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Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month

The month of March has been designated Multiple Sclerosis Education & Awareness Month. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects nearly 1 million Americans and 2.5 million people worldwide. Its causes are unknown.

Overview of Multiple Sclerosis

MS is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system, resulting in damage to both nerve fibers and the fatty substance that coats and insulates them (myelin). The disease can be rather unpredictable, but a few different types, or courses, of MS have been described.

The most common course is relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). 90% of patients have RRMS at the time of diagnosis, which involves alternating periods of experiencing neurological symptoms followed by symptom-free periods. If the symptoms continue to worsen until there is no clear period of remission, the course of the disease is now considered secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). If, however, there are no early relapses or remissions at all, this is called primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS).

Symptoms, & Diagnosis

Symptoms of MS can vary greatly. However, some of the most common ones are:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Impaired coordination
  • Tremors
  • Muscle stiffness or spasms
  • Bladder problems
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Vision problems
  • Depression
  • Impaired short-term memory and concentration

Diagnosis of MS is based on the history of symptoms and a neurological examination. This often involves an MRI scan, which can reveal plaques or scars. A cerebrospinal fluid evaluation (via spinal tap) may also be used, along with evoked potential studies that examine the conduction of electrical impulses along nerve pathways in the body. Blood tests are used to rule out other possible conditions.

Treatments

MS is treated with a variety of medications, which fall into the three categories: abortive therapies, disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), and symptomatic therapies. Abortive therapies are used to shorten the duration and severity of symptom exacerbations, which is typically accomplished using glucocorticoids. DMTs are used as long-term treatments to slow the progression of the disease. Lastly, medications can also be taken to alleviate some of the symptoms of MS, such as muscle weakness and fatigue. Physical therapy can also help with symptom management.

If you have any questions about MS, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay healthy and stay safe! 

–The Wellness & Stress Clinic Team

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Smile! February is Children’s Dental Health Month!

This is a month long national holiday committing to educating children on proper oral health. It brings together dental professionals, health care workers, and teachers to promote the benefits of good oral health within children. For 2021, the National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM)’s particular theme is “Water, Nature’s Drink!”. 

Tips for maintaining children’s dental health: 

  1. Schedule routine dental check ups. If it has been more than 6 months since their last visit, schedule an appointment 
  2. Teach them how to floss their teeth. Then, they can teach you the floss dance move in return
  3. Brush twice a day for the appropriate amount of time. 
  4. Snack healthy.  Fruit snacks and sticky candies all are threats to your child’s teeth. Rather than sugary snacks, feed them  calcium-rich snacks like cheese or low-sugar yogurt. If you want to fulfill a sugar craving, ttry eating a chocolate bar which is preferable to gummy or sticky sweets that can get lodged in between the teeth even after brushing.
  1. Drink water! Fruit juices and sodas are very sugary and can be harmful for children’s teeth. Water helps to rinse away any sugar or particles that can lead to cavities.

Resource: (https://childrensdentalhealth.com/february-national-childrens-dental-health-month/

How can I create a lesson plan to teach Children’s dental health: 

Here is a great resource for creating a lesson plan to help educate children as well as learn how you can get involved and spread the word. This site contains poster, coloring activities, and dental information! 

https://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month

If you have any questions about dental health, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!

-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team 

Debunking Myths About Heart Health

This time of year, it’s common to see Valentine hearts pretty much everywhere. And while it’s great to celebrate with your loved ones in the spirit of St. Valentine, there’s another heart you shouldn’t be neglecting (hint: it’s the one keeping you alive!). If you’ve been keeping up with our blog for awhile, you already know how to recognize the signs of heart attacks and strategies to maintain your cardiovascular health (and if you haven’t seen those blog posts yet, go check them out!). Today, we’re addressing common myths about heart disease, just in time for American Heart Month.

MYTH: Heart failure occurs when your heart stops beating.
FACT: That’s actually cardiac arrest! Heart failure, on the other hand, simply means that your heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. The symptoms of these two conditions also differ: a person in cardiac arrest may fall unconscious and stop breathing, while a person with heart failure may experience a persistent cough, shortness of breath, or swelling of the feet and ankles.

MYTH: Women, especially young women, don’t need to worry about heart disease.

FACT: Heart disease kills over a fourth of women and men, so no one should get too complacent. The same risk factors that predispose men to heart disease (such as obesity, high blood pressure, and Type II diabetes) also put women at risk. However, men are more likely to get heart attacks in their mid-50s, while women are more likely to get them in their mid-60s.

MYTH: It’s dangerous to exercise if you have heart disease.

FACT: If anything, it’s dangerous not to! If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, you should make an exercise plan that works with you for your doctor and be sure to follow it. Exercise helps strengthen your heart muscle, and it’s been found to reduce the likelihood of people with heart disease having a first or another heart attack. Studies have also shown that heart attack survivors who implement healthy changes and start exercising regularly tend to live longer than those who don’t.

MYTH: You don’t need to think about your cholesterol levels until you’re middle-aged.

FACT: You should get your cholesterol levels checked beginning at age 20 (and maybe even earlier if heart disease runs in your family) and at least every 5 years after that. Meanwhile, you should continue eating a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats and getting enough physical activity, so that your cholesterol remains at a healthy level.

MYTH: If heart disease runs in your family, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it.

FACT: Genetics is just one piece of the puzzle. Although you may be at higher risk if you have a family history of heart disease, you can still take steps to significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease: get enough physical activity, keep your cholesterol level, blood pressure, and blood sugar at a healthy level, and quit or don’t start smoking.

Despite an estimated 80% of cardiovascular disease being preventable, it continues to claim the lives of nearly 1 in 3 Americans today. This Valentine’s Day, show yourself some love and commit to keeping your real heart in the best shape possible. And as always, stay healthy and stay safe!

–The Wellness & Stress Clinic Team

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World Cancer Day

A Brief History

World Cancer Day (02/01/2021) was started in 2000 by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).  This was a global initiative that is now celebrated internationally. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. It is a growing health issue that needs to be addressed.

What is Cancer? 

Cancer arises when abnormal cells begin to divide uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body.  They have the ability to infiltrate and destroy healthy tissue. There are many different types of cancer typically attributed based on the location of the tumor (the abnormal cell clump). 

This year’s Theme for World Cancer Day: “I Am and I Will” 

This year’s theme is focusing on what “I am” and what “I will” be. The campaign is geared to pull people together and make a difference within the health world. This slogan will be spread on February 4th to celebrate and support this holiday. 

How can I participate: 

If you are interested, here is an excellent resource filled with guides on how to specifically make a difference on this day: https://www.worldcancerday.org/materials#5 

Resources: 

https://www.cancerresearch.org/events/social/world-cancer-day-2021

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20370588

If you have any questions about World Cancer Day and how you can participate please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!

-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

“Be In The Know” Series!

The Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis is offering a free Zoom lecture series called “Be in the Know!” Each week, health professionals and community leaders will offer important information to help you become a healthier, stronger YOU in 2021. You could also become the lucky recipient of a $100 Wal-Mart gift card, because TWO will be given away at each lecture. Registration is open now!If you have additional questions or want to know more about the free health care we provide to uninsured people in Memphis, please call the Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis at (901) 306-5433 or visit us on Facebook, Instagram, and our website at wellness901.org.https://tinyurl.com/beintheknowzoom

The Doctor Is In: Tips on Getting the Most Information Out of Your Clinical Visit

Clinical visits are dedicated to diagnosing, explaining, and clarifying your health problems and recovery processes. These visits connect you with doctors and nurses whose goal is to give you professional advice in an understandable way as well as suggest how to solve future issues.  But sometimes the information discussed within the doctor’s office goes a bit too fast. By the time you get to your car,  you’ve forgotten all the details that were discussed. To solve that problem: here are some simple tips on how to get the most information out of your visit to a clinic.

  1. Take notes

 Bring a pen and paper to your appointment. Write down what the doctor is saying.This is a super helpful and easy tip.  What a doctor tells you verbally in a clinic may stick for a bit, but by the time you get to your car, you’ve probably forgotten some of their detailed instructions.  This method will help with that! By simply bringing in a notepad, you can write down what questions you want to ask your doctor or what care instructions you’re given. This can also help with listing medications you need to take, remembering how frequently and at what times you may need to take them, recording contact numbers for future procedures, or even outlining recovery steps. This essentially allows you to take note of all the information that often gets forgotten during your appointment. 

  1. Decide if you should bring a friend / or go alone 

This is another strategy for obtaining and remembering more information.  Sometimes an extra person in the room can help you think of questions you forgot to ask or didn’t know to ask. Not only will they be able to provide moral support, but they may bring a different perspective to the table. If you’re not in the position where you can take notes, you can ask your friend or family member to do it while in the room. Of course, if having a friend or family member makes the situation more stressful or complicated, know that it is okay to go alone too. Some might actually feel like they can be more honest with their doctor if it is just a one on one visit. 

  1. Be Honest and Ask Questions 

Too frequently patients want to be the “perfect patient”.  They don’t want to come off as making a big deal of their issues, but that won’t solve your problems.  Let your doctor or care provider know of any symptoms or issues you’ve been experiencing.  You won’t overwhelm them. In fact, it gives them more information to work off of and gives them a  better sense of your condition. Also,  don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for them to clarify terms or repeat instructions if you are confused. Ask your questions because an important part getting better is understanding how to proceed from that point. 

  1. Visit and Maintain a regular doctor 

Although this is easier said than done, keeping a primary doctor can be helpful for a few reasons. A regular doctor can witness long term progression and changes within their patient. They can assess what your normal, healthy self looks like and catch if things start to go ary. In other words, if one keeps a regular doctor, that particular doctor is aware of the patient’s normal self and has been keeping tabs on their medical history. However, if one keeps switching between specialists, it can become difficult for each new facility to obtain all your medical history and know about all your conditions.  If you do need to jump between medical facilities, ask your primary doctor to provide you with important lists such as any allergies that you may have or a list of the prescriptions you can’t take. This way you can give the next place you visit a good sense of your health and wellbeing .  

If you have any questions about the clinic, or need help caring for a loved one, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!

-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, a time to educate ourselves about this condition that affects over 3 million Americans and is a leading cause of irreversible blindness today. There is no cure for glaucoma, so early detection and treatment are essential for preserving vision.

Glaucoma is actually not a single disease, but rather a group of diseases that progressively damage the optic nerve. The most common form, primary open-angle glaucoma, involves deterioration of the optic nerve tissue that is gradual and painless. For this reason, those affected may lose a significant portion of their vision without even noticing. Another type of glaucoma is angle-closure glaucoma, which can be acute or chronic. Acute angle-closure glaucoma may be accompanied by symptoms such as:

  • Pain and redness in the eye
  • Halos or colored rings appearing around lights
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting

Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency, so you should go to the emergency room or ophthalmologist immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Both primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma involve an increase in intraocular pressure, which is the pressure inside your eye. This happens when there is either an overproduction of fluid inside your eye or improper drainage of it.

The best way to protect yourself from glaucoma is to get regular comprehensive eye examinations. If detected early enough, there are a variety of glaucoma treatments that help reduce pressure in the eye and slow the damage to the optic nerve, including medications, surgery, and drainage implants. You should also be aware of the risk factors of glaucoma, which include:

  • Age: People over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
  • Race: Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Alaskan people are at an increased risk for certain types of glaucoma.
  • Family history: If someone in your family has had glaucoma, you may also be at an increased risk for developing it.
  • Eye injury: Past trauma to the eye can cause intraocular pressure to increase, increasing the risk of glaucoma in the future.
  • Medical conditions: People with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or sickle cell anemia may have a greater risk of glaucoma.
  • Eye anatomy: Having thin corneas, sensitive optic nerves, or extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness may increase risk of glaucoma.
  • Medications: Prolonged use of corticosteroids may increase risk of secondary glaucoma.

The National Eye Institute predicts that the number of Americans with glaucoma could double over the next three decades. Educating yourself about it now is a smart step, and you can now share what you’ve learned with your friends and family. Enjoy the rest of the month, and as always, stay healthy and stay safe!

–The Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Sources:

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart: Ways to Keep a Healthy Heart

What are heart attacks?

Heart attacks or myocardial infarctions are caused due to a blockage within the heart’s arteries. The arteries take blood from within the heart and distribute it away from the heart either to the body or the lungs.  If the arteries are blocked, the blood circulation within the heart becomes disturbed. This means that the heart isn’t getting enough blood or oxygen flowing through it, which can lead to a heart attack.  Think of the blocked artery like a clogged pipe. If a pipe is clogged, then only a reduced amount of water can run through at a less efficient rate. Similarly, if an artery is blocked, blood has trouble flowing through. 

Why do Heart Attacks occur? 

A clogged artery is caused by the buildup of fat or cholesterol in the arteries. 

What is Cholesterol- a fatty like substance that is made in the liver and is taken in through foods. We measure two types of cholesterol LDL and HDL.  LDL- is the “bad” kind of cholesterol because it builds up plaque in your arteries. LDL is often consumed as saturated fats or trans fats through foods. Meanwhile, HDL- is the “better” kind of fat because high levels of it can prevent blockage. 

Other important risk factors include: 

-High blood pressure

– High cholesterol 

-Smoking 

-Family history/ Genetics 

What are the symptoms? 

There are symptoms that occur before a heart attack. Paying attention and monitoring how you’re feeling can help you catch the warning signs. 

  • Angina- chest pain around the heart
  • Dyspnea – shortness of breath 
  • Diaphoresis- sweating
  • Nausea- discomfort in the stomach making you feel sick 
  • Emesis- vomiting 

What can be done to prevent a heart attack?

  1. Stop Smoking 
  2. Maintain a heart healthy diet primarily by lowering your LDL intake
  3. Try to lower a high blood pressure
  4. Stay physically active 

What is a healthy Heart Diet? 

Maintaining a healthy heart diet can reduce your risk for heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. It can also lower your risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. 

A healthy heart requires a diverse diet of fibers, fruits, and veggies. Here are some healthy food groups to eat: 

  • Healthy Fats: Avoid saturated fats and trans fats for they are known to increase your LDL () cholesterol. These “bad” fats can be found in oily foods that are solid at room temperature like butter, full fat dairy products, and fatty meats. Trans fats are normally found in processed foods such as fried foods and baked goods. Try consuming healthy fats such as almonds, nuts, olive oil, flaxseeds, and avocado. These are considered healthier because they are unsaturated fats (which increase your HDL).  They are easier for your body to break down and don’t leave a fatty residue that could later cause a clog in arteries.  
  • Beware of Dairy: Dairy can contain a lot of saturated fats. So be sure to choose low fat or fat free dairy products in order to help keep your saturated fats in check. This can be done by simply changing your milk from 2% to skim. 
  • Whole Grains: Ever seen the label on that whole wheat non sugary cereal box that says “heart healthy”? Well, they’re talking about whole grains! Whole grains contain fiber.  There are two types of fibers soluble and insoluble. The difference between the two is that one can dissolve in water while the other can not. The soluble fiber can dissolve and create a gel like form that helps improve digestion, lower your blood cholesterol and sugar! The insoluble fiber is known for attracting water into your stool which makes it easier to have a bowel movement.  But don’t be fooled, not all whole grains are healthy. For example, healthy whole grains are not sugary cereal. Rather, it’s plain oats, oatmeal, barley, and brown rice. So grab a bowl of oatmeal and dig in to get those fibers!
  • Produce Produce Produce! All the produce! Eat a variety of fruits and veggies to maintain a healthy diet. They are low in calories and high in fiber. Fresh produce is best. But if you opt for canned or frozen fruits/veggies that’s okay too! Just make sure to check the labels for added salts or sugars that may have been used to preserve the produce. 
  • Meats. It is true that meat is a great source of protein. However, lots of american loved meats such as burgers, hotdogs, steak, or bacon all contain high levels of saturated fats. Try eating meats that have less of these saturated fats such as fish and shellfish. With any meat, make sure to pay attention to your portion control. Typically your plate should contain a balance of  ¼ meats to ½ veggies. It also matters how you cook the meat.  Baking, broiling, or roasting are healthier and use less oil than pan frying or deep frying. 

Other important factors: 

Eating healthy is one part of reducing your risk for artery clots, but it’s a healthy lifestyle that will prevent most from heart attacks. 

1 . Exercise: Staying active regularly can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It helps your metabolism and “builds” a healthy strong heart. 

2. Drinking water: What are the downsides of drinking water? I mean really.  I know drinking water is always listed as the “cure all” for everything, but it is an important part in everyone’s diet. Drinking water is important for staying  hydrated,  but primarily people are encouraged to drink water to deter against its sugar filled soda alternatives. Try not to grab the soda or energy drinks. They can contain a lot of unnecessary sugars.  Rather, focus on drinking water (or no sugar added drinks like black coffee/tea). 

3. Stop Smoking. You’ve heard that smoking damages your lungs, but it also puts a lot of stress on your heart.  But why? Nicotine creates an adrenaline rush which can raise your blood pressure and make your heart beat faster.  Smoking thickens your blood which makes it more likely to clot and cause blockage in an artery. Similarly, smoking can also worsen coronary artery disease because it damages the lining in your coronary arteries which makes it more difficult for blood to flow to your heart. Lastly, smoking can decrease the amount of oxygen that gets to your heart, which makes the heart have to work extra hard to get it’s needed oxygen levels to the body. Although it’s difficult to quit smoking, this is one of the main recommendations among doctors to maintain a healthy heart.

4. Portion sizes: It’s one thing to eat healthy, but now you need to know how much to eat. Normally it is suggested that your plate should consist of 3 oz of meat, 1 cup of produce, 1 teaspoon of saturated fats, 1-2 tablespoons of a condiment, and maybe 1-2 oz of nuts, pretzels, or cracker like foods. Here’s a helpful infographic for visualizing your correct portion sizes. 

Photo from https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/nutrition/handy-guide-to-serving-size 

If you have any questions about heart health, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!

-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Resources

https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/nutrition/10-simple-rules-for-eating-heart-healthy

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/aha-diet-and-lifestyle-recommendations

https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/your-heart/post-heart-attack/quitting-smoking

Know the Signs: Heart Attacks

Did you know heart attacks are more common in December and January than in other months? A multitude of factors may contribute to this pattern, one being the cold temperatures, which cause blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to rise, ultimately putting more strain on the heart. Excessive indulgence (such as in salt, fat, and alcohol), emotional stress, and the tendency to put off seeking medical treatment during the holidays may also play a role. This means that now is the perfect time to learn (or brush up on) the most common signs of a heart attack, so that if you find yourself or a loved one in this situation, you can act quickly and minimize the damage done to the heart.

You’re likely familiar with the classic heart attack symptom, severe chest pain (often compared to the feeling that an elephant is sitting on your chest), but this isn’t the only symptom you should be aware of, especially if you’re a woman. Although both men and women can experience this kind of pressure on their chest, women are more likely to have heart attacks and not experience this tell-tale symptom. For this reason, you should know the other symptoms of heart attacks in women:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, and/or nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances and/or unusual fatigue
  • Gas-like pain or discomfort in the stomach
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Pain in the upper back, shoulders, or one or both arms

For men, too, there are other symptoms you should know to look out for in addition to the typical chest pain and pressure:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Cold sweat
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body (one or both arms, left shoulder, back, neck, or jaw)
  • Gas-like pain or discomfort in the stomach
  • Rapid heartbeat

If you suspect you or a loved one may be having a heart attack, don’t hesitate to seek help. The first thing you should do is call 911 right away. While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, chew a normal dose of aspirin— this will help slow the blood clotting. Try to stay calm and sit or lie down near the door.

Heart attacks can be scary, but by learning about the symptoms now, you’re preparing yourself to take swift action if the need ever arises. Kudos for prioritizing your health, and as always, stay healthy and stay safe!

–The Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Sources:

Let it Snow! Learn how cold weather can affect your health:

Skin: 

Jack frost nipping at your nose?  The windy weather and dropping temperature can dry out your skin. This can be strenuous for someone with eczema. What you can do is moisturize your skin. Try showering in warm water, not hot water. For hot water can further dry out your skin. The warm water will give your skin a chance to replenish and moisturize. Drinking water will also help you stay hydrated and prevent flakey skin. 

Balance: 

Although those snowy sidewalks and misty mornings look beautiful, they can be very icey. Watch your step as surfaces covered in ice can make you lose your balance. It makes falling easier, and puts you at risk for fractures. Be careful! Make sure you wear appropriate snow boots with grip and use handrails. 

Heart:

The cold weather can be a vasoconstrictor, meaning that the cold can narrow blood vessels which can raise your risk of chest pain or heart attack. What can you do? Bundle up and try avoiding strenuous activities in the cold weather. 

Immune System: 

Although cold weather itself doesn’t cause the flu and colds, it does bring people together. The cold weather outside drives a lot of people together inside in public spaces. This causes more people to come into close contact and increases the spreadability of a virus. The solution is simple:  wash your hands and get a flu shot. If you feel sick and contagious, take off work.  It will help prevent the spread of unwanted illnesses. 

Asthma: 

Dry cold weather can irritate asthma. It narrows airways and can increase your chances of an asthma attack. What you can do to prevent from this: Avoid exercise outside and keep an inhaler nearby. 

If you have any questions about health during the winter months, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!

-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Resources: 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-does-cold-weather-affect-your-health

https://signaturemd.com/concierge-physicians/concierge-physician-blog/how-cold-weather-affects-your-body/