Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution: Focus on Your Insides

(StatePoint) Every New Year millions of people vow to get fit and improve their health by joining a gym and following a healthier diet. Unfortunately, many overlook an essential part of our overall health and wellness -- the digestive system.

When the digestive system is out of balance, you are vulnerable to experiencing occasional digestive upsets which can slow you down and make you feel sluggish and unhealthy.

Registered dietitian and Align spokesperson, Ashley Koff, offers these tips because with the right balance of nutrition, exercise and bacteria you can work towards a healthier 2010:

* Mind Your Manners: Talking while you're eating, chewing gum and drinking through a straw can all cause you to swallow excess air, leaving you uncomfortable.

* Great Things DO Come in Small Packages: Allow yourself to enjoy the occasional treat, but limit yourself to just a taste or bite. The smaller portion will be better for your digestive system and can help you feel less bloated.

* Find Your Inner Balance: Of bacteria, that is. It's important to have a good balance of beneficial bacteria ("probiotics") in our digestive systems; not enough can lead to digestive imbalance. When used daily as directed, a probiotic supplement like Align with Bifantis (Bifidobacterium infantis 35624), can help restore your natural balance and provide ongoing probiotic protection from occasional digestive upsets. This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. However, P&G proudly stands by the performance of Align and offers consumers a money-back guarantee if they are not satisfied. Visit for more information.

* How Sweet It Is: Keep this in mind the next time you reach for a treat this year. Sugars, dried fruit, sweeteners, and juice are treats that may not be friendly to all digestive systems. Carbonated drinks like sugary sodas can make your stomach feel puffy and distended. Keep it simple -- stick to water with lemon or herbal tea.

* UNDERwhelm the digestive system: How do we calm irritability? Take a few things off your plate - literally. When we eat and drink less at one time, we present less to the digestive system.

* Don't Feel Weighed Down: Hop on the treadmill, hit the dance floor or just run around with your nieces and nephews - anything. Working up a sweat releases fluids your body might be holding, and exercising each day can help to move food along your digestive tract. Before beginning a new exercise program or regimen, though, talk to your doctor to see what kind of activity is right for you.

For the coming year, there are many small changes you can make to look and feel great, including finding smart ways to protect against occasional digestive upsets.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Enjoy Pregnancy without Foot Pain

/PRNewswire/ -- "Oh my aching feet" is a phrase you hear often from pregnant women. But are sore feet a symptom they just must deal with during pregnancy? According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) the answer is "no." There are many remedies available to help alleviate foot pain.

According to Marybeth Crane, DPM, FACFAS, a Dallas-area foot and ankle surgeon, women often experience foot pain during pregnancy because of increased weight, foot instability and swelling. "In the last five years, I've seen an increase in pregnant women with foot pain because more women than ever before are active, even running marathons, during their pregnancies," Dr. Crane says. ACFAS recommends the following guidelines to help reduce foot pain during pregnancy.

Painful, Swollen Feet -- Pregnant women often experience throbbing, swollen feet due to excess fluid build up (edema) in the feet from the weight and position of the baby. To reduce swelling, put feet up whenever possible, stretch legs frequently, wear wide comfortable shoes and don't cross legs when sitting.

Arch Pain -- Pain in the arch can be due to both arch fatigue or over pronation (or the flattening of the arch). Over pronation occurs due to extreme stress to the ligament (the plantar fascia) that holds up the arch of the foot. The best way to prevent arch pain is to stretch daily in the morning and before and after any exercise, don't go barefoot and wear supportive low-heeled shoes.

Foot Cramps -- These painful cramps are caused by increased blood volume and high progesterone levels brought on by pregnancy. To prevent cramps, increase circulation by rotating ankles and elevating feet while sitting. If cramps persist, try a walk around the block and include daily stretching of the calf muscles.

Ingrown Toenails -- Excessive stress from tightly-fitting shoes causes painful ingrown toenails. Give your feet a break: wear wider shoes during the last trimester of pregnancy to avoid ingrown toenails. If you do experience an ingrown toenail, avoid attempting "bathroom surgery." Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time. It is best to seek treatment with a foot and ankle surgeon.

It is also not uncommon for women to experience a change in their foot size during pregnancy. "A permanent growth in a women's foot, up to half a size, can occur from the release of the same hormone, relaxin, that allows the pelvis to open to deliver the baby. It makes the ligaments in your feet more flexible, causing feet to spread wider and longer," Dr. Crane adds.

Pregnancy and pending motherhood should be a joy. If foot pain persists, a visit to a foot and ankle surgeon can provide relief with conservative treatments such as physical therapy, foot orthotics, supportive shoes and minor toenail procedures.

For more information on foot and ankle problems, visit

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Expert Panel Reaches Consensus on Our Ability to Improve Cognitive Health

/PRNewswire/ -- A panel of experts from leading northeastern universities recently reached consensus that proper nutrition, regular physical and mental activity, and adequate sleep can help to maintain and even improve cognitive skills in healthy adults. Further, the panel released recommendations to help adults bolster their cognitive health.

The panel, composed of leading scientific experts in the fields of nutrition, exercise physiology, sleep and cognitive stimulation, convened to discuss the impact of these various lifestyle behaviors on cognition. Participants were Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, Harvard Medical School; Dr. John Gabrieli, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Ruth Remington, University of Massachusetts Lowell; Dr. Thomas Shea, University of Massachusetts Lowell; and Dr. Erin Snook, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

While previously research has showcased the ability for healthy adults to maintain their memory performance, the body of evidence reviewed by this panel revealed that healthy adults can now take measures that will improve their cognition. This is extremely good news for the millions of adults that are increasingly concerned about their mental acuity. Given the importance of cognition to living our lives well, it is not surprising that this area is of interest to consumers. In fact, eighty-eight percent of consumers are optimistic about the potential for improving brain fitness (ASA MetLife Foundation Attitudes and Awareness of Brain Health Poll, 2006).

Fueled by years of relevant research data, each participant provided a unique perspective regarding the ways in which healthy adults can keep their minds sharp and active throughout their lifetime. The panelists agreed that the following recommendations will help healthy adults improve and maintain memory and enhance mental clarity and performance:

-- Nutrition: "Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to ensure a variety of
vitamins and minerals are consumed; supplements may also be needed to
complement healthy eating patterns to ensure adequate nutrition," said
Dr. Shea. "Research suggests that certain nutrients [such as Folate,
B12, and vitamin E] and antioxidants may be especially important in
protecting and supporting healthy brain function and memory,"
continued Dr. Remington.
-- Exercise: "Keeping the body physically active often results in a more
active mind," said Dr. Erin Snook. "Adults should strive to be
physically active for 30 minutes, most days (3 or more) of the week."
-- Sleep: Experts agree striving for an average of 7-8 hours of quality
sleep daily is important for maintaining a sharp mind. According to
Dr. Ellenbogen, "Putting your brain and body to sleep is not like
putting your computer to sleep. Your brain is active, and sleep is a
rich and complex biological process that works to improve your
cognitive function."
-- Cognitive Exercise: As we exercise our bodies, we must also exercise
our minds. "Each day, find new and challenging things to do that
stretch you beyond the daily norm. Continually challenging the mind
with crossword puzzles, games, and new hobbies helps the mind stay
sharp and active," said Dr. Gabrieli.

The Cognitive Health Expert Roundtable was sponsored by Nature Made(R), the nation's number one best-selling brand of vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements in the food, drug, mass and club channels. Nature Made is a pioneer in the area of cognitive health and has been a leader in the wellness industry for more than 35 years.

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This New Years, Smokers Get 52 Chances to Stay Quit

/PRNewswire/ -- On January 1st millions of Americans will resolve to quit smoking -- again. Yet many will resume their addiction by Groundhog's Day. Now authorities at Johns Hopkins and the American Cancer Society say it doesn't have to be that way. If a quitter falls off the wagon, the pros agree, just quit again the following Monday. And recommit to stay quit each Monday thereafter.

"We know there's a high relapse rate for first-time quitters and that it takes a number of attempts for most people to stop smoking altogether," says Frances Stillman, who co-directs the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Using each Monday to reaffirm their goal of quitting is a sensible way to stay on track," she suggests.

It's simple math. "For most people who quit, it takes from 7 to 10 tries," says Sid Lerner, Chairman of the Quit and Stay Quit Monday Campaign. "We urge smokers to think about it realistically and use the start of each week to recommit to breaking their addiction. If you just try once a year on your birthday or New Years, those "tries" can add up to a decade before you finally quit. But if you try every Monday, and keep at it, chances are good you may succeed within a single year."

"Many smokers will be inspired this New Years to take an important first step towards a smoke-free life. They can use Stay Quit Monday to reinforce their commitment," said Donald Distasio, CEO of the American Cancer Society, Eastern Division, adding, "If you're resolving to quit, call your American Cancer Society Quitline at 1-800-227-2345 or visit We can help you stay quit."

Each week participants are encouraged to check in with quitline counselors, online forums, support groups or a non-smoking friend to stay committed to their resolution to quit. Tell your friends, family and co-workers about your resolution -- and ask them to meet up every Monday for a fun, healthful activity!

Your Quit and Stay Quit Monday Toolbox

While quitting is hard, you can get help each week from these helpful resources:

-- Sign up to receive Stay Quit Monday relapse prevention tips at
-- Take the Smoke-free Monday pledge at
-- Call 1-800-Quit-Now, the national tobacco quitline to talk to experts
for immediate counseling.

Smoking is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States and globally it's the number one cause of preventable death. Dean Michael Klag, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, called smoking a big part of a "chronic disease pandemic," adding, "If we sharply reduce tobacco use, it will have a tremendous impact on cancer, heart disease, respiratory diseases and other tobacco-related diseases."

The Quit and Stay Quit Monday campaign is a Healthy Monday project of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

DVT: Are You At Risk For This Silent Killer?

(NAPSI)-Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) are not the first health threats to come to mind in the age of swine flu, obesity, heart disease and cancer. Yet one person dies every five to six minutes from a DVT/PE-related event, and that's more than 100,000 Americans every year.

Dee, 39, nearly lost her life to DVT/PE following surgery in 2007. "While I knew I had a slightly higher risk because I took birth control pills, I didn't know that my risk was also elevated by being an African-American," she said. "If I'd have been more informed, I would have asked more questions and perhaps done things differently to reduce my risk. I could have lost my life."

Almost anyone at any age is at risk for DVT/PE, yet very few people know the risk factors, or the signs and symptoms to look for that could alert them to potentially lifesaving information. DVT is a blood clot that develops in the large veins, usually of the legs or pelvic area. PE occurs when all or part of the DVT is carried in the bloodstream and lodges in an artery of the lungs, where it can be fatal if not immediately diagnosed and treated.

There are many factors that increase the risk of developing DVT, the most common being hospitalization, surgery, prolonged bed rest, pregnancy and the postpartum period, African-American descent, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, cancer and cancer treatment, obesity, long-haul travel, smoking and a family history of DVT.

For Dee, the fact that she was having surgery was perhaps her biggest risk factor, but as an African-American her risk for DVT/PE was 30 percent greater than the risk experienced by Caucasians.

She also took oral contraceptives, which elevated her risk, completing a potentially deadly triple threat. "In some ways I was lucky. I was still in the hospital after my surgery when the DVT/PE occurred so I was treated quickly."

"My life has changed dramatically since the DVT/PE. If I had better understood my risks I would have been more proactive prior to surgery," said Dee. "Everyone, especially African-Americans, should understand their risks and the instances when they will be the most vulnerable to this serious yet surprisingly common condition."

Dr. Garth Graham, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services became an advocate for educating Americans on the risk factors for and symptoms of DVT/PE after the death of his sister from a PE at the age of 38. His sister, Gabrielle, developed a massive PE that proved fatal after an unrelated surgery.

"I know all too well the devastating effect DVT and PE have had on our family and friends," said Dr. Graham. "I am making it my mission to educate all Americans, and specifically African-Americans, about this silent killer."

Worryingly, up to one million Americans are affected by DVT every year, and PE is the third most common cause of hospital death. Without preventive treatment, up to 40 percent of all medical and general surgery patients develop DVT. Everyone, especially African-Americans, should be aware of the risks and warning signs.

"If you have one or more of these risk factors, you need to be vigilant about your health, understand the signs and symptoms of DVT and PE, and encourage your medical team to be prepared for your increased risk," implores Dr. Graham.

The signs and symptoms can include sudden swelling of one limb, pain or tenderness, skin that is warm to the touch, shortness of breath, chest pain (often worse when taking a breath), sudden collapse, coughing and bloody phlegm.

Educational tools are available to help you understand your risk such as the Pause for Prevention Risk Assessment Tool developed by the Venous Disease Coalition, an alliance of over 35 organizations focused on preventing DVT/PE, and a program of the Vascular Disease Foundation. These tools can be found along with other resources on the coalition's Web site at or by calling 888-VDF-4INFO (888-833-4463).

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic to Provide H1N1 Vaccinations Coast to Coast

/PRNewswire/ -- CVS/pharmacy, the nation's leading retail pharmacy, and MinuteClinic, the largest retail health care provider in the U.S., announced today an expanded H1N1 vaccine outreach effort. The H1N1 vaccine is expected to be widely available in locations from coast to coast beginning as soon as this week from supplies distributed by public health authorities.

"We are stepping up our national efforts to provide H1N1 vaccines in our thousands of CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic communities so that our customers and their families can remain healthy during this flu season," said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, CVS Caremark. "H1N1 flu is currently active in many communities across the country and it is likely that we will see increased flu activity, as is typically the case, in January and February."

Public health officials are now encouraging everyone to get an H1N1 flu vaccine and many states have lifted priority group restrictions, allowing all patients to be eligible to receive the shot while supplies last. Information on H1N1 vaccine supply at CVS/pharmacy can be found at and at MinuteClinic at Vaccine availability is updated daily.

H1N1 vaccine is currently being offered at:

-- Select CVS/pharmacy locations in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois,
Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas and the
District of Columbia.

-- MinuteClinic locations in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia,
Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New
Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South
Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

New locations will be added shortly.

Patients who are most at risk for contracting H1N1 and for complications resulting from the flu include pregnant women, individuals 6 months through 24 years of age, household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age, health care and emergency medical services personnel, and persons aged 25 through 64 who have health conditions that are associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza such as asthma and diabetes.

The cost of the H1N1 flu vaccination shot at CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic is a $15 administration fee, which may be covered by insurance.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How to get the most out of your health benefits this year

(ARA) - It's the New Year and like millions of other Americans, you may be thinking about your New Year's resolutions. One resolution that many people may not consider is making the most of their new health benefits plan. By fully maximizing your benefits and learning the ins and outs of your plan, you could save yourself hundreds of dollars this year.

Experts say the most important first step is to review your health plan coverage documents carefully. This information may have been mailed to you or may be available online with your employer or health benefits carrier.

It is important to have a copy, because this is the official guide to your health benefits. It explains what the plan will or will not cover, including any special requirements or limitations on the coverage. For example, the policy will spell out any copayments, deductible and coinsurance amounts, referral requirements and limits on types of services.

Here are more tips, based on other people's experiences, to help you get the most out of your health benefits plan this year:

* An ounce of prevention is best, so make sure you get your preventive care. This includes yearly physicals, flu shots and some screenings. Many plans cover these services 100 percent.

* Use doctors and other health care providers that are in the health plan's network. If your plan requires you to select a primary care physician, then do so. Some plans will not cover your visit or treatment if the doctor is not in their network, so read your documents carefully or call your health plan's customer service department to find out. Even if you are covered for using a doctor outside your health plan's network, you save money by seeing someone in the network.

* If your doctor recommends any type of tests or lab work - outside of what is normally part of an annual physical - call your health plan to see if these require a preauthorization. Usually the doctor's office does this, but it doesn't hurt to check. If you get the test done without a preauthorization, your health plan may not cover the testing, which will leave you paying for it out of your pocket. (It is always a good idea to get copies of preauthorizations in writing.)

* Read your policy carefully if you need any type of therapy - for instance, physical, occupational or speech therapy. There are often limits on the number of visits and some have time limits for when you can receive the services after you are diagnosed.

* When Explanations of Benefits (EOBs) arrive, review them carefully. An EOB explains how a health benefits claim was paid. Be sure you were charged for the correct service and the correct amount. If you don't understand the information or something is incorrect, call your health plan or your doctor to resolve it.

* Understand your rights to file an appeal or grievance if a claim is denied that you feel should be paid. This information is typically explained on your EOB or you can call your health plan for instruction on how to do this. You may need to provide additional information for a claim to be reconsidered. There are timeframes for this so pay attention to those notes on your EOBs or in any correspondence you receive. Whenever contacting your health plan, have your member identification number, the date of service, and any documentation to support your appeal.

* Finally, most health plans are emphasizing wellness these days. So, see if yours offers incentives for healthy living or discounts on gym memberships and weight loss programs.

Average out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles, are expected to increase nearly 10 percent in 2010, according to research group Hewitt Associates. It pays to know the ins and outs of your health benefits plan so you don't get caught paying more than necessary. For more tips on how to maximize your health benefits, download or order a free copy of "Navigating Your Health Benefits For Dummies" at

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Autism - CDC Avoids The Elephant in The Room

/PRNewswire/ -- A study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that autism prevalence has increased a staggering 57% from the 1994 rate of 1 in 150 to 1 in 110 for children born in 1996. SafeMinds is extremely dissatisfied with CDC's lack of commitment to researching environmental causes and the timing of their announcement.

Mark Blaxill, SafeMinds Director told, "I would say that releasing something the Friday before Christmas is about as deep as you can bury something."

CDC's Catherine Rice said, "We know there are multiple complex genetic and environmental factors which result in multiple forms of autism and we have much to learn about the causes." However, absent from CDC's press conference and subsequent call with autism advocacy groups were specifics on the types of environmental exposures to be investigated. They skirted questions about potential environmental causes and avoided using words like "toxic exposures" or "pollutants" despite very pointed questions from advocates.

During CDC's statement, Rice referenced CDC's SEED study "to help identify risks and protective factors for ASDs and other developmental disabilities. SEED is studying potential risk factors that may be related to genes, health conditions and other factors that affected the mother's pregnancy and the child's first few years of life." Yet SEED's website doesn't mention environmental research.

Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) chairman, Dr. Tom Insel, took a new tone in an interview with journalist David Kirby. According to Kirby's article, Insel said that better diagnosis and reporting could not "explain away this huge increase," and that "there is no question that there has got to be an environmental component here." Insel also stated, "It's quite believable to me that there are many children who develop autism in the context of having severe gut pathology, of having autoimmune problems, of having lots of other problems. And some of these kids really do recover."

SafeMinds President, Theresa Wrangham said, "To date, IACC has paid lip service to environmental research by noting its promise and chronic state of underfunding. Yet the IACC purposefully excluded environmental expertise from informing their research agenda. Most recently, the NIH missed a critical opportunity to equalize this acknowledged funding disparity. Of the stimulus funds NIH allocated for autism research, cause and prevention was allocated 52% with over 70% of that amount dedicated to more genetic research that is already well funded publicly and privately."

Neither CDC nor IACC have shown a sense of urgency or commitment to study environmental triggers such as the many toxins and pollutants infants and toddlers are exposed to (including from vaccines). SafeMinds wants journalists to ask tough questions. With such a dramatic
increase in prevalence, the public deserves to know which environmental triggers will be investigated to explain the ghastly increase. Visit SafeMinds website for insights on what changed in the environment between 1994 and 1996.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

How To Detox Your Home

(NAPSI)-There are more products available now than ever before that will help erase stain spots, scour tubs and clean the floors of our homes. According to Dr. Alan Greene, a noted pediatrician, author and green-living expert, recent scientific evidence shows increasing links between common household chemicals and children's health problems.

"When you think about the rise in rates of childhood illnesses such as asthma, attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, allergies and cancer, it is not our genetics that have changed, but our environmental exposures--including ingredients in household chemicals," said Dr. Greene.

"The Toxic Substances Control Act [TSCA] was created 33 years ago to regulate our nation's chemicals and has done nothing but allow these chemicals to slide through the system and into household products," noted consumer advocate Erin Brockovich. "Consumers are entitled to have more information about the chemicals that go into the everyday products they buy, and that's why I am urging people to join the Million Baby Crawl to ask Congress to enact stricter safety testing."

Until stricter safety testing on household products exists, Dr. Greene shares five simple ways to decrease toxins in your home now:

1. Be an advocate for change by supporting stronger toxic chemical laws such as the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act. Go to for more information and to participate.

2. Open your windows. EPA research has found that indoor air can contain levels of pollutants two to five times higher than the air outside.

3. If you are using plastic, store food in No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 or No. 5 plastic containers, which are less likely to leach unsafe chemicals including BPA. Never heat food or serve hot food in plastic of any kind.

4. Stay informed, read the labels of products before purchasing. Avoid anything that says "danger," "warning" or "harmful."

5. Remove toxic household cleaning products and replace them with natural cleaning products, such as those from Seventh Generation, that won't leave behind harmful chemical residue or pollute indoor air.

For more information on nontoxic living, visit

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Friday, December 18, 2009

When a Headache is Not Just a Headache

/PRNewswire/ -- Headaches are extremely common. Almost everyone has experienced a severe headache at least once in his or her lifetime. In most cases, headaches are minor nuisances that resolve within a short time. However, a headache can on rare occasions be the warning sign of a potentially serious disorder that requires immediate medical attention.

Potentially serious disorders that can produce headache pain include brain tumors, stroke (particularly stroke related to brain hemorrhage or an arterial tear in the neck) and inflammation of the temporal arteries. There are often subtle signs that accompany headaches associated with these conditions that can help people recognize that something more serious is causing their pain.

The American Chiropractic Association suggests people be aware of the signs that a headache is more than just a headache. If you experience any of the following symptoms with your headache, seek immediate medical attention:

-- The sudden onset of severe headache that is more intense than any
headache you have ever had in the past
-- Headache that is accompanied by blurred vision, double vision, trouble
swallowing or speaking, or severe dizziness
-- Headache that is accompanied by numbness, tingling, weakness or
clumsiness in the arms or legs
-- Headache that is worsened with lying down
-- In older adults, headache in the temple area that is accompanied by a
feeling of pulsations in that area
-- Headache that is accompanied by confusion, disorientation or loss of
-- Headache that is accompanied by fever
-- Headache that is accompanied by a severe stiff neck
-- Headache that is accompanied by persistent or unexplained vomiting
-- Severe headache in someone over age 50 who does not normally suffer
from headaches

"Many people find relief from their headache pain through natural, drug-free chiropractic care," says Dr. Donald R. Murphy of Pawtucket, R.I., a doctor of chiropractic with postgraduate training in neurology. "But in cases where a more serious condition is the root of the pain, it's vital to identify the warning signs early and to seek immediate medical attention."

ACA, based in Arlington, Va., is the largest chiropractic organization in the United States. ACA promotes the highest standards of ethics and patient care, contributing to the health and well-being of millions of chiropractic patients.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tips To Protect Older Americans From Falls

(NAPSI)-Taking steps to prevent falls in the home can be an important way to protect the safety of older Americans.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to the emergency room in the U.S. and the primary cause of accidental death in people over age 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, each year more than one-third of older adults experience a fall, and between 20 percent and 30 percent of those falls result in moderate to severe injuries such as hip fractures or head injuries.

Know The Risks

The risk for death, serious injury and disability from falls increases as one ages, and falls can have an especially significant impact on individuals who are already in need of assistance. Other risk factors include pre-existing conditions such as osteoporosis, glaucoma, cataracts and eye disease, as well as issues related to muscle strength, balance and gait.

Medications used to treat both acute and chronic health problems can also sometimes increase an individual's risk for falling, as can consuming alcohol.

Fall Prevention

There are a number of steps you can take to help reduce your family member's risk of falls. These include ensuring that he or she:

• Changes positions slowly to prevent falls related to drops in blood pressure. When first getting up in the morning, it is wise to sit at the edge of the bed for a short time before standing up.

• Wears supportive, low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes.

• Exercises caution when walking on thick-pile carpets.

• Does not wear smooth-soled slippers or socks on smooth floors such as wood or linoleum.

• Uses caution when walking outdoors, especially when it is wet or icy.

• Limits intake of alcohol.

• Does not wear glasses that are meant for reading when performing activities other than reading.

• Takes medications as prescribed and reports any apparent side effects.

Safe At Home

It is also important to look at the living environment and potential changes that can reduce the risk of falls. Try these tips:

• Ensure that all rooms are well and evenly lit.

• Use night-lights in halls and bathrooms.

• Avoid very bright lights that could increase glare.

• Have a light or flashlight by the bedside that your loved one can use if he or she needs to get up during the night.

• Be sure that lighting is bright enough in hallways, stairways and bathrooms.

• Keep walkways clear of electrical cords and telephone wires.

• Arrange furniture so it does not interfere with walking.

• Check to see if thresholds present a tripping risk. Widen doorways, if possible.

• Make sure that furniture is not too low to the floor, or too high to allow your family member to get up from or onto without difficulty.

• Remove throw rugs and secure carpets.

•Install handrails on both sides of stairways, if possible.

• Mark the first and last stair with a strip of bright paint or colored adhesive tape made specifically for stair steps.

• Place nonskid strips in the tub or shower.

• Install grab bars in the tub or shower and next to the toilet.

• Install an elevated seat on the toilet if it is too low and your loved one has difficulty getting on and off.

Learn More

Helpful information can also be found in a free booklet called "Falls and Fall Prevention" from MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

For a copy, you can call (203) 221-6580, e-mail, visit or write MetLife Mature Market Institute, 57 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT 06880.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Parents: Be Mindful of Hazardous Holiday Ornaments

/PRNewswire/ -- A new study from Children's Hospital Boston's Division of Emergency Medicine has found that holiday decorations, particularly glass ornaments, are one more safety hazard parents must consider during the season. A review of records from Children's Emergency Department revealed an average of five ornament-related injuries per year, more than half of these injuries involve a child eating fragments of these ornaments, including batteries and pieces of glass.

"Parents need to be vigilant during the holiday season, even though it's also a busy time of year," says co-author Lois Lee, MD, MPH, of Children's Division of Emergency Medicine, who also directs the hospital's Emergency Department Injury Prevention Program. "If you know that your child has a tendency to put things in his or her mouth, you should be especially careful."

The retrospective study was published in the December 2009 issue of Pediatric Emergency Care.

The study authors conducted a computer search through emergency department records from Children's, dating October 1995 through March 2008, for words such as "holiday," "ornaments" and "glass." They narrowed their search down by manually inspecting the records that their computer search returned. Out of a total of 76 cases:

-- 56 percent involved ingestion or taking fragments of ornaments or
light bulbs into the mouth; more than a quarter of these injuries
resulted in bleeding of the mouth or gastrointestinal tract
-- 27 percent of cases involved lacerations; more than two-thirds of
lacerations required surgical repair
-- 85 percent of cases required radiological screening
-- three patients were examined for potential toxin exposure
-- two patients experienced minor electrocution
-- only one case of ingestion involved an ornament not made of glass.

Ornament-related injuries often lead to otherwise avoidable medical procedures. Facial lacerations have required stitches. In addition, accidental ingestions have required testing with X-rays and CT scans, and there is particular concern of radiation exposure from CT scans in children. Such hospital visits are also an unwelcome inconvenience during the holiday festivities, Lee says.

The consistent injury rate occurring throughout the years examined in this study have researchers recommending that health professionals talk to parents about the use of holiday decorations and hazards that can be avoided.

"If there are toddlers in the house, keep them away from the Christmas tree, or at least keep the ornaments off the lower branches where the children can reach them," Lee says. Furthermore, parents may want to gate off the Christmas tree, and stabilize the tree to make sure it does not fall on anyone.

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North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Consumer Survey Suggests Need for Improved Communication between Women and Their OB/GYNs About Osteoporosis

/PRNewswire/ -- According to a new survey distributed by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), while 98 percent of women who participated consider bone strength to be an important health concern, nearly half (45 percent) of these women reported that osteoporosis was not addressed during their last routine OB/GYN visit, and more than a quarter (26.4 percent) of women surveyed have never discussed osteoporosis with their OB/GYN. More than 880 women completed the NAMS consumer survey which assessed how they discuss osteoporosis with their OB/GYNs.

"The potential for rapid bone loss in women over the age of 45, approaching menopause should be a concern, but unfortunately osteoporosis can be overlooked since it is often a 'silent' disease until a fracture occurs," said NAMS Executive Director, Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD, DSc(Med). "We hope the results of this survey will encourage improved dialogue between women and their OB/GYNs to help prevent unnecessary fractures."

During the first five years after reaching menopause, women lose an average of 10 percent of their bone mass, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis. However, this survey showed that less than 10 percent of women reported being informed by their OB/GYNs that broken bones after menopause could be a sign of osteoporosis.

Studies have shown that in the U.S. over 70 percent of osteoporosis-related fractures and 94 percent of fracture costs are associated with non-spinal fractures. However, only 10 percent of women surveyed reported that their OB/GYNs have discussed the importance of preventing breaks in non-spinal bones.

The national survey results provided further insights into how women communicate with their OB/GYNs about osteoporosis.

-- Almost half (46.8 percent) of women reported that they have never
discussed their own personal risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis with
their OB/GYN.
-- Only a quarter of women reported that their OB/GYNs have told them
that if left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to broken bones.
-- While 62.5 percent of women reported that their OB/GYN has recommended
a bone density test, 26.8 percent of women surveyed have never had
-- Of the 45 women who experienced a broken bone over the past five
years, in sites commonly associated with osteoporosis (hip, spine,
wrist, collarbone, arm, leg, pelvis), more than half (35 women)
reported that their OB/GYN was unaware of this broken bone.
-- While the majority of women surveyed reported that their OB/GYNs have
told them that broken bones could be a consequence of osteoporosis,
other potential consequences were not as well known, including loss of
height, dowager's hump and disability or immobility.

A variety of doctors might diagnose and treat women for osteoporosis, but it is not specific to any one type of doctor or specialty. The goal of this survey was to determine how osteoporosis is being addressed by OB/GYNs specifically, as they are often the primary healthcare provider for women around the time of menopause when the risk of osteoporosis begins to increase.

"Women need to make the connection between menopause and osteoporosis to ensure they are asking the right questions and sharing the right information with their OB/GYNs. NAMS can play a key role in this education," said Dr. Utian.

More information on menopause, osteoporosis and this survey can be found on the NAMS web site at: The survey results will also be published in an upcoming edition of the NAMS consumer e-newsletter, Menopause Flashes.

This survey was conducted by The North American Menopause Society and sponsored by the Alliance for Better Bone Health, an alliance between Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and sanofi-aventis U.S.

About the Survey

The online survey was fielded via email to subscribers of The North American Menopause Society consumer e-newsletter, Menopause Flashes. The survey, which included 21 close-ended questions, was deployed on September 24, 2009 and the deadline for responses was October 31. Emails were sent to a total of 27,895 subscribers to Menopause Flashes and 1,627 responses were collected. From the pool of respondents, a total of 881 U.S. women currently under the care of an OB/GYN completed the survey. Of those, 857 were either peri- or post-menopausal at the time of the survey. Additionally, 94.2 percent (n=830) of respondents who completed the survey were age 46 or older at the time of the survey. In order to increase the response rate, women were given the opportunity to voluntarily enter themselves into a drawing for one of 10 Spa Finder gift certificates worth $100 each. Women who did not wish to enter the drawing were not required to participate.

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You're Not Alone In The Fight Against Cancer

(NAPSI)-The American Cancer Society estimates that a significant proportion of the United States population--almost 1.5 million people--will face a new diagnosis of cancer this year. But none of them has to fight cancer alone.

The Breakaway from Cancer® initiative was created to increase awareness of the resources available to people affected by cancer. These resources address issues that patients face across the entire cancer care continuum--prevention, education and support, financial assistance and survivorship. Breakaway from Cancer charitable partners include Prevent Cancer Foundation, Cancer Support Community, Patient Advocate Foundation, and National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, creating a team of advocates to help people access educational materials and resources. The initiative was created by Amgen, a biotechnology pioneer and leader in oncology care.

Breakaway from Cancer organizations span the spectrum of cancer care:

• Prevention. The mission of Prevent Cancer Foundation (PCF) is cancer prevention and early detection through research, education and community outreach to all populations, including children and the underserved. PCF envisions a future in which cancer incidence and mortality will be significantly reduced through preventive measures. Since 1985, PCF has provided more than $106 million in support of cancer prevention research, education and outreach programs nationwide, and has played a pivotal role in developing a body of knowledge that is the basis for important prevention and early detection strategies.

• Support. Cancer Support Community (formerly The Wellness Community and Gilda's Club) provides support, education and hope to people with cancer and those who care for them. By offering free, professionally led support groups, educational workshops, nutrition and exercise programs, and stress-reduction classes, Cancer Support Community empowers individuals affected by cancer through the learning of vital skills that enable them to regain control, reduce isolation and enhance quality of life. Cancer Support Community also collaborates with academic and health care partners to conduct evidence-based research and provide training in the field of psychosocial oncology, with the goal of improving outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients, cancer survivors and the individuals who care for them.

• Access. Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) is the leading direct patient services organization in the country, with a mission to eliminate obstacles for patients trying to access quality health care. Founded in 1996, PAF is a national nonprofit organization serving as an active liaison between patients and their insurer, employer and/or creditors to resolve insurance, job retention and/or debt crisis matters relative to their diagnosis of a life-threatening or debilitating disease.

PAF is often regarded as the organization that patients and physicians go to when all other avenues have been exhausted. PAF seeks to empower patients to take control of their health care while determining local, state and federal programs that can provide assistance for their individual needs. PAF often handles the most difficult cases to provide assistance to patients with the most critical health care needs.

• Survivorship. National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) advocates for quality cancer care for all Americans and provides tools that empower people affected by cancer to advocate for themselves. Founded by and for cancer survivors in 1986, NCCS created the widely accepted definition of survivorship, and defines someone as a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis and for the balance of life. Believing that access to credible and accurate patient information is fundamental to understanding and receiving quality cancer care, NCCS offers free publications and resources that empower individuals to become strong advocates for their own care or the care of others. Patients empowered with information and tools can receive optimal care by making their needs known to their doctors, care teams, health plans and elected officials.

To learn more about Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative and the services provided by the organizations above, log on to

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

LifeSynch Provides Tips for Heading off Holiday Stress

(BUSINESS WIRE)--For many, the holidays bring to mind fond memories of happy times with family and friends. For others, the holidays aren’t so picture-perfect, according to Dr. Ken Hopper, Chief Medical Officer for LifeSynch – the behavioral health unit of Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM).

Some people feel overwhelmed during the holidays, worrying about things like how to pay for gifts they can’t afford or how to please difficult relatives. Fortunately, there are things people can do to make the holidays less stressful. Dr. Hopper offers the following tips for a more joyful and less stressful holiday season:

1. It’s OK to say “no”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. That’s a sure path to stress. If you find yourself taking on too many things, get others to help or find a way to simplify things. For example, if you’re asked to bring dessert to the department holiday lunch, then stop by the bakery and pick one up.

2. Put the past behind you

Over the years, you may have developed issues with family members or others that you see over the holidays. If so, go into this meeting with a positive attitude. Don’t start a discussion that could lead to an argument. It may be difficult, but you and everyone else will have a better time if you remain pleasant, calm and in control. Remember, if an event makes you too uncomfortable, you can always leave.

3. Coping with grief and loss

The holidays can be a time of sadness and longing for lost loved ones. Grief and loss are difficult, but some things can help you cope. Accept that change has happened, and that your life is different now. Be open about your feelings. You may want to honor your loved one with a special toast or prayer at a family gathering.

4. Watch those excess pounds

If you don’t put the weight on, then you won’t have the stress of trying to take it off. If you know you’ll be going to a party with lots of tempting treats, have a plan in mind before you go. Eat something healthy before you head out. That way you won’t be too hungry when you arrive. While you’re at the party, focus on healthier choices. But don’t deprive yourself – enjoy one, small, decadent treat that you just have to have.

Another tip: Check with your employer. You may have access to a wellness program and health coaching to help you stay on track.

5. Focus on what means the most to you

The holidays should be a special time. Do something you enjoy. Maybe you like spending time with your family watching favorite holiday movies, putting up lights or joining friends for an evening out. Perhaps it’s taking in the sights and sounds of the mall, planning and hosting the holiday dinner or helping an older person or a family that’s less fortunate than you. Whatever you care about most, try to take time for things you enjoy.

6. Don’t overspend

Make a detailed budget and follow it. Don’t put charges on your credit card that you can’t pay off quickly. Be sure to compare prices when you’re shopping. If you’re from a large family, consider drawing names instead of buying gifts for everyone. Or you may want to give one gift for the whole family. Consider making gifts or giving IOUs for personal services, such as a car wash or an evening of babysitting. You may even suggest not exchanging gifts. Get together for a meal or fun outing instead.

7. Manage what you can

You may not be able to manage all the holiday stress in your life. However, managing what you can will help you enjoy the holiday season more. Understand that you can’t be everywhere to do everything – and that’s OK.

8. If all else fails, get help

There’s no shame in seeking help. Reach out to family and friends, local support groups, and churches. Additionally, companies like LifeSynch offer confidential 24-hour crisis counseling services. A service like this might be offered through your company’s employee assistance plan at no cost to you.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Fertility Fact vs. Fiction: Women Recognizing Age as a Major Obstacle

/PRNewswire/ -- Despite the recent baby boom amongst Hollywood actresses who are age 40+, a new survey released today by HealthyWomen (HW) suggests that women are becoming more cognizant that their biological clocks are ticking and as a result, are seeking fertility treatment sooner. In fact, 88 percent of women surveyed were under the age of 35 when they first sought medical advice about their fertility.

As good as you may look on the outside (plastic surgery and Botox aside), the medical reality is that your eggs are as old as you are. The incidence of infertility now affects an estimated 12 percent of couples of reproductive age. In fact, a healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20 percent chance per month of becoming pregnant, and that chance falls to only about 5 percent per month for a 40-year-old woman.(1)

However, given that 76 percent of women reported that it was important to them to have a biological child, it may be wise for them to start thinking about their fertility even earlier. One study reported that a healthy woman age 19-26 has only a 50 percent chance of conceiving following intercourse on her most fertile day of the month and that probability falls to 40 percent for women ages 27-34 and 30 percent for women ages 35-39.(2)

"Unfortunately, conception is not always an easy process, which is why our organization is working to provide women and their partners with the information they need to make informed and healthy decisions when it comes to having a baby," said Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, executive director of HealthyWomen.

Knowledge about Incidence and Risk Factors is Lacking

Among all women responding to the survey, 50 percent believed that fertility problems are equally as likely to be attributed to women as men and just 5 percent believed men are more likely to be infertile. In reality, women and men bear nearly equal responsibility with infertility with it being attributable to a female problem in 40 percent of cases, a male problem in 40 percent of cases, and a combined problem of the couple or unexplained in 20 percent of cases.(3)

Women Find Fertility Treatments Highly Stressful but Worthwhile

Although women who have had fertility treatment faced a variety of physical, emotional and financial challenges, overall they tend to view the experience positively, and would recommend that others in similar situations try fertility treatment.

Of women who underwent fertility treatments: 88 percent of women found it emotionally challenging; 84 percent found it stressful; and 60 percent reported a negative impact on their self-esteem. Yet, 79 percent of women who underwent fertility treatments reported they felt hopeful; more than three-quarters (76 percent) reported their partners were supportive; and 33 percent reported the fertility treatments had a positive impact on their relationship

HealthyWomen strives to provide women and men with the most up to date information and resources on fertility issues and treatment. To find tip sheets on emotional support during treatment and how to determine the best plan for you and your partner if you are experiencing fertility issues, log on to the Pregnancy and Parenting center at Or for further highlights of this year's and previous Women TALK surveys, visit the HealthyWomen online newsroom at

(3) infertility

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Childhood Traumas Linger As Adult Health Risks

Negative experiences in childhood may alter not only an adult's psychology but also his or her physical health into middle age and beyond.

In the latest findings from a long-term study of New Zealanders who have been tracked from birth through their mid-30s, a team led by Duke University researchers has found sustained health risks that apparently stem from childhood abuse, neglect, social isolation or economic hardship.

At age 32, the study subjects who had experienced these childhood traumas were more likely to exhibit depression, chronic inflammation and metabolic markers of increased health risk. These three factors are known to be associated with the physiology of stress-response systems, and predict higher risk for age-related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.

Adults who had been maltreated as children were twice as likely to suffer major depression and chronic inflammation. Children who grew up poor or socially isolated were twice as likely to show metabolic risk markers at age 32.

"What we're learning is that poor adult health is, in part, manufactured in childhood," said Avshalom Caspi, the Edward M. Arnett Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. "The human stress response is implicated not only in psychological conditions but in other health conditions as well."

The findings, which appear in the December issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, suggest that childhood experiences can affect nervous, immune and endocrine functioning, which agrees with earlier findings in animal experiments.

After the analysis controlled for family history and other established risk factors, it showed that adults who had two or more of the adverse childhood experiences were nearly twice as likely to have disease risk factors as those who had not suffered in childhood.

"It appears to be a classic dose-response relationship," Caspi said. "The more difficult the childhood, the more adult age-related disease risk factors we see." The biology of why and how negative experiences in childhood lead to these health risk factors aren’t addressed by this study, Caspi said, but needs to be explored.

"Ever since Freud, if not Plato, the assumption has been that early childhood experience shapes adult functioning and psychological well-being," said Jay Belsky, from the Birbeck University of London, who was not involved with this study. "What we see here is even more than that. The early years are important for reasons we haven't even considered."

The mid-life subjects in the study are too young yet to fully manifest the diseases of concern, Caspi said, but these markers are known to be predictors of age-related disease. "They're already developing conditions that will predispose them to later health effects."

Addressing childhood poverty, abuse and neglect are important policy aims that could prevent costly long-term health concerns, Caspi added. "It's multiple and cumulative childhood experience that predisposes adults to poor health."

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Mental Health, the UK Medical Research Council and the NZ Health Research Council.

By Karl Leif Bates

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Healthy Feet Make the Best Dancing Feet

(NAPSI)-Being 'light on your feet' when dancing is not entirely true; dancing the night away can take a toll on feet and ankles. Both professional and amateur dancers can suffer foot injuries that can stop the show, as witnessed this season on the popular reality-television show, "Dancing with the Stars."

According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, the most common types of dance-related foot and ankle problems are overuse injuries, which occur due to the repetitive movements in dance. "Over 50 percent of dance injuries occur in the foot and ankle. The severity of the damage is determined by a patient's age, strength and flexibility and the type of shoes worn when dancing," Orlando-area foot and ankle surgeon Amber Shane, DPM, FACFAS, said.

Other common types of injuries related to dancing can include:

• stress fractures (hairline breaks in the bone) from repeated jumping and landing;

• foot neuromas (thickening/irritation of the nerves in the ball of the foot) resulting from repetitive pivoting;

• shin splints (pain and swelling in the front of the lower legs), which can be aggravated by recurring activities;

• tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons in the foot) from over- exertion;

• corns, calluses or blisters-all painful skin irritations resulting from repeated rubbing of the skin on the feet.

With dancing being repetitively hard on the lower extremities, how can dancers of any level protect their feet and ankles? "The best defense to injury is prevention. Dancers should wear appropriate shoes to properly support their feet and ankles as well as perform dance moves with their individual skill levels in mind," Dr. Shane said.

When an injury does occur, prompt medical attention by a foot and ankle surgeon can make all the difference in a proper rehabilitation. "Most dance injuries can be treated with conservative care as long as they are addressed early and not ignored," Dr. Shane added. "Many people dispel foot pain if they can walk on the foot, but it is important to remember it is possible to walk on a seriously injured foot. Plus, common injuries, if left untreated, may require surgical intervention to ensure proper healing."

For more information on common foot and ankle injuries or to find a foot and ankle surgeon near you, visit

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Holiday Blues That Linger Could Be Warning Sign of Depression

/PRNewswire/ -- From Thanksgiving to New Year's, there are many wishes for everyone to have a blissful and celebratory holiday season. But for many people, the holidays bring more misery than mirth, particularly at a time when the ailing economy can't seem to recover quickly enough and money worries remain on people's minds.

With the high expectations for gift-giving, decorating, feasting and family gathering, holiday-related stress and the "holiday blues"--feelings of disappointment, sadness, fatigue or frustration--are not unusual. Spending time with difficult family members, grieving the loss of a loved one, feeling pressure to give gifts when finances are tight and even loneliness can leave people feeling sad, angry or even depressed.

But psychologists point out that there is a difference between the holiday blues, which are often temporary and go away once the season ends, and more serious conditions such as depression, seasonal affective disorder and anxiety disorders. And for those who already have a psychological problem, the stresses of the holiday season can make things worse. Even "having fun" can be stressful on mind and body, especially if that fun involves missing sleep or overindulging in alcohol or "party foods."

"No one can feel happy and joyous all the time, even if that's what we feel pressured to experience," said Katherine Nordal, Ph.D., executive director of professional practice at the American Psychological Association (APA). "There are several things we can all do to help fight off those blue feelings. Make sure your holiday expectations are realistic--avoid overextending yourself and your budget. If a close family member or friend is no longer living, you may want to find ways to recognize that person and start new traditions. Try to maintain some of your normal routine. Pay attention to your feelings. If you can't seem to shake the blues, your feelings may be about other things in your life."

Depression occurs when feelings of extreme sadness or despair last for at least two weeks or longer and when they interfere with activities of daily living such as working or even eating and sleeping. Depressed individuals tend to feel helpless, hopeless about changing their situation. If the holiday blues seem to linger or become more intense, people may want to seek help from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. Research shows that psychotherapy is an effective treatment for depression. A psychologist can help determine if someone has depression and how best to treat it.

"Unlike the holiday blues, depression doesn't often go away on its own," Nordal said. "Many people don't recognize that they are depressed, and it can be treated very effectively."

Psychologists have the professional training and clinical skills to appropriately assess the situation and to help people learn to cope more effectively with life problems by using techniques based on best available research and considering an individual's unique values, goals and circumstances. Psychologists are licensed by the state in which they practice. With doctoral degrees, they receive one of the highest levels of education of all health care professionals, spending an average of seven years in education and training after they receive their undergraduate degrees.

For more information about depression and holiday stress or to find a psychologist visit . And, follow the APA Help Center at and read APA's Mind/Body Health campaign blog,

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Men, Could That Pain Be Your Prostate?

(NAPSI)-Prostatitis--swelling of the prostate--affects mostly young and middle-aged men and is often painful. According to researchers, about 10 to 12 percent of men have prostatitis-like symptoms, such as painful or burning urination.

What You Should Know

To tell if the prostate--a walnut-sized gland at the base of a man's bladder--is swollen, a doctor checks its size by putting a gloved finger into the man's rectum to feel his prostate.

What to Do

Doctors use medicine to treat prostatitis caused by bacteria. But medicine will not help prostatitis caused by something other than bacteria. The cause of prostatitis is often unclear, and symptoms can come and go over time. Changing one's diet or taking warm baths may help ease symptoms. Each man should work with his doctor to find the best treatment for his condition.

For More Information

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse has a fact sheet about prostatitis at More information is also available at

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Holiday Eating: Avoiding Weight Gain

(StatePoint) Holiday parties and dinners can bring lots of good cheer and favorite treats to eat. Unfortunately they also can bring unwelcome pounds.

It's the most difficult time of the year for anyone trying to lose weight -- or simply avoid gaining weight. It sometimes seems safer to eat the table decorations than holiday meals and party offerings.

It doesn't have to be this way.

"With a little planning and by making smart choices, you can avoid packing on unhealthy pounds when eating out during the holidays or at family celebrations," says Julie Hadden, one of the more memorable contestants from NBC's "The Biggest Loser" and author of the new book "Fat Chance: Losing The Weight, Gaining My Worth."

You still can enjoy the festivities without gaining weight, stresses Hadden, who offers some helpful tips in her new book:

* Plan Ahead: Before attending a party or a holiday meal, plan in advance. Call ahead to find out what will be served so you can plan the rest of your day's calories accordingly. Consider offering to bring a side dish so you know what's in it.

* Eat Before Partying: Eat a light snack, such as an apple, a few nuts or a lean deli turkey, before heading to a party or dinner. Drink water before eating to feel full sooner. When you arrive, you'll be less tempted to make a beeline for the food.

* Make Smarter Choices: Consider all food options and choose wisely. Eat at home as often as possible. Avoid appetizers and save dessert for truly special occasions. When in a restaurant or at a big family meal, cut your portion in half and set it aside, so you're not tempted to overeat. Drink water or tea. Calories should come from food not beverages.

* Move More, Eat Less: The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. You have to move more and eat less. Even during the holidays. Walk to the mailbox. Do five laps around your living room during commercial breaks. Take the stairs. Exercise with your kids.

* Get Back On The Horse: Everyone slips at some point. If you eat too much at a holiday meal, make a fresh start right away and get back on your diet.

* Get Inspired: Find an inspiring image and focus on it daily. Maybe it's an old photo from your fitter days, a starlet's behind or torso you wish to emulate, or that dress you want from the store. When vying for transformation, keep an image of victory in mind.

For more on making healthy choices, read Hadden's new book, "Fat Chance," or visit

"If you were headed to the mall to buy a new purse or TV, you would research how much it would cost. Take the same care with food. Spend a hundred calories as wisely as you would a hundred dollars," she says.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Carpal Tunnel Relief: Get Rid of Your Carpal Tunnel Pain with New Self-Help Program

/24-7/ -- Relief from the pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is now available in a self-help program provided by Kathryn Merrow, a Pain Relief Coach who teaches how to eliminate carpal tunnel symptoms. Kathryn also offers a free report and audio recording called "Ten of the Top Most Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome" that can be found on her website.

For anyone who has suffered with Carpal Tunnel pain, relief can not come fast enough. In order to get rid of the pain associated with CTS you must first get rid of the cause. Some causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are more common than others. Some of the more common causes involve the entire body. That's because every part of the human body is attached to every other part. For example, when you wiggle your toes or your ankle, it's attached to your neck. The muscles in your neck attach to your shoulder girdle (bones) and so do your arm muscles. Every cell in your body interacts in some way with all of the other cells.

There are many causes for Carpal Tunnel symptoms that can come from things like,
- An auto-immune disease
- Muscle strain in either arm
- Trigger points in neck muscles
- A vitamin deficiency
- Tight muscles in either hand
- Poor posture

This is not a complete list since there are also other things that can be going on in the body. It is important to know, however, that everything has a cause. Once that cause is found, carpal tunnel symptoms can then be relieved.

The free report offered by Kathryn Merrow outlines the common causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to help those suffering with this pain identify what can be done to stop their symptoms.

Kathryn's book, The Uncommon Cure for Carpal Tunnel Pain, is also a great source for information on a program to treat the causes and eliminate this painful condition. With the proper understanding of how the body works and where to look for the cause of pain, relief from carpal tunnel syndrome can be possible without surgery. Kathryn states, "I don't just tell you how to treat the symptom; I help you find the reason you hurt and get rid of it."

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Thyroid Problems Can Affect Your Health

(NAPSI)-The thyroid, a 2-inch-long gland in the front of the neck, makes hormones that affect nearly every organ in the body. When the thyroid doesn't work properly, health problems can result, including weight fluctuation, skin disorders, depression, fatigue and trouble sleeping.

Nearly 27 million Americans have thyroid problems--among the most common are underactive and overactive thyroid. Underactive thyroid is when the thyroid gland doesn't make enough thyroid hormone, which in turn slows many of the body's functions. This condition often occurs after pregnancy. Overactive thyroid is when the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone, causing symptoms such as hand tremors; a rapid, irregular heartbeat; and bone thinning. Thyroid problems are more common in women and older adults.

If you suspect a problem with your thyroid gland, your doctor can test the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood. Your treatment will depend on the cause and severity of your thyroid problem.

Visit the National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service Web site at for free publications about thyroid problems.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Asthma Patients May Be Accepting A High Burden Of Disease

(NAPSI)-If you suffer from asthma, you may be accepting a life filled with interruptions and restrictions to daily activities due to bothersome symptoms. According to a new comprehensive survey of asthma in the United States-Asthma Insight and Management (AIM)-adults with asthma surveyed experience activity limitations, missed work and school days and sometimes even fear the disease.1

Asthma is a chronic lung disease affecting more than 22 million adults and children in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).2 People with asthma can experience bothersome symptoms. In the past year, 11 percent of asthma patients surveyed had sudden severe episodes of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath daily or on most days.1

"On days when my asthma symptoms are at their worst, I find it difficult to be productive and feel very limited in certain activities," said Ana Fernandez, asthma patient. "There have been several days each month when asthma interrupts my daily routine and makes it more difficult to get my regular activities done each day."

High Physical and Emotional Burden

If episodes become frequent or severe, people with asthma may need acute care, including hospitalizations, emergency room visits and other unscheduled emergency visits. In the past year, it is estimated that more than one million asthma patients were hospitalized and nearly three million visited emergency rooms in the United States as a result of asthma, according to the AIM survey results.1,3

Patients with asthma also suffer from the emotional burdens of the disease. More adults with asthma reported "often" or "sometimes" feeling fearful, isolated, depressed, angry or embarrassed than adults without asthma. In addition, asthma episodes can be so severe that approximately a third of asthma patients surveyed reported having an asthma episode so bad that they felt their life was in danger. One in five asthma patients surveyed reported they "somewhat" or "strongly" agree that they live in fear of hospitalization or an emergency room visit due to their asthma, and an additional 29 percent of patients surveyed said they "somewhat" or "strongly" agree that fear of asthma exacerbations keeps them from doing the things they want.1

Progress in Asthma Management Needed

The AIM survey results reveal that asthma patients have low expectations for asthma control and tend to overestimate the level of asthma control that they are achieving. Additionally, physicians and health care providers often use terms that patients are unfamiliar with, such as "exacerbations," which may lead to ineffective communication with asthma patients. For example, only 24 percent of asthma patients surveyed said they have heard the term "asthma exacerbation," while 69 percent of family practice physicians, 93 percent of pulmonologists and 76 percent of allergists reported regularly using this term when discussing asthma with their patients.1

"The survey results demonstrate that too many patients may simply accept a high burden of asthma," said Stuart Stoloff, M.D., AIM physician adviser and clinical professor of family and community medicine, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, Nev. "Through education, physicians can help people with asthma understand current treatment guidelines and help them better manage their asthma symptoms and get back to the daily activities they enjoy."

The AIM survey was sponsored by Schering Corporation; Schering-Plough and Merck & Co., Inc. merged on November 3, 2009. AIM is the largest and most comprehensive survey of asthma in the United States conducted in more than a decade. AIM surveyed 2,500 patients with current asthma 12 and older, 1,004 adults without asthma and 309 physicians, and was conducted to provide a benchmark on progress in asthma care since the last landmark asthma survey, Asthma in America (AiA), conducted in the United States in 1998.1 For more detailed information about the AIM survey findings, please visit


1. Asthma Insight and Management (AIM) Survey: Executive Summary. 2009.

2. "Asthma." National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Diseases and Conditions Index, September 2008.

3. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement. 2008.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Cat or Dog Might Be ‘Purr-Fect’ Holiday Gift for Seniors, Says Matrix Home Care Psychologist

(BUSINESS WIRE)--When choosing a holiday gift for an older relative, consider a warm and fuzzy dog or a cat. A pet can provide companionship, open the door to neighborhood conversations and even improve a senior’s physical health, according to Matrix Home Care psychologist Alexander Fiuza, PhD, as director of client services for Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

“A dog or cat can be the ‘purr-fect’ gift for a senior,” said Dr. Fiuza. “A pet offers a feeling of love and connection, which is very important to someone who is living alone or lacks companionship.”

Taking care of a pet can also change an elderly person’s lifestyle, opening the door to new daily activities, such as taking a dog for a walk or playing hide-and-seek with a cat. “Petting a cat or playing with a dog relaxes a human, as well as a pet,” added Dr. Fiuza. “By helping to relieve those internal stresses, a pet can improve the quality of life for an elderly person.”

Studies of nursing home residents found that seniors who were around pets smiled more often and were more alert than those who did not come into contact with animals. Holly Bedgio, RN, Matrix’ director of clinical operations/risk management agrees with those findings. “I believe pets can be a real morale-booster to almost any senior,” said Bedgio. “After I gave a small dog to her mother, who is living at home, I could see a real improvement in her attitude toward life.”

Dr. Fiuza notes clinical research studies show that having a pet also can provide physical health benefits for the owner, such as lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol levels. A three-year study of 5,741 people in Australia found that pet owners had lower blood pressure and triglyceride and cholesterol levels than did non-owners.

“A pet can be the ideal holiday gift,” said Dr. Fiuza, “providing a loved one with companionship for many years.”

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Alzheimer's Caregivers Face Holiday Stress

/PRNewswire/ -- In Massachusetts, approximately 70% of those with Alzheimer's disease are cared for at home, so the Alzheimer's Association is preparing for a surge in calls to its 24/7 Helpline during the holiday season. For most families, holidays are filled with opportunities for togetherness and sharing, but for a family dealing with Alzheimer's, holidays can also be stressful and filled with special challenges, according to the experts at the Alzheimer's Association.

"Caregivers may feel overwhelmed maintaining holiday traditions while caring for their loved one, and they also hesitate to invite family and friends over to share the holiday for fear they will be uncomfortable with behavior changes in the family member," said Alzheimer's Association's Lindsay Brennan. Brennan manages the 24/7 Helpline for Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

In addition to providing 24/7 Helpline assistance, including holidays, the Alzheimer's Association offers the following suggestions to families with a loved one with the disease:

-- Call a face-to-face meeting or arrange for a long-distance telephone
conference call with family and friends to discuss holiday
celebrations. Make sure that everyone understands your care giving
situation and have realistic expectations about what you can and
cannot do.
-- Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. If
you've always invited 15-20 people to your home, consider inviting
five for a simple meal. Consider having a potluck dinner or asking
others to host the holiday at their home.
-- Share ways to interact positively, including telling family to always
say their name and how they are related when speaking with a person
with middle and later-stage dementia. Consider having a smaller room
available where the person with dementia can talk with one or two
family members at a time. Encourage family to reminisce and not ask
questions about the near past.

"We recommend that caregivers let family members who are looking forward to a visit know that they may notice some changes like forgetfulness or confused behavior," said Brennan. "They can tell family and friends that a warm smile and gentle touch on the shoulder is always appreciated even when other things are changing."

For those with questions and concerns about Alzheimer's, call 800-272-3900. The 24/7 Helpline is free and confidential. Information and an online Helpline are available at

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