Princeton's Ask The Doctor July/August 2019
Ask The Doctor is Central NJ’s only magazine that only contains editorial regarding health and wellness.
The Greater Princeton Area Ask The DOCTOR The Health &Wellness Magazine For You And Your Family SUMMER ISSUE JULY/AUGUST 2019
Local Physicians Answer Your Health Questions
NEWS YOU CAN USE:
• Kids’ Health • Beauty • Eating Well • Fitness • Aging • ...and more : i ’ l i ll i i ...
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Vol.2 No. 6
Have Your Healthiest Summer Ever With UOA Summer is here and a great time to get outside. But if you have experienced or are recovering from an injury, you may not be as physically active as you’d like. From complex conditions requiring immediate care to dealing with a chronic musculoskeletal condition, University Orthopaedic Associates (UOA) can help. UOA, New Jersey's leading orthopaedic practice, is dedicated to providing the most current, highest quality, personalized healthcare services available. The group is committed to the pursuit of excellence in orthopaedic treatment, medical education and training, clinical and bench research and the promotion of community health. We have 20 fellowship-trained physicians on staff, with a superior mid-level support team. This allows us to provide expert care for all aspects of orthopaedics, including sports medicine, joint replacement, hand and upper extremity surgery, foot and ankle surgery, spine surgery, fracture care, trauma surgery, pain management, physical and occupational therapy and sports perfor- mance and wellness. No matter where you’re located in Central or Southern New Jersey, you have a convenient UOA location nearby. To get you the appointment you need at the time and location you prefer, we have offices in Princeton, Iselin, Somerset, Wall and Woodbridge. Although our physicians collectively have tens of thousands of hours in the operating room, UOA’s doctors utilize conservative measures before considering surgery. We specialize in the treatment of the most complex conditions, employing the latest tech- nologies to achieve successful outcomes.
For maximum convenience, our facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art imaging equip- ment for quick diagnosis. We have some of the best physical therapists in the region on staff as well, so UOA takes care of you from initial consultation to diagnosis to treatment and recovery and beyond. Don’t let injuries and health conditions ruin your summer. Call 609-751-5729 or visit us at UOANJ.com to make an appointment today.
Drs. Segal, Shriver, Rho, Meirowitz, Osias and Bellows provide patients with timely, compassionate, high quality care for their digestive ailments. If you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our physicians, call us at 609-924-1422 Princeton Endoscopy Center provides services (colonoscopy, upper endoscopy) that can detect early signs of colorectal cancer and can help doctors diagnose unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain and bleeding and weight loss. Our goal is to
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What Is NAET? I
Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques, or NAET, was developed in 1983 by Dr. Devi S. Nambudripad, who suffered from a number of allergies throughout her life. She believes that “95 percent of human ailments arise from some sort of allergy,” which is defined as a sensitivity to an allergen that causes energy blockages and imbalances. Her years of research led her to formulate a hypothesis that says reactions to an allergen can be reduced or even eliminated by relieving energy blockages and “reprogramming” how the central nervous system processes that allergen. NAET combines a number of drug-free, non-invasive techniques for diagnosis and treatment, including chiropractic manipulation, kinesiology, acupressure, acupuncture and nutrition. HOW DOES NAET WORK? NAET uses a special muscle response technique to test how the body responds to an allergen and determine if a sensitivity exists and where the energy blockage is located. The treatment is performed while the patient remains in contact with the allergen. This makes it possible to reprogram how the brain responds to that allergen. The patient must then avoid exposure to the allergen for at least 25 hours. Dozens of imbalances and sensitivities to substances can be diagnosed and treated with NAET. Only one allergen can be treated at a time, although several similar allergens can sometimes be combined into a single treatment. For example, you might be able to combine treatment for environmental allergies involving pollen, ragweed and grass. It all depends on the individual patient and the level of sensitivity. YOU DON’T HAVE TO ACCEPT ALLERGIES AS PERMANENT If food, environmental or chemical allergies are affecting your quality of life, I’d be happy to discuss NAET with you in greater detail. While no treatment for allergies, sensitivities or any other health condition is completely guaranteed, I have successfully treated hundreds of patients with NAET at In Good Hands Chiropractic Center. In many cases, patients experienced some relief after just one visit. NAET is just one more way I can help you restore balance and stimulate healing without medication. Contact me today to schedule an appointment. Allison J. Scharf, DC
IN GOOD HANDS CHIROPRACTIC CENTER, LLC • 609-924-9331 330 N. Harrison Street, Suite 6 • Princeton, NJ 08540
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Morris Hall Meadows Option four (4) is “ IntraVenous (IV) Sedation”. With this technique an intravenous line is placed into a blood vessel thus having a direct line for the medication. For this procedure I have a Dental Anesthesiologist in my office, as constant monitoring of vitals is critically important. With this method of sedation, a patient can sleep through all of the care that’s being performed and wake up with no memory of any discomfort or time reference of the procedure. All patients must have an escort to accompany them home as they lack the cognitive capacity to drive. Patient comfort during a dental procedure is, as stated earlier, a very important factor during the appointment. Time must be taken to discuss which option is right for you. If you have any questions regarding Dental Sedation, feel free to call me at my office. David P. Young, DMD, DICOI or “halcion” allows patients t ach eve a slightly deeper level of comfort and relaxation that can last for a few hours. When this technique is utilized, the patient must be escorted home after the procedure as their driving ability is impaired. The specific dosage is case specific. It is not uncommon for patients to nap after the conclusion of the dental procedure.
St. Mary’s Assisted Living Option one (1) is a “Local Anesthetic”. This involves the administering of an injection containing a solution that will “numb” the treatment sight. The duration of this technique is anywhere from 1-3+ hours depending upon the quantity and specific solution used. The advantage of this technique is its quick onset as well as dissipating in a short period of time. The patient has no problem with driving after a procedure and can easily return to work or school. Grace Garden Memory Care Assisted Living St. Joseph’s Skilled Nursing The comfort of any patient is critically important during any dental procedure. How this is achieved is tailored to the pain threshold and anxiety level of the individual. In my office patients have the option of four (4) possible sedation methods. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and they will be discussed.
Located in Lawrenceville, NJ For more information, please visit us at www.morrishall.org or contact us at email@example.com or 609.895.1937 Option two (2) is “Nitrous Oxide”. The use of this gas allows a patient to experience a sense of relaxati n and is able to achieve a higher pain tolerance. As long as a patient does not experience any breathing issues (or sinus issues) most patients can usually tolerate this well with much suc ess. The effects of the nitrous oxide also wears off relatively quickly at the conclusion of the procedure. Depending upon the specific dental procedure being performed, it is possible for the mask to interfere with the site of treatmentOption three (3) is “Oral Sedation”. Administering oral medication such as “valium”
4432 Route 27, CN-201, Kingston, NJ 08528 Phone: 609.497.0808 www.David YoungDMD.com
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OUR DEPARTMENTS Health Articles and Q&A Pages ............................ 8 Your questions answered from local physicians, medical news and information Men’s Health ..........................................................16 Expert tips for Men’s health and fitness As We Age ..............................................................19 Articles and physician information just for seniors Kids’ Health & Camp ............................................ 26 Information, news and expert advice to raising healthy children from pregnancy to 18 Healthy Home ....................................................... 32 Here you will find expert tips to make your home healthier, safe and fabulous The Healthy Palate ...............................................43 Recipes to enjoy and local dining options for eating out Healthy Mind & Soul ............................................48 Inspirational stories and advice on achieving mental balance and clarity Financial Health .................................................. 52 Information, resources and news related to the health and well-being of your financial future Diet & Fitness ........................................................ 58
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Grav i ola Fru i t Can It Cure Cancer?
A recent study in South Korea finds that Graviola Fruit is up to 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy at stopping the spread of cancerous cells. This fruit is not new. In 1997 a study was published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry found that it was more than 200 times as effective as chemotherapy when tested on breast cancer cells. Another study in 2015 published in the Univer- sal Medicina also found that the leaves, fruit and seeds of this plant were shown to inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells. Graviola also showed anticancer effects in lab studies but the human data are lacking. Extracts of Graviola have been shown to be effective against a number of viruses, bacteria, and parasites in test tubes. Labora- tory studies have also shown Graviola to be effective against some types of cancer cells. It contains chemicals called acetogenins, which are
thought to be the active ingredient. However, substances derived fromGraviola damaged nerve cells and caused neurological side effects similar to Parkinson’s disease in laboratory and animal experiments. In addition, some animal studies suggest long-term use may increase the risk of other neurological diseases. Graviola may also affect nuclear imaging because it has been shown to decrease the uptake of radiopharmaceuticals used in such procedures. If you are taking blood pressure medications or if you are taking diabetic medications, you should not eat or take Graviola in any form.
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Goat Yoga 101 By Pam Tee l
H E A L T H A R T I C L E S A N D Q & A Goat yoga was started in 2016 by Lainey Morse, an Oregon farm owner who was already orga- nizing a “goat happy hour,” an event where people spent time with her goats. When Lainey’s yoga instructor asked if she would like to throw some yoga into the happy-hour mix, a wonderful idea was born and the caprine vinyasa yoga classes turned out to be a hit. According to Lainey, goats are the ideal therapy animals. Unlike other animals that relieve stress in humans, goats don’t need to develop a special bond with a person before they start fully interacting with them. Both baby and adult goats will come right up to you asking to be pet, even if you’re a stranger who just walked into their barn. The trend is growing far beyond Oregon now, and yoga with baby goats is available in many locations. According to Morse’s website, goat yoga is a form of animal-assisted therapy. In stud- ies, interacting with therapy animals has been shown to boost feel-good neurotransmitters and lower cortisol levels. In a yoga class, the goats are left free to interact with yoga students, which essentially serve as a happy distraction that allows you to take your mind off whatever is stress- ing you out. The goats are also just really cute, cuddly, and won’t bite or head-butt you — but they may nibble and poop. Have you heard about the latest fad that has been taken Instagram and the world by storm? You’re hearing it right Baby, goat yoga, also known as caprine vinyasa. A caprine vinyasa session is meant to be a relaxed form of yoga, consisting of various asanas (poses) primarily at beginner level and intended to be open to yogis of every skill level but with a twist. Goats get to intermin- gle with you as you do your yoga stretches but the goat kids are likely to make the class more challenging than normal by climbing on you while you’re trying to keep a pose. With tremen- dous energy and playfulness, but also a short attention span, the baby goats will attempt to break your concentration and get you to play with them instead. In spite of all their cuddly cuteness, you are supposed to carry on with your class while doing your best to also accommodate the little guys. Trying to concentrate on your yoga moves can be a little tough with a goat on your back, but you can view it as a fun way to interact with another life force. It’s pretty hard to take yourself or life too seriously when there are baby goats involved, so it’s a great way to break from your normal mindset and relieve stress.
Actress, Lisa Rhinna, of the real housewives of Beverly Hills gave it a try after following it on Instagram. She and her daughters went to a goat yoga class as a way to spend more time together. As they moved through yoga poses, the goats gently climb on top of their backs and underneath their legs. Promoting it over the airwaves seemed to have given the fad more steam as more people wanted to seek out the experience. Although goat yoga has taken off on Instagram and reality TV, Morse said that "the focus of this class is not just to take pictures for Instagram," the goal is to combine nature, goats, and yoga to de-stress. If anyone from this area wants to combine their yoga with feeling, one with a goat, Goat Yoga classes are being held at Knowhere Farm, 537 Arneytown- Chesterfield Rd., Chesterfield, NJ, 08515, the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month from 10AM to 11:30AM. Classes are held with lead instructor, Allison, from Zephyr Yoga, rain or shine, on the front lawn or in the barn. Bring Friends! Knowhere Farm can also host your Group Events- Available by Request. Cami Gunther, owner of the Millstone Times and Gunther Publishing Inc., decided to try goat yoga herself along with 22 friends and family members. She loved the beautiful environment of the farm, seeing the other farm animal, listening to the roosters in the back- ground and the peaceful feeling of tranquility. She interacted with a very friendly and pregnant goat named Cincinnati. They put goat food on the mat and on her back to encourage the goats to come closer as the yoga instructor taught class as she normally would. The baby goats have free rein to come and interact with you in your practice. Two of the goats, “Spanky and Pippin are trained to jump on people during key yoga poses such as plank, down dog, upward dog, child's pose, boat pose, bridge, and wheel. Cami and her entourage enjoyed their experience interacting with the goats. It’s not every day you get to have an experience like that. Do you think this is something for you? Would you like to meet Spanky and Pippin? You can call Mary at (609 386 6168) or David at (609 351 0276) for more information. https:knowherefarm.com or visit them on Facebook. Visits to the farmstead are welcomed by appointment... You'll come upon mama and baby goats, cage-free-egg-laying chickens, cows, a vegetable garden, a comfy guest cottage, and lots of love on our farmstead here in the middle of Knowhere. This is a busy working farm and our home, so please do make an appointment before visiting. Other services offered- cow cuddling, party hosting, goat milk soap and other accessories sold. Hours (Seasonal): Tuesday - Friday: By appointment • Saturday: Special Events or by appointment • Sunday -Monday: Closed
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Skin safety at the beach By Lauren Kowlacki If you’ve been to the Jersey Shore, you probably know that sun isn’t hard to come by! Even if you’re not trying to get a tan, you’ll most likely end up with a freckled nose by the time you leave. The reason for this is because water, and especially salt water, attracts the sun. Also depending on where you’re beaching, the sand might attract rays as well. It’s important to protect your skin from unhealthy UV radi- ation at all times, but especially when you’re on the sand. It is always important to keep your skin covered. Sunscreen is the most important thing you can use on your skin daily. Not only is sun damage extremely bad for your skin’s overall health, but it also increases the chances of fine lines and wrinkles. Sunscreen also has the benefit of protecting your skin from other environmental stressors such as pollution and free rad- icals that we are all exposed to everyday. This is because sun- screen is packed with antioxidants, and in result protect from more than just sun. Look for sunscreen that has an easy application, sheer visi- bility and lightweight and aim for 50+. 50+ may seem pretty high, but the more the better to protect your beautiful skin! You can also try a tinted sun protection. Not only is it the per- fect primer or base, it also evens out your skin tone creating a flawless look. Don’t forget your lips! If you’ve ever had sunburnt lips you know that it is nothing short of a nightmare. Look for a lip sunscreen that doesn’t get sticky and conditions your lips as well while it protects the sun. Lip protector is also great to have with you at all times, not just not on the beach.
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Q: LEADERS IN LEAST INVASIVE PAIN & SPINE PROCEDURES How can Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment Help Shoulder and Knee Pain?
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy also referred to as PRP Therapy, is a progressive non-surgical treatment to treat a variety of conditions including arthritis, ten- don injuries, and ligament injuries. PRP is part of a group of state-of-the-art treatments collectively referred to as Regenerative Medicine. PRP treats an injured area naturally using your body’s own growth factors to accelerate healing. It has been shown to be safe and effec- tive for numerous joint and soft tissue injuries. It has been extensively researched in numerous medical journals and publications all over the world. Some of the many uses of Platelet Rich Plasma include osteoarthritis (degenera- tive arthritis) of the spine, knee, shoulder, hip, hands, and feet, as well as menis- cus tears, plantar fasciitis, and rotator cuff tears. The procedure is simple and is performed in the office. The PRP process begins when a small amount of the patient’s blood is removed from the arm and placed into a special container. The blood is then placed into a device called a centri- fuge which spins the blood to help the separate the portion of the blood which becomes concentrated with platelets, thereby giving the procedure its name. These platelets are important because they release growth factors to recruit stem cells and to assist in healing an injured area naturally. Once the PRP is isolated, it is injected to the injured area under the guidance of an ultrasound machine to help accelerate healing and reduce pain.
This healing works on the simple principle that your body is perfectly capable of healing itself. Your blood contains all the essential components that the body produces to repair tissue damage. Each time you have an injury, the platelets in your blood along with growth factors, stem cells, cytokines, and other elements create a scaffolding on the site. The damaged tissues use this framework to regenerate and repair. The entire process takes approximately one hour, and pa- tients are sent home the same day. Patients on average report more than 50% improvement in 6 weeks and up to 100% improvement in 12 weeks. This may eliminate the need for more aggressive and expensive treatment options such as long-term medication or surgery. In a recent study, researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery gave patients with early osteoarthritis an injection of PRP and then monitored them for one year. After one year of the PRP injection, physicians evaluated the knee cartilage with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). While previous studies have shown that patients with osteoarthritis can lose roughly five percent of knee cartilage per year, the Hospital for Special Surgery investigators found that a large majority of patients in their study had no further cartilage loss. At minimum PRP also prevented further knee deterioration.
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7 Summertime Health Risks You May Not Know About By Orlando F. Mills, MD, MPH When the weather is warm and the skies are blue, road trips and outdoor fun are almost always on the agenda. But health risks abound—especially during the summer. Here are a few uncommon ways that a fun time can be interrupted by a medical issue. 1. High-Altitude Sickness – Hiking is a popular pastime during the warmer months. While New Jersey’s mountains aren’t high enough to spark an unpleasant reaction to the altitude, many popular hiking destinations, like the Rocky Mountains, are. You may begin to feel the effects of decreased oxygen in the atmosphere at altitudes over 5,000 feet above sea level, with the condi- tion most commonly felt by those in altitudes of 8,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level. Symptoms include dizziness, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, and, in extreme cases, facial or leg swelling or congestive heart failure. Preventive care can help prevent the effects of decreased oxygen. If you’re planning a trip to a mountainous area, ask your doctor to prescribe Diamox, a diuretic and carbonic anhydrase inhibitor that can prevent illness. The medication works best when taken one day before travel and several days after. If you experience altitude sickness, try to rest while your body becomes more accustomed to the altitude. If symptoms persist, particularly if you have other chronic medical conditions, seek medical attention. 2. Swimming Solo – While taking a dip in the ocean after the beach has cleared out and the lifeguards have packed up may sound heavenly, it’s risky to swim alone. Even mild to moderate rip currents can pull you out to sea. To stay out of harm’s way, only swim at the beach when a lifeguard is on duty. The chance of drowning at a beach while a lifeguard is working is 1 in 18 million, according to the U.S. Lifesaving Association. Additionally, learn how to spot a rip current and check water conditions before going in. And, the old adage is true: eating a heavy meal before swimming can cause painful stomach cramps, so plan accordingly. 3. Beach Chair Bruises – That brightly colored cooler chair may be comfortable, but if you’re not careful, you may injury your fingers. Be sure to read the chair’s operating instructions before using and take care to keep your fingers and hands away from the hinges when opening or closing the chair. Also, be sure to place your chair on even ground to prevent a tumble. 4. Road Trip Tightness – Summer traffic can be brutal. If you’re planning a lengthy road trip, be sure to take a break everyone and a half to two hours to stretch your back, move your legs and hips, and refocus your mind. You also may want to invest in a lumbar support pillow or back roll for the car to relieve pressure on the disks in your spine. 5. Eye Illnesses – You know that it’s important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays but it’s equally important to protect your eyes. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause melanoma of the eye, a form of cancer. It’s important to protect your eyes, especially on sunny days when the sun’s light can reflect off the sand, magnifying its impact. Protect your retinas by wearing sunglasses and a hat and staying under an umbrella when possible. 6. Menacing Mice – You’ve probably heard that ticks transmit Lyme disease after contracting the Lyme bacteria from deer, but did you know that the white-footed mouse also is a source? Knowing the symptoms of Lyme disease is important, especial- ly in this part of the state. In fact, in 2017, Monmouth County ranked second in the state in number of new cases of Lyme disease reported. If you’ve been in wooded areas, check your skin for small deer ticks and see your doctor if you experience pain, aches or swelling in your joints after finding a tick on your skin. It’s important to note that symptoms can take weeks or even months to develop. If you suspect that you’ve been bitten by a deer tick, call your doctor, who may administer a western blot test, a type of blood test. It’s difficult to know if someone has Lyme disease just based on symptoms alone, so testing is a crucial step in diagnosing the condition. Left untreated, it can cause myocarditis, a type of inflammation of the heart, or nervous system inflammation. 7. Halting Hydration – Water, water everywhere… in the ocean, in the pool, in our drinks, but it’s not uncommon to become dehydrated in the summer, when high temperatures and prolonged sun exposure can sap our bodies of the water it needs to function properly. To prevent dehydration, be sure to drink at least two additional 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Stomach illnesses like vomiting or diarrhea also may cause dehydration. The signs that your body hasn’t had enough water include weakness, dry mouth, light headedness, dizziness and confusion. If you think you may be dehydrated, call your primary care physician. Each summer, several of my patients travel to Colorado to hike and attend an annual festival. Last year, a female adult in the group experienced swelling in her legs and face, the classic signs of high-altitude sickness. She drank water and rested a bit, and the symptoms eventually subsided. This year, I prescribed Diamox to help her body better adjust to the terrain and prevent illness from sidetracking her vacation. A little prevention goes a long way. Take the steps necessary to ensure that you and your family have a safe—and active— summer. Orlando Mills, MD, MPH, is a board-certified family practice physician on staff at CentraState Medical Center. He can be reached by calling 866-CENTRA7.
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New Minimally Invasive Procedure Offers Brain Bleed Patients Safe and Effective Alternative to Open Surgery Minimally invasive technique also enables treatment for previously inoperable brain bleeds
Patients suffering from subdural hematomas – the type of brain bleed most often caused by head injuries – have traditionally had two options: brain surgery or finding a way to manage the symptoms, which can include dizziness, nausea, seizures and more. Now, Dr. Kyle Chapple and the team of neurosurgeons at Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS) – one of the largest neurosurgical practices in New Jersey and one of the most advanced in the coun- try – are advocating for a new, minimally invasive technique called endovascular embolization. Endovascular embolization enables neurosurgeons to safely and effectively treat subdural hematomas without open brain surgery. Instead, a catheter is inserted in a large blood vessel at the top of a patient’s leg and navigated up into the blood vessels in the head. Through that catheter, microscopic particles called embospheres are delivered to stop the bleeding. The procedure offers a solution for a much wider range of patients than an open craniotomy. Not everyone is a candidate for a crani- otomy given limitations on the use of general anesthesia for older patients and those with health complications.
Dr. Kyle Chapple, a board-certified neurosurgeon at Atlantic NeuroSurgi- cal Specialists (ANS), is the Principal Investigator for a new study focusing on the benefits of endovascular embo- lization for brain bleed patients.
“This allows significantly more people who truly need surgical intervention to get it,” adds Dr. Chapple. “Being a minimally invasive procedure, it also carries far fewer risks and potential side effects, and requires much less recovery time. In fact, patients can go home the very next day.” Dr. Chapple is the Principal Investigator for a new randomized study that compares patient outcomes from endovascular embolization versus traditional craniotomies. He notes, “At ANS, we have seen fantastic results in our patients who have undergone this procedure over the past few years, and we’re now in the process of generating formal medical research that we believe will support its safety and efficacy.” To learn more, contact Dr. Chapple at ANS at 973-285-7800 or visit www.ans- docs.com.
Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS) is New Jersey’s largest neurosurgical prac- tice and one of the most advanced in the country. Since its founding in 1958, ANS has specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the nervous system. For more information, visit www.ansdocs.com.
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Dr. Steven Linker, OD
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H E A L T H A R T I C L E S A N D Q & A Your retina (located in the back of your eye) is the only place in the body where blood vessels can be seen directly. This means that in addition to eye conditions, signs of other diseases (for example, stroke, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes) can also be seen in the retina. Early detection of life-threatening diseases like cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. It also facilitates early protection from vision impairment or blindness Early signs of these conditions can show on your retina long before you notice any changes to your vision or feel pain. While eye exams include a look at the front of the eye to evaluate health and prescription changes, a thorough screening of the The optomap ultra-widefield retinal image is a unique technology that captures more than 80% of your retina in one panoramic image while traditional imaging methods typically only show 15% of your retina at one time.
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What Men Should Know About Menopause By Jyothi Rangadhama, MD
Menopause is much more than just the cessation of periods. Much like the changes men experience during the aging process when testosterone levels dip, fluctuating hormones bring challenging physical and emotional changes for women. Men can help their partners get through this time of transition by asking questions, being supportive, and most importantly, being patient. Technically, menopause occurs once a woman goes 12 months without a menstrual period, so it’s actually diagnosed once it’s over. The time of transition before menopause is called perimenopause, and that can be an emotional roller-coaster for women. She may say that she feels like she’s “going crazy,” but she’s not imagining these changes. Know the Symptoms – The transition to menopause may sometimes take two years. Not every woman will experience every symptom, and intensity will vary. The symptoms of menopause, which typically occurs around age 51, include: • Hot flashes • Night sweats • Mood swings • Memory lapses • Fatigue Ask Questions - Your partner will welcome your interest in what she’s going through, so I encourage you to ask questions to show your support and that you’re going through this together. Tread Lightly - Due to hormonal fluctuations, your partner may experience mood swings, depression, and increased irritability. Be patient; it’s only temporary. Give her space when she asks for it. Sleep May Be Elusive – Hot flashes and night sweats may make sleeping difficult. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep only compounds the emotional symptoms that she may be experiencing. Making the bedroom a bit cooler and using a thinner comforter will help, as will offering her a cold drink that doesn’t include caffeine. Avoid Weighty Issues – Your partner may gain weight, particularly around the middle, as her metabolism slows. Be sup- portive and encouraging if she takes steps to cut calories or fit exercise into her busy day. Plan a Date Night – I encourage you to spend time together as a couple. You both can and will survive this transition if you know what to expect and focus on what’s positive in your relationship. Go out for a nice dinner or a Broadway show. Remind her how beautiful she is and why you love her. Don’t Take it Personally - Sex can be sore spot, literally. Estrogen makes a woman’s vaginal tissues soft, so when estrogen levels drop, tissues can become thin and dry, and the vaginal canal may narrow. Lubricant can help. Additionally, a lack of testosterone may affect her sex drive. As difficult as it may be, it’s important not to take your partner’s reluctance to join you in the bedroom personally. Be patient; these changes are temporary. • Decreased concentration • Difficulty sleeping • Vaginal dryness • Decreased sex drive
M E N ’ S H E A L T H
Medications Can Help – Menopause is not the beginning of the end of your sexual relationship. Your partner’s doctor can prescribe medication to help alleviate symptoms if necessary. Encourage her to speak with her doctor if the symptoms are unbearable. Your partner is going through an emotional time. The most important advice that I can give is that these symptoms are temporary. Ask ques- tions and listen to her answers. And, be sure to share your feelings about how the aging process is affecting you as well. With some lifestyle modifi- cations and patience, you’ll get through this time stronger together. Jyothi Rangadhama, MD, is a board-certified ob- stetrician-gynecologist on staff at CentraState Medical Center. She can be reached by calling 866-CENTRA7.
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