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Five ways to use massage therapy for improving health

massagetherapy

Many people see massage therapy as a luxury but in reality, massage therapy is good for your physical and emotional health. More research is being done to learn how massage therapy affects your body physiologically, but there are some things we are aware of now. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy:

  1. Lowers stress.  The long-term effects of stress can take emotional and physical tolls on your body. Massage therapy may relieve stress and conditions associated with it, such as tension headaches.
  2. Increases immune function.  Medical research indicates that massage therapy can help boost immune system strength by increasing the activity level of the body’s natural “killer T cells,” that fight off viruses.
  3. Boosts mental health and wellness. Research suggests that symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (all associated with mental health) may be helped with massage therapy.
  4. Manages pain.  Pain can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and impede recovery from illness or injury. Recent findings highlight the role of massage in pain management.
  5. Improves physical fitness. Elite and recreational athletes alike can benefit from massage therapy. It can reduce muscle tension, improve exercise performance and prevent injuries.

Continue Reading »

Pumpkins: the fall fruit mascot

pumpkins

Every fall we see pumpkins brightening up our yards and our front porches; a sure sign that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner. Pumpkins, a type of squash, are usually orange but come in all different shapes and sizes. While most people consider pumpkins vegetables, pumpkins are actually considered a fruit.

There are two types of squash: winter squash and summer squash. Summer squash are harvested and eaten when the skin is thin and tender. They tend to have a shorter storage span due to the thin skin and must be eaten promptly. Zucchini and yellow summer squash are just a couple of several varieties of squash you can enjoy during the summer months.

Pumpkins are included within the winter squash category along with butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash. Winter squash are known for their hard, thick skin, which is what makes carving pumpkins so challenging. The thick skin also contributes to a long shelf life, allowing these winter squash to be kept for months when stored in a dark and cool place such as a basement or in a garage. Continue Reading »

What to expect at an ultrasound appointment

ultrasound
Most of us have seen the pictures that result: sepia or black and white, tiny fingers and curled legs—babies sure are fascinating to see through ultrasounds! Ultrasounds have become a typical part of modern pregnancy and prenatal care, and provide important insight into your baby’s development. Health care providers recommend that all pregnant women receive an ultrasound at least once, usually between the 18th and 20th week of pregnancy. If other medical issues are present, ultrasounds are sometimes needed at other points during pregnancy as well.

Early in pregnancy
If your provider did not confirm your pregnancy with a Doppler heartbeat monitor, your first ultrasound will confirm your baby’s heartbeat and that your pregnancy is uterine. If your pregnancy appears to be ectopic or tubular, it is best to find this out immediately so that your can discuss your and your baby’s health with your provider.

If you’ve never received an ultrasound before, be prepared to be a little chilly and a little slimey. A standard transabdominal ultrasound starts with a cool gel that is rubbed onto your lower belly (over your uterus). The ultrasound technician then rubs a transducer wand, which emits sound waves, over the area. The gel conducts the sound waves, which bounce off of the contours of your baby to produce the image you’ll see on-screen. That image, or sonogram, will be the first picture you have of your baby! It also allows the technician to take the baby’s measurements, to be compared at later ultrasounds. If it is very early in the pregnancy, the technician may perform a transvaginal (internal) ultrasound, which uses the transducer wand to scan the uterus from the vaginal cavity in order to detect the baby more clearly or earlier than would be possible with a transabdominal ultrasound.  Continue Reading »

What you need to know about Enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68

shutterstock_76659340There’s a good chance you’ve heard about Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, a rare virus similar to the common cold that is infecting U.S. children across the Midwest. Here’s what you need to know about this virus:

What is it?
EV-D68 is an infection that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. The virus can be found in saliva, nasal mucus and sputum. It is spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces. Washing hands can help reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus.

Who is at risk?
Infants, children and teenagers are most likely to get infected because they do not have immunity from previous exposures to this virus. Children with asthma have a higher risk for respiratory illness and should take all of their regularly prescribed medication and have rescue medications on hand. Infections are more common in the summer and fall months.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of EV-D68 infection aren’t much different than common respiratory viruses like influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Symptoms include:
• Cough
• Runny nose
• Shortness of breath
• Sneezing
• Body and muscle aches
• Fever

Severe symptoms may include wheezing or difficulty breathing. If at any time your child is having difficulty breathing, has blue lips or is gasping for air, please seek immediate medical attention.

What are the treatments?
There is no specific treatment for people infected with EV-D68. Over-the-counter medications will help relieve some of the mild respiratory symptoms mentioned above. Aspirin should not be given to children.

What can be done to prevent contraction of EV-D68?
You can help stop potential outbreaks/infections by following these prevention tips: Continue Reading »

How physical therapy can help treat Post-Concussion Syndrome

pcs

Concussions are becoming increasingly common for people who play sports with physical contact. While typical recovery from a concussion can take from a few hours up to a few weeks, sometimes symptoms may last longer than normal. Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is when typical concussion-related symptoms last for weeks, months or occasionally a year after a concussion. PCS is also possible when someone has been in a car accident or fallen and hit their head.

Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision/blurred vision
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches, pressure in the head
  • Neck pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sensitivity to light and/or noise
  • Feeling in a fog/not feeling “right”
  • Fatigue, low energy, depression, anxiety
  • Change in irritability, more emotional or change in personality

Females and young people are at a higher risk for PCS, as are those who have already experienced three or more concussions. Other risk factors are preexisting conditions such as migraines or learning disabilities. 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.