Side effects

I am a grocery store label reader.  When it comes to what I ingest, I am very fussy.  I try not to take any meds and only when desperate, I take an antihistamine or ibuprofen.  Apparently however, I am not jaded enough.  Recently a student asked me why a stroke patient was being given Benadryl.  I could not think of any protocol except that sometimes it is given to calm agitation.  I promised to look for an answer.  After checking my normal sources and finding nothing I widened my search.  Still finding nothing I searched Benadryl and stroke.  I found an article from Harvard Medical School published in the Harvard Health Publications, written by Beverly Merz on January 28, 2015.  In this article she states, “When the researchers examined the use of anticholinergic drugs, they found that people who used these drugs were more likely to have developed dementia.”  I never thought that an over the counter hay fever medicine could have such a devastating effect on my long term health.  I googled Benadryl and dementia and found a mountain of evidence that this is a known fact.

Anticholinergic drugs block the action of acetylcholine, which transmits messages in the nervous system across the nerve synapse.  In the brain acetylcholine is involved in learning, memory and REM sleep.  It also stimulates muscle contraction.  Anticholinergic drugs include antihistamines, over active bladder medications and tricyclic antidepressants.  Indiana School of Medicine researchers found that anticholinergic drugs lowered glucose metabolism and reduced brain size.  The brain is the greatest consumer of glucose in the body.

The brain releases histamines as an inflammatory response.  Histamine is a neurotransmitter.  The histamine system in the brain controls the general states of metabolism, consciousness and memory.  A report by Wei-Wei Hu and Zhong Chen from the Ministry of Health in China published February 10, 2012, demonstrates that the release of histamines alleviates neuronal damage and infarcted volume promoting the recovery of neurological function after ischemia.  “Considerable evidence shows that histamine has a protective effect on neurological injury after cerebral ischemia.”  Based on this report that demonstrates the protection of histamines released in the brain against cerebral ischemia, or stroke, consider what would happen if today at 3pm someone took an antihistamine for hay fever.  Then at 9pm they took another and when they got up in the morning they took it again.  At 11 am they have a stroke.  They will have more damage from the stroke because the release of histamines has been suppressed by the antihistamines.

I began to question ibuprofen.  That has to be harmless, right?  No!  Long term use of ibuprofen increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.  Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may cause ulcers, bleeding or holes in the stomach or intestine.  Long term use of acetaminophen, isoniazid, propylthiourcil (for thyroid) or amoxicillin can cause severe liver damage or liver failure.

It is time that we demand safe medications.  If it is over the counter we should be able to feel safe taking them.  I should not have to risk dementia or forfeit REM sleep because I have hay fever.  If I get hurt and don’t want to take opium drugs for pain I should not have to risk a heart attack or liver failure.  Enough!  Stop killing us with side effects!


Happy people have happy hearts.  Life however is difficult.  It is possible to choose to be happy even when life is at it’s worst.  Once the decision is made to be happy despite the circumstance,  the next step is to make a plan.  Keeping the plan simple is the key.  Let’s say you love coffee.  Maybe you also love chocolate.  Plan to add a spoonful of cocoa to your coffee and make it a mochaccino.  The cocoa does not even add calories unless you also add sugar and cream.  The plan is to have a simple pleasure to look forward to that is achievable.  Now that there is something to look forward to, let’s add purpose.  Maybe you love plants.  Volunteer or join a garden club. Become a 4H leader.  Do you love animals?  The animal shelters always need help.  Have you always wanted to learn a new language?  Now is the time.  We all need to be part of something.  Human nature needs to contribute and needs to have something to look forward to for a contented life.  It is wonderful to have a job that you love.  It is better to have that job and to offer ourselves to something that refreshes us.


Our self talk influences the way we respond to everyday situations.  Our thoughts govern how we perceive  what is happening around us.  Believe it or not we can improve our health simply by changing our self talk.  Are your thoughts accusing you by reminding you of past mistakes?  An old Plant City woman I know often shakes her head and yells, “Get off my back devil!  I ain’t gonna carry you today!”  The first step to changing self talk is refusing to allow negative thoughts to dominate your mind.  If you are about to enter a situation that intimidates you and your mind is negative, you may have already defeated yourself.  Taking control of thought patterns is more than a self pep talk.  It is making choices in advance about how to think, react and speak.  Chose to reject the bad and see it through a new perspective.  For example, did you get cut off in traffic?  The fact that you were cut off actually has nothing to do with you.  It is a revelation about the other driver.  There is no need or requirement for you to respond.  Instead of raising your blood pressure and screaming, accept that person is rude and a lousy driver.  Keep driving, let it go and move on!  Did a project you were working on go south because a co-worker fouled up their part?  Understand this is something that was not under your control.  Choose not to allow anger to control you.  The best choice is to salvage what is left.  Lashing out in anger to punish the co-worker, raises your blood pressure, releases cortisol and the words you use could permanently damage your professional relationship beyond repair.  Choose to not be angry, better yet, make the choice to repair what you can even if that means making the apologies for what you did not do, just to keep the good standing in your professional relationships.  That may require you to suppress the desire to prove that you are in the right and not at fault.  Sometimes the greater good is in the future and not in the moment. Did a relative or frEnemy, just pull the rug out from beneath you?  Reject the insult and refuse to be pulled into the drama, by not reacting to it.  Their actions reveal who they are and have nothing to do with you.  Choose to not react.  However make the choice to release yourself from the situation and let it go.  Forgive them.  Forgive them a hundred times a day if needed. Just make sure that you forgive them so that a part of you does not remain in that moment.  Rise above it.  It is ok to remove yourself from toxic relationships and put up boundaries where you need them.  If you keep your thoughts and mind positive you will react in a positive way to negative situations.  At first you may have to hit the pause button before you react.  That is a good thing.  When you choose to choose how you will respond, you will be healthier in mind, body and relationships.


Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that is released by stress.  Stress can be a vague term. High stress levels can be caused by the work we do.  Stress can come from a change in our life that has caused us to worry or be unhappy.  There are certain personality types that have a predisposition to be more stressed.  Not surprising the Type A personality which is ambitious, competitive, impatient and has a strong desire to control, is a high stress personality.  The Type D personality is depressed, disappointed, worried and anxious.  By their nature the Type A and D personalities have a higher stress response to their environment and may release more cortisol and have high blood pressure.  Continuos high stress releases a high amount of cortisol into the blood stream which alters the immune system causing frequent sickness, suppresses digestion, increases glucose in the blood stream, causes more anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep problems, impairs memory, decreases ability to concentrate and causes heart disease.  The high amount of stress releases the cortisol.  If the stress level remains high the cortisol continues to be released. The cortisol causes anxiety and a lack of sleep which impairs the ability to concentrate and that causes more problems at work.  More problems at work causes higher causes higher blood pressure.  High blood pressure effects the way the blood clots, it can cause a stroke, coronary artery disease and damage the kidneys. Cortisol was meant to be a friend.  It was a helper when the fight or flight response was triggered.  It was meant to be released quickly for a short amount of time.  Although our personality may incline us to react with high intensity, we can control our reactions.  New habitual responses can be learned and chosen.  For instance if your normal response when the bills come is to fret and worry until pay day, you can in advance put some money aside in a special account.  When the bills come, you will have already covered them or atleast some of it.  Either way your anxiety level will be lower because you planned in advance.  No doubt happy people release less cortisol.  A John Hopkins, July 9, 2013, research paper, “Don’t Worry, Be Healthy,” states “People with cheerful temperaments are significantly less likely to suffer coronary events such as heart attack or sudden cardiac death.”  For some it may come natural to be happier.  It is however a choice and may take some planning.  It may mean having to choose to stop worrying about a friend’s problem that is not under your control.  Perhaps you have to put up boundaries.  It is hard to stop allowing people free access to you, but in the end you and your relationships will be much happier and healthier.

The light and the weight

Words.  The Missing Persons’ song, “Words,” asks “what are words for when no one is listening….”  It seems some pay no attention to what they are saying and most often only listen to what is being said to them.  It is almost expected that directions need to repeated for them to be heard.  It is too bad that words are invisible.  It would make my point clearer if words were colored light.  Imagine positive words being spoken glowed pastel or neon colors into your environment.  Now imagine every angry or negative word emitted dark heavy colors.  Try remembering your last conversation.  What colors would have the spoken words emitted?  Is your room now dark or bright?  How about the TV?  If the words coming out of your TV filled your room with color, would it be dark or light?  Spoken words can’t be taken back.  Once they are out, they have their effect.  Their effect can last for years.  Words can begin a friendship that lasts a lifetime or can end one in seconds.  Spoken words have great power and yet they are hardly weighed or considered.  Do you know that constant complainer that drains the energy out of a room when they enter it?  Even though words don’t have color you can feel words.  If words can create stress and tension in a room, what effect do they have on your health?  In my next article I will explore the health effects of stress and our internal dialogue.


One of the cruelest addictions is when it occurs from a prescribed pain medication.  They did not  deliberately put themselves in the position to become an addict.  At first the medication was taken as prescribed.  When the prescription was not monitored, they were left on the medication too long, a dependence began and the use became compulsive eventually becoming a priority in their life.  The addiction to pain medication occurs in every socio-economic background, it has nothing to do with the person’s character.  Opium based medications are highly addictive.  They are often prescribed for chronic severe pain to combat pain from cancer or emergency pain care after an accidental break.

Some of the opium based drugs:  codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, hydromporphone, methadone, oxycodone, oxmorphone, sufentanil, tramadol.

Symptoms of addiction can include: poor coordination, drowsiness, constipation, poor decision making, abandoning responsibilities, abnormal sleeping patterns, mood swings lying.

How does addiction happen?  Suppose someone has an accident.  Insurance from workman’s comp dictates that they see a doctor that is on their plan and not their normal doctor.  The doctor prescribes oxycodone for the pain and gives a month’s prescription.  They are told to follow up with a specialist.  The specialist treats the injury, gives  a prescription for antibiotics along with a prescription for Percocet which is an oxycodone/acetaminophen drug.  They take their medications as prescribed and after a month go to their doctor who has been treating them for an arthritic knee.  They complain to the doctor that the accident exacerbated the arthritic knee and the doctor prescribes Vicodin an acetaminophen/hydrocodone drug. The doctors did not communicate and the patient became addicted.  Complicating this scenario, often someone who has an accident and is out of work has access to Title 19 (Medicaid) pain clinics.  Sometimes to take advantage of this they will lie about or hide their prescriptions.

Opioid medication overdose causing death has become a national crisis.  The new recommendations from the American Heart Associations state that all healthcare providers learn how to administer Naloxone.  Naloxone comes in pre-filled vials and is administered either by an injector similar to the epi pen, through the nose or intravenously.  Naloxone is not a narcotic.  It prevents the brain from receiving the message that there is opium in the system.  Once it is used the overdose victim will go into withdrawal.  It is critical that they get care immediately.

Recognizing a victim of overdose:

1. You know that they are a user.

2. Their lips and nail beds are blue.

3. They are struggling to breathe, gasping for breath.

4. They are unconscious.

5. Their eyes are open but they are not there.


Opium is a muscle relaxant.  An overdose can relax the respiratory system causing respiratory failure.  It is vital for the survival of the overdose victim tat they get help right away.  Once an overdose victim is discovered administering Naloxone and calling 911 can prevent a horrible tragedy.


The heart has a language of its own that can be read on an EKG scan.  It always tells the truth although sometimes it keeps secrets.  The scan can tell you many things about the heart, however certain arrhythmias may only show up if the occur when the scan is being done.  Once you learn the language of the heart it remains the same.  The heart  always tries to keep going on and that shows up on the scan as the electrical system starts firing off in different areas if the sinoartial mode does not fire off first.

The following is a very simple and brief explanation of the forms of cardiac events.

A cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function caused by the hearts electrical system malfunctioning.  The term “sudden” typically precedes the term cardiac arrest as it usually is sudden and is commonly caused by ventricular fibrillation.  A healthy heart’s electrical system fires off in the sinoartial mode which is the pacemaker.  When there is a problem in the heart it can start firing off in different locations.  If the heart starts to fire off in the lower ventricle rapidly and without allowing the heart to refill this is the ventricle fibrillation that causes cardiac arrest.

A stroke or cerebrovascular accident is a lack of blood flow to the brain.  An ischemic stroke is from a blockage preventing blood flow.  A hemorrhagic stroke  is due to bleeding in the brain.  A transient ischemic attack often is called a mini stroke and it is a warning caused by a clot.  This waring should be taken seriously.

A heart attack or myocardial infarction is damage to the heart muscle tissue or tissue death due to a lack of blood supply.  This happens because of a coronary artery disease or by a spasm of a coronary artery reducing blood supply to the heart muscle.  Myocardial ischemia is reduced blood flow to the heart muscle typically caused by blockage.  Myocardial ischemia causes myocardial infarction.  Ischemia causing heart muscle tissue death is a myocardial infarction or heart attack.


Illnesses such as the viruses influenza, tuberculosis, measles, chicken pox or SARS become air borne through a cough or sneeze, evaporate in the air, become aerosolized and can remain in the air for hours.  When the wind blows or wind comes into a building though a door opening the aerosolized infectious pathogen can travel great distances.  Illness occurs when the pathogen enters the mucus membranes either by touch, inhalation or ingestion.

Aerosolized pathogens can be transmitted through a cough or sneeze and remain in the air for hours. If inhaled they can travel deep into the lungs.  Droplets that have landed on surfaces that are transmitted to the eyes or mucus membranes can cause infections.

Varicella Zoster Virus, Herpes 3 is better known as Chicken Pox.  Herpes 3 infects the skin and nerve endings.  It is spread through salvia, coughing, sneezing or direct skin to skin contact with the infection.  After the initial illness Chicken Pox can remain dormant for years.  When Chicken pox is reactivated it is called Shingles.  The pain associated with Shingles is severe.  Postherpetic neuralgia is nerve pain from the damage done to the nerve endings caused by the Varicella Zoster virus.  The pain can last many months to years.  There are reported cases of chicken pox being spread to a previously uninfected person by an adult suffering from Shingles.

The Rhinovirus can remain active on hands for an hour.  That means twenty minutes after sneezing into their hands they can transmit the virus to you by shaking your hand.  The Respiratory Syncytial virus can survive on keyboards and door handles for six hours.  The Influenza virus can survive for twenty four hours on keyboards.  Lower temperatures increases the survival rate of influenza in the air.  The Staphylococcus bacteria is also spread through salvia and mucus and can survive in the environment for five to eleven days.

The air droplets of the cough of someone infected with Tuberculosis survives for hours in the air and a month in dusty surfaces.  When TB lands on a surface and dries it could still infect many weeks later if it became airborne through dusting or sweeping, if inhaled.  The cough or sneeze of someone infected with Measles can live for two hours in the air.  Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome can last for days in the environment.

Walking into a cough and inhaling it gives you a pretty good chance of getting sick, but it does not mean that you will get sick.  If you have a healthy immune system you can fight off infections.  There are ways of preventing getting sick at the office.  Air borne infections happen in poorly ventilated areas.  Being in close proximity or within three feet from a coughing person increases your chance of inhaling their cough.

You can beat the cold and flu by keeping yourself and your environment clean.  Boost your immune system with over the counter immune boosters and extra vitamin C.  Keep your work space clean.  Bring your own antiseptic wipes to work and use them repeatedly on shared work surfaces.  Use antiseptic hand sanitizer however wash your hands frequently, especially if you greet the public.  If you don’t mind the fragrance, tea tree oil and lavender oil are anti viral and anti bacterial.  Filling a small spray bottle with one third tea tree oil, one third lavender oil and one third water and spraying the air will kill virus and bacteria in the air.  If that is not possible, there are antiseptic sprays available.

The break room is often a spot that no one cleans up.  Eating in the break room should include sanitizing the area first as it is impossible to know what germs could be lingering in the environment.  Even if you eat lunch at your desk you should clean the area first. If is important to stay hydrated however keep your water bottle covered.  With just a few precautions to protect yourself, you can stay healthy during the cold and flu season.  It is important to note that if you are sick you could break the chain of infection by staying home until you recover.

CPR For Your Pet

When I sat down my mixed breed rescued from the animal shelter dog laid down beside me. He gave me a happy bouncing dance when I came home and walked with me in every step of my coming home routine. I looked down at him and thought about how much I love him. The twelve years
we have had him have gone by quickly. He is always such a joy. Although he enjoys good health, he is now a senior. The day we say goodbye is closer than before and I fear it.
As an American HeartAssociation CPR instructor, I am often asked about pet cpr. I have never done pet cpr, I do not teach it or certify it. In order to prevent my own,“what if” or “if I had only” ghosts, I decided to find out about pet cpr on the internet. Unfortunately each site I visited gave different information. Some gave a compression rate equal to human cpr, others gave rates according to weight. Some had the dog on their back and others on their side. One organization recommends holding smaller dogs and cats between both hands and compressing.
Because of the differing information I decided to call on my expert, our veterinarian, Dr Kevin Cronin from Charlotte Animal Hospital. According to Dr Cronin, first look for breathing. Rescue breaths for your pet is done mouth to snout. Do not assume the dog has no pulse simply because they are not breathing. Next check for the pulse on the inside of the leg. I got down on my hands and knees to see if I could find the pulse. Burger thought it was either belly rub or playtime, which he thought was great! He did not however appreciate me poking around on his leg. I did find the pulse on the upper inside of his leg near the groin area.
Dr Cronin said to lay the dog on the side and
compress the ribs where the elbow meets the rib cage. According to Dr Cronin, five to ten minutes of cpr is the limit for trying cpr. Dr Cronin sent me a Red Cross pet cpr brochure and referred me to Dee Roberts.
Dee Roberts teaches and certifies pet cpr/first aid along with her duties as the Director of Pet Passings and Companion Burial Services. Dee teaches that smaller
dogs and cats should be on their side and placed on a table. According to Dee when you recognize that your pet is not moving check for breathing. If there is no breath, open the mouth and look for a foreign object. Do not put your fingers in the pet’s mouth unless you can see and get the foreign object. If there is something obstructing the airway, place them with their back against you and compress below the rib cage. If they become unconscious, check for a pulse. If there is no pulse, begin cpr and take them to the veterinarian. Doing cpr on the way to the vet while someone else drives could help save the life of your pet.
Animals can suffer heat stroke. Dee says that if it is too hot for you to walk barefoot on the pavement it is too hot for your horse or the pads of your dogs feet. Horses do get sunburn. Just like us, our pets need protection from the sun and heat. If your horse becomes unresponsive, check for breathing and a pulse. If they need cpr, with the horse on their side and compress over the rib cage.
Cpr on a bird is done with two fingers over the rib cage. The rescue breaths are done with your mouth almost covering the eyes and all around the beak with the breaths similar to blowing out a candle.
In Dee’s first aid class she teaches what to keep in your pet’s first aid kit. In her cpr class she teaches how to make rescue masks for your pet out of soda and water bottles, giving you one less step should you need to give cpr. For more information on Dee’s classes, you can email her at