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Diabetes and Heart Disease

What is the link between diabetes and heart disease?

Having diabetes means that there is too much sugar (glucose) in your blood. If blood sugar stays high for a long time, the inner lining of blood vessels may be damaged. This makes it easier for cholesterol to build up, forming plaques in the walls of the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrition to the heart or brain. Cholesterol plaques can break apart or rupture, causing blood clots and blocking the blood vessel. This can lead to chest pains (called angina), heart attack, or stroke. Diabetes can also weaken the heart muscle. This can cause heart failure, which means that the heart is not able to pump enough blood.If you have diabetes:

  • You are 2 to 4 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than someone without diabetes, and you are more likely to have it at a young age.
  • If you have a heart attack, you are more likely to die from the heart attack.

What can I do to lower my risk?

Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions or fears you may have. Follow the treatment plan your provider prescribes. Here are some of the things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease:

  • Control your blood sugar. Keeping your blood sugar level in the proper range can prevent or delay blood vessel damage.
  • Control your blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides). Unhealthy levels of blood fats also cause heart disease. This effect happens faster and is usually worse when you have diabetes. People with diabetes often have high levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Triglycerides should be below 150 mg/dL and HDL should be above 40 for men with diabetes and above 50 for women. Try to keep your LDL (bad cholesterol) below 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). If you already have heart disease, your provider may recommend an LDL goal below 70 mg/dL.
  • Control your blood pressure. Nearly two-thirds of adults with diabetes have high blood pressure. Your blood pressure should be less than 130/80. Most people with diabetes often have to use 2 or more medicines to keep their blood pressure at or below that level.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight and stay at the lower weight. Weight loss can make it easier to control your blood sugar and blood pressure. It can decrease your risk of heart disease.
  • Exercise regularly according to your healthcare provider’s instructions. Regular exercise can help you lose weight. It also helps lower your risk of heart disease.
  • If you smoke, quit. When you have diabetes, smoking triples your risk of dying from heart problems.
  • Carry your medicine with you and know how to take it properly. It also helps to have a list of the names and doses of medicines that you are taking and the instructions for taking them.

@ Published by RelayHealth.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

Breast exam can save your life!

What is a breast self-exam?

A breast self-exam is an exam you can do yourself to check for breast cancer. When you do a breast self-exam, you check for lumps, thickening, and dimples in the breast. You also check for lumps in your underarms and discharge from the nipple.Ask your healthcare provider about doing breast self-exams. These exams are not as strongly recommended as they used to be. However, your provider may recommend doing them to help you be more familiar with your body. They could help you notice changes that need to be checked. When breast cancer is found early and treated right away, the chances for cure are much better.Breast self-exams are recommended for women who have had previous breast cancer to check for changes between mammograms.

What is the best time to examine my breasts?

If you are still having periods, examine your breasts at the end of your period, when your breasts usually are not tender or swollen.

How do I do a breast self-exam?

  1. Lie down and put your left arm under your head. This spreads the breast tissue more evenly on your chest. Use your right hand to examine your left breast. With the flat part of your 3 middle fingers, press gently in small circular motions over the entire area of the breast, checking for any lump, hard knot, or thickening. Use different degrees of pressure—light, medium, and firm—to feel breast tissue at different levels in your breast. Be sure to check the whole breast, from your collarbone above your breast and down until you feel only ribs below your breast.
  2. After checking your left breast, put your right arm under your head. Use your left hand to examine your right breast in the same way you checked your left breast.
  3. Look at your breasts while standing in front of a mirror with your hands pressing firmly down on your hips. Look for lumps, new differences in size and shape, and swelling or dimpling of the skin.
  4. While standing or sitting, slightly raise one arm, then the other, so you can check your underarm area for lumps.
  5. Squeeze the nipple of each breast gently between your thumb and index finger to check for discharge or fluid from the nipples.

If you want to check to see if you are doing the exam the right way, ask your healthcare provider to show you how to do it.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Contact your provider as soon as possible if a change occurs, such as:

  • a lump or swelling
  • new wrinkling or dimpling of the skin
  • nipple pain or retraction (nipple turning inward)
  • redness or scaly rash on the nipple and surrounding skin
  • discharge of fluid from the nipple (other than breast milk if you are breast-feeding).

Fortunately, most lumps and other changes are not cancerous, but only your provider can make the diagnosis. @ Published by RelayHealth.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

Are you at risk for Coronary Artery Disease

What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a type of heart disease. Your heart gets oxygen and nutrients from the blood that flows through the coronary arteries. When you have CAD, thick patches of fatty substances stick to the walls of the coronary arteries. These patches are called plaque. As the plaque thickens, the artery opening gets narrow and the blood flows more slowly. This means the heart gets less blood and oxygen. The plaque, or a blood clot that forms on the plaque, may completely block an artery and stop all blood flow. This narrowing or blockage of the arteries increases your risk for heart attack and sudden death.

How does it occur?

Coronary artery disease is caused by gradual blockage of the coronary arteries. Your risk for CAD may be higher if you:

  • Have a family history of coronary artery disease.
  • Smoke.
  • Have high blood pressure.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Are very overweight.
  • Don’t get enough exercise.
  • Have high levels of blood fat–for example, cholesterol.

There may be other things that may increase your risk that we do not yet know about.

What are the symptoms?

Coronary artery disease may have no symptoms. When there are symptoms, the most common one is chest pain, called angina. The symptoms of angina may include pain in the chest that lasts for more than 2 minutes. Or the pain may go away and come back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. There may be pain in other parts of the upper body, such as in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. You may also be short of breath, break out in a cold sweat, or feel lightheaded or sick to your stomach.Angina tends to happen when you are being active, after a heavy meal, or with emotional stress. However, angina may also happen when you are resting. The pain happens more in cold weather.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Your provider will also ask about your personal and family medical history.You will have blood tests to check the levels and types of fats (lipids) in your blood. Your provider will order an electrocardiogram (also called a ECG or EKG).Your provider may want to know how your heart works when you exercise. You may have an exercise treadmill test. An echocardiogram (ultrasound images of the beating heart) may be done before and after you exercise on the treadmill. Another test that may be done is a scan of the heart. The scan may be done before and after you exercise. The scan will use a radioactive dye that is injected into one of your veins. If there is a problem with blood flow though an artery, the pictures will show that the dye is not getting to the heart muscle. A special kind of CT scan may also show coronary artery disease.Your provider may recommend an angiogram. An angiogram takes X-ray pictures of the coronary arteries. A special dye that can be seen on an X-ray is injected into a blood vessel through a thin tube called a catheter. It allows your provider to check blood flow, including the number, location, and size of any blockages. This information will help determine the best treatment for you.

How is it treated?

The goal of treatment is for you to get back to a full and active lifestyle. Your treatment depends on many factors, such as your age, heart muscle function, and other health problems.At first, treatment may include diet changes and an exercise program. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine, such as an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB).

  • Benazepril, captopril, enalapril, fosinopril, lisinopril, moexipril, perindopril, quinapril, ramipril, and trandolapril are generic names for common ACE inhibitors.
  • Candesartan, eprosartan, irbesartan, losartan, olmesartan, telmisartan, and valsartan are generic names for common ARBs.

ACE inhibitors and ARBs help to relax the blood vessels and lower blood pressure. As a result, the heart does not have to work as hard. Taking an ACE or ARB medicine has several benefits, including:

  • Helps control high blood pressure
  • Helps prevent heart attacks and strokes
  • Lowers the risk for heart failure
  • Lowers the risk of death from CAD

Your provider may recommend a daily low dose of aspirin. Taking an aspirin daily has several benefits, including:

  • Helps to stop blood clots from forming
  • Lowers your risk of heart attack or stroke

Your provider may also prescribe other types of medicine, such antiplatelet medicine, a beta blocker, or medicine to lower blood fat (cholesterol). If your coronary arteries are badly blocked, the blockages may need to be opened up with balloon angioplasty or bypassed with surgery.

  • In balloon angioplasty, a small balloon is inserted into the artery and moved to the blockage. The balloon is then blown up to flatten the blockage against the artery wall. A stent may be put into the blocked artery to keep the artery open and improve blood flow.
  • If you have many blockages, or if they are bad, your healthcare provider may recommend coronary artery bypass surgery. Arteries from the chest or veins from the legs or arms are used to make a path around blocked areas in the heart artery.

How long will the effects last?

Many people do well after balloon angioplasty or bypass surgery. They are able to go back to very active lives, sometimes more active than before their diagnosis. If you have advanced heart disease with complications when you are diagnosed, or you do not change to a healthier lifestyle, you are less likely to do well.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Follow your provider’s advice about activity, exercise, medicine, and follow-up visits.
  • Lower the amount of salt, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol in your diet.
  • Work with your healthcare provider to control diabetes, blood pressure, or other health problems you may have.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Call 911 for emergency help right away if:You have chest discomfort (pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain) that lasts more than 5 minutes or goes away and comes back.You have chest discomfort with lightheadedness. Your chest pain goes beyond your chest to one or both arms or to your neck or jaw.You have chest discomfort and are sweating a lot or having trouble breathing or are sick to your stomach.

How can I help prevent coronary artery disease?

Eating a healthy diet, staying fit with the right kind of exercise, and not smoking are the best ways to prevent CAD. Talk to your healthcare provider about your personal and family medical history and your lifestyle habits. This will help you know what you can do to lower your risk for coronary artery disease.If you have a strong family history of CAD, a healthy lifestyle may slow the start of the disease and maybe even keep you from getting it. However, you must have regular checkups to keep a close watch on the health of your heart. @ Published by RelayHealth.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

Prostate cancer – are you at risk?

Prostate Cancer

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the prostate gland. The prostate gland is part of a man’s reproductive system. It is, on average, a little bigger than a walnut. It is located between the base of the bladder and the beginning of the penis. It surrounds the upper part of the urethra. (The urethra carries urine from the bladder out through the penis.) The prostate makes the fluid that nourishes and carries sperm.In the US, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. However, the cancer usually grows slowly. Men who have prostate cancer are more likely to die from something other than the cancer.

How does it occur?

The cause of prostate cancer is not known. Studies have found or suggested the following risk factors:

  • Age: Age is the main risk factor for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 45. The chance of getting it gets higher as a man gets older. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer are older than 65.
  • Heredity: A man’s risk is 2 to 3 times higher if his father or brother had prostate cancer.
  • Race: Prostate cancer is more common and more likely to be fatal in African-American men.
  • Diet and obesity: Studies suggest that men who eat a diet high in red meat and fat have a higher risk for prostate cancer. Men who are overweight may be more likely to die of it. Men who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may have a lower risk.

What are the symptoms?

Prostate cancer often has no symptoms, especially in the early stages. When symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • weak flow of urine
  • urine flow that starts and then stops too soon
  • trouble starting or stopping the flow of urine
  • frequent and urgent need to urinate, especially at night
  • blood in the urine or semen
  • pain or burning when you urinate
  • trouble having an erection, or pain when semen comes out of the penis (ejaculation)
  • frequent pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs (usually because of a spread of the cancer beyond the prostate gland).

These symptoms can be caused by other problems, such as infection or an enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH. BPH is a growth of the prostate that is not caused by cancer. It’s normal for men to have BPH as they get older. If you have any of the signs or symptoms listed above, you should see your healthcare provider so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

How is it diagnosed?

Because prostate cancer often does not cause any signs or symptoms, it may be found just during a routine exam or an exam done for some other problem. A rectal digital exam and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test may be done to screen for prostate cancer. For the digital rectal exam, the healthcare provider puts a gloved finger in a man’s rectum to feel the prostate gland. Prostate cancers feel very hard compared to normal prostate tissue. If your provider feels something abnormal, then you may have other tests to see if there is a tumor and whether it is a type of cancer that will spread.The PSA test is a blood test. Cancer can cause the prostate to make more PSA, increasing the level of PSA in the blood. However, like many cancer-screening tools, the PSA test is not perfect and can give misleading results. A normal result does not necessarily mean that there is no cancer in the prostate. And if the result is a bit high, it may not be from cancer. The benefits of the PSA test and the rectal digital exam for prostate cancer screening are not certain. The current recommendations are that men age 75 and older should not be screened for prostate cancer. Men younger than 75 should discuss the benefits and harms of screening with their healthcare provider.If you have a sign, symptom, or test that suggests prostate cancer, other tests you may have are:

  • Transrectal ultrasound to look at the prostate. A probe is inserted into the rectum. The probe bounces sound waves off the prostate to create a picture of the prostate on a video screen.
  • Cystoscopy. The healthcare provider uses a thin, lighted tube to look into the penis, urethra, and bladder.
  • Transrectal biopsy. The healthcare provider inserts a needle through the rectum into the prostate. A piece of prostate tissue is removed to look for cancer cells. It is the only sure way to diagnose prostate cancer.

If a biopsy shows cancer cells, you will have other tests, such as a bone scan, CT scan, or MRI, to see if the cancer has spread and help decide how to treat it.

How is it treated?

Treatment depends on how large the tumor is, whether it has spread to other parts of your body, your symptoms, your overall health, and your age. Some of the treatments, and their side effects, are:

  • Surgery to remove the prostate (prostatectomy). The standard surgical treatment is called a radical prostatectomy. Nearby lymph nodes are also removed. The hospital stay is usually 2 to 3 days. For a short while after surgery you may have some problems, such as discomfort and some loss of control of the flow of urine (incontinence). Most men are able to control their bladder again after a few weeks. Surgery may also cause erectile dysfunction (trouble having or keeping an erection, also called impotence). Nerve-sparing surgery may help so that this problem does not last or is not as severe. However, in some cases, men become permanently impotent. Also, when your prostate is removed, you will no longer produce semen. You will have dry orgasms. If you wish to father children, you may consider sperm banking or a sperm retrieval procedure before surgery.New methods of surgery to remove the prostate are being developed. For example, the prostate may be removed with a laparoscope and sometimes with robotic techniques. The newer techniques can be done with much smaller cuts than needed for the standard procedure. This means that there is less pain after surgery and the hospital stay may be shorter. However, there is less experience with these ways of doing the surgery.
  • Radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Sometimes it causes long-term problems such as diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, and poor control of the flow of urine. The radiation may be given externally (radiation beamed at your prostate from a machine). This may cause the urethra, rectum, and anus to become inflamed. Sometimes the radiation may be given internally, which means the radiation comes from radioactive substances placed in the prostate gland. This may cause erectile dysfunction and loss of bladder control.
  • Hormone therapy. Prostate cancer cells need the male hormone testosterone to grow. The testicles make most of the testosterone in your body. Surgery to remove both testicles may be used to keep prostate cancer cells from getting a lot of testosterone. Drugs are another way to do this. Drug treatment can include medicines that keep the testicles from making testosterone, blocking the action of male hormones on the prostate cancer cells, or medicines that keep the adrenal gland from making testosterone. Side effects of treatment depend on the treatment. They may include erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, loss of sexual desire, weaker bones (osteoporosis), breast tenderness or slight enlargement of the breasts, nausea, or diarrhea.

Instead of treatment, your provider may suggest watchful waiting. This means checking for symptoms and growth of the cancer but not having treatment. This approach may be chosen if:

  • The risks and possible side effects of treatment outweigh the possible benefits.
  • You are an older adult.
  • You have other serious health problems.
  • You are diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer that seems to be growing slowly.
  • You have no signs or symptoms of the cancer.

How long will the effects last?

Most prostate cancer grows very slowly. Prostate cancer is often found when the cancer is at an early stage and can be treated successfully.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Know that having the cancer adds a lot of stress to your life. Take more time for your important relationships and for rest. Spend time with people and activities you enjoy.
  • Talk with your family and your healthcare providers about your concerns. Ask your healthcare provider any questions you have about the disease, treatments, side effects of the treatments, sexuality, support groups, and anything else that concerns you.
  • Find a counselor to help you deal with difficult issues.
  • For more information, contact:American Cancer Society, Inc.Phone: 800-ACS-2345 (800-227-2345)Web site: http://www.cancer.orgNational Cancer InstitutePhone: 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237) (TTY: 1-800-332-8615)Web site:

How can I help prevent prostate cancer?

Because the cause of prostate cancer is not known, healthcare providers do not know how to prevent it. However, researchers are actively studying possible methods of prevention, such as diet, supplements, and drugs. @ Published by RelayHealth.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

Mammogram – what is it and who should have it done?


What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray that examines breast tissue.

When is it used?

A mammogram helps detect breast cancer at an early stage. Mammograms can detect some types of cancer before you or your healthcare provider can feel a lump. They detect most cancerous growths in the breasts.Mammograms are also used to check lumps you or your healthcare provider have found in a physical exam. They can help determine which lumps are cancerous and which are benign. They can also check for any additional lumps that cannot be felt yet. All suspicious lumps should also be biopsied or removed, even when the lump appears noncancerous (benign) on a mammogram.Mammograms can also show a more exact location of a growth before you have surgery or a biopsy to remove it.

How do I prepare for a mammogram?

Be sure your underarms and chest are clean. Don’t put any deodorants, powders, lotions, or perfumes on your underarms or chest on the day your mammogram is to be done. These products can make it difficult to interpret the test results correctly.

What happens during the procedure?

A mammogram is done in your healthcare provider’s office, an X-ray clinic, or a mobile van with a mammography machine inside. You will be asked to take off your shirt, bra, and jewelry. It takes just a few minutes for the technologist to take X-rays of each breast. The machine has a platform for your breast. The technologist will place your breast on the platform and put a plate on the breast to press it gently. This may be uncomfortable for a few seconds, but it allows the X-ray to show more of the tissue deep within your breast. Two or three different views of each breast will be taken to check the whole breast. Each X-ray position requires just a few seconds.

What happens after the procedure?

The X-rays will be read by a radiologist and the results reported to your healthcare provider. You will also get a letter from the radiologist.

What are the benefits of this procedure?

Mammograms help your healthcare provider diagnose breast problems. Most commonly, they help find breast cancer at an early stage. The smaller and the more localized a cancer is at the time of diagnosis and treatment, the greater the chance of a cure. The mammogram allows the detection of some types of breast cancer 1 to 2 years before you or your healthcare provider would be able to feel it. There is a better chance of curing the cancer if it is found at an early stage.

What are the risks or concerns associated with this procedure?

  • Many women are called back for repeat mammograms or for needle biopsies to see if they have breast cancer and then find out they don’t have cancer. This is expensive and causes a lot of anxiety as women wait for results. And needle biopsies can be painful, even though local anesthesia is used to numb the area.
  • Mammograms often find small growths that are not cancerous. However, once detected, they must be biopsied to make sure that they are not cancer.
  • Mammograms also sometimes find very small cancers that are harmless. These cancers are groups of abnormal cells that will never cause any symptoms or problems. They may stop growing, shrink, or even go away on their own. But because it’s not possible to know whether this cancer is going to be fast-growing and very malignant or a harmless cancer that will go away on its own, these cancers end up being treated.
  • Mammograms expose women to very low levels of radiation, but the more mammograms a woman has, the greater her lifetime exposure to chest radiation.
  • Mammograms do not detect all breast cancers. About 1 out of every 4 or 5 breast cancers are missed by a mammogram and found only when they are felt with the fingers. If you feel a lump in your breast, report it right away to your provider even if you have had a recent mammogram that did not find any cancer.

Discuss any concerns you have with your healthcare provider.

How often should I have a mammogram?

Breast cancer screening guidelines released by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in 2009 recommend a mammogram every 2 years for women 50 to 74 years old. This recommendation is for women of average risk. Not every medical organization agrees with this recommendation and it is being reviewed. The American Cancer Society recommends that women with an average risk should start getting a mammogram at age 40 and then have one every year.Depending on your personal and family history your provider may recommend a different screening schedule. Some women with a high risk of breast cancer may need to start screening earlier than age 40 and may need to be screened more often. If you have a risk for breast cancer that is much higher than average and you are 25 years old or older, ask your healthcare provider when you should start having mammograms and how often you should have them. If you have a very high risk, you may want to see a breast specialist.If you have any questions about when you should start having mammograms and how often to have them, ask your healthcare provider.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

  • Call your provider right away for an appointment if you find any change in your breasts when you do a self-exam, especially if you find a lump.
  • Call your provider during office hours if you have questions about the procedure or its result.

@ Published by RelayHealth.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

What is Asthma and why do you need to treat it?


What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic (long-lasting) lung disease in which the lining of the airways of the lungs is often swollen or inflamed. Asthmatic airways are also unusually sensitive to certain irritants or “triggers.” An asthma trigger can be something your child is allergic to such as pollen, animal dander, or house dust. A trigger can also be an irritant such as tobacco smoke, menthol vapors, cold air, or a cold virus. When the airways react to a trigger, the muscles around the airways tighten and the lining of the airways swells and produces thick mucus. This causes the airway to narrow and makes it harder to breathe. This breathing difficulty is called an asthma attack. An asthma attack can be mild, moderate, or severe. When your child is having an attack, he will usually need to take medicine to relieve the symptoms. If your child has frequent asthma attacks he may need to use medicines every day to better control his asthma.Asthma does not go away when your child is not having symptoms. The airways are still inflamed. Your child needs to have a treatment plan, called an Asthma Action Plan, and close follow-up by a healthcare provider.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of asthma may come and go. Asthma symptoms may include any combination of:

  • repeated coughing, especially at night or the early morning, with exercise, or with viral infections such as colds
  • wheezing (a high pitched whistling sound heard during breathing)
  • trouble breathing
  • new or increased reluctance to participate in vigorous play or activities requiring physical exertion

Other severe symptoms in children are:

  • blue or gray lips or fingernails (Call 911.)
  • flared nostrils when trying to breathe in
  • speaking in short sentences or phrases only
  • sinking of skin or muscles between the ribs or the notch at the base of the throat when breathing in
  • unusual paleness or sweating
  • trouble walking or playing
  • hunching over or struggling to breathe
  • starts coughing and can’t stop.

How long does it last?

Some children may have asthma symptoms for a few years and then grow out of it. Asthma symptoms often improve during the teenage years. For most children, however, asthma remains active all their lives. Asthma attacks last from minutes to days depending upon the trigger. They may be frightening, but are treatable. When medicines are taken as directed, the symptoms can be controlled or completely cleared up.

What type of medicine does my child need?

Quick-relief medicine, or relieversQuick-relief medicines, also called relievers or rescue medicines, quickly open your child’s airways and are used when your child is having an asthma attack. These medicines are called bronchodilators.If your child is having asthma symptoms (wheezing, coughing, trouble breathing), he should take his quick-relief medicine. If you have any doubt about whether or not your child is wheezing, have your child take his quick-relief medicine. The longer he waits to take his medicine, the longer it takes to stop the wheezing. Once treatment with the medicine is begun, keep giving your child the quick-relief medicine according to the dose prescribed by your healthcare provider. (Your child may need to take the quick-relief medicine for several days.) Caution: if the inhaler hasn’t been used in over 7 days or is new, test spray it twice into the air before using it for treatment.Long-term control medicine, or controllersLong-term control medicines, also called controllers, help prevent asthma attacks. These medicines keep the airways in your child’s lungs from getting inflamed and irritated. Inhaled steroids are one type of frequently used controller medicine. They are considered the most effective long-term therapy for patients with chronic asthma. Although some children with asthma may not need a long-term controller medicine in addition to quick-relief medicines during asthma attacks, many do.Children with the following symptoms usually need to take long-term control medicines every day to allow them to participate in normal activities:

  • asthma symptoms on more than 2 days a week
  • needing to use a quick-relief medicine more than 2 days a week (other than to prevent exercise-induced symptoms)
  • 2 or more nighttime attacks a month
  • needing treatment with oral steroids 2 or more times a year
  • asthma triggered by pollens (may need to use a long-term control medicine daily during the pollen season).

How can I take care of my child?

  • Hay fever. For hay fever symptoms, it’s OK to give antihistamines. Poor control of hay fever can make asthma attacks worse. Research has shown that antihistamines don’t make asthma worse and may improve asthma control.
  • Colds. Most children with asthma wheeze when they get coughs and colds. If this is true for your child, give your child his quick-relief asthma medicine at the first sign of any coughing or wheezing. The best “cough medicine” for a person with asthma is an asthma medicine, not a cough syrup. Watch your child carefully when he has a cough or cold and call your healthcare provider for advice if he is not improving after taking asthma medicine or if the symptoms are getting worse.
  • Exercise. Most people with asthma get short attacks of coughing and wheezing when they exercise strenuously. Prolonged vigorous exercise such as long distance running, especially in cold air, is a major trigger. Crying and temper tantrums may also trigger an asthma attack in very young children. If your child has exercise induced asthma, let coaches, teachers, or others who supervise your child’s activities know what to do to help your child. Exercise and other physical activities do not need to be avoided. If your child is recovering from a viral illness, he may need to avoid gym class or sports for a short time. Your child can usually prevent symptoms by using a quick-relief medicine 15 to 30 minutes before exercise. If your child still has a lot of symptoms with exercise even after using a quick relief medicine, talk with his healthcare provider.
  • Going to school. Asthma is not contagious. Your child should go to school if he is having mild asthma symptoms, but should avoid gym or vigorous activity on these days. Arrange to have the asthma medicines, a peak flow meter, and an Asthma Action Plan at school. The Asthma Action Plan should be developed with your healthcare provider and outline what to do if your child has asthma symptoms while at school. If your child can’t go to school because of asthma, take him to your healthcare provider that same day for advice about additional treatment.
  • Common mistakes. The most common mistake is delaying the start of prescribed asthma medicines or not replacing them when they run out. Nonprescription inhalers and medicines are not helpful.

Another serious error is continuing to expose your child to an avoidable cause of asthma. For example, do not keep a cat if your child is allergic to it. Also, do not allow smoking in your home. Tobacco smoke can linger in the air for more than a week.When your child is having an asthma attack, don’t panic. Fear can make trouble breathing worse, so try to remain calm and reassure your child. Finally, try not to let asthma restrict your child’s activities, sports, or social life. If your child’s asthma symptoms are worsening and affecting his lifestyle make an appointment to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. A change or increase in asthma medicines may be necessary to gain better control of your child’s asthma.

How can asthma attacks be prevented?

  • Try to discover and avoid the substances that trigger your child’s asthma attacks. Second-hand tobacco smoke is a common trigger. If someone in your household smokes, your child will have more asthma attacks, take more medicine, and need more emergency room visits.
  • Remove pets from the home or try to keep them outdoors or at least out of your child’s room.
  • Learn how to dust-proof your child’s bedroom. Change the filters on your hot-air heating system or air conditioner at least monthly.
  • For allergies to molds or dust mites, try to keep humidity in the house between 30 and 50%. Use a dehumidifier if necessary.
  • If your child wheezes after contact with grass, weeds, or animals, there may be pollen or animal dander remaining in your child’s hair or on his clothes. Your child should shower, wash his hair, and put on clean clothes.
  • Your child should get the flu vaccine each fall.
  • Keep your child’s Asthma Action Plan, peak flow meter, and medicines handy at all times. This plan is developed with your healthcare provider and outlines what to do when your child has asthma symptoms.

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

Call IMMEDIATELY if your child:

  • has severe wheezing
  • is having trouble breathing
  • has wheezing that has not improved after the second dose of quick-relief asthma medicine
  • has a peak flow rate of 50% or less of the personal best.

Call during office hours if:

  • The wheezing lasts more than 24 hours with treatment.
  • Your child does not have an Asthma Action Plan.
  • You have other questions or concerns.

@ Published by RelayHealth.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

What Pap Test is and why do you need it?

Pap Test

What is a Pap test?

A Pap test is a screening test done during a pelvic exam. It checks for abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. Abnormal cells can develop into cancer if they are not found and treated. Early cervical cancer does not cause any symptoms, so a pelvic exam of the female sex organs and a Pap test are needed to check for it. Cervical cancer is preventable and curable if abnormal cells are found and treated early. Pap tests have reduced deaths from cancer of the cervix in the US by 70% over the past 50 years. The Pap test does not find problems or cancer in other female organs.Pap tests also check for changes in the vagina and cancer of the vagina.The Pap test is also called a Pap smear or cervical smear.

What does it test for?

The Pap test checks for cervical disease. Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), a precancerous change in the cells, can be found with a Pap test. Some abnormal cells may develop into cervical cancer if CIN is not found and treated early. The Pap test can also find cancer early.The Pap test may also detect viral infections of the cervix, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes. It may detect vaginal infections such as yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomonas. Sometimes the Pap test can give information about your hormones, especially progesterone and estrogen.

How often should I have a Pap test?

You should have your first Pap test at age 21. Then you should have a Pap test every 2 years until you are 30 years old. If you are 30 years old or older and have had 3 normal Pap tests in a row, talk to your healthcare provider about having Pap tests every 3 years instead of every 2 years. You may need more frequent Pap tests if you have a higher risk for cervical cancer. Some examples of risk factors for cervical cancer are:

  • You have had an abnormal Pap test.
  • You have a family history of cervical cancer.
  • You or your sexual partner have had an HPV infection or genital warts.
  • You or your sexual partner have a history of many sexual partners.
  • You smoke.
  • Your immune system is not working well because of cancer treatment (chemotherapy), immune-suppressing drugs (for transplants or autoimmune diseases), or an immune-suppressing infection, such as HIV.
  • You have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

If you are over 65 years old, ask your healthcare provider if you can stop having Pap tests.You and your provider can decide what testing schedule is right for you based on your past test results. However, an annual physical exam continues to be important for other health reasons, including early detection of other types of cancer and other illnesses or problems.If you have had a hysterectomy to remove all of the uterus, including the cervix, for reasons other than cancer, you may not need to have Pap tests. If you had a hysterectomy because of cancer or abnormal cells, or if your cervix was not removed, you will need to keep having Pap tests as recommended by your healthcare provider.

How do I prepare for a Pap test?

  • Do not schedule your Pap test during your menstrual period. The best time to schedule the test is 10 to 20 days after you expect to start your period.
  • Do not douche for at least 2 days before the test.
  • Do not use any creams or medicine in your vagina for at least 2 days before the test unless your healthcare provider tells you to do so.
  • Do not have intercourse for 1 or 2 days before the Pap test because it can affect the results.

What happens during the procedure?

A Pap test is not painful. It takes only a few seconds and is done as part of a routine pelvic exam. You lie on your back on the exam table with your knees bent and the heels of your feet in stirrup heel holders. Your healthcare provider puts a speculum into the vagina. The speculum holds open the walls of the vagina so your provider can see the cervix. Your provider uses a small, soft brush and a small, plastic spatula to take a few cells from the cervix. The cells are sent to a lab for testing.

What happens after the procedure?

If the cells look normal, no treatment is necessary.If the Pap test shows that you have an infection, your healthcare provider may treat you for the infection. Your provider may suggest that you have another Pap test in several months.If the cells look abnormal, you may need more tests. Discuss with your provider when you should return for any tests or a follow-up exam.A Pap test is not 100% accurate. You may want to talk to your healthcare provider about the results. There are new methods available now for testing the cells collected by a Pap test, including computer-assisted testing. These new methods have been approved by the FDA and are more accurate. Most healthcare providers use these newer methods.Ask your healthcare provider when you should come back for another Pap test or pelvic exam.

What are the benefits of this procedure?

Pap tests can help detect precancerous and cancerous conditions. If these conditions are discovered, there is a good chance that simple treatment will prevent the development or spread of cancer. Pap tests are also useful for detecting some types of cervical or vaginal infections and hormonal problems.

What are the risks or disadvantages?

The Pap test is a screening test. If abnormal cells are found, your healthcare provider will do more tests to make a diagnosis. Also, sometimes the results may be inaccurate (false positive or false negative) and you may need more tests to check the results. @ Published by RelayHealth.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.