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I have been a registered nurse, nurse practitioner and most importantly a patient advocate for over 20 years. I have worked in hospitals, homes and as a private consultant, always teaching patients how to speak up for themselves and to make well informed healthcare decisions that are right for them and help them to avoid all types of Medical Errors. The many things I have seen in healthcare led me write "What Did the Doctor Just Say." In it are all the steps every patient needs to take to remain safe in the healthcare system and avoid medical errors. My personal goal is help to save 100,000 people from the horrors of a medical error and I wrote What Did the Doctor Just Say? to help make that happen.

Monday, April 19, 2010

10 Things You Can Do to Relieve Sinus Suffering

It's allergy season and millions are suffering with nasal congestion, headaches, tooth pain, face pain, stuffy nose an inability to sleep, gastric reflux and sinus infections are soon to follow if allergies aren't kept under control.  In many parts of the country people are suffering horribly.  In the following post I offer 10 things you can do to relieve sinus and allergy suffering. So, let's get started.   
     Seasonal allergies are triggered in the spring and the fall by pollen producing trees, weeds and grasses.  When pollen is present in the air, it can land in a person’s eyes, nose, lungs and on the skin causing the body to become irritated and to attempt to right off the irritation and that fighting is commonly known as an  allergic reaction. Symptoms may include allergic rhinitis (hay fever)allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergies) and allergic asthma.
     The more pollen you are exposed to the worse the symptoms of nasal congestion, stuffiness and pain will be. Therefore the first step in reducing the symptoms of seasonal allergies is to reduce the amount of pollen and other irritants you are exposed to and all over hygiene that reduces the amount of pollen you are exposed to and how your body responds to that irritation. 
10 Things You Can Do To Relieve Sinus Pain and Suffering

1.  Clean your eyes and your nasal passages: Use nasal saline rinses to decrease the amount of pollen that your eyes and nasal passages retain. Retained pollen accumulates and increases the amount of irritation your sinuses are exposed to over time.  When you decrease the pollen load your body carries you will decrease your symptoms.  

2. Shower after being outside to remove pollen from your body again this will decrease the amount of pollen your immune system is exposed to and irritated by over time.

3. Keep your windows closed during the early morning hours when pollen is highest to prevent the wind from blowing pollen on to surfaces in your home where they linger and continue to irritate you. 

4. Vacuum your furniture to remove landed pollens and pet hairs from household surfaces

5.  Strengthen your immune system. A strong immune system will have a less violent reaction to irritants  and that equals a less severe allergic reaction. Taking vitamins A,C,E and Zinc found in fresh fruits and vegetables will help to regulate your immune responses

6.  Decrease the amount of meat, salt and sugar you eat as these all cause mucus and increase congestion

7.  Eat chili peppers and breathe in menthol and minted oils like the ones found in Vicks Vapor rub as these two things will cause your sinuses to drain and relieve the congestion that makes you so miserable.

8.  Hold gentle pressure on the sore spots in your face until you feel the spots release under the gentle pressure. This is a reflexology technique and it can be very effective when done properly.

9. Take your medications with care. Make sure you ask all the questions I suggest in What Did the Doctor Just Say before taking medications

10. If you have any medical conditions especially heart disease, urinary problems or visual problems be sure to research your medications and discuss them with your health care professionals before taking them as some drugs used to treat allergies should not be taken by people with these conditions


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Should There Be an Obesity Tax?

The conversation around obesity is becoming very heated and lively debate. One radio interview host I spoke with recently suggested there be a fat tax. His point was that heavy people have many more health problems than do thin people and that they should pay their "fair share" of healthcare cost by having taxes and fines imposed upon them. 

Clearly tempers are flaring (an not just about obesity) in our land as the healthcare debate rages on and we look at ways to cut cost. 

I do not think any group should be taxed or penalized. Our health issues are much to complicated to be solved by taxes.  Taxes do not address the reasons why we are over weight. They do not address emotional eating, food addiction, cultural foods that lead to obesity, or the cheapness of fatty foods that make them more attractive to the young and the poor. 

Fortunately or unfortunately my opinions do not set policy in our nation and the obesity tax is an active discussion especially in NY state where they are considering taxing sodas and other sugary drinks to reduce their consumption and the pounds associated with high calorie drinks. This is effectively and obesity tax and there may be others to follow.

As healthcare costs continue to rise and we are forced to buy health with the young and old, fat and thin all dividing the cost equally the argument is sure to become even more dynamic because it is well documented that heavy people are more likely to health serious and costly health problems that increase the costs of providing care to everyone in the nation, with some saying those that have more risk of becoming ill (the obese and the elderly) should pay more for insurance they are more likely to use.  Some of the problems overweight people are more likely to have are:  

 Heart Disease and Stroke

Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death and disability for people in the U.S. Overweight people are twice as likely to have high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, than people who are not overweight. Overweight people are more likely to have very high blood levels of cholesterol which can also lead to heart disease. Being overweight also contributes to chest pain and sudden death from heart disease or stroke without any signs or symptoms.
Obesity Is Linked to Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a major cause of early death, heart disease, stroke, and blindness. More than 80% of cases of type 2 diabetes can be attributed to being overweight or obese.  
Obesity and Cancer Are Linked
Being obese also increases the risk of dying from cancer. In women, these include cancer of the uterus, gallbladder, cervix, ovary, breast, and colon. Overweight men are at higher risk for developing colorectal cancer and prostate cancer.  
Obesity Is Related to Gallbladder Disease

Your risk of gallbladder disease and gallstones is increased if you are overweight.  
Obesity Can Cause Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a common joint condition that most often affects the knee, hip, and lower back joints. Carrying extra pounds places extra pressure on these joints and wears away the cartilage (tissue that cushions the joints) that normally protects them. Weight loss can decrease stress on the knees, hips, and lower back and may improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Obesity Is Linked to Gout

Gout is a disease that affects the joints that is caused by high levels of a substance called uric acid in the blood. The large amount of uric acid can form into solid or crystal-like masses that deposit in the joints. Gout is more common in overweight people and the risk of developing the disorder increases with higher body weights.
Obesity Is Linked to Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can cause a person to snore heavily and to stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Sleep apnea may cause daytime sleepiness and even heart failure. The risk for sleep apnea increases as body weight increases.  
The good news is that by decreasing your weight be 10-20% you can decrease your chances of having serious consequences of obesity, of course the question then becomes how do I do that. In a future post I will discuss weight loss strategies. In the meantime, we all know exercise, calorie reduction, decreasing stress and increasing water intake will help to take off the pounds, good luck America

By Lynn R. Parker and WebMD

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