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Unintended Consequences: Marijuana Use Tied to Changes in the Brain

Unintended Consequences: Marijuana Use Tied to Changes in the Brain

Over the past few decades, growing numbers of people in the U.S. have come to think about marijuana as harmless. Others have even embraced it as beneficial under certain circumstances, pointing to its purported medical value. So it’s not too surprising that long-running legalization efforts in some states have recently led to marijuana’s decriminalization and increased availability.  However, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience sheds new light on the subject—and its findings come out against the commonly held belief that marijuana use is completely innocuous. Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have found that even casual use of marijuana can cause structural changes to areas of the brain that control emotion, motivation, and reward.

The study analyzed 40 students between the ages of 18 to 25 in the Boston area. Half of the subjects used marijuana recreationally—at least once a week—and the other half did not use it at all. Psychiatric interviews and tests revealed that none of the students met the criteria for drug dependence, and their cannabis use did not interfere with their studies, work, or social habits. However, when using MRI scans to study the students’ brains, the researchers found changes to the volume, shape, and density of the neurons in two important areas: the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens. The changes were found to be more pronounced in people who reported using marijuana more frequently during an average week. Study leader Dr. Hans Breiter said of the findings, “There was a direct, consistent relationship between how much marijuana they used and the abnormalities we saw.”

While the brain abnormalities and their relationship to marijuana use are clear, it’s less clear what these changes to the brain’s structure might actually mean for these individuals. Breiter continues, “These are two brain regions you do not want to mess around with. All parts of the brain are important, but some, like these, are more fundamental. It raises a very serious issue, given that we saw these changes in casual marijuana users.” Previous studies had revealed similar changes in brain structure among heavy users of cannabis, but this is the first study that indicates that even casual use can alter a person’s brain.

“The earlier the onset of marijuana use in a kid, the worse potential implications you could be seeing,” Breiter said. Another study author, Jodi Gilman of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine, says, “We just don’t know how much is safe. It’s not harmless. We don’t know the harm, but it’s not free from harm.”

Breiter also commented that the concentrations of THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) are not the same as they used to be: “Levels of THC are about sevenfold what they used to be. That’s a substantial change in the dosing of THC that these young people are getting. The experience of people in the ’60s and ’70s may not be the same experience as people today.”

Interestingly, some proponents of cannabis decriminalization have welcomed the research findings. Paul Armentano, deputy director of the pro-marijuana advocacy group NORML, says that his group presents an argument for legalizing marijuana but tightly regulating it, as alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs are. He says, “It’s precisely because of these consequences that these products are legally regulated, and their use is restricted to particular consumers and specific settings. A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail adult sale of marijuana but restricts its use among young people—coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about cannabis’ potential harms—best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s consumption or abuse.”

Marijuana consumption in the Netherlands—where cannabis use has been condoned but controlled since the 1980s, just as Armentano recommends for the U.S.—certainly supports his case. Despite its availability, fewer than 26% of the Dutch population has ever tried marijuana, compared with 41.9% of Americans, and the Netherlands has the lowest problem drug rate in Europe.

But this is a touchy subject, with scientific and humanitarian arguments often clashing with economic interests and many people’s moral judgments about any type of drug use. The trend toward marijuana decriminalization in America—for both medical and recreational use—seems at this point to be irreversible. The one new issue this study brings to the already heated debate is that cannabis use is NOT necessarily without long-term impact, especially on young people. More studies are needed to determine exactly what the effects of this drug actually are so that society can balance the risks and manage the costs that will inevitably come with decriminalization. Whether it’s legal or illegal, though, it’s critical for people to understand the potential consequences of marijuana use.

 

Opiates Ineffective for Chronic Back or Hip Pain

Opiates Ineffective for Chronic Back or Hip Pain

A new study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that opioids are not an effective solution for chronic pain.

In this article, researchers from the University of Minnesota studied 240 patients who had chronic back, hip, or knee arthritis pain. Half of the study subjects received opiates; the other half received non-opiate pain medications. Patient progress was evaluated at 3-months, 6-months, 9-months, and one year.

The study found:

  • There was no difference in pain-related function between the two groups.
  • At 12 months, the nonopioid patients had less pain than did those who received opiates.
  • “The opioid group had significantly more medication-related symptoms over 12 months than the nonopioid group”

The study authors write:

“Among patients with chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain, treatment with opioids compared with nonopioid medications did not result in significantly better pain-related function over 12 months. Nonopioid treatment was associated with significantly better pain intensity, but the clinical importance of this finding is unclear.”

Previous research has found that about 20% of patients with musculoskeletal pain are prescribed narcotic pain medications for their symptoms, and another recent study found that 36% of people who overdosed from opiates had their first opioid prescription for back pain.

Another recent study found that chiropractic patients are less likely to use opiates for their pain than are medical patients.

From this research, it seems clear that it’s risky to prescribe opiates for musculoskeletal pain. Chiropractic care is a proven safe and effective approach for both chronic and acute back pain.

Krebs EE, Gravely A, Nugent S, Jensen AC, DeRonne B, Goldsmith ES, Kroenke K, Bair MJ, Noorbaloochi S. Effect of Opioid vs Nonopioid Medications on Pain-Related Function in Patients With Chronic Back Pain or Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis Pain: The SPACE Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2018 Mar 6;319(9):872-882. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.0899.

Help for Migraine Headaches

Help for Migraine Headaches

A very recent review of prophylaxis of migraine was published in the Canadian Medical Journal (1). To say the least, their findings were remarkable. Although this was a medically oriented review, several herbal and nutritional approaches were rated as effective as drug therapy with significantly fewer reported adverse events. Table 1 is a summary of the findings of the review for interventions when the outcome measure used was the odds ratio of a 50% decrease in frequency of migraine. All findings were based on studies that were graded by the authors as A or B evidence based on the United States Preventive Services Task Force criteria.

 

 

 

 

Table 1

Intervention Quality of evidence Odds ratio of
50% decrease in frequency
Adverse effects
Divalproex A 2.74 Frequent at higher dosages
Gabapentin B 4.51 Occasional
Topirmate A 2.44 Frequent
Amitriptyline B 2.41 Occasional
Propranolol B 1.94 Infrequent
Riboflavin (400 mg/day) A 5.60 Infrequent
Butterbur (50 mg B.I.D) A 2.24 Infrequent

Pharmaceutical interventions are obviously favored by the medical community even when, at least according to this review, riboflavin and butterbur demonstrate equal or superior effectiveness in A graded studies yet report infrequent adverse effects.

Butterbur: A 2006 systematic review reported on 2 randomized trials (RCT) of butterbur extract (Petasities hybridus) which totaled 293 patients. In these studies a 150 mg dose of butterbur was more effective than a 100 mg dose over a period of 3 to 4 months. Overall butterbur demonstrated a decreased frequency of migraine in over 50% of patients. The brand name of the form of butterbur used in this study was Petadolex (2). In an open label study of 109 children and adolescents the authors found 77% of all patients reported at least a 63% reduction in the frequency of migraine (3). Although no significant adverse effects have been reported in the studies mentioned above, concerns relating to hepatotoxicity have been reported in the literature. A recent study utilizing Petadolex found it to be “free of signals for drug induced liver injury” (3). Several authors have suggested butterbur may be a valuable tool in the prevention of migraine (4-7).

Feverfew: Feverfew is herb that has demonstrated effectiveness in the prevention of migraine in some studies and conflicting results in other studies. Three Cochrane reviews have been published relating to feverfew. The original review could not demonstrate efficacy for feverfew (8) but an update published the same year reported “feverfew is likely to be effective in the prevention of migraine (9). The third review returned to the original position stating “there is insufficient evidence” to suggest an effect (10). A separate article suggested the reason for lack of efficacy reported in the most recent Cochrane review was the 400% variation in the active ingredient in the studies evaluated (5). One RCT published after the Cochrane reviews showed migraine attacks decreased from 4.76 attacks per month to 1.9 when using MIG-99 after 3 months. A dosage of 6.25 mg t.i.d. were used (11). All studies reported a favorable safety profile.

Coenzyme Q10: Coenzyme Q10 has demonstrated efficacy in 1 RCT and several open trial design studies. The RCT was a study of 42 patients. The dosage was 100 mg t.i.d. There was a 50% decrease in headache frequency in 42.6% of the patients in the active treatment group compared to 14.4% in the placebo group after 3 months. The number needed to treat was 3 (12). Another case series found similar benefits using 150mg daily (13). None of the studies on coenzyme Q10 reported adverse effects.

Riboflavin: A RCT compared a combination of riboflavin (400 mg), magnesium (300 mg) and feverfew (100 mg) to 25 mg of riboflavin. Both groups achieved statistically significant improvements over baseline. The authors noted both groups exceeded the normal placebo response reported in other migraine prevention studies. This study suggests a small dose of riboflavin may be an effective prophylaxis for migraine (14). Another RCT using 400 mg daily reported statistically significant improvements in headache frequency and headache days after 3 months. The number needed to treat in this study was 2.3 (15). Unfortunately 2 studies of riboflavin in children did not demonstrate improvement (16;17).

Magnesium: A 2008 RCT examined the prophylactic effect of 600 mg of magnesium citrate daily for 3 months compared to a placebo. Statistically significant improvements in frequency and severity were found in the treatment group. Additionally cortical blood flow increased significantly in the treatment group (18). A second RCT also found a statistically significant decrease in migraine frequency after 3 months using 360/mg per day (19). Not all RCTs have shown magnesium to be of effective. A 1996 RCT found no benefit when using magnesium (20). Soft stools and diarrhea were a common mild adverse event occurring in 18.6% (19) to 47.7% (20) in the magnesium groups.

Several other interventions have limited evidence demonstrating effectiveness. They include ginkgolide B (21), lipoic acid ( 600 mg/day) (22) and fish oil or olive oil (23).

It should be noted that time frame of treatment almost all prevention studies is 3 months. Treatment success or failure should not be assessed prior to completion of 3 months of the intervention.

Article is shared from www.chiroaccess.com

Why Teens Shouldn’t Rely on Painkillers

Why Teens Shouldn’t Rely on Painkillers

It seems as if you can’t check the news without finding at least one story of a life being lost to drugs. What is perhaps most concerning is that, all too often, the person who succumbed tragically for drug-related reasons is fairly young. And, a study released in the journal Addiction found that opioids — or narcotic painkillers like Vicadin, oxycodone, codeine, and morphine — are largely to blame.

The study shows that there were almost 6,000 opioid-related deaths in Onatario, Canada alone,  between 1991 to the end in 2010.  That represented a 242% increase from the beginning of the study. Overall, 25-34 year olds accounted for one in eight deaths. But it’s not just Ontario that has this problem: The CDC says that opioid-related deaths have more than tripled in the US since 1990, and younger patients aren’t immune.

What Is Causing This Trend?

Certainly, the issue of drug use is multi-faceted and cannot be isolated to just one cause, but it would be remiss to not consider that one possible contributor is the rise in the number of prescriptions being given to our youth. For instance, a previous study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health highlights the fact that out of 8,000 adolescents who sought medical treatment for headaches, opioid prescriptions were given approximately 46% of the time. That’s not the worst of it.

In 48% of the cases, the teens who presented with head-related pain were given two different opioids to manage their pain and 29% of the adolescents got three prescriptions or more. Rather than prescribe these highly-addictive painkillers, why not treat teens with a drug-free solution first?

Chiropractic is a great natural remedy for headache,  back, neck, and leg pain, amongst the several other benefits it offers. Not only does it actually take care of the problem, but it also reduces exposure to drugs at an early age.

References

Gomes T, et al. The burden of premature opioid-related mortality. Addiction. July 7, 2014.

DeVries A, et al. Opioid Use Among Adolescent Patients Treated for Headache. Journal of Adolescent Health. February 26, 2014.

 

Drug-Resistant Illnesses—What You Should Know

Drug-Resistant Illnesses—What You Should Know

With the huge rise in the use of antibiotics over the past 70 years, some pathogens are now becoming resistant to the drugs that once easily eradicated the illnesses these pathogens cause. People who become infected with one of these drug-resistant organisms are at increased risk for longer, more costly hospital stays and are more likely to die from their infection.

Medical researchers and public health experts believe there are a few different causes for the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. These include the widespread use of antibiotics in animals as well as and the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans.

Cattle, pigs and chickens are routinely given antibiotics to prevent illness and increase weight gain. However, 55 outbreaks of foodborne illness over the past 40 years have been caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. New York Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, a microbiologist, said “We have evidence that the practice of overusing antibiotics in food-animals is ruining these drugs’ effectiveness, and every day that the government stands idly by, we move closer to the nightmare scenario where routine infections can no longer be cured with antibiotic treatment.” Slaughter has proposed Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which would ban the use of 8 major classes of antibiotics from use on healthy animals, with exceptions only for animals who are actually ill.

Doctors are often pressured to prescribe antibiotics for illnesses that antibiotics are ineffective at treating, such as viruses. Parents of sick children have been shown to be particularly bad about exerting pressure on their doctor to give their children an antibiotic, no matter what the illness actually is. In the case of viruses (such as the one that causes the common cold, most coughs and the flu), antibiotics are useless. Antibiotics work against bacteria such as streptococcal bacteria (strep throat) and staphylococcal bacteria (skin infections). The bacterial infections most in danger of becoming resistant to all antibiotics include anthrax, gonorrhea, group B Streptococcus, Klebsiella, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Streptococcus pneumoniae, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and the antimicrobial-resistant staph bacteria VISA and VRSA.

The best way to help reduce the spread of drug-resistant illnesses is to refrain from pressuring your doctor to prescribe antibiotics when it is not appropriate, and when antibiotics are called for, to take them according to directions. Be sure to complete the full course of the antibiotic regimen prescribed, even if you are feeling well again. If you don’t, some bacteria may linger and develop a resistance to the drug you are taking, potentially making that antibiotic ineffective for you in the future. Do not skip any doses, share your antibiotics with anyone else, or use antibiotics that have been prescribed for someone else.

In general, the symptoms of a virus disappear in about a week or so. In contrast, bacterial infections tend to linger. So if you have been feeling ill for more than two weeks, consult with your physician to see if antibiotics may be appropriate for treating of your illness. If not, he or she can prescribe other effective ways to treat your condition.

When Are Antibiotics Appropriate and When Should I Avoid Using Them?

When Are Antibiotics Appropriate and When Should I Avoid Using Them?

People are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers that can result from the overuse of antibiotics. When antibiotics were first discovered in the early 20th century, researchers believed that they had found the key to conquering many deadly diseases. Since that time, antibiotics have certainly helped to cure diseases that once wiped out large parts of the population. However, there is growing evidence that antibiotics are now being used too frequently, and that they are often being used in inappropriate circumstances. This has led to many previously curable diseases becoming antibiotic-resistant, which means that a cure now requires the use far stronger antibiotics. In fact, some diseases have now become resistant to nearly all antibiotics. It is obvious that if antibiotic use continues in this way, we may have a major health crisis on our hands.

The first thing to be aware of is that antibiotics are not effective in the treatment of viruses. They only treat bacterial infections, certain fungal infections and parasites. For diseases such as the common cold, flu or bronchitis, antibiotics are completely ineffective and their use in cases such as these will only contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. You should not ask your doctor to prescribe antibiotics if you have a sore throat or the stomach flu, for instance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotics were prescribed for an acute respiratory infection in 68% of visits to the doctor. However, 80% of those prescriptions were unnecessary.

Antibiotics are often an appropriate treatment for conditions such as severe sinus infections that last longer than two weeks, ear infections, bladder infections and skin infections. These are frequently due to a bacterial or fungal infection, and treating them with antibiotics is effective.

If you have been prescribed an antibiotic, it is very important that you take it exactly as directed by your physician. If your symptoms happen to clear up before the entire course of antibiotics is completed, you must still continue to take them as prescribed. This is because there may still be a few lingering bacteria in your system, and—if they are not all killed—the strongest ones may survive to produce new generations of ever stronger bacteria that might make current antibiotics less effective.

Some doctors feel pressured by their patients to prescribe something, whether it’s really going to be helpful or not. A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that pediatricians will prescribe antibiotics for children 62% of the time if parents expect them to, and only 7% of the time if the parents do not expect an antibiotic prescription. Do not put pressure on your doctor to prescribe antibiotics for your condition. He or she is the best judge as to whether antibiotics are appropriate.

Also, keeping adjusted helps keep your immune system at its best. To avoid catching colds and other viruses, be sure to keep you and your family adjusted! Call our office at 406-652-3553 if you need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander!

The Side Effects from Drugs/Pharmaceuticals is NOT Funny Business

The Side Effects from Drugs/Pharmaceuticals is NOT Funny Business

We know that many people feel that it is easier to take a pill than to take care of themselves. It may seem easier in the short term but in the long run, it is never the solution for maximizing your health and longevity. It is now estimated that 95% of all cancers are life-style related. Other health such as heart disease. diabetes, and arthritis are most often related to a person’s lifestyle as well. If you want to be healthy and to age gracefully, the best way is to start improving your lifestyle choices today! If you have any questions on how you might do that, be sure to contact our office!

Today, we are sharing a great article from the Sparman Clinic Blog!:

THE NEGATIVE SIDE-EFFECTS OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION

Many side-effects associated with prescription medication can be more detrimental than the condition they are treating. The best way to avoid having to take prescription medication is to take care of yourself through diet, exercise, and natural preventative supplements.

Why the Push For Prescription Medication?:

The pharmaceutical industry is a booming business. Americans spend over $200 billion per year on prescription medication. While many of these medications have helped people recover and live healthy lives, there is a potentially dangerous situation that can result from over-medication (taking an excessive amount of prescription drugs) or using drugs that come with a high-risk of hazardous side-effects. These side-effects can be overlooked when it is seen as a solution to a painful or life-threatening health condition.

What are Some Potential Side-Effects?:

Depending on the type of medication you are choosing, many may only mask or slow the symptoms of a condition, rather than heal. In the process, some negative side-effects can emerge, causing discomfort or health risks.  Depending on other medications or a person’s physical make-up, there can be different reactions with different people.

How Can You Reduce Your Risks?:

The best way to reduce your risk of negative side-effects with prescription medication is not taking any! While there are some conditions where this is not an option, many health conditions and diseases can be prevented through diet, exercise, and the use of natural supplements. Preventative care is essential to a long and healthy life free from reliance on prescription medication. Make sure your diet is full of raw, organic fruits and vegetables that provide the essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy body functions. Exercise should be a regular part of your routine; this keeps your heart pumping.

Why Choose Natural Supplements?”:

If you are looking for additional ways to keep your heart healthy as you age, a good choice can be a natural supplement. These supplements may supply vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help you meet your nutrient needs. Using a natural supplement in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your quality of life.

Overall, your health is in your hands. There is a lot of controversy in the pharmaceutical industry and what works for someone else, may not work for you. Reduce your risk of dependence on medication which could come with some serious side-effects by taking care of your health through diet, exercise, and natural vitamin supplements for a well-rounded lifestyle.

 

The Opioid Crisis’ Latest Victims: Addicted Babies

The Opioid Crisis’ Latest Victims: Addicted Babies

(NU) – And now the nation’s opioid crisis is putting newborn babies at risk.
The use of prescription painkillers like OxyContin by women during pregnancy has resulted in what’s being called “an explosion” of infants as addicted to the drugs as their mothers. Newly published data in JAMA Pediatrics shows the number of cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) has risen five-fold in the U.S. from 2000 to 2012 – that’s nearly 22,000 affected inf ants in that last year alone – and the reality behind those stats is heart-wrenching. “The babies, they really suffer,
just like adults do when they withdraw from narcotics,” Dr. Terrie Inder, chair of pediatric new born medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told CBS News. “The babies are very irritable and sometimes have high heart rates, sweating, flushing, diarrhea. They cry a lot.”

Heightening experts’ concern: The crucial early “bonding” between mother and child is disrupted, given the babies’ average hospital stay of 24 days. The mothers, often unaware of the potential collateral damage from the painkillers they’ve been taking, experience what Inder calls “anxiety and guilt.”

Back and neck discomfort is especially common during pregnancy since women’s postural changes can result in spine and pelvic pain.

The open question is whether this latest development, combined with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s call last year for physicians to dramatically curtail prescribing opioids will encourage more women to seek alternatives like drug-free chiropractic care. “All chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant,”, The American Pregnancy Association says, lauding their expertise in “establishing pelvic balance and alignment.”

If you are expecting a baby or know someone who is, Dr. Oblander is well-trained in taking care of women during their pregnancies. Be sure to take good care of yourself and give our office a call if you experience back or hip pain during your pregnancy!

(Article shared from News USA)

Health Update: Close-Up on Adverse Drug Reactions

Health Update: Close-Up on Adverse Drug Reactions

medical theme – doctors desk with documents and stethoscope

You can’t switch on a television these days without seeing a commercial for some new pharmaceutical that will cure whatever may ail you (or cure you from an illness you never knew you had). If you pay attention to it, you will notice that nearly half the ad time is taken up with a long list of possible side effects and adverse reactions that may accompany taking the drug. The possibilities often include everything from slight fatigue to death.

An estimated 4.5 million Americans visit their doctor or the ER each year due to adverse reactions to prescription drugs. These adverse side effects are also suffered by an additional 2 million people each year who are already in the hospital being supervised by medical professionals. The CDC estimates that 82% of Americans are taking at least one drug, and 29% are taking five or more drugs.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of approving pharmaceutical drugs for sale in the US. However, their methods for approval are based on the drug companies providing their own scientific studies on the safety of the drug. The FDA does no independent testing. The FDA will usually approve a drug if its benefits are believed to outweigh its dangers. Even assuming the drug companies’ studies have been well-conducted and show that a drug is relatively safe, no drug is completely free from side effects for everyone, even those drugs that are “natural.” A person’s age, weight, gender, overall health and genetic profile have a lot to do with how an individual will respond to a drug.

The most common side effects are gastrointestinal problems, as most drugs are processed via the digestive tract. These problems include nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea. Other common side effects are drowsiness, fatigue and mild skin reactions. Although dizziness may not seem like a dangerous side effect, it can be particularly risky for seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls among seniors are the leading cause of injury-related death. A quarter of all seniors who fall and break a hip will die within six months of receiving the injury.

Death is of course the most serious side effect of all. Allergic reactions that cause anaphylaxis can be deadly. Some drugs, such as those that treat type 2 diabetes (Actos and Avandia, for example) can cause a stroke or heart attack. Antidepressants can actually increase suicidal thoughts. Some drugs can cause pain and total or partial paralysis, such as the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor. Some drugs increase your risk of cancer. Ironically, the drug Tamoxifen, prescribed to treat breast cancer, actually increases the risk of uterine cancer. Memory loss, hallucinations, loss of taste and loss of sight are other common side effects of pharmaceuticals.

Although there is no doubt that some pharmaceuticals are far more useful than they are dangerous (antibiotics, for example), if you want to avoid the harmful side-effects that many drugs may produce, try to keep as healthy as possible. Eat right, get regular exercise and visit your Billings Chiropractor Dr. Greg Oblander to keep your body in top condition.

 

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Falls Among Seniors: What You Should Know

Falls Among Seniors: What You Should Know

— seen against the afternoon sun

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults over the age of 65 has a fall in any given year. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for adults in this age range, as well as the most common cause of trauma-related hospital admissions. More than 1.6 million older adults go to the emergency room for fall-related injuries each year in the United States. Whether you are above the age of 65, or you care for someone who is, knowing how to prevent a fall could help you save a life.

There are several risk factors that you can address to help prevent a fall. The first factor is a lack of physical activity. As adults grow older it becomes difficult to exercise on a regular basis. This leads to a decrease in strength and a loss of bone flexibility and mass. All of these factors can make falls more likely and injuries more severe.

Fortunately, there are ways for older adults to stay active. Regular exercise is the best place to start. Fifteen minutes of an exercise designed to increase bone and muscle strength should be done every other day. This can be as simple as taking a walk or going for a swim a few times a week.

The risk of falls increases when seniors do not take adequate time to carry out daily activities. It is important to stay safe and to take your time when bending over and when lifting things. Be sure to recover your balance first before taking a step when getting out of bed or a chair.

Seniors on medications may find that their balance is impaired and their mental alertness is reduced. Some medications can cause a drop in blood pressure while you are standing up, throwing you off balance. Be sure to understand all of the side effects of your medications, and be clear with your doctor about any fears you have about your balance. He or she may be able to reduce your dosage to help keep the side effects under control.

Environmental hazards are one of the biggest risk factors for senior falls. These hazards can include items on the floor that are easy to trip on, loose rugs, unsteady furniture, and poor lighting.

To reduce the risk of environmental factors causing a fall, take time to walk through the house to locate any potential hazards. Rugs can be secured with nonskid tape and throw rugs can be removed altogether. Furniture should be kept in good repair and clutter should be kept to a minimum. Finally, consider having grab bars installed to help you get up and down securely.

Falls among seniors can be frightening, but there are steps that you can take to help prevent them. By being cautious and staying in good health, seniors can increase their chances of avoiding harmful falls.

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