Artery Stents and Side Effects

Diet fads come and go. Indiscretions and choices of lifestyles may come to haunt you through normal aging, genetics, and effects from certain illnesses. Over time your arteries may become narrowed and blocked because of build-up of a fatty material called plaque, which is made up of cholesterol and other substances. Like the crusty plaque that forms around teeth, arterial and vascular plaque silently obstructs the passage of blood and nutrients throughout your body. Artery stents are light little inserts that are surgically implanted to help open obstructed arteries. Artery stents are minimally invasive life savers that may prevent heart attacks and strokes. It’s good to check your vital statistics often. Irregularities may indicate arterial blockages.

Artery and vascular obstructions are known as atherosclerosis and the American Heart Association compiles statistics annually. In 2009, there were 644,240 hospital stays that included the implantation of a cardiac artery stent.
The rate of any cardiac stent procedure rose steadily from 1999 to 2006 by 61 percent and
then declined sharply between 2006 and 2009 by 27 percent. Sclerosis, a stiffening of a structure, has been associated with many diseases, particularly multiple sclerosis and ALS (which interfere with nervous system functions). Atherosclerosis is silent. Arteries have no pain sensors to alert of plaque build-up. It is the silent killer that leads to heart attacks and brain strokes.

The use of artery stents have greatly help reduce the incidence of heart disease and brain infarctions but implantation of artery stents isn’t a miraculous cure-all. Diet and exercise routines are fundamental. They are more minimally invasive approaches of more complex surgeries that are alerts that death was nearer than you thought.

Stents reduce the incidence of heart attacks and strokes but not necessarily lives, according to Duke University research. The artery stent was first introduced in 1994 and various technological innovations have improved their overall effectiveness. Prior to stents, the severity of atherosclerosis usually required more invasive procedures, such as arterial or coronary bypasses. President Clinton and TV host David Letterman are popular recipients of those surgeries. You will note that these are very conscious of lifestyle changes to maintain weight for health.

Surgically implanting artery stents leaves no superficial scars. A catheter enters your groin area or your wrist to physically explore your arteries. Where significant blockage is visible, a stent is implanted via the catheter. For most of the procedure, you are under mild sedation – relaxed but conscious. A stent is like a spring of mesh that is inserted to support the artery wall. With time, the mesh and the artery wall unify. Heart artery stents wer approved by the FDA in 1994. Newer stents add a drug to the metallic material. This helps reduce Restenosis, a condition where the stent may collapse. Using these drug induced stents and certain prescribed oral medications help stabilize stent implantation.

Commonly, artery stents are used in surgical procedures called percutaneous trans-luminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), also known as balloon angioplasty. These procedures are intended to reduce the risk of heart attacks or other complications stemming from coronary heart disease that involves the blockage of the arteries.

Virtually non-invasive radiological detection of atherosclerosis has emerged in the 21st century and CAT or MRI scans and Ultrasound may be used as part of routine searches for atherosclerosis in specific arteries. This may account for the rise of artery stent intervention from 1999 to 2006. Angioplasty will be necessary if plaque accumulation is noted and is a way that artery stents are implanted. If no stent is implanted, it is an ambulatory procedure with no hospital stay. An implant requires at least 24-hour stay.

An artery stent was implanted. For around 2 years following an implant procedure, you will be prescribed a blood thinner drug (i.e Plavix, Warfarin, Xarelto) and low dose aspirin as an anti-coagulant. You are advised to reduce exercise and increase proper diet for a few weeks after surgery.

Common side effects of blood thinners are:

◾Heavy menstrual flows
◾Bloody or discolored urine or feces.
◾Somewhat frequent nosebleeds.
◾Bleeding gums.
◾Prolonged bleeding from a cut and possible bruising.

Less reported side effects may include:

•Difficulty with breathing or swallowing
•Dizziness
•Headache
•Leg weakness and Numbness
•Paralysis (partial area restricted)

While not all blood thinners are affected by the same substances, a number of foods, herbs, and medications can interact with blood-thinning medications. This can render the drug more or less effective than your dosage would suggest.

Many physicians, in an effort to reduce cholesterol levels as a possible cause of atherosclerosis, also add statins (Lipitor) may lead to increased toxicity such as myopathy (inflammation of the muscles). Clinical trials commonly define statin toxicity as myalgia or muscle weakness with creatine kinase (CK) levels greater than 10 times the normal upper limit. The most frequrntly reported statin side effects are:

Headache
Nausea
Vomiting
Constipation
Diarrhea
Rashes
Weakness and muscle pain

People who smoke have an additional concern over Nicotine. The nicotine in cigarettes directly affects the inflammatory response, causing the release of more cytokines.Cytokines serve as molecular messengers between cells and regulate various inflammatory responses. There are many types of cytokines in the bloodstream and some are researched as possible sources of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other pain or numbing diseases.

There is often a great emphasis in controlling plaque and vulnerable plaque in the arteries leading to the heart and brain. Less emphasis is focused on other narrower blood vessels that extend to the periphery of the body, such as hands and feet. The possible side effects of blood thinners, statins, and nicotine, plus vulnerable plaque, may be restricting blood flow and cytokines to various point s in legs and arms.

The effects of drugs, diet, lifestyle, and undetected vascular disintegrity may be associated with a less common side effect of artery stents. They are peripheral neuropathies, a numbness or tingling of hands and feet.

I had numbness in the feet. I have since found several cases that have complained about some form of peripheral neuropathy that require assisted walking devices. Nearly all reported having at least one implanted stent. A few had as many as four stents. Medications can manage neuropathy symptoms but none claim to cure it. I have found long-term acupuncture to be effective. Acupuncturists offer differing techniques. I found New York’s East Wind Healing Arts to be the best.

Stents are used to help support decayed arteries and collapsing organs. They are used after coronary episodes and to prevent first episodes. As a wise approach in exploring annual routine health care, a comprehensive center of cardiologists, who also specialize as internists, may be sensitive enough to help ward off any problems.

Diet and exercise help. Unfortunately, people of all shapes and sizes may be susceptible to atherosclerosis by virtue of genetics. Following responsible diets and physical activities are good avenues to support heat health within the generally healthy population.

It is likely that where atherosclerosis is present in arteries, there may be peripheral vascular disease found in the blood vessels feeding and protecting other areas of your body.

Your body likes balance and works hard towards maintaining a stable balance. It has complex mechanisms that control internal fight/flight stress at microcellular levels. Sometimes it’s imperceptible while other times pain and inflammation may occur. While implanting artery stents may breed a host of annoying side effects, maintain an active relationship with your physicians and work hard toward living happily ever after.

When necessary, artery stents are life savers but following more responsible lifestyles may add years of living well. As to dealing with side effects? Sometimes you have to weigh side effects or no life at all. Doctors and patients should be attentive and aware of those possible side effects and cooperate with healthcare and alternatives as successful treatments.

Good bye Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center

William Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall will be changing its name. Will Metropolitan Opera be next?

Scratch the covers of all those albums of artists that played at Avery Fisher Hall. The Lincoln Center crowd is seeking new donors for the building that houses the New York Philharmonic and Avery Fisher’s name may be compromised. But the Avery Fisher estate expects to profit from the deal. According to Associated Press:

“New York City’s Lincoln Center will take Avery Fisher’s name off its concert hall and resell the naming rights to help finance a $500 million renovation, officials said Thursday.
The renovation scheduled to start in 2019 was announced after the Fisher family agreed to accept $15 million to drop the name from the hall where the New York Philharmonic plays.”

The initial Fisher contribution was $10 million dollars!!

The building originally opened as The Philharmonic Hall in 1962, after the orchestra was evicted from Carnegie Hall. In 1975, it was renamed Avery Fisher. Who’ll be next? Obviously, money does talk and it is a powerful language and the Philharmonic Hall rebranding moves ahead.

In 20 years, if Lincoln Center requires newer renovations, will another estate pay? Could some right-wing conservative Republican change its name from Lincoln? That’s the way history goes.

Once there was Klein, J&R, Alexanders, Sam Goody, Nedicks, Bickford, Korvette, Ohrbach, Stern, Altman, Horn-&-Hardart and other New York namesake stores. Buildings have been renamed or destroyed and only the old or the trivia fans will remember them.

After all, Madison Square Garden was originally near Madison Square on 23rd Street. 34th Street was Herald Square because of a defunct New York Herald newspaper. Trendy Union Square on 14th Street was the area where most trade unions set up shop.

Before Lincoln Center, the area was known as San Juan Hill. It was considered one of the worst slum neighborhoods in 20th century Manhattan. Lincoln Square, the area around Lincoln Center, is one of the best areas to live in Manhattan.

What’s in a name? What was once Manhatta became part of New Amsterdam and then New York. You have but to know an object by its proper name for it to lose its dangerous magic. Depending on your lifespan and time references, names aren’t any more permanent than grains of sand near the coastline.

Avery Fisher was the founder of the Fisher electronics company and a philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to arts organizations and universities. His business has long been sold off but was one of the first providers of quality home audio systems.

Fortunately, one New York City music hall still has the name of its founder, Andrew Carnegie. It is called Carnegie Hall and was the first home of the Philharmonic Society in the late 19th Century. Somewhere along the historic line, the orchestra became the New York Philharmonic. Philharmonic Hall was the first building in what was to become Lincoln Center.

At an arts institution like Lincoln Center, the viability of a name seems to only seem significant when money is attached to it. It’s nothing new. Verizon and other companies have sponsored music halls and stadiums and have been named for them. It seems far stretched that a 1962 building requires $500,000,000 in renovations. Is music a losing business? Anyway, the officers at Lincoln Center seem its worth paying off the Avery Fisher estate $15,000,000 in exchange for 500 million dollars. Perhaps that might be called good business. The arts may be a money making commodity. In this example, Avery Fisher does gain money even as his memorial building shifts elsewhere. Who were you Avery Fisher?

In life, the representations of names seem to flee from generation to generation. Their origins are often forgotten in world’s of new realities. For all the (over) 40 years music and song, good-bye Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Thank you Avery Fisher whoever you were. One can only hope that the next donor will be another rose that would smell and sound as sweet. For upcoming generations, Avery Fisher would be an anonymous reference, as we all might be someday. Perhaps, we’ll be searchable in Wikipedia.

Attention no texting on bicycles

Nearly everywhere and practically anytime, you’ll see people of all ages staring at Smartphones as if they were pets or love objects. While sitting and texting or reading or listening to music or watching videos, none of these should be mobile activities. These activities, city legislators seem to claim, divert attention from normal mobile responsibilities. Lawmakers are mow targeting texting on bicycles as a means of reducing associated mobile accidents.

Holding a phone and typing on a virtual keypad while moving about is a relatively irresponsible activity. Is it dangerous?

Statistics seems to indicate that, in 2011, over 20% of car accidents were related to cell phone use behind the steering wheel.

According to an Ohio State University study involving cell phones and walking, the number of walking accidents tripled from 2004 to 2010. Considering that smartphones became popular in 2008, texting capabilities may be associated with this rise.

Uses of smartphones and texting or browsing are being featured as news items as media picks up on rising accident statistics. New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, is targeting bicycle riders who talk and text while riding through streets and byways. Part of the New York City Vision Zero program being discussed in the city council, measures are being taken to explore ways and means of reducing pedestrian accidents involving mobility.

The mayor already passed legislation reducing speed limits on streets from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. While traffic fatalities have fallen from 2000 to 2011, there has been increases in minor accidents in the past three years. Some are faulting use of the iPhone 4s and 5, and some of the larger screen Android phones. Only a few of these accidents had fatal results and involved texting on bicycles.

Psychologists, especially neurocognitive psychologists, have been exploring human capabilities at attention span capabilities. Attention span is the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted. The general rule is that people can focus on doing up to 3 tasks at a time. Beyond that, people tend to perform less efficiently. Staring and moving around on mobile screens while walking and carrying devices makes it more likely to develop impaired integrity. Observations of children using mobile devices are showing evidence of dwindling attention spans as virtual replaces physical realities, even though some studies show that certain games improve coordination skills.

Holding and seek/find keys while texting as you are mobile may tax attention spans even for a moment. There are literally dozens of random movements that can occur on a busy street at any given second. Moving from virtual to physical visual consciousness requires certain motor skills and there may be some adaptation stress that mars thought response. There’s a medical condition called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR and this reprocessing difficulty can impair thinking, especially at many unanticipated stress levels. The results may lead to unintentional confusion that may lead to accidents.

New York’s Vision Zero believes that shifting senses by holding phones, touching phones, and listening to phone content (through earphones) compromise 50% or more of our sensory information channels. That is why many cities and States have made holding phones and driving illegal. Many car devices allow hands-free speaking and texting using Bluetooth car dock mounts.

Few walkers and bicycle riders use their Bluetooth phone features. They hold and use their devices while active. There are Bluetooth bicycle mounts and Bluetooth headsets available. General recommendations in using headsets are those that use one ear. Stereo headsets and plugs can drown out important street noises.

For all the beneficial uses that smartphones deliver, the consequences often derive from human inabilities to focus on more than a couple things simultaneously. New Bluetooth wearables and accessories may help reduce accidents. Until such time that people realize the complex limits of the motion we take for granted, talking, using, and texting on bicycles will require enforced legislation that punish scofflaws.

It is unfortunate that legislators have to punish the few to make places more livable and safe for many. The old behaviorist tactic of negative reinforcement through tough laws that seem unfair. There must be curbs on mobile users in motion. Sadly, when it comes to the deplorable behaviors and consequences of texting on bicycles in motion, a slap on the wrist may not suffice. Negative reinforcement strengthens a behavioral response by taking away a negative outcome and reducing accidents in a mobile digital world will need the same penalties that motored vehicles are subjected. Distracted driving can harm and kill others and texting on bicycles must be dishabituated among any operator of a moving vehicle.

Music memory and madness

The world is alive with the sounds of music. Babies react to sounds even before birth and that sense of hearing reaches far and wide within the brain of nearly every individual, regardless of race, ethnicity, intelligence, and politics. Music as sound is a primary language. As such, can music be associated with the integrities of memory and madness?

One of my earliest research projects studied how music may be associated with memory and madness – behavior. Those were the days when Alzheimer’s Disease was limited terminology and insurances didn’t cover cognitive disorders. New research technologies demonstrate that music may help prevent and treat memory and madness in senior populations.

In brain imaging scans, music has been shown to excite pleasure areas of the brain. Due to expenses, these studies have been very small.

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the use of music as therapy shows evidence that it positively affects many behaviors and memory functions. A new, large study at the University of Wisconsin explores music and Alzheimer’s Disease effectiveness. The State of Wisconsin and the University are investing $300,000 for this study. The study is part of a Catalyst Grant program at the University. Are the simple power of sounds and music effective in reducing memory and madness?

Music therapy has been studied as being beneficial for developmental diseases such as Autism as a treatment modality but not as a cure. The music therapy for autism studies, however, have been small but yielded promising results if further investment were granted.

With a rise in senior population, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia bring memory studies to the forefront. Therapeutic interventions and successes involving music therapy with the symptoms of memory loss offer exciting research opportunities. Wisconsin’s population of those age 65 or over is slightly higher than the USA national average. The new University of Wisconsin studies may have deep impact.

Access to different music resources are friendlier as more adults use MP3 players and cellular phones. Government (and private) sponsored organizations such as Older Adults Technology Services help seniors make use of computers and download resources. Many senior centers now offer courses to learn about computer use. Access to free music is virtually limitless through websites online. At no point in history has music been as accessible as it is now. Using music as a therapy tool may deliver some extraordinary benefits.

At a university in Belfast, a rather large and long study found that music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents. Studies also show that music, as a therapeutic intervention can relieve anxiety, depression in older people. Depression and anxiety may somewhat lead to cognitive impairment. There are many new studies citing evidence that music reaps many benefits for all ages.

Anesthesiologists have found that post-surgical patients listening to jazz music in the recovery room are more relaxed when researchers monitored heart rate. Is mellow jazz helpful for hospital use?

Technology can often confound other technologies. New hearing aids use special integrated sound technologies that facilitate conversations. Many older people wearing these hearing aids find that listening to MP3 music on these results in unwanted noise. You may need a simpler, older hearing aid for music listening.

Listening to loud music while driving may help you feel relaxed but studies show that it can lead to distracted driving and accidents.

Using music as therapy can be conducive as an aid in treating memory and madness issues. Much of the noted research has been published in the last two years, most in the past few months It is a growing field seeking more professionals. Of course, there are some people who simply don’t enjoy music listening. That’s what makes therapy very challenging. Music may offer no positive effects or increase anxiety even more.

Music therapy has many benefits for Alzheimer’s disease. It may help by soothing an agitated person, igniting associative memories, engage the mind even in the disease’s later stages, and improve appetite and eating in some cases. It is beneficial for symptoms of cognitive loss but it is not a cure. At best, like many drugs, it may slow progression.

So, if you remember too many tip-of-the-tongue memory losses, it may be time to schedule a cognitive assessment test with a memory healthcare professional. There are many available technologies and there are conflicting opinions about the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Sometimes, for example, it may be neurovascular episodes. Take more than one test at different centers to assure a fair and less partial diagnosis. There’s much money to be made in the business of Alzheimer’s disease.

Author William Congreve (1697) wrote:

“Music has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”

and brings about the question, Can music heal? More studies are focusing on music therapy as a means of treating memory and madness. Music may not be all-encompassing but, with greater availability, may prove beneficial. More large research on music therapy should be investigated.

No No The power of saying no

Does No mean No? It depends on many factors and variables. “No” is almost always instinctive, wiser than Yes, and very powerful. Knowing and realizing the power to say No is a potent tool in any free society.

Dog’s got to bark, a mule’s got to bray.
Soldiers must fight and preachers must pray.
And children, I guess, must get their own way
The minute that you say no.
Why did the kids put beans in their ears?
No one can hear with beans in their ears.
After a while the reason appears.
They did it cause we said no.
from Fantasticks

Saying “No” is a child’s most obvious way of asserting autonomy. Adults also say “No” and, as a word in the English language, “No” is extremely powerful. “No” can be very positive in many ways. Understanding how and when to say “No” is one of the keys to health and growth. Yet, “No” must always be calibrated with “Yes”. Learning to say no can earn you respect from yourself as well those around you. Knowing when and how to say no can help avoid lots of boulders in life’s path. Having the power to say “No” and using it inappropriately also has consequences and punishments. In a word, the power of saying “No” is a life changer for better or worse. Learn to know “No”.

In management, any form of management, the manager makes the decisions and has the power of saying Yes or No to any person in his/her workgroup – no matter how large or small. The manager succeeds by initiating obedience. Protests confound performance as the manager see it. If a worker says “No” to a manager, depending on the organization, enduring consequences and punitive measures may be lodged. In some cases, employment termination may occur. Workgroup unionization removes the one-to-one relationship in deciding consequences because each worker has a large union for support. Yet, that “No” leaves a pock mark that can restrain possible promotions and raises.

People can use filters for saying No. There are euphemisms like “Let me think about it” or “I’ll get back to you.” The number of euphemisms rise as your link elevates in the management change. Novices simply can’t say “no”, especially if on probation. A good manager, however, can take a no answer and follow-through toward getting a better explanation. That “No” may be a resource to a possible suggestion to aid the work situation. Sometimes that “No” reflects on the worker’s effectiveness to communicate. Further processing may be beneficial.

Parents often are surprised and frustrated when a toddler says No. At age 2, brain development helps a toddler develop a greater sense of self. Though part of a gradual process, the child begins to say “No” to virtually anything you might ask. The ability to say no is an inherent part of growth development. It’s a phase that leads to the even more frustrating “why” phase. In the development of a normal child, “No” is normal. One hopes that it neutralizes as adulthood emerges. This can be a very critical period as a parent tries to manage her toddler. Using “No” helps assert independence, even in a very dependent situation. No is a healthy indicator to a point that it isn’t problematic. Sometimes these No’s become the roots of psychological problems later in life. Responsible parents must learn how to manage it.

That the use of No seems to be wired into human development, one might surmise that the power of No was integral to group survival. Historically, the word No may have been inscribed into rules of some of the earliest human groups. Disobedience may have meant being cast to the wilderness. In the famed Biblical 10 Commandments, the No commandments outweigh the Yes.

In all early civilizations, the conquered or the “outsiders” were often turned to slaves. Slaves had to bear the burdens and the tasks. They were often beaten and tortured. If a slave said No, the penalty would likely be death and not an easy death to set as an example to others. The Romans dealt harshly with those that said no. The Jewish revolts were crushed with great historic consequences. One of the first major Slave results, purportedly led by Spartacus, was fought and conquered. About 6000 slaves were crucified as a warning to other slaves who were considering saying no to slavery.

Indeed, where No Violence seems to be a current universal ideal, violence persists in streets of cities and countries throughout the world. The word No is often unheeded, virtually ignored.

The British said No to the USA Declaration of Independence in 1776. As a result, Britain went to war against those colonialists. If not for the help from other British enemies, such as France and Spain, we might still have been part of the British Empire and only watched BBC. In this case, No was definitely advantageous to USA development. The 1791 USA Bill of Rights is one of the world’s first documents that emphasized Yes over No. In its tenure of validity, more rights have been added. It is one of the largest documents of Yes you can over No you can’t. Yet even Yes breeds No as an opposing force.

For all its power, “No” is often ignored. There are signs that say No Parking, No Smoking, No Cars, No speeding, and No Texting. These and more are often viewed lightly and remain a source of revenue for many areas. People are kind of funny when it comes to obeying No. It’s a confusing word that can be an affirmation and a refusal in terms.

Those that have insisted on No, often at major risk, have been the discoverers and inventors that launched progress beyond the status quo. Those have been the artists, writers, philosophers, and the performers. In a sense No is risky business. In retrospect, No has demonstrated many new concepts and ideas. Many circled and circumvented No to convert No to Yes. Sometimes thinkers join in teams and unequivocally stat that No is No and will always be No.

The power of no is sometimes used in behavioral psychology as negative reinforcement to create positive behavior conditioning. Sometimes saying no may get someone to do something he normally wouldn’t.

My son was once afraid to swim.
The water made him wince.
Until I said he mustn’t swim:
So he has been swimming ever since!
Fantasticks

Of course, this doesn’t always work!

I am amazed that “No” this two letter word is such a driving force in relationships, business, science, faith, and many thousands of things. “No,” is an honorable response. If you decide that “No,” is the answer that you prefer to give, then it is authentic and honest for you to say, “No.” If you say, “Yes,” when you want to say, “No,” you will feel resentful throughout whatever you agreed to do. This costs you energy and discomfort and is not necessary if you just say, “No” when you need to. The power of No needs to be heavily weighed and shouldn’t be treated lightly.

Then there are higher wisdoms that transcend the powers of yes and no. Some say the powers of silence are appropriate. Situational speaking, they might be right. Silence is a form of deeper reasoning and thought. Sometimes the sounds of silence speak louder than words.

The problem is that the human species is so diverse and so involved in personal channels that silence often is an afterthought. That is why the simple little words of No and Yes retain the power to make conflicts and resolve them. Their meanings, however, are indeed sophisticated. Know when to say “No”. Be happy that you live in a society that allows “No” as an appropriate node of expression. Freedom and liberty are often associated with No as a power.

There’s no such saying that, “No is no.” Knowing how and when to say “No”, and being able to back it up, might be as conducive as a Yes. It is all dialog and debate in any democracy. Anywhere else, No leads to many consequences. Those places are where silence may be more precious. Yet silence is no partner to progress. No, inevitably, is. Right or wrong, No is a prime power concept in humanity and, knowing when and how to use it, is great privilege and strength for survival.

Robin Williams spaced out genius dies

It’s always sad to hear that a celebrity of our time dies early. Most were first exposed to Robin Williams as Mork, a visitor to Earth from another planet. Williams was a quick wit improvisational actor who was Juilliard trained. Be it stand-up comedy, drama or thriller, Robin Williams fit the part and entertained millions of fans. So why does he die at age 63? Depression may be at the root. Suicide is the cause.

There are strong correlations between genius and madness in artists and actors. It seems the more talented they are, they die too soon. The culprit is depression. The modus operandi is suicide.

Sometimes all that bustling creativity and its presence is masked or a way to mask dishonesty.

A celebrity needs to mask his identity despite his mood or motivation. That can take considerable energy. To regain that energy, many leap at drugs as ways of stimulating a flatline effect. They have the energy to perform.

As Robin Williams approached 60, he may have seemed to lose his sense of timing. In a recent CBS TV series, The Crazy Ones, Robin Williams seemed to be pushing his character to be as funny as he is remembered. Sometimes it worked but often it didn’t. After the May sweeps, CBS cancelled the show. It’s tough and sad to see a genius drop.

A 19th-century actor, Edmund Keane, is famous for the phrase “dying is easy (but) comedy is hard.” Being funny is hard as many comedians will attest. As the sad, forlorn clown, the laughmakers always travel a fine line between humor and tragedy.

Depression is not an end, it is a means to an end. One is actively depressing and even some anti-depressants can’t fix the neurochemicals that are supposed to bring you up. Add the panic of losing it as you age, depressing moves faster and further into the psyches of many performers.

Fortunately, there are many prescription-based medications that help combat symptoms of depression. These need careful control since they act differently on many different neurotransmitters, the chemical balances of depression. Unfortunately, there are many supplements, alcohol, and illegal drugs that help mask depressing symptoms as well. For the intents of saving face or self-preservation, few coping with depression reach points where chronic conditions can be effectively managed. By the time depressed feelings take over, it is often too late.

Many creative people cope with depressing. The problem is that observable symptoms are often disguised from others as well as themselves. Then there’s self-recognition. There are negative stigmas in the perception that depression is an emotional disease. It should be seen as a chronic disease, like diabetes for example.

There are probably many more creative people out of the limelight that have been prone to severe depression. There have been poets, composers, musicians, artists, scientists, thinkers, and writers that have occasionally had depression symptoms.

Depression is normally not seen as a condition with a high morbidity rate. As a celebrity icon of our generation, it is difficult to speculate what caused Robin Williams to take his own life. Acts of suicide claim the lives of about 30,000 Americans each year. About half affect men between ages 25 to 65. About 15% of people who are clinically depressed may commit suicide. There are many more out of the system who deal with their moods differently but still die.

Many religions forbid suicide as an attempt to kill oneself. Yet even some of the devoted religionists found moral turpitude in forging mass suicides. We have seen it happen in many cults. Indeed, depression and suicide are not merely a sign of modern times. It has had enough prevalence in human civilization that codes of law found suicide to be a punishable offense.

It is hard to figure what exactly Robin Williams might have been thinking. He was still making movies and projects will be released posthumously. Sometimes the problem just might be that he is hired because he’s Robin Williams, an acclaimed actor. Yet, secretly, Robin Williams guessed that both character and name were becoming an illusion. At the end, he wanted to ride slowly into the sunset. It’s sad and tragic.

In death do we honor. Robin Williams’ gave us many laughs and many superb performances that (hopefully) will be cherished by other generations and our own. His impressions on us through his talents and creativities deserve our honor. If we are to gain something more from his death, it might be an appreciation of how creativity and depression are associated. Tragedy is easy but comedy is harder. We should attempt to stabilize our moods in appropriate ways, and practice comedy inwardly and outwardly. It may be very hard.

We will mourn Robin Williams and revere the memories he has given us. Like all others who succumb from depressing, it’s difficult to find comedy in death. That may be why tragedy is easy and comedy is hard. For those that enjoyed his talents, this brings a tearful laugh. His death is depressing. Let’s remember his life.

1850 Central Park is born

If one perceives a baby, New York City was a young adult in the late 1700’s. The challenges confronting the city were great. Poor and wealthy people were attracted to New York and the infrastructure needed vast improvements to help the city grow greater. As a growth period, the 1800’s (and lessons learned) shaped much of what we call New York City now. Central Park was one of those formidable challenges.

The 1800’s marked a major boom in New York City’s urban planning. With a rising population, NY drained the Collect Pond and nearby wetlands for housing expansion. NY dug its first water reservoir bringing water from the Croton River into the city. Railroads were constructed. Parks were designed for friendly use by residents. Central Park was built. The first section of Central Park opened to the public in December of 1859 and by 1865 Central Park was receiving over seven million visitors per year.

Don’t take the natural reality of Central Park for granted. It is a construct of reality. When it comes to Central Park, nothing is real. Central Park is an illusion of reality built and revised over more than a century. All the birds, squirrels, and other animals adapted to its being there.

New York had to confront issues that taxed technology and talent to its maximum. One of the key points was working on a water supply to control disease and fires. In perceiving dark past realities, Central Park was an ambitious and luxurious undertaking. With a rising level of New Yorkers, Central Park was a necessity. When talking about New York lifestyle, the Central Park is a shared reality, though seen from different eyes and minds.

Everyone has a different perspective on reality. Many tourists and young residents of New York accept that Central Park land was always here. It wasn’t. Manhattan was full of rocky hills, lakes, streams, and wetlands throughout every area. The neatly organized lakes and the Harlem Meer of Central Park were created from wild lands and by shifting ancient waterways. The Harlem Meer, as it appears, wasn’t there at all. The Harlem Meer wasn’t even part of the original Central Park plan. It was McGowan’s Pass and had a wide stream fed by the rivers. It was a battleground in the Revolutionary and 1812 wars. The pass was named for Andrew McGowan, owner of a popular tavern that sat alongside those lands until 1917.

The land that makes up Central Park wasn’t a park at all. It was an impoverished shanty area of pig farmers. There was a water reservoir different from the existing Jacqueline Kennedy reservoir. There was even an early African-American village nearby and in the park. There was even a convent within the lands that were to be the park. All were eventually displaced.

The origins of Central Park were complex. Most parks at the time were locked, gated, private parks – similar to Gramercy Park near 23rd Street. Beginning in 1849, a small group of civic-minded New York visionaries began to stir interests for the creation of a grand, artfully sculptured uptown park, modeled after the opulent public parks of Europe for the public use of an expanding Manhattan population.

As most New Yorkers, at the time, lived around 14th Street and below, Battery Park was originally considered for expansion. By the mid-1800’s, uptown areas were being occupied by country homes, asylums, and dance halls. Property owners favored development of an uptown park because they assumed it would encourage people to move uptown and so their property values would increase.

In the early 19th century, most of New York commerce took place below 14th Street and public spaces were being taken away for building neighborhoods. The draining of wetlands led to the creation of the 5-Points, a neighborhood that would develop a very seedy reputation. People would travel upwards in search of more country. The few existing open spaces were wild knolls and cemeteries. Several parcels of land were being considered. One was the Jones’s Wood farm on the upper east side. The farm was 132 acres. The city planners were realizing that the population was expanding and moving upwards. New York legislature settled upon a 700-acre area from 59th to 106th Streets for the creation of the park at a total price of 5 million dollars. It would be Frederic Olmstead and Calvert Vaux task to reshape and design the land as an urban oasis, based on large European parks they had seen, known as the Greensward Plan. The complete park was completed in 1857. The expanded area to 110 was finished in 1873. Welcome to Central Park.

The areas that became Central Park were populated by what many people called scum, squatters, and poor people. In 1853, the city legislature passed a bill authorizing that all the land between 59th and 106th Streets, from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue, be taken by right of eminent domain so that a park could be built. Residents and property owners were ordered to vacate the park area by August 1, 1856.

It was a fairly wild concept. Among all the natural wilderness in Manhattan, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Olmstead were given the task of designing a park for the expanding New York City. Central Park was the first explicitly made park in the United States.

Central Park had to be built. As construction commenced, over 13,500 cubic yards of topsoil was removed to New Jersey. Four million trees, plants and shrubs were planted, and stones protruding out of the ground were moved, stacked and altered depending on Olmsted’s vision on how they should shape and anchor the park. Thousands of workers carried out this work to create a completely artificial landscape, artificial being the key word. Many of those stones were moved to the streets and avenues surrounding the park, particularly parts of 5th Avenue.

There were many debates on costs and more debates on available lands and acquisitions. The designers really had formidable tasks to give the park a theme and a welcoming plan.

The original land, between Fifth and Eighth avenues and 59th and 106th streets consisted of hilly terrain with irregular swamps, creeks, and bluffs were undesirable. The territory was wild and its residents were very poor. The work of art that is known as Central Park required displacing roughly 1,600 poor residents, including Irish pig farmers and German gardeners, who lived in shanties on the site. At Eighth Avenue and 82nd Street, Seneca Village had been one of the first stable African-American settlements, with three churches and a school. The extension of the boundaries to 110th Street in 1863 brought the park to its current 843 acres. The extension added the old, strategic Fort Clinton that was active in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

It really was not Central Park that obliterated Seneca Village. It was replaced by two large reservoir pools as part of the Croton Reservoir project in 1842, at the approximate area now used by the Great Lawn. By the time Central Park was bought and designed, most of the village was already misplaced. In a growing city, bringing water to New York was essential. 1842 was the first reservoir.

Fort Clinton was deserted by 1818 and became a wasted federal area. The land, from 106 to 110 Streets were sold to the Central Park project. Olmstead completed financial negotiations for additional parkland between 106th and 110th Streets that included a large swamp amidst wetlands. These 65 acres constitute today’s Harlem Meer landscape, which reflect Olmsted and Vaux’s plan to retain the northern end’s rugged topography.

A 1940s reconstruction by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses changed the existing soft grassy shoreline to a concrete and fenced edge. As part of Moses’ plan, the commissioner had a long, one-story boathouse constructed in 1947. It was less popular than the area by 72nd street and fell into disrepair by the 1980’s.

In 1993, the Meer’s shoreline was returned to Olmsted’s original vision, with a miniature sandy beach added. The boathouse was never restored.

A key component of Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted’s award-winning 1858 vision was keeping pedestrians, horses and (especially) vehicles out of each others’ way. A series of bridges and archways were constructed that allowed passage over and under to allow safe passage. The original plan was for 36 bridges, each unique, some made of rock, cast-iron, or wood. Furthermore, the immense park, the designers felt, would disrupt needs for commercial traffic between the both sides of the park. In keeping with their original intent, they did not want crosstown traffic interrupting the park experience. Ingeniously, they came up with transverse roads across 65th, 79th, 86th and 97th streets, running beneath the park surface.

The Bethesda Terrace and Fountain on 72nd Street was the only original sculpture in the plan. It is perhaps the most frequented and photographed area of Central Park. Central Park’s other sculptures were added later.

Despite the original plan of not putting gates around Central Park, a lesser known but extremely grand part of the park is the Conservatory Garden. The Garden’s main entrance is through the Vanderbilt Gate, on Fifth Avenue between 104th and 105th Streets. This magnificent iron gate, made in Paris in 1894, originally stood before the Vanderbilt mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street. It has a 12-foot high jet fountain on the western end of the lawn, backed by tiered hedges and stairs that lead up to a wisteria pergola. An elevated walkway has medallions inscribed with the names of the original 13 states. This is a particularly tranquil part of the park, designated a quiet zone, that is closed at night. Originally designed as a bird sanctuary, the Conservatory Garden was redesigned around the early 1900’s as a garden.

Belvedere Castle was built in 1869 and appears much like a fairy tale building for royalty. The original structure had no windows. That changed in 1919 when it became a Weather Observatory. When they talk about Central Park temperatures, the information is sourc3ed from here. Belvedere Castle was originally built as a focal point that everyone can see in the park. Note that the original Croton reservoir (now the Great Lawn) used rock that resembled the castle but the two structures were never connected. When the reservoir was dismantled in the early 1900’s, water was redistributed to create Turtle Pond, near the Great Lawn.

Of course Central Park, like many works of art, had returned to a wasteland. After the Depression of 1929, poor people lived in the area surrounding what was once the Croton Reservoir. In the 1930’s, especially with the forthcoming New York World’s Fair in 1939, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia appointed Robert Moses to clean up Central Park. In a single year, Moses managed to clean up Central Park and other parks in New York City. Lawns and flowers were replanted, dead trees and bushes were replaced, walls were sandblasted, and bridges repaired. Part of that repair included the development of the Great Lawn.

Indeed, nature will return and regress Central Park to what it might have been. The Central Park Conservancy raises money to preserve and maintain Central Park. Many volunteer regularly to help keep the park looking pristine and polished.

Central Park seems like a natural idyllic setting. Among the creators, the development of Central Park meant displacing thousands of people that once called the area their home. The designers reshaped nature to create a grand public park that anyone could enjoy. When constructing realities, there is a plasticity to Central Park that few art forms can replicate. Whether it was made or whether it is real, many will agree that Central Park is one of the grandest natural escapes from New York City life within New York City and it is free to all. It’s all a dream made true.

Israel Gaza dreams of unreachable stress

Yesterday, upon a stair
I saw a man
Who was not there.
He was not there
Again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away.

Sometimes misunderstandings lead to stress and further lead to violence. Studies of Psycholinguistics often demonstrates how complex language might be in relationships. Writer Deborah Tannen shows how fights erupt through language. Sometimes words and phrases can result in stress. While words may be mightier than swords, rockets may speak action. Their language may be unclear. Israel and Gaza are under stress and few understand the words, meanings, and motivations.

When you witness, according to the media, the wage of war between Israel and Gaza, stress comes to mind of all the involved players. Let’s discuss some background history behind the Israel/Gaza conflict.

Since 2007 when, as a peace effort, Gaza was partitioned for independence. Hamas, the elected ruling party, didn’t hunger to create a Palestinian country. Its hunger would only be satisfied by annoying Israel with rockets. Ironically, Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel. Satisfying stress by firing rockets at a non-entity is a waste of energy and only produces more stress. Stress is involved in forming alliances and in waging war. Unfortunately, the invisibility of Israel becomes very visible when it answers Hamas’ call.

We could be grateful to the Greek Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Old Testament when Greece ruled the middle-East (before it was the middle-East). Greece came up with the name Palestine. A derivitave of the name “Palestine” first appears in Greek literature in the 5th Century BCE when the historian Herodotus called the area “Palaistinē”. After a Jewish revolt against Rome, some 700 years later, the land of Judea was renamed Palaestina in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel. When Turkey dominated the area, for 400 years, from 1517 to 1917, the term Palestine was used as a general term to describe the land south of Syria; it was not an official designation. In fact, many Ottomans and Arabs who lived in Palestine during this time period referred to the area as “Southern Syria” and not as “Palestine.”

Translating ancient Hebrew, the Greeks often made some errors. The term Palestine may have been the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century B.C., settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what is now Israel and the Gaza Strip. The Bible refers to the Philistines as enemies of the Israelites.

After Saladin conquered the Crusades, he allowed Jews to re-enter the areas where Rome had forbidden. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea. Very few Arabs lived in those areas until the past 70 years or so. That area of western Israel has been populated by Jews for at least 1,000 years.

Gaza does have a claim to fame under Saladin who conquered the Crusades in the 12th century. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 designated a mandate for a Jewish area in what Britain referred as Palestine. As, under the Turks, that meant the land South of Syria and including part of what is now Jordan. Since 1948, when the Arabs fought United Nations mandated Israel and lost, Palestine was now being recognized by Arabs. For over 400 years, it was the land south of Syria and few Arabs were attracted to it. If we follow the Greek mistake, are the Palestinians actually Israel’s legendary enemy reborn? Are they the Philistines?

Stress is a state of living. If there is no stress, there is death. Where stress becomes chronic, it becomes conflict. Conflicts breed alliances or wars. For the Gazans and Israelis living near Gaza, the stress is basic.

Scientist, Hans Selye, made Stress as a concept of being vey popular. Dr. Selye’s initial discovery of the stress syndrome was based on the demonstration that the body nonspecifically responded in virtually the same way to various innocuous stimuli or stressors. Dr. Selye advanced the theory that stress plays a role in every disease, and that failure to cope with or adapt to stressors can produce “diseases of adaptation”, including ulcers, high blood pressure and heart attacks. He called his theory the “General Adaptation Syndrome.” This adaptation uses energy and the stress of that energy to adapt leads to exhaustion. After exhaustion, the cycle repeats itself.

In basic, stress can be seen as a hunger. If a primitive sought food but the food was beyond reach, he would seek an ally to help get the food. That’s an alliance that alleviates the stress from hunger. If someone decided to hoard all the food in exchange for forced work, that would be a conflict. Conflict resolution and conflict management strategies are devices that people use to suppress stress and resolve conflicts within relationships. When conflicts can’t be resolved, unsatisfied hunger becomes war. Fight for right! Or is it fight or flight?

The problem is that most individuals don’t do well in fight or flight situations. Living under threats of bombing attacks may be adaptable but are also very stressful.

When you are a Gazan or an Israeli family, there are daily hungers waiting to be satisfied. Buy food and clothing for family. Send kids to school, do necessary work, and live from one day to another. When a rocket from Gaza hits your home, it’s a stress inducing experience. Likewise when Israel bombs Gaza, people suffer stress. Severe stress.

Is one side correct in the Gaza-Israel conflict? If Hamas would cease shooting hundreds or thousands of rockets into Israel as its main strategy and policy to rule and create Gaza, a response is inevitable. Israel is responding with more rockets, and stronger rockets.

Much of this come from errors by host keepers of peace, the United States and Russia. The influencers are to arm each country to keep the peace. It’s good for economics through weapon sales and the belief that arms are defensive and not offensive.

So all Arab nations have rockets and some provide Gaza with them. What does Israel do?

The middle-east is a powder keg of stress that is exploding. There’s Egypt, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Perhaps the quietest of the bunch is Iran. It may have yet another weapon gestating that might even be deadlier.

While stress is part of life, constant and unpredictable stress may prove fatal. The consequences of war, among soldiers and among civilians, result in enduring stress and many personal conflicts. Sometimes you need to quench stress by its roots.

Peace is a nice idea and is like Selye’s concept of exhaustion. Yet, it’s a never-ending cycle. Fight or flight is about survival of the fittest. Peace through survival comes at heavy prices. Fighting and bearing the costs are, in some cases, the only things that net value.

Israel and Gaza may be dreaming of unreachable stress. That stress is here and its coming. Unlike other wars, we can only hope that adaptation loses to eventual resolve. Peace is the prize.

In the conflicts and stress we confront each day and the tensions of reshaping lifestyles, the fight is always the most enduring. I really wish it’d go away but it’s no illusion. The solution may be a delusion. The Philistines may have risen and the ancient wars return anew. Do the world, the people, the soldiers understand the language?

Beta-Glucans immune system booster in Cheerios

There’s a cute TV commercial where a little girl talks about beta-glucans and their content in each serving of Cheerios, a popular oat-based cereal. Beta-glucans are often associated with heart health, treating cancer, and as an immunity booster. Beta-glucans are a food product purported to possibly reduce bad LDL cholesterol.

It is thought that beta-glucans reduce cholesterol levels by increasing excretion of cholesterol from the digestive tract. This affects two forms of cholesterol: cholesterol from food, and, more importantly, cholesterol from the blood “recycled” by the liver through the intestines. In addition, beta-glucans in unprocessed foods may help limit the rise in blood sugar that occurs after a meal. Immune-related effects seen in studies of beta-glucans indicate observed alterations in the activity of certain white blood cells and changes in the levels or actions of substances, called cytokines, that modulate immune function.

A beta-glucan refers to a class of soluble fibers found in many plant sources. In a sense, you are what you eat. Beta-glucans are found in fiber of certain foods you (hopefully) eat. Beta-glucans are found in whole grains, particularly oats, wheat, and barley. Baker’s yeast, and certain mushrooms are also dietary sources. The FDA has allowed a Heart Healthy label claim for food products containing substantial amounts of beta-glucans. There are scientific claims that consumption of 3 grams per day of beta-glucans may result in a 5-10% reduction of LDL cholesterol in serum tests. According to Cheerios’ ad, a serving of Cheerios contains 3 grams of beta-glucans in its basic oat-based variety.

Europeans have known about how beta-glucans may play a role at reducing LDL cholesterol. They incorporate unprocessed oats and oat bran into cereals like Muesli and Granola. Oat bread is popular in some areas. For those that have mild risk levels of cholesterol, beta-glucans may play a significant normalizing role from dietary sources. Does that mean that eating more oats will reduce LDL levels in moderately high cholesterol levels?

Multiple servings of ready-to-eat oat cereals may not provide enhanced health effects. Other ingredients (added sugars, for example) and processing may actually present negative cofactors. Studies cite evidence that oatmeal provides greater satiety of appetite than ready-to-eat cereals like Cheerios. Also, many ready-to-eat cereals add unnecessary sugars and flavors to make them marketable to general market consumption. These can collide against any possible benefits beta-glucans provide. Monitoring glycemic-index at breakfast meals aids energy throughout the day and diet is a part of managing cholesterol. Food technologists are working to help enhance the benefits of beta-glucans in a wider range of foods.

For improving total and LDL cholesterol, studies have found benefit with beta-glucans at doses ranging from 3 to 15 grams daily. There appears to be no effect on HDL.

Yet, for all this possible benefit as a healthy dietary resource for heart healthier approaches to managing cholesterol and sugar levels, diets higher in beta-glucans may also pose danger and risks. Beta-glucan, as a substance widely present in foods, if taken in high doses through dietary supplements may do more harm than benefit. If beta-glucans can stimulate the immune system, harmful effects are at least theoretically possible in people that have overactive immune systems. These include multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and hundreds of other conditions. To what extent may be unclear. Beta-glucans may be contributing variables.

In addition, beta-glucans are somewhat related with beta-amyloids. Beta-amyloids, some suspect, may be precursors of cognitive disorders, such as the infamous Alzheimer Disease. From food, beta-glucans prove safe. Abused supplementation has not been studied but theoretically might be a bridge to neurocognitive disorders. Then again, the relationship between glucans and amyloids haven’t really been studied to draw any conclusions. It is very speculative.

In the USA, and other parts of the world, sowing oats is part of an important farming culture. It is connected to longevity and a well life. Beta-glucans, phytonutrients in the grain, may be why people who have balanced diets with oats as part of a daily routine may be healthier. There are many articles about longevity that stress lifestyle diets.

World peace may never be achievable. Vascular wellness may be possible without resorting to medicinal drugs. Eating foods with beta-glucans may help you reach a healthy age of 100, unless something else confounds the picture. Having beta-glucans in your diet might be good for you! Isn’t it time to eat your oats today?

Do foods seem to linger? You may have GERD

You just ate a big meal with lots of different foods and drinks. You seem tired, sit on your comfy chair and watch TV. Suddenly, you feel a progressive pain creeping up from your stomach area to your upper chest. Is it a heart attack or is it heartburn? Unless you have cardiac issues, those symptoms are caused by the foods you ate. You may be in a class that 20% of Americans share. You may have GERD.

Once upon a time, about 60 years ago, it was believed that highly stressed people were more likely to develop an ulcer, an acidic deterioration of a stomach lining. As time went on, and gastrointestinal doctors found new methods of detecting those simple post food binge eating, GERD became the cause of heartburn. Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD) disease occurs when the amount of gastric juice that refluxes into the esophagus exceeds the normal limit. GERD is a normal physiologic phenomenon experienced intermittently by most people, particularly after a meal. If you are GERD sensitive, the results can be painful and frightening. GERD has replaced ulcer as the most common digestive disorder.

GERD is a dysfunction of the muscle that keeps the stomach closed (sphincter). When that happens, a passage is opened that can allow stomach acid to leak into the esophagus (acid reflux), causing irritation. In most cases, the sphincter malfunction is rare so the irritation is minimal. When it is less rare, and you eat irritable foods, GERD may evolve into requiring more medically invasive procedures. Visiting a gastroenterologist doctor is vital if heartburn is a frequent disturbance.

GERD is an irritation. It is sometimes misdiagnosed. Esophagitis may be similar to GERD but is inflammation that damages tissues of the esophagus, the muscular tube that delivers food from your mouth to your stomach. Unlike GERD, it may also be caused by bacterial and fungal infections. If left untreated, esophagitis may change the structure and function of the esophagus. The armory of dugs and procedures to treat esophagitis is different than GERD. It is vital to discuss this distinction with your health care professional. There are GERD overlaps but there are subtle distinctions.

Certain foods are associated with bringing about GERD symptoms. Common triggers such as fatty or fried foods, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, and caffeine may make heartburn worse. Citrus fruits and peppermint may trigger many symptoms. The foods that irritate more or less are often individual specific. GERD is classed as a common disease, almost as prevalent as a common cold. GERD symptoms include:

•Hoarseness, sore throat
•Chest pain that isn’t heart-related (heartburn)
•Dental (teeth) enamel erosion
•Dysphagia – Difficulty swallowing
•Regurgitation – Vomiting

Per US government statistics, in 2004, 1 out of 5 Americans have weekly symptoms of GERD. It is so common that pharmacy shelves are filled with different over-the-counter medications to help control GERD symptoms. Large numbers of Americans use over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to treat minor gastrointestinal problems such as infrequent heartburn, according to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG). In fact, OTC medicines are often among the initial treatments for heartburn, acid reflux, and other symptoms of GERD. In many cases that are mild or age-related, OTC is a recommended regimen by many doctors. Diet and lifestyle changes may be beneficial but, in practical terms, taking a pill is simpler.

You already may be using Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Pepto-Bismol, Rolaids, and Tums. These are the most common OTC GERD symptom reducers. OTC GERD symptom relievers are different in the way they treat the problems. One may be more suitable for you than another. Ask your physician about preferences in treating your type of GERD problem. Every pill is a risk-benefit balancing act and you should be aware of them before using. GERD OTC are to be used by adults and side-effects and contraindications must be read carefully. There are 3 classes of GERD OTC:

Antacids, such as Mylanta and Tums – Antacids neutralize stomach acid and relieve heartburn. If you want to take medicine only when your symptoms bother you, antacids are a good choice.

H2 blockers, such as Cimetidine (Tagamet) and Famotidine (Pepcid) – H2 blockers reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. Most are available in both nonprescription and prescription strength. If nonprescription H2 blockers don’t relieve your symptoms, talk to your doctor about trying prescription-strength medicine.

Proton pump inhibitors, such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec) – Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. This is the most recent FDA approved class and is considered the strongest OTC available.

There are lots of OTC meds for GERD. They aren’t the only ways to manage GERD but are the simplest. GERD is an irritation and there are lifestyle changes that may help reduce and possibly heal symptoms:

Remove irritant foods and replace with soothing foods. This isn’t easy. Most foods Americans favor are GERD irritants. It can be extremely difficult.

It is not advisable to go to sleep directly after eating a meal. If you do, sleep with your upper body elevated. It helps prevent gravity from moving food into the esophagus while asleep.

Red wine seems to exacerbate GERD-related heartburn. Carbonated drinks and caffeine can also prompt reflux. Water is seen as the best beverage. Non-acidic drinks may be used to avoid flavor withdrawal symptoms.

Manage your weight – While not all overweight people have GERD, those who eat a lot of foods that may cause heartburn are likely to be overweight. Fat adds pressure to your stomach. Setting goals to trim down helps manage GERD. Not always easy.

Do not eat in tight clothing – Wearing looser clothes can also help relieve some of the pressure on your stomach and, in turn, gastric pressure within your stomach. Fashion may rule but, if you have GERD, you have to suffer for your style.

Fried foods are staples of the American diet. like Fried Chicken, Fried Fish, French fries or onion rings. GERD sufferers have to leave them alone. In many areas of the USA, this may be downright masochistic. How many can you avoid?

Studies are generally inconclusive about the benefits of alternative medicine at treating GERD symptoms. No alternative medicine therapies have been proved to treat GERD or to reverse damage to the esophagus. Tread delicately here. If you choose this route, find a very qualified holistic practitioner to help you.

There are some old-time remedies that were used for upset stomach. The belief was that dark toasted bread had carbon or charcoal. Charcoal was used to treat poisonings and to reduce intestinal gas (flatulence). It is still claimed to do so as a dietary supplement. Ginger is an herb that is found in the produce departments of many supermarkets. Ginger is also available as crystalized candy, and as supplements. Ginger is commonly used as a home remedy to treat various types of stomach problems, including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, and nausea. Using ginger in a diet may help some digestive symptoms but may not necessarily be effective as routine treatment for chronic GERD.

According to some studies and surveys, stress may very well be another trigger for heartburn. Stress causes anxiety and some believe that anxiety causes heartburn. A response to chronic “Fight or Flight” stress is an increase in stomach acids and gases. Added pressure may irritate GERD sufferers as the sphincter may shift and release gases into the esophagus. The relationship is more indirect. Exercise has been shown to help reduce anxiety levels.

GERD and heartburn are closely related. It is usually the primary complaint. Hoarseness and repetitive throat clearing is also common. Some of the symptoms experienced by GERD suffers may actually come from other sources. You might have GERD or you might have something else. Try to find a doctor that is willing to speak with you about concerns and possibilities. Unfortunately, insurance systems may make those types of doctors more scarce.

Abdominal pain comes from organs within the abdomen or organs adjacent to the abdomen. In GERD the pain seems to be at a higher location. It’s in the esophagus that also passes adjacent to the heart cavity. That is why it is called heartburn.

When the foods you eat seem to linger and produce unwanted physical effects, you might have GERD. An exam at your gastroenterologist will let you know. If you have GERD, you are joining a large group that comprises 20% of the USA population. You are not alone. There’s a lot of information available on websites and social media for learning and sharing.