Having Trouble Sleeping? Hit the Gym!

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Try adding exercise to your daily routine to enjoy better sleep.

Do you toss and turn? Do you wake up after a few hours and find it impossible to fall back asleep? First, the bad news: so are 60 million other Americans. 60 million Americans will experience some form of insomnia this year.

The Good News

Sleep disorders are treatable, and you can find help at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. The center specializes in the diagnoses and treatment of patients who have sleep difficulties.

There may be personal changes that can also help that don’t require a physician. Putting your smartphone away an hour before bedtime helps your mind and body “power down.” Caffeine stays in your body for 6 – 8 hours after drinking a cup of joe, and your liver needs an hour to break down alcohol. So try having your beverage of choice earlier in the day.

Researchers have found sleep quality improves with exercise.

If you’ve been tossing and turning for twenty minutes, you often become anxious about not falling asleep. Getting out of bed and distracting yourself for a few minutes can help – reading, watching a relaxing show, meditating. But one study shows “a bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia compared to a night in which they did not exercise.”

People who regularly hit the gym sleep better and feel more alert during the day than those who are not as active. An Oregon State University sleep study showed that participants who exercised 150 minutes a week slept better and felt less drowsy during the daytime.

Regular physical activity may help those suffering from insomnia without medication.

Why Does Exercise Help?

Oddly, not all exercise seems to assist in battling insomnia. Running, lifting weights and other vigorous aerobic exercise does not immediately improve sleep. After a period of daily exercise, (a few months) adults following vigorous workout routines reported better sleep quality. They reported falling asleep more quickly than they did before starting their exercise regimen, and also sleeping for longer periods of time.

Exercise causes the body to elevate its temperature. This increase in body temperature can last for up to four hours after your workout. The post-exercise drop in temperature promotes falling asleep, so get that workout in before dinner. After that, a little light yoga or an after-dinner stroll is helpful – but don’t take a late HIIT workout.

If you don’t have problems falling asleep, but you wake up after a few hours, a morning jog may be the most beneficial. Beginning the day with exercise will help the body remain in its rested state longer. Make sure that you stretch and warm up if you go this route – your body needs time to adjust from sleep to activity.

Exercise Helps in Other Ways

Insomnia is often linked to depression and anxiety, ranging from mild to severe cases. The release of endorphins as a result of exercise plays a large part in reducing those symptoms.

Circadian rhythm also plays a part in some types of insomnia, and exercise can help to “reset” that natural cycle. Adding exercise early in the day sets the body cycle naturally to rest after a period of time. If your body clock is broken, a quick exercise regimen may be just the thing you need to fix it.

Beyond Exercise

If you have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep at night or excessive daytime sleepiness, we are here for you. If it seems like nothing works, don’t worry. We have you covered – read this, and learn more about our Sleep Disorders Center here.

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Staying Healthy on Vacation in a Foreign Country

Photo by Mysaell Armendariz

How You Can Stay Away From the Summertime Blues

Summertime means vacation time. Beaches and drinks with umbrellas in them and lots of photos for Facebook and Instagram. For many travelers, however, vacations can also lead to sickness. Drinking bottled water helps reduce the chances of “Delhi Belly” and “Montezuma’s Revenge;” getting appropriate vaccinations are always recommended.

The chances of contracting Hepatitis A also increases when you travel outside of the American borders. This highly contagious viral disease is hardest on seniors with weaker immune systems. The disease attacks mainly the liver. At its peak, it can leave you feeling weak for an extended period of time – in some cases, even months. The symptoms begin several weeks after contracting the disease, so Hepatitis A won’t likely ruin your vacation – but it can put a damper on the rest of your summer.

How To Know If You’re At-Risk

Traveling with reputable companies to first-class accommodations does not eliminate contracting contagious diseases. In fact, quite the opposite is true. According to the World Health Organization, most cases of hepatitis A in travelers occur in those who stick to higher-level hotels and resorts. A gourmet meal or a pristine bathroom can still harbor disease – and the rigors of traveling can weaken your natural defenses. Assume you are at risk whenever you travel abroad, regardless of the level of cleanliness and service.

If you’re traveling in regions where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish. If you buy fresh fruits or vegetables at a local market, wash them with bottled water before eating. Very hot coffees and teas are typically safe, but ask for a disposable cup, not a hand-washed mug.

While you’re on vacation, you may be substituting drinking water for other beverages, but dehydration can leave you vulnerable. Alcoholic drinks tend to be safe (use your straw, and – even on vacation – always drink in moderation). Drinking water is historically less so. Quench your thirst with bottled water instead of local “tap” water – and use bottled water when brushing your teeth. Skip the ice, and don’t drink beverages of unknown purity. If bottled water isn’t available, boil tap water before using it.

Wondering If You Have Hepatitis A?

Don’t panic. Most cases of hepatitis A are mild cases don’t require treatment. Nearly everyone who becomes infected recovers without permanent liver damage. But vigilance is always a better choice than treatment. Vaccines are available for people most at risk. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Hepatitis A can last from a mild case of several weeks to a severe case lasting a few months. Again, age often plays a factor in the severity of the symptoms. Hepatitis A signs and symptoms appear most often four weeks after exposure and develop over several days. Symptoms may also start abruptly in as few as two weeks or as many as seven, and include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Finally, not everyone with hepatitis A develops signs or symptoms. For this reason it is important to be diligent upon returning home from an area prone to the disease. Immediately, wash your clothing, bathe, and clean personal items with disinfectant.

Should You See the Doctor?

Exposure to hepatitis A can be treated before the first signs of symptoms. You can receive the hepatitis A vaccine within two weeks of exposure to thwart possible infection. Likewise, immunoglobulin therapy is also available before the beginning of symptoms. Ask your doctor – or your local health department – about receiving treatment for hepatitis A if:

  • You’ve traveled internationally recently, particularly to Mexico or to South or Central America, or to any area with poor sanitation
  • A restaurant where you recently ate reports a hepatitis A outbreak
  • Someone close to you, such as someone you live with or your caregiver, is diagnosed with hepatitis A
  • You recently had sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is not a living bacterial infection, it is a viral disease. As is the case with most viruses, there is no specific treatment or cure once infected. At this point, the only thing you can do is get a lot of rest.

How You Can Stay Healthy

To avoid getting hepatitis A you have to know how you can get infected in the first place. For all illnesses that commonly affect travelers, follow these simple instructions:

  • Do NOT eat food handled by someone who has not properly washed his or her hands.
  • Do NOT eat food that comes from contaminated water. Shellfish (like mussels, clams) or any local fish where there is an outbreak of disease.
  • Do NOT eat food that is washed in contaminated water. Eating even a healthful salad can make you sick in a month. Stick to cooked vegetables for your diet.
  • Hepatitis A is most often found on your hands (by shaking hands with someone who is infected, for example). The disease is then transferred to your mouth, where it enters your system. Be sure to wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Again, contaminated drinking water can put you at risk for Hepatitis A and other illnesses. Avoid ice and brush your teeth with safe, bottled water.

You can have a great vacation and not worry about contracting a disease if you practice good hygiene. Those most likely to contract hepatitis A will do so from contaminated food or water. But don’t forget that the disease can also spread from close contact with someone who’s infected. Wash your hands frequently, and any older travelers should look into the two-part Hepatitis A vaccine.

Gout diagnosis, treatment options, and case management from BSA ADC

Gout diagnosis, treatment options, and case management from BSA ADC

Gout diagnosis, treatment options, and case management from BSA ADC

(Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

What is Gout?

Gout is a painful form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid. The buildup is also known as hyperuricemia. The higher your uric acid level, the more likely you are to get gout. Excess uric acid can form crystals in the joints and lead to swelling and pain.

The first attack of gout usually occurs in the big toe.

Flares are said to be extremely painful, and are associated with red, swollen and tender joints. Flares can also be found in the feet, ankles, hands, wrists elbows and knees.

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How Is Gout Diagnosed?

Doctors often ask about symptoms, medical history and family history of gout. Signs and symptoms of gout include:

  • Hyperuricemia
  • Uric acid crystals in joint fluid
  • More than one attack of acute arthritis
  • Arthritis that develops in 1 day, producing a swollen, red and warm joint
  • Attack of arthritis in only one joint, usually the toe, ankle, or knee.

To confirm a diagnosis of gout, your doctor may draw a sample of fluid from an inflamed joint to look for crystals associated with gout.

How Is Gout Treated?

Doctors use medicines to treat an acute attack of gout, including:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • Colchicine, which works best when taken within the first 12 hours of an acute attack.

Sometimes doctors prescribe NSAIDs or colchicine in small daily doses to prevent future attacks. There are also medicines that lower the level of uric acid in the blood.

How Can I Manage my case of Gout?

High levels of uric acid can lead to crystals in the joint, causing swelling and pain. If uric acid levels are left untreated, flare-ups will happen more often, be more painful, and joint damage will occur.

Keeping uric acid levels below 6 mg/dl reduces the risk of gout attacks with long-term treatment. At this level, crystals in the joints dissolve, resulting in fewer attacks.

 

You don’t have to live another day with uncontrollable pain in your joints.

Contact us to learn more about gout or to schedule an appointment.

What You Can Expect When Getting a Colonoscopy

During a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube (colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows the doctor to view the inside of the entire colon. If necessary, polyps or other types of abnormal tissue can be removed through the scope during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken during a colonoscopy as well.


Why Is It Important? 

This procedure may help find polyps, colon disease, ulcers, areas of inflammation or bleeding and causes of diarrhea. A colonoscopy is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and/or rectum.
*According to the American Cancer Society, one of the most powerful weapons in preventing colorectal cancer is through colorectal screening or testing. People who have no identified risk factors (other than age) should begin regular screening for colon and rectal cancer at the age of 50. Those who have a family history or other risk factors for colorectal polyps or cancer need to talk with their doctor about starting screening at a younger age and more frequent intervals.

WHAT INDICATORS DO I NEED TO CONSIDER?

WHAT DISEASES OR ILLNESSES CAN BE FOUND?

  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Abdominal pain
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Colitis
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Diverticulosis


What Is a Colonoscope? 

A colonoscope is a thin flexible instrument used to visualize the inside of your rectum and colon. It can be used to collect a biopsy (small growths and tissue samples) and contains a small camera with a light on the end to videotape and capture images.

How Do I Prepare?


You will be required to take a prep to clean the bowels prior to the procedure. Your physician or nurse will give you instructions on the type of prep you are to take. The prep will cause you to have multiple bowel movements and result in liquid stools.

Note: Please call your physician if you were unable to complete your prep. It may be necessary that your test be re-scheduled.
You will also receive instructions on which foods or liquids you may eat or drink prior to the procedure. You may be asked to stay on liquids 1-2 days before your scheduled procedure.
For your safety, you will be asked to stop eating or drinking any food or liquids at least 4 hours prior to the procedure.

Upon Admission:

  • Your nurse will take your blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs
  • You will be asked about pain of any kind
  • Your nurse will go over all of the forms that will need to be filled out
  • Your medications and allergies to medications will be reviewed
  • An IV will be started
  • An assessment will be completed

The Procedure

  • Your physician may take biopsies, remove polyps or perform treatment during the procedure (specimens will be sent for testing and your physician’s office will call you with the results).
  • Monitors will be placed on you in order that we may monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation.
  • You will be placed on a small amount of oxygen through a nasal cannula.
  • Medications will be given by physicians orders throughout the procedure (medications commonly used are Demerol; Versed; Fentanyl; and Phenergan). Please notify your nurse if you are allergic to any of these medications.
  • The procedure will usually take an average of 30-45 minutes
  • Recovery time may vary between 2-3 hours

We require that the person accompanying you remain at the Center during your procedure and to drive you home after your procedure. If you have any valuables with you, we will ask that you give them to the person accompanying you. Remember to ask any questions that you may have at any time.

Recovery


You will remain in recovery for at least 30 minutes. The nurse will take your temperature, vital signs and do an assessment and your physician will talk to you about your procedure. If appropriate, you will then be discharged.

Discharge

Discharge instructions will be reviewed with you and the person accompanying you and will include all of the following:

  • Do not operate machinery or heavy equipment for 24 hours
  • Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours
  • Drink plenty of other fluids
  • Avoid any foods that are greasy or spicy for the first meal
  • Call your physician if you experience severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or bleeding.

You may be very sleepy at the time of discharge. You are encouraged to go home and rest for the rest of the day. Any special instructions from your physician will be written on the discharge sheet. Your physician will determine if follow-up is needed.

Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).

Gut Instinct: How Bacteria Plays an Important Role in Your Body

“The relationship between bacteria and our bodies plays a role is everything that happens to us.”

In fact, there are a greater number of bacteria in your intestines than there are cells in your body. Did you know that intestinal bacteria allows us to obtain greater nutrients from out food, develop sophisticated immune systems, and balance cognition and emotions? Several studies showed germ-free mice who were inoculated with specific bacteria generated and delivered neurotransmitters to the brain, affecting anxiety, corticosteroid production, and colitis symptoms. Human studies using yogurt with probiotics showed emotion and sensitivity were statistically different when probiotics were consumed.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are good bacteria that are either the same as or very similar to the bacteria that are already in your body. Your lower digestive tract alone teams with a complex and diverse community of these bacteria.

What Are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut. Basically, they are “good” bacteria promoters.

Finally…

Future uses of colon bacteria to improve health include:

  • Creating intestinal bacteria which promotes endocrine functions, like insulin production
  • Produce highly selective non-absorbable antibiotics
  • Invent drugs to alter bacteria to bacteria communication
  • Understand probiotics to manipulate health and disease
  • Transplant stool from thin people for treatment of obesity
  • Improve nutrient absorption to end starvation

The bottom line: Your gut is the first line of defense when you consume a potentially harmful pathogen. Good gut flora can protect you in several ways, while a poor gut can allow these pathogens to wreak havoc on your body. Contact us if you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment.

Warning Signs of Ovarian Cysts Every Woman Needs to Know

The ovaries are two small organs located on either side of a woman’s uterus. An ovarian cyst is a sac or pouch filled with fluid or other tissue that forms on the ovary. It is normal for a small cyst to develop on the ovaries. In most cases, cysts are harmless and go away on their own. In other cases, they may cause problems and need treatment.

Signs of Cysts

Most ovarian cysts are small and do not cause symptoms. Some cysts may cause a dull or sharp ache in the abdomen and pain during certain activities. Larger cysts may cause torsion (twisting) of the ovary that causes pain. Cysts that bleed or rupture may lead to serious problems requiring prompt treatment. In rare cases, a cyst may be cancerous. In it’s early stages, ovarian cancer often has no symptoms, so you should be aware of it’s warning signs.

Diagnosis

An ovarian cyst may be found during a routine pelvic exam. If your health care provider finds an enlarged ovary, tests may be recommended to provide more information.

  • Vaginal ultrasound: This procedure uses sound waves to create pictures of the internal organs that can be viewed on a screen. For this test, a slender instrument called a transducer is placed in the vagina. The views created by the sound waves show the shape, size, location and makeup of the cyst.
  • Laparoscopy: In the type of surgery, a laparoscope – a thin tube with a camera – is inserted into the abdomen to view the pelvic organs. Laparoscopy can also be used to treat cysts.
  • Blood tests: If you are past menopause, in addition to an ultrasound exam, you may be given a test that measures the amount of a substance called CA 125 in your blood. An increased CA 125 level may be a sign of ovarian cancer in women past menopause. In premenopausal women, an increased CA 125 level can be caused by many other conditions besides cancer. Therefore, this test is not a good indicator of ovarian cancer in premenopausal women.

If your health care provider thinks that your cyst may be cancer, more tests may be ordered. It may be recommended that you see a doctor who specializes in gynecologic cancer.

Treatment

If your cyst is not causing any symptoms, your health care provider may simply monitor it for 1 – 2 months and check to see whether it has changed in size. Most functional cysts go away on their own after one or two menstrual cycles. If you are past menopause and have concerns about cancer, your health care provider may recommend regular ultrasound exams to monitor your condition.

Finally…

Many women have ovarian cysts at some time during their lives. Most ovarian cysts present little or no discomfort and are harmless. The majority of ovarian cysts disappear without treatment within a few months. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Osteoporosis and Women: How to Prevent Weak Bones

Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D. Osteoporosis develops gradually, usually without symptoms. A broken bone that occurs with minor trauma, such as a slight blow to the wrist, for example, is typically the first symptom. Approximately one in two women and one in four men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their remaining lifetime.

Bone Density Testing

If you are age 65 or older, you should get a bone density test to screen for osteoporosis. If you are younger than 65 and have risk factors for osteoporosis, ask your doctor or nurse if you need a bone density test before age 65. Bone density testing is recommended for older women whose risk of breaking a bone is the same or greater than that of a 65‑year‑old white woman with no risk factors other than age. 

A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures the strength of your bones to help assess your future risk of fractures. This test is not usually performed until after menopause unless you have an unusual clinical situation or are at high risk for osteoporosis. It is quick, painless and noninvasive.

Preventing Weak Bones

The best way to prevent weak bones is to work on building strong ones. No matter how old you are, it is never too late to start. Building strong bones during childhood and the teen years is one of the best ways to keep from getting osteoporosis later. As you get older, your bones don’t make new bone fast enough to keep up with the bone loss. And after menopause, bone loss happens more quickly.

But there are steps you can take to slow the natural bone loss with aging and to prevent your bones from becoming weak and brittle. There are five simple steps to reduce your risk for osteoporosis:

  • Increase the amount of calcium and vitamin D in your diet.
  • Exercise regularly; bones and muscles respond to physical activity by becoming stronger. Weight-bearing exercises like walking and weight lifting are the most beneficial.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Being underweight or losing weight increases your risk of bone loss and fracture, and ultimately, of developing osteoporosis.
  • Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking (nicotine) can reduce bone mass and increase the risk of fracture, thus increasing your risk for osteoporosis. Ask your health care professional to recommend methods to help you quit.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if you drink. Excessive consumption of alcohol increases your risk of osteoporosis and fractures from falls.

For some women, medication may also be helpful for preventing additional bone loss. Ask your health care professional what the best osteoporosis prevention strategy is for you.

Finally…

The importance of beginning bone loss prevention at a very young age is now well understood. Bone health programs are being developed and implemented that targets girls as young as nine to 12 years of age and their parents, focusing on promoting good nutritional choices and participating in regular physical activity. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by Healthywomen.org)

Problem Sleepiness and Teenagers: How Much Sleep is Actually Needed

Research shows that most teenagers and do not get the sleep that they need on a daily basis. Teens are at an important stage of their growth and development. Because of this, they need more sleep than adults. The average teen needs about nine hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.

There are many factors that keep teens from getting enough sleep. Causes for their lack of sleep include the following:

  • Rapidly changing bodies
  • Busy schedules
  • Active social lives
  • A wrong view of sleep

Teen sleep problems can begin long before they turn 13. The sleep habits and changing bodies of 10 to 12-year-olds have a close link to the teen years. The sleep patterns of teens are also firmly set in their lives. It is not easy for them to change the way they sleep. Thus teen sleep problems can continue well into their years as adults. For these reasons, the information found here may apply to anyone from 10 to 25 years old.

Sleep-Wake Cycle

Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders or certain drugs. Many U.S. high school and college have signs of problem sleepiness such as:

  • Difficulty getting up for school
  • Falling asleep at school
  • Struggling to stay awake while doing homework

The need for sleep may be 9 hours or more per night as a person goes through adolescence. At the same time, many teens begin to show a preference for a later bedtime, which may be due to a biological change. Teens tend to stay up later but have to get up early for school, resulting in their getting much less sleep than they need.

Many factors contribute to problem sleepiness in teens and young adults, but the main causes are not getting enough sleep and irregular sleep schedules. Some of the factors that influence adolescent sleep include:

  • Social activities with peers that lead to a later bedtime
  • Homework to be done in the evenings
  • Early wake-up times due to early school start times
  • Parents being less involved in setting and enforcing bedtimes
  • Employment, sports or other extracurricular activities that decrease the time available for sleep

Teens and young adults who do not get enough sleep are at risk for problems such as:

  • Automobile crashes
  • Poor performance in school and poor grades
  • Depressed moods
  • Problems with peers and adult relationships

Many adolescents have part-time jobs in addition to their classes and other activities. High school students who work more than 20 hours per week have more than 20 hours per week have more problem sleepiness and may use more caffeine nicotine and alcohol than those who work less than 20 hours per week or not at all.

Sleep – There is no substitute! 

The amount of sleep needed each night varies among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activities and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, more sleep may be needed.

Finally…

Try to help your teen have a proper view of sleep. Sleep is not something to fight off or try to avoid. Sleep greatly benefits teens who make it a priority. They feel more alert and have more energy. They think more clearly and make better decisions. They will be happier and enjoy life more. There are simply too many benefits of good sleep for a teen to miss out on them. If you think you are getting enough sleep, but still feel sleepy during the day, check with your doctor to be sure your sleepiness is not due to a sleep disorder. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by UCLA Health).

Hepatitis A: Staying Mindful During Summer Travels

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious viral disease that attacks the liver. It can cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin), body aches and pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and leave you feeling physically weak for weeks – in some cases, even months.

If you’re traveling in regions where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, peel and wash all fresh fruits and vegetables yourself and avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish. Drink bottled water and use it when brushing your teeth. Don’t drink beverages of unknown purity, with or without ice. If bottled water isn’t available, boil tap water before drinking it.

Who’s In Danger?

Traveling first-class may guarantee greater accommodations and service, but it doesn’t mean that you’re protected from disease. The bathrooms may look more sanitary, and the restaurants may serve gourmet cuisine, but if you think staying at a four-star hotel means that you are protected from hepatitis A, you’re wrong. That’s because everyday activities, such as using a restroom or diapering a baby and forgetting to wash your hands afterward can put you at risk. According to the World Health Organization, most cases of hepatitis A in travelers occur in those who stick strictly to staying in the middle – and – upper-level hotels and resorts.

Symptoms

The older you are, the worse you’re going to feel if you get infected with hepatitis A. Hepatitis A signs and symptoms, which typically don’t appear until you’ve had the virus for a few weeks, may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

If you have hepatitis A, you may have a mild illness that lasts a few weeks or a severe illness that lasts several months. Not everyone with hepatitis A develops signs or symptoms.

When to See a Doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of hepatitis A. If you’ve been exposed to hepatitis A, having a hepatitis A vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy within two weeks of exposure may protect you from infection. Ask your doctor or your local health department about receiving the hepatitis A vaccine if:

  • You’ve traveled internationally recently, particularly to Mexico or South or Central America, or to areas with poor sanitation
  • A restaurant where you recently ate reports a hepatitis A outbreak
  • Someone close to you, such as someone you live with or your caregiver, is diagnosed with hepatitis A
  • You recently had sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A

The symptoms of hepatitis a are more severe in adults than in children. And, as is the case with most viruses, there is no specific treatment or cure once you get infected. The only thing you can do is get a lot of rest. Some people are required to take it easy for up to 6 weeks, which can pose a problem to your boss, co-workers and others who depend on you.

Prevent the Disease.

In order to avoid getting hepatitis A and other illnesses that commonly affect travelers, you have to know how you can get infected in the first place.

  • Do NOT eat food that is handled by someone who has not properly washed his or her hands and is infected with the Hepatitis A virus.
  • Do NOT eat food that comes from contaminated water-shellfish, like mussels, clams or any other types of foods many people enjoy while on vacation.
  • Do NOT eat food that is washed in contaminated water (this means that eating even a seemingly healthful salad can make you sick).
  • You can even get Hepatitis A by unknowingly picking up the virus on your own hands (by shaking hands with someone who is infected, for example) and then transferring it to your mouth. Be sure to wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Drinking contaminated water, or brushing your teeth with it, can put you at risk for illnesses other than Hepatitis A (don’t forget that this also means avoiding ice in your beverages that you drink).

Finally…

You’re most likely to contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who’s infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don’t require treatment and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage. Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Vaccines are available for people most at risk. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).

Healthy Aging: 10 Benefits of Staying Active in Your Senior Years

Physical activity or exercise has countless benefits, even for seniors. Fitting in regular exercise into day-to-day life routine can have immediate and long-term health benefits. Most importantly, regular activity can improve your quality of life.

Why Should Seniors Workout?

  1. Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis.
  2. Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  3. Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  4. Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help improve overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  5. Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  6. Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes among older adults can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  7. Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. A recent study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed the moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  8. Quality of life: Maintaining functional independence is something many older adults want. A regular exercise inclusive of strength and balance training can help accomplish this. Aim to be physically active for 30 minutes every day and to strength train at least two non-consecutive days per week.
  9. Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help exhaust the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.
  10. All-cause mortality: Exercise is known to reduce death from all causes. In fact, a recent study showed a 30 to 80 percent reduction in all-cause mortality when individuals exercised at an intensity level greater than 4 METS, suggesting that exercise can help delay premature death from various causes.

Finally…

If you are elderly, we recommend that you get medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program to find out if there are any activities you should avoid. Call 806-358-0200, If you would like to schedule a visit with a physician here at the Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic.

(Some information provided by NIFS).