Medical Directions

Follow Us To Good Health


Walking doesn’t get enough attention. In a world of high-energy, intense workout routines like Crossfit and extreme kayaking, the simple walk often gets left out of the spotlight. To too many people, walking is the Werther’s Original Candy of exercise: plain, unchallenging, and appealing to an unglamorous crowd.

 

Walking is a great exercise, though, and it has some benefits you’re unlikely to find in other places. Walkers understand that not all workouts have to be high-stress or high-impact. A walk is good for your body and mind. When you start walking, expect to see some of these changes in your life.

Weight Loss

Walking will help you lose weight. If you get a brisk walk in for 40 minutes day, you’ll burn a significant amount of calories. Combined with healthy eating routine, walking can be one of the healthiest choices you make each week. And walking is easy. The low stress involved in a daily walk means that you can easily get into the habit. And it gets you off the couch.

Blood Sugar Control

For those of you who need to monitor your blood sugar closely, walking can be the perfect exercise. You’ll burn carbs at a reasonable pace, and—unlike with higher energy workouts—you won’t be in much danger of running your body into hypoglycemic levels (even if your blood sugar gets low, you’ll have to time to feel it coming and react). Of course, speak with your doctor ahead of time before beginning any exercise routine. People’s needs vary from person to person.

Mental Health

Walking helps you on the way to happiness and stability. When you walk, your brain increases production of chemicals associated with good feelings. Beyond chemistry, you’ll simply feel good when you get fresh air, focus on your surroundings, and get your heart rate up. Bonus points if you’re outside—walking in the outdoors, in the presence of trees, wildlife, and running water, imparts strong benefits on the brain.

Minimal Risk

Walking poses far fewer health risks than do other exercises. As long you stretch, wear good shoes, and pay attention to your body’s needs (and doctor’s orders), you’ll be at low risk for the problems associated with running, such as joint and bone strain, or higher tech exercise—even bicyclists need to watch out for car doors, debris in the roads, etc. As a walker, your likelihood of tripping over a surprise downed branch or struck by a vehicle is much lower than it would be if you were engaging in other exercises.

A Social Life

Walking has the potential to be a very social event. Social engagement is an integral part of your health, believe it or not, and your nightly walk can be an essential part of your social life. Walkers will tell you they have some of the best talks of their lives while out for strolls. Walkers tend to be thoughtful, introspective people with a lot to say. If you put together a walking group, you’ll develop important friendships. You might even strengthen your marriage if you and your spouse make a regular walk date.

 

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If you’ve made the choice to live in a warmer climate, the summer months are probably some of your favorite months of the year. With beautiful weather and a brightly shining sun, it’s hard to stay cooped up inside. You can ditch the gym and instead revel in that fresh, natural air as you exercise. The problem though is the heat itself. If you live in an extremely warm climate, the heat can be almost unbearable. The last thing you want is to pass out from heat exhaustion. Check out these 10 tips for exercising safely in the heat of the summer.

  1. Stay Hydrated!

This is (somewhat obviously) the number 1 important factor for exercising in the heat. Really, it’s the most important tip for safely exercising in any temperature. Body temperature increases even more when you exercise in hot weather, so it’s important to keep yourself cool by drinking water during and after your workout.

  1. Try to Avoid the Hottest Part of the Day

It’s best to make it out in the morning when the air is still cool, or go outside as the sun is setting or even later in the evening.

  1. Start Slow

Give your body time to get acclimated to the heat. Don’t push yourself too hard to begin with. You might even start by exercising in the heat for just a few minutes at a time.

  1. Go Easy on Yourself

Heat and humidity will wear you down much quicker than milder temperatures. Remember that even if you can’t do as much as you normally can, that’s completely typical of exercising in the heat. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

  1. Run on the Beach

Running barefoot, and especially through sand, can help reduce impact-related injuries. Plus, you’ll get that cool ocean breeze even when it’s sweltering outside. You’ll also have the perfect place to take a dip after you get done with your workout!

  1. Eat Healthy Snacks throughout the Day

Keep your energy high by snacking on healthy goodies throughout the day. Juicy snacks like grapes, apples and oranges are a great way to keep you hydrated as well.

  1. Wear Light Clothing

Imagine stepping barefoot onto dark asphalt in the heat of the day. How hot is it? Dark colors absorb heat, so you end up getting incredibly hot if you’re wearing dark clothing. Think about the material too. Try to wear wicking fabrics and avoid heavy cotton. The looser the clothing, the more air will be able to circulate across your body and the cooler you’ll be.

  1. Try Water

If it seems way too hot to even be outdoors, why not try an activity in the water? Swimming is an awesome way to really get a workout and not overheat. Any ocean, lake or pool will do!

  1. Bring a Buddy

Heat exhaustion can happen quicker than you’d think. If you’re going to be exercising outdoors, it’s a good idea to bring a buddy along just in case.

  1. Listen to Your Body

If you’re body is physically telling you to give it a rest, listen to it! Exercising in the heat can be far more challenging than in more moderate temperatures. Know when enough is enough. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night as well to let your body fully recharge.

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Summer Health Tips

Summer Health Tips


Posted By on Jun 14, 2016

 

For millions of Americans, summertime is a welcome sight, particularly for those who live in the Northern states where winter weather can be tough. If you want to get the most out of the summer season, it’s important to take care of yourself by staying healthy and safe. Here are some tips to stay on top of your health so you can enjoy everything that summer has to offer:

Stay Hydrated and Eat Well

 

Although summer marks the season of ice cream, backyard BBQs, and festive alcoholic beverages, make sure you balance all the indulgences with a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Whether you take advantage of the local and in season produce at your Farmer’s Market or plant your own garden, it’s the perfect time of year to stock up on a variety of fruits and vegetables.

 

Staying hydrated is important year round, but even more so when the temperatures begin to rise. Whether you’re running errands around town, heading out for a nature hike, or are just doing some work around the yard, it’s crucial to stay on top of your water intake. Experts recommend drinking at least 64 oz. of water a day (throughout the day) and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to get caught up on your water intake. It’s also important to recognize signs of dehydration, a potentially serious issue, particularly during summertime. You may have mild dehydration if you are feeling thirsty, have a headache or feel lightheaded, feel fatigued, have less frequent urine (or dark yellow) output, and constipation.

Protection From the Sun

 

Spending time in the sun can give you a much needed dose of Vitamin D, but too much sun can be bad for your health. Too much exposure to the sun can put you at risk for skin cancer and a severe sunburn is also known as “sun poisoning” and can make you feel very ill. A severe sunburn can result in skin redness and blistering, pain, tingling, swelling, headache, dehydration, dizziness, and flu like symptoms. The best way to avoid a sunburn is by wearing broad spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 SPF and by avoiding being in the sun for long periods of time.

 

In addition to wearing sunscreen and limiting your exposure to the sun, don’t forget to protect your eyes from sun by wearing sunglasses and wear a wide brimmed hat. If you begin to feel too overheated in the sun, try to find a shady spot and make sure you stay hydrated.

Be Responsible During Summer Activities

 

Summer is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you prefer to go on a bicycle ride with your family, a short getaway on your motorcycle, or heading to the beach for a day of fun by the water, it’s important that you stay safe and avoid risky behavior. Everyone in your family should wear a helmet when riding bicycle or operating a motorcycle.

 

If you’re heading out to enjoy water sports, make sure that you wear a Coast Guard approved life preserver and make sure you dive into water feet first to avoid head injuries.

 

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For most of us, the arrival of spring is a welcome sight and can be an invigorating season. However, for spring allergy sufferers, the season can leave many feeling like they’re walking around in a haze. While some, who suffer from seasonal allergies, may have mild symptoms that are a slight inconvenience, some people have symptoms so severe that it affects and interrupts daily routines. Regardless of the severity of your symptoms, there are ways to control your springtime allergies and hopefully help you get the most out of the season of renewal:

Pay Attention to the Weather

 

The springtime weather is ideal for most everyone, but allergy sufferers. Although allergies can strike at anytime, it’s important to pay attention to the weather outside in order to control your symptoms. It’s important to know that tree, grass, and ragweed pollens are abundant during warm days and cool nights and pollen levels often peak in the morning hours. Although rain can wash pollen away from surfaces in your yard (such as the sidewalks or your car), pollen can also worsen after a rainfall. When the weather is windy, you are more likely to be affected by the pollen rather than days without wind. If you are are sensitive to mold, you are more likely to struggle with your mold allergy when the weather is hot and humid.

Avoid Your Triggers

 

In addition to paying attention to the weather and limiting your exposure to the outdoors when allergen counts are high, you should take proper precautions to managing and avoiding your triggers. If you had a food allergy, you would go out of your way to avoid eating anything with the allergen; springtime allergies should be treated no differently. Although may not be able to easily control going outside, you can do other things to limit your exposure and avoid your allergen triggers. When allergen counts are high, consider keeping the windows and doors shut at home or in your car, take a shower and change your clothing after spending time outside, avoid hanging laundry outside, skip wearing contact lenses, and wear a filter mask if you need to take care of outside work (ie. yard maintenance).

 

In addition to taking necessary precautions outside, it’s important to keep your the indoors free from allergen triggers by limiting the amount of mold and pollen throughout your home. Immediately wash any clothing covered in allergens, use a vacuum with a high quality filter, use a dehumidifier, and use an air conditioner when possible.

Manage Your Allergy Symptoms

 

If your allergy symptoms continue despite your efforts to limit your exposure to certain triggers, medications may be your best option. Whether you take a nonprescription oral antihistamine or decongestant or are prescribed a medication by your doctor, it’s important that you are aware of what you’re taking, how they may affect you, and keep your medicine cabinet up to date and organized. If you are an annual allergy sufferer, you may want to get ready for allergy season before it hits by stocking up on allergy medication and making proper preparations throughout your home.

 

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According to the Washington Post, the average adult sits 8 hours a day and it’s not just out of pure laziness, many Americans are forced to sit due to their occupational field or sitting behind the wheel of their car. An hour commute, an 8 hour shift at work, a 2 hour binge watch at night, this may be your typical day, which means you are sitting far more than the average American adult. Not only can sitting all day become rather boring, but sitting can lead to health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and simply increase your mortality rate of any cause of death by 50%. Here are some tips for staying healthy and active in a world of sitting:

Adjust Your Desk and Chair

 

Millions of Americans sit at a desk and in front of a computer screen for 40 hours a week. The more you sit, the more you may notice little things like an achy back, a nagging headache, or even eye strain, which are often all related to your posture at your desk. Take a look around the office, how many colleagues are slouching, straining their eyes, or resting their feet on the legs of their rolling chair. This posture often occurs when we are concentrating or simply forget how we should be sitting.

 

A healthier (and proper) posture is to sit up straight rather than leaning forward, relax your shoulders, keep your arms close to your sides, keep elbows bent 90 degrees, and your feet flat on the floor. With a proper adjustment of your chair, you should be able to achieve this posture. Many people, who work in front of a computer all day, put their computer monitors on a stand (or elevate them some other way) so the head can look forward, rather than down. By simply changing your posturing, you are taking stress and pressure away from your spine, neck, and even vital organs. If you need to remind yourself to sit up straight, set an alarm on your computer or phone to “check your posture”. It may take you time to adjust, but you’ll notice improvements over time.

Get Up

 

When you’re hard at work, answering emails, filing reports, and taking care of other important business, it’s easy to lose track of time. You check your clock and it’s already lunchtime (when you’ll leave your desk and continue to sit somewhere else). When you have a break, try to make the most of it. If you’re hungry, have a light snack, but then take the remaining time to walk around the office complex or even hit the outdoors. If you’re short on time, do a couple of laps up and down the steps (skipping the elevator whenever possible). If breaks are somewhat infrequent, set an alarm on your computer or phone and take a short lap around the cubicles. Take any chance you can get to move, even if that means grabbing a document from the printer or filling up your water bottle at the water cooler.

If you need a little boost of motivation to remind you to keep moving in a busy work day, download a self-monitoring app to your phone, such as an app that tracks your steps, and set a goal to hit that amount of steps each day.

Keep Moving

 

When you have a busy work and home life, it’s difficult to find time to exercise, but make it a goal to move, stand, or stretch whenever you get a free moment whether you’re binge watching your favorite show or taking the subway home from a long day at the office. Your mind and body will thank you.

 

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What’s cffDNA?

Cell free fetal DNA testing, or shortly cffDNA is a new test that gives parents’ the ability to know whether their unborn baby suffers from certain chromosome disorders. Such disorders include Down Syndrome, Patau Syndrome, and Edwards Syndrome. Besides these, any other condition connected to irregular chromosome numbers can be detected. Of course, other tests in the past existed and still exist, such as amniocentesis, which give accurate results. However, one of the most positive aspects of cffDNA is the non-invasive method of examination which is done through the mother’s blood. The material which is examined is the cffDNA. This is the genetic material that is released by the placenta into the bloodstream of the mother. The release of cffDNA starts in the initial trimester of the pregnancy. At the beginning of the pregnancy, it is released in low quantities, but it increases as the pregnancy progresses. It serves to detect the genetic map of the baby that is developing.

Screening/Diagnostic Testing

This test represents a screening test, rather than a diagnostic test. It is not standard in use as the older routine prenatal tests, but it can be requested. This test gives more accurate, specific and sensitive data. In cases when the screening findings appear abnormal, the direction of the procedure turns to more invasive methods such as CVS (chorionic villus sampling) and amniocentesis. Only after the latter two are performed, a correct diagnosis can be carried out.

As stated, cell free DNA testing can be ordered, but usually under certain circumstances. These may include cases when the mother has an increased possibility of carrying a child that has increased risk of a chromosome disorder because of maternal age, previous pregnancy with a trisomy, known circumstances that place the fetus at risk, as well as several other related factors.

After the test has been performed and the protein examined, the results can be positive or negative. If the cffDNA results are negative, then it means that the circumstances for the baby having a trisomy 21, 18 or 13 are highly unlikely. However, other types of chromosome abnormalities that have not been tested should not be excluded just yet. If the test results are positive then the fetus is at increased risk. As mentioned, this is only a screening test. After receiving positive results, then it is obligatory to perform the diagnostic tests to be certain.

Additional information about the DNA test

The cffDNA test is still new and being worked on, so it may take a while until it becomes routine clinical use. As the research expands, so do the possibilities of usage of the test. Some of the flaws of the test are the false negative results which a mother can get if the test was performed before the tenth week of the pregnancy. This can happen because of the scarcity of the protein in the woman’s bloodstream. Test results can also be affected by obesity, which in turn decreases the amount of the cffDNA in blood. Researchers have also found a rare instance where different cell lines with genetic information can appear in the placenta. That means that some cells can contain a trisomy, while others don’t, thus giving a false prediction about the overall pregnancy in general.

What are your thoughts on the reliability of cffDNA testing?

 

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The news may be tough to hear for many drinkers, but the British government recently unveiled new recommendations for alcohol consumption. The recommendations suggest fewer drinks per weeks than have past recommendations.

What are the new guidelines? What is the reasoning behind them? And does this new announcement signal a global change in recommended alcohol intake? Let’s find out.

Stick to Two Drinks a Day

The basic new National Health Service (NHS) advice is that regular drinkers should stick to 14 drinks per week. This has long been the standard advice given to women, but it now applies to men as well. Luckily, regular drinkers can still safely get some of their evening drinking in; 14 drinks per week averages out to 2 a night. Not too bad. And since men and women now get the same recommendations, sticking to this schedule will be easier for couples to stick to.

Pace Yourself Over the Course of a Week

Regular moderate drinking is still preferred over quick binges. It would not be safe to have seven drinks twice a week, for instance. Binge drinking is never safe or advisable. Bingeing is associated with high risks of long-term health problems, and it leads to greatly increased risks of accidents, falls, and other physical damages that come with drunkenness.

The NHS advises drinker to pace themselves, to consume food with alcohol, and to alternate alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic drinks. This will prevent drunkenness and encourage a huge variety of healthy lifestyle choices.

Pregnant Women Should Avoid Alcohol Completely

If you’re pregnant, you should cut out drinking completely. Everything you consume will filter down to your unborn child, and your future child’s body is not yet up to the challenge of dealing with alcohol. You wouldn’t give beer to a toddler, and you should give one to a fetus.

This advice is, of course, not new. Pregnant women have been told for years to avoid alcohol, but the new guidelines reiterate this important point.

Why Were the Guidelines Changed?

Governments have been offering drinking advice for decades, so why has the NHS recently changed its tune? Science always improves on itself, and more data means that public health experts are always improving their knowledge and advice. The NHS had not updated its policy in about twenty years, so researchers figured it was time for a fresh look at the guidelines that included more information. They took that look, and the new guidelines are the result.    

What About Other Governments?

Every government in the world offers drinking advice. Why should you be paying attention to the NHS’s guidelines, especially if you’re not a British citizen?

The UK’s guidelines are much more limiting than most of the world’s governments’, at least for men (14 per week is a common recommendation for women around the world). One thing the British research takes into account is the link between alcohol and cancer. 21 drinks per week may not be immediately dangerous for men, but it may increase risks for many cancers.

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For decades, the future for mesothelioma patients has been bleak. The lung cancer that is related to exposure to asbestos typically affects anyone who worked with or in close quarters with asbestos containing materials. “Shipyard workers and Navy veterans are at a high risk of developing mesothelioma,” says Belluck & Fox, “since many of those individuals lived and worked on navy vessels that asbestos containing materials such as insulation and heating/cooling systems.”

 

On Navy vessels, in particular, the work and living spaces are cramped and ship workers and Navy seamen were likely to breathe in the asbestos particles when they moved, fixed or even brushed up against any component that contained asbestos. At the time, basically anytime before the 1970’s, no one really knew of the dangers of being in contact with the cancer causing materials. Unfortunately, the damage that asbestos causes doesn’t appear until decades later when individuals find out they have an aggressive form of lung cancer and often times, there’s little that can be done.

Promising New Drugs

 

Up until recently, the only available treatments for mesothelioma was surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, and even those have had less than promising results. Many patients opt for treatment in hopes of relieving some of the pain, while others (doubtful of any hope) reject treatment of any kind.

 

In October of 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two new immunotherapy drugs, Keytruda and Opdivo, to be used to fight malignant pleural mesothelioma (or the mesothelioma that affects the lungs). Both drugs were currently used to treat and fight other forms of cancers, but seemed promising for mesothelioma patients with the shortest rates of survival.

 

Keytruda and Opdivo target PD-1 and PD-L1, specific proteins that block an immune system from attacking cancer cells, these proteins were found in patients with aggressive forms of mesothelioma and who had been given the shortest survival time.

How It’s Being Used in Treatment

 

While each drug has shown promising results when used on its own, Keytruda and Opdivo are most effective when used with other drugs as secondary treatment in eliminating any remaining cancer cells after surgery, for example.

 

Since mesothelioma and lung cancer are different because of the way that mesothelioma forms in the lungs. Over time, years after asbestos exposure, cancerous masses cover a large area of the lungs and the ability to separate healthy or cancerous cells is almost impossible. Lung cancer on the other hand can occur from many different types of exposures and doesn’t necessarily spread the same way mesothelioma does. Despite the differences, researchers are confident that Keytruda and Opdivo, with their immunotherapy capabilities, will start to make small changes and hope for mesothelioma patients who have wanted assuming that there’s little option of survival.
While some individuals with mesothelioma may not be recommended for treatment using Keytruda or Opdivo, it may be particularly promising and hopeful for individuals who have otherwise been given a small window of survival. As with all cancer treatments, nothing is guaranteed, but after years of little promise, Keytruda and Opdivo may just be the key to stopping mesothelioma from spreading.

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