What Should the Public Know About the Opioid Epidemic?
The opioid epidemic came about in the late 1990s and was characterized by the abuse, misuse, and addiction to opioids. Some common Opioids include Codeine, Demerol, Dilaudid Fentanyl, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Methadone, Morphine, and Oxycodone. This resulted in a growing number of deaths and hospitalization as well as an increase in crime and insecurity. In the US alone, opioids cause approximately 40,000 deaths annually, an average of 115 deaths daily.
The situation was further exacerbated by an increase in opioid production by pharmaceutical companies and more physicians prescribing their use under the belief that they were safer and less addictive than morphine. Reports indicate that the number of opioid prescriptions written by doctors in the year 1992 was 112 million which exponentially increased to 282 million in 2014 and reduced to 236 million in 2016. The growth of prescriptions significantly increased their distribution and subsequent abuse and addiction due to easy accessibility. Many users develop a dependency on the drugs as they are highly addictive and are faced with the option of going through undesirable withdrawal symptoms or looking for other alternatives.
Opioids are highly effective in the management of mild to severe pain and most people will receive a prescription along the course of their lives. A few important things to know include:
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Dependence and Addiction and Seek Help Immediately
As previously mentioned, opioids are highly addictive and you can easily develop a dependence on them. An important way of preventing this is by following the doctor’s instructions regarding the prescription and not sharing your medication with anyone else. Another key thing is watching out for signs of dependence such as impulsively seeking the drugs even when your pain has gone away, misusing the drugs so that you are constantly ‘high’ which can include taking more than the recommended dosage, using desperate means such as stealing someone else’s medication or using fake prescriptions.
There are also physical symptoms to look out for like increased heart and breathing rate, craving the drug, and sweating profusely. The sooner the issue is captured and addressed the better the prognosis. Unchecked dependence and addiction may result in users switching from prescription opioids to synthetic alternatives such as heroin which are deadly.
Opioid Abuse and Addiction Requires Medical Attention.
It’s important to provide medical assistance to those that are addicted to opioid. Treatment is available in hospitals and rehabilitation centers across the country. Medication-assisted treatment, the standard method of treating opioid addiction, combines medication, counseling, and psychosocial support. Opioid users and those in contact with them should have emergency contacts that can assist in severe cases such as drug overdose.
Everyone Has a Role to Play in the Opioid Epidemic.
The epidemic can be managed successfully if everyone participates in the fight against it. Some measures include better policies by policymakers that improve access to treatment and recovery services. Experts can conduct more research on addiction and develop other less addictive means of managing pain, increasing awareness across communities to help prevent misuse and addiction. Communities can also offer more support to those impacted and in recovery without discrimination and judgment.
Understanding the Reasons Behind Emergency Room Errors and What to Do When They Happen
Recent studies show that medical errors are among the most common causes of injuries and fatalities in the United States. Additionally, they show that about 16% of all patients who visit the emergency room are victims of medical errors. These errors can occur elsewhere in a hospital or healthcare setting, but we will explore why they happen in emergency rooms specifically.
Frequent Interruptions Coupled with a Chaotic Environment
The emergency room is very different from other healthcare settings because doctors have to deal with frequent interruptions and are often working with incomplete or incorrect information. The chaos many doctors have to deal with in such settings, which are usually fast-paced in their nature, can also lead to information processing errors, which is especially true in cases where there are a lot of interruptions.
These types of issues are very common in emergency rooms due to their chaotic and fast-paced nature. Issues leading to medical errors in emergency rooms can occur in both written and verbal communication and between different types of healthcare professionals.
These problems can be further compounded by doctors who rely on written communication and where there is inadequate information to that end. If other healthcare professionals communicate poorly and doctors have incomplete or incorrect information, there is a significant risk of medical errors.
Even with the right procedures, processes, and policies in place, people can ignore them or not follow them fully, especially in a fluid environment such as an emergency room. An example is the poor documentation we have mentioned above or mislabeling of specimens which leads to a diagnosis going to the wrong person.
Knowledge-based errors can also occur in cases where a healthcare professional has inadequate training or knowledge to provide the required level of care. This can lead to errors or oversight, sometimes rising to the level of medical malpractice.
Patients with Abnormal Complaints
Abnormal complaints can throw doctors off which makes them start looking for a condition or illness in the wrong place. This is why people who come to emergency rooms with such complaints form a significant percentage of people who are victims of medical errors.
To avoid this, it is best to call in specialists who might be able to link these abnormal complaints to the right diagnosis. Healthcare professionals should also do as many tests as possible to ensure that the doctor is right when they make a diagnosis.
What to Do in Case of Emergency Room Medical Errors
If a medical error causes serious injury or death, you or a loved one could be entitled to compensation should you open a wrongful death or medical malpractice suit. It is important to contact attorneys with experience handling claims for emergency room errors so you can hold an individual or institution liable for the damage that has occurred.
Healthcare professionals can do more to protect their patients from emergency room medical errors by understanding why they happen. Individuals and their loved ones are also entitled to compensation if a healthcare processional’s negligence leads to serious injury or death.
The Side Effects of Radiotherapy on the Throat
Radiation therapy is a common treatment for cancer, but it can also have side effects that affect the throat. This article will discuss how the throat is impacted and how to manage the side effects of treatment.
Dryness and Irritation
One of the most prevalent side effects of radiotherapy on the throat is dryness and irritation. The radiation can cause drying and cracking in the mucous membranes that line the throat. This can lead to pain and burning sensations when speaking, swallowing, or eating. It may also become difficult to keep food down due to discomfort. To help alleviate this symptom, patients should try drinking plenty of fluids throughout their treatment process and use a humidifier in their home to moisten mucus membranes.
Another potential side effect of radiotherapy on the throat is swelling in the area where radiation is being administered. This swelling typically lasts several weeks after radiation treatments have ended, during which time swallowing can be difficult or painful, as food may get stuck in the swollen parts of the throat. To deal with these issues, doctors will often prescribe steroids or anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and inflammation associated with swelling in the throat area.
Since radiation treatments specifically target cells that are rapidly growing or dividing, they can damage healthy cells as well as cancerous ones, leading to nausea and vomiting as a result of both the physical and psychological stress caused by treatments. To combat these symptoms, anti-nausea medications can be taken before each treatment session to help reduce nausea levels and make it more bearable for patients receiving radiation therapy for their cancer.
Hoarseness and Weak Voice
Another potential side effect caused by radiotherapy on the throat is hoarseness or a weak voice due to damage caused by radiation or swelling from treatment sessions. This puts pressure on vocal cords resulting in difficulty speaking normally or at all in some cases. Speech therapy may be recommended for hoarse or weak voices caused by radiotherapy. Medications such as corticosteroids may help. These reduce inflammation and restore normal functioning within vocal cords that have been damaged by radiation exposure during cancer treatments.
Difficulty swallowing is another very common issue experienced by those who have undergone radiation therapy for cancer in or around their throats, particularly if they had existing medical conditions such as a stroke prior to beginning radiation treatments. Radiation treatment will complicate things further by making swallowing more challenging due to either physical impairments caused by the strokes combined with damage inflicted upon nerves endings directly related to the muscular control essential for swallowing. It can also make it difficult to ingest any food and beverages on a regular basis without feeling discomfort. Thickening gels can help manage dysphagia symptoms; patients can use SimplyThick gel for thickening food and beverages.
Radiotherapy has many potential side effects when used to treat cancers in and around the throat area but not all people experience the same issues.
4 Ways Seniors Can Stay Active
Are you a senior who is living a rather sedentary lifestyle? Do you often find yourself going days, even a full week with little to no physical activity? It’s a common issue that many seniors face but it can be very detrimental to their overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28% of people age 50 and older live a physically inactive lifestyle. What’s even more alarming is that inactivity can increase a person’s risk of developing many health issues such as heart disease, depression, cardiovascular disease, reduced mobility, memory lapses, lowered life expectancy and more.
If you’re a senior who recognizes the importance of activity but aren’t sure how to introduce it into your lifestyle, here are some solutions that can help.
Walking Is Often the Best Place to Start
You may be under the impression that you need to engage in high-impact exercise to gain any type of results, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the best exercises for seniors is walking. There’s no need to jog or even speed walk; just pick a pace that is comfortable and safe for you. The key is to make it a regular activity – daily – as that’s how you get results.
Walking can be done indoors or outdoors, whatever you prefer. You may want to purchase a wearable fitness tracker to count steps and track other health parameters. Many people find this helps them set daily fitness goals and make sure they are meeting them.
Join a Senior Sports or Activity Club
Most cities and towns have organized senior sports and activities that can also get you up and moving. The nice thing about these clubs is that there is a social aspect involved, so you’ll be working out your body while feeding your mind with fun and engaging experiences. It’s a great way to meet other seniors in your area and form new bonds.
Begin the Day with Light Stretches
Want to start the day off on the right foot? Try doing light stretches in the morning. This can help build strength and flexibility which will aid in balance and overall support. You can speak to your doctor about what the best stretches are for you, and then build a routine.
Assisted Living Facilities Can Offer a Wide Array of Activities
Sometimes the best solution is to consider moving to an assisted living facility for seniors. These types of facilities excel in offering active senior living options, providing residents with an array of engaging activities. There is typically a daily program offered to residents that is geared to exercise their body and mind – keeping them healthy in every sense. And because it is an assisted living facility, the programs are designed for them to be able to do, meaning nothing will be too hard or strenuous for them.
The fact is that living a sedentary lifestyle is one of the worst things seniors can do for their physical and mental well-being. Turning things around is possible as long as you prioritize daily activities.
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