Expert Health Articles

  • HPV Prevention Through the Gardasil 9 Vaccine – Allison Westcott, MD
    Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Over 14 million new cases occur in the U.S. yearly. While there is no cure for the HPV virus, there are effective vaccines available for prevention. The prevention and symptoms of HPV can be treated with the Gardasil 9 vaccine.
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  • Sunscreen: What you need to know
    Summer is a time of enjoying your time out in the sun. However, the number of newly diagnosed skin cancers is rising at an alarming rate. Therefore, it is important to protect your skin from Ultraviolet (UV) radiation through photoprotective clothing and proper use of sunscreen. You should always wear a sunscreen, either a chemical filter or physical blocker, with an SPF of at least 30, as well as a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher. For more information or tailored recommendations, visit your local board-certified dermatologist.
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  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common diagnosis made in gastroenterology practices. Approximately 10 to 15 Americans suffer from IBS, but there is no need to suffer in silence. There are a variety of treatment options, but unfortunately there is no known cure.
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  • Lupus
    Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. There is no single test that can diagnose lupus, as there are a wide range of symptoms that vary from case to case. While there is no known cure, there are treatment options for symptoms that can help patients cope.
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  • Cologuard Test
    As a second-tier alternative to colonoscopy, the Cologuard test allows patients to screen for colon cancer and polyps in the comfort of their own home. This test involves collecting and packaging a stool sample, then sending it for evaluation. The results are usually reported to the ordering physician in a couple weeks.
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  • Code Status
    A living will is in effect when you can no longer make any health care decisions on your own. A code status is a decision you can make today. There are three different types of codes: full code, DRN-CCA (comfort care arrest) and DRN-CC (comfort care). Speak with your physician and your family about your wishes.
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  • Health Care and Human Trafficking
    Unfortunately, human trafficking occurs all over the country and beyond. Since medical care becomes necessary for trafficked victims for a variety of reasons, medical professionals are in a position to identify this patient population. There are several signs that an individual is being trafficked, and it is crucial for health care professionals to follow protocol if a patient presents these signs.
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  • Dementia Signs and Symptoms
    Dementia is a general term used to describe various symptoms of cognitive decline. There are many symptoms of dementia, and the earlier these symptoms are evaluated by a physician, the better. Several different types of dementia exist, so it is important for your physician to complete a proper evaluation before diagnosing. Having a healthy lifestyle may help prevent dementia.
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  • Stinging Insects
    Bees, wasps and other stinging insects can cause mild to severe reactions on our skin. There are ways to avoid these creatures and keep yourself safe. If you are highly allergic, you may want to contact your allergist for treatment options. We need these stinging insects for our food supply, so it is important to learn to live in harmony.
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  • Skin Cancer
    Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It has two major categories: melanoma and non-melanoma. There are two main types of non-melanoma cancers: basal cell cancers and squamous cell cancers. Several factors may make an individual more at risk of skin cancer than others. It is important to complete monthly self-exams and take precautions when outside in the sun.
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  • Colon Cancer Screening Methods
    Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the United States. Fortunately, there are several ways to screen for colorectal cancer. These methods are split into two groups: stool-based tests and visual exams. If any abnormalities appear on any screening, receiving a colonoscopy is important.
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  • Shoulder and Elbow Health Part 2
    Preventative measures can help athletes avoid soreness and damage to the arm and shoulder from throwing. Shoulder and elbow endurance and strength are key components to preventing injury, but preseason throwing programs, other positions played, pitch counts, inning limitations and long toss programs can also be used to avoid damage.
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  • Shoulder and Elbow Health Part 1
    Throughout baseball and softball season, players’ throwing arms are placed under a large amount of stress from frequently throwing and passing the ball. After practice or a game, players should treat their throwing arms through icing and massage to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery time. Listening to the body is important, so players should be careful not to overstress their throwing arms to increase performance levels and reduce the likelihood of injury.
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  • Hepatitis A: Not the 'A' You Want
    Outbreaks of hepatitis A take place across the country. This condition is a vaccine-preventable liver disease, usually spread when a person ingests food or beverages contaminated by the stool of an infected person – one example of the importance of hand-washing! Hepatitis A can also be spread via sexual intercourse, and some individuals are more at risk than others. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of hepatitis A and be sure to speak with your physician about whether you should receive the vaccine.
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  • Female Athlete Triad
    One challenge most female athletes face while training is how to properly fuel with food. Doing so incorrectly may lead to the “female athlete triad,” which is defined as a medical condition involving long-term calorie or energy deficiency with or without disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction, and diminished bone mineral density. These three components do not often present themselves at the same time, but through education and prevention, female athletes can avoid the female triad with proper nutrition.
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  • Harmful Effects of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
    Most people are aware of the adverse effects of smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol during pregnancy. However, many remain unaware of the dangers of utilizing marijuana during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Marijuana is legal in many states, but using it during pregnancy may result in higher risk pregnancies, developmental and/or behavioral problems for the child, and other consequences.
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  • Seasonal Allergies: A Month-by-Month Guide
    Seasonal allergies are often lumped into one category, but each season has unique allergens. Spring allergies primarily result from tree pollen and anemophilous plants, whereas summer allergies usually result from grass pollen. In the fall, many people claim to suffer from “hay fever,” but this condition is usually due to ragweed pollen rather than hay exposure. Winter months have less allergen threats, but mold spores may cause flare-ups.
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  • Hemorrhoids
    Hemorrhoids are normal clusters of veins present in the lowest part of the intestinal tract. Occasionally, these enlarge and bleed, but this does not always mean there is a serious problem. There are many possible causes of hemorrhoids and rectal bleeding. If bleeding and/or pain persist, it is important to speak with a physician right away about your symptoms.
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  • Call 911 for Chest Pain/Stroke Symptoms
    There are many signs to look for when determining whether someone is exhibiting symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. When these symptoms present themselves, it is crucial to call 911 and active emergency medical services. Many people attempt to wait for symptoms to dissipate, drive themselves to the hospital or try other means of avoiding an ambulance. However, to increase chances of positive outcomes, 911 should always be called in these instances.
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  • Allergies in Pollen Season
    Those who suffer from pollen allergies may find it difficult to control symptoms during pollen season. Fortunately, there are many treatment options including limiting exposure, over-the-counter and prescription allergy medication, allergy shots, or oral allergy tablets. Your physician and/or allergist can help you decide which treatment is best for you.
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  • Colorectal Cancer Causes and Prevention
    Statistically and depending on the year, colorectal cancer is either the second or third leading cause of cancer death among Americans. Symptoms are not always easily identified, and many patients do not experience any symptoms at all. It is crucial for individuals to be proactive and receive colorectal cancer screenings. Most should begin receiving screenings at age 50, but patients with higher risk should begin screenings sooner. There are a variety of factors that may make someone at high-risk for colorectal cancer, many of which are preventable.
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  • Allergy Immunotherapy
    If using allergy avoidance and allergy medications is unsuccessful, consider allergy immunotherapy (IT). This treatment involves injecting small doses of the allergen into the patient to help the body tolerate allergens rather than interpret them as “foreign invaders.” Most patients begin reaping the benefits of this treatment within a year of the first injection.
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  • Stop the Bleed
    Bleeding is one of the leading causes of preventable trauma deaths before reaching a hospital. Fortunately, with proper training, equipment and a willingness to help, all individuals can learn to help stop a life-threatening bleed. This knowledge can benefit people with sudden injuries such as accidental cuts from kitchen knives, chainsaw accidents or gunshot wounds. Become equipped to help save a life and stop the bleed.
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  • Limitations of Online Hearing Tests
    Online hearing tests only offer assessment of a single aspect of hearing loss, and often this assessment is inaccurate or unreliable. Visiting an audiologist provides you with a full hearing examination, including where in the ear’s anatomy the hearing loss is resulting. Additionally, audiologists can provide treatment and management options that allow you to receive higher quality care for your hearing problems.
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  • The Benefits of Annual Pelvic Exams
    It is recommended that women of all ages receive annual pelvic exams for a variety of reasons. Not only are these exams conducted as a preventative measure for cancers and other potentially harmful issues, there are benefits to visiting with your gynecologist yearly. These include screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, evaluating health risk factors, determining contraceptives, discussing bone health and more.
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  • Hair Removal Techniques
    Unwanted hair growth or growth of hair in unusual areas occur in people of all ages, mainly ranging between puberty and the depletion of estrogen in women or testosterone in men. Fortunately, there are several options for individuals desiring to remove unwanted hair, including waxing, sugaring, dermaplaning and laser hair removal.
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  • Let's Talk About Female Fecal Incontinence
    Women often avoid discussing accidental bowel leakage, otherwise known as fecal incontinence. However, as many as one in five adult women suffer from this condition. There are many causes for fecal incontinence, and fortunately there are many treatment options. It starts with a conversation with your physician.
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  • Pediatric Food Allergy vs. Intolerance
    Food allergies affect roughly five to eight percent of all children. However, many symptoms of food intolerance are commonly mistaken for food allergy. Whereas an allergy is a response by the immune system to a food allergen, intolerance is a non-immunologic response to a food that mainly causes gastrointestinal symptoms. Learn the differences and ways to talk to your physician about your child’s symptoms.
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  • Alcohol Consumption and Cirrhosis
    The main cause of cirrhosis, the late stage of progressive liver damage, is often assumed to be excessive alcohol consumption. However, approximately 80 percent of the patients on transplant waiting lists includes individuals with cirrhosis caused by other issues, including chronic viral hepatitis, non-alcoholic liver disease and autoimmune hepatitis.
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  • Hospice Care is Not a Death Sentence
    Many patients and their families decline hospice care because they fear it automatically resigns the patient to death. However, this is not true. The goal of hospice care is to maintain and/or improve the quality of life for patients with an illness, disease or condition unlikely to be cured. In fact, some patients who receive hospice care have been known to live longer than expected due to the improvements in comfort. Additionally, hospice care is a great resource for families as it offers support, guidance and counseling more so than traditional medical care.
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