The Shocking Reasons Behind The Opioid Epidemic

According to the CDC, 91 people die everyday from opioid overdose. Deaths have increased since 2010. The root cause is debatable, yet since 1999, 400% in opioid prescriptions have increased.

In 1995, the Purdue Pharmaceutical Company released the drug, OxyContin. It’s an extended release oxycodone formulation branded for treatment of chronic non-cancerous pain. From 1996-2002, Purdue contributed to a large campaign to encourage chronic use of opioid prescriptions for pain. Not only that, but they asked doctors and nurses to include pain as another vital sign. Purdue financially supported the American Pain Society and other groups. They supported the message that long-term opioid use for pain was safe. In patient’s best interests, OxyContin became the best selling painkiller prescribed in the country.

Opioids are known for their analgesic ( pain ), sedative, and euphoric effects. They were originally derived from the poppy flower. Natural and synthetic opioids have since been formulated. Natural occurring opioids are Morphine and Codeine. Semi-synthetic opioids are Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Heroin, and Hydromorphine. Synthetic opioids are Fentanyl, Methadone, and Tapentadyl. The CDC names Oxycodone, OxyContin, and Hydrocodone as the top prescription opioids implicated in overdosed deaths.

Since 2007, IV Heroin usage increased over other drugs of abuse. The DEA reported 200% increase of Heroin overdosed deaths from 2000-2014. Since 2013, overdoses involving Fentanyl has affected the opioid crisis in North America. Fentanyl is used as an anesthetic as well as an analgesic in the medical field. It is the most potent opioid narcotic available. It is 50-100 times more potent than Morphine. The problem is the non-pharmaceutical Fentanyl is being manufactured illegally overseas, primarily China, and trafficked to the US, Mexico, and Canada. This powder is mixed with heroin and made into pills that looks identical to the common prescribed opioid medications. The high potency is equivalent to a few grains of salt. The short term effects are respiratory depression and decreased levels of responsiveness that leads to overdosed deaths.

When using opioids, the reward center in the brain is stimulated. Once individual moves beyond the early stages of pleasure and reward seeking, a more complicated neuro-biological process takes over. The more exposed to the drug, the more the drug is needed to achieve the same affect. Once individual acquires escalating doses of opioids to achieve pleasure and analgesic affects, the person has developed a tolerance. Tolerance results when the receptors in the brain cells become less responsive to opioid stimulation. Opioid dependence occurs when the body has adapted to presence of drugs and will suffer physical symptoms  in drug’s absence. They will suffer withdrawal symptoms if drug stopped suddenly. The withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, jitteriness, dilation of pupils, muscle cramps, insomnia, GI upset, and Tachycardia.

It is important in this opioid epidemic to decrease the access and exposure to the opioid drugs.

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

 

Anchorage

Anchorage is surrounded by the sea and Cook’s Inlet as well as the mountains. I consider it  a springboard to other destinations of Alaska. You can take a boat, ship, plane, bus, or ride the train from it.

There are many museums, including inside the Federal Building. Near West First Street is a monument of Eisenhower, for you history buffs. The Cook’s Hotel has a statue and a painting of Captain Cook. There are also several old paintings of the natives and the captain’s arrival.

For those who love to shop, you will be intrigued by the five-floored mall in downtown Anchorage. There are many fun tourist shops around too. Some shops have stuffed bears and moose to welcome guests. My favorite candy shop is inside the Cook Hotel. The owner colored his chocolates to look like the Northern Lights. How creative!

Many little parks dot the landscape of Anchorage. The Earthquake Park has a resident moose. Easy access from downtown is an eleven-mile coastal trail with spectacular views of the Cook Inlet. Kincaid Park is known for mountain biking. Many bicycle rental places are available. The pioneer spirit survives here. Anchorage has a population that appreciates the outdoors and never takes for granted the beauty here.

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.

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.

The Woman That Fought for Pants

March was Women’s History Month. I went to the White River Museum to see the displays about the past working women. The museum also had information and books on the subject of women’s voices in the past. I found this story interesting and thought I would share it. It’s about a woman that stood up to wear pants.

The revolution of 1789 was fought by the poor and most of them women. All over Europe, the poor revolted against the rich. The people worked long hours in filthy conditions for scraps of food and a place to live. They marched down the streets and demanded fair wages, bread, and soap.

With each new revolution, ruling men took away the rights of women so they couldn’t form clubs or take part in politics. Times were hard and sickness everywhere. Crops were failing and people were hungry. This is the world Marie Suize lived in. She was one of ten children and she wanted a better life.

In France of 1849, a poster advertised about the riches of mining gold in California. Marie Suize followed her brother to America for a chance at a better life. They arrived in California and took a steamboat to Sacramento. From there, they rode mules to the mining camp of Amador County. The miners were eager to see a woman, but they expected Marie to cook and clean for them. Marie had other ideas and told them no. She wanted to dig for gold like her brother.

There were standard dress codes for women in those days. After mud filled her shoes and soaked through her skirts, Marie had a terrible time getting to the gravel area. The miners laughed at her. Marie went back to her shack and put on her brother’s extra pair of pants and one of his shirts. She pinned up her hat and smashed a hat over her head. She pulled on some tall boots and strode through the mining area. The men were shocked at her attire. A lady wasn’t supposed to dress that way. The few women that came to camp, snubbed her because she wore pants. It was illegal for a woman to wear pants. It was considered “cross-dressing.” Marie worked as hard as the men in mining for gold and eventually they accepted her. They nicknamed her, “Marie Pantalon.”

Marie struck it rich. She invested in shares of mines and she also bought some land. She prospered by making wine on her land with a friend. Marie opened a wine shop in San Francisco and a liquor store in Virginia City, Nevada. Marie loved the freedom of wearing pants, but the law was firm. One day, she drove her wagon to Virginia City to check in on her store. She was reported by some gossipers and arrested for wearing pants. Marie was fined five dollars and instructed to wear lady’s attire.

Her adventure caused a protest during the Women’s Suffrage Movement and they organized a meeting to express their indignation. Many of the ladies in California did not approve of Marie’s pants. The Women’s Movement was afraid they would lose their fight for the vote if they appeared to want their freedom too. They thought of Marie as an embarrassment. So by the time she returned to Amador County, Marie was arrested for wearing pants. Her fellow miner friends supported her. They coaxed the judge into dropping the charges, as it was a waste of time and to go hunting instead. Marie lived out her days in that town and wore her pants. She wore a dress though, whenever she left her county.

Back in the 1970’s,  girls also fought for the right to wear pants to school. The dress code had been for girls to either wear a dress or a skirt to their knee caps, until the law was changed. Women are strong and will always fight for what’s right.

Survival of Viruses in Nature

Did you know viruses can last one to two days on hard, non-porous surfaces, such as plastic or metal? Stainless steel is neutral while brass and bronze actively kill viruses. Survival of a pure culture of a virus can remain 15 minutes on dry paper tissue and 5 minutes on healthy, intact skin. If a virus is suspended in mucus, it can be protected for longer periods. Did you know viruses can last up to 17 days on bank notes? Think of all the money that is passed around from banks to people etc. Frightening, isn’t it?