January 19, 2017

COPD: What is the Danger of Breathing Troubles?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of progressive lung diseases that cause trouble breathing. According to the COPD foundation, nearly 30 million people are affected with this disease in the United States. Many do not realize that they may suffer from this condition because early symptoms usually include coughing and breathlessness, which is easy to mistake for a normal part of aging.

This disease is better understood when one learns the process in which the human body exchanges oxygen between the lungs and blood. This process begins when the inhaled air travels through the bronchial tubes (airways). Next it makes its way through the bronchioles– branches of the bronchial tubes– into the alveoli, which are sacs surrounded by blood capillaries. When the air reaches the alveoli the capillaries of the pulmonary arteries absorb the oxygen and the excess carbon dioxide and extraneous gasses are exhaled. The alveoli are elastic organs which allows them to inflate and deflate as air is breathed in and out.

One of the most common reasons for why people develop COPD in older age is the loss of elasticity in the alveoli. Additionally, the swelling of airways and excretion of mucus can also indicate developing COPD. A tightness in the chest and frequent colds or infections are symptoms which indicate the development of this disease. It is important that a person over the age of 65 is aware of this disease because many of the symptoms may be mistaken for a less severe illness. The course of treatment will be better optimized if there is an early diagnosis of COPD.

Sources:

COPD vs. Emphysema: What’s the difference? Fletcher, Judith. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314803.php

What is COPD? COPD Foundation. Retrieved from: http://www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/Understanding-COPD/What-is-COPD.aspx

COPD Overview. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/copd/home/ovc-20204882

January 4, 2017

New Drug Promises Relief for Uveitis Patients

Filed under: health — Tags: , , , , , , , — jpestano @ 6:55 pm

7137093023_2365c21798_zUveitis is known to be a very painful condition that causes severe inflammation in the middle layer of the eyeball. There are many conventional treatments for this disease, beginning with an action as simple as using anti-inflammation eye drops to performing eye surgery in very extreme cases.

In June of 2016, an immune-suppressing drug, Humiria, has received approval to treat uveitis. This drug has been known to provide relief from the burning sensation as a result of inflammation. Although it does not cure uveitis, it is a great relief to many people who experience this condition [1]. According to the lead researcher, Dr. Glen Jaffe, this is the first drug to relieve symptoms of uveitis in FDA history that does not contain steroids [1]. In addition, this drug is able to block the proteins that are the primary cause of the inflammation caused in the eye.

Although the drug does not work towards the treatment of the condition it allows the patient to have some relief when curing the condition with additional medication.

[1] Immune-Based Drug May Ease Chronic Eye Condition. Reinberg, Steven. Health Day. Retrieved From: https://consumer.healthday.com/eye-care-information-13/eye-and-vision-problem-news-295/immune-suppressing-drug-eases-eye-inflammation-condition-714654.html

December 21, 2016

Things You Need to Know About Acupuncture

Filed under: health — Tags: , , , , , , , , — jpestano @ 5:35 pm

acupuncture-1211182_960_720Typical treatments for pain can include a variety of medications or alternative therapies such as massage or physiotherapy. Acupuncture, which is a traditional Chinese therapy, has gained popularity in North America over the past few years. This therapy is based off of traditional Chinese philosophy and uses a unique approach – needles – to cure conditions related to the digestive, endocrine, immune and cardiovascular systems [1].

The core of this philosophy is based on energy being stimulated in the human body. Traditional Chinese medicine specialists believed that there is a continuous flow of energy in the body and if it was stopped it would result in complications in the above mentioned body systems. They intended to treat this by stimulating certain parts of the body with very fine sterile needles. The more specific procedure of what occurs during a typical session of acupuncture therapy is as follows:

  • The session should begin by the therapist examining the patient’s health history. Similar to any other type of treatment, it is vital that the professional knows about any conditions or interactions that may complicate the process.
  • Next the therapist may examine different attributes of the tongue for shape, color, and coating. This is due to the fact that traditional Chinese medication outlines certain parts of the body as acupoints, which are the best points to stimulate with needles.
  • Next the therapist evaluates the primal acupoints and notifies the patient when each point will be stimulated.

It is important to remember that the results of this treatment are highly relative and may vary person to person [2]. This is due to the variance in relief each person feels. Since it is hard to definitively determine the results of the treatment, it is a wise idea to consult people or read testimonials.

[1] How acupuncture can relieve pain and improve sleep, digestion and emotional well-being. UC San Diego: Center for Integrative Medicine. Retrieved from: http://cim.ucsd.edu/clinical-care/acupuncture.shtml

[2] Acupuncture. Medicine Net. Retrieved from: http://www.medicinenet.com/acupuncture/article.htm

December 7, 2016

What You Need To Know About Multiple Sclerosis

Orange Multiple Sclerosis ribbon painted on face

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in the central nervous system of the human body. The disease causes an inflammation in the protective covering of the nerves, called myelin, and often causes permanent damage to this covering. The myelin sheath is what transmits nerve impulses through nerve fibers. If damaged, the ability for nerves to signal to each other may be compromised and cause irreversible disability.

Although researchers have spent many decades researching this condition, they have not been able to discover a concrete cause for this disease. As of now, there is still research that is being done in order to determine the lifestyle, environmental, genetic and biological factors that contribute to this complication. Studies have shown that MS is more common in women (3 times more likely) and of people with a northern European background. It is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15-40.

Furthermore, this disease can be classified into different types divided by patient experience. For instance, relapsing remitting MS, is the type of MS where patients face the inflammation in episodes of varied length (usually from a few days to a few months) followed by periods of recovery, where many symptoms return. This is the most common form of MS, affecting 85% of patients. Progressive MS is when the symptoms continually increase in magnitude and result in permanent loss of functions.

There is no proven cure for MS. However, there are many forms of treatment that are being researched and deliberated each day. Research is concentrated on the viability of potential therapies, improving imaging technology to understand the brain better, and learning more about cause and risk factors.

Sources:

What is MS? Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Retrieved from: https://mssociety.ca/about-ms/what-is-ms

November 21, 2016

Why Does the Color of Medicine Matter?

Filed under: color,health — Tags: , , , — jpestano @ 10:04 pm

Colors

The practice of color coding has an impact on a patient’s psychology. Patients tend to associate the color and shape of a pill with the healing effects of the medication.

It is common for humans to form judgments based on color. Even though it makes no logical sense, the accumulation of experiences and emotions often dictate how people interact with the uses of a product.  For example, yellow is usually associated with optimism or happiness, so brands like McDonalds or SunRype capitalize on this perception. This psychological effect also carries over to the process of self-administrating drugs. Whether it is chewing a tablet, swallowing a pill or drinking a liquid, the color of the substance becomes a significant reminder of the sensory experience that corresponds to ingesting that drug.

This phenomenon is well-known in color psychology. Your brain attributes a level of trust when taking a medication that is a pleasing color. It causes you to think that this medication is suited to your desired function and triggers a sensory reminder when you see a different pill.

For instance, many children’s medication are made in pink and  purposely sweetened. The positive association with the taste of pink medication usually makes it easier for a person to ingest other pink products such as pills. On the other hand, red tablets tend to be associated with a bitter taste.

November 8, 2016

What are Reliable Tests for Ovarian Cancer?

Filed under: health,ovarian cancer — Tags: , , , , — jpestano @ 8:46 pm

The human body is entirely made up of cells. These cells grow and divide at a steady rate as the body develops. However, the DNA that makes up these cells gets damaged or changed, resulting in a DNA mutation. A possible outcome of these mutations is that the cells cause growth in an area that body does not require it. This extra tissue developed by the cells is called a tumor.

Furthermore, when these cells continue to divide and cannot be controlled by the body, they are classified as a cancer. Cancer in the ovaries begins as a cyst, which is a collection of fluid, found inside of the ovary. There are two kinds of cysts that are found inside the ovary: benign and malignant. Benign cysts are a natural process and are often found at some stages of the female’s lifetime (usually during the egg release). However, if the cysts is made of malignant, cancerous cells, there is a risk that it may spread throughout the body.

Although there are many screening tests being developed, there is an absence of reliable tests that can promise effective results. Medical professionals use pelvic exams, ultrasounds and advanced blood tests to determine if the patient has Ovarian cancer or not. These tests are usually performed when a person exhibits difficulty eating, bloating, pain in the pelvic or abdominal areas and the urgency or frequency of urinating [1]. Early ovarian cancer often cause no symptoms and if they do, these symptoms are normally caused by something else [2]. Most of the time, there are no observable symptoms of ovarian cancer until it is more advanced.

[1] Detection. Ovarian Cancer Canada. Retrieved From: http://www.ovariancanada.org/about-ovarian-cancer/detection

[2] Can ovarian cancer be found early? American Cancer Society. Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/ovarian-cancer-detection

 

 

October 26, 2016

Why EpiPen Prices Are On The Rise

6871650865_003c319230_zAn EpiPen is a vital piece of equipment for people who can suffer from severe allergic reactions. Food allergens, medication and insect stings or bites are all examples of factors that could trigger anaphylaxis. This is a life threatening allergic reaction that occurs within minutes of being exposed to an allergen. Common symptoms of this condition include severe itching, hives, and swelling of the tongue, mouth and eyes. Furthermore, the condition also effects the person’s ability to breathe. When exposed to the allergen, the airway is affected. The throat and chest tightened, which makes it very difficult to breathe.

An EpiPen contains a small dose of the hormone adrenaline. This hormone is essential for giving the body the strength and motivation it needs to fight the severe reactions of Anaphylactic shock. The EpiPen functions to do so by increasing your blood pressure and reducing the smooth muscles in the lungs to ease your body into breathing at a healthy rate again.

However, this vitally important form of medication has become very expensive over the past decade. The price has been controlled by Mylan, a for-profit pharmaceutical company that owns the official rights to market and sell the EpiPen since 2007. Since then, it has been observed that “the company has driven up the price from about $60 to more than $600 in a series of 17 price increases” [1].

The medicine that actually puts a stop to the allergic reaction is very cheap; the EpiPen’s unique, consistent delivery system is what makes Mylan’s product so special. But consumers detest the fact that Mylan profits so richly from this product when the main demographics are schools and families with small children – people who struggle to afford the drug.

Due to the vast amount of public attention in the last month, Mylan has been repeatedly accused of unreasonably increasing the prices of a lifesaving medication.

[1] Mylan agrees to give EpiPen Documents to Congress. Jackie Wattles. CNN Money. Retrieved From: http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/12/news/companies/epipen-mylan-house-committee/

Image taken by Greg Friese. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/gfriese/6871650865/in/photolist-bte1cM-bte1p4-bte2u6-o8gRVJ-7AqPWo-6QFmx1-bte1Gx-bte1ya-bte11z-bte1Te-btdZG2-btdZRg-bte1Zv-bte2ar-bte2kc-bte2Tx-bte2Ex-bF1Rjy-66E1BU-3zenu6-6KbHA2-6KfTaw-52LsYe-52QGA1-9xGkFj-tv7u4-Mdn5ps-Mdn4LU-Mdn4aJ-MueVgs-48Q8m

October 7, 2016

Why Drug Prices Need to be at the Next Debate for Presidential Candidates

election_map_usa_tick_TXTWith the second presidential debate almost upon us, it’s time to consider the topics that will be posed to the presidential candidates. The second debate follows the format of a town hall meeting and some of the questions will be taken from an online debate question list curated and voted on by the American public.

A group of patient advocates that represents the right of Americans to import prescription drugs is asking for support to raise the important issue of affordable medication to the candidates. This group includes the Campaign for Personal Prescription ImportationPharmacyChecker.comPrescription Justice Action Group,RxRights.org, and the publisher of TodaysSeniorsNetwork that currently represents over 4 million Americans. However the issues affect a much larger population, as 35 million Americans do not adhere to their prescription schedules due to the cost of their medication.

A poll by Kaiser Health revealed that voters care about a variety of health issues, including 51% stating that a candidate’s plan to address the cost of prescription drug prices has the ability to affect their vote. The poll also shows that voters tend to prioritize the candidate’s personal characteristics over their stance on prescription drug prices, nevertheless their plans are still important. The poll indicates that 58% of Clinton supporters places a high importance on the candidate’s plan to address prescription drug prices.

The advocacy groups are asking Americans to support the issue of prescription drug prices by voting on this important question on the Open Debate Coalition Forum. This is a chance to bring the issue of personal importation of medication to the forefront on a national stage.

 

September 27, 2016

6 Things to Know About Prescription Medication

young pharmacist suggesting medical drug to buyer in pharmacy drugstorePrescription medications are usually required when one cannot treat an illness with over the counter medication. Prescription medications are prescribed by a patient’s doctor and their use is highly specific according to the patient. A prescription contains precise details in regards to dosage and instructions due to the danger of misusing the drugs. Here are some tips for you when going to the pharmacy to get your prescriptions filled:

  • Mornings are the best time to get prescriptions filled.

You will save time if you get your prescription filled in the morning because pharmacies are generally less busy earlier in the day. Pharmacists will have more time to counsel you on how to properly take medication during less hectic hours.

  • Ensure you know your medical history and it is accurate.

This is a vital step because both your pharmacist and your family physician should have access to accurate medical information to provide you with medication that is safe for you.

  • Double check that the medication you receive corresponds to the original prescription.

It may be hard to read a doctor’s handwritten prescription, so it is advisable to make sure that the medication you are receiving matches the original prescription your doctor wrote.

  • Take safety precautions if there are children in your household.

Keep medication out of reach of your children at all times. Pharmacies also offer child-resistant lids to fend off curious children.

  • Make sure you are getting the right dosage.

Ensure that you receive the appropriate measuring equipment, especially when receiving a liquid medication. It is not advisable that you rely on the volume of your teaspoon at home or estimating the amount of medication you need.

  • Ask about how to store your medication safely.

Find out how your medication is to be stored. Leaving it in a bathroom cabinet is a common habit, but unsafe in most cases. This is due to the increased humidity and heat in the bathroom, which has a tendency to break down the ingredients in medication.

September 13, 2016

Why is Precision Medicine the Next Frontier?

Filed under: health,heart conditions — Tags: , , , , — jpestano @ 7:52 pm

Doctor and patient precision medicationThe idea of precision medicine is based on the fact that certain conditions, such as heart disease or cancer, do not behave the same way in everyone. Each patient’s body composition will vary and the ways a disease effects them will vary as well. The central idea behind precision medicine is to research these distinguishing effects.

Genetic makeup and environmental factors can affect your health, as well as the symptoms and treatments when you get sick. Thus, individual cases of the same condition may be treated in different ways.

It is becoming clearer that a single treatment option is not always suitable for a patient. For example, a treatment that shrinks one person’s tumor or ease one person’s arthritis symptoms may not have the same effect on another person. Precision medicine has an ideal image of the medical practice. “Picture this: You get detailed tests that can gauge how your arthritis or cancer differs from someone else’s. Then you get a treatment that’s tailored to you, rather than to anyone else” [1].

This phenomenon is precisely what precision medicines are all about; “matching the right drugs to the right people” [1]. While this idea is gaining popularity, it is not yet possible for many conditions or diseases. The field needs more research and testing, but there are promising concepts that may affect the medical field. Family physicians use standardized drugs to treat most conditions because it is the accepted method. Precision medicine aims to change that.

[1] Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/cancer/breakthrough-research-16/precision-medicine

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