Thursday, May 26, 2011

When Natural Disaster Strikes - Surviving Traumatic Stress

Life on Earth is risky. Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, wars, quakes. At any time of any day, disaster can ambush you. But the aftermath can be even worse.

How you cope with its impact can destroy the rest of your life (assuming you survive), or save the rest of your life (by protecting and even enhancing your world view).

Many humans must suffer and witness a panopoly of horrors--- school shootings, combat, rape, torture, natural disasters. Not to mention car wrecks, home or work accidents or so many threats that ignite the brutal reactions of traumatic stress.

Everyone who has experienced such events has undergone a terrific shock.

You may think you are okay, and your own denial is working against you. How do you know your internal pressure is building? Your first symptoms can include--

- Non-physical fatigue
- Being easily startled
- Headaches
- Sweating
- Gastro-intestinal issues
- Insomnia

Emotions play an enormous part in life. Are you especially exposed? Are you repeatedly exposed to life or death situations?

Are you facing life daily as a doctor, nurse, EMT, rescue squad worker, police officer, fire fighter, soldier, medical personnel? Long-term emotional effects can be---

- Deep fear
- Sourceless anger
- Growing guilt
- Increasing anxiety
- Lower and lower awareness
- Feeling numb, detached from normal life
- Desperation, helplessness

We've all heard of PTSD--- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You may suffer, after the event, flashbacks and terror, and nightmares.

Official statistics show a surprisingly large chance that you may be suffering PTSD even now...

About 70 % of U.S. adults have experienced a severe traumatic event at least once in their life and one out of five go on to develop symptoms of PTSD

Approximately 8% of all adults have suffered from PTSD at any one time

If you include children and teens, an estimated 5% of all Americans will develop PTSD during their lifetime or more than 13 million people

About one in 10 women will develop PTSD symptoms during their lifetime or double the rate for men because they are much more likely to be victims of domestic violence, rape or abuse.

Almost 17% of men and 13% of women have experienced more than three traumatic events during their life.

What Can You Do to Help Yourself?

It takes time to heal. Hang on and be patient. Change is natural.

Don't overeat or drink to excess, and make your health even worse.

Don't turn to drugs, which are like throwing gasoline on a bonfire.

Talk about it, and listen. Trust someone close to share some of the load.

Try to help others; you will be surprised how much this can help you in turn.

If necessary, seek professional help.

There are experts in traumatic stress, in the medical field. But do not allow this to turn you to meds as a sole response. A good psychologist trained in stress disorders can help bring you back from the brink.

Remember--- if you find yourself, or someone you love, experiencing continual and aggressive emotional outbursts, serious problems at home or work, and preoccupation with the traumatic event, be on guard!

Look for the danger signs of continued and extreme withdrawal, and other signs of intense anxiety or emotional difficulties.

And if you can't cope, by all means, seek professional assistance.

Be honest, and stay sane! You are not alone! Disasters can impact anyone, at any time!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who Needs Medical Tests? Do You?

Studies show, over and over again, that most people wait too late to be tested--- often not until deadly symptoms appear, of advanced disease.

Good health care is all about prevention. Medical tests and procedures play a big part in extending your life span.

Without blood tests, x-rays, and other tests to help identify medical problems, diseases progress, often unseen, undetected, until death may be unavoidable.

Be Proactive--- Cooperate

YOU can help doctors find diseases early, when the diseases may be much easier to treat, and less painful and expensive.
Most people may need to be screened for:
- Various types of cancer
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Diabetes
- Osteoporosis (weak bones)
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Hearing and vision loss

Be Proactive--- Do The Research

Consider your own family health history. You have that
same DNA, those same genes, and perhaps that same
proclivity to the same diseases, as those who came before

Research, and write out your family health history to share
with your family or health care worker. Save your family
health history so you can update it over time.

Be Proactive--- Ask Questions

- Why do I need this test?
- How is the test done?
- Will the test hurt?
- What kind of information will the test provide?
- Is this test the only way to find out that information?
- What are the benefits and risks of having this test?
- What do I need to do to prepare for the test?
- How long will it take to get the results, and how will I get them?
- What's the next step after the test?

Be Proactive--- Get Test Results

If your health care provider orders a test, get the results. Don't assume the results are fine if you do not get them when expected.

Call your health care provider and ask for your results. Ask what the results mean for your care, and use that information to talk with your provider and make decisions about your care.
Bottom line? We ALL need regular medical tests.

What you DON’T know CAN kill you!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Downward Spiral - Aging and Medication

As we age, our metabolism slows. We all know that. But what we may not realize is the potentially disastrous impact of that slowing upon our intake of drugs.

As a consequence of that slowing rhythm, our bodies becomes less and less able to use, or remove, whatever we put into them. This is especially so for those who exercise less and less, typical for the elderly among us.

So, what does all this have to do with medications?

The impact of any med can be exaggerated with age. The elderly retain the meds longer, and the side effects of the meds may cause symptoms, which ironically and sadly, can cause still other meds to be prescribed, to treat those symptoms.

For example, say, a person is given a drug for pain. This drug also diminishes the discomfort response of their bladder, and colon, so they do not relieve themselves as regularly and they retain fluid, which may cause infections and other issues.

Here is the downward spiral's beginning. More drugs are prescribed to treat those issues. And so on and on and on. Each drug a reaction to the last.

Within time a person may be taking a dozen or more meds daily, sometimes prescribed by different doctors who may never look at the overall list of meds--- each physician often only concerned with the complaint being treated by that office.

Eventually the elderly patient is so full of drugs that a great tolerance is built up, and also, a vicious lassitude may set in.

People begin to sleep during the day, more and more. Then 'mood-enchancing' drugs are prescribed, to 'perk them up'.

And if that person becomes agitated, then "mood-compliant' drugs are given, to "calm them down." (Sometimes used wholly for the convenience of staff who bathe or feed clients!)

So, here is today's point--- everyone taking pharma should have one physician who looks at the big picture. many of the drugs may actually be working against each other, and sometimes are dangerous in combination.

Make sure you, or someone you love, doesn't fall into this trap, and spiral downwards.

Aging need not be a downward spiral of drugs, and many medications are of enormous benefit to patients with terrible health problems.

So--- if you, or anyone you care for, is on a number of medications, make certain that a single physician is looking at the big picture!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The 'New' Storms and Your Health

The oceans are warming. The sun is the engine of all earth weather, and an increasingly violent series of storms continue to grind the land. And its inhabitants.

How do you cope? How do you prepare to survive? You need to KNOW what to do, how to react.

If you are warned, react immediately. Don't wait and see.

Get low and stay low. Cover yourself with a blanket, pillows, anything to shield you from glass, splinters, pieces of metal.

The number one hazard (from your health perspective, in a tornado) is the risk for devastating injuries from high-velocity debris. This is 200 MPH velocity!

The high winds and circular nature of a tornado can lift and move big trucks and houses, anything almost. Most victims of tornadoes suffer head and chest trauma due to being struck by debris... or from a structural collapse.

Some individuals are injured while on the ground. Others are whirled up into the air by the tornado and dropped at another location!

That's why getting as low as you can is your best option. If your home has a basement get down there--- that is best. A hallway inside the inner home is second best.

If you are in your car, and see a funnel cloud, get out, don't hope the car will save you. The car is a death trap.

Do not park under an overpass. Get OUT OF THE CAR and find a ditch to lay down in. If its full of muddy water, that's better than your own blood, deal with it. Protect your head with your hands and lie face-down. Force yourself to stay there until the storm is definitely away.

After the storm, find bottled water to drink. Water supplies may be contaminated.

Check yourself and others for punctures, all over the body. Flying debris can pierce you and cause serious infections.

Remember, the 'new" type of storms are becoming more and more violent, and you may experience conditions unlike anything before.

The oceans will keep warming and the storms will be devastating, containing an increasing level of solar energy.

Your health is at stake. Prepare!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cancer - Hiding in Plain Sight

Cancer that you can see. That's the insidious nature of the most common form of carcinoma in humans.

For many people, a deadly cancer is one that can be detected early, when it is still treatable, simply by stripping, and looking yourself over.

Skin cancer can form under your skin and sometimes only a small bump or lesion is visible, like the tip of an iceberg. But underneath lies big trouble ahead.

Sunburns as a child can cause skin cancers decades later. Children need to be protected early on--- excessive exposure to sunlight is the main cause of skin cancer.

Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that can alter the genetic material in your skin cells, causing dangerous mutations. Beware sunlamps and tanning booths! These rays damage skin and can cause malignant cell mutations.

The two most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Together, these two are also referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Skin cancer comes in 3 basic forms:

1) basal cell carcinoma, the least bad, which doesn't spread to other parts of your body, but grows to consume its surrounding tissues...

2) squamous cell carcinoma (the first stage of which is called actinic keratosis)...

3) and the most deadly, the one that sends its evil seeds to kill you--- melanoma.

Look at the advice here on MDINFO, and learn to spot the early warning signs.

Check yourself over, regularly, (and use a hand mirror to inspect your skin everywhere, more thoroughly.)

If you do see anything that looks suspicious, consult a dermatologist immediately.

Remember, time is on the side of the growth. 'Wait-and-see' is your worst option. Be proactive and be sure.

Your life depends upon it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fukushima in our Food?

Prevention is worth a pound of cure. On this, all health experts agree.

We recently talked about the pros and cons of taking Potassium Iodide, to prevent uptake of Iodine 131 from radiation pollution. Today, we're talking about panic, weighed against caution.

We don't believe Chicken Little was right. The sky isn't exactly falling. But it might be in our food. Because, with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, things have changed.

We are now in the fourth week of unsuccessful attempts to safely secure the Fukushima nuclear power plant in central Japan. The G-E designed facility was crippled by an earthquake, and a devastating tsunami--- the world's biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Japan reports radioactive contamination in their coastal seawater measuring several million times the legal limit.

So, today, for world health experts, one big terrifying question is: "What about our food?"

Around the world, many warn that the Fukushima radiation may poison the world's seafood supply, not just that off the Japanese coast.

Some say it's all a matter of degree.

How much radiation is dangerous? A dental exam x-ray? A flight in a plane? Or eating food for decades containing a very low level of Fukushima leakage?

We know that the Fukushima radiation has been detected at Boston, and farther now. The big question is whether the radiation will contaminate surface ground crops as well. And how bad that might become.

Weather patterns show that radiation will be probably spread more from globally circulating rain, than from radiative water released into the sea off Japan. Will that contaminate crops around the world? To what degree?

Some top health experts--- including none less than the World Health organization--- say the opposite--- that there's no radiation danger, on a global scale.

WHO warns against overreacting to the disaster, warning that the dangers of panic outweigh any real radiation dangers. They ask people to stay calm and not spread rumors, especially rampant here, on the web.

But who do we trust? What risk is an 'acceptable' risk?

And what about the governments? How are they reacting?

India has imposed a three-month ban on ALL imports of foods from Japan. Their health experts fear that radiation is spreading to other parts of Japan. India is the first nation to introduce a blanket ban.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government itself has set its first radiation safety standards for fish.

And radiation levels in Russia's Far East have risen, but within so-called 'normal levels', Russian officials said.

Weather forecasters expect winds to blow the radiation out across the Pacific.

"The World Health Organization would like to assure governments and members of the public that there is no evidence at this time of any significant international spread from the nuclear site," Michael O'Leary, WHO's representative in China, said in a statement.

Monday, March 28, 2011

KI, Radiation, and You!

Radioactivity--- from Japan's earthquake-breached Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant--- has now been detected as far east as Boston.

Japanese officials moved quickly to distribute potassium iodide, in response to the disaster. Why?

Because the most dangerous radioactive materials (released after a nuclear power accident) are radioactive iodine (the iodine-131 isotope, in particular) and radioactive cesium (cesium-137).

News reports have identified both deadly substances detected outside the Fukushima plant. In the air, in the seawater, even in tap water as far as Tokyo. And now the Atlantic seaboard of the USA! Can it be long before the leakage circumnavigates the globe?

So just what is radioactive iodine? Its a deadly byproduct of the fission (splitting) of the uranium. This happens in the fuel rods that power a nuclear power plant.

An what can RI do that's so bad? Once radioactive iodine is in the body, it concentrates in the thyroid gland--- in the base of the neck, just below your Adam’s apple. There it will stay, and can causer thyroid cancer in time. And that can kill you.

How can you keep it out? By making certain that your body needs no iodine uptake, whatsoever.

That's why Japan is wasting no time in widely dispensing the Potassium Iodine, in pill form. For this at least, they were prepared.

So, just how do the pills work?

Potassium iodide pills--- sometimes abbreviated as KI: the K stands for potassium, the I for iodine--- can’t prevent radioactive iodine from entering your body. The pills work by keeping the bad radioactive iodine from accumulating in your thyroid gland.

The KI floods your body with non-radioactive iodine, preventing your thyroid from absorbing the radioactive iodine.

The Center for Disease Control explains it this way: "Because KI contains so much stable iodine, the thyroid gland becomes “full” and cannot absorb any more iodine—either stable or radioactive—for the next 24 hours."

NOTE: (Harvard Health says that children and infants are more vulnerable to developing thyroid cancer from radioactive iodine than adults, so it’s important that they get the pills in a radiation emergency. But the pills can be hard to swallow, especially for infants, and potassium iodide dissolved in water has a harsh, salty taste. The FDA tip: grind the pills up and mix them into low-fat chocolate milk, orange juice, or flat soda.)

CAUTION! Large doses of iodine over a long period of time can be dangerous. Potassium iodide pills should be reserved for true emergencies. But that also means being ready, in case they are needed.

And what about the iodized table salt you take every day with food? Nope. Many varieties of table salt are “iodized,’ which means iodine has been added. But iodized table salt doesn’t contain enough iodine to saturate the thyroid gland--- not nearly enough to keep it from absorbing radioactive iodine.

So far, no agency is recommending that US inhabitants take Potassium Iodide--- but many people are preparing, by stocking up.

At MDINFO, your best health is measured by your best health information--- and isn't it always better to be prepared?