Breakfast Cereals and Junk Foods – Poison for Our Children

The truth about the so-called ‘Super Food‘ of the Century

Breakfast cereals have never been more popular than they are today. Packed with vitamins and minerals, they promise power, health and vitality, especially to the young generation. There is hardly a commercial breakfast cereal in the world that does not seem to contain everything a child needs to receive the ‘perfectly balanced’ dietary nutrition. However, despite this ‘valuable’ contribution to family health, a frightening number of children show signs of ill health and lacking immunity. The vitamins that are added to the cereals supposedly protect the child against the vitamin-destroying sugar, but it seems that this guarantee is no longer guaranteed.

Besides cornflakes, which still top the list of American and European breakfast cereals, the sales of new ‘tasty and healthy’ breakfast foods soar as never before. The main marketing targets for these ‘healthy’ breakfast foods are children. Research suggests that as many as 79 percent of all households use ready-made breakfast cereals to start the day. Children are usually very keen to try the latest cereal model, which contains essentially the same ingredients as all the other types but comes in a different shape and color. The well designed packaging depicting a healthy-looking family or natural scenery promises the parents that the contents are of pure and natural origin, often organically grown, and good for the entire family. The kids love the happy friendly figures on the cardboard. “If Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, or the strong Dinosaurs like the cereal, then it must be good for me, too,” some children might argue.

Packaging has a powerful manipulative influence on children. Researchers at Packard Children’s Hospital in California asked 63 children, ages three and five, to taste-test servings of hamburger, French fries, chicken nuggets, baby carrots and milk. Some of the servings were wrapped in containers with a McDonald’s logo, and some were wrapped in containers with no logo. As expected, most of the kids thought the food in the McDonald’s containers tasted better than the identical food with no logo.

It doesn’t take much to convince an unsuspecting mother that the beautifully packaged foods are actually good for her children. The mother, who naturally wants to secure the best possible nutrition for her child, finds her mind put at ease when she learns about the high nutritional value of the product in the food table. It convincingly states that the cereal has the balanced amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fats, and is most importantly enriched with all the essential dietary supplements. If the right amount of milk (mostly pasteurized and homogenized, which is the wrong choice) is added to the super food, the child would have the best possible start of the day that nature could provide, or so she may believe.

Shocking Revelations

Yet the reality of the matter is quite the opposite. An American team of researchers decided to prove to the world once and for all that factory-made breakfast cereals are truly man’s super-food. So they fed the common breakfast cereals enriched with the most important vitamins and minerals to young, healthy laboratory rats. The researchers divided a total of 240 rats into two groups; one group received cereal and water and the other one normal food and water. The experiment lasted for 45 days. The result was totally unexpected and devastating. The rats that were fed with cereals, which according to common nutritional sense and advertising should have turned them into strong and vital grown-up rats, were close to death. They suffered from fatty livers, anemia and high blood pressure. In a separate experiment, rats were fed with cornflakes, which consisted of useless cornstarch and white sugar. In this group some of the animals died.

The researchers had expected that the animals would grow faster with cereals, yet they did not grow at all, and some of them even lost weight. Especially the rats which received cereals with high sugar content (sugar is thought to be fattening), had the least growth rates. This is a summary of the results:

  • The products that contained the least amounts of fat significantly increased the cholesterol levels of the rats. Some products were able to lower the rats’ cholesterol levels but also caused fatty livers.
  • Those rats that were fed with cereals containing only small amounts of salt increased their blood pressure whereas the ones that received cereals with higher salt contents lowered their blood pressure.
  • Some of the products were enriched with iron, which should have raised hemoglobin concentrations in the blood of anemic animals. However, the results took the researchers by surprise:
    a) There was no connection between higher intake of iron and hemoglobin levels. The rats stayed anemic despite ingesting large amounts of iron.
    b) Those rats that had little iron in their blood deposited excessively large amounts of iron in their liver, which led to worsening of anemia (for a similar reason it is very questionable to give extra iron to people who suffer from anemia).

 Poison  that Tastes and Looks like  Food 

The main conclusion we can draw from this experiment is that the purely theoretical approach to diet and nutrition (using food tables and daily nutritional recommendations) has not only been insufficient to raise the standard of health in the population but has in fact caused more harm and confusion than is currently assessable.

Sanctified by theories of nutrition, which in actuality contradict the body’s natural responses to  food , the  food  industry has been given the green light to produce anything that fulfills the official nutritional requirements, even if the ‘ foods ‘ have a  poisoning  effect and create havoc in the body.

There is no legislation to test man-made foods on animals before giving them to millions of human beings. The average consumer takes it for granted that the food produced by a reputable company must be safe for human consumption, even if it contains plastic (using animals to find out whether these foods are poisonous or not is cruel and I don’t advocate animal testing. I have reasons to believe that all man-made foods have harmful effects on the human body, and I therefore recommend that you avoid eating them).

Not all governments support this disconcerting trend. According to an August 2004 issue of the Guardian, some few health-conscious governments in Europe that are less dominated by the food industry and big pharmaceutical companies, are beginning to protect their people from obvious harmful practices.

Health officials in Denmark recently banned the addition of vitamins and minerals to 18 varieties of breakfast foods and cereals produced by Kellogg Co. The reasons given include increasing evidence that eating those products regularly can ruin the health of children and pregnant women. Cereal is one of the first solid foods introduced to babies, and pediatricians typically encourage parents to start feeding cereal to their babies from between 4 and 6 months. Their advice grossly contradicts findings from a study that cereals introduced in the diets of babies increased the risk of insulin-dependent diabetes in the children.

Kellogg had hoped to add iron, calcium, folic acid and vitamin B6 to some cereals and cereal bars, as it is so common in other countries. However, Danish health officials believe that these toxic additives in the cereals can seriously harm the livers and kidneys of children as well as unborn fetuses in pregnant women. A government laboratory delivered the ban after examining the ingredient lists provided by Kellogg.

Corneal Ulcer in Dogs

Corneal  ulcers  affect the cornea of the transparent and dome-shaped film that covers the eye. A clear, shiny layer it doesn’t have a single blood vessel and allows free passage of light through it. Moreover, the cornea of the eye does contain several nerve fibers that are connected to pain receptors and does feel pain or discomfort. Pet health can get affected due to corneal  ulcer , which can also lead to lack of proper eyesight in dogs. The primary job of a cornea is to refract the light that enters the eye and therefore, help the pet’s eye to focus on an object. Made up of many (four) layers, the first layer of the cornea also acts as a protective shield against micro organisms that try to enter and infect the eye.

Corneal  Ulcer 

Pet health care is compromised when the first layer of the cornea is damaged and can’t protect the eye from bacteria and other micro organisms. Because the eye gets infected, it becomes more painful and pet health is affected by corneal  ulcer . Furthermore, corneal  ulcer  can further damage pet health by invading much deeper and wider through the other corneal layers. Pet health care can be serious cause of concern when the infection reaches the other parts of the pet’s eye and damages it. In some cases, the damage may be irreparable.

Causes Of Corneal  Ulcers 

Even the smallest abrasion to your pet’s eye can lead to corneal  ulcer . Typically, dogs rub their faces with their paws or get scratched on the eye by other animals, or objects such as animals, thorns, grass blades etc. All these can damage pet health and lead to corneal  ulcers .

Symptoms of Corneal  Ulcers 

Pet health care means that you are aware of the slightest change in your pet’s behavior or nature. If your pet is affected by corneal  ulcer  he may show the following symptoms:

1. Squinting

2. Redness

3. Increased tearing

4. Cloudiness of the cornea

5. Yellow or green color discharge (mucus or pus) from the eye

6. Inflamed, red conjunctiva, which is the pink colored tissue around the cornea and the lining of the pet’s eye lids.

7. Rubbing excessively at the eye

8. Occasional lethargy

9. Pawing at the infected eye

10. Change in normal behavior

Diagnosis Of Corneal  Ulcers 

If you notice one or several of the above symptoms then you must safeguard your pet health by taking him to a veterinarian. The vet will make a full-eye check up for diagnosing the  ulcer . To begin with, the vet will try to determine the presence of foreign objects or other causes of infection. He/She may also apply a special dye known as ‘flourescein’ to the pet eye as the corneal  ulcer  quickly absorbs this dye and helps making in making the diagnosis easily.

Treatment Of Corneal  Ulcers 

The treatment of corneal  ulcer  to ensure pet health can only be determined by the vet upon proper diagnosis. The treatment usually consists of an eye drop for alleviation of pain, and an antibiotic eye cream/ointment that must be applied 4-6 times each day.

An e-collar or a lamp shade shaped collar is a good pet health care precaution and prevents the pet from pawing his infected eye.

How to Avoid Acid Reflux Symptoms

One of the first things to consider is that certain foods move through your digestive system a lot faster than others. The longer it takes for what you’ve eaten to move out of your stomach and down into your lower intestines, the longer your stomach needs to produce acid in order to digest it.

While it’s true that your stomach is constantly producing acid, it produces more when there is food that needs to be taken care of.

Carbohydrates move through your system fastest, then proteins, then fats. The best thing to do is concentrate on fruits and vegetables. Apples are very good, as well as pears and bananas. Citrus fruit should be avoided though.

Vegetables like carrots, broccoli and baked potato should also be fine. Sweet potato is especially good.

The way the vegetables are cooked is also important. The best way to cook vegetables is to steam them, as this helps them remain tasty, as opposed to boiling them in water. With some vegetables, most of the good stuff gets washed out with the water.

What you don’t want to do is fry vegetables in oil or have creamed vegetables.

Simple meals to avoid acid reflux symptoms.

Something you might want to consider is not mixing too many different food types in one meal. The basic concept is if you have proteins and carbohydrates in one meal for instance, then your stomach has a problem seeing as both these food types require a different environment to be digested.

Proteins need an acidic stomach, primarily hydrochloric acid to be digested whereas carbohydrates don’t. The result is impaired digestion and food sitting in your stomach undigested and fermenting.

You would also want to avoid mixing proteins and fats, and especially as a heartburn or acid reflux sufferer you might want to skip these totally for a while.

How you eat can help avoid heartburn.

Eating small meals often as opposed to one or two large meals can make a difference, seeing as a full stomach makes it more difficult for your esophageal sphincter to close, which is the main reason why you have acid reflux.

Chewing food properly before it goes down your esophagus will lessen the amount of work your stomach has to do. It is also considered that saliva has a neutralizing effect on stomach acid.

Eat your last meal long before you go to sleep at night.

Drink lots of water. Water helps with digestion.

Risks of Lap Band Surgery

When you are considering lap band for weight loss, you must realize that though it is a widely prescribed solution to obesity, it is still a surgical procedure and therefore has risks.

I’m not saying this to scare you away, but to make you aware. As the major risks of this procedure go, they are significantly less than other weight loss surgeries.

Common Risks

Some of the common risks have to do with the alteration of the stomach pouch isolated above the band. In some cases this pouch can enlarge due to stretching of the stomach or slippage of the lap band.

Other possible risks and complications include:

  • Band leakage
  • Reflux or vomiting
  • Erosion of band into stomach
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Enlargement of stomach pouch or band slippage
  • Dehydration
  • No weight loss
  • Blockage of stomach outlet
  • Gas bloat
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Ulceration
  • Weight regain
  • Gastritis
  • In extremely rare cases, death

Before getting too concerned about some of these risks, we need to temper them with some of the risks you already run because you are overweight and that comes with it’s own set of complications.

More people than ever before are obese and the trend shows no sign of letting up. CDC (Centers for Disease Control) statistics state that obesity has increased 60% in the last decade.

Risks of NOT losing weight

If you weigh twice or 100 lbs more than your ideal weight or have a body mass index of 40 or more you are morbidly obese and run the following risks:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension aka high blood pressure
  • Joint Problems from carrying extra weight
  • Sleep Apnea from extra tissue in the throat region.
  • Cancer
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Respiratory Problems

Obviously, these are real risks you face today. Even though this procedure has risks, not doing anything about your weight also has risk. You should talk with your doctor to see if lap band or some other weight loss surgery is worth it for you.

Diabetes is one of the worst diseases one can suffer from and is very common among the obese. If you are at a high BMI, you are are a perfect target for this terrible disease.

One of the major advantages of lap band is that it can be removed or replaced if complications do come up. Other weight loss surgeries are non reversible. You can’t go back and have them add back what was cut out during a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve procedure.

Heart Inflammation – Treatments and Prevention

Inflammation is a response of the body to injury or harmful elements. The symptoms are redness, heat, pain and swelling of a particular area. Just like any other tissue in the body, the heart may be inflamed. But since the heart is a complex organ and is build up of several layers of tissue, inflammation of the heart may cause different conditions.

Depending on which part of the heart is inflamed, the disease may be considered endocarditis, myocarditis or   pericarditis  It may be caused by factors like viruses, congenital problems, bacterial infection, or rheumatic fever. Heart inflammation is said to have a greater contribution to heart problems compared to having high levels of cholesterol.

You probably know heart inflammation can be dangerous to your health.

Here are several tips on how to prevent and cure inflammation of the heart:

• It is important to have the correct treatment for the correct condition because the inflammation may be affecting different areas of the heart. The first step in diagnosing heart inflammation is through observing symptoms. This is followed by a review of the patient’s medical history and laboratory tests.

• Mild inflammations caused by infections may easily be eliminated through rest and antibiotics. Keeping away from stress keeps your system balanced. For more serious cases, medicines are given, for example, to diuretics to avoid retention of fluids in the body. Stimulating the heartbeat is also recommended by health care specialists in order to regulate blood flow and prevent the heart from being inflamed. Only on the severe cases, the final choice may be a heart transplant.

• Nothing beats living a healthy life in order to prevent any disorder. Preventing alcohol abuse through limitations keeps the heart healthy. Alcohol intake should be limited to not more than two drinks in a day. Smoking is lethal and patients are strongly recommended to stay away from cigarettes.

• The food that we eat also affects inflammation in the body. Keeping a balanced diet is important and knowing the right kind of food should be kept in mind.

Making sure you get enough Omega-3 fatty acids is also a good way to fight C-reactive proteins that result in inflammation. Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel have high levels of Omega-3, which are recommended to prevent heart disease.

Additionally, the American Heart Association recommends heart patients take omega 3 supplements like fish oil to ensure they’re getting these necessary nutrients.

Inflammation alone does not lead to heart disease although it can lead to other diseases. Doctors now think most, if not all diseases stem from chronic inflammation.

If you’re interested in learning more about how omega 3 can reduce inflammation of the heart, visit my website, where I share what products I have personally been using daily for several years.

Information of Very Rare Blood Diseases

Being diagnosed with one of many very rare blood diseases can be scary and confusing. So much information is put into terms that is difficult to understand, which can leave you feeling lost and alone. But there are web sites that can help you to better understand your condition, and many that offer positive support through the process of treatment and recovery. One such site is mskcc dot org is one such site. Sloan-Kettering was developed to help cancer patients, but also offers valuable information for a variety of very rare blood diseases.

The site describes some rare forms of leukemias that many probably have never heard of. One such disease is Hairy Cell Leukemia, which attacks the cells that help create antibodies to fight infections. Signs of this disease include, abdominal pain, a low blood count, and the possibility of very rare infections, since the immune system is weakened so dramatically. Another rare form of blood cancer the site describes is Myleofibrosis, in which too much scar tissue is formed within the bone marrow. The presence of the tissue causes the red blood cells that pass through to be broken down.

In addition to these very rare blood diseases, information is also offered on eosinophilia, where a high number of eosinophils, which are a form of white blood cells, are present in the blood. Eosinophilia is not particularly a disease, but more a reaction to one. The body creates these extra cells to fight off an allergen, infection, or intrusive parasite, perhaps. When diagnosed with this condition, the underlying cause will be looked into next, to prevent a further complication from the actual disease that may not have shown signs yet.

Another one of the rare blood diseases that was described by Sloan-Kettering was paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinia. This disease starts with the mutation of stem cells in the bone marrow, which then causes red blood cells to break down as they pass through. In addition to this, platelets are not developed at a normal rate. This disease is treated in the same manner as aplastic anemia, but with a more aggressive approach. The disease can also be cured with a bone marrow transplant, which may be risky or appropriate, depending on the age and overall health of the patient.

Other very rare blood diseases include different types of hereditary anemias, idiopathic   edema , congenital heart block, hereditary lymph  edema , and vitamin B12 deficiency. These are just to name a few on the extensive list that is offered at bloodbook dot com. The site names a wide array of rare diseases and disorders that effect the blood, and gives a link to more information that is available on each disease. This site may be exceptionally helpful to any one who has been diagnosed and is looking for more clear information on a particular disease.

Heart Disease Type Symptoms to Watch Out For

People sometimes ignore or fail to notice the heart disease type symptoms. They shrug them off, thinking it is nothing.

Some of the things that can lead to the development of age-related cardiovascular diseases are asymptomatic. In other words, there is not a single symptom. For example, high blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer. By the time a symptom appears, it could be a deadly one.

High blood pressure and other vascular changes can lead to a stroke or a heart attack. Over 400,000 people in the US and more than 100,000 in the UK die of coronary heart disease, each year. Worldwide, stroke is the leading cause of death.

It might be impossible to prevent them completely, but the latest research indicates that there are numerous things that we can do to reduce our risks. Following a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity are the two most important things that we can do. Nutritional supplements may also be beneficial.

It is hard to stick to a perfect diet. Maintaining the motivation necessary to exercise can be difficult, too. But, taking a nutritional supplement on a daily basis is easy.

The most common heart disease type symptoms are chest pain and fatigue. Shortness of breath may also indicate a problem, although physical activity can cause breathlessness when one is unaccustomed to the intensity of the workout.

Feeling out of breath during or following a workout is not dangerous. It is normal. It’s best to look at it as a sign to slow down a little. Ideally, you want to be able to carry on a conversation while you are exercising. But, a little huffing and puffing is okay.

Some of the things that “might” be heart disease type symptoms include swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen. Pain in the upper portion of the legs is another sign.

Sudden shooting pains in the shoulders or back could be forerunners of a heart attack or myocardial infarction. A myocardial infarction may be a symptom of arterial diseases, whether age-related or genetic.

Things that may be early warning signs of a stroke include changes in your vision, weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, difficulty hearing, dizziness or nausea. The most common symptom is a sudden severe headache. If you feel as if you are having the worst headache of your life, it is time to head to the hospital.

If you believe that you are experiencing heart disease type symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. While you are waiting, learn about the natural solutions for reversing the age-related cardiovascular diseases. It could extend your life.

Secrets of the Heart

In the last two issues of the newsletter, we’ve discussed the anatomy of the heart and the things that can go wrong with the heart. (If you have not read them yet, it would be helpful, but not essential, before reading on.) In this issue, we’re going to conclude our series by examining how your doctor unravels the secrets of your heart when you visit his/her office. My goal is not to turn you into doctors, but to take some of the mystery out of diagnosis so that you know what your doctor is looking at, listening to, and analyzing when he/she is looking at your heart — to arm you with some basic diagnostic knowledge so you are not totally at the mercy of the medical mystique when the results of your next physical are pronounced.

A definition

Before we launch into our subject, though, we have to define two terms that will be referenced throughout the newsletter: systole and diastole:

– Systole refers to the contraction of the chambers of your heart.

– Diastole refers to the relaxation of those chambers.

In fact, you can have systole and diastole in all four heart chambers, but in most cases, doctors focus on the left ventricle — the chamber that pumps blood throughout your entire body — when using the terms. Also, there are two kinds of systole and diastole: electrical and mechanical. Electrical systole is the electrical activity that precedes actual contraction. It’s what stimulates the heart muscle of the different chambers to actually contract. The delay between electrical stimulation and actual contraction is about a tents of a second.

The same is true of diastole, the relaxation of the heart muscles. Electrical diastole is the recovery and repolarization of the heart in preparation for the next beat. Mechanical diastole is the actual relaxation of the muscle that follows electrical diastole. This distinction becomes important when you look at your ECG.

Incidentally, the increased pressure produced in your circulatory system by the mechanical systole (contraction) of the left ventricle is referred to as systolic pressure. The reduced pressure during relaxation is called diastolic pressure. These are the two numbers your doctor gives you when reading your blood pressure (e.g., 120 over 70). We’ll explore that in detail in the next series of newsletters when we explore the circulatory system.

The Sounds of Your Heart

The most basic tool your doctor has for evaluating the health of your heart is the stethoscope. It is so fundamental to medicine that it has been around in various forms for almost 200 years and is probably the most recognizable symbol of doctors in the world today. Before the stethoscope, physicians would just listen to the heart by pressing their ears against the patient’s chest — not very efficient, and often very unclean.

And what do doctors hear through a stethoscope?

Surprise! It’s actually not the beating of your heart. The heartbeat itself is virtually soundless. That thump…thump your doctor listens to is the sound of blood dashing against the inner walls of the heart chambers. This is a very useful distinction. Hearing the movement of blood reveals far more than would be the case if all we heard was a mechanical contraction.

More precisely, the thump…thump of your heartbeat is the sound of the turbulence of blood against the walls of the heart and the valves during systole (contraction). In fact, thump…thump is not an entirely accurate description of the sound. As it turns out, each thump is, in reality, comprised of separate sounds in both the atria and the ventricles. But because the sound in the ventricles is so loud, it drowns out the other sounds…unless there is a problem.

For example, if there’s stenosis (hardening) of the mitral valve, part of the heartbeat is slowed down because it takes longer for the stiff valve to close so that the multiple sounds start to separate. Instead of the normal thump…thump, you hear something that sounds more like thump…pa pa. On the other hand, if you have incomplete closer of a valve, as in aortic regurgitation, you lose the clean thump and get sort of a chortling “woosh” sound as in whoosh…thump. (If you’re interested, here’s a link to more heart sounds.)

Invariably, then, listening to your heart through a stethoscope is one of the fundamental parts of any checkup. It provides the first clues as to the health of your heart.

Note: for those of you interested in coaching your doctor through anything they may have forgotten in medical school, here’s a more detailed tutorial.

The ECG/EKG

When most people think of heart tests, they think of the ECG. ECG stands for electrocardiogram. It’s also called an EKG, from the German elektrokardiogram. Although it may look like an ECG is recording heartbeats, it’s not. In fact, it records the electrical activity (the electrical triggers, if you will) that presage the actual heartbeat. The mechanical beats follow the electrical triggers by about a tenth of a second — unless, of course, there’s a problem. Or to state it in “medicalese,” electrical systole and diastole precede mechanical systole and diastole (contraction and relaxation) of the heart by about a tenth of a second.

The ECG is an important tool for your doctor, but is hardly complete and comes with several limitations.

It’s a static test, which means it doesn’t necessarily identify problems that appear only when the patient’s heart is under stress. An example would be a patient complaining of intermittent chest pain. This might actually be an indicator of a severe underlying problem, and yet a standard ECG could easily read as perfectly normal.

ECG readings indicate only general problems. In most cases, abnormalities in the reading are non-specific as to cause, and in fact, many times, may mean nothing all.

Bottom line:

– A normal ECG reading doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no problem.

– An abnormal reading doesn’t necessarily mean that there is.

– It’s merely a piece of the puzzle that can help point the doctor in a direction.

That said, an ECG provides four primary pieces of information for your doctor.

First, an ECG can show how fast your heart is beating — or more accurately, how fast the electrical activity is moving through your heart. By measuring the intervals between beats, your doctor can determine if the electrical signal is moving through your heart too slow or too fast.

It also shows the strength and timing of the beat. By measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through your heart muscle, your doctor can get an indication as to which parts of your heart are too large or are overworked or if it’s not pumping forcefully enough.

It can provide evidence of damage to various parts of the heart muscle caused by:

– Previous heart attacks.

– Congenital heart abnormalities.

– Diseases such as thyroid problems, rheumatic fever, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

– Inflammation to either the heart muscle or its lining (inside and out).

– Very low or very high levels of electrolytes including calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

– And it can indicate problems with impaired blood flow in the coronary arteries supplying oxygen to your heart muscle.

Reading the ECG

Your doctor performs an ECG by hooking you up to a series of electrodes scattered over your chest, arms, and legs. (Accurate placement is important.) Each electrode reads the same signal, but because of its unique vantage point, provides a different view of that signal. Think of it like watching a speeding train from the front coming at you, from behind racing away, and from the side whizzing by. It’s the same train, at the same point in time, but each vantage point provides very different information about the train.

Here’s a snippet of an EKG showing several electrodes tracking a heart. Notice how the electrodes start providing noticeably different information concerning the same beat about 2/3 of the way through.

All well and good you might say, but what does it mean? How do I read it? Does it mean I’m healthy or unhealthy? Can I run a marathon, or do I need bypass surgery? All good questions.

In order to understand better what your doctor sees when he looks at an ECG printout, let’s focus on a single beat from a single electrode.

Alright, I agree. That’s certainly pretty meaningless at first glance. However, with a little decoding, it starts to make much more sense. In fact, the heartbeat as represented in an ECG breaks down into four primary pieces: the PR interval, the Q wave, the QRS complex, and the T wave. Let’s explore them for a bit. (Refer back to the graphic as needed.)

The PR interval on the left side of the graph shows the electrical impulse for the contraction of the atria, immediately followed by its depolarization (or clearing of the electrical charge to that part of the heart muscle) so it can relax and gear up for the next contraction. As mentioned earlier, the actual contraction of the muscle follows the signal by about 1/10 of a second — in this case during the PR segment.

The Q wave (labeled Q above) is the initial downward (negative) deflection related to the initial phase of depolarization of the ventricular heart muscle. Again, depolarization is preparation for receiving an electrical stimulus.

The QRS complex in the center of the graphic shows the electrical stimulation of the ventricles, immediately followed by their depolarization. Not surprisingly (considering how much more powerful ventricular contraction is), the amplitude of the electrical signal for the ventricles is much larger than that of the atria.

The T wave on the right side shows the repolarization of the ventricles in preparation for the next beat. Note: The ST segment represents the period from the end of ventricular depolarization to the beginning of ventricular repolarization. In English, the T wave represents the recovery period of the ventricle in preparation for the next beat.

Now, if you’ve really been paying attention, you might be asking yourself an obvious question, “Where’s the corresponding T wave for the atria following their PR interval. Don’t the atria have to repolarize just like the ventricles?” And the answer is, “Yes, they do.” Good call there! The problem is that the repolarization of the atria happens during the QRS complex, and because the ventricular signal is so much stronger than the atrial signal, you can’t see the atrial repolarization — kind of like a flashlight turned on during the midday sun. Give yourself a pat on the back for catching its existence though.

And lastly, we have the QT interval. The QT interval is not a separate section, but is a combination of the QRS complex and its following T wave. It represents the time between the start of ventricular depolarization and the end of ventricular repolarization. It is useful as a measure of the duration of repolarization.

So what’s your doctor looking for when she examines your ECG? To put it simply, she’s looking for normal intervals and normal amplitudes in all key segments of the wave. For example:

The PR interval is indicative of the movement of the cardiac impulse from the atria to the ventricles via the atrioventricular node (see The Anatomy of the Heart), which is normally between 0.12 – 0.20 sec (3 – 5 small boxes wide). If the PR interval is greater than 0.20 sec, that’s an indicator that an AV block is present (see Heart Problems).

The QT interval will vary depending on the heart rate, age, and gender of the patient. It increases with bradycardia (slow heartbeat) and decreases with tachycardia (rapid heartbeat). Men have shorter QT intervals (0.39 sec) than women (0.41 sec). The QT interval is also influenced by the electrolyte balance, drugs, and ischemia. Your doctor will be looking for any interval outside the norm.

A QRS interval of 0.04 to 0.10 seconds — no larger than half a large box — and of normal amplitude.

Differences in the sizes of the Q waves read from different electrodes at the same point in time are indicative of previous heart attacks — the differences are usually caused by areas of dead muscle tissue. A trained cardiologist can accurately pinpoint the area of damage according to which leads are producing which signals.

Inverted T waves may indicate ischemia, or low blood flow to the heart.

Deviations in the ST segment can show ischemia and infarction (i.e., lack of blood flow to the heart muscle and dead muscle tissue). In general, a depression in the ST segment indicates ischemia while an elevation indicates infarction.

If you got lost in the last few bullet points, don’t worry about it. The important point is to understand the “kinds” of anomalies your doctor is looking for — not necessarily to identify them yourself.

However, for those of you interested in keeping up with your doctor, here’s a more detailed tutorial.

And for those of you who just want to walk away with something to hold onto, you can use your ECG to easily calculate your heart rate by counting the number of large squares between R waves (the high point in each beat).

1 square = 300 bpm

2 squares = 150 bpm

3 squares = 100 bpm

4 squares = 75 bpm

5 squares = 60 bpm

6 squares = 50 bpm

The easiest way to do this is find an R wave that coincides with the beginning of a large box and then simply count over to the next R wave. In our ECG snippet (two graphics above), we can find such a point in the middle of the graph. A quick count to the right shows 5 large boxes, or approximately 60 beats per minute. Is that cool or what? You can now read a good chunk of an ECG — and without going to medical school.

Seeing the Heart

Listening to your heart and monitoring its electrical activity, may not be enough. Your doctor may also want to see the heart, and there are several ways to do that.

The most basic heart picture is the chest X-ray. Skilled doctors can actually interpret a great deal from an X-ray, but that’s also the problem with the technology — it requires a great deal of interpretation. That means its accuracy, at times, can be less than desirable.

Arteriogram/angiogram

You can think of the arteriogram (AKA angiogram, angiograph, etc.) as an X-ray on steroids. It’s a procedure that uses a special dye (contrast material) and X-rays to see how blood flows through your heart.

An area of your body, usually the arm or groin, is cleaned and numbed with a local anesthetic. An IV (intravenous) line is inserted into the area. A thin hollow tube called a catheter is placed through the IV and carefully moved up into one of the heart’s arteries. (X-ray images help the doctor see where the catheter should be placed.)

Once the catheter is in place, the dye (contrast material) is injected into the IV. X-ray images are taken to see how the dye moves through the artery. The dye helps highlight any blockages (dark areas) in blood flow.

Thallium Stress Test

Sometimes heart problems do not show up during normal activity; they only manifest under stress (i.e., an increased load on the heart). In those cases, an arteriogram won’t reveal the problem. The thallium stress test, then, is used by your doctor to determine whether exercise causes a decreased blood flow to the heart muscle. This test incorporates elements from the ECG, the angiogram, and an MRI. An IV is inserted into your hand and ECG wires are hooked up to your chest. You then walk on a treadmill until you experience symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, or until you are too tired to continue walking. During the whole procedure, your blood pressure and ECG are monitored continuously. Approximately one minute before you stop walking on the treadmill, the thallium is injected. Thallium is an isotope which is “taken up” by the heart and the coronary arteries. (It flows more easily through non-diseased arteries.) You then lie down on a table, and a scanner takes a picture of your heart. Areas where blood can’t flow easily under stress appear dark. (See below, lower left corner.)

The thallium stress test certainly provides more information than a simple ECG. Unfortunately, stress tests do not detect atheromata present throughout the heart or other body arteries, nor do they reveal the vulnerable plaques, which are typically flat against the walls of the arteries and which are the cause of most heart attacks.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses high frequency ultrasound waves to produce a moving image of your heart. Such an image can help your doctor assess:

– The size of your heart — both the thickness of the heart muscle and the size of the pumping chambers.

– How well your heart is pumping blood.

– Any valve problems: An echocardiogram can easily detect valve leaks and incomplete closure.

– Blood clots or tumors inside the chambers of the heart.

– Any holes in the walls of the heart.

– It’s the same technology used to look at babies in the womb. Check it out.

Full Motion MRI

The big new gun in heart diagnostics is the moving MRI. Recent advances in the technology now allow for full motion images of the heart that can be done quickly enough to even accommodate emergency room patients. This tool is proving to be one of the most accurate heart assessment tools yet.

Sometimes technology really does work.

Conclusion

The purpose of this newsletter (in fact, this entire series on the heart, covering anatomy, physiology, and concluding in this issue with diagnostics) was not to turn you into a doctor. My goal was merely to take away some of the mystery and fear that comes from not knowing what’s being done to you when it comes to your heart. There’s no question that ignorance and the sense of fear and victimization that come with it contribute greatly to both the anxiety and depression so often associated with heart disease and its treatment. Now, though, you should be able to partner to some degree with your doctor when it comes to your treatment — to be proactive, and less anxious.

Keep in mind, there are some doctors who won’t like the fact that you can now ask questions and participate in your own healing — to question a diagnosis or treatment option. Unfortunately, insecurity does not brook a challenge. My advice is to stop working with those doctors. Find a doctor that will work with you. Good doctors welcome informed patients.

And that concludes our discussion of the heart. When we return to our series on the human body, we will take on the circulatory system.

How to Survive a Heart Attack

Most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Common symptoms of a heart attack are:

– Chest pain that does not clear up after resting or taking angina medications. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

– A feeling of a crushing weight against the chest and profuse sweating.

– Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

– Nausea, vomiting, and cold sweats.

– A feeling of indigestion or heartburn.

– Fainting.

– A fear of impending death (angor animi).

Other symptoms of a heart attack are:

– Shortness of breath.

– Dizziness, weakness, and fainting.

– Abdominal pain.

If you think you are having a heart attack get help immediately. Each year up to 460,000 people die of heart disease in an emergency department or before reaching hospital. That’s up to 60% of cardiac deaths.

The first 3-6 hours are critical. By getting help early you greatly increase your chances of survival and greatly lessen permanent damage to your heart.

Take 1/4 tablet of aspirin and make sure that the emergency health providers know so that an additional dose isn’t given. And tell the emergency health providers that you think you are having a heart attack.

The Link Between Heart Disease and Cholesterol

Did the blood tests recommended by your doctor show that you have high cholesterol or triglyceride levels? Do you have poor diet and exercise habits that have resulted in weight gain? If so, you may be at risk for heart disease. What do you do?

You should develop a healthy lifestyle that includes appropriate weight loss and changes in diet and exercise. This is especially true for heart patients. For those with existing high levels, medications may be an important complement to both diet and exercise in helping to lower and maintain your cholesterol levels. (Remember to talk with your doctor before implementing an exercise program or making drastic changes to your diet.)

Cholesterol and Triglycerides?

Hyperlipidemia is the general term applied to high blood cholesterol and/or elevated blood triglycerides. We now know that elevated triglycerides promote the deposition of cholesterol in the arteries, which results in a thickening and hardening of the artery walls, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Reducing triglycerides in the bloodstream is a good strategy to help minimize heart problems.

According to the American Heart Association, one study by Koren-Morag, Graff and Goldbourt found that individuals with elevated triglycerides have a nearly 30% increased probability of suffering a stroke, even after taking into account other risk factors such as cholesterol levels. One of the most important aspects of this study is that it clarifies the independent link of lipids to stroke, meaning that a causal relationship is likely. Adjusting your intake of fat is very important.

Responding to High Cholesterol

Researchers have established a strong link between high cholesterol and heart problems and, more recently, between high triglyceride levels and heart problems. When blood levels of these lipids are low, the likelihood that they will directly contribute to disease is much lower.

The good news is that their levels can be managed. Also it is ideal that you target your LDL levels to below 100 mg/dL of blood if you’re a heart patient and to below 130 mg/dL if you do not have heart disease.

The Inheritance Factor

Because a genetic basis exists for the production of lipids and for their concentration in your bloodstream, a family history of heart disease suggests an increased likelihood of developing heart problems.

The Role of Medicine

For some people, changing food intake patterns and adopting an effective exercise program are not enough to reduce LDL levels to normal.

Are Ghosts Real

Ghosts are different things depending on who you ask. While 32% of Americans believe in ghosts, according to a 2005 Gallup poll, there is a divergence of opinion as to what constitutes a ghost. Parapsychologists are in favor of the term, apparition, because it’s purportedly more precise. An apparition is considered immaterial, but it can seem real and tangible. There are a variety of entities that qualify for the catch-all term, ghost, and here they are, in no particular order.

The spirit of a deceased person could make itself known in its former habitat, i.e., a home or office. In this case, the ghost is said to have a likeness to the deceased either in appearance, behavior, or vocal imitation. Of course, it may not be an imitation!

Other common uses of the term refer to angels or demons, or even as a synonym for a person’s immaterial spirit, whether or not they’re presenting themselves to others.

Ghosts are portrayed as having a semi-transparent, unspecific form, loosely resembling the person they once were. Their motives are helpful, ominous, or treacherous. Their motions are transient because they pop in and out. They’re often seen fleeing or scurrying. Of course, reports abound, and these are only a few examples of the alleged behavior of ghosts.

Ghost mythology is common in every ancient culture – from the Egyptians, to the Chinese, to the Europeans of the Middle Ages Ghosts were thought to be the disembodied soul of the person they once inhabited.

Parapsychologists study ghosts as part of their living. A parapsychologist seeks to understand paranormal phenomena. Paranormal phenomena is described as any phenomenon or occurrence that exceeds the bounds of what is possible, according to the established principles and laws of science.

Skeptics charge the controversy with several explanations for suspected ghost sightings. For instance, Scientists Richard Lord and Richard Wiseman explain that sound waves having frequencies less than 20 hertz are normally inaudible, nonetheless, they may cause someone to feel a presence or shift their mood to anxiety or dread. Carbon monoxide poisoning was cited as a cause for haunted houses as early as 1921 because it can cause hallucinations, ill feelings, and a sensation of dread as well.

Another condition, pareidolia, is a condition that causes someone to recognize human faces or forms in random patterns. That’s kind of like a case of seeing what you anticipate, hope for, or want to happen, instead of just seeing. Skeptics aside, extraordinary sightings and stories flow in from all corners of the world at large.

Let’s take a look and see whether or not ghosts might have a scant possibility of really existing.

The New Testament acknowledges the existence of demons, the real spiritual beings that tempt, lie, deceive, and physically harm humans. According to the Bible their intention is to turn people away from God, from the best interests of the human and what will make then happiest, and to try to cause humans to think that they’re smarter than the All mighty loving God. Jesus gave humans the power to cast out demons and walk over the enemy. We have a shield of protection through Christ’s blood. A study of the gospel and the historical teachings of Jesus as it relates to angels and demons is too important and is a separate area of study outside of ghosts.

But, before we begin, let’s move on to the ghost stories of the world.

The face of Martha Rendell, the only female to be executed at Fremantle, appears in the window of the church frequently. The face seems to be produced by ripples in the glass that reflect light in an abnormal way, but the resemblance is eerie.

In China, Tuen Mun Road in Hong Kong is apparently causing excessive death tolls due to “ghosts popping up in the middle of the road”. Drivers avert the apparitions by veering their cars quickly and end up crashing. Hundreds of people allege that this highway is haunted, and many claim to have lost complete control of their automobiles.

Traveling to England we find a case with some substantial evidence, no pun intended. London’s primary criminal court, the Old Bailey, has an uninvited guest at major trials. Judges, barristers, and policemen attest to this strange apparition.

Even Mount Everest has its ghost in resident, probably the ghost of climber, Andrew Irvine, who tried to reach the summit in 1924 with George Mallory, but disappeared on his journey upward. Two climbers in 1975 said that they occupied a snow hole with him, and other climbers have seen a ghost too.

Ireland has the Temple Michael, a quint church and castle positioned on the blackwater river, with a close proximity to Youghal, Co Cork. The place is not used, and it overlooks the blackwater river. Visitors and local inhabitants of the region claim to have heard shrieks, screams, lights in motion, static on cameras over the church grounds, twigs that break without explanation, and coffins that close and open of their own accord.

In Japan, the tomb of Masakado near Tokyo is said to be haunted by the ghost of Masakado. During the 1920’s, the Office for the Ministry of Finance was built on top of it. In 1926, the minister of finance and 10 staff members died of disease. The tomb was restored. After WWII, however, they attempted to construct over it again. The driver of the bulldozer died, however, when it overturned.

The most haunted abode in Scotland is the Close of Mary King in Edinburgh. It was built in the 1600s, and it contained hundreds of people during the plague of 1645 when they were quarantined. Voices, dogs, and a lady clad in black have all been recorded.

Several fables, stories, and accounts arise out of the United States. One of particular interest is the Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. It used to house   tuberculosis  patients and people refer to it as the most haunted place ever. More than 60,000 unconfirmed deaths have been reported and the owners of the property, construction workers and maintenance staff, and paranormal investigators have claimed one can see unnatural lights and phantasms darting around the premises at night. The hallways and rooms are filled with appearances of ghosts.

It is clear that immaterial entities exist because Jesus cast these personal and evil beings out of people. They shrieked and screamed and cursed, and this was written about as an account of real events by the meticulous doctor and historian, Luke, in the gospel of Luke. Get protection from spirits through Jesus Christ. Whether or not they’re actual people or vicious demons, Jesus has all power in heaven and on earth, and it says this in Matthew 28:18.

Paranormal phenomena are alive and well because the physical world isn’t all there is.

Topping Trees

Topping is the worst thing you can do to a tree. When I was in Hawaii working for companies that topped trees I remember customers asking me if it was necessary to be so drastic with the trees. Since I no longer work for those companies I can be less evasive and say, no. I never felt comfortable topping all of those beautiful trees. It was sad to do so much irreparable damage. There is hardly ever a time when a tree should be topped. One of the rare exceptions is when a tree has died back on it’s own such as the recent frost that damaged so many ficus trees.

Many people are afraid of their trees because they have grown so large.

It can be intimidating living in the shadow of a giant. Ironically the most dangerous tree is one that has been topped. When a tree is topped the suckers that grow from the ends of the cuts grow very fast. In general a tree will have recovered its former height within 3-5 years of being topped. Normally fast growth equals weak growth and the opposite is true as well. The suckers that are frantically growing to produce leaves will be very weak.

Another factor which contributes to the sucker’s tendency to shed is the fact that the new growth can only be attached at the outer most part of the branch. In other words a normal branch has a kind of root inside the trunk.

The bigger the trunk and branch get the better the attachment. A sucker starting on the outside of the trunk will be poorly attached and have a tendency to fail. Many people over-estimate their trees capacity for damage in a storm.

I have seen 80 foot tall Eucalyptus trees fall directly on a house and do no structural damage. Of course I have seen properly thinned trees not fall over at all! In my opinion the height of a tree has little to do with the tendency to blow over in a micro burst. Thick, overgrown trees are usually the ones to fall.

What to do if your tree has already been topped?

In the tree service industry a knowledgeable arborist should understand the concept of “Crown Restoration.” After a topping cut is made an experienced arborist can attempt to repair the damage. Usually about 5-8 suckers will fight for dominance on the end of the topping cut. In some trees they seem to repair themselves by causing the weakest suckers to fall off. That isn’t the best or safest way to do it.

The only way to repair a topped tree takes anywhere from 3-5 years to accomplish. It involves selective thinning of the sucker growth. For example: year one remove two suckers, year two remove two more suckers and so on.

The finished product will have a thicker trunk with one large sucker growing from it. Over time the sucker will develop a stronger attachment to the trunk. It just depends on the circumstances as to how many prunings will be needed to get to this point.

Right about the time when you are feeling like the crown restoration is complete it may be necessary to reduce the height of the tree through proper reduction cuts. In brief, never let anyone top your tree. As a consumer it is important to know what a good cut looks like so an informed decision can be made about who will work on the tree. Many companies actually advertise “Topping,” raise an eyebrow when you see this.

Ganglion Cyst – The Most Common Tumor in the Hand and Wrist

A ganglion cyst is the most common soft tissue tumor in the hand and wrist. The most common of these benign tumors is a ganglion cyst appearing on the dorsum (or back) of the wrist, just past the skin crease where the wrist bends back and forth. This cyst comes from a specific joint between two bones in the wrist called the scaphoid and lunate bones.

These cysts almost always come from joints and may start in any joint in the hand or wrist. Another one of the most common places for a cyst is the dorsum of the finger between the skin creases of the end knuckle (DIP joint) and the start of the fingernail.

Most hand surgeons believe that the majority of cysts happen after some sort of trauma to the involved joint. A small hole develops in the joint lining and allows fluid to escape – the fluid forms a cyst.

What Is a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a very common bump or mass that usually appears near joints or tendons in the hand or wrist. Common locations include the dorsal (back side) surface of the wrist, the palm side of the wrist, the base of the palm side of the finger, and the dorsal surface of the end joint of the finger.

You can envision what a ganglion cyst looks like by picturing a balloon filled with clear jelly, attached to a hollow stalk that comes from the joint or tendon lining. Fluid travels from the joint or tendon sheath into the stalk, and fills the balloon with fluid.

Constant motion of the hand or wrist keeps fluid pumped into the cyst and it can’t get back out. Ganglion cysts can be uncomfortable if they put pressure on nerves, tendons, or skin.

The good news is that they may go up and down in size or even go away completely on their own, without any needles or surgery. They may not be painful. Ganglion cysts are not malignant (they are not made up of cancer cells) and they don’t spread to other areas, though they may get larger or more lobulated (more lumpy).

How is the diagnosis made?

Diagnosis is based on the patient’s history (how he or she noticed the mass), where the lump is and what it feels like. Sometimes patients say they remember injuring the hand or wrist several weeks before noticing the cyst, but most patients can’t remember a specific event.

Cysts are usually round and firm. You can usually feel the smooth edges of a ganglion cyst, and you can often move the cyst around under the skin with your fingers. Cysts at the base of the finger are usually firm, pea-sized bumps that hurt when gripping narrow objects, like a steering wheel or suitcase handle.

Putting a flashlight on the skin around the mass will make it “light up” in a darkened room (transillumination), indicating that the mass has clear fluid inside.

Cysts at the end of the finger (DIP joint cysts) near the fingernail may push on the growing nail, causing a groove in the nail. Sometimes these may drain if the skin above them gets too thin.

I usually get x-rays to look at the bones and joints around the cyst. Sometimes I can see some nearby arthritis that explains the source of the cyst fluid, but in young people there is rarely an obvious source of the mass on x-rays. Rarely a cyst will be a sign of a serious ligament injury that hasn’t been diagnosed yet.

What is the best ganglion cyst treatment?

There are non-surgical treatment options for ganglion cysts; for cysts on the wrist and cysts on the finger. The first option is to do nothing – the mass may just go away on its own. If the cyst is not painful, not limiting activity, and not too big or uncomfortable, this is a good option.

Puncture or aspiration is the next thing to consider. Putting a needle in the mass may decompress it and allow the fluid inside to escape under or through the skin. Depending on where the cyst is, it may be near nerves or a major artery – make sure the doctor or nurse putting a needle in your cyst knows where these structures are.

I use the term puncture because it’s very difficult to draw out the thick clear jelly that’s often inside ganglion cysts. Usually, if the cyst is close to the skin, the jelly comes out through the hole made by the needle. I use a numbing shot first, then a larger needle to make a small hole in the wall of the cyst. I recommend a splint after this to allow the cyst wall to seal off. This is done in the office.

In my experience, cysts usually come back after puncture. The longer the cyst has been there, the less likely non-surgical treatment will work.

Finally, taking the cyst out in surgery is the most reliable way of getting rid of it. Ganglion cyst excision is not just a matter of opening up the skin and “lopping it off”; the joint or tendon sheath must be exposed to get out the stalk, or root of the cyst.

This can be done with a small incision over the cyst or through a wrist scope (camera inserted into the wrist joint). The exact method used depends on the size and location of the mass. Recurrence rates (chances of the cyst coming back) are very low – close to 3%.

Restrictions after ganglion excision surgery

For patients with wrist ganglion cysts, I recommend using a wrist splint after surgery for two weeks while the soreness from the surgery goes away. During that time, I advise patients to come out of the splint three times a day and do some stretching exercises. Patients can type and do light activities with their hands during this time.

Activity is rarely limited after finger or tendon cyst excision. Full use is usually allowed when the skin is healed after a few days.

Influenza and the Risk of Viral Pneumonia

Influenza, commonly known as “the flu”, is an infectious disease generally caused by viruses. The viruses responsible for causing the flu during viral outbreaks are very contagious and they can easily be contracted by entering in contact with infected people. Flu viruses are airborne and they can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing or simply by breathing the same air with contaminated individuals. You can also acquire flu indirectly, by entering in contact with contaminated objects. Thus, impeccable hygiene during flu seasons is recommended as an effective means of preventing infection with flu viruses.

Although most people experience no problems in overcoming seasonal maladies such as influenza, the elderly are very susceptible to developing serious complications such as bronchitis, otitis, heart disease and pneumonia. In the case of people with already existent conditions (asthma, chronic bronchitis) and people with weak immune system, flu can degenerate into serious pulmonary diseases such as viral pneumonia. Considering the fact that flu viruses primarily affect the respiratory system, people with respiratory sensibilities are exposed to a high risk of developing pneumonia during the flu seasons.

Pneumonia involves inflammation and infection of the lungs that triggers an overproduction of mucus at the level of the respiratory tract. Common symptoms of pneumonia are: difficult, shallow breathing, chest pain and discomfort that intensify with deep breaths, wheezing, exacerbated productive cough and moderate to high fever. Doctors sustain that the occurrence of pneumonia is strongly related to previously acquired infectious diseases such as the flu, which can degenerate into a wide range of complications. There are many forms of pneumonia, most of them triggered by viral infectious agents. Some types of pneumonia are caused by the same viruses responsible for causing influenza or other common seasonal maladies.

Statistics indicate that around 30-50 million Americans are confronted with influenza during winter outbreaks. While most of these people have no difficulties in coping with the illness, the elderly and people with special conditions (weak immune system, already-existent respiratory affections) often develop serious complications, requiring hospitalization. Recent studies indicate that influenza accounts for more than 115.000 hospitalizations in the United States each year. Viral pneumonia and other serious diseases associated with complicated flu are responsible for causing 20.000 annual deaths.

It is important to note that common medications and remedies used in the treatment of flu can’t prevent or overcome viral pneumonia. Pneumonia is a serious infectious disease that requires rigorous treatment with specific medications. If you experience possible symptoms of pneumonia, it is very important to quickly contact your doctor in order to receive the correct medical treatment.

Considering the fact that flu and other seasonal contagious diseases can trigger exacerbated symptoms and lead to serious complications in certain categories of people, it is best to take measures in preventing the occurrence of such maladies in the first place. Doctors strongly recommend people with pronounced susceptibility to infections to get the influenza vaccine every year, before flu outbreaks. Flu vaccines can also prevent against certain forms of viral pneumonia that are caused by common flu viruses. However, flu shots can’t prevent the occurrence of bacterial or atypical pneumonia, which require a different type of vaccine. In addition to the influenza vaccine, the categories of persons exposed to a high risk of developing pneumonia should receive a pneumococcal vaccine as well. A single dose of pneumococcal vaccine offers lifetime protection against various forms of pneumonia and the vaccine can be administered at any time of year.

Colloidal Silver-The Amazing Alternative to Antibiotics

Colloidal silver is known for its medicinal properties since ancient times. It is making a comeback and this is hardly surprising because this amazingly versatile and safe substance is considered to be the strongest broad-spectrum antibiotic currently known. Its low cost production and shorter delivery time has added to its popularity. No wonder that many small companies are manufacturing the stuff to sell at a profit.

Although silver is known for its innate ability to fight infection for ages, clinical uses for silver as an antibiotic were discarded when antibiotics were discovered. In recent past, thanks to eye opening research, silver is emerging as a wonder of modern medicine. Ironically, it is being rediscovered now that silver kills bacteria, a fact which had been known for centuries. Current research shows that colloidal silver sometimes fares better when compared to antibiotic. The traditional antibiotic kills perhaps, half dozen different disease organisms, but silver kills some 650. Also, with its uses, resistant strains fail to develop. Moreover, silver is virtually non toxic.

In some instances, people are forced to resort to colloidal silver for treatment of diseases. The reason is quite an eye opener. Thirty years after the advent of antibiotics, many types of disease causing organisms had built immunity to their action. Over the past several years the medical establishment via the news media, has released a barrage of reports on the new strains of ‘Super Bugs’ that can not be destroyed by antibiotics. Many of these organisms have built a resistance to these drugs. Fortunately, the timely reemergence of colloidal silver may prove to be one of the best remedies that the public has to protect themselves from a massive health crisis now in the making.

Colloidal silver is an amazing natural alternative to antibiotics. There is no disease causing bacteria that can live in the presence of even minute traces of metallic silver. The best colloidal silver contains only natural ingredients that help the body fight infections just like synthetic antibiotics, but without their damaging side effects. Its natural deep golden color is characteristic of its high quality. The concentration of twenty parts of silver per million contained is a highly effective, safe formulation. Higher concentrations can actually be less effective as they may interfere with beneficial bacteria and cause skin discoloration, even when used internally.

The antibiotic properties of colloidal silver are not very difficult to understand. The antimicrobial property of colloidal silver is attributed to its silver content and can be explained accordingly. Although silver is harmless to human beings it is deadly to a culture of bacteria of a virus. It doesn’t kill bacteria or a virus but when a particle of silver comes into contact with these living beings it inhibits their ability to reproduce. It does so by disabling the oxygen metabolism enzyme found in single celled organisms such as bacteria and fungi, as well as the enzyme found in most viruses. The disease causing organisms either starve or suffocate, for many others their internal protoplast collapse if their bodily charge is opposite to the silver particles, and still others are unable to reproduce themselves. This causes the pathogen to die/stop replicating so that the immune and lymph systems can eliminate them from the body. Therefore, ingestion of colloidal silver into human body inhibits the growth of disease. This mode of action is such that resistance cannot develop as it does for antibiotics, meaning that it is safe to use year round without worrying about causing pathogen mutation.

Colloidal silver has been proven useful in curing so many diseases. It is used for cases of acne, arthritis, athlete’s foot, bladder complaints, burns, blepharitis, colitis, cystitis, diphtheria, dermatitis, diabetes, dysentery, ear-ache, Eustachian tube problems, eczema, fibrositis, furunculosis, genital herpes, gonorrhoea, impetigo, influenza, intestinal trouble, keratitis, leprosy, lupus, lymphagitis, malaria, Menier’s disease, meningitis, neurasthenia, ophthalmic disorders, canine parvo virus, pneumonia, pleurisy, prostate disease, pruritis ani, quinsy, rheumatism, ringworm, rhinitis, scarletina, seborrhoea, septic ulcers, sepsis, septicemia, skin cancer, shingles, soft sores, spruce, staphylococcus infections, streptococcus infections, subdies inflammation, tuberculosis, tonsilitis, toxemia, typhoid, trench foot, ulcers, warts, whooping cough and yeast infections. Also, it is safe for adults, children, animals and pregnant and nursing women. It can be applied topically and internally and has no reaction with other medications.

With its above germ fighting properties, colloidal silver has found hundreds of uses in day to day life. Some examples of its versatility are that it can be used as a gargle or mouthwash, as a deodorant, as a sterilizing solution and disinfectant for cleaning purposes, it can be made into a spray for plant-care or used to rinse fruit and vegetables. One of its main usages is in the manufacturing of soap. When added as an ingredient of soap, colloidal silver carries its entire germ fighting properties into the soap. Equipped with the natural antibiotic colloidal silver, the soap itself may replace the traditional antibiotic. Moreover, as colloidal silver has no side effects and is totally natural, it makes a perfect ingredient for soap making. The commercially available soaps in the market with its excessive chemicals, pollution, dehydrated air and other environmental factor may cause damage or irritation to human skin. With the use of soap with colloidal silver, one need not worry about all these. On the contrary, it helps in curing of so many skin diseases like acne, eczema etc. as listed earlier. Because of its skin friendliness, these soaps have become extremely popular off late and they are attracting people in large numbers.