Posts Tagged ‘treatment’

Bye-Bye Vertigo!

August 28th, 2018

Living in Florida can be brutal for an allergy sufferer. I know, because I’ve lived in Florida since I was three and can’t remember a time when I didn’t suffer from allergies and ear and nasal infections. I’m allergic to the world so I’m always having to make trips to the doctor for antibiotics and allergy treatments.Photo from iSockPhoto.com.

Recently, I started getting frequent dizzy spells as well. I assumed at first that they were the result of another infection and put off doing anything about it. But then the dizzy spells became more severe and quite random. They would occur almost anytime, anywhere.

At first, they lasted only for a few seconds. But then, about a month ago, I woke up one morning feeling very dizzy, and as I started to move around, the dizziness did not let up at all. In fact, it only got worse, to the point where I didn’t feel safe driving myself to work.

I struggled through that entire day, literally using the walls in the hallway to hold me up because my balance was terrible, and I didn’t trust myself not to fall. After another couple days of feeling like this, I ended up having to miss a day of work.

It was at that point that I finally gave in and went to see a doctor. I was feeling anxious before my appointment, not knowing exactly what was going on at this point or how it would be diagnosed or treated, but then, after the doctor did a few maneuvers on me, he said, You have vertigo.

He explained briefly what vertigo is and provided a video for me to watch. At first, I thought, A videoHow is a video going to help me? But he was right. The video was extremely informative and explained in detail what vertigo is while also providing a detailed demonstration of how to treat it.

I went home and started following the protocol from the video right away. By the next morning, I was feeling much better. The treatment helped rid me of the dizziness and changed my life. If it ever comes back again, I will know exactly what to do. I hope this video helps you as much as it did me.

 

Confused about Mammograms? Join the Club!

February 23rd, 2016
breast cancer prevention is with common screenings

Public Domain Image

When should you get a mammogram? If you’re a woman past 40, that question isn’t as easy as it used to be. Health organizations are no longer in agreement about when, or how often, women should be screened for breast cancer through mammography.

Since the 1980s, women have been encouraged to get routine annual mammograms, certainly by age 50 and possibly even younger. Groups like the American Cancer Society said yearly mammograms should start at 40. The thinking was that breast cancer caught early is the most curable.

Now some groups have changed those recommendations, but not uniformly.

Let’s start with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In January, the federal advisory panel of health experts issued guidelines that not only altered recommended ages for mammography but also how often women need mammograms.

The advisory group now recommends routine mammograms for women between the ages of 50 and 74. Not every year, mind you, but every other year. This is for women at average risk. For instance, they don’t have a sibling, mother or child with breast cancer, or the breast cancer gene mutation known as BRCA1 or BRCA2.

The more conservative guidelines are meant to provide a balance between screening for breast cancer to save lives through early detection and lessening the risk of false positive findings and overtreatment.

The task force panel’s recommendations basically say women between 40 and 49 need to make their own decisions while weighing the possibility of good versus harm. In other words, what is the likelihood that the harm from mammograms such as false positives outweighs the likelihood of catching an aggressive cancer?

Sometimes, what looks like it might be cancer on a mammogram really isn’t. But to find out, women must go through the anxiety of being called back for another look and possibly undergo biopsies that weren’t really needed.

Or the mammogram might detect a very small, localized lesion called Stage 0. It may or may not progress. Unfortunately, there aren’t any tests to say for sure, but some studies are questioning whether treatment is really necessary in lieu of careful monitoring.

According to the task force, the scientific evidence isn’t strong enough to indicate whether women older than 75 significantly benefit from mammograms compared to the potential harm of false positives and overtreatment.

This age group isn’t included in studies about screening mammograms. Information on the task force website, however, says there may be some indicators that the older a woman becomes, the less she may benefit.

Meanwhile, other health groups aren’t in agreement with the Preventive Services Task Force panel and want women to know it.

The American Cancer Society now has new guidelines and recommends annual mammograms start at age 45. After age 55, women can adopt every-other-year screening, according to the ACS.

On the other hand, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that routine mammograms begin at 40. So does the Society of Breast Imaging, which has started a web campaign called End the Confusion. The campaign is aimed toward advising women why getting fewer screening mammograms isn’t wise.

So now we’re in the gray zone of “shared decision making.” In consultation with their doctors, women will have to figure out what is best for them as individuals.

When even experts can’t agree, this might seem difficult.

One factor women should consider is family history, although there’s a wrinkle here, too. Women who have sisters, mothers or daughters with breast cancer do have higher risk and it’s likely their doctors would recommend more frequent screening. However, not having a family history is no guarantee. More than 85 percent of new cases are diagnosed in women without a family history of the disease.

In the end, a woman will have to determine how comfortable she is with uncertainty. Would she rather lessen her chances of having an unnecessary biopsy or being faced with the decision of treating a very early cancer that might never be harmful? Or is she the type who never wants to risk the possibility of breast cancer going undetected because she had less frequent mammograms?

Taking care of her self is something every woman needs to do. How often that includes routine mammograms is a personal decision she will have to make.

Reviewing the Zika Virus

February 4th, 2016
Courtesy of iStock

Courtesy of iStock

Sharing media coverage with the election lately is ongoing news about a rapidly spreading virus called the zika virus. While only 36 people (as of this posting) in the United States have contracted this virus, other areas of the continent and the world have been more brutally hit. So much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a global public health emergency(1).

Don’t let that scare you too much. Keep in mind, the people in the US who have the zika virus did not get it here. In most cases, they were infected while traveling in countries where the virus is more prevalent and returned with it. The virus is not transmitted from person to person, so the infection does not spread if an infected person touches or breathes on you.

It is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, specifically an Aedes mosquito; and, yes, we have that type of mosquito in the US. This mosquito, which is known to transmit other weird diseases, gets the zika virus by biting an infected person. So, the more infected people, the more infected mosquitoes. The more infected mosquitoes, the more infected people.

According to the WHO, it’s not certain how long after exposure that symptoms will appear, but it’s likely a few days. Symptoms include a fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle and joint pain, malaise and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for several days to a week(2). Some people might not even know they’ve been infected.

For most people, zika virus disease will pass with little concern. Treatment is geared to relief of symptoms and should include getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration and taking medication such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain (3). There is no specific treatment for the virus itself and no vaccine to prevent infection.

There are potential complications of the zika virus, however, and pregnant women and their newborns appear to be at highest risk. In addition to the bite of a mosquito, the virus can be transmitted by a mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. The WHO’s emergency declaration comes in the wake of a “strongly suspected” link between the virus and the neurological birth defect called microcephaly.

Statistics have shown that in Brazil, which has seen an explosion of the virus, there are higher than normal cases of microcephaly in populations with evidence of zika infection. Microcephaly is a rather rare condition present at birth in which the infant’s head is abnormally small, which is generally associated with incomplete brain development and intellectual disability.

A potential link between the zika virus and the neurological/autoimmune condition Guillain-Barré syndrome is also suspected. With Guillain-Barré, the individual’s immune system attacks the nerve cells, which causes muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis that can last a few weeks or several months. Most people recover from Guillain-Barré syndrome, but some are left with permanent damage.

Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affirms the CDC’s commitment to dedicating resources to discovering better testing for diagnosing zika virus, as well as ways to treat it, contain it and prevent it in this country(4). He notes that for non-pregnant people, the virus poses no significant health risk. He also believes that from the information known at this time, a widespread transmission in the contiguous United States appears to be unlikely.

Still, wear your insect repellant and long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Stay in places with air conditioning or screens on the windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, and help children and the elderly with mosquito prevention. Take steps and be safe from all mosquito-borne illnesses, as well as the discomfort of their bites!

Cancer or a Common Skin Problem? What Do I Do?

May 18th, 2015

It started out looking like a tiny wart. Then it grew, rapidly, swelling to monstrous size in just a few weeks beneath the surface of the skin. It looked to me like it could have been some sort of cancerous growth.

I made an appointment with a dermatologist and it turned out to be something benign but also obscure…at least to me. It was called a pyogenic granuloma, also known as a lobular capillary hemangioma.

A pyogenic granuloma is a benign vascular tumor, which occurs primarily in the skin or mucous membranes. Most frequently found on the hands or feet, these lesions also commonly occur on the face, head, neck, or inside the mouth.

A pyogenic granuloma will initially appear as a pinhead-sized bump or nodule. Most range from dark pink to red in color. Within weeks, the lesion may expand to several centimeters in size as it begins to protrude from the skin.

One of the most distressing aspects of a pyogenic granuloma is that it is subject to persistent bleeding: the slightest bump in the area of the tumor can cause it to bleed profusely. Because the lesion consists of new capillaries, sometimes the bleeding does not stop within the timeframe of a normal wound.

Even more disturbing is the uncertainty of the condition when it has not yet been diagnosed; it is, after all, a tumor, so it looks like a cancer to the layperson.

Surgery is the only way to remove a pyogenic granuloma. For mine, the procedure was a simple outpatient procedure under local anesthesia, and took less than fifteen minutes.

Pyogenic granulomas are mostly just an unsightly nuisance, but their resemblance to malignant tumors makes them a priority when they do appear. Anyone with a suspicious bump on the skin should visit a dermatologist promptly.

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