• Is Sleep Apnea Making You a

    Morning Zombie?

    Do you wake up feeling like a zombie? Do you have trouble keeping your eyes open at work or school, or even while driving? You might be one of the 12 million-plus Americans feeling the effects of a disorder known as sleep apnea. Even though you may be getting to bed at a reasonable hour and assuming you’re getting a normal night’s sleep, sleep apnea can subtly interrupt the quality of your sleep, making you feel tired and lethargic in the morning. Sleep apnea has many other affects on the body, but this is certainly one of the most recognizable symptoms of a disorder you may not even be aware you have.

    Serious Consequences of Sleep Apnea

    Most people don’t know they have obstructive sleep apnea, usually caused when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses when sleeping, says Patrick J. Strollo, Jr., MD, medical director of the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center. That leads to a drop in oxygen levels, prompting the brain to send a surge of adrenalin signaling the person to wake and take a deep breath. That kick-start also leads to a spike in blood pressure.

    According to the National Institutes of Health, this common disorder causes breathing pauses while you sleep. These pauses can last a few seconds, or even minutes — as often as 30 times, or more, an hour.

    “It’s a burden on the cardiovascular system and affects the quality of your rest,” says Dr. Strollo. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems and even cause deadly accidents.

    10 Signs You Might Have Sleep Apnea

    Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but it is a major clue. Since sleep apnea only occurs during sleep, a family member or bed partner might be the first to notice.

    Common signs and symptoms include:

    • Loud and chronic snoring — sometimes with pauses.
    • Choking or gasping following pauses
    • Feeling tired or sleepy, even after sleeping all night
    • Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
    • Daytime sleepiness, or lack of energy
    • Morning headaches
    • Restless sleep, waking up during the night, or insomnia
    • Trouble concentrating or problems with learning and memory
    • Depression and irritability
    • Sexual dysfunction

    Consult your primary care physician or family doctor if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms. If left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious consequences on your waking life and your health. For more information, visit the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center online or call 412-692-2880.

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  • What You Need to Know About

    Ebola

    Thomas Eric Duncan became the first casualty of the disease on U.S. soil. Duncan was exposed to the disease in Liberia before returning to the U.S. He died in a Dallas hospital on October 8, 2014, after being treated for the disease. By the time Duncan began an experimental treatment, his case of Ebola was too far advanced to respond. A deeper look at Duncan’s case shows that it is actually harder to catch Ebola than most Americans may believe.

    Sunday, October 19 marked the completion of the 21-day incubation period that health officials observed, monitoring individuals who Duncan had been in close contact with since his return to the U.S. October 20 marks a full month since he took several flights from Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia.

    To date, and as expected since he was not contagious at the time, no one on Duncan’s flight has fallen ill. Duncan’s family and fiancé – whom he lived with while he was experiencing the symptoms of Ebola,such as sweats, a fever, and vomiting – have not shown signs of the disease either and have been declared free of the virus.

    In addition to Duncan’s family having been given a clean bill of health, a Texas health worker who was traveling aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean also tested negative for the disease. Once she and her husband had been tested for Ebola, they were given clearance to drive home. The remaining 4,000 vacationers on the ship were also allowed to leave a few hours after pulling back into port.

    Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease specialist at UPMC and a senior associate at the UPMC Center for Health Security, says the risk of it spreading in the U.S. is very low because it can only be transmitted under specific conditions.

    Ebola is a deadly disease, it’s a scary disease, but it’s not very contagious. It doesn’t spread through the air; it only spreads through intimate contact with blood or body fluids,” says Dr. Adalja.

    “It is far less contagious than the flu — a respiratory virus easily spread by sneezing and coughing. Also, Ebola is only contagious when a person has symptoms. With the flu, a person is contagious the day before symptoms appear.”

    Although the risk of Ebola spreading is low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies have taken steps to prevent that from happening in this country. That includes increased airport screenings before and after entering the United States from Ebola-affected countries. In addition, the CDC has issued Level 3 travel warnings urging U.S. residents to avoid nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in West Africa. The West African nations of Nigeria and Senegal have recently been declared Ebola-free. The country has not registered any new cases of Ebola in 41 days.

    Protocols also have been established to ensure health care facilities are prepared to properly detect and handle the disease. UPMC facilities are ready, says Dr. Adalja. Each hospital in our system has comprehensive and detailed action plans in place.

    “We know how to stop the spread of Ebola. But it’s crucial for hospitals to prepare in advance,” he says. “UPMC has easily accessible protocols from the moment a patient arrives in the Emergency Department through their hospital stay — how we screen that person, how we isolate that person, how we test for it, who we communicate with — it’s all laid out.”

    About the 2014 Epidemic

    According to the CDC, the 2014 outbreak is the largest in history and the first documented appearance in West Africa. About half the people who contracted the virus have died. In the U.S., the Texas patient who had recently traveled from Liberia died on Oct. 8.

    Ebola Facts

    • A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear.
    • Symptoms of Ebola may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure, but the average is eight to 10 days.
    • Early symptoms include:

    o Fever (higher than 101.5° F)

    o Headache

    o Diarrhea

    o Vomiting

    o Stomach pain

    o Muscle pain

    o Unexplained bleeding or bruising

    How Ebola Spreads

    Ebola is spread through direct contact with:

    • Blood and body fluids (urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) from a person sick with the disease; and
    • Items contaminated by blood or body fluids from an infected patient, like needles, medical equipment, clothing, or bedding.

    Are You at Risk?

    If you’ve traveled to an area with an outbreak, or had close contact with someone sick with the disease, you may be at risk. The CDC recommends that you:

    • Check for signs and symptoms for 21 days.
    • Take your temperature every morning and evening.
    • Call your doctor — even if you do not have symptoms — to evaluate your exposure level and consult with public health authorities to determine if any actions are needed.
    • Continue normal activities, including going to work, while you are symptom-free.

    If You Get Sick after Travel to an At-Risk Area

    • Get medical care immediately if you develop a fever (higher than 101.5° F).
    • Alert your doctor about your recent travel to West Africa, or contact with a person sick with Ebola, and symptoms before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency department. Calling ahead will help the doctor or emergency department care for you — and protect others.

    Updated 10/21/2014 

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  • Recipe: Homemade

    Pumpkin Spice Latte

    Fall is finally here and we are officially excited about EVERYTHING pumpkin! Instead of buying the famous coffeehouse drink, skip out on the saturated fat, carbohydrates, and sugars by crafting your own version of the pumpkin spice latte in the kitchen. You may be used to waiting in a long line for this tasty treat, so you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find you can whip up this recipe in half the time. Better yet, this version uses real pumpkin, not syrup! Pumpkin is low in fat and calories, and also packs a healthy dose of antioxidants, vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as iron. Pumpkin is also a great dietary source of fiber.

    So, save yourself some calories, money, and time spent in line by adopting this version of a fall favorite!

    Pumpkin Spiced Latte

    Ingredients

    2 cups skim milk

    2 tablespoons canned pumpkin

    2 tablespoons Stevia

    2 tablespoons vanilla extract

    1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

    1/2 cup hot brewed coffee

    Whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice and ground nutmeg, optional

    Directions

    Combine milk, sugar, and pumpkin in a small pan over medium heat until steaming.

    Remove heat, stir in pumpkin pie spice and vanilla

    Transfer the mixture to a blender. Process for 15 seconds or until foamy

    Pour into two mugs, add ¼ cup coffee

    Top with whipped cream and a pinch of pumpkin spice

    Nutritional Facts

    1-1/4 cups (calculated without whipped cream) equals 307 calories, 0 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 33 mg cholesterol, 346 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 22 g protein

    Do you have any favorite healthy fall recipes you enjoy with seasonal fruits and vegetables? Share them with us in the comments!

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  • Infographic:

    Colors of the Eye

    From the famous lines of beloved songs to the stories of ancient legends, eye color has captivated audiences throughout time. The origins and genetic makeup associated with eye color makes the color of one’s eye more complex than a simple collection of aesthetic traits, however. Genes and pigment concentrations are two important factors in determining eye color. Some eye colors are more rare than others and can be linked to genetics or family origins and heritage.

    Hannah Scanga, MS, a genetic counselor at the UPMC Eye Center, explains, “The two primary genes that influence the color of the eye, primarily brown and blue eyes, are OCA2 and HERC2. Additional genes influence other eye colors and specific variations, including green or hazel eyes and gold rings.” The scale of eye color from most to least common is brown, blue, hazel, green, and silver.

    According to Ellen Mitchell, MD, “Concentrations of the pigment melanin in the iris of the eye is the primary determinant of eye color. Higher amounts of melanin lead to darker colors while lower amounts result in lighter eye colors.” Dr. Mitchell continues, “The pigment lipochrome also plays a role in determining eye color, specifically green eyes.”

    Eye color can also change due to factors like pupil size, emotions, and age. However, if these changes are drastic or only occur in one eye this may indicate a medical condition and you should discuss symptoms with a doctor.Eye Color Infographic

    Are you still curious about some of the fascinating facts behind blue (green, or brown) eyes? Visit the UPMC Eye Center website to learn more about the latest breakthroughs in the field of optometry and the different eye conditions we treat. Call 1-800-446-3797 to schedule an appointment today.

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  • 5 Ramen Noodle

    “Health Hacks”

    It’s that time of year again. The time when college students flock back to campus, ready to ace their tests, reunite with friends, and feast on the infamously unhealthy Ramen Noodles. Unfortunately, the beloved college-food was the subject of a recent health study, which linked it to series health issues. Even more disheartening? These issues were gender specific. Women who ate the noodles at least twice per week saw a 68 percent increase in their risk of cardiometabolic syndrome, while men saw no notable difference in their risk. But with all-nighters and deadlines looming, it’s not easy to toss the prepackaged delicacy into the trash for good. So what’s a busy college kid to do?

    Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, commented on the story and assured students that it doesn’t take much effort to make Ramen healthier. So next time late-night hunger strikes, try these simple steps to save your wallet and your health:

    Ramen Graphic

    1. Ditch the Seasoning

    The sky-high sodium content is the biggest health issue, so try adding flavor another way! Use water or broth and flavor it with garlic, ginger, herbs, chili, or sesame oil.

    2. Add Veggies

    If you live on campus, grab some vegetables from the salad bar to use in your Ramen. Otherwise, break out the frozen veggies to give your noodles an extra kick of nutrients!

    3. Pack in the Protein

    Chicken, shrimp, tuna, tofu, grilled salmon, eggs…the list goes on! Any protein you choose will make your Ramen healthier and keep you feeling full longer than Ramen alone.

    4. Use your Leftovers

    Have extra food from last night’s dinner? Combine it with ramen noodles (sans seasoning) for a delicious reworking that makes you forget you’re eating leftovers.

    5. Go Dry

    Cook the noodles, drain, and lightly toss in your favorite dressing or sauce! Think low-sodium soy sauce, Italian dressing, vinaigrette, or teriyaki sauce.

    6. Get Creative

    There are dozens (if not hundreds) of Ramen recipes for you to try. There are even Ramen Noodle cookbooks! So don’t settle for boring noodles, spice it up with a creative recipe.

    Eating habits tend to change when entering college mode, as campus life warrants an active and hectic lifestyle. Quick, convenient and unhealthy meals often take center stage, landing healthy eating and cooking in the bleachers. When you’re looking to get creative with regular old Ramen, check out some of our health hacks. Think of it as teaching an old dog new tricks, but this time you’re the dog and the tricks are disguised as noodles. Bring your dorm room dining to a new level while also becoming more conscious of the ingredients your putting in your body!

    How do you make your Ramen healthier? Share your ideas below!

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Men’s Health Tips By the Decades

by Main Slider by Orthopaedic Surgery

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In recognition of Men’s Health Week (June 9-14), Christopher Rhody, MD, a primary care physician at West Hills Family Practice–UPMC, offers tips to make the most of each decade of life. Check out this infographic and read the article below to learn more about our Men’s Health Tips.

Celebrate Men’s Health Week by sharing this with all the men in your life to make health a priority!

upmc-health-decades-men

In your 20s…

In this age group, two important things to pay attention to are your diet and the amount of exercise you get every day. During this decade it is important for males to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, as they will influence their health behaviors later in life. For exercise, running or jogging is a good option for most young males. If running is not an option, then a two-mile walk at a brisk pace is sufficient. If you use supplements to enhance your workouts, be mindful of the ingredients.

Many people in their 20s live a very active and on-the-go lifestyle that can make eating healthy difficult. Dr. Rhody’s rule of thumb when eating on the go is, “If they can get it to you in less than 15 minutes, don’t eat it.” Men in this stage of life may consider their diet as healthy if they are following the nutritional guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This means for each meal, at least half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, and the other half should include equal portions of whole grains and lean protein.

Dr. Rhody also points out, “What happens in your 20s effects you in your 50s.” An example of this is men who experience health difficulties later in life due to their prolonged time in the sun early in life. It is important to take care of your skin at any age by avoiding tanning beds and using sunscreen and protective measures, such as wearing sunglasses or a hat to help prevent the risk of skin cancer later on in life.

Also during this stage, males tend to lose weight much easier but it will not always be that way. As men age, their ability to lose weight easily and quickly will decrease. Practice healthy habits early on and abide by them throughout your lifetime.

In your 30s…

Dr. Rhody stresses the importance of scheduling regular visits to your primary care physician for routine check-ups and testing during this decade. Many men in their 30s do not feel like they have the time or the need to go to the doctor because they feel fine. Whether or not you feel perfectly healthy, routine tests can help uncover hidden health problems. Your primary care physician can help determine what type of testing is best suited for you.

Exercise and diet become even more crucial for men in their 30s because of the likelihood of significant lifestyle changes that can accompany this decade. Many men are working longer hours, getting married, or raising a family so some of their healthy lifestyle habits can fall by the wayside. It is important to make sure you exercise daily. Males in their 30s need a longer, more sustained period of exercise, rather than short bursts of activity such as chasing their children around the yard.

Dr. Rhody encourages men to not become sedentary as they go through this period in their lives. It’s also important to concentrate more on their diet than they may have before, even if daily exercise is not always possible. Men’s ability to control their weight decreases with age, so it becomes even more important to make sure you are making healthy, nutritious choices for your meals.

In your 40s…

Similar to your 30s, Dr. Rhody urges men in their 40s visit the doctor on a regular basis. This is the age when men may begin to experience prostate or heart problems. Consulting your doctor to help determine the appropriate testing may help to catch problems early and before they become more serious health concerns.

A proper diet continues to be very important and has several health benefits for men in their 40s. Males should eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and be mindful of serving size. Follow the basic rule of “all things in moderation,” and remember that a serving size is approximately the size of a deck of cards. If getting the recommended two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables a day is a challenge, try taking a multivitamin to help you get the proper vitamins and nutrients. It is also especially important for men in this age group to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, as it has numerous benefits for your skin, waistline, and overall health.

Exercise is key at any stage of a man’s life, and the 40s are no different. As men age, especially those who have been very active, joint pain and stiffness may increase and can start to slow some men down. Daily exercise is preferred, but listening to your body’s limits is essential. If other exercise becomes challenging a two-mile walk is recommended. Dr. Rhody suggests walking at a pace “fast enough so that when you are talking while walking, you feel the need to take a deep breath after speaking.”

In your 50s…

Dr. Rhody urges men of this decade to work with their doctors to develop the health plan that’s best for them. This may include screenings, tests, and assessments. Be sure to ask if a colonoscopy is right for you and talk about ways to maintain diet and exercise routines.

As you advance into your 50s, Dr. Rhody offers the following tips to maintain a healthy diet:

  • Cut out unnecessary sugars
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Pay attention to your choices regarding alcohol type because these calories can quickly add up

Men in their 50s should also focus on incorporating new activities into their lifestyles. Don’t let the stiffness that comes with aging prevent you from exercising. Consider changing up your fitness routine to include joint-friendly options like swimming (around 20 laps a day), biking (10 miles daily), or simply adjusting your pace on walks.

In your 60s…

In addition to maintaining some level of physical activity, Dr. Rhody recommends focusing on mental adjustments to the life changes this decade brings. Continue to stay active and busy if and when you have retired from your regular career or job. To keep your mind active, consider the following tips:

  • Read more
  • Join clubs and senior leagues
  • Take leadership roles in your organizations

If possible, integrate physical activity into your routines. Contrary to common belief, you do not have to slow down at this age. Dr. Rhody cautions that becoming sedentary at this age could be detrimental..

Don’t worry if you have not previously been physically active. Tai Chi, Yoga, and other fitness programs that focus on stretching can provide many health benefits. Remember to hydrate before, during, and after workouts to help prevent injuries.

Actively manage your health at this age. Keep records of your appointments, medications, and symptoms. Stay current on tests, screenings, and assessments.

In your 70s and beyond…

Men in their 70s should take care to keep the home environment safe. Vision often deteriorates as we age so be sure to remove loose rugs, sharp edges, and other health and safety hazards. Consider adding safety handles in the bathroom and signing up for medical monitoring services. If living alone, consider welcoming a small pet into your household.

Dr. Rhody emphasizes the importance of centralizing your medical care with primary care physicians. Keep records of your medications and side effects but remember primary care physicians can be used as your health care hub to help you stay informed about your health care needs.

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An established leader in advanced orthopaedic care, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery offers comprehensive services for the full spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions. Our more than 40 orthopaedic surgeons and staff use some of the latest imaging technologies for diagnoses, and perform some of the most advanced surgical techniques as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

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