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Snoring solutions to improve relationships, health

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) For many people, snoring makes a night of restful sleep a far-off dream. The noisy interruptions may even have a detrimental effect on relationships and health.

More than a quarter of Americans say that a snoring bed partner makes them annoyed or angry, according to a recent survey from the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM). Forty percent of women also claim snoring in the opposite sex is a turnoff, and nearly one in 10 Americans went so far as to admit that snoring has hurt at least one of their romantic relationships. One in five says that a snoring partner could even drive them out of bed.

Beyond the bedroom

In addition to pushing couples to sleep apart, snoring can cause health worries. Snoring is a tell-tale sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition that causes sufferers to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk for serious health problems from congestive heart failure to diabetes and depression.

“Because it can be embarrassing, snoring can often be the elephant in the room when it comes to addressing relationship frustrations and health concerns,” said Kathleen Bennett, D.D.S., president of the AADSM. “But it’s important that your significant other is made aware of their snoring and the effects it has on you, your relationship and their personal health, so they can begin taking steps to remedy it.”

Seeking treatment

There are several treatment options for sleep apnea, according to AADSM experts. It is important to speak with a physician to determine which option is best for you.

The first line of treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. But according to the AADSM, up to 50 percent of sleep apnea patients do not comply with or tolerate this form of treatment.

“Sleep apnea is traditionally treated with a CPAP machine, which includes a constantly running motor, tubing and a face mask. It’s a great treatment, but it’s not the only option,” said Dr. Bennett. “Many people are surprised to learn that dentists can help treat sleep apnea with an oral appliance, a device similar to an orthodontic retainer, that’s effective, less cumbersome and more discreet.”

Oral appliance therapy uses a small mouth guard-like device worn only during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway, making it a sleeker, more attractive treatment option for many sleep apnea sufferers. An oral appliance prevents the airway from collapsing by supporting the jaw in a forward position. The devices, which are a proven and effective sleep apnea treatment, also come with the perks of being silent, portable and simple to care for. A patient must first be diagnosed with snoring or sleep apnea by a physician. Then a dentist can examine the diagnosed patient and provide a custom-made oral appliance, which is covered by many medical insurance plans.

Additionally, upper airway surgery is a potential treatment for some patients. A detailed examination of the entire upper airway is necessary before your doctor can decide if you are a candidate for surgery.

If you or your significant other suffers from sleep apnea or loud and frequent snoring, visit www.LocalSleepDentist.com to learn more and find a dentist in your area who can help.

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Beyond the Scale: What you need to know about diabetes risk factors

 

Whether you have diabetes or not, understanding this disease and how it can be controlled can significantly improve your overall health.  PHOTO SOURCE: (c) MichaelJung - Fotolia.com

Whether you have diabetes or not, understanding this disease and how it can be controlled can significantly improve your overall health.
PHOTO SOURCE: (c) MichaelJung – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) When it comes to Type II diabetes, many only consider weight when examining their risk. Diabetes is complicated however, and risk factors are numerous.

Some of the confusion is potentially reflected in statistics. From 1980 through 2011, the number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes more than tripled, from 5.6 million to 20.9 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and millions more have prediabetes or are undiagnosed.

On the bright side, cutting-edge research has uncovered strategies for avoiding, controlling and even reversing diabetes.

“It’s tempting to think that there’s not much you can do except take medication and hope for the best,” says George L. King, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Joslin Diabetes Center, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of the new book, “The Diabetes Reset.” “However, anyone can improve their body’s response to insulin and its ability to metabolize glucose in the blood.”

Each individual’s glucose control problems are unique, which is why King offers a range of evidence-based, diabetes-fighting strategies in his book. Here he shares a few:

Diet

A recent study by Dr. King and his Joslin colleagues has shown that insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes risk can all be significantly improved by switching to a low-fat, high-fiber diet consisting of 70 percent carbohydrates, 15 percent fat and 15 percent protein, including 15 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed.

This dietary approach, known as the Rural Asian Diet, is easy to maintain, as it doesn’t call for restricting calories or totally avoiding any particular food group. While many diabetes experts promote restricting carbohydrates, this diet distinguishes between refined carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates, which are high in fiber, and will be converted into blood glucose much more slowly.

Weight Loss

If your BMI is above 25 and you’re able to reduce your body weight by 5 to 7 percent, you can reduce your insulin resistance and improve your glucose metabolism. Be advised, many doctors feel that BMI is of limited value in determining a diabetes risk because it doesn’t distinguish between fat and lean tissue or between different types of body fat. Abdominal fat is the most dangerous type of fat in terms of diabetes risk, so many doctors use waist circumference as an additional measurement.

Exercise

Your muscles can lose insulin sensitivity due to inactivity. This can be largely reversed through a combination of 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week plus weekly strength training sessions. Together, these activities can increase your muscles’ ability to oxidize fats, glucose and other fuels, while also helping you lose weight.

Sleep

There is mounting evidence that lack of sleep can contribute to insulin resistance and possibly causes damage to the pancreas, putting you at heightened risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Attempt to get seven to eight hours of high-quality sleep every night to improve insulin sensitivity.

More diabetes-strategies can be found at www.workman.com.

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What you need to know to control this silent killer

HEA-Blood-pressure

(BPT) – Most people assume they only need to take their medication when they are sick, meaning when they experience symptoms. But in the case of hypertension, this type of thinking could kill you.

Patients who have hypertension are often completely asymptomatic – that’s the reason hypertension is often called the silent killer. The belief that symptoms such as headaches, nose bleeds, nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing are signals to take blood pressure medication is a myth.

Nonadherence to hypertension medication is a huge challenge. Research shows that one in three American adults suffer from high blood pressure, but only 47 percent effectively treat their disease to keep blood pressure levels under control.

Higher risk for heart attack, stroke

Express Scripts’ specialist pharmacist Ed Dannemiller recently spoke with a patient who was 40 days late to refill her blood pressure prescription.

“When I asked her about the delay, she said she only takes her medication when she feels stressed or has a headache. The problem with this is that patients with hypertension may feel perfectly fine before suffering a heart attack or stroke,” says Dannemiller.

Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80, but consistent levels above 140/90 require medical attention. Simply keeping a patient’s blood pressure under control decreases the risk of heart attack by 25 percent, stroke by 33 percent and heart failure by 50 percent.

But the only way to have a precise measurement is through a blood pressure reading.

Become an engaged patient

“I encourage patients to become engaged in their own health and keep track of their blood pressure readings, which can help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations or ER visits,” Dannemiller explains.

For patients with white-coat hypertension – those whose blood pressure rises from stress in the doctor’s office – a home blood pressure monitor is a good option.

Dannemiller offers these useful tips for patients monitoring their pressure at home:

* Take blood pressure readings in a seated position with arm at the heart level

* To regulate the monitor, discard the first reading

* Keep a record of your blood pressure levels to bring to your doctor’s appointment

This additional data will help your physician better understand your condition and make better medical decisions to ensure healthier outcomes.

Lifestyle changes can help

In addition to staying adherent to blood pressure medication, regardless of symptoms, the following lifestyle modifications also can improve cardiovascular health:

* Consume a heart-healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in salt, fat and cholesterol

* Engage in regular aerobic physical activity

* Manage your weight, limit alcohol consumption and do not smoke

Value of specialized understanding

“Even with lifestyle modifications, most patients need at least two medications to reach their blood pressure goal,” says Dannemiller.

Intervention and education from specialist pharmacists provide an important resource to improve medication adherence. When patients understand the value of their treatment and embrace good cardiovascular health, they bring a little more noise to this silent killer. For more information, visit lab.express-scripts.com.

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Go with own glow this prom season

 

Prom season is just around the corner, and as teens prepare for the most memorable night of high school, The Skin Cancer Foundation encourages them to forgo a dangerous indoor tan in favor of a natural glow. Teens considering heading to a tanning salon to achieve a pre-prom glow should beware: using a tanning bed before age 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent. In addition, just one indoor UV tanning session increases users’ risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent.

“Any tan, whether you get it on the beach or in a tanning bed, is dangerous and damages your skin,” said Perry Robins, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “A tan comes with consequences. In addition to increasing skin cancer risk, tanning leads to premature skin aging, including wrinkles, leathery skin and age spots.”

The Skin Cancer Foundation advocates embracing one’s natural skin tone. Those who can’t resist the bronzed look but won’t sacrifice their health to achieve it should consider sunless (UV-free) tanners. They are available in many different formulations, including creams, lotions, gels, pump sprays, aerosols and wipes.

Tips for properly applying sunless tanner:

Follow the package directions closely. For example, wait at least 12 hours after shaving to apply (to avoid dark spots in hair follicles) and don’t use on skin with active eczema.

Be patient. Self-tanners can take 30-60 minutes to produce visible color on the skin, and this color typically lasts about five days.

Follow the package directions closely. For example, wait at least 12 hours after shaving to apply (to avoid dark spots in hair follicles) and don’t use on skin with active eczema.

Be patient. Self-tanners can take 30-60 minutes to produce visible color on the skin, and this color typically lasts about five days.

Repeat as necessary. Generally, the product should be reapplied daily for two to three days, until the desired shade is achieved. Then, reapply about three times a week to maintain the shade.

Go to a pro. Professional spray tans are an option for those who want to safely achieve a bronzed look in a hurry. Many salons provide automated application of high concentration, no-rub, aerosolized non-UV tanning products, while others provide a customized airbrush tan. When receiving a professional spray tan, wear protective gear for the mouth, eyes and nose to prevent ingestion or inhalation.

Don’t rely on sunless tanners for sun protection. Even if your self-tanner contains sunscreen, reapply a separate broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every two hours when spending time outdoors. Note that sunscreen is not the only form of sun protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended following a complete sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade and covering up with clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, in addition to daily sunscreen use.

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Social Security questions and answers

 

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Question: I’ve only been working for a few years, and I’m wondering how I earn Social Security benefits. What are credits and how many do I need to qualify for benefits?

Answer: We use your total yearly earnings to calculate your Social Security credits. “Credits” are the units we use to measure whether you qualify for Social Security benefits. The amount needed for a credit in 2015 is $1,220. You can earn a maximum of four credits for any year. The amount needed to earn one credit increases automatically each year when average wages increase.

You must earn a certain number of credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefit for which you are applying. No one needs more than 40 credits for any Social Security benefit. You can learn more about earning credits by reading How You Earn Credits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Question: I’m planning my retirement. What is the maximum Social Security benefit I might receive?

Answer: The maximum benefit depends on the age you retire and how much you earned in your lifetime. For example, if you retire at age 62 in 2015, your maximum benefit will be $2,025. If you retire at full retirement age in 2015, your maximum benefit will be $2,663. If you retire at age 70 in 2015, your maximum benefit will be $3,501. You can estimate your benefits by using our Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Question: I’m retired, and the only income I have aside from my Social Security retirement benefit is from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Are my IRA withdrawals considered “earnings?” Could they reduce my monthly Social Security benefits?

Answer: No. We do not count non-work income, such as annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains, and other government benefits, and they will not affect your Social Security benefits. Most pensions will not affect your benefits. However, your benefit may be affected by a government pension from work on which you did not pay Social Security tax. If you have wages or self-employment income and you are under your full retirement age, this income may affect your benefit amount. For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us toll free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

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New hope for kids battling kidney disease

 

Researchers are optimistic that new study pinpointing some of the reasons kidney disease progresses to kidney failure in children could eventually keep many kids off dialysis and transplant lists. Photo credit: Irvin Calicut/Wikimedia Commons.

Researchers are optimistic that new study pinpointing some of the reasons kidney disease progresses to kidney failure in children could eventually keep many kids off dialysis and transplant lists. Photo credit: Irvin Calicut/Wikimedia Commons.

By Mona Shand, Michigan News Connection

New hope is on the horizon for children suffering from chronic kidney disease, thanks to the results of a study that, for the first time, identifies some of the factors that can lead to kidney failure.

Dr. Bradley Warady was the co-principal investigator on the study, which looked at nearly 500 children with chronic kidney disease over 10 years.

Warady says many people don’t realize that kidney disease can have a profound effect on a child’s growth and development.

“Not only can you develop an inability to remove waste products and fluids, but you may be very short, you may have poor nutrition, you may have poor growth,” he explains. “So it impacts the global development of the child.”

Warady adds the risk factors investigators uncovered, including high blood pressure anemia, and protein loss, are treatable, and the hope is that addressing those issues will keep kidney disease from progressing so that children can avoid having to go through dialysis or even transplants.

Warady points out chronic kidney disease is not as common in children as it is in adults, but it can be much more challenging to treat.

He says the good news is that many of the underlying issues investigators uncovered can be successfully managed.

“If we can do that, maybe, I can’t say for sure yet, but maybe we have a chance of altering the progression or the worsening of chronic kidney disease,” he says.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, is published in National Kidney Foundation’s American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

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Lynch Syndrome hereditary cancer awareness week

 

From the Michigan Dept. of Community Health

For the first time, the entire week of March 22-28, 2015 has been proclaimed Lynch Syndrome Hereditary Cancer Awareness Week by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) to promote the importance of Lynch Syndrome (LS) screening for newly-diagnosed colorectal cancer patients and their families.

Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), is an inherited disorder associated with higher risks of developing colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, pancreatic, and other types of cancer. Approximately 1 in every 35 colorectal cancer patients has LS. First-degree relatives of LS patients have a 50 percent risk of having the condition as well.

The efforts to increase LS awareness in Michigan are supported by a newly-awarded cooperative agreement between MDCH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The five-year project expands existing state resources to advance partnerships, work with policymakers, and educate health providers and the public about LS and genetic screening, with the ultimate goal of reducing overall cancer death rates in the state.

“Lynch Syndrome Hereditary Cancer Awareness Week launches our efforts to put needed focus on hereditary cancers caused by this condition,” said Matthew Davis, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive. “One of the Healthy People 2020 genomics objectives is to increase the number of newly-diagnosed colorectal cancer patients who receive genetic counseling and evaluation for LS. Our state is already at the forefront of cancer genomics in public health, and the new agreement with the CDC helps us expand the scope of our work to achieve this goal.”

Genetic testing for LS helps determine whether a patient’s colorectal cancer is inherited and whether family members have a higher risk of developing LS-associated cancers. Having this knowledge is the first step in early intervention and cancer prevention measures that could protect the health of at-risk relatives.

“My mom had both uterine and colon cancer when she was 54; she is now 79. Thirteen of her family members died of cancer, most of which were Lynch syndrome-related,” said Sherry Berry, a Lynch Syndrome cancer survivor and advocate. “About five years ago, when I was 48, I was found to have colon cancer. My doctor asked if I wanted genetic testing, and I was found to have Lynch syndrome. If I had known I had LS earlier, my stage 3 colon cancer could have been prevented. Maybe I wouldn’t have needed chemo and wouldn’t have had complications that led to a forced retirement. If my mom’s relatives had known about LS earlier, maybe more would be alive today.”

Based on national evidence-based recommendations, LS screening should be considered for Michigan patients who are newly-diagnosed with colorectal cancer, for the benefit of family members. In addition, Michigan residents are encouraged to discuss their family health history with their healthcare providers to assess if they are at risk for hereditary cancer conditions such as Lynch syndrome.

“Know your family history and make sure your doctor knows your family history. It is of vital importance that doctors act now on critical family history information by considering referral to cancer genetic services,” added Berry. “This action can save lives! If cancer runs heavily in your family, be sure to tell your doctor and consider genetic counseling and testing.”

For more information about Lynch syndrome or hereditary cancer, visit http://www.cdc.gov/Features/LynchSyndrome or www.lynchcancers.org.

The MCGA maintains a list of Michigan clinics that provide cancer genetic counseling and test coordination. To see the directory, visit https://migrc.org/Library/MCGA/MCGADirectory.html.

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Hospice cat therapy

Amy Hansen with her pet cat, Cricket. Courtesy photo.

Amy Hansen with her pet cat, Cricket. Courtesy photo.

A Greenville woman is using her cat to bring comfort to those facing the end of life.

Amy Hansen, of Greenville, recently brought her therapy cat, Cricket, to a local nursing home. She was immediately greeted by a resident who was excited to pet Cricket and share stories of her own cats. The woman told Hansen about the habits her cats had, the color of their fur, and other details, all while petting and snuggling Cricket. When the resident finally walked away, the facility director told Hansen that was the first time the woman had spoken in weeks.

The health benefit of therapy pets includes boosting ones immune system, decreasing feelings of anxiety, and increasing verbal and non-verbal communication. Knowing this, Hospice of Michigan seeks out therapy pet volunteers to help provide comfort and companionship to patients.

Hansen, who has volunteered with HOM for more than a year, is well versed in therapy pets. Several years ago, when her grandmother was living in an assisted living facility, Hansen trained two of her dogs to be therapy pets so they could visit with her grandmother.

“I immediately noticed the joy my pets brought to my grandmother and the other residents,” Hansen explained. “Things can become very routine in a nursing home or assisted living facility and when a therapy pet visits, breaking up that routine, the residents and staff really respond.”

When Hansen attended an HOM volunteer meeting last year and learned there was a need for therapy animals, she knew she wanted to help. Hansen knew that training a dog for a therapy pet would be a big undertaking and she wondered if she could train her cat. After some research, Hansen found Love on a Leash®, which provides certification procedures for therapy pets, including not only dogs, but also cats and rabbits, who have shown that they have the proper temperament to work with people.

Hansen immediately began the certification process, which involved having a veterinarian verify that Cricket was up-to-date on vaccines, was house trained, could travel in a car, wear a harness and had a good temperament with people. After a few supervised visits at a local nursing home, Cricket was certified and became a registered pet therapy animal.

“People typically don’t think of cats as pet therapy animals,” Hansen explained. But once I started looking into it, I realized this has become very popular and is happening all over the world.””

Cricket has one-on-one visits with hospice patients in facilities and private homes. He also makes a weekly community visit to a local assisted living facility. Hansen and Cricket regularly travel beyond Greenville, making stops in Howard City, Lakeview, Rockford and Grand Rapids.

As a HOM volunteer, Hansen has gone through HOM training courses that help her know how to talk with patients and make them feel comfortable, something that can be challenging. Hansen notes that Cricket has made this process easier for her and the patients she visits with.

“There can be a lot of sadness and stress in hospice care, not just for the patient, but for the family and facility staff,” said Hansen. “Cricket can help relieve that stress and bring out feelings of happiness, which allows patients to open up to me and start a conversation. With Cricket’s help, I get a lot of stories and smiles.”

If you would like to learn more about Hospice of Michigan, call 1-888-247-5701or visit www.hom.org.

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Parents: spring chicks may carry Salmonella

 

From the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture

Health officials at the Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Community Health (MDCH) are warning parents that baby poultry may carry Salmonella, a common bacteria found in the droppings of poultry, which can cause illness in people.
“Raising birds can be a great experience, but children need to be supervised and wash their hands after handling chicks and other poultry,” said MDARD State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill. “Even birds appearing healthy can carry bacteria which can make people sick.”

“Live poultry, especially baby poultry, can carry Salmonella germs, so it’s important to not keep them in the house and to wash your hands immediately after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live or roam,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, MDCH Chief Medical Executive. “Treating poultry like you would a pet increases the risk for Salmonella infection in a household.”

Salmonella can make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting 4-7 days or more.

People should always assume baby chicks carry Salmonella and should follow these recommendations to protect themselves and others:
1. Children younger than five-years-of-age, older adults, or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry because they are more likely to become severely ill.

2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.

3. Use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

4. Chicks should have a heat lamp and should be kept in a barn or garage, in a draft-free cage that keeps predators out.

5. Always keep poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.

6. Do not kiss the chicks

7. Do not touch your mouth, smoke, eat, or drink after handling live poultry.

8. Clean all equipment such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house.

For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellababybirds/

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Pine Rest Offers A Substance Use Disorder Family Recovery Group

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (March 5, 2015) – Pine Rest is offers a family recovery group led by certified advanced alcohol and drug counselors Pamela Huffman and Stacey Williamson-Nichols for those with a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder.

To attend the group people must attend a required orientation, which is held weekly on Tuesdays at the Pine Rest campus Retreat Center at 5 p.m. The group sessions are held every Tuesday from 5:30-7 p.m. and one topic per session is taught over a 10-week period.

Besides developing an understanding of addiction, participants will learn ways to cope, set appropriate boundaries, build self-esteem and assertiveness skills. The recovery group places an emphasis on the family or support person of an individual struggling with substance use. The goal is to keep the people supporting their loved one healthy and knowledgeable.

The Family Recovery Group is open to the public for a fee of $30 per session, and free of charge to family members who have a loved one participating in Pine Rest’s residential detox and the Retreat Center services at Pine Rest. Orientation is free for everyone. The Pine Rest Retreat Center address is 300 68th Street SE, Grand Rapids. To register, please call 616/258-7467.

 

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