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Getting a Good Night’s Sleep, at ANY age.

There’s more and more evidence that sleep problems such as insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness are more prevalent in older people.

Some of the reasons include:

  • medication side effects
  • increasing disease
  • pain
  • depression & anxiety
  • limited mobility

Even changes in a person’s living situation, such as a move to an assisted living facility or a nursing home, and even a hospital stay, can affect sleep. Cognitive deficits and Alzheimer’s can also have drastic effects on a person’s sleeping habits.

In general, older people need less sleep than younger ones; and their sleep is less deep.  Yet, insomnia is not a normal part of aging and can and should be treated.  Recent studies in the journal, Sleep, found that getting too little sleep is a risk factor for depression.  Older adults with poor night time sleep are more likely to have attention and memory problems.  Lack of sleep has been associated with an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well.

If you are having trouble sleeping at night, ask you doctor to help you determine if any of your current medications have connection to your sleep problem.  Then you may determine if any daytime activities, such as naps are creating such sleep issues.  Daily naps should be halted or at least reduced.  Go outside for fresh air and sunlight, exercise, and to socialize with friends.  Just exposure to sunlight may be helpful. Sleep disturbances result from disruption of the body’s circadian rhythms which are controlled by light and dark patterns.  Age related changes in the eye may also reduce the amount of light that reaches an older person’s retina.

Most importantly is good sleep hygiene.  Establish a bed time ritual such as a bath and quiet relaxing activity, such as meditation or prayer.  A light snack in the evening is preferable and fluids should be restricted a few hours before bedtime to avoid the need to urinate during the night.  Caffeine and alcohol should be limited.  The bedroom should be dark, quiet and a little cool.  If sleep enhancing techniques with out medication fail to work, prescription sleep medication should be considered.  All sleep medications should be used with caution, as side effects are frequent.  Such medication should be used in the lowest dose and intermittently rather than nightly, if possible.

Good Night's Sleep

 

If you are having trouble sleeping, please call the office today at 757-488-3333, so we can discuss your treatment plan. You don’t have to “live exhausted”!

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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The Dreaded Mononucleosis: AKA “Mono”

Mononucleosis (often called “Mono”) is an infection caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus, a virus in the herpes family of viruses. 

Signs of mono include:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • headaches
  • white patches on the back of the throat
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • feeling tired
  • loss of appetite

Mono is most common among people 15 – 35 years old. Once someone gets mono, the virus stays in the person’s body for life.  This doesn’t mean that they are always contagious. Over time, the virus becomes less contagious.  Mono is not spread as easily as the common cold.  It is found in saliva and mucus and usually passed through kissing, even though it could be passed in other ways, such as coughing, sharing toothbrushes, drinking straws, or eating utensils with someone who has the virus.  Signs of mono develop 4 – 6 weeks after being exposed to the virus.

Mono is confirmed through a simple blood test.  The main concern with mono is that the spleen will enlarge and rupture.  The spleen is a large gland located in the upper part of the abdomen on the left side; and in short, it helps filter blood to the body. Mono needs to run its course naturally, and usually last about 4 weeks.  Some people will feel tired for several weeks longer. However, Mono will go away on its own.

The main point of treatment is to relieve the symptoms:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Gargle with salt water or suck on throat lozenges or hard candy for sore throats
  • Take either an acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve the symptoms
  • Avoid sports activities until the doctor tells you its safe

We are not exactly sure how long someone with mono stays contagious after symptoms are gone.  But it’s generally believed that a person can spread the infection for many months after the symptoms are completely gone.  Some studies show as long as 18 months. So, take the needed precautions to decrease the spread of germs, such as hand-washing, not sharing food or drinks, etc.

If you are having these symptoms, please call the office today at 757-488-3333 to schedule an appointment.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

 

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Preventing MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus  (MRSA) infection is caused by Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria – often called ‘staph’.  Decades ago a strain of staph emerged in hospitals that was resistant to the broad spectrum of antibiotics commonly used to treat is.  MRSA was one of the first germs to outwit all but the most powerful drugs.  MRSA infection can be fatal.

A specific strain of the common bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus, MRSA, causes a type of ‘staph’ infection that has been cropping up among otherwise healthy people as skin infections, such as abscesses.  Staph bacteria live on most people’s skin or in their noses with out causing any problems.  But a staph infection can happen when the germ enters the body through broken skin such as a cut, scrape, or rash.  Staph is the usual suspect in many skin infections.  Staph infections, including those caused by MRSA usually begin as red bumps resembling boils or pimples.  The bumps often become swollen, painful, and filled with pus. Most skin infections are often minor and can be remedied by regularly washing and bandaging the area and or using oral antibiotics or antibiotic ointment.  Sometimes the abscesses from staph need to be drained by a doctor.

But MRSA can’t be treated with routinely given antibiotics.  We now have to turn to other medications to try to treat MRSA. If the infection spreads to other parts of the body, MRSA may lead to serious complications like pneumonia and blood and joint infections.

MRSA is not a new infection.  The difference is that now, MRSA is affecting more people outside hospitals and nursing homes.  This is called Community- associated MRSA.  This infection has been most recently found in a few high schools and professional sports teams.  The bug can be passed through gyms and locker rooms, as well as shared equipment and skin contact.

To help keep the super bug at bay in your home:

  • Make sure you wash hands well and often
  • Use alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • Don’t share razors
  • Shared sports equipment should be cleaned and sanitized

Call you doctor if:

  • An area of skin that’s red, painful, swollen or filled with pus.
  • Skin is inflamed and feverish or you feel sick.
  • Skin infections seem to be passed from one family member to another, or if two or more family members have skin infections at the same time.

Call our office today, at 757-488-3333, if you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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The Pain of Shingles

Shingles is an infection that results from the reactivation of the same virus that causes the chicken pox.  It is characterized by painful and blistering rash.  The pain could start a few days before the rash appears.  It may appear with a fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea and difficulty urinating.  The rash begins with reddish bumps.  In a few days, these bumps turn into fluid-filled blisters.  It may be a stinging or burning pain sensation.  The rash occurs most often on the trunk of the body in a band of blisters around the back or chest.  The blisters usually crust over and fall off in 7 to 10 days.  There may be changes in the skin color when the scabs fall off and in severe cases these color changes are permanent.

Shingles

Image Courtesy of the Mayo Clinic

 

After getting the chicken pox as a child, the virus that causes it stays in the body in certain nerve cells.  Most of the time, the immune system keeps the virus in these cells.  As we get older or if the immune system gets weak, the varicella virus escapes from the nerve cells and cause shingles.  If you have had the chickenpox vaccine, you are less likely to get chickenpox and therefore less likely to later develop shingles.

Even though the rash gets better or goes away in a few weeks, the pain lasts longer.  In most people the pain goes away in 1 to 3 months.  Shingles is often treated with antiviral medication to reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms. Your doctor will decide which medication might work best for you.  The medications work better when taken in the first 3 days of developing the rash. Your doctor might also have you take steroid medicines to reduce the pain and swelling.  To help with the pain, over the counter medications are most effective, and a medicated lotion such as Caladryl or Benadryl on the blisters might reduce the pain and itching.  You may also discuss the shingles vaccine with your doctor to decide what is best for your condition.

No one can catch shingles, but they can catch the chickenpox if they haven’t had the virus or the vaccine.  If you have shingles, you should stay away from babies younger than 12 months and pregnant women.

Call our office today at 757-488-3333 if you are experiencing any of these symptoms or to schedule an appointment to be vaccinated.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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Eating Disorders

New studies are showing that eating disorders are on the rise both among teens, young adults, and the elderly.  Women are 50% more likely to have an eating disorder than men.  With such statistics, it would be appropriate to discuss this topic.  An eating disorder is an obsession with food and weight that could become harmful to a person’s well being.  The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia

No one knows exactly what causes eating disorders, yet there is much speculation.  Some possible causes include stress or being upset about something in life or the need to be ‘in control.’  There are many society related pressures on people, especially women, to be thin.  People with anorexia are obsessed with being thin.  They don’t want to eat, are afraid of gaining weight, and they constantly worry about how many calories they take in and how much fat is in their food.  They will take diet and water pills to lose weight.  People with anorexia may get so thin that they look like they’re ill  Bulimia is eating a lot of food at once, binging, and then throwing up or using laxatives to remove the food from the body.  After a binge some bulimics fast or over exercise to keep from gaining weight.  Bulimics often try to hide their binging and may hide food.  They are usually close to normal weight, even though it may fluctuate.

Woman's Feet

Drastic fluctuations in weight and using weight control medications can do serious harm to a person’s body causing:

  • Stomach problems
  • Heart / kidney problems
  • Irregular or no periods
  • Fine hair all over the body including the face
  • Dry scaly skin
  • Dental problems
  • Dehydration

 

Some of the warning signs of eating disorders include:

  • Overly concerned about body weight
  • Obsession with calories and fat grams
  • Use of any medications to keep from gaining weight
  • Refusal to eat or lying about how much was eaten
  • Fainting
  • Over exercising
  •  Absence of periods
  • Increased anxiety about weight
  • Calluses or scars on the knuckle from forced throwing up
  • Denying that there is anything wrong

 If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, please make an appointment at our office today. Call 757-488-3333. There is help available!

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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