Weight loss: When to see the doctor for help

January 27, 2012 by  
Filed under OBESITY, VIDEO

Weight loss: When to see the doctor for help
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Male Menopause Symptoms & Treatments : Nutrition Tips for Male Menopause

February 18, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!


Learn nutrition and diet tips and what foods to eat to help prevent and treat male menopause, including tomatoes and other colorful vegetables with expert medical advice from a trained doctor and scientist in this free online health care video clip. Expert: Dr. Susan Jewell Bio: Dr. Susan Jewell is a British born educated bilingual Asian with a British accent and can speak Cantonese. Filmmaker: Nili Nathan

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

The heart, the thyroid and medications

February 9, 2011 by  

When it feels like your heart is jumping erratically inside your chest, you ask yourself “What’s wrong with me?” If you are a health-conscious person like me, you will ask “Where did I do wrong?” Was it the coffee this morning? Was it the glass of wine I had last night? Was it the jogging run in the cold?

My palpitations started last weekend and worsened on Monday. Monday night was a sleepless night as I felt my heart regularly “missing a beat.” I was wreck on Tuesday, walking around like a bear with a sore head. So I sat down and went through my risk factors for heart problems.

  • Family history of heart disease – no
  • Weight/Body Mass Index – normal
  • Physical exercise – regular jogging runs and walks
  • Diet – not perfect but okay
  • Smoking – no
  • Alcohol – 1 glass a week
  • Coffee intake – 1 cup a day
  • Stress levels – manageable at the moment
  • Sleep – 6 to 7 hours a day is not bad
  • Postmenopausal – no yet
  • Blood pressure – always low
  • Lipids – never had any problems before

So my risk profile makes me a very unlikely candidate for a heart problem. So what is wrong with me? Do I need to see a doctor? Many people tend to put off seeing the doctor because of the feeling of being foolish when told “there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you.” Many times last Monday I started reaching for the phone and many times I changed my mind.

Then I began to think back. Have I felt like this before? What has changed in the last few months? And it dawned on me…

…racing pulse, irregular heartbeat, sleeplessness, nervousness, mood swings

Gosh! It’s my thyroid hormones again! In 2001, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and had my thyroids taken out. Since then, I had to have hormone replacement therapy and take levothyroxine in the form of tablets every day. It is a challenge to find the right dosage as it is dependent on age, body weight, and pre-existing medical conditions including pregnancy, menopausal stage, etc. I have had major problems a couple of years back when I moved to another country and had to change the brand of my medication – same dosage, same active ingredient, different brand name. It took us (me and my new doctor) almost a year of trial and error to figure out the right dose for me. Then silly of me – we changed to another brand late last year.

So now I believe I know what’s wrong with me. And in an hour, I have an appointment with my doctor.

I have learned a few lessons in this experience:

What happened before can happen again. Be careful when changing medication brands. The concept of “personalized medicine” is really important. In my case, the drugs in theory were the same – bioequivalent – but my body reacts differently to different brands.

No, I have to run to my doctor for a new prescription.

Allergy attack!

December 9, 2010 by  
Filed under ALLERGIES

On the last weekend of November,when the Battling for Health site was down, I had a terrible allergic reaction to something – I don’t know what – that bloated the whole of my face and half-closed my right eye. It all started with a slight itchiness on the cheeks on Friday that developed into real bad rashes on Saturday. Then at a party on Saturday night, my cheeks were burning like mad that I had to leave the party early.
This is the worst allergy attack I had since 1999. That time, I ended up in an emergency clinic where I received anti-histamine IV. This time, I could wait till first thing Monday morning to go to my GP.
What annoys me the most about allergies are:

The itchiness. The urge to scratch my cheeks was so compelling. Lying in bed with my face on the warm bed covers made it almost unbearable. Sleep was practically impossible.

The sleepiness and sleeplessness. Allergic attacks make me tired but I can’t sleep because of the itchiness. What a drag!

The fact that many people do not take it seriously. “It’s only an allergy” they’d say. That was exactly what most of the guest at the party said. Except one guy, who was very concerned that I had to ask him “are you a doctor?” He was. In fact, severe allergy attacks can lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis wherein the patient goes to into respiratory arrest.

People telling me „you should know what you are allergic to.“ Again, only doctors would understand that in 85% of all allergy cases, the allergens are never identified. My GP told me “I have the same problem.”



Of course the most logical thing way of managing allergies is to avoid the allergens. If you know what they are. Most often, it is not just one but a combination of different triggers.

If you don’t know the culprit(s), then better apply the ruling our principle.

Is it your clothes? Wear natural fabrics only, avoid synthetics. Apparently, allergies are easily triggered by synthetic fabrics.

Is it something you ate? Do not try out foods  or drinks that are not part of your usual fare. This is not the time to be adventurous.

Is it your jewellery? Remove all pieces of jewellery. Some metals such as nickel can trigger allergies.

Is it something in the air? It might be something inside the house, such as molds, spores or dust mites. Go outdoors and get some fresh air. Besides, the cold winter air certainly felt good on my burning cheeks.


I am not really into taking pills or tablets at the drop of a hat. I usually try natural remedies first. But not with allergies. Because with allergies, I’d rather stay on the safe side and go for the well-proven and tested treatments: anti-histamines.

I tool several loratadin tablets during that weekend. My GP gave me a cortisone shot on Monday morning that knocked me out for 3 hours.

The allergy is still persisting, in the form of mild uticaria (hives). I still need medications from time to time. However, loratadin doesn’t seem to work for me anymore. I had to switch to citirizine which works better but somehow makes me sleepy.


I  know that this allergy will eventually go away. In the meantime, I simply have to practice patients and use my common sense.

When hugs and medications don’t mix

November 11, 2010 by  

A hug can mean a lot of things, almost always positive. Unless it comes with something else. Hormones, for example.

Many medications contain hormones, medications that can be in the form of creams, gels and sprays. An example is Evamist, a drug that is prescribed to menopausal women suffering from hot flashes. Evamist contains estradiol, a form of estrogen hormone. It is administered as a spray inside the forearm between the elbow and wrist.

The US FDA issued a warning in July this year regarding adverse events associated with accidental exposure to Evamist, especially children and pets. Exposure may be through direct contact when Evamist is not safely stored or when a child or pet is hugged by an Evamist user and come in contact with area of application. The reported adverse effects in children are:

  • premature puberty, nipple swelling, and breast development in girls
  • breast enlargement in boys

Other accidental exposure includes pets licking application area or pet owners petting their animals after drug application, without proper hand washing. The effects in pets include:

  • Enlargement of the nipples and swelling of the vulva in females in pets
  • Fur loss
  • Undersized sexual organs in male pets

To avoid inadvertent exposure to Evamist, the FDA gives the following recommendations:

Another drug called Dovonex, which is a hormone derivative of vitamin D, can also possibly cause similar effects. Dovonex is a cream used to treat the skin disorder psoriasis. Pet who inadvertently lick the cream present with “unusual thirst, appetite loss, and severe vomiting or diarrhea.”

What should you do if your child or pet comes in contact with these drugs. The US FDA recommends:

Antidepressants: do they really work?

April 19, 2010 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

There is a wide range of medications indicated for depression. These drugs are supposed to be effective in alleviating depressive symptoms. Recent studies, however, question whether is it really effectiveness or simply placebo effect?

Antidepressants are currently among the bestselling drugs. A few years ago, during the panic about avian flu, the pharma industry was urged to step up on developing a vaccine against the pandemic flu. Some big guys in the industry at first did not express any interest. From their point of view, there is more money to be made from antidepressants that from vaccines. After all, depression is a chronic condition with long-term treatments whereas vaccines are once in a lifetime or at most once in a season drug. Of course, that was before the vaccine stockpiling began. It remains a fact, though, that antidepressants bring in billions of revenues each year. In 2005, an estimated 27 million Americans are taking antidepressants, up from just half of that number a decade before.

A rather controversial study on this topic was a 1998 paper by Irving Kirsch and Guy Sapirstein of the University of Connecticut entitled Listening to Prozac but Hearing Placebo; A Meta-Analysis of Antidepressant Medication. The study analysed data from 19 double-blind clinical trials which involved a toal of 2,318 patients. The main findings of the analysis are that there is virtually no difference between drug effect and placebo effect. In particular, the effect from a xxx.

Due to strong criticism of the metaanalysis, Kirsch and colleagues did another meta-analysis, this time on studies in the US FDA database, which of course included unpublished trial data. The results indicate that antidepressant have a small yet statistically significant advantage (18%) over placebo. Furthermore, this benefit is more evident in patients with severe depressive symptoms than those with low to moderate symptoms. The study led to further debate whether this difference, although statistically significant, is clinically relevant.

The controversy was of course picked up by the media, which critics dubbed as media hype. One such article, for example, was entitled Against Depression, a Sugar Pill Is Hard to Beat and went:

“After thousands of studies, hundreds of millions of prescriptions and tens of billions of dollars in sales, two things are certain about pills that treat depression: Antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft work. And so do sugar pills.”

That was years ago, but the issue remains unresolved. Readers, patients and doctor alike did not really get clarifications. What is clear is that both antidepressants and placebo seem to work against depression, the active drug better among those with severe symptoms. Antidepressants, however, come with certain side effects. In the end, the patient and the doctor should probably weigh the pros and cons about pharmacotherapy for depression. In addition, concomitant therapies such as counselling, behavioural therapy and lifestyle changes need also to be considered.

Breastfeeding may prevent MS relapse

July 16, 2009 by  

breastfeedingThere are about 2.5 million people worlwide suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease commonly afflicts young people in their prime, between the ages of 20 and 40. It is no surprise that many MS victims are women of reproductive age – mothers and wanna be mothers.

However, there are certain restrictions to moms with MS. Most MS drugs cannot be taken during pregnancy and while breasfeeding. The drugs can get into the mother’s milk and taken in by the baby.

Breastfeeding is the best thing for babies. It is healthy, economical, and green. Moms with MS however, have to choose between restarting medications immediately after delivery or breastfeeding their babies.

A recent study indicates that breastfeeding may not be just good for babies but for moms with MS.

Tracking 32 women with MS and 29 without MS during the gestation period and up to one year postpartum, the study results suggests that breastfeeding actually prevents MS relapse even without the medications.

The actual figures are as follows:

  • 52% of moms with MS did breastfeed or stopped prematurely in order to restart taking their medications.
  • 36% of moms with MS who exclusive breastfed has a relapse within the follow up period.
  • In contrast, 87% of those who partially breastfed or did not breastfeed at all had an MS relapse during the same period.

According to Annette Langer-Gould of Kaiser Permanente Southern California

“While 87 percent of the women who did not breastfeed exclusively had a relapse in the year after giving birth, only 36 percent of the women who did breastfeed exclusively relapsed in that postpartum year.”

The study results indicate that breastfeeding lowers the incidence of MS relapse whereas restarting MS medications two months after delivers seems to actually increase rather than decrease the incidence of relapse.

Breastfeeding seems to provide protection in moms with MS but the mechanisms are not so clear. However, this is not surprising since other studies have reported health benefits for breastfeeding moms, from decreased risk for hormone-related cancers, to improved cardiovascular health.

Breastfeeding is the natural way to go, the way nature designed it to be. It is no wonder that both mom and baby benefit from it.

According to Dr Eleanor Bimla Schwarz of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Healthcare, PA

“During pregnancy, the body stores up a bunch of nutrients with the plan that it’s going to release much of this in the form of breast milk, a very calorific food. If this doesn’t happen, what we see is that the woman’s body pays the price. Breast-feeding really helps bring you back to your baseline, and it helps women recover from the stress test that pregnancy entails.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

The STITCH study: hypertension management made simple

March 24, 2009 by  

“Less is better” might be the new strategy blood-pressurein treating high blood pressure, according a study by Canadian researchers. The study called “Simplified Treatment Intervention to Control Hypertension” (STITCH) was conducted by researchers at the Robarts Research Institute of the University of Western Ontario. The study followed up 2,104 participants with high hypertension, basically patients from 45 family practices in southwestern Ontario, Canada.

There are many different guidelines of the management of hypertension depending on the country and the medical group you are talking to. They can be complicated and confusing and can be challenging to both patients and doctors alike. Furthermore, they are frequently updated and amended.

The objective of the STITCH study is “to see if there are simpler ways to help patients (and their doctors) reduce their blood pressure to goal levels than by following national guidelines which can be complicated.”

The STITCH study came up with the following simplified treatment regime:

(1) initial therapy with a low-dose angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor/diuretic or angiotensin receptor blocker/diuretic combination;

(2) up-titration of combination therapy to the highest dose;

(3) addition of a calcium channel blocker and up-titration; and

(4) addition of a non-first-line antihypertensive agent.

The results of the study suggest that starting with low doses of combination drug, then gradually increasing may actually be better for recently diagnosed hypertensive patients. “A half tablet of a single pill combination drug (e.g. an ACE-inhibitor/diuretic or angiotensin receptor blocker/diuretic combination) than the regular starting dose of a single drug” may actually be more effective. The results of the study will be published in the April edition of the journal Hypertension.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. According to the most recent estimates (source: American Heart Association), one in three Americans have high blood pressure.

Aside from pharmacological therapy, lifestyle changes are necessary to prevent, manage and control high blood pressure. Some of these lifestyle changes are (Source: American Heart Association Scientiific Advisory):

  • Weight Loss
  • Dietary Salt Restriction
  • Moderation of Alcohol Intake
  • Increased Physical Activity
  • Ingestion of a High-Fiber, Low-Fat Diet

Honestly, even the “simplified” treatment regime of the STITCH study doesn’t look that simple to me. I’d rather go for the lifestyle changes and got for prevention.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

CVD News Watch December 5, 2008

December 5, 2008 by  

Now that you have recovered from the stress of Black Friday, you’ll have some time to catch up with the latest heart news. Happy reading!

CVD device watch

Heart’s surplus energy may help power pacemakers, defibrillators
Imagine a self-sufficient heart implant that doesn’t need any batteries. This is the subject of the latest tests performed by British researchers using the self-energizing implantable medical microsystem (SIMM), a microgenerator that can use the heart’s surplus energy to make heart implants run. This device solves a lot problems that many face, namely, replacement of batteries, limited longevity of the device, and limited functions. Addition more features of pace makers and defibrillators will require more energy consumption. And batteries cannot go any smaller than they are now so that more power means bigger batteries, something that implants cannot afford to have.

CVD health care watch

Revised hours and workloads for medical residents needed to prevent errors
Doctors should also be trained to sleep and rest. A report from the Institute of Medicine shows that rest and sleep can decrease fatigue-related medical errors and enhance learning among medical residents. Revisions to current working hours are proposed. Anybody who watches ER, Dr House and Grey’s Anatomy gets the impression that residents work long hours. This impression is right. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) set the average weekly working hours of residents at 80 hours – double than most jobs. The proposed revisions, unfortunately, do not decrease the number or working hours but reduces the maximum number of hours of continuous duty (without sleep) to 16, as well as increasing the number of days off.

CVD medications watch

Paroxetine, fluoxetine in early pregnancy linked to heart defects in offspring
These two anti-depressants belonging to the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed for pregnant women suffering from clinical depression. This study has found a link between the use of these two drugs during pregnancy and heart anomalies in newborn babies. The drugs also have been found to worsen the effects on smoking on the unborn fetus.

CVD technology watch

Caltech scientists show function of helical band in heart
How does the helical band – the band “which wraps around the inner chambers of the heart in a helix” – work? This has been a question that puzzled scientists for years. Now, scientists at the California Institute of technology (Caltech) may have found the answers. They have created images of the heart and its muscular layers and found that the helical band some sort of a “twisting highway along which each contraction of the heart travels.” When a heart contracts, it doesn’t just move in and out but twists a little bit. “The heart twists to push blood out the same way you twist a wet towel to wring water out of it,” according to principal researcher Morteza Gharib.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Know your medications: anti-cholesterol drugs

September 25, 2008 by  

It’s Cholesterol Awareness Month.

So I think it’s only right that I tackle the topic of drugs used in controlling our cholesterol levels. For a review of the basics of cholesterol and what out cholesterol numbers mean, check out this resource post. In the same post, I have tackled lifestyle changes strategies that can help lower and control cholesterol levels. In today’s post, let us take a look at the pharmacological therapies for high cholesterol levels.

The main types of cholesterol-lowering drugs are summarized below.


Statins also known as HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, are the most popular of currently available anti-cholesterol drugs. They act on the enzyme that regulates the rate at which our body produces cholesterol. They are known to be most effective in lowering LDL levels (20 to 55%) and triglycerides to a lesser extent.

Statins currently available in the U.S.include:

Statins are also available in combination with other classes of drugs, namely Advicor® (lovastatin + niacin), Caduet® (atorvastatin + amlodipine), and VytorinTM (simvastatin + ezetimibe).


Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed in the intestine. Ezetimibe (Zetia®) is the first inhibitor to be approved. It has been shown to lower LDL levels by about 18 to 25%., moderately lowers triglycerides, and increases HDL levels.


Resins (also known as sequestrant or bile acid-binding drugs) bind with cholesterol-containing bile acids in the intestines and facilitate their elimination in the stool. These class of drugs can lower LDL levels by about 15 to 30%.

Resins currently available in the U.S. include:


Nicotinic acid also known as niacin is actually a water-soluble B vitamin that can lower LDL levels (5 to 15%) and triglycerides and increase HDL levels. However, its positive effect on out lipid profiles is only achieved in doses higher than when taken as just vitamin supplement. For cholesterol control, niacin should only be taken upon doctor’s orders.


Fibrates or fibric acid derivatives are mostly effective in lowering triglycerides and moderately increase HDL levels. However, they don’t effectively lower LDL levels.

Fibrates currently available in the U.S.include:

[Sources: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); American Heart Association (AHA)]

As with almost all medications, these drugs should only be taken after discussion with your doctor. Currently, there are no avalaible OTC drugs to control cholesterol levels. There may be drugs sold over the Internet but these offers should be approached with extreme caution (see previous post on this). However, aside from taking medications, lifestyle changes are also necessary in the fight against cholesterol and heart disease.

Coming soon: alternative products and supplements against cholesterol.

Photo credit: drugs by sarej at stock.xchng

Depression Medications Explained

March 14, 2007 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

By Jason Hunter

Depression is more than a gloomy and terrifying disorder; it can be lethal. Therefore, anyone with moderate to severe depression requires vigorous treatment immediately. There are many different depression medications. These same antidepressants can also help treat panic disorder, other anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and attention deficit disorder.

Depression has been linked to a shortage of any one of four different neurotransmitters: serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine or epinephrine. Depression medications are designed to correct neurotransmitter shortages by increasing the body’s supply of one or more of these important brain chemicals.

There are three main classes of depression medications:

-Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) increase brain norepinephrine levels. From the 1960s through the 1980s, TCAs were the first line treatment for major depression in the U.S. – Today however, TCAs are generally used as the second or third line therapies. Side effects from this depression medication include dry mouth, sleepiness, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (scarring or thickening of deep lung tissue), weight gain, blurred vision, constipation, fast or irregular heartbeat, bladder weakness, tremors, and dizziness. Brand name drugs in this class are Tofranil, Desipramine, Doxepin, and Elavil.

– Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAO) Is an enzyme that breaks down three important neurotransmitters. Norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. MAOIs have been largely replaced by SSRIs, although many patients with major depression who do not respond to TCAs improve with MAOIs. Depressed patients with specific symptoms like sleeping too much, over-eating for long periods of time, rejection sensitivity, and panic attacks, may get the best results with MAOIs. MAOIs are also effective treatments for panic disorder and bipolar depression. Side effects from this depression medication includes tremors, edema, dizziness, constipation, sleepiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, increased blood pressure, and fast or irregular heartbeat. Brand name drugs in this class are, Parnate, Nardil, and Marphan.

– Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are the newest of the three main classes of depression medications. They prevent the reabsorption of serotonin from the synapse where neighboring brain cells communicate. SSRIs are the current depression medication of choice because of their limited side effects, although they may cause insomnia, agitation, headache, nausea, and diarrhea. Brand name drugs in this class are, Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Lexapro.

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that taking a pill is the easy way out. While a medication may take away symptoms of a disease – it does not cure the problem, and often creates a completely new array of side effects. It is important to discover the root of the problem and treat it in a way that can bring lasting relief. In attacking depression, lifestyle measures should be your first line of defense. Herbs or depression medications should be a last line of defense.

Jason Hunter is a natural health advocate. He is webmaster of a natural health web site called Home Health and Natural Remedies. He gives advise and alternative treatment options for treating depression naturally. You can visit his website at: www.hhesonline.com/natural_remedies/depression.htm

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jason_Hunter

How Safe is Your Blood Pressure Medication?

March 5, 2007 by  

By Stan Kitchen

Sometimes, you can treat high blood pressure with a simple change of diet, exercise and lifestyle. Other cases are not so simple to resolve, and the doctor may prescribe a high blood pressure medication. The particular medication will depend on other key factors, such as the severity of your high blood pressure condition. It would also depend on any other existing medical conditions.

Know Your Medications

There are many aspects of blood pressure medications to consider for treating the condition. While your doctor is the one who will decide the treatment, you should have some knowledge about the various medications. For example, how they react or interact with other conditions or medications. Visiting the local pharmacy can help answer questions or concerns before approaching your doctor, but information is the key.

While most people treated for blood pressure don’t need other medications for another medical condition, some do. When taking more than one blood pressure medication, it’s important to make sure those medications would not conflict with one another other. Also, let your doctor know what other medications you are taking before he prescribes a particular one for you.

Other Health Problems

If you have high blood pressure and have no other ailments, the doctor will more than likely prescribe a blood pressure medication such as thiazide-type diuretics. This medication suits those without other medical problems. Thiazide-type diuretics have been proven to not only lower blood pressure, but also to prevent heart attacks and strokes. They are less expensive than other high blood pressure drugs. And these diuretics are the most common of first drugs prescribed to treat high blood pressure. You only need to take most of these medications once a day.

Other blood pressure medication such as a beta-blocker can reduce risk of strokes or heart attacks. They help protect hearts weakened by coronary artery disease. Similarly, enzyme inhibitors help to protect the kidneys for those suffering from diabetes and kidney insufficiency as well. Enzyme inhibitors also protect the heart after a major heart attack or if you have congestive heart failure.

Calcium channel blockers help people suffering from angina. Similarly, alpha-blockers improve blood levels of certain fats. For those suffering from other medical conditions, such as diabetes or congestive heart failure or angina, the doctor will most likely prescribe a beta-blocker. Doctors will also consider the age of the patient. Often, medications in seniors react differently than in younger and more healthy patients.

What are the side effects?

As with any blood pressure medication, side effects can occur. They include, but are not limited to, increased need to urinate, difficulty sleeping and dizziness. Other side effects can be some sexual dysfunction in men, nasal stuffiness or headaches.

Many people use blood pressure medication and never experience these side effects, so don’t let the fear of them stop you from taking the medication. Work with your doctor to find the right medication with the least amount of side effects for your specific condition. No matter which blood pressure medication the doctor prescribes, it is important to follow instructions to the letter.

Get the latest in high blood pressure know how from the only true source at www.bloodpressurefile.com. Check out our blood pressure medication pages.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Stan_Kitchen

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.