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Health Q&A

Posted October 10, 2012 in Advice Column, Greene County

Q: What is acupuncture?

A: Acupuncture, simply stated, is a health science which is used to successfully treat both pain and dysfunction in the body.

Acupuncture has its roots deeply planted in ancient China. Authorities agree the science is between 5,000 and 7,000 years old. Acupuncture did not become well known in the U.S. until 1971 when diplomatic relations between China and America were relaxed.

Early Chinese physicians discovered there is an energy network just below the surface of the skin which communicates from the exterior to the internal organs and structures using more than 1,000 “acupoints” on the body. This energy works in harmony with the body’s circulatory, nervous, muscular, digestive, genitourinary and all other systems. When this energy becomes blocked or weakened, an effect in a body system becomes evident. Stimulation of one or a combination of key “acupoints” on the body may restore health to the affected area.

Acupuncture textbooks list more than 100 different conditions that respond well to acupuncture. The World Health Organization has indicated acupuncture is effective in treating chronic pain, migraine, tension, cluster and sinus headaches, knee pain, low back pain, neck pain, mid-back pain, shoulder pain, tennis elbow, post-operative pain relief, gastric problems, asthma, allergies, skin conditions, abnormal blood pressure, fatigue, anxiety, carpal tunnel, etc…

Historians have stated, “More people have benefited from acupuncture over the course of 50 centuries than the combined total of all other healing sciences, both ancient and modern.”

Information provided by Jefferson Family Chiropractic, 216 N. Wilson Ave., 515-386-3747.

Q: What is occupational therapy?

A: Many of us might be confused about what exactly occupational therapy is. We might have the misconception that occupational therapy has something to do with an injury or condition resulting from our place of employment. That’s not true. It’s much more.

Everyone has an occupation — from children playing outside or learning in the classroom to the teenager hanging out with friends on a Friday night. The young mother caring for her baby or the father coaching his child’s soccer game are engaging in an occupation. It includes the older adult focused on family and friends.

An accident or injury of any kind can disrupt whatever “occupation” dominates one’s daily routine. Even a health condition or diagnosis can be disruptive. When something occurs that leaves us asking, “How am I going to… ?” chances are occupational therapy is needed.

An occupational therapy practitioner works to make what is needed and wanted in daily living possible again. Among other things, occupational therapy can:
• Assist a patient in returning to everyday activities that were stalled due to injury or diagnosis.
• Help restore confidence and independence after a stroke or brain injury.
• Manage arthritis to enable participation in activities of interest.
• Improve motion and strength after a wrist fracture

Whatever your age and whatever you do — an occupational therapy practitioner can help you live life to its fullest no matter your health condition, disability or risk factors.

Information provided by Sarah Kilbourn, Occupational Therapist at Greene County Medical Center, 1000 West Lincolnway, Jefferson, 515-386-2114.

Q: Should I get a flu shot?

A: Influenza (flu) season begins in October and ends as late as May. During these months flu viruses are circulating everywhere. Every flu season is different and can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu. Some people are hospitalized, and it can sometimes even result in death.

There are two ways to get a flu vaccine — one is to get a flu shot and the other is the nasal-spray flu vaccine. These vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. The antibodies provide protection against infection from the viruses contained in the vaccine.

Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. There are some people who it is very important for them to get vaccinated. Those people include:
• People who have asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease.
• Pregnant women.
• People 65 years and older
• People who live with or care for those who are at high risk of developing serious complications.
• Caregivers or people living with people who have asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease.
• The influenza vaccine is available at many locations, including clinics, doctor’s offices, public health, pharmacies, some employers, college health department and sometimes your local schools.

The most important way to protect you and your family from getting the flu is to wash your hands.

Information provided by Regency Park Nursing and Rehab Center, 100 Ram Drive, Jefferson, 515-386-4107.

Q: How can I concentrate and stay on task better?

A: To help tune up your concentration skills, practice these tips:
• Cut back on the amount of television you watch, or your children watch. Also, avoid over-stimulating video games (or even solitaire).
• Get enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for teens and adults, 10 to 11 hours for school kids, and even more for preschoolers and toddlers.
• Avoid drinks that contain stimulants. Although caffeine or nicotine can give you a quick boost, it lasts only short time.
• Pay attention to what you eat. A high-fat meal can leave you feeling lethargic, and not because the body needs the extra blood to help digest the food. Research has shown that you feel sleepy after eating a meal high in fat or refined sugar because these foods change the composition of the amino acids entering the brain.
• Try to stay calm and relaxed. Take a short break of a few seconds to a minute every hour or so at work to break the tension cycle. Just taking a moment to breathe deeply and slowly can help you re-center yourself.
• To get a good night’s rest, make sure your bedroom is for sleep.  Avoid television or reading in bed for long periods of time.

Information provided by Medicap Pharmacy, 400 N. Elm St., Jefferson, 515-386-2164.

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