Syphilis is on the Rise…Again!

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So when I accepted my current position at the health department, I couldn’t help but notice that Syphilis was way more common than I could’ve ever imagined.  My previous preconceived notions led me to believe that no one really had Syphilis anymore and it was a disease of old(er) people.  Unfortunately, I was sadly mistaken.  Within a week of working at my job, I was telling anyone who would listen to please PRACTICE SAFE SEX…Syphilis is making a comeback!

Much like many other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), Syphilis doesn’t discriminate.  Young, old, Black, White, poor, and well off… if you’re sexually active, you’re at risk for contracting Syphilis.  So far my memorable case was a 14 year old Haitian girl who had Syphilis (and a host of other STDs), living at a detention center, and to top it off, she was pregnant.  SMH <<<< That doesn’t have to be your story.

I was reading an article this morning that confirmed my suspicions.  Syphilis cases are actually increasing in numbers.  The main groups at risk are both promiscuous homosexual males and bisexual males, so be careful ladies!

According to the CDC, “In 2013, the rate of reported primary and secondary syphilis in the U.S. was more than double the lowest-ever rate reported in 2000” (MMWR, 2014).   Scary, right?

So the good news is that Syphilis is totally preventable.  It’s a sexually transmitted disease, so use condoms at every sexual encounter.  Limit the number of sexual partners and try to get into a monogamous relationship with someone you trust.  It’s also a good idea to get tested with your partner for all STDs (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, HIV, etc.) before becoming sexually intimate so that you guys start with a clean slate and there aren’t any surprises.  No one gets hurt or sick and no one ends up in jail… I know I have at least one crazy reader out there. LOL I don’t condone violence, BTW.

If you do get infected with Syphilis, know that it is treatable with 1-3 injections of Penicillin.  However, you should keep in mind that Syphilis can lead to brain damage and a host of other horrible outcomes so it isn’t anything to play with.  Just because it can be cured, doesn’t mean you should take your chances and risk your life.

Again, get tested and PRACTICE SAFE SEX.

Remember ladies, keep a healthy demeanor, both inside and out! 🙂

 Syphilis_false_shame_and_fear_may_destroy_your_future

Patton ME, et al “Primary and secondary syphilis — United States, 2005–2013” MMWR 2014; 63: 402-406.

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Improve the Efficacy of Your Birth Control Pills

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Are you relying on birth controls as your family planning method?  Keep reading…

Birth control pills are a great way to avoid pregnancy and allow you to live the life you want to live baby-free, but only if used correctly and consistently.  When used as the manufacturers and healthcare providers intend, oral contraceptives have a failure rate of less than 1%.  Pretty good statistic.  But due to human error (forgetting to take the pill, taking them at various times of the day everyday, etc), the actual failure rate is actually higher.  

Studies have shown that the failure rates of oral contraceptive pills are higher in women with higher body mass indices (BMI), women who already who children, and women with lower educational levels.  So clearly the take home message for pill users are to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise (BMI should be 18.5 – 24.9), delay childbearing until you’re ready (financially, emotionally, mentally, etc.), and obtain a high school diploma or higher.  Reach for the stars!

Of course, there’s always the option to switch to a more effective birth control methods, such as Depo injection, Nexplanon, Mirena/Paragard IUDs, or permanent methods.  I personally love IUDs, but speak with your healthcare provider to decide on a method that is best for you and your situation.

Remember ladies, to keep a healthy demeanor, both inside and out.   

Attention Expecting Mothers: Placenta and Your Unborn Child

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Hot Off the Press!  Researchers have made an astounding discovery recently that may shock many OB-GYNs, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners to their cores.  The placenta, which was considered sterile by the aforementioned, is full of about 300 types of bacteria.  Thankfully, most of the bacteria found in the placenta during this study was determined to be harmless.  This new data is important because it has the potential to affect a woman’s pregnancy and the health of her unborn child. 

Past and present preggos:  Remember how you have to give a urine specimen at every prenatal visit to check for urinary tract infections (UTIs), glucose/sugar, and protein spilling into your urine?  Annoying, right?  But, keep in mind that UTIs have been linked to increased risk of premature births.  We need those little angels making their grand entrance any earlier than they’re supposed to arrive.  Scientists are speculating that the wrong mix of bacteria in the placenta is a bad recipe that may result in the baby being born prematurely.  The study also brings to light that we need more research on the true effects of antibiotics taken by expectant mothers during pregnancy. 

Here’s something to keep in mind:  During the study, even when women were diagnosed with a UTI early in the pregnancy and subsequently successfully treated with antibiotics, the placenta still showed traces of the bacteria.  UTIs are a risk factor for premature births.  No bueno. 

So why is so much attention being paid to the placenta?  Well, the answer is simple one.  The placenta is a unique organ that is only present during pregnancy.  The placenta is able to provide oxygen and important nutrients to the developing baby.  It is also responsible for secreting certain hormones and removing harmful wastes from the baby’s temporary oasis. 

Interesting information, right?  During your next prenatal visit, mention this to your healthcare provider so you guys can have a discussion about and come up with a game plan to reduce your chances of infections and having your baby too early.

As always, remember to keep a healthy demeanor , both inside and out!

Vaginal Discharge

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So a lot of patients come into the clinic with complaints of vaginal discharge.  Sometimes there’s cause for alarm, but more often than not, it is perfectly normal to have vaginal discharge.  The vagina is similar to a self-cleaning oven.  It cleans itself, which is part of the reason why we (as in females) have discharge.  Normal physiologic discharge should be clear to white, thin or creamy, and odorless for the most part.  It may or may not be sticky or mucus-like.  All of the above is normal.

However, if you begin to notice:

  • Fishy or foul odor
  • Green discharge
  • Yellow discharge
  • Grey discharge
  • Frothy discharge
  • Burning with urination
  • Pain or bleeding after sex
  • Clumps of discharge similar to cottage cheese
  • Itchy

Please make an appointment to visit your healthcare provider.  None of the aforementioned characteristics of vaginal discharge is normal and warrants further investigation.  Keep in mind, it is not necessary to bring in a sample of your discharge.  Your healthcare provider will want to get a sample of the discharge themselves to examine.  Most providers I know, including myself, would really rather not be subjected to looking at old discharge, blood clots, or whatever rolled up in a ball of tissue.

It is important to remember to NEVER douche.  Doing so only interrupts the balance of normal vaginal flora and makes everything worse.  Keep in mind, the vagina cleans itself.  It doesn’t need any help.

I hope this helps!

Remember ladies, keep a healthy demeanor both inside and out!

Important Tests, Exams, and Immunizations for women in their 20s and 30s

Happy New Year!  Each new year presents us with a fresh start and another chance to get ourselves together mentally, spiritually, and physically.  Make this year the year that you take control of your health and get on track to be the best you possible. Below I have compiled a list of lab tests, exams, and immunizations or vaccines that are vital to your well being.

Be sure to ask your primary care provider (PCP), whether it’s a physician or nurse practitioner :), for:

  • Head to toe physical exam, including height and weight ( these measurements are used to calculate your BMI, or body mass index, which ideally should fall between 18.5-24.9)
  • HIV test (If you are sexually active, this should be done every 3-6 months, but at least once a year)  Know your status!!!
  • Diabetes test ( This test is esp. important if you have a positive family history)
  • Depression screening (Don’t be afraid to speak with someone if you’re feeling sad or find it hard to deal with life at times.  There’s hope/help for times like that.
  • Eye exam (You only get one set of eyes; take care of them)
  • Hearing screening (hopefully blasting your favorite songs in the car or through your headphones hasn’t affected your hearing)
  • Skin and mole exam (This can be done by your PCP or a dermatologist.  Don’t forget to wear sunscreen lotion, even if you’re Black.  Melanoma doesn’t discriminate.)
  • Dental and oral cancer exam (Protect and perfect your beautiful smile)
  • Thyroid test (Your thyroid is the master gland of your body.  Make sure it’s in tip top shape.)
  • Blood pressure screening and cholesterol test (Heart disease is the number one cause of preventable death. Ideal blood pressure should be below 120/80 and your total cholesterol should be below 200.)
  • Pap smear (checks for abnormal cervical cell changes indicative of cervical cancer and HPV, which causes genital warts and cervical cancer.)
  • Pelvic exam (this should include STD check, esp. for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea which are common in women 25 years and younger)
  • Clinical breast exam (you should be doing self breast exams at home monthly, also.)
  • Flu shot (You should get this vaccine every year.  Many people still die from the flu every year!)
  • TDAP shot (pertussis or whooping cough is coming back with a vengeance and tetanus or lock jaw is nothing to scoff at)
  • Gardasil vaccine (Series of 3 injections of 6 months to protect you from 4 major strands of HPV.  Females ages 9-26 are encouraged to get this vaccine regardless of sexual activity.)
  • Meningococcal vaccine (Important if you’ll be living in close quarters with other people, such as in a dorm or sorority house.)

I hope this list helps you put together a game plan with your healthcare provider so that you can achieve an optimal level of health this year and beyond.  Your PCP should be able to customize your healthcare plan to fit your individual needs.  Stay well!

Ladies, always remember to keep  a healthy demeanor, both inside and out!

Know Your Breasts

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October is breast cancer awareness month, which means that more and more women become increasingly concerned about their breast health and will schedule appointments with their healthcare providers.  While it’s great that you want to have a clinical breast exam to detect any abnormalities, remember that healthcare is a partnership between you and your healthcare provider.  The first step to taking control of your breast health is having a sense of breast self-awareness.  Follow these easy four steps and your healthcare provider (HCP) will be impressed with the amount of effort you’ve put into your health.

  • Risk analysis:  Are you at risk for having breast cancer?
  1. Have an open and honest talk with your family to learn about your family’s health history
  2. Speak with your HCP about your own personal risk of breast cancer
  • Screening: Have you been properly screened for breast cancer?
  1. If you are an increased risk for breast cancer, ask you HCP about certain screening tests that are more appropriate for your situation.
  2. If you are 40 and over, you should get a yearly mammogram and clinical breast exam.
  3. Starting at 20 years old, you should have a clinical breast exam performed at least every 3 years.
  • Self-Awareness: Everyone is unique and different; what’s normal for you?
  1. Be sure to do your monthly self breast exams a week after your menstrual cycle so that you can get better acquainted with your breasts and be able to detect any changes.
  2. If you notice any of the following symptoms, be sure to report to your HCP’s office expeditiously for an exam and to execute a plan of action.
  • New onset of constant breast pain in one spot
  • Change in size, shape, or contour of breast
  • Nipple discharge
  • Sudden inverted nipple or other parts of breast
  • New lump, knot, or thickening in breast
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rashon your nipple
  • Swelling, warmth, redness, or discoloration of your breast
  • Dimpling of skin of breast or if your breast begins to look like an orange peel
  1. Live a healthy life:  Are you doing your part to live a healthy lifestyle?
  • Get to a healthy weight for your height
  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Exercise or get some physical activity at least 30 mins a day 5x a week
  • Avoid alcohol, drug, and tobacco use
  • Limit postmenopausal hormone use (Would you rather deal with hot flashes or battle cancer?)

Become an active participant in your health and your body will reward you…and you’ll earn cool points with your healthcare provider!

 

Remember ladies, keep a healthy demeanor, both inside and out!

Know Your Breasts

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October is breast cancer awareness month, which means that more and more women become increasingly concerned about their breast health and will schedule appointments with their healthcare providers.  While it’s great that you want to have a clinical breast exam to detect any abnormalities, remember that healthcare is a partnership between you and your healthcare provider.  The first step to taking control of your breast health is having a sense of breast self-awareness.  Follow these easy four steps and your healthcare provider (HCP) will be impressed with the amount of effort you’ve put into your health.

  • Risk analysis:  Are you at risk for having breast cancer?
  1. Have an open and honest talk with your family to learn about your family’s health history
  2. Speak with your HCP about your own personal risk of breast cancer
  • Screening: Have you been properly screened for breast cancer?
  1. If you are an increased risk for breast cancer, ask you HCP about certain screening tests that are more appropriate for your situation.
  2. If you are 40 and over, you should get a yearly mammogram and clinical breast exam.
  3. Starting at 20 years old, you should have a clinical breast exam performed at least every 3 years.
  • Self-Awareness: Everyone is unique and different; what’s normal for you?
  1. Be sure to do your monthly self breast exams a week after your menstrual cycle so that you can get better acquainted with your breasts and be able to detect any changes.
  2. If you notice any of the following symptoms, be sure to report to your HCP’s office expeditiously for an exam and to execute a plan of action.
  • New onset of constant breast pain in one spot
  • Change in size, shape, or contour of breast
  • Nipple discharge
  • Sudden inverted nipple or other parts of breast
  • New lump, knot, or thickening in breast
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rashon your nipple
  • Swelling, warmth, redness, or discoloration of your breast
  • Dimpling of skin of breast or if your breast begins to look like an orange peel
  1. Live a healthy life:  Are you doing your part to live a healthy lifestyle?
  • Get to a healthy weight for your height
  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Exercise or get some physical activity at least 30 mins a day 5x a week
  • Avoid alcohol, drug, and tobacco use
  • Limit postmenopausal hormone use (Would you rather deal with hot flashes or battle cancer?)

Become an active participant in your health and your body will reward you…and you’ll earn cool points with your healthcare provider!

 

Remember ladies, keep a healthy demeanor, both inside and out!

FREE MAMMOGRAMS

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Attention women of South Florida:  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  In an effort to encourage women to get and stay healthy, your local health department is offering free mammograms to eligible women.

Eligibility requirements:

  • At least 50 years and
  • Little or no health insurance and
  • Doesn’t have Medicaid or Medicare and
  • Meet the program’s specific income guidelines and
  • Has valid picture ID and
  • Lives in Palm Beach County

Services offered for free or reduced cost include:

  • Clinical breast exams
  • Mammograms
  • Referrals for treatment
  • Diagnostic testing if results are abnormal

Participants must be available to complete all diagnostic testing within 60 days.

 

If you or someone you know can benefit from this program, call 561-548-1578 or visit browardchd.org for more information and to schedule an appointment.

If you don’t meet these requirements or don’t live in South Florida, you can visit the Susan G. Komen Foundation website (ww5.komen.org/) and find a place that offers free or low cost mammograms.

Now there isn’t any excuses about getting the proper screening.  Take advantage of all the programs geared towards women’s health.

Remember to keep a healthy demeanor, inside and out.

Help Protect Your Baby From Birth Defects

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prettyblkbabyI’m sure many of you have heard medical professionals mention folic acid, or folate, when you went in for your annual check ups, but may not know just how important it is for your body.  So let’s begin by defining folic acid.  Folic acid is a B vitamin that can help make and maintain new red blood cells.  It is essential for the production of red blood cells and your body depends on it greatly.  When your body becomes deficient in folate, you become anemic.  Folic acid is an essential vitamin for preventing a birth defect in babies such as  spinal bifida , which is a malformation of the brain and  spine.  Birth defects of the brain and spine can cause major health problems for your baby, or even worse, death.

Fortunately, the likelihood of experiencing these problems can be greatly reduced by taking a folate supplement or multivitamin that has 100% of your daily value.  Most women only need 400 mcg of folate to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida and  anencephaly.  You can also ensure your body has enough folic acid in store by eating foods high in folate such as fortified breads and cereals, leafy green veggies, peas, beans, and orange juice.

Making sure that you’re taking in an adequate amount of folic acid is a good idea even if you’re not pregnant because almost 1/2 of all pregnancies are mistakes  unintended.  With that being said, your body must be prepared at all times for the sake of you and your unborn child.

Research has shown that folic acid may also reduce your risk of having hypertension or high blood pressure and delay cellular DNA changes that can lead to cancer.

Folic acid supplements and multivitamins containing folic acid are safe, cheap, and easily accessible  at your local retail stores.

For more information, visit http://www.marchofdimes.com

Ladies, always remember to keep a healthy demeanor, both inside and out. 🙂