Saturday, June 1, 2013

It's Time for Blogathon 2013!

Last year, I participated in my first ever Blogathon. The challenge is to post every day for the month, so that was 31 posts for the month of May. This year, the blogathon is in June, which gives us one fewer day to have to blog. Maybe we should lobby for February next year?

The idea behind the blogathon is to help push bloggers to posting regularly and to think outside the box of their usual posts. That means there are theme days and bloggers are encouraged to do guest blogs. As well, we visit blogs that we may not normally, giving us an opportunity to learn more about what others are writing about.

So, how am I going to do this year? Last year wasn't has hard as I thought it would be but it wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be either. I have to admit, the results were rewarding and I was happy that I stuck it out. I write about topics that affect many people and even if you aren't personally touched by the topic, you may know someone who is. I like to get people thinking about different issues and although they're not always health-related, they do have something to do with quality of life.

Last year I asked what people would like me to write about and I did get some suggestions, both in the comments section and privately. So, I'm asking again. What topics interest you and what would you like to see addressed here?

And while you're at it, why not go over to WordCount and see what the other more than 200 bloggers are writing about this month. You'll find everything from hobbies to sports to tech to spirituality, and more. Maybe you'll even find a blog that makes you think "wow, I could do that!"

The WordCount Blogathon

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Is the Summer of Love Killing Your Liver?

by Elizabeth Hanes RN

As the slogan goes, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” But for many Baby Boomers - people born in the United States between 1946 and 1964 - what happened during the “Summer of Love” may not be staying in The Sixties.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 million adults in the U.S. are infected with the Hepatitis C virus (also called Hep-C or HCV). Most of those are Baby Boomers. And 75 percent of them don’t even know they’re infected. To close out Hepatitis Awareness Month this May , I want to talk a bit about HCV and why it’s vitally important all Baby Boomers get tested for it.

What is Hepatitis C?

HCV is a virus that causes scarring of the liver (clinically called “cirrhosis”). Cirrhosis eventually can develop into liver cancer, a very serious disease.

How do you get Hep-C?

The virus travels from person to person by exposure to infected blood. Exposure can occur through needle sharing or sexual relations, among other things. As a Boomer myself, I’m well aware of the indiscretions that occurred during the Free Love era, which lasted from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s or so. Multiple sex partners and drug experimentation didn’t always seem dangerous at that time. Unfortunately, those long-forgotten activities could have exposed you to Hepatitis C. That’s why the CDC recommends HCV testing for any Baby Boomer who even once experimented with injectable drugs or had multiple sex partners. Even if that exchange of blood (from a needle) or bodily fluid (from...well, you know) occurred 40 years ago, the Hepatitis C virus could have entered your system at that time and be destroying your liver today.

How is Hepatitis C diagnosed?

As a nurse, I admit I’m not always so good about asking people if they’ve been tested for HCV. When I’m working with a balding, middle-aged man in a suit and tie, it’s difficult for me to picture him as a long-haired youth wearing a fringed vest and tapestry headband. And if I’m taking the vital signs of a middle-aged woman in a solid, 20-year marriage, it can be hard to imagine she once may have been a love child getting frisky with other dudes at the crash pad.

Many people with HCV have no symptoms, so it’s important to get screened even if you feel perfectly healthy. A simple blood test can tell you if you’re infected with the Hep-C virus. Don’t be shy about asking to be screened.

Bottom line: If you don’t know your HCV status, ASK. Don’t wait for your physician to bring up the subject.

What can I do if I'm infected?

No cure exists for HCV. You can keep your liver healthy, in general, by taking these steps:
• Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
• Do not use illicit drugs, especially injectable ones
• Do not share needles
• Avoid eating a fatty diet, since a fatty liver also can cause cirrhosis
• Exercise regularly

Don’t let your youthful indiscretions come back to haunt you in middle age. Get tested for Hepatitis C today!