Posts made in October, 2013

What Health Questions Should I Ask My Doctor?

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Q & ANot everyone can reach his or her healthcare provider whenever you have health-related questions between the office visits. Therefore, many of us may have numerous questions in mind and you may wonder what questions are important to ask during the office visit. Majority of the time, office visits are scheduled for about 15 minutes or 30 minutes if you need a physical exam. You would want to get the most out of the visit and obtain helpful information on how to manage conditions that you may have.

While you may be able to find information on numerous medical conditions online, some of the questions require personalized answers from your primary care provider who knows your detailed medical history. Here are some of the questions you should ask during the office visit to your doctor. First, if you are seeing a different primary care physician for the first time, you should always let him or her know about your past medical history and family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. This applies to everyone regardless of your age. In addition, you might want to inquire what screening tests are appropriate for your age.

The next few sets of questions are based on different chronic conditions.

If you have diabetes, you might want to ask these important questions:
1) What time of the day should I check my blood glucose?
2) How often should I check my blood glucose?
3) Should I keep a record of my blood glucose when I check it at home?
4) What is hemoglobin A1C?
5) What medications work together with insulin (if you take insulin)?
6) Can I adjust my own insulin (if you are on insulin)?
7) How often should I go for eye exam and why?
8) Do I need to see a foot doctor?
9) Always tell your doctor if you are experiencing pins and needles sensation in your arms or legs and sexual dysfunction.

If you have high blood pressure, the following questions are important to ask your doctor:
1) What is the goal blood pressure for me?
2) Do I need to monitor my blood pressure at home?
3) How often should I check my blood pressure?
4) Where can I check my blood pressure between the office visits?

If you have high cholesterol, the following questions are appropriate to ask your doctor.
1) What is the goal cholesterol for me?
2) What is my LDL cholesterol should be?
3) Do I need to take statin?
4) What can I do to lower my cholesterol?

The following questions are appropriate to ask your doctor about heart disease and stroke.
1) Am I at risk for heart disease if one of my parents had heart attack?
2) Do I need to take over-the-counter baby aspirin?
3) How often do I need to get blood test for my INR (for people who are on blood thinner)?
4) What medications do I need to avoid if I am taking nitroglycerin?

By preparing your questions prior to your appointment, you will be able to use the limited time to your advantage. Remember there are no dumb questions. Your doctor is here to help you understand and to address your questions and concerns. Furthermore, it is important to establish an open, two-way communication with your health provider, so that you can be the best advocate in taking charge of your health with assistance from your doctor.

Contributed by Christopher Pease M.D. and Patricia Hsiao M.D.

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Should I Get the Flu Vaccine?

Posted by on Oct 18, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Flu Vaccine 2Flu season is here and one of the best things you can do as a preventive measure is to get the flu vaccine.  If you and loved ones are ages six months or older, you can get vaccinated at your doctors’ offices, pharmacies, supermarkets, and local health departments.  Did you know that many local health departments offer free flu shots each year? You can go online and check out where and when you can get them, search for free flu shots 2013.

Flu season usually starts from November through March and sometimes ends in April. According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), “Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.” Unfortunately, you will need to get the flu vaccine annually because the viruses can evolve rapidly into different strains each year. Also, the antibodies of the previous vaccine will decline over time. The good news is that the flu vaccine is safe and effective. Contrary to popular belief, you will not get the flu after getting the vaccine but you may develop flu-like symptoms. Various flu vaccines are offered and will be given either via injection or nasal spray. It will take approximately two weeks for it to reach its maximum benefits; however, if you get exposed to the flu virus within this time frame, you might end up with the flu.

The flu is a contagious viral infection caused by the influenza viruses that affect your respiratory system, which includes your nose, throat, and lungs. It is spread easily by droplets after sneezing, coughing, or talking with an infected person. The elderly, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions are at higher risks of developing complications. Symptoms range from mild to severe conditions that may sometimes lead to hospitalizations and even death.

The CDC’s Website lists the following signs and symptoms of the flu:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this more common in children than adults.

Although the flu vaccine is not 100% effective like all vaccines, it is important for you to take other preventive measures to avoid or reduce the spread of infection. One of the most significant impacts to fight against the flu virus is to wash your hands frequently preferably with soap and water (second choice, alcohol-based sanitizers); cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, clothing, or inner elbow; choose healthy food items and exercise at least several times a week. If possible, try to stay away from crowds and sick people during flu season.

The contagious period of the flu may begin from 1 day before the onset of symptoms to 5-7 days after becoming sick. In some situations, your health care provider may prescribe antiviral medications such as Tamiflu or Relenza usually within the first two days of getting ill. These drugs may reduce the severity of the symptoms and shorten the length of illness.

If you do end up with the flu, you can treat the symptoms by getting plenty of fluids such as water, juice, tea, and soups. Turn on the humidifier, gargle with salt water, and use cough drops or lozenges. Taking honey directly or drinking honey mixed with lemon juice and water may also help with a sore throat and cough. Get lots of rest, sleep propped up, and take over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (e.g.,Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil) to make you feel more comfortable. If the flu symptoms get worse or you feel at risk for complications, talk with your doctor immediately.

Contributed by Janet Kwan BSN, PHN, RN

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