The Opioid Epidemic and Our Responsibility as Patients

It’s not a secret. The headlines are all over the place: TV, radio, magazines, newspapers and social media are talking about the opioid epidemic that is killing thousands of Americans. We hear the stories, sometimes we know someone who lost a loved one due to an overdose, but how many times do you think about your own responsibility on this epidemic?

Probably never. If the tragedy doesn’t knock on our door, there is not a real reason to look at it in depth, right? Well, no. Reality is that according to statistics revealed in 2016 by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2015 we had 20.5 million Americans 12 or older with a substance use disorder. From them, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers.

To continue with the numbers, between 1999 and 2010, 48,000 women died of prescription pain reliever overdoses. That was 7 years ago and unfortunately, the numbers have increased.

Yes, it is a declared epidemic and it involves all of us. Why? Because we all are patients, and at some point we may need, use or be prescribed pain relievers or painkillers. According with the CDC and other experts, it is important to be informed, to talk to your doctor, to ask all the questions you need to be answered, and to be proactive as a patient while in treatment.

Pain relievers are prescribed not only to adults, but also to children after a sports injuries, or a surgery. While doctors and medical personnel are aware about the risks of opioid medicines, it is also important that parents and patients understand the importance of following the physician’s instructions, and also the importance of understanding the consequences that opioids might have if they are misused.

A big portion of addicts to heroin started using painkillers and developed the addiction due to misuse of those medicines. It is not about doubting your doctor’s recommendations, or questioning your treatment, it is about knowing and understanding how those medicines work, what they do to your body and, at the end of the day, it is probably about you making the decision to use them or not, or to ask for possible alternative treatments to your doctors.

The patient-doctor relationship should be a two-way one. Information is the key and this one in particular should be openly shared with our families, children, and other people. Don’t be afraid of asking more to your doctor. The next time you see your physician, start that conversation.

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Little Things Make Big Memories

We recently celebrated Mother’s Day for our Senior patients. We wanted not only to thank them for entrusting us to take care of their health, but also to offer them a nice evening, a moment of happiness and joy that sometimes is difficult to have in the middle of the crazy routines we all are immersed on.

We spend weeks planning every detail to make of this one, a beautiful event. The idea was to show our appreciation and love with little things that together would make a great memory for all of us.

Well, we ended up receiving the presents and the gifts, because every single person who attended our Mother’s Day Celebration brought a big smile, the best attitude and the lovely intention to spend a couple of hours with us. They gave us the gift of their presence and their joy…they made our day!

Sometimes is difficult to appreciate little things that can make a big difference in someone’s life. We take for granted moments, people, situations and feelings, and reality is that we don’t even take the time to enjoy those things, but our wonderful guests at this beautiful celebration knew exactly why they were there. They were excited about the music, a simple balloon ripped the smile out of some of them, some muffins and pastries made them happy, and you can’t imagine how long the line was for a massage!

They probably have all that at home, or they could if they would want to, but what we realized is that all together, at the same time, in the same space, was what made the magic.

Hopefully new friendships arose from that event, and some stress was liberated, or maybe someone forgot a problem at least for those hours. If we accomplished at least one of those things, we can say we did good! To all the patients, their relatives and friends who brought them, to the new faces that visited us for the first time, and to all our great staff, Thank You! One more time, we confirmed that we are serving a great community!.

 

Eating Out With Diabetes

It’s a matter of awareness and information

It may sound like an impossible mission, but is not. If you were recently diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor probably told you what you have to watch while choosing your food: portion sizes and salt, are two key parts of your new menus.

It means that your daily consumption of sodium shouldn’t exceed the 1,500 milligrams (less than a teaspoon). About the portions, we all know that most of the restaurants offer servings big enough to share with another person or even to eat the next day from it. So, ask for half portions or just cut it yourself in half as soon as it arrives to your table. Always ask for a low sodium menu. A lot of restaurants are very conscious about their diabetic clients.

In order to keep track of your food prep, you should avoid places like buffets, fast food restaurants or chain places where everything is already cooked. You will need to ask for a specific preparation of your food.

Remember that now your body will resent everything you eat in a very different way, and even your smallest decisions are going to have an impact on your health.

Then, avoid bread, soups and broths. Forget about butter and remember that from now on, fruits and vegetables are going to be your best friends.

Salads are good, but not all of them. Dressings tend to be salty and creamy, two dangerous characteristics that imply sodium and calories. Ask always what kind of ingredients are they using on your food. Canned or marinated vegetables are always a NO, just like cheeses, croutons, and cured meats.

If you really need a dressing on your salad, ask for a vinaigrette on the side and use a little portion of it.  Lemon or even a little bit of olive oil could help to give a nice flavor to your salad.

Grilled and broiled are probably your best options when consuming fish, meat or poultry. The best option for a drink, could be water with a twist of lime or lemon, a natural juice without sugar or even milk.

Desserts are not prohibited. Well, at least not all of them. Enjoy fresh fruit, a colorful gelatin, or a plain cake.

A whole nice and healthy meal at a restaurant is not impossible if you are a diabetic. The key is to be aware of your choices, to ask for everything you need, and to enjoy your food knowing that you are not doing any harm to your health.

 

Wake up, and treat your insomnia now!

In a problem that is increasing, about 30 percent of the population presents sleep issues.

If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, officially you may be suffering from insomnia, and you are not alone. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, around 50 to 70 million adults in United States present some form of sleeping disorder.

Insomnia is one of those disorders, and it is a complicated one. People who suffer from it, usually have other symptoms like low energy, fatigue, lack of attention and drastic changes in mood.

Once you detect the main symptoms it is important to consult a physician to try to determine what kind of insomnia are you experiencing, and what would be the treatment to follow.

Depending on its duration, insomnia could be acute or chronic. Acute is the one related with specific moments or circumstances of your life. It is temporary and it could be solved without medical treatment.

Chronic insomnia affects at least half of your week for a lapse of at least three months. It could be caused by health issues, changes in your schedules, work or life habits, or it could be caused by some medications, as a side effect. It requires a doctor diagnosis and treatment, in order to avoid more complications or developments.

Now, what kind of treatment is the right one for you? That’s something that only a doctor could tell you, and it is actually something that you should address as soon as you can.

Treatment for insomnia could include medical components, psychological, behavioral or even a combination of those. Your own history will help the physician to determine your needs for treatment. It is important to bring to your doctor all the information you can collect and that may be leading you to suffer from insomnia.

If you are experimenting some symptoms, don’t wait to consult a doctor. Wake up and treat your insomnia now!

 

Migraines: Another Reason to Keep a Healthy Weight

A balanced life could help us to avoid those terrible migraine headaches

We all know that overweight increases the risk of developing different diseases and health conditions. We have heard that heart problems, diabetes and cholesterol are part of those diseases or conditions. We also know that an extreme weight loss is also harmful for your health.

But how many of you knew that migraines are included on that list of the conditions that can be affected, or could be developed due to an unhealthy weight?

Well, thanks to health researchers we know now that our weight might influence the risk of migraine headaches. Overweight or extreme weight loss are just bad for people who suffer from migraines.

Having in mind that at least 12 percent of adult Americans are affected by migraines and it’s terrible effects, this is a very important information.

As in any other weight problem, experts suggest that a healthy lifestyle, an exercise routine and changes in the way we eat, might be the answer to avoid more of those episodes of migraine headaches that usually come accompanied by nausea and extreme sensibility to light and sound.

Now, it’s important to understand that is not a cause-effect relationship, but more like an association. It means that weight problems don’t necessarily cause migraine headaches, but they could be associated with those weight issues in some cases.

In any case, what doctors and researchers recommend is simple: Keep a healthy weight, avoid extreme changes on it, exercise regularly, and always consult your physician when experimenting migraines or any other symptoms, in order to know the causes and treatment.

So, here we have another good reason to take care of ourselves!

 

To Detox or Not To Detox…

Are those detox diets safe and proven?

If you haven’t done it yet, at least you know someone who claims to be an expert or a loyal fan of the famous detox diets. The question is, are they really that good?

Let’s start with this. Every detox diet promise you great results that can go from weight loss, to a better skin, and even an improved digestion process.

However, there are many detractors of this kind of practice. Some doctors and health experts say that detox diets are responsible for side effects like fatigue, dizziness, low blood sugar, muscular aches and nausea. Why? Because a detox diet is focused on the consumption of only liquids, or only vegetables and fruits, leaving you without key nutrients that your body needs.

Exercising is also restricted during a detox diet, because you are on a low calorie diet.

But it doesn’t mean you can’t clean your system. There are safe and healthy ways to do it. A diet based on vegetables, fruits, lean protein and whole grains, added to daily exercise, could give you those results you are looking for, without endangering your health.

Experts warn us also about colon cleaning sessions and lymph nodes massages that are usually linked to some detox processes. As they say, our liver, kidneys, colon and lymph nodes do their job without help, unless we are victims of some disease.

So, based on the experience of experts and doctors, there is not proof that detox diets actually benefit your body or your health, but a balanced diet combined with exercise is proven to be effective. Your body needs the nutrients coming from every food group, and to deprive it from one or more those groups, could be devastating to your body.

Keep in mind that every time that you are going to start a new eating regime, it is important to consult your physician. Also, remember that extremes are dangerous. Balance should be your favorite word when we talk about diets.

Let’s Have a Healthier Spring Season

The spring break is probably the first time we all feel that the new season is actually here. It is a well deserved time for us to rest, to spend time with family and friends, to prepare our clothes and outfits for the new season and to put in the back closet everything we won’t use for a while. It is the moment to start new projects.

One of those projects could be to have a healthier environment around us, and it includes not only the famous “spring house cleaning”, which is when we actually get rid of everything we don’t use, like or want anymore, but it also includes to start new routines, to establish new habits and to make the decision to be better in every sense.

So, the question is how to do that? How to have a healthier season without drama or trauma in the meantime? Fortunately, there are several ways!

Let’s begin with the basics. Once you decide what you want to keep and what you want to toss or donate, or just throw away, act immediately. Don’t think twice about that and don’t wait until you give it a second thought.

Of course the deep house cleaning is a must. Fill your home with fresh aromas, with spring colors and textures. It will give you and your space the energy you need to continue with the rest of the plan.

And here is the other part of the plan: imagine yourself being more energetic, more active, more motivated and why not, thinner and above all, healthier.

How to accomplish all that? Here are some easy tips:

  1. Organize your meals menu depending on the activities you will have during the day. It will take no more than 10 minutes of your morning (or night before), and it will give you peace and good results.
  2. Pack your own snacks if you have to be out of home. Include the season fruits and nuts (If you are not allergic), water, and some veggies like carrots or celery.
  3. If you are planning a trip, keep in mind that vacation is not synonymous of trash food or bad habits.
  4. Indulge yourself with the tastes you love, but do it in moderation.
  5. Physical activity is something that you need as part of your routine in order to stay healthy or become healthier. Choose whatever you like better. Maybe a gym is not the answer for you, but how about swimming, or running or bicycling?
  6. Talk to your family and invite everyone to join this new healthier chapter. Enjoy every activity and new meal plan with them.

 

Even though it might be difficult to break bad habits, is not impossible, especially when you think about the long term benefits that you and your loved ones can achieve.