What Makes You at Risk for Hepatitis C?

…..Recently, the newspapers have been full of articles concerning the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and a new medication that reportedly cures people with the chronic type of the disease.  It is a very expensive drug, but the results have been wonderful; so I think it is time to give a little review of this disease.Hepatitis C Risk Factors 2

…..Hepatitis C is a contagious disease that is usually transmitted through blood contact with an infected person.  When first getting the disease (acute HCV), there may be no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms.  Most people do not even know that they have the disease, and most will go on to develop the chronic HCV, which is a long-term illness.

…..Of those with the chronic illness, about 25% will develop a severe liver disease such as cirrhosis or cancer.  At this time, baby boomers seem to be at the highest risk of the chronic version of this disease.  This will include the population born between 1945 and 1965.

…..The risk factors include:

  • Having a blood transfusion before 1992
  • Being on kidney dialysis
  • Sexual contact with an infected partner
  • Obtaining a tattoo or body piercing with an unclean instrument
  • Being exposed as a healthcare worker
  • Injecting drugs

…..Since baby boomers are many times more likely to have chronic HCV than other age populations, a screening blood test should be considered for this age group.  Feeling tired seems to be the most common symptom of the disease, so talk to your healthcare professional to see if a test should be considered for you!

-Dr. P

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Get to Know More About My Practice!

…..My office manager and I talk about the office and the care provided.

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An Alternate Way to Remove Those Ticks!

…..Last weekend, I was reminded that we are deep into another summer that is full of the problems with ticks.  At the end of a great summer day, I watched as my daughter checked her little ones for ticks.  She keeps them away from the bushy areas, but at bath time the checking takes place.

…..I recently learned about a different way to help remove a Ticks 4 Green Cotton Ballstick.  Take a cotton ball and put liquid soap on it.  Cover the discovered tick with the cotton ball and rub the soap on the tick for a few seconds.  Usually the tick will dislodge on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball as you take it away.

…..Hopefully you will not need to try this method but keep it in the back of your mind.  Enjoy the summer!

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…..For my instructions on removing a tick with tweezers: You Found a Tick on Yourself – What Are the Next Steps?

-Dr. P

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Concerned About Mercury Consumption During Pregnancy? The FDA Has Relaxed Its Stance

The Food and Drug Administration of the United States has recently drafted new guidelines, reassuring pregnant women and nursing mothers that they should include more seafood in their diets.  This is because the health benefits far outweigh the risk of the mercury content.  The new suggestions advise eating 8 to 12 ounces of seafood a week, whicTwo fresh sea bream on wooden board with herbs and lemonh means 2 to 3 meals per week.  The FDA also suggests that young children should also be eating fish 2 to 3 times per week in portions that are appropriate for their age.

Some important facts:

  • Fish are loaded with the types of omega-3 fatty acids that are high in DHA, which is important in brain and eye development.
  • The FDA suggests that women and children should consume fish low in mercury.  These include canned light tuna, salmon, tilapia, catfish, cod, shrimp, and pollock.
  • Four fish to avoid because of their high levels of mercury include shark, swordfish, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, and king mackerel.
  • Almost all fish contains trace amounts of mercury.  Mercury in high amounts can harm the brain and nervous system.

-Dr. P

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Herpes Information Made Simple

…..A few times a week a new case of genital herpes presents to my office, and the patient always experiences great psychological and physical pain and stress.  The classic presentatioBeautiful Woman with Pencil and Folder Isolated on White.n of HSV (herpes simplex virus) is a painful group of vesicles and ulcers.

…..The infections are classified as primary, non-primary first episode, or recurrent.  The primary infection is the most painful and may be associated with tender lymph nodes as well as a fever and body aches.  If not treated, these primary lesions can last 2 to 6 weeks.  Recurrences vary in their frequency; however, 50% of patients will have one within 6 months.  These recurrences are generally milder with fewer lesions and a much shorter course.

Herpes, Type 1 and Type 2

…..HSV is a DNA virus classified into two subtypes, 1 and 2, based on various proteins making up the virus.  HSV-1 is primarily the cause of herpes of the mouth and in the past was said to be the cause of infections above the waist.  It can also be responsible for genital infections, and these infections are becoming more common, especially among young women.

…..HSV-2 is almost always a genital infection.  The virus is spread through direct contact with mucosa (moist tissue like the vagina and lips/mouth) or damaged, irritated skin.  Incubation of the virus lasts for about a week, and the virus then reproduces in the superficial layers of the skin, causing inflammation and damage.  During the first infection, the virus enters the nerve cells and becomes dormant.  The virus can reactivate and cause ulcerative disease or shed without any symptoms.

…..Let me leave you with a few facts:

  • In the US, 20% of women have had an HSV-2 infection
  • Most infections are spread by those who are unaware of having HSV
  • Recurrent disease is more common in those with type 2, compared to those with type 1

Methods of Herpes Treatment

 …..For now we will finish our discussion of herpes.

…..During a symptomatic outbreak, the treatment consists of supportive measures such as oral and topical pain medications and special genital hygiene.  An antiviral medication can be added to decrease the viral shedding and the duration of the painful ulcers.  These medications should be started at the onset of the symptoms.

…..Acyclovir and valacyclovir are the two most common antivirals used and have a long history of safety in pregnancy.  There are some patients who experience frequent attacks, and a daily treatment of these medications can greatly suppress the episodes and therefore decrease the chance of spreading to a sexual partner.

…..In the future we will have a discussion of herpes and pregnancy, but for now I am going to get a donut.

-Dr. P

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Urgent Care

…..I am happy to announce a new program called urgent gynecological care.  This means that immediate appointments are now available 6 days a week.  In gynecology offices, when a patient calls to make an appointment, many times she cannot see her OB/GYN for a few weeks or even months.  This can have a negative impact on her health if immediate attention is needed.  Call us and we will be happy to set up an appointment.

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Young Women – Signs You May Have It

…..P??????????????????olycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine problem in young women, and it often goes undiagnosed in the adolescent population.  The patients are frequently presented with menstrual irregularity and signs of androgen excess, which includes unwanted excess hair growth and acne.  These are the symptoms that usually lead the patients to visit their health care professional.  The weight of the young women can range from normal to elevated, and with obesity, the androgen affects can be more advanced.

…..To make the diagnosis of PCOS, certain criteria need to be met.  The most common guideline requires 2 of the following characteristics:

  • Signs of androgen excess
  • Irregular menses (probably secondary to problems with ovulation)
  • On a sonogram exam of the pelvis, the ovaries are found to have many small cysts (polycystic ovaries)

…..PCOS can have metabolic consequences with major effects on the glucose metabolism, affecting up to 25% of these young women.  There are different ways to screen for this abnormality, from obtaining fasting levels of glucose and insulin to a full glucose tolerance test.  Elevated weight levels, monitored by determining the BMI, increases the risk of developing these metabolic problems.

…..Next time we will review management for the young PCOS patients.

-Dr. P

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