Sickle Cell Awareness Month

September has been designated National Sickle Cell Awareness Month to bring attention to this genetic disease that affects an estimated 100,000 Americans.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited form of anemia – a condition in which red blood cells are unable to carry oxygen throughout the body. For most, red blood cells are round and can move easily through blood vessels, but the red blood cells in people with sickle cell disease are crescent, or half-moon shaped. These irregular shaped cells can get stuck in blood vessels, which can slow or block the flow of oxygen to certain parts of the body.

In addition to being irregular in shape, sickle cells are fragile and break apart easily. Normal red blood cells live an average of four months before they die and need to be replaced. Sickle-shaped cells however only live an average of 20 days. The result of this shortage of blood cells is a loss of energy and general sense of fatigue.
Other symptoms of sickle cell disease include:

• Hand-Foot Syndrome – Often the first sign of sickle cell disease. It is caused by a lack of blood flow to the hands and feet

• Episodes of Pain – Referred to as a “crisis”, these episodes of pain occur when blood flow is blocked to the chest, abdomen, and joints. The frequency and duration of the episodes vary from person to person, but in severe cases, they can result in hospitalization.

• Frequent Infections and Fever– Sickle Cell can cause damage to the spleen, an organ that fights infection, making those with sickle cell at greater risk of developing an infection and an accompanying fever.

• Changes in Skin – People with sickle cell disease can develop a yellow tint to their skin or the whites of their eyes. Skin and nail beds can often become pale.

• Delayed growth – By not receiving enough oxygen rich red blood cells, those with sickle cell disease may also not get the necessary nutrients essential for growth.

The risk of inheriting sickle cell disease is a genetic one. For a baby to be born with it, both parents must carry the sickle cell gene. Doctors can diagnose sickle cell disease before a child is born. Couples who are at risk for passing on this disease to their children may want to talk with a genetic counselor about prenatal testing. The sickle cell gene is more common in families that come from Africa, India, Carribbean islands, and Central and South America.

To determine if you have sickle cell disease, your doctor can order a test to check for hemoglobin S, the defective form of hemoglobin that underlies sickle cell anemia. Further tests can confirm the existence of one gene (carrying the sickle cell trait) or two genes (sickle cell anemia). For those who have sickle cell anemia, treatment is aimed at treating the symptoms and avoiding crisis. Regular check-ups to monitor your red blood cell count are important. Medications are available to reduce pain and prevent complications can be prescribed, and blood transfusions, supplemental oxygen and even bone marrow transplants may also be necessary.

Jamaica Hospital serves a culturally rich and diverse population. Many members of our community are from the parts of the world most often affected by sickle cell disease. In recognition of National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, Jamaica Hospital’s encourages anyone living with sickle cell disease to carefully manage their condition. The hospital also recommends all potential parents to be tested for the sickle cell trait.

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.

National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

According to the Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients (CHAMP), June is recognized by the federal government as National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.

More than 38 million people in the United States experience migraines or some type of tension headache with 2 -3 million of them experiencing chronic migraines.

The exact causes of migraines are unknown.  People with migraine or tension headaches may have a tendency to be affected by certain triggers such as fatigue, bright lights, weather changes and hypertension.

Some symptoms of migraine or tension headaches are:

  • Throbbing pain, numbness, weakness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vertigo
  • Mood changes
  • Neck pain
  • Vision changes

Treatment for migraine or tension headaches depends on the how often or how severe the headache is, the level of disability your headache may cause and contributing medical conditions you may have.

Over the counter medications such as anti-nausea or Ibuprofen may help with more minor episodes, but if you are experiencing multiple headaches per month lasting more than 12 hours, over the counter medications aren’t helping and your migraine symptoms include numbness or weakness, it is best to consult your physician.

If you are experiencing painful migraine or tension headaches, the Ambulatory Care Center at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center has convenient hours and days of operation.  To schedule an appointment, call 718-206-7001.

To learn more about migraines and tension headaches visit – https://migraine.com/migraine-statistics/

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.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

 

Ovarian cancer is one of the most serious cancers affecting women. In the United States, an estimated 22,000 women will be diagnosed every year with this disease and approximately 14,250 will die because of it.  This type of cancer usually affects women who are in their fifties and sixties, and who typically have a family history of the disease. When the disease is detected early, the five year survival rate is approximately 92%.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

• Bloating
• Nausea, indigestion, gas, and constipation
• Abdominal and pelvic pain
• Fatigue
• Backaches
• Frequent Urination with urgency

When a physician suspects ovarian cancer, they will perform certain tests to confirm the diagnosis. The exam will include a blood test for the CA-125 genetic marker, an examination of the abdomen to see if there is tenderness, a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and a biopsy.

There are four main stages of ovarian cancer:

. Stage I – completely confined to one or both ovaries.
. Stage II – Found in one or both ovaries with spread to other pelvic organs (bladder, colon, rectum, uterus).
. Stage III – Cancer is found in one or both ovaries and has spread to the lining of the abdomen and/or the lymph nodes.
. Stage IV – Most advanced stage of the disease with spread to additional organs such as liver and lung.

Treatment options for ovarian cancer include chemotherapy, surgical removal of the affected organ(s), hormone therapy, and radiation. The type of treatment will be determined by the type of ovarian cancer, the age of the patient, and the stage of the disease.

Remember that early detection is important and just may save your life. All women should  see their OB/GYN once a year for a pelvic exam. If you would like to make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Women’s Health Center, please call 718-291-3276.

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.