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Medical and Self-Help Treatment Options for PTSD

Soldiers of the Connecticut National Guard's 143rd MP Co, currently stationed in Afghanistan, say a prayer for the families and the community of Newtown, CT. (US National Guard photo)

This is part 2 in my series on PTSD. See part 1, “How the Brain Is Physically Changed With PTSD,” here.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Say someone is robbed at gunpoint, or they’re walking down the street and their best friend is shot and killed in front of them. We think to ourselves, “Poor person. How can they ever cope with something like that?” Certainly we expect they’re going to need counseling.

Soldiers in a war zone may face these same events over and over, for days or weeks upon end. Others are abused behind closed doors.

These people, and many others, are at high risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Because so many people have PTSD in wartimes (like right now), we learn a lot during these times about treating the disorder, not only in soldiers but in the public at large.

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How the Brain Is Physically Changed With PTSD

How the Brain Is Physically Changed With PTSD | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

With Memorial Day just past, I thought I might write on a fairly common medical problem that affects many soldiers coming back from war: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The reason I find this appropriate for The Survival Doctor is soldiers are not the only ones who can be affected. This same disorder can hit anyone who has experienced a major trauma or trauma of a loved one.

Let me emphasize I do know that Memorial Day is meant to remember the men and women who have died in defense of our country. We should never forget and always honor their sacrifice, not only on Memorial Day but every day. But I think we should also not forget the permanently altered lives of the loved ones they left behind and those whose lives have been forever changed in any form from the direct horrors of war.

Why Do Some People Get PTSD and Others Don’t? [… continue reading]

4 Things I Learned From This Year’s CPR Course for Professionals

The Survival Doctor: 4 things I learned from this year’s CPR course for professionals

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Every two years, to update my skills, I retake a basic CPR course sponsored by the American Heart Association, along with their Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support course for health care professionals. And it never fails, I always learn something new and remember things I shouldn’t have forgotten. Here are a few highlights from this year.

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Beyond Antihistamines: 5 More Allergy Meds That May Work Better for You

5 types of allergy medicines that may work better for you than plain antihistamines

Part 3 in my three-part seasonal allergies series. Click here for part 1 (how allergies work). Click here for part 2 (how to choose an antihistamine).

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Have you chosen an antihistamine to try out or to store in your survival stash? Well, we’re not done yet. You may want to add an additional medication or two to your seasonal-allergies arsenal.

That’s because antihistamines don’t do the trick for everyone. But there are other types of allergy medications that might. They can be used in addition to or instead of antihistamines (and each other). It’s a mix-and-match world. Just be aware that each med you take brings its own risk of side effects, interactions, and so on. Read up on precautions before diving in.

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How to Choose the Best Allergy Medicine for You

How to Choose the Best Allergy Medicine for You

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

This time of year, allergy-medicine aisles see a steady stream of sniffling souls turning over box after box to figure out which of the million medications will give them the best relief.

Despite their varied names and colorful labels, most of these boxes boast similar claims: They’ll fix your sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose. That’s because most of them contain one form or another of the same type of drug: an antihistamine.

Antihistamines are the go-to medicine for most people with seasonal allergies. The different types of antihistamines all work in a similar way. Which type works best for you depends on a few factors, including simply which one your own unique body prefers.

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How Allergies Work

How Allergies Work

Part 1 in my seasonal allergies series.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

For some of us, the spring season is a beautiful trap. It entices us outside with such great weather but hides an unseen danger—pollen.

But truth be told, it’s not the pollen that’s the trouble. It’s the body’s reaction to it. In about 30 percent of people, the immune system goes way overboard to protect them from pollen, which their bodies see as an invader. This is called an allergic reaction.

There are medicines that can combat the miserable symptoms, but to understand which ones you might want to store, it helps to know how an allergic reaction works so you’ll know what you’re trying to combat.

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3 Age-Old Wound-Dressing Questions, Answered

How to dress a wound to better promote healing and prevent infection.

Part 2 in my modern wound care series. See part 1, on the latest advice for cleaning a wound, here.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

How many cuts and scrapes have you gotten in your life? Probably quite a few. Yet, to this day, do you know whether it’s better to keep a wound covered or let it air out?

Simple wound-care questions like that have left even doctors debating the answers. So earlier this year, an article in American Family Physician, the journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians, offered some answers. For the article, three researchers from Thomas Jefferson University looked at a number of studies on wound care and formulated guidelines based on the findings. Here are some highlights.

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The Latest on Advanced Wound Cleaning: Beyond the Paper Cut

The Latest on Advanced Wound Cleaning: Beyond the Paper Cut

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

If you want to expand your survival-medicine knowledge beyond first aid but don’t know where to start, wound treatment is a great choice. Whether it’s during a disaster or just in your everyday life, you’ll eventually face a wound of some sort.

You can learn a lot of advanced but easy-to-follow treatment details from my two affordable, interactive e-books, The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Wounds and The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Burns. They cover gashes, bites, burns and more. I’ve also come across an excellent review regarding certain aspects of wound care: the Wilderness Medical Society Practice Guidelines for Basic Wound Management in the Austere Environment, published last summer.

To create the recommendations in this report, researchers reviewed available studies for objective evidence of what works and what doesn’t. In this post I’ll go into some of their conclusions about cleaning a wound. Some of the findings may surprise you.

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The Survival Doctor’s Latest Tips on Tourniquets

This is the Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T, $28.99*). Note the stick you can use to wind the tourniquet tighter.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

A tourniquet seems so simple. At its most basic, it’s just a strip of strong material.

Its use seems simple too. You tighten it until the bleeding stops. Voilà. Life saved.

But thanks to studies conducted over the last several years, the guidelines on tourniquets have become more sophisticated, causing emergency professionals to change how they use these lifesaving devices.

Here’s the latest thinking, according to the research I’ve been reading. I’m eager to also hear from you if you’ve used a tourniquet in the field. What have you found works or doesn’t?

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How to Set a Broken Bone or Treat a Dislocated Joint

How to Set a Broken Bone or Treat a Dislocated Joint

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Broken bones and dislocated joints are pretty common injuries, and I have several posts on how to treat them in an emergency. But many people have asked specifically how to “set” a bone, meaning, I presume, how to straighten a broken arm, leg, finger, or toe if it is crooked.

The answer is most of the time, you should do nothing for a crooked bone or displaced joint other than splint it as-is until you can get to a doctor. Trying to move it around is likely to cause more damage.

But there are some injuries when, indeed, you may want to take that chance and try to set (straighten) the bone or put the joint back into place. And, of course, there’s always a chance you’re in a situation where expert help is many days away.

In those cases, the key to treatment is to apply traction—properly.

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