Common Conditions


A Quick Word On Fatigue
 Fatigue that does not resolve with a good night’s sleep should be investigated.   It is common to wake up, at times, and feel as if you need a few more hours of sleep.  If this happens often, if you find yourself having to push to get through your normal activities…that is not normal.  There are many sources for fatigue; an underactive thyroid, undiagnosed diabetes, peri-menopause, coronary artery disease, depression and Lyme to name just a few.  Most people attribute their fatigue to working too hard, not sleeping enough but it is important not to make excuses.  Fatigue can be the sign of something very serious. So make sure you see your doctor for a complete evaluation.

 

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Hypertension
Blood is carried from the heart to all of your body's organs in vessels called arteries. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Your blood pressure is at its greatest when the heart contracts and is pumping blood. This is called systolic pressure, and is written as the top number. When the heart is resting, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is diastolic pressure, and is written as the bottom number. Blood pressure is regulated by a system of circulating hormones. The hormones control the diameter of the arteries.. We used to think a pressure of 150/90 was acceptable but now we strive to get pressures under 130/80 except in certain circumstances.
Anyone can develop high blood pressure and different factors are associated with an elevated pressure. Smoking, weight, excessive use of alcohol, diets high in salt and in some women use of contraceptives are factors that we have control over and can change. Other factors such as heredity, sex, and race we have no control over and they may increase our risk of developing hypertension at an early age.
High blood pressure is dangerous because the heart must work much harder to keep blood circulating. This increased stress causes damage to the lining of blood vessels leading to serious problems. Sometimes severe hypertension can cause headaches, dizziness, easy tiring, impotence and difficulty breathing. Untreated hypertension causes no symptoms for many years but left untreated can lead to a stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure.
If your blood pressure is high you have hypertension. Many people try to deny the fact but if your readings are elevated you have high blood pressure! Treatment depends on how high your pressure is and the degree of risk you have for heart and blood vessel disease.
The first steps in treating hypertension include:
• Reducing the amount of salt in your diet
• Exercising regularly
• Losing weight if you are overweight
• Limit alcohol to 2 drinks or less a day
• Limit caffeinated beverages
• Stop smoking
If these lifestyle changes do not lower your blood pressure enough you will need medication .

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Obesity
In the past 20 years obesity has increased to 65%, 33% of population is overweight. 1992 National Institute of health report confirmed what we already know is that we regain what we lose.

I usually talk about diet and weight loss so I was somewhat perplexed and amused when I discovered I was talking about "Behavioral modification techniques". It prompted me to research what is being done regarding our eating patterns related to behavior.

What I found was pretty interesting. A program called the Solution is the latest weight loss “fad” but what intrigued me was the approach. In my office we have instituted a program based on a high soy protein diet known as “Take Shape For Life”, which has been quite successful.

Now the Solution is based on emotional skills we developed as children. It attempts to uncover and change self-defeating ways of thinking. For instance people head for the fridge when they are; lonely or stressed. One needs to become aware of what they are feeling and try another approach rather that eating.

You come home at night and have a great need to unwind, considering the kind of stress we deal with on a daily basis you are Famished. So you start munching while making dinner. We therefore confuse stress with hunger. Children are often unable to distinguish hunger from sadness they just are aware of an "emptiness". Think of your kids or yourself standing in front of the open fridge staring, wanting something, not really hungry but wanting something…. As if the refrigerator is the door to fulfillment and satisfaction. Think of being a child sick in bed…what comfort foods were given to you and what do those food mean now? I still want Lipton chicken soup and grilled cheese.

As children cookies were a treat not a daily event so was ice cream, cakes etc. Now they represent something soothing a reward for a hard day’s work.

We need a new approach…when we feel "hunger" stop and ask yourself "Am I really hungry? What do I really want.

If you stop to ask yourself give yourself the time to think of how you are feeling chances are you will realize you are not hungry.

You may be tired; you may need to unwind you may even be thirsty . Call a friend; take a walk, close your eyes for a few minutes…give yourself "quiet time".

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Vitamin D Deficiency
If you meet any of the criteria below, chances are you’re not getting enough Vitamin D.

-You live North of 34 degrees latitude
-You slather on sunscreen
-You rely on a multivitamin for your daily dose of Vitamin D
-You have dark skin
-You’re obese

High levels are linked to:
-Yale researchers discovered that people with high levels of Vitamin D got sick half as often as people with low levels.  Vitamin D helps your white blood cells manufacture a protein that kills infection, therefore it increases your resistance to viruses.
-30 to 50 percent lower chance of breast cancer, and a 50 percent lower chance of colon cancer.  Vitamin D regulates genes responsible for cellular growth and survival.  It may help shut down out-of-control growth to help prevent malignancy.  It may also help kill the cell, if a tumor grows anyway—it will work to cut off blood supply.
-Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers found that colon cancer patients with high levels of Vitamin D had a 39 percent lower chance of dying from the disease.
-Reduced risk of Parkinson’s—researchers believe this may have to do with Vitamin D’s protective effect on the brain: it regulates calcium levels, enhances the conduction of electricity through neurons, and detoxifies cells, among other handy functions.

Low levels are linked to:
-A study at John Hopkins University showed that people with low Vitamin D levels have an 80 percent greater risk of narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to Heart Disease.
-Diabetes—Vitamin D stimulates insulin production.  Research has shown that kids who are deficient in Vitamin D have a 200 percent greater chance of developing Type I Diabetes.
-A 2008 study showed that more than 25 percent of chronic pain patients hove low Vitamin D levels, which could be because Vitamin D helps control neuromuscular function.  And a 2010 study correlated low levels of Vitamin D with migraines and headaches. 
-Vitamin D may help stimulate serotonin production—without could lead to depression.
-Higher risk of death—After analyzing Vitamin D levels of more than 13,000 people, researchers at John Hopkins found that those with the lowest levels had a 26 percent greater chance of dying—from any cause.

Stress

In the early 20th century Walter Cannon found that people exposed to different physical or mental stressful events secreted large amount of the hormone epinephrine, which prepared their body for “fight or flight”. When exposed to any perceived stress, whether good as in a wedding, new job or bad as divorce or financial hardship, a cascade of hormones and their interactions lead to increased blood flow to muscles, increased heart rate and blood pressure. Cortisol is a very significant hormone in this cascade that has the job of distributing energy in the form of glucose to areas that need it most: brain, muscles or digestion. It increases carbohydrate cravings and hunger and it suppresses our immune function. Short term this is not an issue but chronically its effects can be devastating. In today’s world many of us walk around in a state of chronic stress from rushing about in the morning to our jobs then home where often the stress does not end.  Everywhere you look are books, lectures, even Dr. Oz discussing the effects of this chronic adrenal stimulation. Adrenal fatigue, adrenal burnout call it what you like but its effects are devastating. One of the largest global studies  “INTERHEART” found that psychosocial factors are a risk factor for heart attacks: less than smoking but similar to hypertension and abdominal obesity. This risk was the same for people regardless of sex, age or geographical area.
The Relaxation Response is the opposite of Fight or Flight in that our breathing slows down; heart rate decreases even our brain waves change. Techniques used to fight stress; with acute stress; first stop the cascade with a deep breath. A breath deep enough to make your belly pop out! I teach stress reduction through breathing class and it is a technique you can “take” anywhere. Chronic stress is best dealt with by exercise whether it be tai chi, yoga, Qi Gong. Meditation promotes the relaxation response as does journaling, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery.  Ignathia and argentium are two homeopathic remedies which help relieve anxiety and I often recommend Valeria tea and lavender in the form of aromatherapy. One size does not fit all and it is important that you recognize your stressors and what technique works for you.

 

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