Are You Prepared for This Summer’s Tiniest Villains?

I was working in my garden, and guess what I discovered yesterday, once again?  I spotted another tick on myself!  Because of this, I thought it would be a great time to discuss ticks all over again – what they do, what you should do if you find one on yourself, and all about Lyme disease.

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Over 30,000 new cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each summer, and 90% occur in 10 states.  New York is one of those states.  This disease is an infection caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which enters the body from a bite of an infected deer tick.

While the tick is attached, it begins to suck blood from the victim, and at this time, it regurgitates the bacteria back into the person’s system.  Most of the infections in humans are caused from the bites of immature ticks called nymphs, which are the size of poppy seeds.  The disease can also be transmitted from the bite of an adult deer tick, but because they are larger they are more likely to be discovered before having time to transmit the disease.

You Found a Tick on Yourself – What Are the Next Steps?

Once you have discovered that a tick is on your body, you remove it with tweezers.  Try to detach it at the base of the tick’s attachment.  If it is removed within 24 to 48 hours, it is unlikely that it has infected you withTick Removal Display Image Lyme disease.  Also, it is important to remember that only 1 in 20 people bitten with an infected tick will develop the disease.  Not every deer tick carries the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, with usually 1 in 5 being carriers in high risk areas.

An Alternate Way to Remove Those Ticks!

I recently learned about a different way to help remove a tick.  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.

The Infectious Disease Society of America does not recommend antibiotics for everyone who has been bitten by a tick.  If the rash of Lyme disease develops, then antibiotics are advised.

The rash is the easily noticed circular “bull’s eye” target-like rash.  This rash can begin anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks after the bite.  It starts out being the size of a quarter and can widen to 6 to 9 inches as the bacteria spread out.  If your anxiety of developing the disease is great, many doctors will treat you with doxycycline if you do not have an allergy to the medication.

What Is Most Likely to Happen if You Are Diagnosed with Lyme Disease?

When Lyme disease has been diagnosed because you have the “bull’s eye” rash from a tick bite or a positive blood test, your medical team will usually prescribe an antibiotic regimen.  Depending upon your history of allergies, two of the most common treatments are amoxicillin (500 mg three times a day for 14 to 21 days) or doxycycline (100 mg twice a day for 14 to 21 days).

Bull's Eye Rash (Tick)

Intravenous antibiotic treatments are not often needed, but they are needed when the Lyme infections are more serious.  These would include infections around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or heart (carditis).

I would like to leave you with two interesting facts about Lyme disease.  If for some reason you get the infection and do not obtain treatment with an antibiotic, you have about a 10-15% risk of developing Lyme arthritis, and this needs to be treated with a different antibiotic plan.

Even after treating Lyme disease and having no blood tests pointing to an active disease, about 10-20% of people will not feel well for months, having complaints of being exhausted and joint pain.  Antibiotics do not seem to be the answer for this frustrating condition.  The passage of time is the ultimate treatment.

Enjoy your summer and always check your clothes and body for ticks after working or playing outdoors in a grassy area.  Then take a shower, which removes the ticks off your body and prevents those troublesome bites!

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-Dr. P

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One Viable Method to Prevent Preterm Labor

One Viable Method to Prevent Preterm Labor

Aspirin molecule

Preterm birth rates continue to rise in the United States and are a major cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality.  Low-dose aspirin has been researched as a possible inexpensive and safe medication to help reduce the incidence of preterm birth.

Aspirin helps by reducing uterine contractility and inflammation.  Many medical issues such as the fetus being too small for gestational age, preeclampsia, placental insufficiency, and spontaneous labor may be reasons to consider protocols to help prevent preterm births.  In these instances, the effects of aspirin may be very helpful.

Many studies have shown a decrease in preterm births in patients taking low-dose aspirin prior to and during pregnancy.  It can be especially helpful to those with a history of a previous pregnancy loss.

The possibility of decreasing the incidence of preterm labor is very exciting.  Additional research is necessary to fully observe and understand all of the effects of low-dose aspirin on pregnancy.  Always remember to speak to your health care provider to discuss your particular concerns and to see if low-dose aspirin can be beneficial to you!

-Dr. P

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When Should Young Women Start Getting Pap Smears?

5461276006_df3a5a44b8_z     Cervical cancer was once the number one cancer killer, but with the introduction of the Pap smear almost 60 years ago, this cancer has become increasingly rare.  The guidelines for cervical cancer screening are always evolving, and the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP) has been at the forefront of these changes.

The relationship between high-risk HPV (human papillomavirus) and the development of pre-cervical and cervical cancer has been well established.  Thankfully, most HPV infections are short-lived and not detected within 1-2 years.  Only a small percentage of infected women will go on to develop a high-grade cervical abnormality or cervical cancer.

More than 80% of all women will develop a genital HPV infection by the time they reach the age of 50.  HPV infections are the most common in young women, and again, these infections are cleared by most young women in less than two years.

We now have a good understanding of the natural history of HPV infections and the development of cervical cancer and the pre-cancers.  ASCCP’s guidelines advise that cervical cancer screening should begin at age 21 regardless of the age of sexual initiation.  Since most of the infections in the young will regress, starting a screening program at an earlier age may result in many unnecessary treatment interventions.

Remember to always discuss your particular concerns and develop your individual screening program with your healthcare professional.

-Dr. P

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Healthy and Creative Recipes from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

I have come to discover Alexis Kornblum’s wonderful website, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, and her creative cooking.  From her healthy food section, I would like to start a series that provides nourishing recipes.  You can expect to find gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly, refined sugar-free, soy-free, and vegan-friendly recipes.  Each time, a dinner, snack, dressing, drink, or treat will be featured.

First up is Roasted Garlic Chicken and Veggie Primavera.  The dish has roasted garlic, delicious olive oil, Himalayan sea salt, a hint of spice, and fresh parmesan cheese.  Flavor heaven.  Here is the link to the recipe: http://lexiscleankitchen.com/2014/07/11/healthy-food-friday-zucchini-roasted-garlic-chicken-and-veggie-primavera/

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For dessert, you are having Nutella Swirl Pumpkin Muffins.  These muffins are spongy, moist, loaded with pumpkin, and hold a hint of sweet.  http://lexiscleankitchen.com/2014/10/03/healthy-food-friday-nutella-swirl-pumpkin-muffin/

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What Could Happen if You Smoke During Pregnancy?

We all know that cigarette smoking is a health hazard.  In pregnancy, smoking spreads that hazard to the baby as well as the mom.  The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) provides us with the following information:

  • It is reported that 10% of women smoke during the last 3 months of pregnancy
  • 50% of women who smoke before a pregnancy will quit during the pregnancy
  • 50% of women who stopped smoking during a pregnancy will go back to smoking after their baby is born
  • Smoking increases the difficulty to become pregnant
  • Smoking increases the risk of spontaneous miscarriages
  • Smoking also increases the risk of a premature birth
  • This action increases nicotine and decreases oxygen to the developing fetus
  • The baby’s placenta may not work as well in mothers who smoke
  • Smoking increases the risk of certain birth defects, including cleft lip and cleft palate

If you smoke, please try to stop for your health and the health of your baby.

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-Dr. P

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How Probiotics Can Be an Enormous Benefit to Your Health

The business associated with the use of probiotics is huge around the world.  It promises to use live and good bacteria to decrease/replace the bad bacteria that can build up in the colon.  Probiotics are live bacteria that are mostly found in foods and supplements.  They have the potential to provide beneficial health effects for the person ingesting the bacteria.

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The human gastrointestinal tract, especially the colon, is populated by a large amount and assortment of bacteria, called the intestinal flora.  This flora develops over the first two years of life and evolves over time based on health, diet, genetics, and many other factors.  This good natural bacteria and added probiotics seem to work in a variety of ways:

  • Natural good bacteria and probiotics prevent the growth of bad bacteria by not allowing a place for it to grow and competing for the nutrients.
  • They lower the acidity of the intestine, creating an unwelcome environment for the bad bacteria.
  • They increase the production of mucin.  Mucins are the proteins that bind to form the gel-like mucous, made by the epithelial cells that line the intestines.  This produces a chemical barrier which limits the damage of inflammation.

You should open a discussion with your health care provider about the benefits of probiotics, especially the next time an antibiotic is needed.  Antibiotics can affect the natural flora of the intestine so a probiotic review may be perfect.

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-Dr. P

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How Can Uterine Fibroids Affect Your Pregnancy?

How Can Uterine Fibroids Affect Your PregnancyAbout 5% of all women have a uterine fibroid and this is the most common of the noncancerous gynecological tumors.  Since fibroids can increase risks during a pregnancy, the health care provider follows a pregnant woman with fibroids carefully.

One of the complications can be that the baby is in a position other than head-down near the time of delivery.  This can affect the type of delivery advised.  Other possible complications associated with fibroids and pregnancy can be pain, preterm delivery, premature rupture of the membranes, and other difficulties.

Because of the great hormonal changes during pregnancy, fibroids can shrink or grow at this time.  The changes occur mostly in the first 3 months of the pregnancy.  More pregnancy complications have been found when a fibroid is larger than 10 cm.

If you have fibroids and are pregnant, start early discussions with your health care providers about the risks to be concerned about and how is the best way to be followed during your pregnancy.

-Dr. P

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