Thursday, August 27

Health Care and Sonograms

When expectant mothers go to the doctor to check on their pregnancy, one of the first procedures that the OB/GYN schedules is a sonogram. This unique tool allows the technician, the physician, and the Mom to see how the baby is developing. In some cases, the sonogram tech can predict the due date of the baby more accurately than the physician.

Technically, the sonogram is an image orgraph representing a sound, showing the distribution of energy at different frequencies—a diagnostic medical image created using ultrasound echo (sonographic), equipment.

A sonogramis the image generated during ultrasonography, which is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses ultrasound to visualize anything inside the body. Ultrasoundis sound with a frequency above the range audible to humans, about 20 kHz. In common parlance, both words are used to refer to the ultrasonography procedure, according to Diffen. The sonogram also helps physicians observe growth of a fetus, calculate age and due date and see presence of multiple fetuses. Plus, it’s used to diagnose pelvic bleeding or locate cancerous cells.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, an ultrasound exam is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to scan a woman’s abdomen and pelvic cavity, creating a picture (sonogram) of the baby and placenta. Although the terms ultrasound and sonogram are technically different, they are used interchangeably and reference the same exam.

There are basically seven different ultrasound exams, but the principle process is the same. Here are the various types of exams:

·         Transvaginal Scans – Specially designed probe transducers are used inside the vagina to generate sonogram images. Most often used during the early stages of pregnancy.

·         Standard Ultrasound –Traditional ultrasound exam which uses a transducer over the abdomen to generate 2-D images of the developing fetus .

·         Advanced Ultrasound – This exam is similar to the standard ultrasound, but the exam targets a suspected problem and uses more sophisticated equipment.

·         Doppler Ultrasound – This imaging procedure measures slight changes in the frequency of the ultrasound waves as they bounce off moving objects, such as blood cells.

·         3-D Ultrasound – Uses specially designed probes and software to generate 3-D images of the developing fetus.

·         4-D or Dynamic 3-D Ultrasound –Uses specially designed scanners to look at the face and movements of the baby prior to delivery.

·         Fetal Echocardiography –Uses ultrasound waves to assess the baby’s heart anatomy and function. This is used to help assess suspected congenital heart defects.

Your healthcare provider will use hormone levels in your blood, the date of your last menstrual period and, in some cases, results from an ultrasound to generate an expected date of conception. However, many differences in each woman’s cycle may hinder the accuracy of the conception date calculation. Much more detailed information about this subject can be found at this website: http://americanpregnancy.org/prenatal-testing/ultrasound/ .

In many pregnancy cases, especially when there is thought about aborting the baby, an actual-size sonogram at nearly seven weeks' gestation is usually done; 33 percent of abortions occur before then. Sonograms are a vital tool in showing the growth and any movement of the baby in the womb.

When a pregnancy is planned, a sonogram marks a joyful beginning, according to Glamour Magazine. Soon-to-be parents post the grainy images on Facebook, tape them up on refrigerator doors, or paste them into baby books as first entries. But for the 3.4 million women across the country who face an unintended pregnancy every year, the scan can be a different story. This is where a sonogram complicates that decision to move forward with aborting the new life now growing in the mother.

Sonogram laws, which require doctors to offer or perform an ultrasound before any abortion, are part of a dramatic increase in antiabortion legislation sweeping the country. As of late 2014, over 220 of these restrictions have passed—35 more than in the entire previous decade:Some of them ban the procedure outright after 20 weeks of pregnancy; others mandate that facilities meet specifications such as a certain width for hallways.

Although the images have become politically charged, the science behind sonograms is straightforward. When an ultrasound sensor is placed inside a woman's vagina or on her belly during an exam, the sound waves produce a moving picture. At six weeks the sonogram can often show a fetal heartbeat.

At eight weeks—the point at which two thirds of abortions have occurred—a distinct shape is just starting to emerge. At nine weeks the beginnings of arms and legs are visible. By 13 weeks—when 92 percent of abortions will have taken place—the fetus weighs nearly an ounce, with a hint of facial features.

Most abortion providers routinely use ultrasound to help determine how far along a pregnancy is, but now in several states the test is required in virtually all cases. In Texas, Louisiana, and Wisconsin, the law mandates that women be shown the image and hear it described (a doctor will detail the exact dimensions of the embryo, for example, or the internal organs of the fetus). In the nine other states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia), women must be offered a view of the sonogram.

In most of these states, if the women don't want to look, they must sign a waiver. More details about the use of sonograms by abortion clinics is found at this site: http://www.glamour.com/inspired/2014/11/how-women-seeking-abortions-feel-about-viewing-a-sonogram

Ultrasound images are captured in real-time, allowing them the ability to show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through the vessels. Ultrasound scans are completely noninvasive, and unlike x-rays, they do not use ionizing radiation, according to Envision Radiology.

Ultrasound scans help physicians diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions, and help evaluate symptoms such as pain, swelling, and infection. Ultrasound is useful in examining many of the body’s organs, including the heart and blood vessels, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, liver, bladder, thyroid, uterus, ovaries, and scrotum.  Most ultrasound procedures are fast and painless, being completed within 30 to 60 minutes.

Sonogram machines emit sound waves, often known as ultrasound waves, that bounce off of organs, bones, and muscles. The machines are able to calculate the distance between waves in order to generate a very accurate picture, which is displayed on a specialized computer screen, according to WiseGEEK. In most cases, the waves are both sent and received from a wand-like instrument known as a transducer.

A trained technician will usually gently touch the wand to the skin above the area of interest. Jelly or lubricant is often applied first, both to help the wand glide and to amplify the sound waves to generate a clearer, more accurate picture. Most sonogram sessions result in pictures from many different angles, which technicians and medical professionals look at in sequence to get an idea of what is happening internally.

To mitigate the possible risks to a developing child, most medical professionals use sonograms only intermittently in pregnancy. Though parents often want to see images of their growing baby at each doctor visit, this is not usually permitted unless there is a legitimate medical need. Limiting the number of sonograms administered is one of the ways that medical professionals protect babies from potential risks.

Listening to the fetal heartbeat and monitoring the mother’s blood work are often just as effective at making sure the baby stays healthy as a real-time picture is. More information about this topic can be found at this website: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-sonogram.htm.

Sonograms can and should be used for any type of non-invasive medical evaluation, including pregnancy, cancer, and other health care needs. As long as you use a certified technician qualified to do the procedure, you should have minimal discomfort. The results that are generated can give a clearer picture of what is going on inside your body. For all medical situations, visit a certified medical or health care practitioner.


Until next time.
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Tuesday, August 11

Health Care and Nose Bleeds

Have you ever had a nose bleed? Some people get them more often than others. And, there is a variety of reasons why your nose would all of a sudden start to bleed for no apparent reason. Naturally, if you got punched in the nose on purpose or by accident, it may start to bleed. If you broke your nose for any reason, no doubt you would have a nose bleed. But what causes your nose to start bleeding just because?

The nose is an area of the body that contains many tiny blood vessels (or arterioles) that can break easily, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. In the United States, one of every seven people will develop a nosebleed some time in their lifetime. Nosebleeds can occur at any age but are most common in children aged 2-10 years and adults aged 50-80 years. Nosebleeds are divided into two types, depending on whether the bleeding is coming from the front or back of the nose. More info can be found at this site: http://www.entnet.org/content/nosebleeds.

According to eMedicineHealth.com, nosebleeds (epistaxis, nose bleed) can be dramatic and frightening. Fortunately, most nosebleeds are not serious and usually can be managed at home, although sometimes medical intervention may be necessary. Nosebleeds are categorized based on where they originate, and are described as either anterior (originating from the front of the nose) or posterior (originating from the back of the nose).

Anterior nosebleeds make up most nosebleeds. The bleeding usually originates from a blood vessel on the nasal septum, where a network of vessels converge (Kiesselbach plexus). Anterior nosebleeds are usually easy to control, either by measures that can be performed at home or by a health care practitioner.

Posterior nosebleeds are much less common than anterior nosebleeds. They tend to occur more often in elderly people. The bleeding usually originates from an artery in the back part of the nose. These nosebleeds are more complicated and usually require admission to the hospital and management by an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist).

Nosebleeds tend to occur more often during winter months and in dry, cold climates. They can occur at any age, but are most common in children aged 2 to 10 years and adults aged 50 to 80 years. For unknown reasons, nosebleeds most commonly occur in the morning hours. More details can be found at this website: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/nosebleeds/article_em.htm

Nosebleeds are common. Most often they are a nuisance and not a true medical problem. But they can be both, according to the Mayo Clinic. Here are a few tips how to stop them:

·         Sit upright and lean forward. By remaining upright, you reduce blood pressure in the veins of your nose. This discourages further bleeding. Sitting forward will help you avoid swallowing blood, which can irritate your stomach.

·         Pinch your nose. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch your nostrils shut. Breathe through your mouth. Continue to pinch for five to 10 minutes. Pinching sends pressure to the bleeding point on the nasal septum and often stops the flow of blood.

·         To prevent re-bleeding, don't pick or blow your nose and don't bend down for several hours after the bleeding episode. During this time remember to keep your head higher than the level of your heart.

·         If re-bleeding occurs, blow out forcefully to clear your nose of blood clots and spray both sides of your nose with a decongestant nasal spray containing oxymetazoline (Afrin, Mucinex Moisture Smart, others). Pinch your nose again as described above and call your doctor.

You should seek emergency care if the bleeding lasts for more than 20 minutes, or if the nosebleed follows an accident, a fall or an injury to your head, including a punch in the face that may have broken your nose. Much more detailed information about nose bleeds can be located at this site: http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-nosebleeds/basics/art-20056683.

Children are especially susceptible to nose bleeds. If your child gets a lot of nose bleeds, ask your pediatrician about using saltwater (saline) nose drops every day. Doing so may be particularly helpful if you live in a very dry climate, or when the furnace is on in your home. In addition, a humidifier or vaporizer will help maintain your home’s humidity at a level high enough to prevent nasal drying. Also tell your child not to pick his nose, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Also, you should contact your child’s doctor in the following situations:

·         You think your child may have lost too much blood. (But keep in mind that the blood coming from the nose always looks like a lot.)

·         The bleeding is coming only from your child’s mouth, or he’s coughing or vomiting blood or brown material that looks like coffee grounds.

·         Your child is unusually pale or sweaty, or is not responsive. Call your pediatrician immediately in this case, and arrange to take your child to the emergency room.

·         He has a lot of nosebleeds, along with a chronically stuffy nose. This may mean he has a small, easily broken blood vessel in the nose or on the surface of the lining of the nose, or a growth in the nasal passages.

Your child is almost certain to have at least one nosebleed—and probably many—during these early years. Some preschoolers have several a week. This is neither abnormal nor dangerous, but it can be very frightening. If blood flows down from the back of the nose into the mouth and throat, your child may swallow a great deal of it, which in turn may cause vomiting. For more details, visit this website: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Chronic-Nosebleeds-What-To-Do.aspx.

Frequent nosebleeds may mean you have a more serious problem. For example, nosebleeds and bruising can be early signs of leukemia. Nosebleeds can also be a sign of a blood clotting or blood vessel disorder, or a nasal tumor (both cancerous and non-cancerous), according to this website: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/nosebleeds.html.

Your doctor will try to find out where the bleeding is coming from in your nose. He or she will probably ask you some questions and examine your nose. If the bleeding doesn't stop on its own or when pressure is applied, your doctor may cauterize the bleeding vessel or pack your nose to stop the bleeding. That should help your situation, although it’s uncomfortable for a little while. An occasional nosebleed may make you worry, but there's no need to panic. If it becomes problematic or chronic, see your doctor for other options.


Until next time.
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Tuesday, August 4

Health Care and National Immunization Awareness Month

Vaccinations are a hot topic, especially for mothers of infants, children and teens, and pediatricians. August is declared National Immunization Awareness Month by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), and health officials are urging parents to make sure kids are vaccinated before heading back to school this month and in September. 

Children need to be up to date on their immunizations, or obtain a waiver from their local health department. This month is the perfect time to get a head start on booking an appointment with a pediatrician.

The AAP has also provides impressive statistics and answering important questions about immunizations for parents. The statistics include:

·         Out of 1,000 U.S. children who will catch the measles, one to three of them will die.
·         The average number of annual cases of measles in the 20th century in the United States was over a half million. In 2010, thanks to successful vaccines, there were only 63 cases.
·         38% of children younger than 5 years who had measles required hospitalization.
·         85% of babies born to mothers who had rubella in the first trimester will have birth defects.
·         More than 95% of people who receive MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine become immune to all three diseases.

According to the AAP, National Immunization Awareness Month begins with a focus on immunizations for preteens and teens. Use key messages as the basis for talking points, presentations, media interviews, news releases, social media messages or outreach materials. Preteens and teens are at risk for diseases like meningitis and HPV cancers and need the protection of vaccines to keep them healthy.  Vaccines are recommended for preteens and teens because:

·         Some of the childhood vaccines wear off over time, so adolescents need shots to stay protected from serious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

·         As children get older, they are at greater risk of getting certain diseases like meningitis, septicemia (blood infection), and infections that can lead to HPV cancers.

·         Specific vaccines, like HPV vaccine, should be given during the preteen (11 to 12) years because they provide more protection when given at that age.

·         Vaccines not only help protect preteens and teens from serious diseases, but also their siblings, friends and the people who care for them, like their parents or grandparents.

·         Vaccines do more than protect your child. Some diseases, like whooping cough and the flu, can be deadly for newborns or infants who are too young to be vaccinated themselves. You can help protect our littlest community members from being exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases by making sure your child gets all the vaccines recommended.

·         Vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. Protecting your children from preventable diseases will help keep them healthy and in school.

·         When a child comes down with a disease such as whooping cough or the flu, they may miss a lot of school while recovering. A sick child may also mean that a parent may miss work or other important events.

·         Schools are a prime venue for transmitting many vaccine-preventable diseases, and school-age children can further spread disease to their families and others with whom they come in contact.

Vaccines are also an important component of a healthy pregnancy. Women should be up to date on their vaccines before becoming pregnant, and should receive vaccines against both the flu and whooping cough (pertussis) during pregnancy. These vaccines not only protect the mother by preventing illnesses and complications, but also pass on vaccine protection to her unborn child.  For more details about this issue, go to this site: https://www2.aap.org/immunization/about/niam.html

Immunization helps prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. To stay protected against serious illnesses like the flu, measles, and pneumonia, adults need to get their shots – just like kids do. Additionally, companies should also make note of the need to have healthy employees this month. According to WellNation, employers can take steps to encourage physical exams and immunizations in a variety of ways, including:

·         Provide coverage for preventive health screenings. A common barrier to scheduling a physical exam or screening is the fear of it being a large expense. By communicating the insurance coverage related to preventive exams and immunizations, it can help ease this concern and make employees more likely to complete them.

·         Offer your employees the convenience of vaccinations right at work. Collaborate with a local health organization to provide an onsite immunization clinic, such as a flu-shot clinic each fall.

·         Provide vaccination or preventive screenings cards to employees to keep in their wallet or their health file. This can help employees keep record of which items they have completed or need to schedule.

Use this month to raise awareness about vaccines and share strategies to increase immunization rates with your community, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Here are just a few ideas:

·         Talk to friends and family members about how vaccines aren’t just for kids. People of all ages can get shots to protect them from serious diseases.
·         Encourage people in your community to get the flu vaccine every year.
·         Invite a doctor or nurse to speak to parents about why it’s important for all kids to get vaccinated.

National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to promote vaccines and remind family, friends, and coworkers to stay up to date on their shots. For more details, visit this website: http://healthfinder.gov/NHO/Augusttoolkit.aspx.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each year in August, National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across the lifespan. Activities focus on encouraging all people to protect their health by being vaccinated against infectious diseases. In 2015, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) is coordinating NIAM activities. More detailed material can be found at this website: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam.html.

There are some parents and other health proponents who disagree with vaccinations, feeling that they do more harm than good. Until very recently, the US had just about eradicated many of the communicable diseases over the past fifty years. Now, with new unvaccinated individuals coming into the country from areas that have less stringent healthcare controls, and from a certain nominal no-vaccination movement--largely based more on fiction than fact--these diseases have shown up in certain regional outbreaks and are very difficult to control.

One recent example is the measles outbreak that started last December in Disneyland Park in California and was tracked back to human carriers who had not been immunized. Many individuals were exposed and developed the disease, which is highly contagious. It eventually spread to a half-dozen U.S. states, Mexico and Canada. The outbreak sickened 147 people in the U.S., including 131 in California. There were no deaths, even though many were hospitalized. The event took several months to contain until it was declared controlled.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Get your vaccinations up to date this month. Employers should also use NIAM to keep their workforce happy and healthy. Immunizations are for your own protection.


Until next time. 
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