%PM, %11 %751 %2018 %17:%Sep

Flu season 2018 has begun

Flu season has already begun, with three cases being reported in Western Massachusetts, and this year may be different from those past as the CDC has made multiple new recommendations and different options made available for the public. Let’s answer your questions.

When does flu season begin and how long does it last?

 

Flu season has begun already. It typically starts in the Fall, and ends late Spring.  So the range is described as October to May with it peaking December to March.

How bad will this flu season be?

 

It is difficult to predict, but already this early in the season we’ve had multiple flu related deaths reported by the CDC’s Flu View.

What is the flu?  How can one die from it?

 

The flu is caused by a virus. Multiple strains of virus’ can cause the flu.  The virus itself can be lethal, however the greatest risk comes with what it does to your immune system, thereby putting one at risk of secondary infections. Pneumonia is the number one cause of flu-related deaths.  Secondly, it can exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma, seizures, even promote preterm birth, hence those who are pregnant or have pre-existing medical conditions are urged to get vaccinated against the flu. Moreover those who qualify should get the pneumonia vaccine as well.

 

 

h1n1-swine-flu-virus

h1n1 virus

 

What does this year’s flu vaccine cover?

 

According to the CDC, the trivalent vaccine covers for these three strains of flu virus:

  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09–like virus
  • A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Colorado/06/2017–like virus (Victoria lineage)

Quadrivalent influenza vaccines will contain these three viruses and an additional influenza B vaccine virus, a B/Phuket/3073/2013–like virus (Yamagata lineage).

These vaccines are aimed at providing protection against the Swine flu, and some influenza A and B strains.

What about older individuals?

 

This year, those over 65 will have two options for their flu vaccine.

Fluzone High-Dose – a higher dose flu vaccine that will hopefully allow their immunity to protect against the flu longer

FLUAD – the trivalent flu vaccine with an adjuvant to stimulate more of an immune response.

Flublock Quadrivalent – provides protection against 4 strains.

What about the nasal spray vaccine?

 

This year, the CDC does allow use of the nasal spray vaccine as it has shown improved  efficacy from  prior years. However it is only recommended for  those who are between the ages of 2 and 49 and cannot be given to those who are pregnancy or who have compromising medical conditions as outlined by the CDC.

Who should get the flu shot?

 

All individuals 6 months old and older unless specified by their medical provider.

What if I’m allergic to eggs?

 

Most individuals allergic to eggs can still get the flu vaccine, but if the allergy to eggs is severe (anaphylaxis, angioedema, difficulty breathing), the CDC recommends notifying your medical provider and being in a facility to monitor you if you do get the flu vaccine.

Will I get the flu from the flu shot?

 

No.  The flu vaccine has a “killed” version of the virus meaning it’s not an active virus (as opposed to a live attenuated vaccine, a weakened down version of it). A “killed” or “inactivated” vaccine merely has the pathogen particles to induce an immune response. Additionally, when one states they got the flu despite the flu shot it could be that the flu shot only protects against 3 – 4 strains and they were infected with a more rare strain not covered by the vaccine.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

 

The average effectiveness each year hovers around 60%. Last year’s efficacy was much lower and this year’s has not been predicted as of yet. Australia is still reporting active cases on their Department of Health website.

I feel sick after the flu shot, why?

 

For some, the immune response that ensues can make one feel mildly ill, but should not resemble the flu. Those who state they got the flu “immediately” after receiving the shot, might have already been exposed and had not had a chance to produce immunity prior to their exposure.

 

sneezing

 

What are symptoms of the flu? How is it different from a cold?

 

A cold comes on slower and less severe. Flu symptoms are more abrupt and can include:

  • Fever
  • Body Aches
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Sore Throat
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

 

Are there medications to treat the flu? Will antibiotics work?

 

There are antiviral medications available, such as Tamiflu, to treat the flu.  Antibiotics, however, will not work since the flu is not caused by a bacteria but rather a virus. However if a secondary bacterial infection takes over, antibiotics may be used.

How can I prevent getting the flu?

 

Besides vaccination, avoid being around those who are sick, thorough hand washing, and take good care of yourself. A balanced diet, exercise and sleep regimen can help boost your immune system.

Wishing you health this season!

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Health
%PM, %07 %844 %2018 %19:%Sep

National Blood Donation Week

Editor’s note: Technically, National Blood Donation Day was September 5th, as Doc D. notes. BUT National Blood Donation week continues through this weekend so here you go.

This year September 5th is National Blood Donation Day.  Blood banks all across America are holding drives to increase our nation’s blood supply.

Governors from nearly all states have proclaimed State Blood Donation Days to show their support.

blood donation.jpg

Every two seconds, someone needs blood.

The American Red Cross provides these startling statistics:

  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.
  • Sickle cell disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle Cell patients can require blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, about 1.7 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

We wear red today to show our support.

To donate blood visit the following sites:

United Blood Services/BloodHero.com

American Red Cross Blood Drive Locator

Donating blood is a simple process that takes less than 45 minutes.  For those who cannot donate blood, hosting a drive can be just as life saving and easy to do.  Blood banks can host a drive at work on site or through a bloodmobile in the parking lot, with no cost to the host.

UBS-Mobile-Unit.jpg

__________________________________________________

National Blood Donation Week

Almost all of the United States have declared State Blood Donation Days to help combat our nation’s blood shortage as part of National Blood Donation Week (NBDW).

This year National Blood Donation Week is September 3-10th with September 5th being National Blood Donation Day.

The movement began in 2015 when Nationally Syndicated Radio Host, and local KDWN radio personality, asked Governor Brian Sandoval to proclaim Nevada Blood Donation Day to help fight the state’s blood shortage. The next year she took this movement national asking all governors to proclaim state blood donation days.

From our September 4th post:

Governors in just about every state have already proclaimed September 5th to be their state Blood Donation Day for 2018.

Oklahoma has proclaimed the month of September - Blood Donation Month.

Alaska proclaimed the month of July - Blood Donation Month.

“Blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, and more donations are needed, especially type O, to replenish the blood supply,” said Laurie Nehring, communications director for the American Red Cross. “We appreciate Dr. Daliah’s efforts to educate the public about the importance of regular blood donations.”

Emergency rooms treating trauma victims, hospitals treating anemic patients, and medical clinics replenishing low blood levels in cancer patients require a steady supply of blood products.

38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but less than 10% actually do.

“The unified effort across America to proclaim state blood donation days around the Labor Day holiday comes at an important time for patients,” said Mitzy Edgecomb, Blood Systems Vice President, Donor Marketing & Communication. “Blood donations often drop dramatically during the summer months and over holiday weeks when regular donors take time away to enjoy family vacations.  We appreciate and applaud the governors from the multiple states who have called attention to the ongoing need for blood donations and thank those who step forward to make a life-transforming impact on others by giving blood.”

Donating blood is easy and takes less than one hour.  Many places of work can hold blood drives so employees don’t have to take off work (plus you get yummy cookies).

blood-drive

Inconsistent donation patterns during the year result in unpredictable and reliable blood supply numbers, hence donation is requested year round.

United Blood Services suggests donating three times a year.

The summer and holiday season appear to be the “dryest” in terms of donations.  States and regions frequently need to ship blood to areas who are in need.

Blood supplies have been critical in many parts of the country due to natural disasters such as storms and wildfires.

What makes NBDW so unique is that both Republican and Democratic governors are uniting and coming together for a common cause.

One pint of blood has the potential to save three lives.  Imagine what the whole country can do!

blood bags

For a list of Governor Proclamations visit here.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Health

Governors across the United States have declared State Blood Donation Days to help combat our nation’s blood shortage as part of National Blood Donation Week (NBDW).

Blood supplies have been critical in many parts of the country and natural disasters, such as fires and hurricanes, tax blood banks even more.

What makes NBDW so unique is that both Republican and Democratic governors are uniting and coming together for a common cause.

This year National Blood Donation Week is September 3-10th with September 5th being National Blood Donation Day.

Governors in the following states have already proclaimed September 5th to be their state Blood Donation Day for 2018:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • more to come

Arizona has proclaimed September 3-10th Arizona Blood Donation Week with more to come.

Oklahoma has proclaimed the month of September Oklahoma Blood Donation Month.

Alaska proclaimed the month of July Alaska Blood Donation Month.

“Blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, and more donations are needed, especially type O, to replenish the blood supply,” said Laurie Nehring, communications director for the American Red Cross. “We appreciate Dr. Daliah’s efforts to educate the public about the importance of regular blood donations.”

Emergency rooms treating trauma victims, hospitals treating anemic patients, and medical clinics replenishing low blood levels in cancer patients require a steady supply of blood products.

38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but less than 10% actually do.

“The unified effort across America to proclaim state blood donation days around the Labor Day holiday comes at an important time for patients,” said Mitzy Edgecomb, Blood Systems Vice President, Donor Marketing & Communication. “Blood donations often drop dramatically during the summer months and over holiday weeks when regular donors take time away to enjoy family vacations.  We appreciate and applaud the governors from the multiple states who have called attention to the ongoing need for blood donations and thank those who step forward to make a life-transforming impact on others by giving blood.”

Donating blood is easy and takes less than one hour.  Many places of work can hold blood drives so employees don’t have to take off work (plus you get yummy cookies).

 

blood-drive

Dr. Daliah giving blood.

Inconsistent donation patterns during the year result in unpredictable and reliable blood supply numbers, hence donation is requested year round.

United Blood Services suggests donating three times a year.

The summer and holiday season appear to be the “driest” in terms of donations. States and regions frequently need to ship blood to areas who are in need.

One pint of blood has the potential to save three lives.  Imagine what the whole country can do!

blood bags

For a list of Governor Proclamations visit here.

 

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in U.S.
%PM, %31 %869 %2018 %19:%Aug

Labor Day weekend safety tips

The holiday offers a day of respite for those who labor throughout the week.  But the federal holiday, established in 1894, may come with risks as its one of the most travelled weekends of the year.  Grill injuries can occur, and throughout the US we are seeing record high temperatures. Additionally, water injuries, including drownings may rise this weekend. We need to stay safe out in the sun, by the grill, in the water and on the roads.

 

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Sun Safety

 

Record heat and extended time outdoors can increase the risk of heat illness.  Hydrate, stay in the shade and protect your skin from damaging UV rays.

 

Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater should be applied 15-30 minutes prior to going outside and reapplied every two hours or more often if swimming.

Avoid excessive alcohol as it could accelerate dehydration and put one at greater risk of injuries and heat exhaustion.

For more on heat exhaustion and heat stroke read here.

LEAN-SunSafety-footer

 

Grill Safety

 

In 2012, a man caught on fire after spraying sunscreen prior to heading over to the grill. He sustained multiple second degree burns.

Sunscreen may be flammable, so make sure it is dry prior to grilling or use a lotion instead of spray on.

Keep the grill outdoors but away from low roofing, branches, and trees. Watch the little kids and keep them and the pets away from the barbecue.

Assign someone to watch the grill if you need to step a way during grilling.

 

grill.jpg.838x0_q67_crop-smart.jpg

 

Do not add lighter fluid to already ignited coals.

If someone does catch on fire, remember to have them stop, drop and roll on the ground until the flames expire.  Call 9-1-1 and remove any jewelry or tight clothes around the area..

If a minor burn injury does occur, run it under cool (not cold) water for 10-20 minutes. Avoid applying ice to the burn as it can damage the skin.  Also remove nearby jewelry.

Bandage and see a medical provider if concerned with your injury.

 

Water Safety

 

Avoid drinking alcohol when swimming or engaging in water sports.

Make sure you are in arm’s reach of your kids in the water.

Use life vests while boating and make sure the kids are wearing appropriate sized vests.

Never swim alone. Always have a buddy.

 

Zz1hZmQ5ZjgyNDg5MmIwYTg5YWFiM2I0MWNlMDA0MzlmZQ==.jpeg

 

Road Safety

 

Know your route to avoid you checking your GPS app while you drive.

Allow extra travel time and don’t rush.  Expect travel delays coming home as well.

Consider leaving a day or two early or a day or two late to avoid congested traffic.

Drive the speed limit and avoid tailgating, leaving at least 2 seconds between you and the car ahead of you.

Make sure you have plenty of water, supplies and a first aid kit in the car in case you get stuck on the highway.

 

Thanksgiving-Traffic-Jam.jpg

 

Have a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend!

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

A study has found those who grill meat on charcoal, wood, or coal have a 12% increase risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.

Researchers from the University of Oxford studied 341,000 people in China, measuring their exposure to cooking mediums and their risk of heart death (8,300 died of heart disease unrelated to smoking and other factors). They additionally found that for every decade after one switched to cooking with gas or electric, their risk factor lowered by 5%.

Study authors suggest if one would switch to a gas or electric grill, the risk could be reversible.  Daily Mail reports the following:

PEOPLE WHO HAD SWITCHED 10 OR MORE YEARS AGO SAW THEIR RISK SINK BACK TO LEVEL WITH PEOPLE WHO HAD ALWAYS USED ‘CLEAN’ ENERGY.
PROFESSOR ZHENGMING CHEN ADDED: ‘SWITCHING TO ELECTRICITY OR GAS WEAKENED THE IMPACT OF PREVIOUS SOLID FUEL USE, SUGGESTING THAT THE NEGATIVE ASSOCIATION MAY BE REVERSIBLE.’

 

 

Hamilton-Beach-25360-Indoor-Grill-830x450

 

Last Spring, scientists found grilling may increase one’s risk of high blood pressure.  In this study, reported by medical xpress, they found high blood pressure risk to be:

  • 17 PERCENT HIGHER IN THOSE WHO GRILLED, BROILED, OR ROASTED BEEF, CHICKEN OR AND FISH MORE THAN 15 TIMES/MONTH, COMPARED WITH LESS THAN 4 TIMES A MONTH.
  • 15 PERCENT HIGHER IN THOSE WHO PREFER THEIR FOOD WELL DONE, COMPARED WITH THOSE WHO PREFER RARER MEATS.
  • 17 PERCENT HIGHER IN THOSE ESTIMATED TO HAVE CONSUMED THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF HETEROCYCLIC AROMATIC AMINES (HAAS) – CHEMICALS FORMED WHEN MEAT PROTEIN IS CHARRED OR EXPOSED TO HIGH TEMPERATURES – COMPARED TO THOSE WITH THE LOWEST INTAKE.
  • Standing NEXT to a Grill Can Increase Cancer Risk

Chinese researchers find the smoke released during grilling to expose one to cancer- causing chemicals.

As we head into the summer, grilling burgers, hotdogs, and steaks are a favorite pastime.  But a small study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology suggests PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), produced during grilling, are inhaled and absorbed through the skin, potentially causing genetic mutations that may cause cancer.

20050627a

The study, out of Guangzhou, China, found those consuming the grilled meat had the highest exposure to PAH’s. Next came those exposed through skin, and finally those inhaling the smoke to be at next greatest risk.

Clothing provided some protection, but once smoke saturated, should be removed to lessen exposure.

The average person is considered safe if they grill in moderation, but excessive exposure could put them at higher risk of PAH-induced cancers such as lung, bladder and skin cancers.

For more on the study read here.

The heating of foods to high temperatures can cause chemical reactions among the amino acids, fats and sugars in foods, producing toxic substances.  Acrylamide, as discussed below, can be formed when heating starches such as potatoes, to high levels.

What is acrylamide?

 

Acrylamide is a chemical used in many industrial products that produce plastics, adhesives, food packaging and the treatment of drinking water.  It can also be produced when foods are heated, fried, baked, or roasted to above 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit).  In 2002 reports came out regarding acrylamide in french fries, and in 2013 the FDA issued guidance to the food industry on how to minimize producing the chemical.

Roasting coffee requires the beans to be heated to close to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat produces a chemical reaction between the amino acid asparagine and sugars resulting in the formation of acrylamide.

The amounts however are miniscule. Much smaller than other modes of acrylamide exposure such as cigarette smoking and exposure at work when working in industries that use acrylamide such as plastics, food processing, mining, paper, agriculture and construction.

What can acrylamide do?

 

In rodents, acrylamide was found to increase several types of cancer. But the doses were 1,000-10,000 times greater than what the average human is exposed to.

According to the American Cancer Society, most of the studies done so far have not found an increased risk of cancer in humans. For some types of cancer, such as kidney, ovarian and endometrial cancer, the results have been mixed, but there are currently no cancer types for which there is clearly an increased risk related to acrylamide intake.

How do I decrease exposure?

 

As noted earlier, acrylamide can be in a variety of products we use throughout the day.  Large quantities, however, can be consumed through cigarette smoke, hence avoiding smoking is key.  Moreover, avoiding frying foods, especially starches, greater than 120 degrees Celsius/248 degrees Fahrenheit if possible. Frying and or toasting to a light gold, rather than crispy dark brown color, may limit your exposure as well.

 

acrylamide.jpg

 

But keep in mind, numerous studies have found coffee drinkers to lower their risk of cancer, especially liver, uterine, prostate and mouth cancer. However 4-6 cups had to be consumed in order for researchers to notice a benefit.

More research still needs to be done on all fronts when it comes to grilling mediums, crispiness of our cooking and coffee. So while we wait for the verdict let’s kick back with something safe…..I guess a cup of water??

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Health

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor a little over a year ago, Senator John McCain has chosen to end treatment for the deadly cancer.

The 81-year-old Vietnam veteran and former POW was diagnosed with a primary glioblastoma in the summer of 2017. Since then he has bravely fought the malignant brain tumor.  His family reported this week the following:

Last summer, Senator John McCain shared with Americans the news our family already knew: he had been diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma, and the prognosis was serious. In the year since, John has surpassed expectations for his survival. But the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict. With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment.

Our family is immensely grateful for the support and kindness of all his caregivers over the last year, and for the continuing outpouring of concern and affection from John’s many friends and associates, and the many thousands of people who are keeping him in their prayers. God bless and thank you all.

Although still politically vocal, Senator McCain has not been in Washington since December.  He’s been at his home in Arizona with his family.

What is Primary Glioblastoma?

 

Primary Glioblastoma Multiforme is a type of brain tumor that arises in the brain and spinal cord and is very aggressive in nature. “Primary” suggests the tumor is not secondary to another cancer, such as the melanoma Senator McCain successfully battled.

In 1993, 2000 and 2002, McCain had three malignant melanoma lesions removed, and the 2000 lesion was close to his left temple.

Those diagnosed with a glioblastoma may have a poorer prognosis compared to other cancers as the 5-year survival rate is only 10%. Its median survival is less than 15 months.

In 2017, doctors were optimistic as his lesion had been removed, and chemotherapy and radiation were set to immediately begin once his incision had healed.

However many may choose to end cancer treatment early due to side effects or the desire to spend their remaining weeks with family devoid of medical procedures and hospital trips.  It's understandable and gutsy.  Our prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

Last year we learned that some patients, who were evaluated for a stroke or transient ischemic attack when they had come to the ER complaining of recurrent “temporary blindness” after checking their smartphone in the dark were suffering from a phenomenon, known as ‘smartphone blindness.’ This has also been experienced by many of us when we have the sensation of dimmed vision or poor visual acuity, feeling punished for peeking at our email when we should be sleeping.

 

But now we have a study suggesting vision loss could be permanent due to the blue light being emitted from our smartphones or laptops.

Researchers from the University of Toledo found blue light will react with retinal, an active form of Vitamin A, that can damage the nearby cells they are designed to stimulate when creating sight.

Researcher Kasun Ratnayake states, “If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves,” and since these cells do not regenerate they are gone for good.

Although a blue-light induced retinal activated cell could prove useful when fighting cancer, this finding is worrisome as millions of people, including children, look at their smartphone and tablet in the dark, depending on the blue light more and more to see their screens.

blue light danger for retina

What is blue light?

Sunlight is made up of the spectrum of colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  Blue light is a light along the spectrum that has shorter wavelengths and more energy than red, which has longer wavelengths. We receive most of our blue light exposure from the sun but we can be exposed as well through our smart devices, LED lights and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.

 

spectrum

IMAGE FROM PREVENTBLINDNESS.ORG

Smartphone use linked to retinal detachment

Studies surfaced a few years ago where great lengths of smartphone use can cause retinal detachment.  In these cases the layer of the retina which focuses images, detaches from the back of the eye, causing serious vision loss. Though there are treatments, if not treated early can cause permanent blindness in the affected eye since the retina loses its blood and oxygen supply when detached. A woman from China had been using her smartphone for 2-3 hours in the dark each night when this occurred.

Smartphones have also been linked to myopia, near-sightedness, and sleeping disorders as the blue light emitted from the screen can disrupt melatonin production.

A recent study found that 30% of adults spend more than 9 hours a day using their smartphone. Physicians recommend avoiding extended use, adjust settings to black text on white background, and with this recent case study, use both eyes to look at the screen when using the phone at night.

Smartphone, Street Lamp Blue Light May Increase Risk of Cancer

A study from the University of Exeter and Barcelona Institute for Global Health finds blue light exposure at night-time to increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

Blue light is emitted from artificial lighting, such as LED’s and smart devices, and has been linked in the past to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Why?  Scientists believe the blue wavelengths in the light disrupt our circadian rhythm, or our body’s biological clock, by suppressing the secretion of melatonin. Poor sleep, and unpredictable body cycles, can affect our metabolism, hence our weight, diabetes risk and cancer risk.

In this study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers reviewed data of more than 4000 patients, between the ages of 20 and 85, from 11 different geographical regions. They found exposure to blue light at night doubled the risk of prostate cancer in men, and increased breast cancer risk in women by 1.5.

The Sun reports study author Dr. Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel is urging to reduce exposure to outside street lights and use orange wavelength light rather than blue.

“The take-home message is: Use warm orange lights where possible, and shutters and blinds to block street light.

“Also, our findings suggest reducing your night-time exposure to smartphones and tablets could help cut cancer risk.

How to protect your eyes by minimizing blue light exposure

The recommendation to not use your smart device at night may not be very practical for many.  So here are some additional tips:

Increasing the size of the font helps your eyes since they don’t need to strain as much to read.  Try to look at your smartphone with a distance of 1 1/2 feet. Blinking often helps rest the eyes as well and keeps them lubricated and moist.

Screen time should be limited in the evenings.  Avoid computer/phone screens at least 2-3 hours before bed.

Although LED light bulbs are more energy-efficient, bedroom lighting may need to be swapped for softer bulbs.

If the weather permits, getting some night air and watching the stars may help stimulate one’s melatonin, allowing him/her to get sleepy.

Blue-blocking glasses may help limit exposure if night computer work cannot be avoided.

Additionally there are apps that allow a blue light filter on one’s phone screen.

Finally its good to use the 20,20,20 rule.  After every 20 minutes of use, look away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  This may help avoid eye strain from excessive smartphone use.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Health
%PM, %21 %804 %2018 %18:%Aug

Sleeping pill use linked to Alzheimer’s

Researchers have found a link between Alzheimer’s and the use of sleeping pills such as benzodiazepines and “Z-drugs.”

“Z-drugs” refer to non-benzodiazepines or hypnotics such as zolpidem (brand name Ambien).

The study from the University of Finland looked at 70,700 individuals who had developed Alzheimer’s during the years 2005-2011. The researchers found regular use of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs increased one’s risk of the neurodegenerative disorder by 6%. Moreover the higher the dose used, the higher the risk.

Benzodiazepines and sleeping pills are being prescribed and used in epidemic proportions leading to more addiction and tolerance to controlled substances, poor timing as we fight the opioid crisis.

Sleeping Pill Use “Worse than Smoking”

 

Arizona State University researchers last year reported the use of use of sleeping pills is “worse than smoking” for one’s health.

Sleep researcher, Shawn Youngstedt, told CNN, “They are as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Not to mention they cause infections, falling and dementia in the elderly, and they lose their effectiveness after a few weeks.”

For years sleeping aids including antihistamines (ex. diphenhydramine), benzodiazepines (ex. lorazepam, alprazolam), non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic (ex. Ambien) have been studied and linked to side effects including

  • Sleep Walking
  • Insomnia
  • Numbness, tingling
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Memory loss
  • Dizziness
  • and more

In 2012, a study of 10,500 people found those who used sleeping pills were 4X as likely to die in the 2.5-year study than those who didn’t use medications for sleep.

Dr. Kripke and his colleagues at Scripps also found a 35% increase risk of cancer, noting lymphoma, lung, colon and prostate cancer risk was worse than that of smoking.

Also in 2012, a study published in Thorax, found benzodiazepine use linked to the severe lung infection, pneumonia.

In 2014, a study from China Medical University in Taiwan found only four sleeping pills a year increased risk of heart attack by 20% and 60 tablets a year was linked to a 50% increase.

A separate study found an increased risk of aortic dissection with sleeping pill use.

 

Insomnia-Image_08.03.2016.jpg

 

What causes insomnia?

 

Insomnia is a disorder where one has difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep.  Many factors can cause insomnia. These include:

 

  • Caffeine
  • Medications
  • Alcohol
  • Stress, anxiety, depression
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Neck and back arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory conditions (asthma, COPD)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Urinary frequency
  • Diarrhea
  • Neurological conditions
  • Sleep apnea
  • and of course environmental issues such as noise, temperature, and kitty cats.

Treatments for insomnia

 

Treating insomnia can be complex.  We begin by treating the underlying cause, such as any of those listed above.  Then we can try the following:

  • Lowering the room temperature to an average of 65 degrees F
  • Shut off artificial lights 1-2 hours before going to bed
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Dinner  including foods rich in tryptophan (fish, nuts, tofu, turkey, eggs and seeds)
  • Warm bath
  • Cognitive and/or behavioral therapy
  • Aromatherapy including lavender
  • Blackout curtains to keep out light
  • Daily exercise
  • to name a few.

Youngstedt also suggests exercise. He states its “healthier” than using sleeping aids and “research suggests those who are physically active have a lower risk of developing insomnia in the first place.”

Now it could be that those who suffer from certain medical conditions are more at risk of insomnia but more needs to be studied in terms of why these medications are linked to poor health outcomes.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Health
%PM, %16 %693 %2018 %15:%Aug

Aretha Franklin Passes Away At Age 76

The 76 year-old “Queen of Soul” has reportedly passed after a long bout with pancreatic cancer.

The AP News Tweeted early this morning the following:

Aretha Franklin, the long-reigning “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as “Think” and her signature song, “Respect,” died Thursday at age 76, said her representative, Gwendolyn Quinn.  The cause was advanced pancreatic cancer.

Her last performance was for the Elton John Annual AIDS Foundation Gala in November.

In March the singer cancelled her upcoming performances due to an undisclosed illness.

aretha

For years Aretha Franklin has battled rumors about her health ranging from respiratory illnesses to pancreatic cancer.

In an interview with Access Hollywood she said, “I don’t know where ‘pancreatic cancer’ came from.

“I was sitting there reading the newspaper and it was saying someone in my family said that. No one in my family ever said that to anybody.”

The multi-Grammy award winner deserved a little “RESPECT” and the media honored her privacy requests, despite growing concern for her weight loss.

Diabetes May Be Related to Pancreatic Cancer

 

Ms. Franklin reportedly had diabetes.  Studies have found a correlation between the common blood sugar disease and the lethal cancer.  Once recent study found if one had a worsening of their diabetes it could be a sign of pancreatic cancer.  Since diabetes is a disease that affects the pancreas and its ability to produce and release insulin, its logical that there may be a correlation.

Pancreatic cancer has a high mortality rate and unfortunately it remains asymptomatic until it has progressed to an advanced stage.  So a worsening of diabetes (in the absence of poor diet and lack of compliance with medication) may be the only sign that pancreatic cancer is occurring. The earlier the cancer is caught, the better the prognosis.

She is a legend and has touched us all.  May she rest in peace.

Ten Great Performances by Aretha Franklin.

 

Aretha_Franklin.jpg

Her fellow musicians and friends react:

 

Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul

  • Paul McCartney

This morning my longest friend in this world went home to be with our Father. I will miss her so much but I know she’s at peace. #QueenOfSoul

  • Smokey Robinson

The greatest voice in American popular music has been stilled.  Our beloved #ArethaFranklin has gone.  For me, she was a musical lighthouse, guiding and inspiring with every note.  I loved her so and love her still.  Goodbye, Queen of Soul.

 

  • Bette Midler

 

One of the highlights of my career was singing with #ArethaFranklin at The Tony Awards. It was an out of body experience for me. One of greatest singers of all time. You will be missed by all. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=csm3A80M9qA …

 

  • Hugh Jackman

 

Published in Entertainment
%PM, %08 %689 %2018 %15:%Aug

The Science of Swearing

Having gotten in trouble my whole life for doing so, I thought it was about time I investigated what is “swearing”, why it comes so fluently and why we frequently choose to do it. So let's break down the science of swearing…..

What is the definition of a curse word?

 

Most dictionaries define a curse word as a “profane or obscene word.”  But I disagree with this definition.  “Profane” comes from the Latin root “profanus”, or “unholy”, and Oxford Dictionary defines “profane” as not relating to that which is sacred or religious; secular, (of a person or their behavior) not respectful of religious practice.  

But many of us who use these words when you say “I just stepped in dog $%&t” aren’t referring to religion in any way, shape or form.

“Obscene”, when defined by multiple dictionaries, alludes to terms of a sexual nature.  Again, complaining that you just stepped in dog $%&t has nothing to do with sex.

So I define a swear/curse word as one that society deems to be off-color and not appropriate in public and professional settings….a word that has plenty of other socially acceptable alternatives used during anger, excitement, or awe.

When was the first curse word spoken?

 

According to historians, the first curse words originated in the 15th century.  I’m sure horses were just as messy as our dogs.  But as you can see by my definition, curse words must have had their origin in caveman days as humans developed language.  Rocks were dropped, people slipped and fell, and some burned themselves on early fire so I seriously doubt that only grammatically acceptable words and phrases were used in times of accidents.

Where did specific curse words originate?

 

Although a good old-fashioned four letter word seems as American as they come, most originate from foreign sources.

The “S” Word

 

According to Business Insider, the noun nods to Old English scitte, meaning “purging, diarrhea.” And just the basic form of excrement stems from Old English scytel. The action, however, has a much more widespread history — Dutch schijten and German scheissen. The Proto-Indo-European base skie conveys the idea of separation, in this case, from the body.

The “F” Word

 

According to the Huffington Post, the f-word is of Germanic origin, related to Dutch, German, and Swedish words for “to strike” and “to move back and forth.” It first appears, though, only in the 16th century, in a manuscript of the Latin orator Cicero. An anonymous monk was reading through the monastery copy of De Officiis (a guide to moral conduct) when he felt compelled to express his anger at his abbot.

“Ass”

 

Comes from the word “arse” and used as early as the 11th century when referring to an animal’s anatomy, and then later to humans.

The “B” Word

 

Having Old English and Germanic roots, the “B” word represented a female dog.  By the 1400’s, however, it became a “term of contempt to women,” according to Business Insider.

So why do we curse?

 

There are various theories as to why people would choose a word that may offend others.  Here’s mine:

  1. The words are easy to say.  Four letter words seem to be the most popular and can be spewed out with ease when in pain or in anger.
  2. The words inspire an emotion.  When we communicate we need a reaction to what we say, and curse words seem to elicit some of the strongest of reactions, hence reinforcing our belief that we are effectively communicating.
  3. They’re weapons.  When we get mad at someone and want to avoid a physical altercation, we weaponize our words instead, inflicting as much verbal hurt and pain as possible. One rarely finds themselves in jail after launching a full foul word offensive.
  4. They allow us to rebel. If curse words are not allowed in a school, work or professional setting then our use demonstrates our autonomy.
  5. They convey meaning that other words cannot.  The F word, for example, is one of the most notorious and ubiquitous, with movies, books, and speakers having validated its use so many times as a noun, adjective, or verb, that it has its own character and conveys a meaning, no matter how it’s used, that society easily recognizes. In fact, it’s so notorious that the F word is recognized by those who don’t even speak English.

 

What are “fake” curse words?

 

“Fake” curse words are terms we use to convey a curse without actually swearing.  Commonly used alternatives to swearing include:

  • Flipp’n
  • Flip
  • Frick
  • Dang
  • Heck
  • Witch
  • Shut the Front Door
  • Son of a Motherless Goat
  • Son of a gun
  • Dagnabbit
  • Beeswax
  • Holy shitake mushroom
  • Wuss
  • Pluck it
  • Yuk fu
  • Fire truck
  • Donald Duck

Is cursing/swearing ever considered “good?”

 

In 2017, a study from Stephens et al, from Keele University in the UK, found swearing to increase strength and power performance when working out.

Previously, in 2009, the same researchers found men who were allowed to swear while immersing their hand in cold water could maintain it twice as long as those who had to keep their language clean.

So if we perform better while cursing, will it ever become acceptable to curse?

Society seems to already accept many curse words, even on prime time television, a barometer we use to determine if a word is OK to say out in public.  However once we take a four letter word and “legalize it”, people will gravitate towards words that aren’t acceptable because of the aforementioned reasons.  We want to be rebellious and demonstrate our feelings in times of pain and anger.

So for those of you who find this unacceptable, I really couldn’t give a flipp’n cluck.…..

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Health
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