Prescription opioids are medications used for treating acute pain due to surgery, serious injury or illness. When used correctly, opioids can effectively control severe types of pain. However, they’re also powerfully addictive and taking them can lead to fatal overdoses. With the United States in the midst of an opioid crisis, it’s important to understand how these painkillers work and what to do to prevent overdosing and addiction.
Opioid drugs are chemically similar to endorphins, which block pain by binding to receptors in your nervous system. Opioids imitate endorphins but cause a much stronger pain-blocking signal. Commonly prescribed opioid drugs include morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl.
When taking these drugs, over time your brain starts to crave the high caused by the release of dopamine following a dose of opioids, which can lead to addiction. What’s more, since opioid receptors regulate your breathing, abusing opioid drugs can cause you to stop breathing altogether, possibly resulting in death.
If you’re prescribed an opioid, you should take the following precautions:
• Discuss possible risks and alternate treatments with your doctor
• Take the medication exactly as prescribed, at the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time possible
• Avoid giving your prescription drugs to others and store them away from children, adolescents and individuals with a history of substance abuse
• Never mix opioids with alcohol
• Dispose of leftover pills through a prescription take-back program
If you or someone you know experiences extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing or disorientation while taking opioids, call 911 immediately.
In 2016 and 2017, more than 135,000 people died from an opioid-related drug overdose. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency.
Swim to stay in shape and slow down aging
According to a recent study, people who swim three to five times a week showed delayed changes in traditional aging indicators such as loss of muscle mass, high blood pressure and reduced lung capacity. If you’re a senior who’s looking for a way to stay in shape, here’s why swimming may be right for you.
1. It’s low impact
Swimming is gentle on the body and over time, it can improve your flexibility. The water supports your weight and takes the strain off your limbs and joints, making it a great activity for those who struggle with joint pain or mobility issues.
2. It helps in maintaining a healthy weight
Even a leisurely swim is enough to burn a significant number of calories. Water is nearly 800 times denser than air and provides enough resistance to make even low-impact, gentle swimming a good way to shed a few pounds and help you maintain a healthy weight.
3. It improves cardiovascular and respiratory health
While high intensity swims are great for increasing your fitness level, you don’t need to get your heart pounding to reap the benefits. Regular swims, even gentle ones, can help your heart and lungs stay healthier.
4. It improves mental health
Like most physical activities, swimming can help improve your mental health. In addition, since water-based exercise is gentler on your body than other types, you can reap these benefits without risking getting injured.
5. It’s affordable
All you need is a bathing suit, a cap, a pair of goggles and access to a pool. No expensive equipment required.
Finally, visiting the pool on a regular basis may lead to you forming new friendships. This lends a social dimension to your swimming sessions that makes them all the more beneficial.
Lingzhi mushroom: is it right for you?
A staple of oriental medicine, lingzhi mushrooms are often sold as supplements. The fungus, also known as reishi, is thought to provide a host of health benefits.
There is evidence to suggest that lingzhi mushrooms can indeed bolster the immune system, reduce inflammation and help treat urinary tract infections. However, evidence for these claims is thin, and until more studies are conducted, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional to find out if lingzhi supplements are right for you.
In addition, some proponents hold that reishi may help treat cancer, for which there’s no strong evidence. A few studies suggest it may be a helpful complement to a more standard treatment, but it can’t replace it.
4 reasons to swap your tampons for a menstrual cup
While menstrual cups are increasingly popular, many women hesitate to make the switch. Here are four arguments that may convince you.
1. They’re affordable
Purchasing a menstrual cup means you won’t need to allocate part of your monthly budget to pads and tampons. A single menstrual cup costs around $30 and can last for as long as 10 years before it needs to be replaced.
2. They’re eco friendly
3. They’re comfortable
When inserted according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it’s easy to forget you’re wearing a menstrual cup. Plus, cups can be worn for up to 12 hours, meaning you can sleep through the night without ever worrying about leaks or having to get up and change your tampon or pad.
4. They’re easy to maintain
Most cups are made of either silicone or latex and require minimal maintenance. Simply wash yours with mild soap and water whenever you empty it. After your period, sterilize the cup by boiling it in water for a few minutes.
Additionally, menstrual cups are hypoallergenic and a less abrasive type of product than disposable tampons and pads. But regardless of what product you choose, to prevent infections, make sure to always wash your hands before and after you use it.
STIs: a blind spot in elderly care
It’s estimated that by 2030, over 20 percent of American citizens will be 65 or older. The growth of the senior population is likely to come with a number of challenges, one of which will be managing the increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among this group.
Seniors and STIs
According to a 2007 study, three quarters of seniors aged 57 to 64 are sexually active, and over half of those aged 65 to 74 are. (The availability of performance-enhancing drugs is likely driving the increase in sexual activity among seniors.)
At the same time, the rate of STIs is climbing in adults who are over 45 years old. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that people aged 50 and over account for 15 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses.
A difficult topic for seniors
There are many factors that make it difficult to address the issue of STIs in seniors. For starters, they typically don’t consider themselves as being at risk for STIs and HIV/AIDS.
Furthermore, some individuals feel guilt or shame when noticing symptoms such as a rash or discharge. Others may mistakenly blame aging for signs of a health problem and therefore disregard them.
Finally, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors may face social stigmas when discussing their sexual health.
Institutional and social barriers
Most concerning is the lack of resources devoted to the sexual heath of the elderly population. According to some reports, seniors are excluded from close to 75 percent of clinical trials related to STI treatment and risk reduction. What’s worse is that healthcare professionals themselves often avoid discussing elderly patients’ sexual health.
Finally, though information is key in fighting the spread of STIs among seniors, there’s a noticeable lack of sexual education programs tailored to them.
Seniors need to practice safe sex and remember to discuss matters pertaining to their sexual health during doctors’ visits. As uncomfortable as it may be, there needs to a change in the way we deal with aging and sexuality. Doing so will ensure that our elders receive the care they deserve.
Can you drive if you have epilepsy?
Individuals afflicted with a seizure disorder may be able to drive in some cases, either with a regular license or one that imposes certain restrictions. While the specifics are regulated by state legislation, in general, those with epilepsy may be able to drive if:
• They’re on medication that prevents seizures
• They haven’t had a seizure in a certain number of months (it can range from three to 24, depending on state laws)
• Their seizures don’t impact their consciousness or cognition
• They submit medical reports attesting to their competence
In all cases, those with a seizure disorder should confer with their doctor when determining whether or not it’s safe for them to drive. However, even if the doctor attests that the individual can drive safely, the final decision rests with the state licensing agency.
5 facts about testosterone
Testosterone is often associated with stereotypically male traits like impulsiveness, competitiveness and a high sex drive. However, this hormone is a lot more complex than you think. Here are five interesting facts about it.
1. Peak levels. Testosterone levels peak at around 30 years of age. After that, they drop off steadily at a rate of about one percent a year.
2. Not just a male hormone. Women also produce testosterone. However, they do so at a rate of six to 10 times less than men.
3. Anabolic steroid. Testosterone is often used in supplement form by athletes looking to increase their muscle mass quickly. These supplements come with a number of serious side effects, many of which are life threatening.
4. Role in fetal development. Fetuses developing into baby boys will begin producing testosterone during the seventh week of pregnancy, around the time the testicles begin to form. Before this, there’s no difference between a male and female fetus.
5. Production. Testosterone is chiefly produced by the testicles, with the adrenal glands also producing a small amount. Hormone production itself is regulated by two glands located at the base of the brain: the hypothalamus and the pituitary.
Worries about low testosterone levels are common, especially as men get older. However, keep in mind that it’s a complex hormone that performs multiple functions within the human body. Many conditions can affect your testosterone levels, so always consult a doctor if you have concerns and steer clear of herbal remedies and fad diets that purport to boost its production.