Tag Archives: 844-SMA-TALK

Acid Reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

Introduction

Do you have acid reflux? I’m at the point in life where I rarely eat after 8 pm. That has defined health benefits, but it’s also protective from today’s Straight, No Chaser topic. Gastroesophageal reflux, aka GERD, aka acid reflux, aka reflux causes all types of problems during the night. You should be surprised and feel fortunate if reflux doesn’t bother you at some point. Let’s tackle this spicy topic via a question and answer format:

acid reflux

What is reflux?

Most simply put, acid reflux occurs whenever stomach contents back up into your food pipe (esophagus) and/or mouth.

Why does this occur?

Your feeding tube (esophagus) has a connection to the stomach at its lower end. This connection is made via a circular ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES relaxes and contracts to allow food to enter and prevent it from traveling back up into the esophagus. Unfortunately, there are a number of conditions that cause the sphincter to relax, such as episode overeating, lying flat and the presence of a hiatal hernia (more on that in the next blog).

Is this a disease?

Some degree of acid reflux is actually normal, but it does rise to the level of a disease (gastroesophageal reflux disease, aka GERD) when symptoms create difficulties for the patient.

acid reflux symptoms

What are the symptoms?

You know them, and you hate them! The most common symptoms include heartburn, difficulty with swallowing (including pain or food getting stuck; this is called dysphagia), regurgitation and vomiting. In fact, heartburn occurs in 10 million adults in the US every day. In severe cases, the acid can cause hoarseness due to the effects on the vocal cords or go back down the air tube (trachea) and into the lungs (this is called aspiration). Here are some additional symptoms you may experience.

  • Asthma “only” at night
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Non-burning chest pain
  • Painful swallowing
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Persistent laryngitis/hoarseness
  • Recurrent lung infections
  • Sense of a lump in your throat
  • Stomach (upper abdominal pain)
  • Waking up with a choking sensation
  • Worsening dental disease

acid reflux photo

Do foods cause heartburn or acid reflux? 

You already know they do! Here’s a quick list of common food that worsen or trigger symptoms:

  • Alcohol (think red wine)
  • Caffeinated drinks, including coffee, soda and tea
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits and products, including oranges and orange juice
  • Peppermint
  • Spicy foods, such as black pepper, garlic, raw onions and tomatoes.

When should I seek help for reflux?

Although you should feel free to contact your healthcare provider for any symptoms, you should be aware that the following signs and symptoms may indicate a more serious problem. The presence of any of these should prompt you to visit and emergency room or otherwise contact your physician immediately. Please do not assume because you’ve had these symptoms previously, that the symptoms represent the same thing they always have.

  • Chest pain
  • Choking
  • Difficulty or pain with swallowing, or a sensation that your food gets stuck
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting blood or have Bleeding (vomiting blood or dark-colored stools)

In the next Straight, No Chaser, we’ll review some complications, how GERD is diagnosed and treatment options.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

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The Frustration of Acute Bronchitis

Introduction

bronchitis
We’ve all experienced acute bronchitis. Don’t remember? Imagine what it looks like when someone gets hit in the jaw. There’s the redness, swelling from excess fluid in the area, warmth and pain. Those are the components of inflammation. Now imagine those symptoms in your lungs as you’re trying to breathe and deliver oxygen to the rest of your body. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a more frustrating diagnosis than bronchitis for both patients and physicians alike. I’ll get into the reasons for that soon enough, but a bit of explanation is definitely in order.

What is bronchitis?

bronchitis1

Bronchitis is inflammation of a portion of the airways (the bronchi). Far and away, bronchitis is seen in smokers and after a viral, upper airway infection (e.g., a cold, the flu). In that last statement I slipped in two words that create the frustration regarding this condition: viral and smokers. There’s still more to come on what that means for you.

Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis
bronchitis-treatment-mammqctr

Everyone reading this has suffered from bronchitis at some point, and, based on what’s already been said, it’s easy to figure out what the symptoms would be. The inflammation of your airways leads to a cough, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, a mild fever and fatigue. If you have asthma, you’re likely to start wheezing. Another major source of frustration is even after the bronchitis has gone away or been treated, the cough stays around for up to an additional four weeks. This gives many the impression that they’re still sick, and leads them to demand that the doctor do something to “fix it.”

coughing-up-blood

The frustration of acute bronchitis

There are a few more problems dealing with or treating acute bronchitis.

You think it’s worse than it is.

  • Bronchitis is actually the most common cause of coughing up blood. Coughing up blood or producing blood-tinged mucus tends to make people anxious, and they often start thinking of things like cancer. That train of thought makes some people want to take every test possible to rule out cancer, “just to be sure.” Now your physician knows better and isn’t going to do that unless you have additional symptoms or tell a story more consistent with cancer. That often leads to a lot of frustration and sometimes anger.

bronchitis smokers-lungs_1

You don’t take responsible for your part in causing bronchitis.

  • Bronchitis is most often caused by smokers who don’t stop smoking even while they’re suffering. It is a very tense conversation (from both sides) when you return to the ER five days after being seen and diagnosed with bronchitis, and you’re complaining because you’re not better. Folks, even if your physician puts out the fire, if you continue to relight the match, it’ll continue to blaze.

bronchitis abx

You ignore what works and what doesn’t.

  • Bronchitis is not pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. In most cases where bronchitis has an infectious cause, that cause is a virus. Viruses do not respond to antibiotics. Your physician understands that you’re sick. Just because you’re sick and coughing, that doesn’t mean you need antibiotics or that antibiotics will cure you. Inappropriate antibiotic use is not without long-term complications that you should want to avoid. In most cases, assuming you remove the source of inflammation (e.g., cigarette or cigar smoke, dust, allergens), your symptoms will improve on their own within a week, and all you need is supportive therapy such as cough, fever and pain medicines along with fluids and rest. You must also practice good hygiene to avoid spreading any viruses that may be causing the bronchitis.

The initial snapshot of your condition can change for the worse.

  • What complicates this is when your weakened state and continued exposure to whatever is causing the inflammation allows a bacterial infection to land on top of your bronchitis. Ask your physician if it’s possible that this is what is going on. S/he will know how to proceed, including potentially using antibiotics.

bronchitis and cigarettes

  • In a majority of cases, a diagnosis of bronchitis will be a big source of frustration for patients. From the physician’s standpoint, bronchitis is an easily diagnosed condition due to an obvious cause (such as a cold or cigarette smoking). As such, your physician is likely not to order a lot—or any—tests. Now from the patient’s standpoint, don’t you just hate going to the physician’s office or ER when you’re sick and “nothing” gets done? Well, especially in an ER setting, tests are not used to make diagnoses. They’re meant to be ordered if the results will change the management of the condition or might lead to a change in what is done with you (e.g., admit you to the hospital). Most often, that’s just not going to be the case with bronchitis. Now if after 3–5 days symptoms haven’t improved, you’ve stopped smoking and the mucus you’re coughing up looks a certain way, there’s plenty that will be done differently in most cases.

When you need to see a physician for acute bronchitis

Please don’t take any of this to mean that you shouldn’t be seen for bronchitis. My effort today is to temper your expectations and help you appreciate what your physician is looking for and thinking. Here are some specific signs and symptoms to look for when you’re suffering from acute bronchitis. The presence of these indicates a level of seriousness warranting prompt attention.

  • A documented high fever or have had a documented fever for more than three days.
  • Greenish or bloody mucus, or you are coughing up only blood.
  • Shaking chills.
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • Pre-existing heart or lung disease (such as asthma or COPD/emphysema).

Over time, bronchitis can become chronic if the source of the inflammation isn’t removed. If you find yourself with ongoing symptoms for over three months, you will fall into a different category known as chronic bronchitis. Your physician will need to address additional considerations for you.

So often patients with bronchitis are looking for a “quick fix.” As is often the case, that fix is to be found in prevention. In this case, good hygiene and avoidance of smoke and other lung irritants can save you a lot of the shortness of breath and chest pain associated with bronchitis (pun intended).

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

IntroductionCOPDer

November is COPD Awareness Month. Unfortunately, you already know a lot about COPD without realizing it or even having to think about it. You’ve seen patients walking around with the oxygen tanks or tubes in their noses. However, that’s just the extreme. COPD is the third or fourth leading cause of death in the US depending on the source, with millions of individuals diagnosed. You also know COPD and cancers are why your doctors always warn you against smoking in any form. You know smoking is the leading cause of this. This Straight, No Chaser provides a brief overview of COPD and answers some key questions.

What Is COPD?

emphysema
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe and advances in severity over time.
Appreciate that air goes from your mouth or nose through the windpipe (trachea) through several branches of airways, eventually connecting to blood vessels meant to carry oxygen to the organs of your body. These same blood vessels drop off waste gas known as carbon dioxide, which we exhale with each breath out.

Airway Changes Causing COPD

In COPD, less air flows in and out of the airways because of one or more of the following:

  • The airways and air sacs lose their elasticity. Elasticity is the stretchiness your lungs need to fill up with and push out air. In COPD, these sacs act less like a balloon and more like a lead pipe.
  • The airways make more mucus than usual, which clog them and make breathing more difficult. The inflammation caused by smoke and other irritants produce mucus. It’s not a good thing when instead of breathing air, you’re attempting to breathe a smoke-filled swamp of snot-like material.
  • The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed. Over time, inflammation can cause permanent changes in the walls of the airways to compensate for the environment you’ve created.
  • The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed. Ongoing inflammation overwhelms the body’s ability to repair itself, and eventually sheets of tissue in your airways are destroyed beyond repair, providing you with less tissue to exchange oxygen from the lungs to the blood vessels that carry oxygen through the body.

COPD

What causes COPD? 

Cigarette smoking is far and away the leading cause of COPD. Most of those with COPD are current or former smokers. Heredity, childhood respiratory infections, and long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust may contribute to or cause COPD.COPD pix

I’ve been told I have bronchitis. Is that the same thing?

There’s acute bronchitis, and there’s chronic bronchitis. In the US, COPD refers to two separate but similar conditions, emphysema and chronic bronchitis; most with COPD have both conditions. Now if you have acute bronchitis, it means something (like and likely cigarette smoke) is currently inflaming your airways. Over time this can permanently damage the airways and produce an ongoing state of inflammation – chronic bronchitis – with airway wall thickening and increased mucus production within the lungs. Let the smoker beware.

How is this different from emphysema?

In emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs are damaged, losing their shape and elasticity. This damage also can destroy the walls of the air sacs, leading to fewer, larger and less efficient air sacs instead of many more efficient tiny ones. If this happens, the amount of gas exchange in the lungs is reduced, meaning you’re not getting enough oxygen in you and enough carbon dioxide out of you.

What are some symptoms of COPD?

copd sxCOPD can cause coughing with mucus production, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, decreased ability to exert yourself and walk around. Even more symptoms may develop as a result of inadequate oxygen supply and inadequate carbon dioxide disposal.

How can I know if I have COPD?

One big problem with COPD is many have the disease and don’t know it until it starts becoming quite advanced. It’s safe to assume that if you’re a smoker and have difficulty breathing, you’re experiencing changes to your airways that aren’t in your best interest. You are advised to get evaluated. You are best advised to remove yourself from the source of the inflammation (in other words, stop smoking).

How does COPD affect my life?

For starters, it shortens it. It also markedly increases your cancer risk. At some point all the damage and changes to your lungs is going to cause some abnormality. Given this is the area you use to breathe, deliver oxygen to your organs and eliminate toxins from your body, all manners of things can go wrong, and they often do. COPD is a chronic, progressive disease. You may or may not pick up on the slow creep of diminishing ability to perform routine activities, or maybe you’ll just attribute them to aging (COPD occurs most often in middle-aged to elderly individuals). Once severe enough, COPD may prevent you from doing even basic activities like walking, breathing without difficulty, or taking care of yourself.

What’s the cure for this? 

Here’s the frightening part: we’re talking about irreversible lung tissue change and destruction. Once layers of your airways have been ripped out (figuratively), they aren’t coming back. The damage is done. Prevention is your best defense.
COPD treatment-chart

So how is it treated?

There is no real treatment without removing the trigger feeding the ongoing inflammation. In other words, you’ll have to stop smoking to stop further progression. Additional measures involve support.

  • Supplemental oxygen may be needed to deliver enough oxygen to the tissues as an effort to combat the destruction and inflammation of tissue meant to facilitate oxygen exchange.
  • Medicines to reduce the inflammation and mucus may be prescribed.
  • Medicines to better open the airways past the clogging caused by inflammation and mucus may be prescribed.

Your physician will discuss these and other options. The truth is COPD has no cure. Once you have been diagnosed with COPD, efforts switch to slowing the progression and implementing measures to improve the quality of your life within the parameters defined by the advancement of your disease.

Finally, here is a short video from the National Institutes of Health.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

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Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK. Likewise, please share our page with your friends on WordPress! Also like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com! Follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Lung Health – Know The Signs of Danger

Introduction

This post addresses lung health! I would suggest you should be in complete awe of your lungs. Did you know you take over 20,000 breaths a day? Your lungs bring air into your body and eliminates waste (carbon dioxide) when you exhale. The lungs transfer oxygen into the bloodstream and launches it throughout body’s cells as life-sustaining fuel. This Straight, No Chaser skips ahead in the process of lung function to discuss the relevance of everyday symptoms you experience as signals of danger.

Concerning Signs and Symptoms

If you have any of these warning signs or symptoms, discuss them with your physician as soon as possible.

Chronic Cough

chronic cough

In this definition, chronic means the cough has been present for at least a month.  This is an important early symptom and should not be ignored – smokers, that means you.

Shortness of Breath

To be clear: you expect to be short of breath after you exercise or otherwise exert yourself. The shortness of breath that should be particularly concerning doesn’t go away after exercising or occurs after little or no exertion. The feeling that it is hard to breathe in or out is also a warning sign and is also indicative of respiratory illness.

Chronic Mucus Production

mucus asthma

Mucus (aka sputum or phlegm) is produced by the airways as a defense response to infections or irritants.  Ongoing production for more than a month could indicate lung disease.

Wheezing

wheezing

Wheezing is often described as noisy or musical breathing and is a sign that something blocking your lungs’ airways or making them too narrow, such as a physical obstruction, inflammation or increased mucus production.

Coughing up Blood

coughing-up-blood

If you are coughing up blood, the blood may be coming from your lungs or higher up in your respiratory tract. It is a sign of a health problem.

Chronic Chest Pain

chest-pain chronic

Chest pain lasting more than a month should be taken as a warning sign. Lung involvement is more likely if it is associated with worsening while breathing or coughing.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK. Likewise, please share our page with your friends on WordPress! Also like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com! Follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Great American Smokeout: Tips for Smoking Cessation

Introduction

great-american-smokeout

The Great American Smokeout is a great time to get serious about smoking cessation. Don’t wait to make it a New Year’s resolution. Do it now. Can’t do it now? Do it Monday. In fact, do it every Monday. It’s a fight. If you fall down, start it back up again. It’s the fight of your life (or should I say for your life)!

Try all of these tips to help

  • If you decide to quit after your current (last) pack, throw away one cigarette for every one you smoke.
  • Count (figuratively or literally) all the money you’re saving by not smoking.
  • Throw away (not give away) all cigarettes, cigars, matches, lighters, humidors, cigar cutters and anything else you associate with smoking. You’ll realize how sad it is if and when you find yourself rummaging through the garbage to get a fix.
  • Tell everyone (loudly) that you’ve quit. Empower them to help and hold you accountable. Enlist another smoker friend to go through the journey with you.
  • If you do fall off the wagon, smoke a different cigarette brand. Odds are you won’t like it as much, and that will help combat the natural ease you have with smoking.
  • Contact your physician and ask for help.

smokinghard-yes

Here’s a marvelous best-practices schemata of appropriate interplay between a physician and a patient trying to stop smoking.
smoking cessation As

If your physician and you decide to place you on a patch or otherwise medicate you, follow instructions carefully and precisely.
smokingcessation1

More tips

  • Practice deep breathing. Part of the euphoria of smoking is nothing more than the physiologic sensations produced by deep inhalations.
  • Keep other things in your mouth. Mints and chewing gum (low-calorie) are great. Brushing your teeth also serves many purposes. Drinking water when you want to smoke will often remove the urge.
  • Make it past the first day. Then make it past the first week.

smoking surgeon general cessation

Let’s START!

I personally love the START method, which includes several of the above methods. Let me know if it works for any of you.
S: Set a quit date.
T: Tell your friends, family and associates that you’re quitting, and enlist their help.
A: Anticipate and act on the plan you’ve set and challenges you’ll meet.
R: Remove (trash) cigarettes, cigar and other paraphernalia from your environment.
T: Talk with your physician about options and additional support.
For those of you affected (either first or second-hand), this is huge and important. I really wish you all the best. I welcome any comments or questions.

smoking the end

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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Fifteen Tips to Care for Diabetic Skin, Part 2

Introduction

This post provides diabetic skin care tips!

diabetes-awareness

In the previous Straight, No Chaser, we discussed the frailty of  diabetic skin and discussed how that sets one up for skin infections, abscesses, ulcers, amputations and even death. Your best defense from these set of illnesses and tragedies is knowledge, prevention and prompt action.  Here are some steps you can take to better care for the diabetic in your life. In the event you know a diabetic who appears healthy, I want you to pay special attention to him/her. Diabetes is a chronic and insidious disease. These changes occur over years, and your challenge is to slow the process down as long as possible.

If you have diabetes, these tips may help prevent skin damage and infections:

Diabetic Skin Care Tips 1-5

1. Do the best you can to control your blood glucose levels. The more out of control it is, the more damage it causes.

2. You must check your feet every single day for the rest of your life. Diabetics develop decreased sensitivity to their feet. It is extremely common to step on a sharp object and not realize that you’ve done so. A splinter or nail is an excellent medium for an infection.

3. Eat fruits and vegetables. Your skin needs all the nourishment it can get.

Diabetic skin care tips

4. Develop better hygiene. Wash and dry your skin often and thoroughly; this will keep you less exposed to infections.

5. Make a point of keeping your groin, armpits and other areas prone to heavy sweat dry. Those moist areas in particular are most prone to becoming infected. Talcum powder is a good choice to use.

Diabetic Skin Care Tips 6-10

6. Stay hydrated. It’s an uphill battle with the frequent urination and high blood sugar (glucose) levels. Dehydration causes your skin to be more brittle and prone to infections.

7. Stay moisturized! Apply lotion early and often, especially after baths. Note those dry, cracked feet and get ahead of that happening if possible.

dmgangrene

8. Remember: if you’re diabetic, at some point your hands will retain sensation longer than your finger. It’s common to see scald injuries from stepping in water hot enough to burn you without you feeling it initially. Check the water with your hands before stepping into a tub.

9. Use a milder, less irritating soaps that includes moisturizer. Speaking of tubs, avoid bubble baths. Sorry.

10. Consider investing in a humidifier to prevent skin drying, especially in dry or cold climates.

Diabetic Foot

Diabetic Skin Care Tips 11-15

11. Always take any skin wounds seriously, especially those on your feet. Avoid placing alcohol on any of your wounds.

12. Invest in some sterile gauze. If you develop a scratch or other wound, control the wound with it after cleaning.

13. Limit your self-help to cleaning and gauze wrapping. Only place topical antibiotics or take antibiotics for a skin infection under your physician’s supervision.

diabetic-general-footcare

14. Always ask your physician to check your skin during an examination and ask him/her to teach you what to look for.

15. Immediately consult your physician or access the local emergency room if you have a burn, scratch, abscess (boil) or laceration that seems serious.

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Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK. Likewise, please share our page with your friends on WordPress! Also like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com! Follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Diabetic Skin Problems, Part 1

Introduction

Today we begin a discussion on diabetic skin problems.

Diabetic Skin Problems

If you are diabetic or caring for a diabetic, one of the things you’ve likely noticed is that the skin doesn’t always seem to look, feel or perform normally. Perhaps the first thing I’d want you to know as a means of understanding what’s going on is this combination of facts: the skin is the body’s largest organ and diabetics have issues with blood flow. Given all the area needing blood flow, it stands to reason that diabetics invariably would have skin problems.

diabetes skin problems foot ulcers

Skin Problems Cause Infections – and Amputations

On a practical level, appreciate that infections are the most common cause of death in diabetics. Even a small cut or scratch in this population can lead to loss of a limb if unrecognized and left untreated. Unfortunately, amputations among diabetics  happens all too often. Is it preventable? With 100% confidence, yes. You can sufficiently reduce your risk of this ever happening. That said, there’s a reality that approximately 1/3 of all diabetes will have some type of skin problem, ranging from eczema and other localized itching problems to infections, abscesses, and gangrene.

diabetic skin problems toe amputation

How Diabetic Skin Problems Develop

By now you are likely wondering two things: How does this happen, and how can I prevent/help this?

First, diabetics suffer from frequent and excessive urination from those high blood glucose levels. This can lead to dehydration. Dehydrated skin is dry, red and has a waxy appearance. It becomes cracked, itchy, easily injured, harder to heal and easier to infect. Remember how diabetics have problems with poor blood circulation? That reduces the bodies’ ability to fight infections. So the first course of action for diabetics (beyond understanding the risks) is to be diligent in preventing infection.

diabetic-amputation

I will dedicate a separate post to give you all the knowledge you need to prevent diabetic cuts, scratches and skin infections or to have them treated. In the meantime, the same rules apply to diabetics as they do to everyone else: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care. Diet and exercise can stave off the day when you’re fighting for your life because of a diabetic foot ulcer.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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Straight, No Chaser Diabetes Vlog

Diabetes Vlog

The Straight, No Chaser vlog (video blog) series presents “health care basics” to keep you safe, healthy and out of the emergency room. Today’s Straight, No Chaser offers a diabetes vlog. Learn about the early indicators of diabetes, over 18 Million people are undiagnosed. Please don’t let that be you!

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK. Likewise, please share our page with your friends on WordPress! Also like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com! Follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Diabetes Basics and the Importance of Education

Introduction

Today we focus on diabetes basics.

diabetes basics treadmill

Diabetes is a disease in which education is vital. For a diabetic, knowing the disease well allows him or her to better prevent long-term consequences of the disease. It also allows the diabetic to make real-time adjustments when sick or otherwise  in danger acutely. In Straight, No Chaser, we’ve provided a series of posts meant to empower diabetics (and you can review any or all of them via the search box on the right). Remember, it all should start with a basic understanding of the disease.

Diabetes Basics

We eat, and the process of digestion is for the purpose of converting food into glucose (sugar) that’s used by our body for energy. The blood delivers the glucose to different organs of the body where the cells take it up for use. In order for that process to work, an organ that’s part of the digestive tract called the pancreas has to produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin facilitates the glucose getting from the blood to inside the cells. Diabetes is a disease where insulin isn’t being made by the pancreas or isn’t working optimally.

Now think about what happens when you’re not getting sugar into your cells. It’s as if you’re starving (because physiologically, you might as well be). You get symptoms such as weight loss, hunger, fatigue and excessive thirst. Because your cells don’t have energy, they aren’t functioning well. In fact, blood and nerve vessels lose significant function, resulting in significant vision loss and lack of sensitivity in your extremities. Anyone who’s been a diabetic for about 10 years know this because you’re wearing glasses and because you’ve lost a fair amount of sensation, especially in your feet. There are other symptoms that are variations of the same theme, including excessive urination, dry skin, increased infection rate and slower healing from those infections – all due to poor function of your blood vessels.

Risk Factors

Sometimes diabetes is a disease that happens to you because of unlucky genetics (or simply a family history). Other times it is a disease that you find. Risk factors for developing diabetes includes obesity, older age, and physical inactivity. Gestational diabetes (i.e. that occurring during pregnancy) is an entirely different conversation.

diabetes-treadmill

Prevention and Treatment

Let’s take a moment to discuss prevention and treatment. There are different types of diabetes, but the risk of one form of diabetes in particular can be reduced by – you guessed it – diet and exercise. In fact, diet, exercise and medications are the three legs of the diabetes treatment stool regardless of type. Some patients require regular insulin injections and others require pills. Still others who are successful with diet and exercise are able to markedly reduce, and in some instances eliminate medications.
If you’re a diabetic, make an investment in your education. It could not only save your legs or eyes, but it may just save your life. I welcome your questions and comments.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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Prevention and Treatment Considerations for Diabetic Eye Conditions

Introduction

This posts addresses prevention and treatment considerations for diabetic eye conditions.

diabetic eye live_right_save_sight_logo

Several of you asked about the treatment of the eye conditions resulting from diabetes. This last Straight, No Chaser addressing Diabetes Awareness Month will focus on treatment approaches.

The first point – and one that can’t be overemphasized – is treatment is not a cure. As long as diabetes continues (and especially continues to be uncontrolled), symptoms will progress, and the diabetic-related causes of eye disorders will create ongoing difficulties, even after treatment of past problems has occurred. Thus, the first consideration is to understand steps you can take to prevent or slow the progression of the effects of diabetes on your eyes.

Preventive Measures

There actually are several preventive measures within your control. Consider implementing these.

diabetes-eye-exam

  • Keep your blood glucose and blood pressure as close to normal as you can. This involves dieting, exercising and taking your medication as prescribed.
  • Have an eye care professional examine your eyes annually – even if your vision is normal, and especially if your vision is normal. If you have good control of your diabetes, your eyes will tell part of that story, and you need to stay ahead of evolving problems. Of course, discovering problems early and getting prompt treatment gives you the best opportunity to maintain normal vision and to prevent advancement to more serious stages. Be proactive and ask your eye care professional to check for signs of cataracts and glaucoma.
  • If you are diabetic and planning to get pregnant, ask your doctor if you should have an eye exam.
  • If you are diabetic and pregnant, see an eye care professional during your first 3 months of pregnancy.
  • Don’t smoke.

Surgical Options

MoS2 Template Master

Recall that damaged older vessels or fragile new vessels has a propensity to bleed into the eye. This blood interferes with your ability to see normally. This severe, advanced diabetic retinopathy is treated with laser surgery, which helps to shrink the abnormal blood vessels, thus reducing bleeding into the eye. The procedure involves 1,000 to 2,000 laser burns in the area of the retina (the lining in the back of your eye that senses light), causing the abnormal blood vessels to shrink. Even as laser surgery saves much of your sight, patients often notice reduction or loss of side vision, color vision and/or night vision.

If the bleeding is especially severe, you may need a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. This procedure removes blood from the center of your eye.

VITRECTOMY

These procedures stabilize vision and in some instances may dramatically improve it. Focal laser treatment reduces the risk of vision loss by 50 percent and the risk of blindness by 90 percent. However, laser surgery most often cannot restore vision that has already been lost. That is why finding diabetic retinopathy early should be your most important strategy to prevent vision loss. There are additional medical treatment options emerging meant to replace the need for surgery. If you suffer from diabetic retinopathy, discuss these options with your eye doctor.

Please remember, that although both laser treatments and vitrectomies are very effective in reducing vision loss, they are not cures. Once you have proliferative retinopathy, you always will be at risk for new bleeding. That said, people with progressive diabetic retinopathy have less than a five percent chance of becoming blind within five years of early treatment.

An Eye Health Checklist

diabetic eyechecklist

Please use the preventive strategies and understand the treatment options available to you. Failure to do so could be devastating.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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Diabetic Retinopathy and Other Eye Problems

Introduction

Unfortunately, if you’re diabetic, diabetic retinopathy is likely in your future. Don’t ignore this.

diabetes-eye health

As you likely know, diabetics have a large amount of blood glucose (sugar) circulating in their blood. The high level of glucose can cause damage to many cells, including your eyes. If you are diabetic, your challenge is to learn how to slow down the process. This Straight, No Chaser addresses relatively frequent effects of diabetes on your eyes.

How does diabetes hurt my eyes?

Diabetes has direct (through the effects of high blood glucose) and indirect (through high blood pressure) effects on four parts of your eye: the lining in the back of your eye that senses light (the retina), the jelly-like fluid that fills the back of the eye (the vitreous), the lens (serves to focus light on the retina) and the optic nerve (the main nerve from the eye to the brain).

diabetic retinopathy and eye vision

How can diabetes hurt the retinas of my eyes?

  • Diabetic retinopathy is the term for the most common eye problem of diabetics. The retinas have tiny blood vessels that are easy to damage and do become damaged by high glucose levels. As retina problems get worse, new blood vessels grow. These new blood vessels are fragile and susceptible to leaking blood into the back of the eye. The leaking blood keeps light from reaching the retina. This can result in a sensation of seeing floating spots or almost total darkness.
  • Over time, these damaged blood vessels can form scar tissue and pull the retina away from the back of the eye, causing detachment of the retina. A detached retina can cause loss of sight or blindness if you don’t take care of it right away.

How do I know if I have retina damage from diabetes?

You may or may not have any signs of retina damage, but here are the more common signs.

diabetic retinopathy vision

  • blurry or double vision
  • dark or floating spots
  • pain or pressure in one or both of your eyes
  • rings, flashing lights, or blank spots
  • trouble seeing things out of the corners of your eyes

What other eye problems can happen to people with diabetes?

Cataracts and glaucoma are two other eye disorders that occur at a higher frequency in diabetics.

Cataracts

  • A cataract is a cloud over the normally clear lens of your eye. Remember, the lens focuses light onto the retina, so the presence of a cataract makes everything you look at seem cloudy. You need surgery to remove the cataract, which replaces the bad lens with a permanent plastic lens.

acute-angle-closure-glaucoma_3

  • Glaucoma is a condition resulting from pressure building up in the eye. Eventually, this will damage the optic nerve, which will progressively reduce your vision. Treating glaucoma involves eye drops to lower the pressure in your eyes or surgery for advanced cases.

Of course, you want to know what steps you can take to prevent or slow the occurrences of these eye conditions. These will be discussed in an upcoming Straight, No Chaser.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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Low Blood Sugar – Hypoglycemia

Introduction

Low blood sugar is as dangerous as high blood sugars. They just cause danger in different ways.

hypoglycemia is low blood sugar
In a previous post, I provided an overview of diabetes. Everyone knows about diabetes, and most understand how dangerous diabetes is over the long-term. However, as an emergency physician, I’m more concerned with what will kill you immediately, and on that front, low blood glucose (sugar) is usually much more concerning. I want you to know up front that a low enough blood glucose will kill you – now. As we say in the ER, a high glucose level will hurt you and may kill you, but a glucose level that goes to zero means ‘Cancel Christmas’.

If you’re not sure if it’s low blood sugar or high blood sugar, feed them!

Therefore I will start with a simple statement. Any diabetic (or individual known to have low glucose levels) with altered mental status needs to be given juice, or if they can handle it, some soft food to chew on. If they’re in the midst of a high sugar reaction, it won’t make much of a difference. However, if that glucose level was zero, you’ve just saved a life. Now let’s briefly discuss symptoms and causes.

Symptoms and Causes of Hypoglycemia

hypoglycemia1

Low glucose levels can present many different ways including dizziness, jitteriness, numbness, tingling, blackouts, seizures and other symptoms. However, it’s usually the confusion or other change in mental status that’s most predominant and concerning. Just remember, this is not something about which you should wait around to see if it gets better.

Regarding causes, unintentional overdosing of insulin or oral medication (particular the sulfonylureas class of medicines) are especially concerning and common. Sometimes a family member, particularly a child, may take such a medicine to disastrous effects. Beyond that, heavy alcohol consumption on an empty stomach is another common cause due to its effects on the liver (Alcohol locks glucose stores in the liver, preventing release to the blood; as a result you have less to use.).

Other causes are more exotic and fortunately less common; they will be evaluated upon arrival to the hospital when a rapid response isn’t seen with simple administration of glucose. Dysfunction of certain organs (the adrenal and pituitary glands, the liver due to hepatitis, or tumors of the pancreas – the organ that produces the insulin that drives glucose into your cells – can cause problems with regulating either glucose itself or insulin. These conditions can drive your blood glucose dangerously low.

So, the causes are varied, but the message is simple. Be careful with insulin administration, remember to check those blood sugar levels and act promptly in the face of mental status changes. Usually I note that time is tissue, but in this example, you’ll run out of time before your tissues are damaged.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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What You Must Know About X-Ray Safety

Introduction

X-ray safety is as important as using x-rays for proper evaluation.

the.incredible.hulk.033108

After the question of “Can I get an x-ray,” the next most common question I get (which should be the first) regarding x-rays is “Do I need this x-ray?” The answer is not just based on the presence or absence of a medical indication but the medical indication relative to the risk. I’ll provide examples of that consideration shortly. The point of this Straight, No Chaser is to get you to more frequently think of the risks of irradiating your body parts. After all, inappropriate doses of radiation have a much greater chance of contributing to cancer than turning you into a superhero.

Let’s start by getting this off the table: x-rays are safe when used appropriately and with care during each case. Radiologists and x-ray technologists are trained to toe the line between inadequate production of x-rays and overexposure such that patients are placed at risk. Additionally, your physicians consider the risk-benefit ratio with each study ordered. This is why instances exist when your physician (especially emergency physicians) may advise against having x-rays done.

X-Ray-Microwave-Sign-OCI-6685-SPANISH_600

What exactly are the risks of x-rays and other medical imaging studies?

It’s about the risks of radiation and the potential contribution to cancer. You accept these risks everyday. Some of you tan, play golf, surf and otherwise expose yourself to the sun. It’s the cumulative exposure that poses risks, and these risks are miniscule. That said, there are circumstances in which the risks become pronounced, such as irradiation during pregnancy, in children or due to dye materials (called contrast media) such as barium or iodine used to enhance development of the film during special x-ray studies.
In some people, the injection of a contrast medium can cause the following side effects:

  • A feeling of warmth or flushing
  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Severely low blood pressure and shock (anaphylaxis, due to an allergic reaction)
  • Cardiac arrest

How much radiation is involved in these studies?

The radiation exposure from one chest x-ray is roughly equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure you obtain from natural surroundings in 10 days.

 Preg_xray-on-candysporks

Aren’t x-rays dangerous during pregnancy?

One of the rules of emergency medicine is we don’t focus on potential side effects when confronted with a defined life threat. The issue of the effect of x-rays on an unborn fetus is secondary to the need to treat the mother. In other words, the best way to protect the fetus is to protect the mother. Even so, the theoretical risk exists, and your physician will take steps to minimize the risk if possible. This may occur by choosing another test (such as an ultrasound) that doesn’t involve radiation. The vast majority of medical x-rays do not pose a critical risk to a developing child. In fact, x-rays of the head, arms, legs and chest do not usually expose the baby directly to radiation.
Regarding standard x-ray examinations of the abdomen, they are not likely to pose a serious risk to the child. Some abdominal and pelvic studies such as CT, nuclear medicine scans and interventional radiologic studies deliver greater amounts of radiation to a developing pregnancy.

 xray pregnant

What can I do to minimize risks and ensure x-ray safety?

I’ll offer two simple recommendations that will help reduce your risk. In both of these instances, alternative evaluation and treatment options might be available that can provide the desired level of care.

  • Work with your physician in obtaining x-rays. The instances when you receive x-rays when your physician suggests they are not necessary are not in your best interest.
  • Inform the radiologist that you are or might be pregnant.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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X-Ray Basics and Your Questions

Introduction

In this post, we’ll review your questions and some x-ray basics.

x-ray basics photo

“C’mon, Doc. I just want to be sure!” If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times. You love x-rays. They’re cool, and they sometimes tell you what’s wrong. How much do you know about them? What should you know about the different types of tests done? What about the risks? This Straight, No Chaser explores the how and why of different radiologic studies.

 xrayphotoshop

How do x-rays work?

X-rays are forms of radiant energy that pass through the part of the body being examined. While doing so, a special film or monitor allows a radiologist to view pictures of internal structures.

 xrfb

What are x-rays used for?

X-rays have other uses than determining whether you have broken bones. There are many other uses, including the following:

  • Chest x-rays help in evaluating punctured lungs, the presence of pneumonia or lung masses (e.g. abscesses or cancer), heart size, shape and abnormal content (e.g. calcium deposits).
  • Abdominal x-rays help identify punctures of various organs, the presence of blocked intestines (bowel obstructions), hernias, constipation and many other conditions.
  • X-rays also identify bones that have been dislocated (moved from the normal location in a joint) or suffer from arthritis or infection, and they can often detect foreign objects. X-rays can confirm the placement of tubes your physician has placed (e.g. breathing tubes, tubes through the nose or penis or special IV tubes) and facilitate certain medical procedures.

cat scan

I’ve heard CT scans are just fancy x-rays. Is this true?

That’s overly simplistic but not entirely inaccurate. CT scans do involve the passage of a fan-shaped beam around the area in question, produce higher quality images than regular x-rays. This also involves more radiation.

 c-arm_fluoroscopy

What is fluoroscopy?

An easy way to understand radiology is to call it “screening.” In this example, the x-ray beams are being viewed in real-time via a moving picture on a TV screen. This type of study can be especially important for the identification and removal of foreign objects in the skin or for looking at the stomach and intestine.

 Ultrasound-Overview

Are ultrasounds and MRIs also x-rays?

No. Although x-rays are used as a generic term by many in the lay population, these procedures are different and would be better called radiologic or medical imaging studies. Ultrasounds and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) don’t use x-rays, so they are safer. Many are familiar with the use of ultrasounds in pregnancy, but they are helpful in many situations, including trauma, identification of gallstones, the presence of abscesses and many other scenarios. MRIs growing in popularity because of its superiority in identification of many conditions, particularly neurologic concerns. However, its limited availability is a problem.

nukemed

What about nuclear medicine studies?

In this type of study, radioactive materials called isotopes are injected into a vein, swallowed or inhaled. These isotopes concentrate in a specific area (body organ or tissue) when the emissions (known as gamma rays) are detected by a special camera. These emissions present a picture of the affected area.

cat_scan leopard

What else do I need to know? Why is my doctor always refusing to order x-rays?

In the hands of a good physician, these tests confirm diagnoses, not make them. In many instances, a good examination eliminates the need for x-rays. An example of this concept has been previously discussed in a Straight, No Chaser post on ankle x-rays. Also remember that for injuries, x-rays look at bones. Your muscle spasm, ligament and tendon injuries won’t show up on an x-ray, so it’s a waste of time and money to do the test.
The rest of the story is about safety. These x-rays, gamma rays and radioactive isotopes bring risk. Although they won’t turn you into the Incredible Hulk, your physician is considering your lifetime exposure and risk. Avoiding unnecessary x-rays is a key part of that. This risk will be discussed in greater detail in another post.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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Causes of Eye Pain

Introduction

Do you ever get eye pain? Look at the picture. What would you do if that was your eye? Would you try to remove the object or be too afraid, fearing that you could permanently damage it? Does the amount of pain you’re in make a difference? Eye pain is a good example of how people use the ER in general. For as many people who come to the emergency room for seemingly minor things, there’s even more that delay coming because of a thought that things will get better. When it comes to your eyes, you only have two and can’t afford to lose even one. This Straight, No Chaser focuses on eye pain that likely represents a true emergency and for which waiting should not be an option. If you have any of these signs or symptoms, come in while you still can see (if indeed you still can).

emergency-eye-injury

Sudden vision loss

The problem with sudden vision loss is that it didn’t happen by accident, and it’s not likely to get better without prompt relief. This could represent a stroke involving the eyes’ blood vessels (amaurosis fugax), a blockage of those blood vessels (central retinal artery occlusion), a retinal detachment and a few other critical considerations. The point to be made is that in most of these examples, you should assume that only a limited amount of time exists to repair the damage before the eye injury causes permanent damage.

eye stroke

Eye pain

Yes, there’s a lot of benign things that cause eye pain, but there are some serious considerations, including the following:

  • Burns (seen very commonly in welders and those using chemicals)
  • Conjunctivitis (yep, even this can be serious when caused by gonorrhea or a herpes virus – wash your hands!)
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammation of various components of the eye (uveitis, keratitis)
  • Migraines
  • Scratches and ulcers to the eye surface (the cornea – do not sleep in your contacts unless this has been approved by your eye doctor; it just sets you up for bad things to happen)
  • Trauma
  • Tumors

eye-pain-migraine-400x400

Something is in your eye

Whether a chemical splash, a piece of metal, a branch or other foreign body, there are several concerns you should have. In the example of the chemical splash, something may be burning through the layer of your eye, putting it at risk for rupture. One word – IRRIGATE! If some object is in there that you cannot remove by blinking, odds are it’s not going away. Don’t cause more damage than is already there by digging around in your eye. Get evaluated.

Visualization of flashing lights and floaters

The most concerning cause of this phenomenon is a retinal detachment, which is a serious eye-threatening emergency. Visualize (no pun intended) wallpaper peeling off a wall. Unfortunately in this analogy, the retina is like the film in your camera, capturing the images of the world you see. If your retina’s gone from its natural position, you’re not seeing anything.

Eye hope you’ve found this post illuminating.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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Questions About LASIK Surgery

Introduction

You’ve heard about Lasik surgery, but what do you actually know about it? Typically, you pay attention when you’re about 40 years old. At this point, your eyes are starting to act up on you. Or perhaps you’re younger and/or too vain to wear glasses. Or you have a phobia about having anything in your eyes, so contacts just aren’t an option. There are many different scenarios that lead one to consider Lasik surgery, but what do you really know about it? It is worth the considerable cost (and risks)?

 LASIK

What is LASIK surgery? What is it trying to accomplish?

LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis; you’re supposed to ignore the order of the letters) is a surgical procedure that permanently changes the shape of the outer covering of the eye (the cornea) in an effort to reduce one’s dependency on glasses or contact lens. It does this by positioning your eye apparatus to bend light rays so they focus better on your retina, producing vision that is clearer and sharper. I’ll defer the details of the procedure to the attached video.

How will I know if I’m a candidate?

The testing is pretty involved but in general, it is worth getting evaluated if you have one of the following conditions. The shape of your eyes (i.e., longer, shorter, flatter) may prevent light rays from hitting the retina optimally. When this is the case, your vision (focus) will be off one way or another.

  • Nearsightedness (myopia) is having more clear vision for objects that are closer compared to those further away.
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia) is having more clear vision for objects that are further compared to those closer.
  • Astigmatism is a disruption of both near and distant vision due to unevenness in the cornea.

So should I consider Lasik a medical procedure or cosmetic surgery?

You’d do well to have a healthy fear of any surgery, especially on your eyes. Your ophthalmologist (eye doctor) should explore non-invasive options before offering surgery. However, when you choose or need it, the result can be pleasing when a skilled and experience surgeon does it.

 Lasik Consumer Reports

So what are the risks of Lasik surgery?

As with any surgery, LASIK eye surgery carries risks:

  • Undercorrections and overcorrections. Optimal results require removal of a rather exact amount of tissue. If not done, your vision won’t be quite clear. If too little tissue (undercorrection) was done, an enhancement surgery may help.
  • Vision returning to pre-surgery vision. Over time, your eyes may worsen and even go back to the level of vision you had before surgery.
  • Visual loss or changes. Surgical complications can lead to worsening or loss of vision.
  • Astigmatism. Astigmatism is a result of unevenness in the cornea. It can be produced by uneven tissue removal during surgery.
  • Glare, halos, double vision and difficulty seeing at night.
  • Dry eyes. LASIK causes a temporary decrease in tear production. The resulting dryness in your eyes can negatively affect your vision.
  • Flap problems. The process of folding or removing the flap in the front of your eye during surgery can lead to infections, inflammation and excess tears.

Your eye doctor will discuss your risks and the potential benefits of LASIK surgery. It’s estimated that more than eight of 10 who undergo the procedure are able to forego contacts or glasses – for the majority of their activities. I welcome your questions or comments. Enjoy the following video, courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Lasik

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Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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Questions About Your Contact Lenses

Introductioneyeinfxncontacts

You’d likely be surprised to know how often patients are seen in emergency rooms for complications related to use of contact lenses. If you or a loved one are using contact lenses, they’re quite safe, but you must be diligent. Failure to do so can lead to some pretty significant complications.

Which is better: disposable or regular contact lenses?

The development of disposable contact lenses has lessened the risk of various eye problems. This isn’t the same as saying regular lenses aren’t good or even just as good. Daily use (i.e. disposable) contacts don’t require cleaning solutions, which were commonly used for contacts in the past to increase the longevity of them. When you’re next ready for lenses, ask about silicon hydrogel lens. Evidence suggests they are even better for comfort and lower risk for eye problems.

Can I wear my contact lenses when I go swimming?

You can, but you shouldn’t, according to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Swimming can cause absorption of chemicals (including chlorine) and bacteria from the water, leading to an eye infection. Additionally, contacts can adhere to the eye after swimming. This can lead to ulceration of parts of the eye (e.g. cornea).
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Can I wear my contact lenses while I sleep?

You can use extended wear contacts while you sleep if this has been approved in advance by your optometrist or ophthalmologist. They can be used for up to seven days if recommended as such. Remove your daily wear contacts prior to sleep – even a nap.

What steps help prevent fungal infections caused by contact lenses?

First, you should understand your risks, which include prior eye damage or a diminished immune system. Fungal infections are a particular concern for those wearing soft contact lens with risk factors. To reduce your risk, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Be especially careful to avoid lint on your hands before handling your contacts. Avoid extending the use of your contact lens beyond the recommendations of your eye provider. Be sure to keep your lens case clean, and replace the case every 3-6 months. In the unlikely event you’re still using Bausch & Lomb ReNu ® with MoistureLoc® Multi-Purpose Solution, discard it. It’s been recalled due to an increase rate of eye fungal infections.
contact lens conjunctivitis-bacterial

How do I know if my contact lenses have caused an eye infection?

Be on the lookout for redness, swelling, tearing and/or eye discharge, light sensitivity, blurred vision and pain that doesn’t improve after removal of the contacts. If you have symptoms like this, remove the contacts and get medical assistance.
Remember to pause before inserting anything in your eyes. The consequences of bad decisions can be devastating and irreversible.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK. Likewise, please share our page with your friends on WordPress! Also like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com! Follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Questions About Color Blindness

Introduction

Do you suffer from color blindness? Have you ever found yourself at school, work or elsewhere and discovered that you were wearing different colored socks or pants than you thought? If so, the answer may be yes.

 colorblindness


A person with color deficiency may not be able to see the number 5 among the dots in this picture.

What are the main symptoms of color blindness?

Classic color blindness involves difficulty in seeing colors and the brightness of colors, coupled with an inability to differentiate between shades and other variations of similar colors. Usually the perception of red and green or blue and yellow are affected. There can be a lot of variation in symptoms, ranging from mild to complete and including greater or lesser difficulty in bright or dim light.

color_blind_12

Why does color blindness occur?

In the back of your eyes, you have two different types of cells affecting your ability to detect light. One cell type is called cone cells; these detect color. There are three types of cone cells: those that detect red, green and blue. Our brain perceives color based on degrees of input from these cells. Any absence or malfunction in these cells can produce color blindness. It stands to reason (and is true) that different degrees of color blindness could result from the extent of malfunction to these cells.

Who is at risk?

  • Most people with color blindness are born with it.
  • One of 10 males has some form of color blindness.
  • Women seldom suffer from color blindness, but those that do are likely to pass it to their sons.
  • Color blindness is more common among those of Northern European heritage.
  • Certain drugs, most notably plaquenil (a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis) can cause color blindness.
  • Certain medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, alcoholism, glaucoma, leukemia and sickle anemia increase the risk of acquiring color blindness.

Are there other symptoms?

Except in the most severe form, color blindness does not affect the sharpness of vision. In rare instances one may experience poor vision, light sensitivity, involuntary rapid eye movement and visualization of everything as shades of gray. These symptoms aren’t likely to occur suddenly, so you’d have ample opportunity to see an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) prior to this level of malfunction.

Contact_Lens_for_Color_Blindness

What is done about it?

Color blindness has no cure. However, treating the underlying cause is the best way to address most forms. Also, you may be given special eye wear that improves color detection.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK. Likewise, please share our page with your friends on WordPress! Also like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com! Follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Questions About Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)

Introduction

lazy eye tracy mcgrady

We all get concerned when it comes to things that damage or put our vision in danger. As such, you should be aware of the most common condition causing visual problems in children. You know it as lazy eye, but the medical term is amblyopia. This occurs in approximately 2 to 3 of every 100 children. Unfortunately, the issue isn’t just its occurrence in children but its persistence into adulthood. Amblyopia is also the most common cause of visual impairment among young and middle-aged adults affecting one eye.

Here are some questions and answers of concern. These may help you understand some terms your ophthalmologist (eye doctor) or optometrist uses with you.

What exactly is lazy eye?

Amblyopia (aka lazy eye) is the condition that exists when the vision of one eye is reduced due to that eye not working appropriately with the brain. The brain adjusts by favoring the other eye.

Let’s get medical for a moment. Appropriate eye function requires accurate interaction between the eyes and the portions of the brain necessary for vision. Each eye focuses light on the retina, which is located in the back of the eye. Cells within the retina stimulate nerve signals that travel along the optic (eye) nerves to the brain, which interpret and responds to these signals.

Lazy Eye Baby

What are some common causes of lazy eye?

As noted, the correct function and interaction between the eyes and brain are necessary. Many things can go wrong along the way, all of which serve to cause unclear focusing. Here are some examples.

strabismus-wall-eyes

  • Strabismus: misalignment of the eyes

cataracts

  • Cataracts: clouding of the front part of the eye

Child

  • Nearsightedness (myopia; better focus on closer objects) results from the eye being too long from front to back.

Child Playing at Water's Edge

  • Farsightedness (hyperopia; better focus on objects at a distance) results from the eye being too short from front to back.

astigmatism

  • Astigmatism: condition associated with irregularly shaped eyes; produces difficulty focusing on both near and far objects

 Eye-Patch1

How is lazy eye treated?

Most of the focus on treating amblyopia involves catching it early and treating the child. It is during this time that the eye, the brain and the connections between them are developing, and the opportunity for improvement is greatest. Generally speaking, treatment involves forcing the child to use the eye with weaker vision. There are two common ways to treat lazy eye:

  • PatchingPlacing an adhesive patch on the stronger eye for weeks to months forces the brain/eye apparatus to use the affected eye. This stimulates more complete development of the needed areas in the brain and eye.
  • AtropineUsing this eye medication causes blurring in the strong eye, forcing use of the affected eye. This works as well as patching.

 

eye-ptosis

Is this the same as eye drooping or lid lag?

No. “Lazy” eyelids (aka ptosis) are not the same as malfunctioning eyes. Lazy eye refers to the latter. That said, the two are not mutually exclusive.

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Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

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Treating Halloween Mishaps

Introduction

Halloween

In the previous Straight, No Chaser, we offered you tips for a safe Halloween. However, safety tips are only as good as your inclination to use them. Even when an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, you should still have access to that pound. In this post, we remind you of the treatment measures you may need to employ in the event something untoward happens at that Halloween party or while trick or treating.

Halloween Mishaps

  1. Upset stomach? There are two pretty big reasons why this happens.

Halloween-Candy

  • Eating all those sugary treats can cause all types of problems, including an upset stomach. Ration out the treats, especially the first night. You’d do well to make sure the trick-or-treaters have a generous dinner in advance of the activities.
  • Have you ever thought of all the different hands that touch the contents of those bags? You’d better be sure to wash hands and any foods prior to ingestion, whether wrapped or unwrapped.
  • If vomiting and diarrhea ensue from any food poisoning, review the linked Straight, No Chaser for treatment considerations.
  1. Sprained ankle?

halloween ankle sprain

  • It can get pretty exciting out there, and kids can easily get distracted. Falls and ankle sprains can be expected on those sugar-induced sprints to the next house.
  • Review the linked Straight, No Chaser for treatment considerations.
  1. Faints?

halloween syncope

  • Are those tricks too scary? Did the excitement prove too much to handle?
  • Review the linked Straight, No Chaser for treatment considerations.
  1. Choking?

halloween choking

  • You must be mindful that all candies are not appropriate for children. Peanuts and candy corn have a nasty habit of getting lodged in the throats of very young children.
  • Learn what steps to take in the event this happens. Review the linked Straight, No Chaser for treatment considerations.

Keep in mind that common things happen commonly. The horror tales of legend aren’t likely to be a part of your Halloween, nor are you likely to come across any ghouls, goblins, vampires or zombies unless you come across a Thriller reenactment.
Be safe and have a Happy Halloween!

Follow us!

Ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Also, take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. Additionally, as a thank you, we’re offering you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Another free benefit to our readers is introductory pricing with multiple orders and bundles!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK. Likewise, please share our page with your friends on WordPress! Also like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com! Follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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