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Cancer Alternative Therapies

You have many choices to make about your cancer treatment. One choice you might be thinking about is complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard care. Examples of CAM therapies are acupuncture, chiropractic, and herbal medicines.

People with cancer may use CAM to

  • Help cope with the side effects of cancer treatments
  • Ease worries of cancer treatment and related stress
  • Feel that they are doing something more to help their own care

CAM treatments do not work for everyone. Some methods, such as acupuncture, might help with nausea, pain and other side effects of cancer treatment. Talk to your doctor to make sure that all aspects of your cancer care work together.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Lead Poisoning

Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. Much of it comes from human activities such as mining and manufacturing. Lead used to be in paint; older houses may still have lead paint. You could be exposed to lead by

  • Eating food or drinking water that contains lead. Water pipes in older homes may contain lead.
  • Working in a job where lead is used
  • Using lead in a hobby, such as making stained glass or lead-glazed pottery
  • Using folk remedies such as herbs or foods that contain lead

Breathing air, drinking water, eating food, or swallowing or touching dirt that contains lead can cause many health problems. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and cause infertility, nerve disorders, and muscle and joint pain. It can also make you irritable and affect your ability to concentrate and remember.

Lead is especially dangerous for children. A child who swallows large amounts of lead may develop anemia, severe stomachache, muscle weakness, and brain damage. Even at low levels, lead can affect a child's mental and physical growth.

Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry

Traveler's Health

Traveling can increase your chances of getting sick. A long flight can increase your risk for deep vein thrombosis. Once you arrive, it takes time to adjust to the water, food, and air in another place. Water in developing countries can contain viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Be safe by using only bottled or purified water for drinking, making ice cubes, and brushing your teeth. If you use tap water, boil it or use iodine tablets. Food poisoning can also be a risk. Eat only food that is fully cooked and served hot. Avoid unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables.

If you are traveling out of the country, you might also need vaccinations or medicines to prevent specific illnesses. Which ones you need will depend on what part of the world you're visiting, the time of year, your age, overall health status, and previous immunizations. See your doctor 4 to 6 weeks before your trip. Most vaccines take time to become effective.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Environmental Health

Our environment affects our health. If parts of the environment, like the air, water, or soil become polluted, it can lead to health problems. For example, asthma pollutants and chemicals in the air or in the home can trigger asthma attacks.

Some environmental risks are a part of the natural world, like radon in the soil. Others are the result of human activities, like lead poisoning from paint, or exposure to asbestos or mercury from mining or industrial use.

NIH: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that has no odor or color. But it is very dangerous. It can cause sudden illness and death. CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those made by cars and trucks, lanterns, stoves, gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these fumes can build up in places that don't have a good flow of fresh air. You can be poisoned by breathing them in. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

It is often hard to tell if someone has CO poisoning, because the symptoms may be like those of other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms. A CO detector can warn you if you have high levels of CO in your home.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention