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Sugar Addiction – Kick It Before It Kicks You

Sugar Addiction – Kick It Before It Kicks You

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice cold fizzy soda or a sweet and chewy candy bar? From television ads to grocery store checkout lanes, we can’t seem to get away from these tasty treats. Maybe that’s why an estimated 93 million Americans, almost one-third of the population, are living with obesity. When just one soda a day with its 17 teaspoons of sugar increases a child’s chance of becoming obese by 60 percent and an adult’s chance of developing Type II Diabetes by 26 percent, how can the problem do anything but continue to grow?

While it’s technically not an addiction, the habitual overconsumption of sugary products is driven by many factors, both internal and external. Internally, your brain cells consider sugar a reward that provides quick fuel. Externally, the average American child is exposed to an average of 10 food-related advertisements every day, 98 percent of which promote products high in fat, sodium, and sugar.


Socioeconomic Challenges

Accounting for nearly 38 percent of the over 300 million people in the United States, individuals who racially identify themselves as non-white are at a higher risk for sugar-related health issues. Those watching Spanish-language programming see 49 percent more ads for sugar-containing beverages than those watching English-language programming. As opposed to one in seven white children aged 2 to 19, one in every five black children is considered obese. Furthermore, it is estimated that 45 percent of overweight or obese American children between the ages of 10 and 17 is poor, of which over 58% identify as non-white.


It Starts With You

Despite the associated hurtles, only you can kick your sugar addiction. There are plenty of fad diets out there that call for a sugar detox, but you must be careful. Even healthy foods, like fruit, dairy, and grains contain starch and sugar. If you consume any sugar- or starch-containing foods on a daily basis, like most Americans, cutting out these foods too quickly or altogether can result in a dangerous downward spike in blood sugar, leaving you feeling exhausted, shaky, and actually in need for more sugar.

The most effective treatment for sugar addiction is the slow incorporation of a lifestyle change, consisting of increased hydration and decreased sugar intake. It is important to remember poor diet is not always the only factor putting you at a higher risk for obesity and other related diseases, so talk to your doctor today. Improving and maintaining your body’s health is a lifelong commitment, but the following steps are a good place to start:

  • Retrain your taste buds by cutting out one sugary food per week.
  • Choose sweets containing naturally-occurring or raw sugar, like fruit or milk.
  • Eat a variety of low-fat protein throughout the day.
    • You’ll feel fuller and more alert longer because protein takes longer to break down than sugar.
    • Introduce lean meats, like chicken and turkey, or complementary proteins, like peas and beans, into your diet.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners; they’re sweeter than regular sugar, so they actually make your cravings worse!
  • Stay full on fiber, hydrated with water, and get plenty of exercise and rest.

Following these tips can help you kick your sugar addiction before it kicks you!


Brain in a Dish – The Future of Alzheimer’s Research

Brain in a Dish – The Future of Alzheimer’s Research

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is estimated to affect 5.3 million people of all ages in the United States today. The biggest impact is on those aged 65 or older, accounting for 96% of all Alzheimer’s cases. That’s one in every three seniors, of which over two-thirds are women. While so many are living with the disease, only about 45 percent know it. On the other hand, about 90 percent of the more than 15 million Americans living with cancer are properly diagnosed.



It’s impossible to be treated for a disease you don’t know you have. With a new case developing every 67 seconds and no currently available FDA-approved treatment options that have proven to slow or reverse the disease, the prospect of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is frightening. That’s why researchers continue to work diligently toward understanding this sixth-leading cause of American deaths.

Since the discovery of the disease in 1906, Alzheimer’s researchers conducting pre-trial experiments only had mice to work with. However, this disease is particularly human-specific, so the disease developed in the mice is an imperfect model for testing. This led to complications in the data and setbacks in the development of new treatments.


One Small Step for Two Neuroscientists, One Giant Leap for Alzheimer’s Research

As publicized in October 2014, neuroscientists Rudolph Tanzi and Doo Yeon Kim of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston may have found a way around the mouse problem. The two researchers managed to culture human brain cells, or neurons, in a commercially-available stem-cell gel in a petri dish, wherein they formed actual neural networks. Moreover, when introduced to Alzheimer’s-causing genes, the cells responded exactly as those in a live human brain, forming the two defining features of the disease: plaques, like clumpy Brillo-pads, and tangles, like little bowls of spaghetti.

The petri dish model isn’t perfect. Real human brains have defense mechanisms like immune system cells that have yet to be introduced in Kim and Tanzi’s research. However, this model is the first ever to allow human Alzheimer’s research without the cost and ethical limitations of human clinical trials. Moreover, the lack of immune systems cells is not necessarily a bad thing, as it models the brain of a person with an immune system weakened by age or other diseases.

Tanzi has plans to test over 1,200 drugs currently on the market and 5,000 still in development. He and his colleagues are also using the petri dish model to investigate the protein responsible for plaque formation, which they believe to be beta-amyloid. The big picture is clear: any drug that could potentially prevent or reverse Alzheimer’s in humans can now fully prove its effectiveness in humans.


To learn more about Alzheimer’s treatment, please contact KCA Neurology. 615.550.1800.


Cervicogenic Headaches – The “Neck Headache”

Cervicogenic Headaches – The “Neck Headache”

A cervicogenic headache is a headache disorder that affects an estimated 2.2% of the population. What makes a cervicogenic headache different from other headaches is that it is not truly a headache; it is actually a type of referred pain. Referred pain is when the body perceives pain in a location different from where the actual pain is. For example, sometimes when you hit your “funny bone” you may feel a pain in your shoulder. In this case, the headache pain is being referred from bones or soft tissues in the neck. The upper cervical spinal cord has many bundles of nerves that transfer sensation between the neck and the head, which allows for the referral of pain.

How Cervicogenic Headaches Are Diagnosed

Diagnosing a cervicogenic headache can be a difficult process. Though diagnostic criteria are established, often times the presenting patient’s symptoms are hard to tell apart from those of a migraine, tension headache, or other headache disorder. The approach to diagnosing a cervicogenic headache (and also treating it) is multi-disciplined. The diagnostic factors are:

  • Usually, cervicogenic headaches are unilateral, meaning they start on one side at the back of the head, migrate towards the front, and sometimes cause arm pain.
  • Misalignment, muscle spasms, or other cervical dysfunction during a manual exam.
  • Headaches that occur when pressing on a trigger point in the neck or head.
  • Sustained neck positions which aggravate the pain.
  • X-rays and other imaging returns with normal results.
  • Occasionally nausea and/or dizziness.

Some types of cervicogenic headaches cause bilateral pain, and the headache starts out as neck pain or the neck pain exists along with the headache. In this form, the pain is exacerbated by certain movements of the neck. This form of headache is more common in occupations like hair-dressing, truck driving, or carpentry.

Who Gets Cervicogenic Headaches?

Roughly 47% of the world’s population suffers from headaches, and it is estimated that 15-20% of those are cervicogenic. Some research suggests that adults with neck pain are more susceptible to cervicogenic headaches. It has also been noted that four times as many females as males get cervicogenic headaches. During an examination, a doctor will consider any history of trauma, as well as the age of the patient. Usually, younger patients (ages 10-13) have dysfunction in the lower cervical spine, whereas older patients tend to have dysfunction in the upper cervical spine.

How Are Cervicogenic Headaches Treated?

Like diagnosis, treatment should be multi-disciplined. Usually, it is a combination of posture adjustment, massage, physiotherapy, acupuncture, steroid injections, hydrotherapy, and medication. Most patients (70%) are pain-free within a month.


To learn more or to seek treatment, contact KCA Neurology in Franklin and Clarksville, TN at 615.550.1800.


Sleep Apnea 101: When Snoring isn’t Normal

Sleep Apnea 101: When Snoring isn’t Normal

Many people snore in their sleep. Most of the time it is harmless, and goes away when you change positions in your sleep. Sometimes, however, it can signal a much more serious problem called sleep apnea. Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a condition in which individuals actually stop breathing intermittently during the night. Sleep apnea is treatable, and it’s important to understand the condition to prevent it from affecting you or a loved one with serious consequences.


Sleep Apnea Basics and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea breathing pauses during sleep typically last between 10 and 20 seconds, but they can occur many times during the night and can even wake the person experiencing the condition. The next day, you may notice feeling more fatigued than normal. When left untreated, this cycle can affect your general health over time. It can precipitate or worsen conditions like diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, and more.

There are two main types of sleep apnea, central and obstructive. With central sleep apnea, your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This happens because your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. Other conditions, such as heart failure or a stroke, make also results in central sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea that physicians treat. During obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles of the throat relax during sleep and block the airway. Snoring is an indicator that someone may have the condition, which commonly affects individuals who are overweight, but can also occur during the aging process.

Upon awaking, sleep apnea patients may choke or gasp at the lack of air. Many patients don’t remember waking up intermittently, but they are still affected from the sleep disturbance the next day.



Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea commonly involves using a breathing device called a CPAP. While CPAP technology has been around for years, it has recently become much more comfortable for patients to adopt. The technology keeps airways open during sleep, preventing the symptoms of sleep apnea. Alternatively, some individuals may undergo a medical procedure to alter their respiratory passages and promote the flow of air during sleep. Losing weight, stopping smoking, avoiding caffeine, and maintaining a regular sleep routine are all ways that individuals can effectively reduce or eliminate sleep apnea. Talk to your physician about healthy lifestyle changes that may help.


When to Seek Help

If you notice symptoms such as chronic fatigue, frequent wakefulness during the night, headaches in the morning, or having dry mouth upon waking, you may have sleep apnea. If your partner frequently mentions that you have been snoring during the evening, try to keep a sleep diary or record yourself sleeping to determine if you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Ask your doctor whether a sleep study or further evaluation is necessary.

Contact KCA Neurology to learn more about sleep apnea.


How to Know If You Have Epilepsy

How to Know If You Have Epilepsy

A diagnosis of epilepsy is often a blessing and a curse for patients and their families. On the one hand, they finally have an explanation for the unpredictable seizures, but on the other this condition comes with many stigmas that can lead to anxiety and depression in the patient and their loved ones.

There is hope for epilepsy patients, because talented neurologists like those at KCA Neurology have been researching the disease tirelessly for decades. Their work has resulted in some truly effective treatments with fewer side effects than older treatments.


What Causes Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is characterized by permanent changes in brain tissues causing the brain to be overly excitable, even jumpy. Abnormal neural signals are sent out, causing repeated, unpredictable seizures.

There are many known causes of epilepsy, but in some cases the cause is unknown. Common causes are:

  • Infections, such as brain abscess, encephalitis, meningitis, or AIDS
  • Brain tumor
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Congenital defects of the brain or metabolism
  • Brain injuries incurred during or shortly after birth
  • Abnormal brain blood vessels

This is in no way an exhaustive list, so patients experiencing multiple seizures should immediately contact a physician and neurologist to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. With the variety of treatments available, no one should have to suffer with this debilitating condition.


The Symptoms of Epilepsy

Every patient will present their own unique set of symptoms, as is often the case in diagnosing neural diseases. There is a commonly held misconception that epileptic seizures consist of loss of consciousness accompanied by convulsions, yet many symptoms exist.

These range from staring spells, often unnoticed by the patient, to violent shaking episodes, and a loss of alertness. The type of seizure a patient may experience depends on the area of the brain affected by the condition.


How Epilepsy Is Diagnosed

A physical examination of the patient accompanied with a comprehensive look at the brain and nervous system is always the first step to treatment. Checking the electrical activity of the brain with an electroencephalogram (EEG) is often the first step.

Other tests that may be done are:

  • Complete blood count
  • Blood sugar
  • Blood chemistry
  • Kidney and liver function tests


The goal for every epilepsy treatment plan is, “no seizures, no side effects,” and while this might not be immediately achievable, it should be the long-term aim of all patients and their physicians.

Contact KCA Neurology to learn more.