Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tonsillectomy Recovery

Tonsillectomy recovery can be a surprisingly difficult experience, especially for adults. Many patients are not given adequate information before their tonsillectomy to prepare and manage their recovery. There are some basic facts about tonsillectomy surgery and recovery, and also about conditions related to tonsillectomy like tonsil stones, tonsillitis, and strep throat that can help you feel comfortable with your decision to undergo tonsillectomy surgery, and make your tonsillectomy recovery a little bit easier.

I was in my mid 40's when I went under the knife. It was an experience that changed me forever. After years of battling tonsillitis, strep throat, and even sleep apnea, the surgery was one of the best things I've ever done for myself. These days I rarely get sick, I sleep better Let me suggest that the time to think about recovery is BEFORE surgery! By planning ahead you can make your tonsillectomy recovery much, much better.

Ask your doctor a million questions. Particularly, I advise discussing pain management with him or her in advance. You will be in pain during recovery. Pain management is essential to a successful recovery. Poorly executed, you'll suffer from poor sleep, poor nutrition, and even depression. Ask for liquid medicines. I am amazed by how many patients suffer trying to swallow big pills during their recovery, or crushing them to mix with food that may be hard to swallow. Another concern may be nausea. Consider asking your doctor for an anti nausea prescription. On the topic of tonsillectomy recovery medications, talk to your doctor about swelling. Some people have such bad uvula swelling that they can barely swallow. If I were to have a tonsillectomy again, (Thank God- did it already!), I would ask my doc for a steroid to reduce the inflammation and swelling. It's also a good idea to keep a written record of the medicines you take, as you take them. It's easy to get confused and forget when your last dose was.

It's also a good idea to keep drinking and eating as much as you can tolerate. Especially drinking. Swallowing fluids speeds recovery and keeps the tissues moist. Taking in food not only provides nourishment to help you recover from tonsillectomy surgery, but it also reduces the risk of nausea from taking pain medicines.

I generally advise taking no less than two weeks off from work. At a minimum, plan on ten days. It's a good idea to also talk to family and friends and ASK FOR HELP. You'll need support. For the first 24 hours you'll need someone in your home to keep an eye on you. Anesthesia will still be in your system and there is a slight risk of hemorrhage. After that, I'd advise having someone. "nearby." At the least, stopping in and checking on you, and being available to pick up items from the store or pharmacy. Be prepared to be worthless to others. If you have kids, try to get help during your tonsillectomy recovery.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What Are the Other Uses of Ultrasound Scans?

Ultrasound scans are most famous for their use in allowing mothers and doctors to have a close look at unborn babies during pregnancies. However, there are a host of other uses for these machines. They play a vital role in a number of medical diagnoses. Industry also uses ultrasonic technology to clean jewellery and mill corn.

Physicians rely on the images that are captured during an ultrasound scan to help them get a clear picture of many vital organs. This can be used to show tumours in more detail. Doctors also use ultrasounds to help them see the condition of organs. Diagnosing liver diseases requires the use of detailed pictures. Ultrasonic waves are also used for their ability to break down a host of tumours. Doctors can use this technology to help dislodge a tumour and prepare patients for their chemotherapy. Gallstones and kidney stones can be broken up with ultrasonic waves, and patients are then able to pass these stones through their urinary tract.

Liposuction is another growing area that relies on ultrasonic technology. Many people rely on liposuction to help them sculpt their bodies. Lipoplasty relies on the use of a small suction device, called a cannula that removes the excess deposits of fat. Ultrasonic waves can accompany the cannulas used in these operations. The waves help to liquefy the fat, and this makes it easier for doctors to remove the deposits during a surgery.

Dentists also make use of ultrasonic technology to help them in a variety of their daily tasks. Ultrasonic waves can be used to help remove plaque and stains from the teeth. Cleaning the teeth in this way is quickly becoming the preferred method by dental hygienists. Bone formation is also facilitated with the use of ultrasonic technology. Dentists and doctors can both expose bones to high frequency waves, and the bones will be able to grow back quicker.

Industry uses the same technology that is more common in the health care field. Jewellers often have a similar machine that they use to clean crystals, optical lenses, jewellery and watches. A high frequency wave can remove the build-up of dirt that impairs the finish of older jewellery.

Animals can hear these low-frequency sound waves and use the ultrasound vibrations to help them manoeuver. Flying bats rely on this technology to help them manoeuver in the dark. They have no eyes and can only see by bouncing sound waves off objects that are in their flight path. Dogs are tuned into these frequencies and can hear sounds that are out of the reach of human ears. Dolphins and whales communicate through the use of high frequency sound waves as well.

The medical profession has developed a number of uses for the technology that is found in ultrasound scans. Scanning is most often associated with pregnant mothers who are provided a clear look at their unborn babies. However, doctors can use this technology to help them get a clear image of any organ. Ultrasonic waves can be used to help bones regrow, clean teeth and break up tumours and gallstones in the body.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Keep The NEWSS In Mind

You Need Strong Health Habits To Help Prevent A Stroke

It's not about politics. Whether or not they're fans of the president and his party (and his other policies), Americans generally are not fans of the health care reform legislation they pushed through two years ago and are now in the process of implementing. It will change the nation economically, for sure, but it will also make deep changes in the way Americans keep themselves healthy.

For that reason, and because so many health problems are sneaky and hard to detect, you need to have a health "plan" that has nothing to do with having a medical plan at work. You need good, strong health habits to take personal responsibility for your own vitality... and to reduce the degree to which you'd be dependent upon a government-run medical system.

Think you can just let this one slide? Think again... while you can. A recent edition of the Canadian health journal "Pure Mind" published some unsettling findings about one of the most devastating maladies ever to strike a person's health: stroke.

According to the findings, a whopping 95 percent of seniors over 65 have a "small vessel disease" in their brains. Ninety-five percent! Is it any wonder so many seniors today report difficulty getting their brains to work right?

The happy news just keeps coming. The journal also reported that a quarter of HEALTHY seniors (in a study group averaging seventy years of age) show evidence of small, silent strokes... the sort associated with having smaller blood vessels in your head. Older folks with high blood pressure (hypertension) and Alzheimer's disease are also commonly victimized by a fun-sounding brain problem called "microbleeds." How many of us have had these sorts of minor stroke events... without even knowing it?

Maybe the silent strokes and microbleeds don't sound overly threatening - and, in isolation, they may not be. But the problem is that these sorts of small-vessel problems, unlike major stroke events, tend to build up gradually and greatly increase your risk of a clinical stroke event, depression, falls, and Alzheimer's dementia.

As my Granny is fond of saying, growing old is not for the faint of heart.

Granny will make it to the venerable age of 95 in a month, and no one is more amazed at her advanced age than she. Maybe it was growing up on the farm in a simpler, less-toxic time... maybe it was hard work and clean livin'... maybe it was just dumb luck. It probably wasn't the headaches she got from running her own business as a tax professional, later in life! But the fact is, the odds are against us arriving at 95 with all of our mental marbles, as Granny has been able to do.

To maximize your chances, get The NEWSS. That's what I call the five key daily health habits that should form the foundation of a program of personal vitality: Nutrition (start by cutting out the garbage), Exercise (get 3-6 good workouts a week), Water (get your two liters every day), Sleep (get eight hours in the sack every night), and Supplements (take at least one good multi-nutrient that can give your body what it can't get from a modern diet designed more for convenience than nourishment).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Switching to Electronic Prescribing (E-Rx)

In a nutshell, E-prescribing outlines the ability to send error-free, accurate, and understandable prescriptions electronically from the healthcare provider to the pharmacy. It is meant to reduce the many risks associated with the traditional prescription script writing and it is also one of the major reasons for the push for electronic medical records in the healthcare industry.

Compared to paper-based prescribing, electronic prescribing can enhance patient safety and medication compliance, improve prescribing accuracy and efficiency, and reduce health care costs through averted adverse drug events and substitution of less expensive drug alternatives. This is of key importance because in 2000, the Institute of Medicine identified medication errors as the most common type of medical error in the health care industry, estimating that this leads to several thousand deaths each year. E-prescribing also has the potential to improve beneficiary health outcomes. For providers who choose to invest in electronic-prescribing technology, the adoption could improve quality and efficiency and could show promise in reducing costs by actively promoting appropriate drug usage; providing information to providers and dispensers about formulary-based drug coverage, and speeding up the process of renewing medications. E-prescribing also plays a significant role in efforts to reduce the incidence of drug diversion by alerting providers and pharmacists of duplicative prescriptions for controlled substances.

In a recent article in the New York Times, a study found that 1 in 7 hospitalized patients suffer some form of error in care. Nearly 1/3 of those mistakes are related to drugs - which can lead to longer hospital stays, unnecessary suffering, permanent damage, or in the worst case death. The adoption of electronic prescribing can drop error rates in prescriptions by 60%. That's the percentage produced by PLoS Medicine, who tracked medication errors in two Australian hospitals before and after installing e-prescription systems.

"People can actually read the prescribing orders now," Johanna Westrbook, the director of the Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research at the Univdrsity or New South Wales said. "You're not relying on trying to interpret handwriting."

Incomplete and unclear prescriptions, which added up to the hundreds during the months before the e-prescrhbing systems were installed, dropped to single digits in both hospitals. But not only does e-prescribing eliminate poor penmanship; There is a high possibility that a doctor might get the dose wrong, or choose a drug that interacts harmfully with another medicine. The computerized system partnered with e-prescribing software includes data about each patient and a set of rules for proper dosing, allergies, and drug interactions.

Leapfrog requires hospitals to test their systems to see if the pre-programmed rules actually catch harmful mistakes. They unknowingly feed in fake patients and fake prescription orders - some of which contain fatal errors. Across the board, about 1/3 of the errors slipped through.

The adoption of e-prescribing and electronic medical records means more accurate, error free medical care. There are many options when it comes to adopting a new system; there are stand alone e-prescription software as well as a full EMR which includes the e-prescribing functionality. More than four out of five e-prescriptions are done through software as part of an EMR, 83 percent compared to 17 percent done using stand-alone systems.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hospital Discharge Planning Is Critical for Recovery

Why is hospital discharge planning so important for a successful recovery? The following example is one of many that happen frequently in hospitals.

A patient had parathyroid surgery. The parathyroid gland regulates calcium in the blood. A known side effect of this surgery is hypocalcemia, low calcium level in the blood.

The patient was discharged from the hospital without calcium supplements or instructions on potential complications and symptoms if a low calcium level develops. She returned to the hospital emergency room when her calcium level caused severe hypocalcemia symptoms. She was given excessive daily dosages of calcium and remained in the hospital until her condition stabilized. She was discharged from the hospital. Similar to her first hospital discharge, she was not given instructions on potential side effects. More importantly, her increased daily dosage of calcium was not reduced upon discharge. She went home continuing to take excessive amounts of calcium for many weeks. She returned to the hospital again when the increased calcium levels caused hypercalcemia symptoms which included kidney damage and several of her teeth fell out!

75% of hospital readmissions are preventable. Most of these are drug events which are preventable. Unfortunately, there is a breakdown of communication between medical providers, home health staff, nursing homes, family members and the patient. Medicine reconciliation is critical when you are discharged from the hospital. Typically, when you are admitted to the hospital your prescription drugs will change based on what the hospital uses. It is important for your health safety to reconcile your medications upon discharge to ensure that duplication and adverse side effects do not occur.