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September 2013
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Coping with Dry Skin

September 29, 2013   

Listed below are some healthy advices on how to properly deal with your dry skin problem.

Use cool water to bathe or shower – Cool water as opposed to cold water should be water under normal temperature. Mildly warm water can also be used as long as it is not warm or hot enough to strip away the natural oil in your skin.

Drink lots of water – Keep your body hydrated by drinking 8 glasses of water each day. If you can’t stand drinking this much amount of water, you can drink fruit juices or some herbal tea instead, these keep your skin moist without you needing to buy skin care products.

Keep your skin moisturized – Keeping your skin moist and supple is the most important thing you can do for your skin. You need to at least keep your skin moist for two times a day. You need to use the best moisturizer for your skin. A lot of people do not follow this as they argue that doing so will make their face oily. The truth is it does not make the face oily.  It actually prevents the premature aging of the skin and makes the skin more supple.

Live a healthy lifestyle – Cigarette smoking, drug abuse and alcoholism will not only give you skin problems it will destroy your health and oftentimes your life as well.  If you are abusing substances you may need to seek help to detoxify your body and help you shun these addictive substances.

Try to relax – Try to relax your body by getting a massage that will also benefit your skin. The oil that is used during massage can keep your skin lubricated and supple. You can also opt for acupuncture to help yourself relax and remove any pain you may have. Acupuncture also enables you to get good quality sleep which is both beneficial for your skin and your whole body. You can also avail skin rejuvenating procedures from beauty salons.

These are just some of the ways to deal well with your dry skin problem. Dry skin is really an easy condition to resolve and the aforementioned advices will help you maintain a perfectly moisturized skin.

Vickery Health & Wellness
18455 Burbank Blvd #306
Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 578-6730

Bronchitis – Preparing for your Appointment

September 21, 2013   

If you have lingering symptoms of bronchitis, you need to make an appointment with your doctor so you may be correctly diagnosed and get the required treatment. If after a couple of weeks of treatment your symptoms do not get better, you may need to return to your physician as they may point to a worse underlying condition. Also, if during two weeks of treatment your symptoms seem to be worsening, you need to also see your doctor again.  The serious symptoms that should prompt you to go back for another appointment can include:

  • Swollen ankles and/or feet
  • Continuous high fever
  • Breathing problems while lying down or at rest
  • Blue-colored lips and skin
  • Blood in mucus or sputum

These signs can be that of a different and worse condition or bronchitis complications.

Listing Down your Bronchitis Symptoms

In preparing for your appointment with your doctor, one of the best things you can do is to prepare a list of symptoms you have experienced. This list can aid you in answering questions the physician may question you during your first exam. You need to assess if you indeed are experiencing any of the following symptoms related to bronchitis:

  • Wheezing or other uncommon sounds when you breathe
  • Recent cold or flu
  • Greenish or yellowish thick mucus
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue that disrupts your regular activities
  • Breathing difficulty when climbing up the stairs or walking
  • Coughing that begins in the morning and persists or becomes severe for the rest of the day
  • Pain in the chest when taking deep breaths or coughing

Added to these symptoms, should be other pertinent information about your health history and your family’s as well. Other information you can include in this list should mention if you or if someone in your immediate family suffers or has suffered from:

  • Other respiratory problems
  • High cholesterol
  • Lung, kidney or heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Asthma or other breathing issues
  • Allergies that need treatment

Your doctor will have questions to ask you as well and some of them may be about your lifestyle choices that may have helped develop your bronchitis. Some of the lifestyle choices that may have caused you bronchitis can include:

  • Tobacco smoking
  • Exposure to second hand tobacco smoke
  • Exposure to pollutants like chemicals
  • Exposure to too much dust

In the Doctor’s Office

When you come for your first appointment, the doctor will likely listen to your lungs using a stethoscope. The doctor may also require you to do certain breathing tests and undergo a chest X-ray.

You may want to ask your doctor certain questions regarding your complaint. These questions may include:

  • Can certain breathing exercises better my condition?
  • Do I need to undergo tests to ascertain that I have bronchitis?
  • Do I have chronic or acute bronchitis?
  • Do I need to completely stop smoking or can I just cut back on it?
  • Do you think I have emphysema or asthma?
  • Do I need to get a flu shot?
  • Is my bronchitis bacterial or viral?
  • What do I need to avoid in order not to get bronchitis again?
  • What short term treatments can I avail of to better my breathing?
  • Will you prescribe antibiotics for my problem?
  • Will these antibiotics alter my diet?

Diagnostic Questions

When he has determined you have bronchitis, your doctor will talk about treatment choices and make suggestions for the best treatment plan for you. The doctor should do his best to completely help you understand your diagnosis so you may have a good idea of the effects of the medicines as well as the lifestyle changes you need to adapt to.

Your doctor should give you answers to the following questions that are based on your own particular case:

  • Do I need an inhaler?
  • Are there exercises I should not perform?
  • What is my long-term prognosis?
  • Do I need to consult with a specialist?
  • Are there any oxygen therapies you can recommend?
  • What medicines do I need to take? What side effects do they have?
  • Will a vaporizer be helpful?
  • What over-the-counter drugs do I need to take?
  • Will some of the prescribed medicines interact with my other ongoing supplements or medicines?
  • Will quitting smoking better my symptoms?

Bringing along someone to accompany you to your appointment can be helpful since your companion can write down what the doctor says and he can also remember some of the information you may have missed telling your doctor.

Your doctor in turn will have corresponding questions to ask you that will help him diagnose your problem accurately. Some of the questions may be like these:

  • When did you first notice your symptoms?
  • Describe your symptoms. Have they been infrequently or frequently occurring?
  • Have your symptoms affected your work performance or your sleep?
  • Are you a smoker? Are you a heavy smoker? How long have you smoked?
  • Do you feel much weaker now than you have been last year?
  • Are you still able to walk as fast as you used to?    Do you have a hard time climbing a flight of stairs? Do you do regular exercise?
  • What factors make your symptoms worse?
  • What factors make your symptoms improve?
  • Do your symptoms get worse in cold air?
  • Do you get a flu shot every year?
  • Were you already vaccinated for pneumonia prevention? If yes, when?


Causes of PMS

September 21, 2013   

The real cause of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is not yet fully known, though many likely factors can be responsible for its symptoms. These factors may involve:

Hormone changes – Your hormone levels (progesterone and estrogen) fluctuate during your menstrual cycle. These hormonal changes are considered to be the biggest reasons for your PMS symptoms. The improvement of your PMS symptoms during pregnancy and after your menopause when your levels of hormone are stable validates this theory.

Chemical changes – As with your hormone levels, there are specific brain chemicals like serotonin that rises up and down during your menstrual cycle. Since serotonin is a chemical that causes you to feel happy and also one that regulates your mood, women with low serotonin levels are especially prone to PMS symptoms. Certain symptoms may also come about when serotonin levels are low. These symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Food cravings
  • Fatigue

Lifestyle factors

Exercise and weight – If you perform no or very little exercise and if you have a body mass index of 30 or more (which means you are considered obese), then you are very likely to develop PMS.

Stress – As you get more and more stressed, your likelihood of getting PMS becomes high and if you already have PMS, its symptoms then only becomes worse. Stress is not a direct cause for PMS but it can surely aggravate its symptoms.

Diet – Consuming a lot of certain foods while eating little of others can also be a contributive factor for PMS. Eating a lot of salty foods, for example, can cause fluids to accumulate in your body and cause bloating. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol can interfere with your energy levels and your mood. Low levels of minerals and vitamins can likewise cause your PMS symptoms to worsen.

PMDD Causes

Like PMS, the cause of PMDD or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is also unknown although it is theorized that PMDD (as with PMS) can come about due to the interaction of hormones (like progesterone and estrogen) coming from the ovaries at various stages in the menstrual cycle with neurotransmitters located in the brain. The ovarian levels of hormone of women with PMDD may be normal but the response of the brain to the fluctuation of these hormones is abnormal.

Studies done indicate that PMDD and PMS are not caused by specific personality types or personality traits. Like PMS stress is not considered to be one reason of PMDD. Stress is rather likely to be the result of PMDD or PMS symptoms. Nutritional deficiencies like lack of vitamins in the body have not been observed to cause PMDD or PMS symptoms either.

Dr. Jack Handlin is an experienced acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist and oriental reproductive medicine specialist at Tree of Life Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine in Bellevue, WA.

Anxiety – Preparing for Your Appointment

September 13, 2013   

If you feel that your anxiety is starting to affect your physical health, it may be time to go and see your doctor for treatment. Your doctor will look for symptoms and signs of the primary cause of your anxiety and find treatment for it.

If you suffer from extreme anxiety, you may need the service of a specialist instead of your family doctor.  The specialist may be a psychiatrist who is a medical doctor in his own right. The job of a psychiatrist is diagnosing and treating mental health issues. The job of a psychologist, on the other hand, and similar types of health specialists is to diagnose anxiety and other mental problems; however, instead of giving treatment they offer counseling instead.

Listed below are some things you need to do to make you better prepared for your psychiatrist or psychologist appointment, and the things the specialist may do and/or ask you.

Things you can do:

Make a list of your symptoms and signs of anxiety.  Describe what happens to you when you feel anxious. Are you filled with worries? Do you feel nauseous, get palpitations in your heart or get dizzy?

In your writing, include the time you feel anxious. Make a record the times of the day when anxiety strikes you as well as the events, places and situations when you are more anxious than normal.

In your note, list down the biggest stressors in your life – Are you in the midst of a life change like a new job, relocation, divorce, new baby, marriage or the loss of a loved one? Are some past traumatic experiences keep on recurring in your mind?

Write down the length of time you’ve had your anxiety. Is it a recent problem or something you have dealt for many years now?

You can list the medical conditions besides your anxiety that you now have including the one that you consider petty or minor.

You need to also jot down the medications you are presently taking. Include the vitamins, herbal meds or teas, supplements, minerals, prescribed and OTC medications you are taking on a regular basis.

This information can be very helpful to your specialist and make it easy to properly diagnose your anxiety and give you a better understanding of the reasons for your anxiety.

You can also write down a list of questions you want answered by your specialist or doctor.  In addition to information about you, you may also want to write down any questions you have in order to be able to actually ask them instead of forgetting all or some of them during the time of your appointment itself.

Questions You Can Ask your Specialist

  • Will the signs and symptoms of my anxiety return in the future?
  • Is there a big chance for recovery if I follow your treatment course?
  • How soon can I feel the effects of the treatment once I’ve started the treatment plan?
  • Do I need to change some or all of my lifestyle to be able to remove my anxiety symptoms?
  • Can therapy help my case? What kind of therapy should I undergo? Can you recommend a good therapist to help treat my anxiety problems?
  • What medications to I need to take for my anxiety? Will they be taken only when needed or on a daily basis? How long do I need to take them?
  • What are the side effects of these drugs? Will these side effects disappear immediately or not? What side effects are deemed serious enough for you (the doctor) to warrant its discontinuance?
  • Can you recommend some things that can help neutralize the side effects of my medications?
  • What are the medical options I have for my anxiety problems?
  • What is your diagnosis for my condition?

Questions the Specialist May Ask You

  • Do you take recreational drugs?
  • Do you drink alcohol?
  • Are there things that make you less anxious or feel good?
  • Do you avoid people or situations that may make you anxious?
  • Do you have triggers to your anxiety?
  • How long have you been feeling your anxiety?
  • Are you worrying or feel anxious occasionally or regularly?
  • Do you experience panic attacks?
  • Are your anxiety symptoms affecting your daily activities?
  • What are your symptoms? How serious are they?
  • Do you have insurance? Will it cover your treatment?
  • Do you suffer from associated conditions you may be aware of?
  • Do you or any members of your family have a history of anxiety or any kind of mental health conditions?

What to Expect During your Appointment?

For diagnosing your anxiety, the doctor/specialist will perform on you a thorough physical examination and require you to undergo some lab tests. This is done to determine whether or not your anxiety is derived from physical causes. He will most likely ask you a number of questions which some have been listed in this writing a while ago.  Some of the doctor’s questions may be from information which you have provided.

The doctor will pay close attention to your answers and can furnish you with advices and recommendations to help you better handle your anxiety symptoms.  By doctor, we do not mean your family doctor but a specialist like a psychologist or psychiatrist that specializes in the diagnosing and treatment of mental health issues.

Alida van Heerden is a licensed New York acupuncturist and a NADA certified acupuncture detoxification specialist.