as inflexibility, conscientiousness, meticulousness, perfectionism, and resentment”, referred to as the “Migraine personality.”  These “notions regarding a generalization of the migraine personality have not withstood the test of time; in fact,  current research suggests that there is no one dominant personality profile among those with migraine.”

Myth #9: There’s nothing that can be done about Migraines. We have to “just live with them.”

Truth: This is far from the truth. Although there is no cure for Migraine disease at this time, one dies not have to “just live with them.” With the help of a doctor who truly understands the disease, work on trigger identification and management and treatments aids in effective Migraine management. There are many options for Migraine prevention…more than ever before. There is a small percentage of sufferers, approximately 5%, with chronic and intractable (do not respond to medications) Migraines who continue to struggle, even with these options. The need for increased awareness and research funding on a federal level is largely responsible for the lack of progress in this area.

Myth #10: A Migraine is a Migraine is a Migraine. They’re all alike.

Truth: To begin with, there are several different types of Migraine. The two main types are Migraine with aura and Migraine without aura. Then there are subtypes of Migraine with aura: basilar-type Migraine, sporadic and familial hemiplegic Migraine, There’s also retinal Migraine; abdominal Migraine; complications of Migraine such as chronic Migraine, and more.

One person’s Migraines can be dramatically different from another’s and even one person’s Migraines can vary from one to the next.

Get help for your headaches and understanding of the suffering and how to handle triggers.  Find the right physician that is trained and at the ready using HealthLynked.  We are the first ever healthcare social network designed to Lynk patients with the physicians who will more closely collaborate with them than ever before using our novel applications.

Ready to get Lynked and get help?  Go to HealthLynked.com now to sign up for free.

 

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CMV is Serious – 1 in Every 150 Children is Born with Cytomegalovirus

National legislation has been passed designating the month of June as “National Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month” recommending “more effort be taken to counsel women of childbearing age of the effect this virus can have on their children”.   In this second week, the theme is “CMV is Serious”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 1 in every 150 children is born with congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus). CMV is the most common congenital (meaning present at birth) infection in the United States and is the most common viral cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and death.

CMV is a common virus, present in saliva, urine, tears, blood, and mucus, and is carried by 75 percent of healthy infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children who contract the virus from their peers. About 60 percent of women are at risk for contracting CMV during pregnancy, posing a major risk to mothers, daycare workers, preschool teachers, therapists, and nurses. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the CDC recommend that OB/GYNs counsel women on basic prevention measures to guard against CMV infection. These include frequent hand washing, not kissing young children on the mouth, and not sharing food, towels, or utensils with them.

CMV is Serious

  • Every hour, one child is permanently disabled by CMV
  • CMV is the leading non-genetic cause of childhood hearing loss
  • CMV also causes vision loss, mental disability, microcephaly, cerebral palsy, behavior issues, and seizures
  • 90% of babies born with CMV will appear healthy at birth
  • 400 children die from CMV every year
  • Scientific research has found a connection between CMV and miscarriage

Want to help raise awareness of CMV?  Join National CMV’s hashtag awareness campaign and share infographcs, photos, and stories on social media!  National CMV maintains a website-based tagboard – a curated public display of all social media posts with the hashtags #stopcmv and #cmvawareness. You can check out the tagboard by simply scrolling down on their homepage!

Each week of June will have a different themed awareness infographic, as well as ideas for a weekly photo that you can post to social media to tell the world about your experience with CMV. They suggest you get creative and be authentic, even if the suggested photos may not apply to your experience–all of our stories are important!

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A Little Bug with a Monster Name: Cytomegalovirus

Cytomegalovirus is a common herpes virus. Like so many other common viruses, many people are unaware they have it because they may show no symptoms.  Legislation has set aside June as National Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month.  In this second week of the observance, the theme is “Cytomegalovirus is Serious”.

The virus, which remains dormant in the body, can cause complications during pregnancy and for people with a weakened immune system.  It spreads through bodily fluids and can be passed on from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby – the most common viral transfer known.

Also known as HCMV, CMV, or Human Herpes virus 5 (HHV-5), cytomegalovirus is the virus most commonly transmitted to a developing fetus.  Many complications can occur because of the in vitro infection, and it represents the number one non-genetic cause of deafness,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 50 percent of adults in the United States are infected by the age of 40 years. It affects males and females equally, at any age, and regardless of ethnicity.

Types

There are three main types of CMV infections: acquired, recurring, or congenital.

  • Acquired, or primary, CMV is a first-time infection.
  • Recurring CMV is when the patient is already infected. The virus is dormant and then becomes active due to a weak immune system.
  • Congenital CMV is when infection occurs during pregnancy and affects the unborn child.

CMV is generally not a problem, except when it affects an unborn child or a person with a weak immune system, such as a recent transplant recipient or a person with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.

In people with HIV, CMV infection can lead to organ failure, eye damage, and blindness. Improvement in antiviral medication has reduced the risk in recent years.

Organ and bone marrow transplant recipients have to take immunosuppressants to lower their immune systems, so that their bodies do not reject the new organs. Dormant CMV can become active in these patients and lead to organ damage.  Transplant recipients may receive antiviral medicines as a precaution against CMV.

During pregnancy, CMV infection can pass from the mother to the fetus. This is called congenital CMV.  According to the CDC, around 1 in 150 newborns are already infected with CMV at birth.

Most of these infants will have no signs or symptoms, but around 20 percent of them will have symptoms or long-term health complications, including learning difficulties.  The symptoms may be severe, and they include vision and hearing loss, vision loss, small head size, weakness and difficulty using muscles, problems of coordination, and seizures.

Symptoms

Depend on the type of CMV.

Acquired CMV

Most people with acquired CMV have no noticeable symptoms, but when symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • fever
  • night sweats
  • tirednessand uneasiness
  • sore throat
  • swollen glands
  • joint and muscle pain
  • low appetite and weight loss

Symptoms will generally go away after two weeks.

Recurring CMV

Symptoms of recurring CMV vary, depending on which organs are affected. Areas likely to be affected are the eyes, lungs, or digestive system.

Symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • diarrhea, gastrointestinal ulcerations, and gastrointestinal bleeding
  • shortness of breath
  • pneumoniawith hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen
  • mouth ulcers that can be large
  • problems with vision, including floaters, blind spots, and blurred vision
  • hepatitis, or inflamed liver, with prolonged fever
  • encephalitis, or inflammationof the brain, leading to behavioral changes, seizures, and even coma.

A person with a weakened immune system who experiences any of these symptoms should seek medical attention.

Congenital CMV

Around 90 percent of babies born with CMV have no symptoms, but 10 percent to 15 percent of them will develop hearing loss, normally during their first 6 months of life. The severity ranges from slight to total hearing loss.

In half of these children, just one ear will be affected, but the rest will have hearing loss in both ears. Hearing loss in both ears can lead to a higher risk of speech and communication problems later on.

If there are symptoms of congenital CMV at birth, they may include:

  • jaundice
  • pneumonia
  • red spots under the skin
  • Purple skin splotches, a rash, or both
  • enlarged liver
  • enlarged spleen
  • low birth weight
  • seizures

Some of these symptoms are treatable.

In about 75 percent of babies born with congenital CMV, there will be an impact on the brain. This may lead to challenges later in life.

Conditions that they may face include:

  • autism
  • central vision loss, scarring of the retina, and uveitis, or swelling and irritation of the eye
  • cognitive and learning difficulties
  • deafness or partial hearing loss
  • epilepsy
  • impaired vision
  • problems with physical coordination
  • seizures
  • small head

Treatment

Scientists have been searching for a CMV vaccine, but as yet there is no cure.

People with acquired CMV, who are infected for the first time, can use over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), ibuprofen, or aspirin to relieve symptoms, and should drink plenty of fluids.

Patients with congenital or recurring CMV can use anti-viral medications such as ganciclovir to slow the spread of the virus.

These medications may have adverse effects. If there is extensive organ damage, hospitalization may be necessary.

Newborns may need to stay in the hospital until their organ functions return to normal.

Prevention

The following precautions may help lower the risk of contracting CMV:

  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Avoid kissing a young child, including tear and saliva contact.
  • Avoid sharing glasses and kitchen utensils, for example, passing round a drink.
  • Dispose of diapers, paper handkerchiefs, and similar items carefully.
  • Use a condom to prevent the spread of CMV via vaginal fluids and semen.

The CDC urges parents and caregivers of children with CMV to seek treatment as early as possible, whether it is medication or seeking services such as hearing checks.

Causes

Acquired cytomegalovirus can spread between people through bodily fluids, such as saliva, semen, blood, urine, vaginal fluids, and breast milk.  Infection may also occur by touching a surface infected with saliva or urine, and then touching the inside of the nose or mouth.

Most humans become infected during childhood, at daycare centers, nurseries, and places where children are in close contact with each other. However, by this age, the child’s immune system is normally able to deal with an infection.

Recurring CMV can occur in patients with a weakened immune system due to HIV, organ transplantation, chemotherapy or taking oral steroids for over 3 months.

Congenital CMV normally occurs when a woman is infected with CMV for the first time, either during her pregnancy or shortly before conceiving.  Occasionally, a dormant CMV infection may recur during pregnancy, especially if the mother has a weakened immune system.

Complications

Healthy people very rarely become significantly sick from CMV infection.  People with a weakened immune system, however, may develop CMV mononucleosis, a condition in which there are too many white blood cells with a single nucleus. Symptoms include sore throat, swollen glands, swollen tonsils, tiredness, and nausea. It can cause liver inflammation, or hepatitis, and spleen enlargement.

CMV mononucleosis is similar to classic mononucleosis, caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus. EBV mononucleosis is also known as glandular fever.

Other complications of CMV are:

  • gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, colon inflammation, and blood the in feces
  • liver function problems
  • central nervous system(CNS) complications, such as encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain
  • pneumonitis, or inflammation of lung tissue.

Diagnosis

A blood test can detect the antibodies which are created when the immune system responds to the presence of CMV.

A pregnant woman has a very small risk of reactivation infecting her developing baby. If infection is suspected, she may consider amniocentesis, which involves extracting a sample of amniotic fluid to find out whether the virus is present.

If congenital CMV is suspected, the baby must be tested within the first 3 weeks of life. Testing later than 3 weeks will not be conclusive for congenital CMV, because the infection could have happened after birth.

Any patient with a weakened immune system should be tested, even if there is no active CMV infection. Regular monitoring for CMV complications will include testing for vision and hearing problems.

While symptoms are rare, an infection may be serious, especially in congenital CMV.  If you are ever feeling ill, whatever the reason, or you suspect your infant has been infected, seek help through HealthLynked.  We are a one-of-a-kind, social healthcare ecosystem designed to connect You with medical professionals who care.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com to take control of your healthcare today.

 

SOURCES:  Medical News Today, National CMV

 

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8 Great Ways to Create a Healthy LifeStyle

In 1994, Congress declared National Men’s Health Week should be observed during these days leading up to Father’s Day. It represents an opportunity to raise awareness of the diseases and illnesses that are most prevalent among American men and to reiterate the importance of early detection and preventative health practices.  During this week,  all men are encouraged to evaluate both their mental and physical health and to focus on living a healthy lifestyle.

Establish Healthy Habits

There are many factors that contribute to your health including diet, exercise, stress management, and mental and emotional wellness.

  • Eat healthy portions of proteins and include a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables have many vitamins and minerals that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
  • Regular physical activity has many benefits. It can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and can improve your mental health and mood. Find fun ways to be active. Adults need a minimum of 2½ hours of physical activity each week.
  • Set an example by choosing not to smoke and encourage others in your life to quit smoking. Quitting smokinghas immediate and long-term benefits. You lower your risk for several types of cancer and don’t expose others to secondhand smoke—which causes health problems. Call your state’s tobacco quit line (for English speakers, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW [1-800-784-8669]; for Spanish speakers, call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA [1-855-335-3569])
  • Recognize and reduce stress. Physical or emotional tension are often signs of stress. They can be reactions to a situation that causes you to feel threatened or anxious. Learn ways to manage stress including finding support, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol?
  • Use a Condom, Every Time. It is that time of the year when Zika carrying mosquitoes will become a greater health hazard.  Although primarily spread through mosquitoes, Zika can also be spread through sex by a person with Zika to his or her sex partner(s). If you’ve traveled to an area with Zikause a condom to protect against infection every time you have sex.  This is especially important if your partner is pregnant because Zika can cause serious birth defects.  Condoms can also protect against HIV and other 

Get Regular Checkups

See a doctor or health professional for regular checkups and learn about your family health history.

  • Men are less likely than women to visit their healthcare providers, often missing out on critical treatments that can protect their overall health and wellbeing.  Individuals who have routine check-ups better understand the association between a healthy lifestyle and a greater quality of life.
  • Men can prepare for doctor’s visits and learn which preventive tests or screenings they need. Certain diseases and conditions may not have symptoms, so checkups help identify issues early or before they can become a problem.
  • It’s important for men (and women) to understand their family health history, which is a written or graphic record of the diseases and health conditions present in your family. It is helpful to talk with family members about health history, write this information down, and update it from time to time.

Know the Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Every 43 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack. Know the signs of a heart attack; and if you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Major signs of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

Seek Help for Depression

Depression is one of the leading causes of disease or injury worldwide for both men and women.  Although Americans are living longer, healthier lives, we cannot ignore emotional and mental health, or the stigmas that prevent individuals from seeking treatment and recovery support services as part of their overall welfare.  Serious mental illness, such as major depressive disorder, has robbed too many of fathers, brothers, and sons of their potential, and has contributed to rising suicide and drug overdose rates.  Learn to recognize the signs and how to help the men in your life.

  • Signs of depressioninclude persistent sadness, grumpiness, feelings of hopelessness, tiredness and decreased energy, and thoughts of suicide.
  • Those that suffer from depression or anxiety should seek help as early as possible.If you or someone you care about is in crisis, please seek help immediately.
    • Call 911
    • Visit a nearby emergency department or your health care provider’s office
    • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor
    • Contact the National Helpline by calling1-800-662-HELP (4357).  It is a free service offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that can make confidential referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.  It is available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

As we observe Men’s Health Week, we celebrate the advances being made to improve healthcare for everyone and champion the importance of prioritizing both physical and mental health.  HealthLynked.com is one of those great advances and a great place to start living a healthier life.  With HealthLynked, you can easily and securely compile all of your relevant health information and share it with those you choose.

HealthLynked will also start offering you great health reminders to ensure you are maintaining the best possible  levels of health for yourself and those who depend on you.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com to get started in the future of HealthCare, here today!

 

Sources:

Whitehouse.gov

CDC.gov

 

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When Sharing What’s On Your Mind is a Struggle

My former Academy roommate had a brain tumor – an Oligodendroglioma, to be exact.  The operation to remove it was a remarkable success.  He was in fantastic hands at the major cancer center caring for him….and his family.

Weakened by the cancer and the operation, while at home, he fell and injured the other side of his brain opposite the tumor.  When I first saw him post operation, he was trying to come out the resultant coma and could not speak.  In the weeks and months that followed, speech returned slowly, and the brilliant comedic repertoire of my good friend returned along with it.

A family member had a major stroke a few years back.  While almost all motor function returned to this vibrant man – He would dance up a storm and still carry on like no other – he could no longer speak.  There was no “hitch in his giddy-up”, just an inability to share what was in his mind.

He used props, an always funny and sometimes inappropriate sign language of his own making,  and a pad of paper to communicate with those around him.  He carried pictures to tell his story – one of a strong and valiant military veteran with a lengthy service career who loved his large family, especially his grandkids.

As a result of my friend’s fall and our family member’s stroke, these two amazing men suffered from aphasia.

June is Aphasia Awareness Month.  It is time to Talk About Aphasia (the Theme).

WHAT IS APHASIA ?

While Aphasia is currently impacting the lives of over 2,000,000 Americans, and the number of new cases each year is expected to triple by the year 2020,  nearly  85% of people surveyed say they have never heard the term.  Aphasia is a disturbance of the comprehension and expression of language caused by disfunction in the brain.  Aphasia is a language disorder; a = not and phasia = speaking.  It is not a speech disorder.

Some people with aphasia can understand language but have trouble finding the right words or lack the ability to construct sentences. Many people with aphasia confuse letters of a word. Others speak a lot, but what they say is difficult to understand; these people often have great difficulty understanding language themselves.

Aphasia may make it difficult to:

  • Speak
  • Read
  • Write
  • Understand spoken language
  • Use numbers and complete calculations
  • Use non-verbal gesturing

For people with aphasia, their difficult, daily reality is being unable to share with others what is clearly churning in their mind. They struggle with understanding and producing language.

Because people with aphasia have difficulty communicating, others often mistakenly assume they have problems with normal mental function, but the person’s intelligence is almost always intact.  While people suffering from aphasia cannot reach their language, cannot use the words in their language, and/or do not understand language normally, Aphasia does not affect intelligence!

WHAT IS DYSARTHRIA?

There is a difference between aphasia and dysarthria: Aphasia is language impairment while dysarthria is speech impairment. Literally dysarthria means: articulation difficulty. This may be due to coordination problems or muscle paralysis around the mouth.

Dysarthria may occur as a symptom in specific neurological disorders, for example, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA, more commonly known as stroke), a brain tumor, a brain injury, or a disease – such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS ), Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

A dysarthria may arise suddenly (for example, after a stroke), or gradually, in the case of a progressive disease.  The muscles of the lips, tongue, palate and vocal cords cannot be used properly. Talking is unclear, monotonous, nasal and voice production is weak.  One speaks with irregular intervals.  In short, there is little control when speaking.

Aphasia and dysarthria may co-occur in a single patient making rehabilitation much more difficult.  IN most cases where pure aphasia condition occurs, patients generally return to normal articulation compared to dysarthria patients, for whom speech will almost always be distorted.

Features of dysarthria:

  • Unclear to unintelligible speech
  • Change in the rate of speech, someone is going to talk more quickly or speaks very slowly and precisely.
  • Monotonous voice: no emphasis
  • Too high or too low voice
  • The voice may sound hoarse or very soft
  • Superficial and feeble respiration or very audible breathing in and out
  • Accidental repetition of syllables, syllables or phrases (not to be confused with stuttering)
  • The person may be heard as stuttering while they try to pronounce each syllable separately, or syllables can just blend too much.

WHAT IS APRAXIA (OF SPEECH)?

Apraxia is a disorder of the motor planning of the brain. This kind of disorder is caused by damage that occurs in the cerebrum. While Aphasia is caused by wounds on the left hemisphere of the brain making language function difficult, in Apraxia, the problem is how to control the muscles of mouth and tongue. It’s not always the same words or sounds that are challenging. The person with verbal apraxia simply struggles to pronounce words correctly.


In brief:

  • Aphasia is language impairment caused by stroke, degenerative diseases or head injury that damages that part of the brain where language area is located.
  • Dysarthria is speech impairment that might also be caused by stroke, traumatic head injury, or even impairment from drug or a Phil use. It affects the central or peripheral nervous system resulting in weak or improper muscle control.
  • Apraxia is a disorder of the motor planning of the brain making it a struggle to pronounce words correctly.

HOW DO YOU GET APHASIA ?

Aphasia usually occurs after a hemorrhage in the left hemisphere, because 90% of our language function is situated here…. Strokes that damage the frontal and parietal lobes in the right hemisphere of the brain can also cause a person to have difficulty expressing and processing language.

TYPES OF APHASIA

Aphasia types include expressive aphasiareceptive aphasiaconduction aphasiaanomic aphasiaglobal aphasiaprimary progressive aphasias and many others.  They may be acute or progressive.

Acute aphasia disorders usually develop quickly as a result of head injury or stroke.  Progressive forms of aphasia develop slowly from a brain tumorinfection, or dementia.

The terms Broca’s Aphasia (difficulty with speaking and language) and Wernicke’s Aphasia (impaired language comprehension in listening and reading) are common in diagnosis.  However, the brain is complicated, and understanding the real damage done by injury is even more complicated and extensive.  There is almost always a mixed picture, and many will have global aphasia.

Global Aphasia

Global Aphasia is the most severe form, applied to patients who can produce few recognizable words and understand little or no spoken language. Persons with Global Aphasia can neither read nor write. Like in other milder forms of aphasia, individuals can have fully preserved intellectual and cognitive capabilities unrelated to language and speech.

Global Aphasia is caused by injuries to multiple language-processing areas of the brain, including those classified as Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas. These brain areas are particularly important for understanding spoken language, accessing vocabulary, using grammar, and producing words and sentences.

Global aphasia may often be seen immediately after the patient has suffered a stroke or a brain trauma. Symptoms may rapidly improve in the first few months if the damage has not been too extensive. However, with greater brain damage, severe and lasting disability may result.

Damage to Broca’s region of the brain

In this form of aphasia, speech output is severely reduced and is limited mainly to short utterances of less than four words. Vocabulary access is limited, and the formation of sounds by persons with Broca’s aphasia is often laborious and clumsy.

The person may understand speech relatively well, and even be able to read, but be limited in writing. Broca’s Aphasia is often referred to as a ‘non-fluent aphasia’ because of the halting and labored quality of speech.

Patients with this disorder have problems with spontaneous speech as well as with the repetition of words or phrases. Their speech is often jerky. They also have difficulty understanding grammatical aspects of language, also called agrammatism – the inability to speak in a grammatically correct fashion.  People with agrammatism may have telegraphic speech.

This is evident not only in language expression, but also the understanding of sentences. For example, the phrase, “The boy ate the cookie,” is less problematic than the more complex sentence, “The boy was kicked by the girl”.  The second sentence is more difficult. If the patient is asked to repeat this sentence, he will probably say, “Boy kicks girl”.

Wernicke’s Aphasia

Damage in Wernicke’s area of the brain – the region of the brain that plays a role in understanding language – is  named after the discoverer Carl Wernicke.  It is also called the sensory speech center and is distinctly different than the motor speech center.

In this form of aphasia, the ability to grasp the meaning of spoken words is chiefly impaired, while the ease of producing connected speech is not much affected. Therefore, Wernicke’s aphasia is referred to as a ‘fluent aphasia.’

However, speech is far from normal. Sentences do not hang together and irrelevant words intrude-sometimes to the point of jargon, in severe cases. Reading and writing are often severely impaired. Disease or damage in Wernicke’s region can lead to dyslexia and sensory aphasia.

The spoken language of Wernicke patients usually sounds smooth but lacks meaning. The Wernicke’s area is found in the left temporal lobe of the brain.

THERAPY AND RECOVERY

Aphasia is different for everyone. The severity and extent of aphasia depend on the location and severity of the brain injury, their former language ability and even one’s personality.  While a full recovery from aphasia is possible, if symptoms persist long enough – usually more than six months – a complete recovery becomes increasingly unlikely.

Speech therapy is the most common treatment for aphasia. Other types of therapy have also proven effective for some stroke survivors, including:

  • Melodic intonation therapy sometimes allows stroke survivors to sing words they cannot speak. Also called Speech Music Therapy Aphasia/ SMTA
  • Art therapy
  • Visual speech perception therapy focuses on associating pictures with words.
  • Constraint-induced language therapy involves creating a scenario in which spoken verbal communication is the only available option, and other types of communication, such as visual cues from body language, are not possible.
  • Group therapy and support groups

If you have aphasia:

  • Stay calm. Take one idea at a time.
  • Draw or write things down on paper.
  • Show people what works best for you.
  • Use props to make conversation easier (photos, maps).
  • Use the Internet to connect to people via email or to create a personal webpage.
  • Take your time. Make phone calls or try talking only when you have plenty of time.
  • Create a communication book that includes words, pictures and symbols that are helpful.
  • Carry and show others a card or paper explaining what aphasia is and that you have it. Keep it in your purse or wallet.

It is important to speak with medical professionals about finding speech and language therapy as soon as possible after aphasia has been diagnosed.  You might use HealthLynked to find the right physician for you.

In HealthLynked, patients and physicians “Lynk” together in ways they never have been able to in the past, creating a network of practitioners and those seeking their services where enhanced collaboration on wellness is enabled through the most efficient exchange of health information.

Ready to get Lynked?  Go to HealthLynked.com today to get started for free!

Sources:

aphasia.org

strokeassociation.org

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Slowly Silenced:  How Alzheimer’s Quiets Beautiful Minds

Most have been touched by the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s. We have lost family and friends to the disease that snuffs the light in bright minds.  For us, the first to lose their fight was a friend’s mom, way too young with a rapid onset.  Most recently, it was my wife’s dad, who went from being a Gifted and passionate performer to a man locked in motionless silence for years.  When he missed calling on her birthday, my wife knew his humorous attempts at covering his forgetfulness hid something deeper.  I knew when he no longer remembered the words to his own gold Records as he played at our daughter’s graduation party.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.  More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and over 15 million Americans are providing unpaid care and support.  Worldwide, 50 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

These numbers are expected to triple by 2050 without significant breakthroughs.  And, while death from heart disease has decreased in the last few years, death from Alzheimer’s has increased by 123%.  It is the only Top 10 leading cause of death in the United States without a cure, prevention or even a truly promising way to slow progress.

ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA BASICS

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia – a general term for memory loss and other decline in intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.  It is the sixth leading cause of death in the US.

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its initial stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.

SYMPTOMS OF ALZHEIMER’S

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information.

Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains change as we age. Most of us eventually notice some slowed thinking and occasional problems with remembering certain things. However, serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work may be a sign that brain cells are failing.

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.

10 WARNING SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Below are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS DAILY LIFE

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over, increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g. reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.

 CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING PROBLEMS

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS AT HOME, AT WORK OR AT LEISURE

People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE

People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING VISUAL IMAGES AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Vision changes related to cataracts.

NEW PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR WRITING

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

 MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.

DECREASED OR POOR JUDGMENT

People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Making an unwise decision once in a while.

WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

CHANGES IN MOOD AND PERSONALITY

The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.


RESEARCH AND PROGRESS

Today, Alzheimer’s is at the forefront of biomedical research.  Researchers are working to uncover as many aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as possible. Ninety percent of what we know about Alzheimer’s has been discovered in the last 15 years. Some of the most remarkable progress has shed light on how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. The hope is this better understanding will lead to new treatments.

A worldwide quest is under way to find new treatments to stop, slow or even prevent Alzheimer’s. Because new drugs take years to produce from concept to market—and because drugs that seem promising in early-stage studies may not work as hoped in large-scale trials—it is critical that Alzheimer’s and related dementias research continue to accelerate. To ensure that the effort to find better treatments receives the focus it deserves, the Alzheimer’s Association funds researchers looking at new treatment strategies and advocates for more federal funding of Alzheimer’s research.

Currently, there are five FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drugs that treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but these medications do not treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s. In contrast, many of the new drugs in development aim to modify the disease process itself, by impacting one or more of the many wide-ranging brain changes that Alzheimer’s causes. These changes offer potential “targets” for new drugs to stop or slow the progress of the disease.

Many researchers believe successful treatment will eventually involve a “cocktail” of medications aimed at several targets, similar to current state-of-the-art treatments for many cancers and AIDS.

WITH EARLY DETECTION, YOU CAN:

  • Get the maximum benefit from available treatments
  • Have more time to plan for the future
  • Participate in building the right care team and social support network
  • Locate care and support services for you and your loved ones

People with memory loss or other possible signs of Alzheimer’s may find it hard to recognize they have a problem. Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends. Anyone experiencing dementia-like symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and intervention methods are improving dramatically, and treatment options and sources of support can improve quality of life.

WHEN YOU SEE YOUR DOCTOR

If you need assistance finding a doctor with experience evaluating memory problems, your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter can help. Your doctor will evaluate your overall health and identify any conditions that could affect how well your mind is working. They may refer you to a specialist such as a:

  • Neurologist – specializes in diseases of the brain and nervous system
  • Psychiatrist – specializes in disorders that affect mood or the way the mind works
  • Psychologist – has special training in testing memory and other mental functions
  • Geriatrician – specializes in the care of older adults and Alzheimer’s disease

Everyday, there are physicians in the HealthLynked system ready to care for Alzheimer patients and support the caregivers who offer so much to help them live the best lives possible.  If someone you love is showing signs of memory loss beyond what might be considered normal for their age, go to HealthLynked.com to connect and collaborate with any number of specialists at the ready.

 

Ready to get Lynked and get help?  Go to HealthLynked.com today to register for free!

Sources:

ALZ.org

NYTimes.com

 

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