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This January, celebrate Cervical Health Awareness Month by spreading the word about keeping your cervix healthy. Here are five facts all women should know about preventing HPV infection, lowering risk for cervical cancer, and more.
While some strains of this virus can cause serious health complications such as cervical cancer or genital warts, most forms of the virus are harmless and leave the body within a year or two without causing any symptoms. More than 79 million Americans have had HPV, a number comprising the majority of sexually active adults, with more than 14 million new infections each year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that both boys and girls get a vaccine that protects against the riskiest strains of HPV. The recommended age to receive this immunization is 12, but anyone younger than age 26 can still get the vaccine.
Sexually active women should visit a gynecologist for cervical cancer screenings. While this has traditionally been a Pap test, most doctors now screen for the disease with an HPV test for women older than age 25, with a Pap test as follow-up if the virus is detected.
Because every gynecologist is now able to detect cervical cancer in its earliest, most treatable form, the death rate from this disease has decreased more than 50 percent over the last 30 years according to the American Cancer Society.
Your local hospital, clinic, or pharmacy may offer free or low-cost cervical cancer screenings. The National Cervical Cancer Coalition has an online database for this service that is searchable by state.
If you haven’t had an HPV test, January is a great time to get caught up on your cervical health.
Special thanks to NIAID for the image.
Winter blues may seem cliché, but they can be a real issue for many people. A family physician at the hospital might call it “seasonal affective disorder,” and up to 20 percent of the population may be affected by mood changes that coincide with colder temperatures and less sunlight. Beating the blues can help people maintain a more positive outlook when cooped up inside the house.
Even when the temperatures plummet in the winter, people derive significant benefits from spending time outdoors. Before venturing out, bundle up in weather-appropriate gear that includes inner layers of warm clothing, a hat, scarf, gloves or mittens, a wind-resistant winter coat, and boots. Taking a daily walk or run outdoors in the middle of the day provides exposure to natural light and fresh air, which helps elevate mood. Children should spend active time outdoors daily as well during the winter months.
Regular exercise is also a mood enhancer thanks to the serotonin that naturally floods the blood stream with elevated heart rate. A family physician may recommend up to 60 minutes of physical activity or exercise per day for optimal year-round health. Combining exercise with bright light can be even more effective for improving mood, so walking outdoors or exercising indoors under bright lights can be helpful for many people.
It can be tempting to turn to food for comfort, especially during the cold months. The simple carbohydrates found in high-calorie desserts and snacks may provide a temporary feeling of happiness, but these feelings don’t last. Instead, when blood sugar levels crash, people are left feeling sad or anxious. Striving to eat healthy fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates can help people maintain a healthy weight and happier mood.
Anyone seeking the advice of a family physician at a hospital about seasonal affective disorder or winter blues can get helpful advice about simple lifestyle modifications that will often produce big improvements in mood and outlook.
Special thanks to Joe Penna for the image.
With the increase in urgent care facilities, it can be easier than ever for patients to access healthcare conveniently. With a number of facility choices, however, it can be challenging to know whether to visit the family physician, urgent care clinic or the emergency room at the hospital when illness or injury occurs. Here’s how to decide.
If an individual develops illness and injury that requires immediate care when his or her doctor is available, this should be the first line of treatment. Examples of minor illnesses, conditions, and injuries that can be treated by a primary care physician include:
-Treatment of minor allergic reactions and allergy attacks
-Colds, cough, ear infection, or flu
-Dizziness or dehydration
-Minor burns, cuts, lacerations, or bites
-Rash, skin condition, or pink eye
-Urinary tract infection
-Nausea or diarrhea
The family doctor should also be visited for regular checkups, wellness visits, and vaccinations.
Urgent care is the ideal resource to rely on for any of the conditions listed above when one is not able to see their regular doctor. Unlike most primary care offices, urgent care facilities often have night, weekend, and holiday hours. In other cases, a doctor may recommend an urgent care center if he or she has no available appointments for that day.
The emergency room is best reserved for real emergencies. Medical conditions that require immediate attention should be seen at the ER, including:
-Persistent chest pain
-Accidental ingestion of foreign substance
-Serious head injury
-Suicidal thoughts or severely altered mental state
-Cuts that require stitches
-Sudden, severe headache
-Fever in an infant
Those who aren’t sure where to go for care should start with the family doctor, who can make the appropriate recommendation for his or her patient’s health and safety.
Special thanks to chrisopdesoto for the image.
Everyone loves the holidays—the decorative lights, time with family, and of course those holiday meals. The holidays are a perfect time to teach kids how to make healthy choices when faced with tempting treats. Here are a few tips to stay on the right track.
To make sure there are healthy options available on the dinner table, try bringing a healthy side dish. An excellent way to encourage kids to eat healthier food is to get them involved in preparing a recipe. Bring them to a children’s cooking class at Carthage Area Hospital, then recreate the dish for your holiday meal.
If everyone in the family is involved with making healthy choices most of the time, a slice of pumpkin pie or an extra helping of potatoes isn’t going to hurt. Emphasize eating larger portions of healthy foods, like fresh produce, to make up for the treat. Allowing a little holiday indulgence will teach children that they can enjoy those occasions while still eating healthy most of the time.
Busy family time can mean disrupting a regular schedule. As a result, exercise can easily fall by the wayside. Make time for a family walk or a game of flag football to get everyone up and moving and to keep the focus off of food.
Try a light, healthy snack before a big holiday meal to keep from overeating. If one meal is particularly rich, try serving a lighter meal the next time the family eats. Children’s cooking classes are great opportunities to learn new healthy recipes. Also, don’t skip meals, as this can just lead to overeating later on.
Set a healthy example for kids during the holidays. And don’t forget to sign up for that children’s cooking class to teach them healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
In wintertime, many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition that’s tied to shorter days and reduced lighting. Carthage Area Hospital regularly treats patients who are dealing with seasonal depression and the staff at the Behavioral Health Center can help with assessment and treatment plans. Several things can also be done at home to feel better.
Because the sun rises late and sets early in winter, the fewer hours of daylight can trigger symptoms of depression. Creating a bright environment counters these effects. Opening window blinds, turning on more lights, and using light therapy products can make a positive difference.
The healthcare community is increasingly utilizing and recommending the therapeutic benefits of music. For a mood boost, listen to upbeat music.
The outdoors can be invigorating. A brisk walk in fresh air reduces stress and provides a welcome distraction. Bundle up and head outside.
Whether indoors or outdoors, being active offers numerous benefits. Exercising minimizes symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Keeping fit helps not only the body and mind but one’s emotional health, too.
The healthcare professionals at Carthage Area Hospital can offer nutritional assistance to patients. Registered dieticians can personalize nutrition plans to bolster wellness and beat the blues.
Sometimes talking to a good friend or trusted family member can do wonders to improve one’s outlook. Socializing provides mental health benefits. Even short visits can yield big improvements in mood.
Volunteering is another way to boost general wellness and feel a sense of purpose. Look for opportunities to serve through work, school, or in the community.
There’s no need to continue feeling poorly. Help is available. The healthcare professionals at Carthage Area Hospital are trained to treat seasonal affective disorders and related conditions. Make an appointment to see one of the qualified providers, who will create a personalized approach to beating the winter blues.
While different seasons can bring increased visits to hospitals due to increased pollen or cold weather, doctors see cases of sinusitis year-round. Annually, sinusitis is responsible for about 16 million visits to a family physician. Find out the symptoms and what treatments might be used at Carthage Area Hospital and its clinics.
Sinusitis (also known as sinus disease or a sinus infection) is when air-filled sinus cavities become blocked. Normally, the sinuses have a thin coating of mucus, but bacterial infection, fungal infection, or physical defects may cause nasal tissues to swell and excess mucus to accumulate. Early treatment of sinusitis is important to keep it from becoming serious—failure to treat it early could land a patient in the emergency room.
Sinus infections are sometimes misdiagnosed as a bad cold, as they have many of the same symptoms. A family physician should examine the patient’s nose, throat, and sinuses while looking for characteristic redness, swelling, facial tenderness, and greenish mucus discharge. Other symptoms might include headaches in the front of the head, tooth pain, coughing, fever, tiredness, and bad breath caused by mucus in the throat.
Most cases of sinusitis are caused by bacterial infection and should be treated with antibiotics. However, since the overuse of antibiotics is responsible for the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, this should only be prescribed if the illness is very severe or does not clear up on its own in about a week. Over-the-counter medications may help relieve symptoms while the antibiotics take effect.
If a fungal infection is verified through a mucus culture, antifungals or oral steroids may be needed. In very severe cases of physical causes for chronic sinus infections, a family physician may recommend surgery.
Patients who are suffering from the symptoms mentioned above should visit Carthage Area Hospital. Even if you’ve never visited one of our clinics before, we are currently accepting new patients at our Primary Care and Pediatric facilities.
While strides have been made in recognizing and stopping domestic violence, there is still progress to be made. Carthage Area Hospital stands with victims of domestic abuse, especially during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, by spreading awareness and promoting the study of behavioral health to prevent violence before starts. Domestic abuse comes in many forms, which is part of the reason why it can be hard to identify—a necessary first step in stopping the cycle of violence.
Domestic violence can affect anyone, and there is no shame in reaching out for help. A victim can display behavioral health issues before any physical marks start showing up. Threats of physical harm can often be just as harmful as the acts themselves, and it’s important to notice these intimidation tactics, as small actions often turn into consistent and increasingly dangerous violence. Whether physical, sexual, emotional, or a combination of all three, no abuse should be dismissed.
The typical image of domestic violence is a violent, abusive man who physically dominates his partner and kids. While this is a serious issue that needs to be reported to police right away, emotional abuse is a bigger problem than acknowledged. An individual who berates their partner, manipulates their emotions, or blames them for their own abusive behavior is engaging in domestic violence. Intense jealousy, control of movement, and unpredictable tempers are other signs to be wary of. This sort of controlling or belittling abuse leaves emotional bruises on an individual’s behavioral health.
The scope of this important month has expanded from a “Day of Unity” in 1981 to an entire month in 1987 and every following year. Since its inception, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has worked tirelessly to mourn those who have died from domestic violence, celebrate those who have survived, and connect those who are striving to end the violence. Activists have lobbied for new laws to protect victims, established a toll-free hotline, and pushed the pervasive issue into the national consciousness. Domestic violence happens among couples of all types, and DVAM helps to bring all people together with powerful healing.
The importance of mammogram exams has been highly publicized for decades, so much that it’s become the main focus of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. Less notoriety has been given an equally important screening tool for women over 65—bone density scans. Many gynecologists are now addressing this shortcoming.
New digital imaging technologies have dramatically improved mammography’s accuracy. X-ray film is passe’. Nearly all hospitals and imaging centers in the U.S. now capture breast X-rays on digital systems, interpreting those images on high-resolution video monitors. To the patient, nothing seems to have changed. The imaging device looks the same and breast compression is (unfortunately) still required. However, digital screening mammography’s dramatic improvement in finding early-stage breast cancer means that treatment can start earlier, possibly before the cancer spreads. Gynecologists and mammographers agree the short discomfort of compression is far outweighed by this tool’s immense value in early breast cancer detection.
Like mammography, a scan called a DXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) is a radiology procedure. However, its goal is not cancer screening but to determine the risk of a disease called osteoporosis, a decrease in bone mass and density leading to a predisposition to fractures. It’s especially common in women following menopause. Estrogen produced in the body typically maintains bone density. With aging and menopause, estrogen decreases which can result in a 25-30% loss of bone density. A bone density exam is recommended by gynecologists for women aged 65 and older, or for younger postmenopausal women with osteoporosis risk factors including smoking, excessing alcohol or caffeine use, low body weight, or history of adult bone fractures, among others.
Gynecologists are now informing patients within the recommended criteria to consider a bone density exam when arranging an annual mammogram, typically in October. The gynecologist will advise if an individual patient needs this test, which only involves lying on an X-ray table…thankfully, no compression.
Carthage Area Hospital has the latest imaging equipment encompassing both screening modalities. Contact them for an appointment.
Physical therapy is an important part of the healing rehabilitation for many patients. This year, the celebration of National Physical Therapy Awareness Month is more important than ever with the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses occurring daily in America. Comprehensive physical therapy services can work with every individual to get their body pain-free through personalized plans that promise long-term recovery.
While opioids have their benefits when prescribed by a doctor and taken in conjunction with a holistic recovery plan, they can easily be abused. Side effects can include depression, mood swings, and withdrawal symptoms when the patient stops using them. Studies have show that those addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to eventually become addicted to heroin. Physical Therapy by a licensed therapist is a natural way to reduce pain and gain full control over the body.
Physical therapy offers a set of exercises prescribed to a patient that can improve the range of motion, pain level, and muscular confidence. It is an effective treatment for patients who are pre and post-surgery, training after a sports injury, need a limb or hand therapy, or even for internal disorders like Lymphedema. National Physical Therapy Awareness Month presents a great opportunity for clients to seek help in a constructive way. Carthage Area Hospital supports a recovery plan that can be done at home or the hospital, depending on a patient’s preference for quality and convenient care.
Carthage Area Hospital healthcare providers support Physical Therapy Awareness Month to make sure that everyone, from young to old, knows the range of benefits available. Physical therapy includes keeping muscles toned and active for better balance. This balance boosts fall prevention and helps ward off pain from cranky muscles. A licensed therapist will develop a unique, supportive plan for each individual.
Since its inception in 1992, National Physical Therapy Awareness Month offers a reminder of the transformational, holistic approach to pain relief provided by physical therapy. Join in the #ChoosePT campaign through the month of October to help raise awareness of the dangers of opioid addiction and overdose, and support alternative treatments for pain relief, including physical therapy.
With the advent of online videos and message boards full of advice, many skills can be learned through videos or advice articles. While you can get a lot of information from the Internet, there are countless benefits to guided classes that cannot be replicated on a screen. Childbirth classes have personal one-on-one advantages, and the importance of getting the correct information cannot be understated.
Attendance at childbirth classes will allow you to ask any questions you have and get the full answer from an expert on the spot, with no misinformation or waiting. Our nursing staff is eager to inform and support, and you’ll feel fully comfortable with their experience and commitment to privacy. No matter what your decision is on epidurals or cesareans, you want to be as informed as you can, and know what to expect throughout the entire delivery.
No online information can successfully reproduce the warmth and genuine care generated by a group of mothers-to-be at the childbirth classes. The classes give you encouragement, in addition to the time and space to focus on your body and well being during a hectic life accomplishment. You can also bring along a partner to make him or her feel more involved, not to mention to make sure they know the best ways to support an expecting mother! Making sure you are both on the same page can really help ensure the experience is special in every way possible. By attending childbirth classes, you can also check out the hospital or birthing center firsthand. For instance, you can get a sneak peek at our Jacuzzi tubs, special menus, and LDRP rooms, should you choose to give birth here.
We pride ourselves on offering lots of options. Taught by resident experts, these classes are free, and everyone is encouraged to attend, no matter where you plan to give birth. Classes at Carthage Area Hospital include:
Childbirth Education: 1st Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Breastfeeding Education: 1st Tuesday of each month from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Car Seat Education: 1st Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Diabetes Education: 1st Saturday of each month 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.