Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

A single sleepless night can throw off the entire week, inciting crankiness and fatigue in even the peppiest of people. The immediate EFFECTS of a bad night’s sleep are well-known, but true sleep deprivation can have long-lasting effects on the body. 

Causes of Sleep Deprivation:

Sleep deprivation is caused by a regular lack of sleep, or poor quality of sleep. These sleep patterns can be caused by any number of lifestyle choices: shift work, deadlines, increased screen time throughout the day, or sleeping conditions. Some health issues contribute to sleep deprivation, like chronic pain, depression, anxiety, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea. These lists are nonexhaustive, but help to illustrate just how many factors can disrupt healthy sleep schedules. 

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can manifest as fatigue, reduced sex drive, irritability, and lack of focus. Poor sleep quality has been known to increase risk of accidents due to drowsy driving.This condition can have long-term effects on the immune system, making those suffering from sleep deprivation more prone to infection. A lack of sleep can also increase risk of heart disease. Sleep has an effect on insulin levels, which can cause a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Sleep deprivation makes it more difficult for the brain to form new memories, impacting work, school, and social development. Sleep deprivation can develop into psychosis, stroke, diabetes, heart attack, and hypertension. 

Remedies for Sleep Deprivation:

Home care strategies for sleep deprivation can include getting regular exercise, turning off electronic devices before bedtime, limiting use of caffeine and alcohol in the evening, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule. 

There is no guarantee of success for sleep deprivation solutions and remedies. Always consult a doctor if symptoms become serious. Doctors might use behavioral and cognitive treatments or prescribe medication to help with sleep deprivation. 

Diet Solutions for Heart Disease

Cardiologists recommend certain dietary solutions in order to decrease risk for heart disease. These changes might be difficult to integrate into your habits at first, but will serve your health well if you can commit to them. You can maximize heart health by focusing on some of these healthier choices in your diet. 

Add Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an amazing source of vitamins and minerals. Your favorite fruit or vegetable is probably high in fiber with low caloric value, which makes it a great snack. In fact, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables might make you less inclined to choose unhealthy snacks. Wash and cut vegetables right away, and keep them on hand in the refrigerator as a great grab-and-go snack. Put fruit in an eye-catching place so you are more likely to grab it in a rush.

Reduce Sodium Intake

Increased salt consumption can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. Cardiologists are not as concerned about salt shakers at the dinner table. The salt that poses a risk to heart health actually comes from processed foods. Prepackaged dinners, baked goods, and canned soups are just a few of the many well-loved items that are absolutely packed with sodium. Cooking at home can help reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.

Know Your Fats

A heart healthy diet includes very limited saturated and trans fats. This can also help lower cholesterol. Get to know the labels of food you buy at the grocery store and learn to identify these fats. Prioritize healthy fats, like nuts, avocados, and olive oil, over unhealthy fats, like margarine, fried foods, and packaged snack foods. 

Focus On Whole Grains

Refined grains are a great threat to heart health. Whole grains are a great fiber source that can help with blood pressure and heart disease. Quinoa and barley are whole grains that can be integrated into tons of delicious meals. Switch out refined pastas, breads, and cereals for ones that feature whole grain instead.

Everything in Moderation

You have heard this over and over again, but its significance remains steadfast. Introducing a more heart-healthy diet does not mean restricting foods to the point of displeasure. You should feel comfortable having the occasional indulgence. If the majority of your diet is geared towards taking care of your heart, then a treat every once in a while will not throw off your progress.

Medical Alert Pendants Making a Comeback During Covid-19

Many of us simply cannot get to our parents or grandparents because it’s not safe for them. While we feel deeply for their solitude and loneliness, we are all starting to worry just a little more because we can’t truly check in on them the way we used to with live visits. Zoom and FaceTime doesn’t cut it either when they tend to sit in one place. Now we just want a little insurance against a fall or a heart attack or some other medical emergency where they cannot get to a phone.

Turns out that many others are thinking the same way and looking for options to help keep the seniors in their lives safe when you can’t look in on them as regularly as before.

Medical alert devices are on the rise in general, as the amount of senior adults continues to grow. Within a pandemic? Interest has gone even higher. Trickier still, many medical alert systems are for the home and aren’t always on the body. Today, there are necklaces, pendants, watches, bracelets. Others are soon to follows once someone comes up with the idea.

Techradar recently published a piece on their picks for the best systems of 2020. Better still it was published in September, so they were looking through the lens of Covid-19 and understanding the world we live in better than similar articles that were published in, say, March of 2020.

PCMag updated their 2020 picks in September, for the reasons I mentioned above.

For our money, we needed something quick and cheap. We have many things to consider and with our belts already tightened, and wanting to move fast for our parents, and were able to get them a medical alert pendant without much hassle or cost.

There are tons of options out there and we compared a lot of them, but the Alert1 option was what we went with mainly because we could see their prices up front and there is no long term contract. My parents aren’t so old that I would worry about them if I could see them regularly, but obviously some day this will be more of a need. For today, this is just a bridge to get us across this virus.

I feel much better now knowing that my mom is wearing her medical pendant. She has tested it a few times with me and the Alert1 team, and we are all more comfortable now. Next stop is getting life back to normal.

What to Look for In Anti-Snoring Devices

If you, or someone that you know, suffers from snoring, then you are probably looking for a way to cure it. While the actual causes of snoring vary from obesity, sleeping on the back, allergies and more, the majority of sufferers simply want to know how to correct the problem rather than what caused it. Many anti-snoring devices are designed to help sufferers stop snoring and start resting. 
Natural snoring remedies including sleeping on your side, ridding your home of allergens, losing weight if recommended, etc. If none of these remedies seem to work, many sufferers immediately turn to a variety of surgical procedures for their snoring solution. However, these types of procedures are invasive, uncomfortable and may not be necessary in all cases. Before turning to surgery, consider the use of anti-snoring devices. 
With the retail market being what it is, there are many anti-snoring devices that claim to solve this problem or cure that one but, when looking for legitimate anti-snoring devices, always look for something that has either been directly recommended by your doctor or is labeled as being doctor recommended. 
This is very important in identifying the quality anti-snoring devices from the rest of the pack so to speak. One anti-snoring device, which is currently available, is known as the Sleep Genie. This product, as it is fittingly titled, typically works its magic during the first use. 
The product provides a comfortable support for the jaw while allowing the mouth to remain closed through the night. Have you ever tried to snore with your mouth closed? Exactly. No luck, right? That is why the Sleep Genie has been identified as being doctor recommended. It provides a medicine-free, non-surgical way to end snoring. 
If the sufferer continues to have problems even after using quality anti-snoring devices, a physician may need to look for the possibility of sleep apnea. This is a very serious medical condition which, if left untreated, can lead to other health problems. 
With sleep apnea, the snoring sufferer often stops breathing completely throughout the night and is therefore at risk for various health problems. A proper diagnosis for sleep apnea can only be made by a physician. 
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as, or in place of, professional medical advice. Before beginning any treatment for snoring, please consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and remedy. 

Deadly Heart Disease Strikes More Women Than Men

Although heart disease is the number one killer of women in Canada, very few women actually consider the disease a major health concern. In fact, women and their doctors often miss the symptoms of heart disease, passing them off as the normal aches and pains of aging or indigestion or stress. 
The traditional belief that heart disease predominantly affects men is false. In 2000, 36 per cent of all female deaths in Canada were a result of heart disease compared to 34 per cent for males. As women age the risk of dying from heart disease increases dramatically. Researchers believe that after menopause women lose the heart protecting benefits of estrogen. The result is a steep increase in heart disease and death. Women need to educate themselves on the risks of this deadly disease and play an active role in their own heart health. 
It is not all bad news. Medical discoveries are paving the way to better preventive treatments. A recent landmark study investigated a new treatment for both men and women with coronary disease who are what cardiologists consider ‘low-risk’ but nevertheless are dying even though they feel quite well until a few days before they die. This important international study, EUROPA, provides compelling evidence that heart attacks and death can be significantly reduced in patients with coronary artery disease when the common and well-studied ACE Inhibitor perindopril (Coversyl®) is added to their daily treatment regimen. Considering that half of all heart disease deaths in women are from coronary artery disease, this is both a milestone in cardiology and a major step forward for women. 

Diabetes – The Basics

In simple terms DIABETES is the inability of the body to process sugars properly. When we eat or drink our PANCREAS produces a hormone called INSULIN. Insulin is released into the blood and helps to regulate the amount of glucose(sugar) in the bloodstream. Diabetes is a condition where this process does not function correctly. This is due to either: 

– No insulin being produced, often called Type 1 diabetes, and requires the sufferer to use insulin injections, or 

– Insulin is produced but the body becomes RESISTANT to it. This renders the insulin ineffective. This is normally called Type 2 diabetes and is rapidly becoming more common. 

Latest research shows that 2 in every 100 people have diabetes. Alarmingly half of these people do not even know they have it. Many people have diabetes without being aware of it because someone with diabetes looks no different from anyone else. 

Someone can have diabetes for months or even years without realizing they have the condition. The danger is that while diabetes is not immediately life threatening the long-term effects of high blood sugar can be damaging to one’s health. Uncontrolled diabetes and prolonged high blood sugar levels can, in later life, cause problems to many organs including the kidneys, eyes, nerves and the heart. This may sound grim, however controlling blood sugar by a combination of medicine, diet and exercise will vastly reduce the long-term complications. 

The simplest way to check if you have diabetes is to arrange a blood sugar check with your doctor. A tiny sample of blood obtained by pricking a finger is checked using a small electronic tester. A normal blood sugar level is generally between 72 – 126 mg/dl or 4 – 7 mmol/l (1 mmol/l = 18mg/dl). Diabetes is diagnosed when the body is unable to keep the blood sugar level within these limits. The unit of measurement used (mmol/l or mg/dl) will depend on which country you live in. 

Diagnosis of diabetes can occur out of the blue during a routine check-up but more often it follows from the sufferer experiencing the “symptoms” of diabetes. These symptoms can be many or few, mild or severe depending on the individual. 

The symptoms are: 

NOTHING AT ALL (???) No this is not a typo. It is true many people do indeed feel no different and are astonished to discover they have diabetes. However even if you feel fine you must take your diabetes seriously and act on the doctor’s advice. 

THIRST (polydipsia) This is a very common symptom. Often it seems no matter how much you drink your mouth still feels as dry as Death Valley. The problem is compounded before diabetes is diagnosed by sufferers drinking copious amounts of…sugary drinks! Of course, this only increases the blood sugar level and leads to increased thirst. 

INCREASED URINATION (polyuria) Another very common symptom. Sufferers need to urinate often and pass large volumes each time. In addition, this symptom takes no account of time so sleep is constantly disturbed by having to visit the bathroom during the night. It is a mistake to think this is caused by the increased thirst and drinking more. The opposite is true. High sugar levels in the blood spill over into the urine making it syrupy. To counter-act this water is drawn from the body causing dehydration and therefore thirst. 

WEIGHT LOSS Glucose is the form of sugar which is the body’s main fuel. Diabetics cannot process this properly, so it passes into the urine and out of the body. Less fuel means the body’s reserve tissues are broken down to produce energy with a resultant loss in weight. 

Other symptoms include constipation, tiredness, lack of energy, tingling or pins and needles in the hands and feet, blurred vision and increased infections. 

If you have experienced any of these symptoms it does not necessarily follow that you are diabetic however it might be advisable to visit your doctor to be sure. 

If it does transpire that you have diabetes please do not panic. It can come as a shock and it will mean some changes in your life. While (currently) incurable it can be treated so the long-term complications are reduced or even eliminated. As a result, you may actually increase your health and life expectancy compared to previously when you were taking no care of your body whatsoever. It requires discipline and self-control however there is no reason why anyone with diabetes cannot live a full and perfectly normal life. 

How to Lower Cholesterol for Children?

According to autopsy studies, many signs of atherosclerosis, including scarring, are now found in the arterial walls of America’s babies. By the age of 10, half the children in this country have coronary arterial lesions, and close to 100% of them have mild atherosclerosis by age 15. 

How this can be? 

The diet consumed during pregnancy is very important to the health of an unborn child. If you are breastfeeding, too, it is important to remember that breast milk has a high fat and hormone content and can partially reflect your diet. The truth is brutal, but it is even more compelling 
to face this problem today, before it is too late for them. 

We may assume that cholesterol victims are children who have been neglected, but in most cases, they’re not neglected at all. Today’s children with high cholesterol are tomorrow’s cardiovascular disease patients. Sick children are creating a new business for the Health Industry for years to come.  
But Why? 

 The food industry created this problem and there is no way out. It’s far too easy for the industry to market junk food to children. Often high Cholesterol is ignored because there are no visible symptoms. American children are overweight, and often their Cholesterol is high.  

The Good News 

 There is really safe and easy way to help your child without the devastating side effects that medications can have. Children must be checked for High Cholesterol annually, regardless of age… And the Lab Blood Test is the most dependable, able to show possible Risk Factor for heart disease. 

Dealing with Diabetes After the Initial Shock

So, you’ve learned that you’ve got diabetes. Well after the initial shock you’re stuck with dealing with the lifestyle changes that come with your diagnosis. When you go into the situation knowing that this isn’t the end but only the beginning of a new phase in your life it gives you a better perspective on life. Gone are the days of feeling like garbage and not knowing the genesis of the problem. Oftentimes, folks feel a sense of relief when they finally realize what the problem is. The stress of uncertainty lifts and the realization sets in that their life is now on a straight path. Well, sort of.  
Of course, your new lifestyle will demand a few changes. First and foremost, your doctor should have put you on a new diet. Depending on whether you have Type I or Type 2 diabetes you might even have to take insulin shots, ouch!! Relax, things are going to get only better now that your health is being managed correctly. 
Your new diet will consist of many foods with lower carbohydrates, which can of course be a hassle if you are addicted to savories. Sure, there’s a downside, but your quality of life should go up immeasurably. A lower carb diet doesn’t exclude all the things that you have come to love, just cautiously watching your diet will help. Moderation and constant inventory of what you are eating is essential to helping you maintain a healthy diet. After you’ve had to deal with the disease for a while you’ll be a whiz at maintaining yourself. Foods that are high in protein such as meats and nuts will be your friends since the carbohydrate levels are very low. This isn’t to say that you should go on a “no carb” diet, management and moderation is the key. 
All in all you should be in constant contact with your physician & nutritionist while you are still in the beginning phase of the disease. They’ll give you a great beginning and be there for you as you transition into your new life. 
Now go out and live it on purpose! 

The Advantages of Programmable Hearing Aids

 People need hearing aids for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your hearing is degenerating due to normal aging, or perhaps you have undergone a serious illness that resulted in moderate hearing loss. Whatever the reason, if you have mild to moderate hearing impairment, it is likely that a hearing aid can help to better your quality of life. Luckily, there have been a lot of recent advances in this technology, but they are just beginning to hit the family medicine sphere.  

Conventional hearing aids are the analog variety and are non-programmable. This means that they have one setting that cannot be changed or altered. With these models, you may experience sensitivity to background noise without the option to filter. Though many believe that these models are better than no hearing aid at all, with today’s advanced technology, other options are available. 

Programmable, or digital hearing aids are designed and programmed specifically for each individual. After you have had a hearing examination, your audiologist will determine the level of your hearing loss and what product best suits your needs. He or she can then program the device for your particular type of hearing loss. Some of these programmable devices offer the patient the option to change settings. You are able to control the volume as well as the input of loud and soft sounds. Generally, the models do not have volume controls; they are programmed to automatically adjust to changing conditions. 

Programmable hearing aids use computer technology. Because of advanced digital computer technology, these aids are able to accommodate a wide range of needs. In the past, when a patient’s hearing worsened, they would have to order and purchase a whole new device. With today’s programmable hearing aids, the patient or audiologist can simply reset the hearing aid to function at the patient’s level of hearing loss. 

Leaps in technological advancement have increased the quality of life for many people with hearing loss. From digital hearing aids capable of retrieving a greater range of sounds to programmable hearing aids, the world is rapidly become a friendlier place for the hearing impaired. Most consumers of programmable hearing aids sing the praises of this wonderful technology and cannot imagine going back to a world of non-programmable, analog hearing aids. 

Murmurs, Arrythmias, Heart Disease, & Failure

The heart is divided into four chambers. The right atrium receives unoxygenated blood which then goes past the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle. From here, blood is pumped into the lungs through the pulmonic arteries as it passes by the pulmonic valve. Blood flows to the lungs where it is oxygenated. The blood returns via pulmonary veins into the left atrium. From here, blood flows past the mitral valve into the left ventricle. From here, blood is pumped out to the rest of the body via the aorta as it passes by the aortic valve. This sequence of events is coordinated by an electric impulse triggered by the SA node to result in a regular rhythmic lup-dup of the heart as it consistently relaxes and contracts. 
Heart disease results from any abnormality of the heart. While heart disease can result in heart failure, it can be present and never lead to heart failure. Murmurs can be associated with heart disease that may be minor or serious in nature. Arrythmias are usually associated with serious heart disease. The heart disease may or may not necessitate treatment. 
Heart failure is the end-result of heart disease and occurs when the heart is decompensating from its heart disease and is working inefficiently to cope with the body’s needs. It is associated with signs of congestion/edema, poor perfusion and low blood pressure. This condition always necessitates treatment. 
Some pets may have significant heart disease without signs. However, their condition can change quickly with stress or exertion as the heart starts to fail. 
Most dogs with significant heart failure will show some or all of the following signs- coughing, especially at night, fatigue, tiring with exercise, a change in gum color from pink to a bluish color, difficulty breathing or rapid, shallow breathing at rest. These signs occur due to accumulation of fluid in or around the lungs and in the abdomen. 
Most cats, however, show no signs before complete failure occurs. They can go from being apparently normal cats to open mouth breathing or fast, shallow breathing or having inability to use their legs when they have a clot (emboli) originating from the heart that lodges in their aorta. Cats can also suddenly die at home and pass away before anything can be done to help them. 
Problems with the heart 
These may be primary, that is, associated with the heart directly and resulting from a heart condition. Arrythmias can also be secondary to problems with other organs in the body or occur in reaction to toxins or anesthesia. 
Arrythmias may be heard during a routine physical exam where the animals shows no outward signs of a problem; they may be heard when an animal presents for fatigue, collapse or “seizure” like signs. 
Arrythmias are categorized according to the chamber with which they are associated. Arrythmias of the atrium are called supraventricular, while arrythmias of the ventricles are called ventricular. Bradyarrythmia is a decreased heart rate, while tachyarrythmia is an elevated heart rate. 
Murmurs result when there are changes within the heart. These can be from thickening of the valves (endocardiosis), narrowing near the valves (stenosis), thickening or thinning of the chambers (cardiomyopathy) or infection of the heart (endocarditis). 
Murmurs may be heard during a routine physical exam where the animal has no symptoms of a problem (asymptomatic). Murmurs may be heard when the animal is showing signs of heart failure (fatigue, difficulty breathing, fainting or coughing). 
Sometimes, with soft murmurs in puppies and kittens, they can be “innocent”, that is, they will eventually disappear and cause no problems for the animal. A murmur that develops later in life, after six months of age, is more likely to be from disease. Murmurs are graded in loudness on a scale from 1 to 6, one being a soft, barely heard murmur to six being able to be heard without a stethoscope. While murmur loudness is useful in its description, it often doesn’t correlate directly with the severity of the heart problem. 
Murmurs can indicate a primary heart problem or can be secondary to other conditions such as anemia in dogs and cats (when the blood is thin and more prone to turbulence) or hyperthyroidism in cats (when having elevated levels of thyroid hormone put an excessive strain on the heart). 
Congenital Heart Conditions 
Animals can be born with a heart condition resulting from a congenital malformation. These are seen in young animals and can be hereditary. For this reason, these animals should not be bred. Certain breeds of dogs and cats are more likely to have certain congenital heart conditions, but even mixed breeds can be affected. Some common congenital heart defects are: 
Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA) 
A shunt is present in the fetal state that fails to close in the young animal, resulting in a direct connection between the pulmonary artery and aorta. The flow of blood is usually left-to-right; occasionally, though, if pressure builds up in the lungs, the flow can be right-to-left. These conditions are treated differently. 
Pulmonic Stenosis and Aortic Stenosis 
There are areas of constriction or narrowing near or at the pulmonic or aortic valves. 
Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) 
There are openings due to an incomplete wall between the two atria or two ventricles. 
Mitral or Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia 
There are malformed mitral or tricuspid valves that result in abnormal blood flow. 
In general, subaortic and pulmonic stenosis and patent ductus arteriosus are the most common congenital abnormalities in dogs, and ventricular septal defect and tricuspid valve dyplasia are the most common congenital abnormalities in cats. 
Peritoneopericardial diaphragmatic hernias refer to the condition in which an animal is born with an opening of the diaphragm and the pericardial sac, allowing herniation of abdominal contents into the chest cavity and into the sac that surrounds the heart. 
Acquired Heart Conditions 
Most heart disease in animals is acquired, that is, associated with a condition that develops over time. Certain breeds of dogs and cats are more likely to have certain acquired heart disease. The most common conditions are: 
Mitral valve disease (MVD) 
This occurs when there is thickening of the mitral valve on the left side of the heart; this results in abnormal blood flow. It is also known as mitral regurgitation. 
These are disease of the heart muscle. This condition is common in older small breed dogs. 
* Dilative, the most common form in dogs, is when the chamber walls are thin and the chamber size is enlarged. There is a higher incidence in Boxers, Doberman pinschers, Cocker spaniels and Great Danes. 
* Hypertrophic, the most common form in cats, is when the chamber walls are thickened, and there is less room for blood inside the chamber. 
* Restrictive and mixed forms of cardiomyopathy are two other forms that can occur in cats. 
Pericardial disease 
This refers to accumulation of fluid in the sac that surrounds the heart (pericardial sac); this can occur from cancer, trauma, infection or for no known reason (idiopathic). 
Heartworm disease 
This can occur in dogs and is acquired via mosquitoes; cats living in areas frequented with mosquitoes carrying the heartworm larvae can occasionally acquire this disease. Heartworms, left untreated, will lead to heart failure. 
Cardiac Tests 
Tests are required to differentiate between the different forms of heart disease and indicate what type of treatment is needed. 
These show the overall heart size and arteries and veins of the lungs. It can show if one side of the heart is larger than the other and suggest what chambers may be enlarged. It can also check for the presence of fluid associated with the lungs (pulmonary edema or effusion) and for the presence of abdominal fluid (ascites) and other organ enlargement, especially, the liver. 
This is an ultrasound of the heart, the most useful test there is to determine the presence and type of heart disease. It allows for the measurement of the chambers (the wall thickness) and for the evaluation of heart valves’ efficiency. It indicates overall heart performance and helps to dictate what type of treatment is needed. Follow-up echocardiograms show if the treatment is working or not. 
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) 
This shows the heart’s rate and rhythm and helps to determine what type of arrythmias are present. It can also suggest if there is chamber enlargement. 
Blood and urine tests 
A blood panel and urine test showing organ function is valuable in evaluating the body as a whole. Sometimes, the heart can affect other organs; sometimes, the animal has concurrent disease. It is important to have a “baseline” of the body’s function, before heart medication is started. Some values, especially kidney function and electrolytes, may need to be rechecked over time once treatment is started. 
Blood pressure 
Hypertension can occur with both heart and kidney disease and can make the animal’s condition worse. High blood pressure is treatable and its control may help the pet’s heart condition.