June: It’s a Guy’s Month

16 06 2011

Hey, men! It’s your week AND your month.

June is Men’s Health Month , and June 13 through 19 is Men’s Health Week.

What’s the point? Preventive medicine. Take care of yourself before you become unhealthy. Or, if you’ve already started down the path to poor health, do what you can to reverse that process.

The organizers of the Men’s Health Month and Men’s Health Week have tagged it with the line, “Awareness. Prevention. Education. Family.” Every single one of those terms applies to you, men. Here’s why:

  • Take the top 10 causes of death. Men die at higher rates from these causes than women. The top causes of death are heart disease, cancer, injuries, stroke, HIV/AIDS, and suicide. For every 162 women who die of heart disease, 249 men die of it. For every 2 or 3 women who commit suicide, about 10 men take their own lives. In keeping with that statistic, depression in men often goes undiagnosed.
  • In 1920, men and women lived about the same life spans. Now, women outlive men by an average of six years.
  • Men don’t go to doctors enough for well checks. Women are 100% more likely to go in for annual exams and preventive services than men.

How aware are you of what you need to do for preventive healthcare, not only for your own health but out of consideration for your family? Below is a short list to consider. For more information, find the complete list and other information at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

  • Age 18 and onward: Regular screenings throughout adulthood for depression, blood pressure, and diabetes (if blood pressure is high). High blood pressure is a silent, serious, and chronic problem that can cause stroke, heart attack, and kidney and heart failure.
  • Age 35 or older: Get screened for cholesterol levels. Do it even earlier, at age 20 and older, if you smoke or dip tobacco, are obese, have diabetes or high blood pressure, have a personal history of heart or arterial disease, or a family history of early heart attacks.
  • Age 50: Get colorectal cancer screening. It’s so easy. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, your screening may need to be earlier than age 50. For example, I had my screening at age 38, partly because of symptoms. Because my doctor found and removed a large precancerous polyp, my first-degree relatives should all have their screening much earlier than age 50. My doctor told me that if I hadn’t had the colonoscopy done, I’d’ve been dead in five years. In other words, I wouldn’t have been alive to write this. Don’t be stupid. Get the screening.
  • Age 65-75: If you’ve ever been a smoker, look into getting screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm. The aorta is the largest artery in your body, and an aneurysm is a bulge in this artery. If it bursts, bleeding and death are a frequent outcome.

Think you can’t afford to take care of yourself? Use this search tool to find affordable or even free preventive healthcare in your area. June may be Men’s Health Awareness month, but you should be practicing awareness and prevention and educating yourself every day of your life, not only for you but also for your family. They need you around, healthy and alive, as long as possible.

By: Emily Willingham





Medicine: Modern v. Ancient

18 11 2010

As the number of Americans with no health insurance soars and more people use the emergency room as a primary care clinic, it is no wonder many Americans have the jitters about healthcare.

With all the news coverage and grim forecasts, it’s easy to forget that many aspects of modern medicine are dramatically superior to days of yore.

Take Arcagathus for example: the first doctor in Rome, he was widely admired until word got around that his use of knives and cautery was more likely to bury the patient than heal him.  Thereafter, he was known as the “Executioner.”

Nowadays, we can be grateful that physicians have to go to school and learn all sorts of ways not to harm a patient before they’re allowed near one.

Modern medicine may be expensive and over-prescribed, but as a rule it doesn’t contain heroin.

In the late 1800s, Bayer added heroin to their cough suppressant for kids, and boy did it work.  But after a few years, people noticed the hospitals were filling up with addicts.  They still weren’t coughing, but what a trade-off!  By the early 1900s, Bayer pulled the drug.

On the upside, and at about the same time, Bayer brought aspirin to us, and where would we be without it?

Reports from two centuries ago of experimental treatments by the surgeons of the Royal Navy provide additional perspective on today’s healthcare woes: One pneumonia patient had pints of blood removed in an effort to cure him—it was called bloodletting. He still managed to expire, confounding his surgeon.  Another Royal Navy favorite was “tepid salt water baths.” Surprisingly, there were never any survivors of this therapy.  One poor sod who fell overboard and nearly drowned had tobacco smoke blown on him as a cure.  He did survive, but ended up hospitalized for pneumonia.

In ancient Mesopotamiaa sorcerer would be called in to determine which god caused what illness in a patient. Having identified the god, the sorcerer would attempt to send it away with charms and spells.  We do not have accurate records as to the success rate of this treatment.

The Egyptians believed mightily in the practice of medicine and left copious notes on papyrus for following generations.  Dr. Bob Brier shared some of their cures in his book, Ancient Egyptian Magic. After reading a bit, our mood elevated, our perspective shifted, and we decided to just shut up and soldier on, happy with the modern medicine we have.

In case you’re curious about what was written on some of that papyrus, read on, but do not try this at home:

Cure for Indigestion

  • Crush a hog’s tooth and put it inside of four sugar cakes. Eat for four days.

Cure for Burns

  • Create a mixture of milk of a woman who has borne a male child, gum, and ram’s hair. While administering this mixture say:

Thy son Horus is burnt in the desert. Is there any water there? There is no water. I have water in my mouth and a Nile between my thighs. I have come to extinguish the fire.

Cure for Lesions of the Skin

  • After the scab has fallen off put on it: Scribe’s excrement. Mix in fresh milk and apply as a poultice.

Cure for Cataracts

  • Mix brain-of-tortoise with honey. Place on the eye and say:

There is a shouting in the southern sky in darkness, There is an uproar in the northern sky, The Hall of Pillars falls into the waters. The crew of the sun god bent their oars so that the heads at his side fall into the water, Who leads hither what he finds? I lead forth what I find. I lead forth your heads. I lift up your necks. I fasten what has been cut from you in its place. I lead you forth to drive away the god of Fevers and all possible deadly arts.

Modern healthcare certainly has its problems, but at least today’s patients are free of spells, tobacco smoke and bloodletting. Is that better than a 4-hour ER visit? You be the judge.





Got a Cold? Smell a Skunk!

18 10 2010

There’s no cure for the common cold, so the best we can do is find a way to feel better until the virus is gone.

Do you have home remedies that soothe the sick and unstuff the stuffy?  Send them in and we’ll post them!

In the meantime, there are the tricks we all know, like getting lots of rest and putting an extra pillow beneath our head if we’re congested, drinking fluids, and gargling with honey and lemon or warm salt water.

And, there’s every mom’s favorite—chicken soupDr. Stephen Rennard  of the University of Nebraska Medical Center took the in-laws’ chicken soup recipe into his lab and found it actually slowed cold symptoms!

After the tried-and-true tricks, there’s the tried-and-blech, which we may not be so quick to attempt.

A couple of gems gathered by Nurse Peggy Fisher from Glasgow, West Virginia are:

  • Tie a big red onion to the bedpost and it keeps the ones in the bed from having colds.
  • A dirty sock worn around your neck when you go to bed will cure a sore throat. (Peggy says: My grandmother had a dog that had tonsillitis, and she did the above and the dog got well.)

UCLA’s Online Archive of American Folk Medicine is a repository of their years of research spent gathering and recording  folk lore and medicine, providing us with more than 1,000 recipes to ease, prevent or “cure” the common cold, such as:

  • For colds, put mutton suet or tallow on the bottom of the feet, place the feet toward the fire and bake.
  • For colds and other respiratory troubles, use spirits of turpentine; or rub tallow on chest or plaster it on chest.
  • A flannel cloth moistened or soaked in melted beeswax, a small amount of lard, and two or three drops of turpentine will relieve the soreness in a child’s throat and chest caused by coughing.
  • A favorite “bitters” of the Botanics was bruised lobelia and red pepper pods covered with good whiskey, good for cholera infantum, “yaller janders,” phthisic, croup, whooping cough, colds, coughs, and catarrh.
  • Breathing the odor of skunk is effective against colds.
  • Sip turpentine and sugar for colds.
  • In Sussex, the most petted cat is turned at once out of doors if she sneezes, for should she stay and sneeze three times in the house everybody within its walls will have colds and coughs.
  • For colds: boil and inhale vinegar, burn sulphur in the house, ginger tea, peppermint tea, mustard plasters, turpentine on a sugar lump.

So there you have it. Keep this handy in case you get sick and, need we say? Check with your provider before trying any medicine, folk or otherwise, for your cold!





Medical Info on the Internet. Reliable?

14 06 2010

When we or our loved ones are diagnosed with a condition, many of us turn to the Internet for information.

Last year, 61 % of Americans used the Internet to research health topics.

The question is, how do we know if the medical information we find online is worth the time spent looking it up?

The National Library of Medicine has a 16 minute tutorial in both English and Spanish that helps users distinguish between reputable sites and those that may not be credible.

When faced with a potentially catastrophic diagnosis, we want to believe the hopeful sites that promise a cure, no matter who the authors may be, but we’re better served in the end by paying attention to details that tell us if a website is trustworthy.

Following are some things to note when determining a site’s credibility:

  • Who sponsors the website and are they easy to identify?
  • Is the sponsor’s contact information easy to find?
  • Who are the sites’ authors?
  • Who reviews the text?
  • Is it easy to determine when something was written?
  • Is there a privacy policy?
  • Does the information sound too good to be true?

The Internet can provide real assistance to us as we work to become team members in our own health care.

One benefit to having access to new technology is we can arrive at our doctor’s office better prepared for the visit. Given that doctor/patient visits last on average only eight to10 minutes, this is good news.

The more we understand walking in the door, the more time we’ll have to get the information that only comes from our healthcare professionals.

Bottom line is, we shouldn’t believe everything we read on the Internet, but if we become discerning in our online research, we’ll be more effective health advocates for ourselves and those we love.

Share





Freaky Friday #4

2 04 2010

We cannot guarantee the following bits of weird news are true, but we almost did our best to find out!  Enjoy.

Photo courtesy of Mastababa

Fear makes the earwax flow, although scientists aren’t sure why. Earwax, yucky and disgusting as it is, stops germs from setting up camp in those lovely, damp, warm holes we call ear canals.

This just in: Neptune eats planet, kidnaps (moonnaps?) moon. That’s all we have to say on that.

Have you seen the latest film version of Alice in Wonderland? Turns out Alice isn’t the only one dropping down a rabbit hole. Sufferers of “Alice in Wonderland syndrome” often see objects and distances as larger or smaller than they normally appear, creating a sort of “funhouse” vision of the world. Lewis Carroll was said to be a sufferer.

The old-timers called them homunculus, or little men. Benign tumors bristling with hair, bits of teeth, skin, sweat glands…sometimes even eyeballs or hands.  No, not undeveloped fetuses, just (gag) debris that may develop into a growth in men or women.

Gross gas facts: (Hey, you knew we had to go there at some point.):

  • A deceased person will still fart shortly after death.
  • They actually make special underwear for people who pass gas a lot. They are called Fartypants. (We think this one is a joke, but check out GasBGon pants)
  • Termites have the smelliest farts. These creatures’ farts are believed to be a major contributor toward global warming.

Why do we do it? It’s Friday! Send in your wacky fact with a link and if we can almost say it’s true, we’ll post it.

Share