Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How Influenza Will Make You More Popular

Do you want to stand out in the crowd?

Tired of being invisible?

Wanna be the center of attention with your friends and even strangers?

I have just the answer to gaining popularity!

Show up to work, send your kid to school or better yet, shop for groceries with a hacky, barky, snotty, feverish flushed cheeks, runny nose aura about you!  And for good measure, make sure to have a cough capable of heaving out a lung or two, because that will be sure to get EVERYONE'S attention. 

People!! We are in the throws of Influenza season and of course, as is always the case with media, it's the worst year ever for the flu!  It may or it may not be, who's to say, and how do we really know?  Every year we seem to get the same 'chicken little' rhetoric but seriously, if you or a loved one is sick, stay home.  It's the only sensible way to stop the spread of viruses including Influenza.  I promise you, there are better ways to gain popularity than spreading disease.

Let's discuss some influenza facts...because smart people are popular people!

  • Influenza is not the pukes!  If you are puking don't tell people you have the Flu.  You have a stomach bug or people love to blame the last restaurant they ate at when they get the pukes but whatever, it's not Influenza.  A nuisance and uncomfortable and requires more buckets than you have laying times, and increased fluids and many trips to the bathroom, but it's still not the flu. 
  • Influenza is a respiratory virus that infects the nose, the throat and sometimes the lungs and can range from mild to severe.  It just depends on how good your luck is. The symptoms are cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches, sore muscles, headaches, fatigue and you may or may not have a fever. 
  • There is more than one strain of influenza.  The Center for Disease Control has creatively named each strain- A. B. C. and D.  Let me break it down for you.  Seasonal Influenza are basically strains A and B...the kind we are suffering from currently and the ones they focus the ever powerful Influenza vaccine that has about a 60% success rate give or take, depending on how smart the CDC was feeling that year.   Strains A and B can cause pandemics and we are experiencing that right now!  Strain C is a very mild form of the flu and doesn't typically spread as easily.  Finally, strain D basically just shows up in cows so if you are not a cow then you don't even need to worry about this.  If you have cattle tendencies, like having 9 stomachs or chew your cud, or have hoofed feet, you may want to consult your vet, doctor. 
           There are several sub-sets within each strain but for this article, we aren't going to go there.
  • The flu spreads by the tiny droplets of viral matter that spews from your sneezes or when you talk or leave your tissue laying around your desk.   A person with the flu can infect someone else from day one to day 5 or even day 7 of symptoms.  (Incidentally, if this is how you want to be popular, this is for sure when you should wander around Walmart or your favorite grocery store, coughing and sneezing and sharing in your flu delight). This is just an estimate of how contagious the flu is. 
  • The flu is not always going to stop at a little respiratory discomfort.  Some of the complications include...but are not limited to ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia and can make chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure,  asthma or even diabetes worse!  This is when the flu gets scary and can escalate to a serious health crisis. If you have a poor immune system, if you are pregnant, are over age 65, have chronic health problems or are a young child, you need to get your doctor on board sooner than later.  You will want to be aggressive in treating these symptoms. 
  • Diagnosing the flu is not any easier than actually having the flu.  There are bacterial respiratory infections that can appear to be the flu and the symptoms are similar.  Your best bet is to see your healthcare provider.  Do not leave this up to Google or WebMD though I sure they have snippets of truth to be found, you need a living breathing, medical degree to get you started on treatment. 
  • Which brings me to my next point...there are medications available to treat influenza.  The anti virals out there are usually pretty effective and can shorten the duration of the flu significantly.  Here's a tip, when you go to the doctor's office, indulge in the masks, sanitizer and tissues that are available at no charge to you!  This goes back to the idea that there are easier ways to get attention than coughing your little feverish head off, in the waiting room. That mask is going to look darling on your face and much better than the cold, glaring eyes that will pierce your soul. 
  • Finally, the time to start fighting the flu isn't when you get the flu.  You should be maintaining good strong, gut health long before flu season.  Did you know that your gut is one of the major components to your immune system?  If you don't believe me, Google it.  Also, practice good solid hand washing techniques.  Singing the ABC song isn't a bad idea while you wash your hands, you know like kindergarten teachers tell the Littles.  Sing loud, sing proud, sing away those germs.  Throw back some Vitamin C every day, and up your probiotics.  Don't feel like you have to hang around sick people because you don't have to.  Take advantage of a little alone time when your best friend or nearest stranger are sick.
One last thought!  If you are sick and at the first sign of being sick, call in sick.  Consider this your time to shine with a run of Netflix movies that would make any movie critic blush. How often do you get sent to your room?  Please, these are the goals of adulthood, indulge.  If you can't do it when you have the flu, when can you?  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

How PMS Will Change Your Life

Photography of Woman Sitting on Chair Near Window

If you suffer with Premenstrual Syndrome, congratulations!

You aren't alone!

You join the ranks of one of the most common complaints from menstruating women.  Nearly 85% of women suffer from these hormone changes during THAT time of the month. It's a well known condition but scientists aren't completely sure why it happens.  One theory out of Sweden is that for some women, they have a difficult time adjusting to the changes and fluctuations in hormones each month.
You probably don't need an article to explain the symptoms to you, as most women are well acquainted with the trouble PMS can cause, but here's a short list of what you might be feeling.  Keep in mind that PMS symptoms are predictable, emotional and physical and happen at the same time each month.  If your are feeling these things all the time, or to extremes, that interrupt your daily life, you are dealing with something other than Premenstrual Syndrome and should visit with one of our providers.

  • Mood Swings
  • Increased Anxiety or Depression
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Food Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep issues
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain/fluid retention
  • Acne Flares
  • Cramping
Many of these symptoms can be alleviated with simple changes in lifestyle, diet and exercise.  
Such as:
  • Limit salty food
  • Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
  • Choose complex carbohydrates, ie. fruits and vegetables
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Keep exercising, even when PMS begins
  • Find ways to relieve stress
  • Get as much sleep as possible
  • Massage therapy or Acupuncture
There are other things you can try as well:
  • Calcium to help with psychological symptoms and cramping
  • Magnesium can reduce fluid retention and bloating
  • Vitamin E helps with cramping and breast tenderness
  • Antidepressants taken for two weeks during the hormone shifts can help the psychological symptoms.
If you are suffering with PMS, you don't have to suffer half the month alone.  If you aren't getting relief from some of these ideas, visit your provider.  There are rare times when PMS can escalate to something more serious called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.  It's important that you don't self medicate or try to treat it with lifestyle changes.  You need immediate medical attention. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Surviving the Empty Nest

 Woman Wearing Brown Coat

You have dreamed of the empty nest for years.

 Remember those tumultuous years, when the kids were teens and their frontal lobes bobbed along aimlessly, in a sea of pimples and mood swells? An empty nest was the thing of dreams and distant fairy tales. 

So, here we are.  The kids actually turned out alright, they have stepped out into the world of adulthood and all of a sudden, they know it all!  Congratulations on the job well done!  We all survived.

But now what?  What happens now that you have all the time in the world?  It's not as dreamy as you once thought is it?  In fact, it can be lonely and in many ways, feel like your identity left with the last kid leaving the driveway. 

The empty nest comes with major life adjustments when you no longer have to divide your attention among the children.  For some, it is the greatest moment they always thought it would be, but that isn't the case for everyone. So, how do you survive the empty nest?

First of all, instead of focusing on the negative changes and sadness that can come with life changes such as this, consider the joy and satisfaction that comes with watching your kids grow and flourish and find their own way in life.  They couldn't do that without you!  With a little time and patience in the process of change, you will find that your nest isn't empty at all.

Here are some ideas for how to survive and even thrive! 

  1. Anticipate their departure.  Give them confidence that you will be okay when they are gone and remember that technology today, still keeps them in your back pocket. 
  2. Consider ways you can reignite your relationship with your spouse or how to reconnect with old and new friends, if you are single.  Single parents often face a whole other set of challenges in the empty next. 
  3. Talk to other empty nesters and find out what they did during this period of transition.
  4. Don't make any big life changes during this time. 
  5. Create new routines, especially on the weekend when there tends to be more down time. 
  6. Remember all those things you thought you would do when the kids grew up?  Make a list of all those things.  Choose some new skills to learn, classes to take, go back to school, start a small business, find a hobby, volunteer in the community...the list of things you can do is endless.  
  7. Practice putting yourself first.  This can be a very hard thing to do for some women as we tend to be givers, not takers, so start out slow if needed, even an hour a day. 
  8. Consider a little more play time and spontaneous activities, it can be very liberating.
  9. It's finally time to take care of you.  All those years of putting everyone else in the family above your own needs is over.  Get caught up on your own health.  Start walking, consider a gym membership, clean up your diet.  
  10. Spend a little time being with yourself.  Get to know this amazing woman you have become through all the years of raising children. 
If you find yourself stuck in sorrow, grief, overwhelming sadness and lingering emptiness, it would be a good idea to visit your healthcare provider.  Major life changes can be hard, but not paralyzing.  There is help so don't suffer in silence.  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kidney Health

Your kidneys...not just another pretty organ.  They are a significant part of our health, and it's not that easy to find after market replacement parts so, let's take care of the pair we have.  But how?Close-up of Strawberries

A lot of our kidney health depends on how healthy our overall lifestyle is and general health.  Many diseases of the kidney can be avoided with a little care.  As is true for most things, poor kidney health happens gradually, before we even feel the discomfort of symptoms.

You could probably guess the number one best, thing we can do for optimal kidney health...but there are 4 more important things listed after, and this is just the start of good kidney health.

  1.  Water.  Kidneys enjoy being well hydrated with something other than soda.  (Sometimes, I have to say things we don't want to hear.) It's true. Water assists in the process of flushing out toxins from our system.  So, drink up! 
  2.  Control your sweet tooth.  This seems like an odd thing that would affect your kidneys, but too much sugar and create a rise in uric acid.  Too much uric acid and your joints are never going to forgive you!  Uric acid crystals can settle in some joints.  This is called Gout and it's a painful inflammatory disease.  
  3. Manage your blood pressure.  Did you know that hypertension is one of the known leading causes of kidney disease?  Our bodies are amazing machines and each organ, down to the smallest cell relies on each other to function well.  So, keep your heart healthy and your kidneys will thank you. 
  4. Eat protein in moderation.  I know, Keto is all the rage but too much of a good thing, is simply too much of a good thing.  Protein contains nitrogen and ammonia, two things that the kidneys filter out of our system.  Too much protein and the kidneys may struggle to keep up with the added and extreme load.  Make sure you check in with your favorite provider here at Madison Women's clinic before you start extreme diets or lifestyle changes. 
  5. Make sure your vitamin and mineral levels are normal.  Vitamins like Magnesium, can help get rid of extra calcium which could lead to kidney stones.  B6 and Vitamin D can create kidney stones and damage if they are deficient.  Again, make sure you work out these levels with your provider. 

Don't let problems with your kidneys go too long before getting medical attention.  There are probably more 'at home' cures out there for urinary tract infections than any other issue but don't assume this is always the best way to go.  It's best to check first with your doctor, so that more damage isn't done. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Vaccines May Not Be As Bad As You Think

Vaccines get a bad rap and are the center of attention and controversy time and time again.  We hear the horror stories of vaccinations that media tends to run too far with and many of us just don't take the time to educate ourselves on the facts.Free stock photo of addiction, dangerous, unhealthy, health


This post isn't actually about childhood vaccinations or about the flurry of angst that always crowds out the truth.  This is about the good things that can happen when we vaccinate...ourselves!  As grown women!

If you are one who believes in vaccinating your children, you tend to religiously follow the prescribed spacing of each vaccine but what about you?  Personally, I couldn't tell you the last time I had a shot of anything preventative...well, maybe Tetanus because I have an irrational fear of lock jaw, so let's figure this out together.

Here is a short list of why vaccines may be a good idea for your grown up self...

  • As we age, our immune system isn't as agile as it once was.  This means there can be fewer antibodies moving around to fight off the intruders.  Getting boosters every 10 years can be like a...well, a boost to your immune system.  
  • Many diseases that were once eliminated are coming back with a vengeance, perhaps you've seen the latest articles circling the web on measles.  That's not fun to suffer through when you are 6, let alone 66.  If your job takes you to mingle in large groups of people such as a teaching, vaccinations should be on your radar.  Maybe, at your next yearly check up, visit with your provider on which vaccines to focus on. 
  • If you have a chronic medical condition such as Asthma or Diabetes, a vaccine for pneumonia can be a lifesaver.  Literally. 
  • If you are a parent or a caregiver of a person with a compromised immune system, vaccinating yourself could mean you are helping to protect them.  Some people and children with chronic and life threatening conditions can not receive live vaccines which leaves them vulnerable but if those around them remain healthy, they have a fighting chance. 
What are the common vaccines recommended for those in the midlife bracket?  
  1. Influenza
  2. Tetanus
  3. Shingles
  4. Pneumonia
  5. Meningitis
  6. Hepatitis A and B
If you are interested in more information, click HERE to take a brief quiz from the Centers For Disease Control to see what they recommend.  Don't forget, our providers would love to help you navigate the confusing world of vaccines.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What is Preeclampsia

Free stock photo of black-and-white, office, technology, hospital

If you are a soon to be mom or planning your first pregnancy, you may or may not have heard about preeclampsia.  It's a big word and can be a scary word too until you understand what it means to you and your baby.

Preeclampsia is a condition that can happen in pregnancy with little warning and in fact, it can creep up on you.  One of the first signs is an increase in your blood pressure to levels above 140/90.   This increase in blood pressure can result in headaches, severe headaches that can affect your vision and create light sensitivity.  Nausea and vomiting are not uncommon, decreased urine output with high levels of protein.   Another telltale symptom is swelling.  Your hands and feet may become swollen with a sudden increase in weight from the extra water.  Keep in mind, this can happen with any normal pregnancy but it's important to mention this to your provider so further investigating can take place.

 Scientists believe that it is a condition that begins in the placenta.  When pregnancy begins, new blood vessels form to help move blood to the placenta, the organ that nourishes your fetus.  In some women, these blood vessels are not formed properly.  Preeclampsia is one of 4 blood pressure issues that can affect a pregnancy.

Is there a way to avoid preeclampsia?  Not really... but scientists are studying possibilities that may help down the road.  Some hopeful studies are surfacing in the use of antioxidants and amino acids.

In the meantime...

There are risk factors that you do have control over.  Begin your pregnancy in the best possible shape.  Make sure any pre-existing health conditions are being managed and controlled such as diabetes, auto-immune diseases such as Arthritis or Lupus, high blood pressure, or obesity.  Some factors can not be managed.  Sometimes, a first pregnancy can yield greater preeclampsia complications or if a fetus is conceived by IVF.

Medicine is getting better at treating preeclampsia before it creates a life threatening situation for you or your baby.  Be proactive.  Keep your regular appointments and discuss your risk factors and symptoms with your provider.  Healthy practices, bed rest and medications can help protect you until a safe delivery is accomplished.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

6 Ways to Become the McGyver of Self Care

Free stock photo of love, people, woman, heart

How many times have you heard your doctor say, "You have to manage your stress before it manages you." or something to that effect?  If you don't believe them, just wait until stress really does start managing you!

What is stress anyways?

Stress isn't always produced from the perceived 'bad' things we experience in a day, a week or a month.  Stress can sneak up on us when we are experiencing the very things we hoped and prayed for.   The dictionary defines stress as a state of mental or emotional strain from demanding circumstances.

Taking care of ourselves isn't exactly as easy as it sounds, especially when you have little ones under foot, a taxing job, a million different roles that we as women play on any given day, but with a little practice, it can become easier or at least more of a good habit than a mad scramble when the last straw has broken our already bending back, from the pressures of life. 

Here are 8 things you do in this minute to give yourself a little lovin' that doesn't require you to plan ahead or even scramble to find a sitter.

  1.  Breathe.  Everything in our body is built on a rhythm.  Our hearts beats to a steady rhythm, brain waves create a pattern of rhythm, our breathing is rhythmic too.  When we can stop for a few minutes and focus on breathing, we re-establish a pattern of calm that got washed over in a flood of anxiety provoked adrenaline.   Concentrate on deep, slow breaths.  Try to inhale for 3 seconds and exhale for 6.  The inhale helps to lift and energize us, while the exhale stabilizes us. 
  2.  Be kind.  We are much better at being kind and forgiving to total strangers than we are to ourselves.  What's up with that?  It's okay to have an 'off' day.  It's okay if the kids stay in their pajamas all day long.  It's okay if maybe you weren't as productive at the office as you were hoping to be.  When we cut out the negative self talk, we make more room to see the good things we do in a day.  Be your own best friend.
  3. Check your perspective.  When stress creeps in to our life, it's easy to lose our focus and we can't see the know how that goes.  Maybe you had a bad day.  That doesn't mean you have a bad life.  
  4. Unplug.  This is not just a trendy thing to do.  It's an important, even critical thing to do.  Technology and social media creates a stress that we don't often notice.  Checking in on Facebook every hour, literally creates new pathways in your brain and soon enough, before you even realize, your brain needs that 'fix' to keep the pathway strong.  Unplugging isn't easy for this very reason.  Your brain thinks you need it but it really just feeds your stress.  When you can unplug and place a new, healthy, self care habit in it's place, you will find your levels of stress diminish somewhat because the pressures of the world will weigh less upon you and take up less space in your daily 'To Do's'. 
  5. Be still.  Just sit.  When was the last time you just sat and did nothing.  You can call this meditation if you want but that word seems to conjure up it's own agenda of stress.  Just sitting can be refreshing and break the cycles of anxiety and worry that often accompany stress. 
  6. Reach out.  When we feel stressed or even anxious, it's easy to isolate.  Sometimes, the very thing we need is connection.  A soft place to land.  A friend to talk things out with and witness the comings and goings of our life.  There is great healing power in being witnessed and feeling like we have a place to belong.  Stressful events can take on a life of their own when they remain stuck in our own heads.  When you share your thoughts and get them out, they lose their steam and momentum. 
There are countless ways and means to take care of ourselves.  It's crucial to our overall well being.  You can't run on empty forever, no matter how much you enjoy living in denial.  One way or another, you will be forced to slow down.  It's always better to make a conscious choice now, than to be surprised on a day we least expect it all to catch up with us.   When women neglect their own care, they become sick, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and suffer unhappiness and low self esteem.