resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
January, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 01
Anaphylaxis: A Sudden and Deadly Progression, Part 1
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
From the author: The purpose of this column is to provide our profession with a broad reference of anatomy and physiological science, which have guided my ability to assist so many with chronic difficulties. Understanding how the body works from the inside-out and how progressions from stress-related disorders evolve toward physical pathology allows us the opportunity to supply our clients with the best possible care.
The purpose of this two-part series is to raise our collective awareness as massage therapists of anaphylaxis progression that potentially can be prevented by asking your clients a few simple questions. On Aug. 31, 2007, I got lucky and survived a severe anaphylactic reaction. In July 2008, a dear friend's brother did not. I am introducing Dr. Thomas Walsh, DDS, as the co-author of this article, as his perspective on anaphylaxis was most helpful in assisting me to understand the full scope of this progression.
Anaphylaxis can exhibit a sudden, rapid, and deadly progression. Such systemic allergic reactions typically become progressively more severe with each additional exposure to an allergen. However, even the second exposure can be fatal if an individual has had a sensitization experience.1 Acute anaphylactic shock which results in death is most often associated with the ingestion of peanuts for children and penicillin for adults or, as a result of an insect venom for all ages.2
There are two primary important questions to ask your clients that seem most relevant to Dr. Walsh and myself. First, have you ever had any severe allergic reaction in which you have experienced one of the following: itching and hives over much of the body; swelling in the throat or tongue; difficulty breathing or swallowing; dizziness, severe headache; stomach cramps, nausea, or diarrhea; rapid decrease in blood pressure; or shock and loss of consciousness?
The second most important question is whether or not they had a previous exposure to a suspected allergen without any reaction. Remember that penicillin, peanuts and insect stings tend to be the most deadly, but other triggers of anaphylaxis do exist. The third question is if they have told their physician about their reaction and requested testing to determine the severity of their allergy.
My most important lesson from Dr. Walsh has been the notion of a sensitization experience. I had such a sensitization in February 2007, during a dental cleaning at another dentist's office. My internal sensations included a sudden onset of severe itching spreading throughout my vascular system, my face turned bright red and became puffy, and my hands and feet swelled to the point of mild discomfort. My dentist administered 50 mg of benadryl by mouth, and a hygenist sat with me for 50 minutes while the symptoms gradually subsided.
In discussion before I left the dentist's office, we speculated about what might have been the trigger for my reaction. Since nitrous gas was being administered, an iodine solution was used, and I had requested amoxicillin because of my genetic heart history, it was unclear what might have been the specific reactive cause. My dentist instructed me to seek out allergy testing to make this determination.
I was able to make the 40-minute drive home and finish my afternoon schedule of three clients. Though quite tired that evening, I mentally and emotionally minimized the experience because there were no lingering effects over the next few days. Still, I was curious, so the next weekend, I consulted a couple of physician friends who specialize in emergency medicine. Neither seemed alarmed by the description of my symptoms, noting that if 50 mg of benadryl had been effective, they considered it a relatively mild reaction.
The key question that could have been the focus of our discussions was whether or not I had a previous allergic reaction to anything. I have taken penicillin and its antibiotic derivatives all my life without any degree of reaction. This is what made the dental office experience qualify as a sensitization.
As part of our clients' early-detection team, we need to be aware of this notion of a recent sensitization. The general population has yet to be educated about this, and even well-trained physicians sometimes forget to ask the most pertinent question. Once a sensitization experience has been identified, follow-up allergy testing is a must - something that had been recommended by my dentist, which I did not do.
So, the short tale of my near-death anaphylaxis experience began with a client confusing our appointment time and my grousing a bit, wondering how to spend my time. I coughed a few times, jogging my memory that my last client from the evening before had been violently coughing and I had neglected to wear a face mask for self-protection. I thought that I could take a couple of the antibiotic pills left over from a previous prescription as a hedge against any possible contagion. I had done this a few times before with success. Guess what I forgot in that moment? It was amoxicillin, one of the possible triggers of my reaction six months earlier. (It is amazing how the mind compartmentalizes.)
Immediately, the uncomfortable itching feeling began to spread throughout my veins. Oh, my gosh! I remembered my previous experience and began to evaluate my options - one being to just lay on my table and wait for it to pass. My instincts then motivated me to drive to a pharmacy a half-mile away to purchase benadryl. I never once entertained the idea of calling 911, as I did not have the knowledge that such a reaction had the ability to escalate so fast or actually could kill me. As my symptoms escalated beyond what I had experienced in the dentist's office, I abandoned the pharmacy idea.
Instead, I drove to an urgent care center located seven blocks away. Along the way, I had numerous visual white-outs during which I only had peripheral vision, and one moment of total blindness. I stopped my vehicle completely in that moment until I was able to regain some slice of vision. The angels were watching over me.
Upon reaching the physician's office and clutching at the door, I collapsed completely. The urgent care center's owner, Dr. John Van Tuyl, MD, reached me as quickly as he could. Finding no pulse, he pronounced me in full cardiac arrest and instructed his staff to call 911. He later recounted to me that I rallied momentarily, lifted my head and stated, "No, I am not...amoxicillin." As an emergency care specialist he split the difference between the possible protocols and placed an atropine patch on my heart to increase its cardiac output. He later explained to me that the visual whiteouts I had experienced were in response to the lack of blood flow to my brain as my heart was being crushed by the sudden swelling of the pleural and pericardial sacs.
What is most important is to anchor this notion of sensitization in your awareness and to specifically ask your clients if they have had allergic responses to any of the common triggers (food, medication, insect venom, latex and exercise); especially a recent one. If they have, please do encourage them to seek out allergy testing with the guidance of their physician.
Beyond my personal story, it is important as a massage therapist to know that anaphylaxis affects more than 10 percent of our population in North America and is increasing in frequency. In more than 25 percent of cases, there is a delayed or biphasic course, with severe symptoms occuring three to five hours after exposure. In more than 20 percent of cases hypotension or laryngeal edema occurs without hives and can be difficult to identify. Most fatal reactions occur in people who knew they were allergic but had accidental exposures. The cause is often not the most obvious and may include combinations of factors including food and exercise. Moreover, most individuals do not inform their personal physicians that they have had severe allergic reactions during routine history and examination.2
In part 2, we will discuss persons medically identified as susceptible to severe anaphylactic reactions along with common products or triggers found in any massage therapist's arsenal.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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