Monday, August 11, 2014

Your Choice: Medication or Food?

As health care costs rise everyone is looking for ways to save and cut costs. Recent studies and polls reveal that many are foregoing their medicine for other necessities of life like food and shelter.  Patient compliance has dropped to a new low.  Patients are taking their medication as needed when their budget allows.  This means less to none on a daily basis. Many are finding this indeed saves money, and possibly affects their health outcome minimally.

As food is the sustenance of life, many are making healthier choices.  This helps their medical maladies as well.  For hypertension and diabetes proper food choices can often alleviate the need for “stronger” treatment with medication. As more patients learn about dietary management and adhere to it, they find that they can indeed save money.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are noncompliant with your medication because of the cost, or side effects that may cause other conditions requiring more medication, more money.  Be sure to get formal diet and nutrition counseling.  This will help make the right choices when you shop for food.  Contrary to popular myth, healthy food is actually affordable.  Shop smart to save your money and your health!     

Monday, July 28, 2014

How To Connect With Your Inner Doctor - You

Studies and common sense have shown that doctors who listen to their patients receive the proper care and diagnosis over 90% of the time.  Self care is very important as are routine check ups on yourself. It is time for you to take responsibility for your health. It is time for you to know what your health numbers are. It is time for you to know your medical conditions, risk factors, and family medical history.

Give yourself a medical checkup. Start by writing or typing or recording your medical history - medical conditions, surgery, treatments, family history. Add your medication. Save it. Update it. Add to it. Correct it. Keep it current. Keep a copy in a secure place.

Examine as much of yourself as you can. Look at your skin, hair, nails, eyes, teeth, and every part of your body that is visible to you. Make note of any abnormalities. Make note of any symptoms you have - new, old and ongoing. Go through each body system. Add this information to your medical history.

Add to this your doctors' and health care providers' names, phone number, land address, and email address.

Call your doctor for an appointment for a comprehensive CPE (complete physical exam).  Get it done routinely (yearly, every other year, etc. ). Take your information and notes with you on your appointment. Review everything with your doctor. Take notes.

Sign a medical record release to obtain a copy of your medical record from each doctor you see at the time of the visit.

Be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment within a month or less to go over everything with your doctor. Get copies of your information including blood tests, and any other tests as well as medical notes.

Take charge. Care for your health is good health care. Be the healthiest you can be. Best health!

Details on all of the above are explained simply in Patient Handbook to Medical Care: Your Personal Health Guide 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sun Safety Saves Your Skin

The incidence of melanoma is rising.  Cancer statistics estimate that the incidence doubles every 10 to 20 years.  It is one of several skin cancers that may result from repeated exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR), natural (sun) or artificial (tanning bed, phototherapy lamp). UVA, UVB, and UVC rays cause irreparable skin damage which leads to wrinkles, premature aging, and pre-cancerous lesions. Sunburn during childhood as well as frequent bouts of sunburn increase the risk, too.

Of course total avoidance of the sun would be ideal; however, it is a good source of natural Vitamin D, and should be taken in moderation. Avoiding the painful peril of sunburn is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer.  Simple, easy ways to do this are:
  • Limit sun exposure – avoid 10AM to 4PM, spend less than one hour in direct sun - less if burn easily, prone to skin cancer.
  • Wear protective clothing – wide brim hats, long sleeves, long pants, skirts and/ or clothes made with sun protection fabric.
  • Umbrella and shade.
  • Use sunscreen SPF 15 or greater. Put on every hour if sweating or swimming. Put on every area exposed to sun, and be sure to remember behind the ears and on the neck. Stay well hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Be aware of medication that you take that causes photosensitivity (medication interacts with the light to induce sunburn).
Symptoms of sunburn include redness and pain over the skin (even through clothes especially if wet).  This may be accompanied by fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and blistering. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Use of cool compresses/bath/shower, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), hydration, and rest should help ease symptoms of mild sunburn.  Oatmeal baths, milk baths, aloe vera plant/products and honey are also useful.

Best health!

by J. L. Richardson, MD, family practice physician, patient advocate, and author of Patient Handbook to Medical Care: Your Personal Health Guide.