Archive for August, 2010

Using Malaria Medication for Leg Cramps is Risky

Posted in Medicine on August 31st, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

People who use the drug Qualaquin to treat or prevent nighttime leg cramps may be at risk for serious and life threatening reactions, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Qualaquin (quinine sulfate) is FDA approved only to treat a certain type of malaria (uncomplicated malaria) caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. This infection, which is rare in the United States, is found mainly in travelers who have been to countries where malaria occurs. However, most of Qualaquin’s use in the U.S. is for the treatment or prevention of nighttime leg cramps – a use NOT approved by FDA.

FDA has received reports of side effects after people used Qualaquin to prevent or treat leg cramps or restless leg syndrome. Side effects included serious and life threatening reactions in 38 reports. Of these 38 reports, there were 24 blood related reactions, including a severe lowering of platelets in the blood. Some of the blood related side effects resulted in permanent kidney damage, hospitalization, and two deaths.

Advice for People

  • If you take Qualaquin for nighttime leg cramps, you should discuss other treatment options with your health care professional.
  • Contact your health care professional immediately if you experience easy bruising, severe nose bleeding, blood in your urine or stool, bleeding gums, or the appearance of unusual purple, brown, or red spots on your skin.
  • Read the medication guide given to you at the pharmacy when you pick up a prescription for Qualaquin.
  • Report any side effects with the use of Qualaquin to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program by using:
    • Online at www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch
    • Regular mail – use postage paid, pre-addressed FDA form 3500 at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch
    • Fax 1-800-FDA-0178
    • Phone 1-800-332-1088

FDA Action
As part of a risk management plan, FDA requires that people receive a medication guide at the pharmacy when they pick up a prescription for Qualaquin. The medication guide explains what the drug is and is not approved for, as well as its potential side effects.

Source from www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates July 8, 2010

Bones are Unsafe for Your Dog

Posted in General on August 30th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

The idea that it’s natural for dogs to chew on bones is a popular one, but the fact is it is a dangerous practice and can cause serious injury to your pet.

“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” says Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration. “Bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”

“Make sure you throw out bones from your own meals in a way that your dog can’t get to them,” adds Stamper, who suggests taking the trash out right away or putting the bones up high and out of your dog’s reach until you have a chance to dispose of them. “And pay attention to where your dog’s nose is when you walk him around the neighborhood – steer him away from any objects lying in the grass.”

10 reasons why it’s a bad idea to give your dog a bone:

  • 1. Broken teeth - This may call for expensive veterinary dentistry.
  • 2. Mouth or tongue injuries - These can be very bloody and messy and may require a trip to see the veterinarian.
  • 3. The bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw - This can be frightening or painful for your dog and potentially costly to you, as it usually means a trip to see the veterinarian.
  • 4. The bone gets stuck in the esophagus - The esophagus is the tube that food travels through to reach the stomach. Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up, and will need to see the veterinarian.
  • 5. The bone gets stuck in windpipe - This may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of bone. This is an emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing. Get your pet to the veterinarian immediately!
  • 6. The bone gets stuck in stomach - It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which the veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
  • 7. The bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage - It may be time for surgery.
  • 8. Constipation due to bone fragments - Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they are very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to the veterinarian.
  • 9. Severe bleeding from the rectum - This is very messy and can be dangerous. It’s time for a trip to see the veterinarian.
  • 10. Peritonitis - This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Your dog needs an emergency visit to the veterinarian because peritonitis can kill your dog.

“Talk with your veterinarian about alternatives to giving bones to your dog. There are many bone-like products made with materials that are safe for dogs to chew on. Always supervise your dog with any chew product, especially one your dog hasn’t had before. And always, if your dog ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away,” says Stamper.

Source: www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates – April 20, 2010

How to Stretch

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness on August 29th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

Stretching is important to help loosen and lengthen your muscles. Stretch gently after you warm up your muscles with an easy 5 minute walk, and again after you cool down. When doing the stretches below, do not bounce or hold your breath when you stretch. Perform slow movements and stretch only as far as you feel comfortable.

Side Reach >>>
Reach one arm over your head and to the side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.

<<< Wall Push
Lean your hands on a wall with your feet about 3 to 4 feet away from the wall. Bend one knee and point it toward the wall. Keep your back leg straight with your foot flat and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Knee Pull >>>
Lean your back against a wall. Keep your head, hips, and feet in a straight line. Pull one knee to your chest, hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.

<<< Leg Curl
Pull your right foot to your buttocks with your right hand. Stand straight and keep your knee pointing straight to the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your left foot and hand.

Hamstring >>>
Sit on a sturdy bench or hard surface so that your left leg is stretched out on the bench with your toes pointing up. Keep your right foot flat on the floor. Straighten your back, and if you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your right leg. If you don’t yet feel a stretch, lean forward from your hips until you do feel a stretch.

Source from win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/

Bladder Control Problems – Weak Pelvic Muscles

Posted in Women's Health on August 28th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

Many events in a persons life can weaken their pelvic floor muscles:

  • Not keeping your pelvic muscles active
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Being overweight
  • Constipation
  • Getting older
  • Heavy lifting
  • Coughing for a long time, such as asthma, bronchitis, or smoker’s cough

Pelvic Floor Muscles
The part of your body including your hip bones is the pelvic area. At the bottom of the pelvis, several layers of muscle attach to the front, back, and sides of the pelvic bone. These muscles are your pelvic floor muscles that hold up your bladder and help keep your bladder from leaking urine. Urinary leakage or loss of bladder control is also called incontinence.

Weak pelvic muscles can cause bladder control problems. You may think bladder control problems are something that happens only when you get older, but it is a common health problem for women of all ages. Men leak urine too, but the problem is more common in women.

Kegel Exercises for Weak Pelvic Muscles
If your pelvic muscles get weak, you can help make them stronger by doing pelvic muscle exercises – called Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises can help you to regain control of your bladder. Exercising your pelvic floor muscles every day strengthens muscles that hold the bladder and many other organs in place. To do Kegel exercises, you just squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Once you learn how to “Kegel,” you can Kegel anywhere.

Here are a few ways to find the right pelvic muscles to squeeze:

  • 1. Try to stop the flow of urine when you are sitting on the toilet. If you can do it, you are using the right muscles. (Do this to learn which muscles are the right ones to use – but only do this once a week, as your bladder may not empty the way it should if you stop and start your stream of urine more often than that).
  • 2. Imagine that you are trying to stop passing gas. Squeeze the muscles you would use. If you sense a “pulling” feeling, those are the right muscles for pelvic exercises.

Many women have trouble finding the right muscles to squeeze. It is best to see a doctor, nurse, or physical therapist to learn how to do Kegel exercises correctly. Kegel exercises are most effective when you have received proper instruction from a health care professional. You can also exercise by using special weights or biofeedback. Ask your doctor about these exercise aids.

  • 1. First, empty your bladder. Then find a quiet place to practice so you can concentrate, such as your bedroom or bathroom.
  • 2. Start Kegel exercises lying down. This is the easiest position. When your muscles get stronger, you can do Kegel exercises sitting or standing as you like. Lie on the floor. Pull in the pelvic muscles and hold for a count of 3. Then relax for a count of 3. Try to do 10 to 15 squeezes, 3 times a day, but don’t overdo it.

Every day, use three positions: lying down, sitting, and standing. Using all three positions makes the muscles strongest. You can do these exercises any time, while lying on the floor, sitting at a desk, in the car, waiting in line, or standing in the kitchen doing the dishes.

Be patient and don’t give up. You may not feel your bladder control improve until after 3 to 6 weeks. Most women do notice an improvement after a few weeks.

Word of Caution When Doing Kegel Exercises:

  • Be careful not to tighten your stomach, legs, or other muscles at the same time. Squeezing the wrong muscles can put more pressure on your bladder control muscles. Just squeeze the pelvic muscle.
  • Don’t hold your breath.
  • You may feel that if you increase the number of repetitions and the frequency of your exercises, you will speed up your progress, but overexercising these muscles can instead cause muscle fatigue and increase urine leakage.
  • If you feel discomfort in your abdomen or back while doing these exercises, you are probably doing them wrong.

Sneezing, Lifting, or Jumping
You can protect your pelvic muscles from more damage by bracing yourself. Squeeze your pelvic muscles tightly and hold on until after you sneeze, lift, or jump. Sudden pressure from such actions can hurt pelvic muscles.

Note:
Not all bladder control problems are alike. Urine leakage has many possible causes. Some other bladder control problems are caused by:

  • Damaged nerves.
  • Medicine that dulls the nerves so that you can sleep or relax. This medicine may dull the nerves in the bladder and keep them from signaling the brain when the bladder is full.
  • Alcohol – Drinking alcohol can also cause these nerves to fail.
  • Caffeine – Caffeine drinks such as coffee and cola also cause the bladder to fill quickly. Make sure your drinks are decaf.
  • Constipation.
  • Tumors in the brain, spinal cord, or bladder.
  • Infection – A urinary tract infection can irritate bladder nerves and cause the bladder to squeeze without warning. This type of incontinence goes away once the infection has been cured.
  • Excess weight – Being overweight can put pressure on the bladder and contribute to stress incontinence.

Your doctor or nurse will try to help solve your bladder control problem by identifing the type of incontinence you have. You will need to find a doctor who is skilled in helping women with urine leakage. If your primary doctor shrugs off your problem as normal aging, for example, ask for a referral to a specialist – a urogynecologist or a urologist who specializes in treating female urinary problems.

Stretching at Work

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness on August 27th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

Protect Yourself from Office Injuries

Computers have made the office worker more efficient, but have also increased the potential risk of a repetitive stress injury. Ergonomics is designed to help office workers stay safe, comfortable, and productive at work.

Repetitive Stress Injury Common Symptoms:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Pain
  • Aching

Repetitive Stress Injury Affected Areas

  • Arms
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Wrists
  • Fingers

Ergonomics involves fitting the workplace to the worker. Practice good ergonomic principles when you can:

  • Ensure proper posture – sit or stand with your shoulders back, but not pinched, and hold this position while you take slow, deep breaths. You can do this anytime.
  • Reduce excessive reaching.
  • Take frequent mini-breaks.
  • Vary your job tasks.
  • Move around and stretch often.

Some Stretching Exercises

1. Arms and Wrists Example photo of this stretching exercise is on the right.
With your arms outstretched, turn your hands in a circular motion several times.

2. Wrists Example photo of this stretching exercise is on the left.
Outstretch one arm and make a fist, with your other hand, squeeze the wrist while opening and closing the fist.

3. Shoulders and Neck Example photo of this stretching exercise is on the right.
Turn your head to the right while extending your right arm across your chest. Cradle your right arm in your left arm and press in. Hold for 4 seconds. Take a deep breath. Repeat for the other side.

Balance Exercises

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness on August 26th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

Many older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture to your arm, hand, ankle, or hip. Balance exercises can help you prevent falls and avoid the disability that may result from falling.

Be Safe

  • You can do balance exercises to improve your balance almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy nearby, such as a sturdy chair or a person nearby to hold on to if you feel unsteady.
  • Talk with your first doctor if you are unsure about doing a particular exercise.

In the beginning, using a chair or the wall for support will help you work on your balance safely. You can improve your balance even more if you modify the exercises as you progress. After holding on to a sturdy chair or the wall for support, challenge yourself by trying to hold on to the chair or the wall with only one hand, then with time, you can try holding on to the chair or the wall with only one finger, then no hands. If you are really steady on your feet, try doing the exercise with your eyes closed.

Stand on One Foot
You can also do the “stand on one foot” exercise while waiting for the bus or standing in line at the grocery store. Make sure you have something sturdy nearby to hold on to if you become unsteady.

  • Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance.
  • Hold position for up to 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times with your other leg.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 more times with each leg.

Heel-to-Toe Walk
Having good balance is important for many everyday activities, such as going up and down the stairs. If you are unsteady on your feet, try doing this exercise holding on to someone or near a wall so you can steady yourself if you need to.

  • Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of your other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
  • Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  • Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.
  • Repeat for 20 steps.

Balance Walk
Good balance helps you walk safely and avoid tripping and falling over objects in your way. As you get better with the “balance walk” exercise, try looking from side to side as you walk, but don’t look from side to side if you have inner ear problems.

  • Raise your arms to your sides, shoulder height.
  • Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  • Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other.
  • As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before stepping forward.
  • Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

Court Orders Acai Berry Weight Loss Pills and “Colon Cleansers” to Stop Deceptive Advertising & Unfair Billing Practices

Posted in Vitamins - Supplements, Weight Loss - Weight Gain on August 25th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

August, 16, 2010

Ads Feature Phony Endorsements Attributed to Oprah Winfrey, Rachael Ray

At the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a U.S. district court has ordered the marketers of acai berry supplements, ‘colon cleansers,’ and other products to temporarily halt an Internet sales scheme that allegedly scammed consumers out of $30 million or more in 2009 alone through deceptive advertising and unfair billing practices. The FTC will seek a permanent prohibition. Since 2007, victimized consumers have flooded law enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau with more than 2,800 complaints about the company.

Acai berry supplements, derived from acai palm trees that are native to Central and South America, have become popular in recent years. Last year, the Better Business Bureau named fake “free” trial offers – including those for acai supplements offered by the defendants in this case – as one of the “Top 10 Scams and Rip Offs of 2009.”

“Too many ‘free’ offers come with strings attached,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “In this case, the defendants promised buyers a ‘risk free’ trial and then illegally billed their credit cards again and again – and again. We estimate that about a million people have fallen victim to this scam. As if that weren’t enough, there were fake endorsements from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray for a product that didn’t work in the first place.”

The court order halts the allegedly illegal conduct of Central Coast Nutraceuticals, Inc., imposes an asset freeze, and appoints a temporary receiver over CCN and several related companies, while the FTC moves forward with its case to stop the company’s bogus health claims and other deceptive and unfair conduct.

The FTC charged CCN, two individuals, and four related companies with multiple violations, including deceptively advertising AcaiPure, an acai berry supplement, as a weight-loss product, and Colopure, a colon cleansing supplement, as an aid for preventing cancer.

The FTC complaint alleges that to sell AcaiPure, the marketers made dramatic claims on their website, including:
“WARNING! AcaiPure Is Fast Weight Loss That Works. It Was Not Created For Those People Who Only Want To Lose A Few Measly Pounds. AcaiPure was created to help you achieve the incredible body you have always wanted… USE WITH CAUTION! Major weight loss in short periods of time may occur.”

In pitching Colopure, the defendants cited frightening statistics about colon cancer, while promising that their product would get rid of consumers’ “excess weight and toxic buildup.”

The marketers also deceived consumers about their purported “free” or “risk free” trial offers, and about the charges and refund terms consumers could expect, according to the FTC’s complaint. The FTC also alleges that the marketers made numerous additional unauthorized charges to consumers’ credit and debit card accounts.

The alleged deceptive practices include:

  • Falsely claiming that using AcaiPure could lead to rapid and substantial weight loss. Consumers were told that “[m]ost consumers taking AcaiPure report weight loss anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds in the first month.”
  • Making unproven claims that AcaiPure’s weight-loss claims are backed by “double-blind, placebo-controlled weight loss studies.”
  • Deceptively claiming that Colopure could help prevent colon cancer because it would “cleanse your entire system,” “detoxify your organs,” and break down and remove “toxic waste matter which may have been stuck in the folds and wrinkles of your digestive system for years and years.”
  • Falsely claiming that celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray have endorsed products marketed by Central Coast Nutraceuticals, Inc. In marketing AcaiPure, the defendants declared on their homepage, “Acai Berry rated #1 SUPERFOOD by Rachael Ray.” A photo of Oprah appeared on the homepage, next to a quote that read in part, “Studies have shown that this little berry is one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world!” In fact, in declarations to the FTC, both celebrities denied endorsing AcaiPure.
  • Deceptively claiming that the marketers will provide full refunds to all consumers who request them, and that consumers who paid a nominal fee for a “free” trial supply of supplements would incur no risks or obligations. In fact, many consumers found it all but impossible to avoid paying full price for the products, typically $39.95 to $59.95.
  • Failing to adequately disclose that consumers would be automatically enrolled in a membership program and charged for additional monthly supplies of a product.
  • Failing to adequately disclose that consumers would be automatically charged for items other than the trial product unless they opted out.
  • Failing to adequately disclose the terms and conditions of trial programs, membership programs, and additional charges.
  • Making numerous unauthorized charges to consumers’ credit and debit card accounts.
  • Debiting consumers’ bank accounts on an automatic, recurring basis, without obtaining proper preauthorization. The unauthorized debits violated the FTC Act as well as the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and Regulation E, according to the complaint.

“Visa is committed to ensuring that consumers trust digital currency when they shop online by protecting them from deceptive merchant marketing practices,” said Martin Elliott, Senior Business Leader, Payment System Risk, Visa Inc. “Deceptive merchant practices hurt the economy by eroding trust in e-commerce and undermining the vast majority of ethical merchants who deal and compete fairly. We have tightened enforcement of our rules against banks whose merchants generate excessive levels of cardholder disputes because of deceptive marketing. We also make it a priority to partner with law enforcement and agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and support their investigations such as this case.”

The FTC would like to thank the Better Business Bureau of Central, Northern & Western Arizona and Visa, Inc. for their invaluable assistance in this investigation.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and seek a temporary restraining order was 5-0. The FTC filed its complaint and requested a temporary restraining order against the defendants from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. On August 6, 2010, the court granted the request for the temporary restraining order.

The complaint also names as defendants Graham D. Gibson and Michael A. McKenzy, and four companies affiliated with Central Coast Nutraceuticals, Inc. – iLife Health and Wellness LLC; Simply Naturals LLC; Health and Beauty Solutions LLC; and Fit for Life LLC.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has reason to believe that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law.

Source: United States Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov

Sunlight Makes Vitamin D

Posted in General, Vitamins - Supplements on August 24th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

Sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D!!

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that makes your bones stronger and helps prevent fractures.

You need about 20 minutes of sun each day, on the areas of your body that are normally exposed, such as your face and hands, to cause the chemical reaction in your skin that produces vitamin D.

Tips:
1. Sunlight that comes through glass, such as a window, will not cause your skin to make vitamin D.

2. You do not have to get 20 minutes of direct sun exposure all at one time. You can add up the minutes of exposure you get from things like walking to the end of your driveway to pick up your newspaper and walking through a parking lot to get to your car.

Caution:
If you can not get direct sunlight and decide to take vitamin D pills, ask your doctor for guidance. It would be virtually impossible to overdose on vitamin D from sun exposure, but vitamin D pills have harmful side effects if taken in excess.

Warning:
Remember… Despite the importance of the sun to vitamin D synthesis, it is wise to limit the exposure of your skin to sunlight and UV radiation from tanning beds. UV radiation is a carcinogen responsible for most of the estimated 1.5 million skin cancers and the 8,000 deaths due to metastatic melanoma that occur annually in the United States.

Too much exposure to UV rays from the sun can change skin texture and cause the skin to age prematurely, leading to skin cancer. UV rays also have been linked to eye conditions such as cataracts.

Wrist Curl

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness on August 23rd, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

Wrist curl exercises will strengthen your wrists and will help ensure good form and prevent injury when you do upper body strength exercises.

  • Rest your forearm on the arm of a sturdy chair with your hand over the edge.
  • Hold the weight with palm facing upward.
  • Slowly bend your wrist up and down.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  • Repeat with other hand 10 to 15 times.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 more times with each hand.

Astronauts in Space

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness on August 22nd, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

When astronauts come back to earth after extended space missions, they sometimes, at first, can’t walk or perform other physical activities very well. The reason for this is that the weightlessness of space makes it possible for astronauts to push and pull objects without the effort, and their muscles become weak as a result.

In the future, NASA hopes to develop ways to make exercise in space more effective, more efficient, and more pleasant.

Back here on earth, the same prinicple applies to the muscles of sedentary older adults: If you don’t use them, you lose them.

The good news… at any age, almost any older adult – or astronaut – can improve their strength through exercise.

Every time you stand, walk, or pick something up, your muscles work against gravity. With each gravity-defying activity, your bones react by triggering the formation of additional bone mass. The more you lift and the faster you move, and the more often you do both, the stronger your bones and muscles become. If you are active enough for long enough, your cardiovascular system gets a workout as well.

Exercise is a necessity. Get moving!!