Problem Sleepiness and Teenagers: How Much Sleep is Actually Needed

Research shows that most teenagers and do not get the sleep that they need on a daily basis. Teens are at an important stage of their growth and development. Because of this, they need more sleep than adults. The average teen needs about nine hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.

There are many factors that keep teens from getting enough sleep. Causes for their lack of sleep include the following:

  • Rapidly changing bodies
  • Busy schedules
  • Active social lives
  • A wrong view of sleep

Teen sleep problems can begin long before they turn 13. The sleep habits and changing bodies of 10 to 12-year-olds have a close link to the teen years. The sleep patterns of teens are also firmly set in their lives. It is not easy for them to change the way they sleep. Thus teen sleep problems can continue well into their years as adults. For these reasons, the information found here may apply to anyone from 10 to 25 years old.

Sleep-Wake Cycle

Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders or certain drugs. Many U.S. high school and college have signs of problem sleepiness such as:

  • Difficulty getting up for school
  • Falling asleep at school
  • Struggling to stay awake while doing homework

The need for sleep may be 9 hours or more per night as a person goes through adolescence. At the same time, many teens begin to show a preference for a later bedtime, which may be due to a biological change. Teens tend to stay up later but have to get up early for school, resulting in their getting much less sleep than they need.

Many factors contribute to problem sleepiness in teens and young adults, but the main causes are not getting enough sleep and irregular sleep schedules. Some of the factors that influence adolescent sleep include:

  • Social activities with peers that lead to a later bedtime
  • Homework to be done in the evenings
  • Early wake-up times due to early school start times
  • Parents being less involved in setting and enforcing bedtimes
  • Employment, sports or other extracurricular activities that decrease the time available for sleep

Teens and young adults who do not get enough sleep are at risk for problems such as:

  • Automobile crashes
  • Poor performance in school and poor grades
  • Depressed moods
  • Problems with peers and adult relationships

Many adolescents have part-time jobs in addition to their classes and other activities. High school students who work more than 20 hours per week have more than 20 hours per week have more problem sleepiness and may use more caffeine nicotine and alcohol than those who work less than 20 hours per week or not at all.

Sleep – There is no substitute! 

The amount of sleep needed each night varies among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activities and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, more sleep may be needed.

Finally…

Try to help your teen have a proper view of sleep. Sleep is not something to fight off or try to avoid. Sleep greatly benefits teens who make it a priority. They feel more alert and have more energy. They think more clearly and make better decisions. They will be happier and enjoy life more. There are simply too many benefits of good sleep for a teen to miss out on them. If you think you are getting enough sleep, but still feel sleepy during the day, check with your doctor to be sure your sleepiness is not due to a sleep disorder. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by UCLA Health).

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Hepatitis A: Staying Mindful During Summer Travels

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious viral disease that attacks the liver. It can cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin), body aches and pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and leave you feeling physically weak for weeks – in some cases, even months.

If you’re traveling in regions where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, peel and wash all fresh fruits and vegetables yourself and avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish. Drink bottled water and use it when brushing your teeth. Don’t drink beverages of unknown purity, with or without ice. If bottled water isn’t available, boil tap water before drinking it.

Who’s In Danger?

Traveling first-class may guarantee greater accommodations and service, but it doesn’t mean that you’re protected from disease. The bathrooms may look more sanitary, and the restaurants may serve gourmet cuisine, but if you think staying at a four-star hotel means that you are protected from hepatitis A, you’re wrong. That’s because everyday activities, such as using a restroom or diapering a baby and forgetting to wash your hands afterward can put you at risk. According to the World Health Organization, most cases of hepatitis A in travelers occur in those who stick strictly to staying in the middle – and – upper-level hotels and resorts.

Symptoms

The older you are, the worse you’re going to feel if you get infected with hepatitis A. Hepatitis A signs and symptoms, which typically don’t appear until you’ve had the virus for a few weeks, may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

If you have hepatitis A, you may have a mild illness that lasts a few weeks or a severe illness that lasts several months. Not everyone with hepatitis A develops signs or symptoms.

When to See a Doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of hepatitis A. If you’ve been exposed to hepatitis A, having a hepatitis A vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy within two weeks of exposure may protect you from infection. Ask your doctor or your local health department about receiving the hepatitis A vaccine if:

  • You’ve traveled internationally recently, particularly to Mexico or South or Central America, or to areas with poor sanitation
  • A restaurant where you recently ate reports a hepatitis A outbreak
  • Someone close to you, such as someone you live with or your caregiver, is diagnosed with hepatitis A
  • You recently had sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A

The symptoms of hepatitis a are more severe in adults than in children. And, as is the case with most viruses, there is no specific treatment or cure once you get infected. The only thing you can do is get a lot of rest. Some people are required to take it easy for up to 6 weeks, which can pose a problem to your boss, co-workers and others who depend on you.

Prevent the Disease.

In order to avoid getting hepatitis A and other illnesses that commonly affect travelers, you have to know how you can get infected in the first place.

  • Do NOT eat food that is handled by someone who has not properly washed his or her hands and is infected with the Hepatitis A virus.
  • Do NOT eat food that comes from contaminated water-shellfish, like mussels, clams or any other types of foods many people enjoy while on vacation.
  • Do NOT eat food that is washed in contaminated water (this means that eating even a seemingly healthful salad can make you sick).
  • You can even get Hepatitis A by unknowingly picking up the virus on your own hands (by shaking hands with someone who is infected, for example) and then transferring it to your mouth. Be sure to wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Drinking contaminated water, or brushing your teeth with it, can put you at risk for illnesses other than Hepatitis A (don’t forget that this also means avoiding ice in your beverages that you drink).

Finally…

You’re most likely to contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who’s infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don’t require treatment and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage. Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Vaccines are available for people most at risk. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).

Healthy Aging: 10 Benefits of Staying Active in Your Senior Years

Physical activity or exercise has countless benefits, even for seniors. Fitting in regular exercise into day-to-day life routine can have immediate and long-term health benefits. Most importantly, regular activity can improve your quality of life.

Why Should Seniors Workout?

  1. Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis.
  2. Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  3. Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  4. Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help improve overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  5. Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  6. Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes among older adults can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  7. Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. A recent study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed the moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  8. Quality of life: Maintaining functional independence is something many older adults want. A regular exercise inclusive of strength and balance training can help accomplish this. Aim to be physically active for 30 minutes every day and to strength train at least two non-consecutive days per week.
  9. Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help exhaust the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.
  10. All-cause mortality: Exercise is known to reduce death from all causes. In fact, a recent study showed a 30 to 80 percent reduction in all-cause mortality when individuals exercised at an intensity level greater than 4 METS, suggesting that exercise can help delay premature death from various causes.

Finally…

If you are elderly, we recommend that you get medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program to find out if there are any activities you should avoid. Call 806-358-0200, If you would like to schedule a visit with a physician here at the Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic.

(Some information provided by NIFS).

5 Primary Ways to Keep Your Bones Strong as You Age

A bone density test is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis before a broken bone occurs. This test helps to estimate the density of your bones and your chance of breaking a bone. Our Diagnostic Imaging Department is equipped to provide a variety of radiology services including BD testing. All studies are interpreted by independent radiologists who are board-certified by the American Board of Radiology.

Knowing Your Family History

A key to understanding your bone health is by knowing your family history. Having a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis puts you at greater risk — especially if you also have a family history of fractures. Additionally, hormone levels also play an important role. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. The prolonged absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass.

Additionally, hormone levels also play an important role. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. The prolonged absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass.

How to Increase Bone Health

Include Calcium in Your Diet

For adults ages 19 to 50 and men ages 51 to 70, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day for women after age 50 and for men after age 70. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines and soy products, such as tofu. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about supplements.

Get More Vitamin D

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. For adults ages 19 to 70, the RDA of vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) a day. The recommendation increases to 800 IUs a day for adults age 71 and older. Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, such as tuna and sardines, egg yolks, and fortified milk. Sunlight also contributes to the body’s production of vitamin D. If you’re worried about getting enough vitamin D, ask your doctor about supplements.

Include Physical Activity in Your Daily Routine

Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, tennis and climbing stairs, can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.

Avoid Substance Abuse

Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Similarly, regularly having more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of osteoporosis, possibly because alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Don’t smoke. Avoid drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day.

Bone Density Test

Women ages 65 and up should get tested, the same applies for men 70 and up. You may want to talk with us about the risks and benefits before deciding. Younger women and men ages 50 to 69 should consider the test if they have risk factors for serious bone loss or have a family history of osteoporosis.

We Are Here For You

It’s important to pay attention to your signs and symptoms. Stay updated on which adult health warning signs promote medical attention. Regular physical exams and adult health screening tests are an important part of preventive adult health care. Know which screening tests you need and how often to have them done. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).

4 Important Steps to Managing Your Diabetes

The Endocrinologist at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is thoroughly trained in the management of hormonal and metabolic disorders.  With the aid of our experienced staff, our Endocrinology Department can assist in the management of your diabetes, complex metabolic bone disease, or disorders affecting the thyroid, pituitary and adrenal glands.   Patient education services are available for patients in the care and management of these disorders.   We also provide dietary counsel for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to properly utilize blood sugar. Carbohydrate foods create blood sugar and the body needs insulin in order to process the sugar into energy for the body to function properly.

Type I diabetes is a condition in which the body’s immune system damages the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. This form of diabetes is treated with insulin replacement by injection since the body is no longer capable of producing enough of it’s own insulin.

Type II diabetes is a much more common form and is progressive in nature. This form of diabetes causes insulin resistance which means the body still produces insulin, but had difficulty utilizing it. There are various medications in pill form to treat Type II diabetes, but because of the nature of Type II diabetes, sometimes the pancreas wears out and insulin replacement by injection is required.

At this time there is no permanent cure for diabetes. Your physician will determine what medications you may need and should be carefully used daily. You should visit your doctor every three to six months so that the efficacy of treatment can be re-evaluated. Good glucose control is essential in order to prevent or retard the onset of diabetic complications. These include, but are not limited to damage to the small vessels of the eye, kidney damage, coronary artery disease, and peripheral nerve damage. These complications can lead to blindness, heart attack or stroke, dialysis, and amputation. The good news is that with proper self-care and medical expertise you can significantly reduce or avoid these complications altogether.

Exercise

Weight control through diet and exercise is important. If you are overweight, your chances of diabetes increases significantly and you are putting yourself at risk. The Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic has a patient education specialist to assist you in the care and management of diabetes through diet and exercise.

You need to exercise on a regular basis, preferably every day for at least 45 minutes. An exercise program should be initiated slowly and built up gradually to avoid injury and build stamina. Go for the distance rather than intensity. Our patient education specialist can assist you in starting an exercise regimen that will work for you. Be sure and obtain clearance from your physician before starting any exercise regimen.

Check Your Blood Sugar

You can do this with a home glucose monitor regularly. Your physician or diabetic educator will prescribe a routine and frequency that best suits your needs, but many doctors ask that you monitor before breakfast and before supper. Please be sure to record your numbers and to bring your results along with your meter when seeing the doctor. He or she will want to discuss those readings with you.

Periodic Checks

  • Glycohemoglobin: This is a test developed to give information about your average blood sugar level during the past two or three months. It should be checked every three to six months. The American Diabetic Association recommends that the patients diabetic regimen be adjusted to achieve a glycohemoglobin of less than 7%. Any contributing risk factor for vascular disease should be aggressively assessed and treated. Cholesterol, triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and smoking are all factors that need to be addressed. Your physician or educator can help you understand your results and your treatment options. Some medications typically used to treat elevated blood pressure also have a protective effect in preventing kidney complications of diabetes. Any medication prescribed by your physician should be taken only as directed. Consult your doctor before adding or deleting any medication including over the counter meds.
  • Microalbumin: urine testing should be performed yearly to evaluate the likelihood of diabetic kidney involvement.
  • Ophthalmologist: A visit should be scheduled at least yearly. He or she will evaluate any diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, or other conditions and plan treatment accordingly.

You should have a comprehensive medical exam yearly that includes a treadmill exercise test. Underlying coronary artery disease is often more common in an individual with diabetes and needs early intervention.

Sick Days

Sick days require special consideration. Anything your body perceives as stress can and will increase your blood sugar. This stress can be physical or emotional in nature. If you are ill your blood glucose will rise even if you cannot eat. Rules of thumb for sick days are as follows.

  • Stick to your meal plan if you can eat.
  • Take your diabetes medication unless your physician tells you to stop.
  • Check with your doctor before taking any other medication.
  • Drink at least one large glass of liquid each hour. If you are eating, these liquids should be sugar-free.
  • Test your blood sugar every 4 hours.
  • Ask someone to check in on you or have them call every few hours to make sure you are all right.
  • If in doubt, consult your physician. Early and effective management of sick days will reduce your chances of developing diabetic coma.

Finally…

Taking steps to prevent and control diabetes doesn’t mean living in deprivation; it means eating a tasty, balanced diet, exercising and taking the necessary steps to stay on top of your health. With these tips, you can still take pleasure from life with diabetes without feeling deprived.

We are here to help, please contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Breast Cancer: Risks and What to Watch For

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Most cases occur in women over the age of 50 but breast cancer can occur in younger women, especially if they have a family history of it. It’s important to be mindful of your body and stay aware of signs of early detection. If you notice any lump or change to your normal breast then you should see a doctor promptly.

Risk Factors

Women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors (such as drinking alcohol) can be avoided. But most risk factors (such as having a family history of breast cancer) can’t be avoided. Having a risk factor does not mean that a woman will get breast cancer. Many women who have risk factors never develop breast cancer.

BRCA: The Breast Cancer Gene

All inherited traits are passed down through genes. Each person has two copies of every gene: one gene from each parent. Since each parent passes down exactly half of their genes to each child, any of the parent’s genetic traits has a 50% chance of being passed on to their offspring.

The name “BRCA” is an abbreviation for “BReast CAncer gene.” BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two different genes that have been found to impact a person’s chances of developing breast cancer.

Every human has both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Despite what their names might suggest, BRCA genes do not cause breast cancer. In fact, these genes normally play a big role in preventing breast cancer. They help repair DNA breaks that can lead to cancer and the uncontrolled growth of tumors. Because of this, the BRCA genes are known as tumor suppressor genes. However, in some people these tumor suppression genes do not work properly. When a gene becomes altered or broken, it doesn’t function correctly. This is called a gene mutation.

Early Detection: Signs and Symptoms

Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two, and the presence of these symptoms and signs do not automatically mean that you have breast cancer.

By performing monthly breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast.  Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual.

  • A Change In How The Breast Or Nipple Feels
  • A Change In The Breast Or Nipple Appearance
  • Any Nipple Discharge—Particularly Clear Discharge Or Bloody Discharge

Women 40 and older should have mammograms every 1 or 2 years. Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether mammograms are advisable and how often to have them.

Treatment

Do your research. Speak with support groups and breast cancer survivors. The more information you gather about your treatment options, the better decisions you’ll make. Your treatment options depend on the stage of your disease and these factors:

  • The size of the tumor in relation to the size of your breast
  • The results of specific pathology tests (hormone receptors, HER2 receptors, grade of the cells, proliferation rate of the cells)
  • Whether you have gone through menopause
  • Your general health
  • Your age
  • Your family history or other risk factors associated with a predisposition for developing breast or ovarian cancer

Remember that while your doctors can make recommendations and provide options, the final decisions regarding your treatment are yours. With good research, you can have confidence in the path you take. By embracing your part, you’ll give yourself the best odds for a long and healthy life.

Finally…

If breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, there is a good chance of a cure. In general, the more advanced the cancer is (the more it has grown and spread), the less chance that treatment will be curative. However, treatment can often slow the progress of the cancer. Her Care encourages women to take charge of their health! Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment. 

(Some information provided by the National Breast Cancer Foundation).

Give Your Heart a Break: Overcoming Chronic Stress

adc-heart-disease-and-stress

When you are constantly experiencing stress, your body remains in high gear off and on for days or even weeks at a time. Chronic stress that causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure may damage the artery walls.

Chronic Stress

On one hand, stress is inevitable and a necessary part of life. There is, however, serious consequences to not handling stress in a healthy manner. Even short-lived stress can have an impact. Chronic stress has been proven to increases the risk of developing health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a weakened immune system. Chronic stress also has a significant negative effect on a person’s mental health. Many studies show a correlation between stress and the development of mood disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression. According to the American Psychological Association, 66 percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms of stress, and 63 percent experience psychological symptoms. Some people don’t realize the effects of stress until the effects have already negatively affected them. 

Can Managing Stress Reduce or Prevent Heart Disease?

Managing stress is a good idea for your overall health, and researchers are currently studying whether managing stress is effective for heart disease. A few studies have examined how well treatment or therapies work in reducing the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease. Studies using psychosocial therapies – involving both psychological and social aspects – are promising in the prevention of second heart attacks. After a heart attack or stroke, people who feel depressed, anxious or overwhelmed by stress should talk to their doctor or other healthcare professionals.

Tips For Managing Stress

Fortunately, there are many ways to manage the unhealthy stress. Some of these tips may be more helpful than others, and some might already be included in your daily routine. Regardless, here’s a few tips that will help:

  • When feeling stressed, slow down and take deep breaths. Try to Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth
  • Exercise
  • Find a friend or family member you can trust and talk it out
  • Laugh
  • Be Positive
  • Seek out activities that involve others
  • Manage your time, be sure to not overwork yourself
  • Take a walk
  • Don’t self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs

Medicines are helpful for many things, but usually not for stress. If you are experiencing chronic stress, try learning how to manage your stress through relaxation or stress management techniques. Be careful not to confuse stress with anxiety. If you suffer from severe anxiety, speak with your doctor about your options.

Even the most organized people aren’t immune to experiencing stress. If you have questions or need more advice on managing stress, contact us or schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the American Heart Association).

A Quick Guide: Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

adc-ra

Rheumatoid Arthritis is the most common form of autoimmune arthritis, affecting more than 1.3 million Americans. Of these, about 75 percent are women. In fact, 1–3 percent of women may get rheumatoid arthritis in their lifetime. The disease most often begins between the fourth and sixth decades of life. However, RA can start at any age.

RA is a chronic (long-term) disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and limited motion and function of many joints. While RA can affect any joint, the small joints in the hands and feet tend to be involved most often. Inflammation sometimes can affect organs as well, for instance, the eyes or lungs.

Features of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Symmetrical pattern of affected joints
  • Joint inflammation often affecting the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand
  • Joint inflammation sometimes affecting other joints, including the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles and feet
  • Fatigue, occasional fevers, a loss of energy
  • Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes in the morning or after a long rest
  • Symptoms that last for many years
  • Variability of symptoms among people with the disease.

Who has Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Scientists estimate that about 1.5 million people, or about 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population, have RA. Interestingly, some recent studies have suggested that although the number of new cases of RA for older people is increasing, the overall number of new cases may actually be going down.

RA occurs in all races and ethnic groups. Although the disease often begins in middle age and occurs with increased frequency in older people, older teenagers and young adults may also be diagnosed with the disease. Children and younger teenagers may be diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (a condition related to RA). Like some other forms of arthritis, RA occurs much more frequently in women than in men. About two to three times as many women as men have the disease.

How does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect People’s Lives?

RA affects people differently. Some people have mild or moderate forms of the disease, with periods of worsening symptoms, called flares, and periods in which they feel better, called remissions. Others have a severe form of the disease that is active most of the time, lasts fro many years or a lifetime and leads to serious joint damage and disability.

Although RA is primarily a disease of the joints, its effects are not just physical. Many people with RA also experience issues related to:

  • Depression
  • feelings of helplessness
  • low self-esteem

RA can affect virtually every part of a person’s life, from work life to family life. It can also interfere with the joys and responsibilities of family life and may affect the decision to have children.

Finally…

The rheumatologists at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic specialize in treating patients with arthritis, gout, lupus and related diseases.  Knowledge of these diseases continues to expand through research efforts.  Our major goal is to limit any arthritic damage, especially in rheumatoid arthritis.  Our services include bone density testing, joint injections and an IV infusion clinic for new medications.  Our rheumatologists are armed with the latest information regarding your disease and treatment options to improve your quality of life. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the American College of Rheumatology).

Probiotic Powerhouse: How Good Bacteria Can Benefit Your Body

adc-probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits. Products sold as probiotics include foods (such as yogurt), dietary supplements, and products that aren’t used orally, such as skin creams.

Although people often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs,” many microorganisms help our bodies function properly. For example, bacteria that are normally present in our intestines help digest food, destroy disease-causing microorganisms, and produce vitamins. Large numbers of microorganisms live on and in our bodies. In fact, microorganisms in the human body outnumber human cells by 10 to 1. Many of the microorganisms in probiotic products are the same as or similar to microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies.

Why Should You Be Taking Probiotics?

Researchers have studied probiotics to find out whether they might help prevent or treat a variety of health problems, including:

  • Prevent and treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • Promote healthy cholesterol
  • Help aid depression and anxiety
  • Immune system support
  • Soothe symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Eradicate ulcers
  • Helps melt belly fat

Are all probiotics the same?

There’s preliminary evidence that some probiotics are helpful in preventing diarrhea caused by infections and antibiotics and in improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but more needs to be learned.

Probiotics are not all alike. For example, if a specific kind of Lactobacillus helps prevent an illness, that doesn’t necessarily mean that another kind of Lactobacillus would have the same effect or that any of the Bifidobacterium probiotics would do the same thing.

When Is It Time to Visit a Gastroenterologist?

A gastroenterologist is specially trained to manage diseases of the digestive tract from the esophagus to the anus.In many cases, people who are diagnosed with a chronic digestive condition are under the long-term care of a gastroenterologist. If you are experiencing a recurrence or a flare-up of an existing condition, you should contact the gastroenterologist who has been managing your treatment. If you are experiencing new symptoms, patients are usually referred to a gastroenterologist by their primary care physician. Your physician may recommend you see a gastroenterologist if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of GI disorders:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Leakage/underwear stains
  • Bowel movement urges that are hard to control
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Pale-colored stools
  • Dark urine
  • Heartburn (acid reflux)
  • Abdominal pain or bloating
  • Excessive gas or belching
  • Esophageal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Lethargy

Finally…

The gastroenterologists at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic have some of the latest tools to diagnose and treat diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, liver and pancreas.  Your gastroenterologist will manage the most simple to the most complex gastrointestinal diseases. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Canter for complementary and Integrative Health).

Key Points Your Endocrinologist Wants You to Know About Diabetes

adc-controlling-your-diabetes

The Endocrinologist at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is thoroughly trained in the management of hormonal and metabolic disorders. With the aid of our experienced staff, our Endocrinology Department can assist in the management of your diabetes, complex metabolic bone disease, or disorders affecting the thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands. Patient education services are available for patients in the care and management of these disorders. We also provide dietary counsel for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to properly utilize blood sugar. Carbohydrate foods create blood sugar and the body needs insulin in order to process the sugar into energy for the body to function properly.

Type I diabetes is a condition in which the body’s immune system damages the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. This form of diabetes is treated with insulin replacement by injection since the body is no longer capable of producing enough of its own insulin.

Type II diabetes is a much more common form and is progressive in nature. This form of diabetes causes insulin resistance which means the body still produces insulin but had difficulty utilizing it. There are various medications in pill form to treat Type II diabetes, but because of the nature of Type II diabetes, sometimes the pancreas wears out and insulin replacement by injection is required.

At this time there is no permanent cure for diabetes. Your physician will determine what medications you may need and should be carefully used daily. You should visit your doctor every three to six months so that the efficacy of treatment can be re-evaluated. Good glucose control is essential in order to prevent or retard the onset of diabetic complications. These include, but are not limited to damage to the small vessels of the eye, kidney damage, coronary artery disease, and peripheral nerve damage. These complications can lead to blindness, heart attack or stroke, dialysis, and amputation.

The good news is that with proper self-care and medical expertise you can significantly reduce or avoid these complications altogether. The following will help:

Weight Control

Weight control through diet and exercise is important. If you are overweight, your chances of diabetes increase significantly and you are putting yourself at risk. The Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic has a patient education specialist to assist you in the care and management of diabetes through diet and exercise. You need to exercise on a regular basis, preferably every day for at least 45 minutes. An exercise program should be initiated slowly and built up gradually to avoid injury and build stamina. Go for the distance rather than intensity. Our patient education specialist can assist you in starting an exercise regimen that will work for you. Be sure and obtain clearance from your physician before starting any exercise regimen.

Check Your Blood Sugars

You can do this with a home glucose monitor regularly. Your physician or diabetic educator will prescribe a routine and frequency that best suits your needs, but many doctors ask that you monitor before breakfast and before supper. Please be sure to record your numbers and to bring your results along with your meter when seeing the doctor. He or she will want to discuss those readings with you.

Periodic Checks

Glychohemoglobin is a test developed to give information about your average blood sugar level during the past two or three months. It should be checked every three to six months. The American Diabetic Association recommends that the patients diabetic regimen be adjusted to achieve a glycol hemoglobin of less than 7%. Any contributing risk factor for vascular disease should be aggressively assessed and treated. Cholesterol, triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and smoking are all factors that need to be addressed. Your physician or educator can help you understand your results and your treatment options. Some medications typically used to treat elevated blood pressure also have a protective effect in preventing kidney complications of diabetes. Any medication prescribed by your physician should be taken only as directed. Consult your doctor before adding or deleting any medication including over the counter meds.

  • Microalbumin: urine testing should be performed yearly to evaluate the likelihood of diabetic kidney involvement.
  • A visit to the Ophthalmologist should be scheduled at least yearly. He or she will evaluate any diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, or other conditions and plan treatment accordingly.
  • You should have a comprehensive medical examination yearly that includes a treadmill exercise test. Underlying coronary artery disease is often more common in an individual with diabetes and needs early intervention.

Sick Days

Sick days require special consideration. Anything your body perceives as stress can and will increase your blood sugar. This stress can be physical or emotional in nature. If you are ill your blood glucose will rise even if you cannot eat. Rules of thumb for sick days are as follows.

  • Stick to your meal plan if you can eat.
  • Take your diabetes medication unless your physician tells you to stop.
  • Check with your doctor before taking any other medication.
  • Drink at least one large glass of liquid each hour. If you are eating, these liquids should be sugar-free.
  • Test your blood sugar every 4 hours.
  • Ask someone to check in on you or have them call every few hours to make sure you are all right.
  • If in doubt, consult your physician. Early and effective management of sick days will reduce your chances of developing diabetic coma.

Finally…

An endocrinologist diagnoses and treats hormone problems by attempting to restore hormone balance within the body’s systems. It is a good idea to compile a list of any existing symptoms before the visit so that none are missed. We are here to help! Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.