Saturday, July 10, 2010

Epilepsy and Seizures

 Epilepsy is a disorder that causes seizures. Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. There are many causes for seizures such as fever, alcoholism, head trauma, electrolyte imbalances, hyperventilation, sleep deprivation, and certain medications. Epilepsy can be another cause for the abnormal brain activity.

Over 2 million people have seizure disorders, About 120 per 100,000 people will have newly diagnosed seizure disorder. Of these, about 30% are under the age of thirty.

In epilepsy, there are different types of seizures that can be experienced. Partial seizures involve one side of the brain and one side of the body. Generalized seizures affect the entire brain and both sides of the body. These seizures can be either simple or complex. With simple seizures, there is no loss of consciousness. Complex seizures cause loss of consciousness or awareness. There are also tonic-clonic seizures ( grand mal ). In this type of seizure, you have two phases. The first phase is the tonic phase that causes increased muscle contractions. This lasts less than one minute. In the clonic phase, the muscle contractions decrease and jerking movements begin. Profuse sweating and hyperventilation also occur.

Status epilepticus can also occur. This is when seizure activity lasts for more than 30 minutes or there are repeated seizures with no recovery in between. This is always considered a medical emergency and is associated with increased risk of death or permanent disability if not treated immediately.

 If you are experiencing any type of seizure, you must see a doctor right away. There are many very good anti-seizure medications that can help control the abnormal activity in the brain. These medications should be taken exactly as prescribed and may require adjustments in dosing periodically. You must visit with your doctor about safety issues such as employment or driving a motor vehicle. Always keep a log of seizure activity to present to your doctor at every visit. Most people with seizure disorders live a relatively normal life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Weight Loss- Difficulty Losing Weight

  It can be very challenging to lose weight when it seems as though you are getting nowhere. There are several reasons for not being able to lose weight. It is important to determine the cause and make sure there isn't a medical cause. Diseases, such as hypothyroidism, can cause difficulty losing weight and may even cause weight gain. There are special blood tests your doctor can perform to determine if you have a medical cause for not losing weight.

  Often, the cause of difficulty losing weight is not making the appropriate lifestyle changes. You must create a 500 calorie deficit daily to lose 1 pound per week. It is important to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Lots of fruits and vegetables are a good addition to your diet. A diet that is low in fat and carbohydrates is best. Your body does need some fat and carbs in order to function properly. Moderation is key to losing weight. Choosing appropriate portions will also go a long way toward reaching your goal.

  You must incorporate an exercise plan into your routine. At least 3 days per week of cardio is essential. You also need at least two days per week of strength training. This will help tone your muscles and provide a longer lasting metabolism boost.

  If you have tried eating a well-balanced diet and appropriate exercise and are not losing weight, you may need to switch up your routine a little bit. Try doing a different type of cardio than you were previously doing or making more adjustments to your diet. If this doesn't work, a visit to your doctor may be warranted!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Is It Menopause? Know The Signs

  Menopause usually occurs between 45 and 50 years of age. It can occur suddenly or, more commonly, it can occur gradually over a long period of time.

  It is possible for women who have had a hysterectomy( removal of the uterus ), with the ovaries left in place, to have early menopause because the ovaries can stop functioning. This doesn't usually occur but it is possible.

  Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop producing hormones and eggs. Menstrual periods become more spaced out until they eventually stop altogether. This can occur over a period of a few years.

  Symptoms of menopause can include hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, decreased  libido( sexual interest), vaginal dryness, and irregular periods. Some women may experience difficulty concentrating or sleeping.

  Most women transition into menopause with minimal problems. If symptoms are present and extreme, medication can be prescribed by your physician. Estrogen replacement therapy can be instituted. It is important to remember that if you still have your uterus, you will need a combination of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen helps protect against osteoporosis but does carry risks for heart disease and stroke, so it is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor in detail. Ask questions and be sure that you feel comfortable with the treatment plan your doctor has suggested.

Cholesterol And You

 Cholesterol can be both good and bad. Our bodies produce about 75% of our cholesterol and the other 25% comes from eating animal products. Our body needs some cholesterol to remain healthy. There is "good " cholesterol, which is HDL, and there is "bad " cholesterol, which is LDL. Healthy HDL levels for men should be higher than 40mg/dL and for women it should be higher than 50mg/dL. The HDL helps keep the LDL from getting in the arteries and causing blockages. Lower levels of HDL may increase the risk of heart disease in adults. LDL is produced in the body as well, but we get a lot of it from eating a high cholesterol, high saturated fat diet derived from animal products. This type of cholesterol is " bad " because it can clog up arteries and increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.

 Sometimes, high cholesterol runs in families. With this condition, diet changes may not be successful at lowering cholesterol making medication necessary. Lifestyle modification is still very important, but a little help is needed to control the problem.

 Triglycerides are another from of fat in the body. They are formed by fat with a sugar attached to it. High carbohydrate diets can cause triglycerides  to be elevated in the body. Many people with diabetes also have high triglycerides. Being overweight, sedentary, smoking, drinking alcohol, and unhealthy eating habits can all cause triglycerides to become elevated.

 Your doctor can run blood tests to check your cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Lifestyle changes such as a low cholesterol, low fat diet and regular exercise can go a long way at helping reduce LDL and increase HDL. Medications sometimes are needed. These medications can be statins ( such as Lipitor or Pravachol ), or other types of cholesterol lowering medications. You may also be prescribed a combination drug for lowering both LDL and triglycerides.

 With lifestyle modifications and medications if needed, you can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke significantly. So, be sure to ask your doctor about a blood test to check your cholesterol at your next visit. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Depression: What you need to know

 Many people experience some form of depression in their lives. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much, loss of interest in activities, and weight changes ( gain or loss ) are some common symptoms.
  While it is normal to have these symptoms for short periods of time, depression lasting for more than a few weeks may be a sign of clinical depression. In this type of depression, symptoms are usually present pretty much all day most of the time.
   There are other types of depression such as bipolar disorder ( manic-depression ). This type of depression usually has periods of extreme euphoria followed by severe depression. Marked mood swings are a very important sign.
   It is extremely important to seek help immediately if you or someone you know has thoughts of hurting themselves or someone else. Depression carries a high risk for suicide. Proper diagnosis and treatment is essential for severe depression and/or suicidal thoughts.
   You need to know that you don't have to live with depression. There are very good treatment options available to help you live a normal, productive life. Being on medication doesn't mean you are not a good person or are not very strong, it just means that sometimes people need a little help to get over the hurdles that life brings. Many people are treated for depression every day. Medications for bipolar depression can dramatically change a person's life and help them function normally in their day to day activities.
  Just remember that there are trained professionals that are there to help you. You are not alone!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Women's Health- The Truth About Sexually Transmitted Diseases

 Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise and it is important to know the signs, so you can seek treatment if you are infected.
  Chlamydia is a very common STD that can cause a discolored or yellowish discharge. Burning and itching in the genital area is common. Some people do not have any symptoms for quite some time, which can delay diagnoses.
  Gonorrhea is another type of STD. It usually causes a discharge that can be purulent and greenish in color. It too can cause burning and itching. Like Chlamydia, sometimes symptoms are mild or absent.
  Other types of STD's are Herpes, Trichomonas(trich), Syphilis, and HIV/Aids. Human Papilloma Virus, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C can also be spread through sexual contact.
 It is important to see a doctor right away if you experience any vaginal/ penile discharge, burning or itching around the genitalia or rectum, or any sores or bumps in the genital area.
  There are other vaginal infections that may be mistaken for an STD that are very common. These are bacterial vaginosis and candida(yeast). Bacterial vaginosis causes a thin, watery discharge that can have a foul odor. Yeast infections usually cause a white,cottage cheese-like discharge and there is usually no odor. Burning and itching are common in yeast infections.
 Abstinence is the only way to completely prevent STD infection. Barrier methods, such as codoms, are very good for protection if used properly.
 It is important to see a doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above. Proper diagnosis and treatment is necessary for your health and safety. Always remember that you must let any sexual partner know if you are diagnosed with an STD so they, too, can seek immediate treatment.

Friday, July 2, 2010


 A migraine is very different than just an average headache. It is very intense and usually last up to 3 days. Some people have occular migraines that can cause visual disturbances, usually in the period of time just before the headache sets it. This period time is known as the aura stage. Not all migraine sufferers have the type of migraine associated with auras. Some just have the headache by itself.
 Migraine auras occur just before the headache and can include seeing spots, wavvy lines, halos; blurred vision; temporary visual loss in half of visual field; dizziness; numbess and tingling; and "crawling" sensation on your scalp. This usually lasts about 30 minutes and is followed by a headache, which is often severe.
 Migraines are vascular headaches. They are caused by enlargement of the blood vessels(vasodilation) in the brain. As the arteries continue to enlarge, the pain becomes intense. Many people are also very sensitive to light and sound during this time.
 Migraines affect women more than men. Many women notice an increase in frequency of migraines at times of hormonal change, such as during menstruation.
 There is no cure for migraines, but there are some very good treatment options. There are medications to abort the migraine once it has occured. There are also prophyllactic medications to try to prevent migraines.
 Recent studies suggest that some migraine suffers that also experience auras may be at a higher risk of stroke than those without auras. So, it is imperitive to see a doctor soon if you are experiencing any of the symtoms mentioned so proper treatment can be started right away.

Sexual Health: Decreased Libido

 Sexual health is a very important factor in overall happiness. With all of the demands and worries in today's society, it is easy to be distracted or lose interest in sexual intimacy.When trying to juggle a job, kids, finances, and a marriage, oftentimes, sex just doesn't seem as important. But when there are absolutely no thoughts or feelings regarding sex, there may be more going on than you realize.
 The causes of decreased libido can be physical, mental/ emotional, or both. It can affect both men and women at different stages of life.
 In men, loss of sexual desire can be caused by depression, substance abuse, relationship problems, low testosterone, or anxiety. Certain medications, such as those for high blood pressure, can also cause decreased libido. Treatment for low sex drive in men can involve counseling (if due to relationship issues, etc.); medications to treat low testosterone, depression, or anxiety; or having your doctor change your medication if it seems to cause the problem.
 Up to 40% of women have problems with deminished sexual interest or desire. For women, it may be due to a change in hormones. A drop in the male hormone, testosterone, is often the problem. Also menopause can be the cause. A doctor can prescribe medications to treat the condition. Many times the causes for low libido in women are the same as in men. If it is emotional, counseling may be necessary.
 Maybe all that is needed is to take time to focus on your relationship, without outside distractions. Stress reduction techniques may also help. Talking to your partner about it is probably the most important step to regaining the sexual desire and fulfilment you once had.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Arthritis Pain? There is hope!

 Arthritis pain is often difficult to live with. I am one of the all -too- lucky ones that is affected with this painful condition. There are many types of arthritis, so it is important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
 Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis. It is usually caused by normal wear and tear experienced with aging. It can also be caused by previous injuries in the affected joint. Pain and stiffness in the joint(s) are the main symptoms. The pain is caused by inflammation. Treatment includes exercise, medications, and weight reduction. Many patients find that over-the-counter supplements, such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin, really help manage their arthritis.
 There are other types of arthritis that are caused by various autoimmune disorders. Psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis are types of arthritis that are considered autoimmune disorders. Ankylosing spondylitis is a rheumatic disorder that causes inflammation of the spine. With this condition, the spine can eventually fuse together causing disability. These types of arthritis require treatment from a specialist known as a rheumatologist. There are many treatments available for these long-term diseases. Medications, injections, and IV therapy are common treatments for rheumatic and autoimmune arthritis.
 If you are suffering from any type of arthritis, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. There are many very good treatment options available that will enable you to live a relatively normal life.Talk to your doctor today!

Thirsty? Know the signs!

 Dehydration is more common than most people realize. With so many soda and drink mix options today, it is hard to remember to drink more water. Especially 64 ounces worth!
 It is important to remember that the body requires a lot of water to function normally. Without water, major organs are not getting what they need. The kidneys remove excess fluids and waste from the blood. Water is needed for the kidneys to be able to flush those things from the body.
 Dehydration in pregnancy can cause pretem contractions and urinary tract infections. It is important for pregnant women to drink even more than the standard 64 ounces of water daily.
 Dehydration can be caused by inadequate intake of water, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, exercising without replenishing water, and very hot weather.
 Symptoms can include dry mouth, headache, dizziness, thirst, sleepiness, decreased urine output, decreased blood pressure, and increased heartrate. In cases of severe dehydration, it is imperitive to seek medical attention immediately.
 So just remember, dehydration can be prevented by drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day and remembering to replenish any water that may have been lost. Drink, drink ,drink!!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Weight Loss Blues---Don't Give Up Yet!

 Just when it seems everything is going well, it happens. That dreaded period of dieting sabotage know as hitting a plateau.
 It may seem that you have done all that you can do and giving up is the only plausible solution. Before you take that step, remember it happens to everybody that is actively trying to lose weight. At this time, it is best to reflect on your current diet and exercise plan. It is possible that you only need to tweak it up a little bit. Maybe try to add an extra day or two to your workout. Maybe you are getting a few more calories per day than you originally thought. Keep in mind that you need a 500 calorie deficit each day in order to lose one pound per week.
  A great solution is to try interval training in your cardio workout. With interval training, you start out with low intensity cardio for a few minutes then you switch to high intensity for a few minutes.You alternate between low and high intensity. This goes a long way at speeding up your metabolism. It will assist you in becoming a calorie burning machine!
  A trick that I stumbled upon is the zigzag diet. Different people do it different ways. I personally do 1500 to 1900 calories each day. One day I may do 1500 calories then do 1800 the next day, followed by 1600 and so on. Just don't ever go below 1200 calories per day.
  Also remember that sometimes you are losing inches even if the scale doesn't seem to move. Recording measurements daily will help you keep track of your true fat loss.
  Just remember it is a lot easier to put the weight on than it is to lose it. It does take time. But with patience and discipline, you will soon be back on track and looking like a million bucks.

Heart Disease- Coronary Artery Disease

 Heart disease can affect anyone at any time. There is no set age for it to strike. I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease at the age of thirty two. I was shocked to be facing that diagnoses at such a young age.
 There are different types of heart disease. You can have diseases of the heart's conduction system, the valves,  the arteries, or any other part of the heart. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a very common condition in the older population, but is becoming more prevalent in younger adults also.
 In CAD, the arteries become clogged with plaque which in turn causes narrowing of that portion of the artery. This causes less blood flow to the heart. It is often caused by atherosclerosis( hardening of the arteries).
 Some of the main causes of coronary artery disease are smoking, aging, and high fat/cholesterol diet.
 With lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking, lowering the fat and cholesterol in your diet, and regular exercise, many times CAD can be controlled without intervention. If the artery becomes more than 50% blocked, treatment may be necessary. Some treatment options include stent placement, angioplasty(inserting a tiny balloon in the artery), or bypass surgery. Aspirin is also a good treatment option.
 It is important to remember that CAD can cause chest pain called angina. If you have a prescription for nitroglycerine, it should help if it is really just angina. If you have chest pain that does not go away, you must go to the emegency department immediately for evaluation. It could be a matter of life and death.


Some facts about Herpes

 There are many things that people are unaware of about herpes simplex. Working in a gynecology clinic, I had many patients that were affected by the disease. Initially, they were very upset at the diagnosis. When they learned the facts and that good treatments were available, they seemed relieved.
 Herpes can involve the other areas of the body, the mouth, and the genitalia. Herpes Simplex 1 is the type that causes cold sores/ fever blisters. Herpes Simplex 2 affects the areas below the waist, such as the genitalia. Chicken pox and shingles are also types of herpes infections.
 Herpes is very contagious. It can easily be spread through physical skin-to-skin contact, including oral, vaginal, or anal sex. It usually causes very painful blisters, rashes and bumps. Sometimes, the only symptom is a watery discharge. Many patients don't have any symptoms at all, but they are still contagious.
 In recent studies, it has been suggested that 1 in 5 people in America are infected with herpes. As many as 90% of those infected are unaware they have the condition. Anyone that is sexually active can have herpes.
 There are treatments available for herpes. There are medications that can treat outbreaks. Patients can even take medication daily to prevent outbreaks. It does not keep a person from spreading the disease but can prevent the uncomfortable symptoms.
 It is very important to talk to your doctor if you have the symptoms of herpes, or think you may be infected,so you can begin proper treatment. There are many people living with herpes today and leading normal, productive lives. Remember, if you are diagnosed with herpes, you are not alone.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

High Blood Pressure in Young Adults

 Many people don't realize that high blood pressure ( hypertension ) can strike at anytime in someone's life. My husband was diagnosed with hypertension at the age of 23. Most of his family members have had the disease and many of them were diagnosed at a young age also.
 Hypertension can be primary or secondary. With primary hypertension, there are no underlying diseases causing the high blood pressure. Many times, this type runs in families. Secondary hypertension is caused by some other underlying condition, such as kidney disease.
 It is often difficult for a younger person to accept the disease and follow the treatment plan the doctor has prescribed. As in my husband's case, this can be an extremely challenging hurdle. Much explanation is needed for this group of people. The risks of not receiving treatment, as well as treatment options should be discussed.
 There are many different types of medications for hypertension. Also, patients who participate in regular, moderate exercise and follow the proper diet can sometimes avoid having to take medications.
 For my husband, it took him finally realizing the risks, such as stroke and heart attack, to finally make a change. He has been working out regularly and watching his salt intake. He has not had to be on medication for a year now!
 Hypertension can be controlled with the right treatment plan. The key is detecting this "silent killer" in patients who are young or patients without overt symptoms.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Some facts about HPV

While working in a gynecology office for many years, I was often confronted with questions about HPV ( Human Papilloma Virus ). With the disease being so prevalent in today's society, it is amazing how little the public really knows about it.
It was once thought that HPV was only transmitted through sexual intercourse. In recent studies, it appears that it may also be passed through any sexual contact.
There are vaccines to protect against certain types of the disease. The problem is that not many patients are asking for it yet.
Through annual pap smears, HPV can be detected. If the disease has caused abnormal cervical cells, there are treatments for them. Many times, a person's own immune system can rid the body of the virus. For some, however, treatment is required.
Many patients are afraid that they have cancer when they are told that they have abnormal cervical cells. I always try to reassure them that most cases of abnormal cervical cells are pre-cancerous and at an early stage. Some of them do have a little more severe dysplasia, which requires more invasive treatment. On some occasions, it can lead to cervical cancer, especially if not treated.
 There are also types of HPV that can cause genital warts ( condyloma ). These can be treated by cryotherapy, chemical products, or any other approved method that the patient and doctor agree on. If left untreated, the condyloma can get worse and eventually lead to vulvar cancer. With treatment, they usual go away in time, however, sometimes several treatments are required.
The best way to prevent HPV is to use barrier methods during sexual activity and by receiving the vaccine. Annual pap smears remain the best way to detect the disease.

Weight loss

I have researched many different diet and exercise plans. Finding the right one takes a lot of time and effort to maximize fat loss.
First of all,you have to consider a few factors. I learned that you should pick a diet that you can stick with from now on. It truly is a lifestyle change, not a diet. It is easy to gain the weight back as soon as you come off of your "diet". For me, the zigzag diet has been very good. On this diet, you can pick and choose the foods you eat. All you have to do is alternate the number of calories you get each day. One day you may eat 1500 calories, the next 1800 calories and so on.
Another very important aspect to weight loss is exercise. It is important to get in at least 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 times per week. I have found that interval training works well. That is where you add a couple of minutes of high intensity cardio several times during your session. So, you start out doing your low to moderate intensity and add resistance every few minutes and then drop it back down every few minutes. You continue this for the full 30 minutes. Works great!
You also need strength training at least two days per week. I try to do high reps with lower weight on problem areas and lower reps with more weight on areas that just need toning.

Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Having been a smoker for 25+ years, it was very difficult. I used the nicotine gum. It worked very well for me. I've been cigarette free for about five months now. I just find other things to do when i am bored and think of smoking. It still crosses my mind when I am around smokers, but I know that smoking was causing a lot of the health problems that I currently have. I am pretty young to have heart disease, but it happened. There are some health care professionals that do smoke. For me, it was a sense of denial or " it won't happen to me". In my case, it did happen. But, I have many friends that still smoke and that is their right. To each his own, I guess.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Zigzag dieting

I have been doing the zigzag diet for about two months now. I really like it. I have a lot more choices and it is pretty easy to do. I have lost about 10 lbs. since I have been on it. It is really good for people like me that have a hard time losing weight. I have tried Weight Watchers and the low-fat diet several times in the past. They worked okay for a little while, but I could never stick with them. This is a diet I can live with!