Category Archives: public health

“Ugly giant bags of mostly water!”

This quote is from Star Trek the Next Generation. It is an alien life form describing humans and Hydrateis very apt. I don’t know about the ugly part, but we are mostly water. While estimates differ, our bodies are made up of 55-75% water. Water affects every aspect of our function. Many of us are not getting enough of it. Some experts feel that up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. While working out you can loose 6-10% through sweat, and everyone knows you need water when you exercise, but that is obvious and our body is demanding water at that point.

Chronic mild dehydration has unknown effects. We don’t know what it does to us to be a little dehydrated for years. We do know that as little as 1% dehydration can cause a 5% decrease in cognitive ability and physical performance. This is the first time that our body will start to feel thirsty. You should be drinking before you get thirsty. If you’re thirsty then you’re already having symptoms of dehydration. We also know how important water is for us. Here are some symptoms that you may not associate with dehydration.

Some Lesser known Symptoms of Dehydration:

  • Craving for sugar
  • Headaches
  • Bad breath
  • Irritability
  • Chronic Illness
  • Chronic Pain

Some lesser known benefits of drinking water are:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased cognitive ability
  • Increased physical ability
  • Clearer skin
  • Decreased joint and muscle pain
  • Improved immune system

The next time you get the munchies, or a headache, or feel a little out of control or tired, try a glass of water.

How to Make a First Aid Kit – Preparation

Having a good first aid kit is a good way to keep healthcare costs down. I was asked to write a post about how to have a useful first aid kit.  The hard part of that request is the term “useful.”  Items are only useful if you have the knowledge of how to use them.  The most important first aid item is knowledge.  Knowing what to do when someone bumps their head or has a fever may save you a trip to the ER and a lot of money.  Remember you are only providing first aid.  Any bandage or wrap that you put on will be taken off when you are seen in the Emergency Room.

PERSONAL CARRY KIT

IMG_2860I carry emergency supplies with me almost every where I go.  In my back pack I have a small pouch where I keep a ziplock bag containing, a barrier breathing device for CPR, glucose tablets for diabetics, Benedryl for allergic reactions, baby aspirin for heart attacks, butterfly bandage strips for severe cuts, small LED flashlight, pocket knife,  a glow stick, a compass, and a lighter.  The last few are the boy scout in me, but the rest are what I consider my duty because of my knowledge.  All chiropractors go through first aid and emergency courses for health care professionals, and should be able to respond in an emergency.  If you don’t know how or why to use emergency items then it doesn’t help to carry them.   I recommend everyone be willing to do their best in emergencies, nothing more is required.   If you want to learn more I highly recommend it, but remember “with great power comes great responsibility.”

HOME KIT

Sterilite DrawersYour first aid kit should be readily accessible, out of sight of children and the only place that you keep medical items.  If you have things all over they are difficult to keep track of, and hard to direct people to in an emergency.  My home kit is more of a closet.  I have my doc bag with stethoscope, etc. and then a plastic drawer set organized and full.

Most home kits should include: bandages of all sizes (band-aids all the way up to large abdominal pads), surgical tape to hold the bandages in place, wrapping bandages such as rolls and triangle bandages for wrapping or immobilizing, glucose tablets or hard candy for diabetics, self contained burn dressings, antibiotic ointment to reduce infection risk, baby aspirin for a heart attack, emergency blanket, CPR breathing barrier, instant cold compress, non-latex gloves, Benadryl for allergies, scissors, tweezers, a thermometer and any other essential personal health care items that family members may require such as an EpiPen, inhaler, or other prescription medications.

Some extra items that people like to keep in their home kit are: Essential oils, vitamins, an AEDUV-C sterilizer, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, duct tape, superglue, saline/eye solution and water.  There are many more things that you can keep and my closet has most of them.  Any extra items usually require extra knowledge, but it is easy to acquire and often free.  The Red Cross is a great place to start, but many companies, communities and colleges have educational courses that you can also take.  Most modern kits that you purchase come with a first aid instruction booklet that can help you use the kit, but you don’t want to wait until an emergency happens to read the book.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

American Red Cross Smartphone App

Red Cross First Aid Kit, How to guide

Boy Scouts of America First Aid Merit Badge Book

First aid for common household problems – WebMD

Healthcare On A Budget – Part II – Education

EDUCATION is the second way to save yourself healthcare dollars. This education comes in many forms. First you need to learn the basics of first aid and home care. If you know how to treat basic injuries and how to recognize when things are beyond your ability then you will save many trips to the ER. You can get a basic first aid manual from your local library, free online training, or contact your local boy scout troop and see if you can earn your first aid merit badge. In educating your self create an emergency kit, stock it and know how to use all of the items in it.

Learn when to call the doctor. Often times a fever doesn’t mean you need to call. As a general rule fevers aren’t worrisome until they are over 103 degrees and only then if they don’t respond to fever reducing medication like Tylenol (recommendations are different for young children). Learn when a cough, or fever, or sore throat, or ear ache, etc is bad enough to call. More often than not your body will cope just fine and there is nothing a doctor can do. You’ll save money if you know when those times are.

Stay informed about what conditions are “going around” and be prepared for them. If you’re not sure what’s going around call your local hospital or just a public school.

Learn where you can get the cheapest help. Your chiropractor is much cheaper than the emergency room, and trained in diagnosis. Just checking into the ER is going to cost you significant money. You can usually see me for a full treatment plan for the amount that a single ER visit costs. Nothing’s worse than going to the emergency room and having them tell you I’m sorry there’s nothing that we can do, and then getting the bill from them for that nothing that they did.  A chiropractor will not treat you when a bone is sticking out or when you’ve cut off a finger, but when the case is questionable learn who you can turn to for the least cost.

Getting Healthcare While On a Budget

How can you get healthcare if you’re on a tight budget? The first thing to realize is that you are talking about your health. Don’t fool around if you think something is serious.

I know how you feel. I was in the same situation for the first 10 years of my marriage. You worry that you or your family could get sick because you can’t afford to take them to the doctor, and going to the emergency room would destroy you financially. In this kind of situation people are looking for ways that they can make their dollars go farther.

Part I – Prevention

The first way to spend less is PREVENTION. Eating right and exercise costs no more than eating poorly and doing nothing. Go for a walk, eat a carrot, don’t buy soda, wash your hands, know your blood pressure. Chiropractic is also an excellent way to keep in prime condition. If you can keep your body in good condition or improve it you are better able to avoid illness and recover quicker from injury.

apple pillsIf you can’t prevent it from happening and sometimes we can’t; the next best thing is to catch it early and keep it from getting worse. Many people just ignore symptoms and put off that doctors visit thinking that they’ll probably get better on their own. The reality is if you head things off early you’ll prevent the bigger things down the road. To use a dental example, a filling is much cheaper than a root canal. Don’t put off those relatively cheap preventative checkups. They are probably the cheapest office visits and if they identify something early you’ll spend much less than you would if you wait.

With chiropractic the longer you wait to come in the more visits it will take to get you back into good condition.  When our joints aren’t moving they can slip into a degenerative cycle.  So that pain in the neck, if not taken care of, could turn into a pain down the arm and back as well.

I’m not saying you should see a doctor for every little thing,  but if it’s not getting better on it’s own or it’s getting worse don’t wait weeks before getting help.  Tune in next time for part II of this discussion…

Comparing Education

I’ve addressed this topic in the past using other peoples research.  For this post I was able to sit down and discuss education with a DPT a DO and some MDs.  With that and a little bit of research of 8-10 school course catalogs I’ve come up with the following comparison chart.  Please leave your comments and corrections if you have any.  It was difficult to compare the schools because the clinical education is so varied and can’t truly be put into a catalog.  I have taken the liberty of approximating the hours because some schools even of the same type varied so much.  This table is just to give you an idea of how the education compares between these particular health professions.   I threw in the Bachelors of Science degree just for comparison.  In most cases the BS is required prior to these doctoral degrees.

Clock Hours

Each degree has its different focus.  Even without the obvious clinical courses here are some example courses and their approximate semester credits by degree, to show the different emphasis.Course Comparison

I was at first shocked that the Doctor of Physical Therapy program was about the same as a BS because speaking with the students they said that they spent much more time than in undergraduate studying, but then I realized that it is only a 3 year program.  While they do cram a lot into their program it is still significantly less than all of the other Doctoral programs, and that is reflected in their scope of practice.

I gathered much of my information for the DPT from the University of North Florida website and discussions with their admissions dept.  Much of the DO data was from A.T. Still University’s curriculum here.  DC info was f rom Palmer and UWS.  MD Info was the most difficult to locate as many of their programs cannot easily compare line by line or even school by school.  I tried to rely on interview information with MDs as well as admissions staff.  One site I did use was for the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.  This information was gathered in 2012.  Since that time DC programs have added over 500 clock hours and DPT programs have removed more than 250 clock hours.

Public Health: Teach Children What it Means to Eat Right.

Many of us were never taught what eating healthy is. Children learn their eating habits Colorful Foodfrom their parents. It is a learned behavior. It is not a chore. It’s not yucky. It doesn’t mean taking vitamins, or supplements. (If you have to take those every day it means that you are eating wrong.)

We as a culture have gone so far away from eating right that we have forgotten how. Most individuals who want to eat right feel the need to research it so that they know what to do. Now, if the culture around you has not taught you how to prepare foods like this then research may be needed. There are thousands of diets out there that will tell you what and how to eat.  All of them seem to be backed by scientific research and all of them will probably be proven and disproven multiple times over the next few years.  I recommend moderation in your diet. I have found, when you ask people how to eat better they already know. They’ll tell you that they should be eating less and what they should be eating is more vegetables and fresh food not processed or fast food. The principle is that basic.

Eating right will help reduce our risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other diseases. If we teach our children this habit then in a few generations these diseases could actually become rare rather than the most common diseases in our country.

Public Health: Be Healthy From the Start

Teach our children that breastfeeding is important and healthy by explaining to them why we do it and what the benefits are that they can look forward to seeing in themselves and their children when they do it.  We don’t need to have a big public breastfeeding rally, but this part of life should be discussed with children and not kept a secret from them until they have their first child.

contagian4

From the National Public Health Week Website:

  • Breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first year of a child’s life, and exclusively for the first 6 months. Longer lifetime durations of breastfeeding are associated with decreased risks of maternal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition, longer durations of breastfeeding are associated with decreased risk of many common childhood infections and sudden infant death syndrome, as well as chronic conditions in offspring such as obesity, Type 1 diabetes, and leukemia.
  • Prenatal care can help keep mothers and their babies healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.
  • Globally, an estimated 43 million preschool children were overweight or obese in 2010, a 60 percent increase since 1990. And children’s early-life experiences, such as lack of breast feeding, too-little sleep and too-much television can increase the risk of obesity later in life. That’s why early child care providers have such a crucial role to play in turning around the obesity epidemic.

Real Preventative Health Care Means Teaching Children

Public Health Nerd Alert: National Public Health Week 2014.

This week is National Public Health Week!  I am a huge supporter of Public/Preventative Health even though I disagree with the way it is usually presented (in the form of vaccinations, screenings, and government legislation or mandates).  I strive daily in my practice to improve the health of the public.  

How do you prevent or reduce obesity, diabetes, the flu, high blood pressure, cavities, STDs, low back pain, cancer, etc…?  The answer is not a vaccine, or early screening.  The real way to prevent most disease, injury and illness is by teaching our children how to live well.  Their bad habits are not as deeply ingrained as adults.  We’ve all tried to change our eating habits or get into shape, quit smoking, strengthen our posture or any number of other bad habits that affect our health.  Most of us have failed more often than succeeded.  I’m not encouraging giving up as adults.  Don’t stop trying to improve your health, but teaching children will also help you.

We may not be able to change the world instantly, but teaching a few children can change the world  in a generation.  Every generation wants to improve life for the next generation.  We want our children to have it better and to be better than we were.  If we worked hard to teach our children behaviors that help reduce health risks, in a few generations obesity and high blood pressure could be rare conditions.  This week I will present some small ideas to teach children that can have a huge impact.  Teach one child and see the difference.

adults-like-childrenGet kids off of the couch.  One way to do this that is beneficial for you is to invite them to play with you.  That means that you have to get off of the couch or out of the computer chair and go show the children how you played as a child.  Build a blanket fort, dig in the sandbox, chase a ball, wrestle in the grass, climb a tree, pull out your old skateboard or bike.  Being active will help prevent everything from obesity and high blood pressure to diabetes and low back pain. Our bodies are designed to move.   We develop painful, and at times, life threatening conditions when that design is inhibited. When you improve your function, your symptoms also improve. Chiropractic is here to facilitate and support that design.  Teach children to move.  Ask your chiropractor for help.

Repetitive Stress/Strain Injuries…A Series

Our bodies were designed to move, to function, repeatedly. In a normal, healthy body using proper motion there is no such thing as a repetitive strain injury (RSI) like carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow. RSIs only happen when our bodies are used improperly. Just as a screw driver makes a lousy hammer our body and it’s parts have specific functions. You can use the back of a screwdriver to hammer in a nail, but it won’t be as effective and you may damage the screwdriver.

RSIs have many factors in their development. As implied in the name there is more than one stress or strain that we put our body through before we notice the injury. Some (not all) of the many factors in RSIs are; improper motion, too great a load, inadequate recovery time, inadequate nutrition, poor overall health and poor nerve function due to subluxation. None of these factors are truly separate, but it is easier to discuss each of them that way.

  • Improper motion – Our joints and muscles work best in a certain way. If we try to make them work a different way we may be successful, but not without a cost in efficiency and or injury. We all know that we should lift with our legs and not with our backs. Our back could do it, but we put a greater strain on the joints, discs, and muscles of our spine, and it is an inefficient use of energy. It puts us in a position of possible injury.
  • Too great a load -Structurally when we lift something heavy our joints and our muscles are stressed and may be damaged. If not extreme, our bodies can cope with that, they build up the muscle and bone and we become stronger. If we lift something too heavy for our muscles or joints we are likely to be injured.
  • Inadequate recovery time – When we stress our bodies they need to recover, resupply, and possibly repair. Some times that takes seconds, and sometimes it can take much longer. Our bodies have a ready supply of energy that can be used, and when that supply is exhausted we have a back up supply (our fat). It takes time for our body to move these chemicals and their waste products into and out of the cells that need them. If we do not give our body the needed time for recovery we are more likely to be injured.
  • Inadequate nutrition – Our bodies will use what ever they have. Some things supply better building blocks, or more efficient energy. You are what you eat. If our body does not have the best supplies then it cannot function properly, and improper function leads to injury.
  • Poor overall health – Have you ever noticed that fit people can do things easier? They recover faster, they lift more, they run farther, and if they eat the wrong food sometimes their body is able to cope with it better. If our muscles and joints are strong and well used then they are able to do more work, if not they will likely get injured.
  • Subluxation – If your nervous system is not functioning efficiently all of the other body processes will be less effective and more likely to be injured.

If you have a RSI you need to address all of the factors related to it. You need to make sure that you are moving properly if it’s carpal tunnel syndrome from computer use, you need to address how you hold yourself when you type, how long you type without rest, if your body is in good condition, what kind of diet do you have, is your keyboard right for you, do you have proper nerve function to handle the stress?

It is not always easy to see all of the factors of a RSI. That is one reason to seek professional help. Someone trained to work with the structures affected by RSIs. Chiropractic is a good choice. Chiropractor’s training has an emphasis on the structure and function of your body. They have less training when it comes to your liver or pancreas, but when it comes to motion, a chiropractor should be your starting point.

Next time…What does chiropractic treatment do and, why is it effective for RSI?

Chiropractors Manage It, But You Didn’t Know – Obesity

IMG_27012Obesity is a gateway condition leading to such heavy hitters as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, various types of cancer, gallstones, and disability. It is within the scope of practice and training for chiropractors, and is a perfect fit for the chiropractic treatment model.  Regular chiropractic appointments allow for follow up, increased accountability, and provide needed structural care for your changing body.

Most people know when they are overweight, but some don’t, and even more don’t know what the term overweight means. The classifications for weight usually involve a screening system such as Body Mass Index (BMI).  BMI attempts to estimate percentage of body fat. The calculation to determine BMI is mass divided by height in meters squared (kg/m2). There are many BMI calculators that will do the math for you. The National Institute of Health has a great one that you can use.

The corresponding classifications are:

Classification BMI Score
Underweight Below 19
Normal 19-25
Overweight 25-30
Obese 30-40
Morbidly Obese Greater than 40

People are overweight for different reasons, and each reason needs to be addressed differently.  The best way to manage weight is the way that works for you. There is no one method that works for everyone. Most diets are safe and work, but usually only lead to temporary weight loss. It is important to choose the method that you want to use so that you have responsibility and accountability.  The most important thing to address is willingness. Most importantly the person must desire to lose weight and be willing to begin the process. Most people know it’s bad to be overweight and know that they should lose weight, but guilt or poor self-image are not helpful motivators for true lifestyle change. You will not be able to lose weight until you really want to and are willing to accept assistance. 

Goal setting should start simple and be written. The more actions that you take (even small ones) the more likely you are to accomplish your goal, so even accomplishing the simple goal of not drinking soda for one meal is a success that you can build on. Some simple suggested goals are: asking 3 people to help you, signing up for a race or event, or even setting a goal to write down some goals. Goals don’t have to be big and the more goals achieved the better you feel about being able to accomplish future goals.  Goals can be as easy as parking at the far end of parking lots whenever going shopping. For more examples of how to increase physical activity visit ChooseMyPlate.gov or see your chiropractor.

In any change of habit or self-improvement it is always a good idea to enlist friends. They are good to be accountable to. They are good support, and may even join in the cause.  If the lifestyle isn’t maintained for long enough or enjoyable enough to make permanent, then the benefits will also be short lived. It is important to make changes permanent. 

Chiropractors may give guidance and suggestions or just provide education to a patient on nutrition or the risks of obesity. All chiropractic schools provide basic nutritional education, but most do not provide the education required to adequately address eating disorders such as Bulimia or Anorexia.

Some great financial news is that most insurance companies recognize weight issues as a health condition and will pay for your treatment.  Some will even provide help with gym memberships.  In an effort to decrease costs one provision of the new health reform law requires insurance companies to cover obesity screening and counseling with no patient cost-sharing. The New year is an excellent time to discover a new you.  Go see how your chiropractor can help.