The MMR vaccine has become common practice, so much so that many people are no longer familiar with the diseases it inoculates us against. MMR stands for measles, mumps and rubella. Of the three viruses, mumps and rubella are the least contagious but can still cause serious complications.
Usually seen as a mild disease in children, symptoms of mumps include:
- General aches and pains
- Low-grade fever
- Loss of appetite
- Painful and swollen glands in the cheeks, neck or under the jaw
- Runny nose
Caught through sneezes and coughs of infected carriers, the symptoms of mumps typically subside after about two weeks, and it’s no longer considered contagious about 10 days after diagnosis. As a virus, this illness is not responsive to antibiotics and needs to run its course. Most people fully recover, but in some instances serious complications include pancreatitis, brain inflammation and partial or total deafness. On rare occasions, mumps can cause infertility in men or a spontaneous miscarriage in women. Continue Reading »
Approximately 100 million Americans suffer from pain lasting longer than six months. Chronic, long lasting pain can be due to an injury or conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis. People with chronic pain can become less active because of their pain, resulting in decreased muscle flexibility and strength, decreased activity endurance and unbalanced postures. When someone has chronic pain, it can be difficult to know how to start an exercise program safely without aggravating the pain. Exercise should be an important part of everyone’s routine, especially if you have chronic pain. Exercise releases natural endorphins, or brain chemicals, that help improve your mood while also blocking pain signals into the blood stream. Exercise has another pain-reducing effect: it strengthens muscles, helping prevent re-injury and further pain.
This is where physical therapy within the Pain Management Program at Mercy Medical Center can help. Physical therapy starts with an individualized assessment to determine each person’s individual needs. Just as people have different body types, they have different patterns of movement, different alignments and different habits. Physical therapists monitor each individual and develop a program to correct what is causing pain. Most home exercise programs include gentle stretching, strengthening exercises, pain relief exercises and low-impact aerobic conditioning. If you want to learn about water exercise options or transition to a gym exercise routine, physical therapy can help with that, too. Continue Reading »
There is a plethora of information offered to pregnant women regarding birthing a baby. Friends, family, even strangers feel the need to tell women about their birthing stories. Some of them are unpleasant stories, but many are about strength, peace, support and the hardest but most wonderful event of a woman’s life. No woman ever forgets her birth story.
One increasingly popular way of giving birth is hypnobirthing, a method that focuses on eliminating fear in the birthing process. Fear causes tension, which stops the body from performing a normal physiologic function. When a woman is overwhelmed by fear during childbirth, stress hormones increase the heart rate and force blood to the arms and legs in the “fight or flight” response. With blood concentrated in the arms and legs, less blood circulates to the uterus, causing uterine pain and hindering the natural labor process.
For those interested in hypnobirthing, Barb Krohn, RN, currently teaches a five-class series at Mercy Medical Center. These two-and-half-hour classes teach special breathing, relaxation, visualization, meditative practice, attention to nutrition and positive body toning. Parents-to-be are provided with a CD to teach them self-hypnosis and positive affirmations. Participants in the class also receive a book that outlines the theory of hypnobirthing, suggestions for comfort during labor and special circumstances, and frequently asked questions and answers.
In my years of practice as a certified nurse midwife, I have worked with women who attended hypnobirthing classes, and I have seen these women and their partners focus hard to relax and work with their bodies to birth their baby. The hypnobirthing philosophy and education offered at Mercy Medical Center has been an excellent addition for pregnant women to guide them through their unforgettable birth story.
Register online here.
Chronic or persistent pain as defined by the American Chronic Pain Association, can be ongoing or recurrent pain lasting beyond the usual course of acute illness or injury or more than 3 to 6 months, and which adversely affects the individual’s well being. A simpler definition for chronic or persistent pain is pain that continues when it should not. Chronic pain can interfere with a person’s ability to engage in meaningful activities each day. Pain can decrease a person’s strength, coordination, endurance and independence in addition to causing stress.
With the help of occupational therapy, people with chronic pain can learn to manage the physical and psychological effects and lead active and productive lives. Many people with chronic pain already have received treatment with medication, surgery, heat, cold, nerve stimulation and massage. Management of daily activities and lifestyle can contribute to a successful, long-term strategy to cope with chronic pain. Continue Reading »
Once a common childhood infection, the measles virus is now almost entirely preventable with a vaccine. There is now an average of about 60 cases of measles per year in the United States, and while most of those cases originate outside of the country, it’s still important to know the signs and symptoms of this illness, especially for young children or travelers.
In 2014 there were 644 cases of measles in the U.S., with the majority being imported from abroad. As of March 13, 2015, there have been 176 reported cases centered around four outbreaks, and with cases present in 17 states, the majority have been linked to a California amusement park. The majority of these cases are predominantly young, unvaccinated children, who are too young to have completed the MMR course.
Risk factors for measles include being unvaccinated, traveling internationally in areas where vaccinations are uncommon and having a vitamin A deficiency. Most common in children under five years old (the same age that the second MMR vaccine is administered), symptoms of measles appear 10 to 14 days after exposure to the virus and include:
- Dry cough
- Fever of up to 104°F
- Conjunctivitis (inflamed eyes)
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Koplik’s spots—tiny white and bluish spots inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek
- Flat, red skin rashes
Continue Reading »