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World Brain Day

Spare a Thought for World Brain Day

Stop, for a moment, and consider what life would be like with brain injury or disability. If you know someone that has impairment, you don’t have to imagine the challenges they face.

More than 5.3 million Americans, or 1 in 60, live with permanent disabilities from brain injuries. Every year, another 2.8 million will sustain a traumatic brain injury of some kind. Symptoms range from headaches to personality changes, extreme confusion, memory loss, and even seizures or paralysis. While not all injuries become disabilities, treatment in either instance is still crucial.

With continued research, funding, and public awareness, we can help those suffering from neurological disabilities and injuries receive improved care. That’s why World Brain Day matters.

Raising Awareness

The World Federation of Neurology (WFN) has chosen "Brain Health and Disability" as the theme for its 10th Annual World Brain Day on Saturday, July 22, 2023. World Brain Day calls attention to the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who experience neurological disabilities. These disorders include brain tumors, dementia, cerebrovascular disease, epilepsy, migraine and other headache disorders, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and injuries due to head trauma.

The key aims of World Brain Day are as follows:

  • Prevention — Emphasizing that brain disabilities can be prevented, treated, and rehabilitated.
  • Awareness — Promoting global awareness of brain health to reduce disability associated with brain disorders.
  • Access — Advocating for universal access to care, treatment, rehabilitation, and assistive technology.
  • Education — Recognizing the role of education in increasing equity for individuals with brain disabilities.
  • Advocacy — Asserting that brain health is a human right applicable to everyone, regardless of location.

Breaking Down Barriers

Many individuals with neurological disabilities face challenges, including stigma, discrimination, and limited access to professional health care. By raising awareness about brain health and disabilities, we can promote a culture of inclusivity. Furthermore, improving care and rehabilitation resources can help create a future where optimal brain health is accessible to all.

Part of the Solution

Observations like World Brain Day serve as a platform to promote awareness and a chance for us all to learn more. By calling attention to the challenges faced by individuals with neurological disabilities, we can strive for a more equitable world.

AltaMed has doctors who speak your language providing the care you need. If you or someone you love struggles with neurological disabilities, we can connect you with specialists and other resources so you or those you care about get the help they need. Contact us at (888) 499-9303.

For more information on how to participate in this year's World Brain Day, click here.

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Woman Touching Her Head

Headaches and What to Do about Them

It’s likely you’ve had a headache at some point in your life. You’re tired, hungry, your allergies, or constant loud noises have caused your head to start hurting. A headache may also be a symptom of something else, like a sinus infection, a cold, or the flu.

In most cases an over-the-counter pain reliever remedies the pain. It may be time to see a doctor however if the headaches are frequent and the pain persists.

Causes and Types

Doctors don’t completely understand what causes most headaches. There are no nerves to register pain in the brain tissue or the skull. Tissue around the brain, in the neck, blood vessels in the head, your teeth, sinuses, and the muscles and joints of your neck can cause head pain.

There are more than 300 types of headaches. The most common are sinus, tension, and migraines. Tension headaches and migraines are most often triggered by caffeine withdrawal, fatigue, hunger, lack of sleep, and stress. You can avoid these headaches if you avoid these triggers. Relaxation techniques like yoga may also be helpful.

Man With Headache

Chronic Daily Headaches

These are their own subtype of headache. They can occur 15 days or more a month. Other subtypes in this category include:
 

  • Chronic paroxysmal hemicrania — sharp headaches on one side of the head that cause a congested nose or watery eyes
  • Cluster headaches — these occur off and on for weeks for a few months and cause severe pain on one side of the head
  • Hemicrania continua — one-sided headache that hurts like a migraine
  • Medication overuse headaches — these occur from overusing headache medications for at least three months
  • Primary exertional headaches — from exercise
  • Primary stabbing headaches — lasting a few seconds but occurring several times a day
Woman With Headache

Migraines

Migraines are a much different kind of headache. They don’t just go away. They can be quite debilitating. More than half of the patients with migraines in one study reported “severe impairment in activity, the need for bed rest, and/or reduced work or school productivity due to migraines,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Migraines affect three times as many women as men. The typically:
 

  • Affect only one side of the head but can affect both
  • Cause moderate to severe pain
  • Cause nausea, vomiting, or increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Get worse with certain activities, like climbing stairs
  • Last from four to 72 hours if not treated
  • Pulsate

Migraines account for about 3% of all visits to the emergency department each year in the U.S. The use of opioids as treatment has led to an increased risk of revisits, increased duration of stay, and even admission to the hospital. Opioids were prescribed nearly 36% of the time, but that is changing following the abuse that has occurred with those drugs.

Doctor Giving Medicine to His Patient

Seeking Medical Care

Everyone gets headaches, and migraines are not uncommon. Sometimes the headaches are symptoms of other health issues. Colds, the flu, or sinus infections can cause headaches. They’re annoying, but typically not life-threatening.

Headaches could also be a symptom of something more serious like bleeding, a tumor, an infection, or high blood pressure. Get to a doctor if you experience:
 

  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Headache interfering with your routine
  • Headache with ear or eye pain
  • Headache with fever
  • Sudden headache that feels like a blow to the head
  • Headache AFTER a blow to the head
  • Loss of consciousness

Start with AltaMed

AltaMed has locations and providers all over Southern California delivering compassionate, culturally sensitive care that meets your family’s needs. We offer a range of services and care settings to help you grow healthy at every age and every stage of your life. We can provide you with regular screenings and monitor any conditions — like headaches — that are causing you concern. Contact us today at (877) 462-2582.

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Alzheimers

Alzheimer’s Symptoms to Watch For

Nearly everyone has watched an older relative struggle to recall a name, date, or story. As we age, memory loss becomes more common. That’s normal. We can’t stay sharp forever.

Yet, it may be more serious if a loved one gets lost at a store you visit frequently, begins repeating themselves often, forgets a fond memory, or fails to complete a simple task without help. These could all be signs of dementia. Dementia is a general term, but its most common form is Alzheimer’s disease.

Facts and Figures

In 2020 as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of people living with this disease doubles every five years past age 65. Symptoms first appear around age 60 and the risk increases as we get older.

Alzheimer’s involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. It’s progressive and can affect the ability to carry on conversations or perform daily activities.

It is the sixth leading cause of death among U.S. adults and the fifth leading cause of death among adults 65 and older.

Signs of Alzheimer’s

Most people notice changes in themselves before anyone else does. Sometimes, however, they don’t want to acknowledge those changes. In those instances, family and close friends should stay alert for the following and see a doctor for the cause of any one of these.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life: forgetting events, relying on sticky notes to remember things, repeating oneself.
  2. Planning or solving problems becomes hard: it’s difficult to pay bills or cook familiar recipes.
  3. Hard to complete simple tasks: it’s difficult to make calls, drive, or shop.
  4. Confusion with time or place: can’t understand an event or confusing dates.
  5. Confusing images or spatial relationships: difficulty balancing, tripping on objects because distance is hard to judge, spilling and dropping things.
  6. New problems with speaking or writing words: becomes hard to join conversations or remember simple terms.
  7. Misplacing things: putting keys where they don’t belong, for example, and not being able to retrace steps to find them.
  8. Poor judgment: becoming victim to a scam, unable to care for a pet, or failing to clean oneself.
  9. Withdrawal from people: not doing normal activities because it’s too hard to keep up with what’s happening.
  10. Changes in personality: getting upset when inappropriate, being scared and/or suspicious.

Risk Factors

Doctors and researchers are still trying to fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. It seems people are affected differently, but there are some common factors:

  • Age — It most commonly affects people over age 65.
  • Genetics — Family history may play a role but it’s not a guarantee.
  • Lifestyle — Two studies have shown a connection to physical activity, a healthy diet, limited alcohol intake, and avoiding cigarettes to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. The same lifestyle adjustments used to reduce the risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes may also slow or stop cognitive decline.
  • Race and ethnicityAfrican Americans and Hispanics are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than non-Hispanic whites.

Treatments

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but early diagnosis can help slow the progression of the disease. There are drug and non-drug options to help treat symptoms and possibly improve quality of life. Eventually, a person with Alzheimer’s will no longer be able to care for themselves.

Family members or friends caring for someone with Alzheimer’s often neglect their own health. It has been associated with:

  • Higher levels of depression and anxiety
  • Increased use of psychoactive medications
  • Worse self-reporting of health
  • A compromised immune system
  • Increased risk of early death

Care for Yourself and Your Aging Family Members

AltaMed is here for the lifetime of our patients — from pediatrics through senior care. We can also connect you with the appropriate social services to get you relief as a caregiver and find you programs to help your aging family member.

Our behavioral health team is available to talk to you about the pressures of caring for an older family member and help you with coping mechanisms. They can also connect you with a longer-term counselor should you need it. Call AltaMed at (877) 462-2582 to get stared with us today.

Spare a Thought for World Brain Day