What to do with Unused Medications

It happens to many of us. You open a cupboard or medicine cabinet and realize there are medications that are no longer used or have expired. If the medications are a year old or longer then they have lost their potency. How do you get rid of them safely? Here are a few tips:

  • The safest way to dispose of medications is through the DEA-registered ‘Take Back’ program. Collection sites are at local hospitals and clinics. Visit the DEA’s website for possible mail-in options or call 1-800-882-9539.
  • Check the fda.org for a list of safe disposal by flushing medications.
  • Before throwing the medications away, check the label to see if that drug has specific disposal instructions. Failure to do so could cause harm to others.
  • If all else fails, throw the medications in the trash mixed with kitty litter or dirt. This reduces the chance of animals or children ingesting them.

The Culprit Sepsis

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitals. It is the body’s response to an infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, amputations, and death. Sepsis affects over 26 million people worldwide each year. The risk of sepsis can be reduced by practicing good hygiene and staying current with vaccinations. While sepsis is more likely to affect children, the elderly, people with a weakened immune system, and people with chronic diseases; sepsis impacts people of all ages and levels of health.

Sepsis is a medical emergency that requires urgent attention and rapid treatment for survival. Mortality increases 8% for every hour that treatment is delayed. As many as 80% of sepsis deaths could have been prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment. Those that survive may have long-lasting effects such as missing limbs and organ dysfunction. Sepsis survivors have a shortened life expectancy.

Symptoms of sepsis:

  • fever, shivering
  • extreme pain
  • pale or discolored skin
  • difficult to arouse, confused
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling of death approaching

If you have any of these symptoms with an infected wound, seek immediate help. Your life may depend on it.

Keys To Prevent Kidney Issues

Three things can contribute to kidney disease:

  • high blood sugar
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol

If your blood sugar remains high, it can lead to damage of the blood vessels that feed the kidneys and to the part of the kidneys that filter the blood. High blood pressure and high cholesterol puts pressure on the kidneys causing them to work harder and to leak proteins in the urine. What can you prevent these things from happening?

Studies have shown that managing blood glucose can halve your risk of developing kidney disease or halt the progression, if you do have it. Test and monitor your blood sugar at home. Know what your blood sugar is before you eat and drink. Check it again two hours after you have eaten to see if you’ve eaten the appropriate amount.

Follow a low sodium diet such as the DASH diet, which emphasizes vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish, nuts, and limits salt, meat, and sweets. This diet helps lower blood pressure and blood sugar. It also lowers cholesterol.

Exercise is essential for the health of blood vessels and can protect your kidneys. Start gradually and build up to 30 minutes a day. Something is better than nothing. Take ten minutes at least. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don’t be a couch potato. Sure you can watch TV, but get up and run in place during the commercials. Better yet, run on a treadmill while watching TV. If your feet are tired after working all day, elevate them above your heart. Do some leg raises while you’re sitting there. Use your imagination.

Follow up with your doc and form a plan for a healthier you. It might save your life and prevent disorders down the line. Some cholesterol issues are influenced by your genes. You might need medications, besides a healthy diet and exercise. No more excuses.exercise


Revered Chocolate

Many of us can’t resist the taste of chocolate. How can you stay on a diet when desserts tempt you? You shouldn’t have to when it comes to chocolate. The difference is how it’s made plus the butter and sugar in it. In its unsweetened form, chocolate is an easy, nutritious ingredient to add to many dishes.

If you’re looking for a chocolate treat loaded with antioxidants, cacao is the way to go. Cacao and chocolate may look alike, but they are quite different nutritionally. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans, thus preserving the living enzymes while eliminating the fat. Cocoa powder is made by roasting raw cacao at high temperatures which lowers the overall nutritional value. Cacao is the way to go for your antioxidants and nutrition.  Studies have shown that consuming small amounts of cacao helps control blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, elevate your mood, reduce constipation, and help with blood sugar. Another bonus is that cacao is loaded with magnesium, iron, and zinc. Cacao is healthy because it is minimally processed. It retains its nutrition and isn’t paired with sugar and fat that is common in most candy bars.

Look for bars that have a content of at least 70% of cacao. Moderation is always best. An ounce a day is all it takes to glean the healthy benefits of cacao. Keep in mind, if you sprinkle cacao in your smoothie, that the dairy can inhibit the absorption of the antioxidants from the cacao. Reap the rewards of cacao.dsc_8591

Your Kidneys & Diabetes

Three things can contribute to kidney disease when you have diabetes. The first is high blood sugar. If it remains high, it can lead to damage to the kidneys, not just to the part of the kidneys that filter the blood, but also to the blood vessels that feed the kidneys. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two other things that damage the blood vessels of the kidneys because it causes the kidneys to work harder and to leak proteins.

What can you do about it? One-Keep your blood sugar under control and it will half the risk of kidney disease or halt the progression. No one wants to go through dialysis for kidney failure. Two– Follow a low-sodium diet to keep your blood pressure under control. Research has shown that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, fish, and whole grains is effective. Three– Exercise is essential for the health of blood vessels. Start gradually and build up to 30 minutes a day. Four-See your doctor regularly and have your cholesterol checked. Sometimes diet alone doesn’t stop the problem. High cholesterol can be related to your genes. Ask your doctor if you need to be on medication to lower it.

Some  people with early kidney disease have no symptoms. A sign of kidney disease is small amounts of protein in the urine, called microalbuminuria. So I can’t stress enough, see your doctor regularly.

Improve Your Bone Density

Bone disease leads to an estimated 1.5 million fractures annually for women above 50 years of age. Osteoporosis affects 54 million people. You can’t control genetics, age, and family history, but you can control your lifestyle choices. Research shows that  soda, smoking, and obesity contribute to poor bone health.

In postmenopausal women, smokers have higher levels of bone loss and fractures than nonsmokers. Smoking decreases blood flow to the bones. Bones are living tissue and need optimal blood flow to be healthy.

Women in their 60’s and up who drank dark-colored soda had lower bone densities than women who didn’t drink soda on a regular basis. Soda contains phosphoric acid which zaps calcium from the bones and teeth, making them weaker.

Strength training builds bone health. Repetitions with light weights increased bone density up to 29 % in postmenopausal women. Exercise builds bone. A sedentary lifestyle makes the bones weaker. They need to be worked to remain strong. According to a recent study, adults that took 7,000 steps per day or spent 15 minutes per day engaged in physical activities had better bone health.

Your diet plays a role in multiple health conditions which also affects bone health. Anti-inflammatory diets rich in fruit, vegetables, and grains improved bone health.

Certain medications can cause bone loss. Thyroid medications, Omeprazole, and steroids are known for this. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives.

Stick and stones may break your bones, but a bad lifestyle can make things worse. Help preserve your bone density and your body will love you.

Bring On The Good Skin

There are several good food choices to help retain healthy skin. Here are a few:

  • Avocados: They have healthy fats that lock in moisture and strengthen skin cell membranes
  • Beets: They support healthy liver function which contributes to glowing skin
  • Berries: The skin of the berries have anthocyanins in them which strengthens skin elasticity.  They are also a good source of antioxidants.
  • Leafy greens and spinach: They help heal skin and support collagen production. They have Vitamins A and C in them also.
  • Lemons: They cleanse and balance the body’s pH. They are a good source of Vitamin C.
  • Sweet potatoes: They help repair and smooth your complexion.
  • Salmon: They help protect skin from UV damage and are a good source of protein which aides in healing.

Some spices also help with good skin. Turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. This helps with healing and anti-aging. Cinnamon helps moderate blood sugar spikes caused by sweet foods. It also is an anti-inflammatory which helps in healing. Also drink plenty of water to retain healthy skin. With summer upon us, slab on that sunscreen. Too much sun can lead to skin cancer and wrinkles.

Natural Peach Syrup

I try to avoid most syrups as they are too sugary. I’ve been on a Mediterranean diet to help lower my cholesterol and to hopefully lose weight. I found this recipe and thought I would share it. It doesn’t have any sugar in it. You will need these ingredients:

  • 6 cups sliced peaches
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3 T. lemon juice

In a large pot, combine peaches and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until peaches are soft and have colored the liquid, approximately 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve over a bowl. Discard peach solids. Return strained juice to pot. Add honey and stir. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam. Add lemon juice. Pour hot syrup into clean half-pint jars. Leave a 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rim of jars with a damp cloth. Allow to cool, about an hour. Apply lids. Store in fridge up to 3 weeks or place in freezer up to 6 months. The syrup is good on pancakes or anything else your heart desires.


The Nasty Aegypti Mosquito

Many of us have heard about the Zika Virus on the news, but might not understand how serious it is, especially those who live in the NW states. I recently took an updated nursing course on the subject and I was amazed at what this little bugger can cause. The potential for a localized outbreak of the Zika Virus in the USA is significant given the level of travel exposure, opportunities of migration, and the prevalence of mosquitoes along the southern rim of the country. As of December 2016, cases of the Zika Virus within the USA have been reported in returning travelers and in women having intimate sexual contact with men infected while traveling to regions with ongoing mosquito transmission. Zika has migrated out of Africa and Asia into the Americas over the past two decades.

Primarily, the Zika Virus is often asymptomatic. However, infection during pregnancy is often complicated by transmission of the virus to the developing fetus. The results are arrested neurological development, microcephaly, and related congenital anomalies. There is also evidence linking the Zika infection with post-infectious Guillain-Barre syndrome. Guillain-Barre is an acute, progressive syndrome characterized by flaccid paralysis and often triggered by infection. Most patients recover after many weeks, but often require respiratory ventilation support and management of complications. Microcephaly is a rare pediatric disorder in which the growth of the fetal brain size is unexpectedly small for a given stage of development. Zika is characterized by headache, conjunctivitis, a pruritic rash, mild weakness, and mild fever, lasting three to six days. In the course of acute infection during pregnancy, the virus can be transmitted across the placenta to the developing fetus.

In the past, the aegypti mosquito thrived on nonhuman hosts. It has adapted to an urban habitat and shows a preference for the human host over mammals. It flourishes in impoverished crowded areas without piped water, inadequate trash disposal, and ineffective barrier protections such as screen doors. A single female deposits its eggs at multiple sites. It takes advantage of stagnant water sources, pet bowls, cemetery vases, and tires. Adult mosquitoes of both sexes feed on nectar and fruit. Females require blood protein to fully develop their eggs. Only the female bites. The aegypti mosquito is an aggressive daytime biting mosquito and feeds in the hours of dawn and dusk. They are stealth feeders and approach their victims from behind and bites on ankles and elbows. This mosquito is a sip feeder in that it bites multiple humans in the course of its blood meal. The female prefers shady areas for rest and is adept at hiding under beds and in closets to later emerge for a nocturnal feed. Of public concern is if this vicious feeder emerges with a second vector with a potential for widespread outbreak in other parts of the country.

The full spectrum by which Zika is transmitted sexually is not yet known. It has been detected in saliva, urine, semen, and breast milk. Studies are underway to determine the incidence, duration, and pattern of virus shedding in men with and without symptomatic Zika infection. For now, the CDC recommends that men diagnosed with Zika consider using condoms or abstaining from sex for six months following the infection. There isn’t any effective antiviral therapy as of yet for the Zika infection. The general recommendations for pregnant women in the USA are:

  • all pregnant women should be assessed for possible Zika Virus exposure at each prenatal visit
  • Advised not to travel to an area active with Zika
  • If the pregnant woman must travel, follow strict steps to avoid mosquito bites and prevent sexual transmission during the trip
  • Have partner use condoms or other barrier methods to prevent infection during the woman’s pregnancy
  • cover exposed areas of skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • use insect repellents registered with the EPA and contains DEET, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Sleep in screened areas and air-conditioned rooms
  • use mosquito netting over strollers, carriers, and cribs of infants younger than two months of age.

Virologists anticipate it will take several years to bring a Zika vaccine to implementation.


Beware of Issues Inside Your Mouth

I took a class on the GI system update for  my nursing credits and I thought I would share this. If you’ve never seen pictures of oral cancer, then let me tell you it’s nasty. These are the symptoms:

  • a sore inside the mouth or on the lip that hasn’t healed within 14 days
  • white or red patches in the mouth
  • a lump or thickening in the mouth or on the lip
  • problems chewing or swallowing
  • trouble moving the jaw or tongue
  • numbness inside the mouth
  • loose teeth or dentures become uncomfortable or start to fit poorly
  • change in quality of voice
  • bleeding or pain in mouth or on lip
  • swelling of jaw
  • feeling as though something is caught in throat

Risk factors:

  • Smokeless options such as chewing tobacco
  • using tobacco products
  • Frequent alcohol ingestion in combo with tobacco
  • exposure to artificial sunlight over extended periods
  • low intake of fruits and vegetables
  • African Americans are affected twice as much as whites
  • And those who have had oral cancer are at risk of developing a second cancer in the neck or head

Many dentists check for symptoms as part of their exam. If you have any suspicious areas get a physical exam without delay.

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