April 2011

April Is Stress Awareness Month

This is a blog that I wrote two years ago but is still relevant and timely:

Spring is here and stress is in the air. There are worries over the economy, unemployment, and the state of healthcare (among other things). There are ways that each of us deals with stress -both consciously and unconsciously. Some people get sick (not a great solution);others overeat; still others drink too much alcohol. But many people have learned to work it out in a healthy way using things like exercise, meditation, yoga, and talk therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT is a process that looks at a person’s beliefs, and helps to change negative thought patterns.It is like teaching people to look at the cup as half full, rather than half empty.A recent study has found that ten sessions of CBT significantly improved worry in older individuals with generalized anxiety disorder.CBT has also recently been shown to have an impact on depression and health outcomes in those who have undergone cardiac bypass surgery.

If you are stressed out, you are not alone.We suggest that you look to healthy ways to deal with stress and worry.If you feel you need help and would benefit from talking to someone, you might want to find a therapist who does CBT.And of course, you can always exercise too!

Acupuncture For Bedwetting

Bedwetting is a problem for five million children over the age of 5 in our country. It happens when children make more urine than their bladders can hold and they do not wake up to notice. As a result they wet the bed. Treatments include behavioral therapies and medication or both. Unfortunately when the medications are stopped the problem continues. Fortunately most children outgrow bedwetting.

A recent study done in Turkey has found a potentially safe and easy solution. They took 91 children who were bedwetters and treated two-thirds of them with laser acupuncture. The rest of the children received sham or fake acupuncture. After 15 days forty percent of the treated group versus eight percent of the sham group had complete improvement. After six months, fifty-four percent of the treated group and 12 percent of the sham group had total improvement.

I think the results are impressive. The treatment is safe and inexpensive. In my opinion, for my child given the choice of a drug with side effects versus a painless inexpensive procedure, this treatment wins hands down. I hope to see more trials that confirm these findings and acupuncturists who are doing this particular form of acupuncture.

April Is Irritable Bowel Awareness Month

As a person who suffers from irritable bowel on occasion, this strikes me as amusing since people with IBS are very aware that they have it. In my practice I have found that there are two kinds of people; those who get headaches with stress and those who get belly pain or IBS with stress. I am the latter.

IBS is a syndrome seen in 1 out of every 6 people in the US. People with IBS often have abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea or constipation or both. It is not an inflammatory problem and should not be confused with inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. IBD includes Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis that are serious medical conditions that require specific medical therapies.

The important thing is to distinguish IBS from IBD. Often the only way to do that is with colonoscopy. Once serious illness is ruled out, IBS can be treated with fiber, regular exercise, dietary adjustments depending on what triggers the symptoms, medications that relax the bowel and cognitive behavioral therapy.

If you think that you may be suffering from IBS then it is time to be evaluated. It is important to make sure that your self-diagnosis is correct. Then it is time to get moving and relieve your symptoms with healthy eating, lifestyle changes and exercise.

It’s Spring! Got Allergies?

Spring is filled with flowers, green grass, and for some…sneezing, wheezing and runny eyes and noses! The most likely cause of spring allergies is tree pollen. However, mold and animal dander can also be contributing.

How can you know for sure? Get allergy tested. If your doctor can pinpoint the cause of your symptoms, the therapy can be tailored to what you need. Treatment could involve allergy shots or medications and help you to avoid a lot of grief.

How can you tell the difference between allergies and a cold? Both can cause a runny nose and eyes, but a cold usually has fever, aches and pains associated with it and it usually ends within about ten days. How can you avoid allergies? You might want to avoid the heavy pollen times, which are the early morning and late afternoons, by staying indoors. Use your air conditioner and keep the windows closed. Wash your clothes if you have been outside and use the dryer. That will help filter out the pollens from your clothes.

If you can’t avoid pollen, you may need to try medications. There are many over the counter antihistamines now that include Benedryl, Allegra, Claritan, and Zyrtec. They block the histamine reaction that is triggered by pollen. Decongestants such as Sudafed will dry up your nasal congestion. Steroid nasal sprays will reduce inflammation.

Often people with allergies will also have asthma. This may result in wheezing, shortness or breath and can have deadly consequences. That is why it is important to have your allergies assessed and treated.

 

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