June 17, 2016
Dr. Michael Brodsky
Addiction / Mental Health / Physical Health
Today there are more kinds of pain relievers available to help patients than ever before. But the painkillers used to treat the most severe kinds of pain, called...
Today there are more kinds of pain relievers available to help patients than ever before. But the painkillers used to treat the most severe kinds of pain, called opioids, can have serious and even deadly side effects. In recent years, there has been an epidemic increase in the number of deaths resulting from overdoses of prescription painkillers. In 2014 there were 14,000 deaths from prescription opioid overdoses, and today more than 40 Americans die from a prescription opioid overdose every day. When Hollywood celebrities die from drug overdoses, opioid medications are often part of the root cause.
The effects of opioids are powerful and can easily become addictive, even when the original physical pain has subsided. Two side effects of opioid medicines are particularly dangerous. First, the medicine has a strong sedating effect and, if taken in excess, can cause loss of attention, drowsiness, or even loss of consciousness. Second, and even more dangerous, opioid medicines reduce the brain’s signals to the lungs to keep breathing. The “breathing center” in the brain gets even more sleepy than the rest of the brain, with potentially tragic results.
What makes this problem even trickier is that these medications are prescribed by doctors. Like alcohol, prescription opioids are 100% legal. Opioids can be quite effective in relieving pain in the short term, for example after surgery. But also like alcohol, the risks tend to rise when larger doses are used to obtain relief; when use is prolonged or chronic; and when used along with other substances that can magnify the effects.
For these reasons, it’s important to let every doctor and dentist know if you are taking painkillers, and if so, how much and how often. Doctors and dentists are not always aware of all of the medicines prescribed by other providers. When medicines are prescribed to be taken “as needed,” it can be difficult for doctors to guess just how big a dose that an individual uses each day.
It’s also a very good idea to use a single pharmacy to fill all of your prescriptions. Pharmacies have electronic databases that can detect duplicate prescriptions as well as potential drug interactions, and those problems are mostly likely to be detected if all the prescriptions are housed at a single facility.
Sometimes, patients or their family members notice that more and more opioids are being used, with little relief. Other times, patients or their family members recognize that there is a problem of overuse or abuse of these medications. It’s very important to speak up if you or someone you care about is having a problem with painkillers. Tragically, the risks of “self-medicating” with opioids are high and appear to be rising. The good news is, there are proven ways to help reduce the risks, the cravings, and the consequences of opioid overuse.
If you or someone you care about needs help, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Hotline at 1-800-662-4357.
June 10, 2016
Justine dela Rosa
Men’s Health Month takes place every June to raise awareness on important men’s health issues and to remind them to care for themselves.
In the United...
In the United States, men live an average of five to six years less than their female counterparts. The Men’s Health Network reports that men are more likely than women to die from 9 out of the top 10 causes of death including heart disease, cancer, stroke, accidents, diabetes, pneumonia or the flu, suicide, kidney disease and chronic liver disease (Web MD).
According to the Men's Health Initiative of British Columbia, approximately 30% of a man’s health is determined by his genetics. The majority, the remaining 70% of his wellbeing, is determined by his lifestyle choices.
So, guys – in honor of Men’s Health Month 2016, here are some tips for taking better care of your health:
Stop Making Excuses
One of the biggest reasons men suffer from more conditions than women is because they aren’t visiting the doctor as much as they should be – or in some cases, not at all. Men are half as likely to attend routine checkups.
Some common reasons men put off their appointments are because they “would rather tough it out,” they “have no time,” or they “know nothing is wrong.”
Put your pride, laziness or whatever’s stopping you from going to the doctor to the side. Routine checkups can help you detect issues early or before they become even bigger problems.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Be observant of any possible signs or symptoms, such as pain, urination problems or breathing abnormalities. Make sure to also check on your blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Are they too low or too high? Speak up to your doctor!
Throw out your cigarettes because giving up smoking drastically reduces your risk of lung disease, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Good nutrition is all about balance. Be mindful of the fatty, salty and sugary foods you consume and watch your alcohol intake. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are jam-packed with vitamins that can help protect your body from chronic illnesses.
The CDC recommends at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week. Whatever your exercise of choice may be — walking, running, playing a sport, yoga — feel free to spread it out in a way you can manage. And come on guys — 2 ½ hours a week isn’t that much.
Resting is just as important as exercising. Lack of sleep — a recommended 7-9 hours each night — can cause motor vehicle or machinery accidents due to drowsiness. Sleeping problems and insufficiency is also linked to chronic conditions including diabetes, depression and cardiovascular disease.
June 03, 2016
Justine dela Rosa
Every year, the first Sunday of June is celebrated as National Cancer Survivors Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...
Every year, the first Sunday of June is celebrated as National Cancer Survivors Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 14 million people
who have been diagnosed with cancer are living in the United States today. Cancer death rates are continuing to decline because of improvements in cancer
prevention, detection and treatment.
While it’s great news that more people are now overcoming the fight against cancer, it doesn’t mean life is easy once cancer treatment is over.
Cancer survivors can face a number of external and internal obstacles – physically, financially and emotionally. Some of these hardships can include the
Here are some ways you can stay happy and healthy post-cancer.
Be aware of what is happening to your body. Cancers generally have predictable recurrence patterns (Cancer.net), so keep a close eye for any symptoms and make sure
to pay attention to your health. Create a follow-up plan with your care provider and discuss recommended medical tests. Follow-up cancer care is important
in identifying any significant changes to your health.
Keep Your Medical Records
Keep organized copies of your medical records to avoid complications when going to the doctor, pharmacy or other care services. An organized file of all
your medications, treatments, operations and diagnoses can come in handy!
Communicate your emotions and fears with your doctors, your family and your friends. Individual counseling and support groups are two great resources that
can help you cope, no matter what or how you’re feeling.
Weight control can be beneficial for some cancer survivors. Exercising also helps people cope with anxiety and find mental peace.
Communicate With Your Employer (If Necessary)
Various factors influence when and how you should begin a new job or return to work after cancer, such as the job type and your personal health and
recovery. If you are looking to start a new one, a social worker may be able to assist you with your legal rights as a cancer survivor. Whether you’re in
the job market or returning to your previous job, make sure to communicate with your employer (or potential employer) about any necessary accommodations or
schedule changes. Unless you are seeking such accommodations, you are not required to disclose your health with your employer or coworkers.
Watch Your Nutrition
Be mindful of what you are putting into your body: tobacco included! Smoking can lead to cancer recurrence or ignite an additional cancer. Check with your
doctor to see if you have any food or diet restrictions and work with your physicians to develop an eating plan that’s right for you.
Needless to say, being fit is a great way to stay healthy whether you have cancer or not. Studies have shown that increased physical activity can reduce
the risk of recurrence for various cancers, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer (Web MD).
In addition to increasing life expectancy after cancer, exercise can reduce fatigue and fight off depression and anxiety, thus improving your mood. Once
you have discussed what kinds of physical activity is best for you with your physician, get moving!
While survivorship isn’t picture perfect, remember that you can still have a fulfilling life after cancer.