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  Each year, we cover the bases of healthcare and wellness in an effort to keep you healthy and happy. Read on to learn more about sleep, vaccinations and much more.  

Catch Those Zzz’s
By Dr. Robert S. Thornton, Florida Hospital Center for Sleep Disorders

Diet and exercise are vital to good health—sleep is just as important. Sleep problems can impact your home life and career. Creativity and critical thinking are difficult when you are sleepy. You become accident prone, judgment-impaired, and more likely to make mistakes.
There are two kinds of sleep problems: mild or occasional insomnia and more serious sleep disorders including sleep apnea. Because they can be serious, sleep problems may require evaluation and possible treatment from your physician and/or qualified sleep specialist.
Poor sleep habits (known as sleep hygiene) is common among most individuals. The following simple sleep hygiene rules provide restful sleep so that you’re refreshed upon awakening.

 ·    Maintain a regular bedtime schedule, but only go to bed when you feel you can go to sleep. Relax before bedtime with calming         activities. Sleep in a dark, quiet, comfortable, cool bedroom.
·       Turn off electronic screens earlier in the evening, especially in the hour before you go to bed. Text messaging, watching television, playing video games and doing other computer work can disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Silence your cell phone – a chirping phone may wake you up at night.   
·       Limit heavy meals before bedtime. Do not consume caffeine, chocolate, nicotine or alcohol near bedtime. Do not drink large amounts of liquid before bedtime.
·       Avoid worrying while falling asleep. Find a time during the day to mull over your problems. A bed is a place to rest, not to worry.
·       Exercise routinely, not just before bedtime. 
·       If you cannot fall asleep within a reasonable time (20-25 minutes), get out of bed and go to another room. Do something relaxing until you feel you can go to sleep.

Relieve Pain with Acupuncture
By Lyndsay Fogarty

A technique used in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture assists in pain relief by inserting thin needles into the skin along strategic points on the body. In Chinese culture, this method is believed to balance the flow of the body’s energy, and acupuncture points lie along this energy flow. In the Western world, these acupuncture points are viewed as places to stimulate nerves, muscle and connective tissue, resulting in increased blood flow and a boost in the body’s natural painkillers.
Acupuncture is often used to relieve symptoms of conditions and illnesses such as fibromyalgia, lower back pain, migraines, osteoarthritis, dental pain and more. Treatment varies depending on the condition, but most plans consist of multiple visits to an acupuncturist over a period of time.
Throughout the process, thin needles are inserted into the skin at the point in which your condition will be relieved, whether it is at the point of pain or farther from it. Once placed, these needles may be gently moved to aid in treatment. Other times, you will be asked to relax while they remain in place.
Just like any traditional medical treatment, it’s important to do your homework when choosing an acupuncturist. Ask for recommendations, check credentials, be sure they are certified, and go in for a consultation before you commit to treatment so you can go with someone you trust. With any treatment, there are risks and it’s the same with acupuncture. Maintain open communication with your acupuncturist of choice, disclosing any medications or disorders that could complicate your treatment.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain and are looking for an alternative to pain medication, it’s worth a shot to research local practitioners in the area to see if acupuncture is the right treatment for your pain.

Living with Irritable Bowel Disease
By Lauren Pierce

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both agonizing and incurable illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract, can affect as many as 700,000 Americans.
A chronic illness where patients experience periods when the disease flares up, Crohn’s disease is classified in a group of conditions called Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) along with ulcerative colitis. However, Crohn’s mainly affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon and is more prevalent among young adults. It can also affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, the thickness of the bowel wall, and the inflammation in the intestine can skip, leaving some areas affected and some unaffected. Ulcerative colitis is also chronic but only affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) by causing inflammation and open sores on the lining. This illness is generally the result of an unusual response by the body’s immune system and is most prevalent among older men.
Individuals suffering from IBD should be careful to eat a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding foods that may cause painful flare-ups. There is no one particular diet that eases the symptoms of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, so diets must be tailored to each individual based on which disease they have and what part of the intestine it is affecting. Elimination tests and food diaries can help determine foods that are causing flare-ups.
To better understand these diseases and to find a cure, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), a non-profit, volunteer-based organization, strives to continuously research them. CCFA has remained one of the top research organizations with over 50,000 members.    

Vaccinations: Not Just for Kids
By Lyndsay Fogarty

Vaccinations are common among children as they get older and move through the school system. But you don’t just stop getting vaccinated when you turn 18. Many illnesses can be prevented with one single vaccination if adults choose to get them.
According to the American Lung Association, influenza and pneumonia – including pneumococcal pneumonia – were the 9th leading cause of death in the country in 2010. It is also estimated that 900,000 Americans contract pneumococcal pneumonia annually, resulting in as many as 400,000 hospitalizations. This can be prevented with vaccinations, including the flu shot and the PPSV vaccine, which protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. Older adults with chronic lung diseases and adults who smoke are specifically at risk for illnesses that could trigger respiratory infections and should consider being vaccinated.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for teen boys and girls who didn’t get the vaccine when they were younger, young women through age 26, and young men through age 21. The vaccine is given as a series of three shots over a six-month period and can protect against cervical cancers in women. The Gardasil variety also protects against genital warts and other cancers of the reproductive system, and it is the only brand that is available for males.
Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccinations are available for children and adults. While you were likely vaccinated for these illnesses as a child, an adult booster of Td, a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine, is recommended every 10 years. According to the Center for Disease Control, women should receive the Tdap vaccination, which is similar to the Td vaccine but also offers protection against pertussis, during each pregnancy, preferably in the third trimester.
If you’re unsure about adult vaccinations, the Center for Disease Control website is an excellent source for determining when you are in need of a disease-fighting vaccine. Also, be sure to discuss vaccinations with your doctor during your annual physical. 

Get a Mammogram, Give a Mammogram
By Lyndsay Fogarty

During the month of October, Sand Lake Imaging and Shepherd’s Hope, a faith-based non-profit organization serving the uninsured and underserved in Central Florida, are partnering for a giving campaign to fight breast cancer.
For Pink October, new patients visiting Sand Lake Imaging for their mammogram, or x-ray of the breast, will give back to uninsured women in the area who might otherwise skip this lifesaving screening as a result of high cost or lack of health insurance. For every new patient, Sand Lake Imaging will donate a free mammogram to an uninsured Shepherd’s Hope patient who is in need of the same screening.
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, as well as 62,570 new cases of non-invasive/early form breast cancer, and that about 40,000 women will lose their fight against the devastating illness. The importance of having a mammogram performed every two years for women who are 50 to 74 years old can’t be stressed enough. According to the Center for Disease Control, regular mammograms can detect breast cancer up to three years before it can be felt. This year, doing your part in taking control of your breast health can help other women in need take control of theirs too. 

Stop Stroke
By Lyndsay Fogarty

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association work together, hand in hand, to raise awareness and provide helpful information about preventing strokes. During this cardiovascular disease, a blood vessel that is carrying oxygen to the brain is either blocked by a clot or it bursts, causing the portion of the brain that can’t get oxygen to die. In addition to risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, family history and more, they have established four important warning signs. If you see any of the below symptoms in a loved one or friend, call 9-1-1 or get help right away. Always remember the term “fast” if you suspect a stroke.

-Face Drooping: Is one side of the face droopy or numb? Ask the person to smile.
-Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. 
-Speech Difficulty: Is there slurred speech, are they unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence such as, “The sky is blue.”
-Time to Call 9-1-1: If any of these symptoms are present – and even if they go away – get them to a hospital immediately. 

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