What we learned from Irma

There is a saying that from every tragedy we learn, that from the dark moments, always a light is born. Did we learn the lessons from Irma?

The destructive and monstrous hurricane announced its presence, took its time, and came to us, and even though we knew it was coming, many people decided to ignore the warnings of the authorities.

Yes, we have seen dozens of hurricanes, we have heard the warnings and at the end of the day, things are not as bad as they were pictured, right? But how is it possible to know how strong it will beat us? Reality is that we don’t know. Mother nature is always unpredictable.

We know now that the communications and electrical infrastructures around us are vulnerable, and some would say even weak. If you think that has nothing to do with you, it actually has!

When we know that after a storm we could lose basic services like water and electricity, we have to be ready and prepared to face that situation. Some thought that as usually happens, the regular canned food and extra couple of bottles of water would be enough. But they were not.

The long lines in front of almost empty supermarkets are proof of it. The fear of thousands of families for not being able to get their medicines or basic foods for their kids are proof of it.

Irma showed us that enough is not what we think. Irma showed us that optimism should not be confused with neglect. Irma showed us that what at first sight seems to be “just rain”, is not. That rain paralyzed thousands of families, thousands of businesses, thousands of people who had to stay at home, without working and not being able to earn a dime for days. They probably didn’t lose their roofs or their walls, but they lose the services that make those roofs and walls habitable.

Irma showed us that a couple of hours are enough to change the lives of whole cities for months. Irma showed us that we have to be humble before mother nature.

Memory is fragile, but it’s important that we keep these lessons alive and in mind.

 

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Seniors and Exercise

By Dr. Juan Paolo Borja, DO Board Certified in Family Medicine
I am often asked if exercise is good for the elderly. While this question seems
like common sense, over eighty percent of Americans fail to do the recommended amount of activity on a daily basis.
Regular exercise can help prevent chronic diseases, improve emotional moods and lower risk of injury or falls, which can be catastrophic for an individual. Also regular exercise provides a multitude of health benefits, including improvements in blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoarthritis, among others.
Exercise is even more important for frail elderly as they are the most prone to falling and broken bones. Even for people whose physical abilities are limited by medical conditions – they can still be given guidance by their physicians to learn exercises that
can improve their mobility and strength.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, almost all older people can
benefit from physical activity and a regular exercise program. A consistent exercise program can greatly decrease mortality and age related diseases in older adults. In a study by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, it was noted that elderly who exercise regularly were found to have improvements in functional reach and balance and reduced the seniors fear of falling.
The benefits of exercise are not just limited to improving physical limitations but are important in psychological health. Exercise improves circulation. It has been
associated with improved moods due to serotonin release in the brain. It improves neuroplasticity of the brain, which is important in maintaining memory and adaptability to new situations.
The ideal exercise program for seniors should include resistance training along with cardiovascular training. Resistance training, or weight training, helps with maintaining muscle mass and putting off the effects of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the natural decline in muscle tone that occurs with normal aging.
Muscle tone is important for maintaining good balance and strength to maintain independence. The recommended amount of exercise is thirty minutes of cardio endurance exercise each day for older patients. To start, I always suggest patients begin with a good walking program to acclimate their bodies prior to any increase in intensity.
With regular exercise, your ability to ward off infection and disease also improves. A strong body fights off infection and sickness more easily. Exercise has been proven to lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and protects against loss
of bone mass. Better bone density reduces the risk of osteoporosis and lowers the risk
of falling and breaking bones. Before beginning any new exercise program be sure to check with your physician.

Be ready! Adult acne is increasing and it could be part of your life

Adult acne is increasing and it’s more common than many may think. The bad news for women is that as a matter of fact, females are more likely to have it than men.

But, why? Why is it that after having passed adolescence, adults might worry again or for the first time in their lives about pimples?

The answer is not simple. According to many experts, there are several possible causes, but here are the most common:

  1. Hormonal changes
  2. Stress
  3. Diet
  4. Cleansing routine
  5. Health issues

 

Dermatologists say that the first step is to determine the cause of your breakouts, so, we could start going over the list.

Hormonal changes are difficult to detect by the patient, but women could pay special attention to their menstrual cycle. If the acne appears around that time of the month, that’s a good clue to follow.

A good way to fight stress is exercising, and it also helps you to promote a better health in general.

In terms of your diet, experts recommend a low-fat consumption routine, with a lot of water and fresh veggies and fruits.

Now, this might sound crazy, but if you are cleansing your skin too much, that could be the cause of the acne breakout. Dermatologists say that a gentle face wash, once a day is good and enough to protect your skin.

If you follow a healthy diet, if you are taking good care of your skin and your environment and still the acne is persistent, it could be time to visit your doctor. There are different health issues that only a physician could diagnose in order to let you know if they are related to your acne.

As always, don’t give up and take it easy. The most important thing is to take action.

How to avoid to get sick on a plane?

That’s probably one of the most important questions we should ask ourselves before we catch a flight. Unfortunately, it could be the last thing we take into consideration while getting ready for a trip, but the reality is that getting sick on a plane is not a myth, it happens, but you can follow some tips to at least try to avoid it.

Is not about being paranoid or compulsive about the issue, is more about being conscious of the fact that you will be basically trapped for a certain amount of time in the same space, breathing the same air, with someone who might be sick. Actually, if we think how the processes are, you will be occupying a seat in the plane that less than an hour ago was occupied by another person. Was that person sick? What if they left a virus in the space that now and for your entire trip will be yours?

We all know that the time taken by airlines between one flight and the next one in the same plane is minimal. They clean the restrooms, pick up the trash from the floor and that’s basically it.

So, we are facing a situation in which we depend on ourselves, and nobody else. Now, here are some tips that experts, including doctors, recommend us to follow in order to avoid getting out of that plane with an unwanted guest:

  • Bring a portable pack of disinfectant wipes with you. Clean the seat and every part of it that you will be in touch with, but pay especial attention to the tray, which is proven to be one of the dirtiest parts of a plane. Even if you cleaned it up, never eat directly from it.
  • Use the air vent above you. It creates a current to keep germs away from you, and the air filters actually help to capture viruses and bacteria that, otherwise, could land on you.
  • Don’t consume tap water from the plane and don’t use it to brush your teeth either.
  • While using the restroom, always try to avoid direct contact with the door, the lid of the toilet or any other surface.
  • Use sanitizer after using the restroom.
  • On an international flight, ask for hot meals. The heat helps to kill germs.
  • Try not to use pillows or blankets from the plane. Only the first flights of the day have fresh and clean sets.

 

If we think about all we can avoid by taking simple steps like these, it’s not crazy, right? Nobody wants to start a trip, even if is a business one, feeling sick. Before your next plane trip, think about this and enjoy a safe and healthy flight!

Don’t lose your head over hair loss

 

Yes, is not an easy thing to handle, and its effects go beyond the appearance. Hair loss is a problem that doesn’t discriminate between men and women, and it emotionally affects both equally.

We all have seen thousands of products and procedures that ensure the return of the lost hair, but the reality is that the problem goes deeper and there is no a magic formula or lotion that could prevent or restore the hair loss overnight. That’s why is very important for you to be informed and to analyze your own situation so you can collect the information you need to fight the problem.

The first step once you detect hair loss is to evaluate and know how big or serious is the problem. It’s important to understand that we all lose hair every day. Losing up to 100 hairs is normal. Now, what you need to determine is if you are experiencing a significant hair loss, or if it’s something that is just starting, or maybe we are talking about thinning hair. Everything is important when you are evaluating the situation.

Now, when we talk about causes, there are several of them, and they can go from stress to age, through chemical processes, hormonal deficiencies or family history.

Your doctor can diagnose your hair loss with some of the information you collect. The physician will need to know when it started, how much hair are you losing, and what’s your parent’s history with hair loss. Some of your hairs might be collected at your doctor office for tests, and even a blood sample could be necessary.

Once you have a clear diagnosis and the cause of your problem, the options to treat your hair loss will be presented to you. At the end of the day, it will be your call on what to do or not to treat the issue, but the most important thing is to know and understand that hair loss doesn’t have to be a taboo in your life. To the extent that you recognize and decide to put the problem in professional’s hands, you will have better options to see improvements. Don’t lose your head over hair loss, you are not alone!

Telemedicine and Virtual Doctors

Do you remember when doctors were called by patients and they would actually do a home visit? Many years ago doctors were more like a family member, but times have changed.

We are living in a different era, one where a shortage of doctors is a national problem, and one where technology has become a daily helper for almost everybody, even for those who can’t visit the doctor or those who can’t go to an emergency room. Thanks to technology we are going back to the concept of having the doctor at home, but now, virtually.

Telemedicine is a reality and is an increasing practice in our country. Is not only that we don’t have enough primary care and some specialist doctors, but also that one-quarter of the population lives in rural areas where access to healthcare could be not only difficult but sometimes impossible.

So, we are talking about more than 10 million people using every year the services or virtual doctors. And by virtual doctors, we mean video chats, and video conferences with a physician using a smartphone, a computer or a tablet. Yes! Real-time conversations with doctors without the waiting room and the time that it involves.

Of course, there are certain limitations. Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, is perfect for monitoring chronic conditions or situations, or for minor issues’ diagnosis and prescription. It’s so popular and useful that now some health insurance companies are offering telehealth as part of their portfolio of services and plans.

Different studies have shown the benefits provided by this practice, especially in older adults, people with serious conditions limiting their mobility, patients with mental health problems, and residents of rural areas.

If you think that Telehealth or Telemedicine could help you, consult your health insurance company and ask about it.

The future is here to bring us a benefit from the past, have your doctor at home.

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.