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Megan // Author

Author based archive
23 Jan

BLOG 251 CELL PHONE USE

Almost everyone has a cell phone. in fact, 94% of Americans have a cell phone, which means 9 out of 10 people. Everyone is ready to connect and communicate at any time. Most people have them on hand at least 16 hours a day, so that includes at night because of it’s alarm clock use. We are able to contact anyone almost anywhere at anytime. The average person checks their phone at least 150 times per day, much more than they ever considered that they do. The swipe and click across the screen become almost second nature. Between calls, text, emails, and social media, the phone is entertaining and used for many purposes. Did you know that 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of receiving them? Fast communication anywhere we are has made incredible changes to the way we interact with one another.

Remember when all you could do was call a person’s home phone in the hopes that they are there? If not, you left a message with no expectation of when they might check it and get back to you. There weren’t private conversations like there are now. The home phone was used and shared by all in a central location. If you wanted to reach someone, you actually had to speak to them. Talking was the communication modality, whereas today, texting with emojies and shorthand has become a whole new language. There was an understanding not to call too early or too late because the phone ringing would disrupt the household. Calling before or after business hours was pointless. People are even using cell phones now while driving. Checking the cell phone can now almost be considered a hobby.

The fact is that you could be reading this very article on your cell phone now. Scrolling can become an addictive behavior. It fills time while waiting, can be a distraction from the task at hand, and it spikes your curiosity and interest. All the apps are designed to hook you in. Social media notices what you like and look at then start to use this in the advertising and marketing that is displayed in your feed. The cluttered landscape of ads and scrolling makes you feel like you can’t concentrate anymore with information overload. People are using their phones for calendars, appointments, stop watches, alarm clocks, banking, credit card processing, Netflix, and the list goes on and on.

So where does the disconnect begin? You set it aside for a while, decide to take a break from social media, try to not look at your text and emails so often, but in the end society has changed. There’s an expectation to be connected. There’s an expectation to be available. We could all benefit from being present int eh current moment. The idea of this seems impossible since new and improved versions of phones continue to be released. Don’t forget those who are right next to you in the same room. Don’t forget to look up from your phone every now and then.

16 Jan

BLOG 250 GROWING PAINS

Sometimes it can appear “the boy who cried wolf” might be occurring when children complain. However, when it comes to complaints about aches and pains in the body, specifically those that may not be visible, a child or preteen might be telling the truth about their growing pains. These crampy, achy, muscle pains can occur in both legs. They usually onset in the afternoon or evening and can keep the child awake. They might start as early as age 3, can subside for a number of years, and then resurface about age 8 to 12.

Even though they are called growing pains, that doesn’t mean these symptoms are the result of actual growth spurts. Instead, the muscles may in fact be worn out due to activity. Running, jumping, and climbing are the common culprits. A full day of sports can certainly cause this. The pains might come and go, and some children can eventually outgrow them. The pains normally go away in the morning and doesn’t disrupt the performance of actual activity during the day. The pain arises when the child comes home and in the evening. The main areas are the knees, quads, back of the knee, and the calves.

Getting checked by a doctor is always a good consideration. The doctor will ask pertinent questions for diagnosis. If the child is having growing pains, a doctor won’t exactly see anything abnormal even in an X-ray. The key is easing the discomfort for the child. Massaging the legs can be helpful to increase circulation and alleviate tight muscles. Stretching can help, although young children might have difficulty with this. Heating pads or a warm bath can be effective. A doctor might recommend an over the counter pain medication like ibuprofen. Aspirin should never be given to a child. If the pain is only in one leg, it may be a more serious condition. There could have been a fall or injury. Limping or difficulty walking might be more serious as well.

Communication is important with the child to understand the source and site of pain. Then choosing a treatment plan accordingly can be done. Just like adults, everyone varies in their tolerance for pain. Staying awake at night because of pain is never good.

08 Jan

BLOG 249 DUPUYTREN’S CONTRACTURE

Dupuytren’s contracture is a condition marked by tightening of the elastic skin (tissue) found under the skin of the palm and fingers. This tissue is called fascia and is composed of fibers that are like cords which run from the palm to the fingers. However, with this condition, the cords tighten up and contract, which causes the fingers to curl and the hand to make deformed shapes. Severe cases can cause extreme crippling of the hands.

Dupuytren’s contracture can be caused by different biological factors and can be caused by Dupuytren’s disease, but the exact cause is unknown. Certain things such as having diabetes, persons with epilepsy, and drinking a lot of alcohol, can all be possible causing factors. This condition is very common in families, so the leading cause is that is it inherited. Families that have blood lines tied to Scandinavian (Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish) or are Northern European (Scottish, Irish, French, Dutch, and English) are at higher risk. Males are also more likely to have this hand issue and that risk increases with age, especially over 40.

The initial symptom is spotting visible nodules under the skin of the palm. The bumps can be tender to touch. The bands under the skin eventually become inflexible and cause the bending and curling of the fingers. Soon, it becomes difficult to un-curl the fingers. This is mainly true for the ring and pinky fingers. Both hands are become affected, not just one. Every day tasks start to become harder leading to difficulty picking up objects, putting hands in the pockets, or just getting your I.D. out of your wallet can seem too hard. Shaking a person’s hand is almost impossible.

A doctor will examine the palm and the number of nodules. They might do an assessment of your ability to grasp, pinch and straighten the fingers, as well as to see if you can straighten the fingers. There currently is no cure for Dupuytren’s contracture. It is not life threatening, rather, it can just be disruptive to daily living. It is not recommended to splint the fingers or trying to stretch them straighter. This will only cause increased trauma to the area. Corticosteroids can be injected into the nodule areas if inflammation is painful. This will not straighten the finger, but it will help alleviate pain. Thera are also medications that help dissolve the tissue. This medication is called Xiaflex which helps weaken the tight bands and let the fingers somewhat straighten more. On rare occasions, surgery is needed. This would involve removing the tight bands. The surgery is successful for most people, but one in five people do have the condition return.

We use our hands and fingers so much, making Dupuytren’s a difficult condition to tolerate. It can be frustrating but where there is a will there is a way. Relief is possible and patience is important.

31 Dec

BLOG 248 CHIROPRACTORS

Relief from back pain might mean a trip to the chiropractor for some people. In fact, 22 million Americans visit the chiropractor each year. Different causes can send a person to this type of medical practice including car accidents, sports injuries, and muscle strains. Although most people might go for back pain, other pains that need relief occur in the neck, legs, arms, chronic headaches.

A chiropractor uses what is called hands-on spinal manipulation. The idea is to properly align the body’s musculoskeletal system. When the spin is in alignment, healing can occur, and this is an alternative to medication or surgery. Most of the time tissue has been injured that is causing loss of mobility and range of motion. This tissue damage might be the result of a fall, lifting with little back support, repetitive stress, or some type of trauma. This form of treatment is called alternative. Through this manipulation, the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, and connective tissue can find pain relief.

A chiropractor will attend 4 years of chiropractic school. Upon completion, they will be awarded the title “DC” next to their name. Their type of treatment is generally considered safe. The chiropractor will perform a physical examination on a patient and discuss medical history. Then treatment will involve manual adjustments to the affected areas. The chiropractor uses sudden force to help the area have improved range of motion.

It is not advised that persons with spinal cord compression, arthritis, who use blood-thinning medications, or who have osteoporosis, should use a chiropractor’s help. A chiropractor is a health care professional who can help treat neuromuscular disorders, but explaining medical history is important in order to avoid further injury. Their goal is to preserve the structural integrity of the spine. This form of treatment can be complimentary to other forms. If a chiropractor thinks additional forms of treatment are necessary, they will refer accordingly.

Low back pain can vary in severity. Most of the time it is non-specific in the lumbar spine and can be treated. There is no exact cause. Nerves can be problematic if one is pinched or compressed. Other potentially serious causes include infections, tumors, joint infection, prolonged bleeding, or artificial joint problems.

Pain can be intolerable and so uncomfortable that a person must seek help. Imagine if a rib was popped out of place. One’s primary doctor might not be able to address this, and surgery certainly is not always necessary, so someone like a chiropractor can alleviate this pain. Each case is different and each person recovers on their own time based on the frequency and necessity of treatment.

26 Dec

BLOG 247 HOW WEATHER AFFECTS THE BODY

Remember when quirky Aunt Sally used to say, “My knees are hurting, must be a storm coming”?? In our adult lives, we now might relate to her wives’ tale. There may actually be truth to her statement. When barometric pressure changes in our body, weather forecasting becomes our new super power. Feeling increased pain before the weather changes is actually quite common in people with arthritis and chronic pain. Knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists are the popular trouble zones. When mother nature cries, so too can our joints.

There are a couple theories that might explain this. Barometric pressure (air pressure) seems to be the common denominator. This is the weight of the atmosphere around us. Think of what happens to the body when you go up on an airplane. You feel different sensations due to the change of air pressure.

Our joints are like a balloon. High pressure makes the joint push against the body and the tissues aren’t able to expand. When this pressure drops, which is what happens before rain, hail, or snow, there is less air and pressure on the body. This causes the tissues to start to expand. We feel this pressure sensation as the tissues put pressure on the joints. The cold weather causes our muscles, ligaments, and tendons to stiffen up. Synovium is the lining of our joints which have nerves at their ends. The nerves become especially sensitive post-surgery, if you have arthritis or fibromyalgia, or if you have had an injury. Think back to the plane. Just like in the airplane, where the pressure in cabin is less, this can result in swollen feet.

Another theory is that the change in humidity and temperature might affect the pressure in our brain. From this, our pain receptors are affected and not doing their blocking job. This aligns with the theory that people with migraines experience weather related headaches.

This does not mean that people with this pressure meter of pain can be alleviated by living in an ideal climate. Even the most minute changes can affect someone. Your body adapts wherever it goes. Warmth can help joint pain, so when it is cold dressing in layers and using a heating pad can be helpful. Loosen up those joints through exercise, because the combination of stiff and cold joints, only worsens the problem. The winter month is not a time to stay cooped up. Those joints need blood flow to ward off pain.

Fortunately, weather related pain is temporary. It comes and goes. We aren’t mother nature, so the weather is not in our control. How we manage our pain is. There a medications, creams, pads, and such, but just walking in place (movement in its simplest form), will help alleviate this condition. Use movement for joint pain relief come rain or shine. Use your weather super powers wisely, and be proactive about protecting your joints from pain.

18 Dec

BLOG 246 QUITTING SMOKING

Quitting smoking is a battle many cigarette users face when attempting to stop cold turkey or even reduce the number of smoke breaks per day. Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S., but nicotine users are certainly addicted and hooked. Smoking kills more than 480,000 people per year. It Is estimated that 14% of U.S. adults are smokers. Of these, 75% of them smoke every single day. Ages 25-65 seem to be the target group most involved. American Indian and Alaska Native are the highest race/ethnicity that smokes.

There are several different ways to try to quit smoking. Some people have mad multiple attempts, revisiting the addiction after stopping for some time. Some people are able to make up their mind and walk away forever. Our brains are wired differently so finding a solution might be a task of trial and error unit habit is finally eliminated.

1. Quitting cold turkey: Only about 5-7% of people are able to do this on their own without any type of help. About 90% of people attempt to quit smoking without the use of therapy, medicine, or different aids.
2. Nicotine replacement therapy: There are many types on the market. These include patches, gums, inhalers, and sprays. The catch is that the person is trying to quit their addiction to nicotine itself, so sometimes changing for a different form doesn’t make the craving and desire for nicotine any less.
3. Behavioral therapy: This involves working with a counselor to address triggers that make the person want to smoke. These might include emotions or situations. Together, a plan of attack can be created to know what to do when these circumstances arise.
4. Medication: Chantix and Bupropion can be prescribed to help with withdrawl and cravings.
Of course the first few days are going to be difficult. Change of any type adds an element of uncertainty and a withdrawal from something that once was. It becomes important to avoid situations, triggers, or places, that could create a desire to want to reach for a cigarette. It is extremely important to succumb to cravings. Allowing yourself to have that cigarette when the want is so strong, only tricks your brain that permission is granted, and it is okay to keep smoking. Send the right message from the start for long term success. Reward yourself for hitting milestones such as going one week with none. Stay active and busy and get out. Don’t let boredom and too much time let cigarettes lurk in your mind. Of course much of this can be considered easier said then done and for many cigarette smokers they have heard it all before.

Change is possible. Quitting is possible. Think of all the positives and remember your health is a priority and shouldn’t be compromised to the power of nicotine addiction.

12 Dec

BLOG 245 DYSLEXIA

Dyslexia is a type of reading disorder that involves difficulty reading, despite level of intelligence. This might include difficulty spelling, writing words, how fast a person can read, and pronouncing words. Most of the time, these troubles will become noticed at school. This can translate into difficulty writing and spelling. There are more than 3 million cases of dyslexia in the US each year.

This disability effects the part of the brain that processes language. There is no cure, but treatment can involve tutoring and special education intervention. Early warning signs, prior to school age, might include late talking, difficulty with nursing rhymes, confusing words, and learning words slowly. Once in school, the disability become more apparent. Reading level ability typically tests well below the expected age. There might be difficulty with pronunciation, problems spelling, and avoiding activities that involve reading. The key is early diagnosis so that the troubleshooting can take place.

There is no direct cause for dyslexia, but there are associated risk factors. These might include family history with this and other learning disabilities, premature or low birth weight, and exposure during pregnancy to drugs, alcohol, or infection.

When left untreated, the person can have problems that continue into adulthood. This might include overall trouble learning. The person feels at a constant disadvantage to their peers. This can lead to social problems. The person might have low self-esteem, anxiety, and feel the need to withdrawal from friends, family, and teachers. Later in life this can affect job selection and schooling.

A doctor will diagnose dyslexia using a number of approaches. These might include vision and hearing testing. There may be a set of educational tests. Psychological testing might be performed. Discussing home life might also take place.

Teachers can use a number of techniques to help. These might include phonics which is understanding word’s sounds and meanings, reading comprehension, working on vocabulary words, and working on phenomes (the sounds of words). Schools in the United States actually have a legal obligation to create an individualized learning plan for students with dyslexia. Parents should become involved and practice reading with the child, reading aloud, and setting an example for reading.

Given the right resources a person can still succeed with dyslexia. Reading may never become easy, but can be improved given the skills and resources to make progress and overall improve quality of life. Reading might feel like a game of catching up for a person with this condition, but catering to other strengths and learning abilities can help a person still excel in life, despite having dyslexia.

05 Dec

BLOG 244 DEODORANT
Deodorants are applied to the arm pits, feet, and other body parts to prevent body odor (BO) from making its smelly presence. Their purpose is to eliminate odor and control sweat near the underarms. When a person excessively sweats, using an antiperspirant might be a consideration. The primary difference between these two sweaty choices is that deodorant covers up body odor, while antiperspirants slow down sweat production. Our armpits have two sweat glands which are called the apocrine and eccrine. The apocrine glands are the type that produce the smell by carrying fats, protein, and sweat to the skin’s surface. These fats and proteins mixed up, then basically turn into a smelly bacteria. The eccrine glands are the primary sweat producers to cool down the body. They release water and sweat. These glands normally don’t develop until puberty, so this time period is the start of B.O. for many as they start to change. In the U.S., deodorants are actually regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Sweat is the fluid of our body’s air conditioning system. Sweating is a normal occurrence, but sometimes in a hot environment, during exercise, or from stress, a person might sweat much more. For example, physical activity can stimulate the sweat glands producing a fluid that the cells carry and travel to the surface of the skin. When a person is sweating extra, the body is just really trying to cool itself down.

Around the 1950s, body odor became socially inappropriate. This started the deodorant market that preyed on people’s insecurities to avoid smelling bad. Now, we have options on the shelves including sticks, roll-ons, and sprays. There are a number of fragrances too.

Deodorant doesn’t prevent sweating. It is the smell blocker that tries to target the fats and proteins that have become bacteria. Antiperspirants prevent sweating. When there is no sweat, there is no bacteria, which means there is no smell. The aluminum and zirconium in this product plug up the sweat glands. There are many rumors that antiperspirants prevent the body from naturally releasing toxins. This back up has been said to be linked to cancer. This has not be proven.

Most of us put this product on after the morning shower. Different recommendations say morning, others say night before bed to clog the pores when they are less active. Which variety a person chooses might be trial and error to see which one most effectively fights B.O. Some people (men) have vary hairy arm pits, some people just sweat more, and others don’t want any residue left under the arm. Whichever the pick, body odor is a personal hygiene taboo. Cover up the smell or slow down the sweating rate. We tend to keep buying the type that works best for us and personal preference (like scent) does influence our buying choices. Just be sure to roll or spray on your BO blocker of choice for your health and happiness and those in your vicinity haha.

29 Nov

BLOG 243 BEER

Beer is one of the oldest and widely consumed alcohol beverages in the world. Brewing different types has become increasingly popular. Beer is brewed from cereal grains which include malted barley, wheat, maize (corn), and rice. This brewing process is called fermentation. This produces starch sugars, ethanol, and carbonation, which results in beer. Today’s beer is brewed with hops, which creates the flavor and bitterness. Sometimes other items are added instead of hops for flavoring which includes fruits and herbs.

Alcohol in any form can have health effects, especially considering the amount (regardless of the type). In a world that classifies moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and two for men, overconsumption is commonplace. Beer is empty calories when it comes to nutritional consideration. Most beers contain between 140 and 200 calories. A light beer might have about 100 calories. These added calories and the fact that alcohol causes the body to burn less fat for energy, can lead to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. The body will burn acetate instead for energy. Beer also effects blood sugar levels. Alcohol interferes with the liver converting glycogen into glucose. Beer also is a diuretic which can cause fluid loss and dehydration. It can interact and interfere with certain medications. Because it is made with wheat and barley, anyone with gluten intolerance can be affected.

Craft beer has become the popular type on tap. Sales have reached a new record. Craft beer is a small and independent particular type of beer. Craft beer still only makes up about 10% of the beer industry when this includes major sellers like Coors or Anheuser-Busch, but there are close to 2,500 craft breweries popping up across the country. Baseball stadiums are carrying it too. The fan favorite Bud Light just isn’t cutting it for everyone anymore. Beer lovers are starting to turn towards fun, new flavors. Indian Pale Ales have grown 40% in the past three years. Beer drinkers are experimenting, and beer makers are experimenting at the same time. New innovative styles are being made every day. Sampling rooms are a new trend to try different types and give new brewers a chance to pilot launch their products.

The market is planning to expand and has started to make it portable. Golf courses and markets are starting to carry them. Wholesalers and retailers are catching on and carrying lines of new brews more and more. People’s habits change and craft beer is the new evolution of one of the world’s oldest alcohol beverages.

23 Nov

BLOG 242 LEG CRAMPS

When your muscle suddenly becomes hard and tight or you feel a quick sharp pain in the calf, a muscle cramp has struck. It can happen while in motion when out for a run or even during a night’s sleep. This type of involuntary contraction is a spasm we would rather forgo. Without warning, the onset of a “Charley horse” (cramp that occurs in the calf area), is marked by temporary pain that we want instant relief from. Cramps are never fun to endure, and one just has to breathe through it, stretch, and massage out the area until alleviation kicks in.

There are a number of triggers that can cause muscle cramps. In order to avoid future spasms, knowing the causes becomes important. A cramp can be the result of poor blood circulation. Exercise related stress can bring on a cramp. Being dehydrated or deficient in magnesium and/or potassium, can be causes. Hot temperature is also a culprit, especially when being active. Not stretching enough can also lead to cramping. There are also medications that can lead to cramping. These include diuretics, certain Alzheimer’s medications, statin medications for cholesterol, as well as some osteoporosis and high blood pressure medications. Nerve compression can also cause a pinch that produces a cramp. Muscle mass lessens with age so what muscle is working may be more stressed than normal and overworked much more easily which can cause cramping. Muscle cramps are common during pregnancy as the body is undergoing a lot of changes. Certain medical conditions like diabetes, liver, or thyroid disorder can also heighten the risks of cramping.

Prevention includes staying hydrated, properly stretching, and making sure to eat healthy foods with nutrients. These include vitamins, minerals, potassium, and calcium. Potassium is found in many choices including vegetables, bananas, berries, potatoes, melon, citrus, meat, fish, and milk. Caffeine found in coffee, soda, and other beverages does affect fluid hydration in the body so be sure to replenish with water. Exercise and activity that lasts over 60 minutes can lead to glycogen depletion which can lead to fatigue which can lead to cramps.
Although only a temporary sensation and typically harmless, an unexpected bout of pain never feels good. It is important to seek a doctor’s help if these cramps are reoccurring or persistent. A nutrient imbalance may not be readily noticeable. Finding the cause can help avoid future incidences. Muscle cramps happen to almost everyone, few and far in between, but when they strike, they aren’t forgotten. The healthy folks of Bonsall and Fallbrook know that less is more when it comes to “Charley horses”.