Patient Education

Acne

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when tiny openings in the skin called pores become clogged with dead skin and natural oils, causing the pores to swell. This leaves small red, white, or black bumps on the skin called pimples. Though most are commonly caused by hormonal changes during puberty, acne can also be caused by hormonal imbalances (such as during pregnancy) or by the use of greasy or oily skincare products. Safe treatments for acne are available both over-the-counter and through a doctor.

Allergies

An allergy is an immune system response or reaction to substances that are usually not harmful – such as pollen, dust, or pet dander. When a person with allergies is exposed to something they're allergic to, the immune system produces an allergic reaction with symptoms like red, swollen, and itchy eyes, irritation to the nose, coughing, rashes and asthma. Allergies can be caused by several factors, such as certain foods, animals, and environmental factors.

Allergy Testing

More than 50 million people in the U.S. have allergies. Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment. Allergy testing can be done as skin tests or as blood tests, but skin testing is typically more accurate than blood testing. Allergy blood tests are sometimes ordered for patients with severe skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, or for babies and very young children. During skin testing, a drop of an allergen is pricked on the surface of the skin (usually the back). Many allergens are tested at the same time. If a person is allergic to one of the tests, there will be redness and swelling at the test spot. The testing is done in the doctor's office and it only takes 18 minutes to get results. Some medicines interfere with allergy skin tests. For this reason (among others), it's important that patients have a consult with their doctor before scheduling their allergy skin test to evaluate how their medications may need to be adjusted. If the results of the allergy skin testing show severe allergies, immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be recommended.

Arthritis

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage in one or more joints breaks down. Cartilage protects a joint, allowing it to move smoothly, and absorbs shock when there is pressure (such as while walking). If the body's normal amount of cartilage breaks down, the bones rub together and cause pain, inflammation, and stiffness. There are several different types of arthritis, and common symptoms include pain, tenderness, and stiffness in the joints and restricted movement. Some treatments for arthritis include non-prescription and prescription medications, joint injections, and surgical operations.

Cancer

Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. These abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and can form localized tumors as well as invade other parts of the body. Cancer has a number of complex causes, but in general it can be caused by environmental, hereditary, or lifestyle factors. Symptoms of cancer depend on the type and location of the cancer, and the treatment varies based on the type and its stage. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The ideal treatment is prevention or early detection at a curable stage.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists or progresses over a long period of time – usually for over 6 months. Chronic pain can range from mild to severe, and patients may also experience feelings of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness. The most common sources of chronic pain derive from headaches, joint pain, pain from injury, and backaches. Safe treatments for chronic pain include both over-the-counter and prescription medication. Exercise, weight loss and physical therapy can be instrumental as well.

Colds

The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system, primarily affecting the nose and throat. A common cold is usually harmless. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, and sometimes a fever. A cold will usually resolve in a week, with some symptoms lasting up to three weeks. Colds are the most common infectious disease in humans and are caused by more than 200 different viruses. There is not a vaccine for the common cold. There is also no medication that will cure the common colds. The body's immune system will make antibodies to fight the infection. Symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter cold medications that may include antihistamines, decongestants, and/or pain relievers.

Antibiotics are useless against a cold as they only help your body fight bacteria-related illnesses. Antibiotics won't help a cold, in fact they can actually do you harm. Many patients have allergic reactions to antibiotics that in some cases can be fatal. In addition, taking unnecessary antibiotics has led to the growth of several strains of common bacteria that are now resistant to antibiotics. For these and other reasons, it is important to only use antibiotics in situations where they are needed (bacterial infections). It is possible for a cold virus to cause a bacterial infection such as an ear infection or pneumonia. For this reason, if your symptoms are severe or last for more than 10 days, you should call your doctor. Most cold viruses are spread by direct contact but cold viruses can also live on surfaces for hours. So wash your hands often. Washing your hands is also the best way to prevent spreading a cold to others, especially after you cough or sneeze.

Colposcopy

A colposcopy may be recommended when a woman's routine pap smear shows abnormal results. During a colposcopy, the cervix, vagina and vulva are examined for signs of disease using a special instrument called a colposcope. If an unusual area of cells is found during the colposcopy, a sample of tissue can be collected for laboratory testing. If there are multiple suspicious areas, multiple biopsy samples may be taken. Results of the colposcopy determine whether additional testing and treatment is needed. A colposcopy is done in a doctor's office and it typically takes about 10 to 20 minutes.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by a person having high blood sugar. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar. High blood sugar can be caused by an inadequate production of insulin (known as Type 1 Diabetes) or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin (known as Type II Diabetes). There is no cure for Type 1, but Type 2 may be able to reverse itself with lifestyle changes. Safe treatment for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes may involve prescription medications, diet, weight loss and exercise to control blood sugar levels. These treatments help prevent symptoms and associated problems from occurring. Complications of diabetes include impaired vision, kidney disease, neuropathy (numbness, tingling and/or pain) in hands or feet, and cardiovascular disease.

EKG Testing

An EKG, or electrocardiogram, test records the electrical activity of the heart. An EKG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper, called waves, which can then be read by a doctor. An EKG can be done to find the cause of unexplained chest pain and/or symptoms of heart disease, check if the walls of the heart chambers are too thick, monitor how medications are working and whether they are affecting the heart, check how well mechanical devices that are implanted in the heart are working to control a normal heartbeat, or to check the health of the heart when other diseases or conditions are present. The EKG is safe and there is no risk involved.

Endometrial Biopsy

An endometrial biopsy is a procedure that is used to take a small sample of the lining of the uterus. The tissue is then examined under a microscope for abnormal or precancerous cells. An endometrial biopsy can aid in the diagnosis of endometrium (the uterus lining) problems, cancer of the uterus, and find the cause of heavy, prolonged, or irregular uterine bleeding.

Flu

Flu, short for influenza, is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The types of influenza viruses that generally circulate in the U.S. include influenza A and influenza B. Symptoms typically include fever (usually high), chills, body aches & general discomfort, weakness, dry cough, sore throat, headache and a runny or stuffy nose. In addition to respiratory symptoms, some children may experience stomach symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting. Stomach symptoms rarely occur in adults. Complications of influenza include dehydration, pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections, worsening of chronic medical problems such as asthma, diabetes or congestive heart failure, seizures and death.

Each year, thousands of people die from influenza and even more require hospitalization. Influenza viruses spread in respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. They usually spread from person to person, though sometimes people become infected by touching something contaminated with the influenza virus and then touching their mouths or noses. The single best way to prevent influenza is to get an annual influenza vaccine, commonly known as the "flu shot". Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get an influenza vaccine each year, preferably in the late summer or early fall before flu season begins. Because influenza and the stomach flu both share the same abbreviation of "flu", people sometimes assume they are one and the same and make the assumption that the flu shot will prevent the stomach flu. This is false. The flu shot helps prevent influenza, not the stomach flu. In addition, the flu shot is made with dead influenza viruses so you cannot get the flu (influenza or the stomach flu) from the flu shot.

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, often by a blood clot, causing the heart muscle to die. This happens because of coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when the coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood slowly become thicker and harder from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances, called plaque. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Heart attacks are the leading cause of the death in the US. Together with a doctor, a person can set goals to reduce the factors that raise their risk of heart attack, such as diet and exercise. The 5 major risks are diabetes, hypertension, elevated lipids, tobacco use and family history of early heart attacks.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, occurs when the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. This requires the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels and body. Hypertension, which generally increases with age, can come with no known cause or be caused by an underlying condition such as certain medications, birth defects, and kidney problems. Hypertension is mostly without symptoms but can include headache, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, breathlessness, and nosebleeds. Safe treatments available for hypertension include prescription medication and lifestyle changes.

Gynecology

Gynecology is the medical practice dealing with the health, functions, and diseases of the female reproductive system. Annual exams are recommended for women to age 21. These services are offered by all providers at Family Health Care.

Ideal Body Weight (Weight Loss Management)

A person's ideal body weight can be calculated using a Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI is a measure of the healthy weight for a particular body size and gender, based on height and weight. A person's BMI can fall into one of four categories: underweight (<18.5), normal weight (18.5-24.9), overweight (25-29.9), and obesity (30>). A weight management plan can be created for a person, depending on whether they are overweight or underweight. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are crucial when it comes to weight management.

Obstetrics

Obstetrics deals with the care of all women's reproductive tracts and their children during pregnancy (prenatal period), childbirth, and the postnatal period following the delivery.

Migraines

A migraine is a severe, painful headache that can cause intense throbbing or pulsing in one area of the head for a few to several hours. Nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound often accompany a migraine. Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms, such as flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg. Safe treatments available for migraines include both preventative and pain-relieving prescription medication.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. It can lead to an increased risk of bone fracture, most commonly in the hip, wrist, or spine. Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease, and generally can be prevented with proper diet and exercise. Symptoms can be silent, but many diagnosed suffer from pain and height loss. Prescription medication, dietary supplements, and exercise to strengthen the bones are all safe treatments for osteoporosis.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition that affects the lungs. It is usually caused by infection with bacteria or viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Typical symptoms include coughing, chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. The treatment of pneumonia depends on the underlying cause, but is generally treated with prescription antibiotics. Vaccines are also available to prevent certain types of pneumonia.

Sigmoidoscopy

A sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to look inside the large intestine (rectum and colon) using a thin, flexible fiberoptic tube. Sigmoidoscopy is used to screen for colon cancer and can also help investigate internal problems such as bleeding, abdominal pain, or diarrhea. A sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonscopy, except that is uses a short tube that examines the lower one third of the colon, while a colonoscopy examines the whole colon. A sigmoidoscopy is a useful screening tool as the majority of cancerous polyps occur in the lower one third of the colon. Sigmoidoscopy has a number of benefits over the more invasive colonoscopy. It requires less bowel prep, less sedation, has fewer side effects (including injury to the colon), and is much simpler to perform. Because the sigmoidoscopy can be performed in a doctor's office it is significantly cheaper than a colonoscopy which is usually performed in a hospital.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation, more commonly known as quitting smoking, can significantly reduce the risk of suffering from smoking-related diseases. Smoking is known to be a cause of heart attack, stroke, emphysema, and a number of cancers – including cancer of the lungs, neck, and throat. There are a variety of options available beyond quitting "cold turkey," and consulting with a doctor can help a patient guide their progress.

STIs

An STI, or sexually transmitted infection, is an infection or illness transferred from one person to another by means of sexual behavior - including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. There are several different STIs, ranging in severity. Some are completely treatable while others have no cure and can even be fatal. There are several methods to reduce the spread of STI's. Abstinence or monogamous relationships are the most effective means of prevention.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is an infection in the throat caused by streptococcal (strep) bacteria. It is highly contagious and can spread by person-to-person contact with fluids from the nose or saliva. Symptoms can range from milde to severe, but generally include a sore throat, pain when swallowing, swollen neck glands, and fever. 3 out of 10 children and 1 out of 10 adults who seek care for sore throat have strep throat. Treatment reduces duration and severity of the illness. Complications include acute rheumatic fever and transmission to close contacts.

Vasectomies

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure used as a form of male birth control – after having a vasectomy, a couple can no longer conceive a child. During the procedure, a small incision is made in the upper part of the man's scrotum in order to close or block the tubes (vasa deferentia) that carry sperm. Once completed, a vasectomy will prevent the release of sperm into a woman when a man ejaculates, preventing any chance of conception. The procedure is nearly 100 percent effective.

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