Posted on 15 Comments

Lithium — More Than a Mood Stabilizer

A toddler, laughing in a field of red flowers.

A happy and laughing young woman.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

A look at the many uses of this element and how it can improve your life

Happiness is the quest of every person alive.

 I believe we all desire and deserve to be happy. The dream however is an oft-elusive one for many. I have always measured happiness in terms of hills and valleys. Life seems to be a continuous cycle of being down in the valley followed by lapses atop the hills. Be sure to enjoy these lapses as you may soon find yourself free-falling into the abyss of another valley…

We are often blessed with moments of sublime happiness.

Recently I came across an interesting tidbit of information that set me on a path of investigation. Several areas in the state of Texas and the world were found to have Lithium present.

Lithium is a naturally occurring element that resides in the soils and leaches into the drinking water. This “accidental” consumption  provides a plethora of health benefits.

The National Library of Medicine states that Lithium found in the drinking water supply has a positive impact on the mental and physical health of those who benefit from the water supply. The element was found in varying quantities depending on seasons and uptake.

Although Lithium is not considered a micro-nutrient, according to science its loss has a profound effect similar to a deficit of sodium, potassium and magnesium, to name a few.

Lithium — what it is

The element Lithium(Li) was first discovered in 1817 as a naturally occurring metal within the earth’s crust. Noted as the least dense of all the elements, it has been used to treat disorders of mentation since 1949 and lauded for its normothymic effect.

Lithium is used primarily in treating bipolar disorder, manic episodes, suicide and schizophrenia.

A number of studies have shown that elemental Lithium found naturally in the soils and leached into the drinking water supply. Also found in some of the fruits and vegetables we consume. It has been proven to decrease the rates of suicides, depression, rapes and crimes of violence as well as numerous benefits on the physical well-beings such as; Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, muscles, heart, bone and cartilage repair.

Many colorful vegetables that contain lithium
Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

How is it used?

Lithium taken as Lithium orotate has greater ease of bioavailability and ease of transport across the cell layer by simple diffusion utilizing the sodium channels. Scientists believe that its similarity to sodium and magnesium affect its bio-availability and therapeutic levels. Blood level availability is also dependent upon various enzymes, hormones and vitamins. The management of Lithium in any disease process will need close and constant monitoring to titrate dose for maximum benefit per patient.

How does it benefit us?

Lithium has been known to increase density of the gray matter and increase the size of the amygdala and hippocampus (the emotional brain). It is known to stimulate the production of neural stem cells. Has protective effects against oxidative stress and its consequences. It modulates immune response.

Where can I find it?

A glass of clear drinking water known to contain lithium
Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash

 

Lithium is present in the water supply of many countries and in many of the foods we eat. Some of the main sources of Lithium are; cereals, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage and some mineral waters. It is also present in some spices of nutmeg, coriander seeds, or cumin of course the amount present will depend on the soil in which they are grown.

Lithium is available as an over the counter(OTC) supplement and can also be prescribed by your physician for psychiatric disorders. Be sure to discuss with your primary care provider before  you  begin taking any new supplements or medications!

Contraindications:

Lithium is not the first line drug for persons with:

  1. Significant renal disease
  2. Cardiovascular disease
  3. Severe debilitation
  4. Severe dehydration
  5. On diuretic therapy
  6. Sodium depletion
  7. Pregnancy

The risk of toxicity is too high as the Lithium toxicity is closely related to serum therapeutic lithium levels. The care is best done under the care of a medical provider.

You should not attempt this on your own!


Conclusion:

Lithium appears to be the panacea for diseases of the psyche with added benefits to the physical body. It is water soluble and can be promptly bio-available for uptake by the cells. By its proven record it has the ability to influence the mood, depression and overall mental health of many.

It is naturally occurring in soil and as such is present in the drinking water supply of many. Lithium occurs naturally in many foods, albeit in varying degrees dependent upon its availability and uptake by plant life for use. It is touted as a micro-nutrient although the nomenclature does not reflect that at this time. It has proven to offer a number of health benefits, including some longevity.

Science continues to study the properties of Lithium as a first line of defense in the rising issue of mental and physical decline in the hopes that fortifying food with this element will become a strategy of primary prevention in mood disorders and pre-suicidal syndromes.

How much do I need?

Provisional recommended intakes set at 1000 μg/day for a 70-kg adult (14.3 μg/kg body weight).

References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net
  2. https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/journal/1879-1379_Journal_of_Psychiatric_Research

Click here to learn more about stress and how to cope.

Posted on 35 Comments

Benefits of Walking Barefoot

Bare feet covered in sand
Photo by Ana Grave on Unsplash

Why your bare feet may keep you grounded

I grew up running and playing mostly barefooted. As children we ran and played with abandon and no shoes during the vacations from school and on weekends.

Whenever we could, like on our way home from school, we would remove our shoes for added freedom and fun! Who invented those restrictive items anyway?

During the rainy season, the children had a grand time just wading in the water playing and kicking it around. We would hold our dresses up or roll our pant legs out of harms way and just be young.

A favorite pastime was playing what we called ‘duck duck goose’, a game where you grabbed the flattest stone you could find and let it skim the top of the water before going under. The one whose stone stayed afloat the longest won.

Those were fun days and I would not change my childhood for anything.

As I grew older however I was drawn to science and that knowledge caused me to pull away from my norm in favor of always wearing shoes, at least outdoors.

I never wear any type of foot covering indoors (unless it’s really cold), as I love the feel of my feet on the natural floors. I use my bare feet to also let me know how many times I need to clean my floors. I hate the feel of debris and grime underfoot. Walking bare-footed has become a lost art, so I began to wonder why…

The art of walking barefoot on grass or earth is known as grounding or earthing and offers many health benefits.

 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Our bodies and our relationship to the earth.

Emerging scientific research has been unearthing, so to speak, a symbiotic relationship between living things and their environment. Scientists are seeking answers as to some of the ways in which our environment may influence our health.

According to science, direct physical contact with the earth allows us access to the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the earth. Our modern lifestyle and use of foot coverings separates humans from such contact and that the disconnect may well be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and in physical and mental health.

Grounding or earthing

Direct connection with the earth’s electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and scientific reports of well-being. This grounding or earthing refers to direct contact with the earth’s surface. The skin-earth contact allows for the earth’s electrons to enter and flow through our bodies promoting good health.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Benefits of walking bare feet

  1. Better sleep by improving the circadian rhythm

  2. Reduced pain / increased healing time

  3. Reduced inflammation

  4. Reduce blood viscosity

  5. Increased wound healing

  6. Decreased stress

  7. Improves balance and is our natural walking pattern

  8. Build strength and increased mobility

  9. Better able to maintain homeostasis

 

Risks of walking bare feet

Photo by Stephan Seeber on Unsplash

Of course walking bare feet is not without risks;

  1. be mindful if you are diabetic and have peripheral neuropathy of any kind as you may not feel injury to your foot.

  2. If you have any type of decreased sensation you have to be very aware of where your feet are at all times.

  3. Note your surroundings for situations that may cause physical or parasitic infections.

  4. Consider the surface and the impact of your feet against said surface.

  5. Assess each day for injuries.

Final thoughts

Science is playing catch-up to the health benefits of bare-feet walking. Emerging links show we are our best selves when we make direct contact with the earth and benefit from its electrical pulses that influences our health and mental wellness in positive ways.

We are better able to care for our joints when we are not outfitted with shoes that may be ill-fitting causing more discomfort than they offer protection.

Walking without shoes strengthens leg and lower back muscles and allows for transfer the earth’s electrons from the ground into the body.


So take good care of your feet and avoid the pitfalls below … 😊

Photo by Tania Melnyczuk on Unsplash

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc
  2. https://www.livescience.com/
Posted on 19 Comments

Should They Be Circumcised?

baby
Photo by Yến Yến on Unsplash


Surgical snipping without consent

I began in a place that’s relatively old world style. Growing up my world was patriarchal … that never sat well with me. Even as a child I did not like the idea of “needing” a man’s permission for my life. I have always harbored the mindset that we are equal. The male brain is no more evolved that mine based solely on the fact that he “may” possesses testosterone in greater quantities than I — (potential posts for another time).

My grandmother (aka bonus mom) never subscribed to the idea of circumcision. She was blessed with five male children. None of her boys she stated were circumcised. We will have to take her word for it!

 


 

When I was eighteen a close relative gave birth to her first child and she decided to have him circumcised. My teenage eyes saw what a botched job it was on that poor baby and my decision to never circumcise was recording data for future use.

Fast forward to years later, as a nurse I have had the pleasure and misfortune to be present for many life-changing events; circumcision being among them. That poor newborn’s screams echoed off the walls and I was moved beyond compassion for him. My questioning mind wondered why on earth would anyone put their child through such torment! My decision to forego circumcision was cemented!

When my own son was born and the question was asked, my answer was unequivocally NO! This was a debate I had had with myself since quite young and nothing had changed that notion for me. I knew I did not want to put him through that kind of torture.

 


What is circumcision?

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the skin covering the tip of the penis. The procedure is mostly performed on newborn boys for the purposes of health benefits, religious reasons or to conform to societal norms.

Photo by Rex Pickar on Unsplash

Why circumcise?

Sometimes the need for circumcision is a medical one. If the foreskin is too tight and causes problems when it needs to be retracted over the glans. According to the US National Library of Medicine it is also recommended for older boys and men in an effort to reduce sexually transmitted infections and other times it is simply a rite of passage.

Benefits of circumcision:

  • Easier to clean: With the removal of the foreskin, a male child will find it easier to keep the the penis clean.
  • Less infections: Although the risks of urinary tract infections are low in males, per medical literature removing the foreskin further reduces the risk for themselves and future partners. Science has proven that circumcised men have a lower risk of acquiring and transmitting many sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). Circumcision results in lower incidences of STI’s, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), genital warts, cancers of the penis and cervix, trichomonas and bacterial vaginosis.
  • Necessary due to phimosis. Rarely the foreskin may be difficult or even impossible to retract (phimosis). This of course will require surgical intervention.
  • Decreased incidence of penile cancer. Although cancer of the penis is rare, it’s less common in circumcised men. This can be a boon for their future partner as well.
  • Reduced incidences of cervical cancers in female sexual partners of circumcised men.
  • Financially beneficial to society.

Risks of circumcision:

  1. Genital mutilation— missteps can result in permanent functional and aesthetic changes.
  2. Risk of excessive bleeding—  due to the close proximity of the urethra to the ventral surface(underside) of the penis, extreme caution should should be undertaken during the procedure as missteps can result in necrosis of the fragile tissue and/or the creation of a fistula (an abnormal connection between two structures). Death by bleeding may also be due to familial blood disorders.
  3. Infections —  that become serious due to undeveloped immune system leading to; meningitis, necrotizing fasciitis, gangrene, and sepsis have all been reported as complications of infected circumcision sites.
  4. Excessive foreskin removal — this will eventually heal, but initially causes distress among both the parent, the child and the practitioner. Also may not be esthetically pleasing.
  5. Insufficient foreskin removal/adhesions and skin bridges — necessitates a second surgery, the excess skin covers and adheres to the glans (phimosis), resulting in the need for additional surgery.
  6. Urinary retention, cysts, chordee (curvature of the penis), stenosis (narrowing) of the meatus, hypospadias and epispadias, penile necrosis, and finally death.

Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

Conclusion:

We have some of the benefits and the risks with which we can make informed decisions. Medicine posits that circumcision benefits society by increased health and longevity. Parents are also tasked with making medical life-altering decisions about another person without their consent.

I have taught my eldest son how to retract the foreskin for hygiene purposes and to date he has had no issues with that. Still, safe sexual practices remain essential whether we decide to circumcise or to remain uncircumcised.

Your thoughts are always welcome — to circumcise or not to circumcise, that is the question?

References:

  1. https://kidshealth.org
  2. http://www.auanet.org
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc
  5. https://med.stanford.edu
Posted on 15 Comments

Hiccups —A few ways to manage it.

Photo by Andre Guerra on Unsplash

Hiccups —They often appear out of the blue and are transient in nature — yet sometimes they decide to stay past their welcome.

Now we are tasked with evicting an unwelcome guest!

A hiccup is a powerful and involuntary spasm of the muscle at the base of the lungs known as your diaphragm, this is then followed by the rapid closure of your vocal cords.

Hiccups may last for a few hours, occasionally a day or two and pose no more issue than being a nuisance. Hiccups That continuously occurs for more than two days and less than a month are known as persistent hiccups.

On rare occasions, hiccups persist even longer than a month or recur frequently over an extended period of time, these are known as intractable hiccups.

Why do we get the hiccups?

The etiology and pathophysiology of hiccups remains fluid and elusive. The national Institute of Health (NCBI) states that hiccups are caused by; gastric distention, spicy foods and neural dysfunction that often resolve themselves without any treatment. Also implicated are chewing gum, smoking, alcohol, ingesting very hot substances soon after ingesting very cold, medications and many other disease processes. Hiccups associated with certain diseases or those that occur as a consequence of surgery, or, are life-restricting should be treated.

 

The cause of hiccups should be quickly determined so the appropriate treatment can be administered.

The best treatment for persistent or intractable hiccups should be directed toward the specific known cause. If the hiccup is due to an infection, that can be treated, if due to brainstem lesions, or biochemical abnormalities they may all respond to treatment. Problems with inhalation and exhalation and the phrenic and vagus nerves may be implicated intractable hiccups.

Interesting fact: males are affected with issues of chronic hiccups than females.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

How is a diagnoses made?

Hiccups are usually diagnosed based on your verbal account of their presence, chest X-rays, Electrocardiogram (EKG), lab tests and radiology tests.

Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

Some treatments are:

  1. Holding your breath
  2. Being purposely frightened
  3. Drinking a glass of water continuously without pausing to breathe
  4. Inhaling pepper to induce sneezing
  5. Eating a lemon
  6. Breathing into a paper bag
  7. Splashing your face with cold water
  8. Peppermint (relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter)
pexels-cottonbro-4631889

Medical management:

  1. Anti-inflammatories
  2. Anti-psychotics
  3. Proton-pump inhibitors
  4. Steroids (in some instances only)
  5. Radiation (in the case of tumors for e.g.)

What can I do to prevent future attacks?

There is not much you can do to prevent suffering from hiccups in the future. If you are on a medical management program, continue management under the guidance of your care provider. For transient attacks of hiccups, try the home/anecdotal remedies listed above.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Conclusion:

Everyone gets hiccups sometime. They annoy us briefly and passes quickly. When they persist they severely pose an issue to our activities of daily living impacting our lives negatively. Chronic hiccups can leave us; fatigued, with sleep disorders, dehydration and depressed. Post-surgically, hiccuping can lead to poor wound healing due to constant pressure on the surgical site.

Often, persistent/intractable hiccups have no known etiology, therefore medical management is on a trial basis of wait and see. If they are persistent and bothersome, many medications as well as anecdotal options may provide relief or at best a respite.

References:

  1. https://www.nlm.nih.gov
  2. https://rarediseases.org
  3. https://www.nlm.nih.gov

Be Safe!

Posted on 27 Comments

Anemia and Eating Ice

person-holding-clear-drinking-glass-with-yellow-liquid-4686941
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Do you have a constant need to chomp on ice chips? Crunching and munching at the detriment of your pearly whites — this behavior is known as pagophagia a form of pica.

Pagophagia — craving and eating ice.

Pica — is the compulsive urge to eat non-nutritive substances. Pica eating is not a recent phenomena, it has been observed for centuries. Pregnant women and preadolescents are a group with the highest risk of pica, though many persons indulge in Pica. Ice, soil, paper, rubber bands are some examples of non-nutritive items eaten in pica. It is also thought that pica has an association in the disorders in mentation.

Woman Eating Dirt
Photo credit–Study.com

This non-nutritive eating is often associated with anemia.

Pagophagia

Pagophagia —  the practice of eating ice is also a type of Pica eating. Pagophagia is a common form of pica associated with iron deficiency. You may aware that the constant chewing on ice will damage your teeth yet you are powerless to cease the destructive behavior. We may view the desire for chewing ice as a pleasurable act, which may be natures way of alerting us of a deficit.

Per the National Library of Medicine approximately one third of the world’s populace suffers with anemia. Some of the symptoms of iron deficiency are manifested in adults as; restless legs syndrome and pica eating. In adolescents the symptoms are; decreased learning and behavioral anomalies. In neonates iron deficiency show up as; arrested growth and development.

sliced-lemon-on-ice-water-90763
Image credit: Pixabay

How is it diagnosed?

Pica eating is usually diagnosed on the admission of patients on consuming non-nutritive items such as paper, soil, paint chips, hair, rubber bands and ice for a period greater than one month.

Diagnosis is also based on tests for anemia, intestinal blockages, parasitic infections and toxic side effects of things ingested, e.g., lead poisoning.

Most persons are not cognizant that consuming a lot of ice everyday is a form of pica. Many patients assume that it’s just a habit and medical care practitioners do not always make a connection between the behaviors and pica or a mental health issue. Practitioners need to be cognizant in investigating the etiology of the blood loss that results in the anemia.

Pica eating is not diagnosed in children under two years of age as this is part of their normal developmental testing and learning their environment.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

How is it treated?

Once diagnosed patients are usually treated for the iron deficiency. Studies have shown a resolution for the pica/pagophagia once the anemia has resolved. Iron supplementation is given intravenously, orally (liquid, pills or capsules) and must be supplemented with vitamin-c to enable absorption by the cells.

Since pica also has its etiology in some psychological disorders, e.g., obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), stress and developmental disorders  —  cognitive therapy may be required to aid the patient in future management of the disorder.

Final Thoughts

Pagophagia/pica has been a part of the human condition for eons, its etiology and pathophysiology remains a mystery (perhaps due to our bodies instinctive need to exist). The powerful urge to chomp on ice and other non-nutritive substances regularly may be our bodies way of screaming for help. I have personally witnessed pica eating, with many other substances.

Should you become aware you or family members possess any unusual cravings for non-food items, inform them/your primary care provider as an investigation and resolution may go a long way to improving your/their life.

References:

  1. https://study.com/
  2. https://www.nlm.nih.gov
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org
  4. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
  5. https://jmedicalcasereports.biomedcentral.com
  6. https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/ipho20/current

 

Posted on 26 Comments

Hand Sanitizing –Is It Safe?

A look at hand sanitizers and what it may mean for your health

Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash

My patient once told me he could easily identify nurses — they have worn-looking hands and tired feet! That was an eye opening moment for me, I realized his statement rang true. My hands were looking a bit worn. Could it be from the excessive use of washing and hand sanitizers? As a healthcare worker I spend many moments per day applying hand sanitizer or washing my hands.

At any given moment your hand harbors anywhere from 10,000 to 10,000,000 microbes awaiting an opportunity to strike. While some are relatively harmless others like Clostridium difficile and Escherichia coli can cause you serious harm.

What it is hand sanitizer

A hand sanitizer is a disinfectant usually in liquid, foam or gel form that is used to kill microbes.

Alcohol-based disinfectants — are the gold standard in the fight against opportunistic infections within and without healthcare organization. The composition of hand sanitizer solutions typically utilizes no less than 70% (v/v) isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. Scientifically proven to kill at least 99.9% microbes.

The CDC recommends a percentage of at least 60% alcohol is an effective and recommended concentration for use in healthcare setting.

While alcohol-based hand sanitizers can effectively reduce the number of microbes on hands, sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. Soap and water has proven to be more effective in killing and removed microbes and preventing the spread of infections.

Dangers that lurk in your hand sanitizer?

  1. Ethyl alcohol no less than 70% concentration this is the “active” ingredient.
  2. Triclosan — Some short-term animal studies have shown that exposure to high doses of triclosan is associated with a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones. Triclosan is an active ingredient used to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It is commonly added antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics. Causes hormone imbalance
  3. Water
  4. Phthalates — maintains pliability
  5. Isopropyl alcohol — another active ingredient
  6. Carbomer — creates the gel-like consistency
  7. Propylene glycol — pulls moisture from the air
  8. Tert-butyl alcohol —Tert-butanol is poorly absorbed through skin by inhalation or ingestion. Low toxicity seen at low doses and a sedative or anesthetic effect at high doses.
  9. Aminoethyl propanol — pH stabilizer
  10. Denatonium benzoate — a teratogenic (cancer causing) insecticide with a moderate toxicity to mammals
  11. Fragrance
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How to use hand sanitizers

The correct way to apply hand sanitizer is to apply it to the palm of one hand (the product label should provide the recommended amount per use). Rub the sanitizer over all surfaces of your hands for 30 seconds including your thumbs until your hands are dry. Rubbing for 30 seconds enhances its efficacy.

If your hands are visibly soiled do not use hand sanitizer, instead wash for 20 seconds with soap and water.

Photo by Mélissa Jeanty on Unsplash

How can it harm us?

  1. Overuse can lead to resistance to antimicrobials.
  2. Sanitizers often reduce the amount of microbes with actually destroying them.
  3. May actually lead to bacterial resistance.
  4. Alcohol is drying to your skin.
  5. My lead to skin allergies.
  6. Can be volatile and therefore highly flammable.
  7. Cause hormone imbalances.
  8. Can be cancer causing.
  9. Skin absorption — measured as increased blood alcohol levels after continuous use for four hours by healthcare workers.
Photo by Collins Lesulie on Unsplash

How we can protect ourselves

As a healthcare worker, I have used a lot of hand sanitizer to date. I naively assumed that our regulatory agencies are monitoring and ensuring that products put out for public consumption are safe for our use. While doing this research I was truly horrified that some the ingredients present in hand sanitizers have the propensity to cause as much harm as COVID-19.

How can we protect ourselves? — by using soap and water to wash our hands whenever possible and reduce the use of hand sanitizers. We must make every effort to then keep the sanitizer-infused hands away from our faces and mucus membranes as well as refrain from eating until such a time as we are able to physically wash our hands.

We should attempt to limit the exposure of our children to these known dangerous and teratogenic chemicals and in so doing perhaps we can reduce our incidences of the many cancers, hormonal imbalances and many diseases present in our world today.

To reduce the spread of microbes we must employ the use of soap and water in lieu of using hand sanitizers if at all possible.

While I appreciate the protection afforded by hand sanitizers when I am unable to wash with soap and water I realize that this is not the best practice for our long term health goals.

References

  1. https:/www.cdc.gov
  2. https://www.fda.gov
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com
  4. https://stm.sciencemag.org
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc
Posted on 14 Comments

Safe-guard Your Tongue

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

How the effects of everyday habits impacts our health!

Life has many pleasures, some are good for us and some not so much. At every turn we are faced with making many decisions. We are constantly bombarded with what to eat, what to drink and so on. Growing up in a small underdeveloped country I saw firsthand the effects of alcohol abuse.

God has created so much for us to see, eat and enjoy. As with most things in life, in everything we have to practice moderation. Along with the many things we can enjoy there are some that has the propensity to cause us distress if we are not diligent.

When it comes to enjoyment, eating is one of the foremost ways that we enjoy life. We enjoy the many wonderful smells the world have to offer and make every effort to avoid the not so pleasant ones. Taste comes in several flavors, sweet, bitter, sour, salt and umami (savory). There are a few everyday items that can negatively alter or enjoyment and impact our taste buds.

Being overweight

Studies show a link between obesity and having a diminished sense of taste. This seems to encourage the person who is overweight to consume more calories thus the cycle of obesity continues. Obesity according to science is an inflammatory process and impacts the cell turnover of the tongue. The good news is that the process seems to be reversible with weight loss.

2. Smoking kills your taste buds

Photo by Vusal Ibadzade on Unsplash
Cigarette smoke is odious, yellowing our nails and our teeth, it causes gum disease, high blood pressure, strokes etc., and kills your taste buds. Reason being toxic chemicals in cigarettes influences the taste buds to lose their shape and flatten in a process known as vascularization. Vascularization causes your taste buds to become less inefficient at detecting flavors.

3. You nose may be the culprit

Photo by okeykat on Unsplash

Smell and taste go hand-in-hand therefore your taste buds function by detecting flavors via your nose and tongue. In fact, it’s thought that up to ninety (90%) percent of our sense of taste is closely tied with our ability to smell. For this reason when your nose is congested it diminishes the way your food taste. So if you are not suffering from a cold and you’re still experiencing a dull sense of taste you need to have it evaluated ASAP. If your taste buds are not be the problem your sense of smell could be. Aging, neurovascular conditions, Alzheimer’s — diseases of the head and neck as well as many other diseases alters our sense of taste.

4. Too much sugar in your diet

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Experts have always cautioned us on the use of too much sugar. Routine overindulge in sugary foods and drinks. Too much sugar actually dulls the perception of sugar. What that means is that over time you have to consume more and more sugar to get the same pleasure from eating it. Try to reduce your sugar consumption as much as possible.

5. Exposure to harsh chemical cleaners

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If like me you love a clean home and use/used harsh chemical cleaners that could have negative effects on your ability to smell and taste. Did you know that some household cleaners are quite toxic. Strong cleaners like bleach for example can affect the delicate lining and sensory cells in the nose, especially when cleaning small, unventilated areas, e.g., bathroom. Some exposure will not necessarily cause permanent damage but continuous and prolonged exposure will eventually destroy the cells in the nasal passage and your taste buds.

6. Excessive alcohol intake

Photo by Giovanna Gomes on Unsplash

We all know that too much of any one thing is not good for us. Many people enjoy a glass of wine, beer or the spirits, but excessive intake of alcoholic beverages can affect your sense of taste. One of the ways alcohol damages your taste is by causing numbing effect to the taste buds. Studies have shown that if your taste buds are really sensitive to ‘bitter’ you are less likely to overindulge in alcohol.

Final thoughts:

Life is for living and though there is much to eat, drink and do, we are tasked with taking the responsibility for our health by way of our choices. So take care, eat and drink in moderation while maintaining an awareness of what may cause an unwanted consequences to your health. In safe guarding your most important attribute — your health, you can enjoy all the pleasant taste and smells for a long time to come.

Take care and be well. God bless you all!

References:

  1. https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nidcd.nih.gov%2Fhealth%2Fsmell-disorders
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc
  3. https://worldmedicinefoundation.com

 

 

 

Posted on 54 Comments

Update on How I am Doing

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I took this picture while at work last Saturday the day I realized I had COVID – looks are deceiving. 

Thank you All for your Prayers and Well Wishes!!!

My friends, I remain in quarantine and I can say that truly God is a good God. Even though I was well aware that I could become infected with COVID, due to the nature of the path I chose,  I thought I was taking all the precautions I could.

I work with two other ladies most frequently and they are both in their sixties and both are cancer survivors. As such whenever we have had to swab and care for a patient “under interest” I have been the one more in contact with the patients as I know these women would be more at risk than myself.

I am not a hero just a human. I have grown to love these women.

Since I have been unwell I have been speaking with both these ladies as they are experiencing symptoms as well. The one lady that I worked my last two shifts with is really feeling poorly even though her COVID test came back negative. She has been having more severe symptoms than myself. She is also in quarantine.

Each day I arise and thank God for Jesus! Yes I am happy. Psalms 23 – Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil….!!!! AMEN.

God is a good God and we shall all make it to the other side, my co-workers and I. I sleep with some healing scriptures playing on my nightstand as I want the healing promises to soak into my spirit even in repose.  (I always do this when I seek God out, I let his word settle in my soul. I will make a post about it one day).

How I feel:

  • Weakness (getting better each day)
  • Shortness of breath with exertion (it is resolving)
  • Headache — my worst symptom (it just hangs around)
  • Inability to concentrate for long periods
  • A heaviness in my head (feeling it as I type this now)
  • Sleeping a lot (the body needs rest to heal)

I never recorded a fever or a cough. 

What I am using for my immune system:

  • Zinc – 15mg
  • Vitamin D -5,000 IU
  • Vitamin C – 1000mg
  • Tumeric, aloe vera, garlic, ginger and celery blended drink (I just chug it down, can’t taste anyway)
  • Rest – as the body dictates
  • Exercise – I keep it moving, even if I just walk around the backyard in the sun.

Some of what breaks my heart:

  1. My boss has the nerve to ask me, “where do you think you got COVID from?” (we have been screening patients prior to surgery, screening and seeing the general public, the doctors see pre-surgery patients as well all day, some of which have been COVID positive and we mingle and share space with those doctors all day!). Is she for real.
  2. We were never given the appropriate protective gear. We wear surgical masks, can you imagine! Surgical masks do not protect from COVID, especially not in a healthcare setting where we are likely to come into direct contact with the virus.
  3. I could have potentially infected my family and my mother is an elderly woman. But I praise and thank GOD!!!!
  4. I cannot hug and comfort my children. My little snookums who I had been sleeping with since his dad left for NY is my constant companion. I have exposed him more so than anyone else. Him being my baby, I tickle and play and kiss him up all the time, and I was already infected and shedding COVID all over my child.
  5. Being unable to be and play with him, now I have to see him in passing and go outside to talk to him for a bit. He always has new engineering wonders to show me and now I cannot interact with him.
  6. On top of me being ill his dad is still in NY, so he does not have a real parent right now. Gee wanted to come home, I said no. We had always decided only one of us would take a risk at any given time.
  7. My daughter is petrified to come down to the bottom floor where I am in my own space.
  8. I am fed by them placing my meals outside my door. That is a hoot…being fed, I find humor in it.

On the road to recovery:

My Gee is always on the phone with me and a source of support and knowledge. My mother and my children are here and my friends are all helping to keep me together. I go outdoors often to look at the plants and I have been watching NETFLIX – oftentimes I fall asleep during a show.

I do love to watch movies and shows in other languages, especially French as I think it activates new neurons to hear and follow the plot while reading subtitles and trying to stay on top of the many nuances. My future guarantee against Alzheimer’s.

So I am coping pretty well.

I trust in my God and in that knowledge, I rest knowing this too shall pass.

Stay blessed and stay well.

 

Posted on 67 Comments

Positive for COVID-19

I have Tested Positive — and I am doing better than expected!

About nine days ago, on Saturday during a regular workday I began feeling unwell. As a frontline healthcare worker we are currently placed in the line of fire each and everyday. I will go out on a limb and state that our PPE (personal protective equipment) is nowhere as protective as it should be.

The infection control nurse is the one called upon to interpret the CDC’s guidelines and she does a poor job of it. Her verbalized interpretations leaves us quite confused. We are often not in agreement when reading standard English. Of course she is also never the one in front when the battle lines are drawn.

About nine days I got home after a 12-hour shift feeling very tired. By the next morning I felt fairly ill. I checked my blood pressure several times throughout the first day at the urging of my hubby. He has been in New York at the acme of the pandemic and we we began the process of ruling out what could be ailing me.

My blood pressure was just slightly elevated while my heart rate and oxygen saturation were within normal limits. So using the process of elimination we were heading into scary territory.

I was hesitant to follow where the signs were leading because no one looks forward to contracting COVID-19. The second day, Monday I spent in my bed mostly napping.

I never developed a fever.

We are screened every day at work based on an outdated CDC model of screening for elevated temperatures but that is rarely a major presenting symptom. This stipulation was birthed when this dreaded disease was in its infancy and I believe that some of the guidelines should be obsolete. COVID dances to the beat of its own drum and may present with any symptom, from gastrointestinal to “I just don’t feel well”!

By Tuesday I began to feel a lot better and so I chalked it up to me catching a light summer cold. I had slept with a fan blowing directly at me in addition to the air condition being on “cold”. I was congested but got up and even went bike riding. I did find myself panting a little more than usual on the uphill climb but told myself I was no longer a kid.

Wednesday I was mostly fine with a little residual fatigue and on Thursday I went back to work. Each day we are screened at the front door and given our masks before entry, my temperature has never gone above 97.8.

I then began working my 12-hour shifts and would go home at the end of the day and crash. By the third day, Saturday I was quite tired in the morning and for the first two days I had been plagued by a headache on and off and was taking Tylenol to keep it at bay.

On Saturday I made myself the usual cup of French vanilla coffee but it seemed even more bitter than usual. Later we had a patient and the other nurse asked if I smelled alcohol. I had not smelled any alcohol … and then voila … the light bulb went off and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt… COVID-19!

I could not taste or smell my food or anything else. I had developed anosmia!

The evening before I had gone home and ate my dinner. I thought it was quite brackish, but I was more tired than hungry and off to bed I went. The next day, Saturday I would later realize that I had lost my sense of smell and taste. Anosmia along with a tension-like headache are among some of the classic symptoms of COVID-19.

On Monday morning I texted my boss (she is also the employee health nurse) to let her know that I needed to be tested for COVId-19 and within a few hours received the results … a resounding COVID positive.

I am to quarantine for the next fourteen days, keep a daily log of temperatures and symptoms, and will present myself to be tested for two consecutive negative results and then and only then will I be released to go back to work.

It has been about nine days since I first began feeling unwell.  My symptoms thus far:

  • I have fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Body aches
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Some chest soreness with I take a deep breath

The Pièce de résistance — these excruciatingly painful headaches that never really goes away but waxes and wanes. The ache marches anxiously in the periphery covertly awaiting its next mode of attack. The pain feels like a pickaxe made of ice that systematically circles my brain piercing cells with tiny sharp shards of ice.

Though I consider myself healthy, I am feeling weak and I could tell that my body is battling hard in this fight. I have lost the strength I had just two weeks ago. I feel so unsure of myself, I would not even walk away from my home by myself. I venture into the backyard for some sunlight.

COVID-19 is nothing to play with, currently Texas is teeming with this disease as well as ignorance.

Mostly because many persons did not and still refuse to practice social distancing and protecting themselves and others by wearing a damn mask. These same non-masking wearers then become infected and present to the ER putting myself and all other frontline workers and our families at risk.

Be mindful of others and wear a mask and practice basic hygiene! If not for your sakes, for the sake of others!

God is good, I remain faithful!

You can also read more about COVID here .

https://wordpress.com/post/justpene.com/3733

https://wordpress.com/post/justpene.com/3574

https://wordpress.com/post/justpene.com/4040

Posted on 24 Comments

COVID-19 Rises Again!

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on UnsplashEnter a caption

Are the up-rise in numbers due to early re-openings?

Many still show up to the hospitals to be treated with no mask on, what this tells me is that they may be out and about within the community without a mask as well. This is scary!

So the state of Texas was one of the first ones to reopen. When the idea was first proposed we, the healthcare workers along with many others thought what a bad idea that was. While we understood the economic reasons, we realized that more than likely we would see a rise in the number of cases.

Photo by Enrique Macias on Unsplash

What are we to glean from the current steady rise in the states that reopened early? It seems that the curve is not flattening as hoped but is on the upward climb.I attribute this as a direct result to non-compliance, more persons out and about. The protesting and rally’s without masks will not help matters any. It remains a game of wait and see, but for now officials are mostly skirting the issue and we are left to make our own conclusions…

UPDATE 06/25/2020!