Blog Posts

All About Arthritis

May 9th, 2022

A joint is an area in the body where two or more bones come together. Most joints are flexible, enabling you to move. Arthritis is a broad term that describes more than 100 conditions that cause inflammation and degeneration of the joints.

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, so let’s learn all about arthritis.

Two common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

OA, or “wear and tear” arthritis, is more common with age. Most people over age 60 have osteoarthritis to some degree. But younger people can develop this type of arthritis as well, particularly following an injury to a joint.

RA occurs when your immune system, which normally attacks outside invaders such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins, doesn’t work properly and attacks your healthy tissue. RA affects your joints and bones but may also affect your internal organs and systems. RA typically develops between ages 30 to 50. It can, however, affect children, teens and young adults.

Other types include psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and gout. Psoriatic arthritis is joint inflammation that occurs in people who have the skin disorder psoriasis. JIA, in which the immune system attacks the tissue around joints, affects children ages 16 or younger. With gout, hard crystals of uric acid form in your joints.

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58.5 million adults are affected by arthritis. That’s about one in four Americans. The most common joints affected by arthritis are the feet, hands, hips, knees and lower back facet joints, which connect the bones of the spine.

Symptoms of arthritis include pain and decreased range of motion in the affected joints. Inflammation within the joints leads to stiffness, swelling, redness, tenderness and warmth. RA may also cause fatigue, low-grade fever, inflammation of the heart and blood vessels and a low red blood cell count (anemia).

Different types of arthritis have different causes, many of them unknown. Certain genes have been identified in some types of arthritis, such as RA and JIA. People with OA may have inherited a cartilage weakness. If you have the gene, it’s likely that something in your environment triggers the condition to develop. For example, repeated injuries to a joint may lead to OA.

Certain behaviors and characteristics, called risk factors, increase your likelihood for developing some types of arthritis or make it worse. Some of these risk factors you can control and some you can’t. These risk factors include:

Overweight or obesity. Carrying excess pounds puts stress on your joints, especially your knees, hips and spine.
Infection. Many microbial agents, such as bacteria and viruses, can infect joints and potentially lead to the development of arthritis.
Joint injuries. Overuse and repetitive stress can damage joints and lead to the development of OA.
Smoking. Cigarette smoking can increase your risk for developing RA and make the condition worse.
Age. The risk for developing arthritis increases as you get older.
Gender. Most types of arthritis are more common in women.
Family history. Some types of arthritis run in families. You may be at a higher risk if your parents or siblings have arthritis.

Arthritis is typically diagnosed using your medical history; a physical examination; imaging tests, such as x-ray, MRI, CT scan or ultrasound; and lab tests to analyze your blood and joint fluid for signs of inflammation.

There’s no cure for arthritis. The aim of treatment is to reduce pain, prevent additional damage to the affected joints and improve joint function and quality of life. Treatment may include medication, physical and/or occupational therapy, splints or joint assistive aids, patient education and support, and weight loss.

If conservative measures don’t help, surgery such as joint replacement or joint fusion may be necessary.

There’s no sure way to prevent arthritis, but you can lower your risk for developing arthritis by not smoking; doing low-impact, non-weight-bearing exercise; maintaining a healthy weight; and reducing your risk of joint injuries. These activities also help to keep arthritis from getting worse if you do develop it.

Patti DiPanfilo

A Lesson On Lupus

May 2nd, 2022

May is National Lupus Awareness Month. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which your immune system, your body’s natural defense against infection and disease, becomes hyperactive and attacks healthy tissue. Lupus can cause inflammation and pain in just about any area of your body, including your skin, joints, lungs, kidneys, blood and heart. Lupus can range in severity from mild to life-threatening.

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans have some form of lupus. And based on available data, the foundation estimates that there are 16,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Nine out of 10 Americans living with lupus are women. Most people develop the disease between the ages of 15 and 44.

There are four forms of lupus:

Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common, accounting for 70 percent of all cases. As a systemic condition, SLE affects multiple organs and systems throughout the body.

Cutaneous lupus affects the skin. People with this form of lupus may experience skin issues such as a sensitivity to the sun and rashes as well as hair loss.

Drug-induced lupus is caused by certain medications. People with this form often have the same symptoms as people with SLE, but they’re usually temporary. This form of lupus typically goes away after you stop taking the responsible medication.

Neonatal lupus is a rare form found in infants. In this case, the mother had lupus at the time of pregnancy or developed the condition later in life. Not all infants born to mothers with lupus will have this condition.

The cause of lupus is unknown, but hormonal, environmental and genetic factors appear to play a role. In addition to age and sex, risk factors include race (people of African, Asian and Native American descent have a higher chance of developing lupus), family history (lupus sometimes affects more than one member of a family) and contact with certain viruses and chemicals.

Because lupus can affect many parts of the body, there are a variety of symptoms. Not everyone with lupus experiences the same set of symptoms or the same severity. Sometimes symptoms are barely present (in remission) and sometimes they are more severe (flare-up). Common symptoms include:

• Muscle and joint pain
• Swollen joints
• Fever
• Extreme fatigue
• Pain in your chest when breathing deeply (pleurisy)
• A butterfly-shaped rash across your cheeks and nose (malar rash)
• Hair loss
• Headaches
• Confusion
• Issues with the kidneys, heart or lungs
• Anemia
• Sensitivity to the sun and other light sources
• Sores in your mouth or nose
• Memory problems
• Seizures
• Pale or purple fingers or toes in response to cold or stress (Raynaud’s phenomenon)

The process for diagnosing lupus can be long and difficult. Lupus is known as “the great imitator” because its symptoms mimic other disorders. In addition, symptoms can be unclear, flare up and go into remission, and change over time. On average, it takes nearly six years for people with lupus to get an accurate diagnosis.

There is no test to diagnose lupus. Your doctor will begin by asking questions about your personal and family medical history, as well as questions about your symptoms. The doctor will examine you and may order lab tests, including blood and urine tests, to determine how your immune system is working and check for signs of inflammation in your body. Urine tests can show if your kidneys have been damaged by the autoimmune disease.

There’s no cure for lupus. Treatment is focused on controlling symptoms and limiting the damage to your body. Your doctor will create a comprehensive treatment plan that typically includes medications, such as anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs. Certain chemotherapy drugs and monoclonal antibodies (laboratory-created proteins that mimic the germ-fighting action of the immune system) may also be used.

There are also some lifestyle changes you can make that can help you better manage your lupus. These include:

Avoid smoking. Smoking damages many organs and can worsen lupus symptoms.

Drink in moderation. Alcohol may lower the effectiveness of certain medications and impact the health of your liver. Talk with your doctor about alcohol’s effect on your treatment and current health.

Get regular exercise. Engage in moderate, low-impact exercise, such as walking, swimming, Pilates or yoga. This type of exercise can help to strengthen your body without the risk of aggravating joint pain and inflammation. Exercise may also help your heart, lungs and bones, as well as your mental health if you’re dealing with anxiety or depression due to your condition.

Manage stress. Stress can trigger flare-ups of lupus symptoms. Try deep breathing, meditation or another stress management skill to help reduce or prevent symptom flare-ups.

Build a community of support. Research shows that people with lupus benefit by having an understanding support system around them. You may find that support from family, friends, support groups or an online community.

Patti DiPanfilo

#lupus #lupusawareness #lupusawarenessmonth #purpleforlupus #livingwithlupus #lupuswarriors #worldlupusday #lupusfacts #SLE

Decide To Donate Life

April 12th, 2022

Donate Life America is a nonprofit organization with the aim of increasing the number of donated organs, eyes and tissues available to save and heal lives in the US. Along with its partnering organizations, Donate Life America established National Donate Life Month, observed each year in April, to raise awareness about donation, encourage Americans to register as organ donors and honor those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.

The need for organ donors is critical. There are more than 100,000 men, women and children awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant in the US. Twenty people die every day on average because an organ was not available in time to save them. Every 10 minutes, another American is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.

And while 95 percent of Americans are in favor of organ donation, only 58 percent are registered as donors. One donor can save up to eight lives and heal as many as 75 people through organ and tissue donation. Donate Life Month is a great time to learn more about organ donation and consider registering as a donor if you aren’t already.

Organ donation is the process of surgically removing an organ or tissue from one person, the donor, and transplanting it into another person, the recipient. The recipient needs the new organ because his or her own organ has failed or been severely damaged by disease or injury.

In most cases, organs, eyes and tissues are donated by deceased donors. Among the organs and tissues that can be donated and used for transplantation are the liver, kidneys, pancreas, heart, lungs, intestines, corneas, skin, bone, bone marrow, heart valves and connective tissue.

You can also donate certain organs and tissues while you’re still alive. In fact, more than 6,500 living donor transplants were performed in 2021, an increase of 14.2 percent over the 2020 total. As a living donor, you can donate one of your kidneys, one liver lobe, a lung or part of a lung, part of your pancreas or part of your intestines.

You may also be able to donate certain tissues while alive. These tissues include skin after surgeries such as a tummy tuck, bone following a knee or hip replacement, healthy cells from bone marrow or umbilical cord blood and general blood products, including red and white blood cells and platelets.

How you die affects your ability to donate. Of the 2.2 million people who die each year, only about 2 percent of them are able to be organ donors. In most cases, people are evaluated for organ donation after they’ve suffered extensive head injuries from a car accident, stroke or brain aneurysm and have been declared brain dead.

Doctors run multiple tests to determine brain death. A person who is brain dead has no brain activity, can’t breathe on their own and has no chance for recovery of brain function. The person’s heart is kept beating by mechanical ventilation, which keeps blood and oxygen flowing to the organs.

Donation may also be done following cardiac death. A person may experience cardiac death if they suffer a devastating and irreversible brain injury, are being kept alive by machines and their family members choose to withdraw life support. When the person’s heart stops beating, the doctor declares him or her dead.

After the donor is declared dead, any organs and tissues deemed suitable are recovered. Tissues such as bone, corneas and skin are recovered following the removal of the organs.

Once the organs and tissues are recovered, basic information about the donor is provided to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The UNOS computer then matches the donated organs to potential recipients based on blood type, body size, medical urgency and length of time on the waiting list. In matching the pancreas and kidneys, genetic tissue type is also considered.

Removing organs from the donor is done carefully, skillfully and respectfully. It does not affect the donor’s appearance or preclude an open-casket funeral.

Anybody can become an organ and tissue donor. Most health conditions do not prevent donation, and age is not a factor. The medical professionals determine which organs and tissues can be recovered and transplanted to save or heal other people in need.

You can register as an organ donor through the department of motor vehicles (DMV), online with your state registry or even on your iPhone via the Health App. Be sure to share your wishes with your family members, physicians and legal representatives so they know what to do at the time of your death and won’t be burdened with a difficult decision.

Won’t you consider becoming an organ donor? Your decision could save the lives of up to eight people and heal 75 others.

Patti Dipanfilo

Meditating On Multiple Sclerosis 

April 5th, 2022

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS), which consists of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. With an autoimmune disease, your protective immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells like it normally would attack foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses.

In MS, your immune system attacks myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds and insulates the nerves in the CNS. Without myelin, electrical impulses cannot travel efficiently from nerve to nerve. When the myelin is damaged, it leaves a scar, or sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis means “scar tissue in multiple areas.”

The interruption in nerve signaling from the brain to the rest of the body that occurs with MS results in a host of symptoms and disabilities. Symptoms vary among individuals in type and severity.

Vision problems, usually affecting one eye at a time, are a common early sign of MS. Some people may experience blurred or double vision. Others may experience a partial or total loss of vision. Inflammation of the optic nerve can result in pain with eye movement.

Other common MS symptoms include changes in gait and mobility; fatigue; loss of balance or coordination; muscle spasms; muscle weakness; tremors; speech issues; emotional changes and depression; tingling or numbness in your legs, arms or one side of your face; bowel or bladder problems; sexual difficulties; and pain. Sufferers feel a sensation like an electric shock when moving the neck. This is called Lhermitte’s sign.

There are four types of MS.

Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) is a pre-MS condition. It’s a single, first episode of symptoms lasting at least 24 hours. Not everyone who has CIS goes on to develop MS.

Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common type, accounting for about 85 percent of MS cases. RRMS involves episodes of new or increasing symptoms, called relapses or flare-ups, followed by periods of remission, when symptoms stabilize or go away.

Primary progressive MS (PPMS) affects about 15 percent of people with MS. With this type, symptoms slowly and gradually worsen without early relapses or remissions. Some people with PPMS experience times of stability and periods when symptoms worsen and then get better.

Secondary progressive MS (SPMS) involves continued nerve damage and symptoms that progressively worsen. While you may still experience some relapses, you no longer have periods of remission afterward. Many people originally diagnosed with RRMS transition into SPMS.

The exact cause of MS is unknown, but researchers have identified risk factors. They include age (it is usually diagnosed in people between 20 and 40 years old), gender (it is more common in women), family history, race (white people of Northern European descent are at highest risk), climate (it is more common in temperate climates), Vitamin D deficiency and smoking.

In addition to a complete neurological exam and review of your personal and family history, your neurologist may use several tests to help make a diagnosis of MS. These tests may include blood tests, MRI scan, spinal tap (lumbar puncture) and an evoked potentials test, which stimulates the nerve pathways to analyze electrical activity in your CNS.

There is currently no cure for MS, but there are treatments for managing symptoms, reducing relapses and slowing disease progression. Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) are the primary treatment for MS. They are FDA-approved medications that help to reduce relapses and slow progression of MS.

Your neurologist may recommend a high dose of corticosteroids to counter a severe flare-up. Steroids can quickly reduce inflammation and slow damage to the myelin sheath surrounding your nerves.

Physical rehabilitation, including physical, occupational and speech therapy, may be recommended to help you maintain mobility and function. Your doctor may also suggest mental health counseling to help you combat the emotional challenges of living with a chronic disease.

Making a few lifestyle changes can also help you live a better life with MS. Consider these tips:

  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, added sugars and processed foods.
  • Get regular exercise to maintain strength and flexibility, reduce stiffness and boost mood.
  • Manage stress in your life. Try stress-relieving activities such as yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, massage or meditation.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking is bad for your health overall and can worsen MS symptoms.
  • Limit alcohol use. Alcohol can also worsen MS symptoms and speed up disease progression.  

The good news is that MS is rarely fatal, and most people who have the disease don’t become severely disabled and continue to lead long, full lives.

FDA Approves Use Of Patch For Alzheimer’s

March 24th, 2022

The Food and Drug Administration has approved use of the first weekly transdermal skin patch for Alzheimer’s-related dementia.

Adlarity (donepezil) is a patch for patients with mild, moderate or severe dementia and is available in 5- or 10-mg per day forms.

The patch can be placed on the patient’s back, thigh or buttocks and will consistently deliver a well-tolerated dose of donepezil through the skin for up to seven days.

Donepezil is the most widely used medicine for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The donepezil patch offers several advantages over the oral form of the drug. Most notably, studies show, the patch results in a lower likelihood of gastrointestinal side effects such as abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.

The patch, manufactured by Corium, is expected to become available this fall.

Endometriosis Education

March 22nd, 2022

March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis is a disorder in women in which tissue similar to the endometrium that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus. This tissue, called an endometrial implant, is most often found on other reproductive organs, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. But sometimes, endometrial implants can be found in other areas, such as the intestines, rectum and bladder. 

During a woman’s menstrual cycle, the hormone estrogen stimulates the buildup of the endometrium in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg. If she doesn’t get pregnant, the built up tissue breaks down and exits the uterus through the vagina, resulting in a menstrual period.

Endometrial implants also respond to estrogen, but the built up tissue has no place to exit and remains within the pelvic cavity. This leads to inflammation, swelling and the formation of scar tissue on the normal organs and tissues surrounding the implants.

Endometriosis is common, affecting 3 to 10 percent of women of childbearing age. About 5 million women in the US have the disorder. It is most common in women between the ages of 25 and 40, but symptoms can begin earlier. Endometriosis is the cause in 40 to 80 percent of cases of pelvic pain and 20 to 50 percent of infertility in women.

The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, including severe menstrual cramps. Other endometriosis symptoms include lower back pain, heavy bleeding during periods, pain during sex, blood in urine or stool, discomfort during bowel movements, spotting or bleeding between periods, periods longer than seven days, enduring fatigue and difficulty becoming pregnant.

The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but there are several risk factors. These risk factors include having a family history of endometriosis, having begun your periods before age 11, having a high level of estrogen in your body, having menstrual cycles less than 27 days and drinking a lot of alcohol and caffeine.

Endometriosis can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms resemble those of other disorders such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian cysts and irritable bowel syndrome. As a result, it can take anywhere between four and 11 years for women to receive a correct diagnosis. What’s more, as many as six out of every 10 cases of endometriosis may remain undiagnosed.

The evaluation for endometriosis begins with a thorough medical history and physical exam, including a pelvic exam. Your doctor may use certain tests to assist in making the diagnosis. These include imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT or MRI. But the only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is through a minimally invasive procedure called laparoscopy.

During laparoscopy, the doctor inserts a thin instrument called a laparoscope that has a camera attached to it through a small incision in the abdomen. In this way, the doctor can examine the organs and visualize the endometrial implants. The doctor may take a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope. This is called a biopsy.

To treat endometriosis, your doctor may recommend medication such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to ease pain or hormonal therapy to lower the amount of estrogen in your body. Hormonal therapy minimizes or stops your periods so there is less bleeding. As a result, there’s less inflammation, swelling and scar tissue formation due to endometrial implants.

Your doctor can remove the endometrial implants on your pelvic organs during laparoscopy. In severe cases of endometriosis, the doctor may recommend a hysterectomy to remove your uterus, ovaries and cervix. Following a hysterectomy, you will not be able to get pregnant.   

There are some things you can do to ease endometriosis symptoms, such as using warm baths, hot water bottles or heating pads to reduce pain. Certain lifestyle factors can also help lessen symptoms and help you cope with them. These include eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and managing stress.

Concerning Colorectal Cancer

March 14th, 2022

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, observed each year in March, serves as an excellent opportunity to learn more about the third most common cancer, excluding skin cancer, in both men and women in the US. Colorectal cancer is also the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men and women combined.

In the US, approximately 72 percent of colorectal cancers begin in the colon and 28 percent begin in the rectum. The colon is a muscular, 5- to 6-foot long tube that removes water, salt and some nutrients from digesting food and forms stool. The rectum is a 5- to 6-inch chamber that connects the colon to the anus, the opening through which waste exits the body. Stool is stored in the rectum until you’re ready to eliminate it during a bowel movement.

Colorectal cancer occurs when cells lining the colon and rectum grow out of control and form masses called tumors. Almost all colorectal cancers begin as abnormal growths called polyps that form in the colon and rectum and become cancerous over time. Colorectal cancers typically grow slowly, so you may not notice any signs or symptoms until the cancerous tumors become large.

When present, signs of colorectal cancer may include a change in bowel habits, constipation or diarrhea, a feeling that you haven’t emptied your bowel completely following a bowel movement, bleeding from your rectum, blood on or in your stool, abdominal pain and bloating, unexplained weight loss, weakness or fatigue, unexplained anemia, a lump in your belly or rectum, vomiting and feeling full even when it’s been a long time since you’ve eaten.

The exact cause of colorectal cancer is not clear. In most cases, it develops as a result of a combination of environmental and genetic factors. There are certain factors that put you at an increased risk for developing the disease.

Risk factors for colorectal cancer include being older; being male; eating a diet low in fiber and high in red and processed meats, saturated fats and calories; drinking excessively; smoking; getting little physical activity; being overweight or obese; having inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis); having Type 2 diabetes; having a history of polyps or an inherited polyposis syndrome; and having had breast, ovarian or uterine cancer.

The signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer are common to other disorders as well, so your doctor will likely perform certain tests to help determine if you have cancer or something else. These may include blood tests, digital rectal exam and imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI.

In 80 percent of cases, the doctor diagnoses colorectal cancer after performing a colonoscopy on patients reporting symptoms. Colonoscopy is the gold standard for diagnosing colorectal cancer because it has a high degree of accuracy. It also enables the doctor to examine the rectum and entire colon.

During a colonoscopy, the doctor inserts a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on it called a colonoscope intoyour anus and up into your rectum and colon. During the test, the doctor can observe and remove most polyps, which are then tested for cancerous cells in a laboratory.

Once colorectal cancer is detected, your doctor will assign a stage based on how far the cancer has spread. The stages of colorectal cancer range from stage 0, or carcinoma in situ, where the cancer is limited to the lining of the colon or rectum, to stage IV, where the cancer has metastasized, or spread, to other organs of the body.

Treatment is based on the stage of the cancer. It typically involves one or a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Other treatments may also be recommended. These include radiofrequency ablation, which kills cancer cells using a probe and heat energy; immunotherapy, which energizes your immune system to fight the cancer; and targeted therapy, which uses medications that, unlike chemotherapy, specifically target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

Treatment is most effective when colorectal cancer is found in its early stages. But often, there are no symptoms during these stages, so screening is crucial for detecting polyps before they become cancerous and for finding cancer early on.

The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals at average risk for developing colorectal cancer begin routine screening at age 45. If you have a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, or if you have inflammatory bowel disease, you may have to begin screening earlier. Talk with your doctor about the best screening schedule for you based on your personal risk factors.

In general, screening guidelines include at least one of the following tests:

  • Test to look for blood in your stool once a year
  • Test to detect altered DNA in your stool every three years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy, which examines the rectum and lower portion of the colon, every five years
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy), which uses cross-sectional x-ray images to search the colon and rectum for polyps, every five years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

No one test is best for everyone. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of each test, and together you can determine which is best for you based on your risk factors and preferences. But don’t put off screening. Colorectal cancer is a killer!

Be Kind To Your Kidneys

March 7th, 2022

There are multiple health observances celebrated during the month of March. One is National Kidney Month. Our kidneys play an important role in our overall health and well-being, so we should give them a little love and attention once in a while. Learn more about how your kidneys function to keep you feeling your best and how you can help protect them in this blog.

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs about the size of a computer mouse that sit at the lowest level of your ribcage, one on each side of your spine. The kidneys are responsible for maintaining a healthy balance of water, salt and minerals – including sodium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium – in your blood. If these substances are not in balance, your body’s nerves, muscles and other tissues may not function properly.

The kidneys also remove extra fluid, acid, waste products and drugs from your body. They release hormones that regulate blood pressure; produce a form of Vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones; and control the production of red blood cells. Those little organs have a big responsibility.

Each kidney is made up of about 1 million functional units called nephrons. A nephron consists of a filtering apparatus made up of tiny blood vessels called a glomerulus, which is attached to a tubule. Blood enters the glomerulus and is filtered. The remaining fluid passes along the tubule, where chemicals and water are added or removed based on the body’s needs. The fluid that is left becomes urine, which is passed through the ureters to be stored in the bladder.

The kidneys filter about 200 quarts of fluid every 24 hours. About two quarts are removed from the body as urine. The remaining 198 quarts of fluid are recovered and returned to the body.

Diseases of the kidneys, specifically chronic kidney disease (CKD), are a major cause of illness and death in the US. Fifteen percent of adults in the US are estimated to have CKD, which equates to about 37 million people, or one in seven. Because early CKD generally has no signs or symptoms, most of these cases are undiagnosed.

When they are present, warning signs that you may be developing kidney disease include fatigue, trouble sleeping, poor appetite, muscle cramping, swollen feet and ankles, puffiness around your eyes in the morning and frequent urination, particularly at night.

There are also symptoms that may indicate your kidney disease is progressing to kidney failure, which is when your kidneys lose all ability to filter fluid and waste products from your blood. These symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, changes in urine output, fluid retention, anemia, blood in urine, foamy urine, inability to concentrate, sudden rise in potassium level and inflammation of the fluid-filled sac that covers the heart (pericardium).

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease. It accounts for about 44 percent of new cases. Consistently high blood sugar associated with diabetes damages the blood vessels in the body, including the blood vessels in the kidneys. As a result, the kidneys cannot filter blood as efficiently as they should, and excess fluid and waste builds up in the body. That can lead to other health problems including heart disease and stroke.

Other risk factors for chronic kidney disease include having high blood pressure; having a family history of kidney disease; being older; having heart disease; smoking; being obese; being African American, Native American or Asian American; and having an abnormal kidney structure.

Controlling your diabetes and blood pressure are essential to maintaining kidney health. Other things you can do to help keep your kidneys healthy and prevent kidney disease include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising regularly — Regular exercise can help you lose weight and reduce your blood pressure.
  • Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy
  • Avoiding extra salt — Eating a lot of salty food can disrupt the balance of minerals in your body.
  • Staying hydrated — Drinking plenty of water helps your kidneys remove toxins from your blood.
  • Limiting use of over-the-counter medications — Routinely taking certain OTC medications, such as NSAIDS, can damage your kidneys over time. If you have a condition that involves managing pain, such as arthritis, talk with your doctor about alternatives to taking pain medication every day.

Free Colorectal Cancer Screenings At Manatee Memorial on March 8

March 6th, 2022

March is designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, to bring attention screening treatment and research. Of note, it’s not just a disease for senior citizens.

Diagnosis rates for people younger than 50 has increased 2.2% annually from 2007-16, according to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

The alliance also says the nation’s third most diagnosed cancer, afflicting an estimated 151,030 people in 2022. It’s also the second leading cause of cancer death, with an estimated more than 52,000 fatalities this year.

In observance of the awareness month, Manatee Memorial Hospital and We Care Manatee are hosting a free screening event this Tuesday (March 8) from 5-7 pm in the main lobby of the hospital, 206 Second St. E., Bradenton.

Anyone over the age of 45 is qualified to receive an at-home colorectal cancer screening kit at no cost.  Specimens must be returned to the hospital by March 31 to complete the screening. 

Also, colorectal surgeons, oncologists, gastroenterologists, primary care physicians and their staff will be there to discuss colorectal cancers and other care needs. 

The American Cancer Society recently recommended that adults without a family history of the disease should begin screening at age 45.

We Care Manatee, a nonprofit organization, will have information on-site regarding free and reduced-cost options for patients without insurance. 

For information, call We Care Manatee at (941) 755-3952.


Safeguard Your Child’s Dental Health

February 28th, 2022

Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month. The theme for 2022 is “Sealants Make Sense.” But before we talk about sealants, let’s review some basic strategies for safeguarding your child’s dental health.

Your child’s primary – or baby – teeth begin to form during the second trimester of pregnancy. This is the time from week 13 to week 28, or months four, five and six of pregnancy. To help ensure that your child develops healthy teeth, practice good oral hygiene during your pregnancy. Brush twice a day and floss daily. Also, visit a dentist before you deliver your baby.

Most children have 20 baby teeth, which typically begin to come in at around 6 months of age. It is important to protect these teeth because they maintain the proper spacing in the mouth for the permanent – or adult – teeth. Baby teeth generally begin to loosen and fall out when your child is about 6 years old. A full set of 32 adult teeth is usually in place by the time your child is in his or her teens.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the US. Cavities, which result from tooth decay, are permanent damage to a tooth’s enamel, the tough outer shell, that develops into holes. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infection and can lead to tooth loss.

To prevent cavities and safeguard your child’s dental health, begin good dental care before the first baby teeth come in. Wipe your child’s gums with a soft, clean cloth after feedings and before bed. If your baby has teeth, brush them twice a day with a soft-bristled infant toothbrush and plain water. If your child has teeth that touch, gently floss in between them.

Visit the dentist by your baby’s first birthday so the dentist can detect any potential issues with your child’s teeth early on. Consider visiting a pediatric dentist, who is specially trained to deal with children and their dental problems. Get your child regular dental check-ups. This helps your child grow comfortable with visiting the dentist and maintains good oral health.

Children should brush their teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Supervise your child’s brushing until he or she is 7 or 8 years old or until he or she learns to spit out the toothpaste and not swallow it. If your older child participates in sports, he or she should wear a mouth guard to protect the teeth from injury.

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the enamel and helps make your child’s teeth more resistant to the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Many US cities put fluoride in their water. If your city doesn’t fluoridate its water, ask the dentist about fluoride supplements for your child.

Your dentist may recommend placing a sealant on your child’s teeth, particularly the molars in the back of the mouth that bear the brunt of chewing. Bits of food can get lodged in these teeth and be hard to remove with brushing and flossing. Food that remains on the teeth can cause more bacteria to grow, which can lead to tooth decay.

A sealant is a thin, protective coating made of plastic or another dental material that adheres to the rough chewing surfaces of the premolars and molars and helps protect them from cavity-causing bacteria. According to the ADA, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of tooth decay in molars by nearly 80 percent. Ask your dentist if he or she recommends a sealant for your child’s teeth.

Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years. Visit the dentist regularly so he or she can check your child’s sealant for any chipping or wearing. Sealants can be reapplied as necessary.

Healthy teeth are important for your child’s overall health. Poor oral health can lead to infection, disease or other teeth problems. Problems associated with poor dental health include heart disease, respiratory disorders and even cancer. So, teach your children to practice good oral hygiene for strong teeth and good health for a lifetime.

Page 5 of 36