The holiday season is filled with emotion for most people. While this emotion is often happy, positive and loving, for many people it can be very unhappy and even depressing. Holiday music can trigger emotional associations with the absence of a loved one or unhappy memories from the past. The gap between the smiling faces of holiday ads and one’s unhappy emotional experience can actually lead to a deepening of the emotional darkness that often accompanies this season of lights.
As you approach the new year, you may be making resolutions for positive health behavior changes. Birthdays and other anniversaries also prompt us to take stock and vow to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Two of the most common promises we make to ourselves are to increase our physical activity level and our stress management skills. Research is now showing that combining mindfulness meditation and physical activity can dramatically improve physical and emotional health.
In addition to cold weather, winter sometimes brings sadness and depression. Some people experience depression only during the winter. Others with year-
The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is the world’s premier nutrition education resource. Harvard Medical School and the Department of Nutrition at HSPH developed the Healthy Eating Plate to provide the general public with up-
Both my parents experienced the sudden change in life’s priorities associated with the diagnosis of inoperable cancer. Suddenly, things that have occupied our mind, time and energy are reappraised in light of a stark reminder of life’s uncertainty and our mortality. Hope is kept alive by modern medicine’s remarkable results with conventional treatments and the fact that some individuals do much better than expected, even with serious and advanced cancer.
Most people say the gift of sight is their most valuable sense perception – and almost everyone experiences decline in visual function with aging. B One of the most common symptoms of aging is the decline in accommodation, the process by which the eye changes (accommodates) focus to maintain a clear image of objects at different distances. This decline often begins before age 50 years. Accommodation acts like an automatic reflex, but it can also be consciously controlled.
Where is your attention when you eat? Do you love the pleasure of eating so much that you overeat from sheer enjoyment rather than from physiologic hunger cues? Do you overeat as a self-
Being disconnected from or being self-
Anger can be a healthy emotional response or a serious health risk. Managing anger appropriately does not require that we deny it, repress it or get completely rid of it. Brief, mild-
The three primary domains of your overall fitness are physical activity, healthy eating and emotional well-
Surely one of the best things about modern science is the discovery that chocolate can actually be good medicine! Chocolate As Preventive Medicine? Cocoa contains phytonutrients (plant chemicals) called flavanols that may help protect you against coronary heart disease (heart attacks). Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains two to three times the amount of these beneficial plant chemicals. A possible mechanism by which flavanols protect the heart may be enhancing.....
Yoga can be fun and healthy for you and your kids – physically, mentally and emotionally.What is yoga? The word “yoga” means to yoke, unite, connect or join together. Yoga helps connect the body, mind, heart and emotions. It can also help connect you to other people, animals, trees and all of nature. We tend to think of physical movements and body postures when we think of yoga. Yoga looks like exercise, but its intent is very different. Physical hatha yoga is traditionally performed as a means of .....
Is it necessary, or even safe, to take an antibiotic for your next illness? This question is becoming a routine part of conversations between consumers and health providers. The way we answer this question has serious implications. Consumers and health care providers are both being urged to help achieve the goals of good medicine and public health: making a correct diagnosis, using antibiotics only if the diagnosis war-
I will never forget my patient who developed Type 1, insulin-
For many people, there is a relationship between stress and oral health. The presence of oral disease and dental disorders can cause stress from low self-
What to Eat? The world’s leading nutrition researchers are sending a very clear public health message based on the best scientific evidence available: To promote health, prevent disease and extend life, half your food servings should come from fruits and vegetables. For more than 70 years, the Department of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has conducted rigorous scientific research on the relationship between food and health.
A cancer survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of his or her life. Modern medical, radiation and surgical treatments have led to a growing population of cancer survivors, who now number over 12 million, or one in 25 Americans. Lifestyle choices such as health-
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Is it necessary, or even safe, to take an antibiotic for your next illness?
This question is becoming a routine part of conversations between consumers and health providers. The way we answer this question has serious implications. Consumers and health care providers are both being urged to help achieve the goals of good medicine and public health: making a correct diagnosis, using antibiotics only if the diagnosis war-
The overuse of antibiotics is contributing to an alarming increase in antibiotic resistance, leading to the emergence of untreatable, potentially fatal “superbugs. ” The more bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, the more they develop resistance to them. Many bacteria that were previously susceptible to antibiotics have developed resistance that makes them difficult or impossible to treat.
It is estimated that 11 million (or over half) of the prescriptions for U.S. antibiotics written each year are unnecessary, with roughly 12 percent called in over the phone without an examination. Medical and public health authorities are sounding the alarm as antibiotic-
Responding to calls from the medical and public health communities, President Barack Obama created in 2014 the Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-
The global importance of antibiotic resistance is underscored by simultaneous international observances, including European Antibiotic Awareness Day, Australian Antibiotic Awareness Week and Antibiotic Awareness Week in Canada.
Most coughs, colds and upper respiratory illnesses are caused by viruses – not
bacteria. Antibiotics kill bacteria – not viruses. Therefore, it is important to use scientifically based guidelines and sound judgment to determine whether an ear, sinus, throat or chest condition is caused by bacteria or a virus. While it is not always possible to distinguish between viral and bacterial conditions, there are guidelines that help consumers, parents and clinicians make wise choices.
Health care providers often treat specific symptoms (such as fever, aches and congestion) with rest, saltwater nose drops, humidification and lots of warm liquids. There is little evidence that over-
Four out of five sore throats are caused by viruses and do not require antibiotics. An office exam can determine the likelihood of a bacterial infection (strep throat), which requires an antibiotic. The Infectious Diseases Society of America recommends antibiotic use only when a strep throat is confirmed by a throat swab.
Many “sinus infections” are not infections at all but are caused by allergies and may respond to allergy medication. When an infection is present, it is more likely to be viral rather than bacterial. However, there is no easy test to distinguish viral from bacterial sinusitis. Even the presence of colored mucus from the sinuses does not reliably predict a bacterial infection. Since 80 percent of sinus infections resolve within two weeks without treatment, current guidelines advise against using antibiotics in the first week of symptoms, unless the symptoms worsen after initial improvement.
Although coughing can be caused by many different conditions, the majority of coughs that accompany seasonal respiratory illnesses are not caused by bacteria and do not respond to antibiotics. The CDC recommends health care providers use the term “chest cold” in their efforts to explain that bronchitis is usually caused by a virus and typically resolves on its own.
Safety is a common goal of consumers and their health care providers, as we all try to avoid causing harm. Many consumers are unaware of the potential harm from antibiotics even when they are prescribed appropriately. Antibiotics are the most common cause of allergic drug reactions. These reactions can be serious and even fatal. Antibiotic-
Health care providers and consumers have both contributed to antibiotic resistance and its alarming consequences. We are both being called upon to have frank conversations as we all strive for medical care that is safe, effective, scientific, economical, individualized, patient-
Sources and Resources
Obama Administration Takes Actions to Combat Antibiotic-
Get Smart About Antibiotics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. John Patterson is past president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians and is board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He is on the family practice faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Saybrook University’s School of Mind Body Medicine (San Francisco) and the Center for Mind Body Medicine (Washington, D.C.). He operates the Mind Body Studio in Lexington, where he offers integrative medicine consultations