What Should I Ask My Doctor During a Checkup?

The National Institute on Aging shared that asking questions is key to good communication with your doctor. If you don’t ask questions, he or she may assume you already know the answer or that you don’t want more information. Don’t wait for the doctor to raise a specific question or subject; he or she may not know it’s important to you. Be proactive. Ask questions when you don’t know the meaning of a word (like aneurysm, hypertension, or infarct) or when instructions aren’t clear (for example, does taking medicine with food mean before, during, or after a meal?).

Learn About Medical Tests
Sometimes, doctors need to do blood tests, x-rays, or other procedures to find out what is wrong or to learn more about your medical condition. Some tests, such as Pap tests, mammograms, glaucoma tests, and screenings for prostate and colorectal cancer, are done regularly to check for hidden medical problems.

Before having a medical test, ask your doctor to explain why it is important, what it will show, and what it will cost. Ask what kind of things you need to do to prepare for the test. For example, you may need to have an empty stomach, or you may have to provide a urine sample. Ask how you will be notified of the test results and how long they will take to come in. Read more

Radon: We Track That!

CDC’s Tracking Network connects people with vital information on a variety of health and environmental topics. You can use data and information collected about radon to help determine individual and community risk for radon and inform community interventions.

Reduce Your Risk for Radon Exposure

In the United States, radon is the #2 cause of lung cancer after smoking and is estimated to cause over 20,000 deaths each year, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas in rocks, soil, and groundwater that you cannot see, smell, or taste.

You can be exposed to radon primarily from breathing in radon that has comes in through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes.

Any home can have a radon problem. Testing is the only way to know if radon levels are high in your home. If radon levels in your home are above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the EPA recommends taking action[413 KB] to reduce your exposure. Read more

4 Tips to Help You Remember the Doctor’s Instructions

Three business partners keeping thumbs up

The National Institute on Aging shared that no matter what your age, it’s easy to forget a lot of what your doctor says. Even if you are comfortable talking with your doctor, you may not always understand what he or she says. So, as your doctor gives you information, it’s a good idea to check that you are following along. Ask about anything that does not seem clear. For instance, you might say: “I want to make sure I understand. Could you explain that a little more?”or “I did not understand that word. What does it mean?”

Another way to check is to repeat what you think the doctor means in your own words and ask, “Is this correct?” Here are some other ideas to help make sure you have all the information you need.

  • Take notes. Take along a notepad and pen and write down the main points, or ask the doctor to write them down for you. If you can’t write while the doctor is talking to you, make notes in the waiting room after the visit. Or, bring an audio recorder along and (with the doctor’s permission) record what is said. Recording is especially helpful if you want to share the details of the visit with others.
  • Get written or recorded materials. Ask if your doctor has any brochures, DVDs, or other materials about your health conditions or treatments. For example, if your doctor says that your blood pressure is high, he or she may give you brochures explaining what causes high blood pressure and what you can do about it. Ask the doctor to recommend other sources, such as websites, disease management centers, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies that may have written or recorded information you can use.
  • Talk to other members of the healthcare team. Sometimes, the doctor may want you to talk with other health professionals who can help you understand and carry out the decisions about how to manage your condition. Nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and occupational or physical therapists may be able to take more time with you than the doctor.
    • Call or email the doctor. If you are uncertain about the doctor’s instructions after you get home, call the office. A nurse or other staff member can check with the doctor and call you back. You could ask whether the doctor, or other health professional you have talked to, has an email address or online health portal you can use to send questions.

    For More Information About Questions to Ask the Doctor During an Appointment

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    1-800-232-4636 (toll-free)
    1-888-232-6348 (TTY/toll-free)
    cdcinfo@cdc.gov
    www.cdc.gov

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
    1-800-633-4227 (toll-free)
    1-877-486-2048 (TTY/toll-free)
    www.medicare.gov

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Prompt Use of Antivirals is Key this Flu Season

A recent sharp increase in influenza A(H3N2) activity in the United States has prompted the CDC to release a health advisory emphasizing the importance of its antiviral treatment recommendations this season. Read more about what clinicians can do.

The December 27 health advisory published via CDC’s Health Alert Network (HAN) highlights the potential for influenza A(H3N2) virus-predominant seasons to be associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older and young children compared with other age groups.

In addition, the HAN also discusses that influenza (flu) vaccines are generally less effective against influenza A(H3N2) viruses than against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 or influenza B viruses. Last season, flu vaccine effectiveness (VE) against circulating influenza A(H3N2) viruses was estimated to be 32% in the United States. While CDC’s preliminary VE estimates for the 2017-2018 season will not be available until later in the season, CDC expects that U.S. VE estimates against circulating A(H3N2) viruses will be similar to last season, assuming the same A(H3N2) viruses continue to predominate. This underscores the need for clinicians to step up influenza treatment efforts this season with the appropriate use of antiviral medications.

Treatment with neuraminidase inhibitor (NAI) antiviral medications has been shown to have clinical and public health benefit in reducing illness and severe outcomes of influenza based on evidence from randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials, and observational studies during past influenza seasons and during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. The NAI antivirals recommended for use in the United States this season are oseltamivir, zanamivir and peramivir. Influenza antiviral medications are most effective in treating influenza and reducing complications when started early. CDC recommends that influenza antivirals be administered within 48 hours of illness onset. However, antiviral treatment initiated later than 48 hours after illness onset can still be beneficial for some patients. Read more

Know the symptoms

Womenshealthy.gov shared that the first step toward surviving a heart attack is learning to recognize the symptoms. The most common signs of heart attack in both women and men are:

  • Unusually heavy pressure on the chest, like there’s a ton of weight on you

    Most heart attacks involve chest pain or discomfort in the center or left side of the chest. It usually lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. It may even feel like heartburn or indigestion.

  • Sharp upper body pain in the neck, back, and jaw

    This symptom can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper part of stomach (not below the belly button). Pain in the back, neck, or jaw is a more common heart attack symptom for women than it is for men.

  • Severe shortness of breath

    This symptom can come on suddenly. It may occur while you are at rest or with minimal physical activity. You may struggle to breathe or try taking deep breaths. Shortness of breath may start before or at the same time as chest pain or discomfort, and can even be your only symptom.

  • Cold sweats, and you know it’s not menopause

    Unexplained or excessive sweating, or breaking out into a “cold sweat,” can be a sign of heart attack.

  • Unusual or unexplained fatigue (tiredness)

    Sudden and unusual tiredness or lack of energy is one of the most common symptoms of heart attack in women, and one of the easiest to ignore. It can come on suddenly or be present for days. More than half of women having a heart attack experience muscle tiredness or weakness that is not related to exercise.

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Overcoming Addiction with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Healthy Lombard Board MemberJennifer McGrath, L.Ac., Dipl.OM from Points To Wellness Inc. shared that according to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, emotions originate internally from different organs inside the body. Conditions and events in the external world may provoke specific reactions but, ultimately, each person is responsible for the emotion generated.

Any addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, food, work, or other activity or substance, effectively blocks intelligence and suppresses healing abilities. Through these behaviors we choose to rely on the demands of addiction to dictate our lives, rather than taking responsibility to conduct ourselves in a healthy, life-affirming way.

Is there a body/mind connection to willpower? According to the principles of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, there is. The zhi represents willpower, drive, and determination. It manifests as the urge to persist in one’s efforts and, when in deficiency, feelings of defeat, pessimism, and depression may occur. Without strong willpower, or zhi, one may easily succumb to the temptations of addiction.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help cleanse and re-balance your body and mind to manage cravings and overcome a variety of addictions, and can help manage cravings. The safe space provided during treatment is both literal and metaphorical. Read more

Can you be overweight and still be healthy?

D043DG Closeup view of scales on a floor and kids feet

Nina Lundberg, MD shared in Edward-Elmhurst’s  Healthy Driven Life that weight gain is common as we age, but it’s important to keep it in check. Imagine that you stepped on the scale this morning and noticed you’ve gained a few pounds since your last weigh-in.In fact, you’ve gained maybe 10 or even 20 pounds since you finished college/got married/had kids.

Weight gain as we age is typical, but it’s important to keep it in check. If that extra 10 or 20 pounds has pushed you into the “overweight” category according to the Body Mass Index (BMI), you may want to lose it.You may not be obese, and you’re certainly not wearing plus-size clothing, but those extra pounds can put you on a path to medical complications (including future obesity).

To help you decide whether you need to drop some weight, first analyze your personal stats. Figuring out your BMI is easy. There are a number of reliable calculators online that explain in detail what each category means.

Keep in mind that the BMI is not an exact calculation. It’s more like an estimate. People will fall into the category of “overweight” if they have a BMI between 25 and 29.9. When you’re in that category, your body is more likely to show metabolic syndrome, or symptoms caused by the extra weight such as higher blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar.

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