resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
November, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 11
Avian Flu: How Threatening Is It?
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
Fall is here, and with it, another flu season. Last year, we were bombarded with information (some of it pretty alarmist) about flu, flu vaccines and the emergence of a dangerous new player on the field of infectious disease: avian flu.Since massage therapists work closely with lots of people, and because we are health care professionals, it behooves us to be up to speed on the latest developments about flu, and I am here to help.
A brief disclaimer: this information changes almost daily, but it's accurate as of mid-September, 2005.
What is It?
Flu (short for influenza) is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. Flu viruses are classified as type A, B or C. Type A flu is by far the most aggressive, with the highest risk of significant complications or even death.
In the United States, often we don't consider flu to be a significant health issue, but for at-risk populations it can be a life threatening infection. Anywhere from 5% to 20% of the population has flu each year. It accounts for 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths, mostly from pneumonia. The people most at risk for the serious complications of flu are the very young, the elderly or people with underlying diseases that affect lung or immune system function.
How Does It Work?
Flu viruses work in the usual way of infectious agents: they gain access to the body (often inhaled as airborne particles, although it can be spread by hand from contaminated surfaces) and then they invade their target cells. In this case, mucus-producing cells that line the respiratory tract. Once the infection becomes established, the immune system response causes most of the extreme symptoms, which appear one to three days after exposure. Flu is most communicable for three to seven days from onset of symptoms, depending on the age and health of the infected person.
Signs and Symptoms
In most cases, flu symptoms look like a bad cold: respiratory irritation with runny nose and dry cough; sore throat, headache, chills and a long-lasting high fever. Flu-related fevers often go over 102° in adults, and they might last for three days or more.
Unlike colds, flu infections affect more than the upper respiratory tract. Many patients experience aching muscles and joints, as well as debilitating fatigue. (One area flu viruses generally won't attack, however, is the gastrointestinal tract. What commonly is referred to as "stomach flu" is far more likely to be infection with norovirus or a case of food poisoning).
Flu symptoms usually appear one to three days after exposure to the virus, and they might persist for up to two weeks. If they last longer than that, or if the coughing begins to produce a lot of phlegm, the original viral infection might have opened the door to bacterial pneumonia: a potentially serious or even life threatening complication.
The Flu Vaccine
Every year, a flu vaccine is created from live, weakened viruses, based on predictions about which types of virus will be most active. Because predominant viruses change quickly, the vaccine is only effective for a year. For the 2005/2006 flu season, the vaccine is being distributed only to high-priority populations until late October; then it will become available to the general population. It's available in an injectable form or as a nasal spray (although the spray is recommended only for people between four and 49 years old).
I'm not going to open the floor to a debate about vaccinations here; that is a completely personal decision, and each individual must weigh possible benefits and risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caution, however, that persons who are allergic to chicken eggs, who have a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome or who have had an extreme reaction to a previous vaccine should not receive the flu vaccine.
Avian Flu: What's the Difference?
The avian flu that made the news last year is an infection with a particular subset of type A virus, called H5N1. (Other subtypes infect birds as well, but they appear to be much less dangerous to humans). The "H" stands for hemagglutinins; the "N" stands for neuraminidase. These are surface proteins on the virus; every flu virus is classified by what type of H or N it is. Water birds (ducks and geese) particularly are vulnerable to H5N1, although they often don't die from it. They shed virus in oral and nasal secretions, and in bird droppings. Wild birds can spread the infection to domestic poultry it's far more likely to kill chickens than ducks and from that point humans might be exposed.
Here's where it gets tricky. Bird-to-bird transmission of H5N1 is easy. Bird-to-human transmission of H5N1 is harder, but not impossible; it has happened a few dozen times in Thailand, China, and Vietnam. Symptoms are similar to human flu, with the added risk of conjunctivitis and viral pneumonia, but the mortality rate among infected humans is very high, close to 50%. So far, human-to-human transmission of H5N1 is very rare indeed, and might have happened only a few times that we know of. That's because H5N1 doesn't have many of the properties that make viruses easily transmissible between humans.
But that could change, and that's what health officials are worried about. At this moment, researchers foresee two possible ways for H5N1 to become easily transmissible between humans:
How high is this risk? That depends on whom you ask. While some public health officials are talking about "a time bomb waiting to go off," others point out that we are much better prepared to deal with an aggressive infection like H5N1 today than we were the last time a threat with a similar scope (Spanish flu, 1918-1921) hit the scene. Specifically, we are better at diagnosing the problem and aggressively isolating infected people, which, as we saw with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), can quickly and effectively contain the problem.
On the other hand, no vaccine for avian flu has yet been developed (although this is being worked on), and it turns out H5N1 is resistant to the two most common anti-viral medications we have available: amantadine and rimantadine. So, our ability to shorten the lifespan of the infection is limited.
Massage and Flu
A person with flu who receives a rigorous, circulatory massage might find themselves with a much more serious infection than they would otherwise have. A person who receives massage after the infection has peaked and is on the mend, might find that recovery comes more quickly. However, two cautions must be kept in mind. The first is that squeezing several days of recovery into one or two days might make the client feel sick again. The client should know this is a possibility. The second is that a person recovering from flu still might be shedding virus.
What about our own self care? Like it or not, massage therapists are role models for taking excellent care of our own health. This means eating right, exercising, and getting good quality sleep: we all know these measures are the most important parts of keeping our immune systems strong. I will add one final point: if you're sick, be sick. Stay home. Drink hot fluids, get some rest. Do yourself and your clients a favor by investing your time and energy into conquering your infection, not into hiding your symptoms.
For Next Time
I would like to continue our exploration of emerging and re-emerging infections with a discussion of pertussis: whooping cough. This disease, which can be quite dangerous for young children, is on the upswing for two reasons: incomplete childhood immunizations and the fact that the pertussis vaccine doesn't have the lifespan we once thought it did. So, adults who were assumed to be protected are not. I would be especially interested to hear from people who have had this or seen this infection among their clients or children. Write to me and let me know: what's on your table?
Until then, many thanks and many blessings.
Special thanks to David Jackson, Communicable Disease Surveillance Program Manager, Utah Department of Epidemiology.
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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