Tuesday, 28 August 2012

How to Influence Your Treatment

The patient-doctor relationship is central to the delivery of healthcare on a worldwide basis. This relationship has been changing in most developed countries in recent years in that patients are now more open to question courses of treatment outlined by doctors than they were previously. This is a positive step in the delivery of healthcare to consumers (patients). A good relationship has honesty, mutual respect, trust and confidentiality as its core values.
The first thing you need to get your doctor to do in relation to a health problem, is to summarise all the different approaches to its resolution. If the doctor is proposing a prescription drug be used in the treatment of your problem, you need to ask if there is an alternative to this approach. Diet, exercise, water, food supplements, holistic, homeopathic and herbal remedies have all been used successfully to treat some health problems.  If people have been successfully treated in the past for the ailment in question without drugs, let the doctor know you would prefer the non-drug route if that is how you feel.
If the doctor insists that a drug is the only option in dealing with your health problem, then you need to ask the following questions:
1.     Who manufacturers the drug?
2.     Is there an equivalent drug on the market by another drug company?
3.     Why the preference for the specific drug proposed?
4.     Does the drug address the underlying cause of the problem, or merely provide a temporary respite from the symptoms?
5.     What side effects are stated by the manufacturer for the proposed drug?
6.     What side effects did other patients report after taking the drug?
7.     Is the drug only proposed as a short-term measure?
8.     What is the long-term solution of the problem?
By questioning your doctor, you need to establish two things: if there is a bias against natural or alternative treatments for health problems; or if the products of one particular pharmaceutical company are favoured over others. Unless you totally trust your doctor from previous experience, you should try the questioning route as a consumer: you have a right to have all the alternatives fully explained to you at the outset having paid, one way or another, for the treatment you are receiving.
The better informed you are about alternative courses of treatment for your problem prior to a visit to your doctor, the more you can influence the course of treatment decided upon by mutual agreement. Visiting online resources such as The Mayo Clinic, Health Insite, MedlinePlus and CHIS –UK can help you to understand the different options available in contrast with orthodox medicine.
If you go to the surgery unprepared in any way about your condition, then you are generally putting yourself at the mercy of what conventional medicine has decided for your condition. In such a situation, a course of treatment for a health problem can get very biased dependent upon the attitude of the medical establishment in the particular part of the world you live in. If you don’t believe the last statement, then go and read my March post titled “ Why One Person’s Ordeal is Significant.” 

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Possible Health Legacy of the Olympic Games

I would first of all like to congratulate the UK authorities for staging a magnificent Olympic Games in London in 2012; and Team GB for a stellar performance across a range of disciplines reflected in their overall medal haul. However, according to my adjusted figures, the best overall nation in the games was Jamaica. To give them the number one spot, I simply divided the number of medals they won in the Olympics (12) by the current population of Jamaica (2.89 million) to arrive at a figure which wasn’t surpassed by any other major nation competing when calculated on the same basis.
The IOC President, Jacques Rogge, should be worried as he surveys the final medals table about the unevenness of the spread of medals throughout the world. India, Indonesia and Malaysia, for instance, didn't win a single gold medal from a combined population size of 1,500 million people. Shouldn’t the 2020 games be awarded to Mumbai or Jakarta in order to bring these countries fully  into the games?
There is a legacy to be had for the people of East London in that they inherit all the structures built to accommodate the games, which includes a 80,000 seater stadium, aquatics centre, velodrome, shopping centre and the accommodation blocks in which the athletes were housed during the games. This should help to breathe new life into a part of London which was a run-down area prior to the Olympic Park being constructed there to accommodate the games.  
The British authorities are assuming that the London 2012 games will be a financial success based on their estimated recovery of £13 billon from an expenditure of circa £9 billion. Whilst their projected figure for financial recovery is just an estimate at this stage, it appears to demonstrates that a well -planned games can be a financial success without unduly burdening the taxpayer.
The heroes created during the games, such as Ussain Bolt of Jamaica in sprint events, Sir Chris Hoy of GB in cycling, and Oscar Pistorius, the double leg amputee from South Africa, for competing in the 400m track event, are good role models for young people interested in sport to follow. Young people need positive role models; and all the athletes who competed in the games should in the coming weeks and months visit schools in their area in order to encourage more young people to take up sport.
The games can leave a worthwhile legacy for the UK, and the wider world, only if it inspires enough people to take up sport at a young ago, and thereby give them the daily amount of exercise they require in order to establish and maintain good health. Adequate daily exercise is one of the building blocks of good health. People who get involved in sport at a young age will hopefully keep it as a component for the rest of their lives irrespective of whether or not they compete for their counties in an Olympic games.     
 Of course governments do need to provide adequate funding and facilities for sport in order to reap the benefits later on. Providing funding for sport makes sense when the corresponding savings on crime, drug abuse and illnesses caused by inactivity are taken into account. Governments need to take action on funding now in order to benefit from the goodwill created by the games; and to ensure a positive legacy is probable rather than just possible. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Problems Associated with Prescription Drugs

Pharmaceutical companies are money-making outfits whose primary aims are to maximise the return for their shareholders. They just happen to be using health as a means of achieving their monetary objectives, as opposed any other sphere of activity. The directors and senior executives of most drug companies, in addition to any salaries paid to them, usually own sizeable amounts of shares in the company giving them an additional incentive to focus solely on profit.

We consumers should be suspicious of the products of drug manufacturers for the following reasons:
1.     Designed as a short-term measure.
The vast majority of prescription drugs on the market only treat the symptoms of the problem for which they are prescribed, and not the underlying cause of the problem. If you only treat the symptoms, the problem will re-occur requiring more drugs after the effects of the initial  dose has worn off. Repeat doses of a drug sets up a seemingly never-ending dependency for the patient being treated, and contributes enormously to the profits made by the manufacturer.
Drugs in the category  known as “ blockers”, as the name implies, are only temporary stop-gap measures.  A calcium channel blocker, for example, in the treatment of heart disease temporarily holds back calcium from the heart having a short-term beneficial effect only.
2.     Have side effects.
All prescription drugs have side effects to the extent that the body reacts to any synthetic input. In some cases, this reaction is quite severe and can affect such vital organs as the brain, eyes, heart, lungs or kidneys. A pharmaceutical company nearly always understates the side effects of a drug until such time as the number of people complaining about it brings it to the attention of the authorities in a particular jurisdiction.
In the past eight years the drugs Viox and Avandia were withdrawn from the market on a worldwide basis as a result of complaints by patients indicating the possibility of an increased risk of developing cardiovascular problems from their continued use.
3.     Prescribed following wrong diagnosis by doctors.  
Doctors sometimes make false diagnosis of what patients are suffering from, and then prescribe drugs according to their wrong assessments. An error like this can sometimes have a devastating, or even fatal, effect on the patient being treated.  
4.     Open to abuse.
Abuse of prescription drugs means taking drugs for reasons other than the ones for which they were prescribed, or taking drugs in excess of the prescribed amounts. A certain amount of prescription drugs get into the hands of people they were not intended for at all. The taking of a drug for a purpose for which it was not intended can have dangerous health consequences for the taker, and become addictive in the same manner as illegal street drugs such as crack, cocaine or heroin.   
5.     Prescribed following bias by doctors.
Some doctors have a bias in favour of the use of prescription drugs in the treatment of health problems to the extent that the alternatives are not even considered as a first option. Doctors of this mentality do their patients a disservice in not considering all the options fully before making a decision on a course of treatment.
Furthermore, I would not rule out the possibility of undue influence of drug companies on some doctors in the form of “expenses” paid for services rendered, or the sponsoring by them of publications which doctors read, in order to advance their products
The above reasons should put you on red alert as far as prescription drugs are concerned in the treatment of health problems. Conventional medicine generally does not give patients opportunities to pursue  alternative courses of treatment for their ailments.  However, this blog is at the forefront of championing the rights of people to pursue whatever courses of treatment they desire.  

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Taking Care of Children

The best thing a pregnant woman can do for her unborn child is to make sure that she is not deficient in vitamin D. The best source of vitamin D is direct sunlight on the skin; all that is required is 15 minutes exposure daily. Food sources of this vitamin are fish oil, sardines, salmon and herring. Eggs and milk only contain small amounts. Failing to get a sufficient amount from sunlight or from food, then a vitamin D supplement should be taken as insurance against the child being born with brittle bones

From once a child is born, research by experts has shown that breast milk is the best option over the first year. If the mother is not producing enough milk, or has other problems, then formula milk can be substituted. As milk provides all the nutrients a baby needs, solids should be introduced gradually after 4 months in addition to milk. No attempt should be made before the baby is a year old to wean him/her off milk; some mothers do breast feed up to 18 months and beyond.
The foods fed to a baby after the first year need to do three things: promote growth; develop and consolidate bones; and produce red blood cells. Milk, yogurt, cheese, meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are good foods to help achieve these objectives. Use the child’s appetite at any one sitting, to gauge how much food is required.
Vitamins A, C and D, as well as the minerals calcium and iron, are the most critical to help the child grow and develop properly. The aforementioned foods should provide these essential nutrients in sufficient amounts except for, possibly, vitamin D. Therefore kids should be encouraged in good weather to play outside in order to benefit from the main source of vitamin D: the sun. If you live in a part of the world that has long winters, consider giving your child a vitamin D supplement in order to make up for any deficiency in this regard.
Children need to drink water, for the same reason that adults do, to irrigate the whole body and to encourage the proper elimination of waste. After infants are weaned off breast or formula milk, they should be encouraged to drink water with the main meals of the day; and to drink it between meals if the weather is hot in order to prevent dehydration.

According to the medical authorities in many parts of the world, children need to be vaccinated against certain diseases. In some countries these vaccinations are “recommendations” made by the health authorities; in others, such as certain states in the USA, it is illegal not to have them done as a child cannot attend school without proof they have been carried out. In the UK at the present time, it is recommended that children are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, meningitis, invasive pneumococcal disease, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. The balance of evidence would appear to support the view that the benefits of immunisation far outweigh any possible side effects.
In addition to the foregoing, children should be encouraged to do the following in order to aid their overall development: engage in play activities each day, and thereby get their daily quotient of exercise; interact with other children of roughly the same age; play and bond with a pet or pets; look at books appropriate to their age;  and construct or draw something from play materials provided.

If your 3 or 4 year old child is potty trained, there are advantages in sending him or her to a nursery school, if there is one near you. The main advantages are the interaction with other kids and teachers there in a secure environment. It is inadvisable to send your child to a  formal education  place (primary school) before the age of five.
I hope you have found this post on the needs of children useful. Any comments on it can be made in the box below provided for that purpose.   

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Fraudulent Practices by Global Pharmaceuticals

Last week in the UK, while most of the attention was on the banks for misquoting the Libor rate, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the UK’s biggest pharmaceutical company, was fined a record 3 billion dollars by the US’s  FDA ( Food & Drug Administration) in settlement of claims arising from three separate legal cases brought for fraud relating to sales and marketing of nine of their drugs including Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia.

The settlement of the dispute with the US authorities, prompted Andrew Witty, chief executive of GSK, to make the following statement: ”In recent years, we have fundamentally changed our procedures for compliance, marketing and selling in the US to ensure that we operate with high standards of integrity and that we conduct our business openly and transparently."  Only time will tell if this statement is true.

GSK are not to only pharmaceutical company involved in this kind of thing. The US authorities have also in recent years fined Merck, Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories billions of dollars each in connection with their drugs.  It does not surprise me, or anyone who read my post in March titled  “ All Prescribed Drugs Have Side Effects “ , that pharmaceuticals are involved in misrepresentation, mis-selling or improper marketing techniques. It is common practice for them, for instance, to understate the side effects of a drug until such time as the numbers of people complaining about it bring it to the attention of the authorities.
Pharmaceutical companies have also been known to bombard doctors with literature about their drugs in order to have them prescribed on a regular basis; some have even gone so far as to offers doctors free holidays if certain targets are hit in the regularity with which their drugs are prescribed. The medical establishments in many countries have known for some time about the unhealthy relationship that exists between the manufacturers of drugs and the prescribers.    
The record fine of 3 billion dollars by the US authorities on GSK only represents a slap in the wrist as the money the company makes from prescription drugs is huge. It is estimated that the company has made more than 30 billion dollars from the drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia alone. GSK are only fourth in the league table of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies; the table is topped by Pfizer. A more meaningful way of penalising a company found guilty of fraud would be to jail the senior executives, in addition to a fine linked to the profits they have made in the jurisdiction involved during the period cited in the legal action.   
Drug manufacturers will take fines lightly because they know they have got a monopoly in the market in the treatment of health problems, whereby the alternatives are rarely given an opportunity to be used. This situation is not going to change until such time as doctors are compelled by law to give a patient an opportunity to pursue an alternative course of treatment relating to a health problem, in the many situations where this is a viable option.

If you have anything to say on this post, do so via the comments box below.

Friday, 29 June 2012

How to Prevent a Stroke or Heart Attack

There are certain things individuals can do to greatly reduce their chances of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Suffering the consequences  of a stroke or heart attack can have a devastating effect on the person concerned, and his/her immediate family, as has been highlighted in the UK recently when a stroke victim wanted to commit suicide but the law prevented his immediate family from helping him do this.

Here are eight things that you can do to significantly reduce your chances of suffering a stroke or heart attack:
1. Stop smoking.
If you smoke, make a decisive attempt to give it up. If you live in a household with someone who smokes, urge them to give up the habit, or outline to them places they can smoke that will not interfere with your health. Smoking, or exposure to smoke, causes the heart to work harder.
2.  Limit your alcohol intake.  
Drink no more than two units of alcohol per day. This equates to one pint of beer or two glasses of wine per day. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, and contribute to other conditions like being overweight or obese.
3.  Choose a good diet.
One of the best ways to fight any cardiovascular disease is through a healthy diet. The food you eat can affect risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and weight control. Choose a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fish, whole-grains, high in fibre and containing low-fat dairy products should suffice here. Avoid or reduce the amount of saturated fats found in meats, eggs and butter as they increase cholesterol to an unhealthy level.
4.  Drink sufficient water.
Try and drink six glasses of water per day. Water cleanses the whole body of toxins and waste products leaving it clear to function properly.
5.  Take regular daily exercise.
Try and engage in at least 30 minutes of brisk walking, or light jogging, every day of the week. Indoor exercise with weighs, or on a stationary bicycle, can also help. Adequate daily exercise has a positive influence on the whole body and reduces blood pressure. Daily exercise, in conjunction with a healthy diet, should ensure you do not have weight problems, and you are within 5% of the weight indicated by your BMI( body mass index). See my recent post titled “ How To Control Your Weight To prevent Health Problems “  to learn how to calculate your BMI.
6.  Take measures to reduce stress.
Try and reduce any stress at source, if you can identify what is causing it. Otherwise you could engage in meditation, breathing techniques, yoga or listening to relaxation music. 
7.  Get sufficient sleep.
My recent post tilled “The Heath Benefits Of A Good Night’s Sleep “ adequately deals with this subject.
8.  Manage your diabetes.  
If you are a diabetic of either type, then there is an increased risk of developing cardiovascular problems, especially if your blood sugar level remains high for a lengthy period of time. You therefore should be avoiding foods and drinks that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, and concentrating on only consuming products that ensure your blood sugar moves on an even keel. You should also be using daily exercise routines for the same reason.
If you adhere to the above recommendations, you will have significantly reduced the risk of either suffering a stroke or heart attack. Anything you have to say on this post, can be made using  the comments box below.

Friday, 22 June 2012

How to Slow Down the Aging Process

It is generally accepted that our health deteriorates as we age. Our eyesight, memory and resistance to disease all suffer as a consequence of the aging process. Whilst it is impossible to reverse the aging process completely, it is possible to postpone the negative effects of aging by paying particular attention to what we consume daily, and the amount of regular exercise we engage in.
Here are things you can do to combat aging:
1.  Drink lots of water.
Make it a habit to drink six glasses of water per day irrespective of how thirsty you feel. It is best to start off with one glass of water when you get up in the morning, one with breakfast, one before lunch, and one with lunch, one before dinner, and one with dinner. Water flushes out toxins and other waste products from the body; it greatly reduces your risk of a heart attack; it helps with weight loss; and assists with clearing your skin.
2.  Have a diet rich in anti-oxidants.
The aging process is greatly influenced by the foods we eat. To combat aging, it is best to consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, a variety of berries, apricots and grapefruit, as they are rich in anti-oxidising agents.  The antioxidants protect the cells in our bodies from damage by free radicals, thereby slowing down the aging process.

Vitamins C, E and selenium are also very important in slowing down the aging process. Good food sources of these are citrus fruits, fresh green vegetables, lettuce, tomatoes, cod liver oil, oily fish, whole grains, onions and meat.
3.  Take regular daily exercise.
My April post titled “Exercise Improves Health “  adequately describes what needs to be done on a daily basis regarding exercise.
4.  Take action to reduce stress.
You need to identify and remove, if possible, any harmful stress from your life. The body can be adversely affected by harmful stress. There are many proven ways to combat stress such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga or listening to relaxation music. You obviously will need to allocate such time to yourself on a regular basis to practice whatever technique you have chosen.
5.  Get sufficient sleep.
My most recent post titled “The Health Benefits Of A Good Night’s Sleep”  deals with everything you need to know concerning this.
6.  Take daily food supplements.
Though it is not specifically an anti-aging measure, the taking of food supplements, such as a multivitamin and vitamin tablet, on a daily basis is insurance against a deficiency in the diet resulting in health problems as you get older. There are such variables with food dependent upon the state of the land it comes from, how fresh it is, how it is stored, and how it is cooked that it is unwise to be wholly reliant upon it to provide all the nutrients that you need to maintain good health.
 Brewer’s Yeast tablets are also an excellent food supplement worth considering because they contain iron, magnesium, zinc, essential animo acids and all the B vitamins.
If you adhere to the measures outlined above, you should be in a good position to avoid lots of the health problems suffered by people ignorant of what can be done to combat aging.