How to Lower Your Blood Pressure

From time to time students will come to see me with mildly elevated blood pressure.  The goal is to have a blood pressure reading that is < 120/80.  I don’t typically start medications unless the blood pressure is > 140/90.

If you find your blood pressure slightly elevated, how do you go about lowering it without resorting to medications?

  • Control your weight, striving to keep your BMI < 25, through a good diet and regular exercise.
  • No smoking
  • Keep alcohol at a minimum, no more than 1 drink daily for women and 2 drinks daily for men.
  • Monitor your blood pressure, there are BP machines in the RPAC near the Sport Shop on the ground floor.

After making the above changes for 3 months, schedule an appointment with your health care provider for a re-evaluation.

Douglas Radman, M.D.

You might be a germophobe if…

  • You die a little inside when someone sneezes without covering their mouth.
  • You probably own at least 50 pocket hand sanitizers.
  • Lysol/bleach is a household necessity.
  • You hate unnecessary physical contact.
  • Handshakes make you anxious.
  • You wonder how the seven dwarfs could continue living with Sneezy.

But despite your best efforts, you may still be coming into contact with germs.  Check out this Mythbuster episode where they track the transfer of germs at a typical gathering.

 

 

Trouble Falling a Sleep – Could be your electronics

Trouble falling asleep? That could be my mantra.  I am bone tired and yet as soon as I hit the pillow I am wide awake.  I can feel myself starting to drift off and then, boom, my mind jerks me back awake and I just lie there.  Ugh!  Or I drift off to sleep only to awaken in the middle of the night unable to fall back asleep.  Oh, what I would give for even 6 straight hours of sleep.

Trust me when I tell you this – I have tried everything. Sleepy time tea, warm milk with honey and nutmeg, no liquids after 8pm, meditation, relaxation exercises, breathing sequences, Benadryl.  You name it, I have been willing to give it a try.

Blue light affects sleep

Ok, well almost everything. The experts are constantly saying that we need to turn off all devices at least 2 hours before bed.  Seriously – 2 hours?!  By the time I get home from work, do the dinner thing and whatever else needs to be done – that would mean no devices at all on the weekday evenings.  Is that realistic?  That’s when I catch up with my family on Facebook, play a couple of games, and read a chapter in a book.  I also hold online chats with students a couple of nights a week and yes, computers and laptops count as devices.

So why the insistence that we turn off devices at least 2 hours before bed? It all has to do with blue light.  According to Scientific American the blue light emitted from our devices has a higher concentration than natural light and this affects our levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.  Normally melatonin would be released naturally by our bodies a few hours before bedtime as the sun sets.  The blue light from our devices, however, resets our body’s clocks to a later schedule which in turn interferes with our sleep.

So, what to do? I don’t know about you, but not using electronics after 8pm just is not practical – especially on those nights I meet with students.  Turns out that there are several blue light filters out there that you can install on your devices, yes even your computer and laptop.  These apps allow you to essentially implement a night mode by indicating your time zone and then automatically adjust the lighting of your device as the day progresses, from a strong blue light during the day to an amber color at night.  When I get home tonight, I’m going to install one of these apps on my IPad and computer and give it a go.  I’ll let you know the results in a couple of weeks.

Mythbusters – Hand, Elbow, or Hankie

We are constantly told to COVER OUR COUGH or to SNEEZE INTO OUR SLEEVE, but does it really matter?  Is sneezing or coughing into my sleeve really any better than using a tissue, for instance?  Mythbusters decided to put it to the test.  They inhaled some dye and then sneezed, using different barriers, the hand, a hankie, and a sleeve.  The results – SLEEVE!  Not only did this result in the least amount of exposure, but the odds of passing it on to another person through a handshake or by touching another surface was infinitely less.  You can view their test cases below.

 

 

 

 

Audiology Awareness Month – Free Hearing Screenings

October is Audiology Awareness Month. To celebrate check out these free hearing screenings:

  • OSU Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic is offering free hearing screenings on Tuesday (10/11/2016) and Thursday (10/27/2016).  Please call the clinic to schedule a free screening at 614-292-6251.
  • The Ohio State Student Academy of Audiology is offering free hearing screenings to the general public on Friday (10/7/2016) 1-4 p.m. at the Ohio Union in dance room 01 on the building’s lower level. Hearing screenings require only 5 or 10 minutes to complete — and are done by audiology graduate students.

Should I have my cholesterol tested?

There are several risk factors for heart disease and stroke.  These include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking history, high blood cholesterol levels, and family history of heart disease and stroke.  High cholesterol can build up in your blood vessels causing narrowing and reduced blood flow.  This can lead to heart disease and stroke.

The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends that men get a blood cholesterol test at age 35 years and women at age 45 years.  This should be done every five years.  The cholesterol test may be performed at an earlier age or more frequently if you have any of the cardiovascular risk factors mentioned above.  The accuracy of cholesterol tests done at public screenings such as health fairs varies.  It is probably better to discuss this with your provider who can order more reliable testing.

Dr. Matthew Peters

The Problem with Antibiotics

There are many types of antibiotics. The most commonly used antibiotics treat bacterial infections.  Penicillin was discovered in 1928.  It was first used on a patient in 1941.  It was mass produced by the end of World War II.  There are now dozens of antibiotics on the market.  These drugs have reduced illness and death from infectious diseases.  However, bacteria have adapted resulting in these drugs becoming less effective.

These antibacterials medicines do not work on all infections. They treat bacteria but not viral infections.  Common viral infections are colds, influenza, bronchitis, and most sore throats and sinus infections.

Overuse of antibiotics contributes to more serious drug-resistant bacteria. The CDC estimates that 23,000 people in this country die yearly from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Reasons for overuse include pressure on healthcare providers to prescribe these drugs, patients using leftover antibiotics, and patients using antibiotics purchased overseas.

What can we do? Do not expect antibiotics to cure every illness.  Please do not pressure your provider to prescribe an antibiotic.  Most colds and coughs will take two weeks or longer to resolve.  Complete the entire course when an antibiotic is prescribed,.  Also, never take someone else’s medication.

 

Dr. Matthew Peters, MD

How do I know if I have frostbite?

ehow.com

Q: I was out in the cold in tennis shoes for a long time. When I came inside my toes were blue and hurt really bad for a few hours. Did I get frostbite?

A: Frostbite occurs when tissue freezes.  The condition mainly affects the fingers, toes, ears, cheeks and nose, but any body part can freeze – even your eyeballs!  When exposed to prolonged cold temperatures, blood flow is decreased to the extremities and diverted to more vital organs, like your heart, lungs and brain.  Unfortunately, this leaves the vulnerable areas even more at risk.

There is a spectrum of severity in frostbite.  Superficial frostbite occurs when the areas of the skin close to the surface freeze. There is often a burning sensation, numbness, or tingling.  Affected tissue becomes cold and white, but maintains some of the elasticity of normal skin.  This type of frostbite can be serious, but is potentially reversible with no loss of tissue or function.

The deeper the freeze, the more serious the disease.  When there is more extensive damage the tissue becomes white and hard, sometimes with superficial blood blisters. Sensation in the tissue is either absent or profoundly decreased. There probably will be loss of tissue, and sometimes surgery is required.

Frostnip is a cold injury to the tissues that is different from frostbite.  In frostnip, superficial tissue becomes cooled, but is not cold enough to freeze.  Skin is usually pale and numb, but recovers fully with gradual warming.

People with frostbite should be seen by a physician as soon as possible.  The area involved should be elevated and gradually warmed.  No rubbing! Clapping, rubbing, or slapping those cold frozen fingers together is only going to cause more damage to already stressed tissue.

Of course, the best way to avoid frostbite is to listen to your mother (and Dr. Vicki) and wear your hat and gloves. Minimize your exposure during severe weather. Be extra careful if you’re sick, have diabetes, vascular disease, or you smoke. Be wary of cold weather and alcohol. Stay warm out there, Buckeyes!

Victoria Rentel, MD (OSU SHS)

Reviewed by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Are you getting enough?

Sleep, that is.

Sleep is more important than you think.  Most people don’t function well with less than 7 hours of sleep.

Sleep deprived students more readily reach for candy and desserts.  The so-called ‘freshman 15’ may be related to widely changing patterns of sleep (sleeping different hours each night) and abbreviated (too little) sleep.  Lack of sleep makes the body less sensitive to insulin increasing the risk of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

Sleep deprivation affects brain functions including memory, emotion, and regulation of appetite.  Poor sleep can, under certain circumstances, lead to depression severe enough to be diagnosed as major depression.

Without enough sleep, the immune system cannot work as efficiently to fight off illness.

Sleeping pills provide only modest benefits.  People fall asleep between 8 and 20 minutes faster when taking prescription drugs for sleep.  Often, people end up functioning worse the next day – so drowsy that they cannot drive safely.  Sleeping pills can pose other dangers, too, like falls, dizziness, and fractures.

So if your roommate (not you) is in a bad mood, crabby, has decreased energy, poor judgement, and is gaining weight, maybe they just need more sleep.

More later on how to get a good night’s sleep.

Pat Balassone, CNP

In search of the perfect pillow

When changing the sheets last month, I noticed that our pillows looked – well – disgusting. They had a

Could this be the pillow I seek?

Could this be the pillow I seek?

bunch of yellowish slobber type stains on them and no longer held their shape. I couldn’t remember when we purchased them and decided then and there it was time for new pillows.

I had no idea there were so many different types of pillows. Pillows for back sleepers, stomach sleepers, side sleepers.   Down pillows, down alternative pillows, memory foam pillows. Expensive pillows, cheap pillows. Pillows to keep you cool at night. You name it – there’s a pillow.

I had determined not to go with the cheapest, but to try and go up a notch and pick a good quality pillow. I am a side sleeper and set my sights on those types of pillows. I pulled out a few, squeezed them, felt them for support, etc. and selected our replacements. Side sleeper pillows come in medium firmness and firm with the thought being that they need to support the head for the width of the shoulders.

I got home, changed out our pillows and tossed the old ones into the garbage. Three days later I was greatly regretting this new purchase. Sore doesn’t even begin to describe the state of my neck. I was so uncomfortable that I chucked the new pillow and just slept without. I then went on a search for a new pillow.

I googled pillows to find out which were considered the best. I researched side sleepers to see why there was a pillow specifically for this. I read reviews. I was determined to find a pillow that would not hurt my neck, even if I had to try out every pillow in Columbus.

I found a suggestion that recommended holding a pillow up to the wall and laying your head against it – simulating sleep – to see if it was the pillow for you. I received quite a few strange looks , but gave it a try. After much trial and error I finally found the pillow for me. That first night’s sleep was glorious and I haven’t experienced any neck issues.

Now, there are lots of opinions about pillows, how often they should be cleaned and replaced. As far as cleaning goes:

  • Huffpost Healthy Living recommends a zippered pillow protector (not the pillow case) that is washed every 3 weeks and washing the pillow itself every 3 months. (Down pillows have to be dry cleaned, but down alternatives can be washed.)
  • Martha Stewart recommends washing twice a year.

Replacing of pillows should be done every 2-3 years to ensure proper head and neck support.