Lupus: Triggers and Warning Signs

Lupus is a chronic disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s organs and tissues. The exact cause of lupus is unknown; however, it is believed that hormones, genetics, and environmental factors play a role.

Anyone can develop lupus, but some individuals may have a greater risk than others.  Those with a higher risk are:

  • Black people
  • Asian people
  • Hispanic people
  • People assigned female at birth
  • People with a family history of lupus

Symptoms of lupus range from mild to severe, and can include:

  • Joint pain
  • Butterfly rash
  • Mouth sores
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen glands
  • Inflammation in the brain
  • Blood clots
  • Hair loss

People living with lupus often experience periods when their symptoms worsen; this is known as a flare. Flares come and go and are often triggered by anything that causes stress to the body.  Common triggers may include:

  • Emotional stress
  • Pregnancy or giving birth
  • Infections
  • Surgery
  • Physical injuries
  • Viral illnesses
  • Severe exposure to ultraviolet rays
  • Exhaustion (being overworked or not getting enough rest)
  • Certain medications
  • Not taking lupus medications regularly

Lupus flares often have warning signs such as fever, swollen joints, fatigue, and other associated symptoms.  However, flares can also occur without symptoms. This is why individuals diagnosed with lupus must visit their doctor regularly to monitor their health.

The Lupus Center at Jamaica Hospital is staffed by highly trained rheumatologists. For more information about the Lupus Center or to make an appointment, please call (718) 206-9888.

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.

What is Hashimoto’s Disease?

A doctor examining a woman's thyroid gland to check for signs of Hashimoto's disease.Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition that causes your thyroid gland to become enlarged (also known as goiter) and become underactive (also known as hypothyroidism). These symptoms may not appear at first, and in some people they may not develop at all, but they can occur gradually and lead to a variety of other issues, such as fatigue, weight gain, a slowed heart rate, difficulty concentrating, or a low mood.

Approximately 5% of people in the United States experience Hashimoto’s disease. It is one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism worldwide, aside from iodine deficiency. While it can affect people of any age, sex, or ethnic background, it is much more common among people assigned female at birth (AFAB) than people assigned male at birth (AMAB). It is also typically diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50.

A person develops Hashimoto’s disease when their immune system creates antibodies to attack thyroid tissue. This causes thyroid inflammation and damage due to an accumulation of white blood cells in your thyroid. People with other autoimmune conditions, such as lupus, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis, are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease than people who do not experience these conditions.

Your doctor can diagnose Hashimoto’s disease through a physical examination, a review of your medical history, and blood tests. Specific tests that help with this diagnosis include a thyroid-stimulating hormone test (which is typically used to check for hypothyroidism) and an antithyroid antibody test (which looks for certain types of antibodies in your blood to determine whether Hashimoto’s disease is the cause of your hypothyroidism).

Hashimoto’s disease cannot be cured, but in cases where it causes hypothyroidism, it can often be managed through medication. The standard treatment is levothyroxine, which supplements the hormone thyroxine (T4) and ensures that your body has enough of it to function normally. While you would need to take this medication for the rest of your life, it is effective at managing the symptoms of this condition for most people.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease and require a diagnosis or treatment, you can schedule an appointment at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling (718) 670-7001.

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.

Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation in many different parts of the body, including (but not limited to) your joints, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs, as well as other organs.

Lupus is often distinguished by a facial rash that spreads across both cheeks. However, it can still be difficult to diagnose, as it may present a wide variety of symptoms in different people that may resemble other conditions.

Most people with lupus experience mild symptoms broken up by periodic flare-ups, during which their symptoms temporarily worsen. Aside from inflammation, these symptoms may include fever, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, shortness of breath, and fingers and toes that turn white or blue in response to cold or stress.

People with lupus can also experience several complications. The leading cause of death among people with this condition is kidney failure due to damage caused by the disease. However, inflammation of the heart and lungs also increases the risk of additional medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, seizures, and strokes.

The cause of lupus is unknown, but it is most common for women and people of Black, Hispanic, or Asian backgrounds. Although lupus is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45, it can affect people of any age. Lupus (as well as flare-ups of symptoms) can be triggered by sunlight, infections, and certain medications, such as antibiotics, blood pressure medication, and seizure medication.

Lupus is a life-long disease with no cure, but it can be managed with the help of a doctor. Several different types of drugs, including steroids, monoclonal antibodies, and chemotherapy drugs, may be used to help you cope with your symptoms, depending on your specific symptoms. You may also need to avoid certain vaccines, particularly those with live viruses such as the chickenpox or shingles vaccine, as well as make certain adjustments to your diet.

You can receive specialized medical treatment for lupus at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-7001.

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.

Lupus vs. Multiple Sclerosis: What’s the Difference?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects over 200,000 people in the United States, approximately 90% of whom are women. Due to the rare nature of this disease, it is sometimes misdiagnosed in its early stages. One condition it’s often mistaken for is multiple sclerosis (MS), a more common autoimmune condition affecting over one million Americans.

Lupus is primarily associated with chronic joint pain, skin rashes, fevers, and hair loss, as well as neurological issues such as headaches, seizures, strokes, and personality changes. While these symptoms are less common in people with MS, certain issues typically associated with this condition, such as numbness, blurred vision, weakness, and balancing difficulties, can also present with other common lupus symptoms.

Both lupus and MS tend to cause periodic flare-ups of symptoms such as fatigue and pain. Additionally, both conditions can affect the nervous system and lead to a variety of neurological problems. Certain symptoms, however, are more indicative of one disease than the other, and it’s important to look out for them to ensure that your doctor has the information necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.

Many people with lupus experience a rash on their cheeks and nose that can act as a telltale sign of the disease. Knowing whether a person’s numbness, weakness, or other neurological problems are associated with seizures or strokes can also help to determine whether lupus or MS is the more likely cause.

Several diagnostic procedures are also available to confirm the cause of symptoms. An MRI scan of the brain and spinal cord may be used to diagnose either lupus or MS. If this scan doesn’t provide enough information, your doctor may perform a lumbar puncture to check for MS antigens. For lupus, several blood tests and the AVISE Connective Tissue Disease test can check for antibody measures and other signs of the disease.

If you begin to experience symptoms of either of these conditions, it’s important to speak to a doctor as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment with a neurologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center, please call (718) 206-7001.

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.

Anxiety, Fatigue, Heat Intolerance and Other Telltale Signs of Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease, also referred to as Basedow’s disease is an immune system disorder that affects the thyroid gland.

The disease is caused by a malfunction in the body’s immune system that creates antibodies known as thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (TSI); which attach themselves to healthy thyroid cells and mimics the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).   This causes the affected cells to work overtime in overproducing and releasing thyroid hormones.

When the body produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism), it can have a negative impact and lead to symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, weight loss and anxiety. Many of these symptoms can be found in a person diagnosed with Graves’ disease along with the following common signs:

  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Changes or irregularities in menstrual cycles
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Fatigue
  • Bulging eyes (Graves’ ophthalmology)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Thick, red skin (Graves’ dermopathy)

Although it is possible for anyone to develop Graves’ disease, some people are more at risk than others. Factors that could increase the risk of the disease include:

  • Age- Individuals under the age of 40
  • Pregnancy- Pregnancy or recent childbirth in women who are genetically susceptible
  • Smoking- Smokers have an increased  risk of Graves’ ophthalmology because the immune system is compromised
  • Gender- Women are seven to eight times more likely to develop the disease than men
  • Living with other autoimmune disorders- People with diseases such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis  that compromise the immune system are  more  at risk

If you are at risk or experiencing symptoms, an endocrinologist, a physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the body’s hormone- secreting glands can assess your medical history and conduct an examination.  If it is determined that you do have Graves’ disease, your doctor may recommend a course of treatment that is best for you.

There are typically three options for treating patients with Graves’ disease that include: medication, radioiodine therapy or thyroid surgery. The most common approach for treatment is radioiodine therapy.   In addition to treatment, your doctor may also suggest making changes in your lifestyle such as improving your diet.

To schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call, 718 206 7001.

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.

Is Social Media Making Me Fat?

Have you ever wondered why when you see postings of food on social media that are pleasing to your eyes, you immediately begin to desire that food or think, “Gee, I’m hungry?

The human mind is divided into two parts, the conscious and subconscious mind.  The conscious mind works while we are awake, while the subconscious mind is always activated.  The subconscious mind regulates everything in our body, our character, our speech and receives and processes information. The food and beverage postings on social media speak directly to our conscious and subconscious mind.

According to researchers, 70 percent of household meals in America are influenced by digital media.  Pictures of food and beverages show up on news feeds 63 percent of the time.  One popular social media site noted that a widely used food hashtag marked photos of snacks and meals 54 million times on their site alone.

In addition to subliminally causing you to want to eat more food, studies have shown that people who spent two hours or more using a device with LED display, such as a smart phone or tablet, had a corresponding dip in melatonin levels.  Melatonin is the chemical that prepares your body for sleep. When we lose sleep, we can pack on extra pounds because there is a link between sleep loss and weight gain.  If you are awake for longer periods of time, you may be more inclined to reach for a late night snack or bag of chips.

Some steps you can take to curb your hunger and promote good health are:

  • Choose fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
  • Prepare your meals at home and limit dining out and processed on-the-go meals.
  • Try to avoid being distracted by TV, work, driving or surfing on your computer, phone or tablet while eating.
  • Regulate your social media feed, especially if the pictures of food and beverages make your stomach moan.

Obesity is on the rise because many factors, but keep in mind that you are in control and can make healthy choices to live a healthy life. It’s better to eat with your stomach and not with your eyes.

 

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.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup

chickensouppic

 

 

 

When you have a cold or flu, it is best to keep hydrated and drink at least eight glasses of fluid a day.  A great way to keep hydrated, help relieve the symptomscongested nose and sore throat is to eat chicken soup.

Researchers believe that substances in chicken soup can help reduce the inflammation associated with a cold or flu.

If you would like to test the effects of chicken soup on your cold or flu you may want to try

Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe –

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups wide egg noodles

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

12 cups chicken broth

1 ½ tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup cornstarch

¼ cup water

3 cups diced, cooked chicken meat

Directions:

  1. Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add egg noodles and oil, boil for 8 minutes, or until tender.  Drain and rinse under cool running water.
  2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine broth, salt, and poultry seasoning.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in celery and onion.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water together until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Gradually add to soup, stirring constantly.  Stir in noodles and chicken, and heat through.

Serves 12

For this and other easy, delicious recipes you may want to visit www.allrecipies.com.

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.

Arthritis and Exercise

Man Exercising On Stationary Cycle

 

Did you know that if you have arthritis, exercise may benefit your bones, muscles and joints?

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or swim with the intensity of an Olympic competitor.  Low impact exercise can help improve your health and fitness without hurting your joints. These exercises may include raising your arms over head or rolling your shoulders.

In conjunction with a treatment plan, exercise can:

  • Strengthen the muscles around your joints
  • Help you maintain bone strength
  • Give you more energy to get through the day
  • Make it easier to get a good night’s sleep
  • Help you control your weight
  • Improve your balance
  • Enhance your quality of life

Exercises can relieve stiffness and increase your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion.  It is always good to speak with your doctor about fitting exercise into your treatment plan.  The types of exercises that are best for you will depend on your type of arthritis and which joints are affected.

If you have arthritis and would like to explore adding exercise to your treatment plan, you can speak with one of the dozens of trained physicians at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center.  To make an appointment with a physician, call 718-206-7001.

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 Winter Itch

ItchyskinpicSeasonal itchiness is common when the cold, dry winter air takes moisture away from your skin.  The top layer of skin is made up of dead skin cells embedded in a mix of natural oils.  The oils in this skin layer help keep water inside the body and prevent irritants and germs from entering.  The dead cells and skin oils lock some water into the top layer, which keeps the skin soft and smooth. Cold, dry air can damage the top skin layer, allowing water in the skin to escape and cause small cracks that expose underlying cells to irritants and germs. This irritation may cause nerves in the skin to send “itch” signals to the brain.

Weather-related itching may be accompanied by other dry skin symptoms, such as dullness, flakiness, roughness and more visible fine lines. Fortunately, weather-related dry skin isn’t usually serious and is easily treated.

Some products from your local stores can help, such as:

  • Moisturizers: In the winter, the best types of moisturizers to use are the ones that are oil-based rather than water-based. These are thicker and create a protective layer on the skin that will retain moisture in your skin for longer periods of time.
  • Sunscreen: Despite the cold temperatures, you can still get sunburned during the winter, which will make your skin even drier. When you plan to be outside, apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 about 30 minutes before going out.  If you are out for longer periods of time reapply the sunscreen every couple of hours.
  • Gloves: Your hands are one part of your body that is exposed to the cold more often, so protect them whenever you can by wearing warm gloves.
  • Humidifier: Using a humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can help counteract the effects of using heat in your home or office. Place the humidifier in rooms where you spend most of your time to get the best results.
  • Oatmeal: Take an oatmeal bath to soothe the itching. In addition to taking these soothing baths, refrain from taking very hot baths and showers in the winter. Instead use warm water and try not to stay in the bath or the shower for too long.

If the itchiness you are experiencing becomes severe or the skin begins to peel or crack significantly, you may have a skin disorder in addition to the typical dryness that occurs during colder months and should consult your physician.

If you itchy skin has become red and cracked, you may want to make an appointment with the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center.  It is centrally located and has convenient hours.  Call 718-670-XXXXfor 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.

How “Annual” Is Your Annual Physical?

HypertesionThinkstockPhotos-477722758A.  Yearly

B. Bi-Yearly

C. When I don’t feel good

D. I don’t do doctors

 

An annual exam is a good way of tracking your health progress.  Some of the benefits are:

  • Primary prevention
  • To identify risk factors for common chronic diseases
  • To detect disease that has no apparent symptoms (secondary prevention)
  • A way for the doctor to counsel people to promote healthy behavior
  • To update clinical data since your last check-up
  • To enhance the relationship betweenyou and your doctor

If you are interested in scheduling an exam, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center is centrally located and has convenient hours.  Call 718-206-7001 for 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.