Zika Virus: Signs, Symptoms & Prevention

The Zika virus is a virus spread by mosquitos. Signs and symptoms of infection are mild and usually appear within 3-12 days of the initial infection. If you have traveled to an area known to have the Zika virus, tell your doctor if you experience two or more symptoms, including acute onset of fever, a skin rash, joint pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks of traveling.

The Zika virus has recently become a concern due to an outbreak in Brazil thought to be associated with an increase in birth defects such as decreased head circumference and other pregnancy complications. Although this association has not been fully validated, the possibility of risk to pregnant women lead the CDC to advise that all pregnant women delay travel to areas where Zika virus outbreaks are present.  If women who are pregnant travel to these areas, they should take all precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The best way to do this is to make sure all exposed skin stays covered, staying in screened or air conditioned areas, and using permethrin treated clothing. This is important to do during all hours of the day and night. When used as directed, the EPA-registered insect repellents including DEET, picaridin, permethrin and IR3535 are safe for use by pregnant women. 

Tell your doctor if you have traveled to an area with the Zika virus. If you experience two or more symptoms, a blood test may be used to determine if you have been infected. If you do not experience symptoms, your doctor may still recommend an ultrasound to evaluate fetal anatomy but you may not need the blood test. If you are found to have the Zika virus, you may be referred to a maternal fetal medicine specialist for further monitoring, including an amniocentesis, or testing of the amniotic fluid.

To find out if an area has the Zika virus and to find out more information about the virus you may visit the CDC www.cdc.gov/zika


The increasingly popular site that changes the way we choose our doctors

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When we go to the doctor, we carefully read the paperwork they give us to fill out and sign, then disclose everything there is to know about ourselves medically and personally. Between the lab tests and paperwork, your doctor now knows more about you than your friends and at times family.

The medical information being collected on us is greater than ever right now. Having the right information is crucial to providing great healthcare, but if you really think about it, the flow of information is very one-directional. How much do you really know about your doctor?

Here are a few helpful tips that one can use when selecting a new doctor:

  1. Finding a great doctor starts with you:
    • Get enough sleep
    • Toss the tobacco and use alcohol in moderation
    • Learn to better manage stress
    • Stay active and eat healthy
    • Be honest with the doctor
  2. If you have health insurance, get the list of doctors that are in your network. Otherwise, make sure the doctor accepts your insurance and know in advance what your insurance will cover. If you are uninsured, be sure to ask for the average cost for a new patient and existing patient visit.
  3. Verify that the doctor has staff privileges at a nearby accredited hospital.
  4. Check to see if the doctor performs surgery. If so, which surgeries does he/she perform and what are the average fees associated with those procedures.
  5. Screen the doctors medical background:
    • Verify that his/her medical license is active in your state.
    • Search for Medical Board Actions in the states they have practiced.
    • Search for Medical Malpractice or Negligence cases in the cities they have practiced.
    • Read their reviews from the top review sites.

Most of the time, we look at the list of doctors in our network and choose one based on how close their office is. Shouldn’t we research which doctor we choose just as much as we do a used car before we decide?

This is exactly what a prominent blogger did before going under the knife for gastric bypass surgery. She came across South Florida healthcare startup EZDoctor which offers a complete and comprehensive background report on any doctor for $19.95.

Imagine the report as a CarFax for your doctor. It’s been on the market for about a year and was the best kept secret for many attorneys, insurance companies, and physician hiring managers. The secret was out when she wrote about how she ordered reports on five doctors she was considering. She was shocked to see that that three of the doctors had malpractice cases against them that were very serious, and another had been reprimanded by the state medical board for illicit drug use and lack of properly sanitizing surgical instruments.

EZDoctor Reports are delivered as a multi-page PDF document. The first page includes the physician's general identifying information, medical specialties, education, and licensing. Subsequent pages feature pricing data for the most typical procedures presented alongside state averages for the same procedures. Price, of course, is just one factor in choosing a doctor – reputation as a medical provider is arguably more important. With the addition of medical board disciplinary actions, medical malpractice cases, prescribing habits, criminal offenses, and data showing compensation or ownership in pharmaceutical companies, one can truly say they know his/her doctor.

I'm reminded of the joke:

Q: "What do you call a medical student that graduated at the bottom of his/her class?"…

A: "Doctor"

It’s sad but true and unfortunately, it’s very taboo to question a physician about his/her background. Healthcare consumers can now learn as much about their doctor as they would about a home or car they're considering buying. You would never hire a babysitter to watch the children without checking their background and references. For life and death decisions, this kind of transparency only makes sense.

Here's a promotional video about EZDoctor Reports:

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease.

Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase.

Glaucoma is called "the sneak thief of sight" since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it's permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.

Over 3 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide due to glaucoma.

If you or anyone you know needs to see an eye doctor, go to ezdoctor.com to schedule an appointment. You can search for doctors and filter by them specialty, name, location and insurance plan. Before going to your appointment, make sure you get an EZDoctor Report. EZDoctor Reports contain important information on doctors such as; malpractice claims, board actions, criminal offenses, patient reviews and procedure pricing information. Head over to ezdoctor.com and find the best doctor for you today. 

Original and full article: glaucoma.org


Health Screenings you should get done in 2016

Women

Blood Pressure Screening: If the top number (systolic number) is between 120-139, or the bottom number (diastolic number) is between 80-89 mm HG, you should have it checked every year.

  • Watch for blood screenings in your area. Ask your provider if you can stop in to have your blood pressure checked. Or check your blood pressure using the automated machines located at grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • If the top number is greater than 140 or the bottom number is greater than 90, schedule an appointment with your provider.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to have your blood pressure checked more often.
  • To schedule an appointment with your provider, go to https://ezdoctor.com , and search a doctor by location, specialty or the doctor’s name.

Cholesterol Screening:  If you are between the ages of 20-45, you should be screened if you have higher risk for heart disease.

  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or certain other       conditions you may need to be monitored more closely.

Diabetes Screening: If your blood pressure is above 135/80 mm Hg, your provider will test your blood sugar levels for diabetes.

  • If you have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 and have other risk factors for diabetes, you should get screened. Having a BMI over 25 means that you are overweight.

Dental Exam: Go to the dentist every year for an exam and cleaning.

To schedule an appointment with a dentist, go to https://ezdoctor.com , and search for a dentist by location, specialty or the doctor’s name.

Eye Exam: If you have eye problems, have an eye exam every 2 years.
Immunizations: You should get a flu shot every year.

  • After age 19, you should have one tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (TdAP) vaccine as one of your tetanus-diphtheria vaccines. You should a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years.
  • Your provider may recommend other immunizations if you are at high risk for certain conditions, such as pneumonia.
  • Ask you provider about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is you are between age 18- 26 and you have:
  • Not received the HPV vaccine in the past ( you will need 3 shots)
  • Not completed the full vaccine series (you should catch up on this shot)

Physical Exam: You should have 2 physical exams in your 20s and 30s. Your height, weight and BMI should be checked at every exam.

During your exam, the provider may ask you about:

  • Depression
  • Diet and exercise
  • Alcohol and Tobacco use
  • Safety issues, such as using seat belts and smoke detectors.

Breast Self -Exam and Mammogram:  The American Cancer Society (ACS) states that a monthly breast self-exam is optional.  The U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against teaching women how to perform self- exams.

  • Screening mammogram is not recommended for women under age 40.
  • If you have a mother or sister you had breast cancer at a younger age, or you have other risk factor for breast cancer, your provider may recommend a mammogram, breast ultrasound or MRI scan.
To schedule an appointment or research a primary care doctor, gynecologist or OB/GYN, go to https://ezdoctor.com and find any doctor, in any location and/ or specialty.

Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear: Beginning at age 21, women should have a pelvic exam and pap smear every three years to check for cervical cancer.

  • If you have had your uterus and cervix removes (total hysterectomy), you no longer need to have pap smears.
  • Women who are sexually active should be screen for chlamydia infection up until age 25. Women 26 years and older should be screened if at high risk. This can de done during a pelvic exam.
  • Your provider will tell you how to prevent and/or treat sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs) (STDs)

Skin Self -Exam:  The ACS recommends a skin exam as part of a periodic exam by your provider, if it is indicated.
Other Exams: You should be screened for colon cancer only if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps, or if you have an inflammatory bowel disease or polyps yourself.

Men

Blood Pressure Screening:  Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years unless the top number (systolic number) is between 120-139 or the bottom number (diastolic number) is between 80-89 mm hg or higher. Then have it checked every year.

  • Watch for blood pressure screenings in your neighborhood or workplace. Ask your provider if you can stop in to have your blood pressure checked. Or check your blood pressure using the automated machines located at grocery stores or pharmacies.
  • If the top number is greater than 140, or the bottom number greater than 90, schedule an appointment with your provider.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to have your blood pressure checked more often.
To schedule an appointment to have your blood pressure checked with your provider, head over to https://ezdoctor.com and search for any doctors by name, specialty or location.

Cholesterol Disease and Heart Disease Prevention: Men over age 35 should be checked every 5 years.  

  • If you have risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, start getting screened earlier at age 20.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or other conditions you may have to get checked more often.

Diabetes Screening:  If you have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 and have other risk factors for diabetes, you should be screened. Having a BMI over 25 means that you are overweight.
Dental Exam: Go to the dentist every year for and exam and cleaning.
Eye Exam: If you have vision problems, get an eye exam every 2 years.
Immunizations: After age 19, you should have a tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (TdAP) once as part of your tetanus-diphtheria vaccines. You should have a tetanus-diphtheria booster every ten years.

  • You should get a flu shot every year.
  • You should get a human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine series if you have not already had it.
  • You should receive two doses of varicella vaccine if you were born after 1980, and never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine. You doctor may recommend other immunizations if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes.

Infectious Disease Screening: Depending on your lifestyle and medical history, you may need to be screened for infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV, as well as the infections.
Physical Exam: You should see your provider for preventative health exams every 2 years.

  • Your height, weight and BMI should be checked at every physical exam.

During your exam your provider may ask you about:

  • Depression
  • Diet and Exercise
  • Alcohol and Tobacco use
  • Safety, such as use of seat belts and smoke detectors.

End of Ebola transmission in Guinea

Today the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of Ebola transmission in the republic of Guinea. Forty- two days have passed since the last person confirmed to have Ebola disease tested negative for the second time. Guinea now enters a 90- day period of heightened surveillance to ensure that any new cases are identified quickly before they can spread to other people.

“WHO commends the Government of Guinea and its people on the significant achievement of ending it Ebola outbreak.  We must render homage to the Government and people of Guinea who, in adversity, have shown extraordinary leadership in fighting the epidemic, “ says Mohamed Belhocine, WHO representative in Guinea. “ WHO and its partners will continue to support Guinea during the next 90 days of heightened surveillance and in its early efforts to restart and strengthen essential health services throughout 2016”

 

A milestone for the Ebola outbreak.

 

The end of Ebola transmission in Guinea marks an important milestone in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The original chain of transmission started two years ago in Gueckedou, Guinea in late December of 2013 and drove the outbreak which spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone and, ultimately, by land and air travel to seven other countries.

 

“This is the first time in all three countries – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone- have stopped the original chains of transmission that were responsible for starting the devastating outbreak two years ago, “ says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “ I commend the governments, communities and partners for their determination in confronting this epidemic to get this milestone. As we work towards building resilient health care systems, we need to stay vigilant to ensure that we rapidly stop any new flares that may come up in 2016.”

 

In addition to the original chain of transmission, there have been 10 new small Ebola outbreaks (or flares) in between March and November 2015. These appear these appear to have been due

Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season


Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, celebrate life, to be grateful, and reflect on what’s important. They are also a time to appreciate the gift of health. Here are some holiday tips to support your efforts for health and safety this season.

Wash your hands often.

Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water, and rub them together for at least 20 seconds. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.

Stay warm.

Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. Stay dry, and dress warmly in several layers.

Manage stress.

The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health and pocketbook. Keep your commitments and spending in check. Balance work, home, and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. Make sure to get proper sleep.

Travel safely.

Whether you're traveling across town or around the world, help ensure your trip is safe. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let someone else drink and drive. Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt appropriate for his/her height, weight, and age.

Be smoke-free.

Avoid smoking and breathing other people's smoke. If you smoke, quit today! Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or talk to your health care provider for help.

Get check-ups and vaccinations.

Exams and screenings can help find potential problems early, when the chances for treatment and cure are often better. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Schedule a visit with your health care provider for needed exams and screenings. Ask what vaccinations and tests you should get based on your age, lifestyle, travel plans, medical history, and family health history.

Watch the kids.

Children are at high risk for injuries. Keep a watchful eye on your kids when they’re eating and playing. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, choking hazards (like coins and hard candy), and other objects out of kids' reach. Learn how to provide early treatment for children who are choking. Make sure toys are used properly. Develop rules about acceptable and safe behaviors, including using electronic media.

Prevent injuries.

Injuries can happen anywhere, and some often occur around the holidays. Use step stools instead of climbing on furniture when hanging decorations. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or skateboarding to help prevent head injuries. Keep vaccinations up to date.

Most residential fires occur during the winter months. Keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees, and curtains. Never leave fireplaces, stoves, or candles unattended. Don't use generators, grills, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage. Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test them once a month, and replace batteries twice a year.

Handle and prepare food safely.

As you prepare holiday meals, keep yourself and your family safe from food-related illness. Wash hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs (including their juices) away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Cook foods to the proper temperature. Refrigerate promptly. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.

Eat healthy, and be active.

With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy. Limit fats, salt, and sugary foods. Find fun ways to stay active, such as dancing to your favorite holiday music. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.


Source: CDC.gov

World AIDS Day

WHAT IS WORLD AIDS DAY?

World AIDS Day is held on the December 1st each year and it is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first global health day, held for the first time in 1988.

 

WHY IS WORLD AIDS DAY IMPORTANT?

Over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year in the UK around 6,000 people are diagnosed with HIV, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO ON WORLD AIDS DAY?

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show support to and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV. Wearing a red ribbon is one simple way to do this.

World AIDS Day is also a great opportunity to raise money for NAT (National AIDS Trust) and show your support for people living with HIV.

 

BUT WHAT ABOUT AFTER WORLD AIDS DAY?

Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to talk about HIV, it is important to keep the momentum going all year round. 

Source: Worldaidsday.org

International Men's Day

Objectives of International Men's Day include a focus on men's and boy's health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is an occasion for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care while highlighting the discrimination against them.

Men can make their health a priority. Take daily steps to be healthier and stronger.

Men Tips for Staying Healthy

  • Get enough sleep
  • Toss the Tobacco
  • Use Alcohol in Moderation 
  • Learn to Manage Stress
  • Stay Active
  • Eat Healthy
  • Get Regular Checkups
  • Find Affordable Health Insurance
Source: www.menshealthmonth.org, internationalmensday.com 

Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

Eat Breakfast.

Start a healthy Thanksgiving with a big bountiful breakfast like hot whole-grain cereal and an egg-white omelet brimming with veggies. That’s because saving up calories for the big meal rarely works. You end up “spending” a lot more by overindulging on belly busters like a full ladle of gravy (about 800 calories!) instead of a tablespoon-size taste (70 calories).

Pitch In

Call your host and say, “I’d love to bring something. What are you planning on serving?” If you discover that one of the dishes is particularly unhealthy, offer to bring your own version. Sweet potatoes, for example, can be real killers – full of butter, syrup, and marshmallows. But when prepared within Pritikin guidelines, they’re perfectly healthy – and absolutely delicious.

Just bake the yams in foil at 400 degrees F until their syrupy juice starts to seep out, usually about one hour. Then, peel and layer them with pineapple slices and a little cinnamon.

Another great sweet-potato-style choice for Turkey Day is a salad/side dish that’s always popular among guests at the Pritikin health resort:   Sweet Potato and Apple Salad.

Know Yourself.

For most of us, there’s a certain part of the meal that gives us the most trouble. For some, it’s alcohol. For others, it may be dessert.

Devise a strategy. For alcohol, tell yourself, “I’ll enjoy a half glass of wine with appetizers, and a half glass with dinner,” or decide to stick with mineral water at first, saving your alcohol for the main meal.

Or, if you have a tough time putting on the brakes once you get started, don’t start. Steer clear of the bar – and relish everything else the day has to offer – good conversation, good food, good memories.

If you have a sweet tooth, plan for it. If a taste of chocolate satisfies you, take it. Enjoy it. But if one taste sends you lusting for a lot more, offer to bring your own healthy dessert, such as fresh raspberries and sorbet. Or have dessert waiting for you when you return home. A nice reward for a job well done!

Position Yourself Well.

Don’t put yourself right in front of the candy dish. Who needs the agony? Plant yourself elsewhere, facing other pleasures – a nice fire, warm smiles, good tunes and a dance floor. You’ll have a much better time, and you’ll like yourself a lot more come morning.

Divide Your Plate Well.

As you learned at the Pritikin Longevity Center, fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with white turkey meat, and the rest with a healthy starch, like corn on the cob, a baked potato, or sweet potatoes Pritikin-style.

Savor Every Bite.

Eat slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and really savor each mouthful. It’s one of the easiest ways to enjoy your holiday meal without going overboard on calories.

Do What You Want; No One’s Watching.

People often think that if they say “no” to certain dishes, everyone notices, or the host is insulted, when in fact there’s a very good chance no one notices. Just play it down. Simply say, “No thanks, I’m full,” or “Try me later.” Then, sit back and enjoy the rest of your healthy Thanksgiving Day.

Start Thanksgiving With Physical Activity – And Stay Active.

Take a walk early in the day. And after dinner, suggest everyone go out (if the weather permits) for a neighborhood stroll. What a wonderful way for families to enjoy the holiday together.

Another tip: Plan some outdoor fun before dinner, like a game of soccer or volleyball with the kids. (It’s a great strategy for keeping the appetizer buffet at bay, too.)

Keep Your Goals Firmly In Mind.

Before leaving for the party, steal away for a little quiet time to focus on you, only you. Take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself of your ultimate vision – a leaner you, a healthier you, a happier you. Then, tell yourself, “It’s going to be a great evening with family and friends!” Julia Child (of all people) said it best: “Life is the proper binge.”

Source: Pritikin.com 

5 Ways to Improve your Health in Less Than 5 Minutes

Prioritize. Give yourself permission to admit that you can't do everything, all at once. Instead, you can nibble away at your to-do list, and feel more satisfied, by setting some priorities. So make a list, figure out what really matters, what can wait, and what you can skip. Work your way down the list, handling your top priorities first.

Pack a snack. Before you head out the door in the morning, prep a healthy snack to take with you. Ideas include fruit, unsalted nuts, and low-fat cheese or yogurt.

Meditate. It's easier than you may think. Here's how: Settle into a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor. Then follow your breath -- in, out -- for a few minutes. Thoughts are bound to bubble up in your mind -- no problem. Just let them float by and turn your attention back to your breath. Meditating daily, even just for a few minutes, may help tame stress.

Stretch. Just a few easy moves will do. Stretch your arms overhead. Raise and lower your shoulders a couple of times. Stretch your legs as you lean your torso against a wall. Be gentle, so you don't overdo it. Stretching can help improve your circulation and flexibility, and may help ease the tight muscles that come with stress.

Turn off your electronics. Take a little break from all your gadgets. Staring at computer screens and electronics all day long can zap your energy and encourage inactivity. So log off -- of everything -- every now and then. This is especially important to allow you to unwind and relax before bed. Just because the world is on, 24-7, you don't have to be!

Source: Webmd.com