couple sitting outside together laughing

Prioritize Your Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Few would argue that your personal, mental health and wellbeing are not a priority. However, we all know that life gets busy. Between work or school deadlines, caregiving responsibilities and day- to-day activities, our wellbeing often gets “put on a shelf.”

 

Oftentimes, we do not consider how low our mental health has fallen in our priorities until it manifests itself in signs of physical illness. In fact, The World Health Organization reports that by 2030, stress-related illness will surpass communicable disease. 1

 

We cannot avoid many of the stressors of life. However, there are various ways to prioritize your mental health that research proves helpful.

 

Practice self-care

 

Proper sleep, exercise and nutrition are a must to maximize your mental health. These activities should be things we engage in every day. Therefore, do not get into the bad habit of only fitting them in when you have time.

 

Consider mindful living

 

Combat stress through activities such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation. These mindful activities are proven ways to elevate brain chemistry.  They also  lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone in our bodies.

 

Avoid the lure of consumerism

 

The pressure to wear the latest fashions, participate in retail therapy, or seek status, puts mental and economic pressure on us. Focusing on the important things in life such as relationships, activities we love, faith, etc., brings more happiness and less stress to our lives.

 

Consider therapy

 

Sometimes we have mixed feelings about seeing a therapist. Just keep in mind that many times we seek services to prevent problems. Just as you take your car to a mechanic for preventative service, seeking the care of a trusted, licensed therapist, can greatly prevent problems that occur from day-to-day mental stress.

 

Not sure how to find a therapist that will meet your unique needs? Ask your CCMH primary care physician or search the internet for referrals from reputable organizations like the American Psychological Association.

 

Take breaks everyday

 

What renews and refreshes your soul? A good book? Some music? A long walk? A hot bath? Commit to finding time for such activities every day! Even if it is just 15 minutes, this time will help you “reset”, refocus and clear your mind of negative thoughts.

 

Cultivate friendships

 

If you’re struggling with mental health or even just feeling a little “down,” loneliness can quickly erode mental health. Our society is more connected yet disconnected than ever before.

 

Surround yourself with positive, caring individuals and cultivate these friendships. There is nothing like sharing some laughs and a cup of coffee with a friend to push away negative, destructive thoughts that creep into our heads in times of loneliness.

 

Learn to say “no”

 

Saying “yes” to everything is saying “no” to your mental health. It seems as if we are addicted to being busy in our society. Sometimes we also feel like our success is driven by the number of activities we participate in.

 

Practice saying “no”. Say it in the mirror and practice it with a friend if you must. Learn to always consider your list of priorities. Practice delegating, renegotiating and making changes in your best interest when the demands of life become too much.

 

Ditch perfectionism

 

Being goal driven can be good for our careers yet hard on our minds. Expecting perfection and keeping a jam-packed schedule in pursuit of our goals can also be damaging in the long run. You do not have to accomplish everything right now. Make realistic goals, celebrate small achievements and laugh and learn from your mistakes.

 

Find humor in life

 

Speaking of laughing, as the old Proverb says, laughter often is the best “medicine.”  Humor contributes towards resilience. When we take life too seriously, we become hypercritical, easily frustrated and often just want to give up. Say “no” to tension and strife inside your mind, say “yes” to enjoying and laughing through the journey.

 

Your mental health is most important. It’s more important than any metrics of success- your job, your status, likes on social media, and your grades. Without good mental health, everything else suffers.

 

Struggling with the stress of daily life? Reach out to a CCMH Provider if you need help. Find a list of them at ccmhhealth.com/directory.

 

Sources

 

1 World Health Organization. DEPRESSION: A Global Crisis. 10 Oct. 2102. 

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

hand holding bottle pouring soft drink

Sugar Substitutes and Stroke Risk

To decrease the amount of sugar in your diet, you may be tempted to reach for diet soft drinks or juices sweetened with sugar substitutes. Sugar substitutes are a confusing topic for many. For years it seemed that they received nothing but negative publicity. Recently, research reported they may not be as bad as we once thought. This leaves research relatively inconclusive at best. However, concern is once again growing.

 

Latest research demonstrates concern regarding  artificial sweetener consumption

 

Although they may seem like a good alternative to sugar-filled drinks, recent studies have discovered that there may be a link between artificial sweeteners and health risks including stroke.

 

Over 81,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 participated in the study. The conclusion drawn by researchers was that  artificially sweetened drinks are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and even death.

 

Those who drank two or more diet drinks a day had a 23% increase of stroke risk compared to those who consumed less than one diet drink per week. 1

 

Sugar consumption alters taste

 

No matter if you choose real sugar, or an artificial or plant based substitute, the brain wants more sweet substances the more you consume.

 

Artificial sweeteners even alter our gut bacteria. Sugar, in general, also increases blood sugar and insulin levels.

 

All of these factors combined lead to excessive weight gain, including fat, and also inflammation.

 

The danger of consuming artificial sweeteners for many lies in the increase of sweet cravings it causes. Artificial sweeteners are designed to taste sweeter than real sugar. This causes your taste buds to crave and expect more sweet foods.

 

Decreasing sugar in diet

 

To determine whether or not you are consuming too much sugar, try eating some fruits such as strawberries and apples. If you notice that these fruits do not taste sweet to you, this could be an indication that you should decrease the amount of sugar in your diet.

 

With some small changes, you can greatly reduce sugar intake. Begin by removing any added table sugar, honey, syrup or molasses. Natural sugar substitutes such as unsweetened applesauce or spices like cinnamon and allspice are great baking substitutes. Also, cut back on your serving size when you do indulge in sugary treats and check food labels for treats with less added sugar when possible.

 

Making dietary changes always seems overwhelming at first. However, with practice, anything can become a natural part of your lifestyle. If you have questions about ways to consume a healthier diet, make an appointment with a CCMH provider. Visit our online directory to discover how to reach them by visiting http://ccmhhealth.com/directory.

 

Source 

 

Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani , Victor Kamensky , JoAnn E. Manson , Brian Silver , Stephen R. Rapp ,et al. American Stroke Association. Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Stroke, Coronary Heart Disease, and All-Cause Mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative. 1 Mar. 2019.

 

Disclaimer

 

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

 

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

images of brain

7 Ways to Prevent Stroke

May is Stroke Awareness Month! Stroke is often thought of as a disease that affects only the elderly. Three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65, 1 however; strokes can affect anyone of any age.

 

What causes a stroke?

 

A stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to part of the brain is blocked. Without oxygen, brain cells will begin to die in minutes. Sudden brain bleeding can also cause a stroke if brain cells receive damage.

 

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

 

Examples of stroke symptoms include

 

paralysis or numbness of the legs, arms or face

difficulty speaking or understanding speech

difficulty seeing

sudden weakness

 

How can stroke be prevented?

 

Certain risk factors are unavoidable such as age and having a close relative who has had a stroke. However, here are 7 healthy habits you can adopt to prevent this deadly disease today.

 

Lose weight

 

If you are overweight, losing weight is the most important place to start in reducing your risk of stroke. Make activity a regular part of your life and keep it fun. Finding an activity you really enjoy like participating in 5Ks or golfing will remove some of the pressure of having a weight loss plan.

 

Tracking your calories can help you determine where you’re consuming too much. Many apps will help you get an idea of what you should eat and track.

 

Work with your doctor to create a weight loss plan that meets your nutritional needs. A healthy, sustainable weight loss is typically 1-2 pounds per week, but may be more or less depending on your body’s needs and your doctor’s recommendations.

 

Lower blood pressure

 

High blood pressure is a very dangerous risk factor for stroke. It can double or even quadruple your risk level! Adopting to following strategies into your lifestyle can greatly improve blood pressure:

 

If you smoke, quit.

Reduce salt in your diet to 1,500 milligrams a day or less (around a half teaspoon).

Eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day, one to three servings of fish each week, and several servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy each day.

Avoid high-cholesterol foods like cheese, ice cream and burgers

Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

 

Become more active 

 

Exercise is a contributor to other ways of reducing your risk, but exercise alone is also a stroke risk reducer. Make it a goal to  exercise at moderate intensity five days per week.

 

Ways to exercise more:

 

Walk whenever possible including to work or by parking farther away from entrances.

Find accountability with friends.

Take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Even if you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes to exercise, that’s ok! 10- to 15-minute sessions a few times each day are just as effective.

 

Manage diabetes

 

Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels and makes clots more likely to occur. If you have diabetes, keep your doctor’s appointments and follow his recommendations. Monitor your sugar regularly and use exercise, diet and medication (if prescribed) to keep your sugar at the recommended range.

 

Treat atrial fibrillation (afib)

 

Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that can cause clots to form in the heart. Those clots then travel to the brain and produce a stroke.

 

Symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath may indicate afib. Your doctor may prescribe an anticoagulant drug (blood thinner) to reduce your stroke risk.

 

Drink alcohol in moderation (or not at all)

 

New research concluded that 1-2 drinks per day increased stroke risk by 10-15%. Four drinks per day increased the risk by 35%. 2

 

Commit to consuming no more than one glass of alcohol a day. Choose red wine first because it contains resveratrol, a substance which is thought to protect the brain and heart.  Also, beware of your portion sizes. A standard-sized drink is a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.

 

Stop Smoking

 

Smoking thickens  blood and increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. This can lead to clot formation.

 

Ask your doctor for advice on the best way for you to quit. Quit-smoking aids, such as nicotine patches or pills, counseling, or medication may be strategies he or she recommends. Don’t give up no matter what! Few are able to quit on their first attempt. Think of any period of time not smoking as part of your success no matter how long or short it may be.

 

A stroke is a serious medical condition and requires emergency care. If you think you or someone else is having a stroke, call 9–1–1 immediately. During a stroke, every second counts!

 

To learn about our quality stroke care at CCMH, visit our website at http://www.ccmhhealth.com/stroke-care.

 

Sources

 

1 National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Stroke. 2019.

2 The Lancet. Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. 23 Aug. 2018.

 

Disclaimer


The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.


While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

couple sitting near lake

Battling Infertility

April 21-27 commemorates National Infertility Week. Infertility can be a difficult journey that leaves many individuals feeling hopeless and alone. Many describe it as seeming like everyone else around them is happily enjoying life while their lives are frozen in a place they never wanted to visit.

 

While discussing this topic, we had an opportunity to visit with couples in our area who have had their own struggles with infertility. We appreciate them taking the time to share their own thoughts with us on this subject.

 

Who experiences infertility?

 

Infertility is often viewed as a female problem and a problem that mainly affects older women trying to conceive. However, infertility is not biased, and it can affect men and women of various ages. Approximately one-third of infertility issues are from a female partner.  One- third of issues are from a male partner, and one-third of issues are caused by both partners or the cause is unknown. 1

 

Men need support in infertility too. Paul and his wife struggled to conceive and also experienced a miscarriage. He said, “It was very sad and disappointing. I felt like there was nothing I could do to make that time any easier for my wife.”

 

Infertility is an emotional rollercoaster

 

Some days someone may feel positive during their infertility battle, other days they won’t. Beware of this and know some days are just bad days. There isn’t anything you can do sometimes but offer a hug and lend an ear, but your friend will still appreciate the sentiment.

 

Samantha suffered a miscarriage and then waited for years to be able to conceive again. When asked for ways to cope with all the emotions, Samantha responded, “Infertility is painful. It’s such a close, personal heartache. A piece of your heart is missing that you didn’t know existed. Find someone that has experienced it, that you can open up to, cry with, and be angry with them. Cling to them. Find happiness in the daily tasks. If you want ice cream, buy a gallon of it. Find your faith and hold on tight. Never give up.”

 

Be careful when sharing good news

 

Knowing others conceive easily when it seems to be anything but simple to someone with infertility, can make a pregnancy announcement sting. It isn’t that your friend isn’t incredibly happy for you, but he or she just wishes their own good news would come.

 

Big surprises in large groups of people can make it difficult for those in an infertility battle to process their emotions. You may consider speaking with them privately so you can also express how much you hope this day comes for them too.

 

“Don’t hide it if you become pregnant,” shared Angela.  Angel and her husband have battled infertility for years, gone through the adoption process and attempted in vitro fertilization (IVF). “Though it’s hard to hear, it’s even harder to hear about a friend being pregnant from someone other than your friend,” she said. “Be upfront. We will put on a happy face though we’re hurting inside. It’s ok. We will grieve the life we hoped we would have, wishing that was us, and then carry on to be excited for you.”

 

 

Beware of language that triggers emotions

 

Be sensitive to the fact that conversations focusing on children or a pregnancy may be difficult. Never complain about children or even jokingly say, “Be glad you don’t have kids!” Try to steer conversations with friends in different directions so your friend doesn’t feel so left out while everyone discusses parenting struggles or their child’s milestones.

 

Never start a sentence with “At least…” Statements like “At least you can get pregnant” after a loss or “At least it happened early,” or “At least you don’t have to gain weight from a pregnancy,” do nothing but invalidate how someone else feels.

 

Lastly, avoid statements such as, “It wasn’t (or “it isn’t”) meant to be.” Not only is this hurtful, but it may also make the individual feel they somehow deserve these difficult circumstances.

 

Don’t try to fix it

 

There are days those struggling with infertility wish to talk about it. Other days they may not feel up to it. When you know life feels especially difficult, always let a friend know you would love to just listen.

 

“Just being a friend is the best thing someone can do,” said Angela. “Don’t try to fix the situation that can’t be fixed. Trust me, anyone going through infertility has already tried everything to fix themselves and the situation they are in. We don’t want to be in it. Just listening and offering hugs and sincere thoughts of ‘that really must be tough’ is all we need.”

 

Don’t avoid them

 

If you don’t know what to say, just give a hug and let her know you are thinking of her. Your support may help more than you know.

 

Sarah responded about her own struggles with a miscarriage followed by over more than a year of waiting to conceive again. She said, “I remember coming back to work after my miscarriage and feeling shocked that so many of my coworkers seemed to avoid me. I had just suffered the most devastating loss of my life, and the majority of them wouldn’t even look me in the eye. A few people didn’t even say anything but gave me a big hug. It helped a lot.”

 

 

During this time as we remember those struggling with their journey to grow their families and anytime you know someone is facing this difficult battle, we want to encourage you to reach out to them. Infertility is a battle that is hardest when the couple facing it feels alone.

 

Infertility is typically diagnosed after a couple has tried unsuccessfully to conceive for twelve months or longer and / or has experienced more than one consecutive miscarriage or stillbirth. If you are struggling to conceive, one of our providers would love to meet with you. Please reach out and make an appointment with MMG Obstetrics and Gynecology.

 

*Names have been changed of some of the individuals interviewed for this article to respect their privacy.

 

Source

1 US Department of Health and Human Services: National Institute of Health. How common is male infertility, and what are its causes? 1 Dec. 2016.

 

Disclaimer


The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.


While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

child sitting on bed

How Child Abuse Affects the Brain

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Unfortunately, child abuse remains a common problem in our society. The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported that 15,289 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2017. 1 This number is double the amount of cases since 2010. It also represents approximately 16% of children in our state. The Oklahoma State Department of Health labels the majority of abuse cases in Oklahoma as “neglect.”

 

It is difficult to determine if the number of cases are increasing or people are more likely to report abuse than in recent years. However, if you suspect a child is being abused, you are legally obligated to report it in Oklahoma.

 

There are more than physical problems that can result from abuse. Emotional effects can be long lasting, affecting someone throughout their lifetime. This also sometimes leads to generational patterns of abuse. Putting an end to a cycle of abuse can save more than one child from these negative consequences. It may also save generations to come.

 

Although some children heroically overcome abuse to lead normal, successful lives, others do not. Abused children are more likely to suffer from substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and also anxiety. 2

 

Researchers focus on the changes that take place in the brain as a result of abuse as well. Sadly, adults who experienced severe abuse as children show critically impaired neural connections in the brain. Parts of the brain associated with the regulation of attention, emotion, and other cognitive processes suffer.

 

Effects on white matter

 

White matter is made up of myelinated axons. Axons are the projections of nerve cells that allow electrical impulses to carry information. Myelin is the “coating” that sheaths these tracts. Myelin helps information travel faster, increasing the efficiency of the brain.

 

So, to put it simply, white matter in the brain works as the brain’s subway system. Therefore, just as missing railway can cause serious problems in the ability of a subway car to travel, missing white matter affects the brain’s ability to process information.

 

The  structure and amount of white matter correlate with an individual’s ability to learn. The white matter continues to develop throughout early adulthood.

 

Myelination of axons decreased

 

Researchers conducted a fascinating study in Canada examining the brains of those lost to suicide. The researchers created three groups: those who experienced severe abuse as children, those with a depression diagnosis and no known history of abuse, and those with no known history of abuse or mental illness.

 

The results shows that those who experienced abuse as children had thinner myelin coating in a larger amount of nerve fibers. Consequently, this was not true for the other two groups. 2

 

The researchers also noted abnormal molecular level development which impacted the cells maintenance and production of myelin.

 

Connectivity issues in the brain

 

The research team also discovered that some of the largest axons affected were unusually thick.  Furthermore, they concluded that these differences may all  negatively affect the connectivity between the anterior cingulate cortex. This is a region of the brain which processes cognitive functioning and emotions.

 

The affected region also includes the nucleus accumbens. The nucleus accumbens is involved with the brain’s reward system. It helps us know when to anticipate pleasure. This may explain why people who underwent child abuse process emotions differently. They were more exposed to substance abuse and negative mental health outcomes.

 

The researchers’ conclusion is that experiencing abuse in early life could cause lasting connectivity issues between important parts of the brain involved in processing our emotions. However, further research could more clearly define the full effect of childhood trauma on the brain.

 

Nevertheless, never underestimate the effect you can have on a child’s life. Meeting a child’s basic needs, and loving and caring for him can put him on a path to a successful life!

 

If you expect someone you know is abusing a child, reach out to the Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-522-3511.

 

Sources

 

1 Meg Winterger. The Oklahoman. Oklahoma has new plan to bring down high rates of child abuse, neglect. 2 Dec. 2018.

2 Pierre-Eric Lutz , M.D., Ph.D., Arnaud Tanti , Ph.D., Alicja Gasecka , Ph.D., et al. The American Journal of Psychiatry. Association of a History of Child Abuse With Impaired Myelination in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex: Convergent Epigenetic, Transcriptional, and Morphological Evidence. 28 Jul. 2017.

 

Disclaimer


The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

bar shelves full of bottles of alcohol

Myths about Alcohol

One of the health observances we recognize in the month of April is alcohol awareness. According to The Global Drug Survey, alcohol is the #1 reason people end up in the Emergency Room.1 Therefore, it is so important to know the facts regarding alcohol consumption for your safety and the safety of others.

 

Myth #1: You can sober up quickly

 

Many make the mistake of letting themselves drink too much, too fast because they assume sobering up will not be difficult. Cold showers, fresh air, and hot coffee may seem refreshing, but it is not sobering. In fact, caffeine is a stimulant. Because of that, someone that is drunk is going to be more awake but just as impaired after coffee. The individual gains a false degree of confidence that they are not impaired. This could lead to riskier decision making.

 

Myth #2: It is good to build up your tolerance so you can drink more and stay sober

 

It is true that the more you drink over time, the more alcohol tolerance you develop. However, tolerance is a warning sign, not a stamp of approval to continue drinking. If you have to drink more to feel the same buzz you once did, you are on a dangerous path to developing a drinking problem. The more you drink, the more damage your body receives.

 

Myth #3: A nightcap helps you sleep

 

It is true that having a drink before you turn in at night will put you to sleep quicker. However, alcohol will disrupt sleep. Research from a 2018 study concluded that alcohol typically disrupts sleep during rapid eye movement or REM sleep, the more crucial sleep stage. 2

 

Myth #4: Eating before a meal will keep you sober

 

Food will not keep alcohol from affecting your body. The alcohol still enters your system. It may be delayed slightly due to the food, but if you drink heavily, your rate of absorption is affected only a little and you still get drunk.

 

Myth #5: Beer affects you less than other types of alcohol

 

Wine, liquor and beer all contain the same type of alcohol (ethanol). One standard drink should lead to the same level of intoxication. However, many tend to drink more when drinking hard liquor or mixing alcoholic beverages. Cocktails often contain much more alcohol than a standard drink.

 

So, what is a standard drink? For beer its 12 ounces.  A standard drink of wine is 5 ounces, and a mixed drink is one shot of 80-proof liquor. Each standard drink contains .5 ounces of ethanol.

 

Myth #6: When someone passes out from drinking, allow him to sleep it off

 

When someone is so drunk he passes out, alcohol can continue to absorb into the body, sometimes leading to a fatal overdose. Unfortunately, some “aspirate” on their own vomit and choke to death after drinking. It’s important to stay with someone who may have had too much to drink. Do not assume that he will be ok while “sleeping it off.”

 

 

 

Life is meant to be enjoyed. However, make sure as you enjoy life you remember your health and safety too! If you feel your drinking habits are becoming a problem, please reach out to one of our CCMH providers for an appointment. You can find a list of them on our online directory at ccmhhealth.com/directory.

 

Disclaimer


The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.


While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

 

Sources

 

1 Global Drug Survey Findings 2014.

 

2 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Colrain, Ian M., Nicholas Christian L., and Baker, Fiona C. Alcohol and the Sleeping Brain. 2018 Feb 21.

 

girl friends holding hands in field

Befriending Someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder

April is Autism Awareness Month! For autistic people, making friends can be a challenge. To those unfamiliar with the disorder, they may incorrectly read autistic persons as standoffish, disconnected, and unfriendly. However, it is important to make an effort to reach out to those diagnosed with the disorder. Currently, 1 in 59 children have been identified as autistic. 1

 

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a very complex disorder. Most receive their diagnosis in early childhood. ASD affects a person’s ability to interact with others.

 

We define ASD by a certain set of behaviors. As a “spectrum condition,” it affects each individual differently. There is no single cause of autism. Increased awareness and access to appropriate services can significantly improve ASD persons’ ability to interact, understand others, and express themselves closer to how they intend.

 

Common behaviors with autism include difficulty making eye contact, delayed learning of language, and difficulty with reasoning and planning. Autistic persons may also have intense, specific interests; sensory sensitivities; and poor motor skills.

 

Some may even be non-verbal. They may communicate through writing, sign language or picture cards.

 

How do I show someone with autism that I want to be their friend?

 

Introduce yourself to an autistic individual just as you would anyone else. Just because he or she may have difficulty making eye contact with you does not mean you should not look at him or her.

 

Keep in mind that although those with autism may behave and think differently than you, nothing changes the fact that they’re intelligent, passionate, capable people. In many cases, those who are autistic deeply value friendship just as you do.

 

Kierstin Wise received her autism spectrum disorder diagnosis at the age of sixteen. In response to becoming friends with those who are not autistic, Kierstin stated, ” It’s important to make an effort to understand us and learn our individual quirks. We’re typically expected to be the ones to communicate the way others do, but friendship shouldn’t be one-sided. There will be misunderstandings on both sides, but I appreciate it when someone tries to understand what I’m actually trying to express. I also appreciate when someone lets me know when I’ve accidentally upset them so I can try to learn how to understand them too.”

 

 

What do I need to be aware of when it comes to autism?

 

Accept differences and don’t make assumptions.

 

Always accept your autistic friend’s differences just as you would anyone else.

 

Also, do not assume that someone with autism is trying to be rude to you when he does not respond in a way that you expect. Many autistic persons do not have a “filter” and will be blatantly honest with you.

 

Beware of your language usage.

 

Autistic people do not always respond well to abstract language or teasing. Some conversations may require more explanation and patience than with a non-autistic person. Attempt to use less figurative language whenever possible and take a minute to explain things to your autistic friend when they are said by others.

 

“It’s difficult for us to read people or even realize we’re not being outwardly expressive the way we think we are, so it’s important to keep this in mind,” said Kierstin.

 

Give them time and space.

 

Autistic individuals may turn down an invitation dozens of times. Don’t be afraid to ask if this is an activity he or she is not interested in at all or just does not feel like doing right now. Keep in mind that getting out of routine and partaking in new things may be difficult for autistic persons. They may need more time to warm up to the idea.

 

Due to unfortunate instances with other those who were not so understanding or well-meaning, autistic individuals may need more time to warm up to you. If she has been hurt by someone who was pretending to be a friend at her expense, it is understandable that she may not be quick to trust your efforts at friendship.

 

Show them the same respect you would anyone else.

 

Your autistic friend may get upset at things that seem silly or unimportant on the surface to you. Treat his concerns as relevant.

 

When you recognize that your autistic friend is overwhelmed or overstimulated, provide him a place to collect himself.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask your autistic friend if she needs some time to herself. Allow her the patience she deserves when she does too.

 

“It’s also super helpful to be supportive when we’re overwhelmed, especially by social situations, and help us relax or feel comfortable in our own different ways,” Kierstin commented.

 

The most important thing of all to remember is that making an effort to include those who often feel excluded makes our world a better place. When you befriend someone with autism, you might just learn you had much more in common than you realized.

 

Sources

1 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder. 15. Nov. 2018.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

4 juul devices on table

Juuling Much More Dangerous than Teens Realize

Kick Butts Day takes place on March 20, 2019. This national day of activism empowers our nation’s youth to take a stand against the tobacco industry. The initiative expects  more than 1,000 anti-tobacco events across our nation and the world.

This year’s campaign will focus on e-cigarette usage (juuling) among our nation’s youth. U.S. public health officials named youth e-cigarette use an “epidemic”. This trend is raising up our next generation with a harmful and addictive tobacco habit.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the organizer of the initiative, cigarette smoking among high schoolers nationwide has dropped to 8.1%. However, e-cigarette usage among high schoolers rose an alarming 78% in 2018 alone. This is 20.8% of the student population. Furthermore, this means in 2018, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. 1

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids encourages health advocates and youth to call for strong action to put a halt to the youth e-cigarette epidemic. Particularly, they urge the FDA as well as state and local governments to ban tobacco products the industry clearly markets to youth. This also includes flavored tobacco products such as e-cigarettes or Juuls that taste like gummy bear, mango and cotton candy. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, research shows that flavors play a key role in the appeal of tobacco products for kids. 1

 

Why are Juuls so popular among youth?

 

Juul electronic cigarettes released on the market in 2015. Using any type of e-cigarette or vape has skyrocketed. However, this particular brand remains the most popular among teens and young adults. Because it makes up more than half of e-cigarette sales, Juul usage is an immediate public health concern.

The manufacturer cleverly markets Juul e-cigarettes to appear techy, sleek, and easy to conceal. Furthermore, they look just like USB flash drives and can even charge in a USB port on your computer. The device is also small enough to fit in a closed hand. For decades we have preached about the dangers of cigarettes to our youth. Juuls, however, don’t look anything like the traditional tobacco products we urge kids to avoid.

Also, kids do not refer to using a Juul as “smoking,” but as “juuling,” further disassociating the trend from the dangerous tobacco usage that it is.

Juuling delivers nicotine faster, more efficiently, and at higher doses than other e-cigarettes. In return, this increases users’ risk of addiction. Each Juul cartridge of nicotine liquid (Juul pod) contains as much nicotine as whole pack of cigarettes. Many Juul users don’t realize the product always contains nicotine.  

 

Why is juuling especially harmful for teens?

 

Not only is juuling dangerous for kids, but it may be even more so than for adults.

A 2016 Surgeon General’s report concluded that youth use of nicotine is unsafe, addictive and can even harm the developing adolescent brain. 2

Similarly, a report that was published by the JAMA Network after pediatric research concluded that e-cigarette use increases the risk of youth ever using combustible tobacco cigarettes later in life. 3

 

We encourage you to discuss tobacco usage including new trends like juuling with the youth in your life. For more resources, you can visit Kickbuttsday.org.

Our CCMH health providers are also dedicated youth advocates and are always willing to discuss tobacco use with you or your child. To find a CCMH provider to meet your needs, visit our online directory at http://ccmhhealth.com/directory.  

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the CCMH website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet your medical needs.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

 

Sources

1 Torres, Gustavo. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Kicking Juul: Youth take action to reverse e-cigarette epidemic.19 Mar 2019.

2 United States. Public Health Service. E-cigarette use among youth and young adults : a report of the Surgeon General. 2016. 

3  Watkins PhD, Shannon Lea; Glantz PhD, Stanton A. ; Chaffee, DDS, PhD, Benjamin W. JAMA Network. Association of Noncigarette Tobacco Product Use With Future Cigarette Smoking Among Youth in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study, 2013-2015.

 

 

energy drinks sitting on table

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

When life is busy, many of us are tempted to grab an energy drink to put a little extra pep in our step. However, research continues to find concerning effects after consuming these popular beverages. Consuming multiple energy drinks in a short time or consuming energy drinks in combination with other caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, can be especially harmful.  

Some lawmakers are even attempting to ban the sale of energy drinks to those under the age of 18. These legislative efforts occurred following tragic events such as the death of a sixteen-year- old boy from South Carolina. Davis Cripe suffered a cardiac episode that led to his death after consuming an energy drink, coffee and Mountain Dew in less than an hour. 1

 

What are the harmful ingredients in energy drinks?

 

The main ingredients of most energy drinks are caffeine and sugar. However, many experts believe it isn’t necessarily the caffeine in energy drinks that is harmful. After all, most healthy individuals who do not typically experience adverse effects from caffeine can safely consume 4-5 cups of coffee per day without problem.

The problem lies in the amount of sugar and caffeine. Many energy drinks have as much caffeine as 3-4 cups of coffee and more than the recommended amount of sugar you should consume in one day.

There are additional herbal stimulants found in energy drinks that are not regulated by the FDA. These ingredients in combination with high sugar and caffeine content may be the cause of serious or fatal problems for some consumers. 2

 

What happens after drinking an energy drink?


Twenty minutes after ingesting an energy drink, you experience a sugar high. This blood sugar spike results in a quick release of the hormone insulin.

Forty minutes later, all the caffeine is absorbed. As a result, blood pressure rises, the liver dumps even more sugar into the bloodstream and pupils dilate.

Forty five minutes later, dopamine production occurs in the body. This hormone gives you a sensation of pleasure. This reaction is similar to how the body responds to heroin.

After 60 minutes, a sugar crash occurs. The caffeine slowly wears off and you can experience mood changes, lethargy, fatigue and mental fogginess.


Why are energy drinks viewed as so unsafe?



It is difficult to predict how energy drinks will affect different individuals, especially with underlying heart issues or in combination with other substances containing alcohol or caffeine.

Oftentimes, individuals do not know they have a cardiac problem until something fatal occurs. For this reason, it is better to be safe than sorry when choosing how to get some extra pep to get through the day.

Despite what we do not know with certainty, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a very clear opinion of energy drink usage in children and teens. Given the observed side effects, including irregular heartbeats and blood pressure changes, the AAP recommends that children and teens should not consume energy drinks at all. 3



How to pep up without excessive caffeine


You can successfully and healthily boost energy levels in many ways that are safer than consuming copious amounts of stimulants.

Exercise regularly and participate in activities to reduce stress. 

Be mindful of your diet. Reduce sugar and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in plants, seeds, fish and nuts.

Rest! Be sure to get 7-8 hours of quality rest each night.

Through safely managing your diet and routine, it is possible to achieve greater energy levels that do not involve risky habits.

 

Sources

1 KUTV. Gould, Cynthia. 16 Apr. 2018. 16-year-old’s death linked to energy drink, caffeine products.

2 Cleveland Heart Lab.13 Dec. 2018. Can Energy Drinks Harm Your Heart?

3 American Academy of Pediatrics. Energy Drinks.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

woman holding decorative heart

Improve Heart Health in Unique Ways

One of the leading causes of death is cardiovascular disease. Although we cannot change certain risk factors such as age and family history, we can help prevent cardiovascular disease and hope to live a long, healthy life. You probably know that  exercise and a healthy diet can help keep our hearts strong, but there are other means to improve heart health that you may not know. Here are six unique ways you can keep your heart healthy.

 

Crank up the music


Several studies have shown that music can have several positive effects on our bodies including lowering stress and even blood pressure. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital also found that heart patients who were confined to bed had slower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and less distress when they listened to music for 30 minutes each day. 1 So, pull out your favorite tunes, sit back and enjoy the improved heart health! 

 

Have a laugh


We have all heard the Old Testament proverb that “laughter is the best medicine” and have experienced positive emotional effects of having a laugh. Science is proving that there are more than just emotional benefits to laughter, however. Consequently, laughter can also helps our hearts pump stronger!  As we laugh, our blood vessels enlarge in diameter. This in return increases the blood flow like when we participate in aerobic exercise.

 

The University of Maryland also conducted a study and discovered that when people laugh at a funny movie scene, they experience improved blood flow. 2 So, head to the movies, turn on your favorite comedian or sitcom, and enjoy some laughs! 

 

Be kind


We know that high stress levels are not good for our hearts. When we are upset, cortisol, our stress hormone, increases and our blood pressure and inflammation rises. When we experience positive emotions though, our oxytocin levels rise, helping to improve heart health, and our cortisol levels drop. Being kind to others makes us feel better emotionally and just might improve heart health.


Consider the Mediterranean Diet


Many studies have had positive heart health conclusions when studying the Mediterranean diet. According to a 2013 study from Spain, a Mediterranean style of eating can reduce heart disease risk by as much as 30%. 3

The Mediterranean diet consists of green vegetables, nuts, avocados, fruits, beans, high-fiber grains, olives and olive oil,  and an occasional side of small, wild fish such as salmon. In this diet, individuals seldom consume red meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, sugary foods and drinks, and refined flours.


Love a Pet


Could your favorite canine or feline improve heart health? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), they can!  Studies show that having a pet can relieve stress, help increase fitness levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increase happiness and wellbeing. 4

Studies on dog owners show that they tend to live longer, have lower risks for heart disease, better cholesterol profiles, less hypertension and are less vulnerable to stress. The reason for these positive results is not entirely clear, but it could be due to the fact that dog owners are generally more active than non-owners.  Either way, owning a pet who loves you unconditionally has plentiful emotional benefits.

If you’re not in a position to own a dog, local shelters often need volunteers to play with dogs. Consider playing with a friends dog or taking up dog walking and earn some extra cash too!

 

Offer a Hug


Oxytocin levels rise and cortisol level drop when we give and receive hugs. In a study by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, participants who hugged their partners had a slower heart rate up to 10 beats per minute than those who did not hug their partners.5

So, grab someone around you who needs a hug, and enjoy the improved heart health!

 

Good health is often about incorporating small changes in our routine. We hope this article encourages you to add some of these activities to your routine and  improve your heart health today!

Learn about Heart and Vascular Services at CCMH by visiting CCMHHealth.com/Heart-And-Vascular/.

 

Sources

1 Harvard Health Letter. Harvard Health Publishing. Nov. 2009. Using music to tune the heart.

2 Stein, Rob. Los Angeles Times. Apr. 2005.  Laughter helps blood go with the flow.

3 John Hopkins Medicine. Take Your Diet to the Mediterranean.

4 The American Heart Association. Apr. 2018. Can Your Pet Help You Be Healthier?

5 McColm, Jan. Endeavors. Jan. 2004. A Hug a Day  

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

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