Archive For: Wellness

Staying Healthy During the Flu Season

Flu Season Vaccine

Your Best Shot at a Flu-Free Winter

Last year’s flu season was severe in most parts of the country and left many wondering why the flu vaccine hadn’t performed more effectively. However, it remains our best line of defense for averting and lessening the severity of this common but potentially deadly illness. Below we clear up some of the most common misconceptions about the flu vaccine…and continue to strongly recommend that you make sure to get your shot of prevention this fall.

Myth: I can get the flu from a flu shot.

A flu shot will not give you the flu. The viral strains in injectable influenza vaccine are inactive and biologically unable to cause illness. The one exception is the vaccine administered in nose spray form.

Myth: The vaccine didn’t work last year, so it must be losing potency.

The amount of protection provided by flu vaccines varies by influenza virus type, and how well matched vaccine viruses are to the circulating flu viruses. Last year’s results, while lower than average, still meant that the risk of getting sick from flu was reduced by a third. This year, both types of vaccines, trivalent (protection against influenza A H1N1 and H3N2 viruses and one type of influenza B virus) and quadrivalent (four component protection to protect against two types of B viruses), have been modified to better anticipate the season’s circulating flu viruses.

Myth: The flu vaccine will also prevent other viruses.

Flu vaccines do not protect against infection and illness caused by other viruses, such as rhinovirus (one cause of the common cold) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), despite their flu-like symptoms.

Myth: Flu vaccines are not appropriate for people over 65, who have weaker immune systems than younger people.

Although immune responses may be lower in the elderly, flu vaccine effectiveness has been similar in most flu seasons among older adults and those with chronic health conditions compared to younger, healthy adults. It’s also important to remember that people 65 and older are at increased risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death from the flu, making the flu vaccination especially important for this age group.

Myth: There are no flu vaccines just for people over 65.

There are two vaccines designed specifically to help enhance the effectiveness in adults older than 65. A high dose vaccine, containing four times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot, and the adjuvanted flu vaccine, which creates a stronger immune response in the elderly.

Myth: The vaccine is less effective if received every year.

Multiple studies have shown that while immune responses to vaccination may be higher among people not previously vaccinated, those who are repeatedly vaccinated still have increased immune responses and are provided protection against the flu.

Myth: I should wait as late as possible to get immunized so it lasts throughout the season.

The CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that you get a flu vaccination in early fall to ensure you’re protected before flu season begins. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late. Receiving a vaccination in December or January can still protect you because flu season often peaks after January and can last as late as May.

Myth: Getting sick with the flu is not all that serious.

In the U.S., 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu. Children, the elderly and people with certain chronic conditions (heart disease, lung disease, asthma or diabetes) are at higher risk for complications such as pneumonia. For everyone, flu symptoms, including fever, headaches, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, extreme tiredness and body aches, can disrupt work and social life for up to two weeks. The flu vaccine has proven effective in both preventing flu and in lessening the severity of symptoms if flu should occur, thereby reducing the risk of hospitalization and admission to the intensive care unit.

Did You Know?

Up to 60% – Decrease in the risk of flu during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well matched to the flu vaccine. Put another way, in 2016-17, the vaccine prevented an estimated 5.29 million illnesses, 2.64 million medical visits and 84,700 hospitalizations associated with flu.

79% / 52% – Reduction in hospitalization for people with diabetes (79%) or chronic lung disease (52%) as a result of receiving the flu vaccine.

Sources: Vaccine Journal August 2018, Centers for Disease Control, Harvard Health

Flu Season Vaccine Effectiveness

The post Staying Healthy During the Flu Season appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

A Flu-Free Winter: Your Best Shot

Take Your Best Shot for a Flu-Free Winter

Last year’s flu season was severe in most parts of the country and left many wondering why the flu vaccine hadn’t performed more effectively. However, it remains our best line of defense for averting and lessening the severity of this common but potentially deadly illness. Below we clear up some of the most common misconceptions about the flu vaccine…and continue to strongly recommend that you make sure to get your shot of prevention this fall.

Myth: I can get the flu from a flu shot.

A flu shot will not give you the flu. The viral strains in injectable influenza vaccine are inactive and biologically unable to cause illness. The one exception is the vaccine administered in nose spray form.

Myth: The vaccine didn’t work last year, so it must be losing potency.

The amount of protection provided by flu vaccines varies by influenza virus type, and how well matched vaccine viruses are to the circulating flu viruses. Last year’s results, while lower than average, still meant that the risk of getting sick from flu was reduced by a third. This year, both types of vaccines, trivalent (protection against influenza A H1N1 and H3N2 viruses and one type of influenza B virus) and quadrivalent (four component protection to protect against two types of B viruses), have been modified to better anticipate the season’s circulating flu viruses.

Myth: The flu vaccine will also prevent other viruses.

Flu vaccines do not protect against infection and illness caused by other viruses, such as rhinovirus (one cause of the common cold) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), despite their flu-like symptoms.

Myth: Flu vaccines are not appropriate for people over 65, who have weaker immune systems than younger people.

Although immune responses may be lower in the elderly, flu vaccine effectiveness has been similar in most flu seasons among older adults and those with chronic health conditions compared to younger, healthy adults. It’s also important to remember that people 65 and older are at increased risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death from the flu, making the flu vaccination especially important for this age group.

Myth: There are no flu vaccines just for people over 65.

There are two vaccines designed specifically to help enhance the effectiveness in adults older than 65. A high dose vaccine, containing four times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot, and the adjuvanted flu vaccine, which creates a stronger immune response in the elderly.

Myth: The vaccine is less effective if received every year.

Multiple studies have shown that while immune responses to vaccination may be higher among people not previously vaccinated, those who are repeatedly vaccinated still have increased immune responses and are provided protection against the flu.

Myth: I should wait as late as possible to get immunized so it lasts throughout the season.

The CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that you get a flu vaccination in early fall to ensure you’re protected before flu season begins. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late. Receiving a vaccination in December or January can still protect you because flu season often peaks after January and can last as late as May.

Myth: Getting sick with the flu is not all that serious.

In the U.S., 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu. Children, the elderly and people with certain chronic conditions (heart disease, lung disease, asthma or diabetes) are at higher risk for complications such as pneumonia. For everyone, flu symptoms, including fever, headaches, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, extreme tiredness and body aches, can disrupt work and social life for up to two weeks. The flu vaccine has proven effective in both preventing flu and in lessening the severity of symptoms if flu should occur, thereby reducing the risk of hospitalization and admission to the intensive care unit.

Did You Know?

Up to 60% – Decrease in the risk of flu during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well matched to the flu vaccine. Put another way, in 2016-17, the vaccine prevented an estimated 5.29 million illnesses, 2.64 million medical visits and 84,700 hospitalizations associated with flu.

79% / 52% – Reduction in hospitalization for people with diabetes (79%) or chronic lung disease (52%) as a result of receiving the flu vaccine.

Sources: Vaccine Journal August 2018, Centers for Disease Control, Harvard Health

The post A Flu-Free Winter: Your Best Shot appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Aging Well, Aging Healthy…a continuing series

HealthWise Spring2016 Hasson 300x295

HealthWise presents an ongoing look at research that provides valuable insights to help today’s seniors – and the generations set to follow – create a vibrant next chapter. We have looked at strategies to keep the aging brain healthy and to protect the aging senses. In this issue, we get under your skin to learn how to keep it supple and resilient over the years.  Wrinkles. Dry skin. Crow’s feet. Undereye circles.  Sagging. Is there a way to stave off these very natural signs of aging? The answer is yes…and no. The thickening of the stratum corneum (the outer layer of the epidermis) which causes drier and flakier skin, is inevitable, as is the thinning of the dermis (underneath the epidermis), resulting in loss of elasticity.  Genetics plays a pivotal role in determining when this starts to occur. However, there are a number of preventive steps you can take – some well-known and a few unexpected – which may help mature skin keep its youthful glow at 50, 60 and beyond.

Experts advise:

  • Cut your sun exposure in half, at a minimum. UV exposure damages elastin and causes a loss of collagen, which results in sagging, fine lines and wrinkles. Think of sunscreen as the only truly magic elixir to improve skin appearance and health, and most importantly, prevent skin cancer…and choose one with SPF 30 or above and broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and use daily. In addition, wear a hat and UV-protective clothing outside, and try and avoid being in the sun when UV rays are strongest, between 11 am and 1 pm.
  • Exercise. Another benefit to engaging in at least three hours of physical activity weekly is the positive impact on keeping skin younger, with the potential to reverse skin aging even for those
    who start exercising late in life. New research showed that men and women over age 65 who exercised frequently had skin composition similar to 20 to 40-year-olds, with markedly thinner,
    healthier stratum corneums and thicker dermis layers. Participants’ skin “looked like that of a much younger person, and all they had done differently was exercise.” Researchers surmised
    that myokines, substances created by working muscles, may be responsible for the results, jump starting changes in cells far from the muscles themselves. They also noted that it was
    unlikely that any pill or salve would replicate the skin benefits of a workout.
  • Take short, lukewarm showers. Long, hot showers strip your skin of its natural oils.
  • Protect in winter with a humidifier to add moisture to the home, and gloves to protect your hands from drying out.
  • Focus on the right foods and beverages.  Include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, preferably from natural sources such as olive oil and fish, to help protect your skin’s
    moisture barrier. Cut back on sugars which promote inflammation and can potentially damage normal production of dermal cells. Avoid high glycemic foods such as white bread and pretzels, which may also be responsible for prematurely aging skin. Drink plenty of water, but moderate alcohol intake – red wine can dilate blood vessels and contribute to rosacea, a skin irritation.
  • Establish a smart night routine. Remove all makeup and wash your face before bed to eliminate the pollutants that break down your skin’s collagen all day. Then apply a retinoid followed
    by a moisturizer.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. During the deepest stage of sleep, your body releases growth hormones for cell repair, helping your skin rejuvenate on a daily basis.
  • Minimize dark undereye circles with an extra nighttime pillow. As the delicate skin and muscle around the eyes weaken with time, the fat under the lower-lid skin can pool beneath your eye. Sleeping on two pillows can help prevent fluid accumulation.

If you want to explore other remedies, consider peels that exfoliate, and fractional resurfacing, a laser process that increases collagen production.

The post Aging Well, Aging Healthy…a continuing series appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Aging Well, Aging Healthy…a continuing series

HealthWise Spring2016 Hasson 300x295

HealthWise presents an ongoing look at research that provides valuable insights to help today’s seniors – and the generations set to follow – create a vibrant next chapter. We have looked at strategies to keep the aging brain healthy and to protect the aging senses. In this issue, we get under your skin to learn how to keep it supple and resilient over the years.  Wrinkles. Dry skin. Crow’s feet. Undereye circles.  Sagging. Is there a way to stave off these very natural signs of aging? The answer is yes…and no. The thickening of the stratum corneum (the outer layer of the epidermis) which causes drier and flakier skin, is inevitable, as is the thinning of the dermis (underneath the epidermis), resulting in loss of elasticity.  Genetics plays a pivotal role in determining when this starts to occur. However, there are a number of preventive steps you can take – some well-known and a few unexpected – which may help mature skin keep its youthful glow at 50, 60 and beyond.

Experts advise:

  • Cut your sun exposure in half, at a minimum. UV exposure damages elastin and causes a loss of collagen, which results in sagging, fine lines and wrinkles. Think of sunscreen as the only truly magic elixir to improve skin appearance and health, and most importantly, prevent skin cancer…and choose one with SPF 30 or above and broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and use daily. In addition, wear a hat and UV-protective clothing outside, and try and avoid being in the sun when UV rays are strongest, between 11 am and 1 pm.
  • Exercise. Another benefit to engaging in at least three hours of physical activity weekly is the positive impact on keeping skin younger, with the potential to reverse skin aging even for those
    who start exercising late in life. New research showed that men and women over age 65 who exercised frequently had skin composition similar to 20 to 40-year-olds, with markedly thinner,
    healthier stratum corneums and thicker dermis layers. Participants’ skin “looked like that of a much younger person, and all they had done differently was exercise.” Researchers surmised
    that myokines, substances created by working muscles, may be responsible for the results, jump starting changes in cells far from the muscles themselves. They also noted that it was
    unlikely that any pill or salve would replicate the skin benefits of a workout.
  • Take short, lukewarm showers. Long, hot showers strip your skin of its natural oils.
  • Protect in winter with a humidifier to add moisture to the home, and gloves to protect your hands from drying out.
  • Focus on the right foods and beverages.  Include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, preferably from natural sources such as olive oil and fish, to help protect your skin’s
    moisture barrier. Cut back on sugars which promote inflammation and can potentially damage normal production of dermal cells. Avoid high glycemic foods such as white bread and pretzels, which may also be responsible for prematurely aging skin. Drink plenty of water, but moderate alcohol intake – red wine can dilate blood vessels and contribute to rosacea, a skin irritation.
  • Establish a smart night routine. Remove all makeup and wash your face before bed to eliminate the pollutants that break down your skin’s collagen all day. Then apply a retinoid followed
    by a moisturizer.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. During the deepest stage of sleep, your body releases growth hormones for cell repair, helping your skin rejuvenate on a daily basis.
  • Minimize dark undereye circles with an extra nighttime pillow. As the delicate skin and muscle around the eyes weaken with time, the fat under the lower-lid skin can pool beneath your eye. Sleeping on two pillows can help prevent fluid accumulation.

If you want to explore other remedies, consider peels that exfoliate, and fractional resurfacing, a laser process that increases collagen production.

The post Aging Well, Aging Healthy…a continuing series appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Stressed Out? A Guide to Signs, Symptoms

Hasson HW 2017 Spring FINAL 293x300

“I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety.”

Was the above heard: 1. At a recent town hall meeting in Florida? 2. On the 2016 campaign trail? 3. During an 1898 address by a British statesman?

It may surprise you to learn that number 3 is the correct answer, and provides a welcome bit of perspective on the stress felt by every generation. While current times are considered stressful by a majority of adults, we also have better ways to identify, manage and prevent it than before.

Did You Know?

60-80%  Percentage of visits to primary care physicians for stress-related conditions.  Sources: APA, Mayo Clinic, Benson Henry Institute

Causes of stress

While stressors of American adults have remained fairly stable over the years, some are specific to the decade. As the American Psychological Association’s “2017 Stress in America” survey shows, the political climate and technology-centric world has caused an uptick in stress:

One nation, over stressed. 57% of Americans report the political climate is a significant source of stress; 66% say the same about the nation’s future. Stress about acts of terrorism was high at 59%, while worries over personal safety rose to 34%, the highest since the question was first asked in 2008.

Money, money, money. Other top causes of stress include money (61%), work (58%) and the economy (50%).

Media overload. Although nearly all adults own at least one electronic device, and more than 86% check emails, text or social media accounts daily, those who do so constantly report higher stress levels.

How to cope: For decades, stress-related issues have been recognized as the leading cause of visits to a primary care physician. Stress-relieving techniques continue to evolve:

Eat, pray, love. Exercise and going online are frequently used to manage stress. Women, how- ever, also reported spending time with friends or family, reading, engaging in prayer or eating as their primary methods of relieving stress.

Unplug. Interestingly, while 65% of Americans agree that periodically disconnecting is important for mental health, only 21% actually report doing so. Some techniques that work include no cell phones at the dinner table or while with friends, periodic digital detoxes, watching less tv, and turning off notifications for social media apps.

Trigger your relaxation response. Based on Dr. Herbert Benson’s 1974 discovery of an opposite state to the fight-or-flight response, the relaxation response puts the body in a state of deep rest. Techniques include mindful meditation, repetitive prayer, focused breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, tai chi and yoga. Studies have shown significant short-term impact on stress symptoms, as well as profound long-term improvements. Immediate reductions in blood pressure, heart and breathing rate helps manage periods of acute stress. If practiced regularly, the relaxation response can also help decrease inflammation and stress hormone levels and improve insulin activity and gastrointestinal issues.

Types of stress

Acute stress, the most common form, is experienced by virtually everyone at some point. Arising from the pressures of current conditions, and anticipated ones in the near future, acute stress can be exciting, even motivating, but too much is simply exhausting.

Symptoms: Emotional distress, such as anger, irritability, anxiety or depression; muscular problems including tension headache, back or jaw pain; stomach and bowel problems; temporary elevation in blood pressure; rapid heartbeat; sweaty palms, heart palpitations; dizziness; shortness of breath.

Solutions: This stress is short-term and highly manageable. Techniques to slow your breathing and focus your attention, as well as walking outdoors or participating in sports, can all help dispel it.

Episodic acute stress is a fact of life for those people who are always rushed, late and dealing with a plethora of self-inflicted demands and pressures. This category includes “Type A” personalities – aggressive, impatient, short-tempered. Another type of person who feels episodic acute stress is the worrier – those with a pessimistic world view and a tendency to catastrophize every situation; likely to also feel anxious and depressed.

Symptoms: Persistent tension headaches, insomnia, migraines, hypertension, chest pain and heart disease.

Solutions: Lifestyle changes, such as daily physical exercise, meditation and mindful prayer, as well as expanding social support, can help. Additionally, consider consulting with a psychologist or other mental health professional, who can offer a range of treatment, from pharmaceutical to biofeedback. For example, insomnia, a considerable source of stress in adults, can be remedied with cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT-I, a structured program to help replace negative or obsessive thoughts that keep you up at night with habits that promote sound sleep. Unlike sleeping pills, CBT-I helps you overcome the underlying causes of your sleep problems.

Chronic stress wears people down on a daily basis, often for years. Whether the cause is a dysfunctional family situation a bad career fit, people suffering from chronic stress often can’t see a way out.

Symptoms: Anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, weakened immune system; can contribute to the development of heart disease, depression and obesity.

Solutions: The most effective strategy is to seek help from professionals who can help you develop and implement lifestyle and behavior changes, recommend therapy, and prescribe medication when needed.

The post Stressed Out? A Guide to Signs, Symptoms appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Stressed Out? A Guide to Signs, Symptoms

Hasson HW 2017 Spring FINAL 293x300

“I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety.”

Was the above heard: 1. At a recent town hall meeting in Florida? 2. On the 2016 campaign trail? 3. During an 1898 address by a British statesman?

It may surprise you to learn that number 3 is the correct answer, and provides a welcome bit of perspective on the stress felt by every generation. While current times are considered stressful by a majority of adults, we also have better ways to identify, manage and prevent it than before.

Did You Know?

60-80%  Percentage of visits to primary care physicians for stress-related conditions.  Sources: APA, Mayo Clinic, Benson Henry Institute

Causes of stress

While stressors of American adults have remained fairly stable over the years, some are specific to the decade. As the American Psychological Association’s “2017 Stress in America” survey shows, the political climate and technology-centric world has caused an uptick in stress:

One nation, over stressed. 57% of Americans report the political climate is a significant source of stress; 66% say the same about the nation’s future. Stress about acts of terrorism was high at 59%, while worries over personal safety rose to 34%, the highest since the question was first asked in 2008.

Money, money, money. Other top causes of stress include money (61%), work (58%) and the economy (50%).

Media overload. Although nearly all adults own at least one electronic device, and more than 86% check emails, text or social media accounts daily, those who do so constantly report higher stress levels.

How to cope: For decades, stress-related issues have been recognized as the leading cause of visits to a primary care physician. Stress-relieving techniques continue to evolve:

Eat, pray, love. Exercise and going online are frequently used to manage stress. Women, how- ever, also reported spending time with friends or family, reading, engaging in prayer or eating as their primary methods of relieving stress.

Unplug. Interestingly, while 65% of Americans agree that periodically disconnecting is important for mental health, only 21% actually report doing so. Some techniques that work include no cell phones at the dinner table or while with friends, periodic digital detoxes, watching less tv, and turning off notifications for social media apps.

Trigger your relaxation response. Based on Dr. Herbert Benson’s 1974 discovery of an opposite state to the fight-or-flight response, the relaxation response puts the body in a state of deep rest. Techniques include mindful meditation, repetitive prayer, focused breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, tai chi and yoga. Studies have shown significant short-term impact on stress symptoms, as well as profound long-term improvements. Immediate reductions in blood pressure, heart and breathing rate helps manage periods of acute stress. If practiced regularly, the relaxation response can also help decrease inflammation and stress hormone levels and improve insulin activity and gastrointestinal issues.

Types of stress

Acute stress, the most common form, is experienced by virtually everyone at some point. Arising from the pressures of current conditions, and anticipated ones in the near future, acute stress can be exciting, even motivating, but too much is simply exhausting.

Symptoms: Emotional distress, such as anger, irritability, anxiety or depression; muscular problems including tension headache, back or jaw pain; stomach and bowel problems; temporary elevation in blood pressure; rapid heartbeat; sweaty palms, heart palpitations; dizziness; shortness of breath.

Solutions: This stress is short-term and highly manageable. Techniques to slow your breathing and focus your attention, as well as walking outdoors or participating in sports, can all help dispel it.

Episodic acute stress is a fact of life for those people who are always rushed, late and dealing with a plethora of self-inflicted demands and pressures. This category includes “Type A” personalities – aggressive, impatient, short-tempered. Another type of person who feels episodic acute stress is the worrier – those with a pessimistic world view and a tendency to catastrophize every situation; likely to also feel anxious and depressed.

Symptoms: Persistent tension headaches, insomnia, migraines, hypertension, chest pain and heart disease.

Solutions: Lifestyle changes, such as daily physical exercise, meditation and mindful prayer, as well as expanding social support, can help. Additionally, consider consulting with a psychologist or other mental health professional, who can offer a range of treatment, from pharmaceutical to biofeedback. For example, insomnia, a considerable source of stress in adults, can be remedied with cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT-I, a structured program to help replace negative or obsessive thoughts that keep you up at night with habits that promote sound sleep. Unlike sleeping pills, CBT-I helps you overcome the underlying causes of your sleep problems.

Chronic stress wears people down on a daily basis, often for years. Whether the cause is a dysfunctional family situation a bad career fit, people suffering from chronic stress often can’t see a way out.

Symptoms: Anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, weakened immune system; can contribute to the development of heart disease, depression and obesity.

Solutions: The most effective strategy is to seek help from professionals who can help you develop and implement lifestyle and behavior changes, recommend therapy, and prescribe medication when needed.

The post Stressed Out? A Guide to Signs, Symptoms appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

The Connected Patient: Keeping Up with Apps

apps-

The ubiquitous smart phone has boosted its useful- ness tenfold in the past decade with a mushrooming library of health and wellness apps. Some aim to help you monitor your condition day-to-day, understand and stay on track with medications, or diagnose your symptoms, while others prepare you for an unforeseen emergency, allow you to share information electronically with your physician or receive education and encouragement between doctor’s appointments. With almost 200,000 apps already on the market, the real challenge is identifying the treasures that are credible, accurate and can guide you toward a healthier lifestyle. Some notable apps are listed below; all are available for iPhone (in iTunes store) and Android (Google Play).

Condition-specific information

Diabetes Tracker and One Drop offer comprehensive logging of glucose, food, medication and activity; GluCoMo works as an electronic diary to store data for blood sugar levels, weight, insulin intake, pulse rate, blood pressure and other information.

AsthmaSense and AsthmaMD provide tools to manage the disease with a digital record of triggers, medications and testing.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network Patient Guides for Cancer covers 25 different types of cancer, with medical illustrations, information on screening, treatment and follow-up, and questions for patients to ask their physician.

A healthier lifestyle

MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker remains one of the best diet trackers, allowing you to log meals and weight data for an at-a-glance view of your intake on the dashboard.

Nike+ Running and Garmin Connect lets you log distance, time and intensity of jogs and runs; Endomondo enables logging and sharing of information from walks, hikes and cycles; Trails, known as the ‘ultimate walker’s app,’ provides topographical tracking of your strolls; and 7 Minute Workout provides exercise timers, instructional videos and a personalized exercise plan.

Buddhify and Omvana offer guided meditation tracks, ranging from three minutes to an hour.

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson features step- by-step instructions to guide yourself into meditation and a restful sleep and Sleep Cycle provides easy- to-read graphs to help you make sense of your sleep patterns and wakes you when you will feel the least groggy.

Medication tracking

Drugs.com is an easy way to look up drug informa- tion, identify pills, check interactions with different drugs and foods and set up your own personal medication records. A symptom checker powered by Harvard Health Publications is included with the app. CareZone will curate a list of medications, dosages, and schedules directly from your photo library, enable you to share symptoms with your doctor, store insurance information and schedule reminders for upcoming appointments.

GoodRx shows current pricing for your prescrip- tions at nearby pharmacies.

Round Health and Medisafe make it easier to follow a medication regimen with reminders on timing and dosage for each prescription, customized to your schedule.

Healthcare news

For information you can trust, check out Medscape MedPulse, a robust news aggregator for the world of medicine and UptoDate’s patient information section, featuring evidence-based, peer-reviewed information on hundreds of medical topics.

First aid

Download First Aid by American Red Cross to receive simple step-by-step instructions to guide you through everyday first aid scenarios, from asthma attacks to broken bones; there’s a Pet First Aid app as well; and Resuscitate! CPR AED & Choking, developed by doctors and educators at the University of Washington, features short videos on how to perform CPR, operate commonly available Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and aid a choking victim.

New parents

BabyBump helps parents-to-be keep track of the stages of pregnancy, doctor’s appointments, and share their news on social networks when baby arrives; Sprout offers 3D images of baby’s growth by the week and advice on essential items needed for the newborn.

KidsDoc from the American Academy of Pediat- rics offers expert advice to help parents make smart decisions on level of care needed for their child’s illness or injury.

Please remember: an app, no matter how sophisticated or technologically advanced, cannot replace a phone call or visit to your personal physician.

Sources: Digitaltrends.com, Harvard Health, imedicalapps.com

The post The Connected Patient: Keeping Up with Apps appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

The Connected Patient: Keeping Up with Apps

apps-

The ubiquitous smart phone has boosted its useful- ness tenfold in the past decade with a mushrooming library of health and wellness apps. Some aim to help you monitor your condition day-to-day, understand and stay on track with medications, or diagnose your symptoms, while others prepare you for an unforeseen emergency, allow you to share information electronically with your physician or receive education and encouragement between doctor’s appointments. With almost 200,000 apps already on the market, the real challenge is identifying the treasures that are credible, accurate and can guide you toward a healthier lifestyle. Some notable apps are listed below; all are available for iPhone (in iTunes store) and Android (Google Play).

Condition-specific information

Diabetes Tracker and One Drop offer comprehensive logging of glucose, food, medication and activity; GluCoMo works as an electronic diary to store data for blood sugar levels, weight, insulin intake, pulse rate, blood pressure and other information.

AsthmaSense and AsthmaMD provide tools to manage the disease with a digital record of triggers, medications and testing.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network Patient Guides for Cancer covers 25 different types of cancer, with medical illustrations, information on screening, treatment and follow-up, and questions for patients to ask their physician.

A healthier lifestyle

MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker remains one of the best diet trackers, allowing you to log meals and weight data for an at-a-glance view of your intake on the dashboard.

Nike+ Running and Garmin Connect lets you log distance, time and intensity of jogs and runs; Endomondo enables logging and sharing of information from walks, hikes and cycles; Trails, known as the ‘ultimate walker’s app,’ provides topographical tracking of your strolls; and 7 Minute Workout provides exercise timers, instructional videos and a personalized exercise plan.

Buddhify and Omvana offer guided meditation tracks, ranging from three minutes to an hour.

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson features step- by-step instructions to guide yourself into meditation and a restful sleep and Sleep Cycle provides easy- to-read graphs to help you make sense of your sleep patterns and wakes you when you will feel the least groggy.

Medication tracking

Drugs.com is an easy way to look up drug informa- tion, identify pills, check interactions with different drugs and foods and set up your own personal medication records. A symptom checker powered by Harvard Health Publications is included with the app. CareZone will curate a list of medications, dosages, and schedules directly from your photo library, enable you to share symptoms with your doctor, store insurance information and schedule reminders for upcoming appointments.

GoodRx shows current pricing for your prescrip- tions at nearby pharmacies.

Round Health and Medisafe make it easier to follow a medication regimen with reminders on timing and dosage for each prescription, customized to your schedule.

Healthcare news

For information you can trust, check out Medscape MedPulse, a robust news aggregator for the world of medicine and UptoDate’s patient information section, featuring evidence-based, peer-reviewed information on hundreds of medical topics.

First aid

Download First Aid by American Red Cross to receive simple step-by-step instructions to guide you through everyday first aid scenarios, from asthma attacks to broken bones; there’s a Pet First Aid app as well; and Resuscitate! CPR AED & Choking, developed by doctors and educators at the University of Washington, features short videos on how to perform CPR, operate commonly available Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and aid a choking victim.

New parents

BabyBump helps parents-to-be keep track of the stages of pregnancy, doctor’s appointments, and share their news on social networks when baby arrives; Sprout offers 3D images of baby’s growth by the week and advice on essential items needed for the newborn.

KidsDoc from the American Academy of Pediat- rics offers expert advice to help parents make smart decisions on level of care needed for their child’s illness or injury.

Please remember: an app, no matter how sophisticated or technologically advanced, cannot replace a phone call or visit to your personal physician.

Sources: Digitaltrends.com, Harvard Health, imedicalapps.com

The post The Connected Patient: Keeping Up with Apps appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Gut Instincts: Can More Bacteria Mean Better Health?

bacteria

Healthy bacteria may seem like a contradiction in terms, but years of research and real world experience point toward an unexpectedly promising finding: the microorganisms continually forming in your intestine may confer health benefits that we are only just beginning to understand.

Here is what we know: each of us has an individual set of microbes, collectively known as the microbiome, from the moment we are born, starting with our mother’s bacteria and then continuing to gather new microbes throughout our life as a result of environmental influences. Among these are probiotics, needed and beneficial bacteria which support the bacteria that live within us. Their numbers can become challenged by factors that include antibiotics, poor diet or travel. Scientific investigators are finding their impact on overall health can be significant. The chemicals they emit may interfere with the way food is digested, medicine is deployed, and even how a disease progresses, according to experts.

Research in the last decade on manipulating the microbes within has been varied and extensive, involving antibiotics, probiotics and prebiotics (dietary fibers that promote the growth and met- abolic activity of beneficial bacteria, including probiotics). The results of numerous studies suggest that certain types of probiotics may play a potential role in reducing gastrointestinal illnesses, including inflammatory bowel diseases, antibiotic-related and infectious diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, the benefits of probiotics may extend into enhancing immune function. The idea that probiotics can improve the ability to fight off colds, promote a healthy urinary tract, reduce the risk of eczema, allergies and possibly Parkinson’s disease, in preliminary studies, has gained traction with nutritionists and gastrointestinal physicians alike.

As with all touted healthcare advancements, however, a note of caution should be sounded.

According to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, adding probiotics to your diet, especially in the form of a supplement, should only be done in consultation with your physician. Some probiotics may not be appropriate for seniors, others may interfere with or interact with medication. Not all strains are the same, and while a specific kind of Lactobacillus may help prevent an illness, that doesn’t necessarily mean that another kind of Lactobacillus would have the same effect or that Bifidobacterium probiotics would work. The same advice applies to adding prebiotic supple- ments to your diet. Although a great deal of research has been done, much remains to be learned. The encouraging news: gaining a comprehensive picture of the microbiome is a matter of intense interest to the medical community, and will be further advanced in 2017 by programs such as the government-funded $121 million National Microbiome initiative.

The best approach now? To promote intestinal health, make sure your diet includes foods that are good sources of fiber, probiotics and probiotics:

  • Fiber: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Prebiotics: Oats, flaxseed, onions, garlic, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas and greens
  • Probiotics: Yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, soft cheeses, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods like kombucha

Did you know?

100 trillion
Number of bacterial cells in the human digestive tract
Source: International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics

The post Gut Instincts: Can More Bacteria Mean Better Health? appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Gut Instincts: Can More Bacteria Mean Better Health?

bacteria

Healthy bacteria may seem like a contradiction in terms, but years of research and real world experience point toward an unexpectedly promising finding: the microorganisms continually forming in your intestine may confer health benefits that we are only just beginning to understand.

Here is what we know: each of us has an individual set of microbes, collectively known as the microbiome, from the moment we are born, starting with our mother’s bacteria and then continuing to gather new microbes throughout our life as a result of environmental influences. Among these are probiotics, needed and beneficial bacteria which support the bacteria that live within us. Their numbers can become challenged by factors that include antibiotics, poor diet or travel. Scientific investigators are finding their impact on overall health can be significant. The chemicals they emit may interfere with the way food is digested, medicine is deployed, and even how a disease progresses, according to experts.

Research in the last decade on manipulating the microbes within has been varied and extensive, involving antibiotics, probiotics and prebiotics (dietary fibers that promote the growth and met- abolic activity of beneficial bacteria, including probiotics). The results of numerous studies suggest that certain types of probiotics may play a potential role in reducing gastrointestinal illnesses, including inflammatory bowel diseases, antibiotic-related and infectious diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, the benefits of probiotics may extend into enhancing immune function. The idea that probiotics can improve the ability to fight off colds, promote a healthy urinary tract, reduce the risk of eczema, allergies and possibly Parkinson’s disease, in preliminary studies, has gained traction with nutritionists and gastrointestinal physicians alike.

As with all touted healthcare advancements, however, a note of caution should be sounded.

According to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, adding probiotics to your diet, especially in the form of a supplement, should only be done in consultation with your physician. Some probiotics may not be appropriate for seniors, others may interfere with or interact with medication. Not all strains are the same, and while a specific kind of Lactobacillus may help prevent an illness, that doesn’t necessarily mean that another kind of Lactobacillus would have the same effect or that Bifidobacterium probiotics would work. The same advice applies to adding prebiotic supple- ments to your diet. Although a great deal of research has been done, much remains to be learned. The encouraging news: gaining a comprehensive picture of the microbiome is a matter of intense interest to the medical community, and will be further advanced in 2017 by programs such as the government-funded $121 million National Microbiome initiative.

The best approach now? To promote intestinal health, make sure your diet includes foods that are good sources of fiber, probiotics and probiotics:

  • Fiber: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Prebiotics: Oats, flaxseed, onions, garlic, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas and greens
  • Probiotics: Yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, soft cheeses, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods like kombucha

Did you know?

100 trillion
Number of bacterial cells in the human digestive tract
Source: International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics

The post Gut Instincts: Can More Bacteria Mean Better Health? appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.