Exercise-Induced Asthma or Vocal Cord Dysfunction?

Many young athletes are diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma but may, in fact, have vocal cord dysfunction. The problem? It is often difficult to differentiate between the two.

There are multiple irritants in the air that can trigger breathing problems in young athletes: pollen and airborne irritants, chlorine in pools, and nitrogen oxides, which are used on resurfacing ice rinks.

 

Symptoms of vocal cord dysfunction are similar to those of exercise- induced asthma, with shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough. However, the cough of vocal cord dysfunction tends to have a seal-like barking quality, and the athlete may complain of throat tightness and changes in the pitch of their voice. This is not present in exercise-induced asthma. Color changes of the skin may also be noted in vocal cord dysfunction–paleness or redness. In asthma, blue or purplish discoloration (cyanosis) can be present.

 

Vocal cord dysfunction has an abrupt onset and resolution of symptoms, whereas exercise-induced asthma requires 5-10 minutes of exercise and persists for 30-60 minutes without treatment. Pulmonary function testing (to show how well the lungs are working) will be normal in vocal cord dysfunction patients, while in exercise-induced asthma athletes the testing will typically reveal underlying asthma.

 

Treatment for vocal cord dysfunction is based on education of the patient, family and coaches; speech therapy, antihistamines and use of long-lasting acid-inhibiting medications (proton pump inhibiters) as needed. Relaxation therapy and breathing exercises also generally help reduce symptoms.

 

Exercise-induced asthma is treated with short-acting bronchodilator inhalation therapy (aerosol inhalers) such as Proventil/ Proair / Ventolin. Daily use can reduce the effectiveness of the medications and side effects may include tremors and fast heart rate.

 

If a young athlete is having breathing issues when participating in sporting practices or competitions, they should be evaluated by a medical professional to determine between the possibility of exercise-induced asthma or vocal cord dysfunction.

 

4 Most Common Types of Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injury is more common than you think, especially in relation to sports. Pitching a baseball, playing volleyball, taking a hit in football, constant swimming—all can result in some sort of damage to the shoulder. Now that fall is approaching, the potential for shoulder injury increases with the return of sports.

The following are the most common types of shoulder injury, how they are caused, and the treatment of each:

Impingement Injury
Impingement injuries involve the rotator cuff, the bicep tendon (attaches the bicep muscle to the shoulder and elbow), and other structures in the affected shoulder.

Cause: It is caused by repeated overhead activities, which can overuse the shoulder. Pitching in baseball/softball, volleyball, swimming and tennis can all lead to this type of injury.

Treatment:75-80% of athletes respond well to rest and rehabilitation and are able to return to play, while the small, remaining percentage will require injections and perhaps surgery.

 

Instability Injury

This type of injury can be either traumatic or non-traumatic.

Cause: Non-traumatic instability injuries involve repeated overhead activities (much like impingement injury), but when examined shows signs of shoulder “instability.” Shoulder instability is when the structures surrounding the shoulder joint aren’t keeping the ball within the shoulder socket. Traumatic instability occurs from an awkward twisting motion, like one would see in football such as tackling or blocking. Athletes often report feeling a “pop” at time of injury, signaling dislocation of the shoulder joint.

Treatment: Approximately 90% of non-traumatic injuries can be rehabbed successfully, with only 10% requiring surgery. Traumatic instability often requires surgery.

 

Clavicle Fractures

Clavicle fractures account for 5% of all adult fractures.

Cause: A clavicle fracture is the result of a direct blow to the shoulder area or pressure on an outstretched arm, which then creates a break in the collarbone. This can be very painful, making it hard to move the arm. These fractures commonly occur in football, hockey, wrestling and lacrosse.

Treatment: Although slings used to be the recommended treatment for mild fractures, surgical intervention is now preferred due to the high incidence of re-fracture.

 

Nerve Injury

Commonly involving the brachial plexus (a network of nerves that sends signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm and hands), this injury can also include the cervical spine (vertebrae of the portion of the spine referred to as the neck).

Cause: This type of injury is caused by sudden damage to the nerves, including stretching, compression or, in serious cases, ripping or tearing of the nerves from the spinal cord. It is often seen in the “stinger” position in football and occurs in approximately 25% of all football players annually. This injury can cause the loss of feeling or movement in the shoulder, arm or hand.

Treatment: In some cases nerve injury may heal without treatment, but more serious injury may require surgery to regain proper function of the arm or hand.

 

If you have suffered a shoulder injury, it is important to seek consultation and diagnosis from your primary care physician or, in more serious cases, when visiting the emergency room.

 

DFD: A Proud Community Health Center

Community health centers are an important part of the healthcare system, serving rural and vulnerable neighborhoods. They are the providers of choice in medically underserved areas of the country. Maine is home to twenty community health centers with over seventy service locations statewide. DFD Russell Medical Centers is such a community health center and is honored to serve more than 8,000 patients in the communities of Leeds, Turner, and Monmouth, Maine.

 

Why Visit a CHC like DFD?

  • Community health centers are patient-focused and community-oriented
  • More services under one roof: patient visits, behavioral health, and dental care
  • CHCs are open more evening and weekend hours making care more accessible
  • Community health centers offer comprehensive, high-quality primary care to anyone regardless of health insurance or financial status
  • Supportive services such as educational, transitional, pharmacy and transportation services are also available
  • Governing boards are at least 51% community members

Did you know?

In the past two years, Maine community health centers have served:

  • 41,114 children
  • 6,632 homeless patients
  • 10,635 veterans
  • 266,664 patients for mental health and substance use disorder treatment

 

Celebrate with us!

Join DFD as we celebrate National Health Care Center week beginning on August 4, 2019. This week is dedicated to educating the public on why health care centers do what we do, how you can help, and honoring those who rely on us for top-quality care.

Are You Tick Smart?

Ticks thrive in Maine’s wooded and unmaintained areas, such as high grass and leaf debris. They are particularly established in southern and coastal parts of the state. This year is an especially high-risk season but there’s no need to be afraid as long as you’re being tick smart.

Prevent ticks from reaching your backyard:

  • Maintain your yard by mowing grass regularly and attending to leaves, shrubs, etc.
  • Wear long-sleeved and light-colored clothing
  • Use insect repellant with at least 20% Deet
  • Have your pets vaccinated or medicated against ticks
  • Have a professional spray a perimeter pesticide

 

MYTH: Ticks die every winter.

Check yourself every day for ticks that may have hitched a ride:

  • Have a partner/parent help to check areas you can’t easily see
  • Check between toes, hands, underarms, behind the knees, around and in ears and hair
  • Shower after being outside—this helps wash off any ticks
  • Don’t re-wear outdoor clothes; tumble dry on high to kill ticks trapped in clothing

 

MYTH: Every type of tick carries disease.

If you see a tick attached to your skin, remove it immediately. It takes 36 hours for bacteria to leave the tick and be injected into your body.

  • With tweezers: pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t jerk or twist—this may cause tick material to stay in your skin.
  • With a tick spoon: apply slight downward pressure to skin and push forward under the tick’s body.
  • Do not crush the tick with your fingers! Put in alcohol or flush it down the toilet.
  • Wash your hands immediately and soak tweezers in alcohol, if needed.

 

MYTH: You’ll know if you get a tick bite.

If you were recently bitten by a tick and removal was successful, it’s still important to check your skin. If you have a rash, headaches, fever and flu-like symptoms after a tick bite, call your primary care provider right away.

Protecting Your Teeth

Flossing, brushing, and rinsing are done every day to keep mouths clean and breath fresh. But did you know the importance of wearing a mouthguard?

The Why

More than five million teeth are damaged every year, many during sports activities. Wearing a mouthguard prevents injury, reduces chances of concussion and protects teeth from cracking or breaking. They also protect the jaw muscles from injury or teeth clenching and grinding.

The When

Typically, mouthguards are worn during contact sports, but it’s crucial to wear one during other recreational activities, too. These include: biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, martial arts, skiing and weight lifting­—or if you feel any activity could lead to an injury to the mouth and teeth.

The How

Your mouthguard needs to be cleaned just like any other piece of sports equipment or safety gear. Keeping your mouthguard clean will prevent bacteria, mold and yeast from entering your body and causing more complex health problems.

  • Rinse in water and brush with a toothbrush daily or after each use
  • Deep clean using antimicrobial tablets or homemade solutions every week
  • Store the mouthguard in a case that has air vents, and clean case weekly
  • Replace mouthguard when there are signs of aging/wear

Keeping your mouthguard clean and accessible will help reinforce the habit of wearing it and keep you free of injury.

 

For more information on the importance of oral health and regular check-ups, visit: https://dfdrussell.org/healthcare-services/oral-health-care/

 

What is HPV?

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of over 150 viruses which may be spread through open-mouth kissing, intimate skin-to-skin contact, and direct sexual contact. In fact, it’s the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. One way to ensure staying HPV-free is vaccination. It’s recommended and highly-effective to be administered to kids ages 11-13 before they’ve been exposed to the virus.

Did you know?

  • 80% of Americans have had an HPV infection in their lifetime
  • 79 million Americans currently infected
  • 31,200 cases of cancer could be prevented by the HPV vaccine

While some high-risk types of the HPV virus can lead to certain cancers, including throat and cervical cancers, and low-risk types can cause genital warts, 90% of cases will clear on their own. This is largely in part to a healthy, functioning immune system!

Keep your immune system healthy:

  • Exercise
  • Sleep more
  • Minimize stress
  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat vegetables + fruit

*It is still suggested to be vaccinated since the vaccine doesn’t protect from all types of HPV.

 

If you have any questions about HPV or the vaccine, please call DFD today at 207-524-3501 to schedule an appointment.

 “Cooking Matters for Parents” – A Class to Boost Nutrition Skills and Education

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is hosting “Cooking Matters for Parents,” a nutrition education class funded by the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. In this class, parents will learn how to cook new recipes, choose healthy foods, save money when grocery shopping, keep food safe to eat, and how to help their families to become more active. Children are welcome to attend with participating adults.

This program is federally-funded and intended to assist low-income families to meet nutritional requirements. It is free for income eligible adults and for those who are eligible for SNAP, WIC, or Head Start.

Interested in attending the Cooking Matters for Parents class? Check out the details below:

 

DATES: Mondays and Wednesdays

March 18, 20, 25, 27

April 1, 3, 8 & 10

TIME: 5:30p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

LOCATION: Winthrop Middle School

COST: Free for income eligible adults

*Registration required

 

This class is a wonderful way to learn new skills with your family and adopt a healthier lifestyle together. To register for a spot in the class, email Debbie Barnett at deborah.barnett@maine.edu

March is National Nutrition Month

Join DFD all month long in celebrating National Nutrition Month! A foundation of good nutrition habits is key in preventing disease, staying healthy, and living a longer life.

Did you know?

  • 65% of Mainers are obese or overweight
  • By 2030, half of all Americans will be obese
  • 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented by diet and lifestyle changes

Take your health into your own hands! A great place to start is to begin to introduce new foods, rather than restricting foods as “off limits.” Add in more berries at breakfast, nuts and seeds for snacking, and more vegetables on your dinner plate. Nutritious eating leads to more energy, which leads to more physical activity – both leading to a higher quality of life.

DFD Celebrates Go Red for Women

Join DFD on February 1 as we wear red to raise awareness of the #1 killer of women: heart disease. Let’s fight together for our mothers, sisters, aunts and loved ones against this growing epidemic.

Did You Know?

  • Only 54% of women know heart disease is their #1 killer.
  • Heart disease is responsible for 1 in 4 female deaths every year.
  • 200,000 heart disease deaths could be prevented each year.

At DFD we’re committed to preventative health. Changing your lifestyle can prevent heart disease:

  • Get Active. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Eat Healthy. Choose fruits, veggies and lean meats. Limit salt and sugars.
  • Quit Smoking. Quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Ask us about our smoking cessation program to help you kick the habit for good.