Week Three of National CMV Awareness Month – “CMV is Preventable”

 

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 thhird week, the theme is “CMV is Preventable”.

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 Preventable

  • Pregnant women who already have young children, or who work with young children, are at highest risk of catching CMV
  • CMV is found in home and daycare settings
  • 75% of toddlers have CMV in their urine and saliva in studies at childcare settings
  • Avoid contact with saliva – kiss kids under the age of 6 on the forehead instead of lips or cheek
  • Wash your hands after contact with bodily fluids of children under the age of 6
  • Don’t share utensils, drinks, or toothbrushes with children under the age of 6

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!

 

 

#KnowAboutCMV

#CMVAwareness

#pregnancy

#patientcare

#StopCMV

#HealthCare

#HealthLynked

 

 

 

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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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Hard Word, Harder Disease: Scleroderma

Scleroderma (skleer-oh-DUR-muh) is a group of rare diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues — the fibers that provide the framework and support for your body.  “Sclero” means “hard” and “derma” means “skin”.

The combined forms of scleroderma, including localized, systemic, recurring and related conditions, affect an estimated 300,000 Americans – primarily females who are 30 to 50 years old at onset. The overall occurrence is approximately 1 in 1,000, or .1% of the 328+ million U.S. population, and the ratio of women to men is about four to one.  While there is currently no cure for this rare autoimmune disorder, a variety of treatments can ease symptoms and improve quality of life.

Hardening of the skin is just one of many symptoms scleroderma sufferers experience. Stiff joints, digestive issues, lung scarring,  kidney failure—all can result and sometimes be fatal. Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease with no known cause and no cure.  Research is vital, but because so few people are aware of the disease, researchers don’t always get the resources they need.   Patients often find themselves becoming their only available expert.

The Scleroderma Foundation has been fighting to spread awareness, help educate the public about and improve funding for research around this devastating disease for more than 15 years. Please join the fight and stand alongside them for June’s Scleroderma Awareness Month.   All they are asking this year is that you pledge to tell at least one person and to help put an end to “sclero-what?”

Symptoms

Scleroderma’s signs and symptoms vary, depending on which parts of your body are involved:

  • Nearly everyone who has scleroderma experiences a hardening and tightening of patches of skin. These patches may be shaped like ovals or straight lines and may cover wide areas of the trunk and limbs. The number, location and size of the patches vary by type of scleroderma. Skin can appear shiny because it’s so tight, and movement of the affected area may be restricted.
  • Fingers or toes.One of the earliest signs of scleroderma is an exaggerated response to cold temperatures or emotional distress, which can cause numbness, pain or color changes in the fingers or toes. Called Raynaud’s disease, this condition also occurs in people who don’t have scleroderma.
  • Digestive system.In addition to acid reflux, which can damage the section of esophagus nearest the stomach, some people with scleroderma may also have problems absorbing nutrients if their intestinal muscles aren’t moving food properly through the intestines.
  • Heart, lungs or kidneys.Scleroderma can affect the function of the heart, lungs or kidneys to varying degrees. These problems, if left untreated, can become life-threatening.

Causes

Scleroderma results from an overproduction and accumulation of collagen in body tissues. Collagen is a fibrous type of protein that makes up your body’s connective tissues, including your skin.

Doctors aren’t certain what prompts this abnormal collagen production, but the body’s immune system appears to play a role. In some genetically susceptible people, symptoms may be triggered by exposure to certain types of pesticides, epoxy resins or solvents.

Risk Factors

Scleroderma occurs much more often in women than it does in men. Choctaw Native Americans and African-Americans are more likely than Americans of European descent to develop the type of scleroderma that affects internal organs.

Complications

Scleroderma complications range from mild to severe and can affect your:

  • The variety of Raynaud’s disease that occurs with scleroderma can be so severe that the restricted blood flow permanently damages the tissue at the fingertips, causing pits or skin sores (ulcers). In some cases, gangrene and amputation may follow.
  • Scarring of lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis) can result in reduced lung function, reduced ability to breathe and reduced tolerance for exercise. You may also develop high blood pressure in the arteries to your lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
  • When scleroderma affects your kidneys, you can develop elevated blood pressure and an increased level of protein in your urine. More-serious effects of kidney complications may include renal crisis, which involves a sudden increase in blood pressure and rapid kidney failure.
  • Scarring of heart tissue increases your risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) and congestive heart failure; it can cause inflammation of the membranous sac surrounding your heart (pericarditis). Scleroderma can also raise the pressure on the right side of your heart and cause it to wear out.
  • Severe tightening of facial skin can cause your mouth to become smaller and narrower, which may make it hard to brush your teeth or to even have them professionally cleaned. People who have scleroderma often don’t produce normal amounts of saliva, so the risk of dental decay increases even more.
  • Digestive system.Digestive problems associated with scleroderma can lead to acid reflux and difficulty swallowing — some describe feeling as if food gets stuck midway down the esophagus — as well as bouts of constipation alternating with episodes of diarrhea.
  • Sexual function.Men who have scleroderma often experience erectile dysfunction. Scleroderma may also affect the sexual function of women by decreasing lubrication and constricting the vaginal opening.

Diagnosis

  • Because scleroderma can take so many forms and affect so many different areas of the body, it can be difficult to diagnose.
  • After a thorough physical exam, your doctor may suggest blood tests to check for elevated blood levels of certain antibodies produced by the immune system. He or she may remove a small tissue sample (biopsy) of your affected skin so that it can be examined in the laboratory for abnormalities.

Your doctor may also suggest breathing tests (pulmonary function tests), a CT scan of your lungs and an echocardiogram of your heart.

Treatment

In some cases, the skin problems associated with scleroderma fade away on their own in three to five years. The type of scleroderma that affects internal organs usually worsens with time.

Medications

No drug has been developed that can stop the underlying process of scleroderma — the overproduction of collagen. But a variety of medications can help control scleroderma symptoms or help prevent complications. To accomplish this, these drugs may:

  • Dilate blood vessels.  Blood pressure medications that dilate blood vessels may help prevent lung and kidney problems and may help treat Raynaud’s disease.
  • Suppress the immune system.  Drugs that suppress the immune system, such as those taken after organ transplants, may help reduce scleroderma symptoms.
  • Reduce stomach acid.  Medications such as omeprazole (Prilosec) can relieve symptoms of acid reflux.
  • Prevent infections.  Antibiotic ointment, cleaning and protection from the cold may help prevent infection of fingertip ulcers caused by Raynaud’s disease. Regular influenza and pneumonia vaccinations can help protect lungs that have been damaged by scleroderma.
  • Relieve pain.  If over-the-counter pain relievers don’t help enough, you can ask your doctor to prescribe stronger medications.

Therapy

Physical or occupational therapists can help you to:

  • Manage pain
  • Improve your strength and mobility
  • Maintain independence with daily tasks

Surgery

Used as a last resort, surgical options for scleroderma complications may include:

  • If finger ulcers caused by severe Raynaud’s disease have developed gangrene, amputation may be necessary.
  • Lung transplants.People who have developed high blood pressure in the arteries to their lungs (pulmonary hypertension) may be candidates for lung transplants.

Lifestyle and home remedies

You can take a number of steps to help manage your symptoms of scleroderma:

  • Stay activeExercise keeps your body flexible, improves circulation and relieves stiffness. Range-of-motion exercises can help keep your skin and joints flexible.
  • Don’t smoke . Nicotine causes blood vessels to contract, making Raynaud’s disease worse. Smoking can also cause permanent narrowing of your blood vessels. Quitting smoking is difficult — ask your doctor for help.
  • Manage heartburn.  Avoid foods that give you heartburn or gas. Also avoid late-night meals. Elevate the head of your bed to keep stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus (reflux) as you sleep. Antacids may help relieve symptoms.
  • Protect yourself from the cold.  Wear warm mittens for protection anytime your hands are exposed to cold — even when you reach into a freezer. When you’re outside in the cold, cover your face and head and wear layers of warm clothing.

Coping and support

As is true with other chronic diseases, living with scleroderma can place you on a roller coaster of emotions. Here are some suggestions to help you even out the ups and downs:

  • Maintain normal daily activities as best you can.
  • Pace yourself and be sure to get the rest that you need.
  • Stay connected with friends and family.
  • Continue to pursue hobbies that you enjoy and are able to do.

Keep in mind your physical health can have a direct impact on your mental health. Denial, anger and frustration are common with chronic illnesses.

At times, you may need additional tools to deal with your emotions. Professionals, such as therapists or behavioral psychologists, may be able to help you put things in perspective. They can also help you develop coping skills, including relaxation techniques.

Joining a support group, where you can share experiences and feelings with other people, is often a good approach. Ask your doctor what support groups are available in your community.

Finding the Right Physician

You’ll probably first bring your symptoms to the attention of your family doctor, who may refer you to a rheumatologist — a doctor specializing in the treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bone. Because scleroderma can affect many organ systems, you may need to see a variety of medical specialists.

To get the right help, find a rheumatologist or other physician who knows how hard it is to endure a disease so few understand and can truly help.  Go to HealthLynked.com today to build a Free patient profile and begin communicating there with those who will collaborate on your wellness.

 

Note:  This writing is strictly  informational. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are intended to spark discussion and raise awareness about issues herein.

 

Sources:

MayoClinic.org

sclerodermaaware.org

scleroderma.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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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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This Leading Cause of Blindness Impacts 24 Million Americans

A family member hit a pole in a parking deck at full Speed a few years back.  While that is just around 15 miles an hour in a garage, you can still total a car at those speeds when dueling concrete.  She did.  More shocking to hear was that She just didn’t see it.  We all learned cataracts were making her nearly blind.  As they worsened over the years, and she compensated, she had no idea how bad they had gotten.

I was sitting with my Dad one morning early this weekend, and it dawned on me he wasn’t wearing his bifocals.  We live far apart and hadn’t seen each other in almost a year.  I’d never known him not to have them on….or the New graduated lenses he moved to a few years back.  When I joined him, he was watching TV, so I asked him if he was just listening.  He shared with me his cataract surgery had restored his vision to 20/20, and even reading the paper was easy.  At almost 80y/o, that was awesome news!

More than half of Americans either have a cataract or have had surgery for them by his age. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision impairment in the US and the number one cause of blindness around the world.  This month, designated Cataract Awareness Month, “shines a light on the prevalent problem of cataracts”.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision and is especially common in older adults. In the US, a full 17% of Americans age 40 and over have cataracts in one or both eyes.

In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina (tissue filled with light sensitive cells at the back of the eye). There, light is converted by those special cells into signals transmitted by nerves to create images in the brain. For the retina to receive a sharp image, the lens must be clear. When it is not, as with a cataract, what one sees will be blurry.

Make time to schedule an appointment with an eyecare professional when you experience any of the following 7 signs you may have cataracts:

Cloudy days

Cataracts start small and initially may have negligible effect on your vision. Things might seem a little blurry — like looking at an impressionist painting. This effect usually increases over time. The world will seem increasingly cloudy, blurry, or dim.

No more wild nights

As cataracts become more advanced, they begin to darken with a yellow or brown tinge.  This begins to affect night vision and makes certain nighttime activities, such as driving, more difficult.  A study from Curtin University in Australia found that treating cataracts reduced the risk of car accidents by 13 percent.

If you suspect you have cataracts, be very careful at night and don’t drive when your vision is compromised.  Would have been great advice for our family member.

The glare of bright lights

Light sensitivity is a common symptom of cataracts. The glare of bright lights can be painful, especially to those with posterior subcapsular cataracts, according to the Mayo Clinic. These types of cataracts start at the back of the lens, blocking the path of light and often interfere with your reading vision.

Halos everywhere?

The clouding of the lens can result in diffraction of light entering your eye. This can cause a halo to appear around light sources. Rings around every light, sometimes in a variety of colors, can make driving very difficult. This is another reason why driving at night, especially when there are streetlights and headlights, can be dangerous if you have a cataract.

Your Glass is Half Full

If you find yourself frequently needing stronger glasses or contacts, you may have cataracts. Simply buying a strong pair of reading glasses from the drugstore isn’t going to fix the problem. See an eye doctor if your eyesight is changing rapidly. You may have cataracts or another eye condition that will benefit with prompt treatment.

Living in a yellow submarine

As cataracts progress, the clumps of protein clouding your lens may turn yellow or brownish. This results in all the light coming into your eye having a yellow tint. It’s almost as though you are wearing “blue-blocker” sunglasses, as advertised on TV, which block blue and violet light. This changes how you see color and reduces your ability to tell the difference between colors.

Double trouble

Diffraction from the lens clouding in a cataract can actually lead you to see two or more images of a single object. Many things can cause double vision, also called diplopia, including:

  • brain tumor
  • corneal swelling
  • multiple sclerosis
  • stroke
  • cataracts

Binocular double vision, which causes two images to be visible only if both eyes are open, can be a sign of serious health concerns, including:

Monocular double vision, which causes multiple images to appear in one eye but not the other, is more likely to be an issue with your eye’s cornea or lens. Cataracts is a common cause of diplopia. As the cataract grows larger, this effect may go away.

More Insights into Cataracts

What is the treatment for cataracts?

While so very prevalent, they are also very simple to treat. The solution for the clouding of the eye with cataracts is often surgery requiring the removal of the deteriorated lens.  The unhealthy lens is replaced with an artificial, intraocular lens, or IOL. Over 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery annually, making it one of the most common surgeries in the United States. In fact, the entire surgery lasts only about 20 minutes, and most people can resume normal activities fairly rapidly.

Is cataract removal safe?

Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries, enjoying a success rate of 95 percent. Your surgeon will remove your clouded lens and replace it with an intraocular lens through a minuscule incision in the cornea – the highly organized tissue covering the eye.  Only 15 minutes are required to complete the procedure in an outpatient surgery center.

Do cataracts only affect seniors?

Cataracts can affect anyone! Although most people do not show symptoms of cataracts until at least the age of 40, cataracts can also affect young adults and even children. Heredity, disease, eye injury and smoking are causes for cataracts to develop at an earlier age.

Can I prevent cataracts?

There is no proven way to prevent age-related cataracts. However, choosing a healthy lifestyle can slow their progression. Some ways to delay the progression of cataracts include smoking abstinence, minimizing exposure to UV rays and radiation, eating healthy foods, maintaining healthy blood sugars and blood pressures, and wearing proper eye protection to avoid eye injury.

A patient and their optometrist should discuss any of these symptoms and options for care.  While some of these might suggest a variety of vision problems, an eyecare practitioner will be able to determine whether the patient may have cataracts through a comprehensive eye exam.  They will then collaborate with the individual on the best course of action.

THE GOOD NEWS:  While cataracts are — in most cases — a natural part of aging, removal typically results in vastly improved vision!!  Looking to get connected to a great eyecare professional near you?  Go to HealthLynked.com to find a practitioner who will help you sharpen your focus and get you seeing more clearly in no time.

With HealthLynked, you can find physicians and practitioners who want to collaborate closely with you to help you live in the very best possible state of wellness and avoid immobile concrete pillars.

Sources:

YourSightMatters.com

HealthLine.com

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

 

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