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Karin & David Henderson

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Who’s In Charge Here? Meniere's Disease and Thinking About Our Body’s Healthy Maintenance

 

This is going to be a short, easy to understand “course” on how your body “operates” and needs to be maintained. I will discuss some “new” developments in how people find medical information for their own use. You will learn some anatomy and physiology and then I will share principles that help you understand why your body does certain things. I’ll include some examples and add questions I have received recently that tie into this subject. I am also going to share some basic principles as to how your body functions.

 

You may wonder why you are being “exposed” to this information in this newsletter and in particular in this series of articles. Let me explain. You obviously have an interest in health: hopefully, your own to start. Towards the end of this series, I will be sharing some questions from readers. I do this to show that any and all questions are important. Incidentally if you have written a question, and haven’t received an answer, I haven’t received it. I answer all questions, although it may take a few days before I get back to you. In this age of being able to access massive amounts of information, people expect to find answers immediately and from a variety of resources. It is those choices that seem to be leading people a bit off course…with less than happy results.

 

This is an effort to help people learn or understand normal body functions. Then you might at least recognize the value of the information that faces you. There is nothing in it to indicate that this could be correct or incorrect. It all sounds like the truth.  Let me share what I see is the “new way health information gathering and decision making process. Let’s compare a person who had a health issue before the advent of the Internet and then see what happens nowadays. I’ll use one from the examples I’ll share later on in this article. Pretend you had some blood pressure problems, but you don’t feel it is an emergency. So you set up an appointment with your doctor’s office or a clinic for a few days later…or the following week.

 

During this visit, you gain some insight. You usually get a prescription or two, along with some recommendations...and you return to work. Eventually the problem goes away, you (hopefully) get better and life continues. The process presents some loopholes in terms of timely examination. Your ailment description needs to be very precise. However, with the presence of the Internet, things have changed dramatically. But so have people. Many are not willing to wait for answers or help. No longer are people solely dependent on their doctor for insight or recommendations. They have all kinds of information at their fingertips, literally! The vast majority of people now own computers, have email, and can access the Internet anytime for help. Most people are knowledgeable in entering key words. It is almost automatic to seek out more information on things that might help them understand their healthy situation. But this is where the problem starts.

 

Let’s use blood pressure and hypertension as an example. I just did this and found 12,200,000 “hits” or sources or SITES of information! That is TWELVE MILLION!!!! How can you possibly go through all those? How do you choose? It’s absurd to expect to read all of them. So how DO you choose? What information can you trust? Do you understand all the words? Do you get the “drift” of the meaning? Is the site sponsored by a drug company or someone trying to justify their products such as an exercise machine or book? There is nothing wrong with any of this but you need to know how to find objective, trustworthy information. Personally I have found several sites and stick with them. 

 

So the purpose of particular article is to try to eliminate a little confusion. We are all experts in something: it may just not be in this area. But this information is not based on doing better searches. It is based on knowing your body better. Then if you are faced with some sort of drug or machine, or information, you have enough understanding to make informative decisions or discard suspect advice. Much of this is common sense, but we aren’t taught a lot of that in school. You will get an overview of the anatomy and physiology and how the body keeps going. I think even just having this overview gives you more confidence in asking better and more relevant questions. It takes some of the mystery and fear out of search.

 

Let me share some principles. This list is incomplete, but it serves us well right here. These are important concepts or assumptions to grasp. They carry a lot of influence. They are like unwritten laws and are invisible, but very real. If you try to oppose them or act as if they don’t exist, (without impunity “Exemption from punishment, penalty, or harm”). They win out each and every time.

 

These are about maintaining a healthy body with you.

 

Please don’t use this information to treat or diagnose yourself. Use it to understand your body. As always, just learn from it and pay close attention to when you don’t feel well.

 

First I want to give you some understanding of your body…some principles it works under automatically. You can’t change it no matter what you may think, but . once you understand those, you will feel more “in tune” with what is going on. It’s like the law of gravity…it’s very real, and you can’t do anything to circumvent it.  And you can’t plead ignorance…it still works as always (unless you work in the space industry.)

 

A drug or other chemical can change or reduce the effectiveness of your body, as in steroids or antihistamines. Anytime you increase heat in your body, (circulation) you increase the internal pressure. (Law of physics).  Your body has an automatic cleaning system attached to the immune system (one of its “departments”) and it cleans things constantly. This is called the inflammatory process. For example, if you stub your toe, it swells up and it is painful, plus it changes colour…eventually it goes away.  But you don’t think you have a disease in your toe, right? …not a disease. And the inflammatory process is activated anytime anything unwanted comes into your body. Anything unwanted could be a smell, chemical, irritation such as in the eye, over-stimulation (getting too tired)…a cut or trauma or bruises will do the same. It could be anything that you aren’t born with, but comes through the environment. All drugs have some sort of side effects. The only way your body can create energy and thus activities is with nutrients. The body is known to be able to heal itself given the right elements.

Water is a really good way to get rid of toxins in the body. Your body is made up of 9 interrelated systems, all working together to keep you healthy.  Our culture insists we take drugs, yet these are contributing to or interacting with, all the chemicals already in the body from our natural everyday living.  This list is incomplete, but it gives enough of an overview for our purposes.

 

One major underlying thought or principle is that all parts of your body are connected or interrelated. Know that if one part is affected, the entire body is affected. You may hear that it isn’t true, but I challenge you to only walk around with legs, and no head. You won’t get far! (I could tell you several cases where you would think this isn’t the case, but eventually the body stopped functioning because its physiology came to a halt.)

 

Let’s start with a brief overview of your body. Please know I am only going to focus on the physical aspect. I truly and firmly believe we have a spiritual or intangible, invisible side to our lives, but that would be another article.  But I do support the concept that you choose your own outcomes through choosing a negative or a positive attitude. Some people tell me they are “realistic”. I see them as choosing not to look outside their own understanding. That is fine for them…but not for everyone. I try to show people that they should be looking for the underlying problem. Their resulting symptoms are simply an outcome of those. Your body is a physical visible “entity”. But it is ‘run” by invisible elements which are equally important. So you can’t dismiss things that are not seen by the naked eye. We can now actually into different parts or organs of your body through technology. And this is vitally important in diagnosing. The physical space and equipment of your office can be compared to the systems and organs of your body as the anatomy. But you yourself know it is the policies and procedures and “management” that “rules” or drives the office. So it is with the body’s physiology.

 

The entire body is a set of nine systems, interconnected and functioning as one whole entity. No one department can ever function in isolation. I think the word “interrelated” describes this well. They must work in harmony. They help you breathe, move, etc. and protect you from harm. Every part is vital and none is more important than another. However, the actions of some parts can be suspended temporarily until the others are looked after (fight/flight response).

 

To relate this to something you already understand, think of these departments as an office building or department store…each is responsible for some part of the overall actions, and unpinned or supported by other elements. It’s almost like primary and secondary functions or responsibilities, but none could work without the other. It’s vitally important that you understand this inter-relationship. Nothing bugs me more that people telling me that they have been told one part of their body has no influence on another...have you tried walking around without your head yet? It is my experience that dental problems are related to all kinds of other health issues. We recognize that in animals. Nature is nature. Your body is all about balance and it strives for it constantly. So when one area has a problem, the body’s natural instinct is to restore the balance. It will borrow from another area to satisfy that need. This is called homeostasis. This is important principle to remember. Merriam Webster dictionary describes this as “the maintenance of relatively stable internal physiological conditions (as body temperature or the pH of blood) in higher animals under fluctuating environmental conditions ; also : the process of maintaining a stable psychological state in the individual under varying psychological pressures or stable social conditions in a group under varying social, environmental, or political factors”.

http://www2.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/mwmednlm?book=Medical&va=homeostasis

 

The 9 departments or systems include the nervous system which co-ordinates all body functions: brain being the "executive office". This includes the brain, spinal cord, nerves. The respiratory system is vital for breathing, and gas & waste exchange. It includes the nose, pharynx, lungs sinuses. The cardiovascular system circulates blood and nutrients to entire body constantly and is made of heart, blood vessels, lymphatic system, etc. The musculo-skeletal system is made up of bones and soft tissue. It supports and protects body parts and red blood cell formation (carries oxygen): joints, bones. The muscular part gives form and connects all skeletal parts of body. It includes the heart muscle, thigh, spinal canal, etc. The gastro-intestinal tract digests and transports all nutrients throughout body. The endocrine system produces hormones that regulate all body processes. It made up of glands.  The urinary system manages fluid and electrolyte balance, and eliminates liquid waste products. It works with your kidneys, bladder, and urethra. The reproductive system is made up of male and female organs that are required for the survival of our species and includes testes, penis, uterus, breasts, and glans. The integumentary system holds it all together! Hair nails and skin. Miles of it!

 

Your body functions and keeps you going 24/7. You really contribute nothing consciously to keep this going. By that I mean you don’t think consciously about taking the next breath or making sure your heart beats or your liver detoxifies. But there is one thing that you HAVE to do and no one can do it for you. And this one thing is crucial to your existence. It is the act of eating and putting things into your body somehow. It is the only way for you to keep living. Your digestive system produces enzymes and bile to digest your food or nutrients that now enter your body through your conscious effort. Here is an example. You can only “feed” your brain through the “cooperation” of your digestive system. Same for any and all systems.

 

I am sure you have heard of people starving to death or being starved to death. If no nutrients get into your body, be it by tube or intravenous feeding or eating by your mouth or through your skin, eventually your body dies. Again, here, I am speaking in generalities. There are some very special situations that differ from this, but for our purposes of understanding our healthy bodies, this is how it works. You may be able to survive without food for a few days. You definitely need water, but eventually all your systems are starved and there is nothing left to provide energy: the fuel that makes your body function. That makes nutrients suddenly very important! And if you pay any attention to diet discussions, weight loss management systems, and all the controversial diets, you can see all sorts of misrepresentation and misinformation. You must recognize that your body needs macro nutrients: carbohydrate, fat, and protein as well as micronutrients: vitamins and minerals. And just as balance is vital in all parts of the body, it is necessary in the digestive and metabolic (energy producing) process.

 

Now that you have a general understanding of your body’s needs, it behooves you to ensure that you take in adequate and life-sustaining nutrients. If not, the body gets overburdened with toxins or waste products. Just as there are main departments keeping you healthy, there are waste management systems to clear out the toxins. in the short term, the body can cope. In the long term it is vital to your survival. For a longer time, it will be at the mercy of toxins as they build up and not removed. The liver and kidneys are the two main areas of “detoxification”. That’s in essence how you stay alive! Upset this balance and you could end up with health problems.

 

Up to now, you have been just reading about the interrelated functions of the body. Now let’s look at some choices you need to make to keep on functioning. And what might happen if you don’t make a choice by simply doing nothing…trying to ignore the situation. Some actions are very simple “no brainers”. Others can be very complex.

 

Let me give you a couple of examples. Remember we are looking for ways to keep the body functioning. This example is about the circulatory system. Pretend you are sitting on your leg and it falls asleep. It will start to tingle and then go numb. Somewhere along the way, your brain is telling you that this is not right and you should be doing something to change, i.e. change your position. The simplest response is to move your leg so the bloodflow with be restored, along with the oxygen and nutrients.  Now the limb is back working properly. But picture someone who has no feeling in that part of their body (quadriplegic or paraplegic). This “simple” action isn’t so simple anymore. It will require someone to recognize the problem and change the person’s position. What if you decided to do nothing? Eventually the leg will become dead (necrosed) and will have to be removed (amputated). That is extreme, but it does happen. But you have many choices before it gets to this point if you are aware of your choices. Most of the time, your body will do this for you automatically or unconsciously (the invisible part of you).

 

Another example is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. You would be encouraged to change your lifestyle, including your stress levels. Hopefully drugs would be the last recommendation: not the first choice. But again, here are choices. But if you chose to do nothing, a very real possible outcome is could be a stroke (blood clot in the brain) or heart attack (blood clot in the heart muscle). Again, a choice should be made. In many instances, if you spend some concentrated, focused time, you can find the underlying cause, and by changing a few things, you can change your body’s reaction. So no matter what is going on, you have some choices to make. The more knowledgeable you are the easier and less scary the decision will be. I am frequently telling people that their health is theirs: not their health care professional’s. You have to live with the symptoms after the doctor’s office closes for the night. Of course, I am speaking of non-emergent situations. If you have chest pain, go to the nearest Emergency Room and get checked out. No question about that, but for our present learning, it is helpful to know what is going on in your body. One of the questions I received had to do with chest pain. Now I would expect the person to have figured out for themselves if this was an emergency. By sending me an email, I have to assume it was not. So what are the possible causes for something like this? Go back to the original idea that your heart (in this case) is not getting adequate oxygen or nutrients. Or something is irritating or pressing on the nerves leading to it. So would a shift in position or a loosening of clothes, relieve the pain? Look for the obvious before you rush out. For a long time, we misinterpreted gallbladder problems and heartburn as heart attacks. Still, it is much wiser to be cautious.

 

Let’s go through some questions. I’ll offer the question and then help you walk through what might be the problem. I will make some suggestions of possible changes. Later in another example I’ll share a couple of blood pressure “choices” that have left me wondering and shaking my head. You don’t have to be a doctor or health care professional to recognize possible solutions. It is normal to want to be in control of your health. Wellness is a state of physical and mental health as opposed to dis-ease.  Choose wellness.

 

I want to show you how you can think something through. But please be a little cautious when you go to your health care provider. Don’t blurt out your new knowledge and then expect the person to agree with you immediately. Remember they haven’t had time to digest and sort out all the details or possible alternatives as you have. So be respectful of their knowledge and insight. But now you are in a much better position to discuss your situation clearly and answer questions intelligently. That is really helpful. This exercise will help you gain more control over your health. Again, don’t use this as a diagnostic tool, but the very exercise of learning more, will help you feel less frustrated.  You will recognize and be able to separate the serious from the less serious situations.  That leads to a much more responsible use of health care facilities. Perhaps you have heard of the term “informed consent”. Now you will be much more informed as you give consent for treatment. And if you still don’t understand, you will have the courage to ask for more detailed explanations.

 

Question: I have constant neck pains, which causes my fingers and arms to get numb. Also I feel that I get constant muscle spasms associated with feeling tired almost all of the time. I understand that this is because of my long work hours but I just want to ask you if you believe this is because of STRESS? Answer:  In my own PERSONAL opinion, the answer is no. If this happened in my own body, I would strongly believe that no or little blood is being received in the circulation area of my arms and fingers: hence the symptoms. Circulation or blood supply brings with it all the nutrients, such as energy and oxygen to supply the body (or part) needs...if there is less than enough, I would have symptoms such as lack of energy or tiredness are definite signs...as are muscle spasms. Muscle spasms are movements that are uncoordinated. From what you now understand, these would probably come from a lack of something: oxygen, nutrients, muscles nerve misinformation?? Here is a link to read more.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003194.htm

http://www.niams.nih.gov/hi/topics/shoulderprobs/shoulderqa.htm
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/brochure/thr_report.cfm?Thread_ID=8&topcategory=Hand
 

The circulation gets "routed" via the shoulder and down the arm...and the brain controls everything through messages for all these actions. These tell your muscles and fingers, etc. what to do. They come past your neck and if you have "constant neck pains", something isn't right in that area...can you see how it might or will be affected if it goes through an area that isn't working properly or blocking the blood supply? So if the messages going to the brain are incorrect (because there is a change in the stimulations of the nerves) then the command coming back to the muscles (from the brain) to do certain actions, would also be inappropriate. It might be likened to cyclists at the start of a race. One group of cyclists heard the instructions to go one direction and the rest got a message to go the other way.  Could stress cause this? I feel very strongly that we blame stress for too many illnesses. It is an easy thing to do and a less than helpful “treatment“. The person ends up being blamed for something they are already trying to handle. BUT be aware that there is another meaning for the word "stress". And that might be what someone meant. Stress is also the working or overworking of a limb…as in "stress fractures". Or putting too much “stress” on your elbow and blocking nerves and blood supply. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000001.htm

 

Question: I was just told that the symptoms I've had are those of TIA's.  What is this and what do they do about to help? Although I've been referred to a specialist, I have to wait for 3 weeks to get in to see him. So I'd like a little information about it now. Thank you

 

Here are two sites that would be really helpful. This includes a link to the actual description. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000730.htm
 

Here is a picture of the brain and what is happening... http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/8968.htm
 

In my experience, these are tiny strokes that give warning to pay attention to situations that can raise your blood pressure. It is often the brain's warning signal before a larger warning MAY happen. Many people have these and never have any more symptoms. But I feel it is wise to look more closely at what your life is like and what is keeping you from being more relaxed. For many people, it is a wakeup call to see what is happening in their lives. They need to check out situations where they can’t control the stress element. Then you need to make some decisions....where to continue or when to make some changes...I just finished saying we blame stress often unnecessarily, but there are real situations that people can alleviate some of it. An awareness of possible choices or suggestions for change allows you to think along other lines. (Incidentally, I find it very interesting that once you offer some other ways of looking at a situation, it doesn’t take long for that person to find their own ways out of the challenge. VERY interesting!)

This is a ”brain" activity as opposed to a "heart" activity. By that I mean the brain tends to lead to a change in the body's ability to respond to motor (movement) skills and cognitive (thinking/reasoning) abilities. "Heart" activities or the lack of...could lead to emergency situations such as a stop in breathing and living. Think of your heart as strictly a pump. It doesn’t “think” it just runs. But your brain is able to “think”. That is its primary function. A clot in the heart vs. a clot in the brain brings about two different results. Let me know if you would like more explanation, but do check out the links...the encyclopedia gives information that is easy to read. Make sure you have all your questions answered. That is your right.

 

Here are my two blood pressure examples: real live stories. Both people have been on antihypertensive drugs for years…as a “precaution”. “Antihypertensive ”means a chemical used to prevent the body from raising the blood pressure.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3034546/ns/health-heart_health/

 

Both these people complained a lot of having no energy. They had no appetite and neither had any motivation to do anything. When I encouraged them to take their blood pressures for a few days, both had very low readings. Sometimes 85/50. Both discussed this with their doctors and neither doctor would take them off the medications! With all you now understand, does this make sense to you? If they have poor appetites, inadequate circulation because of their low blood pressure is already, why would they be continued on chemicals that drop their readings even further? Just asking!

 

If you are faced with this situation, what might you do first? I would borrow someone’s blood pressure machine for a few weeks and take readings…compare only “like” readings, meaning compare morning readings to morning readings. Wear the same type of clothes. It won’t skew the readings. I would record every reading with the time of day, and what day/date. You will quickly find out if the readings are lower than usual.

 

Antihypertensive: Something that reduces high blood pressure (hypertension). Discuss your concerns with your doctor. Drink lots of water: it will help detoxify your body naturally. Read the information about natural healing and health conditions at the JAMA link. This comes from the American Medical Association. Interesting and very hopeful. They recognize and recommend what you have learned here…that your body strives for balance and nutrition, in optimum amounts, and that will replenish its needs. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/287/23/3127

 

I said before that there is one thing that you HAVE to do and no one can do it for you. And this one thing is crucial to your existence. It is the act of eating and putting things into your body somehow. It is the only way for you to keep living. Your digestive system produces enzymes and bile to digest your food or nutrients that now enter your body through your conscious effort. This also pertains to drugs, be they over the counter (OTC) or prescription. They end up in the same place as do the nutrients. And if you recall one of the principles, every drug has a side effect.

 

You now know a bit more about your body and how it functions and how to keep it healthy. Isn’t it amazing that really all your body needs daily is food, water and air? Simple things, yet your body turns those into running a very complex operating system,  allowing you to be alive twenty four hours a day, seven days a weeks, all year and every year! Truly amazing! Make this the beginning of your search for taking back control of health as opposed to illness. It can be done, but it will take awareness, study, trial and error, and a sincere desire to make changes if you aren’t happy with your present lifestyle. The medical community is there to help you, but you are in charge from now on.

 

By Karin Henderson - Nurse, Retired.

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