Epidemiology Provides Ill-Health Prevention & Centurion Wisdom

23 06 2010

    In a nut shell, epidemiology is the study of illness and disease affecting a population’s health.  It is also an applied science specific to the incidence of disease in populations as opposed to the individual.  I believe basic knowledge of this highly specialized job can provide individuals with a better understanding in prevention of disease and relative-timely medical referrals for ill-health conditions.  My point is if we could learn how to use specific data to our advantage in seeking to identify and treat our ill-health, we would be much more successful at alleviating pain-illness and maintaining better overall health and happiness.  This does not mean you need a degree in epidemiology to apply a common sense approach to find resolve to a specific ill-health problem.  What it does mean, by understanding how science identifies and treats epidemics in populations; the basic principles of this knowledge can provide the individual a better ill-health troubleshooting skill set that many centurions use to improve upon quality living experiences as they age!

     The work of epidemiologists includes researching risk factors in environment that cause illness and disease, clinical identification/study of illness agent, data collection, etc., of infected people and treatment of environmental out breaks on population.  What most don’t understand, epidemiologists rely on a vast array of disciplines in order to “best” identify an ill-health outbreak.  In order to understand how ill-health is disseminated on a population requires an understanding and mastery by these experts; and those specialized in the fields of biology, sociology, mathematics, statistics, anthropology, psychology and policy (research policy and bureaucracy impact data results and interpretation).  So the “one cause-one effect” to illness and death rarely is a single contributor of ill-health on a population.   Instead, multiple factors, circumstances and opportunity within environment typically lead to an epidemic that would create the lethal agent outbreak impacting an entire population.  If pain alleviation and ill-health prevention wisdom is the result of knowing how to apply some of this basic knowledge; than living to be a healthy centurion is a “more likely than not” goal scenario, is it not?

     With a broad range of potential bio-agents and psychosocial cause factors, ill-health agents can attack the physical mind-body from many internal and external cause fronts.  Understand that each one of us is a 3-part being that requires a healthy environment which caters to the mind, body and spirit.  Also recall, the internal biological neural highways, mind-body (psychosomatic) connection can depress the body’s physical biology and spirit.  The same is true of body-spirit pain which can depress the bio-mind making any part of being sick through the psychosomatic connection.  We are a 360 degree feedback “being” mechanism.  In other words, to make it simple, we all have the ability to think ourselves into ill-health conditions when our internal and external environments depress us through infection worsening a condition for example.  We do not become ill due to only biological external environmental agents!  And when our “being” is depressed, we are more susceptible to illness and disease agents from multiple environmental cause agents!

     Now let’s look at one example where epidemiologists have used their specialized data collection techniques to determine agent cause, treat and save lives in populations, than use this as a model to apply to self. 

     Before water and food sanitation practices evolved many people got extremely sick from the cholera bacteria.  This bacterium dispersed within a population from feces, or other effluents (vomit, diarrhea, etc.) that contaminated their living space; water and food sources, etc.    Cholera would not only be in the water source but would then spread to coastal water ways for example and attach itself to shellfish contaminating those whose diet in part was dependent on them.  Through consumption of shellfish the bacteria would continue its assault on distant coastal populations.   This chain of events could then infect local and distant water/food supplies, dwellings, etc., which infected the body, mind and spirit of individuals, also families in multiple communities.

     By “collecting data points” from various near and distant infected social-cultural environments, people, animals, soil samples, water, food, etc., scientist where able to find the common contributing denominator(s) to an epidemic that wiped out huge populations in the past before the Cholera bacteria agent was identified.  Once this agent was identified, preventative sanitation and treatment practices were put into effect and outbreaks in civilized populations became nonexistent.  Today these specialists collect data and provide consumers and other interest groups risk data and advisement on poor diet, smoking (second hand smoke), sewage-sanitation systems/practices, food preparation/storage, various environmental impact studies, toxic product identification, pandemic containment advisement etc., and the list goes on.

     So what can you as an individual take away from this wisdom to apply to self?  After all most of us aren’t statistical analysts that have participated in illness and disease epidemic studies.  Regardless, there are lessons to be learned and tools that can be used on self, much like the epidemiologist approach in discovery to rid a population of ill-health environmental conditions.  So the basic skill set you can improve upon when seeking relative and timely treatment to ill-health signs and symptoms will require you to provide historical and daily data to a treating physician, or specialist.    Regardless of whether an illness is acute (infrequent occurrence), or chronic (frequent-consistent occurrence), you must learn to track specific data much like the epidemiologist seeks the cause and effect in finding an ill-health agent afflicting a population.  By learning how to target the cause agent a likely solution can be applied to the internal/external threat before it causes further damage to being.  What kind of data you ask?

     You must begin collecting data on your daily habits, time/day of pain, and frequency of event, duration, signs-symptoms, products/food you consume; identify risky behaviors-habits and things that cause stress in your life.  Now you are collecting data that can be shared with those of specific medical knowledge disciplines.  Remember a “one cause-one effect” that creates illness in a population is seldom the case.  That is, the Cholera a bacterium was born and spread from multiple cause agent carriers; starting through poor sanitation practices.  This infected people, food, rodents and water; impacted social activities, wellbeing (quarantined/death) which impacted social/family dynamics in local and distant communities for years thereafter.   So where did science start looking first for this culprit?  Good question, a process of elimination through data collection and other scientific means of the times.  The same is basically true when any patient has complex illness and pain symptoms.  By collecting data on your daily habits, signs and symptoms you are providing biological, psychological, diet, physical, statistical and social environmental information that will provide a more likely inference on the cause agent(s) origin to your discomfort and ill-health.

     Below are 12 data points of interest you can track for self to share with a physician before consultations; much like an epidemiologist would collect to increase probability of targeting harmful agents by sharing collected data with other specialists to rid a population of a likely cause agent.  You too must also do some homework by providing suspected cause agent data to your physician for the best treatment outcome. 

     Information and Data Cause Agent Source Example/Ideals for the individual:  1) Use the Internet to research your symptoms/treatment solutions and visit chat rooms-forums to learn more about suspected illness and disease.  2)  If diagnosed with substantiated illness-disease buy self-help books from experts, or visit your local library for successful treatment solutions/ideals.  3) Talk to parents, siblings and blood relatives to see if there is a genetic ill-health connection, cause and what was the treatment… Did the illness worsen, or improve with treatment?  4) Are your symptoms caused from poor diet?  5) Do you engage in unhealthy habits, i.e., smoking, drinking, poor diet?  6) Are you active, or do you live a sedentary lifestyle?  7)  Do you socialize, practice spiritualism, or are you a recluse?  8)  Do you encounter daily environmental/product toxins at work/home hobbies, living area etc.?  9)  Are you involved in a stressful relationship, job and/or family?   10)  Do you take prescription medications, if so what kind & how long?  11) Are you generally depressed?  If so, do you understand why?  12) Have you had a past injury, allergy, infection that remains problematic, untreated, causes pain and/or depression?

     A process of environmental cause agent elimination can benefit your ill-health quest by collecting these daily data points and plotting them on a graph for example.  Simply list your data point suspicions horizontally.  Next list each column by the day with a 3 category code in bold: Worse, No Change, or Better.  This way you begin to plot data where status change of condition can easily be noted and shared with your treating physician(s).

     By becoming knowledgeable of symptoms caused per unique environment, one can begin the process of removing potential cause agent sources out of the equation that may be impacting, or depressing the mind, body and spirit.  For example, if you suspect something in your diet is the source of your problem; remove the potential suspect source agent for a couple of weeks to see if this improves your condition(s) plot and code the data points daily.  This can easily be done in between consultations which can be shared with treating physician(s).  Note: Do not put off seeing a physician before you start this process.  Instead, seek medical attention as soon as possible if you feel you have a serious medical condition and chart your medical condition suspicion study simultaneously.

     There are many other ways an ill-health cause agent can catch you off guard.  But this data collection insight will provide a starting point of suspected agent(s) data when consulting with physicians and specialists.  Then again, this is important why?  Because all too often we seek medical attention without providing valuable historical, recent signs/symptoms data during the physician consult.  This my friend’s leads all too often to untimely and non relative treatment!

     You don’t have to have the expertise of an epidemiologist, but only understand the importance of data collection to share with your physicians to better analyze your ill-health conditions.  Because in too many cases, we the patient depend too heavily on our doctors to fix, or treat us with a prescription and follow up based on if our signs and symptoms have not improved.  This all-too-often quick results treatment removes signs and symptoms temporarily.  But it does not address the underlying environmental and habitual cause agents of our ill-health.  As you’ve seen, we are much more complicated beings that require a multidiscipline approach to treat and keep us healthy.  And in order to determine ill health causal relationships, requires us to also be honest with ourselves by identifying our bad habits, risky behaviors and environmental stressors while taking preventative action to keep our 3-part being healthy.  To do otherwise not only risk your good health but also can impact a whole lot of other people.

     And through preventative knowledge and timely self advocacy action much pain and suffering in one’s life and family can be mitigated.  Many centurion benefits are possible through understanding the epidemiologist’s wisdom of data collection in sharing with various disciplines to rule out the “one cause, one effect” causing illness.  If a one cause, one effect is substantiated through medical exam than one knows what one must do to get well.  But for a good majority of patients, medical exams “do not” substantiate symptom(s), nor do they correlate well with conventional medical treatment.  Often non-substantiated cases of illness, pain, or just feeling bad are treated subjectively as opposed to objectively for lack of medical findings and then prescribed pharmaceuticals.  Here lies the problem for many that accept the conventional outpatient consultation protocol.  Without self advocacy for relative and timely treatment, data collection-sharing skill sets during physician consultation; insidious illness and disease agents can go unchecked for years.

     If you want to experience healthy life benefits, such as quality living conditions, personal comfort, happiness and other quality life experiences with family as you age, there is much to be learned and applied from an epidemiologist wisdom.  For the individual and centurion this skill set wisdom is invaluable as a prevention and problem solving tool that you can put to use immediately.  This wisdom teaches us to take accountability in keeping our 3-part being healthy by collecting, sharing data, while identifying-advocating for timely and relative treatment when working with our physicians for the “best possible health outcome!”

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





How to Deal With Depression

25 08 2008
 Q. I deal with depression on a daily basis and I’m not sure why I feel so negative.  I just don’t feel like doing anything and nothing really interests me anymore.  Do you have any recommendations on how I can be more positive about life and get out of this funk?
 
 A. Depression is a very tough mental health condition to control and manage on a daily basis, but for the majority that has mild (severe depression – seek professional help) forms of depression can be managed by incorporating some life style change habits.  There are many life factors that can depress 1 of 3 elements that make up a person (body, mind and soul).  I can say with conviction if you can work to improve one of the 3 elements that make up your total being, you can improve your depressed state.  By managing depression your demeanor will become more positive, your body more healthy!  Listed below are some activity  recommendations that “can and will” provide happiness and wellbeing while thwarting depression.  You’ll note in the recommendations I don’t list TV, or movie activities as a positive life habit.  This is because if you simply watch something as opposed to putting yourself into the actual activity (exercise, travel, etc.), or virtual mental role (a good book, or game that provides a working positive mental experience) it is very tough to beat depression otherwise.  I think good books can be a very positive experience.  What’s the difference between a book and a movie?  Movies require no imagination.  On the other hand books stimulate the imagination [works the brain], by gaining information, makes you think, which also stimulate knowledge seeking from other sources.  Initially, books are an individual healthy mental activity that can/do lead to human exchange, mental stimulation and/or spiritual growth  brain function.  Communication with others has a very positive effect on those that suffer mild forms of depression. 

Remember, positive stimulus of the mind where it is exercised through two-way communication (input/output) plays a combatant role against depression healing the mind & body [body and mind are connected].  I believe certain game stations (computerized virtual activities) can provide a positive mental and physical benefit [as a good book].  However, I think games are better exercised with others… Like cards, game boards, etc.  Select one, or two ideals listed below and work towards accomplishing a project, goal, objective, etc.  If you make anyone of these activities a continuous life habit, I can guarantee your depression and anxiety levels will decrease or disappear. 

  1.  Find an activity that you enjoy.  For example, walking, nutritious cooking, reading, draw, paint, home improvement, gardening, interior design, gym membership, aerobics class, cycling class, travel abroad, fishing, hiking, camping, etc.  Each one of these types of activities provides an interactive personal experience to further know oneself and find other experiences outside of your comfort zone.
  2. Incorporate a healthy diet into your lifestyle.  For example, ensure you get plenty of fresh fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits and fiber.  Supplement your diet with a good daily supplement if your schedule simply will not allow you to consume 3 to 4 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Also if your over 45 years of age, or older, you should seriously consider supplementing your diet with other nutrients that we no longer receive from our foods, due to poor crop rotation farming practices, pesticides, herbicides and steroids now found in our foods [organic farms produce live stock and all other natural foods without these poor farming practises].
  3. See your primary physician.  Ask for a referral to speak with a mental health consultant. This does not mean you are crazy!   Pychologists and psychiatrists simply have much more information and tools to offer.  Although I promote natural foods & supplements to deal with depression, I also realize there are other “short term” benefits that can be derived through use of pharmaceuticals.  I believe the goal should be to find a “natural long term” solution(s) to deal with depression as opposed to long term pharmaceutical use.
  4. Stay in touch with family and close friends.  The worst thing you could possibly do is to isolate yourself.  I understand you may feel like you don’t have a friend in the world.  This simply is not true!  Don’t try to deal with depression on your own.  Find someone you can talk to.  Family and friends are your best source of support.  If you can not find this support in your own family, or close circle of friends, call a depression hot line, seek other public health, or mental health service centers and churches in your area, see your physician.  You simply must discuss your depression issues with someone if you can not help yourself.  To go it alone is very difficult and needs not to be this way.
  5. Find the meaning of life.  This is very perplexing, personal and is as old as time itself.  I believe the meaning of life is a personal experience for each individual and where each one of us is scripted to fulfill a role in this life time and beyond.  To not understand your souls spirituality is to not understand your purpose in life and passage to the next (soul is the third component that makes up human).  To not understand your purpose in this life and afterlife can be a very depressing proposition.  I highly recommend you go on a spiritual journey to understand your purpose here in this life.  Choose book topics to expand your souls spirituality by reading biblical studies and prophecy, historical philosophers, current spiritual scholars, authors, ministers, etc., study scripture, afterlife experiences, personal conversations with God, the after world and so forth.  Please don’t limit yourself to any one religion as God is universal.  With a little effort, you will quickly define your purpose here on this planet which will provide a positive mental health experience for you.  Also visit our site Wellness Company page.  We offer excellent “NATURAL” products scientifically formulated to remove chemical toxin allergies from your home.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2008 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing, www.mirrorathlete.com   Sign up for your Free Monthly Health eNewsletter.





Alleviate Depression

25 08 2008
Q. I deal with depression on a daily basis and I’m not sure why I feel so negative.  I just don’t feel like doing anything and nothing really interests me anymore.  Do you have any recommendations on how I can be more positive about life and get out of this funk?
A. Depression is a very tough mental health condition to control and manage on a daily basis, but for the majority that has mild (severe depression – seek professional help) forms of depression can be managed by incorporating some life style change habits.  There are many life factors that can depress 1 of 3 elements that make up a person (body, mind and spirit).  I can say with conviction if you can work to improve one of the 3 elements that make up your encompassing being, you can improve a depressed state. 
By learning how to manage depression your demeanor will become more positive, you’ll feel better and out word appearance will begin to improve!  Listed below are some activity  recommendations that “can and will” improve wellbeing while thwarting physical and mental depression.  You’ll note in the recommendations I don’t list TV, or movie activities as a healthy lifestyle habit.
This is because if you watch something as opposed to putting yourself into an actual physical activity… you stimulate the release of the brain’s natural feel good chemicals endorphins, serotonin and dopamine.  Not that a little movie watching is a bad thing.  It can actually be relaxing.  It’s when the habit becomes a sedentary and frequent one, it’s time to change that habit.     
What’s the difference between a book and a movie?  Movies require no brain work, the viewing process simply takes images in and we respond emotionally to what we see.  
Books on the other hand stimulate the imagination and provide information that makes us think and process it.  Which is a cognitive brain function skillset and keeps the brain sharp.  In my opinion, reading a good book is relaxing and contributes to cognitive skills development, stimulates the imagination and motivates one to think differently.  Or in ways that may incentivize the body to move.
However, too much reading like movie viewing can also create a bad sedentary habit.  Both movie viewing and reading a good book, or a good relaxing walk or meditation have been said to decrease anxiety levels and depression.
It is the activity habits we participate in daily which requires balance of time spent on sedentary versus exercise activities performed each day.  When sedentary habits increase, the contribution to the encompassing being becomes depressed for lack of released feel good brain chemicals and body movement.   Likewise, when exercise activities increase the contribution to the encompassing being experiences a greater sense of wellbeing, spirit is heightened and we feel well and energetic.
How to mitigate the depression bug,  
  1. Find an activity that you enjoy.  For example, walking, nutritious cooking, reading, draw, paint, home improvement, gardening, interior design, gym membership, aerobics class, cycling class, travel abroad, fishing, hiking, camping, etc.  Each one of these types of activities provides an interactive personal experience to further know oneself and find other experiences outside of your comfort zone.
  2. Incorporate a healthy diet into your lifestyle.  For example, ensure you get plenty of fresh fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits and fiber.  Supplement your diet with a good daily supplement if your schedule simply will not allow you to consume 3 to 4 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Also if your over 45 years of age, or older, you should seriously consider supplementing your diet with other nutrients that we no longer receive from our foods, due to poor crop rotation farming practices, pesticides, herbicides and steroids now found in our foods [organic farms produce live stock and all other natural foods without these poor farming practises].
  3. See your primary physician.  Ask for a referral to speak with a mental health consultant. This does not mean you are crazy!   Pychologists and psychiatrists simply have much more information and tools to offer.  Although I promote natural foods & supplements to deal with depression, I also realize there are other “short term” benefits that can be derived through use of pharmaceuticals.  I believe the goal should be to find a “natural long term” solution(s) to deal with depression as opposed to long term pharmaceutical use.
  4. Stay in touch with family and close friends.  The worst thing you could possibly do is to isolate yourself.  I understand you may feel like you don’t have a friend in the world.  This simply is not true!  Don’t try to deal with depression on your own.  Find someone you can talk to.  Family and friends are your best source of support.  If you can not find this support in your own family, or close circle of friends, call a depression hot line, seek other public health, or mental health service centers and churches in your area, see your physician.  You simply must discuss your depression issues with someone if you can not help yourself.  To go it alone is very difficult and needs not to be this way.
  5. Find the meaning of life.  This is very perplexing, personal and is as old as time itself.  I believe the meaning of life is a personal experience for each individual and where each one of us is scripted to fulfill a role in this life time and beyond.  To not understand your purpose in life and spiritual passage to the next journey is depressing within itself. 
  6. Choose book topics to expand your understanding of life after death and reason you were put here on this earth.  Read biblical studies and prophecy, historical philosophers, current spiritual scholars, study scripture, afterlife experiences, personal conversations with God, etc.  Don’t limit yourself to any one religion as God is universal.  With a little effort, you will quickly define your purpose here on this planet which will provide a positive and uplifting experience for you.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2008 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing, www.mirrorathlete.com Sign up for your Free Monthly Health eNewsletter.