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The videofluoroscopic swallowing study – what is it and who needs it?

vfss

We’ve all had experiences like taking a sip of water and it having it go down the ‘wrong pipe’ or struggling to get our pills down, but what if it happens regularly or is happening more often? Your doctor may suggest that you partake in a videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS) to determine what’s happening while you swallow. A swallowing study can determine if medication, speech therapy, certain positioning or a change in the foods you eat will help you improve your ability to eat and drink more safely. Your doctor may recommend a VFSS if you experience:

  • Complaints of food sticking in your throat
  • Frequent coughing or choking on food or liquid
  • Frequent heartburn and/or burning in your throat
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Painful swallowing, or taking extra effort to swallow
  • Weight loss due to not being able to eat
  • Gagging or vomiting while eating

In addition, patients with certain medical diagnoses may need repeated swallowing studies to document changes in their ability to swallow food and liquid. These conditions include:

  • Stroke
  • Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, ALS or advanced Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancers of the head, neck and chest

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Packing a safe lunch 101

safelunch

With another school year in full swing, I thought it would be a good time to write about food-safe school lunches. Many parents or kids make school lunches to take to school. Each day their lunches are packed with nutritious foods (I hope!) that are safely wrapped or packaged. Even so, the contents can leak or spill. You may be packing a nutritional lunch, but is it safe? Here are a few tips to keep your little one’s lunchbox clean and healthy.

Washing

  • Before handling any food that will be consumed, wash your hands.
  • Wash any surfaces and utensils you will be using to cut or prepare the food, including counters, cutting boards, plates, knives, etc.
  • Rinse fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, even ones that have tough rinds or skins that won’t be consumed. Dry before packing.
  • While it is preferable to wash soft fruits such as strawberries or blueberries just prior to consumption to avoid wilting, chances are your child will not have a chance to do so at school. To preserve as much of the fruit’s integrity and still provide safe foods for them to eat, wash these and then blot them dry immediately. Put in them in a dry, airtight container.
  • If your child’s lunch bag can be washed, do so on a weekly basis, or more frequently if you notice any stains or spills. If the bag cannot be washed, wipe it with a moist, clean disposable wipe or a disinfectant wipe. Then let it dry.

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What are cataracts?

cataracts

I often tell my patients, “If you live long enough, you’ll get cataracts.” Cataracts are one of the most common eye problems I identify in my office. Fortunately, they are treatable and the treatment even has some hidden benefits.

How do cataracts form? There is a small lens inside of your eye, just behind your iris. This tiny but powerful lens has the job of focusing the image of what you are looking at onto the retina at the back of the eye. A cataract develops when this all-important lens becomes cloudy. An optometrist has a microscope that can look at this little lens and see the developing cloudiness.

For most people, cataracts occur due to the aging process, but cataracts can develop at any age. People taking steroid medications and diabetic patients tend to develop them earlier than most.

The symptoms of a cataract are:
● Blurry vision
● Glare (when a light source affects the ability to see clearly) at night from headlights
● Glare during the day from sunlight Continue Reading »

Top 5 things you and others will notice when you quit tobacco

quittingtobacco

Freeing yourself from tobacco can be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that is well worth it. While there may be temporary discomforts during the process, the permanent rewards for giving up the habit and addiction far outweigh any struggles you may encounter. Being mindful of benefits during the process can keep your spirits up and push you to commit to being nicotine free. There are many benefits to look forward to, including;

  1. The amount of money saved from not buying tobacco will help you to feel more financially secure. The average smoker spends approximately $2,200 per year on cigarettes – imagine what you could do with that money.
  2. The lingering smell of smoke will be gone. Not only will you smell better, but people may feel more comfortable around you since you won’t have that smoky smell in your house or car anymore.
  3. Others will notice you have more time to spend with them instead of having to leave the room to smoke. Think of the conversations you won’t be missing!
  4. Others and yourself will notice you have more energy and are more productive. Breathing will become much easier, so exercise and vigorous activities won’t cause as much shortness of breath.
  5. You will notice a better sense of taste and smell. The world around you will become more enjoyable!

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September is now “A Time To Heal” for cancer survivors

atimetoheal

Regaining health after cancer means adjusting to a new normal, and whether you were diagnosed six months ago or 15 years ago, reaching that goal means something different to everyone. Just as survivors of cardiovascular issues undergo cardiac rehabilitation, you can benefit tremendously from post-cancer rehabilitation.

A Time To Heal (ATTH), a 12-week, holistic program for cancer survivors and their caregivers, aims to help you meet your health and wellness goals and tackle roadblocks along the way. This research-based rehabilitation program is free of charge and focuses on topics such as stress management, smart nutrition and supplementation, and dealing with anxiety. ATTH is open to people diagnosed with any type of cancer from any health care system.

Cancer and its treatment takes more than just a physical toll on survivors and their loved ones. ATTH can help survivors regain physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological and spiritual health after cancer treatments. Participants will benefit from guided gentle stretching designed to promote flexibility, clearer thinking and physical strength, as well as weekly instruction by experts on health-enhancing topics that can be taken out of the classroom and used to not just survive, but thrive. Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.