HEALTH CORNER

Health Corner

KEISHA CALLINS, MD, MPH
MBHS Past Student
(Published by Albany Herald Health Beat)

MAY 2016

BARE BOTTOM BASICS: Tips on Taking Care of Your Colon 

Enlightenment

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of death among women. It affects the large intestine and the rectum and is also known as colorectal cancer. Many people are embarrassed to even talk about this part of the body but it definitely deserves more attention. It’s never too early to start taking care of your colon since colon cancer among young women has increased over time. There are tests that are available to help you find out if you have a problem, and many things that you can do to help decrease your chances of developing colon cancer and improve your overall health.

Education

DO’S: please discuss with your medical provider if you are having bloody stools, change in bowel habits, frequent stomach pains, weakness or fatigue, or a family history of colon cancer. DON’TS: please avoid tobacco use (Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW); limit eating processed meats (like hotdogs), red meat, foods that are high in sugar/fat, and foods that are low in fiber.

Empowerment

The goal of a screening test is to look for problems early, so that we can fix things before they become a bigger problem. There are several tests that are available to help check your colon. Two commonly used screening tests are the FIT: (evaluates a stool sample / done once each year), and the Colonoscopy: (evaluates the colon / may repeated in 10yrs or less based on what they find). Please discuss with your medical provider about the best time to start screening (usually around age 50, but may be sooner for some people or if you have problems), and the most appropriate test for you.

Encouragement

Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable. Take control of your lifestyle – eat better, exercise, and don’t be embarrassed to get your colon evaluated at the right time.

Quote Of The Month:

“That’s the biggest gift I can give anybody:
‘Wake up, be aware of what you are doing and what you can do to prevent from being ill’
~ Maya Angelou ~

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APRIL 2016

Minding Your Men: Much Ado About Men’s Health 

Enlightenment

 Most women pay more attention to their health and therefore, can play an important role in helping to improve the health status of the men in their lives. In fact, the health of men has a significant impact on women, the family, and the community. Women often live longer than men and will often see their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers, sons, and friends face medical challenges and even die prematurely. When the men become sick, women will naturally take on the responsibilities of caregiver, in addition to their many other responsibilities.

Education

Women can help men to prioritize their health by understanding some of the barriers to seeking care: 1) It may be difficult to take time off work to attend appointments; 2) As head of household, men often prioritize the needs of their families at the expense of their own health; 3) Men have been taught to be strong and may not report health problems or illness until late; 4) Men, unlike women, do not think of doctors as partners in preventive medical care; and 5) Men may not realize that their fate can changed by lifestyle changes (diet and exercise).

Empowerment

Men do a great job with many things but taking care of themselves is not usually one of them. Women should embrace the positive influence they can make in the health of their men. Make yourself a health partner (not a pest), pay attention to changes in behavior, and be reasonable about when to be persistent if you are concerned.

Encouragement

Women are in a unique position to influence men to prevent disease and promote their health. Make it your business to help your men seek medical help regularly and not to delay treatment when there is a problem. Constantly remind the men in your life that they are of irreplaceable value to you, your family, and their community.

Quote Of The Month:

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better”
~ Maya Angelou ~

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MARCH 2016

DON'T POP YOUR TOP: Managing High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy 

 

Enlightenment

High blood pressure is one of the most common issues that may affect pregnant women. It may occur before, during, or after pregnancy and needs special attention at each stage to prevent poor results. It can have significant short-term and long-term effects on the health of mother and baby, and therefore, should be carefully managed with directions from a doctor and the compliance of the patient. Your doctor may request help from a high-risk pregnancy doctor to help take care of you and your baby.

Education

Effect on Mother: although some symptoms may happen just because you are pregnant, high blood pressures may come along with changes in vision, stomach pains, change in reflexes (automatic actions that the body does to protect itself), sudden change in leg swelling, rapid weight gain, seizures, and significant changes in results from blood and urine tests. Effect on Baby: the baby will be watched regularly to look for low levels of amniotic fluid, poor growth, and changes in heart rate. It may be necessary to change the timing and route of delivery to ensure the best outcome for mother and baby.

Empowerment

You and your doctor should discuss a plan to manage your blood pressure that may include medications, a special diet (avoid foods high in salt), and additional ultrasounds and regular fetal monitoring to check on baby. Please take this plan seriously and learn the signs that your blood pressure may out of control (severe headache, “seeing spots”, pain in the middle or right upper part of the stomach), and signs that your baby may be in distress (not feeling the baby move or sudden onset of vaginal bleeding).

Encouragement

Healthy mom = Healthy baby. Please listen to your doctor and pay attention to your body and your baby. Don’t ignore the signs and symptoms that may come with uncontrolled blood pressures.

Quote Of The Month:

 “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet”
~ Maya Angelou ~

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FEBRUARY 2016

DARK DAYS:  Directions for Dealing with Disappointment and Death 

 

Enlightenment

Most people are not fully prepared to deal with disappointment or death whether it is on the horizon for some time or comes suddenly. Whether it’s personal, involves a family member, friend, co-worker, or acquaintance, you may quickly become the person in need of support or support for someone else. Both roles come with unique challenges.

Education

Disappointment is anything that does not turn out as we expect or plan. It may be a job, test, project, business, or relationship. It hurts. It can be paralyzing. It can make you doubt yourself, your purpose, and even your destiny. Give yourself time to reflect on the situation – the outcome at that time may be because you could potentially do some things differently (if yes, work on it) or simply not the right time for that event in your journey (rely on your faith for peace). Death is considered a great “misfortune” but realize that experiencing loss comes from having the “good fortune” to have had someone important in your life. As you grieve, find comfort in the pleasant memories you’ve shared with that person. Live your life in honor of those loved and lost. For the important people that are still alive, make your time with them count. Let your “people priorities” determine …the who, what, when, where, and how of … your time allocation.

Empowerment

Whether you are encouraging yourself or someone else, remember that giving up is not an option. It takes immense inner strength and purposeful perseverance to keep moving, especially when the weight of your disappointment or loss feels like it is enough to bury you in your emotions.

Encouragement

When you are faced with dark days … Cry. Laugh. Pray. Praise. Reach out to people you trust. Open your heart to people who care. Be honest about your struggle. Be a shoulder to lean on. Encourage yourself. Not sure what to say, let your actions speak for you.

Quote Of The Month:

 “I sustain myself with the love of my family”
~ Maya Angelou ~

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JANUARY 2016

HSV-2: The Gently Truth About Genital Herpes

Enlightenment

Genital herpes is sexually transmitted infection (STI). It affects 1 in every 5 women, although most people do not know they have it. Unlike other sexually transmitted diseases, there is no cure. However, there are medicines to help manage symptoms known as an “outbreak” and lower the chances of passing it to your partner. Herpes outbreaks are more common with a weakened immune system caused by poor health, stress, long term use of some medications, or other diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Education

The Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2) is the most common cause of genital herpes. It is spread through oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse. It can affect people in different ways – from no symptoms to itching/irritation to painful bumps/sores in the genital area. You can get herpes from someone who does not have symptoms or just from genital touching. Women who are pregnant are treated to lower the chance of passing it to baby. It is often possible to have a vaginal delivery and a healthy baby. There are several tests available to check for herpes. If your test is positive but you have had more than one partner, it will be hard to know exactly where it came from.

Empowerment

Medications are available to shorten the number of days of an “outbreak”, reduce the number of outbreaks, or lower the chance of passing it to a partner. It is important to talk with your provider about testing and treatment options best for you. It is highly recommended that you talk to your partner and get tested for herpes and ALL other STI’s BEFORE you become sexually intimate.

Encouragement

Herpes is a lifelong disease. It is important to understand how it can be managed so that it will not affect the quality of your life. Know your status. Know your partner’s status. Be honest. Always use protection.

Quote of the Month:

“If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone to be good to me ”

 ~ Maya Angelou ~

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DECEMBER 2015

STEP IT UP:  Training for the Tri-athalon of Life

Enlightenment

For a variety of reasons, women can find it hard to balance the care of the “whole” self: body, mind, and spirit. Less then ideal balance can contribute to illness, mental distress, poor job performance, stress, difficulty sleeping, and bad eating habits. Women may focus on one or another part of their self-care, but it takes purposeful effort to address all three. I propose that your life satisfaction will improve when you take the time to make an action plan to “step it up”.

Education

Better Your Body: 1) get active, 2) control cholesterol, 3) eat better, 4) manage blood pressure, 5) lose weight, 6) reduce blood sugar, and 7) stop smoking. Better Your Mind: Your brain needs a workout too: 1) brain games and puzzles, 2) mix up your exercise activities, 3) eat more brain foods like nuts and blueberries, 4) sleep, 5) volunteer, 6) try something new – new sport, read a book, learn a language, learn an instrument, and 7) make time for family and friends. Better Your Spirit: 1) take time for yourself every day, 2) be open-minded, 3) practice forgiveness, 5) pray, meditate or worship, 6) choose to live joyfully, and 7) ask and accept help.

Empowerment

It may seem that the suggestions above seem like more things added to your to-do list, but the difference is the reason behind it. It’s time to thrive and not just survive. This requires intentional efforts to change the life you have. You are the only one who can do that.

Encouragement

As you prepare for a new year, please consider ways that you can take better care of your “whole” self – body, mind, and spirit. Take a few minutes today and decide on how you plan to achieve a better balance in your life.

Quote of the Month:

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present…gratefully.”

~ Maya Angelou ~

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NOVEMBER 2015

WAGING WAR: Planning Your Revenge Against Razor Bumps

Enlightenment

Razor bumps, also known as folliculitis or ingrown hairs, are a frequent and bothersome problem for many women. It can affect the face, armpits, supra-pubic area, and groin. They may result in pimples or boils along with redness, swelling, and pain, and may take days or even weeks to get better. Most episodes will resolve on it’s own, but some may require oral or topical therapy. In a few cases, minor procedures may be required to help with the healing process. Repeated razor bumps that are not appropriately managed may result in skin changes such as dark spots and permanent scarring.

Education

1) Technique: shave right after a shower because wet skin and soft hair makes the process easier, try to shave in the direction the hair grows to prevent injury to the skin, and consider non-razor hair removal products such as a depilatory cream, laser therapy, or waxing; 2) Treatment: always cleanse with an antibacterial wash before shaving, always use shaving cream instead of soap or dry shaving because it helps to moisturize the skin, and consider applying a steroid (e.g. hydrocortisone cream) to the skin after shaving to reduce inflammation; 3) Tools: try not to keep your razor in the shower after shaving because it may rust, it is recommended that you change your razor after no more than 5 uses, and consider using clippers or disposable razors with a trimmer attachment (available in local stores).

Empowerment

Razor bumps are more common with frequent shaving, in women with curly hair, and when there is a “close” shave. If you notice any signs of infection or slow healing, please seek the help of a medical provider. You may consider taking a break from shaving in the cooler months.

Encouragement

The most effective treatment for razor bumps is prevention. Please consider some of the tips mentioned above to revamp your shaving strategy. Don’t let razor bumps leave a permanent mark on you.

Quote of the Month:

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

~ Maya Angelou ~

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OCTOBER 2015

THE HONEY POT: Reasons to Revive Your Romantic Relationship

Enlightenment

As primary caretakers in the family, women are often focused on balancing responsibilities such as employment, child-rearing, supporting family and friends, maintaining the home, involvement in religious and civic organizations, and school. These demands barely allow for personal time and even less time to spend on romantic relationships. However, it may be beneficial to your health to invest in your romantic relationship.

Education

A satisfying relationship may: 1) Improve your mental health and decrease levels of depression and anxiety; 2) Enhance your ability to tolerate pain because a strong emotional connection can affect how the brain deals with painful events; 3) Reduce your stress because having a supportive partner can help people tolerate difficult situations; 4) Prolong your life because your partner can provide a consistent and reliable support system; and 5) Increase your happiness because it can activate your brain to produce the chemicals that help make you happy.

Empowerment

When you invest in your relationship, you are likely to receive a positive response from your partner. A consistent effort to focus on your partner with your time or thoughtful actions will probably encourage them to do something nice for you in return, and help support your interest in investing in the relationship. It almost always makes you feel better when you are able to make a difference in life of someone else. Your partner is no exception.

Encouragement

Take a few moments to think about why you appreciate your special person, and then think of ways to show them how you feel about them. Try not to think of it as just another task but rather as an investment with the potential for great benefits for your physical and mental health. A satisfying relationship may be one of the keys to helping you balance all the daily demands in your life.

Quote of the Month:

“In all the world, there is no heart for me like yours. In all the world, there is no love for you like mine."

~ Maya Angelou ~

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SEPTEMBER 2015

SWEET SUCCESS:  Taking Control of Diabetes in Your Pregnancy

 

Enlightenment

Some women may have diabetes before they become pregnant, while others are diagnosed during their pregnancy. Special care should be taken to monitor blood glucose (sugar) levels, follow a healthy diet, and take medications as prescribed to the help ensure a positive outcome for mother and baby. Some additional assessments may be required such as blood tests, ultrasounds, and more frequent monitoring of your baby. Your doctor may also request the help of a pregnancy specialist to help manage the pregnancy.

Education

Diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy does not mean that you will have diabetes after the pregnancy. In this case, hormones may affect how your body is able to process your sugar levels. This may cause your baby to may become larger than expected and have difficulty breathing or maintaining blood sugar levels after birth. If you have diabetes before pregnancy, it is extremely important to have proper control of your sugar levels three to six months before you get pregnant. Poor control of diabetes during the early stages of growth can increase the risk for birth defects, miscarriage, and early labor. It may also affect the mother’s eyes, kidneys, and ability to manage her blood pressure.

Empowerment

Talk with your provider about your target range for blood sugars and hemoglobin A1c level, and get as much information as you can about proper nutrition. In many cases, a careful diet can help to control your diabetes. However, medication may still be necessary to achieve your goals.

Encouragement

Diabetes during your pregnancy can make the experience more challenging because of the demands of monitoring your sugar levels and changing your diet. However, all your efforts to control your diabetes will help to improve your chances for a healthy and happy, mother and baby.

Quote of the Month:

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be”

~ Maya Angelou ~

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JANUARY 2015

MANAGING THE MENOPAUSE MYSTIQUE

Enlightenment

Menopause describes the changes that a woman may experience around the time when menstrual cycles cease, marking the end of her ability to conceive. These changes occur because of the gradual decline in hormones produced by the ovaries, and when the ovaries stop releasing eggs.   This may occur naturally, as a result of surgery that involves removal of the ovaries, or medication that may injure the ovaries.

Education

Menopausal symptoms may occur before actual menopause and may persist long after. One of the most common symptoms, “hot flushes”, is often described as a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the body resulting in profuse sweating. Other common symptoms include irregular periods, difficulty sleeping, irritability, fatigue, depressed mood, frequent mood changes, headaches, increase in heart rate, vaginal dryness and itching, painful intercourse, decreased interest in sex, changes in bladder control, hair loss, weight gain, and increase in joint and muscle aches. Not all women get all symptoms and they may occur with the different intensity over time.

Empowerment

Natural therapy may include better nutrition, decrease alcohol and caffeine, increase exercise, quit smoking, massage, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, soy products (soy beans and tofu), flaxseed, herbal supplements (Red Clover, Don Quai, Evening Primrose Oil, Wild Yam, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Ginkgo Biloba, Black Cohosh), and vitamin supplements (B, D, E, Calcium, DHEA). Medical therapy may include hormonal therapy, anti-depressants, anti-hypertensives, and anti-convulsants.

Encouragement

Menopause marks a major transition in the function of the female body. It is imperative that women take the time to explore the many options for management based on individual symptoms. It is just as important to discuss symptoms with a medical provider and share information about your medical history such as breast or uterine cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. This will help them to evaluate you for other medical conditions that may produce similar symptoms, and recommend the most appropriate natural and medication therapies.

Quote of the Month:

“When you learn, teach, when you get, give”  
~ Maya Angelou ~

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February 2015

THYROID TLC:  Baby On The Way

 

Enlightenment

The thyroid is located at the base of the neck, and is one of the glands in the endocrine system. The thyroid gland makes, stores, and releases two hormones into the body ~ T3 and T4. These hormones affect metabolism (how fast your body burns calories), brain development, breathing, heart and nervous system functions, body temperature, muscle strength, skin, menstrual cycle, weight, and cholesterol levels. Changes in thyroid function may result in underproduction or overproduction, and may be caused by injury due to the body’s own immune system, surgical removal, injury due to chemicals or medications, inflammation, activity of abnormal cells, problems with the pituitary gland, or malignancy.

Education

There are many women with hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone), or hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) who become pregnant. These conditions are often treated with Levothyroxine (Synthroid) for hypothyroidism, and Propylthiouracil (PTU) or Methimazole for hyperthyroidism. Although these medicines are safe in pregnancy, it is important that you talk with your doctor before becoming pregnant.

Empowerment

Thyroid hormone levels are frequently monitored throughout pregnancy to help adjust medication doses that will maintain a normal range. To promote absorption, thyroid hormone pills should be taken on an empty stomach (at least 30 minutes to an hour before eating or at least 4 hours after eating), and should not be taken at the same time as prenatal vitamins or calcium supplements. It will not be harmful to breastfeed while taking thyroid medications.

Encouragement

Thyroid hormones play a critical role in maintaining the health of the mother and the development of a healthy child. Be prepared to work closely with your ob/gyn, a high-risk pregnancy specialist, and maybe even your endocrine specialist to ensure the best outcome for you and your baby.

Quote of the Month:

“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did,
they will remember how you made them feel.” 
~ Maya Angelou ~

 

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DECEMBER 2014

THE HEART OF THE MATTER:  The Truth about Heart Disease

 

Enlightenment

Heart disease is the number one killer of women and is more deadly than any type of cancer. In Georgia, more than one out of four deaths is due to heart disease. Low physical activity has been linked to future health problems. People with high cholesterol have twice the risk of heart disease. Eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables significantly reduces your risk of heart disease. 1 out of 3 people don’t know that have high blood pressure aka “the silent killer”, which damages blood vessels and makes your heart work harder. Heart disease increases by 20% in women who are overweight and increases by over 64% in women who are obese. Women with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop and die from heart disease. Cigarette smokers are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease.

Education

Your heart is the hardest working muscle in your body. It has the ability to beat over 3 billion times in a person’s life. In women, a heart attack may not have a typical presentation with common symptoms such as shortness of breath, jaw pain, back pain, nausea and flu-like symptoms. Some common diagnoses of heart disease include angina (chest pain with activity), arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), pericarditis (an infection around the heart), stroke (poor blood flow that causes death of brain cells), valve problems (important parts of the heart don’t work well), and cardiac arrest (heart stops beating). Medications and surgeries are available to help improve how the heart works and lower the risk of complications.

Empowerment

Along with the American Heart Association, I support the 7 tips to reduce your risk of heart disease. Get active: Try exercising 45 minutes for 5 times per week. Take the stairs. Find an exercise partner. Control cholesterol: Get a screening test. Read the label to stay away from foods high in cholesterol. Bake it! Eat better: Become a part-time vegetarian. Pack your lunch. Order from the kid’s menu. Manage blood pressure: Manage stress. How low can you go on sodium? Please take your medications. Lose weight: Think in terms of dress sizes. Pace yourself. New habits = new outcomes. Reduce blood sugar: Makes sodas/sweat tea a luxury item. Water. Get tested. Stop smoking: Keep more money in your pocket. Give your heart and lungs some fresh air. 1-800- QUIT-NOW.

Encouragement

We both know that it is hard to do the right thing… you are busy with work and/or school, and/or family obligations. You are important - you’re family and friends need you. You are irreplaceable - no one can do your job as good as you. If after reading this summary, you realize that you can do a better job of taking care of your heart, please give yourself the time and effort your deserve.

Quote of the Month:

“Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud”  
~ Maya Angelou ~

 

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