Is Stress Limiting Your Life's Quality?

Everyone experiences stress on occasion, and a small amount of stress can be a useful motivator. However, the modern world has led many to accept increasing levels of stress as part of their day-to-day lives, and this stress can build to levels high enough to have measurable, and potentially dangerous, health effects. Here are a few ways to determine if stress is limiting your quality of life.

Poor Sleep Quality

Sleep is fundamental for both physical and mental health, and stress can significantly reduce your quality of sleep, leading to late nights and difficulty waking up in the morning. Furthermore, insufficient sleep can directly raise your level of stress, creating a dangerous cycle. Insufficient sleep can cause your performance at work to drop or even strain your relationships with others, potentially creating more sources of stress.

Other Mental Symptoms

Stress and anxiety overlap significantly, and they’re often caused by the same factors. People with underlying anxiety might find that low levels of stress make it difficult to stay focused on work or to stay productive during the day, and this poor work quality can cause more stress. Stress and anxiety can also cause or exacerbate depression, a common comorbid symptom. Getting a handle on stress can help people improve their depressive symptoms and achieve better mental health.

Personality Changes

Over time, stress can cause personality changes. Work-related anxiety might make people feel guilty about taking time to relax, potentially causing more stress. People with high levels of stress might not have the energy to go out with friends or family, which can lead to feelings of isolation. Stress can also lead to people simply being in a bad mood more frequently, which can strain relationships. Better managing stress can lead to a more positive outlook and higher energy levels.

Physical Effects

While it’s widely known that stress affects the mind, its physical effects are often ignored. Stress has been linked to cardiovascular problems , and people with existing cardiovascular problems might have more difficult keeping these problems under control. Stress can also lead to lower energy levels, which can lead to a lower quality of life. It can be more difficult to exercise when your levels of stress are high, and a lack of exercise can cause a host of physical problems.

Lowered Expectations

Many people experiencing high levels of stress come to view it as normal; without expert help, many people are simply unable to take the steps needed to break out of stress-causing cycles. As a result, people sometimes develop a more limited view of how much they should expect out of life and stop taking steps to combat their stress.

As sinister as stress can be, there are a number of ways to combat it. Stress is unavoidable, but learning how to best deal with it can make it a rare, transient feeling instead of a chronic pressure that can affect nearly all parts of our lives.

VNA & Hospice is dedicated to providing the highest quality healthcare to residents of the Central Coast and Monterey County. Registered nurses and skilled staff members provide many services, including senior home care, hospice health care, palliative care, orthopedic rehabilitation, and more.

What You Need to Know: Stomach Ulcers & How to Avoid Them

Approximately 4 million Americans suffer from peptic ulcer disease. Ulcers occur when the acid present in the digestive tract starts to eat away at the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or small intestine. This creates a painful sore that can cause severe abdominal pain. If left untreated, ulcers can cause internal bleeding, serious infections of the abdominal cavity, and scar tissue that can prevent food from passing through the digestive tract.

What Causes Ulcers:

A common misconception is that spicy foods or worrying too much can cause an ulcer. A person develops an ulcer when the stomach produces an excessive amount of acid or when the mucous layer that protects the lining of the stomach is decreased. The most frequent cause of ulcers is a bacteria called H. pylori. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population is infected with the H. pylori bacteria. Many people don’t realize they are infected. The bacteria can live in the digestive tract for years where it slowly attacks the lining of the stomach. The most common sources of H. pylori infection are close contact with other infected individuals, food, water, and contaminated eating utensils.

Other potential risk factors for ulcers include:

  • Frequent use of aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen
  • Smoking
  • Regular alcohol use
  • Family history
  • Being over the age of 50

Symptoms of Ulcers:

Most individuals with an ulcer complain of a burning sensation in their stomach that is typically worse when the stomach is empty. Other symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Frequent burping
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting that may have a coffee ground appearance

Diagnosis of Ulcers:

The patient’s description of their symptoms will often lead a physician to suspect an ulcer. The doctor may follow up with several tests to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Blood, breath, or stool tests to check for the presence of H. pylori bacteria.
  • An endoscopy that involves inserting a hollow, lighted tube and lens down the throat to allow the doctor to view the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine.
  • A barium swallow or upper GI series during which the patient drinks a contrast liquid and undergoes a series of X-rays.

Treatment of Ulcers:

If tests determine that an ulcer is the result of an H. pylori infection, the doctor will order antibiotic treatment that typically lasts two weeks. Other treatments include proton pump inhibitors and acid blockers to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach and medications to coat the lining of the digestive system. Surgery may be required if the ulcer perforates the lining of the stomach, causes serious bleeding, or fails to heal with conservative treatment.

Preventing Ulcers:

The first step in preventing ulcers is to limit lifestyle risk factors by not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and using caution when taking over-the-counter pain relievers. You can also take steps to reduce your risk of H. pylori infection by washing your hands frequently with soap and water and eating foods that have been properly cooked.

VNA & Hospice is dedicated to providing the highest quality healthcare to residents of the Central Coast and Monterey County. Registered nurses and skilled staff members provide many services, including senior home care, hospice health care, palliative care, orthopedic rehabilitation, and more.

5 foods to a healthy colon

5 Foods to a Healthy Colon

It is estimated that 95,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer each year. The good news is that you have the power to fight colon cancer by following a healthy diet. Below is a list of some of the foods that are essential for a healthy colon:


Beans are a great source of a nutrient called folate. You should aim to get 400 mcg of folate per day. One cup of black beans will provide you with 64 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate. One cup of kidney beans will provide you with 57 percent of the folate that you need for the day.

Even if you do not have a family history of colon cancer, it still pays to get the recommended intake of this nutrient. In fact, you can potentially cut your risk of colon cancer by up to 40 percent by getting the recommended intake of folate.


Studies have shown that diets high in red meat can increase the risk of colon cancer. On the other hand, you can cut your risk of colon cancer by substituting red meat with fish. Regular fish consumption can decrease the risk of colon cancer by up to 12 percent.


Avocado is another one of the foods that are rich in folate. One avocado will provide you with 22 percent of the folate that you need. Not only is avocado a great source of fiber, but it is also filled with vitamin K, healthy fats and dietary fiber. You can add avocado to your sandwich or salad.

Whole Grain

Whole grain-rich foods, such as whole wheat bread, wild rice, whole oats and brown rice, are all rich in fiber. Dietary fiber helps promote healthy digestion and helps prevent common problems, such as constipation. Increasing your fiber intake can also help prevent intestinal blockage.

Furthermore, fiber can protect against a condition called diverticulitis. This is a condition that affects the pouches in the walls of the colon, which are known as the diverticula. It causes the diverticula to become inflamed. It is estimated that half of people who are over the age of 60 have this condition.

Men who are under the age of 50 need to get 38 grams of fiber every day. Women who are in this same group need to get 25 grams of fiber per day. Men who are over the age of 50 need to get 30 grams of fiber whereas women in this same age group need to get 21 grams of fiber.

Dairy Products

You may have heard that you should avoid dairy products. However, dairy products can actually be very healthy. In fact, they can help protect against colon cancer. Dairy products, such as yogurt, have good bacteria. Certain types of bacteria can stop bile from converting into bile acid. Excess amounts of bile acid can increase the risk of colon cancer.

Additionally, dairy products are a great source of calcium. Studies have shown that getting the proper amount of calcium can reduce the risk of colon cancer.

VNA & Hospice is dedicated to providing the highest quality healthcare to residents of the Central Coast and Monterey County. Registered nurses and skilled staff members provide many services, including senior home care, hospice health care, palliative care, orthopedic rehabilitation, and more.

Allergies or Just a Cold?

It is very difficult for the average person to tell the difference between the onset of seasonal allergies and the symptoms of a common cold. The symptoms for both afflictions are exceedingly similar, and there is a lot of blatant misinformation that is presented as informed fact in the media. It is important to treat both allergies and colds when they occur: untreated allergies can lead to chronic conditions like sleep apnea, and colds can last for months if they are not properly cared for.

Similar Symptoms

Part of the reason for the general confusion surrounding the difference between colds and allergies is that the symptoms for the two really are quite similar. A runny and stuffed nose, sneezingcoughing and general fatigueare all common indicators of both conditions, so if these are the only symptoms that appear to be present, it can be difficult to tell what the unfortunate affliction truly is.

Important Differences

Doctors agree that there are certain symptoms that are native to colds, and certain others that are only observed in allergy sufferers. Allergy-only symptoms include watery, itchy eyes, small itches in the ears and throat, and symptoms that last for a month or two without fading or increasing in intensity. Symptoms that are usually only seen when the common cold is present include feverchills, a throat that is either sore or scratchy, and body aches and pains. Most of these symptoms will decrease in intensity in one to two weeks for the typical cold.

The Importance of Diagnosis and Treatment

Once you can tell the difference between colds and seasonal allergies, the next step is essential — see a health professional for treatment recommendations or purchase over the counter medicine on your own. Left untreated, allergies can lead to long-term health issues such as chronic nasal blockagessleep apnea, or even asthma in severe cases. Untreated colds can expose your body to infections by weakening its natural defense systems — in this way, a cold can be the conduit for the passage of more serious infectious diseases into the body, such as pneumonia or influenza.

Allergies and colds are different in nature, so they must be attacked using different methods. Although many allergy sufferers believe that treatment with antihistamines is the most effective form of care, research has shown that nasal sprays are actually more effective in reducing the effects of allergies. Clinical data trials have proven that antihistamine treatments are only partially effective for seasonal allergy reduction.

Colds should be treated with rest and relaxation — medicinal approaches differ in effectiveness, and the only proven treatment for a cold is time! If the cold does not abate in one to two weeks, contact a medical professional for their opinion and further advice. The symptoms of colds can be treated by using over the counter pain relievers or other related products.

The Importance of Elderly Care in Protecting Against Colds and Allergies

Colds and allergies affect elderly patients more, simply because their white blood cell defense systems have been weakened by age. The staff at VNA & Hospice has been committed to providing compassionate and thorough care to Central Coast and Monterrey Coast residents for many years, and their skilled nursing practitioners are extensively trained in many different medical fields, including hospice health care, palliative care, and orthopedic rehabilitation services. In terms of trusted community healthcare providers, VNA & Hospice is one of the premier senior care facilities in California.