Tag Archives: United States

Straight, No Chaser: Do You Drink Too Much?

drinks

It’s one of those Straight, No Chaser (literally) days.  Lets address substance abuse. The problems with most intoxicating substances revolve around the same consideration.  You had the most incredible time and got the most incredible high the first time, and you spend the rest of your life chasing the joy of that first buzz, which for most drugs you’ll never get.  The difference with alcohol abuse is that alcohol is legal and comparatively inexpensive, so you get to keep trying without much fuss (or at least initially).

Let’s set the stage by standardizing some terms:

  • Alcohol intoxication: You’re drunk and under the influence of alcohol.
  • Alcohol abuse: Your drinking habits are unhealthy, resulting in bad consequences (e.g. at work, in your relationships, with the law).
  • Alcohol dependency: You’re physically and/or mentally addicted to alcohol.  You crave liquor and seemingly can’t do without it.  Dependency involves withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is not in your system.  These symptoms may include anxiety, nausea, sweating, jitteriness, shakes and even withdrawal seizures.

Alcoholism is a chronic disease.  Unfortunately, some of us start with a predisposition based on genes and strong influences based on family and cultural considerations.  It is so much more than either a lack of willpower or an inability to quit.  This disease has a predictable course and defined effects on various parts of the body, leading to specific means of death if unaddressed.  Because I’m Straight, No Chaser, I’m not going to deal with the subjective thoughts you offer about whether or not you can ‘handle your liquor’ or whether you believe ‘you can stop anytime you want’.  I’m going to give you some medical data that defines when you’re doing damage to your body.  It’s actually pretty simple.

Are you this guy or gal (keep in mind a standard drink is defined as one 12 ounce can of beer, 1 glass of wine or 1 mixed drink)?

  • Women having more than 3 drinks at one time or more than 7 drinks a week.
  • Men having more than 4 drinks at one time or more than 14 drinks a week.

If so, you’re causing damage.  We’ll get into the specifics at another time.

That’s damage.  Let’s discuss dependency.  Consider the possibility that you may be dependent on alcohol if you have any of these problems over the course of a year:

  • While you’re drinking, you can’t quit or control how much you drink.
  • You have tried to quit drinking or to cut back the amount you drink but can’t.
  • You need to drink more to get a previous effect (This is called ‘tolerance’.).
  • You have withdrawal symptoms (discussed earlier) when you stop.
  • You spend a lot of your time either drinking, recovering from drinking, or giving up other activities so you can drink.
  • You continue to drink even though it harms your relationships and causes physical problems.

So What?

No one is giving up alcohol by reading this, I’m sure.  I haven’t even touched to the harsh realities of alcoholism (yet).  Alcohol is part of the American social fabric.  We live, celebrate and commemorate milestones with it.  It’s glamorized throughout society.  It’s constitutionally approved.  I appreciate that.  In moderation, it’s a good time.  Just understand that it’s not a free ride.  The danger is in the insidious nature of this disease, meaning issues may creep up on you before you ever know what’s about to hit you.  Then we’re having a completely different conversation.

I look forward to any questions or thoughts on the topic.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under Health Prevention

Straight, No Chaser: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Signs, Symptoms and Those at Risk

ptsd-1

Memorial Day serves to honor our fallen heroes. Part of that involves caring for our soldiers still with us. Understanding and acknowledging the mental components of their suffering remains a vital and underachieved need. Our soldiers disproportionately suffer from several mental disorders, notably, post-traumatic stress disorder. Today’s post begins a review of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We thank all of our veterans for their service.

I’ve dealt with disease and death everyday as an Emergency Physician, and it has been dehumanizing on many levels. Imagine having to pronounce someone dead despite giving your version of a superhuman effort to resuscitate them and then having to deliver the news to a family deep in prayer and holding on to strings of hope. Oh yeah, and then you immediately get to return to a room filled with patients and families oblivious to anything you’re dealing with as an individual, who are completely immersed in their personal situations and often complaining because “you took too long.” Imagine the lives of morticians or cemetery workers, having to stare at and feel the remains of the dead all day everyday. Imagine the lives of those habitually raped or viciously beaten by a loved one as a child. And, of course, there are the soldiers. Over 7.5 million Americans are thought to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), approximately one in every 40 individuals.

Traumatic and post-traumatic stress are not only able to affect your reality, but to adjust your reality. The body’s normal “fight-or-flight” response to danger or extremely stressful situations can evolve into abnormalities in your behavior if you are continually immersed in these environments. One such as the emergency physician may become desensitized and/or empowered to address situations that would make otherwise normal individuals recoil, or one may become overly sensitive, hyper-stressed and prone to a fight response to lesser stimuli—or no stimuli at all.

There are three categories of symptoms of PTSD, which are easily remembered by thinking of a hyperactive “fight-or-flight” response: reliving traumatic experiences, avoiding circumstances or situations that remind one of the experience, and reacting out of hyperarousal to stimuli suggestive of the experience.
ptsd2

  • Reliving can involve flashbacks, scary thoughts and nightmares. Victims have been known to actually re-experience the physical and mental episodes, complete with palpitations, sweating, jitteriness and severe anxiety. Such experiences can become incapacitating.
  • Avoidance is in many ways the opposite end of the “fight or flight” syndrome. In this example, avoidance isn’t just being proactive and staying away from reminders of the experience, but it can escalate to loss of emotions or even recollection of the event. This isn’t a strategic decision; it’s a defense mechanism gone haywire. As an example, imagine the near-drowning victim who refuses to even sit on the beach.
  • Hyperarousal leads one to be on edge, sensitive and prone to overreact. In contrast to the other two symptoms listed, hyperarousal tends to be a constant state of being. PTSD victims with hyperarousal describe themselves as easily angered and always stressed.

Many if not most of us will experience traumatic events in our lives sufficient enough to cause tremendous stress. There are circumstances that enhance the risk of developing PTSD.

ptsd-dv

  • Childhood trauma is especially dangerous in that the developing brain can respond “appropriately” in coding for abnormal circumstances and exposures. Subsequent trauma can trigger PTSD-quality responses.
  • Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
  • Mental illness may abnormally shape responses to traumatic events.
  • There is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. Individual differences in the brain or genes may predispose an individual.
  • The relative absence of social support and a functional network is a severe risk.

Conversely, if you have strong coping mechanisms, you may be able to lower your risk for developing PTSD after trauma. Consider the following protective factors:

  • A predisposition toward optimism
  • The ability and inclination to seek out support from others, ranging from friends, family and/or an active support group
  • A mental orientation that you “performed well” in the face of the danger
  • A mental orientation of learning from the experience instead of allowing the experience to define you
  • Sufficient mental fortitude to be able to carry on in the face of the symptoms (fear, anxiety) that follow the event

The presence of these “resilience factors” does not suggest that those suffering from PTSD are lacking in any way; it suggests the best opportunities for you to avoid succumbing to the enormous pressures that exist.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

 

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Filed under Mental Health

Straight, No Chaser: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Signs, Symptoms and Those at Risk

ptsd-1

Memorial Day serves to honor our fallen heroes. Part of that involves caring for our soldiers still with us. Understanding and acknowledging the mental components of their suffering remains a vital and underachieved need. Our soldiers disproportionately suffer from several mental disorders, notably, post-traumatic stress disorder. Today’s post begins a review of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We thank all of our veterans for their service.

I’ve dealt with disease and death everyday as an Emergency Physician, and it has been dehumanizing on many levels. Imaging having to pronounce someone dead despite giving your version of a superhuman effort to resuscitate them and then having to deliver the news to a family deep in prayer and holding on to strings of hope. Oh yeah, and then you immediately get to return to a room filled with patients and families oblivious to anything you’re dealing with as an individual, who are completely immersed in their personal situations and often complaining because “you took too long.” Imagine the lives of morticians or cemetery workers, having to stare at and feel the remains of the dead all day everyday. Imagine the lives of those habitually raped or viciously beaten by a loved one as a child. And, of course, there are the soldiers. Over 7.5 million Americans are thought to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), approximately one in every 40 individuals.

Traumatic and post-traumatic stress are not only able to affect your reality, but to adjust your reality. The body’s normal “fight-or-flight” response to danger or extremely stressful situations can evolve into abnormalities in your behavior if you are continually immersed in these environments. One such as the emergency physician may become desensitized and/or empowered to address situations that would make otherwise normal individuals recoil, or one may become overly sensitive, hyper-stressed and prone to a fight response to lesser stimuli—or no stimuli at all.

There are three categories of symptoms of PTSD, which are easily remembered by thinking of a hyperactive “fight-or-flight” response: reliving traumatic experiences, avoiding circumstances or situations that remind one of the experience, and reacting out of hyperarousal to stimuli suggestive of the experience.
ptsd2

  • Reliving can involve flashbacks, scary thoughts and nightmares. Victims have been known to actually re-experience the physical and mental episodes, complete with palpitations, sweating, jitteriness and severe anxiety. Such experiences can become incapacitating.
  • Avoidance is in many ways the opposite end of the “fight or flight” syndrome. In this example, avoidance isn’t just being proactive and staying away from reminders of the experience, but it can escalate to loss of emotions or even recollection of the event. This isn’t a strategic decision; it’s a defense mechanism gone haywire. As an example, imagine the near-drowning victim who refuses to even sit on the beach.
  • Hyperarousal leads one to be on edge, sensitive and prone to overreact. In contrast to the other two symptoms listed, hyperarousal tends to be a constant state of being. PTSD victims with hyperarousal describe themselves as easily angered and always stressed.

Many if not most of us will experience traumatic events in our lives sufficient enough to cause tremendous stress. There are circumstances that enhance the risk of developing PTSD.

ptsd-dv

  • Childhood trauma is especially dangerous in that the developing brain can respond “appropriately” in coding for abnormal circumstances and exposures. Subsequent trauma can trigger PTSD-quality responses.
  • Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
  • Mental illness may abnormally shape responses to traumatic events.
  • There is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. Individual differences in the brain or genes may predispose an individual.
  • The relative absence of social support and a functional network is a severe risk.

Conversely, if you have strong coping mechanisms, you may be able to lower your risk for developing PTSD after trauma. Consider the following protective factors:

  • A predisposition toward optimism
  • The ability and inclination to seek out support from others, ranging from friends, family and/or an active support group
  • A mental orientation that you “performed well” in the face of the danger
  • A mental orientation of learning from the experience instead of allowing the experience to define you
  • Sufficient mental fortitude to be able to carry on in the face of the symptoms (fear, anxiety) that follow the event

The presence of these “resilience factors” does not suggest that those suffering from PTSD are lacking in any way; it suggests the best opportunities for you to avoid succumbing to the enormous pressures that exist.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under Mental Health

Straight, No Chaser: Syphilis Prevention, Treatment and the Tuskegee Experience

tuskegeesyphilis4

Syphilis should be a word derived from something meaning horrible. In an earlier post, we reviewed the rather horrific progression of the symptoms of syphilis. An additionally horrible consideration is that treatment is so very easy once identified. Of course, that’s not the most horrific aspect of the disease. Read on.

Looking back retrospectively, advanced syphilis is especially disheartening because it is so easily treated and prevented. Prevention is as simple as always wearing condoms, being in a monogamous relationship with someone confirmed not to have it, checking your sexual partner prior to sex and not engaging in sex if any type of sore/ulcer is in the mouth, genitalia or anal region. Regarding treatment, syphilis once upon a time was quite the plague until penicillin was discovered; treating syphilis is how penicillin ‘made a name’ for itself. Treatment with penicillin easily kills syphilis but unfortunately does nothing for damage that has already occurred. However, as discussed in the post discussing the symptoms of syphilis, remember that treating syphilis at any point can prevent the most severe complications that lead to death. Which brings us to Tuskegee – and keep in mind this is Straight, No Chaser.

tuskegee

In the early 1930s, the US Public Health Service working with the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama began a study to evaluate the effectiveness of current treatments for syphilis, which at the time, were thought to be at least as bad as the disease. The study was conducted on 600 Black men, who were convinced to participate in the study with the promise of free medical exams, meals and money for burial, ‘if’ it was necessary.

The study was initially meant to last 6 months, but at some point a governmental decision was made to continue the study and observe the natural progression of syphilis until all subjects died of the disease, with a commitment obtained from the subjects that they would be autopsied ‘if’ they died. There were several problems with this decision.

  • None of the patients participated under informed consent. They believed they were being treated as opposed to being observed and having medicine withheld while they were being allowed to die. In other words, the subjects were not aware of the purpose of the study.
  • Penicillin was established as a true, rapidly effective treatment for syphilis and the standard of care by 1947. The study continued 25 years beyond this treatment option being available.
  • Efforts by concerned individuals failed to end the study for 5 years prior to a whistleblower going to the press in 1972. The study was ended in a day.

The aftermath of the study includes the following:

  • Reparations averaging a mere $15,000 per individual were given ($9M total) as well as a formal apology, delivered by President Clinton. Yep, the victims received the equivalent of $15,000 per person on average for 40 years of carrying syphilis 25 years after there was a known cure, after infecting wives and unborn children in several documented cases.
  • Strict requirements for protocols for human study (i.e. Institutional Review Boards) were implemented for the first time.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that many African-Americans remain distrustful of governmental public health efforts to this day; for many, this study continues to be the reason while vaccination isn’t optimally taken advantage of (e.g. HPV) and why organ donation rates are so relatively low in the African-American community. Even though this posture contributes to the adverse health outcomes that exist in the African-American community, it isn’t hard to see why the fear and distrust exists.

Let’s bring this full circle. When it comes to syphilis, prevention is best, and full treatment is available. At the very least, I certainly can say you’ve been warned. Folks have given their lives to make your warning possible. I welcome your questions and comments.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under Infectious Disease, Medical Treatment, Public Health

Straight, No Chaser: What Should Be in Your Medicine Cabinet

medicine cabinet sick-care-vs-health-care

You’ve all done it. I’ve caught a few of you doing it. Why do you rummage through someone’s else’s medicine cabinet? Are newer homes even built with medicine cabinets anymore? Oh well… Today, Straight, No Chaser tackles a simple but important question in an ongoing effort to better empower you. For starters, here’s hoping your cabinet doesn’t resemble any of these pictured, but there is a role for medicines in your medicine cabinet.

medicine-cabinet_59x73.5_we

1. What should be in your medicine cabinet? Here’s my top five and why.

  • Aspirin (324 mg).

Aspirin-tablet-300x300

On the day you’re having a heart attack, you’ll want this available to pop in your mouth on the way to the hospital. Of all the intervention done in treating heart attacks, none is better than simply taking an aspirin. It offers a 23% reduction in mortality (death rates) due to a heart attack all by itself.

  • Activated charcoal.

activated charcoal

This one may surprise you. Talk to your physician or pharmacist about this. If someone in your family ever overdoses on a medicine, odds are this is the first medication you’d be given in the emergency room. The sooner it’s onboard, the sooner it can begin detoxifying whatever you took. That said, there are some medications and circumstances when you shouldn’t take it, so get familiar with it by talking with your physician.

  • Antiseptics such as triple antibiotic ointment for cuts, scratches and minor burns.

triple abx

It should be embarrassing for you to spend $1000 going to an emergency room when you could have addressed the problem at home. I guess I should include bandages here as well.

  • A variety pack for colds, including antihistamines (like diphenhydramine, aka benadryl) and cough preparations.

OTCdrugs

As a general rule, give yourself 3-5 days of using OTC preparations for a cold to see if it works or goes away. If not, then it’s certainly appropriate to get additional medical care. I guess I can lump a thermometer in this bullet point.

  • The fifth item would be this number: 800-222-1222, which is number to the national poison control center.

poisoncontrol

They will address your concerns, route you to your local poison center, advise you on the appropriate use of activated charcoal and help coordinate your care when you go to your emergency department.

Be smart about the items in your home in general and in your medicine cabinet in particular. We’ll continue the theme with the next Straight, No Chaser.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd. Preorder your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com.

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Filed under Detoxification, General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention

Straight, No Chaser: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Signs, Symptoms and Those at Risk

ptsd-1

This is Mental Health Awareness Month. Straight, No Chaser has done multiple posts on depression and suicide, the components of health and happiness, and many other mental health topics. It’s important that you appreciate the ways events in your life and even the way you live your life impact you over the long term. I deal with disease and death everyday as an Emergency Physician, and it’s dehumanizing on many levels. Imaging having to pronounce someone dead despite giving your version of a superhuman effort to resuscitate them and then having to deliver the news to a family deep in prayer and holding on to strings of hope. Oh yeah, and then you immediately get to return to a room filled with patients and families oblivious to anything you’re dealing with as an individual, who are completely immersed in their personal situations and often complaining because “you took too long.” Imagine the lives of morticians or cemetery workers, having to stare at and feel the remains of the dead all day everyday. Imagine the lives of those habitually raped or viciously beaten by a loved one as a child. And, of course, there are the soldiers. Over 7.5 million Americans are thought to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), approximately one in every 40 individuals.

Traumatic and post-traumatic stress are not only able to affect your reality, but to adjust your reality. The body’s normal “fight-or-flight” response to danger or extremely stressful situations can evolve into abnormalities in your behavior if you are continually immersed in these environments. One such as the emergency physician may become desensitized and/or empowered to address situations that would make otherwise normal individuals recoil, or one may become overly sensitive, hyper-stressed and prone to a fight response to lesser stimuli—or no stimuli at all.

There are three categories of symptoms of PTSD, which are easily remembered by thinking of a hyperactive “fight-or-flight” response: reliving traumatic experiences, avoiding circumstances or situations that remind one of the experience, and reacting out of hyperarousal to stimuli suggestive of the experience.
ptsd2

  • Reliving can involve flashbacks, scary thoughts and nightmares. Victims have been known to actually re-experience the physical and mental episodes, complete with palpitations, sweating, jitteriness and severe anxiety. Such experiences can become incapacitating.
  • Avoidance is in many ways the opposite end of the “fight or flight” syndrome. In this example, avoidance isn’t just being proactive and staying away from reminders of the experience, but it can escalate to loss of emotions or even recollection of the event. This isn’t a strategic decision; it’s a defense mechanism gone haywire. As an example, imagine the near-drowning victim who refuses to even sit on the beach.
  • Hyperarousal leads one to be on edge, sensitive and prone to overreact. In contrast to the other two symptoms listed, hyperarousal tends to be a constant state of being. PTSD victims with hyperarousal describe themselves as easily angered and always stressed.

Many if not most of us will experience traumatic events in our lives sufficient enough to cause tremendous stress. There are circumstances that enhance the risk of developing PTSD.

ptsd-dv

  • Childhood trauma is especially dangerous in that the developing brain can respond “appropriately” in coding for abnormal circumstances and exposures. Subsequent trauma can trigger PTSD-quality responses.
  • Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
  • Mental illness may abnormally shape responses to traumatic events.
  • There is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. Individual differences in the brain or genes may predispose an individual.
  • The relative absence of social support and a functional network is a severe risk.

Conversely, if you have strong coping mechanisms, you may be able to lower your risk for developing PTSD after trauma. Consider the following protective factors:

  • A predisposition toward optimism
  • The ability and inclination to seek out support from others, ranging from friends, family and/or an active support group
  • A mental orientation that you “performed well” in the face of the danger
  • A mental orientation of learning from the experience instead of allowing the experience to define you
  • Sufficient mental fortitude to be able to carry on in the face of the symptoms (fear, anxiety) that follow the event

The presence of these “resilience factors” does not suggest that those suffering from PTSD are lacking in any way; it suggests the best opportunities for you to avoid succumbing to the enormous pressures that exist.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

5 Comments

Filed under General Health and Wellness, Mental Health

Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Signs-That-You-are-Probably-An-Alcoholic

With all the focus of late on other forms of drug use and abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, marijuana), alcohol abuse seems to be lacking the attention it deserves. Fully one in six people in the United States has a drinking problem. In this segment of the Straight, No Chaser series on alcohol, we will explore problem drinking.

“Problem drinking” is a way of describing alcohol intake that causes problems with your functioning. Alcohol abuse is an episode or continued excessive alcohol consumption that causes problems with your daily living activities, such as family or job responsibilities. Of course, a single episode of alcohol abuse can cost you your life if you’re an impaired driver who runs into a tree or some other calamity befalls you.

alcoholism

Alcoholism is alcohol dependence, which is comprised of two separate considerations:

  • Physical addiction to a drug is defined by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is when you become acclimated to the same dose of drug, meaning, in this case, the same amount of liquor no longer gives you the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you experience effects from no longer having the drug in your system.
  • Mental addiction to alcohol is illustrated by its increasingly prominent role in your life. Your life becomes centered around the pursuit and consumption of alcohol. It creates problems with your physical, mental and social health, controlling your life and relationships.

Many of you ask if alcoholism is hereditary. Hereditary means a specific thing medically, so the answer is no. However, we believe genes play a role and increase the risk of alcoholism. It is most likely that genetics “load the gun,” but environment “pulls the trigger.”

AlcoholicGrayscaleDiagram2

Regarding environment, there’s no fixed equation to if and when you’ll become dependent, but there is a correlation with certain activity and an increased risk. Consider the following activities as suggestive of a significant risk for development alcoholism:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week (One drink is either a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Anyone who has five or more drinks at a time at least once a week
  • Anyone who has a parent with alcoholism

Here are some less hard signs, but these situations also have been shown to increase risk, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • You are a young adult under peer pressure
  • You have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • You have easy access to alcohol
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You have problems with relationships
  • You live a stressful lifestyle
  • You live in a culture in which alcohol use is more common and accepted

Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant if you have any questions on this topic.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC

3 Comments

Filed under Toxicology/Drugs

Straight, No Chaser: When Eating Goes Wrong, Part II – Bulimia

Bulimia…-nerviosa-1

If you read Part I of this conversation on eating disorders (anorexia nervosa), you will recall that eating disorders are a mix of an abnormal body image combined with abnormal behaviors that lead to medical consequences. Today’s Straight, No Chaser is on bulimia, yet another dangerous eating disorder.

The ‘Bizz-Buzz’ of bulimia nervosa is ‘binge-purge.’ What that means is bulimics engage in frequent episodes of eating excessive amounts of food (bingeing) followed by one of several methods of eliminating what was just ingested (purging). This methods include forced vomiting (most common), use of diuretics or laxatives, fasting or excessive exercise. It is important to note that the bulimic feels a lack of control over these episodes.

bulimia_nervosa_1

Bulimia is an especially dangerous disease because it usually occurs in secret, and victims are able to hide it. This means symptoms will typically be further along when discovered. Bulimics usually manage to maintain a normal or healthy weight despite their behavior and may appear to be the person who ‘never gains weight’ despite ‘eating like a horse.’ This is a key differentiator between bulimia and anorexia. Otherwise, the two diseases do share some of the same psychological pathology, including the fear of weight gain and the unhappiness with physical appearance.

Treatment considerations for bulimia are similar to those for other eating disorders. A combination of psychotherapy, reestablishment of normal nutritional intake and medications usually leads to marked improvement. Again, the particular challenge with bulimics is discovering the condition in the first place. As with anorexia nervosa, treatment for bulimia nervosa often involves a combination of options and depends upon the needs of the individual. Medications may include antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), if the patient also has depression or anxiety.

Let’s recap by revisiting where we started with our conversation on anorexia. Our society doesn’t do the job it should in promoting a normal image of health. The typically promoted American ideal of beauty sets standards that lead many to pursue unrealistic means of meeting that ideal. In the setting of an actual American population that is obese by medical standards, this becomes even more of a problem. The levels of stress, anxiety and depression resulting from this reality sometimes leads to eating disorders. Remember, eating disorders aren’t just habits. They are life-threatening conditions. If you or a loved one is suffering, please seek help immediately.

bulimia

Post-script: If you’re wondering about the above picture of the teeth, you’re viewing the effects of all that regurgitated acid on the enamel layer of your teeth.  I know. It’s not your best look.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Straight, No Chaser: Let’s Boost Your Metabolism

fat crying

It would be improper for me to have dragged you through the mud for three days and depressed you into thinking you can’t improve your situation. Hopefully, you’re not feeling that way. You should now have a better understanding of how the body works, how to count calories and how to compare yourself to a baseline for health. What left is giving your body a leg up on your efforts. Yep, I’m talking about boosting your metabolism. Any of you that have been with me for a while know that means I’m not promoting something you’ll find in a bottle, although there are many good supplements that can assist in that effort. I’ll refer you to your (or my) favorite personal trainer for those considerations. As always, I want to offer you the tools to be self-empowered. To that end, here’s five Quick Tips to boost your metabolism. Why five? Because five is easier to implement than six. Once you get these five down, let me know, and we can get a bit more intricate.

Metabolism_101

1. Eat smaller meals, and eat more frequently. It’s true. More meals more often is better, but only if they’re smaller. Calorie counting is still a major part of the equation. The point of more frequent meals is preventing the body from going into starvation mode, which slows your metabolism as the body attempts to conserve energy. If you do this, you’ll discover those meals are smaller and you will get closer to eat more appropriate portions than we typically do. Also, make those in-between meals healthy choices like a handful of fruits or nuts.

2. Prime your pump. Remember, it’s all about your heart’s ability to efficiently move blood around the body anyway. The healthier your heart is, the better your metabolism will be. You need aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate for 20-30 minutes at a time. Learn your target heart rate for your age, and exercise to get into that range. Your metabolism will better approximate that of a fine tuned machine rather than a sputtering old car.

3. Weight train. This is very simple. The more muscular you are, the more calories you will burn, especially relative to someone of the same weight who is obese. Not only will you become a finer calorie-burning machine, in this case you actually will look better! Add weight training to your exercise regimen.

4. Choose the fish (and not the fried variety). Fish oil contains substances called omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA) which increases levels of fat-burning enzymes and decreases levels of fat storing enzymes. Daily ingestion has been shown to help by approximately 400 calories a day.

5. Enlist a personal trainer. Everyone needs help and motivation. Some of us need a lot of help and a lot of motivation. We also need expertise. There’s nothing more frustrating than working hard yet not seeing any results because you’re working incorrectly. A good trainer can put you on the path, supervise your regimen, and hold your hand through the process. The minutia of age, sex and body habitus considerations that also play a role in this can be managed by a good trainer. Your ideal trainer will have knowledge of nutrition, wellness and supplements that are tailored to your specific considerations. This will get your metabolism revved up!

By the way, if you’re into green tea, caffeine or spicy/hot peppers, enjoy them for their other benefits, but don’t expect them to contribute significantly to your efforts to improve your metabolism. At least that’s what the consensus in the medical literature points out.

metabolism rev up

Finally: yes, it’s true that metabolism naturally slows with age (starting as early as age 25); everyone has heard that fact. However, here’s what you don’t usually hear: that’s not inevitable and is more a result of your becoming less physically active than just aging. That demonstrates the need for you to be even more diligent in your efforts. Good luck, and I welcome your questions and comments.

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Straight, No Chaser: Healthy, Sustainable Weight Loss – Let’s Get Started

obesity6

How to Lose Weight, and What is Healthy Weight Loss (AKA, How Much, How Soon and How)?

Let’s start with the How. Commercial voice: “You should contact your physician before starting any weight loss routine”. We ended things on the last post talking about the caloric balance equation, which (simplified) means you need to get off your derriere, and close your mouth. Without getting too technical, to lose weight, 1 pound equals 3,500 calories, so your net caloric intake must be cut by at least 500 calories per day to lose a pound a week. Here are some Quick Tips to cut calories (and I will not be discussing any of the popular diets or medical remedies (with one exception in the next post); you can see your physician or nutritionist about those. Besides, guess what? Most of you don’t need a fad diet. Keep it simple. And…more importantly, you should be more concerned with healthy regimens that help you keep the weight off, not drastic efforts that have proven to have quick short-term but unsustainable long-term outcomes).

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1) Work out: If you can sprint, do so. If you can’t, jog. If you can’t jog, walk. I like working out while watching sports, because my heart’s pumping anyway. Weight training at the same time is even better. Once you hit a good exercise regimen, your metabolism will improve, making weight loss that much easier.  By the way, the next post is on metabolism; stay tuned.

2) Hungry?  Start counting calories.  Use this standard to determine what your daily calorie intake should be.  Meal plan so you don’t exceed that level.  Remember the caloric equation to lose weight: Amount expended minus the amount eaten should be 500 calories a day.  In the next post, I’ll give you a Quick Tip for an extra 400 calories a day you can lose.

drink water

3) Still hungry? Try brushing your teeth. Don’t laugh. It actually works. And it gives you nice teeth. Otherwise try drinking water or chewing calorie-free gum. All these are nice, simple inexpensive appetite suppressants.

How Soon? It’s natural for anyone trying to lose weight to want to lose it very quickly. But evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1-2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off. Healthy weight loss isn’t just about a “diet” or “program”. It’s about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits. Think health instead of weight, and the weight will improve.

weight loss pix

How Much? If you were my patient (but you’re not!), I’d tell you to forget about ideal body weight and BMI – for now. Focus on a modest weight loss, like 5-10% of your current weight. Even this success will improve your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Once you accomplish that goal, do it again. So even if the overall goal seems large, see it as a journey rather than just a final destination. Seek to learn new eating and physical activity habits that will help you live a healthier lifestyle. These habits may help you maintain your weight loss over time. To that end, I love healthy challenges. Try a 30-day water instead of pop (soda)/coffee, etc. challenge, or even better, give yourself a 30-day ‘fruit for dessert challenge’ or ‘salad of your choice for lunch’ challenge. When that’s done, immediately do it again.  Learn to integrate healthy habits into your quest to lose weight, and you’ll increase the odds of having sustainable weight lost. At the end of the day, it’s been well established that those who maintained a significant weight loss report improvements in not only their physical health, but also their energy levels, physical mobility, general mood, and self-confidence. Good luck, and check back for the next post on how to fine-tune your metabolism!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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