Most people believe that a young age means good or even great health. You might be surprised to discover that many conditions and diseases that are typically associated with older age often begin during childhood or the young adult years. You may even develop symptoms during your young- or middle-adult years. These three conditions could affect your health earlier than you might think.
Dementia, which includes the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, can affect people younger than the age of 65. When it does, it is considered to be early or younger onset. Dementia can be diagnosed in your 30s, 40s, or 50s. To catch it early, you can take a cognitive test at home once per month, and track your scores over time. An early diagnosis allows you to get good medical care. According to Columbia University Department of Neurology, “early treatment for younger-onset dementia could help you prolong your mental faculties and have a better quality of life for as long as possible.”
Hearing loss does not only affect the elderly. Younger adults can get it, too. Some of the causes of premature hearing loss include repeated ear infections, physical damage to the eardrum, and exposure to loud sounds. Listening to loud music with earbuds or headphones may contribute to younger people developing hearing loss. According to Gardens Cosmetic Center, “about 36 million people have hearing impairments in the U.S., and almost half of them are under the age of 65.”
Heart disease is the top cause of death among Americans. Most people associate heart disease with old age. However, between 4 and 10 percent of heart attacks in men happen before the age of 45. According to UnityPoint Health, “nearly one in every 100 men develops signs of heart disease by the age of 45. By age 55, the risk doubles and continues to increase until age 85, when about 7.4 out of every 100 men have heart disease.” Hardening of the arteries may start during childhood and continue progressing through the teenage and young adult years. It is important to be aware of the warning signs of early-onset heart disease and to visit your doctor if you have them. You family history cannot be changed, but you may be able to make lifestyle changes now in order to lower your risk.
When something seems off with your body, make an appointment with your doctor. You know your body better than anyone else, and your physician should be willing to run the necessary diagnostic tests and to help you keep track of your health status. The earlier you seek diagnosis and treatment for the symptoms of these conditions, the better quality of life you can have.
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Over the past 10 years, researchers have learned Alzheimer’s disease starts much earlier than the onset of symptoms – 10-20 years before an individual, family member or friend might notice the signs of the debilitating disease. Researchers are looking for a diverse group of people ages 50 or older who have normal thinking and memory function.
How the Internet Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
(Family Features) Over the past 10 years, researchers have learned Alzheimer’s disease starts much earlier than the onset of symptoms – 10-20 years before an individual, family member or friend might notice the signs of the debilitating disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.5 million Americans, of all races and ethnicities, age 65 and older currently live with Alzheimer’s disease, which is expected to grow to more than 7 million people by 2025.
The first-of-its-kind Alzheimer Prevention Trials Webstudy (APT Webstudy), funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to increase the pace of research by enlisting thousands of healthy volunteers who can quickly be enrolled in clinical trials focused on preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Enrollees in the APT Webstudy can use the internet to help stop the disease while being alerted to changes in their own memory function.
“In order to change the lives of the numerous people and their loved ones who will be affected by Alzheimer’s, we need everyone to get involved with prevention efforts,” said Paul Aisen, MD, co-principal investigator of the APT Webstudy. “The bigger the army of volunteers, the faster we can work to prevent this terrible disease.”
Volunteers can access the Webstudy when and where it is convenient for them, such as on their computer or tablet, or even a public library; anywhere they can access the internet. Volunteers participate in regular online memory testing. If there is a change in memory function, eligible volunteers are alerted and may be invited to a no-cost, in-person evaluation at one of the research sites across the country.
“This is an opportunity for everyone to help future generations avoid the suffering caused by Alzheimer’s,” Aisen said. “With enough volunteers, we will be one step closer to seeing the first Alzheimer’s survivor.”
Researchers are looking for a diverse group of people ages 50 or older who have normal thinking and memory function. Volunteers must be willing to answer a few questions about their family and medical history and provide information about their lifestyles. Volunteers will take online memory tests every three months, each one about 20 minutes long.
If you are interested in participating, visit aptwebstudy.org to learn more.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Alzheimer’s Prevention Trials
Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time for people to consider the state of their mental health and that of their loved ones and friends. Family doctors from all over the U.S. and the American Academy of Family Physicians are calling on people to do just that. Join the movement today!
(BPT) - Mental health and emotional wellness affect every aspect of a person’s life, from work to family to leisure. One in five adults lives with mental illness, which can range from mild to severe. Many times, before mental illness is diagnosed, it can trigger physical symptoms.
Take, for example, 26-year-old Michael who suffered a construction work injury that started him on a vicious cycle of pain and feeling helpless. After being treated for the pain, he noticed red, flaky sores on his skin. His family doctor diagnosed him with depression-related psoriasis and together they worked out a treatment plan.
Then there’s Jennifer, a 35-year-old hair stylist, who showed the textbook signs of a heart attack: She couldn’t catch her breath, was sweating, and had a rapid heartbeat and nausea. After multiple tests in the ER costing thousands of dollars, she was diagnosed with acute anxiety. Her prescription? See her family doctor and determine the right course of treatment for her situation — both physical and emotional.
This mind/body connection is very real, complicated and many times, not well understood. That’s one reason why it’s important to have a family doctor who knows the patient and their family in the context of their community. Family doctors are on the front lines of diagnosing and treating mental health concerns. In fact, primary care physicians provide the majority of U.S. mental health services.
Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time for people to consider the state of their mental health and that of their loved ones and friends. Family doctors from all over the U.S. and the American Academy of Family Physicians are calling on people to do just that.
Join the movement. Go to familydoctor.org to learn:
* When and how to talk to your family doctor about mental health
* What your doctor can do for you
* How to prepare for an appointment and questions to ask your doctor
Download a guide to help start the conversation, including taking note of
* Physical, emotional or behavioral symptoms
* Any recent life changes
* Medications you are taking
Help start the conversation on talking to your family doctor about mental health and well-being online. Tell others about the resources on your social media channels using the hashtag #MentalHealthMatters. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Your family doctor is a good place to start.
(BPT) - Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is exceptionally demanding, and especially challenging.
A recent survey by the Alzheimer’s Association indicates many caregivers are not getting the help and support they need — 84 percent of caregivers say they would like more support in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, especially from family members.
“Too many people are shouldering the caregiving burden alone,” says Ruth Drew, director of information and support services at the Alzheimer’s Association. “Many people want or would welcome help, but they are reluctant or just too overwhelmed to ask.”
Tips for supporting a caregiver
Providing help and support to caregivers can be easier than most people think. Even little acts can make a significant difference, Drew says. The Alzheimer’s Association offers these suggestions:
Learn: Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease — its symptoms, its progression and challenges facing caregivers. The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help.
Build a team: Organize family and friends who want to help. The Alzheimer's Association Care Team Calendar is a free, personalized online tool that allows helpers to sign up for specific tasks, such as preparing meals, providing rides or running errands.
Give a break: Spend time with the person with dementia, allowing the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour can provide the caregiver some relief.
Check in: Many caregivers report feeling isolated or alone; make a phone call to check in, send a note or stop by for a visit.
Tackle the to-do list: Ask for a list of errands that need to be done. Pick up groceries or dry cleaning, or even offer to shuttle kids to and from activities.
Be specific and be flexible: Open-ended offers of support (“Call me if you need anything,” or “Let me know if I can help.”) may be well-intended, but are often dismissed. Be specific in your offer (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?”). Continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.
Join the fight: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by supporting the Alzheimer’s cause. Volunteer at your local Alzheimer’s Association office or participate in fundraising events.
“It’s a mistake to assume caregivers have everything under control,” Drew says. “Most caregivers can use and would appreciate help. No one can do everything, but each of us can do something.”
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and ways you can support families and people living with the disease, visit www.alz.org, the website of the Alzheimer’s Association.
(BPT) - Bobby Barrera’s career as a Marine ended abruptly at age 21. While in Vietnam, on his first mission, a land mine explosion took his right hand at the wrist and left arm at the shoulder, and left him with severe burns over 40 percent of his body and face.
Coping with the physical challenges of his injuries and struggling to find a new purpose for life was almost easy compared to dealing with the psychological impact of war trauma: something that would remain with Bobby for the next 40 years.
Bobby went on to marry and have a family. His children had children, and he created a fulfilling and meaningful life for himself. He returned to college to earn a master’s degree in guidance and counseling. For nearly four decades, Bobby counseled veterans with mental health challenges caused by war and volunteered with DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a veterans service organization that helps veterans of all generations get the benefits and services they’ve earned. He went on to become the national commander of DAV in 2009. What Bobby didn’t realize — or want to admit — was that for more than 40 years, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It wasn’t until Bobby and his wife moved to San Antonio, Texas, to retire that his PTSD symptoms became overwhelming. After moving, Bobby felt immediately lost. Being new in town, losing his network of friends, no longer working and coping with chronic pain triggered long-suppressed symptoms of PTSD. Soon, the nightmares began. Then came mood swings, increased anxiety, and feelings of isolation and hopelessness — and eventually, thoughts of suicide.
Bobby’s wife pushed him to seek help — which led to a PTSD diagnosis. He questioned how he could have overlooked his own signs of PTSD for so many decades, while helping countless other veterans who struggled with it.
PTSD symptoms are caused by experiencing traumatic events and not by an inherent individual weakness. Roughly 15 percent of Vietnam veterans are impacted by PTSD, and an estimated 20 percent of recent war veterans have symptoms of PTSD or depression. It can lead to a higher risk for unemployment, homelessness or suicide.
Bobby is learning how to cope with his diagnosis. He is meeting more people, getting involved at church and spending time with his family. He began to volunteer again. His recovery is ongoing. Bobby credits his wife for encouraging him to ask for help and believes that doing so gave him yet another chance at life.
If you are struggling with symptoms of PTSD, you are not alone. Resources are available at www.DAV.org/veterans/resources. If your situation is critical, please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.
America is in the midst of an ongoing opioid epidemic affecting families across the country. Reports show that there are almost 80 opioid-related overdoses a day, amounting to more than 28,000 deaths annually. Accordingly, it is increasingly important that responders understand how to prevent death from overdose, including knowing how to use naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication.
Overcoming the Opioid Epidemic
(Family Features) America is in the midst of an ongoing opioid epidemic affecting families across the country. Reports show that there are almost 80 opioid-related overdoses a day, amounting to more than 28,000 deaths annually.
This figure continues to climb as over 2.1 million people in the United States suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Additionally, the rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, W-18 and carfentanil are threats to those already using opiates as the epidemic worsens.
Where do opioid overdoses occur?
Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that 77 percent of opioid overdose related deaths occur outside of a medical setting and 56 percent occur in private homes, meaning family or friends must often be the first to take action in an emergency situation. Accordingly, it is increasingly important that responders understand how to prevent death from overdose, including knowing how to use naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication.
What does naloxone do?
Naloxone, the antidote that reverses an opioid overdose, works by neutralizing the opioid receptors in the brain, allowing an overdosed person to breathe again moments after it is administered. It’s been used in ambulances and hospital settings for decades and is now available for people to use in their homes or other remote areas.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,000 reversals of overdoses with naloxone are conducted by non-medical bystanders. Without having a solution in the hands of those closest to opioid-related overdoses, lives are left hanging in the balance while waiting for emergency medical services. However, there is an FDA-approved naloxone nasal spray designed for use by laypeople, like friends and family, who are not medically trained. It’s needle-free and requires no training or assembly to use while providing a strong enough dose to help reverse opioid-related overdoses. Naloxone is only effective in opioid-related overdoses and does not affect a person without opioids in their body.
What can you do?
A majority of states have issued standing orders for FDA-approved naloxone products, which permit pharmacies to dispense the nasal spray without a physician’s prescription. If you or someone you know is susceptible to an opioid-related overdose, whether caused by illicit drugs, like heroin, or prescription painkillers, it is important to prepare for an emergency overdose situation. By having naloxone on hand, you can save a life when every second matters.
Learn more about naloxone at getnaloxonenow.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
With concerns mounting about the prevalence of opioid use and abuse in the U.S., a new study validates the effectiveness of acupuncture and other non-drug health therapies for pain. The National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health compiled evidence on how complementary health therapies – including acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, massage therapy and relaxation techniques – are effective in treating chronic pain.
Effective, Opioid-Free Pain Management Options
(Family Features) New research is giving pain sufferers a dose of good news. With concerns mounting about the prevalence of opioid use and abuse in the U.S., a new study validates the effectiveness of acupuncture and other non-drug health therapies for pain.
The National Institute of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health compiled evidence on how complementary health therapies - including acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, massage therapy and relaxation techniques - are effective in treating chronic pain.
The top five pain conditions commonly treated in primary care settings - back pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, severe headaches and migraine, and fibromyalgia - were evaluated. The study showed that acupuncture in combination with yoga is the most effective therapy for back pain and acupuncture with tai chi is the most effective treatment for osteoarthritis pain in the knee.
"As addictions to, and deaths from prescription opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone continue to rise, raising awareness on complementary and alternative pain therapies like acupuncture is more important than ever," said Kory Ward-Cook, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). "The research from National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health brings greater attention to the use of acupuncture to treat and relieve chronic pain."
Experts in the field are pointing to the study, which was published in the "Mayo Clinic Proceedings" journal, as a pivotal opportunity in shifting how patients explore treatment for their pain management. The findings support the benefits of non-drug approaches to help those with chronic pain more safely manage their conditions without the harmful side effects of opioids.
The study explored seven widely-used non-drug treatments:
Acupuncture: Using practices derived from traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners stimulate specific points on the body, most often by inserting thin needles through the skin. Nationally Board-Certified practitioners, whose credentials can be verified through the NCCAOM, are affirmed to have the education and training necessary to competently deliver acupuncture therapy. To learn more or find a NCCAOM board-certified practitioner in your area, visit nccaom.org.
Spinal manipulation or osteopathic manipulation: This approach involves applying controlled force from hands or a device to move a joint past its normal range of operation with the goal of improving health.
Massage therapy: Using hands (or sometimes forearms or elbows), therapists manipulate muscles and soft tissue to relieve tension and pain.
Tai chi: These mind and body practices involve a series of postures and movements integrated with mental focus, breathing and relaxation techniques.
Yoga: A generally low-impact approach to physical well-being, yoga spans physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation. Practicing certain sets of yoga poses may help reduce pain.
Relaxation techniques: There are several types of relaxation techniques, including meditation, that strive to bring the body to its natural state with slower breathing, lower blood pressure and a feeling of increased well-being.
Natural product supplements: Certain dietary supplements such as chondroitin, glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) and omega-3 fatty acids are commonly used to help treat inflammation often associated with pain.
"Opioids are dangerous, highly addictive and do not treat chronic pain - only mask it," said Bill Reddy, Director of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium and a NCCAOM-certified and licensed acupuncturist. "To solve the opioid epidemic, we must apply the most powerful, innovative approaches to address the root cause of pain within the human body."
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
(BPT) - It's the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, affects more than 5 million Americans and one out of every three seniors will die from it. Yet misconceptions surround Alzheimer's disease.
Contrary to what many people think about Alzheimer's, it's not a normal part of growing older. And while there's not yet a way to prevent, cure or even slow the progression of the disease, people with Alzheimer's can benefit from detecting it early. During June - Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month - the Alzheimer's Association is encouraging everyone to learn the truth about Alzheimer's disease.
"Misunderstanding crucial facts about the disease can have consequences that can lead to stigma, delayed medical attention and inadequate support for caregivers," says Ruth Drew, director of family and information services, Alzheimer's Association. "Greater understanding of Alzheimer's is urgently needed given the dramatic impact of the disease. It devastates too many families for it to remain a mystery. We need everyone to know the truth about Alzheimer's so we can bridge current gaps and build greater support toward advancing treatments and finding a cure."
Debunking common myths
Alzheimer's is most often associated with memory loss, but the truth is the disease can appear through a variety of signs and symptoms. A progressive and fatal disease, Alzheimer's attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and brain tissue, which affects a person's ability to remember, think and plan.
While the majority of people who have Alzheimer's are seniors, it can also affect people in their 30s, 40s and 50s - a form of the disease known as younger-onset Alzheimer's. About 5 percent of people with the disease have younger-onset Alzheimer's. Everyone is, technically, at risk of developing Alzheimer's, but certain groups have elevated risks; African-Americans are twice as likely as whites and Hispanics one and a half times as likely to develop Alzheimer's. Nearly two-thirds of all people who have Alzheimer's are women.
Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Detecting the disease early may help the person with Alzheimer's, caregivers and loved ones in multiple ways.
People who receive an early diagnosis may have more time to explore treatments that could help relieve some symptoms, and help them stay independent longer. They may be able to participate in a clinical drug trial to help advance Alzheimer's research. Resources such as Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch can help you find current studies.
Detecting Alzheimer's early can also give people with the disease, their caregivers and loved ones more time to plan for the future. If you are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, you may be able to participate in decisions about your care, living arrangements, and financial and legal matters.
Only a doctor can accurately diagnose Alzheimer's disease, but the Alzheimer's Association has developed 10 warning signs and symptoms that may help you decide it's time to consult a physician, including:
* Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
* Challenges in planning and solving problems.
* Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
* Confusion over time or place.
* Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships.
* New problems with spoken or written words.
* Misplacing things and not being able to find them by retracing your movements.
* Decreased or poor judgment.
* Withdrawal from others at work or in social situations.
* Changes in mood or personality.
"If a person is having trouble doing something that they routinely did for years or they demonstrate a significant shift in personality that lasts over time - those are warning signs that need to be explored," Drew says. "Too often people dismiss these changes as stress or having too much to do, but when they persist over time, it's best to get it checked out. Ignoring the situation is the worst way of handling it."
To learn more about Alzheimer's disease and to find resources for caregivers, families and people living with the disease, visit www.alz.org, the website of the Alzheimer's Association.
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