Ovarian Cysts

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office Of Women’s Health defines ovarian cysts as fluid-filled sacs in the ovary.  Ovarian cysts are common and usually form during ovulation. Most women will develop cysts at least once in their lifetime.

The two most common types of ovarian cysts are follicle and corpus luteum cysts. Other cysts that are less common include endometriomas, dermoids, and cystadenomas.

Anyone born female is at risk for developing ovarian cysts; however, the risk factor is higher with

  • Previous ovarian cysts
  • Hormonal problems
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe pelvic infections
  • Endometriosis

In most cases, ovarian cysts are symptomless and do not lead to further complications. They typically disappear within a few months without treatment. However, if cysts continue to grow and become enlarged, twisted, or ruptured, symptoms such as pelvic pain, bloating, painful intercourse, and pain in the lower back or thighs can occur.  Cysts can also lead to complications such as infertility.

If you are experiencing symptoms, speak with your doctor.  If cysts are discovered after a thorough examination and testing, your doctor will determine the course of treatment based on the type of cyst and severity.  Medication or surgery may be recommended.

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.

Spina Bifida Awareness Month

Approximately 1,400 babies are born with spina bifida in the United States each year. It can affect every child differently, but typically comes in three main forms: spina bifida occulta, meningocele, and myelomeningocele.

Spina bifida occulta, or “hidden” spina bifida, is the most common form of the condition, affecting up to 15% of the general population. It’s also the mildest form of spina bifida; a gap forms in the spine, but no opening or growth develops in a baby’s back and the spinal cord and nerves are left relatively unaffected.

Another form of spina bifida, meningocele, causes a sac of fluid to develop in a baby’s back, but does not contain any part of the spinal cord and causes little to no nerve damage, leading to only minor disabilities.

The most serious form of this condition, myelomeningocele, typically involves a sac of fluid forming within a gap in a baby’s back which may contain part of the spinal cord and nerves, potentially leading to severe disabilities in a person’s lower body.

Spina bifida is usually diagnosed within the first 28 days of pregnancy through an alpha-fetoprotein test, an ultrasound, or an amniocentesis test, though in certain cases, it may be diagnosed after birth.

Several comorbidities are associated with spina bifida. Approximately 68% of children diagnosed with the condition develop a latex allergy. Additionally, it increases a child’s risk of experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Eighty percent of children with spina bifida also develop hydrocephalus, a condition which causes an abnormal buildup of fluid in the ventricles of the brain.

Due to the symptoms of spina bifida and the various conditions that may accompany it, people with this condition undergo an average of at least eight surgeries by 18 years of age. Many babies will require spinal surgery to prevent further injury and infection, and babies who also develop hydrocephalus will require a ventricular shunt, which may need to be replaced once they reach two years of age as well as several years later.

While there is no cure for spina bifida, surgery can prevent the condition from worsening. Additionally, pre-natal care can help prevent spina bifida from developing. Four hundred micrograms of folic acid are recommended for new mothers every day before and during early pregnancy. Controlling fevers, body heat, and chronic conditions such as diabetes or obesity can also help.

A doctor can help you identify potential risks and create a treatment plan to prevent spina bifida and other congenital conditions at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Women’s Health Center. To schedule an appointment or receive more information, 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.

Jamaica Hospital Welcomes Dr. Ugochi Akoma

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center would like to introduce our community to Dr. Ugochi Akoma, our new Obstetric Gynecologist, specializing in Maternal Fetal Medicine.

Dr Akoma, who grew up in the South Bronx, earned her Bachelor and Doctor of Medicine degrees at Brown University. She returned to her Bronx roots to complete her residency at the Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  After completing her residency training, Dr. Akoma demonstrated her commitment to her caring for her community by dedicating five years of clinical service to treat thousands of underserved pregnant women in the Bronx.

During that time, Dr. Akoma encountered many high-risk patients facing challenges such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and infections in pregnancy. These experiences further inspired her goal to complete a fellowship in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. There she acquired the necessary tools to provide her patients with an expertise in diagnosing and managing high risk pregnancy conditions.  

Dr. Akoma joined Jamaica Hospital earlier this year and her current title is Director of Perinatal Diagnostic Centers- Obstetric Ultrasound, and Director of Quality Improvement in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In addition to her training in the medical and surgical management of high-risk pregnancies, Dr. Akoma also specializes in the management of a broad range of high-risk complex medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia, multifetal pregnancy, cervical insufficiency, preterm birth, and placental previa.

 Dr Akoma is a first generation American who understands the health disparities many women in our community face due to reduced access to safe housing, healthy foods, education, and quality health care. Dr. Akoma recounts, “After attending the best Ivy League undergraduate and medical schools, and residency programs, and having been a witness to seeing the vast health inequities in my community, I made a personal commitment to come back home and work towards the goal of reducing maternal morbidity and mortality and adverse outcomes.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Akoma, please call Jamaica Hospital’s Women’s Health Center at 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.

Birth Defects

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Birth defects are defined as conditions that are present when a baby is born and can affect nearly every part of the body.  Conditions such as cleft lip can be easily diagnosed.  Other conditions such as deafness or heart defects may only be discovered after diagnostic testing.

The largest number of birth defects occurs during the first three months of gestation. In the U.S. approximately 120,000 babies are born with birth defects each year.

The 10 most common birth defects in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are:

  • Down syndrome
  • Cleft lip (with or without cleft palate)
  • Atrioventricular septal defect (hole in the heart)
  • Absence or malformation of the rectum and/or large intestine
  • Gastroschisis (hole in the abdominal wall)
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (a combination of heart defects)
  • Spina bifida without anencephaly
  • Reduction deformity, upper limbs
  • Reversal of the heart’s two main arteries

Although birth defects can’t always be prevented, there are plenty of steps pregnant women can take to help reduce the risk.

The womenshealth.gov website offers these suggestions:

  • Make regular visits to your doctor throughout pregnancy
  • Get 400mcg of folic acid each day through diet or supplements
  • Don’t smoke, use illegal drugs or drink alcohol while you are pregnant
  • Always check with your doctor before taking any medication
  • Get all vaccinations recommended by your doctor
  • If you have diabetes, keep it under control
  • Stick to a healthy weight

You may also request a pre-pregnancy or early pregnancy screening test in order to spot potential or real birth defects.  The types of tests include a carrier test to see if you or your partner carries potentially harmful genes, as well as screening and diagnostic tests that can determine risks for and detect genetic disorders.

If you are pregnant, or planning to be, and want to discuss your options with one of our doctors, the Women’s Health Center at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is centrally located and has convenient hours; to make an appointment 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.

Jamaica Hospital Offers A Virtual Prenatal Experience For Women

Being pregnant can be very challenging, and even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the issues that a growing number of pregnant women are encountering at this time is loneliness.

Studies show that over 50% of expecting mothers admit to feeling extremely lonely and isolated because they are spending more time at home, and away from others.  These factors are believed to be contributors to a rise in prenatal depression.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center hopes to provide a solution to this problem by offering pregnant women a safe place where they feel supported. By moving its CenteringPregnancy program to a virtual space, patients of the hospital can receive prenatal care and actively engage with a community of healthcare providers and fellow moms on Zoom.

In the CenteringPregnancy program at Jamaica Hospital, patients with similar due dates are invited to participate in group sessions facilitated by doctors or midwives.  Participants meet every two or four weeks (depending on gestational age) and interact with nutritionists, lactation consultants and other healthcare providers.  A variety of topics including mental health, breastfeeding and labor preparation are discussed. Special guest speakers from organizations such as Safe Sleep and Queens Healthy Start are also invited to share information and connect moms to helpful resources.

Before their first group session, patients attend an in-person orientation where they are given a Centering prenatal kit. This consists of a scale, blood pressure monitor, fetal Doppler, books and other materials, all of which are needed to participate in the program.  Participants are trained on how to use each item to monitor their baby’s development and record vital health information.  Patients report this information to their providers in a private session before the start of every group meeting.

While engagement and group discussions are encouraged among participants, there are 1-on-1, break-away sessions during each meeting. Here, mothers can speak privately with facilitators about any concerns or questions they may have. If a patient’s needs cannot be addressed via Zoom, an appointment will be scheduled to see their doctor at the Women’s Health Center where strict COVID-19 safety protocols are followed.

Jamaica Hospital’s virtual CenteringPregnancy program has been highly successful. The program has earned recognition from leading institutions and is used to demonstrate the benefits of virtual prenatal care to other medical facilities.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the pregnancy experience for a lot of women, and we are constantly thinking of ways to make it as positive as we can,” said Patricia Fox, Certified Midwife.  “Our team has established this unique, virtual platform so that we can provide our patients with a healthcare service that is convenient, safe and supportive. We understand how important these things are during these unprecedented times,” shared Thalita Viruet, Practice Manager for the Women’s Health Center.

To learn more about Centering at Jamaica Hospital, please call our Women’s Health Department at 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.

How to Prevent Dehydration During the Summer Heat

With the summer and warmer weather upon us causing more and more people to begin to participate in outdoor activities. Before you begin, make sure you drink plenty of water in order to avoid dehydration. Here are some tips to help you stay hydrated:

  • The rule that you need to drink eight glasses of water per day is a myth. The Institute of Medicine recommends women should receive 2.2 liters of fluid intake per day and men should get three liters. Keep in mind that fluid intake can come from beverages other than water.
  • While thirst is your body’s way of preventing dehydration, being thirsty doesn’t mean that you are dehydrated. Thirst is our brain’s way of telling us to drink more to avoid dehydration.
  • The color of your urine is a good, real-time indicator of dehydration, but the misconception is that urine should be clear. In truth, urine should be a pale-yellow color.
  • Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or tea will not dehydrate you if consumed in moderate amounts. Caffeine is considered a mild diuretic, the amount of water in it offsets the amount of fluid it will cause you to lose through increased urination.
  • Drinking isn’t the only way of increasing your water intake. It is estimated that we get up to 20% of our daily water intake from the foods we eat. Fruits and vegetables contain the most, with cucumbers, celery, and watermelon having the highest concentration of water.
  • There is also such a thing as drinking too much water and becoming overhydrated. This can be very dangerous and can lead to a condition called hyponatremia. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, and fatigue. To avoid this problem, do not drink to the point that you are full from water alone.

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.

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.

PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that occurs in women of reproductive age. It affects 1 in every 10 women living in the United States.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown; however, several factors are believed to contribute to the disorder. Factors that may play a role in the development of PCOS are genetics, low-grade inflammation or producing excessive amounts of androgens (male hormones) or insulin.

Those affected by PCOS often develop hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems, which can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Acne
  • Hirsutism ( Excessive hair on the face or in areas where only men normally have hair)
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Thinning hair (Male pattern baldness)
  • Skin tags
  • Darkening of skin (Especially in areas such as the groin, underneath the breast and neck creases)

PCOS is linked to other health problems.  Women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome are at risk of complications such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage or premature birth
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Depression and anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea

There is no single test used to diagnose PCOS.  Your doctor may take into consideration your medical history and recommend blood tests, pelvic examinations or ultrasounds to rule out other causes for symptoms.

Treatment for PCOS is focused on managing complications.  Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medication or cosmetic procedures to improve symptoms.

To schedule an appointment with a doctor 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 The “Stress Hormone” Cortisol Causing You To Gain Weight?

Obesity is one of the biggest health problems in the world.  It can be a contributing factor in other diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and dementia. Overeating is often cited as the only reason people are obese. In discussions about weight gain and obesity, many people seem to think that it is purely a function of willpower.

Since what we weigh is, normally, attributed to what we eat we must ask the question:

Is over-eating the only reason a person becomes overweight?

Human behavior is driven by various biological factors like genetics, hormones, stress and neural circuits.  Eating behavior, just like sleeping behavior, is driven by biological processes. Therefore, saying that behavior is a function of willpower is way too simplistic.

Studies have shown that when we are stressed or during tension filled times our body increases its production of the “stress hormone” Cortisol. The increase in Cortisol may be the culprit causing you to overeat.

According to http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/stress-weight-gain#,increased levels of the stress hormone  cortisol causes higher insulin levels which then cause your blood sugar to drop making you crave sugary, fatty foods. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite.

Here are some additional factors thought to be the leading causes of weight gain, obesity and metabolic disease that have nothing to do with willpower:

  • Genetics – Obesity has a strong genetic component. Offspring’s of obese parents are much more likely to become obese than offspring’s of lean parents.
  • Insulin – Insulin is a very important hormone that regulates energy storage, among other things. One of the functions of insulin is to tell fat cells to store fat and to hold on to the fat they already carry.  When insulin levels elevate, energy is selectively stored in fat cells instead of being available for use.
  • Medications – Certain medications can cause weight gain as a side effect. Some examples include diabetes medication, antidepressants and antipsychotics. These medications don’t cause a “willpower deficiency,” they alter the function of the body and brain, making it selectively store fat instead of burning it.
  • Leptin –This hormone is produced by the fat cells and is supposed to send signals to the hypothalamus (the part of our brain that controls food intake) that we are full and need to stop eating. The problem for some is their leptin isn’t working as it should because the brain becomes resistant to it.  This is called leptin resistance and is believed to be a leading factor in the pathogenesis of obesity.
  • Thyroid Disease – Thyroid hormone regulates our metabolism. Too little hormone slows the metabolism and often causes weight gain.
  • Cushing syndromeOccurs when your body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol for a long time. Cushing syndrome, sometimes called hypercortisolism, may be caused by the use of oral corticosteroid medication. The condition can also occur when your body makes too much cortisol on its own.

A doctor can determine if any of these conditions or treatments is responsible for your obesity.  If you would like to see a physician, please contact the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center to schedule an appointment. 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.