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Common Signs of Low-Grade Inflammation and Why You Should Care

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What is inflammation? Inflammation is defined as a biological response to remove dangerous stimuli and begin the healing process as fast as possible. Inflammation, in its acute form such as injury and infection, is quite noticeable. However, low-grade inflammation is crucial to watch out for. Low-grade inflammation can manifest itself through chronic pain. Even if there are smaller signs of low-grade inflammation, treating these symptoms will secure your body from confronting the long-term and harmful effects of this health problem. Here are a few signs of low-grade inflammation that you may want to watch out for.

1. You Notice Swelling

If you feel swelling after some injury or for no particular reason, then this is an alarming situation. This is important to consider even if you feel minimal swelling. People generally acknowledge this symptom when some part of body is extremely swollen or sore. However, medical advice says that it is important to check up even the most minute swellings to prevent problems in the long run.

2. You Feel Tired Without any Reason

Low-grade chronic inflammation can make you tired even if there is no physical activity. Although, this particular symptom might not jump out to you instantly, it is necessary to watch if it continues on for long. Moreover, if you have iron deficiency or constant fatigue, then this may be pointing out a sign of mild inflammation.

3. You Have Unexplained Pains and Aches

Another highly vague, yet common symptom of low-grade inflammation is pains and aches. If you are not doing any hectic or stressful activity and your body hurts, then it shows that there is something that needs serious attention.

4. You Have A Very Low Mood

A possible cause for depression or mood swings can indeed be be inflammation. The way in which inflammation affects brain function can result in depressive brain episodes. Appropriate care by doctors, nurses, and therapists should be administered if this continues to happen for a long period of time.

5. You Feel Foggy

Inflammation also causes the problem of brain fog. This is a genuine medical issue that is confronted by people who have chronic health conditions. Brain fog can result in cognitive impairment, depression, anhedonia, fatigue, and fever.

6. Your Joints Feel Tender

Long-term low-grade inflammation can cause severe damage to tissues of your body. So, if you feel that your joints are getting tender or raw, then this is a condition that needs serious attention by a medical professional.

Even if the aforementioned symptoms are not bothering you much at start, they should be treated sooner so that they do not become extremely serious. Since the symptoms of low-grade inflammation are extremely widespread, it may require hard work to diagnose the root cause of such health issues.

Sources:

  1. https://www.bustle.com/p/7-signs-you-have-low-grade-inflammation-why-you-should-pay-attention-to-it-16102033
  2. https://bodyinmind.org/low-grade-inflammation-brain/
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php

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The Benefits of Art Therapy

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When we think back to some of our earliest days in school, often some of the most memorable experiences we have come with crafting. As children, many of us enjoy coloring, painting, drawing and other crafts and it turns out that getting back to this childhood activity can have some powerful results in therapy. Art therapy has been used as a therapeutic tool for adults in pain management. This is a form of psychotherapy that can help you to modify responses to physical and emotional problems that are related to pain.

Art therapy is used in conjunction with pain medication, but it can work as a combined effect reducing pain experiences and prescription doses. Through better symptom management it’s possible to reduce the occurrence of anxiety and stress as well as lead to a faster recovery. Art therapy is working to reduce recovery times and manage symptoms appropriately.

Art therapy works by helping people that suffer from regular chronic pain. Art therapy can be used to lower pain medication prescriptions and move mental focus away from any painful stimulus through a distraction. Art therapy also alters mood so that pain does not directly control and emotional state through stress or anxiety.

The exercise works by helping people focused in the present moment and identify their emotional responses. The expressions that people get to relate in art can help them to identify a strength and self-image as well as recognize conflicting emotions by visualizing them. A behavioral change can also occur as a result of the confidence boost from the artistic expression and creation process.

In a study conducted by The Arts of Psychotherapy over 200 people were hospitalized for medical issues after surgery. Having these individuals participate in art therapy for 50 minutes drastically improves the moods of patients as well as their levels of anxiety and pain.

Art therapy is different from a traditional art class, an art therapist manages the creative process and explores the way that art relates to pain. Therapy can consist of individuals focusing on making a piece of art that relates to how their pain looks on that day. Creating and then processing this art can help individuals to explore their symptoms and encourage them to share more about their mood.

You don’t need to have any artistic talent in order to see benefits from art therapy. Many forms of artistic expression including woodworking, ceramics, mixed-media and more can help you to access the same results. Sessions in art therapy typically last 30 to 60 minutes. These sessions are often one-on-one in the early stages and can eventually become a group support activity for people to relate their experiences to others.

If you are interested in finding an art therapist in your area, there is an extensive directory of art therapists through the American Art Therapy Association. Board-certified art therapists have achieved a Masters degree approved by this association and completed a qualifier of clinical experience in the field.

The sources for this article are:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/201608/why-art-therapy-works
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/art-therapy-another-way-to-help-manage-pain-2018071214243

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A1c Test May Not Detect Diabetes Properly

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A hemoglobin A1c test is widely considered a standardized test for diagnosing diabetes. A1c levels are measured in this test and a level of 5.7% higher than average showcases a high blood glucose level. The average baseline in this test is 117 mg/dl, and the A1c diagnostic area of 5.7 to 6.4 is considered prediabetes. Anything higher than this range often results in a diabetes diagnosis.

In a new study published in ENDO, scientists have discovered that the A1c test is lacking in evidence for accurately diagnosing diabetes. The A1c test misclassified the diagnosis of diabetes in more than 70% of cases.  A study was recently conducted by researchers at the City of Hope National Medical Center located in California and The University of Kansas Medical Center in which the diagnostic specificity and sensitivity of the A1c and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) were compared. The A1c test is a test of averages in blood glucose levels over several months for participants. On the other hand, OGTT is a test that delivers real-time blood glucose response after a glucose challenge in testing. This test can provide a far more direct measure of a person’s glucose tolerance.

The researchers examined data collected from the year 2005 up to 2014 from samples of over 9000 case logs. Pre-existing diabetes diagnosis files were not considered in this study. The participants had their BMI, fasting plasma glucose levels, post glucose blood sugar levels, and A1c levels all cross-examined. The researchers identified that 73% of the diabetes cases that they tested were not picked up by an initial A1c test. The OGTT test was far more accurate in producing an accurate diabetes diagnosis.

The A1c test showed that the participants were experiencing normal glucose levels even when they were not. The A1c is particularly useful in identifying patients that have prediabetes or an increased risk factor, but it may not be the best basis for diagnosis. While it can be particularly valuable for managing diabetic complications or preventing diabetes through early diagnosis, the best way to monitor diabetes accurately is through the oral glucose tests.

According to current statistics by the American Diabetes Association, 20% of the US population that has diabetes currently remains undiagnosed. As the prevalence of diabetes continues to increase, there needs to be an ongoing awareness to improve the standard of protocols and to deliver a more accurate diagnosis for those that need assistance in managing the condition.

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Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

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Have you ever been extremely overwhelmed with everyday components of life? Maybe work is starting to feel too stressful? Or do personal relationships seem too much to handle? Here are some easy ways to combat your stress and feel in control of your life. Following these tips will help you lead a more peaceful yet productive lifestyle.

1. Set goals based off of how much time it would take to fulfill a task

Before starting on any task, be sure to plan out how much time the task will take. Consider jotting down a schedule for the day, and try to stick to those allocated times for each of your tasks. Even if you cannot commit to all of the fixed times, tell yourself that you will get through at least 25% of what you had originally planned. Once you accomplish that consistently, then try to accomplish 50% of your tasks. By following this, you will avoid burnout and will feel in control of the tasks at hand.

2. Go outside

While this may seem simplistic, going outside and getting exposure to fresh air have been proven to reduce stress. In particular, there is a technique called forest ‘bathing’ that is defined as the practice of spending time in a wooded area is good for one’s mind, body and spirit. Participants of this technique were found to have lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol. Even if you are not near a forest, going outside and being present in nature will help you establish tranquility in your life.

3. Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system by partaking in breathing exercises

The autonomic nervous system is sometimes known as the involuntary nervous system. It controls several bodily systems even without any conscious direction, and two of its 2 branches are the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, it releases a feeling of calmness and relaxation in your mind as well as body. On the other hand, the sympathetic nervous system is known to trigger the “fight or flight” response when there is a potential threat.

These two systems work together, but in times of intense stress, they can get out of balance. When one feels anxious or stressed for long periods of times, the sympathetic nervous system overpowers the parasympathetic.

Therefore, by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system, the balance will be restored. You can do this by breathing through your diaphragm, practicing mindfulness, and surrounding yourself in a positive environment.

4. No multitasking.

Though multitasking may create an illusion of getting things done faster, it actually drains the glucose fuel needed by the brain. This decreases the efficiency of brain activity and makes us feel more tired in the long run. Instead of multitasking, try to really focus on one activity and space it out with breaks or snacks. This will help the mind feel calm, productive, and at its best.

Sources:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/turning-straw-gold/201109/4-tips-slowing-down-reduce-stress
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/how-nature-can-solve-life-s-most-challenging-problems-ncna749361

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