Women In Healthcare (14)
Women have a tendency to place the needs of others before their own. While this is an admirable quality, women who do this may put their own health at risk, especially if they neglect getting regular care and checkups with their health care provider.
Using the theme “It’s Your Time,” National Women’s Health Week, May 12-18, encourages women to focus on their own health and well-being. Research has shown that when women take care of their own health, the health of their families tends to improve as well.
So, it’s time to take care of a very special person in your life – you.
You need to nurture yourself with healthy food, make time for regular physical activity that you enjoy, get quality sleep, engage in stress-reducing activities and plan sufficient time to simply relax. Choose one or two things to focus on first. Then, as you have success in those areas, move on to your next victory.
It is important to include your health care provider as a partner in your wellness improvement efforts. Speak with them about your goals and let them help you develop a strategy that is best for you. And be sure to follow up with any scheduled visits and needed examinations.
Remember, the better you take care of yourself, the more you’ll be able to be there for those other important people in your life.
For more information on improving your health, visit www.cdc.gov/women.
Any one who suffers from high stress, PMS, or menopause knows that hormones can make you feel crazy. They can wreak havoc on your body, mood and emotional health. Unfortunately, there are more and more people operating under stress every day and inadvertently influencing the general health and balance of their hormones.
A recent study indicated that nearly 80% of women experience some sort of pre-menstrual symptoms at some point in their lives, and 30-40% of these women report it being severe enough to interfere with their daily activities. Menopause has a similar effect: severe hot flashes, headaches, loss of libido, anxiety, irregular heart beat, irritability and digestive issues. All of these symptoms can have an impact on a woman’s quality of life.
Unfortunately, stress only makes these symptoms worse. Stress plays a huge role in suppressing the normal functioning of your hypothalamus gland, which controls the pituitary gland and thus controls the thyroid, adrenals and ovaries. Excessive stress can cause ovarian dysfunction leading to issues with estrogen production, ovulation and other reproductive processes.
So, how can acupuncture and Chinese medicine help? Chinese medicine works by evaluating all aspects of your life including your diet, lifestyle, physical, mental and emotional balance and in doing so we can treat each patient uniquely. By treating the root cause of any imbalance, acupuncture may be able to address both the symptoms of PMS or menopause.
No two cases of PMS or menopause are the same and with regular treatment and lifestyle adjustments, menopause and PMS do not have to control your life. So, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, an aspirin or that large piece of cake, instead, think about making a call to your local acupuncturist and get back to feeling like yourself again.
Patients have many choices in healthcare today, including whether to see a male or female healthcare provider. Many female patients seek female physicians. We (female physicians) have not always been easy to find.
The first medical school in the United States, at the University of Pennsylvania, was established in 1765. It was not until 84 years later, however, that the first woman graduated from medical school. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to graduate from a U.S. medical school, graduated from Geneva Medical College of New York in 1849.
In 1850 the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania opened, the first medical college for women, and immediately 40 women enrolled. In 1870 the University of Michigan was the first State Medical School to formally admit women. In 1893 the co-educational Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was established. It wasn’t until 1945 that Harvard admitted women, and in 1960 Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia was the last medical school to admit female students.
The U.S. population has grown from 150 million in 1950 to roughly 312 million in 2011. The ratio of male:female has remained about 50:50 throughout this time. The percentage of female physicians, however, does not reflect this population statistic. More women in the U.S. are practicing medicine than ever before and they are entering medical school in record numbers. In 1905, 4% of medical school graduates were women, 7% in 1965, 17% in 1990 and 30% in 2009. Currently 50% of medical students are female. Women seem to gravitate to internal medicine, pediatrics, family practice, and OB/GYN as 53% of women residents are in one of these four specialties. Seventy-four percent of OB/GYN residents are women, and it is estimated that women will make up the majority of practicing OB/GYN’s in the U.S. by 2020.
In my specialty of ophthalmology, in 2004, 34% of ophthalmologists-in-training were women. Isabel Hayes Chapin Barrows (1845-1913) was the first woman to practice ophthalmology in the U.S. as well as the first woman appointed to a medical school faculty. From 1985-2005 women’s representation in American medical school training programs jumped up by 16% but the percentage of all women faculty at full professor rank only increased by 1.6%. Here is another battle for women in medicine: representation at the academic education and administration level in our medical schools. There seems to be no single problem holding women back, but more likely an accumulation of small barriers over time. Research into this area has been recently funded by a NIH grant to Drs. Abbuhl and Grisso at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine who state “it is time for us to apply our best scientific rigor to interventions that can deepen our understanding of the factors that influence women’s careers in science while making a difference through action-based research.”
What does this all mean to you? Studies such as this will hopefully strengthen women’s position in medicine, both at the schools and universities, as well as “in the trenches” of private medical practice. So you, the patient, will continue to have the choice of seeing a male or female physician in your community.
At one time or another every young child has stubbornly covered his or her ears to muffle unwelcome speech, proclaiming to the speaker, “I can’t hear you!” Though immature, that act has a point – if your ears are blocked, sound can be difficult and sometimes even impossible to understand.
That common sense thought may have been in mind with the creation of open-fit hearing aids. These devices, also known as open ear, are tiny behind-the-ear (BTE) devices with a thin tube running to the ear canal, providing the wearer with minimal blockage and eliminating occlusion. Because the ear canal is more open, the wearer is able to hear much better than when a device fills the ear canal.
Open-fit hearing devices are not new. However, until the advances made in the last few years regarding the size of the tube, feedback suppression, and placing the receiver in the canal, the numbers of people who used these instruments were limited. Now, open-ear products are rising in popularity and BTE devices are dominating the market.
Information from the Hearing Industries Association Statistical Reports indicates that 63.4% of all hearing aids sold in the past year were the behind-the-ear (BTE) style with two-thirds representing the new open-fit design. These figures represent a triple increase in BTE purchases in the past ten years.
Reported advantages to the open fit hearing aid include: its small size and weight; improved comfort – the open ear hearing eliminates that “plugged up” feeling; more natural sound quality; better quality of sound of your own voice; and easy adjustment for the wearer.
The hearing industry is constantly evolving. Products no longer stay on the market for years. New technologies and advancements have created opportunities for more advanced and better quality products to be developed each year. If these open-ear devices, and the progress they have provided, are any indication of the products to come, hearing health care will see even more changes in the design, size, and comfort of its instruments.
If you’ve put off getting hearing aids because they look cumbersome on the ear, take a new look at the latest technology by contacting your local audiologist for a hearing aid consultation.
Acupuncture treatment for women is a truly unique natural healing art. If performed properly and correctly, patients get benefits without taking drugs and products.
Menstruation and Young Age
Throughout the teenage years women’s body and mind become very sensitive, from the first menstruation cycle, and they sometimes face a more complicated life than men. Due to individual health conditions, particularly from hormonal problems, many women experience various pains, discomforts, irregular periods and mental stress; on the other hand, they learn how to deal with these difficult situations periodically. Women reach maturity and develop independence much earlier than men.
We keep seeing it in headlines: “Depression is a Risk Factor for Heart Disease”; “Depression linked with Cancer”; “Childhood Traumas Associated with Adult Depression and Arthritis.” But what is the link with depression and illness?
“Depression” is a sensation, or a time of feeling “badly” or “sad.” Research has shown that depression is associated with a sense of “helplessness” and loss of will. Depression is commonly treated with medications designed to increase circulating levels of serotonin in the brain (SSRI’s), on the assumption that serotonin is associated with mood; more specifically, that increased levels of serotonin improve mood. However, serotonin plays a bigger role in our bodies than just affecting our moods.
We all look for what we best know. We do not recognize the unfamiliar. In medical practice, that means that we often see only that for which we have been trained, and do not recognize other causes of our problems. This means that myofascial pain as a cause of persistent pain frequently is overlooked.
This is important because myofascial pain is the most common cause of musculoskeletal pain. It is the primary cause of pain or a major contributor to pain after whiplash, in low back pain, in pain after back surgery, in frozen shoulder and a significant cause of pain in persons with rotator cuff tears. It is a significant factor in pain that prevents a person from sitting down. It is a frequent cause of sacroiliac joint pain. And as if this is not enough, Dr. H.Y. Ge of Denmark just published a study in which he found that every patient with fibromyalgia had myofascial pain as well.
I do not want to say that myofascial pain syndrome is the only cause of pain, because that would clearly be wrong, but it is an important cause of pain. A health professional needs special training in order to recognize and treat myofascial pain.
Once myofascial trigger points are identified, they can be treated effectively. Diagnosis of myofascial pain syndrome requires the identification of trigger points that are tender knots in muscle. This can only be done by feeling the muscle with the fingers. Physical examination is therefore necessary. A doctor, physical therapist or other health practitioner needs to have been trained to identify trigger points in order to be able to find them easily.
Identifying them means that they can then be treated specifically. However, treating trigger points directly is only part of the way to improvement. The cause of the problem must be identified and corrected where possible. A careful history and general examination is required, with attention to how a person uses their body when working (work ergonomics), in playing and in general activities. In addition, attention to nutrition and to metabolic factors like thyroid activity are important in evaluating the musculoskeletal system.
When all of this is accomplished, in one or several visits to the doctor or other clinician, a treatment plan can be developed. How long it takes to see improvement depends on how long the myofascial pain syndrome has been present, and what contributing factors need to be treated. The goal, of course, is to relieve pain and make life more comfortable.
Even though we know that life is full of changes, our society does not allow a mechanism to prepare for moving from one phase of life to another. Nature teaches us that change is the norm – yet we need to reorient and redefine ourselves in new situations in order to incorporate change. Without the interior work of transition, change is just a rearrangement of the furniture.
In his book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, William Bridges says that the three phases of transition are an ending, a beginning and an important empty or fallow time in between. The first phase involves letting go of the external and internal attachments to the old way of life. Other cultures maintain rituals for clearing the mind of old memories in order to make way for a new stage of life. Our society expects us to retire or move into a new job or house without allowing time to empty ourselves so that we can be filled with new dreams and visions. As clinicians, we can help our clients identify the losses and grieve them appropriately. Then, we can explore the form that the client wants his or her life to take.
The second phase of transition is often avoided because it can be a confusing and disturbing time. Some traditions allow for the in-between zone by using rituals such as sending one off to an unfamiliar desert or forest for a time to find oneself. Helping clients empty them selves to become non-vessels by just being still in a holding environment is an important therapeutic task at this phase of transition. The client may decide to stay at home in quiet with time for meditation, journaling and reflection. However, others may choose dramatic retreats such as one 58-year-old woman who left her job and drove to Alaska by herself after being rejected by her husband of many years. Afterwards, she said that on the trip she had enjoyed her own company, which proved to herself that, despite her ex-husband’s thinking, she was “pretty easy to be with.”
Often, during this phase, clients present with “I don’t know who I am” which could be part of the confused and disoriented state of mind. The clinician can help the client decide if a life-changing event is necessary versus a sabbatical or vacation.
The final stage of transition is a new beginning. Taking small steps without succumbing to “buyer’s remorse” is this stage’s challenge.
In her 60’s, Ellen Burstyn inspires us on how to move into the third phase of transition. In her memoir Lessons on Becoming Myself she states that she vowed to move into the next period of her life boldly by looking at what she was afraid of and moving toward it instead of away from it. These are exciting times of change – let’s all take the plunge.
Chronic pain is a health problem that can rule your life. It will tell you when and what you can and cannot do. Who needs that? Understanding what causes chronic pain is essential to managing it and eliminating it from your life. Chronic pain is defined as any persistent pain that lasts longer than three months, the most common type being joint pain. Almost all chronic joint pain is caused by some type of inflammation.
Inflammation is our body’s natural defense mechanism against infection and injury. Signs of inflammation include pain, redness, heat, and swelling. To a certain degree, inflammation is a good thing because it is the way our body heals an injured area. Inflammation becomes a problem when it continues and progresses over a long period of time resulting in the formation of new connective tissues. The body recognizes these new tissues as a threat and so continues to send inflammatory agents to the affected joint. We all know what can happen when you invite too many guests to a party. It can get out of control very easily.
An effective way to address joint inflammation before it becomes a problem is by the use of anti-inflammatory agents. Natural anti-inflammatory substances can be effective to combat pain and symptoms associated with chronic joint pain.
Boswellia serrata is an Indian herb with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that has been used for centuries to treat rheumatic disorders and osteoarthritis. The gummy resin in the trunk of this small tree contains boswellic acid, nature’s prize gem anti-inflammatory in the search for natural pain killers.
Turmeric is not just a spice to flavor your recipes. Used in Chinese and Indian medicine, turmeric root powder (or curcumin) has been reported to reduce and prevent joint stiffness, pain, and inflammation.
Ginger has many medicinal uses. Its renowned anti-inflammatory compounds known as ginerols come from the rhizome (fleshy part) of ginger root. Not only is it an anti-inflammatory, ginger has even been shown to suppress the production of pro-inflammatory agents (cytokines and chemokines) produced by the joints own synovial fluid and cartilage. Nature is just brilliant.
Living with chronic pain does not have to be an option. Nature knew best and placed these safe and effective anti-inflammatory agents in plain sight for us to find. Bottled in capsule form for easy medicinal use, they can be found individually or in therapeutic blends.
Thumping a watermelon. Grandma swears by this method when picking her fruit for the annual family Fourth of July picnic. This year, it’s your turn. You scurry to the grocery store, dash over to the fresh fruit section, and start thumping. There’s only one problem. You have no idea what sound your “thump” is supposed to elicit in the giant melon!
The good news is that you’re not alone. Plenty of women across the globe feel dazed and confused when it comes to selecting just the right melons and berries. Do you select a fruit by its color, texture, or smell? How do you know if one nectarine is better than another?
Here is a five-step “how-to” guide for picking the best fresh fruit this summer. Use these simple tricks, and you’ll be the hit of this year’s summer picnic, even if your watermelon thumping skills aren’t up to par.
Go seasonal – Your first rule of thumb when shopping for summer fruit is to select goods that are in season. Blueberries and strawberries kick-off the summer season from mid-June to July. Then, peaches and raspberries lead the pack from mid-July through September. Grapes are best from August through September. When in doubt, bananas are always a safe bet, since they’re in season year-round.
Smell the produce – When produce is at its peak, it smells as good as it tastes. So, go ahead. Take a whiff! If it doesn’t smell delectable, then move along to the next one.
Touch the goods – Fruit should have some “give” to the touch, without being mushy. Check a fruit’s texture for uniformity. Soft spots often mean that the fruit has started to spoil.
Talk to the farmers – If your summer shopping takes you to the local farmers’ market, get to know the vendors at each stand. Ask them what tricks they use to determine the best of the bunch. Most farmers love sharing their know-how with fruit-picking newbies.
Hold off on the wash – Once you’ve selected your produce, wait to wash your goods until it’s time to prep and serve them. Excess moisture left on the surface of fruits and veggies can cause them to rot prematurely.