Health Literacy: What is Your Patient’s Level of Understanding?

patient understanding, health literacyDo your hyperbaric oxygen therapy patient’s really understand what you are telling them? When they sign consent forms are they really making an informed decision? The answer would surprise you and the end result will astonish you.

Several health literacy publications have found that nearly half of all American adult patients – approximately 90 million individuals – have difficulty understanding; let alone using even the most basic health information.

Patients with limited health literacy skills can be found strewn throughout the United States. Even states filled to the max with affluent residents have noticed this very concerning trend occurring more often than they would like.

While various definitions of health literacy exist – just google ‘health literacy definition’ and more than 2,490,000 results will show up – the most widely accepted definition comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; which is:

“The degree as to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand even the most basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”

The end result? Poor health literacy skills often result in more patients using the emergency room and becoming hospitalized. A lack of understanding can additionally result in patients being misdiagnosed or using prescription medications improperly.

Eliminating the medical jargon, at least with your patients, can both improve medical treatment as well as reduce the frequency of unnecessary return and emergency department visits.

However, improving your patient’s medical understanding doesn’t stop there. Medical facilities should also make a conscious decision to improve their own communication practices in order to enhance patient/physician relationships.

Taking the time to understand that each of your patients is unique and that each learns in different ways is imperative. One approach that helps benefit all involved is directly asking your patients which learning method work best for them.

Some people may learn better through visualization; while others may learn better through verbal communications; while others learn best through a hands-on approach. The correct method can greatly enhance communications and decrease frustrations.

No matter which communication approach you decide to implement within your practice, there are two caveats worth mentioning: Don’t leave out important information and don’t forget to show compassion.

Treating Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

sudden hearing loss, idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing lossWhat is Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSHL), or nerve-related deafness, is the sudden loss of hearing in one or both ears that rapidly occurs within 72 hours or less.

The incidence of ISSHL has been reported to affect approximately 20 people out of every 100,000 people per year. The loss affects women and men just the same.

The severity of ISSHL can be mild or severe, short or long-term – regardless of whether it’s in just one ear or both.

Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is commonly associated with idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Which, take it from this writer, can be quite unsettling!

Treating ISSHL with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy!

Developed over 350 years ago, but not readily adopted until the early 1930s when the military tested the use of oxygen as a therapy, hyperbaric chambers were originally used for the purpose of relieving scuba divers of carbon monoxide poisoning or decompression sickness.

Today, increased research has made it possible for hyperbaric oxygen therapy to be used in the treatment of a multitude of FDA and AMA approved illnesses, including idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment (HBOT) patients are administered 100% medical grade oxygen at increased atmospheric pressures – from 1.3 to 2.5.

This increase in oxygen has been medically proven to effectively speed up the healing process if done within the first three months of your hearing loss.

Patients young and old lie or sit in a hyperbaric chamber (we offer both monoplace and multiplace chambers) that have been specifically designed for therapy.

Since HBOT is a therapy, your anticipated treatment time will vary depending on just how severe your hearing loss is. This will be discussed with you prior to treatment.Small Stations

Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer

Microscopic Blood CellsCarbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless invisible gas.  If you breathe in too much of it, you could die in just minutes!  This is why carbon monoxide is known as “The Silent Killer.” It’s produced by many different sources that are very common to most households.

Some of the more common sources of carbon monoxide that you might have in your own home are:

  • Engines that burn fuel,  like those in cars and trucks, if left running in an enclosed area such as a garage, will cause the amount of carbon monoxide to rise to dangerous levels.  It will then leak into the house and sickens the people inside.  Even swimming behind a boat with its motor running can cause a person to become affected by too much carbon monoxide.
  • When not installed or used properly, fuel burning appliances can leak carbon monoxide and cause the levels to rise to dangerous levels in a building.
  • During cold weather, wood stoves and kerosene space heaters are often used to heat homes.  Windows and doors are usually kept closed to keep out the cold, but unfortunately they’ll also keep in any carbon monoxide that is emitted by the heaters.
  • Chimneys in older buildings can become blocked which could cause carbon monoxide fumes to be released into homes or offices.
  • Newer homes are often very well insulated and tightly sealed for energy efficiency, but this can cause carbon monoxide to become trapped inside.

Carbon Monoxide in the BloodstreamIt’s very important to know the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning because it can become fatal so quickly.  Early symptoms are;

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

As the carbon monoxide levels in the bloodstream rise, the symptoms become more serious, such as;

  • Confusion and drowsiness
  • Increased heartbeat, fast breathing, chest pain
  • Problems with vision
  • Seizures

If you or someone around you has some of these symptoms and you suspect the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning, everyone should leave the area and call 911 right away and get help.  Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used to treat carbon monoxide poisoning.  If you have any questions about it, call Serenity Hyperbaric Treatment at     (623) 930-0887.

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If you would like to read the original article that inspired this blog, click here.

What You Should Know About Diabetic Wound Care

If you are diabetic, any wound, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, cannot be ignored! Wounds such as a blister, a scratch by a pet, a nick from shaving or even simply stubbing your toe need to be properly treated in order to ensure that they heal as quickly as possible and avoid getting infected. Learning a little bit about diabetic wounds will help keep you on the road to a speedy and safe recovery.

Diabetes is a complex condition that can cause complications that make it harder to heal a wound. Some of them are:
A Weakened Immune System – If your body isn’t able to fight off infections a wound is the perfect opening for bacteria and germs to enter the body and take hold.
Neuropathy – This is nerve damage which can hide the pain of a wound until it gets worse or becomes infected
Large ChamberNarrow Arteries – Blood flow promotes healing, which is one of the main ways hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps to heal wounds. In diabetic patients, arteries can become narrowed, which restricts blood flow to the tissues. When this happens in a patient’s legs, they are many times more likely to get wounds that get infected and have problems healing.

The following are steps you can take to help avoid infections and allow wounds to heal faster than they otherwise would:
• As soon as an injury is sustained, take action right away. Don’t wait, no matter how minor it seems at the time!
• Immediately clean the wound by rinsing it under running water. Soap, hydrogen peroxide and iodine can irritate a wound, so don’t use them. After washing the wound, use some antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection and then cover it with a sterile bandage. You should change the bandage daily and check it for any signs of infection. Also, clean the skin around the wound with soap to kill any germs that might be close to it.
• Keep pressure off the wound during the healing process. Calluses and blisters are common occurrences on the bottoms of the feet. If this happens, stay off your feet when you can in order to help it heal faster and better.

Foot Wounds on the feet and ankles of diabetic patients are a serious concern because they are more susceptible to swelling and can’t be immobilized, which slows the healing process. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy exposes wounds to an environment of 100% oxygen. Wounds need oxygen to heal properly, so doing this enables them to heal faster, reducing the chance of infection.

As always, consult with your physician any time you sustain a wound! This article does not substitute for the advice of a medical professional. It is intended for informational purposes only.

If you have any questions about HBOT or how it can help you, call Serenity Hyperbaric Treatment at (623) 930-0887 or visit us on the internet at http://www.serenityhbot.net/

 

The original article that inspired this blog post can be found here.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment, or HBOT?

Serenity HBOTHyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, is a medical treatment that has been used for many years.  Even though it has been around for decades, not everyone knows exactly what it is and how it can help people.  It is non-invasive, painless and very safe.  As with any medical treatment, there are some minor risks involved, but they are minimal and would be discussed with you prior to any treatment.

HBOT improves the body’s ability to heal itself by increasing the amount of oxygen taken in by the lungs.   This is done by putting a patient in a total body chamber in which they breathe 100% oxygen while the atmospheric pressure in the chamber is increased and controlled.  This allows the body to get up to 3 times more oxygen into the bloodstream, as well as all of the body’s fluids, the plasma, the lymph, the central nervous system, and the bone.  These fluids carry the extra oxygen to the damaged tissues within the body and enhance the natural healing that is already taking place.  The increased oxygen also greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria, reduces swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas.

HBOT is used to treat many different conditions which benefit from increased oxygen in the body’s tissues.  For example:

  • Air or Gas Embolism
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Gas Gangrene
  • Migraine
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Near Drowning
  • Intracranial Abscess
  • Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection
  • Osteoradionecrosis and Radiation Tissue Damage
  • Osteomyelitis (Refractory)
  • Skin Grafts and (Compromised) Flaps
  • Thermal Burns
  • Autism
  • Compartment Syndrome/Crush Injury/Other Traumatic Ischemias
  • Decompression Sickness (The Bends)
  • Diabetic and Selected Wounds
  • Exceptional Blood Loss (Anemia)
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Lyme Disease
  • Migraine
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Near Drowning
  • Recovery from Plastic Surgery
  • Sports Injuries
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

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Insurance companies cover treatment of certain conditions that have been studied and proven to be helped by HBOT.  Other conditions are considered “off label” and though they are helped by HBOT, they are not covered.  You should consult your insurance company if you have any coverage questions, but you can still get treated even if your insurance does not cover the condition you have.

If you have any questions about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (623) 930-0887.  Visit our website to learn more about Serenity Hyperbaric Treatment by clicking here.

The read the original article that inspired this blog post, click here.