Tag Archives: prevention

AIDS Awareness Month

AIDS Awareness Month

December is AIDS Awareness Month, and more than 1 million Americans are living with HIV, but 1 in 5 aren’t aware they’re infected.

Learning About AIDS

 

HIV has not disappeared since it was an epidemic. Every 9.5 minutes, someone in the U.S. is infected. It’s important to continue to raise awareness and fund education.

Continuing to Educate About AIDS

 

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. Eventually, it can destroy enough T cells that the body can’t fight off infections or other diseases.

Attacking T-Cells

 

The worst version of an HIV infection is AIDS, and those suffering from it get severe illnesses because their immune system is so damaged.

Damaged Immune Systems

 

In the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began, those who contracted HIV weren’t likely to live more than a few years. Now, thanks to antiretroviral therapy, their quality of life is much better.

Improving AIDS Quality of Life

 

Antiretroviral therapy helps stop HIV from multiplying. Patients’ immune cells can then live longer and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.

People at high risk for contracting HIV/AIDS can take PrEP to help prevent infection.

Protect Yourself with PrEP

Prematurity Awareness Month

Prematurity Awareness Month

It’s Prematurity Awareness Month, and a premature birth takes place more than 3 weeks before the expected due date.

Learn the signs and symptoms that you might be going into labor early.

Signs of Premature Labor

 

Some of the greatest risk factors for premature birth are previous premature births, a pregnancy with multiple babies, smoking or drug use, and going less than 6 months between pregnancies.

Risk Factors for Giving Birth Too Early

 

Premature babies can deal with mild symptoms or more serious complications. Some signs include a small size, sharper features from a lack of stored baby fat, low body temp, and trouble breathing or feeding.

Signs of Prematurity

 

Premature babies will likely need longer hospital stays. Your doctor and a specialized team help care for the baby and can explain what’s happening every step of the way.

Hospital Stays for Premature Labor

 

Short-term complications from premature birth can include issues with their lungs, heart, brain, blood, metabolism, and immune system.

Long-term complications from premature birth can include cerebral palsy, chronic health issues, and problems with their learning, vision, hearing, and teeth.

Complications from Premature Birth

 

If you’re at risk of a premature birth, your doctor might have you take progesterone supplements or have a surgical procedure on your cervix. They might also have you avoid vigorous activity or go on bed rest for the end of your pregnancy.

Preventing Premature Labor

Bullying Prevention Month

Bullying Prevention Month

It’s Bullying Prevention Month, and it’s important to understand bullying, especially in the age of technology

Bullying is unwanted, repeated aggressive behavior, and it can be direct, happening in person, or indirect, like spreading rumors. It can also be physical, verbal, harming reputations or relationships, or damaging property.

What Is Bullying?

 

Bullying can happen in many locations, and sometimes that place is online or through phones. This cyberbullying can include social media and is usually verbal attacks or spreading rumors online.

The Reach of Cyberbullying

 

Bullying can affect any kids, but certain factors can increase the odds, like low self-esteem or traits that are perceived as different by their peers. Knowing these factors can help you prepare with your kids for possible bullying.

Most bullying takes place in middle school. Educating your kids about bullying can help them cope with being bullied and help prevent them from becoming bullied.

Coping with Bullying

 

Some kids are at risk of both being bullied and bullying, often taking it out on those younger or worse off than them. These youth are at the greatest risk for future behavioral, mental, and academic problems.

Youth Both Bullied and Bullies

 

Persistent bullying that leads to isolation can lead to suicidal behavior, but these kids also frequently have multiple risk factors, like anxiety. Knowing these problems can help you support and guide your children if bullying becomes a factor in the future.

The Risk of Suicide and Bullying

 

Bullying prevention isn’t simple, but when the community comes together to build support and respect, the results are better than strategies like zero tolerance.

Community and Bullying Prevention

Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Dealing with Postpartum Depression

Giving birth can cause a number of powerful emotions, especially as your hormones change. While you’re experiencing overwhelming joy, you may also feel anxiety or fear. These rapid changes can trigger postpartum depression for many women.

Baby Blues

Many new moms experience something called the baby blues after giving birth. This usually starts in the first few days after delivery and can last up to 2 weeks. Signs of these blues include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Issues with appetite

But some new moms experience a more severe period of depression called postpartum depression.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

1 in 7 women will struggle with postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a serious depression disorder that affects women after childbirth or miscarriage. This depression can then make it difficult to recover from childbirth and care for and bond with a newborn.

This is a complication from giving birth, not a character flaw or weakness. While there are many risk factors for developing it, there are some causes that might be to blame.

Doctors believe that one of the causes of postpartum depression is the radical drop in your estrogen and progesterone levels that can trigger emotional responses.

Other causes include sleep deprivation and the load of emotional situations layered on top of one another. These issues might include:

  • Dealing with complications from childbirth
  • Feeling less attractive
  • Struggling with your sense of identity
  • Concerns about being a new parent

Symptoms typically begin a few weeks after childbirth, although they can also appear later. For many, these feelings are most intense at the beginning and ease over time. Postpartum depression can last up to 6 months after giving birth.

Risk Factors

Any new mom can experience postpartum depression, but your risk might be higher if you have:

  • Trouble breastfeeding
  • Multiple births, like twins
  • A newborn with health problems or special needs
  • A personal or family history of depression or other mood disorders
  • Experienced depression after previous pregnancies
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Had stress over the last year, like pregnancy complications, illness, or major negative life changes
  • Issues in your relationship with your significant other, support system, or finances
  • Doubts about the pregnancy because it was unplanned or unwanted

Knowing these risk factors can help you recognize your risk before giving birth. Then you can plan ahead with your doctor.

Prevention When You Know You’re at Risk

If you have a history of depression or postpartum depression, tell your doctor about it once you find out you’re pregnant.

During pregnancy, your doctor can keep an eye on any signs of depression. They may also have you take depression screenings before and after delivery. They might recommend support groups or counseling, or even antidepressants in some cases.

After your baby’s born, they might also recommend a postpartum checkup to check for depression. The earlier they find it, the earlier they can start treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs that you might be struggling with postpartum depression include:

  • Trouble bonding or caring for your newborn
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of sadness, sometimes overwhelming, and crying excessively
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Anger and irritability
  • Severe or sudden mood swings
  • Feelings of hopelessness, restlessness, worthlessness, shame, guilt, or worry that you’re not good enough
  • Cutting yourself off from loved ones
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue, loss of energy, and trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in things you once loved
  • Trouble thinking clearly, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Dwelling on thoughts of death or suicide

Complications

If left untreated, postpartum depression can cause long-term issues in your family. It can last for months and sometimes become a chronic depression issue.

It can also interfere with your ability to bond with your baby, which can impact them in the future. Children of mothers who suffered from untreated postpartum depression have more emotional and behavioral problems. They’re more likely to:

  • Cry excessively
  • Have development issues, especially delays in language skills
  • Have trouble sleeping

Treatment

Many people feel guilty or embarrassed that they’re depressed after giving birth, which can make it hard to admit they’re struggling. But it’s time to see the doctor if your symptoms:

  • Don’t fade after 2 weeks
  • Get worse
  • Make it hard to care for your baby or complete normal tasks
  • Include thoughts of self-harm

Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms, rule out other issues, and might ask for you to take a screening or questionnaire to learn more.

From there, they’ll help you decide on the best treatment depending on how serious it is and your medical history. Common types of treatment include:

  • Therapy where you talk with a mental health professional in a safe environment
  • Support groups for new mothers
  • Medication, like antidepressants
  • Healthy lifestyle choices, like getting plenty of sleep and water, a healthy diet, and regular exercise

If you have suicidal thoughts or think about harming your baby, it’s important to talk to your loved ones and get help from your doctor as soon as possible.

If you need help immediately, call a suicide hotline, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Postpartum Depression in Fathers

New dads can also have postpartum depression, making them feel sad, fatigued, overwhelmed, or filled with anxiety.

Young fathers with a history of depression, relationship problems, or financial issues are the most at risk. It’s also more likely if the mother is also struggling with depression.

Left untreated, it can have the same negative effects on relationships and child development that a mother’s postpartum depression can.

If you’re a new father dealing with symptoms of depression or anxiety during your partner’s pregnancy or after your child’s birth, talk to your doctor. Similar treatments are available to help you.

Postpartum Psychosis

In extremely rare cases, mothers can also experience postpartum psychosis. This condition is more severe and dangerous. Symptoms usually develop within the first week after delivery and include:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Agitation and obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Postpartum psychosis is very serious and can lead to life-threatening thoughts and actions. It needs immediate attention and treatment. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience or see signs of it.

Helping a Loved One

People with depression may not see the signs in themselves or may struggle to acknowledge they’re depressed at a moment usually portrayed as nothing but joyous. If you suspect that a loved one is struggling with postpartum depression or is developing postpartum psychosis, talk to them and their support system about getting help immediately.

Waiting and hoping for improvement is dangerous. Talking about postpartum depression as a normal part of pregnancy for many women helps them feel better about their struggles with it.

As this issue is talked about more in the public, more women will recognize the signs and feel comfortable talking about it and dealing with it.

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Millions struggle with substance abuse, including underage drinking, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, and illicit drug use. It costs our communities an estimated $193 billion. Learn more with us for National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Caring adults that children can trust and talk to can make all the difference in helping prevent substance abuse in young people. Support the young people in your life.

Supportive Adults and Substance Abuse

 

Self-confidence, self-image, and self-control are all key qualities that can help individuals avoid substance abuse, especially in young people.

Self-Confidence and Substance Abuse

 

Being comfortable in social situations can help you avoid substance abuse too. Having the confidence and ability to tell people no, avoid peer pressure, and make responsible choices in social situations is very important to never trying drugs or abusing alcohol.

Making Smart Social Choices

 

Don’t become isolated. Make sure you build a community of support for all things in your life. Not only is this an important factor in reducing symptoms of depression, but it’s also a key factor in preventing substance abuse.

Build Community to Prevent Substance Abuse

 

Some people may be predisposed toward substance abuse based on genetics and heredity. Know your family’s history and keep this in mind when talking to your doctor about prescriptions and making personal choices around substances like alcohol.

Family History and Substance Abuse

 

Opioid use is on the rise, and back pain is a leading cause of it. Learn more about avoiding substance abuse while treating your pain.

My Healthy Journey: Chronic Back Pain

National Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month

National Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month

It’s National Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month. Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a rare disease that affects the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, slowly robbing them of the ability to walk, eat, and breathe.

SMA and Nerve Damage

 

SMA is caused by a mutation in a gene that produces a protein critical to our nerves. Nerve cells can’t function without it.

SMA Gene Mutation

 

SMA is also the number one genetic cause of death in infants. About 1 in every 50 Americans could pass it on to their children.

Genetic SMA Carriers

 

There are 4 types of SMA based on the age when symptoms begin and the highest physical milestone the victim reaches. Type 1 in infants is often fatal, while type 4 in adults is very rare and only leads to mild motor impairment.

Types of SMA

 

SMA is usually diagnosed through genetic testing, newborn screenings, or through prenatal testing.

Prenatal SMA Testing

 

In 2016, the first FDA-approved treatment for SMA was approved. After an SMA diagnosis, it is key to work through the coming decisions with your family’s team of doctors.

Treating SMA

 

Those with SMA still develop mentally despite their physical barriers, so finding more forms of treatment and prevention are key to the future of the disease and those who suffer from it.

 

Understand AIDS

Understand AIDS

In honor of World AIDS day this month, we want to help raise awareness about HIV and help you understand AIDS.

HIV is an infection transmitted between people by bodily fluids like blood. People can have flu-like symptoms 2 to 4 weeks after becoming infected.

Lifecycle of HIV

 

HIV multiplies in your system, and without HIV treatment, it usually advances to AIDS in 10 years or longer, when the immune system is severely damaged.

AIDS Progression

 

Women with HIV can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth, but your doctor can help you prevent this with medicine, C-sections, and formula.

Preventing Transmission to Your Baby

 

If you’re HIV positive, make sure you know how to prevent transmission to protect your loved ones and partners.

Protecting Your Loved Ones from HIV

 

Talk to your doctor, get tested regularly, and know how to prevent HIV infection and protect yourself now.

Protecting Yourself from AIDS

 

If you’ve just been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, what can you expect? Know what tests and treatments come next.

What's Next After an HIV Diagnosis?

 

Understand how your care team, including case managers, can help you manage HIV/AIDS, and learn more about living with HIV/AIDS.

Your HIV/AIDS Care Team