Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a form of mental illness that is marked by extreme shifts in a person’s mood. Those with bipolar disorder experience periods of being overly happy to feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness.

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression.  The word “manic” describes the times when someone feels overly excited and confident, while the word “depressive” describes the times when the person feels very sad or depressed. Most people with bipolar disorder spend more time with depressive symptoms than manic ones.

During their “highs” people with bipolar disorder are often restless, act impulsive, speak in a rapid fashion, have an increased sex drive, and are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Conversely, during “the lows” those with bipolar disorder have trouble concentrating, experience changes in their appetite, require an abundance of sleep or experience insomnia, have difficulty making decisions, and experience thoughts of death or suicide.

In bipolar disorder the dramatic episodes of high and low moods do not follow a set pattern. Someone may feel the same mood state (depressed or manic) several times before switching to the opposite mood. These episodes can happen over a period of weeks, months, and sometimes even years. In between these periods, those with bipolar disorder can feel completely normal.

Signs of bipolar disorder typically first become evident during adolescence or young adulthood, but in rare cases the onset can take place during childhood. It is equally prevalent in men and women and can run in families. There is no single known cause for bipolar disease, but changes in genes, brain development and stress are all considered factors.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder is done by a trained mental health professional during an evaluation that will consist of a question and answer period. After ruling out that bipolar symptoms are not due to another cause, a doctor can outline a treatment plan that takes into account the severity, frequency, and length of symptoms.

The good news is there is treatment for bipolar disorder, but it is a long-term and on-going process that requires regular therapy and usually medication management. Medications prescribed are intended to stabilize the patient’s mood and avoid them from experiencing extreme highs and lows.

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.

Learn The Facts About Epilepsy

Epilepsy also referred to as a “seizure disorder,” is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system. Those with this neurological disorder experience abnormal brain activity, which results in unpredictable and unprovoked seizures as well as other unusual behaviors, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.

Because epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in the brain, seizures can affect any process the brain coordinates. Seizure signs and symptoms may include:

  • Temporary confusion
  • A staring spell
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or déjà vu

A person with epilepsy may experience different symptoms than others with the same disorder. In most cases however, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from episode to episode.

While epilepsy has no identifiable cause, about half the cases can be traced to a variety of different factors, including:

  • Family history
  • Head trauma
  • Stroke
  • Infectious diseases, such as meningitis encephalitis, or AIDS
  • Developmental disorders, including autism

Medications or surgery can control seizures for the majority of people with epilepsy. Some people require lifelong treatment to control seizures, but for others, the seizures eventually go away. Some children with epilepsy may outgrow the condition with age.

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.

Learn The Facts About TMJ Syndrome

The temporomandibular joint acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. When this joint is injured or damaged, it can lead to a localized pain disorder called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.

The main symptom of TMJ syndrome is pain or stiffness in the jaw joint and in the surrounding areas. Other symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Ear pain or ringing of the ears (tinnitus)
  • Shoulder or neck pain
  • Popping or clicking sound coming from the jaw
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Blurred vision, dizziness or vertigo

The exact cause for developing TMJ syndrome is difficult to determine. There are many factors that can contribute to this condition. In some cases, pain may be the result of a jaw injury or another medical condition such as arthritis. In other cases, it can be caused by correctable action such as poor posture or excessive gum chewing. In many cases, TMJ syndrome is the result of habitually clenching or grinding of the teeth.  Stress and anxiety can also play a role in the onset of the condition.

TMJ syndrome can occur on one side of the jaw or both. It is usually a temporary condition and in most cases symptoms can be relieved with self–care and home remedies. Taking anti-inflammatory medications and applying ice or cold compresses to the jaw are suggested ways to relieve pain. Eating soft foods and avoiding chewing gum while pain is present is also recommended.  Additionally, practicing relaxation techniques and self-massage or stretching techniques have proven effective to reduce pain associated with TMJ syndrome. If these practices are not effective, your dentist can have you fitted for a dental splint or mouth guard to maintain proper alignment of the teeth and prevent grinding. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to treat the condition.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated, you can speak to your doctor or dentist about treating the condition.

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 Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne respiratory disease which can spread rapidly when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. It mainly affects the lungs, but other organs such as the kidneys, spine, or brain are sometimes involved.

TB impacts all ages, races, income levels, and both genders. Most TB cases in the U.S. are brought in from foreign countries, but those at risk include people who live or work with others who have TB, including healthcare workers, the homeless, and those in group settings like nursing homes. Those with impaired immune systems like Intravenous drug users, the elderly, and HIV patients are also at risk. For someone with diabetes, the risk of contracting TB is 2-3x more likely.  However, repeated exposure to the germs is usually necessary before a person will become infected.

TB is diagnosed with a TB skin test. Additional tests to determine if a person has TB disease include X-rays and sputum tests.

Stages of TB are:

Exposure — contact or exposure to another person who is thought to have or does have TB. The exposed person will have a negative skin test, a normal chest X-ray, and no signs or symptoms of the disease.

Latent TB infection – diagnosed TB bacteria infection, but no symptoms of the disease. TB organisms can remain dormant in the body throughout life in 90 percent of people who are infected.  This person would have a positive skin test, but a normal chest X-ray.

TB disease — signs and symptoms of an active infection determined by a positive skin test and a positive chest X-ray.

The symptoms of TB may resemble other lung conditions or medical problems. If you would like to make an appointment for a TB skin test, please contact the Ambulatory Care Center at Jamaica Hospital Hospital Medical Center at 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.

Information About Obesity

One of the most prevalent health conditions in the United States today is obesity. Both children and adults are often classified as being obese and this can have very serious health consequences.

There are numerous reasons that a person may be obese. While lack of exercise and poor eating habits are more commonly given as reasons for being obese, genetics and socio-economic factors may also be involved. Typically obesity is related to consuming more calories every day than are being expended.

Obesity is defined as a condition where a person has excess body fat. One of the ways that obesity is measured is by taking a person’s body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by their body weight in kilograms and dividing it by their height in meters squared. If the result is 30 or greater, that person is considered to be obese.

Being obese can have very serious effects on a person’s overall health. Some of the health conditions associated with obesity are:

• Diabetes
• Hypertension
• High Cholesterol
• Stroke
• Osteoarthritis
• Respiratory difficulty
• Sleep apnea
• Heart disease

There are a few ways that a person can prevent themselves from becoming obese.  Since poor eating habits and behavior may be the cause of the problem, modifying these factors will be helpful. A conservative approach to treating obesity involves:

• Change eating habits
• Improve and increase physical activity
• consult with your physician for recommendations
• consult with a certified dietician

If you would like to speak with a physician at Jamaica Hospital to help you better manage your weight, pleas 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.

Understanding Ulcers

A stomach ulcer, sometimes referred to as a gastric ulcer, occurs when the acids in the stomach slowly eat away at the lining of the stomach resulting in sores. They can be very painful in some cases, and at other times some people will have no symptoms at all.

There are two main causes of stomach ulcers. One is taking too many pain relievers over a long period of time. This slowly destroys the mucosa lining found in the stomach. The other main cause of a stomach ulcer is caused by a bacteria called Heliobacter pylori ( H. pylori) . This bacteria increases the amount of acid in the stomach which eats away at the stomach lining. Other causes of stomach ulcers are smoking, alcoholic beverages, stress, and spicy food.

Symptoms of a stomach ulcer include:

  • Burping
  • Feeling bloated
  • Nausea
  • Blood in stool
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Change in appetite

Having an empty stomach may increase the symptoms.

A stomach ulcer may be accompanied by complications. These can include internal bleeding and infection.

Diagnosing a stomach ulcer is done by taking a thorough medical history and then drawing blood, breathing into a special device, and stool samples.

Treating a stomach ulcer depends on what is causing it. If it is a pain medication issue, then you may have to cut back or reduce the dosage. If it is H. pylori related an antibiotic may be prescribed and then medication to reduce the production of excess stomach acids. Some people get relief by taking antacids or medications that protect the lining of the stomach. Reducing stress may help the symptoms as can eating a healthy diet full of fruits, nuts, and whole grains, eating aged cheese, yogurt, and taking probiotics.

If you are experiencing pain in your abdomen, speak to your physician about possible causes. You can also schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center by calling 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.

Understanding Menopause

The life stages of women’s reproductive health begin with puberty (menstruation) and end with menopause. Menopause marks the time when a woman stops having her period and is no longer able to reproduce.  While this stage is a normal part of life it has its challenges as women may experience several, physical and emotional changes.  Here are six simple facts to educate and help prepare you for potential changes ahead.

  1. What is menopause?

Menopause is medically defined as the time in a woman’s life when she has not had her period for 12 months after her last menstrual cycle.  Her ovaries will cease to further produce eggs.

  1. When does it happen?

The average age for women living in the United States to experience menopause is 51 years old. However, in some cases, it can occur as early as a woman’s 30’s or as late has her 60’s. Symptoms can begin to present a few years earlier before the actual onset of menopause. This stage of your reproductive health is referred to as perimenopause.

  1. What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of menopause may vary from person to person; they may include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • A slowed metabolism and weight gain
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Thinning hair
  • Incontinence
  1. How to treat or cope with symptoms?

There are several treatments and lifestyle changes you can apply to help relieve symptoms, some of which are:

  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Strengthening pelvic floor muscles by doing Kegel exercises
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements, as recommended
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking low-dose anti-depressants as prescribed
  1. Can menopause lead to further complications?

Your risk for developing certain health conditions may increase after menopause. Examples of these include osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease

  1. When should I speak to my doctor about menopause?

If you are experiencing unusual pain, other extreme physical or emotional symptoms which affect your quality of life, it is advised that you speak with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may explore treatment options or suggest lifestyle changes.  It is also recommended that you begin the conversation about menopause during perimenopause (early menopause symptoms).  Your doctor can offer guidance on what to expect.

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.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a condition that is characterized by raised, red scaly patches. It is  often found on the scalp, knees and elbows, but can show up on other parts of the body as well of people who have the disease. The exact cause is not known but there is a correlation between genetics and also the body’s immune system. Psoriasis is a condition where the skin cells multiply at a faster rate than normal cells. This causes a buildup up skin lesions and the area of the body also feels warmer because it contains more blood vessels.   

Psoriasis is not contagious so it does not get passed by coming in to contact with a person who has it. It is a condition that affects men and women equally and  it can develop at any age, most commonly between the ages of 15 and 35.

Common signs of psoriasis include:

  • red patches of skin with thick silvery scales
  • cracked and dry skin that may bleed
  • stiff joints that may be swollen
  • itching, burning and soreness
  • nails that are pitted, thick and ridged

There are certain risk factors for developing psoriasis.  This includes stress, smoking, obesity, alcoholism, skin infections, a vitamin D deficiency, and a family history. Psoriasis is diagnosed by examining the skin and making a diagnosis. A dermatologist will be able to determine if it is psoriasis by the amount of thickness and redness it has. There are different types of psoriasis and they are classified by how they show up on the skin.

There are three ways that treatment for psoriasis can be approached. They can be used by themselves or together, depending on the severity. Topical creams and ointments that contain corticosteroids are usually the most commonly prescribed medications for mild to moderate conditions. Light therapy that is either natural or artificial ultraviolet light  can be used and it is directed at the area of the body that is affected. In severe cases, medications that are either injected or taken orally may be required. There are also alternative treatments that are being used and this includes Aloe vera which comes from a plant and   omega-3 fatty acids that comes from fish oils.

Depending on the severity of the disease, it may have an impact on a person’s quality of life. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist at Jamaica Hospital for any type of skin condition, 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.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Eosinophilic esophagitis is a condition where a large number of white blood cells accumulate on the lining of the esophagus as the result of a reaction to certain foods, acid reflux or allergens.

The accumulation of white blood cells can cause irritation and scarring in the esophagus. This eventually can lead to severe narrowing, and the potential obstruction of the esophagus.

What are the symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis?

In adults this can include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Heartburn
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Food getting stuck in esophagus

In children the symptoms can include:

  • Frequent regurgitation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Food getting stuck in the esophagus
  • Weight loss
  • Poor growth

There are several environmental and genetic factors that may put some at risk of eosinophilic esophagitis more than others.  The condition tends to run in families and is more common in males than females. It is seen more frequently in colder climates. There are more diagnoses in the spring and fall due to higher levels of pollen in the air.

How is this condition diagnosed?  A physician will take a complete medical history, and order a test to check the levels of eosinophils in the blood. Doctors may also order an endoscopy to visually inspect the lining of the esophagus or a biopsy of the lining of the esophagus.

Treatment for this condition will require eliminating exposure to whatever is determined as the cause of an allergic reaction.  Doctors may also recommend keeping the head of the bed elevated at night to prevent acid reflux and maintaining a healthy weight.  They may also eliminate certain foods from a patient’s diet. Medications can also be prescribed to help keep symptoms under control.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-6742.

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.

Strep vs. Sore Throat

We all develop a sore throat from time to time. There are many reasons for this. It might be due to a viral infection, an allergic reaction, or hoarseness from overuse.  In some cases, however, a sore throat can be a symptom of strep throat, which is a bacteria that if left untreated can lead to serious complications.

Strep throat is an infection of the throat and tonsils. You can get the infection from someone who is sick with it or is a carrier of it. Like other infections, it spreads from person to person or by touching objects that are contaminated and then touching your own eyes, mouth or nose. Strep throat is most common in children, but anyone can get it.

In addition to a sore throat some other symptoms of strep throat include:

  • A fever of 101 F or higher
  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • White patches in the throat
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Appetite loss
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
  • Rash

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and can administer a test to confirm if you have strep. There are two ways to test:

  • A rapid strep test can identify a case in just a few minutes. The doctor will gently hold down your tongue with a depressor. Then, use a cotton swab to take a little bit of mucous from the back of the throat.
  • A throat culture is performed by rubbing the sample from the throat swab onto a special dish. If you have strep throat, the streptococci bacteria will grow in it. It usually takes about two days to get results from a throat culture.

If you have strep, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria that caused the infection. Most treatments last for about ten days. The medicine can make your symptoms go away faster and help prevent complications. It is important to take the full the dose of antibiotics. Stopping the medicine too early can leave some bacteria alive, which can make you sick again.

Other things you can take to treat the symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen to bring down a fever and ease pain.
  • Throat lozenges or piece of hard candy to soothe a sore throat.
  • Liquids such as tea and broth or something cold such as an ice pop.

The best way to prevent getting strep is to practice good hygiene. Don’t share cups, dishes, forks, or other personal items with someone who’s sick and wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer many times daily.

If untreated, strep can lead to scarlet fever, inflammation of the kidney, and rheumatic fever; a serious inflammatory condition that can affect the heart, joints, nervous system and skin.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you suspect that you or your child has strep throat. If you do not have a doctor, please call Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 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.