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How to Treat Sleep Apnea

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There may be a lot more to that dreaded snore!

Does your mate have bags under his or her eyes every morning?  There may be nothing wrong with your partner other than the fact that he or she is losing a great deal of sleep because you’re snoring!

Does your own snoring sometimes wake YOU up?  Do you sometimes wake up in a start, gasping because you’ve stopped breathing?  If so, you could have a very serious medical problem.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing or has shallow breaths while sleeping.  These stoppages are sometimes just seconds, but can last minutes. During these pauses, the sleeper doesn’t simply stop breathing, but struggles to breathe. When he finally does, there is usually a loud snort or choking sound.

When you snore, that’s a sign that you’re struggling to breathe and it could indicate sleep apnea. Not only does sleep apnea deprive your brain and lungs of oxygen, it deprives you of sleep, leaving you tired and sluggish during waking hours.

Sleep apnea can result in severe medical conditions, including stroke, heart attack and hypertension, not to mention the increased risk of motor vehicle crashes when drivers are sleepy. A recent study at Johns Hopkins University found that among middle-aged and elderly men, sleep apnea increased the risk of death by 40 percent from all causes, but especially from cardiovascular disease.

Sleep apnea is very common, affecting about one in four men and one in ten women. Those most at risk are over the age of 40 and overweight. Besides snoring, symptoms of sleep apnea include waking with a dry or sore throat; daytime sleepiness after a full night’s sleep; morning headaches; forgetfulness; and insomnia or not being able to sleep through the night.

If you are a notorious snorer or have any of these other symptoms, talk to your doctor. Sleep apnea is not something that will be diagnosed during a routine physical or with a blood test. You must report your symptoms to your doctor.

There are behavioral changes that can be made to correct sleep apnea including losing weight and stopping smoking. Special pillows that promote side sleeping or dental devices that keep the airway open may help, as well.

In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). A CPAP mask is attached to a machine and worn while you sleep. The machine delivers a continuous flow of air into the nostrils, keeping the airways open so that breathing is not impaired.

In some cases, surgery may be required to repair a deviated septum or remove soft tissue from the mouth, back of the throat or upper airway, thereby reducing obstructions and increasing the size of the airway. These are all relatively simple surgical procedures and you can learn about all your options by simply consulting with your mountain physician.

Amazing Miracle Treatment for Exhaustion…SLEEP!

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Miracle cure for exhaustion...Sleep!

These are truly demanding times.  A very difficult economy has made it necessary for most people to work harder and longer hours.  Many people find themselves working two jobs… and juggling all of their normal responsibilities.  If you frequently find yourself burning the candle at both ends, chances are, you  have discovered all kinds of tricks to keep your body and brain running.

The demand for more powerful energy drinks and stimulants to keep you function during overtime ours continues to surge.  Likewise, tried and true energy boosters like caffeine and sugar have become more of a crutch than ever for those needing a temporary “fix” to get through the day.  But the cold, hard reality is this;  When your body needs sleep, it needs sleep and nothing else will do.  Plus, relying on stimulants can serve to make you even more tired in the long run.

When you’re having an overloaded day, there’s probably little harm indulging in something sweet to give you a temporary boost.  However, that sugar rush is usually followed by a sugar crash.  So, it’s not a good practice if you need long-term energy.  The higher you boost, the farther you’ll crash until it’s impossible to keep your eyes open.

Of course, many of us depend on caffeine to get our brains up to speed first thing in the morning, but if you’re using caffeine as a substitute for regular rest, you’re starting a vicious cycle.  Too much caffeine late in the day could be robbing you of some of the hours you do have to sleep, meaning you’re even more tired the next day, meaning you’re likely to crave even more caffeine, resulting in even less sleep, and so on.

If you know that a particularly busy or stressful time is looming, like an intense project at work or moving your home, prepare for it ahead of time so that you’ll make it through without crashing.  Here are some positive things that will really help:

  • Work out.  Get some exercise now before you can’t schedule it in.  Getting your heart rate up on a daily basis not only builds up your stores of energy, but makes your sleep more restful, too.
  • Fuel up.  Skip the “empty” calories found in sugary snacks and pastries and try to get lots of lean proteins and whole grains.  These foods provide real energy, not the substitute variety found in sugar and caffeine.  You’ll feel less fatigued if you keep up this diet when you get busy, too.  While vending machine snacks might be easier when you’re on the go, try to avoid fatty, sugary foods that will just let you down later.
  • Take your vitamins.  B vitamins are some of the best energy enhancers you can get.  If you know that your schedule is going to push you to the limit, start eating salmon, avocado and nuts, as well as soy products and lentils.  After you get busy, be sure to at least take a B Complex vitamin each day.
  • Sleep.  There is no substitute for sleep.  When you know you’ll have to do without your eight hours for a while, it’s a good idea to be as rested as possible going in.  And when it’s all over, make sure to schedule time to catch up on your missing Zs.

While one of the basic laws of physics is, “A body in motion stays in motion,” it simply does’t apply to the “human body.”  It is surely more accurate to conclude, “A body in motion for too long will eventually come to a screeching halt.”  Accordingly, don’t allow yourself to fall victim to that age old axiom, “There’s no rest for the weary.”

We absolutely will not be offended if this article puts you to sleep!

Saline Nasal Irrigation: A Viable Alternative

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How to Treat Upper Respiratory Conditions

Sinus sufferers–there may be relief available to you that is simple, effective and inexpensive! According to David Rabago, MD, and Aleksandra Zgierska, MD, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, nasal irrigation with liquid saline is an excellent way to manage symptoms associated with chronic rhino-sinusitis.

Saline nasal irrigation is type of therapy for upper respiratory conditions that bathes the nasal cavity with spray or liquid saline. There is also some evidence, though it is less conclusive, that spray and liquid saline nasal irrigation might be used to manage symptoms of mild to moderate allergic rhinitis and acute upper respiratory tract infections.

According to an article in American Family Physician,

“Consensus guidelines recommend saline nasal irrigation as a treatment for a variety of other conditions, including rhinitis or pregnancy and acute rhinosinusitis”

The quality of a patient’s life can be seriously diminished by upper respiratory conditions, such as acute and chronic rhinosinusitis, viral upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), and allergic rhinitis. The use of saline nasal irrigation was first described in medical literature in the early 20th Century. Saline nasal irrigation is an effective management strategy for many sinonasal conditions. In a survey of 330 family physicians, 87 percent reported recommending it to their patients for one or more conditions.

Here’s how the procedure works:

  • Saline is injected into one nostril and is allowed to drain out of the other nostril, bathing the nasal cavity.
  • Saline nasal irrigation can be performed with low positive pressure from a spray or squirt bottle, or with gravity-based pressure using a vessel with a nasal spout, such as a Netti pot. Both are available over the counter.
  • Of course, before attempting this or any other type of treatment, consult your physician.

For information and to find a physician in the mountains who can help with allergy testing, contact Mountains Community Hospital at (909) 336-3651. The hospital is located at 29191 Hospital Road in Lake Arrowhead.

Turns Out, Laughter Really Can Be The Best Medicine!

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This holiday season, give laughter a try.

Give Laughter a Try this Holiday Season

The old saying that “Laughter is the Best Medicine” may be very true and during the holidays it’s an important saying to remember. Laughter and a sense of humor truly can be considered lifesavers when stress sets in and seems overwhelming.

Between all the racing around, the cooking, wrapping gifts, long lines at every store it’s easy to lose patience at the grocery store, the shopping center, the mall or trying to find a decent parking spot. However, keeping a sense of humor can help and researchers have evidence that laughter and perspective can help relieve stress.

Unfortunately, the holidays are built-in stress producers and one of the biggest reasons is that many people have unrealistic expectations. The issue is that people want their holiday(s) to be perfect with the perfect gift, the perfect food, the perfect decorations and the perfect people to sit around the perfect table. Sciencedaily.com has the “perfect” suggestion. Don’t count on perfection because you’re setting yourself up for stress and oftentimes, disappointment, which can lead to a whole variety of problems including resentment, anger and depression.

If the roast or turkey is overcooked, will your family or friends be mad? Will they abandon you as a hopeless host or hostess? Not likely! If you feel too pressured, take a few moments, sit down and relax and catch your breath. This may be difficult to do, but let other people help. If Aunt Sally doesn’t mash the potatoes like you do, that’s okay. It’s not worth the stress you’ll create for yourself by having to have everything “perfect.” Think of the funny stories you can tell your friends about incidents or small accidents or misunderstandings that occur around the holiday table or tree. Some of the funniest family stories that are told and retold annually revolve around holiday “events.” Look for them…..they’re always there and laughing at them is a great stress reliever. Try not to take yourself too seriously!

Laughter not only helps relieve stress for you, it can relieve it for others as well. Laughter is a shared reaction to incidents and it’s best when it’s shared with other people because laughing really is contagious. Laughter can diffuse a difficult situation, an argument or disagreement and don’t forget to laugh at yourself occasionally. During this holiday season try to watch a funny holiday movie, one that will make you laugh and isn’t too sentimental.

If you find yourself overwhelmed and depressed during the holidays be sure to discuss the issue with your Mountains Community Hospital physician. He or she can help guide you to a better healthier life.

The Magic of Ultrasound

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Although human beings can’t hear the sound waves emitted by ultrasound machines the process has revolutionized the practice of medicine since it was first developed for use on cattle and horses many decades ago.

Ultrasound is now used in many fields, typically to allow the medical world to “see inside” a body and locate a problem. However the sound waves can penetrate solid objects such as plastic as part of the welding process used in many products…

Ultrasound has been used by radiologists and sonographers to image the human body for at least 50 years and has become one of the most widely used diagnostic tools in modern medicine. Today a pregnant woman and her physician have the opportunity to use ultrasound to see the child in-utero, which is nearly always an exciting experience. Routinely pregnant women will often have an ultrasound before their twenty-fourth. One of the reasons physicians encourage an early ultrasound is because if they detect an abnormality that can prove fatal to either the baby or the mother, or both, the pregnancy can be terminated if necessary to save the mother’s life.

However, ultrasounds can also show physicians of any specialty where a problem might lie and it gives the doctor the ability to focus directly on the problem. Ultrasounds, otherwise known as medical ultrasonography, can be used to visualize muscles, tendons as well as internal organs.

One of the biggest advantages to the technology is that, comparatively speaking, it is fairly inexpensive and portable, particularly compared to much heavier and equipment such as MRI machines. Portable ultrasound machines have had a big impact on the ability of the medical world to diagnose a condition because they can be taken just about anywhere to help serve their patient’s needs.

When ultrasound machines first hit the market it revolutionized medicine in some ways and ultrasounds have become quite common not only for pregnancies but for diagnosing many different conditions. As used by skilled technicians today’s ultrasound procedures are quite safe when done properly, particularly when compared with some other procedures that have the capacity to cause cancer. Although the procedure is considered safe it should not be repeated too often because there are scientific studies that show it may have harmful side effects if done too frequently.

Ultrasound pulses can be used to break up kidney and gall stones. Procedures of this sort are referred to as “focused ultrasound surgery” because they focus on a particular problem. The devices can also be used for teeth cleaning in dental offices, for use in treating cancer, Liposuction and removing varicose veins.

Ultrasonic cleaners can sparkle your jewelry, clean lenses as well as surgical and dental equipment.

Ultrasounds are used extensively at Mountains Community Hospital and make a big difference in patient’s lives everyday.

Benefits and Misconceptions of Mammograms

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Survival rates for early-stage breast cancer (which has not yet reached the lymph nodes) are around 98 percent and drop to around 80 percent if the cancer has spread. If the disease is found in even later stages, then the survival rates begin to plummet. Despite these statistics, many women are still hesitant to receive mammograms at all, much less annually.

Despite some possible, slight discomfort, the lifesaving potential of mammograms is worth it. Let’s review the actual procedure:

  • The patient disrobes and puts on a gown.
  • Standing in front of an x-ray machine, the patient puts their breast between two plates.  This part can be a little painful, but necessary. Some facilities offer a comfort pad which could reduce the pain.
  • After 10 to 15 minutes, the imaging is complete and the technician will scan the other breast.

One issue that women worry about is false positives. Some mammograms do come back with abnormal readings. However, only about 10 percent of those end up as actual incidences of breast cancer. Admittedly, receiving such a false positive can be traumatic. But further tests can be conducted to confirm or discount the diagnosis. Is a day or two of potential worry worth the benefit of early detection and associated treatment, which could save your life? It is exceedingly rare for a false positive to result in unwarranted treatment.

Myths and misconceptions about mammograms:

  • Should women skip mammograms if they don’t have a family history of breast cancer?

NO!

Skipping screenings procedures is inadvisable because many women develop the disease without family histories of breast cancer. So, screenings should be done on a regular basis regardless of family history.

  • Do Mammograms cause cancer because of radiation?

NO!

X-rays for mammography use radiation, but they produce about the same low-dose radiation as dental x-rays. Standards set by the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) dictate the radiation levels are set as low as possible for levels to still produce clear, useable images.

  •  If I feel fine, can I skip the procedure?

NO!

Some women might self-diagnose and believe that early-stage breast cancer will present identifiable symptoms. In most cases, examination is the only way to find a suspicious mass before symptoms are present.

  • If I’m older, can I skip my mammogram?

NO!

Older women might feel they don’t need diagnostic scans. However, they are most at risk for breast cancer. With early detection, senior women have a great opportunity to pursue treatment and fully recover.

As with other areas of your personal health, it’s important you take control of your own body. If your physician fails to recommend a mammogram, but you feel you are in a higher risk group, be sure to speak up. You can also take preventive steps at home by regularly performing self-examinations to find lumps or suspicious changes. By being proactive, you can potentially catch breast cancer in its earliest stages and begin treatment so you can lead a long and healthy life.

Talk to a physician at Mountains Community Hospital to learn more about mammograms. Visit www.mchcares for information.

October is Physical Therapy Month!

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Improve mobility and motion with physical therapy.

Improve Mobility and Motion

No matter what area of the body ails you – neck, shoulder, back, knee – physical therapists have an established history of helping individuals improve their quality of life.

A physical therapist can help you move freely again without pain and discomfort and feeling renewed and ready to move on. They can even help you prevent an injury altogether.

For instance, a study of 1,435 NCAA Division 1 female soccer players demonstrated that those who participated in a physical therapy program had an overall ACL injury rate 41 percent lower than those who did only a regular warm-up prior to practice.1

Because physical therapists receive specialized education in a variety of sciences – physics, human anatomy, kinesiology (human movement), to name a few – they understand how the body works and how to get you moving again. They know how to manage all four of the body’s major systems – musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular/pulmonary, and integumentary (skin) – to restore and maximize mobility.

Whether you are living with diabetes or recovering from a stroke, a fall, or a sports injury, a physical therapist is a trusted health care professional who will work closely with you to evaluate your condition and develop an effective, personalized plan of care. A physical therapist can help you achieve long-term results for many conditions that limit your ability to move.

Reduce the Risk of Injury

While playing a round of golf or picking up around the house may seem harmless, but these everyday activities can result in injury due to abnormal movement, stress on joints and strain on muscles.

Because physical therapists are experts in knowing how the body works, they are able to design personalized treatment plans to reduce the risk of injury whether in everyday activities or sports.

For example, women perform athletic tasks in a more upright position, putting added stress on parts of the knee such as the ACL, resulting in less controlled rotation of the joint. While men use their hamstring muscles more often, women rely more on their quadriceps, which puts the knee at constant risk. To combat these natural tendencies, your physical therapist may develop a treatment program to improve strength, flexibility, and coordination, as well as to counteract incorrect existing patterns of movement that may be damaging to joints.

Improve Balance and Prevent Falls

Falls among the elderly are prevalent, dangerous, and can diminish their ability to lead an active and independent life. According to the National Aging Council, about one in three seniors above age 65, and nearly one in two seniors over age 80, will fall at least once this year, many times with disastrous consequences. A physical therapist can help you prevent falls by designing an individualized program of exercises and activities with an emphasis on strength, flexibility, and proper gait.

Balance may be improved with exercises that strengthen the ankle, knee, and hip muscles and with exercises that improve the function of the vestibular (balance) system.

Once a physical therapist has reviewed a complete medical history and conducted a thorough examination, he or she will develop a personalized plan of care. This may include a walking regimen with balance components such as changes in surfaces/terrains, distance, and elevations; Tai Chi (which emphasizes balance, weight shifting, coordination, and postural training); and aquatics classes geared toward balance and coordination. The physical therapist also may teach specific strengthening and balance exercises that can be performed at home. If necessary, the physical therapist will refer you to other medical professionals, such as an ophthalmologist or neurologist.

For more information contact Lake Arrowhead Physicial Therapy owned by Mountains Community Hospital at 909-337-0844.

29099 Hospital Road Suite 106 in the Medical Office Bldg next to Mountains Community Hospital. For more information, visit our website at www.MCHCares.com.

 

We do not stop moving

because we grow old…

we GROW old

because we STOP MOVING.

 

Have you stopped moving because of neck, shoulder, back, knee or ankle pain?

 

If so, please stop in and discuss with our staff how

Physical Therapy can help you get moving again!