Health

Akron-Ohio

May 2022

Women Find A Winning Solution in Dealing with Hair Loss

After Actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock during the Oscars for making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, one word was echoed around the world – alopecia.

From break rooms to the morning talk shows, people were asking, “what is alopecia?”

Even though many people in the nation had no idea what this word meant, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation this condition affects both sexes and all ethnic groups can develop alopecia areata.

“The definition of alopecia is hair loss from any cause. There are 100 different categories of alopecia,” said Dr. Linda Amerson, PhD, IIT, Tect, CCHHP/Scalp Doctor and Holistic Health Practitioner, who also is the owner of LA’s Hair and Scalp in Arlington, Texas.

Although people of all ages can develop alopecia, studies have shown that many people start to experience symptoms of this disease by the age of 30.

“Some of my younger clients are more concerned with their physical image,” said Dr. Amerson. “They may not be as conscious about trying to take care of their scalp. They tend to wear wigs or other things to cover up their hair loss.

“However, for those that are 40 or over, they are more concerned with the regrowth of their hair based on the damage that has been done. Their main concern tends to be if their hair loss is reversible or irreversible.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), “Telogen effluvium is a type of alopecia where hair sheds in excess. It can happen suddenly, or hair can thin over time. Causes of telogen effluvium include medications, stress, childbirth, physical trauma, restrictive dieting, and life changes.

According to Dr. Amerson there are over 300 medications that have a side effect that causes alopecia.

“My alopecia started after my father died. I was washing my hair when I was getting ready for his funeral, then I noticed a hand full of hair in the sink,” said Sebran Ferrell.

Ferrell admits that she was dealing with a perfect storm in her life before she was diagnosed with Alopecia Areota. Prior to her diagnosis her mother was sick, her father died, and she was experiencing some personal health issues.

“After seeking help from several professionals, I finally chose to go to a holistic function management doctor. I knew that I needed help getting my insides under control as well. I was dealing with pre-diabetes, and a lot of other things that were going on with my body other than alopecia.”

Alopecia Areata is a common autoimmune skin disease, causing hair loss on the scalp, face and sometimes on other areas of the body, according to AAD.

Carmen Anderson realized that she was dealing with hair loss after her beautician noticed some balding areas when she was washing her hair. This led Anderson to visit her doctor, who revealed that she had skin lupus.

After being diagnosed with lupus, Anderson experienced small bumps that began to itch. These bumps would show up anywhere on her body.

“When I first started dealing with my hair loss, I wore wigs. However, it took me a lot to get comfortable with wearing wigs, because they could come off. In the beginning, I did experience a few embarrassing moments when my wig came off unexpectedly,” she said.

After dealing with alopecia for three years, Anderson is currently having injections that are causing her to see some hair regrowth.

Ferrell who tends to experience hair loss during the Spring of year has learned some work around to cover her baldness.

“Fortunately my hair is long enough that when I am in an outbreak, I can pull my hair back in a ponytail. However, I recently took a leap of faith and cut my hair into a shoulder length bob cut. This allows me to style it in a way that the hair loss isn’t obvious,” said Ferrell.

Tiyiesha Morgan, a hair loss practitioner, services clients in California and Texas. With over 6.8 million Americans dealing with hair loss, Morgan believes that hair loss is a silent epidemic.

“The main difference is that hair loss is unlike some other conditions, it affects your outer appearance. Women can go into depression and experience anxiety after dealing with the effects of hair loss,” said Morgan.

Morgan also believes that there should be more research done on the impact of hair loss in African American Women. She supports recent efforts like those of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who has alopecia, advocating for Medicare to cover the cost of wigs for those who have lost their hair from disease and treatment.

After dealing with alopecia, Ferrell admits that she has had her own personal awakening, “I used to think that my hair was my best quality. I now realize that you are not defined by your hair.”

Although there is no cure for alopecia, some forms of the condition can be reversible. Dr. Amerson recommends that women seek help as soon as they notice hair loss so that they can have the best possible outcome from the condition.

“Don’t call your girlfriends or don’t go to YouTube University. You need to go to someone with board certified credentials,” stresses Dr. Amerson, adding that some of the warning signs that something is going on with your hair are: strains of hair on your vanity, substantial amounts of hair in your brush or strains of hair in the shower.

For so many, hair loss is no laughing matter.

The Brain Shrinks by Five Percent Beginning at 45, Experts Say Banish the Distractions

Ted Zanto, an associate professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, said aging shrinks the brain by about 5 percent between age 45 and 60.

Additionally, while AARP writer Sari Harrar noted that might sound small, it could help explain why the ability to pay attention and tune out distractions begins to decline before age 50. “Around then, your brain also has to start coping with the full catastrophe of midlife,” Harrar penned in a column for AARP’s magazine.

She noted further in quoting neuroscientist Denise Park, “Rebellious kids! Aging parents! Work! Money! Menopause! Throw in constant interruptions from our digital devices, and you might start feeling overwhelmed.”

Dr. Mahmud Kara, the creator of KaraMD, said in an email that tuning out distractions often is easier said than done.

However, Dr. Kara offered some ways to limit the noise.

“Creating a routine that works best for your lifestyle is essential,” Dr. Kara asserted.

“For example, if you know that you are a ‘morning’ person and focus best within the first few hours after you wake up, use that time to focus on the tasks that take priority for the day.”

Dr. Kara continued:

“Once you develop that routine, stick to it day after day so that it becomes a habit.”

Working out regularly provides many physical, mental, and emotional well-being benefits. For example, recent research has revealed that exercise is good for the gray matter, offered Jim Powell, the co-founder of My Speech Class.

“It turns out that aerobic activities that get the heart pumping can also keep the brain working in tip-top shape for longer,” Powell remarked.

“Peak oxygen uptake is associated with increased gray matter volume, which suggests that cardiorespiratory exercises known to improve aerobic capacity may help slow down a decline in gray matter. Some of the most popular and effective cardiorespiratory workouts include running, cycling, swimming, and even brisk walking.”

Health experts noted that the brain does possess wondrous plasticity, and individuals can help it adjust and refocus by taking up a few simple, healthy habits.

“Weight loss has been linked to increased memory and concentration. According to researchers, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes, all of which are typically caused by obesity, are thought to harm the brain,” said Theola Tinny, co-founder of VinPit.

“Researchers believe that once people regain a healthy weight and the problems that come with it, their cognitive disorders will fade away,” Tinny added.

“Also, our surroundings have a huge impact on our ability to concentrate. Decluttering your home or tidying your workstation is well recognized for making your mind feel more ordered, liberated, and able to think more clearly. You may alter your environment to make it more conducive to sustained focus,” Tinny continued.

She said physical activity, dietary choices, and weight are all factors that might affect the ability to function and concentrate.

“If you skip breakfast, for example, you are unlikely to be able to accomplish duties to your full potential by midday due to hunger sensations,” Tinny concluded.

“Taking care of your health, staying active, and consuming foods that promote concentration can all help you improve your concentration.”

Prostate Cancer Rising in Black America

As the United States continues to grapple with its legacy of systemic racism, debates on issues such as police brutality and racial profiling, the economic gulf between Blacks and Whites, and the dearth of access to affordable educational opportunities, there is one area that has received far less attention: The gap in positive health outcomes that African Americans – and particularly Black men – face.

While the COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on these fissures, its beam barely touched the edges of the problem. Yet according to government data, Black Americans are generally at higher risk for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes and HIV/AIDS than their white counterparts. Black people also have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial/ethnic group in the United States for most cancers.

These are abhorrent figures anyway you look at them, but especially when considering that many of these deadly diseases – at least when detected early – are treatable and survivable. Prostate cancer, for example, has a five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with it of greater than 99 percent if the cancer is detected during the early stage.

Yet, Black men have a 70 percent higher rate of developing prostate cancer than white men, and research from the American Cancer Society found that Black men are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than their White counterparts.

One of the key reasons for these staggering disparities is the fact that Black men are overall less aware of the threat this form of cancer poses to them and have less resources available to them to receive testing and monitoring for the disease. Thankfully there are members of the Black community like billionaire investor Robert F. Smith, The Today Show Co-host Al Roker, and activist comedians such as Chris Tucker and Steve Harvey who are raising their voices – and contributing their dollars – to combat this affliction.

Robert Smith, for example, recently donated $4 million of his own money to New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center to create the Robert F. Smith Mobile Prostate Cancer Screening Unit. This mobile home-sized bus will tour New York City neighborhoods where men are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer and offer screenings and educational materials about the disease.

This proactive approach that brings diagnosis tools directly to the communities most at risk is the type of action that our nation needs when it comes to battling a disease that more than 13 percent of African American men are expected to develop in their lifetime. But Smith can’t be the only one doing this and New York City cannot be the only place where this type of outreach is occurring.

Whether it is other philanthropists, local or regional health centers, or state and federal officials, there is a desperate need for creative solutions to getting more people screened and saving more lives. Smith’s initiative is an innovative approach, but there are other ways to spread awareness and boost screenings in the Black community.

Whether it be through an advertising and outreach campaign to pop-up health centers and tents, the COVID-19 vaccine push in the Black and other minority communities can serve as a good example of how to quickly and efficiently get more Black men screened for the disease.

For too long, prostate cancer among Black men – and the disparity in health outcomes within the community overall – has remained relatively low profiled, but now we have a way to resolve this issue. The pioneering Black journalist and one of the effective voices and leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Ida B. Wells said it best, “The way to right wrong is to turn the light of truth on them.”  It is long overdue to turn on a brighter national light on prostate cancer and Black America.

Why Black Women Are More Likely to Die While Pregnant?

As we noted earlier in our piece on VP Kamala Harris, this week is Black Maternal Health Week. ABC7 Chicago reports that Aaliyah Byers knows the challenges that Black women can face during pregnancy.

“With my first daughter, we had some complications with her,” said Byers who expecting her second child in September, a boy.

According to the CDC, nationally Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. For Black women in Chicago, they’re six times more likely to die, according to the city’s health department.

The CDC cites multiple factors, including quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism and implicit bias.

Drug Treatment Center CEO Explains the Ongoing Scourge of Fentanyl

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic opioids are now the drugs most commonly involved in the United States. As of 2017, nearly 60 percent of opioid overdoes were caused by fentanyl-compared to only 14,3 percent in 2003.

 

Oftentimes, certain social ills are purposefully overstated in order to scare folks into compliance, but fentanyl is exactly what they said it was, death incarnate.

Recently, EURweb had the chance to discuss this ongoing scourge, as well as what factors are contributing to its growing popularity, with Peter Piraino, CEO of Burning Tree Programs treatment facilities.

EURweb.com: How long has fentanyl been a problem in the United States? It seemed to come out of nowhere.

Peter Piraino: As far back as 2009 we saw fentanyl being abused. It was a prescribed medication and just like Percocet and Vicodin, people started using it on the street because it was much stronger.
At least in Texas, we noticed that it became a drug of choice, where people were solely using and abusing fentanyl, around 2017.

Fentanyl is driving the overdose epidemic steadily up. Fentanyl is extremely deadly so we’re seeing overdose and death raise to record rates.

 

EURweb: Briefly, please described Burning Tree Programs and its treatment methodology.

Peter Piraino: The Burning Tree program was formed in 1999. We have three separate facilities. Our flagship facility is burning tree ranch. That is an eight to fourteen-month residential program.
Followed by a year of aftercare. The entire program is built on progress.

There is no discharge date. We keep people until they’re well and we don’t keep them any longer. That program is built for chronic relapsers, people who have been in a treatment program five, six, seven times or more, and have not been successful.

That program is centered on high accountability, 12-step emersion, and lots and lots of clinical work. We believe it works because we’re able to help the most helpless.

People come along whose families have given up on them, treatment centers have given up on them, doctors and psychologists have given up on them.

At Burning Tree Ranch, 79.8 percent of the people who complete our program maintain long-term sobriety of five years or more.

EURweb: That success rate is very strong. What do you feel is behind it?

Peter Piraino: When a person comes to Burning Tree, we don’t just treat the person. We treat the whole family. So, members of the family have to be willing to engage in treatment. They have to come with family and they have to follow our guidelines. We’re really treating the addiction at a family and societal level.

We’re able to provide the client with a level of accountability that they normally wouldn’t get. Meaning that their entire support system is on board and everybody is speaking the same language. The whole mission is the client’s success, and that’s what we’re all driving toward together.

EURweb: What do you think is causing it to be so readily available on the street over the past decade or so?

Peter Piraino: This may not be a popular answer but a lot of it is coming in over the border. It’s pretty well accepted that fentanyl is manufactured and produced in China and shipped over the U.S. It usually comes through Mexico into the southern states.

So it hits Texas first, just like it hits Arizona first. It’s more readily available here, it’s cheaper because there’s less supply chain, and as it goes through the country it gets more and more expensive. It’s widely abused in Texas and my feeling is it’s mainly due to ease of access.

 

EURweb: When people think of fentanyl being mixed with other drugs, marijuana seldom comes to mind. However, there have been increased instances of people overdosing from the mixing of the two.

Peter Piraino: I think there are a bunch of different categories, and this is where it gets confusing. There are people who say that marijuana gets shipped with fentanyl and there’s accidental overflow.
People are getting marijuana with fentanyl and they don’t know it. Sometimes what you’re seeing is, the drug dealers on the street, because fentanyl is so cheap and addictive, are missing it with different substances.

Cocaine, benzodiazepines, sometimes marijuana. It has become more apparent but, most of the time, I do not think it’s accidental cross-contamination.

I had a friend that I knew who was prescribed medical marijuana and he ran out, brought some marijuana off the street, died of a fentanyl overdose. So, it does happen. Obviously, he wasn’t out there trying to get fentanyl, he was just trying to hold himself over until his next prescription came through.

I think that people who are mixing fentanyl with other products, I feel like they don’t understand the risk that they’re putting people at. I don’t know how much of it is just callousness or a lack of knowledge about how deadly the substance is and the fact that, if you put just a little bit too much into your cocaine or a little too much into whatever it is that you’re making, you’re going to kill people en masse.
They are killing people due to trying to increase profits and lack of knowledge.

EURweb: Do you think United States drug policy is sufficient enough to combat this?

Peter Piraino: I’m originally from New York and I moved to Texas. I thought I understood the border, but then I got here and was like ‘Oh my God!’ What I do like is that the Biden administration is trying to normalize people getting help.

Even the Trump administration had some real strides. Oddly enough, both parties are speaking the same language, which seems to never happen.

What I think we need to do a better job of is stopping it from coming into the country. I don’t have any answers on that, but I think we are falling short on that.

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