Archive for July, 2010
When children get hurt, they get scared. But with a few words, you can not only calm your child’s fears, but even help her start healing, says Judith Prager, Ph.D., author of Verbal First Aid: Help Your Kids Heal From Fear and Pain – And Come Out Strong.
Once upon a time, people needed to run away a lot – often from the large and dangerous animals they hunted for food. And to this day when we are hurt or scared our bodies start pumping chemicals like adrenalin and cortisol that are designed to help us escape. If you’re confronted by a saber-toothed tiger, they’re great, “but they’re not good for healing,” Prager explains.
Her technique uses calming language to change the body’s reaction, and the chemicals the body is pumping, so that healing can start more quickly. “What we’re doing is talking to the body to say, ‘you’re safe,’” she explains. You can try it next time your child comes to you with a skinned knee or a bump on the head:
1. Center yourself. Before you engage your child, take a second and take a deep, calming breath. “It brings you right into present time, and it allows you to think clearly,” Prager says. “When you go to the child, make sure you’re not reflecting their fear.”
2. Let the child know you’re going to help. “I’m right here,” is a great reassurance, and is often enough to help someone calm down. Explain that you know they need help, and you are going to take care of it.
3. Give healing suggestions. If your child has a nose bleed, ask her to imagine a faucet that she can turn off to stop it. When a neighbor boy fell out of a tree and broke his arm, Prager asked him to imagine his hero, Spider Man, wrapping it in his webs to help it heal. You could also ask your child to imagine a time in the near future when this hurt will be all healed and things will be normal again, or point out a time when you once hurt yourself – but now you are all better.
Prager believes these suggestions can work in much the same way as the “placebo effect,” where people begin to heal with nothing more than a sugar pill and a suggestion from the doctor that the pill will help. “What we imagine sends a message to our bodies,” she says, and children are really susceptible. “They have wonderful imaginations. So all you have to do is engage the imagination.”
Prager also has a new book out for children, Owie Cadabra’s Verbal First Aid for Kids. Visit her online …
I take a walk every morning. It’s good for me, and I’m a bit of an evangelist about it. But lots of people tell me they don’t have time to walk. Well, what if you could multitask it?
Phone a friend. Staying close to your pals is good for you. Research has shown that strong social ties keep our brains healthier as we age, make us more likely to survive serious illnesses like cancer, and can even make us less likely to get a cold. Learn more …
Talk to your kids. You know how conversation tends to flow easier when you have your children in the car? The same can be true when you’re taking a stroll together. Bonus: You’re making sure they get a bit of their recommended hour of daily physical activity. Learn more …
Grab some couple time. A walk can also be a great time to chat with your significant other – which is important for your relationship. To make the most of the opportunity, steer the conversation away from “housekeeping” items and the kids, and toward bigger issues like your hopes and dreams, and future together. Learn more …
Plan some meals. You’re more likely to eat healthy if you plan ahead. Walk with a notepad, or use the voice memo feature on your smart phone and jot down ideas. Bonus: You’ll feel less stress when it’s time to get dinner on the table. Don’t know what to fix? Check out drgourmet.com.
Run errands. Drop off the dry cleaning, pick up a prescription, or grab a few groceries. Just plot out a few things on your to-do list within walking distance of your house, or park within range and check things off as you stroll.
Know your neighborhood. You live there. Your kids play there (or will when they are big enough). Take a little time to meet the neighbors, check out the traffic on and around nearby streets and scope out the distance to local parks and playgrounds. The more you know, the safer your family will be.
Keep up with pop culture. No time to read? Listen to an audiobook while you walk. Or download a podcast. You can catch up on world news, discover new music, or learn a language this way.
Collect your thoughts. If you’ve got a problem to solve or a question to ponder, there’s nothing like a little circulation to the brain to help you clear your head. Decide what you’re going to tackle before you head out, and make it a goal to have at least three possible solutions by the time you get back.
Dictate. If you need to compose an important email, a letter to a friend or a report for work, you can dictate it into a digital tape recorder (or your smart phone). And who says a journal has to be on paper? Create an audio journal to record thoughts, feelings and observations.
Meditate. You don’t have to assume the lotus position or chant a mantra to get the benefits of meditation. Meditating while you walk can reduce stress and improve your mood and your sleep. Just coordinate your breathing with your steps, walk slow and easy, with relaxed awareness of your surroundings. Learn the benefits … Learn how …
It’s a little early to be thinking about getting a flu shot yet – and one day soon the process could be so simple you’ll hardly give it a thought. You’ll just pick up a flu “patch” at the pharmacy, press it onto your arm and peel away the backing. Hundreds of microscopic needles on the patch will dissolve into your skin, releasing influenza vaccine. You won’t feel a thing, and you won’t get the flu.
At least, that’s how it worked for the mice in a Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University study reported this week in the journal Natural Medicine. Researchers testing the new technology found that it produced immunity just as well, or even a bit better, than traditional vaccination with a hypodermic needle.
The patches should cost about the same to produce as traditional needle-and-syringe delivery. Advantages, besides the no-ouch factor, include a longer shelf life, lower cost to administer (since you don’t need trained personnel to do it), and no dangerous leftover needles to dispose of. The technology could also work with vaccines against other diseases, but more studies are needed to make sure they are safe and effective in humans.
There are lots of myths and misconceptions about children and mental illness. Here are a few:
- Mental illness is something only adults have.
- Being moody is just part of growing up.
- Children are being over-treated and over-medicated for mental problems.
- A child who makes a suicide attempt is just trying to get attention.
In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that as many as 13% of children ages 8 to 15 have at least one mental disorder, a rate comparable to diabetes, asthma, and other childhood diseases. And Kita Curry, Ph.D., president and CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services – an organization that provides mental health and substance abuse services in several Southern California communities – says half of all mental illness emerges by age 14. Curry also says that as many as half of children who need treatment for mental problems aren’t getting it.
One myth Curry says is actually true: Yes, children who try to kill themselves are trying to get attention. “They are demonstrating how serious their pain is,” she says. “If you had some physical pain and you tried to get attention, people would be asking you, ‘Why didn’t you say something sooner?’” But unlike with physical pain, parents of children with mental illness often don’t help them seek treatment.
Fear of being stigmatized in a society that still doesn’t fully understand mental illness is part of the reason. Curry points out that there was a time when people blamed “the devil” for autism. “When it stopped being the devil who was blamed, it became the parent who was to blame,” she says, even among mental health professionals.
Embarrassment about medications and ignorance about just how treatable these illnesses are also contribute to the problem. “When it comes to medicine for our mind, it’s considered a drug, not a medicine,” Curry says. Read about signs of mental illness, and what to do about them …
Sometimes the cure seems way worse than the disease, and with gum disease that’s certainly the case. This bacterial infection that we also call periodontal disease often has no symptoms at all – until it starts to cause serious damage to gums and bone and you start to lose teeth. Almost 75% of us (the adult population of the U.S.) have moderate to severe gum disease, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
So why do only a miniscule number of us seek treatment? That might have something to do with the traditional cure for periodontal disease. It’s called scalpel and suture periodontal surgery. The dentist or periodontist cuts your gums, scrapes tartar off the roots of your teeth, uses a drill to reshape bone, and then repositions the gums on the teeth with stitches. It takes eight to 10 sessions to cover your whole mouth, followed by two to four weeks of recovery. You can imagine that the process is a bit uncomfortable.
The fine folks at Millennium Dental Technologies were eager to tell me about an alternative that might just lure nervous patients into treatment. It’s called LANAP, and involves inserting a tiny laser fiber (about the thickness of three human hairs) between the teeth and gums to clear away the disease without cutting and stitching. The same laser fiber is then used to clear the tooth roots of tartar and plaque, and to seal the “pocket.” The dentist can treat one half of a patient’s mouth in each two-to-three-hour session, and most patients are even able to drive themselves home afterward. A few days on a soft diet might be needed, but recovery is much easier than with gum surgery.
I had the chance to put a few questions to Dawn M. Bloore, DDS, a fourth-generation California dentist and vice president of operations at Millennium. She tells me that about 1,000 dentists and periodontists nationwide offer LANAP treatment, and that most dentists can refer patients to someone offering the technology.
How long has LANAP been in use in the dental community?
Since 1999 and longer in the hands of the founders and inventors of the technology.
Are patients generally happy with the procedure?
Thrilled!!! They are back to their daily routine immediately with little to no discomfort or interruption.
Is LANAP (not periodontal treatment in general, but this procedure specifically) commonly covered by insurance plans?
Yes, and to the same degree.
What is the cost of LANAP as compared with the cost of scalpel and suture treatment?
Often times less than scalpel suture surgery that requires additional overhead with grafting materials, sutures and membranes as well as pre surgical therapy, all of which is not required or recommended with the LANAP Protocol.
What type of training do dental care providers need in order to provide LANAP treatment?
Three days of LANAP™ training by IALD (the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry and the sole provider of LANAP training for MDT, Millennium Dental Technologies) is required to obtained the PerioLase® MVP-7 and license to perform the LANAP™ Protocol.
How can prospective patients be certain their caregiver is adequately trained and experienced?
MDT has a database of all customers. There is currently a LANAP™ Locator on the MDT website to check if a clinician is LANAP™ trained and licensed to perform the treatment.
Are there ever side-effects from the procedure?
No. The worst side effects of the LANAP™ procedure would be considered a desirable outcome following the alternative of conventional osseous surgery.
What types of things can go wrong with LANAP treatment?
Too much energy or inadequate control of occlusal trauma, either of which would create less discomfort or adverse outcomes than conventional therapies.
What is the success rate with the procedure?
Decreased pocket depths and increased bone quality in every patient, every time. We guarantee the success of our clinicians.
What are a patient’s options if LANAP treatment is unsuccessful?
Retreatment with the LANAP™ protocol, since it does not inherently destroy healthy tissue. Conventional periodontal therapies are options as well.
Does your girl love to shop for baubles and bangles at Justice or Limited Too? You might want to check out her recent purchases. The Consumer Product Safety Commission yesterday announced that it was pulling 137,000 pieces of jewelry from those stores’ shelves because they contained high levels of cadmium.
The recall involves metal necklaces, bracelets and earrings with hearts, heart locks, butterflies, cupcakes, peace signs, crowns, and the letters “BFF.” Cadmium can cause cancer, genetic damage, and kidney problems, and even very low levels of exposure are considered a health hazard.
The recall, which involves only jewelry with specific style numbers, was prompted by research from the Center for Environmental Health, an organization dedicated to protecting the public from toxic chemicals.
Been reading about the whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic in California? (If you haven’t, click here for my post on the topic.) Wonder what that cough actually sounds like?
Here’s a site from the Utah Department of Health that will help you train your ears – just in case. Remember that the early days of a pertussis infection can easily be mistaken for a run-of-the-mill cold, and that some people never do develop the “whoop” with their cough. But they’re still contagious.
Guys: Here’s another reason to take those fish oil supplements and embrace canola oil for cooking. A University of Illinois study published in February found that DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) could be essential for keeping your sperm in fighting trim.
DHA is one of those oft-touted omega-3 fatty acids known for lowering blood pressure and boosting heart health. Researchers found that mice genetically engineered not to make DHA were infertile. The few sperm they produced were misshapen and unable to move well.
But the fertility of these mice was completely restored when the researchers introduced DHA into their diets.
Good dietary sources of DHA for humans include English walnuts and vegetable oils like soybean, linseed/flaxseed, canola and olive.
The study was published in the Journal of Lipid Research.
Cora writes: “Even with helmets and safety gear, my scooter-happy daughter gets the occasional scrape or road rash. What’s the proper way to clean and bandage the wound?”
Health-E Responds …
Alan Nager, M.D., Director of Emergency & Transport Medicine at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, was kind enough to offer this advice …
Clean the wound with warm soapy water, using a washcloth, every day. In between, apply a small amount of polysporin/bacitracin and cover the wound with a bandaid. The bandaid should be changed and the medication should be reapplied every day in order to keep the injured area clean. The injured site should also be inspected for redness or pus (signs of infection). If signs of infection do occur, the child should be seen by a physician, as oral antibiotics may be needed.
Got a question about your family’s health? Click here, and we’ll find an expert to answer it!