Is Addiction a Chronic Illness? (Guest Post)

Addiction is a condition affecting millions of individuals in the United States. Figures reveal that the nation has been spending quite a lot to defray the costs associated with using alcohol and drugs.

A person suffering from addiction has the compulsion to continue using a substance despite its negative consequence. With addiction, people lose control over their use and it takes over a person’s life. Many people do not fully understand how substance addiction can significantly alter the chemistry and wiring in one’s brain. This is a reason why it is considered a disease.

Not everyone who uses a substance become addicted to it. There are several factors that lead to the condition. However, when a person experiences a craving for the substance stemming from their brain activity, it becomes difficult to control the urge to use.

Several people with substance abuse disorder know they have a problem. Some want to stop but they cannot. As their use of the substance continues, it causes issues in almost all areas of their lives.

Addiction as a Chronic Illness

There was a time when addiction was perceived as a lifestyle choice. But further research showed a better understanding of what it is really about and what it does to an individual.

Addiction is a chronic illness because it is a result of the drug’s effect on the brain. Just like other diseases of the brain, addiction encompasses behavioral and social elements.

There are certain wires in the brain that influence addiction. Studies show there is a significant difference in the brains of people with addiction compared to those who do not. But despite these findings, society tends to perceive it as a choice or a social problem.

Addiction and other chronic diseases have a lot in common. Among these, environmental conditions can trigger its start and eventually determine the course of the disease, and that some of the factors contributing to the condition possibly stems in the family. And just like other chronic diseases, there is no cure available but the condition can be managed by treatment, which includes lifestyle changes.

Getting Help

Addiction is not a lost cause. It may not have a cure per se, but treatments are available to help individuals rise to the challenge of sobriety. It takes a lot of work, the same as with other chronic diseases. With medication—such as buprenorphine (Suboxone), methadone, and naloxone (Vivitrol)—to control the cravings and lifestyle changes, it is possible to manage the symptoms and let individuals live healthy and fulfilling lives.

But then again, if you go off your medicines—like a diabetic who doesn’t take insulin—or go back to an unhealthy lifestyle, then your condition can spiral out of control. The same is true of addiction. Relapse is a huge possibility and is very common during the first year of recovery.

If a relapse happens—and it almost is inevitable—one should not feel like a failure or be ashamed. Instead, take further strides, seek treatment with the help medical professionals, and try again. The treatment plan may be adjusted accordingly, or a different approach can be employed to get the best results.

About the Author: Jon Richardson is a recovery coach for Willow Springs Recovery. When he is not helping people achieve sobriety, he is playing basketball or working out.  His life goal is to spread awareness about addiction recovery and that anything is possible as long as you as you have a clear mind.

Why is Copper-Infused Clothing Ideal for People with Chronic Pain (Guest Post by Kunal Patel)

Copper is an essential trace micro-mineral that is essential for our body and is found in all body tissues. It offers numerous benefits such as promoting immune function, protecting cognitive function, relieving arthritis, supporting bone density, supporting iron absorption, slowing down the ageing process and improving blood circulation, just to name a few!

Since our bodies are not capable of synthesizing copper on its own, it becomes necessary that we either consume it through various food sources or wear copper-infused clothes. The anti-inflammatory virtue of copper makes it an excellent choice for apparel. Let us see three kinds of copper-infused clothing products that would be beneficial for those with chronic illness or pain.

  • Copper Compression Gloves

These are ideal for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and Raynaud’s syndrome.

–              Improves Blood Circulation

Arthritis may cause inflammation and narrowing of the blood vessels which constrict blood flow. The copper compression gloves make your hands warmer by compressing them. This results in better blood circulation and decreases inflammation. Furthermore, they help in reducing swelling and irritation caused during finger and wrist movements.

compression gloves

–              Easy to Use

Numerous physical aids can hinder hand and wrist movement. Compared to them, compression gloves are quite convenient to use. You won’t have to make any big lifestyle changes while wearing them. You can choose between finger-less gloves or fully covered gloves. Buy only good quality gloves that have skin-friendly lining and padding for extra comfort.

  • Copper Compression Socks

 –              Beneficial for Diabetic Patients

People with diabetes are prone to developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), venous insufficiency and peripheral edema. Graduated compression diabetes socks provide more pressure at the foot and lesser pressure on the calves. This helps in maintaining proper circulation to the lower extremities and prevents swelling. It also improves nerve sensitivities, if any.

compression socks

–              Improves Blood Flow

Compression socks improve blood flow by supporting blood circulation in the legs. They mimic the muscle’s ability to pump blood from the lower legs to other areas of the body. They are generally tighter at the toes and loosen up higher up the leg. The socks help in overcoming gravity to prevent blood collecting in certain areas and they keep the blood moving. This helps in preventing blood clots which can travel to other areas of your body, such as your lungs, which is extremely dangerous.

They also help in relieving leg cramps, swelling, itching and fatigue. Mild pressure is recommended and stronger levels are not necessarily better. Consult with a doctor before wearing compression socks.

–              Improves the Functioning of Valves in the Leg

Compression socks help in circulating blood by gently squeezing the foot and calf muscles. This helps in straightening out the vein walls to a better working state. The gentle compression offered by the socks allows the valves to function properly by opening them to allow blood flow toward the heart and closing to prevent blood from flowing backwards.

  • Copper-Infused Pajamas

–              Anti-Microbial

Copper has anti-microbial properties which kill infection-causing germs naturally. It effectively eliminates bacteria, viruses and fungi upon contact, thus protecting you from potential health risks.

–              Prevents MRSA

There are clinical studies which show that cooper has the capability of killing even the antibiotic-resistant strains like MRSA. Copper-infused fabric is commonly used in hospital clothing, bed linen and various applications where the risk of bacterial contamination is high.

copper infused pajama

–              Improves Blood Circulation

Those suffering from cold hands and feet, varicose veins and issues related to poor blood circulation in the extremities will benefit from using copper-infused nightwear as it increases blood circulation.

–              Prevents Skin Dryness

Copper helps in restoring the skin’s moisture and reduces itchiness and irritation for people suffering from eczema and other skin conditions. Moreover, copper clothes can make your skin more supple and youthful.

–              Comfortable, anti-odor

Copper-infused clothing is designed with bamboo, which is a soft and breathable textile. The copper ions are bonded to fabric on a molecular level, which helps in delivering the myriad benefits straight to the skin.

Lastly, copper inhibits the growth of microbes and bamboo draws away excess moisture from the skin. This prevents body odor. Copper clothing also stays fresh for longer so you don’t have to wash it so often.

As you can see, there are numerous benefits of copper-infused clothing. They are easy to use, comfortable, don’t need any extra care and they retain the qualities of copper even after washing.

Author Bio: Kunal Patel is a young and passionate entrepreneur, fascinated by the workings of the human body and natural solutions for common health problems. He’s single-minded in his aim to make Copper Defence a brand that’s recognized across the globe, by partnering with global brands to make these high-tech materials easily accessible for everyone. If you’d like to get in touch, email Kunal at kunal@copperdefence.com or visit www.copperclothing.com for copper-infused clothing, pet accessories and more.

 

Coping with Anxiety Without Medication – Guest Post from Sara Niemiec

Everyone gets stressed out on occasion. It’s a natural reaction to the challenges and obstacles that life puts us through on a daily basis. And while a healthy amount of stress can motivate us to get things done, sometimes we become overburdened and develop what is known as anxiety. Anxiety, according to the American Psychological Association, is an “emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”

The reason we feel anxious can be traced back to the earliest days of humanity. When mankind needed to be alerted to the approach of predators or incoming threats, we relied on our “fight or flight” response to send a surge of adrenaline in case we needed to act to protect ourselves. Nowadays, we aren’t faced with as many physical threats to our person. But we are faced with a whole slew of other problems surrounding work, relationships, health, and finances. Since we can’t just run away from these problems or physically fight them, that surge of adrenaline just results in a nervous feeling in our stomachs, or in increased blood pressure, or sweaty palms.

 We can’t turn off mother nature, but what we can do is minimize the negative effects of anxiety through the use of stress management relief tactics. We can also learn to recognize thought patterns and situations that cause us to feel anxiety and dissemble them so that they have less power over us. The last thing you should do is turn to substances in order to manage stress. Relying on drugs or alcohol to bring relief is not a long-term plan and will never help the body learn how to help itself.

Non-Medicinal Methods of Coping with Anxiety

Relaxation Methods

Relaxation skills are one way to address anxiety that can be used at nearly any time. These skills can involve simple breathing techniques, mindful thinking, and even yoga. Relaxation techniques help you lower blood pressure and heart rate to help you feel calm. Here are some simple exercises to try at home, at work, or on the go.

Deep Breathing

  1. Sit down with your chest up
  2. Inhale slowly through your nose and hold for seven seconds
  3. Exhale through the mouth for eight seconds (or until all the air is released from your lungs)
  4. Repeat four to five more times 

Meditation

There are many different methods for meditation. Practicing meditation can help you to regulate emotions and react in a more thoughtful and careful manner. Some guidelines to follow when meditating are to focus your attention on breathing, find a quiet place, and have an open mind. Sit down, close your eyes, and focus on something simple, like breath, music, or the sounds of nature. It’s easier said than done, but anything from twenty minutes to an hour can be hugely beneficial.

Exercise

The physical and mental benefits of exercise have long been considered vital to the treatment of anxiety and even depression. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins in the brain, giving your body a natural high that can help reduce stress, support health, and improve sleep.

Studies have shown that exercise can quickly improve a depressed mood, and that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. However, it shouldn’t be assumed that simply running or lifting a weight will cure any form of anxiety or depression. It’s simply another method for managing stress that may work better for some people than others.

The most up-to-date guidelines for physical activity for Americans advocates for at least 2.5 hours of moderate to intense physical activity every week.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a tested and effective method for treating anxiety and other disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy is more effective than just using medication or exercise/meditation. This is because therapy helps to address the underlying causes of the problem, and not just the symptoms of the problem.

CBT addresses the way we think by looking at negative thought patterns and distortions in the way we view the world. The idea, similar to the cartesian notion of “cogito ergo sum”, is it’s not the external world that determines the way we feel, but our internal perceptions of the situation that decides our feelings.

The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to identify negative thoughts, trace their false construction down to the root, and rewire the way we think in order to promote positive thinking as opposed to negative.

Tips for Keeping Anxiety Away 

Breathing deeply

Taking deep breaths helps stimulate blood flow and cognition. Inhale and exhale slowly a few times when you’re feeling stressed and you’ll find your brain will be gracious for the extra oxygen.

Exercising daily

Daily exercise works in a similar manner to deep breathing because you’re getting extra oxygen cycling in and out of your body. Daily exercise can help you relieve tension, and if done routinely can improve your overall health.

Talking through your thoughts with somebody else

Keeping your stress balled up inside your own head doesn’t do any good. Talk to friends and family about what’s on your mind and you’ll find it helps relieve some of the tension. If needed, seek out a clinical therapist or physician to share with.

Abstaining from drugs and alcohol

Mood altering substances often give us a temporary boost to the way we are feeling, but those effects rarely last more than a few hours. In the ensuing come down, your body can actually respond by becoming more anxious, and possibly trigger a panic attack.

Eating well balanced meals

You’ve heard it since you were a child but eating well balanced meals actually goes a long way towards improving mental and physical health. The best approach is to incorporate a wide variety of nutritional sources.

If you’re struggling to manage your anxiety, or if you believe you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It’s important that you don’t develop a dependence on drugs and alcohol to manage your stress levels. If you or a loved one may be suffering from drug use or alcoholism to treat anxiety, Landmark Recovery has the staff and resources to assist you on the journey to health and sobriety.

About the Author:

sjn photoSara Janae Niemiec is a marketing analyst at Landmark Recovery. Sara graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in psychology. Sara enjoys combining her passion for marketing and psychology to help individuals in her society. When she is not keeping up with SEO trends and marketing blogs, she enjoys reading true crime novels, cooking new recipes and playing with her dog.

Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism: A Dangerous Duo Guest Post by Ryan Jackson

Think about the most serious and life-threatening diseases you’ve ever heard of. Would it surprise you to know that one that one of the most debilitating illnesses has nothing at all to do with physical health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks bipolar disorder (BD) as the 6th leading cause of disability in the world. We’re not talking about America alone or even an entire continent – but the whole world!

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 5.7 million adult Americans age 18 or older have been diagnosed with BD. This means that if you haven’t been affected personally, you undoubtedly know someone who has.

You’ve probably heard that BD is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

What does that feel like though?

Sara was a twenty-year-old college student living in Chicago when she was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She’d been missing a lot of classes, not sleeping well, and pulling her hair out due to exceedingly high anxiety levels that seemed to worsen by the day.  Sara went on to describe a list of problems that are common symptoms of diagnosed individuals:

 Initial symptoms:

  • Bursts of energy and staying up all night
  • Rapid speech that tends to go in a hundred directions
  • Distractibility
  • Promiscuous behavior
  • Multiple tasks going on at once but unable to complete them

  Subsequent symptoms:

  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Immense regret, depression, and shame
  • Low energy and sleeping all day
  • Decreased appetite and forgetting to eat
  • Thoughts of self-harm and suicide

Sufferers often describe feeling drained from a “roller coaster of emotions,” – from euphoria one minute, to overwhelming depression the next. Fortunately, for Sara and the millions of Americans like her, treatment for BD is typically helpful when you are compliant with the recommendations by physicians and professional caregivers.

Ten months after beginning Lithium and intensive psychotherapy, Sara was back in school, sleeping better and stated, “I feel like myself for the first time in almost a year!”

Medication and therapy are the mainstays of treatment for BD. The change in mood, temperament, personality and even physical appearance are drastically improved after several weeks of mood stabilizing medicine. Additionally, ongoing therapy helps you understand coping skills and strategies that will be essential in managing the illness long-term.

Medication plus therapy – a useful combination that has saved many lives. However, there’s a caveat that threatens optimal health that must be taken into consideration: Many people with BD are also alcoholics.

When a dual-disorder is present, the addiction is an additional complication that needs to be dealt with first. Alcoholics often have years of inner turmoil related to childhood trauma or a painful life experience, and if you want to recover from BD, you need to be sober.

You’re likely thinking substance abuse throws an enormous monkey in the wrench. You couldn’t be more correct.

Alcoholics are often in denial that their addiction is a problem. Combine excessive drinking with mania characteristics, (thrill-seeking and impulsivity), and the pair can be disastrous and even fatal.

In Current Psychiatry, Comorbid Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse: Evidence-Based Options, the author states: “Among DSM axis I diagnoses, bipolar disorder (BD) has the highest rates of comorbid substance use disorders (SUDS), and 60% of patients with bipolar I disorder have a lifetime diagnosis of a SUD. Alcohol is the substance most often abused” (Nery, 2016).

Drinking makes you feel less inhibited because it impairs the region of the brain that helps you self-monitor. If you have BD, the enticement of alcohol feels like a temporary escape from disorganized, racing thoughts that accompany mania.

However, accompanying the lowered inhibition from intoxication is an increased tendency to partake in risk-taking behaviors such as overspending, unsafe driving, sexual indiscretions and acting on grandiose ideas.

Do you see why liquor and BD are a bad mix?

Poor impulse control and impaired judgment are already interwoven into the lives of people with BD without alcohol as part of the equation. Throw alcohol in the mix and the likelihood for you to make risky decisions is even higher.

Additionally, think about how someone without BD feels after an alcohol buzz wears off. There’s sluggishness, headaches, and irritability that serve as a reality check that life’s problems were only briefly masked.

If you have BD, coming down from an alcoholic binge is like opening the floodgates to a whirlwind of racing thoughts, illogical thinking, and crippling anxiety. During this downward spiral to sobriety, depression comes rushing back at full speed, and the urge to commit suicide can seem like the only real escape or solution.

Have you struggled with alcoholism and BD, or do you know someone who has? As devastating as this dual-disorder is, there are treatment options available. Sometimes the hardest step is the first one. Go talk to someone you trust, and say three words may very well save your life, “I need help.”

9 Ways To Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis Successfully Guest Post by Dr Mehjabin Prodhani

Dr. Mehjabin Prodhani is a qualified dental surgeon, with over 7 years of combined experience in patient management, clinical dentistry, scientific and consumer medical writing. She has wide range of experience in the field of medical writing, including writing and developing abstracts, manuscripts, clinical study reports, review articles, drug monographs, scientific news reports, disease or drug-related educational articles, consumer and health research articles.

Rheumatoid Arthritis as we know is an auto-immune disorder, in which the body’s defense mechanism begins to attack its tissues. Many studies have analyzed what triggers RA though the exact reasons are still not yet known. The combination of both genetic and environmental factors cause body’s immune system to go haywire and start attacking its cells. Rheumatoid Arthritis is unfortunately not yet a curable disease. If anyone states otherwise, it is not only ethically and medically wrong, but also a disservice to the patients by raising false expectations.

At the same time, there have been some medical advances in better understanding the mechanism through which the body’s immune system attacks itself. The new line of medicines attempts to dial down our immune system that has gone into a hyperactive state. Dietary modifications and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help an RA patient manage the disease symptoms and delay the damage it causes in various parts of the body. As a matter of fact, RA can also go into remission for several years, although it would resurface at some later point.

Here are 9 ways to manage your RA.

 

Diet Control

As many RA patients would attest, certain foods can trigger a flare-up of RA. Instead of prescribing a generic list of foods that should be avoided, it is best for each patient to observe and note what causes flare-ups and avoid those specific foods to the extent possible.

Typically, spicy and fried items, hard to digest food, sugary foods, and drinks, calorie-rich foods are to be avoided. Some food items that are highly recommended for RA patients include those that are rich in Omega-3 supplements, food containing natural anti-inflammatory ingredients such as garlic, ginger, diet rich in fiber content, fruits and vegetables and antioxidants. Certain spices like Turmeric are also known to reduce the inflammation in the body.

Again, it is important to mention that what works for one RA patient may not work for others. As a thumb rule, it is best to go for a diet that is easily digestible, keeps your gut clean and is rich in anti-inflammatory foods. Much information exists on the web these days about the suggested diets.

Weight Control

Excess body weight affects individuals who are pre-disposed to having RA as well as those that already have RA. According to a study carried out by Mayo Clinic, an obese person defined as having a BMI of 30 and above was 25% more likely to developing RA compared to a normal weight individual. [1] This was attributed to the role fat cells play in stoking the inflammation in the body. Excess weight also puts the joints at more stress that exacerbates the damage RA causes in joints. Several studies have also found that RA drugs work better if an excess weight patient can lose few pounds to reach a normal body weight.

Losing weight involves working on many aspects in parallel, including diet control as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which we talk about next.

Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, but even more so for an RA patient. However, what is a healthy lifestyle? Again, no generic one style fits everyone, but these are some of the basic questions to ask oneself.

  1. Do you get enough time for a 7-8 hour sleep?
  2. Do you have at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity or moderate exercise?
  3. Do you have any hobby or passion that helps you de-stress?
  4. Is your food intake proper and provides good nutrition?
  5. Have you quit bad habits like smoking and excess alcohol intake?

Emotional Support

Let us be honest, a chronic disease such as Rheumatoid Arthritis does not just impact an individual physically but often also leads to episodes of depression and self-pity. It becomes critical to find ways to get the emotional support, and several ways exist. As the disease does not always present symptoms that are externally visible, it is important to make your family and friends well aware about the disease.

One should also become active on various Internet forums to interact with other patients who are going through a similar struggle. This brings not only an emotional support but also awareness about what others are doing to help with their symptoms. Yoga and similar other meditation exercises can also help boost positive emotions and reduce mental stress.

Awareness

A chronic disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis requires a patient from keeping herself up-to-date and well-informed on ways to successfully manage it. As a matter of fact, disease awareness should be the very first and most important aspect of managing RA. Many resources today exist that provide well-researched and credible information about RA. The earlier understanding was that RA mainly impacts the synovial joints, but research is now pointing to other dangerous effects associated with RA about cardiovascular aspects. It is only through awareness that an RA patient can keep up-to-date and take required protective steps in collaboration with their primary doctor. Awareness also helps RA patients learn about various drugs and their side-effects. It can also help RA patients separate out the possible therapies from the quacks that often come with lofty but unproven claims about curing RA.

Diagnosis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a complex disease that has several overlapping symptoms with other illnesses like Lupus, Fibromyalgia, especially in the early stages. In many cases, despite repeated tests, physicians find it hard to confirm whether a person has RA or not.

Nonetheless, it is important for patients to monitor their health, especially in two aspects on a routine basis. First, as we all know, RA damages the synovial membrane around joints. These damages become first evident in smaller joints like those of knuckles. Blood tests can also indicate the level of inflammation present in the body by analyzing markets like C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and level of hemoglobin.

Another equally important aspect often ignored is about the cardiovascular health. The inflammation present in our body does not just affect the joints but can also lead to cardiovascular issues like stroke and atrial fibrillation i.e. an irregular heartbeat. Monitoring of early indicators such as pulse measurement, blood pressure monitoring and ECG can provide an early warning in such cases.

Medication

Rheumatoid Arthritis, thanks to the research carried out has several drugs available for managing inflammation at different stages of the disease. These include the NSAIDS, corticosteroid, disease modifying or DMARD’s, biologics to name a few. Each patient’s body can react differently to each drug on aspects of efficacy and side-effects. Therefore, it is important to evaluate in collaboration with your physician and try out the therapy that best suits you. Though strictly not medicines, injection of hyaluronic acid can also be considered for providing relief to RA patients suffering from knee or hip joint damage. [2] 

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy primarily aims at helping relieve various symptoms associated with the RA disease. These include treatments for pain relief, muscle strength, and relaxation. Many options exist including heat and ice therapy, hydrotherapy, ultrasound and electrical stimulation. In advanced stages, a physiotherapist can help you identify the activities that are safer and low-impact to engage. [3] 

Surgeries

In some cases where the RA disease was not carefully managed, and the disease has caused significant damage to joints such as the knee, surgery may become the last and best resort. A surgery called synovectomy is carried out to remove the damaged synovial tissue

In cases where the damage has reached to an extent that leads to severe disability and chronic pain, joint replacement surgeries can be carried out. These surgeries have become quite safe and result in a much higher quality of life for the patients.

References

  1. Contribution of obesity to the rise in incidence of rheumatoid arthritis; Crowson, Cynthia S.; Matteson, Eric L.; Davis, John M.; Gabriel, Sherine E; Arthritis Care and Research, Volume 65 (1) – Jan 1, 2013
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18772121
  3. https://www.healthclues.net/rheumatoid-arthritis
  4. http://www.arthritis-health.com/glossary/synovectomy

Guest Post: The Importance of Keeping Active as you Age

Just as it is important to keep learning throughout our lifetime, it is important to stay in shape and stay mobile. Just as you spend your evenings reading or doing a crossword, one should remember the importance of walking or riding a bike. To focus on the latter, exercise can simple and easily maintained throughout each decade that passes. Because everyone reaches the age where they need assistance at some point or another, then it is important to maintain the traits of our youth that we can, mobility.

Just as all the systems in the body work together, it is important to exercise and help them function in unison. This doesn’t just help with staying regular but allowing your body to process the energy you get it. As you age, your metabolism slows which adds to weight gain, and discomfort. It is in this downward spiral that mood is affected, and overall happiness is compromised.

If you find yourself in this spiral, I recommend waking up every day and starting the exercise routines slowly. You don’t want to hurt yourself, as this will put you back where you were. Instead focus on doing the exercises correctly and building your small muscles fibers first. Let’s not forget cardiovascular health. You may spend up to fifteen minutes a day, seven days a week at first. But let’s not get discouraged, this is how to build proper endurance.

Make sure you’re getting some rest. There is nothing wrong with staying up with the grandkids, but make sure to get your rest, and wake up with good whole foods that can help give energy and start recovery. As one ages, you’ll find that muscle loss may have already taken effect. It’s important not to overestimate your strength if you aren’t in a regular exercise regimen. Also, by not keeping regular in your exercises it could set you up for a fall.

Let’s consider some exercise that could help with balance and prevent the option of falling. Go outside and start by taking a lovely walk through the park. Make sure to pack a lunch, bring a collapsible cane, and pack a lunch. Stay out and take it easy, find a place to sit and relax if you’re feeling winded. This is the best way to start. Take the next step when you go out again, and use your arms to complete the stride, when you’re ready. You’ll find that now you’re improving cardio and building leg strength.

If you can get some good momentum, you’ll find that your sleep will be improved, you’ll rest easier. You can also find a new self-confidence, and a brighter mood. Like we talked about before, the importance of keeping your brain working, well studies have found that exercise is a positive influence. Just remember that no one is going to look down on you. When you are out on the park enjoying some birds, path, and bikers passing by, you’ll really want to smile, this is where the real world is, and when you are able to spend time with those frisky grandkids, you’ll realize where the real love is.

This article was written by Cheryl Swansong, a long time caregiver with a passion for writing and a strong supporter of human rights. She has been working hard to bring awareness to the ways that a lot of senior citizens and disabled individuals are mistreated on a daily basis. You can read her most recent interview on the subject here:  http://justwalkers.com/how-the-disabled-and-elderly-are-treated-differently-experts-weigh-in

Guest Post: The Importance of Mammograms

According to Cancer.org, more than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. For women ages 40 and up – or even younger if recommended by a doctor –mammograms can help reduce breast cancer deaths.

Here, learn how the new federal healthcare laws will affect your access to mammograms, as well as the steps you can take to make your mammogram a stress-free experience.

Can I Afford a Mammogram?

Many women may be confused about what health services are covered under the new Affordable Care Act. Under the Affordable Care Act, a woman’s annual preventive healthcare services, which include mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer, are covered by most health plans. The Affordable Care Act also makes recommended preventive services free for people on Medicare. More those on Medicare, mammograms must be given without a co-pay or deductible for all plans started after August 1, 2012.

What Does This Mean for Me?

It means you should take advantage of the services that are provided. The Affordable Care Act understands the importance of preventative care. When it comes to breast cancer, early detection is key, and mammograms are an essential part of identifying breast cancer in its early, treatable stages. In the case that an abnormality is found, a diagnostic mammogram may be prescribed to take additional images and further diagnose the issue.

According to Mammographysaveslives.org, mammography has helped reduce the breast cancer mortality rate in the U.S. by nearly 33 percent since 1990. It’s proof that regular mammograms can truly save lives.

Simple Mammogram Tips

Whether it’s your first or tenth, it’s normal to feel nervous before your mammogram. Here are some simple tips that can help make the experience more efficient and even more comfortable:

  • Many women experience tender breasts during their menstrual cycles, so consider scheduling your mammogram within the two weeks after your menstrual period ends.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to remove from the waist up.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages before your appointment. Caffeine has been shown to cause small lumps or discomfort in breasts.
  • Do not wear deodorant, antiperspirant, powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts. These substances have been shown to potentially cause inaccuracies in the X-ray film.
  • Consider taking an over-the-counter pain medication prior to your appointment.
  • Be up front with your doctor. Let your doctor know if you have had any issues or concerns since your last mammogram, have breast implants, or any medical history that might affect your mammogram or your overall health.
  • Always voice your questions and concerns. Your doctor is there to help you and welcomes any questions that you have.
  • Before you leave the doctor’s office, be sure to schedule your next annual appointment.

Remember, screening mammograms could be the difference between life and death.  It’s an important opportunity to take control of your health. Make your annual mammogram appointment educate others about the importance of mammograms.

This article was contributed by NorthShore University HealthSystem, a comprehensive, fully integrated healthcare delivery system that serves the Chicago region. With leading hospitals in Chicago and the surrounding area, NorthShore provides screening and diagnostic mammogram procedures to help prevent and diagnosis breast cancer.

Taking Control of Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms – Guest Post

What would life be like if you couldn’t easily pick up your toothbrush, or make a cup of coffee, or wash your dishes? What would life be like if these basic actions caused you unimaginable pain and discomfort, sometimes so bad that it was debilitating? Unfortunately, 1.5 million Americans can answer this question.

If you are one of the 1.5 million men and women suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis (or RA for short), you know exactly what life is like dealing with an aching and swelling that takes over your body and hinders you from free movement. Life can be almost unbearable and keeping up with day to day tasks can sometimes not be achieved. That is why it is so vital for anyone suffering from this horrible condition to do the necessary steps to take control of the symptoms.

Keep reading to learn how you can help control your RA symptoms and flare ups…

  1. Listen to your body. RA is an autoimmune disease that makes the body attack the healthy tissue that surrounds the joints. This causes the joints to become swollen, usually affecting the hands, feet, wrists, and ankles. RA is known to affect other body parts as well. Although it is not completely understood why RA occurs, it is believed that genetics and a person’s environment does have an effect as well as cigarette smoking. So what can a person do? Pay attention to your body. Listen to any signs and symptoms and take action. By discovering RA early and diagnosing it early, you give yourself much more chance of living a less painful life. If ignored, RA can lead to permanent joint issues, bone erosion and finally deformity.
  2. Do your homework. Hopefully you have discovered RA early on in the disease. If so, immediately start working with your physician to create a personalized, unique health treatment plan that works for your schedule. For example, talk with your physician about including activities that assist the nervous system like yoga and meditation. Also, be open to incorporating holistic healing modalities like acupuncture, cranial sacrial, massage and chiropractic.
  3. Exercise often! One of the best things that you can do for yourself to reduce the incidence of flare-ups is to work out. Exercising helps the body flush toxins, reduce inflammation, and lubricate joints. Experts feel that by combining medication and regular exercise a person can reduce the incidence of RA significantly.

Bio

Kishana Sainte writes on health & lifestyle topics, including rheumatoid arthritis on behalf of MyDocHub.com, a trusted online patient recommendation and medical information website developing condition-specific apps such as its RA Health Flare Tracker iPhone/iPad app.

Depression and Pain: Guest Post

Undoubtedly, there is a strong link between chronic pain and depression. The relationship is reciprocal in that each condition can bring on symptoms of the other. While finding help for either condition alone is of utmost importance in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, finding professional help becomes increasingly important when you’re dealing with both conditions at once. To help you determine whether you are currently dealing with a combination of these two conditions, I’ve provided a symptom list of each below. These lists will help you prepare for a discussion with your physician by giving you common symptoms to base your concerns from. Read over the list below and take note of the symptoms that you are currently experiencing:

Depression:

  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Continuous sad, anxious or empty feelings
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Constant feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Thoughts of death and/or suicide

Chronic Pain:

  • Mild to severe pain that lasts longer than expected after injury
  • Severe pain that may be described as shooting, burning or electric
  • Constant discomfort, soreness, stiffness, tightness
  • Change in mood. i.e. irritability, depression, anxiety or stress

Getting Help

If you are experiencing a combination of depression and anxiety, it is often best to treat the two conditions separately. This involves finding both a skilled pain specialist as well as a therapist. Combining their focused treatment methods will help you effectively treat both conditions simultaneously. However, working with two physicians does mean that you will need to report back to each with the therapies and medications you are receiving from the other. This way, you can be sure that you are receiving treatments that complement one another to produce the best possible results.

Getting the most out of your treatments

While carefully following the instructions provided by your doctor will be of the highest value, there are also a few other ways you can facilitate your treatment process as a patient. Some of these include:

  • Keeping track of your pain symptoms and depressive moods in a journal and bringing it with you to appointments with your physicians.
  • Developing and following a healthy diet and comfortable exercise routine
  • Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes
  • Reaching out to trusted friends and family members for help with difficult tasks
  • Taking time for rest and relaxation
  • Informing a trusted friend or family member of your medication/therapy schedule so that they can help you stay on track.
  • Researching and asking your doctors about the medications and therapies you are prescribed.

I hope that this information will help you effectively identify and treat your unique condition. In my many years of practice, helping my pain patients gain a better understanding of their conditions and treatment options has allowed me to optimize the success of their treatments. I wish you the best of luck in your journey to relief and remind you that with wonderful online resources like Alliance Health Communities, support is just a click away.

Guest Post by: Lynn Webster, MD

About Dr. Webster

Dr. Webster is Medical Director of CRI Lifetree and current president of the Academy of Pain Medicine. He has conducted or participated in over 200 clinical studies over the course of his career as a pain physician and researcher. His research work centers on the development of safer and more effective therapies for chronic pain and addiction prevention. He is best known for developing the widely used Opioid Risk Tool (ORT) and for his public campaign to reduce overdose deaths from prescription medications. You can find a more information on Dr. Webster by viewing his Health Grades profile.

How To Get Started With Today’s Popular Diets – Paleo and Gluten Free – Guest Post

Summer may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean you still don’t have time to lose a few pounds for swimsuit weather! Two of the hottest diets out there today are the paleo diet and the gluten free diet. Both have their benefits, and ultimately, the type of diet you choose will be determined by your lifestyle and food preferences. Check out the quick overview of each and a few tips for getting started.

Paleo diet

This diet can be boiled down to one phrase: if a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can you. The diet focuses on organic products devoid of processing that a caveman could have hunted, picked, gathered or fished. Meats, fish, nuts, fresh vegetables, eggs, oils, fruits and seeds all play a huge part in the paleo diet. Grains, like most cereals and pasta, are out, as are sugars and all processed foods. The paleo diets states that because these foods are so filling and nutritious, you can eat as much as you want of them (within reason) and still lose weight.

How to get started:

Purge your home of all the foods that are off limits on this diet. This includes cookies, cereals, potato chips, candy and other processed goods. Pantry items often have a long shelf life, so donate what you can’t eat to your local food pantry.

Start a diet plan.  There are many diet plans out there that can help you kick-start a paleo diet with meal plans, advice and encouragement to help you stay accountable as you start on your paleo journey.

Remember that you’ll have a transition period as your body gets used to this new way of eating. The first two weeks of a paleo diet may leave you feeling tired, weak and sluggish. Sticking with the program can help you get through the slump and on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

Gluten Free diet

Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. An allergy to gluten can cause celiac disease, which is a gastrointestinal ailment known for abdominal pain, weight loss and loose stools. The gluten-free diet is one of the only medically accepted treatments for this disease, but individuals without a gluten allergy have found more energy and a healthier lifestyle by going gluten-free. A gluten-free diet sticks with beans, fresh eggs, fresh meats, fruits and vegetables and dairy, and avoids any foods with barley (including malt or malt flavoring) rye, and wheat.

How to get started:

Clean out your kitchen and pantry and get rid of foods that contain wheat, barley, rye and oats. Donate items that can still be used to a food pantry. Check labels; some foods may be labeled “gluten-free” and are still acceptable on this diet.

Visit the grocery store and check the assortment of gluten-free labeled products on the market. You will be surprised how many manufactures have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon and offer anything from waffles to pizza gluten-free. Learn to read the labels to find out exactly what is in the food that you buy.

Go shopping and stock up on fresh produce and meats. Try some fruits or vegetables that are new to you, or prepare them in different ways. Another option is to take a trip to a Farmer’s Market, where fresh food shopping can be a fun outing.

Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day and a blogger and freelance writer by night. She’s also a mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip. Amanda loves coffee, fashion, Twitter, makeup, nail polish, and cats (not always in that order.) Her work has been published on family.com and blogher.com. She also writes for many websites, including NOW Foods. For more celebrity gossip, fashion, beauty and DIY, visit Amanda’s blog, It’s Blogworthy (http://itsblogworthy.com) or follow her on Twitter and Google+.