Maybe It’s Time to Get in the Game

Team sports aren’t just for kids. They offer adults a wealth of benefits, including a greater feeling of well-being, reduced stress and a strong sense of community.

You have many options for finding an adult club or team-based sport in your area. Your local park and rec department or “Y” might sponsor such activities. The World Adult Kickball Association has expanded to provide adult leagues in a variety of sports from softball to soccer — learn more at

If your child is on a team that’s coached by an outside professional, that coach may know of adult sports teams looking for new members.

But just as you wouldn’t send a child out onto a playing field without some prep steps, you don’t want to join a pickup game of basketball or sign up for a soccer league without taking some precautions.

Stay sports safe:

  • Get a “pre-season” physical.
  • Stay strong and flexible with regular strength training and stretching.
  • Warm up and cool down properly.
  • Always wear protective gear and make sure needed equipment is in good condition.
  • Make sure the field/court is in good condition.
  • Avoid playing outdoors in bad weather to minimize injury risk.
  • Hydrate as needed during play when you feel thirsty.
  • Don’t play through pain — see your health-care provider or an orthopedist if you get injured.

Most sports injuries stem from a lack of education and awareness about safety, wearing the wrong equipment, and being out of condition. So bone up on the ins and outs of your sport and get a checkup — a sports physical — if you’re out of shape.

On game days, make sure that everyone follows safety rules. Know that some medications, like allergy or cold remedies, can dehydrate you, and adjust your water intake as needed. Also, take breaks to prevent overuse injuries.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get off the couch and into the game!

Cancer Screening Tests That Men Should Get

Cancer Screening Tests That Men Should Get

Going to the doctor for an annual checkup may not be the most exciting thing you can think of, but don’t wait to get a screening test for the most common cancers that affect men. They’re easier to treat when you catch them early.

Colorectal Cancer

Since the disease usually starts with growths called polyps in your colon, some screening exams look for them. The goal is to find them before they turn into cancer or while they’re still in the early stages.

Colonoscopy. Your doctor puts a flexible tube with a tiny camera into your rear end so he can see the inside of your colon and rectum. A day or so before the test, you can’t have food — only clear liquids — and you’ll need to drink a laxative.

The procedure takes about 30 minutes. You’ll get medicine to make you drowsy or put you to sleep, as well as numbing medication. Your doctor will usually remove any polyps and perhaps bits of tissue from your colon. Then he’ll send them to a lab to get checked for signs of cancer.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy. It’s like a colonoscopy, but it only lets your doctor see about a third of your colon. You don’t have to do as much prep, and you can usually stay awake. This test takes about 20 minutes.

Fecal tests.  Both the guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) look for tiny amounts of blood in your poop, because cancers in the colon and rectum sometimes bleed.

You’ll collect a small amount of your poop with a special kit at home, and then send it to a lab. You might have to avoid certain foods and medicines beforehand.

A stool DNA test is similar, but the lab will also check for traces of cells from polyps or cancer with changes in their genes.

Men should start getting screened between 50 and 75 years old, but you might need to start earlier if you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer. If you’re older, ask your doctor whether you still need to.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) — a panel of medical experts — recommends you have a:

  • Colonoscopy once every 10 years, or
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, plus FOBT every 3 years, or
  • FOBT every year

Prostate Cancer

It’s the second most common cancer in men. Different health groups have their own guidelines. Your doctor can recommend which tests you should have and how often to get them.

PSA (prostate specific antigen). It looks for a protein in your blood that prostate cells release. Cancer causes the PSA level to rise. The problem is that other conditions, like an enlarged prostate, can also raise those levels.

Digital rectal exam (DRE). During this test, you either bend forward while standing or lie on your side on an exam table. Then your doctor puts a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel for any lumps in your prostate. You might bleed a little bit afterward.

The USPSTF doesn’t recommend the PSA test, and some experts don’t recommend the DRE for screening. The American Cancer Society suggests you talk to your doctor about what makes sense for you.

Most men may want to get a PSA test, and possibly a DRE, starting at age 50. If you’re African-American, have or may have a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, or other men (especially younger than 65) in your family have had prostate cancer, you may need to start testing earlier.

Lung Cancer

It’s the deadliest cancer in men. Smoking is a big reason, so you should get a screening test if you’ve got a long history of tobacco use.

Doctors check for lung cancer with an LDCT (low-dose computed tomography) scan. This test uses X-rays to make pictures of your lungs.

It’s pretty straightforward. You lie on your back and raise your arms over your head as the table moves through the scanner. You’ll have to hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds while it’s done.

You should probably get an LDCT scan once a year if you:

  • Are 55 to 80 years old, and
  • Have smoked at least a pack a day for 30 years (or an equal amount, such as two packs a day for 15 years), and
  • Smoke now, or you quit within the past 15 years.

Your doctor will let you know if and when it’s OK to stop getting annual scans.

Skin Cancer

The USPSTF doesn’t make a recommendation one way or the other about skin exams. But the American Cancer Society says regular checks by your doctor are a good way to find skin cancers early, when they’re easiest to treat. If you’ve had the disease in the past, or you have family members who’ve had it, ask your doctor how often you should get a skin exam.

Your doctor will look for any moles or other growths on your skin that might be cancer. You can also check your skin yourself at least once a month for changes.

Is My Medical Condition Making Me Angry?

Is My Medical Condition Making Me Angry?

help concept, special toned photo f/x, focus point selective

Could It Be Alzheimer’s?

Anger is a natural, healthy emotion. But frequent outbursts can be harmful to your health. You could have some emotions you need to sort through, or there could be a medical reason. A number of conditions and some medical treatments have rage as a side effect.

As this form of dementia progresses, people tend to lash out in frustration. It can be especially tough on the caregiver to deal with sudden bouts of fury. Anger is a common symptom, so caregivers should take a step back and look for the immediate cause, whether it’s physical discomfort or trouble communicating.

Could It Be Anxiety Drugs or Sleeping Pills?

Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed for a number of anxiety conditions such as panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Doctors also may use them treat insomnia. Fits of anger are a rare but harmful side effect of these drugs, especially for those with an already aggressive personality.

Could It Be Autism?

Anger is not unusual for people on the autism spectrum. The rage can come on suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, and then vanish just as quickly. Triggers include stress, sensory overload, being ignored, and a change in routine. A person with autism spectrum disorder may have trouble communicating, making things even harder. They may not even realize they are acting out of anger. Part of the solution is becoming more aware of themselves and situations.

Could It Be Cholesterol Medicine?

Statins are widely prescribed to lower cholesterol. But some studies show that these drugs are connected to aggression as well. Experts say that low cholesterol also lowers levels of serotonin (your happiness hormone), which can lead to a short temper and depression.

Could It Be Depression?

Irritability often goes along with despair. Depressed men in particular are more likely to have violent explosions. It’s often described as “anger turned inward,” but it can be turned outward, too. This mood disorder is treatable with medication and therapy.

Could It Be Diabetes?

When you’re told you have a serious illness like diabetes, you’re likely to have a lot of emotions, including anger. People might resent having to change their lifestyle. They might also be scared about how it will affect their future. With diabetes, there is a link between lower-than-normal blood sugar numbers and flying off the handle. This is because the hormones used to control your glucose (sugar) levels are the same ones used to regulate your stress. Keeping your glucose in check will help.

Could It Be Epilepsy?

An epileptic seizure is an electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause uncontrollable shaking and even loss of consciousness. That can be scary and confusing for someone. It’s rare, but sometimes people lash out right after having a seizure. People with epilepsy are also more likely to feel self-conscious, depressed, and anxious. Sometimes anti-seizure medicines can cause behavior changes or outbursts, particularly in kids.

Could It Be Liver Failure?

Chinese medicine ties chronic anger with poor liver function. Left untreated, inflammation, the early stages of diseases like cirrhosis and hepatitis, can damage the liver. When this organ fails, it stops removing toxic substances from the body. The buildup of poisons can lead to hepatic encephalopathy, a brain disorder that causes personality changes and loss of control.

Could It Be PMS or Menopause?

Some men might joke about it, but the agitation felt during a woman’s period is real. With premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more intense but less frequent form of PMS, anger can be extreme. Levels of estrogen and progesterone (hormones) fall the week before a woman’s period. This in turn can affect her serotonin levels. The drop in hormones is also the reason for the moodiness associated with menopause.

Could It Be a Stroke?

A stroke can physically damage the brain. And if it strikes the area responsible for emotions, this can lead to changes in behavior like a rise in irritability. This new shift is typical after such a life-changing scare.

Could It Be an Overactive Thyroid?

Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This hormone has a direct effect on a person’s mood, linking the condition with a rise in tension and anxiety. It’s treated with medication.

Could It Be Wilson’s Disease?

This rare genetic defect causes a buildup of copper in the liver or brain. If the disease attacks the frontal lobe of the brain, which is tied to personality, it can cause aggravation and fury.

If you think one of these conditions or treatments might be causing your rage, talk to your doctor.

Need help managing your anger? Ask your doctor to refer you to a counselor.

Here are some other useful tips:

  • Try deep breathing and positive self-talk.
  • Talk through your feelings and seek the support of others.
  • Keep a log of your angry thoughts.
  • Learn to assert yourself in healthy, productive ways.
  • Look for the humor in situations.

By Trish Cruz, RN

SOURCES: Alzheimer’s Association: “Aggression and Anger.”Synapse: “Anger & Autism Spectrum Disorders.”While, A. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, published online March 2012.Golomb, B. Oxford Journals, published online March “Depression Signs and Warning Signs.”American Diabetes Association: “Anger.”Vermont Department of Health: “High and Low Blood Sugar.”Epilepsy Foundation: “Partial seizures.”American Liver Foundation: “The Progression of Liver Disease.”Canadian Liver Foundation: “Hepatic Encephalopathy.”NHS: “Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Symptoms.”Women in Balance Institute: “About Hormone Imbalance.”Institute for Optimum Nutrition: “Vicious Cycle: Understanding the Science behind PMS.”Toxipedia: “Benzodiazepines.”Stroke Association: “Emotional Changes after Stroke.”Thyroid Foundation of Canada: “The Thyroid and the Mind and Emotions.”Wilson Disease Association: “About Wilson Disease,” “Symptoms.”

Selecting a Personal Trainer

Selecting a Personal Trainer

personal trainer

THURSDAY, July 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) — A personal trainer can design an exercise program to meet your fitness goals, keep you motivated and adapt your training as you progress.

But your first step is finding a qualified professional.

While there aren’t any national standards or minimum requirements for someone to call themselves a personal trainer, asking the right questions will help you hire the right person.

Ask about their education, which ideally would include a four-year degree in exercise science or physiology, kinesiology, physical education or a field related to health and fitness. He or she should also be certified by a respected organization.

Nationally recognized certifying organizations include:

  • The American Council on Exercise (
  • The National Academy of Sports Medicine (
  • The American College of Sports Medicine (

Ask the trainer about the number of years they’ve been training clients. You might request a resume and current references.

Don’t be shy about discussing fees, which can vary widely — from $20 an hour to over $100/hour, based on factors ranging from the trainer’s qualifications to the length of each of your sessions. Ask if lower hourly rates are available if you prepay or agree upfront to a certain number of weeks or months.

Since results depend in part on having a good working relationship with your trainer, make sure that his or her personality meshes with yours and that he or she communicates in a way you feel comfortable with.

Once you’ve made your decision, ask the trainer for a written agreement that details fees, your workout schedule and policies regarding cancellation and payment.

Posted by Trish Cruz, RN

Resouce: Web MD

Type 2 Diabetes and Sleep

Type 2 Diabetes and Sleep

People who have diabetes often have poor sleep habits, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Some people with diabetes get too much sleep, while others have problems getting enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 63% of American adults do not get enough sleep needed for good health, safety, and optimum performance.

There are several causes of sleep problems for people with type 2 diabetes, including obstructive sleep apnea, pain or discomfort, restless legs syndrome, the need to go to the bathroom, and other problems associated with type 2 diabetes.

Sleep Problems and Type 2 Diabetes

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea involves pauses in breathing during sleep. The periods of stopped breathing are called apneas, which are caused by an obstruction of the upper airway. Apneas may be interrupted by a brief arousal that does not awaken you completely — you often do not even realize that your sleep was disturbed. Yet if your sleep was measured in a sleep laboratory, technicians would record changes in the brain waves that are characteristic of awakening.

Sleep apnea results in low oxygen levels in the blood because the blockages prevent air from getting to the lungs. The low oxygen levels also affect brain and heart function. Up to two-thirds of the people who have sleep apnea are overweight.

Sleep apnea alters our sleep cycle and stages of sleep. Some studies have linked altered sleep stages with a decrease in growth hormone, which plays a key role in body composition such as body fat, muscle, and abdominal fat. Researchers have found a possible link between sleep apnea and the development of diabetes and insulin resistance (the inability of the body to use insulin).

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy, or damage to the nerves in the feet and legs, is another cause of sleep disruption. This nerve damage can cause a loss of feeling in the feet or symptoms such as tingling, numbness, burning, and pain.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a specific sleep disorder that causes an intense, often irresistible urge to move your legs. This sleep disorder is often accompanied by other sensations in the legs such as tingling, pulling, or pain, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

Both hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can affect sleep in those with diabetes. Hypoglycemia may occur when you have not eaten for many hours, such as overnight, or if you take too much insulin or other medications. Hyperglycemia occurs when the sugar level rises above normal. This may happen after eating too many calories, missing medication, or having an illness. Emotional stress can also cause your blood sugar to rise.


Obesity, or too much body fat, is often associated with snoring, sleep apnea, and sleep disturbance. Obesity increases the risk of sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and stroke.

How Are Sleep Problems Diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you about your sleep patterns, including whether you have trouble falling or staying asleep, are sleepy during the day, have difficulty breathing while asleep (including snoring), have pain in your legs, or move or kick your legs while sleeping.

Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist who may do a special sleep study called a polysomnogram to measure activity during sleep. The results of the sleep study can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe an effective and safe treatment.

How Are Sleep Problems Treated in Type 2 Diabetes?

There are several treatments for sleep problems in people with diabetes, depending on the condition:

Sleep Apnea

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest that you lose weight to help you breathe more easily.

Another potential treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). With CPAP, patients wear a mask over their nose and/or mouth. An air blower forces air through the nose and/or mouth. The air pressure is adjusted so that it is just enough to prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing during sleep. The pressure is constant and continuous. CPAP prevents airway closure while in use, but apnea episodes return when CPAP is stopped or is used improperly.

Peripheral Neuropathy

To treat the pain of peripheral neuropathy, your doctor may prescribe simple pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, antidepressants such as amitriptyline, or anticonvulsants such as gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin), tiagabine (Gabitril) or topiramate (Topamax). Other treatments include carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol), pregabalin (Lyrica), lidocaine injections, or creams such as capsaicin.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Various medications are used to treat restless legs syndrome, including dopamine agents, sleeping aids, anticonvulsants, and pain relievers. Your doctor may also prescribe iron if you have low iron levels.

There are also several medications that treat insomnia, including:

  • Over the counter drugs such as antihistamines including diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl). These drugs should be used short term and in conjunction with changes in sleep habits.
  • Medications used to treat sleep problems such as eszopiclone (Lunesta), suvorexant (Belsomra), zaleplon (Sonata), and zolpidem (Ambien).
  • Benzodiazepines are an older type of prescription medicine that cause sedation, muscle relaxation, and can lower anxiety levels. Benzodiazepines that were commonly used for the treatment of insomnia include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), estazolam (ProSom), flurazepam, lorazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion)
  • Antidepressants such as nefazodone and very low doses of doxepin (silenor).

How Can I Improve my Sleep?

In addition to medications, recommendations to improve sleep are:

  • Learn relaxation and breathing techniques.
  • Listen to a relaxation or nature sounds CD.
  • Get regular exercise, no later than a few hours before bedtime.
  • Don’t use caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine in the evening.
  • Get out of bed and do something in another room when you can’t sleep. Go back to bed when you’re feeling drowsy.
  • Use the bed only for sleeping and sexual activity. Don’t lie in bed to watch TV or read.This way, your bed becomes a cue for sleeping, not for lying awake.

Are There Other Links Between Sleep and Type 2 Diabetes?

People who have poor sleep habits are at greater risk for becoming overweight or obese and developing type 2 diabetes, according to several studies. Chronic sleep deprivation may lead to insulin resistance, which can result in high blood sugar and diabetes.

Some studies show that chronic sleep deprivation can affect hormones that control appetite. For example, recent findings link inadequate sleep with lower levels of the hormone leptin, which helps control the metabolism of carbohydrates. Low levels of leptin have been shown to increase the body’s craving for carbohydrates regardless of the amount of calories consumed.

Trish Cruz, RN

SOURCES: Medscape: “Expert Column — Sleep Disorders in Diabetes.” Yaggi, H.K. Diabetes Care, 2006. Nilsson, P. Diabetes Care, 2004. Mallon, L. Diabetes Care, 2005.

Never Ignore Depression

Never Ignore Depression

Studies show that depression is underreported. People aren’t getting the help they need, sometimes because they don’t know the warning signs or where to turn, or are embarrassed because of the stigma that can still surround mental health issues.

But the numbers are too great to ignore. Up to 26 percent of U.S. women and up to 12 percent of men will experience major depression at some point in their lives. In any given year, that’s 16 million American adults.

As many as one in 33 children and one in eight teens also struggle with depression — that’s 9 percent of kids aged 12 to 17 in any given year. And new research suggests these numbers may be even higher.

It’s important to recognize signs of depression in yourself or a loved one, including a child, and to get help from a doctor.

Signs of depression:

  • Persistent sadness, anxiety or an “empty” feeling
  • Hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and favorite activities
  • A lack of energy and persistent fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Physical symptoms including pain
  • Thoughts of death or contemplating suicide
  • Take immediate action if you or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts. If you’re thinking of harming yourself or attempting suicide:

Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Call the toll-free 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Ask a family member or friend to help you make these calls or take you to the hospital.
The stigma around depression exists, in part, because it’s poorly understood. However, one study found that once people are educated about it — that it’s an illness and not something those affected bring on themselves — they are more likely to change their thinking and accept that depression can and should be treated.

Family members of someone going through depression should become educated about the disease because they make up an important part of the depressed person’s support network and can help prevent a recurrence.

Posted by
Trish Cruz, RN

Resourced by