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CoronaVirus guest blogs health Healthcare

From Clinical Trials to Pharmacies: How Supply Chains Affect Healthcare Advancements

On the surface, supply chain management might not seem like it plays such a crucial role in the healthcare industry’s ability to improve people’s lives but distributing medicine to those who need it is impossible without efficient shipping logistics.

From Clinical Trials to Pharmacies: How Supply Chains Affect Healthcare Advancements

And with the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines projected to be available for public use in the months ahead, supply chains are under renewed focus. As amazing as the work has been to create and verify a viable vaccine, that’s only one aspect of the work involved. “It’s just incredible. I think the vaccine supply chain is one of the most mind-bogglingly complex supply chains ever built,” Johns Hopkins University’s Tinglong Dai, an operations management professor who specializes in healthcare data, recently told USA Today.

Each vaccine candidate requires different storage requirements, and this adds complexity to the delivery process. Here are the solutions that supply chains will be used to meet these demands.

Cold Chain Monitoring to Deliver Medicines and Vaccines

Cold chain management is the process of maintaining the quality of perishable supplies. Examples of perishable products include food, sensitive industrial equipment, and medicines. In the medical supply chain, cold chain tech is indispensable, since certain drugs are ineffective if not stored properly. For example, insulin needs to be stored between 36F and 46F to remain effective.

There are different tools that companies use to implement and supervise the cold chain delivery process. The largest of these are freight vehicles carrying refrigerated containers. Companies can lease these containers fully from transportation firms, or they can rent a portion of them to transport their goods. 

Larger firms, as is the case with pharmaceutical companies, generally purchase fleets of trucks and containers for their use to monitor shipments. Sensors monitor the internal temperature of the container and also track other data such as vibration, changes in position, and spillage. These data are transmitted to control rooms that alert the fleet to possible damage.

Data can be captured by data logging software and by indicators on the scene, but transmitting the data back to the control room is a challenging process. Traditionally Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) instruments are used to carry out this process. These days, technology such as Logmore‘s data loggers, which display dynamic QR codes, do the job much more efficiently.

“Damaged vaccines can become ineffective or even harmful to the user. That alone is a big enough reason to make sure that no spoiled products make it to the end-user, whose life might depend on the medication,” Logmore CEO Janne Juhala recently told Tech Bullion.

“In addition to that, all the spoilage really adds up. Unusable products need to be disposed of, which often causes environmental harm. To consider a hard, cold ‘corporate’ worldview, every single mishap with products that led to issues is a hit on customer trust and could even lead to legal repercussions.”

Cold chain tech also comes in smaller sizes. Cooling gel packs, bricks, and bottles store smaller shipments of medicines. These solutions are used for last-mile deliveries. Last-mile refers to the supply of goods from warehouses to a customer’s doorstep. Monitoring the quality of goods throughout the process is essential for successful delivery. Vaccines and medical supplies are usually delivered using thermal boxes. They come as individual boxes or as full-sized carts that can transport supplies.

Condition Monitoring For Instrumentation

Medicines are what people usually think of when the word healthcare is used. However, healthcare items extend well beyond them. Medical labs require sophisticated equipment that can measure and log patient data. Doctors use these reports to arrive at diagnoses. Aside from medical reports, instruments are used heavily during drug trials, much like the ones the COVID-19 vaccine candidates are undergoing.

These devices are fragile and consist of a variety of sensors and meters. Transporting them is a sensitive task, and they require constant condition monitoring. Older supply chain tech focused on track-and-trace methods, which specifies where a product has been and where it’s headed. Modern supply chain tech uses predict-and-prevent technology, which implements artificial intelligence algorithms to predict potential disruptions. 

Condition monitoring extends to the entire fleet, instead of single containers, and the need for emergency backups reduces.

AI is also playing a role in helping companies reorient their supply chains. The pandemic has highlighted the need to bring manufacturing of essential supplies onshore, instead of relying on distant Asian factories. By predicting production timelines and monitoring en-route supplies’ conditions, medical instruments and drugs can be delivered in optimal shape.

Inventory and Order Management for Pharmacies

Order management is a collaborative effort between businesses and their supply chain partners. Accurate demand forecasts ensure that production timelines are optimized, and supply chains can align accordingly. When it comes to medicines, pharmacies project demand based on a variety of factors such as seasonality and local conditions.

The pandemic has changed consumer behaviors, and in-person visits have decreased. Online consultations and home delivery of medicines have increased. Such a change in demand patterns is unprecedented, and supply chain tech has helped pharmacies deal with the situation better.

“Any technology that enables the distribution of the pharmacist’s workload so they can focus more on patient care will have a major beneficial impact on society as a whole,” PerceptiMed CTO Ram Subramanian recently explained to Forbes. “We need to make sure we ride along with the wave of change and not behind it.”

Today, more medicines are stored on-site using cold chain technology such as thermal boxes. Online pharmacies use condition monitoring technology like QR codes and deliver goods using thermal boxes that monitor as well as prevent damage to their goods. Their inventory management systems are using AI algorithms similar to ones used to develop intelligent supply chains. All of these solutions help manage to change demand patterns and align supplies accordingly.

The Foundation of the Recovery

As the world deals with the pandemic and starts to move towards recovery, supply chain logistics will be at the heart of everything. As supply chains grow more intelligent, the delivery of medicines and vaccines are almost certain to be efficient, despite the challenges.

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Artificial Inteligence

Artificial Intelligence Examines ECGs Results. It Predicts Irregular Heartbeat and Death Risk.

With all the AI innovations, it doesn’t surprise that sooner or later, we would have arrived at significantly sharpening medical science’s tools. The newest discovery which upgrades count? It looks like scientists have trained a computer (a neural network or artificial intelligence) to evaluate electrocardiograms (ECGs), to predict which patients are likely to develop an irregular heartbeat. What’s more, its predictions are effective even if human forecasts were different. The AI tool was finding predictions of heartbeat errors among those previously interpreted by doctors as normal. Researchers also created a neural network to examine ECGs, which identifies patients at increased risk of dying of any cause within the next year.

Artificial intelligence examines electrocardiogram (ECG) test results

This common medical test (ECG) serves doctors to make assumptions about the patients’ heart’s health. The new medical AI tool’s objective is to pinpoint patients at higher risk of developing a potentially dangerous irregular heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia, or of dying within the next year. The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions is an annual, premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science. Two preliminary studies on the above-mentioned newest AI discoveries were presented there, on November 16-18, 2019 in Philadelphia. 

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) – What is it and how does it work?

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. Each beat is an electrical impulse (‘wave’) that travels through the heart. This wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. A normal heartbeat on ECG will show the timing of the top and lower chambers. An ECG gives two major kinds of information.

By measuring time intervals on the ECG, a doctor can determine how long the electrical wave takes to pass through the heart, in other words, if the electrical activity is normal or slow, fast or irregular. Second, by measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through the heart muscle, a cardiologist may be able to find out if parts of the heart are too large or are overworked. The EKG testing doesn’t hurt, and there’s no risk associated with having it done. The machine records the ECG, but it doesn’t send electricity into the body.

The phase of gathering database

To conduct the research, scientists used more than 2 million ECG results from more than three decades of archived medical records in Pennsylvania/New Jersey’s Geisinger Health System. Subsequently, they trained advanced, multi-layered computational structures – deep neural networks. These studies are among the first to use AI to predict future events from an ECG, rather than to detect current ones. Brandon Fornwalt, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, and chair of the Department of Imaging Science and Innovation at Geisinger in Danville, Pennsylvania: ‘This is exciting, and provides more evidence that we are on the verge of a revolution in medicine, where computers will be working alongside physicians to improve patient care’. Looks promising, indeed!

A deep neural network for predicting incident atrial fibrillation directly from 12-lead electrocardiogram traces

Can a deep learning model predict irregular heart rhythms, known as atrial fibrillation (AF), before it develops? – scientists speculated. As atrial fibrillation is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart attack, they decided to use AI to dig deeper into this matter, creating room for innovation and effective forecasts. The number of analyzed samples was spectacular – 1.1 million ECGs that didn’t indicate the presence of AF in more than 237,000 patients.

With the use of highly specialized computational hardware, scientists trained a deep neural network to analyze 15 segments of data — 30,000 data points — for each ECG. As predicted by the neural network, within the top 1% of high-risk patients, 1 out of every 3 of them was diagnosed with AF within a year. These model predictions demonstrated a longer-term prognostic significance that we haven’t been conscious of before. Patients predicted to develop AF at 1-year had a 45% higher hazard rate in developing AF over a 25-year follow-up than the other patients. As senior author Christopher Haggerty, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Imaging Science and Innovation at Geisinger, said ‘many times, the first sign of AF is a stroke’. If this is the case, this cutting-edge AI tool seems to significantly change life’s opportunities.

Deep neural networks can predict one-year mortality directly from ECG signal even when clinically interpreted as normal

The results of 1.77 million ECGs and other records from almost 400,000 patients were analyzed to identify patients most likely to die of any cause within a year. Scientists compared machine learning-based models that either directly analyzed the raw ECG signals or relied on aggregated human-derived measures and commonly diagnosed disease patterns. What surprises is that the neural network was able to accurately predict the risk of death even in patients deemed by cardiologists to have a normal ECG. Sadly, these physicians were generally unable to recognize the risk patterns that the neural network detected. Fornwalt, who co-directs Geisinger’s Cardiac Imaging Technology Lab with Haggerty comments: ‘This could completely alter the way we interpret ECGs in the future’.

Categories
Bladder Problems Bladder Training Overactive Bladder

This Woman Had Feces Leaking Into Her Bladder—and Yes, It’s as Gross as It Sounds

When feces comes to our health, there can be some unpleasant topics to discuss. The more you know about the human body, however, the better off you will be for spotting unusual symptoms. For instance, an elderly woman complained to her doctor about finding “gassy bubbles” in her urine. The diagnosis was bizarre but true, and feces were actually leaking into her bladder. It sounds impossible, but it can happen.

This Woman Had Feces Leaking Into Her Bladder—and Yes, It’s as Gross as It Sounds

The condition is called a fistula, an unusual hole that develops in the bowel or bladder or in between both organs. Think of a fistula as a tunnel that should not be there. In an article by Health.com, the problem can start from a condition called diverticulitis. These multiple tiny pockets located in the bowels can often form while straining with constipation. The large intestine becomes inflamed. In this case, the 72-year-old patient had soft yellow feces leaking into the fluid of the urinary tract through a small hole.

Symptoms of the condition can include painful urination, a foul smell and/or a fever. It can also result in a severe urinary tract infection, said a report by the Health University of Utah. A urology specialist is the best kind of physician to diagnosis the fistula. A cystoscope is used to examine the inside of your bladder. The device features a lens attached to a special thin tube that is inserted into your urethra.

The scientific name for this condition is called a colovesical fistula. Although it’s a rare occurrence, it can still happen and become a frightening situation. It can be treated effectively by taking out the fistula and then suturing the urinary walls. Sometimes, part of the patient’s colon is removed. If you have developed an infection associated with the fistula, antibiotics or other medications may be prescribed. Recovery can take anywhere from four to six weeks. Post-treatment, you can expect to have a catheter on for a few weeks.

The elderly woman underwent successful surgery, and within two months, she had healed completely. She has not felt any recurring symptoms.

Leaking feces is unpleasant any way you think about it. To find its presence in your urine is unsettling. The condition usually affects men and women ages 55 to 75. The good news is that the condition is treatable through surgery. Urologists come across all types of fistulas and know how to diagnose them.

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weight loss

Man Discovers That His Wife is Drugging Him With Thyroid Medication to Make Him Lose Weight

A man on Reddit has gone viral after discovering that his wife was drugging him in a forced attempt to lose weight.

“I am fat,” he told his fellow Redditors. “Always have been. My spouse has been mentioning it more and more in the last few years.”

He continued with a story that’s probably familiar to anyone who has struggled with their weight. He exercised; he tried various diets; he even experimented with fasting. Nothing worked, and he remained at 6’0″ and 245 pounds.

Man Discovers That His Wife is Drugging Him With Thyroid Medication to Make Him Lose Weight

His wife suggested that he might have a thyroid issue. Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain when the body doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone. The man disagreed with her diagnosis, and they fought about it.

Flash forward to the couple going on a vegan diet together. The wife helpfully prepared green smoothies for the man to drink every morning. She also warned him that vegan diets could cause side effects like fevers, headaches, joint pains, insomnia, and diarrhea.

The man experienced all of these symptoms within five hours.

“Now, I’m not a doctor,” he told Reddit. “But [the] side effects of changing your diet should take weeks [or] months to show up, no?”

He became even more suspicious when he rummaged through a kitchen cupboard and found a bottle of pills labeled “Euthyrox.” It was a thyroid medication, and it had exactly five pills missing. He’d been experiencing symptoms for five days.

He confronted his wife about the potential drugging, but she denied it. He asked the people of Reddit for advice. When answering comments from concerned users, he revealed that his wife was a licensed kidney doctor with the ability to write prescriptions.

“You’re getting drugged,” one user bluntly told him.

“The bells and alarms and red flags are all present here!” cautioned another.

One user expressed fear for the man’s future health.

“If this is seriously the case, and you don’t have hypothyroidism, she could put you into atrial fibrillation,” they warned. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rate that can lead to strokes, blood clots, and heart failure.

After hearing from everyone on Reddit, the man admitted to feeling a bit panicked. He decided to confront his wife again, and their second argument was even worse than the first. In an update, he told Reddit that he’d finally had enough and told his wife to get out. She returned to her parent’s house.

He summarized the situation at the end of the post: “Gonna get a divorce.”

In the month since he originally shared his story, the man’s tale of woe has gone viral. It’s been covered by multiple blogs and news outlets, and Health magazine even called on a registered dietician to confirm that the man’s symptoms were unlikely to be caused by a vegan diet.

It’s crazy to think that there are people out there who are willing to drug their spouses to make them lose weight, but as this man has demonstrated, the truth can be even stranger than fiction.

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Signs and Symptoms Symptoms

Early Detection Saved My Life

When it comes to cancer, every minute counts. The disease is ruthless, and you have to give everything you’ve got when it comes to treatment. The first thing that goes through most people’s minds when they receive a cancer diagnosis is chemo, but there is another overlooked component that can save your life just like it saved mine.

In 2015, I went to the doctor’s office for a routine physical. Truth be told, I was always in good health and, at age 30, I hadn’t experienced any serious illnesses. I’d even skipped the prior year’s physical because I was healthy and didn’t think I needed it.

But my mom gave me an earful about the importance of regular health check-ups; my father passed away nearly a decade prior to testicular cancer after his diagnosis came far too late for treatment to be effective. He had never been involved with his health, and he hated doctors, hospitals or anything to do with medical treatment.

I scheduled an appointment, and my doctor told me I should get a full work-up including a pap smear and mammogram; the former I’d been getting yearly, but I’d never had a thorough breast exam before. I checked for lumps in the shower and thought that was enough.

The Diagnosis

I got my mammogram and expected nothing from it, but I was shocked to receive a phone call from the doctor. They’d noticed a small growth in my right breast. Frantically, I began to feel around for any mass, but everything felt fine to me. This had to be a mistake. You could tell when you had breast cancer, right?

I got a biopsy that week, and the results confirmed my fear: I had breast cancer. But there was good news. Because it was detected so early, the doctor told me that they would be able to remove the tumor without me having to undergo any chemotherapy or radiation.

My surgery was scheduled for the following week, and now, four years later, I’m still cancer-free. Early detection saved my life, and it’s important for more people to understand how screenings can enhance treatment and protect them from the pain of a serious cancer diagnosis.

Routine Screenings

Physical exams and routine screenings are the best way to catch cancer early. According to the World Health Organization, screenings can catch cancer in its earliest stages, long before people begin to exhibit any symptoms.

Some forms of cancer are more aggressive than others, and your risk of developing them could be higher if you are or were a heavy drinker, smoker or it runs in your family. Cancer screenings can be especially life-saving in cases of breast, cervical, mouth, larynx, colon, rectal and skin cancer.

Screenings are affordable and often covered by health insurance. Talk to your doctor at your next physical about cancer screenings to find out what tests are best for you.

Go and get tested even if you think there’s no way it could happen to you. Early detection screenings saved my life, and it could save yours, too.

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Autoimmune Disorder Gastrointestinal Health

The Difference Between Lactose Intolerance and Crohn’s Disease

You have diarrhea that does not go away. On top of constantly making bathroom visits being a nuisance, you worry that a serious illness is behind it. There are many causes of diarrhea, and some share symptoms—making it difficult to determine what is behind your discomfort. Like a number of these conditions, Crohn’s disease and lactose intolerance have some things in common.

It is important to know the facts, as these disorders are widespread. The former affected over three million adults in the United States in 2015. The latter is much more common, striking anywhere between 30 to 50 million adults in the United States. Here is valuable information about each and how to tell the difference between them.

Crohn’s Disease

This disorder is chronic, meaning there is no cure. The intestine becomes inflamed leading to its unpleasant symptoms. There are times when patients feel fine and occasions when they have an attack (known as a flare). Many mistake these symptoms for the signs of lactose intolerance:

• Diarrhea
• Abdominal cramps and pain
• Fatigue
• Bloody stool
• Fever
• Loss of appetite
• Losing weight
• Inflamed joints, eyes, and skin
• Delays in growth among children

Because of the chance of confusion and the seriousness of the condition, it is important to see a doctor if symptoms don’t go away. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and conduct an examination. Blood and other tests may be necessary to help the doctor diagnose the cause.

Lactose Intolerance

This disorder occurs when a person produces too little or no lactase. Lactase is an enzyme that digests lactose which is sugar in milk products. Diarrhea, gas, nausea, and bloating are some of the signs of a deficiency. Because these symptoms also occur with Crohn’s, it is easy to think the wrong disease is the culprit. In addition, Crohn’s patients have a greater chance of being lactose intolerant than other people.

A visit to the doctor is vital if you have, or at least suspect to have, an intolerance to lactose. The doctor can discover if it is the result of medications or a condition that damages cells lining the intestines. These causes include celiac disease (intolerance to gluten), iron deficiency, and alcoholism. (However, if you avoid dairy products and diarrhea disappears, that may be enough to reach a diagnosis.)

Medications are beneficial in controlling symptoms and treat the underlying causes of intestinal diseases. However, there are additional ways to keep your symptoms under control. These drug-free remedies can keep diarrhea and discomfort at bay.

Crohn’s

Avoiding certain foods is important. These include popcorn, cured and red meat, alcohol, carbonated drinks, high-fiber, and high-fat food, and nuts. On the other hand, salmon, avocado, tropical fruits including bananas, almond milk, and smooth peanut and almond butter are colon-friendly.

When symptoms flare up, a liquid-only diet can allow your colon to rest. You may want to avoid solid food for a few days to several weeks. Be sure to work with your doctor if you would like to try this remedy.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which may help reduce inflammation. While there is little proof of this, several studies showed some benefit. Turmeric is safe, even though taking too much or for too long can have a bad effect on the digestion.

Yoga, by focusing on breathing and posture, helps people relax. This is important because stress is a cause of flare-ups. (Actually, any exercise can help you relax and restore proper intestinal function.) According to research, yoga is effective and safe if you are not actually having a flare.

A diet low in fiber (often called a low-residue diet) is particularly helpful to lower the chance of a blocked intestine. It works by reducing the number and size of your bowel movements.

Lactose

• Try eating dairy with others foods, not alone.
• Drink small amounts of milk (less than a cup) at one time.
• Try milk that contains less lactose.

Because limiting or eliminating dairy reduces the amount of vitamin D and calcium you take in, it is important to get it from other sources. Spending 15 minutes a day in the sun gives you all the vitamin D you need. In addition, liver and egg yolks are high in the nutrient, as are fortified foods like many breakfasts, cereals, and orange juice. Nondairy foods containing calcium include almonds, dark leafy greens, sardines, beans, seeds, and lentils.

Knowing these facts can empower you to take control of your digestive health. Living a normal and fulfilling life is possible with some changes to your routine and eating habits.

Edited by: Jessa (Jan. 29, 2019)

Categories
cancer

All You Need To Know About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer occurs in the tissues of the pancreas, which is a key endocrine organ located behind the stomach. The pancreas plays a very important role by producing the enzymes that the body requires to digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Glucagon and insulin are also produced by the pancreas. These hormones control the glucose metabolism. Glucagon helps to raise the levels of glucose when they get low. Insulin helps the cells to metabolize glucose to give energy.
It is difficult to detect pancreatic cancer due to its location. In most cases, it is detected in more advanced stages. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of the cancer-related fatalities in the U.S.

What causes pancreatic cancer?

The cause of this type of cancer is not known. Pancreatic cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow within the pancreas forming tumors. Usually, the healthy cells grow and die in moderate numbers. In the cancer case, the production of abnormal cancer cells increases taking over the healthy cells, eventually.

What are the risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer?
Although the cause of pancreatic cancer is not known, there are various risk factors that increase the chances of one developing cancer. You are at an increased risk if you:

Are obese
Smoke cigarettes. 30 percent of the cases of cancer occur as a result of smoking cigarettes
Eat a few vegetables and fruits
Do not exercise regularly
Eat foods that are high in fat contents
Have diabetes
Drink high and heavy amount of alcohol
Have liver complications
Work with chemicals and pesticides
Have inflammation of the pancreas
Have a family history of this type of cancer

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer does not often show symptoms until it gets to the advanced stages of this disease. Some common symptoms may be subtle and they include;

Loss of appetite
Unintended loss of weight
Blood clots
Abdominal or lower back pain
Jaundice
Depression

If the pancreatic cancer is spreading, it can worsen the preexisting symptoms.

The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer

The early diagnosis will significantly increase the chances of recovery. It is therefore very important to visit your doctor if you experience any symptoms that do not go away or regularly recurs.
To make a diagnosis, a doctor reviews the symptoms and medical history. They order one or more tests to check for pancreatic cancer. Such tests include:

MRI or CT scans to obtain a complete and detailed image of the pancreas
Blood tests to find if the tumor marker CA 19-9 is present, which may indicate pancreatic cancer.
Biopsy or the tissue sample of the pancreas.

Once the diagnosis is made, the doctor assigns a stage based on the test results as follows:

Stage 1. Tumors existing in the pancreas only
Stage 2. Tumors have spread to the tissues nearby of the abdomen or lymph nodes.
Stage 3. Cancer has spread to the major blood vessels and the lymph nodes.
Stage 4. Tumors have spread to the other organs such as the liver.

Treatment of pancreatic cancer

The treatment of pancreatic cancer depends on the stage of cancer. The treatment aims to kill the cancerous cells and prevent the spread of the disease. The most common complications during the treatment include bowel obstruction, liver failure, and weight loss.

Surgery

When the tumor is confined to the pancreas, a surgery is recommended. Therefore, a surgery will be an option based on the exact location of cancer. When the tumor is confined to the head and neck of the pancreas, a procedure known as Whipple procedure is done. In this surgery, the first part of the ‘head’ of the pancreas and about 20 percent of the ‘body’ or the second part is removed. The bottom half of the bile duct and the first part of the intestine can also be removed.

Radiation therapy

Other options for treatment are explored when cancer spreads outside the pancreas. The radiation therapy uses the X-rays and high-energy beams to kill the cancer cells.

Chemotherapy

In other cases, other treatments might be combined with chemo which uses drugs that kill cancer to help avoid future growth of the cancer cells.

Alternative measures

There are many patients who combine alternative measures with the medical treatments. Consult your doctor before you start these measures as they may interfere with some medications.
Meditation, light exercise, and yoga may promote a sense of well-being and make the patient better during the treatment.

Outlook
Pancreatic cancer is a very deadly form of cancer. Unfortunately, many patients do not receive a diagnosis until when it spreads outside the pancreas. To follow all the doctor’s recommendations can help improve the chances of recovery and survival. You can also consider:
pain medications
pancreatic enzyme supplements which improve digestion
regular follow-up care

Edited by: Jessa (Jan. 30, 2019)

Categories
addiction guest blogs

The Early Steps to Recovering From an Addiction

The Early Steps to Recovering From an Addiction

The Early Steps to Recovering From an Addiction

Addiction can be fatal to anyone. More than just a condition with psychological implications, it compels people to exhibit self-destructive behavior that affects their ability to perform normally. It is for this reason that medical experts are continuing their research on how best to address addiction.

In developing new drugs and solutions to addictions, scientists are trying to create new methods of intervention. In this sense, much of addiction research is focused on early intervention as an effective means to keep people from developing the condition.

Consequently, medical specialists are looking into general practice as a form of early intervention. Reformers are interested in allowing doctors to properly diagnose a disorder and prescribe the right treatment plans. Addressing an addiction early provides the room to treat addicts with a more focused and human interdisciplinary approach.

Early intervention can be done in many ways:

Intervention by family and friends

Indeed, identifying an addiction early on starts through the patient’s family and friends. Unusual behavior can easily be detected by the very people are familiar with the patient. The early onset of addictions can affect interpersonal relationships to the point at which the patient suddenly feels detached from his or her social circles.

Eventually, family members and friends will have to step in to talk to the patient and address the problem head-on. Once the patient decides to open up about his or her condition, it’s only a matter of taking appropriate measures to address the addiction.

If you have friends or family members who are feeling detached from activities that usually give them joy, it’s best to talk to them about their condition and provide support.

General practice intervention

Another important early intervention method is to have the patient undergo diagnosis and initial treatment through a general healthcare practitioner. A family doctor can provide treatment that aims to correct unhealthy habits and provide the patient with a way to counter the effects of the substances or habits that are developing the addiction.

Through this intervention, family doctors can effectively address addictions and provide guidance to family members on how to provide further help. Aside from that, general practitioners can help slow down these conditions to make them more manageable. With the right early moves, it can be less costly and less difficult to treat an addiction at its earliest stages.

Rehabilitation centers

If the addiction is already advancing, it’s best to consider intervention through rehabilitation centers or specialty treatment centers. Presently, there are various centers across the United States that provide treatments that are catered towards addictions of any form, whether they are substance-based or not.

Finding the right place can be difficult. You’ll need to start researching the availability of the right facilities for treating addictions early on. Look around your area, and consider the advice of people who have gone through the same thing.

To find a treatment center that’s right for you or a patient you know, you can reach out drug rehab centers. These organizations strive to help individuals find the best places to get treated. It also strives to help patients realize that their conditions are a disease and that there are facilities out there that have the right methods for addressing them.

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Categories
mental health

10 Signs To Identify Bipolar Disorder And How To deal With It

10 Signs To Identify Bipolar Disorder And How To deal With It

10 Signs To Identify Bipolar Disorder And How To Deal With It

According to the Depression and Bipolar Disorder Support Alliance, “Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year.” Bipolar disorder is broken down into two main categorizations based on criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Identify Bipolar Disorder And How To Deal With It

Mental health clinicians evaluate an individual’s symptoms based on DSM-5 criteria to achieve a diagnosis. Based upon the length and severity of mood state changes, diagnosis categories are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Overall, bipolar disorder presents itself as the ups and downs of typical moods, but much more intense and overwhelming. Here are ten signs that you or your loved one may have bipolar disorder.

1. Intense Happy Mood

While it is great that a person is happy, an unusually intense happy mood may signify a manic state.

2. Depressed mood or irritability

If a person abruptly changes from happy to depressed or an irritated state quickly, this could signify a depressed mood.

3. Problems at Work

Sudden mood swings at work may make it difficult for effective communication within the workplace.

4. Substance Abuse

RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Foods That Scientifically Alter Your Mood

Substance abuse may present as a maladaptive coping habit during manic or depressed mood states.

5. Inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
As a person moves from one state to another, sleeping problems may present itself correlating with the current state. For example, if the person is in manic state, he or she may have difficulty sleeping. If he or she is in depressed state, he or she may not have the energy to get out of bed.

6. Unfinished Projects

While in a manic state, a person will feel capable of large projects that seem impossible to complete when his or her mood suddenly changes into a depressed state.

7.Impulsivity

Displaying impulsive behavior, such as going on a shopping spree or investing in un-researched business projects, can be a sign of a manic state.

8. Unable to Focus or Concentrate

In the depressed state, a person may be unable to complete even the simplest tasks.

9. Racing thoughts or speech

If someone has racing thoughts or extremely fast speech, this could be a symptom of a manic mood.

10.Have both manic and depressed mood state symptoms

If You are looking for natural remedies for depression, click here: 5 Foods That Can Help With Depression

The primary defining factor for bipolar disorder is displaying both manic and depressed state symptoms.

If you or someone you know is displaying these symptoms, you should encourage them to seek a mental health clinician. If you are unsure, you may wish to keep a journal of events to help provide objective clarification regarding different mood states and symptoms.

Categories
natural remedies Thyroid

Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Heal your Thyroid Problems!

Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Heal your Thyroid Problems!

Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Heal your Thyroid Problems!

The thyroid gland is the master of metabolism. It’s a butterfly-shaped organ situated just above your collarbone. Run your hand down the front of your neck to just below the bulge. This is the site of your thyroid.

Heal Your Thyroid Naturally

The thyroid releases hormones that govern bodily functions such as:

  • brainpower
  • bone metabolism
  • digestion
  • heart rate
  • temperature
  • weight

KEY HORMONES

The thyroid releases three key hormones:

  • T3 – regulates your body’s heart rate, temperature, and energy
  • T4 – crucial for growth
  • Calcitonin – involved in the metabolism of calcium and bone

Iodine is needed to produce T3 and T4. It’s a trace element the body is unable to manufacture. Iodine needs to be taken as food. For the body to use T4, it must first be converted to T3.

THYROID DISORDERS

The thyroid can malfunction in two major ways. It can go into overdrive, resulting in elevated hormone levels. Conversely, it can come up short. Hormone overproduction is termed hyperthyroidism. Substandard function is called hypothyroidism.

HASHIMOTO’S DISEASE (HD)

RELATED ARTICLE: Seven Signs Your Diet is Ruining Your Thyroid Gland

The medical term for this disorder is thyroiditis. It’s the most common type of hypothyroidism in the US. Though it can occur at any age, it is most prevalent in women between the ages of 30 and 50. HD is an autoimmune disorder. When the immune system malfunctions, it mistakenly attacks body cells. In the case of HD, thyroid tissue becomes inflamed and is slowly destroyed. This leads to low hormone levels. Signs of hypothyroidism are:

  • pale, puffy face
  • dry skin
  • thinning hair
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • depression
  • hoarse voice
  • difficulty swallowing
  • muscle aches and stiffness
  • acute sensitivity to cold
  • unexplained weight gain
  • high cholesterol

holesterol

DIAGNOSIS

Blood tests measure hormone and cholesterol levels. They also identify abnormal antibodies, indicating misfiring of the immune system. Anterior neck swelling is another red flag. This is a sign of thyroid enlargement, termed goiter. If HD is diagnosed, your primary care physician may refer you to an endocrinologist, a doctor specializing in hormonal disorders.

CAUSES

Research suggests that HD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental triggers. Examples are:

  • genes
  • pregnancy
  • radiation exposure
  • toxic pesticides and fertilizer
  • bacterial and viral infections

TREATMENT

The conventional treatment for HD is hormone replacement medication. However, it doesn’t resolve the underlying cause of the autoimmune disorder. For this reason, many people seek natural solutions to restore proper immune function. Natural treatment focuses on helping the liver do its job of detoxification. Following is a protocol used by holistic endocrinologists.

DIET

Diet plays an important role in cooling inflammation and balancing hormones. Dietary management includes specific foods to consume and avoid.

RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Everyday Toxins That Are Harming Your Thyroid

Food Focus

  • Protein – Aim for 20 grams of protein at each meal. Protein ferries T3 into cells and regulates thyroid function. Ideal sources include eggs, beans, nut butters, quinoa, salmon, and whey.
  • Healthy Fats – Try to consume four tablespoons of healthy fats per day. Examples are avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. Fatty acids are the building blocks of cell membranes. Your body also uses them to produce prostaglandins. These are compounds with hormone-like effects. They help reduce inflammation.
  • Selenium – This mineral boosts T3 production. Excellent sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, pinto beans, and sunflower seeds.
  • Vitamin B12 – Research shows that 30 percent of people with HD have a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Bolster your diet with B12 from eggs, dairy, and salmon.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to HD. Vitamin D shuttles thyroid hormone into cells. It also normalizes erratic immune function. Dial up Vitamin D in the form of mushrooms, salmon, eggs, fortified dairy, and Swiss cheese.
  • Glutathione – This is the “mother of all antioxidants.” It’s a powerful cell protector. Glutathione strengthens the immune system and heals thyroid tissue. It also helps the liver neutralize toxic chemicals. Foods that spur glutathione production include asparagus, garlic, onions, peaches, and whey.

What to Avoid

  • Gluten – This protein is found in wheat, barley, bulgur, couscous, rye, and spelt. Gluten is similar in molecular structure to thyroid tissue. In HD, gluten is confusing to the immune system. It considers gluten a threat and goes after the thyroid instead.
  • Coffee – Caffeine worsens HD symptoms. Those of us who love coffee found it challenging to give up our beloved joe. If this applies to you, knowing the following effects of caffeine may help you quit coffee. Caffeine increases blood sugar and the stress hormone cortisol. It inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3. Coffee is similar in protein structure to gluten. It percolates thyroid tissue.
  • Sugar – Refined sugar and carbohydrates trigger inflammation. They hinder white blood cells from destroying bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances. The damage begins within 30 minutes of eating sugar and lasts for five hours! Sugar also causes spikes in the hormone insulin. Our bodies use insulin to move glucose into cells. Surges in blood sugar destroy the thyroid.
  • Aspartame – This artificial sweetener is highly inflammatory. When aspartame is processed by the liver, formaldehyde is released. This toxic chemical impairs thyroid function and can lead to cancer.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables – Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale release goitrin. This compound interferes with the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
  • Soy – Soy lowers the concentration of T3.
  • Iodized Salt – The thyroid gland needs iodine to produce hormones. However, to get adequate iodine, you’d have to eat excessive salt. Iodized salt also contains the undesirable additives aluminum and dextrose. A better option is sea salt, which has trace minerals.

EXERCISE

Exercise combats the effects of hypothyroidism in several ways. It elevates energy, promotes a healthy weight, and reduces stress. It fosters hormone balance and metabolic efficiency. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good hormones known as endorphins. Three types of exercise deliver these benefits:

  • cardio
  • stretching
  • strength training

Fun forms of exercise that confer these perks are:

  • bicycling
  • bowling
  • dancing
  • gardening
  • swimming
  • yoga
  • walking
  • weight-lifting

The Mayo Clinic gives the following exercise guidelines:

  • 3 hours per week of moderate cardio activity
  • 2 sessions per week of strength training

STRESS REDUCTION

Cortisol is released in response to stress. As mentioned above, this hormone suppresses the conversion of T4 to T3. Here are some suggestions for minimizing the effects of stress:

  • obtain weekly massages
  • employ time management strategies
  • try to maintain a positive outlook
  • avoid taking on more responsibility than you can manage
  • be at peace with circumstances you can’t control
  • eliminate coffee, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods
  • exercise
  • meditate
  • get adequate sleep

THYROID COLLAR

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Heal Your Thyroid Naturally!

Protect your thyroid from radiation exposure by requesting a thyroid collar before getting x-rays. Also known as a thyroid guard, the shield enfolds your throat. It can be applied prior to dental imaging and mammograms.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TREATING HD

Neglecting to address HD is risky. Untreated hypothyroidism impairs mental function. It can lead to fluid accumulation around the lungs and heart. It can also cause an enlarged heart.

Not everyone is a candidate for natural treatment of HD. To maintain optimal endocrine function, thyroid hormone medication may be needed. Even so, the above lifestyle tweaks will minimize symptoms. A qualified endocrinologist will be able to discern the causes of your condition and design the ideal treatment plan.

SUFFER NO MORE

You can diminish the symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease. Use the following strategies:

  • fine-tune your diet
  • have fun exercising
  • diffuse the stress balloon
  • wear a thyroid guard during radiology exams

In just a short time, you’ll be looking and feeling great!

Categories
cancer

5 Ways to Heal Your Spirit after a Cancer Diagnosis

5 Ways to Heal Your Spirit after a Cancer Diagnosis

5 Ways to Heal Your Spirit after a Cancer Diagnosis
By PositiveMed-Team
Edited By Stephanie Dawson

Getting diagnosed with cancer is the worst nightmare many will ever face. Cancer deteriorates physical health and can shatter a person mentally. Various feelings gather in the mind which can make the person feel anxious and scared. Here are some things that can help you after a cancer diagnosis.

1. Maintain open communication

After a diagnosis of cancer open communication is important. Be open and honest with your doctor, family members, and friends. Talk to them and express honestly how you feel. Do not feel ashamed and talk your heart out. Its important to give words to your feelings. These are the people that will help you during treatment and become sources of support for the rest of your life. Tell your doctor how you feel or if there is anything that is causing problems. Listening is as important as speaking. Listen to what people around you have to say Join a support group. These people are trying to help you, maintaining balance in communication makes it less difficult to fight cancer.

2. Stay motivated

Cancer is a hard journey and often involves painful treatments and strict medication regimens. To get through the entire journey its important to believe in yourself. Believe you have the courage to face this dangerous disease and there are people around you to support you through the journey. Watch motivational movies and read motivational books. If possible meet people who have been through it and survived. Your mindset plays an important role during treatment. It’s important to stay happy and keep a positive attitude.

3. Sense of humor

Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for many types of cancer and is a painful procedure that can lead to severe mood swings. The negativity associated with the disease makes it difficult to stay happy. To deal with this problem involve more humor in your life, watch films with light and healthy humor. Pursue hobbies that make you happy. Watching stand-up comedy is a good idea.

5 Ways to Heal Your Spirit after a Cancer Diagnosis

4. Try to maintain normal lifestyle

Its important to configure your mind so that you don’t feel as if your life is taken over by the disease. Consult your doctor and follow the advice given. Apart from that do not make any significant changes in your lifestyle. Live your normal life and don’t let the disease conquer your mind.

5. Visualize

Studies prove that visualizing yourself free from cancer is possible and effective in fighting it. Many people who have survived cancer say that visualizing positive things can speed up the effect of treatment. Imagine a golden beam of light entering your body when you are undergoing radiation therapy and think of it as healing every cancerous cell. This way of healing the spirit has more to do with your mental strength than physical. Try to be creative and think of other visual images that make you feel enlightened.