Category Archives: Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: Sickle Cell Disease/Anemia

sca

I don’t type this post with any amount of joy. Can you imagine an existence in which your blood cells are deformed to the extent to which they resemble pointy knives poking at you? That’s a grotesque oversimplification, but it does capture the essence of those suffering from today’s topic. World Sickle Cell Day was earlier this month, seeking a heightened awareness of Sickle Cell Disease. Here are some answers to basic questions meant to provide you information about the disease.

  1. What Is Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)?

Sickle cell disease is a group of disorders of the red blood cells (RBCs). The RBCs have abnormal hemoglobin (the protein responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your bodies to nourish various tissues).

  1. How do I get Sickle Cell Disease?

sickle-cell inheritance

The conditions defining SCD are inherited. It is not a disorder you can individually obtain from interacting with someone affected (i.e. it is not contagious). In order to inherit SCD, you must receive abnormal genes from both parents. Sickle cell anemia is more common in certain ethnic groups, including those of African descent, Hispanic Americans from Central and South America, and those of Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean descent. One in twelve African-Americans carries a sickle cell gene.

  1. Is this the same as Sickle Cell Anemia?

sickle_cell_disease_sm

In sickle cell disease, a form of hemoglobin known as hemoglobin S is formed through inheritance from one parent. If the genes passed down from both parents create hemoglobin S (a designated known as hemoglobin SS), the resulting condition is known as sickle cell anemia (SCA). SCA is the most common and severe form of SCD. It should be noted that other forms of sickle cell disease exist, representing other combinations of hemoglobin and relatively different amounts of hemoglobin S. These include the following:

  • Hemoglobin SS
  • Hemoglobin SC
  • Hemoglobin Sβ0 thalassemia
  • Hemoglobin Sβ+ thalassemia
  • Hemoglobin SD
  • Hemoglobin SE
  1. What does it mean if I have Sickle Cell Disease?

The problem is simple and relatively easily understood. Red blood cells (RBCs) carry oxygen from your lungs to tissues around the body. Normally hemoglobin is disc-shaped and quite able to form in ways allowing it to maneuver throughout the body in its quest to deliver oxygen. If the hemoglobin is deformed, it is less able or unable to carry oxygen. If you can’t carry oxygen, it’s not getting delivered to your organs and tissues. If it’s not getting delivered, there are consequences.

  1. Why do I get symptoms? What symptoms would I get if I had SCD?

sickle-cell blockage

It’s all about the lack of oxygen. The pain results from the equivalent of your body screaming from its absence. These pain crises are sudden, severe and often unrelenting, requiring ER visits and dramatic doses of medicine to reverse symptoms. These crises can occur anywhere such as the brain or lungs, but are typically seen in joints.

Symptoms may result from the rupture of these deformed cells (hemolysis). Sickle cells only last 10-20 days, compared to a normal lifespan of 90-120 days for normal cells. The lack of effective RBCs in your body is what’s known as anemia. Those of you who bleed monthly or otherwise have conditions affecting red blood cells recognize all too well the fatigue and energy loss associated with low RBC levels. Furthermore, the abnormally shaped cells themselves (in combination with the relative lack of oxygen delivery) can damage organs, most notably including the spleen but also including the brain, eyes, lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, penis, joints, bones, or skin.

  1. How is SCD treated?

On a relative scale, there’s much better news than existed a generation or two ago. In the US, back in 1973 the average lifespan of a patient with SCD was only 14 years old; today it is approximately 40-60 years. SCD produces a life-long illness. Today, stem cell transplantation of those cells producing normal red blood cells (called hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or HSCT) represents a cure for those that can obtain it. The rate limiting consideration for many is most sicklers are either too old or don’t have an appropriate healthy genetic match to receive a successful transplant.

In the absence of a cure, for most patients, management involves regular healthy measures and regular medical care to prevent complications. Special attention is given to maintaining hydration, appropriate blood cell counts and pain management when needed.

A truly unfortunate part of the disease is the relative lack of compassion offered to sufferers. These patients live a life of pain and go through life treated as drug-seekers in a way we never see others treated (e.g. those with cancer or Lupus, for example). Most have had surgery before they reached age 10. Patients with sickle cell anemia suffer from a decreased life expectancy. If you’ve made it to this point in the post, consider yourself aware. I hope you care enough to lend a hand when needed.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Straight, No Chaser: The Cancer Prevention Workbook

cancer-prevention-266x300

We continue with simple principles to avoid various forms of cancer, but in today’s Straight, No Chaser, we add some detail about the what’s and whys of the conversation. The areas bolded represent summary actions for your benefit.

Take Charge of Your Intake

Healthy eating Diet

1. Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet is a nutritious approach to reducing your cancer risks. Adopt these principles.

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans. No, there is not evidence that cancer supplements reduce cancer risks.
  • Avoid obesity. Avoid high calorie foods such as refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
  • Limit red meats (beef, pork, lamb) and avoid processed meats. Embrace chicken, seafood and legumes instead.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. Alcohol intake is associated with multiple forms of cancer, including breast, colon, kidney, liver and lung. Your risk increases with regular intake, the duration of intake and the amount you drink. Practice moderation in general and limit yourself to two drinks a day (if your male; women should limit themselves to one a day) in most settings to obtain a variety of health benefits, including cancer risk reduction.

2. Don’t use tobacco

It is one of the oddest human behaviors to purposely infuse smoke into the area of your body meant to deliver air to the rest of your body, and this is true for cigarettes and cigars. Smoking nearly screams cancer risk; it is linked to cancers of the bladder, cervix, kidney, larynx, lung, mouth, pancreas and throat. Even secondhand smoke exposure is linked to an increased link with lung cancer. Chewing tobacco is associated with cancers of the oral cavity and pancreas. Tobacco is your true “just say no” drug. This is simple. If you don’t smoke, avoid it. If you do smoke, stop.

Take Charge of Your Actions

diet-goals

3. Maintain a healthy weight and stay physically active

A healthy weight is defined by your heart, not your appearance. Being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, kidney, lung and prostate. If you want an amount of activity to use as a target, as a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your day. At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity is ideal.

4. Protect yourself from the sun

Skin cancer is one of the most common and preventable forms of cancer. Just be smart about your exposure. Avoid tanning beds, sunlamps, and midday sun. Seek out shade, cover yourself, wear bright or dark colors to reflect the suns rays away and use sunscreen.

5. Avoid risky behaviors

We’ll let rock and roll off the hook, but sex and drugs have direct links to cancer.

  • Practice safe sex. If you’re not practicing safe sex (by using condoms, abstinence or at least limiting your number of sexual partners), you are more likely to contract HPV and/or HIV. The links of HPV and cancer are noted above; the links of HIV include a higher risk of cancer of the anus, lung and liver.
  • Don’t share needles. Anyone injecting themselves with needles for illicit drug use should be considered a high risk for HIV and/or hepatitis. Sharing needles with an infected drug user can lead to those diseases. Hepatitis from IV drug use carries an increased risk of liver cancer.

Take Charge of Your Health Maintenance 

vaccination Ev1

6. Get immunized

There are two specific immunizations that have definite benefit in cancer prevention.

  • Immunize against Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. If you are sexually polygamous, have a sexually transmitted infection, are an IV drug user, a healthcare, public safety or other worker who might be exposed to blood or body fluids or are a male who has sex with other men, you are a strong candidate for immunization.
  • Immunize against HPV (Human papillomavirus). HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as cancers of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys ages 11 and 12. It is also available to both men and women age 26 or younger who didn’t have the vaccine as adolescents. Universal application of the HPV virus would virtually eliminate cervical cancer.

7. Get regular medical care

Learn to screen. Learn to self-exam yourself. Commit to regular evaluations. Even if you don’t prevent cancer, early detection gives you the very best chance of recovery after treatment.

Your health is your choice. Balance your life decisions in a way that allows you to enjoy yourself to the fullest while lowering your risks for cancer. Implementation of these tips will get you there. All things considered, this isn’t very much for you to commit to doing, particularly when you consider the benefits of doing so.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Straight, No Chaser: The Cancer Prevention Checklist

Logo_ReduceYourRisk

I’m going to present this information two separate ways: today a checklist, as simple as possible; and tomorrow with the same information explained briefly but with detail. You likely will find it of interest that many of these considerations are the same healthcare basics that promote good health generally. Always appreciate these considerations aren’t guarantees but reductions of risks.

So… here are three principles and a total of eight tips (in case you remember nothing else, go with the principles).

Cancer-Prevention-1

What you allow to enter your body matters.

  1. Eat healthy foods.
  2. Protect yourself from the sun.
  3. Avoid tobacco of any type.

Strengthen your body.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Be physically active.
  3. Get immunized.

Prevention and early detection are key.

  1. Avoid risky sexual and illicit drug-related behaviors.
  2. Engage in routine medical care, screenings and self-exams.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Straight, No Chaser: Cervical Cancer – The Sexually Transmitted Cancer

cervical-cancer-awareness

Let’s put this take home message up front: here’s a pretty good demonstration of the value of vaccines. I hope that each of you resolves to get any children you care for vaccinated before they become sexually active.

I want to thank my friend and colleague, Dr. Julius Ellis, noted Ob/Gyn physician for contributing to this post. Let’s start this with two simple statements:

  • Cervical cancer has basically been shown to be caused by an infection.
  • There soon will be no reason that anyone has to have cervical cancer.

female reproductive system

As a reminder, the cervix is the lower and narrow end of the uterus that connects the vagina to the upper part of the uterus (i.e. the womb). Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the US.

In 2018, it is estimated that:

  • 13,240 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer.
  • 4,170 women in the United States will die from cervical cancer.

Fortunately, over the last 40 years, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly, largely due to Pap tests. The even better news is the opportunity exists to virtually eradicate the disease. Cervical cancer is highly preventable because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are available. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.

HPV oral

Yes, cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and the most common STI is now known to be caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Some of you will recognize HPV as a cause of genital warts. This means if you ever develop warts, go get checked immediately (another good reason to do this is because genital syphilis may also present as warts). Even more importantly, certain HPV strains have been shown to cause virtually all cervical and anal cancers. HPV also causes some cancers of the vagina, penis, and oropharynx (a certain part of the throat—and yes, this is what Michael Douglas was referencing about having obtained throat cancer by performing oral sex).

Early on, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms, but advanced cervical cancer may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina, either of which may be persistent or abnormal from similar episodes you’ve had in the past. If you have any of these signs, see your physician for an evaluation of this and other possible causes of these symptoms.

Am I at risk for HPV? How do you get this?

HPV STD

Everyone having sex or who has ever had sex is at risk for HPV. In fact, nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. HPV is passed on through genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex, but also through oral sex and genital-to-genital contact without intercourse. HPV can be passed on between straight and same-sex partners even if and when the infected person has no signs or symptoms. It’s important to know there’s a big difference between obtaining the HPV virus and obtaining cancer from having the HPV virus.

If I get genital warts, will I get cancer?

HPV genital warts

Not necessarily, but the possibility is high enough that you need to get treated. Most HPV infections actually resolve on their own. It’s the ones that linger that pose particular concern.

If I do have warts, what increases my risks for these cancers?

hpv risks

Smoking, a weakened immune system, having had many children (for increased risk of cervical cancer), long-term oral contraceptive use (for increased risk of cervical cancer), and poor oral hygiene (for increased risk of oropharyngeal cancer) all increase the risk for developing cancer after a HPV infection.

How do I get this and how do I prevent it?

HPV

The most reliable way to prevent infection with HPV is abstinence, avoiding any skin-to-skin oral, anal, or genital contact with another. If you are sexually active, a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is the strategy most likely to prevent HPV infection. However, because of the lack of symptoms, it’s hard to know whether a partner is currently infected with HPV. Use of condoms reduces the transmission of HPV between partners, although areas not covered by a condom can still be infected.

HPV vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two HPV vaccines, branded as Gardasil (for the prevention of cervical, anal, vulvar, and vaginal cancer, precancerous lesions, and genital warts in these areas) and Cervarix (for the prevention of cervical cancer and precancerous cervical lesions caused by HPV). Both vaccines are highly effective, but neither has been approved for prevention of penile or oropharyngeal cancer. And yes, it’s safe and effective as young as age 9, although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends vaccination between ages 11–14. You must contact your physician for additional details on these important medications.

How do I treat HPV infections?

There’s no treatment for HPV itself, but the problems HPV causes can be treated. We’ll address the two major ones:

  • Genital warts may be treated topically by you or a healthcare provider. If not treated, they may multiply, go away, or stay the same.
  • Cervical cancer may be treated by your gynecologist, but be warned: Prevention is best, and early detection gives you the best chance for the best outcomes. Continue those annual exams.

There will soon come a time when all boys and girls are receiving vaccinations at around ages 11–12, and cervical cancer (in particular) will become a rare entity. That only happens if you get your family immunized. The science is in. There’s no good reasons left to wait.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Health Prevention, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer, Infectious Disease, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Straight, No Chaser: Prevention and Treatment of Food Allergies

FoodAllergies_enHD

Whether or not you personally have a food allergy, it is likely you will find yourself in a situation with someone who does. Food allergies affect approximately 15 million Americans. Given that this could be a life-threatening event, it’s important for you to know some basics about addressing allergic reactions to food as they occur.

Tips to Prevent

Let’s start with some tips for you to better prevent allergic reactions, because once you become aware that you have a food allergy, avoidance means everything. Remember from this post that allergic reactions can occur without you eating the food; simple exposures such as touching or breathing the food can prompt a reaction.

 Peanut-warning-sign

  1. Develop a habit of carefully checking the ingredient labels of food products. You don’t get to live life casually. You must be diligent and make sure you’re not exposing yourself.
  2. Learn other names for the food or foods that you and your doctor think it best to avoid. Especially when you’re eating out, you should present these names on a list to your kitchen staff to ensure your safety. Have the waiters check with the cook or chef. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may wish to do this before entering restaurants, as vapors may be enough to trigger reactions in some.
  3. Have your physician provide you a list of symptoms and instructions in case of an allergic reaction. Keep it within easy reach, and share it when out and about eating. Yes, you need to be this diligent.

 med bracelet

Tips to deal with emergencies

  • The first consideration is you need a plan. Your life probably isn’t as simple as the movies, where you get to stab yourself with some epinephrine and go about your business five minutes later. Rummaging through a pharmacy looking for Benadryl while your throat is closing isn’t your best course of action.
  • Wearing a medical alert bracelet can be life saving in the event you pass out. It can be the only tip available to a medical professional trying to save you.

epipen

  • If you’ve been instructed by your physician on how to self-administer epinephrine (adrenaline), go for it under the correct circumstances.
  • In the absence of that, or while you’re following your physician’s instructions, calling 9-1-1 (i.e., emergency services, an ambulance) is your best bet. They will have the medicine needed to rescue you and the equipment needed to help you if things go wrong. Because you might not have much time, getting help can be more important that attempting to treat yourself.
  • You should be aware that once in the emergency room, treatment focuses on blunting the immune response with steroids and various medicines called antihistamines (histamines are substances that are released by the body in response to perceived threats; inappropriate histamine release causes many of the symptoms of an allergic reaction).

Advances in Food Allergy Treatment

There is no cure for food allergy. Researchers in food allergy treatments are focusing on new methods of treatment, some of which your primary care physician or allergist may consider.

  • Oral and sublingual immunotherapy: This involves providing small amounts of the allergic substance either by mouth or under the tongue, and treating reactions as they occur. The idea here is to allow you to better tolerate increasing exposures to the allergen.
  • Chinese herbal medicine: An herbal remedy known as FAHF-2 is being studied to assess effectiveness against those serious, life threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).
  • Anti-IgE therapy: IgE is the molecule our bodies use to fight off allergic threats. Anti-IgE molecules bind to IgE in an effort to curb that response and provide possible short-term relief treatment from food allergies.

While these treatments are still in ongoing studies to determine safety and long-term effectiveness, these potential advances represent the best source of optimism in food allergy research in recent memory. If you have any additional questions, certainly contact your Sterling Medical Advice expert consultant or your physician.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Endocrine/Metabolic, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

I often say whatever you put in your mouth either helps or harms you. Today, we discuss food allergies, which sounds like a cruel trick or something out of a horror movie, but unfortunately, they’re all too real. Let’s address questions on the topic.

 food.allergies.101.cnn.640x480

Why do I get allergies anyway?

Food and other types of allergies result from your body mistaking harmless substances for potential threats. The resulting immune response is an attempt to defeat that threat. You are caught in the crossfire, and you exhibit symptoms as a result.

Why do I get allergies to foods I’ve eaten before without a problem?

In many instances, the first time you’re exposed to a certain new food, your body is only primed, and you won’t experience symptoms. A subsequent exposure will prompt the full allergic response.

Is there a way to know if I’m at risk?

Food allergies are more likely in those who have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. Take a minute today and ask your parents if they have any allergies to foods or medicines. It’s good to be aware.

How do I know my symptoms are an allergic reaction?

We’ll discuss symptoms shortly, but one big clue is the timing of symptoms. Allergic reactions due to food take place within minutes to a few hours after exposure. It’s not as important for you to know the symptoms as to realize that you’re not well and that evaluation is needed.

 food allergy sx

So what are the symptoms?

Let’s start with the life-threatening considerations. If you have any shortness of breath, mental status changes (e.g. confusion, severe dizziness) or sensation that your throat is closing, get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include the following.

  • Itching or swelling of your mouth or the tissues between your mouth and throat
  • Hives, wheals, or an eruption of your eczema
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Drop in your blood pressure

food allergy touch

Can you get food allergies from touching foods?

Yes. As an example, those with peanut allergies can have an allergic reaction from breathing in peanut residue, touching peanuts or using skin products that contain peanuts.

 food-allergies

Which foods are most likely to cause allergies?

Here is a partial list of foods commonly causing food allergies.

  • Cow’s mik
  • Eggs
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Peanuts/tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Cow’s milk? Is that the same as lactose intolerance? 

No. That’s a different consideration and an upcoming post.

What about treatment?

That’s tomorrow’s post. Obviously knowledge and avoidance are key.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Straight, No Chaser: Blood Clots in Your Legs – Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)

dvt

If you’re a sports fan, you’re likely aware of the death of a 52-year-old former star of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, Jerome Kersey, followed two days after by the discovery of the same condition in a current star of the NBA’s Miami Heat, Chris Bosh. You may also recall tennis superstar Serena Williams’ career was once placed on hold for a year. The condition from which they all suffered was pulmonary embolus (blood clots in the lungs). Straight, No Chaser will discuss those in the next two posts, but today we will address the condition that most often precedes the development of clots in the lungs.

DVT_clot_illustration

A blood clot represents a blockage of a blood vessel somewhere in the body, usually the lower extremities (legs and thighs), the lungs (pulmonary embolus) or the brain (a stroke). Today we’ll discuss the variety that occurs in the lower extremities, which are generally referred to as deep venous thrombosis (DVTs). In case you’re thinking that a clot in the leg doesn’t sound as bad as a clot in the lungs or the head, you’re correct – until you understand that DVTs break off and travel to other body sites, leading to blockage elsewhere (This is called embolism.).

Today’s challenges are to appreciate the risks of developing DVTs and the symptoms. Risk factors include the following:

  • Birth control pills or other estrogen use (this combined with cigarette smoking pushes the risk even higher)
  • Cancer
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Obesity
  • Prolonged immobilization
  • Recent pelvic or leg fracture
  • Recent surgery (most often the pelvis or lower extremities)
  • Recent travel involving long periods of sitting
  • Certain medical conditions, most notably lupus

Deep-Vein-Thrombosis-Homeopathic

Symptoms most commonly are in one leg or the other and reflect the fact that the vein is being blocked. These include pain, swelling, redness and warmth. The above picture is not typical. The presentation is usually much more subtle.

Diagnosis and treatment are relatively straightforward as long as they occur in time (meaning before the clots have broken off). Diagnosis is usually accomplished by an ultrasound of the lower extremities; once discovered, you’ll be placed on blood thinners. It’s important to know that blood thinners prevent the formation of new clots. They do not dissolve existing clots. That’s usually not necessary, as many DVTs simply dissolve. If it doesn’t, DVTs that embolize are life-threatening (more so from the pelvis and thigh than the legs). Unfortunately pulmonary emboli are among the most missed medical diagnoses and causes of death.

Try to manage your controllable risk factors, and be aware – especially when you’re dealing with a risk factor that you can’t control (like surgery).

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Cardiology/Heart, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer, Respiratory/Lungs

Straight, No Chaser: Blood Transfusions – Facts About Giving and Receiving

donate_blood_1

When was the last time you saved a life? I’m not talking about an Internet game. There are many ways in which your efforts can make a significant difference in the life of someone whose life is at risk. One such instance is donating blood. This Straight, No Chaser reviews the basics of blood transfusion because it’s Patient Blood Management Awareness Week.

You have a greater chance of needing a blood transfusion than you may think.

donate blood faq

Each year, almost 5 million Americans need blood transfusions, meaning 5 million examples of active or potential people in the midst of imminent or potential life-threatening conditions. These can include any of the following:

  • Rapid loss of blood from injuries such as gunshot or stab wounds, motor vehicle collisions or broken bones;
  • Loss of blood during operations;
  • Severe anemia from disease such as cancer, sickle-cell anemia, kidney disease or iron deficiency;
  • Bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia or thrombocytopenia.

Let’s recap why blood is so vital.

donate how_much_blood

Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells of various tissues and organs throughout the body. Failure to have an adequate supply of either oxygen or nutrients causes damage and/or death to the cells affected. You recognize many diseases in which this occurs, including heart attacks and strokes. Blood itself has many components, including red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma. Whole blood contains all of these, but more often transfusions occur via individual parts.

Do you know your blood type?

donate blood

On a list of things you should know about yourself, that really ranks high on the list. When seconds count, being able to share that information can make all the difference. The blood used in a transfusion must work with your blood type. If it doesn’t, antibodies (proteins) in your blood attack the new blood and make you sick.

  • Everyone has one of the following blood types: A, B, AB, or O. Also, every person’s blood is either Rh-positive or Rh-negative. So, if you have type A blood, it’s either A positive or A negative; that classification combines the two components that measure incompatibilities between blood.
  • Type O blood is called the universal donor, meaning it’s safe for almost everyone. As such, Type O blood is used for emergencies when there’s no time to test a person’s blood type. Approximately 40 percent of the population has type O blood.
  • People who have type AB blood are called universal recipients, means they can get any type of blood.
  • If you have Rh-positive blood, you can get Rh-positive or Rh-negative blood. But if you have Rh-negative blood, you should only get Rh-negative blood. Rh-negative blood is used for emergencies when there’s no time to test a person’s Rh type.
  • All of this means if you’re AB positive, you’re in a good position to receive donor blood and are relatively less likely to have allergic reactions to blood. Any blood type is good regarding the ability to donate.

Is donated blood safe?

donation_questions

Blood banks collect, test, and store blood. All donated blood is meticulously screened for viruses, other infectious agents and other factors that could make you sick.

It’s helpful to know that not all transfusions require blood donated from a stranger. If you’re going to have surgery and if it’s surgery that is scheduled months in advance, your doctor may ask whether you would like to donate your own blood for potential use if needed during the surgery. Your blood would be drawn well in advance and stored in a blood bank. Even during surgeries, surgeons try to reduce the amount of blood lost so that fewer transfusions are needed. Sometimes blood lost can be collected and reused for the same patient.

Are there alternatives to blood transfusions?

It’s very interesting that of all the medical advances that have been made, there are still no man-made alternative to human blood. That said, researchers are trying to find ways to make blood. At this point, researchers have developed medicines that may help do the job of some blood parts. For example, some people who have kidney problems take a medicine called erythropoietin, which helps their bodies make more red blood cells. As a result, they may need fewer blood transfusions.

Will you donate blood?

donate-blood1

What this all boils down to is having sufficient blood supplies is vital to hospitals’ ability to take care of patients. Please consider this gift of life. You can easily check your ability to donate by contacting your local hospital or the Red Cross by visiting http://www.redcrossblood.org/give/drive/driveSearch.jsp. Besides, donating blood actually comes with plenty of benefits, including reducing cholesterol, improving circulation, reducing iron buildup and identifying any abnormalities you may have in your blood.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: Cervical Health Awareness

cervical_health_awareness_month

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and to that end, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) boldly proclaims “No woman should die of cervical cancer.”

It’s cervical health month in the United States, and this point has a rather simple message: Cervical cancer is highly preventable and can be cured when discovered and treatment early. Here are some quick tips to help you check this off of your list of concerns.

  • Every child should get vaccinated at age 11 or 12. Even if you’ve reached age 26 and haven’t been vaccinated, you should discuss options with your physician.
  • The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 21.

pap smear

  • The Pap test (or smear) should be performed regularly at age 21. It looks for precancerous changes to the cervix that identify the need for early treatment. In many cases a normal test will eliminate the need for another test for the next three years, but your physician will discuss your individual circumstances in this regard.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus that is now known to be the cause of cervical cancer. Furthermore, human papillomavirus (HPV) is sexually transmitted. The HPV test can be done at the same time as the Pap test from the same examination.

Hopefully knowing these simple tools will convince you to be attentive to preventing and managing your cervical health. This is a public health success story in that cervical cancer could be eliminated if everyone followed the above steps. The rest is up to you.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under Health Prevention, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer, Infectious Disease, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Straight, No Chaser: Me on the Business End of a Colonoscopy, aka Getting Screened for Colorectal Cancer

colonoscopy

The last two posts have highlighted recommended screening examinations for men and women between ages 40-64. In today’s Straight, No Chaser, I want to pay special attention to one examination in particular: the screening colonoscopy, largely because I had the experience of getting it done just yesterday – but more on that later in the post.

Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in the United States after lung cancer (stop smoking!). As previously noted in the post on recommended screenings, everyone should have a screening colonoscopy at least by age 50. Certain groups of individuals, such as African-Americans and those with positive family history for colon cancer should have the test done earlier. Simply put, colonoscopy is definitive in screening and diagnosing colorectal cancer, and it is one of the most successful ways to both prevent and treat early cancer.

Here’s a bit about how a colonoscopy is done.

colonoscopy-icons

First, you have to do a bowel prep. Over a few days, you’ll eliminate certain foods (e.g. corn, nuts) from your diet, then progress to an all liquid diet, followed by taking a few doses of a very strong laxative to completely clean out the contents of your intestines (those of you looking for a good detox should be so lucky). I actually lost 3.5 pounds doing this.

colonoscopy_procedure

The exam involves using a tube (colonoscope) to view your digestive tissue from your rectum all the way up the large intestine (approximately 5 feet). It includes cleaning away and suction stool that blocks the view, direct visualization of the intestines and real-time removal of suspicious tissue (e.g. polyps) that could be cancerous or early signs of cancer. You may or may not choose to be sedated (put to sleep) during this. Of course, my medical curiosity was such that I wanted to see everything on the screen in real time, so I went without any medications, and yes, I lived to tell the story: the level of discomfort never got higher than a 3 on a scale of 1-10.

The point here is simple and straightforward: Most people in whom colon cancer is found and treated early will not only be alive 5 years later, but many will live a normal life span. On the other hand, when it’s not, colorectal cancer is very dangerous because it often doesn’t cause noticeable signs or symptoms until the cancer is advanced and much more difficult to treat. The screening colonoscopy gives you the best chance to know where you stand.

colonoscopy-s2-why-is-colonoscopy-done

So this isn’t that complicated. If you’re older, African-American, have a positive family history for colon cancer or inflammatory intestinal conditions, live a sedentary lifestyle or have a low-fiber, high-fat diet, you are at risk. A word about your diet: you should know that according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, just 1.7 ounces of processed meats consumed daily (equivalent to less than two strips of bacon) roughly increase a person’s risk for colorectal cancer by 21 percent. More definitely, no amount of processed meat is considered safe for consumption.

Thankfully, my colonoscopy was perfectly normal: I keep telling you diet is 75% of health (unless you’re either lucky or unlucky in your genetic makeup)! The actual colonoscopy took just over 10 minutes, and I won’t have to go through this for another 10 years. Isn’t that investment of time worth giving yourself the best chance for a clean bill of colon and rectal health?

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Me on the Business End of a Colonoscopy, aka Getting Screened for Colorectal Cancer

Filed under Gastrointestinal, General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer