Tag Archives: diabetes

a graphic about teeth and dental care

Surprising myths and truths about dental care

I seem to notice many more  television commercials for dental care products and services, and most of them follow a theme. In the past most advertisements were for toothpaste aimed at  preventing cavities. Now they seem to focus on whitening, stain removal, and straightening, and promotions for dentures and dental implants. There is a series of ads for dental clinics that promise “not to rob you” featuring skits portraying people afraid that dentists will demand huge amounts of money for dental care.

woman dentist with a patient

 

 

 

The myths 

I think these ads reflect  myths about dental care that many of us believe and unfortunately base our dental care behavior  on. We need to dispel these myths with some truths about oral health, which includes our teeth and mouth.

These myths include

  • Care of our teeth is mainly a cosmetic concern, affecting our appearance only.
  • Dental care is a luxury, nice but optional, not a necessity, it can be ignored.
  • Dental care is expensive and out of reach without insurance or a high income.
  • Tooth disease and loss is inevitable, so we might as well just accept it.
  • Dental care is low priority, behind food, housing, and medical care in importance.

 

Surprising myths and truths abut

The truths 

But the truth, based on recommendations from experts in oral and dental care, tells us differently.

  • Care of our teeth is functional- we need a healthy mouth for eating, drinking, breathing, and talking. Our mouths also help us interact with other people emotionally- frowning, smiling, kissing, singing.
  • Oral care is a basic component of health care, vitally important to overall health. I’ll say more about this later.
  • Dental care can be affordable; it’s probably more costly if neglected.
  • Loss or disease of teeth and other mouth disorders are preventable and treatable.
  • Dental and oral care is vital to overall good health, and ultimately can be cost effective.
Family of 4 sitting at a dining table.

Our mouth- eating, talking, smiling-connects us with our family and friends.

The teeth and oral cavity, the “window to general health”

The oral cavity, or simply called the mouth ,includes the teeth and gums, as well as the lips, the tongue, the palate (roof of the mouth), and the mucosa (sides of the mouth).

diagram of the mouth from the National Cancer Institute

The underside of the tongue and nearby structures (lip, tongue, salivary glands, and floor of the mouth) are identified. Alan Hoofring (Illustrator) public domain

Why  dental care improves our overall health.

Over 100 diseases and at least 500 medications can affect our teeth and mouths. Regular dental care can monitor for these effects and prevent them from progressing into tooth disease.

Our mouths contain over 500 species of bacteria and other organisms, some of which are protective and some destructive to our teeth. Good oral care can keep these in proper balance to prevent tooth and gum disease.

People with poor dental health have a higher incidence of heart attacks and stroke. Experts have not determined if this is direct cause and effect or coincidence, but believe it may be due to increased atherosclerosis (hardened arteries from cholesterol) due to the chronic inflammation of gingivitis.

Bacteria from the mouth can lead to  pneumonia in susceptible persons, like those with emphysema or those hospitalized with critical illnesses or injuries.

Diabetes, when the blood sugar is not controlled, negatively impacts periodontal health, and periodontitis makes glucose control more difficult. Periodontitis is inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.

Poor oral health during pregnancy increases the risk for miscarriage, low birth weight, preeclampsia, and stillbirth.

 Resources for understanding different types of dental and oral disease.

Gum Disease-Also called: Periodontal disease

Tooth disorders

Paying for dental care

Dental care should not be a luxury, and can be within financial reach with some research into available options. These sites can help you discover what you may quality for.

When You Don’t Have Dental Insurance

Free/Low-Cost/Sliding Scale Dental Clinics

The importance of dental care for children

Health teeth in adults ideally starts with dental care in childhood. Jenny Silverstone, blogger at Mom Loves Best, has created this  infographic about caring for children’s teeth. I suggest you also read her in depth article about helping children have healthy teeth. 

How to care for your child's teeth

Don’t neglect adult dental care

Continuing good mouth and tooth care as an adult can help you avoid tooth loss, painful gums, or other problems. If you have any problems with your teeth or concerns about your mouth, see your doctor or dentist right away.

a doctor looking into a patient's mouth

Michael Munger, M.D., examines a patient at his medical office in Overland Park, Kan. courtesy American Academy of Family Physicians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some helpful things you can do:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
  • Ask your doctor if your medicines have side effects that might damage your teeth.
  • Look inside your mouth regularly for sores that don’t heal, irritated gums, or other changes.
  • See your dentist every 6 months for regular check-ups and cleanings. 

(source: familydoctor.org)

Using a power toothbrush may keep your teeth healthier, especially if you have any difficulty using a manual brush.I use an Oral-B Rechargeable Toothbrush by Braun.

(This is an affiliate link. )

 

 

I appreciate your reading and sharing  this post on your social media pages.

And please follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thank you for  viewing  the advertisements and using the affiliate links  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world.

Dr. Aletha  , sharing the HEART of health 

stethoscope with a heart

 

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HEART HEALTH

7 Keys to a Healthy Heart

February is Heart Health Month and Valentine’s Day, so let’s explore the heart and how we can keep ours healthy.

First, I suggest reviewing a previous post  about the HEART’S  anatomy and how it works.

diagram of the human heart

Heart diseases affect any and sometimes multiple parts of the heart- the atria, ventricles, the valves, the aorta, the pulmonary artery and veins, the walls and the coronary arteries (not shown in this diagram. )

At  this post we looked at ways the HEART can “break”.

7 important forms of HEART DISEASE.

  1. Congenital heart disease (problems present at birth)
  2. Cardiomyopathy- disease of the heart muscle
  3. Coronary artery disease/myocardial infarction ( heart attack)- the most common cause of death in the United States
  4. Congestive heart failure
  5. Sudden cardiac death
  6. Arrhythmia-irregular heart beats
  7. Hypertension- high blood pressure
EKG tracing

In sudden cardiac death, the heart stops beating abruptly

Now we’ll look at protecting our HEARTS from disease, disability and death. 

The first step is knowing what increases  your risk of developing HEART disease. There are

7 important risk factors for heart disease 

  1. smoking
  2. hypertension
  3. excess body weight
  4. sedentary lifestyle, too little physical activity
  5. high blood fats (cholesterol)
  6. high blood sugar (glucose)
  7. poor nutrition

complications of high blood pressure

There are other risk factors that cannot be changed. These include

  • Gender– unfortunately males are somewhat more at risk, especially at younger ages.
  • Age– our risk increases as our age does.
  • Ethnicity– some ethnic groups have a higher risk. In the United States these are African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics.
  • Family history– This means a close relative, like a parent or sibling, who developed heart disease young, or less than 50 years old.

Recognizing that you may have a heart problem can be the first step to getting effective treatment. Here are

7 symptoms that may indicate a heart problem

  1. Chest pain– this is probably the most recognized heart disease symptoms, but is not unique to heart disease, nor is it always found in heart disease.
  2. Shortness of breath– especially if it occurs with minimal exertion, or if you find you have less tolerance for exertion.
  3. Palpitations– this means feeling like your heart is beating too fast, too hard, or at irregular intervals.
  4. Fatigue- especially if out of proportion to physical activity, if you tire more easily or quickly, or seem to have less energy than in the past
  5. Unexplained weight gain or swelling in the feet and legs
  6. Dizziness or lightheadedness when standing or walking, especially after exertion.
  7. Syncope, the medical term for fainting or passing out, especially if no other obvious cause (some people know they faint at the sight of blood, or with certain smells; that form of fainting is usually harmless, unless injured from falling)

 

 

Keeping our HEARTS healthy involves doing what we can to change the first 7 risk factors I mentioned, what doctors often call the modifiable risk factors.

  1. Stop smoking– consider these  7 surprising reasons to be smoke free
  2. Control your weight– achieve  and stay at a healthy weight.6 steps to losing weight and gaining hope
  3. Be screened for diabetes and high cholesterol; if found, manage with your doctor’s supervision .10 Silent Signs of Diabetes
  4. Get more active, do some physical activity on a regular basis.Health lessons from the Women’s World Cup
  5. Eat less junk food,make healthier food choices. Learn easy ways to shop healthier from the American Heart Association
  6. Have your blood pressure checked regularly (ask your doctor how often). If you have hypertension,  follow your doctor’s management plan, which may include medication. Learn more from FamilyDoctor.org 
  7. Control and manage stress. Medical studies suggest that emotional stress can bring on cardiovascular disease. You can learn more from Dr. James Marroquin’s fascinating post.

 

 

 

Please share this post with your friends on social media. Have a HEART and help them keep theirs healthy too. Thank you.

Always exploring and sharing the HEART of health.7 Keys to a Healthy Heart-Watercress Words.com               Dr. Aletha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This affiliate helps support this blog., if you purchase it pays us a small commission. Thank you for considering this and our other affiliates. 

zChocolat.com


200x200 Valentine's Day Collection

wooden letters WMAS

Healthy holiday eating made easy

We all enjoy our holiday traditions of eating and drinking special foods and beverages.  But these  can cause problems for people who need to manage what they eat and drink for medical reasons.

sliced Stollen

Nutritional management is a major part of living with these conditions-

  • diabetes and high cholesterol
  • celiac disease/gluten sensitivity
  • nut and other food allergies
  • lactose intolerance
  • overweight/obesity
  • alcohol dependence
  • heart, kidney, and liver dysfunction
  • pregnancy
  • migraine

PRACTICAL TIPS ON PARTY FOOD AND MEAL PLANNING

Planning ahead to manage holiday stress also applies to cooking, entertaining and eating during the holiday season.

If you  plan and prepare holiday meals and parties, remember  some attendees need to avoid or restrict certain types of foods.  a dining table decorated for Christmas

Offer an ample variety of types of food and drinks so  your guests will find something that works for them.

If you have houseguests, they will appreciate your asking them about dietary needs or restrictions so you can  have food available to meet their needs.

If you have special needs in regards to food, it may be wise to offer to bring a dish to an event , or take food to eat if you will be someone’s houseguest.

According to The American Diabetes Association

“Holidays can be a time of great anxiety for people with diabetes because it is so focused on food.

Don’t let questions about what to eat, how much to eat, and meal timing dampen your holiday. Plan in advance, so you can fend off stress and fully enjoy the day and keep your diabetes management on track.”

Here are the ADA suggestions for Holiday Meal Planning.

Are you worried about gaining weight from holiday meals, or trying to maintain a weight you have worked to achieve? Then try these

Top Holiday Healthy Eating Hacks

from Charmaine Gregory, M.D. at Fervently Fit 

“There is a huge amount of power in being mindful with your eating during this holiday season. “

brightly decorated table for Christmas

Try these Edible Christmas Gifts from Dr. Diana, an allergy doctor who blogs about cooking.

decorated Christmas cookies

 Delicious gluten free recipes from PositiveHealthWellness

apples, oranges, and walnuts

Addiction Hope 

offers advice for those with eating disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and EDNOS)

” Eating disorders are not about food, it is about the underlying issues which can be triggered by anxiety and stress. Holidays can bring on both increased stress and anxiety and can be difficult for individuals to manage. When a person is in an active eating disorder, there are various ways to cope with the holidays.”

  Read more at

Navigating the Holidays with a Food Addiction: 

 Splurge-Worthy Gifts for tea lovers everywhere at Mighty Leaf. (affiliate link)

 

Christmas jazz piano album coverChristmas music on iTunes

Practical steps to healthy holiday eating

What do marshmallows, pumpkins, eggnog, popcorn, and pears have in common?

They are  foods associated with holiday recipes, and they’re mentioned in songs about Christmas. You’ll also recognize some less everyday foods like chestnuts , figgy pudding,collard greens and wassail.

 

Recipes from Holiday Carols 

sliced orange, orange with cloves

We all enjoy our holiday traditions of eating and drinking special foods and beverages; we even sing about them. But these  can cause problems for people who need to manage what they eat and drink for medical reasons.

Nutritional management is a major part of living with these conditions-

  • diabetes and high cholesterol
  • celiac disease/gluten sensitivity
  • nut and other food allergies
  • lactose intolerance
  • overweight/obesity
  • alcohol dependence
  • heart, kidney, and liver dysfunction
  • pregnancy
  • migraine

variety of party cookies on a plate

PRACTICAL TIPS ON PARTY FOOD AND MEAL PLANNING

Planning ahead to manage holiday stress also applies to cooking, entertaining and eating during the holiday season.

If you  plan and prepare holiday meals and parties, remember  some attendees need to avoid or restrict certain types of foods. Offer an ample variety of types of food and drinks so  your guests will find something that works for them.

If you have houseguests, they will appreciate your asking them about dietary needs or restrictions so you can  have food available to meet their needs.

If you have special needs in regards to food, it may be wise to offer to bring a dish to an event , or take food to eat if you will be someone’s houseguest.

EXPERT ADVICE ON HEALTHY HOLIDAY EATING

BROWNIES“Naughty” Holiday Foods 

from WebMD

Tips for Managing Diabetes  from the Centers for Disease Control

Holiday Healthy Eating Guide  HEART HEALTH

from the American Heart Association

(a printable or downloadable PDF document)

Delicious gluten free recipes from PositiveHealthWellness

walnuts in the shell

Maintaining Sobriety While Celebrating  from Addiction Hope 

Here is an affiliate link to find your favorite holiday music.

 

 

HEALTH

Exploring health from head to toe

Let’s look at 3  topics that will inform, instruct, and inspire you as we explore the HEART of HEALTH.

 

INFORMATION – about mosquitoes and the diseases they carry and spread to humans

a mosquito on a leaf

Mosquitoes are tiny but the diseases they carry can be deadly.

 

World-wide, malaria affects more people than any other mosquito transmitted disease. Most cases that occur in the United States are due to infections caught when people travel to or from areas of the world where malaria is common- sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Asia, the Amazon area of South America.

West Nile Virus, also spread by mosquitoes, occurs in tropical areas but since 1999 has spread to North America where it threatens people here. Now we are told that the Zika virus is spreading northward from South America, posing a new disease risk  to Americans. When pregnant women become infected with this virus, the infant may be born with a small brain and head, called microcephaly.

The American Mosquito Control Association, AMCA ,researches and reports on all aspects of mosquitoes and the many diseases they transmit. If you want to learn about the subject, you will likely find it here. It’s worth taking a look.

 

INSTRUCTION- how to prevent blisters

You probably don’t worry much about blisters- until you get one. Then the pain can inhibit doing sports, walking, even just wearing a shoe.

feet in sports shoes

 

At worse, blisters can become chronic wounds, get infected, and threaten limbs in susceptible persons like those with diabetes or poor blood flow.

Ways to prevent blisters include-

  • Proper fitting shoes, not too tight or too loose
  • Breaking shoes in before activity likely to cause a blister, like running, dancing, long walks, sports
  • Wearing absorbent cushioned socks, perhaps 2 pair together
  • Applying protective padding over pressure points on the feet. Even plain paper tape can accomplish this, according to this study published in the New York Times

Blisters may not hurt as much as fractures, but can be almost as disabling.

 

INSPIRATION- choosing ability over disability

 

 

 

Thanks for reading and please share.

6 steps to save your sight

Thinking about prevention in health care, we tend to focus on the worst diseases, those that threaten life- cancer, heart attacks, stroke, violence. But non-fatal conditions can also “threaten life”, putting the quality of our lives in danger.

Limited vision contributes to severe and significant loss of function and well being.

If you include people whose vision problems can be corrected with glasses or contacts, it may be the most common disability in the world. But even excluding those people, vision loss still affects millions of people in the world.

7544656342_0888fb4638_b

diagram of the eye

Courtesy: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH)

(This post includes several affiliate  and non-affiliate links for your reference and to support this blog. )

Here are some key facts about vision loss from

WHO (World Health Organization)

  • 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide
  • 39 million people  are blind and 246 million  have low vision.
  • About 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income settings.
  • 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above.
  • Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment.
  • Cataracts cause most  blindness in middle- and low-income countries.
  • The number of people visually impaired from infectious diseases has decreased in the last 20 years .
  • 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.

Braille system: A system of raised-dot writing devised by Louis Braille (1809-1852) for the blind in which each letter is represented as a raised pattern that can be read by touching with the fingers.

Braille system: A system of raised-dot writing devised by Louis Braille (1809-1852) for the blind in which each letter is represented as a raised pattern that can be read by touching with the fingers.

A refractive error is a very common eye disorder. It occurs when the eye cannot clearly focus the images from the outside world, causing blurred vision.

The four most common refractive errors are:

  1. myopia (nearsightedness): difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly;
  2. hyperopia (farsightedness): difficulty in seeing close objects clearly;
  3. astigmatism: distorted vision resulting from an irregularly curved cornea, the clear covering of the eyeball.
  4. presbyopia: which leads to difficulty in reading or seeing at arm’s length, it is linked to ageing and occurs almost universally.

Refractive errors are commonly corrected with glasses or contact lenses, or refractive surgery.

Glasses or contact lenses for myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism need to be made with a prescription based on the results of an eye exam by a professional.

Glasses for presbyopia, commonly called reading glasses, can be purchased online or in many retail stores and get be fitted by trying on different strengths until you find one that works the best. Most people use them for close work like reading, sewing, crafts, drawing, and games.

I use contacts  to correct my vision impairments-myopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia. One eye is corrected for distance and the other corrected for near . I can read, drive, watch television, dance, take care of my home and work without difficulty.

My husband fights to protect his vision. He had severe myopia which was partially corrected with surgery. He subsequently developed early onset macular degeneration, a condition which destroys the retina of the eye causing loss of central vision. Progression of the degeneration is slowed with regular injections of a drug originally developed to treat cancers. (If a shot into the eye sounds painful, it is.) He has  had removal of cataracts. So far he is able to function visually, but he appreciates his sight and does whatever he can  to preserve it.

The New York Times reviewed the latest treatments for macular degeneration 

Globally, the causes of blindness are

  • cataract (47.9%) the leading cause of visual impairment in all areas of the world, except for developed countries.
  • glaucoma (12.3%),
  • age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (8.7%),
  • corneal opacities (5.1%),
  • diabetic retinopathy (4.8%),
  • childhood blindness (3.9%),
  • trachoma (3.6%)
  • onchocerciasis (0.8%).

Visual impairment and blindness can be prevented.

Preventing some of these conditions such as trachoma and onchocerciasis, infections that target the eye and occur in the developing world, need public health measures to control.

basic supplies for eye exams in a developing country

Eye doctors on a volunteer medical team used these supplies to do eye exams  in a remote area.

You can protect and save your sight with these steps-

(The following sections contain several affiliate links; using these links costs you nothing extra and helps support this blog. thank you. )

  1. Have an eye professional examine your eyes.

An eye doctor, either an optometrist or ophthalmologist, can detect early signs of eye disease, even before you notice a problem. Go here for an explanation of what each of these professionals do .

6 steps to save your sight -watercresswords.com

  1. Avoid smoking cigarettes.

Smoking constricts the blood vessels supplying the eye with oxygen rich blood, thereby suffocating the tissue. This contributes to cataracts and macular degeneration.

2015-08-07 14.55.59

Here are some other other surprising reasons to avoid smoking

  1. Protect your eyes from sunlight.

Sun exposure also contributes to cataracts so wearing UV protective sunglasses is recommended.

  1. Eat a healthy diet, high in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.

Macular degeneration has been associated with low intake of vitamins A, C, and E, omega 3 fatty acids, lutein and zinc. The best source for this is food.  For people who already have macular degeneration or who are at high risk, eye doctors may recommend a vitamin supplement which provides these nutrients.

  1. Manage chronic health conditions.

Diabetes contributes to blindness by damaging the retina. Good control of blood sugar helps to prevent or slow this, as well as regular monitoring and laser treatment when needed.

Vision loss is one of the most common complications from diabetes and one that can be prevented or minimized. If you have diabetes, take it seriously and work with your doctor to manage it well.

You may have diabetes and not know it. Certain symptoms may indicate diabetes; read about them here.

If you have not been tested for diabetes, ask your doctor if you should. It’s a simple blood test called Hemoglobin A1c and  is available at this affiliate link . (This link will pay a commission to this blog).

Other chronic conditions associated with vision loss are heart disease and stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol, sickle cell disease, and multiple sclerosis.

  1. Protect your eyes from trauma.

In addition to wearing sunglasses when outdoors, appropriate protective lenses should be worn during sports. People who work at jobs involving power tools or chemicals need protective goggles in case of splashes or flying bits of material. Children, adolescents and young adults are most likely to lose vision from traumatic injuries.

  1. Know and observe the rules for contact lens use.

    This is a bonus tip for those of you like me who need contact lenses to correct their vision.

I know how tempting it can be to cut corners when cleaning, storing, discarding and wearing contacts. But when used incorrectly, contacts can cause more problems than they solve. Contact lens wear can cause trauma, infections and dryness that can damage the cornea. Don’t risk turning correctable vision problems into long term harm. Get the details on caring for contacts here.

 

 

 

The Story of My Life is an autobiography of Helen Keller, a woman who was both blind and deaf since infancy. Her remarkable story was also told in a movie.

The Miracle Worker  for which Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke as Helen won Oscars for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress

Children may enjoy reading I Am Helen Keller

For you who may be needing reading glasses now (an affiliate link)


I appreciate your reading and sharing  this post on your social media pages.

And please follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thank you for  viewing  the advertisements and using the affiliate links  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world.

Dr. Aletha  , sharing the HEART of health