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Avoid Rebound Congestion from Your Nose Spray This Allergy Season

Avoid Rebound Congestion from Your Nose Spray This Allergy Season

Before you reach for your nasal spray, consider whether rebound congestion may be causing your allergy congestion to last longer than it should.

Allergy season is blooming with every flower that pops its head from the dirt. Before you reach for your nasal spray, consider whether rebound congestion may be causing your allergy congestion to last longer than it should.

Allergies inflame the blood vessels in your nasal passages. Nasal decongestion sprays such as Afrin reduce the swelling and allow you to breathe again. Ah, sweet relief. 

These sprays reduce the amount of blood flowing to these vessels. In response, it may cause those vessels to work harder to restore the blood flow. This overcompensation causes more swelling in your nose and more congestion, which often leads to using more nasal spray.

Nasal decongestant sprays include over-the-counter sprays such as Oxymetazoline hydrochloride (Afrin, Dristan, Sinex) and phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine). Doctors suggest using these sprays for a maximum of three days. They also suggest using the minimum number of doses per day to reduce the chances you’ll develop rebound congestion. 

What about other nose sprays?

Steroid nose sprays such as budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy), fluticasone (Flonase Allergy Relief), and triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24HR) do not work the same way as decongestant sprays and may be used for years without rebound congestion. These sprays have their own set of side effects such as headache, nosebleed, sore throat or cough. These sprays work well to reduce the symptoms of allergies, but it can take up to a week to notice the effects. If you suffer from allergies frequently, talk to your provider about starting this type of nose spray when the season changes.

What other remedies can you use?

Outside of medicine, you can do a lot to relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Saline nasal sprays and neti pots are natural, safe ways to help manage your symptoms. The neti pot flushes mucus and allergens from the nose. A note of caution though, be sure to use sterilized water and clean them well to avoid serious infections.

In short, don’t discount the help a nasal decongestant may provide as a short term solution to seasonal allergies. Just make sure you pair it with a longer-term solution. If you’ve been using these nose sprays too often for too long make an appointment with your provider to find relief from your congestion.

Four Truths About Your Fast Food Habit

4 truths about your fast food habit

After a long day at work and an evening balancing children’s activities and homework, many parents find themselves staring blankly into a refrigerator with no idea of what to cook for supper. On any given day, we can find multiple posts requesting new recipe ideas, preferably ones that are easy to prepare. It’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and dial the nearest pizza delivery service. With UberEats and Tupelo-to-Go, our food delivery options are no longer limited to pizza. But with every restaurant meal comes risks to our health. Here’s the real truth about your fast food habit.

Truth #1:

Poor nutrition from fast food meals has been discussed for more than 40 years. A report from 1978 discusses the high sugar content of fast food meals and its effect on obesity. The report also mentions the link between obesity and other health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

“Plant-based diets” may feel like a new fad, but in reality researchers, doctors, and politicians have been encouraging Americans to eat more leafy greens and fiber-rich foods for decades. 

Truth #2

Sugar isn’t the only culprit in restaurant food. Almost every meal purchased outside the home includes more than your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sodium. We know you were trying to eat healthy with a turkey sub instead of a burger, but if you added cheese, pickles, and mayo it could equal almost half your daily allowance of sodium.

Too much sodium causes water retention and can raise blood pressure, which may result in damage to your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. 

Truth #3

Cooking at home increases quality time with your family. In the days before fast-food joints on every corner and deliver services to our sofa, we used to cook dinner often with a spouse or children helping. In addition to an improvement in nutritional value, foods at home increase time with family. Learning a new recipe together or teaching a child to chop vegetables can create unique bonding opportunities.

Truth #4

People who cook at home consume fewer calories. No brainer, right? But the reasons behind why they consume fewer calories may not be what you think. A study at Johns Hopkins found people who cook at home more frequently also consume fewer calories when they do eat out. They’re also more likely to eat smaller portions at home, and they don’t have the readily available dessert menu taunting them.

Time for a Reminder

Most of us already knew this information, but as more and more people eat out, especially at fast-food restaurants, we thought it was time for a refresher. According to a study published The Journal of Nutrition last month revealed 20% of calories consumed by Americans come from restaurants. That’s a lot of sugar and sodium without a lot of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need.

Cooking at home takes time, which isn’t always readily available. For those of us who struggle to fit cooking into our schedule, a meal plan helps make it easier. Prepping foods on the weekend, utilizing a crockpot or pressure cooker, and cooking enough for leftovers all make cooking at home easier.

We can’t avoid eating out altogether. When you know you’ll be eating out check the menus ahead of time for nutrition information and choose wisely. Also, order your meal first. You’ll be less likely to be swayed by other diners’ poor choices if you’ve already ordered your meal.

Need help planning healthy meals? Our registered dietician, Erica Witcher, is available for appointments. So also runs our Witcher Weightloss Warriors, a weekly group that teaches how to lose weight the healthy way and includes cooking demos, meal plans, snack ideas, and exercise tips.

Increase Consumption of Red Meat Linked to Early Death

increased red meat consumption linked to early death

The cows had it right all along with their “Eat more chikin” campaign. Last summer, a study released by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) gave us the bad news that an increased red meat consumption is linked to an early death.

The research funded by the US National Institutes for Health and the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center included researchers from the Harvard TH Chan school of public health in the US, with one researcher from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. Researchers studied diet changes in 50,000 women and 27,000 men over sixteen years. 

Participants who increased their red meat by 3.5 servings per week experienced a 10% increased rate of death over participants who did not change their diet. Participants who exchanged one serving of red meat for a serving of another protein source like poultry, fish, nuts, dairy, eggs, whole grains, or legumes lowered their risk of death.

What does this mean for our nutrition?

If you’re interested enough in your health and nutrition to read this far, it’s time to make some practical applications. Lowering your number of servings of red meat lowers your risk for numerous health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. This article from Harvard Health suggests not exceeding two to three servings of red meat or processed meat of any kind per week. 

Your husband’s weekend steak, mama’s Sunday roast, and a hamburger at lunch aren’t the only limitations in the red meat category. Red meat includes cow, but also pig, horses, goats, and bison. White meat typically refers to poultry or fish. The study also connects processed meat such as hotdogs and deli meat to increased health problems.

We always advocate for creating a meal plan for the week. This allows you to better control what you cook and to see possible substitutions. 

Substitutions to consider

  • Ground turkey in chili or vegetable soup
  • Shredded chicken nachos or tacos
  • Tuna steak 
  • Grilled salmon
  • Turkey bacon
  • Chicken sandwhich instead of a hamburger
  • Oven-roasted chicken instead of deli meat

This study did not find that red meat caused early death, but rather it linked increased consumption of red meat to an early death. If you find yourself stopping for a burger multiple times a week, it’s time to break the red meat habit. Our nutritionists and medical providers can help you create a plan to introduce flavorful white meat and vegetables back into your diet. Make an appointment today to get your health on a better trac.

Is 50 Too Late to Start Colon Cancer Screening?

colon cancer screening

Colonoscopy. It’s a rite-of-passage for 50-year-olds that supplies an endless array of memes, birthday cards, and jokes. All jokes aside, the recommended testing often identifies colon cancer long before symptoms start, in stages where it is most easily and successfully treated. Some oncologists suggest reducing the age of colon cancer screening to 45 instead of 50.

Why Test Early?

Sharon Osbourne, wife of legendary rocker Ozzy Osbourne was 49 when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. She’s not alone. For years, colon cancer was mostly diagnosed in people over the age of 50. A recent deep analysis by the American Cancer Society found a rising number of colon cancer diagnoses in people between 45 and 50.

Colonoscopies find polyps and detect cancer often before a patient has any symptoms. Early-stage cancer is easier to treat and responds more effectively to treatment.

Your Less Invasive Testing Options

While colonoscopies are the standard in diagnosing colon cancer, they are expensive and invasive. Our clinic offers stool-based screenings such as Fecal immunochemical test (FIT), Buaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), Stool DNA test. (Click here to learn more about these tests.)

The American Cancer Society updated its recommendations in May 2018, but the US Preventative Services Task Force which oversees federal guidelines hasn’t updated its recommendations. This means insurance may not pay for your screening before you turn 50 unless you’re experiencing symptoms or fall into a high-risk group. Another reason to consider the less expensive stool-based screenings.

Risk Factors

Screening recommendations are based on average-risk patients. If any of the following statements apply to you, it’s recommended that you start colon cancer screenings even earlier.

  • A strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
  • A personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer

Start Here

If you’re 45 or older and have never had a colon cancer screening or you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer, it’s time to make an appointment with your medical care provider. Together you can make decisions about the right screenings for you. Screening for cancer sounds scary, but not screening won’t make any bad news go away and early treatment often gives you many more years of life ahead.

Overdose Not Only Risk Factor in Opioid Crisis

Overdose Not Only Risk Factor in Opioid Crisis

Every day 130 people in the United States die from an opioid-related overdose. While the numbers of new opioid prescriptions have declined in the last two years, we’re still experiencing fall out from years of unchecked opioid prescriptions. A recent study in JAMA Psychiatry reveals the far-reaching effects of the opioid crisis on the health of an abuser.

Researched pulled data from 124 previously published studies and compared that data with the general population of the same age and sex. The study revealed in addition to increased death from overdose, opioid addicts also have increased deaths due to non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases, suicide, and unintentional injuries. The most common non-communicable diseases include cancer and cardiovascular disease.  

AIDS/HIV

While deaths due to HIV/AIDS have declined due to more effective treatment in the overall population, AIDS deaths among opioid abusers have remained steady. Research shows 10-20% of those who misuse prescription opioids move on to inject opioids or heroin. Shared needles between drug users increase the chances of blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C. For the first time in two decades, HIV infections from injected drug use increased in 2015 for the first time in two decades due to the opioid crisis.

Opioid abuse affects a person’s entire life, from their overall health to risky behavior. Overdose continues to be a major concern for opioid abusers, but it’s not the only concern. Their behavior and health problems don’t just affect them, it affects their entire family.

Available Resources

If you’re struggling with an opioid addiction take action now. Don’t wait for the drugs to ruin your health. Seeking treatment is an act of strength not weakness. 

At Mantachie Rural Health Care, we treat all aspects of drug addiction from the addiction itself to underlying mental and behavioral health issues. We’ll help you find the right treatment program, and we provide therapy for families as well.

Overdose, while a major concern for drug abusers, isn’t the only increased threat of opioid abuse. You only have one body. Take care of it. We can help. Contact our mental health facilty to learn more at 662-282-4359.   

Benefits and Dangers of Celebrity Endorsed Intermittent Fasting

Benefits and Dangers of Celebrity Endorsed Intermittent Fasting

Every year with the “New Year New You” announcements come new fad diets. One of the most popular new celebrity-touted trends is intermittent fasting. Most notably a 16:8 fast. Fasting has been around for centuries, but it’s not right for everyone.

What is fasting? 

Before you consider fasting as part of your diet and exercise plan, educate yourself on the different types of fasting. Religious fasts often include not eating for many days or even weeks at a time. This type of fasting can be particularly dangerous for people with diabetes. 

Intermittent fasts are broken down by when you restrict food intake. A 5:2 fast allows you to eat your regular diet five days a week and restricts calories to 600 calories a day for men and 500 calories for women on the two fasting days. The popular 16:8 fast means you fast for 16 hours a day and eat all your daily calories in the remaining 8 hours. 

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Some dieters find the freedom of eating regular meals five days a week makes up for two days of strict fasting, or that they aren’t really all that hungry when they eat three meals in eight hours instead of stretching out their meals and snacking over the entire day. The diet plan is easy to follow because it doesn’t include any measuring of food or counting of calories.

A few very limited studies have shown intermittent fasting to lower A1C levels and increase weight loss. 

Dangers of Intermittent Fasting

Every diet has pros and cons. Intermittent fasting may help prevent type 2 diabetes, but it’s not a good option for those who already have the disease. Fasting may cause lower blood sugar levels, which can have dangerous side effects.

Because intermittent fasting does not involve measuring serving sizes or counting calories, many people will gorge on the foods they love or eat unhealthy foods during their non-fasting days. 

Fasting may also be dangerous for people with a history of eating disorders or mental health disorders.

Good Eating Habits Haven’t Changed

Regardless of whether you try eating all your meals in one eight hour stint or not, what you put in your mouth matters. Filling your plate with fruits and vegetables, adding lean protein, substituting complex carbs in place of sugary carbs, and including a few healthy fats helps you lose weight and manage diabetes and other medical conditions. The limited studies show no greater weight loss in groups who fasted than from groups who ate regular, healthy meals.

Before You Try Any Diet

Always consult your medical provider before you start any new diet or exercise routine. Your personal health conditions and medications influence how exercise and diet affect your body. We have a nutritionist on staff who can help you find the best way to manage your diet so it has the most positive effect on your health. She hosts Witcher’s Weightloss Warriors every Monday evening. It’s a free program that teaches participants how to lose weight in healthy ways. Call our clinic to learn how you can join.

Behavioral Health Conditions Headline Top Health Problems for Millennials

Behavioral Health Conditions Headline Top Health Problems for Millennials

Growing up with 24-hour news access and an increase in technology is taking its toll on millennials. A new report released by Blue Cross Blue Shield polled millennials who were 34-36 in 2017 about their health. The majority consider themselves healthy although as a generation they saw a double-digit increase in diagnoses of 8 of the top 10 diseases.

What were these top 10 health conditions? Drum roll please . . .

  1. Major depression
  2. Substance use disorder
  3. Alcohol use disorder
  4. Hypertension
  5. Hyperactivity
  6. Psychotic conditions
  7. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  8. High cholesterol
  9. Tobacco use disorder
  10. Type 2 diabetes

Notice anything about the list? The top six are behavioral health issues.

Help is a call away

In addition to being less healthy than previous generations, millennials access healthcare differently. They expect easy access to healthcare, including telemedicine options. And they are less likely to take advantage of preventative care and develop a relationship with their provider. Instead, they only visit a medical provider when they are sick.

The first step to taking control of your health is to seek out help before it’s needed. We change the oil in our car and replace the tires before we have a problem. In a similar fashion, millennials need to visit with their provider at least yearly for preventative care. And providers should screen millennials early and often for undiagnosed behavioral health and substance abuse problems.

Partner with your health provider, and encourage your millennial children and grandchildren to make their medical provider a partner in their health.

Think you know why millennials are struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues more than other generations? Read this article on the study and possible causes to see if you’re right.

Could your dry winter skin be eczema or psoriasis?

Could your dry winter skin be eczema or psoriasis?

Between cold winter weather and the dryness of indoor heat, our skin takes a beating during the winter season. Dry, itchy skin can be a symptom of nothing more than the weather, or it may need your doctor’s attention. If you, or your child, have red, itchy patches particularly behind the knees or elbows or in the folds of their skin, you’ll need more than a little dab of lotion to cut the itch.

This time of year eczema and psoriasis tend to show up in force. Knowing which type of skin irritation you’re dealing with determines how best to treat it at home or with a doctor’s care.

Eczema

Most eczema cases show up in children as red, very itchy patches of skin on the elbows, knees, hands, feet, lower back, scalp, or face. Sometimes the itching will lead a child to scratch until they bleed. Eczema may show up for the first time in adulthood, but it’s less often seen for the first time in those ages.

First, let us share the good news. Eczema may lessen or disappear as a child moves into adulthood, and some children will experience long periods with no flare-ups. Now for the bad news. No cure for eczema exists, so you’ll have to manage the illness by treating the symptoms.

If possible, start by isolating what may have caused the flare-up. Children with allergies and asthma are more likely to experience eczema especially when they come in contact with something they are allergic to. Removing known allergens is always your first step to treating at home. Detergents and soaps, especially those with perfumes and dyes, may also cause a flare-up.

Not everything that causes eczema can be controlled. Some children who haven’t experienced a flare-up in years will break out as they enter puberty. Those changing hormones cause skin changes as well. Stress, infections, heat, and humidity may also trigger a flare.

Treatment

Start by looking for a moisturizer with an oil or cream base instead of a water base. Also read the ingredient list for alcohol. Not only will lotions with alcohol dry out your skin more, they also burn when applied to raw, irritated skin. Moderate to severe eczema often requires a prescription corticosteroid cream or other prescription treatment. If over-the-counter lotions don’t help in a few days make an appointment to see your doctor.

Psoriasis

The first case of psoriasis often appears between the ages of 15 and 30. Psoriasis often looks similar to eczema with dry, red patches of skin, but the itchiness is considerably less than with eczema. 

Cold weather, stress, and infection may trigger psoriasis just like they do eczema. Psoriasis’s other triggers, however, are less environmental. Vaccinations, sunburns, scratches, and certain medications also trigger psoriasis. And it’s often linked to more serious illnesses such as diabetes, depression, and heart disease.

Treatment

Your treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms and the cause of the flare-up. Because of the seriousness of illnesses linked to psoriasis, it’s extremely important for patients to visit with their doctor to discuss treatment.

While eczema and psoriasis initially appear similar, their treatments depend on which one you have. If you’ve noticed red, patchy, itchy skin that doesn’t go away on its own make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options. You shouldn’t have to suffer through an itchy winter.

Rural, Uninsured Women at Higher Risk for Cervical Cancer

Rural, Uninsured Women at Higher Risk for Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer isn’t the cancer of old women, just ask celebrities like Erin Andrews, Liz Lange, or Judy Blume. It’s most commonly diagnosed in women under age 50, which increases the importance of screening in these women.

Most patients don’t experience any symptoms during the earliest stages of cervical cancer when treatment is most effective. Screenings, however, can detect cancer and pre-cancerous cells early. 

Screenings

Pap tests look for changes in cells that could turn into cancer later. In the past, doctors encouraged women to have a pap smear every year. In the last decade, however, recommendations have changed to every three years for women ages 21 to 65. 

Women over age 30 may elect to have an HPV screening which tests for human papillomavirus, the virus which can cause cervical cancer. If you test positive for this virus, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings.

Vaccinations

In 2006, the HPV vaccine was released in an effort to significantly reduce the occurrence of the virus which can lead to cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Since introducing the vaccine, rates of HPV infection have dramatically decreased. Doctors encourage both females and males ages 9-26 to receive the vaccine. 

Challenges

Reducing the number of women with the HPV virus and catching cervical cancer early sounds easy enough, right? Unfortunately, the cost of testing and vaccines often means women in rural areas without insurance may slip between the cracks. These women receive the most cervical cancer diagnoses. 

Mantachie Rural Health Care offers $15 pap tests and provides the HPV vaccines for low or no cost for uninsured or underinsured patients. Staying on top of your health shouldn’t be hard or expensive. Schedule your pap test and yearly check-up today. Your health is worth the time.

Sweet or Unsweet: Common Diabetes Medications

common diabetes medications

Lifestyle changes will most likely be the first suggestion your doctor makes after your type 2 diabetes diagnosis. The thought of changing your eating habits, adding exercise into an already full schedule, and monitoring your blood sugar can be overwhelming. Depending on how high your A1C is, your doctor may prescribe one of these common diabetes medications. 

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics take different types of medication because the types respond differently to insulin. Most Type 2 diabetes patients control their diabetes through oral medication.

Not all diabetes medication is right for every patient. Your doctor prescribes the type of medication based on your symptoms and how well your diabetes is controlled. Every addition of medication to your routine comes with questions you should ask your provider if they don’t supply the answer to these questions when they suggest the medication. Your pharmacy provided printouts contain most of this information, but talking to your doctor about these questions should still be the first step.

  • When and how often should you take the medication?
  • What should you do if you miss a dose?
  • What are the common side effects of this medication?
  • Why did your provider prescribe this particular medication?
  • Will Medicare, Medicaid, or your private insurance cover this medication?
  • Will this medication react with any other medications I’m taking?

Below are several of the most common Type 2 diabetes medications. We included a little information about each one. You can find more about these medications rxlist.com.

Metformin

Many providers prescribe metformin as the first medication for treating Type 2 diabetes. These medications help your body become more sensitive to insulin. They also decrease the amount of sugar your intestines absorb. It comes with side effects such as weight gain and possibly low blood sugar. Metformin is in a family of drugs called biguanides and may be combined with other medications also used to treat Type 2 diabetes.

Sulfonylureas

These medications stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin. Like Metformin, the side effects may include weight gain and low blood sugar.

Meglitinides

Like Sulfonylureas, these medications stimulate your pancreas to make more insulin, but they are faster acting and the effect lasts for a shorter length of time. These medications may lower your blood sugar too much.

Thiazolidinediones

These medications work a lot like Metformin in that they make your body more sensitive to glucose. Unfortunately, they come with more serious side-effects such as an increased risk of heart failure, heart disease, and anemia. Your provider will monitor your heart function closely if you take one of these medications. The increased risk of serious side effects means it probably won’t the first medication your provider prescribes.

DPP-4 inhibitors

These medications have less of a tendency to cause low blood sugar while helping the body make more insulin. They may cause joint pain and increase your risk of pancreatitis.

GLP-1 receptor agonists

This family of drugs slows digestion and helps lower blood sugar levels. They are injectable medications versus oral medications most often used. Patients with certain heart disease or chronic kidney disease are more likely to receive these medications as they may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. The medications often cause weight loss and may also have side effects like nausea and an increased risk of pancreatitis.

SGLT2 inhibitors

Unlike other diabetes medications, these drugs prevent the kidney from holding on to the glucose. Instead, your body excretes the sugar through your urine. These medications may also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Possible side effects include vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, low blood pressure, and a higher risk of diabetic ketoacidosis. 

Insulin

Insulin was once the last resort for treating type 2 diabetes, but today it’s prescribed earlier due to its benefits. This medication must be injected. Your provider has a variety of types of insulin available, and they may prescribe a mixture of insulin types for use at different times of the day or night. 

Cost of Medications

The cost of insulin and other diabetes medication continues to rise, and Medicare, Medicaid or your insurance may not cover all these medications. Patients at Mantachie Rural Health Care may request a 340B card at the time of their appointment for discounts on prescriptions. Discounts vary, but Fulton Walmart, Mantachie Pharmacy, and Saltillo Pharmacy and Solutions accept the cards.


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