Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a large gland located in the upper abdomen, behind our stomachs.  Our pancreas produces enzymes that aid with digestion as well as the release of hormones that regulate blood sugar. If these enzymes are activated while they are still in the pancreas (before they are released into the small intestine) they can lead to inflammation. This inflammation is known as pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis can be acute (lasting for a short time) or chronic (long-lasting). Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation that can result in symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Rapid pulse
  • Vomiting
  • Upper abdominal pain that radiates into the back
  • Tenderness when touching the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain that worsens after eating

Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation that does not improve or heal over time. It can lead to permanent damage and impair an individual’s ability to digest food and make pancreatic hormones.   This damage can lead to symptoms that include:

  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Oily or fatty stools
  • Pale or clay-colored stools
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

There are several factors and conditions believed to increase the risk of pancreatitis.  Risk factors include:

  • Family history of pancreatitis
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Gallstones
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lupus
  • Smoking
  • Injury to the abdomen

Serious complications such as pancreatic cancer, diabetes or kidney failure can develop as a result of pancreatitis. Therefore, if you are experiencing symptoms associated with the disease it is recommended that you see your doctor right away.  Your doctor can order a series of tests and procedures to check for abnormalities of the pancreas. Treatment of pancreatitis varies with each individual and can include pancreatic enzyme supplements, treatment for alcohol dependence, smoking cessation, dietary changes, pain management or surgery.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The Importance of Being Honest With Your Doctor

One of the most important factors in the physician / patient relationship is honesty. Doctors expect their patients to be truthful so they can provide appropriate care, but a 2018 study has revealed that as many as 80% of all patients lie or withhold information from their providers.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), identified many reasons for patients not fully disclosing information to their doctors. The most cited reason was that they did not want to be judged or lectured about their behaviors. This was followed by the lack of desire to hear how bad the behavior was for their health, as well as simply being embarrassed about their health choices.  Other responses included not wanting information in their medical record, not wanting to take up their doctor’s time, and wanting their healthcare provider to like them.

The failure to provide accurate information however is not always the patient’s fault as some reasons relate to poor physician communication. Several patients revealed that they do not always fully understand their doctor’s questions.  Another reason why some patients admitted to not being truthful was to avoid disagreeing with their provider about their recommended treatment plan.

The topics that patients most commonly fail to be 100% honest with their doctor about include their diet, lack of exercise, sexual activity, medication management, and adherence to their treatment plan. The study revealed that some of the patients who were most dishonest to their provider were those in poor health.

This can be a potentially serious problem as patients withholding information from their doctors can prevent them from receiving the right care and can be dangerous to their overall health. According to researchers from this study, “Patients who aren’t forthright with their health information face unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening side effects from regimens their doctors give them.”

While much of the responsibility to be more forthcoming lies with the patient, those in the healthcare industry acknowledge that they can also help the situation. Knowing that there is a high-likelihood that patients might avoid disclosing important information, physicians need to make every attempt to be less judgmental and make every attempt to put their patients at ease.

By building a trusting and honest relationship, doctors and patients can work together so that the best care is provided.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Diverticulitis

If you are experiencing prolonged abdominal pain, it is probably a good idea to be checked out to see what is causing it. This type of pain could be something serious.

Diverticulitis is a disease affecting the intestinal tract, usually the colon. When tiny pouches are formed in the lining of the intestine they are called diverticula and when they become inflamed it is called diverticulitis.

There are several risk factors that can cause diverticulitis to occur. Age and a diet that is high in fat and low in fiber factor since it affects people more frequently who are over the age of 40. Other risk factors include obesity, a history of smoking and not exercising.
Symptoms of diverticulitis include:
• Loss of appetite
• Fever
• Abdominal cramps
• Upset stomach
• Bloating

Diverticulitis can be diagnosed through a CT scan testing the blood and urine and examining the stool for blood.

Treating diverticulitis is dependent on its severity. In mild cases, it may suffice to adopt a bland diet, drink lots of fluids, and to take an antibiotic. Once the condition has healed, adding fiber to the diet will be beneficial to keeping the intestines functioning properly. In more severe cases, surgery may have to be performed.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The Benefits (And Some Warnings) About Using The Internet To Manage Your Health

The internet is a wonderful tool for us to gather information. One of the subjects that many use the internet for is to learn more about their health. Using online searches to increase your understanding about a potential or existing medical condition can be beneficial, but doctors do have warnings about how and when to utilize this technology.

There is no doubt that the internet has changed the physician – patient dynamic. It is estimated that over 90 percent of adults in the United States have access to the internet and approximately 75 percent of them have used it to conduct a search about a health condition within the last year.

For the most part, online searches are being done by patients before they see their doctor to determine if a visit is even necessary.  Some patients are armed with a plethora of knowledge when they arrive for their appointment, and they are asking their physician to confirm rather than diagnose a condition.  In other instances, many patients are using the internet to discuss medication and treatment options with their doctor as well as referrals for specialists.

But how are these internet searches affecting the doctor-patient relationship? If used correctly, doctors usually welcome and embrace their patient’s increased knowledge about their condition. They believe that an educated and engaged patient is better equipped to better manage their condition and make the correct lifestyle choices to improve their health. Most physicians also believe that if their patients come to them having already picked up some information online, they will get more out of the visit based on their increased knowledge of their condition. Lastly, many doctors use the internet as a valuable tool to reinforce what they are advising to those patients who may be otherwise skeptical of a diagnosis or treatment option.

Even with all of its advantages, doctors do warn that using the internet as a medical resource does have its pitfalls. Physicians want patients to understand that health information on the internet is endless and not all of it is accurate.  Relying on incorrect information can cause patients to either worry needlessly over a false self-diagnosis, or worse, fail to seek treatment after incorrectly believing that they do not need medical attention.

The information found on the internet is intended to be supplemental, and not replace seeing your physician. The best recommendation to incorporate information obtained online is to bring it with you to your appointment and review it with your doctor. By collaborating with your provider you can build a better relationship that can ultimately lead to better health outcomes.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center Announces Partnership with LegalHealth to Provide Legal Services to Our Patients

On a daily basis New Yorkers, especially low-income residents, face challenging financial and social issues. These factors can negatively impact their lives in many ways, most notably their physical and mental health. Lack of access to adequate housing, food, or safe and secure employment can impede their ability to seek and receive appropriate healthcare services for themselves and their families.  Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is working to remove these barriers by offering free legal services to its patients.

Every week an attorney from LegalHealth, a division of the New York Legal Assistance Group, comes to Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center to provide legal counsel to hospital patients on issues relating to government benefits, housing, workplace conditions, and immigration and credit problems. LegalHealth also assists patients and families develop advanced planning directives, wills and legal matters affecting families.

It is well established that unmet social needs have a direct correlation with poor health.  Social factors, such as food insecurity have been closely linked to higher risk of chronic conditions. Studies show that those who lose their jobs are 83% more likely to develop stress-related health conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

Jamaica Hospital made the commitment to fund the LegalHealth clinic knowing that addressing these issues will ultimately improve the health of its patients and potentially reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital admissions.  According to Dr. Alan Roth, Chairman of Family Medicine at Jamaica Hospital, “By understanding these social determinants that our patients encounter on a daily basis and providing a resource to have them addressed, Jamaica Hospital and LegalHealth can remove many of the obstacles that prevent our community from improving and maintaining healthier lives.”

LegalHealth is also providing ongoing training to Jamaica Hospital’s providers to equip them with the necessary tools to help them identify any social, financial or other problems patients are experiencing which can be addressed with legal support.

The Legal Health clinic opened at Jamaica Hospital in January 2019 and is on site weekly.

Patients who utilize LegalHealth services are assured of complete confidentiality and services are completely free to Jamaica Hospital patients.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Oh My Aching Feet!

Corns and calluses are caused by pressure or friction on skin, which leads to the formation of thickened skin on the top or side of a toe. Complications from corns and calluses are rarely serious; however, if you are a diabetic they can lead to more serious issues.

Diabetics often have impaired sensitivity and may not be aware of the friction or presence of a corn or callous. Since they are unaware, the corn or callous can progress into ulcers or secondary infections without the person knowing.

In addition, diabetics don’t, usually, heal as quickly as non-diabetics and their infections can become life-threatening.

Indications that you may have a corn or callous:

  • Skin is thick and hardened.
  • Skin may be flaky and dry.
  • Hardened, thick skin areas are found feet or other areas that may be rubbed or pressed.
  • The affected areas can be painful and may bleed.

According to the National Institutes of Health, preventing friction by wearing proper fitting shoes and avoiding walking barefoot are often the only preventative measures you can take.

Regular examination of you feet can help you to identify any problems and, if you receive a foot injury, you should seek immediate medical attention.

If you have diabetes and are experiencing corns/calluses that are painful, red, warm, or there is drainage in the area, you should call your healthcare provider immediately to determine the cause.

To make an appointment with a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine at Jamaica Hospital Medical Centers Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-206-7005 to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

When is it Okay to Request a Second Opinion From Your Doctor?

Receiving news that you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious or rare medical condition can be very overwhelming and scary. While it is important to listen to and follow your doctor’s instructions, it is also appropriate in these situations to seek the advice of other professionals and request a second opinion.

Unfortunately, less than half of the people diagnosed with a serious or life-threatening disease request a second opinion. The most frequent reasons individuals cited for not doing so include: feeling an urgency to seek treatment right away, lack of access to experts or centers of excellence, fear that their insurance carrier would not cover the cost, and concerns about offending their doctor.

In most cases, these reasons are unmerited; in reality, many conditions do not require immediate treatment and most physicians welcome a second opinion. In addition, many insurance providers allow for second opinions and can even help identify local experts that participate in your plan.

So, when is getting a second opinion a good idea? According to WebMD, the following circumstances are appropriate:

  • Where the treatment is very risky or toxic
  • Where the diagnosis is not clear, the treatment is experimental, or there is no established consensus or Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment
  • If you’re considering participating in a trial for a new drug
  • If you’re considering some new experimental approach or a procedure that involves using experimental instruments or devices.

In many cases, second opinions are very beneficial.  In fact, a recent study highlighted their potential value.  Researchers found  that as many as 88% of those who sought a second opinion for a complex medical condition had a new diagnosis that changed their treatment plan, and 21% received a completely different diagnosis.

If you would like to seek a second opinion, but are unsure of how to start the conversation with your doctor, try some of these tips.

  • Tell your doctor you want to be sure that you explore all your treatment options. This may include looking into several surgical and non-surgical interventions.
  • Let your doctor know that you always talk to more than one expert when you need to make an important decision, whether it’s a medical, financial, or personal decision.
  • Explain to your doctor that a second opinion would give you peace of mind that your diagnosis and treatment plan are the best option for you.

Even if a second opinion doesn’t change your diagnosis or treatment plan, you can feel satisfied that you made a well-informed decision.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Hidden Illnesses

Ten percent of people living in the United States have a medical condition that can be characterized as an invisible or hidden disability.

Hidden disabilities may not be visible on the outside or immediately apparent; however, their symptoms can be physically and mentally limiting (impairing individuals from leading a normal life). These limitations are often the result of chronic hidden illnesses such as:

  • Lupus- A chronic autoimmune disease that can cause the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue. Symptoms include damage and swelling of the skin, joints, kidneys, heart and lungs.
  • Cystic fibrosis – A progressive and chronic genetic order that causes persistent lung infections. Symptoms include salty-tasting skin, frequent lung infections, shortness of breath, persistent coughing, greasy or bulky stool.
  • Chronic fatigue- A debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that does not go away with rest. Symptoms include chronic insomnia, frequent headaches, loss of concentration or memory, muscle pain or swollen lymph nodes.
  • Lyme disease – An inflammatory disease caused by bacteria that are transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Symptoms include rashes, severe headaches, inflammation of the brain or spinal cord.
  • Fibromyalgia – A chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread pain in the muscles and bones.  Symptoms include severe pain, fatigue or difficulty concentrating.

Living with a hidden disability or hidden illness can be difficult because those diagnosed are often met with skepticism due to a lack of knowledge.  Another challenge that a person living with this type of illness or disability may encounter is social isolation.

There are a few things that can be done to overcome these challenges such as educating loved ones and others about your disability, inviting loved ones to your medical appointments or joining a support group.

 

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Psoriatic Arthritis

According to the American College of Rheumatology, psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs in some patients with psoriasis (is a chronic skin condition caused by an overactive immune system) and can affect the joints in the body.

It is a chronic disease that may present as mild with occasional flair ups or, in more severe cases, can cause joint damage in fingers and toes, as well as larger joints in the lower extremities, such as knees, back and sacroiliac joints in the pelvis.

The Mayo Clinic describes the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis as:

  • Swollen fingers and toesPsoriatic arthritis can cause a painful, sausage-like swelling of your fingers and toes. You may also develop swelling and deformities in your hands and feet before having significant joint symptoms.
  • Foot pain -Psoriatic arthritis can also cause pain at the points where tendons and ligaments attach to your bones — especially at the back of your heel (Achilles tendinitis) or in the sole of your foot (plantar fasciitis).
  • Lower back pain -Some people develop a condition called spondylitis as a result of psoriatic arthritis. Spondylitis mainly causes inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae of your spine and in the joints between your spine and pelvis (sacroiliitis).

Psoriatic arthritis can go into remission.  When in remission, the symptoms may alternate causing them to subside for a time and then reappearing in the form of painful, swollen joints.

Many people with psoriatic arthritis may first think they have rheumatoid arthritis since both diseases have similar symptoms. The only difference is that psoriatic arthritis is prevalent in patients who have psoriasis of the skin as well.

When seeing your doctor to determine whether or not you may have psoriatic arthritis your doctor may examine your joints for swelling or tenderness, check your fingernails, hands, feet and toes for pitting, flaking or other abnormalities.

Psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed by X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), testing the rheumatoid factor (RF) antibody in your blood or a joint fluid test to see if you have uric acid crystals in your joint fluid.

Since there isn’t a cure for psoriatic arthritis, healthcare professionals are focused on controlling the symptoms and thwarting permanent damage to the joints.

Some medications prescribed to treat psoriatic arthritis include:

  • NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).
  • Disease-modifying ant rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) -These drugs can slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage.
  • Immunosuppressants -These medications act to tame your immune system, which is out of control in psoriatic arthritis.
  • TNF-alpha inhibitors – Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is an inflammatory substance produced by your body. TNF-alpha inhibitors can help reduce pain, morning stiffness, and tender or swollen joints.

Other procedures that have been effective are steroid injections or joint replacement surgery.  Steroid injections reduce inflammation rapidly and joint replacement surgery replaces the severely damaged joint with an artificial prosthesis made of metal and/or plastic.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and would like to speak with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital, call 718-206-7001 to schedule an appointment with a Rheumatology specialist.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Adenovirus Infections

Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that can infect the lining of the eyes, respiratory tract, intestines, urinary tract and nervous system.  Infections often result in common illnesses such as bronchitis, pink eye, diarrhea, sore throat, bladder infections or pneumonia.

Adenoviruses are highly contagious and can be spread when someone who is infected sneezes or coughs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adenoviruses can also spread through close personal contact (touching or shaking hands) or by “touching surfaces with the adenoviruses on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.”  There have been cases in which adenoviruses have spread through stool or through water (for example swimming pools) but occurrences are uncommon.

The places in which adenoviruses are commonly found are daycare centers, summer camps, schools or other areas where large groups of children gather.

Anyone is at risk for contracting adenoviruses, but young children and individuals with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to infection than others.  Symptoms of infection depend on the type of illness a person develops. They may include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Loose stools
  • Pain
  • Chills
  • Burning during urination

It is highly advised that medical attention is sought if symptoms persist for an extended period of time, and immediately received if they are accompanied by trouble breathing, signs of dehydration or swelling around the eyes.

There is no specific treatment for adenovirus infections; however, the risk of transmission can be reduced by taking preventative measures such as hand washing, avoiding contact with your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, staying home when sick, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and avoiding personal contact. The CDC also advises, that you “keep adequate levels of chlorine in swimming pools to prevent outbreaks of conjunctivitis caused by adenoviruses.”

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.