Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

Not much news these days so I’ll leave my final blog post of 2007 with the few stories I did find interesting.

To my regular visitors, thank you for stopping by and reading what I have to offer. To those who stop by through search engines or by accident, I do hope you will come back again.

Please have a safe New Year’s Eve.

News for Today:

Length of sleep key in regulating kids' behaviours: study
Breast CT scan faster, more effective than mammogram: study
Men need more Botox than women

Friday, December 28, 2007

Glaucoma - take care of your eyes

Glaucoma is an eye disease that strikes 325,000 Canadians, at least 2 million people in the United States, and 67 million people worldwide – leaving 6.6 people across the world blind. It is also the second leading cause of blindness in North America. So when I read articles like Cost of glaucoma medications may impact treatment, it worries me.

Glaucoma is a silent disease. You don’t know you have it unless it’s detected during an eye exam – or you lose your sight. Vision loss is irreversible. According to Glaucoma Research Canada, you have a higher risk of developing glaucoma if you:

* Are over 40 years old
* Have a family history of glaucoma
* Have an abnormally high intraocular pressure (Pressure in your eye)
* Are of African, Chinese, Scandinavian, Celtic or Russian ancestry
* Have diabetes
* Are nearsighted
* Have used steroids/cortisone regularly for long periods
* Have had a previous eye injury

Glaucoma can’t be cured, but the progress can be slowed with proper treatment so it’s vital to find out if you have it.

Recommendations are that everyone have their eyes checked at least every 2 years after the age of 40 and then every year after turning 65. It’s suggested those who fall into high-risk groups, such as African Americans, have their eyes checked at every 2 to 4 years once they have turned 30.

There are a few different types of glaucoma; the most common ones are open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. Although they are called silent diseases, they do sometimes have symptoms that aren’t picked up. They include:

· Blurred vision
· Halos around lights
· Reddening of the eye
· Severe eye pain
· Nausea and vomiting

Don’t wait if you fall into a high risk group. And if you don’t, be aware that the problem exists and be checked – just in case.

News for Today:

Triglyceride blood fat levels linked to stroke: study
Avastin prolongs survival of women with breast cancer: study
Handling pesticides associated with greater asthma risk in farm women
LASIK works well, according to long-term study of highly myopic patients
Treating oft ignored non-cancer health issues after cancer diagnosis prolongs survival

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Medical slang

I was doing some blog surfing yesterday and was reading Healthbolt. There, I learned about Doing a Hasselhoff. You can read more here.

I can honestly say, that these were new to me!

News for Today:

Honey-drenched dressings touted as the bee's knees for wounds
Bevacizumab found to improve survival for patients with advanced breast cancer
Brief intervention helps emergency patients reduce drinking
Stimulating muscles may improve musician's dystonia

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Many topics covered over the past 7 months

Going over the months since I started the blog, I covered a lot of topics – some more often than once. I went back to look to them and compiled them into an alphabetical list. I didn’t include the writing-related posts, but as it is, there are quite a few here. Also, a few show up in a few different categories because they include information from each one:

Childhood food allergy guidelines
Christmas trees

Alternative medicine
Holistic medicine

Appendectomy and tonsillectomy / Arthritis / Asthma / Autism

When should I bring my baby/child to the doctor?
Childhood diseases
Infections and antibiotics

Paintball dangers
Childhood food allergies

Back pain / Blood donation / Blood pressure / Cancers below the waist

Colon cancer / Cholesterol / Colds / Communication / CPR / Dementia

Root canals
Dental work


Rising rates of diabetes
Diabetes foot care

Drug warnings or recalls

Get more exercise
Getting kids moving

Flu vaccine / Gambling addiction / Grief / Handwashing

Head injuries / Heart attack

Heat 1
Heat 2

HPV vaccine / Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) / Living wills

Lyme disease
Don’t let Lyme disease keep you inside
Lyme disease

Med errors / Memory / Mental illness

Migraine pain
Migraines and strokes


What do nurses do
Nursing histories
Nurses and addictions

Nursing/breastfeeding moms

All in the eating
Coffee, tea, etc
Portion control

Obesity / Organ donation / Osteoporosis / OT and PT

Pain scales
Pain meds

Palliative care
World hospice day
World Health Organization palliative care

Plastic surgery deaths

Seeing a podiatrist
Diabetes and foot care

Pregnancy / Psoriasis / Rep. stress injury / Hip and knee replacements / Safety

Searching for health info
Searching for health info
finding health news

Seniors month
Broken hips

Sensory overload / Shingles vaccine / Sinus infections

Is it nap time yet?
Lack of sleep
Time for sleep

Smoke exposure

Vacation stress
Winding down
Professionals and stress

Migraines and strokes
Don’t wait if you’re having a stroke


Sun safety/ skin cancer
Sun safety 1
Sun safety 2

Skin cancer

Taking medications / Tattoos / TB / Vision / Vit. D

Weight / Working nights

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays to everyone.

Pain relief - meds need to be used properly

Pain relief is a big issue – as it should be. No-one should suffer from pain if we have a way to relieve it. However, using the wrong medications for pain can result in tragedy. A case in point is fentanyl, available in a skin patch form: Improper use of fentanyl pain patches linked to more deaths: FDA.

Fentanyl skin patches are a wonderful way of giving much-needed pain relief to people who are experiencing moderate-to-severe chronic pain. The method of delivery - through the skin, makes it usable for people who have trouble swallowing or who can't tolerate oral medications. It is also quite convenient.

These patches aren't meant for headaches, short-term pain relief from surgery, or anything like that – it’s only for chronic pain or for palliative pain relief. However, people have been using it for the wrong reason and this has resulted in overdoses and deaths.

The US FDA issued a warning in 2005 about the practice and, at the time, they reported 120 deaths due to inappropriate use of fentanyl. On Dec. 21, 2007, the FDA issued a second warning for the same reason.

News for Today:

Surgeons fail to discuss reconstruction with breast cancer patients: study
Improper use of fentanyl pain patches linked to more deaths: FDA
Patients use BlackBerrys to send health reports

Friday, December 21, 2007

175 posts!

Wow - quite a milestone I think. When I began this blog, I had no idea it would be going so well. I'm really pleased that so many people are getting good information from here. Thanks so much to all my visitors - the regular ones and the new ones.

Health news is slowing down for the holidays but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of work to do. I’m as busy as ever working on some projects and preparing proposals and queries for clients and potential clients.

A new project is my blog on pain, called Help My Hurt. I'll be posting frequently about anything pain related: how to avoid it, manage it, and live with it. It’s a site that I really want to encourage participation because it needs interaction to grow. I hope you’ll stop by and visit when you have a chance.

There was a great bit of news (I thought) in this article: Medical myths that even doctors believe. Very interesting information.

If I miss a few days here and there over the holidays, I’ll be back – just taking a bit of time for myself if I get a chance. You may notice a small change - I made it so my links open in a new window. It was a request from a reader. I didn't realize it was such an easy fix (adding a bit in the html tag) so I hope that this makes it easier for others as well.

Merry Christmas for those who celebrate it – I try to make it a special holiday for my family and friends. And for those who celebrate other holidays and those who don’t, I wish you a peaceful and relaxing time as the continent seems to be in a flurry of Christmas anticipation.

(photo by Julia Freeman-Woolpert/Stock.xchng)

News for Today:

Spread by risky sex, syphilis surges back in Europe
Medical myths that even doctors believe
In-house hospital doctors shorten stays: study

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Taking your blood pressure at home

(hey! the date should read December 20th - don't believe everything you read. :-)

Are you at risk for high blood pressure? Do you have high blood pressure? If so, you may have considered buying an at-home blood pressure machine. Is it worth the cost? According to this study Measuring blood pressure at home lowers drug need, it’s possible.

Many people who want to buy a blood pressure machine worry about buying the right one. Of course, you want to buy a reliable machine, but what is more important than the type of machine is how you take it and that you take it consistently with the same machine. No matter how good your machine is, it’s not the same as the one in the pharmacy or in your doctor’s office, so it’s highly unlikely that you will get the same readings. As well, you are probably more relaxed at home than at the office, so that can give different readings as well.

So, what’s important then? The has a good write-up on how to do home blood pressure monitoring. They stress some important issues that may not be brought up when someone is shopping around. Think about it for a moment – should someone who weighs 250 pounds be using the same blood pressure cuff size as the person who weighs 105 pounds? Of course not. And, if you have trouble seeing well, then a machine with small, hard to read numbers isn’t going to be any good for you.

Your pharmacist is a good source of information for things like this. They are professionals that are trained, not only in dispensing medication, but in providing advice for health prevention and management. Use this resource – because it’s there for you to use.

News for Today:

Measuring blood pressure at home lowers drug need
Green tea may cut prostate cancer risk
If you don't want to fall ill this Christmas, then share a festive kiss but don't shake hands
Breath test can discriminate between a bacterial overgrowth and IBS
Sugar Injections Resolve Chronic Neck Pain

Psoriasis - what is it?

Yesterday, I included in my News for Today a story on psoriasis, Severe psoriasis linked to higher death risk. Many people don’t know what psoriasis is – yet, the National Institutes of Health in the United States says 7.5 million Americans have some form of psoriasis. So what is psoriasis?

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, there are five types of psoriasis, a noncontagious, lifelong skin disease. Some people go on to develop psoriatric arthritis. On their website, it says, “The most common form, plaque psoriasis, appears as raised, red patches or lesions covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells, called scale.” If you click on their website, you can read about the differences between the five types.

The plaques develop because the skin is producing cells too quickly. In healthy skin, the cells mature and drop off – or shed - every 30 days or so. With psoriasis, something triggers a faster development of skin cells and they mature much faster, at a rate of about three to four days. Then, instead of shedding, they pile up and this is what causes the plaques that can be so painful and/or itchy.

At best, the disease is uncomfortable, at worst, it can affect how you live your life due to the discomfort – it all depends on how much of the body is affected and how badly it is affected. There are no cures yet for psoriasis, but there are treatments that can help. Unfortunately, the available treatments are not helpful for everyone and it can take quite a bit of trial and error before one is found that can help you.

To learn more about psoriasis, you can go to the site I mentioned above, or visit the, the FDA, or the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

News for Today:

Dangerous drugs continue to be prescribed to seniors: CBC report
People living in sunnier countries less likely to have lung cancer: study
Aging brains increase seniors' risk of dehydration: study
Early surgical treatment contributes to better outcomes in gallstone pancreatitis cases
No need for reduced alcohol consumption in later life

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What do these studies mean?

So many studies, so many findings – but can we tell if they mean anything to us?

The gold standard of clinical trials and studies is called the randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study. All aspects, the randomizing, blinding and the placebo are important parts to ensure that people aren’t influenced by any aspect of the study.

Randomizing is important because it ensures the study subjects are not subconsciously divided into specific groups by the recruiters. By randomizing the patients (such as saying that every other patient goes into Group A or the first 10 go into A, second group into B, third into C and then the cycle starts again), they are distributed without influence from anyone working on the study.

Double blinding means that all direct participants in the study don’t know who is getting what. If the study is for drug A, it’s not good enough if the patient doesn’t now that he is taking A, the people who are giving it and those who are assessing the outcomes can’t know it. If they do, their interpretations and findings could be affected.

The placebo is also key, although it isn’t always as simple as a test of drug A or a placebo. You can have more than one group. For example, if drug B is already known to treat a disease but drug A is promising, there may be three groups of patients in the test: those who are given drug A, those who are given drug B and those who are getting the placebo. Or, there may be groups who get different dosages of drug A or placebo. So, you can see, there are many combinations that can happen.

The standard randomized, double-blind placebo studies have drawbacks though. It means that there are some sorts of studies that can’t be done because of ethical reasons. For example, if you know that a procedure can save a life, you can’t offer the placebo. You can’t have a psychological therapy that may prevent suicide, for example, and have half the group getting the therapy and the other half not.

These types of studies are also difficult to do for less common diseases and illnesses. The groups of available patients may not be large enough to have a good sample for such a study.

Arranging these studies is complicated and time consuming but, ultimately life saving if the drugs or procedures prove their worth.

News for Today:
Blood pressure dropped when pill taken at night: study
Severe psoriasis linked to higher death risk
Study examines factors associated with survival in advanced laryngeal cancer
Massage may help ease pain and anxiety after surgery
Suicide: holidays' darkest myth
Decongestant May Work at the Doses Now Recommended, FDA Panel Says

Monday, December 17, 2007

Emergency room waiting times

What are waiting times like in your part of the world if you have to visit an emergency room? We hear such horror stories about waits that take hours, but then we hear stories about people who have no wait at all.

Here, in Canada, we have our issues with the socialized medical program, Medicare. The biggest argument I hear from Americans when they don’t want to have socialized medicine, is that we have horrendously long wait times. But, I have many American friends and acquaintances, and I’ve heard about incredibly long wait times for them and their friends as well. Is one system better than the other?

Personally, I’ve been very fortunate for serious issues – elective ones, nuisance ones, could take a while. I remember taking my children to the emergency room for what we perceived as urgent issues. When it was truly urgent, we were taken immediately – if it wasn’t urgent, the wait could be hours, but I do understand why, as frustrating as it can be.

But, I think that a lot of it goes to how the emergency rooms are used – and many times, they aren’t used properly. Is that always the patients’ fault though?

In Canada, it can be very difficult to find a family doctor; with the number of doctors retiring or cutting back on their work hours, the remaining doctors can’t take the full load. Without a family doctor, and if walk-in clinics are closed, many families don’t have a choice but to go to the ER. In the States, if someone isn’t covered with insurance, they may leave their problem unattended to until it becomes so serious that they have to go to an emergency room.

So, this adds to the number of people visiting – but why can it take so long to be seen by a doctor in the ER? There are only so many beds in the hospital. Many of the patients who present to the emergency room have to be admitted, but if all the beds are full, the emergency patients have to wait, taking up an ER bed. If the ER bed is taken, the ER staff can’t see another patient from the waiting room; they’re too busy caring for the patients who are waiting.

The solution may seem obvious, free up the hospital beds. But if you are in an area that has few long-term or chronic care beds, many patients who no longer need acute care but still need some sort of care have nowhere to go. They can’t go home; there’s no-one to care for them. So they stay in the acute care beds and wait.

There’s another issue that bears acknowledging: our nursing shortage in North America. People aren’t going in to nursing at high enough numbers. Nurses aren’t being paid enough and they’re not being treated and respected as the professionals they are. So, if there aren’t enough nurses, beds in the hospitals can’t stay open. Sometimes, whole units or floors are closed because there are no nurses to care for the patients. That means fewer beds for the patients down in emergency.

Health care prevention would play a big role in reducing the number of ER visits, more chronic care beds would help too. And finally, better accessibility to home care, to supporting people to stay at home as long as possible, would all play a role in helping speed up care for those who do need it.

News for today:
At-home sleep apnea tests sanctioned by U.S. sleep authority
New sterilization technique for women to be reviewed by FDA
Men may also carry breast cancer genes: study
Survey underscores importance of emotional/educational needs among women with advanced breast cancer
Survival Shortened When ER/PR Negative Breast Cancer Spreads to the Brain
Drug combination shrinks breast cancer metastases in brain
Health needs higher for kids of abused moms
Breathless babies: Preemies' lung function shows prolonged impairment

Friday, December 14, 2007


The fact that you’re reading this blog shows that you’re finding your way around the Internet and you’re likely interested in health-related topics. Did you know that the most popular searches on search engines are health and medical related topics? So, knowing this, the article Cyberchondriacs shouldn’t be surprising. We’ve always had people who believe they have every disease or injury known to mankind – ask any nursing or medical student how this can happen, but now it’s so much easier with all this information at our fingertips. Is being able to access all this information doing more harm than good?

Obviously, I’m a huge proponent for finding information on the Web. In fact, knowing how and where to search for information on your diagnosis can be a huge comfort and help for many. It allows people to understand what is happening, they can connect with others with similar situations, and it provides information that can be discussed with the doctors or healthcare professionals. I did this myself when I was booked for a root canal earlier this week - I wanted to know what I was getting in to and what the procedure involved. The problem is when people get carried away.

It’s so important not to try to diagnose yourself. It’s easy to go online if you feel pains in your knees or you were dizzy after doing something – it’s just as easy to find yourself with totally incorrect information and learning that you have something fatal – when you don’t. Of course, there is also the reverse. You could have something serious, but if you are at the wrong site, reading the wrong information – you may decide that you don’t need to go see a doctor, to your detriment.

The Internet is a tool, but like all tools, it needs to be used safely and well for it to be an effective tool. Use it wisely – use it with your doctor, not in place of your doctor.

News for Today:

Increase folic acid dose to prevent birth defects, society urges
Lipitor raises risk of brain hemorrhage while reducing overall stroke risk: study
Suicide now 2nd-leading cause of death in B.C. kids
Incontinence will strike one in four adults: report

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Getting kids moving

This article caught my eye: Kids more active when playground has balls, jump ropes, UNC study shows

Often, we lament that we don’t see kids playing outside, they aren’t getting the exercise we’d like to see, but how many of us (parents) buy the toys and equipment they need for this?

I remember when my kids were young, I was forever buying them skipping ropes, chalks for making hopscotch squares, and all sorts of stuff. It was something I just thought they needed. I honestly didn’t think about if these things were making them more active or not.

We know that our kids – in general – aren’t getting as much exercise as they should. Gone are the days that they walk to school, for example. When I was growing up, the rule was if you lived more than 1 mile, you were bused to school. The rest were “walkers,” sunshine, rain, or snow. Now, if a child is a walker, chances are he or she will be driven to school.

Where I grew up, street hockey was the norm. There were games of street hockey everywhere. Drivers knew to watch for them and kids knew to yell “car” when one was coming. Now, they’re few and far between.

We’re keeping our children safe. We’re trying to keep them from getting hurt from the evils out in the world. But at what cost?

News for Today:

Smoking increases diabetes risk, study review finds
Alberta mumps clinics halted after allergic reactions
Large-scale study definitively links Avandia, heart risk: authors
Kids more active when playground has balls, jump ropes, UNC study shows

Obesity reduces chances of spontaneous pregnancy in women who are subfertile but ovulating normally
Accuracy of diagnostic mammograms varies by radiologist

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And today’s topic…. Root canals! How lucky is that?

Why root canals?
I’m going for one later today. I’ve heard horrible things about root canals, but I’ve also heard that they’re not that bad. So, I’m hoping for the not that bad.

I didn’t even really know what a root canal was until I was told I needed one. I’d heard about them, but never bothered to learn about them. It’s actually pretty neat what they can do – but I had a choice, it wouldn’t be going to the endodontist later today.

According to the American Dental Association, a tooth that is restored through a root canal has the potential of lasting a lifetime – provided it’s well cared for.

The procedure can vary in terms of number of appointments, some people can have a root canal done in one visit, others in two or three. The goal of the root canal is to clean out the abscess or infection that made its way down to the dental pulp, the soft tissue that has the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues for the teeth, usually through tiny fractures in the teeth. The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth down to the root in the bone in the jaws.

The ADA describes the treatment:

1. First, an opening is made through the crown of the tooth.
2. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.
3. The pulp is then removed. The root canal(s) is cleaned and shaped to a form
that can be filled.
4. The pulp is removed, and the root canals are cleaned, enlarged and shaped.
5. Medications may be put in the pulp chamber and root canal(s) to help get rid of
germs and prevent infection.
6. A temporary filling will be placed in the crown opening to protect the tooth
between dental visits. Your dentist may leave the tooth open for a few days to drain.
You might also be given medicine to help control infection that may have spread
beyond the tooth.
7. The pulp chamber and root canals are filled and sealed.
8. The temporary filling is removed and the pulp chamber and root canal(s) are
cleaned and filled.
9. In the final step, a gold or porcelain crown is usually placed over the tooth. If
an endodontist performs the treatment, he or she will recommend that you return to
your family dentist for this final step.
10. The crown of the tooth is then restored.

Hopefully, this will be the end of my dental adventures for a while.

News for Today:

Heartburn drugs Prilosec, Nexium do not raise heart risk: FDA
Depressed heart attack patients at higher risk of death
Noisy toys damage kids' hearing, group warns
No link between obesity, birth control failure
The body: Balance - The sixth sense, and why it can fail us
Seniors' walking speed may predict longevity
Research suggests fasting reduces heart disease
Treatment using antibiotic may help slow MS
High blood pressure associated with risk for mild cognitive impairment
Mediterranean diet and physical activity each associated with lower death rate over 5 years
Calcium in coronary arteries may be linked to increased risk for heart disease in low-risk women
Good physical function after age 40 tied to reduced risk of stroke

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dental work anyone?

Are there any healthcare professionals more feared or dreaded than the dentist? I feel badly for them. Imagine being in a social situation, introductions made and the new acquaintance saying something like “I’m terrified of dentists,” or “oh boy, I haven’t been to a dentist in ages. I hate them.” I know the prospect of dental work isn’t pleasant – not too many people actually look forward to it, but dentists play a very important role in our overall health.

The says it well: “While the eyes may be the window to the soul, your mouth is a window to your body's health.” According to the Canadian Dental Association, 7 out of 10 Canadians develop gum disease at one point in their life.

Problems with teeth and gums can contribute to serious health issues and can cause illness as well. People with heart disease and diabetes, for example, are at risk for problems. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing gum disease, which in turn, can cause complications with the diabetes. For people with heart disease, bacteria from the teeth can get into the blood system, causing infection. This is why many people with heart problems must take antibiotics before undergoing dental procedures. Even pregnant women are targeted for special dental care. According to Health Canada, “Studies show that pregnant women with gum disease might be at a higher risk of delivering pre-term, low birth weight babies than women without gum disease.” Other health issues include osteoporosis (bone loss can show up in the teeth), HIV/AIDS (one of the first signs may show up in the gums), eating disorders (wearing away of enamel from vomiting), among others.

So, what do you do if you are afraid of dentists? That depends on the extent of your fear. If you are truly terrified of dentists, perhaps you can enlist the help of a therapist to learn coping techniques. It’s not as silly as it may sound – if fear is keeping you from caring for your teeth properly, then the fear need to be addressed.

Otherwise, you can find dentists that specialize with people who are scared or who have been traumatized. You may need to do some calling around first, but they are out there. Word-of-mouth is a good way to find dentists. Be open about your fear and ask for recommendations from people you know. Most are more than willing to share their experiences with a dentist who helped them overcome their fears. Perhaps a call to a local university department of dentistry may help if you, or even the regulating body for dentists in your state or province.

Dental care is important – it can be scary, but with the right team, it can also be done successfully and with the minimum of stress and discomfort.

News for Today (slim pickings!)

Staying slim improves survival after breast cancer diagnosis: study
Gleevec, the targeted cancer pill, delivers more good news to patients
Pneumonia Vaccine Is Keeping Kids Healthier
Hard to stomach

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas and allergies?

Are you one of the many people who get all stuffed up at Christmas time? Do find you have a sinus infection every New Year? Do you have a real Christmas tree? Your health and your tree may have something in common.

According to this article Allergies may be rooted in Christmas trees, it could be the tree that is making you sick. While this may not be new news to many doctors, it isn’t widely known among the general public.

I was listening to the radio the other day when this topic came up. People were suggesting that artificial trees were the way to go if you were allergic to real trees. My thought was, though, can’t a lot of dust accumulate on the artificial trees? I would think that this could also contribute to allergy symptoms – or is that too far off?

We’re a real tree family, although for the past few years, I have been floating the idea of an artificial tree. Unfortunately, the idea gets shot down each time. I grew up with artificial ones, but some of the now are so real looking, it’s amazing.

Mind you, there is something to be said about having that real tree, pine needles and all. I even don’t mind finding needles months later. Makes me think of our special holiday and how lucky I am to have this choice.

News for Today:

Laid-off workers face increased premature death risk: study
Take kids' cold meds off market, journal urges
Patients Need To Know that Nuclear Medicine Procedures Can Trigger Radiation Alarms
Participation in organized high school activities lowers risk of smoking 3 years after graduation
Advisory Panel Rejects New Use for Cancer Drug
Abstinence best for recovering alcoholics
Depression common with chronic lung disease
Allergies may be rooted in Christmas trees
Combined Therapy Pills Needed for Children, WHO Says (Update1)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Months, weeks, days for health issue awareness

Have you ever wondered how people keep track of the various cause by the month, week, or day, such as National Birth Defects Prevention Month (January), Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week (in March) or World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10)?

There are calendars available to tell you what health issue is noted at what time of the year. The one I like to consult is at the National Health Information Center. Who would have thought there was a National Radon Action Month or Whole Grains Month?

In all seriousness, it really does help bring awareness of some of the lesser known health issues. Journalists can use the calendars to pitch stories to general publications and associations can use them for publicity blitzes or charity events.

So, what’s coming up for this month? December is a slow month – there’s only Safe Toys and Gifts Month, National Aplastic Anemia and MDS Awareness Week (this week), World AIDS Day (that was on Dec. 1), and National Handwashing Awareness Week (this week, as well). In January, be ready to learn more about thyroid issues, cervical health, glaucoma, birth defects, and radon.

News for Today:

Poorly refrigerated vaccines force parents to get new shots for their children
Palliative care - Raising awareness key to improving access
Reactor shutdown leaves many patients in lurch
Respiratory infections linked to increased heart attacks and strokes

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My palliative care article on

Some shameless self-promotion here!

As many of you know, my passion is palliative care and getting the word out about how incredibly important the issue is. I wrote an article for Palliative care, Raising awareness key to improving access

Sinus infections

Sinus infections hurt; they hurt the head, they hurt the teeth, they just plain hurt. But, did you realize that a sinus infection can go beyond being just painful? A sinus infection that abscesses can cause brain damage and even death. Someone I know lost her brother to a sinusitis that abscessed and, when I worked in a school for physically handicapped children, there was a girl there who is a quadriplegic because of the same cause.

In other words – you can’t fool around with infected sinuses.

Ok, so what exactly are the sinuses?

They are empty cavities in your skull, behind your nose and eyes, which help lessen the weight of your head, some say. They are supposed to stay empty. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology has this good diagram to show you the different sinuses and where they are.

While they are supposed to stay empty, sinuses can fill with mucus when you have a cold or are experiencing an allergy. This can cause pressure and pain. If the mucus becomes inflamed (swollen), you have sinusitis.

Acute sinusitis lasts a couple of weeks and usually goes away with treatment. If your sinusitis does not go away or keeps returning, this is called chronic sinusitis. You only need antibiotics if the there is an infection, not if there is just inflammation.

Where the pain is located depends on the sinus cavity that is inflamed. If it is the frontal sinus, the pain is usually just above the eyebrows, around the forehead. The maxillary sinus is closer to your nose and jaw, so your jaw may be tender and feel as if there is a lot of pressure. You may even have a toothache or sore cheekbones. The ethmoid sinuses are between and behind your eyes, so this is where the pressure and pain would be, and the sphenoid sinuses would cause pain around your temples or even in your ear.

Other symptoms of a sinusitis can be:

- Blocked nose
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
- Post nasal drip
- Frequent headaches
- Reduced sense of smell
- Stuffed sounding voice

Don’t fool around with sinus infections. They can be serious.

News for Today:

Kids' earlier peanut exposure may cause allergy: study
Fitness, not low body fat, key to a long life
Watch for heart attack symptoms during holidays, experts advise
Medical marijuana restrictions unfair, lawyers contend
Survey confirms Americans prefer root canal treatment by endodontists
Some common treatments for sinus infections may not be effective

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Winter heart attack danger

Winter is here in North America and for much of us – lots of snow. It’s a good time to remind people about not over exerting and heart attack prevention.

The main problem is that many who don’t exercise all year long, put a lot of effort and exercise into shoveling and end up having a heart attack. There are a few medical emergencies that time is of absolute essence – if you think you or someone else is having a heart attack – don’t wait. It’s best to go to the emergency with a false alarm then to die because you weren’t sure if you should go.

What are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack?

This was taken directly from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute:

The most common heart attack signs and symptoms are:
· Chest discomfort or pain—uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest that can be mild or strong. This discomfort or pain lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
· Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
· Shortness of breath may occur with or before chest discomfort.
· Other signs include nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting, lightheadedness or fainting, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
If you think you or someone you know may be having a heart attack:
· Call 9–1–1 within a few minutes—5 at the most—of the start of symptoms.
· If your symptoms stop completely in less than 5 minutes, still call your doctor.
· Only take an ambulance to the hospital. Going in a private car can delay treatment.
· Take a nitroglycerin pill if your doctor has prescribed this type of medicine.
· Put an aspirin under your tongue. Aspirin reduces blood clotting and can help keep a heart attack from getting worse. But don’t delay calling 9–1–1 to take an aspirin.

Do you know if you are at risk of having a heart attack? You can take this quiz offered by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. Don’t wait. If you are at risk, take care of yourself. Your life absolutely depends on it.

News for Today:

Anorexic women's brains altered even after recovery: study
Diabetes drug Avandia may increase osteoporosis risk
High glycemic diet may raise cataract risk
Rapid test offers new weapon against chlamydia
Try honey to calm children's coughs, says study
Fever can temporarily unlock autism's grip
Relatives of patients with Parkinson's disease face increased risk of depression/anxiety disorders

Calgary researchers develop 2-in-1 heart attack test

Monday, December 3, 2007

24-hours a day - time for sleep?

Sleep is in the news again – we aren’t getting enough of it and it’s affecting our health in a big way.

Of course, for people working night shifts, getting a good sleep isn’t always easy. As much as we try to get our body to adjust to sleeping during the day instead of at night – it’s just not natural. The story Nurses working extended shifts, are tired at work and sleep little likely to drive drowsy is an important one. The issue doesn’t rest with just nurses though. It used to be that only certain professions worked overnight and those were the professions that were vital to the health and functioning of the community: doctors, nurses, bus drivers, city workers who plowed the snow, and many others.

But now, with our changing society, we have people working overnight at the local fast food places, some mega-store chains, 24-hour corner stores and more. While this may be making life easier for many of us who do work odd shifts, what it does is add to the number of people who are working hours that are unnatural to the body clock and adding to the number of people who may be driving in an exhausted state.

Good sleep is vital to good health, so maybe we need to rethink how we feel about what is really important to us.

News for Today:

New drug curbs age-related macular degeneration: study
Promising new HIV-AIDS drug approved in Canada
Childhood sleep-disordered breathing disproportionately affects obese and African-Americans
Study links blood transfusions to surgery complications in women
Short, long sleep duration associated with increased mortality
Nurses working extended shifts, are tired at work and sleep little likely to drive drowsy
New study in the journal Sleep finds that sleep duration raises the risk for diabetes
Napping a more effective countermeasure to sleepiness in younger people

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hip and knee replacements

Many people with osteoarthritis face the prospect of a hip or knee replacement sometime in their life. This major surgery is life changing and can add years of productivity and quality of life.

First, why a replacement?
As the knee or hip wears down, the pain can become unbearable. As it becomes harder to walk, activity levels go down. As activity levels go down, physical fitness can become affected and – importantly – it can the psychosocial aspect of life. Someone who can’t leave the home can become socially isolated, leading to depression and other issues. The older the person, the worse it can be.

What is involved in a replacement?
You can have a total replacement or a partial replacement. A total replacement is exactly what it says – the entire joint is replaced with a manmade device and attached to the bones. The implant is made of the socket, ball, and stem. A partial replacement involves only removing parts of the joint. Which one and which brand of replacement someone receives depends on many issues, including the extent of damage to the joint, the condition of the bones to which the joint must be attached, availability of the implant, and the surgeon’s experience.

This is a major surgery with all the accompanying surgical risks. People who are overweight may be told they need to lose weight first. The reason is very clear – the weight can cause problems with anesthesia and recovery, as well as the burden placed on the new joint. Those who smoke should stop smoking – this can greatly affect how someone recovers from anesthetic and there have been studies that show that smokers have a harder time healing.

What can be expected after surgery?
After a replacement, patients go either to a rehabilitation center or home, depending on how the home is set up and if there is help available. Physiotherapy is a large component of proper healing following a replacement so compliance with the physiotherapy program is vital

How long does an implant last?
The length of time an implant lasts depends on many issues and lifestyle factors. These include if someone is overweight, participates in impact-loading activities (running, for example), lifts heavy weights frequently, and so on.

What about complications?
Yes, there can be complications following hip or knee replacements. Occasionally, the hardware breaks or becomes loose, requiring a revision surgery. As well, the bone surrounding the replacement can weaken or break, causing problems. If pain or clicking noises begin, this should be investigated to prevent worsening of the problem.

Hip and knee replacements can literally re-open the world for people; technology can be a wonderful thing.

News for Today:

Montreal health experts want 60-second AIDS test available in province
New HIV-AIDS drug approved for Canadian market
Panel Seeks Warning to Prevent Pediatric Use of Sleep Drug
Ibuprofen associated with slower lung function decline in children with cystic fibrosis
Health Canada issues health alert for Axcil, Desirin
Identifying patients at high risk for total hip replacement
U.S. obesity rates level off: CDC
Cases of mumps continue to rise in Alberta
Night shift-cancer link gaining acceptance
Long-term improvement seen with hip replacement

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holistic medicine

Holistic health, often thought of as just a type of alternative medicine, is beginning to gain recognition in Western medicine. It makes sense if you think about it and it’s a shame that it is taking so long for the concept of holistic health to make inroads in our healthcare.

Look at two of today’s news stories: High blood pressure could worsen Alzheimer's: study and Depression linked to brittle bones in women. Blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease, and depression and osteoporosis. How many other diseases and health problems have we heard of that are related? Diabetes and high blood pressure is just one example of many.

In my opinion, it only makes sense that one part of the body affects another – for better or worse.

Traditionally, our medical approach is to treat the symptoms of an illness and then to try to get rid of the illness. This can be done by surgery (removing or repairing the problem) or treatment. While this approach may work much of the time, is it taking care of the whole problem? Holistic medicine encourages using all the resources available to you – be it psychology, acupuncture, massage, or any other field of so-called alternative medicine that is appropriate.

I often wonder, why is Western medicine so afraid of the older ones from elsewhere.

News for Today:

High blood pressure could worsen Alzheimer's: study
HIV infections rising among gay men in developed countries
Drug maker accepts FDA's new Tamiflu warning
System of simplified, standardized dosing instructions for prescription drug labels proposed
Heavy keyboard use won't trigger carpal tunnel woe
Depression linked to brittle bones in women

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dementia screening - is it time?

The article, Dementia screening in primary care: Is it time? was interesting to me. We are hearing more and more about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and the social, emotional, physical, and financial toll that the disease takes.

Some people feel that screening for dementia would catch a significant number of people who could slip through the cracks. However, currently there are no methods for across-the-board screening. In this article, it is argued that such screening could, in fact, have detrimental effects. It says, “Harms include possible stigma, loss of long term care insurance, emotional dislocation for both the individual and family, and resources’ shifting from other health problems.”

It’s a tough one. It’s a sad and frustrating situation when an elderly person does slip through the cracks when dementia develops and doesn’t receive the care he or she needs. There has to be a way to identify the people at risk without causing a whole new problem, as could be with overall screening.

News for Today:

Women happier when babies delivered by midwives: Statscan survey
Surgery allows amputees to 'feel' in missing hand
Dementia screening in primary care: Is it time?
Hospital superbugs now in nursing homes and the community
High-trauma fractures in older adults linked to osteoporosis, increased risk of another fracture
Factors identified to help predict risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women
Another complication for gastric bypass patients
PET/CT brings new hope to patients with deadly form of breast cancer
PET imaging may improve lung cancer diagnosis
Freezing bone cancer tumors reduces pain, Mayo Clinic study shows

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good and bad cholesterol?

We often hear about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, such as when we read articles like Not enough 'good' cholesterol makes it harder to recover from stroke. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand what bad or good cholesterol are and what the difference is between the two.

First, what is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is produced by our liver and ingested through food. We need cholesterol as a building block for healthy cells walls and tissues, among other things. However, cholesterol can also be dangerous as it can build up and block blood flow.

The so-called good cholesterol, the one we need to keep healthy is called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and the so-called bad cholesterol is called low-density lipoprotein (LDL). A trick to remember which is which – you want the good cholesterol to be high so HDL; you want the bad cholesterol to be low, so LDL.

The American Heart Association has this great section, What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean to help you understand the numbers and what numbers you want to see when your blood is tested.

Since it’s known that high LDL can contribute to heart disease and stroke, everyone – particularly those with heart disease in the family – should know their baseline cholesterol levels. The earlier you know your levels, the earlier you can begin working on prevention. If your levels are normal, your goal is to keep it normal; if your levels are too high for LDL, then your goals are lower your numbers.

News for Today:

Trained patients show improved cholesterol levels
Too little milk, exercise, sunshine hurting kids
Mental health hotlines help American farmers
City women more likely to have denser breasts, study suggests
High-glycemic index carbohydrates associated with risk for developing type 2 diabetes in women
Patient knowledge of heart risk profile may help improve cholesterol management
Not enough 'good' cholesterol makes it harder to recover from stroke
Attitudes toward mammography differ across ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds

Monday, November 26, 2007

News stories

What are the important health news stories of 2007 and the upcoming year? I’d like to hear what you have to say. I’ve written about different kinds of cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, and many other commonly discussed issues. I’ve also tackled issues like mental illness, addiction, and suicide – the last one being something that has affected me personally.

Of course, the news isn’t going to report a lot on issues that aren’t popular, that don’t raise too many eyebrows. If a disease, disorder, or disability is a concern, it’s up to us to raise the awareness because no-one else will. The more noise we make, the more news gets made.

So, how do we do that? Take suicide for example. I wrote a post earlier this year about suicide and I called it Suicide, not a disease, so no walkathons, ribbons, or research race. I also wrote: Quebec has one of the highest young male suicide rates in the country. Young men are one of the highest risk groups for suicide. In a youth suicide report published by the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care, it says: “Suicide has accounted for about 2% of annual deaths in Canada since the late 1970s. Eighty percent of all suicides in 1991 involved men. The male:female ratio for suicide risk was 3.8 to 1. In both males and females, the greatest increase between 1960 and 1991 occurred in the 15- to 19-year age group, with a four-and-a-half-fold increase for males, and a three-fold increase for females.”

Where are the hue and outcry that so many lives are being lost?

What do other people feel are important health issues? I will look for information and news on the different topics suggested.

News for Today:

FDA mulls psych warning for 2 flu drugs
Montreal doctor exploring link between football and ALS
Cryoablation continues to show good results for kidney cancer patients
'Mismatched' prostate cancer treatment more common than expected
Non-Caucasians at higher risk for severe metastatic breast cancer pain

Friday, November 23, 2007

Nurses and addiction

One of the leading stories in Montreal yesterday was the temporary license suspension of two nurses who were found guilty of diverting morphine from their patients: Two Montreal nurses suspended for using morphine. Sadly, this does happen – nurses have access to these types of medications and if they are drug-dependent, the temptation may be too strong for them to resist.

There was an outcry on one of the talk radio stations; the host felt that the nurses should never be allowed to get their license back – that they should be banned from working as a nurse forever. He blamed the union for the nurses to be allowed to one day regain their license.

I’m of two minds about this. I do see where the radio host was coming from. The news reports stated one of the nurses injected patients with saline in order to keep the narcotic for himself. I can only imagine the pain the patient must have been experiencing and how awful it must have been to be unrelieved. The anger the host had for this act was understandable. After all, this calls into question if this could ever happen to us.

But the other side of the story is, what if nurses successfully complete drug rehabilitation – should they be forever banned from earning a living in their profession? Isn’t that the point of rehabilitation? This particular story says that the nurses have been clean now since they were caught.

Is it really a one or the other option? Or is there another option; is it possible that nurses who have abused drugs can work again but without access to narcotics? Does such an option exist?

My fear for allowing recovering addicts to return would be the temptation that they may fall into. As successful as a rehab can be, if the temptation is there in front of the nurses every day, how easy might it be to fall back under the spell of the addiction? Did those nurses develop this problem after they were nurses or did they enter the profession with this addiction already? This could make a difference.

There are no easy answers.

News for Today:

Thalidomide resurfaces as treatment for multiple myeloma
B.C. community pleads for help to halt suicide 'epidemic'
Two Montreal nurses suspended for using morphine
Mirror helps relieve phantom limb pain

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Portion control!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. Today, millions of people in the US will be tucking into their favourite meals. Whether you are a turkey lover or a non-traditionalist, hopefully you will get to enjoy yourself.

Many websites have tips on how to avoid overeating at this time of year, how to watch your weight, how to avoid fat and all that stuff. I figure, as long as this type of eating is a special event, there isn’t too much wrong with taking part. Moderation – portion control – is the ticket though. Have a bit of everything and enjoy it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a regular health post.

News for Today:

More Americans exercising, though obesity rates going nowhere: study
Arterial vascular disease underdiagnosed, undertreated in older US women
Lung transplants bring more harm than good to children with cystic fibrosis

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Long-last effects of smoke exposure

The article on chronic lung disorder touches home for me Canadians at risk of chronic lung disorder: survey. I fall into the age group since I’m 46 and I do have problems with my lungs. They tighten up easily and I have had problems over the past years. I was from that generation when my father smoked his pipe in the car with the windows closed. I hated it, but I didn’t have much say in it, unfortunately.

The American Lung Association has an interesting fact sheet that lists the many dangers of second-hand smoke. Reuters Health carried this article last week: Nicotine byproduct found in babies of smokers.

I do realize and understand that smokers are feeling attacked – they can’t do a legal activity in many places; they are reviled by many because of their smoking. And, even as a non-smoker, I can understand that. If smoking is legal, it does seem to be contradictory to be forbidding it in so many places. The problem is though, where does their right to smoke end and my right to not breathe in their smoke begin?

What I don’t understand is why the kids are still beginning to smoke. Most kids I know have been told all their young lives how horrible smoking is – and yet they still begin. In Quebec, cigarettes are really expensive – so not only are they taking part of a habit that is ultimately health destroying, it’s hard on the pocketbook.

People who are heavily addicted are forced to stand outside in nasty, cold weather to get their cigarette fix, but where is the appeal for the teens who aren’t yet addicted? Is it still considered cool to smoke?

News for Today:

Canadians at risk of chronic lung disorder: survey
Trauma may alter the stress response, even in healthy people, Cornell study shows
Methadone alternative to hit Canadian market
Skin injuries to patients can be avoided when radiation dose is monitored
Illicit drug use among students steady, but painkiller use of concern: report
Post-treatment PET scans can reassure cervical cancer patients
Heart disease kills more U.S. women under 45

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Osteoporosis - truly a silent killer

Osteoporosis is a major health problem in North America – affecting both men and women According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 1 out of 4 women and 1 out of 8 men over 50 years of age have osteoporosis. In the United States, The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that 8 million women and 2 million men are estimated to already have osteoporosis, and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis.

As the population ages, the number of people with osteoporosis will rise.

The Osteoporosis Foundation of Canada offers this very interesting FAQ on the disease. It reviews risk factors, how to prevent the onset or worsening of osteoporosis, and the importance of exercise, among other issues.

Prevention osteoporosis and the resulting problems is something that needs to be taken seriously. As the article, Osteoporosis a silent killer, explains, osteoporosis not only causes pain and discomfort, it can cause death.

The well-known “hump-back” that many older people have is the result of osteoporosis. The bones (vertebrae) in the spine are collapsing and breaking, causing this humped appearance. This can affect mobility and cause pain but, importantly, it can affect breathing as the lungs don’t have the space to expand properly. We also have heard many stories about a senior being seemingly perfectly healthy until they fall and break a hip – then they deteriorate to not being able to live alone or die. The issue wasn’t the actual fall and broken hip, it is often the osteoporosis that made the break possible and healing impossible.

Here is a good quote, taken from the Osteoporosis Foundation of Canada: “Osteoporosis has been called a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences.” The time to begin preventing osteoporosis is from childhood. If a child receives the proper nutrients to build stronger bones, this will help him or her later on in life.

News for Today:

Teenage girls, and increasingly boys, dieting to stay thin: study
Migraine sufferers' brains show changes in pain-sensing areas: researchers
Thyroid cancer numbers way up, study finds
Sinus problems are treated well with safe, inexpensive treatment
Working with depression
For Men, a Simple New Test of Bone Strength
Osteoporosis a silent killer

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blood thinners - life saving medications

Medications to thin the blood (anti-coagulants) are a fact of life for many people. These medications are very serious drugs – too much and it becomes too difficult for the blood to clot, too little and it the drugs can’t do their job. If you are receiving injections, it is most likely that you are getting heparin; if you are taking pills, this is warfarin (Coumadin®)

Who has to take a blood thinner? Many people have to take them, but the most common reasons are if you have had:

- a stroke caused by a blood clot (not caused by a bleed)
- any type of clot in the blood system that did or may have caused a stroke or a pulmonary embolism
- a joint replacement
- a heart valve replacement

One of the most important issues when taking a blood thinner is to be sure you’re taking the right dose. For this reason, you need to have frequent blood tests to measure how quickly your blood is clotting; your dosage is often adjusted following these tests, particularly when you first begin taking the medication. The problem is, this can be really inconvenient for a lot of people – taking the time to go for these blood tests. That’s why this article was interesting: Home testing of blood thinner levels superior.

Because of the seriousness of warfarin, it's important that you take certain precautions while taking it. First of all, you should make sure that emergency personnel know you are taking warfarin in case of emergency; this means wearing a MedicAlert® bracelet, keeping a card in your wallet, and making sure that the people around you know that you are taking the medication. This is particularly important because if you have an accident at work or out with friends, like falling on the stairs, cut yourself, or break a limb, for example, your blood may not clot as quickly as it should and could cause serious problems.

You may experience some slight bleeding, such as when you are brushing your teeth or a menstrual period heavier than you are used to; however, if you experience any of the following, contact your clinic, healthcare professional, or go to the emergency room immediately (copied from

· Red, dark, coffee or cola colored urine
· Bowel movements that are red or look like tar
· Too much bleeding from the gums or nose.
· Throwing up coffee colored or bright red substance.
· Coughing up red-tinged secretions
· Severe pain (such as headache or stomachache).
· Sudden appearance of bruises for no reason.
· Excessive menstrual bleeding.
· A cut that will not stop bleeding within 10 minutes
· A serious fall
· Hitting your head

The document lists many issues to keep in mind, such as how to prevent injury, using other medications, and side effects, to name a few.

Warfarin and heparin are life savers, but they have to be used with caution.

News for Today:

Retraining promotes physical fitness in seniors: study
Home testing of blood thinner levels superior
FDA Approves Mircera: First Renal Anemia Treatment In The US With Monthly Maintenance Dosing

Friday, November 16, 2007

Healthcare professionals and stress

I had to dig deep to find these stories – not much happened yesterday.

On Wednesday, I posted a link to an article about healthcare workers and stress. Anyone who has ever worked with the public in any capacity, be it a server in a restaurant, a bus driver, or receptionist, to name a few, can attest that it can be very stressful at times. While many members of the public are polite and understanding, many are not. Separately, being responsible for someone’s health is stressful. You don’t want to make mistakes, you’re dealing with people’s dreams and lives, with pain and discomfort. That’s pretty stressful too. So, combine working with the public with working in health care and you’ve got a heck of stressful situation sometimes.

There is never an excuse for a rude or nasty nurse or healthcare professional. Ever. The thing is, sometimes certain attitudes can be mistaken for rudeness and this can set off a chain of events. Picture this scenario: a nurse has a patient who is deteriorating rapidly and needs emergency interventions. She has another patient who is close to discharge, not well, but not acute any more. The healthier patient wants the nurse to do something, like perhaps get a pain medication, just as the sicker patient is crashing. The nurse has to address the sicker patient and deals with the emergency, delaying the pain medication for the other patient, or perhaps forgetting altogether. The scenarios that can follow are numerous. The original patient may end up perceiving the nurse as rude or uncaring, when this may be completely untrue – but it is the patient’s perception.

The stress doesn’t come from just the patient care though. Often, nurses (and other healthcare professionals) are pressed to make do in situations that really shouldn’t happen. This could mean short staffing, work overload, forced over time, and so on.

Then, there is the physical stress of the job. For example, someone has to be awake and moving at 2 in the morning. This person has to be able to make snap decisions and move quickly, regardless of if he or she has been able to get a decent sleep during the day. Patient care is heavy and very physical; causing many nurses to experience back pain.

All this paints a bleak picture, doesn’t it? I don’t mean to. Health care is very rewarding; there are few other things you can do in life that can affect someone as deeply as you can do if you work in this environment. But the stress is causing many people to quit the profession or to shut down while working – doing on the basic minimum and not striving to reach their best.

News for Today:

FDA adds heart attack warning to diabetes drug Avandia
New Drug Fights Medication-Linked Bone Loss
Weight Loss Drug Rimonabant Linked To Severe Depression Or Anxiety Risk