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VANCOUVER, WA – Community Home Health & Hospice is hosting an open house to celebrate the grand opening of their new grief center in Salmon Creek. The open house will take place on March 6, 2019, from 4 pm – 6:30pm at the Seasons of Hope Grief Center, 3102 NE 134th Street, Vancouver. The ribbon cutting with the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce will take place at 4:30 pm. Attendees will enjoy refreshments hosted by Glenwood Place Senior Living, The Quarry and The Hampton Salmon Creek, games, live entertainment and prizes.

“We are excited about this project and humbled by the support we received. We could not have done this without the Clark County community,” said Greg Pang, CEO Community Home Health & Hospice. “We know there is a need for grief services in our community and we look forward to being a great community resource.”

The Seasons of Hope Grief Center offers free grief support for adults and children ages 5 and up in Clark County. For more information, contact 360.703.0300 or griefsupport@chhh.org

About Community Home Health & Hospice

Community Home Health & Hospice is an independent, community-based non-profit healthcare agency serving the healthcare needs of Washington and Oregon families since 1977. Their services include home care personal services, home health, home hospice, in-patient hospice care and bereavement services. Every day, they care for 775 patients throughout Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties in Washington and Columbia County in Oregon. Community Home Health & Hospice’s mission is to bring peace of mind to patients and their families by providing compassionate, dignified, collaborative, and patient-focused home healthcare and hospice. They have received recognition for nine years as a HomeCare Elite top agency. For more information, visit www.chhh.org

Grief

The grounds at the grief center.

Olympia, WA — With the measles outbreak in Clark County continuing to grow, Governor Jay Inslee issued a proclamation Friday morning declaring a State of Emergency.

The proclamation directed the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan to be implemented, which allows state agencies and departments to utilize state resources to assist in prevention and response efforts.

There are now 30 confirmed cases of measles across Clark County. Friday evening, the following lawmakers from Washington’s 17th and 18th Legislative Districts issued the statement below:

  • Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center
  • Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver
  • Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver
  • Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver
  • Rep. Larry Hoff, R-Vancouver

“We appreciate Governor Inslee issuing a State of Emergency this morning. The outbreak of measles in our local communities is extremely concerning, but we are thankful every resource has been made available to help the Department of Health respond quickly and effectively.

“The governor’s proclamation not only provides essential resources and personnel, but also brings a heightened public awareness about this dangerous and preventable disease. While this is an uncertain and unfortunate time for many across our county, this State of Emergency will help reduce the spread and length of the outbreak. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

For more information about the measles outbreak in Clark County, as well as resources on how you can prevent its spread, click here to visit the Washington State Department of Health’s website.

Town Hall

From left: Representative-elect Larry Hoff, Senator Ann River, and Representative Brandon Vick.

By David McWherter, PMHNP

As brightly colored gifts pile up under the tree, and kids start dreaming of Santa, parents’ minds are filled with a certain type of anxiety: Will my child be gracious if the toy they receive is a flop? Will they appreciate the things that aren’t wrapped up with a bow?

Set expectations early

Gratitude has two aspects to it: expression and experience. Many parents, in an effort to teach good manners, focus on the first one. It’s important; it can be embarrassing when kids don’t say thank you or give a gift only cursory attention.

Oftentimes, issues with gifts can be headed off by reminding children of your expectations beforehand and letting them know that presents that aren’t a good fit can be exchanged later. Kids who are unable to handle a disappointment can be separated from the gift exchange for a while. Getting upset with or shaming a child for not being gracious is never helpful, as this tends to add to their distress rather than change their behavior.

Nurture the emotion within

However, saying “thank you”—even if it’s for an ugly sweater—is not the same as true gratitude. True gratitude is also an experience or a feeling that comes from within. It’s an emotion, not a behavior. And while it’s extremely valuable, it takes more effort to foster.

Like most things with raising children, teaching them how to feel grateful takes time, patience, and adaptability. Because children naturally imitate adults, I’ve found that the most effective way to instill a sense of gratitude in kids is to model it in your own life. During the 41 years I’ve spend in the health field, my families have shared some unique and fun ways they’ve done this.

Start an all-year gratitude habit

One family started a daily dinner routine where everyone shared something that they were grateful for. The parents used the opportunity to provide examples of all the things they considered gifts.

It’s often easier for kids to appreciate physical items, yet it’s the intangible presents—such as someone taking the time to help us with a job, watch a movie with us, or share our joy and pain—that often matter the most. Being able to recognize both types of gifts is critical to creating the types of strong relationships people need in life.

Gifts

David McWherter is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Invent a new family tradition

Another family made a holiday tradition out of sharing things they appreciated about each other. Once a month at dinner, each person wrote down something they were grateful for and the name of the person involved. They kept the notes secret until Christmas Eve when they read their “gratitudes” to the entire family.

Use gratitude as a bridge

Finally, one stepparent used gratitude to bring his blended family closer together. The children’s father had passed away several years previously and he had married their mother. Relationships between the stepdad and the kids were strained. One Christmas, he put a letter to the deceased father on the tree. The kids were crazy with curiosity, but had to wait until all the other Christmas gifts were opened before seeing the contents.

It was worth the wait. Inside the envelope was a letter of gratitude highlighting how much the children had enriched his life and how grateful he was to be a part of their family. He thanked the deceased father for that gift and wrote that he should be proud of his children. There was not a dry eye in the room at the end of the reading.

By modeling gratitude and kindness, and by equipping kids with the tools they need to be thankful for gifts in all their forms, parents can help their children be appreciative during the holidays and beyond.

_________________________________________________

David McWherter is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner serving children, adolescents, and kids with autism spectrum disorders.

Don’t wait until you get sick to start taking care of yourself! These tips are easy to incorporate everyday and will build up your immune system, which can help you avoid illness and if you do get sick, reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.

1) Incorporate immune-boosting foods like garlic, turmeric and ginger daily. These spices have a long history in terms of protecting us from bacteria and viruses. Make these spices a part of your everyday routine to boost your body’s natural defense system: use garlic in almost any savory dish, sip on ginger tea or try Golden Milk to get a dose of turmeric. A curry would be a great way to combine all three!

2) Take care of your gut. Did you know that researchers are now saying that up to 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut? Keep it healthy by consuming fermented foods regularly (think sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt), taking a probiotic supplement and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. The fiber from fruits and veggies helps nourish the good bacteria in your gut, making it more likely to flourish over potentially harmful bacteria.

Immune

Kimchi is a great food.

3) Apple cider vinegar is a traditional folk remedy. You’ve probably been told at some point to try apple cider vinegar for some health complaint you were experiencing. Not only is it good for your gut, but the acid in the vinegar can help fight off pathogens that threaten to make you sick. If you’re already sick, apple cider vinegar can help thin out mucus. Try taking 1 – 2 tbsp in a cup of warm water or using it in cooking and in salad dressings. No need to do straight shots, which may do more harm than good!

4) Vitamin D supplementation. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re accustomed to being mindful about our vitamin D levels, but did you know vitamin D plays a role in our immune system as well? Adequate levels of vitamin D are protective against infection. Make sure to take your supplement with some fat to maximize its absorption.

5) Less stress, more sleep. Stress wrecks our immune systems by throwing off the healthy microbes in your gut, which is a big blow to your body’s defense system. This time of year is notoriously stressful, but try to minimize stress as much as you can. Find tools that help you manage your stress – a deep breathing practice, yoga, a walk in the woods, having a few quiet minutes with your coffee in the morning. When we sleep, our body gets to work on healing us and keeping us healthy. The more sleep you get this time of year, the better off your immune system will be!

Emily Penn is a Holistic Nutritionist based in Camas. She offers nutrition counseling, meal delivery, pantry clean outs and grocery store tours through her business, Good Medicine Nutrition. Food is our best medicine and she wants to help you use it.

You can follow her at www.goodmedicinenutrition.com

Immune

Emily Penn is a Holistic Nutritionsit.

 

Lori Keller, Master Aesthetician, and owner of Vancouver Laser Skin Care Clinic, located in Downtown Camas, answers common questions about laser benefits.

Why are laser aesthetics so effective?

It reverses the signs of aging and sun damage with minimal to no downtime.

When you come in, we will do a complimentary consultation to create a program for your skin care needs. For example, if a client wants to reduce wrinkles, we do a combination therapy which includes laser, microneedling, and peels, depending on the severity of the wrinkles or sun damage.

What are common myths and misconceptions about aesthetic laser treatments?

Does it hurt is the most common question. The answer is sometimes there is none to minimum pain level, depending on treatment being performed.

Another common question is “does it work?” The answer is yes — we have lasers that correct and ultrasound to lift and tighten the skin without surgery.

Going on the Internet and seeing mistakes being done by people who are unqualified or inexperienced. I have more than 30 years of experience.

What kind of equipment do you have?

The Cutera XEO platform is the laser we use, which I’ve been using for 20 years, and I’m happy with the results this awesome technology offers. We also have the Ultherapy ultrasound for lifting and tightening the skin without surgery.

Laser

BEFORE/AFTER: Limelight treatment for brown spots and sun damage.

What makes our treatments a good Christmas gift?

Start the New Year with renewed self-confidence! You can see the results pretty quickly, depending on skin type. We feel that lasers offer great results in skin rejuvenation. Bring in the New Year with your best face forward. It’s about giving the gift of confidence at any age — male or female, young, middle-aged or more mature all benefit from our services at Vancouver Laser Skin Care Clinic! Lasers produce fabulous results, as well as facials,  microdermabrasion, chemical peels and ultrasounds for lifting and tightening without surgery.

We have special offers that are very affordable. It’s giving the gift of beauty.

What services does Vancouver Laser Skin Care Clinic offer?

Intense Pulse Therapy (IPL), Chemical Peel Treatment, Microneedling, Ultherapy, Face/Leg Vein Treatment, Botox/Fillers, and we offer Jane Iredale mineral makeup (makeovers), and medical level skins care products that perform!

We invite you to contact us for a complimentary consultation today. 360.823.0795 or visit us at www.VancouverLaserSkinCareClinic.com

Laser

Lori and Jen hard at work at the clinic.

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Thanks to advanced screening measures, it’s also a highly preventable disease—and treatable when discovered early. Yet far too many individuals and families have to deal with a difficult diagnosis because they don’t know what to do to protect their colons—or are afraid to do it. As a gastroenterologist, one of my passions is taking the fear and embarrassment out of GI exams and discussions so that people are willing to get the care they need. Below are five of the most important things I think everyone should do when it comes to reducing their colon cancer risk.

Colon

Dr. John Randles

1. Get a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is the absolute best way to check for cancer and to prevent it through polyp removal. The procedure allows doctors to catch issues early on, removing pre-cancerous polyps and catching cancerous ones before they even produce symptoms. Between 30 and 40 percent of individuals have polyps on their first screening. The earlier issues are caught, the greater the chance of a cure.
What’s more, while colonoscopies sound uncomfortable, they’re actually quite unremarkable. Drinking the prep to clean out the bowels is the worst part. The actual procedure is extremely simple and takes just 25 to 30 minutes. Sedation is provided, and most patients drift off to sleep and do not remember the procedure.

2. Know the facts about other screening methods.
A stool test can find trace amounts of blood or DNA from cancer and detect if a patient already has the disease. Stool tests are not as good as a colonoscopy at detecting pre-cancerous polyps. And while these stool-based tests are surely better than no screening, only a colonoscopy can help prevent colon cancer by allowing doctors to remove the polyps that lead to cancer.

3. Discuss your family history with your doctor.
Most individuals need to begin colon cancer screenings at 50, which is the age that colon cancer generally starts appearing. However, individuals with a family history of colon cancer or advanced polyps, and individuals who have inflammatory bowel disease may need to start screenings earlier. African-Americans are at higher risk of the disease and may consider beginning screenings at age 45.

4. Treat your body well.
Eating a diet rich with fiber, fruit, and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight can help protect people from colon and other cancers. It’s also best to avoid red meat and alcohol, which are linked to an increased risk. Of course, smoking is never a good idea. Certain adults who are 50-plus may benefit from taking a daily low-dose aspirin, which can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and possibly colorectal cancer.

5. Pay attention to concerning symptoms.
While most colon cancers occur in those age 50-plus, everyone, no matter their age, should see their doctor if they notice concerning GI issues. Bloody stools, weight loss, a change in bowel habits, and persistent abdominal pain all warrant a trip to the doctor.

Dr. John Randles is a gastroenterologist at Vancouver Clinic. He was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and has a special interest in colon cancer screening.

Camas, WA — During this past weekend’s Camas Wellness Festival, event organizers held a 90-minute panel called “Your Teen’s Secret Life at School and Outside Your Home” in which they addressed questions about social media addiction, online bullying, effects of technology in the classroom, and when to give a child a smart phone.

Panel members Kimberly Berry, Alan Chan, and Jennifer Ireland answered questions. Berry is the founder of Being UnNormal, a consulting and advocacy group for mental health issues. Chan has worked in Clark County for six years providing services to at-risk youth with chronic and complex mental health needs. Ireland has a Master’s degree in K-12 Special Education, and is a 22-year veteran public school teacher (at Skyridge Middle School).

We report their responses to each question.

Question: Can social media be addictive?

Berry: “Yes, of course, anything can be addictive. We know that teens are spending a lot of time on their phones. Teens that spend five hours or more a day on their smart phones are more prone to be depressed. Ten percent of teens check their phone at night at least ten times per night. Chances are they’re checking it when you don’t realize it.”

Chan: “In my experience, the social media and cell phone usage is a huge conflict in their lives. The phones and social media become a social status among kids.”

Ireland: “Addiction comes with all the time children are spending on these devices. Self-esteem and confidence relies upon what they see on social media. It’s problematic.”

Question: How does social media affect mental health?

Berry: “We see the escalation of bullying being carried into the home. It also leads to isolation.
They start to get anxious about not measuring up to false standards.”

Chan: “I think the concern I have with social media is that it creates a false reality. Often times we only see all the great things. You feel like you’re missing out. It’s the fear of missing out. You feel like you’re different, like you can’t connect, like you’re a bit of an outcast.”

Ireland: “We can’t shelter them completely from it. We make sure we limit how they use social media, and monitor their usage. Parents should be on all the accounts. We have to be with them step by step, and start them with training wheels. Instagram is safer than some of the others. On Snapchat, things disappear. As a parent, look at their posts together. Have conversations with your children about the posts.

“Social media is a photo album of all the good things in life, and doesn’t represent all the reality, like the negatives and struggles. You can’t put it away, it’s everywhere now. Talk to your child about it. It’s for their health.”

Chan: “Kids have become so reliant and dependent on social media to connect with friends that it’s hard to put away.”

Berry: “I encourage parents to look beyond posts, and to look at DM’s and IM’s. Dig into social media accounts. There is often a lot of stuff happening on the back end. The social media impact on young girls is they are comparing themselves, which is creating more eating disorders. Remember that our girls are comparing themselves to the unattainable. As parents, we have control over social media, so take control of that. You are empowered.”

Laser

COME VISIT US IN DOWNTOWN CAMAS!

Question: What is online bullying?

Berry: “People send negative messages to our kids, and it’s coming from other kids. Half of teens have reported they’ve been bullied online. Twenty-five percent of those reports are coming through their cell phones. One in five children get sexual messages.

“Eighty percent of teens use cell phones regularly. The phone is always with you. It’s in your house. Your house is supposed to be a safe place, but now the bear is everywhere. You’re constantly feeling anxious. It’s really problematic because it is destroying our children’s hearts and hope. We need to responsibly reduce access. Ask your kids about whether they’ve been bullied at school.”

Ireland: “If you ask your child the R’s of bullying they will you. It happens in the halls and in the lunchroom, but the online bullying is becoming more prevalent. The kids have gotten really good at doing this in the school setting.”

Question: In general, how has school life changed in the last 10 years?

Ireland: “I feel like I’ve been in school my whole, as a student and teacher (she teaches 6th grade).
It’s changed drastically, and the big shift is the increased anxiety and mental health.
It’s a whole different ball of yarn with increases in standardized testing. As a kid, I don’t remember hearing about my results, and now these standardized tests are stressing kids out. She’s concerned about the pressure. Some kids might need five years to graduate from high school, and they shouldn’t be counted less or as not being successful. The stress of all that goes back into the education system. The teacher success is being tied to those scores. They’ve cut out music, art and recess in the middle schools. They don’t get to move, they don’t get to be outside. All those coupled with social media is causing problems. Lack of food and sleep contribute to their pressures and stresses.

“Too many parents aren’t happy with less than a 3.5 GPA. They get upset when a child gets 96% on a math test. Parents put unrealistic expectations on their kids, and that shows up in the classroom. What can we do to make good enough good enough?”

Secret

Your Teen’s Secret Life Panel spent 90 minutes discussing a variety of mental health issues.

Question: How as parents can we manage the academic stress they’re facing?

Ireland: “Talk to your kids. Talk to them about how to manage their time. Talk about their schedule and make sure they schedule in down time. Exercise and fitness are key. Cultivate friendships that aren’t online friendships. Ask what they’re going to do when they hang out.

“Make sure your child knows they need to make good, positive connections with teachers or counselors. Parents need to reach out to their teachers.”

Chan: “People learn in different ways. Be attuned to barriers and challenges that kids have.”

Berry: “We can’t blame our teachers. We need to approach teachers as allies, and not obstacles.”

Ireland: “Kids need to have chores. It seems so little, but having a job contributes to making a home run more efficiently. Praise them for the work they do. The satisfaction of a job well done is something many kids don’t have today.”

Question: At what age is a smartphone appropriate?

Ireland: “13 or older. It seems to be a middle school milestone. It’s better for their health to wait until 8th or 9th grade. It’s a major distraction at middle school and it’s not healthy for them. Too many 6th graders have cell phones. Sixth graders don’t need smartphones. There are different types of phones you can get. Give them a simpler phone at first and see how they take care of it.”

Berry: “Phones are a status symbol. It’s an intentional projection coming from home. It creates problems in the schools. Find out how do they feel when they’re away from the phone from an extended period of time.”

Teachers in the room agreed that smartphones for kids under 13 isn’t a good idea, and that it leads to more kids leading a secret life that parents aren’t aware of.

To learn more, visit www.CamasWellnessFestival.com

Camas, WA — Organizers for the upcoming Camas Wellness Festival see a growing need for communities to address mental and emotional health issues, so they’re taking action.

The festival, which is set for October 13, from 10 am-5 pm at multiple Downtown Camas locations, was organized by Kimberly Berry, Erika Levy, and Aspen Tufares.

The festival provides resources for empowering families. There is an Adolescent Mental Health Summit, sessions for Early Learning Wellness, Postnatal Wellness, Dance and Yoga and Embody Love workshops that empower girls to find their inner beauty, commit to kindness and make meaningful change in the world. The festival also serves as a fundraiser for Dance Evolution, a 501c3 nonprofit, promoting health and wellness in Camas.

Berry is the producer of the Adolescent Mental Health Summit, which takes place in Camas, and will tackle tough subjects like suicide and depression.  Levy is a yoga instructor at Empress Yoga (www.empressyoga.com)and will teach the benefits of her work to parents and children at the festival, and Tufares is teaching “Mindful Movement for Disabilities,” which is a workshop for parents or caregivers and children — and she is also teaching “Moving Meditation” for adults.

Berry is also the founder of Being UnNormal, a consulting and advocacy group that assists parents navigate the world of mental health through a peer support model. She is also the host of the podcast Being UnNormal which explores issues within the mental health community with a specific emphasis on children’s mental health issues.

Community

www.McKeanSmithLaw.com

Together, they approached local mental health professionals that will tackle tough topics during the daylong festival, which has workshops, yoga classes, and forums that are designed to take the stigma out of mental health issues.

The Adolescent Mental Health Summit has multiple sessions at the Camas Public Library that will address anxiety, depression, mindful parenting, youth suicide prevention, performance culture, academic stress, stress management, coping skills, and more. These workshops are presented by professional counselors and mental health advocates. All of the sessions are free.

You can pre-register for the festival at: www.CamasWellnessFestival.com

“We had five local suicides last year,” said Levy. “That’s five too many, and once we started to reach out to teachers and members of the community we saw a great need. Teachers will discuss what they’re seeing in schools. Parents aren’t always accepting or understanding so we’ll have open and honest discussions about what is happening. They may not understand what it is, and don’t have the tools to know how to identify mental health. This festival will help with understanding.”

The festival also provides several yoga and dance sessions, which will be held at Dance Evolution, Flow Hot Yoga, Evolutions Preschool, Lisa Le Properties, A Boutique Experience. These sessions are free.

“We’ve turned it into a community-based team focus, that will empower parent-child relationships to help them flourish,” said Berry. We’ll also teach how to identify drug issues. And did you know that 50 percent of the student population has tried Adderall? The parents feel shame and guilt, and my role is to bring everybody together to educate our community. We can actually make a change.”

Teachers can get Washington Clock Hours for attending 3+ hours of the Adolescent Mental Health Summit. They can even get a STEM credit for attending the session Inspiring Children in STEM. Details will be posted to the website soon.

The festival also has a CLOSING CEREMONY at Salud! Wine Bar, which includes a raffle with some great prizes donated by local businesses. This is the fundraiser for the festival.

To learn more about the festival, and to register for the session, please visit: www.CamasWellnessFestival.com

 

 

Question: Can an IUD help manage menopausal hot flashes and bleeding?

Menopause is a normal a part of a woman’s life cycle—just like puberty and pregnancy. Yet it is a dynamic change for the person experiencing it, and is different for every woman. Some women will have very few or relatively minor symptoms. Others will experience multiple symptoms, some of which may be disruptive enough to daily life to require treatment.

Decreases in the female hormone, estrogen, commonly cause:

  • Abnormal bleeding (irregular bleeding, long periods, and heavy bleeding)
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Mood changes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Sexual desire or enjoyment changes

A progesterone IUD can help with some, but not all, of these symptoms. Progesterone is “the other female hormone” and is important for regulating the endometrial lining of the uterus—the layer of cells inside the uterus that builds up each month and is then shed, causing a period. Supplementing progesterone with an IUD can help with irregular bleeding that often occurs during both perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) and menopause itself. An IUD often decreases and may even stop menstrual bleeding.

Unfortunately, the progesterone IUD alone will not stop vulvar or vaginal changes or vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats—these symptoms are typically treated with nutritional supplements or hormone replacement therapy. That said, the progesterone IUD can play an important role during hormone therapy.

If a woman has an intact uterus (she had not had a hysterectomy) and needs estrogen replacement therapy, she’ll also need a progesterone replacement to protect the lining of the uterus and prevent postmenopausal bleeding or endometrial hyperplasia (an overgrowth of uterine lining which can become cancerous over time). For women needing estrogen replacement, a progesterone IUD can protect the uterine lining during hormone therapy.

While an IUD doesn’t provide complete relief from perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms, women in these stages may still want to use one for pregnancy prevention. During a woman’s transition from her childbearing years to the time in her life when she is no longer at risk for pregnancy, periods may become irregular, lighter, heavier, and generally less predictable. While pregnancy is less likely during this time, a woman is still at risk for unplanned pregnancy until she has gone a full year without a period.

IUD

Experiencing hot flashes.

 

 

Everyone has heard a story about a woman who was surprised to find herself pregnant in her late 40s or even early 50s because she was sure she had been through “the change” and could not get pregnant anymore. While some women may choose to delay pregnancy until their 30s or even 40s, pregnancy after age 40 carries significant risks to the mother and baby. The risks are even higher for unintended pregnancy. Numerous women’s health care groups recommend women continue birth control until menopause is complete.

Certified nurse midwives care for women throughout the lifespan, including during menopause. If you have questions about perimenopausal changes, signs of menopause, or treatment of symptoms, or if you are considering a progesterone IUD for contraception or treatment of menstrual concerns, we’d be happy to talk with you.

Christine Weinmeister is a certified nurse midwife at Vancouver Clinic. She strives to help all her patients feel informed and empowered in their health care decisions.

Vancouver, WA — Headache pain medication ads are everywhere – from glossy magazine spreads to flashy TV commercials. The message is simple: Your headache deserves a strong painkiller, which will instantly cure the problem. Pain should not slow you down, since there’s an easy, swift solution. But is there really?

Doctors of chiropractic, such as your doctor at Davis Family Chiropractic, wholeheartedly disagree with advertisers’ quick-fix pill solution. What the ads don’t mention is that the strategy often backfires: The pills can eventually cause more pain that they cure. When this happens, a condition called medication overuse headache (MOH) ensues.

What is MOH?

MOH is a relatively new term for a long-standing “unnamed” and largely unrecognized condition caused by taking painkillers – daily or on a regular basis – for migraines or other headaches. Sadly, this condition is common. Your doctor at Davis Family Chiropractic and massage often cares for individuals with MOH. About one in 50 people develops this problem at some point. It affects five times more women than men.

How Does MOH Happen?

The Dependency Dilemma

Headaches flare up in response to physical or emotional stress. As a “solution,” many people take painkillers frequently. Initially, the first doses may provide relief, which reinforces the idea that painkiller consumption is helpful. On a psychological level, what’s known as “positive conditioning” spurs the sufferer to continue reaching for painkillers for relief.

But what’s going on may have more to do with chemical changes in the brain that psychological conditioning. Your doctor at Davis Family Chiropractic and Massage wants patients to be aware that the side effects of painkillers, such as sedation, mild euphoria and stimulation, may lead to dependency.

Painkillers with caffeine, barbiturates, codeine and other opioids are the most likely to have this effect. For example, caffeine increases alertness, relieves fatigue and improves performance and mood. Caffeine-withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, nervousness, restlessness and headaches, all encourage patients to continue their abuse.

Abused drugs, from painkillers to alcohol, activate a “pleasure pathway” in the brain and reinforce the behavior. The pleasure pathway, which is called the “dopamine reward circuit,” is connected to areas of the brain controlling memory, emotion and motivation.

The pleasure pathway undergoes actual chemical and anatomic changes that create and prolong addiction, affecting a physiological hold on a person’s ability to function. This is why addiction is often referred to as a brain disorder and isn’t as easy to kick as simply mind over matter.

Like drugs such as cocaine or heroine, some painkillers trigger the release of the brain’s natural “feel-good,” pain-fighting chemicals called endogenous opioids or endorphins. As with any addictive drugs, the more often they are used, the less the sensitive the brain becomes to them. These drugs literally alter the brain.

Withdrawal Woes

After a period of regular painkiller doses, the body becomes used to the pain medication. When the sufferer doesn’t take painkiller within a day or so of the last dose, then “rebound” or “withdrawal” headaches develop. What the sufferer thinks is just an especially persistent headache is actually a symptom of medication withdrawal.

Not recognizing that the medication is the culprit, he or she may take another dose. When the effect of each dose wears off, a further withdrawal headache develops. In time, sufferers will develop regular headaches that may appear on a daily basis. Some people resort to taking painkillers “routinely” to try to prevent headaches, which only makes things worse.

Which Painkillers Cause MOH?

If you think that only one prescription medication can cause MOH, you’re wrong. Almost any pain medication that provides rapid headache relief can cause MOH. Culprits include simple pain relievers like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin®, Aleve®, and Midol®).

Mixed analgesics, which include over-the-counter and prescription drugs containing caffeine, aspirin and acetaminophen, are especially known as MOH instigators. Other offenders include migraine-specific medications, such as Ergomar®, Miranal®, Imitrex®, Zomig®, and opiates, such as Tylenol 3®, Vicon®, and Percocet®.

Children and MOH
Although children are smaller in stature, their migraines or headaches can be just as big as adult’s. And, studies show that children and adolescents are as susceptible to MOH as adults.

One inquiry reviewed the histories of 79 children and adolescents who sought care from outpatient clinic of the Department of Neurology of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. All of the children were younger than 16 years old and headaches 15 days or more each month.

Although the quality, severity and location of the youngsters’ pain varied, the majority (76 percent) used analgesics to solve the pain. Ten patients used more than one type, and 13 used analgesics daily.

Fifty-seven (72 percent) children had chronic daily headaches for more than six months, which for most lasted more than four hours a day. In one-third of patients, the headaches led to frequent school absences and sleeping problems.

The authors conclude that “chronic daily headache in children is a serious disorder. A relatively large number of patients overuse medication and it leads to frequent school absenteeism and sleeping problems.” (Headache 2005;45:678-83.)

MOH and Emotions

Doctors of chiropractic don’t see the body separate from the mind. They realize that the body and the mind have a direct relationship in which both affect each other. That’s why chiropractors avoid treating symptoms and instead focus on encouraging patients to seek both physical and emotional wellness.

As you imagine, doctors of chiropractic weren’t surprised by research, performed in France, that strongly linked MOH to anxiety and depression. The study included 41 MOH sufferers and 41 patients with chronic migraines.

The scientists found that MOH participants were especially apt to have substance abuse problems and endure mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Migraine patients with emotional problems were more likely to develop MOH that emotionally stable migraine sufferers.

According to the researchers, “MOH patients have greater risk of suffering from anxiety and depression, and there disorders may be a risk factor for the evolution of migraine into MOH.” (Cephalalgia 2005;25:519-22.)

MOH May Be a Precursor to Other Disorders

Although research into this area is still preliminary, scientists speculate that MOH may be precursor of more serious conditions. Researches hypothesize that the same brain changes and chain of events that lead to MOH may trigger other disorders, if medication overdose continues. Besides emotional problems, these disorders may include other forms of chronic pain, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Chiropractic Lifestyle Solution

For doctors of chiropractic, the solution to headaches isn’t in a pill. In addition to spawning MOH, pain medication does nothing to prevent future pain and is often accompanied by multiple side effects. The solution is the chiropractic lifestyle, which involves stress reduction, chiropractic care, healthy diets and exercise. All of the components of this lifestyle are proven ways to eliminate head pain and are free from side effects.

Dr. Marc Davis and Dr. Christina Alvira adjust patients at Davis Family Chiropractic & Massage, a thriving wellness-oriented office located next to Fred Meyer in Fisher’s Landing. For FREE monthly tips and community events like us on Facebook or become a member of our website www.davisfamilychiro.com. To schedule a time to meet with Dr. Davis or Dr Christina, or to get information about having him speak at your club, church group or workplace, call (360) 823-2225. Mention “LacamasMagazine” and “Free Scan” to get your Computerized Back and Neck Scan (regularly $95) for FREE (limited time offer).

Dr. Marc Davis, Dr. Christina Kulesz, Dr. Andrew Wade
DAVIS FAMILY CHIROPRACTIC AND MASSAGE, PLLC
www.davisfamilychiro.com
2415 SE 165TH Avenue, Suite 105
Vancouver, WA 98683
(360) 823-2225