February 18, 2016
Physical Health / Women's Health
Did you know that dental health can be associated with pre-term labor and low birth weight (PLBW) in infants? According to Periodontitis – A True Infection...
Did you know that dental health can be associated with pre-term labor and low birth weight (PLBW) in infants? According to Periodontitis – A True Infection, “infection is now considered one of the major causes of PLBW deliveries, responsible for somewhere between 30% and 50% of all cases, and periodontitis and periodontal diseases are true infections of the oral cavity.” [Saini R, Marawar PP, Shete S, Saini S.]
While future mothers know certain aspects of their health are important during their pregnancy, many may not understand that gum health is a very important part of their overall health. Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. The cause of periodontal disease is plaque – the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth. The frightening reality is that because gum disease is usually painless, most people are unaware they even have it.
If you are having issues with your gums and you are pregnant, it is not too late to get the required treatment during pregnancy. The best ways to protect yourself from periodontal disease include:
Those who were treated with scaling and root planning before they reached the 35-week stage of their pregnancy reduced their chance of having a premature baby by 84%. You can read more about preventative oral care here.
Studies conducted by:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Pennsylvania
University of Alabama
Rajiv Saini, Santosh Saini, and Sugandha R. Saini. Periodontitis: A risk for Delivery of Premature Labor and Low-Birth-Weight Infants.
February 17, 2016
Mental Health / Stress
With the frantic pace of modern life, the need for stress management to keep our body and mind healthy is becoming increasingly important. High levels of stress can...
With the frantic pace of modern life, the need for stress management to keep our body and mind healthy is becoming increasingly important. High levels of stress can directly contribute to increased heart rate, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels. Knowing how to effectively reduce stress is imperative to our overall health and surprisingly, one of the easiest ways to quickly reduce stress is to smile! That’s right – fake it ‘til you make it.
In one of the original studies on this topic, psychologist Paul Ekman found that subjects adopting a “Duchenne smile” – a full smile that involves facial muscles around the eyes – produced a change in brain activity that corresponded with a happier mood. Later in 2012, a University of Kansas team conducted their own study which found that subjects who had smiles on their faces during stressful activities actually exhibited lower heart rate levels after completing stressful tasks. So while smiling might not instantaneously make you feel happy, it can help your body recover from the effects of stress much more quickly.
So why does smiling actually help relieve stress? In addition to helping lower your heart rate, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress1. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. The “feel good” neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when we smile which helps relieve stress and control heart rate2. This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
Next time you feel your stress levels rising, try smiling and make a positive attitude shift to help the stress melt away. For more tips on how to effectively manage your stress levels, visit our blog post at: http://blog.molinahealthcare.com/pages/say-no-to-stress.aspx?cat=Stress
February 11, 2016
Physical Health / Safety
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that has garnered international attention due to a potential link to the dramatic rise of microcephaly in South and Central American...
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that has garnered international attention due to a potential link to the dramatic rise of microcephaly in South and Central American countries. Microcephaly is a birth defect that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads which can lead to severe developmental issues and even death. While researchers are still trying to create a vaccine, the response to the Zika outbreak within the U.S. has been swift, which National Health Institute officials say makes us “better prepared” to deal with the virus.
As the Zika virus outbreak continues, new cases in Florida and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have prompted them to announce a state of emergency. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), locally transmitted cases have been found in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Currently, no mosquito transmitted Zika cases have been reported in the continental United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers in the following states: Florida, Texas, California, and Illinois. It's important to keep in mind that the threat is virtually nonexistent to those in the U.S. that are not traveling to the countries where the Zika virus is endemic.
Below are some important things to know about the virus and how it can be prevented from the CDC website:
What are common symptoms of the virus?
1 in 5 people infected with Zika will have symptoms. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain and headache. Symptoms commonly occur 2 to 7 days after being infected.
How is the virus treated?
While there is no vaccine or medication to treat the virus, the CDC recommends that individuals who are infected get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, take a pain and fever reducer (acetaminophen is recommended). The virus usually remains in the blood stream for anywhere from a few days to a week.
How can the risk contracting of Zika be prevented?
Wear clothing that covers your body and wear Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent. When traveling, it is very important to prevent mosquito bites by sleeping in a well-screened room or using a mosquito bed net.
Are there any other things to know about the virus?
While Zika is primarily transmitted through mosquitoes, the virus can also be spread during pregnancy from mother to baby. There are reports linking this virus to a risk of babies being born with microcephaly – a serious birth defect where babies heads are much smaller than expected due to a problem with development during pregnancy. Due to this, the CDC recommends that women who are pregnant avoid traveling to these areas and be sure to take preventative measures against mosquito bites if they are in an infected area.
See your healthcare provider right away if you develop symptoms. If you have traveled recently, be sure to tell your healthcare provider.
For more information on Zika virus, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
February 03, 2016
February is National Heart Month and this Friday is National Wear Red day to raise awareness about heart health amongst women nationwide. Heart disease and strokes...
February is National Heart Month and this Friday is National Wear Red day to raise awareness about heart health amongst women nationwide. Heart disease and strokes are responsible for one in three deaths among women each year, but this rate could be vastly improved through proper awareness, education and lifestyle changes.
National Wear Red day was created in 2003 and we’re already seeing the difference. According to GoRedForWomen.org, more than 50% have increased their exercise, six out of 10 have changed their diets and nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day as a result of the increased education and awareness.
Some of the steps you can take towards maintaining a healthy heart include:
Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to combat heart disease. Make a point to get outside regularly – even if it means taking a 10 minute break to get up from your work desk and take a walk around the building.
Cook heart healthy meals that are low in saturated fats and low cholesterol to help maintain your heart’s health.
Explore any genetic predispositions
While maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can drastically reduce your risk of heart disease, it’s important to understand your family’s heart health history to check for any genetic predispositions to heart disease in your family. The U.S. Department of Health and Human services has a great tool to help you build your family’s health history that can be found at: https://familyhistory.hhs.gov/FHH/html/index.html
Talk to your doctor
For some people, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and control risk of heart disease. Your doctor may need to prescribe medications to help you achieve your goal.
This Friday, show your support and commitment to reducing risk, improving health and saving women’s lives but putting on your favorite red dress, red shirt, or red tie.
National Wear Red Day is a registered trademark of HHS and AHA.