May, 2006




About the Newsletter




Office Hours

  • Our normal office hours are 9-5 Monday through Thursday, and 9-12 on Friday.
  • We will be closed May 15-19, for vacation. If you may need prescription refills during this week, please CALL NOW for your refill.
  • We will be closed on Monday, May 29, for Memorial Day.
  • We will be closed Friday June 30th throuth Wednesday, July 5th for a long holiday weekend.
  • When the office is closed, emergency care is available at the Urgent Care Centers, and at Mission/Saint Joseph hospitals ER.  Telephone calls are handled by Dr. Curran’s call partners.

Physical Exams

During the Spring and Summer parents are often reminded that their schoolchildren need a Physical Exam for camp, sports, or school. The physical exam is intended to assess the child's safety and preparedness for these tasks. The exam also helps to assess age-appropriate development such as growth, learning, motor skills, and social skills. In older children we also try to assess health risks such as smoking, drug use, and school performance.

Here are some tips to streamline you child's physical:

  • Be sure to bring any paperwork from the school or camp.
  • Complete the parents' portion of the paperwork ahead of time.
  • Bring your child's vaccination record.
  • If your child wears glasses, bring them.
  • If your child is a teenager, plan to give them some time alone with the doctor, to discuss issues which they may consider personal.

The summer is also a good time for adults to catch up on their physicals. Why? Our office is not as busy with sick visits in the summer, so we can get your physical scheduled more quickly and conveniently. Also your wait time is likely to be less in the summer.

Here are some tips to streamline your adult physical.

  • Fasting blood work is usually included, so don't eat before your visit. (Do drink plenty of water.)
  • Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment, to complete your medical history forms.
  • Before your visit, talk with your relatives about illnesses that run in the family.
  • Be aware of when you had your last physical and screening tests (blood work, mammogram, colonoscopy, Pap, etc.)
  • Bring all your medication bottles in, including non-prescription medications.
  • Bring your insurance card, and the formulary (drug list) covered by your insurance.
  • If you need work papers completed, bring them to the visit.

Office Reminders

Pisgah Family Health accepts most major insurance plans. We currently are not accepting new patient with Medicare, Medicaid, or United Medical insurance. We will file your insurance claim, however your office visit is your financial responsibility.

HIPAA states that we can not release any of your information without your written consent. Please let us know if you would like to authorize us to release information to your spouse or a family member.

May 15, 2006 is the last day to join a Medicare Part D. plan for 2006. The next opportunity to enroll will be November 15 to December 31, 2006.

With the new year, do your medications cost more? If you have changed insurance plans, signed up for Medicare Part D, or your plan has a new pharmacy benefit, your medications may change in cost. Unfortunately, each pharmacy plan has unique benefits, and PFH cannot predict which medications will be covered on your plan. If you want help choosing less expensive medications, you MUST bring in your medication formulary. A formulary is the list of medications covered by your plan, including any differential cost teirs. This information should be available in your benefits package, or on-line. Check your insurance card for a phone number or website for your pharmacy benefits.

Medical news

Poison Ivy

Summertime is here! Camping, hiking, picnicking, and yard work - all types of outdoor activities are available to us in Western Carolina. The great biodiversity in our area also gives us exposure to a wide variety of plants, some of which can be harmful. Summertime is when most plant-related illnesses occur. By far the most common among these is Contact Dermatitis (also called Rhus Dermatitis), or the rash to Poison Ivy.

What Causes the Poison Ivy rash?

Urushiol Oil is the toxin on the leaves of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac. The oil is very hardy, and difficult to wash off. It must contact the skin directly to cause the rash.
  • Only 1 nanogram (billionth of a gram) is needed to cause a rash.
  • 500 people could itch from the amount covering the head of a pin
  • 1/4 ounce of urushiol could cause a rash in every person on earth
  • Specimens of urushiol several centuries old have been found to cause a rash.
  • Urushiol oil can stay active on any surface including dead plants for 1 to 5 years.

How can I prevent the rash?

  • Learn to identify the plants. Poison Ivy is by far the most common, and is easy to identify. Poison Oak and Sumac are less common.
  • Avoid plant exposure. Watch where you walk. Stay on the trail.
  • If you are handling plants, wear long clothing and gloves. Remove and wash the clothing immediately after any exposure. Wear heavy gloves if you must handle plants, and do not touch yourself with the gloves.
  • If you have contact with the plants, avoid touching yourself. When the oil is fresh, you can spread the oil by skin to skin contact. As soon as possible wash from head to toe (twice is better) with a detergent soap, such as Dial or Safeguard.
  • Prevent your pets from contacting the plants. Pets can spread the oil on their fur. Identify poison ivy in your yard and remove it. If your pet runs loose, wash it with a detergent soap.

Poison Ivy Myths vs. Facts

RedIvyIcon (1K) MYTH IvyIcon (1K) FACT
Poison Ivy rash is contagious Rubbing the rashes won't spread poison ivy to other parts of your body (or to another person). You spread the rash only if urushiol oil -- the sticky, resinlike substance that causes the rash -- has been left on your hands.
You can catch poison ivy simply by being near the plants Direct skin contact is needed to transmit urusiol oil. However it can become airborne by burning, lawnmowers, trimmers, etc.
Leaves of three, let them be Poison ivy and oak have 3 leaves per cluster, but poison sumac has 7 to 13 leaves on a branch.
Do not worry about dead or dormant plants Urushiol oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to 5 years.
Breaking the blisters can spread the rash Not true. Blisters are full of serum, not urushiol oil. But breaking the blisters may make your wounds become infected or make the scarring worse.
I've been in poison ivy many times and never broken out. I'm immune. Not necessarily. Upwards of 90% of people are allergic to urushiol oil, it's a matter of time and exposure. The more times you are exposed to urushiol, the more likely it is that you will break out with an allergic rash. For the first time sufferer, it generally takes longer for the rash to show up - generally in 7 to 10 days.

Poison Ivy Identification

  • Found growing along trails and roadsides, most common in the borders between fields and woods.
  • Grows as a woody, ropelike vine that can grow along fences or up trees, a trailing shrub on the ground, or a free-standing shrub
  • "Leaves of three, let it be." Groups of three leaflets on the each stem come off the larger main vine. Rarely, the leaves may vary from groups of three to nine
  • Leaves are green in the summer and red in the fall. Individual leaves have a lateral notch, giving them the shape of a mitten.
  • White berries and yellow or green flowers are sometimes present.

Poison Ivy

Poison Oak Identification

  • Grows in the eastern United States as a low shrub.
  • Oak-like leaves, usually in clusters of three
  • Can have clusters of yellow berries

Poison Oak

Poison Sumac Identification

  • Grows in boggy areas, especially in the Southeastern United States
  • Grows as a rangy shrub up to 15 feet tall
  • Has seven to 13 smooth-edged leaflets
  • Can have glossy pale yellow or cream-colored berries

Poison Sumac

Virginia Creeper - a common fooler

  • Native and common in the Eastern US.
  • Not poisonous. Contains no Urushiol oil.
  • Rapidly growing vine, with clusters of 5 leaves.
  • Leaves are serrated and not notched.
  • Green in summer, morph to red or burgundy in Autumn

Virginia Creeper

Sources of photos and information:

May is National Arthritis Month

Arthritis has long been a misunderstood disease which exists in the shadow of misconception and old wives tales. Unless the pain of arthritis affects you or a family member directly, your exposure to it may be minimal. Arthritis is a complicated disease with many types, many variables, and numerous treatment options. In its severe form, it can be a devastating disease which affects various aspects of daily living.

The newly diagnosed arthritis patient has much to learn about how the disease affects psychological and emotional aspects, as well as physical aspects of life. Chronic arthritis patients who have had the disease a long time are challenged with integrating continual changes and adjustments into their lives. Arthritis is a life-altering disease. Arthritis patients are faced with modifying activities which become too difficult or even impossible, and learning how to best live and cope with the disease.

Since there is no cure for arthritis, management of the disease is the key. There are many positive approaches to the management of arthritis. One approach is to actively focus on the 8 best things to do for your arthritis:

  • Educate yourself and become knowledgeable about your condition. Learn what helps and what hurts.
  • Motivate yourself to remain active by focusing on what you can do as opposed to what you cannot do.
  • Participate in life and fight off depression and isolation.
  • Medicate and follow a treatment plan that will relieve symptoms and allow the highest quality of life.
  • Communicate your need for patience, understanding, and support from those around you.
  • Meditate to give the body and mind needed relief from the stress of arthritis.
  • Eliminate stress whenever possible so it does not further compound the stress of the disease.
  • Concentrate on setting realistic goals, positive thinking, remaining active, and actions which make living with arthritis more bearable.

During National Arthritis Month, the Arthritis Foundation is encouraging people to "Make This The Year You Get Active" by emphasizing the importance of exercise. They suggest the following:

  • Try to move your joints gently through their full range of motion every day.
  • Gradually build up endurance exercises to 20 to 30 minutes per day, at least three times a week.
  • After exercising, cool down for 5 to 10 minutes to help you cool off and let your heart slow down and help your muscles relax.
  • If you are having a flare, do not skip exercises completely. To do nothing leads to stiff and weak muscles. A balance between rest and activity is necessary, even during a flare

Arthritis Statistics

  • In 2005, 42.7 million Americans have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
  • Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems and the nation's leading cause of disability among Americans over age 15.
  • Arthritis is second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability.
  • Arthritis limits everyday activities such as walking, dressing and bathing for more than 7 million Americans.
  • Arthritis results in 39 million physician visits and more than a half million hospitalizations.
  • Costs to the U.S. economy totals more than $86.2 billion annually.
  • Arthritis affects people in all age groups including nearly 300,000 children.
  • Baby boomers are now at prime risk. More than half those affected are under age 65.
  • Half of those Americans with arthritis don't think anything can be done to help them.
  • Arthritis refers to more than 100 different diseases that affect areas in or around joints.
  • Arthritis strikes women more often than men.
    • Women - 25.9 million of the people with doctor-diagnosed arthritis
    • Men - 16.8 million of the people with doctor-diagnosed arthritis

The disease also can affect other parts of the body. Arthritis causes pain, loss of movement and sometimes swelling. Some types of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joint deteriorates, causing pain and loss of movement as bone begins to rub against bone. It is the most prevalent form of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of the body's immune system activity. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most serious and disabling types, affecting mostly women.
  • Gout, which affects mostly men. It is usually the result of a defect in body chemistry. This painful condition most often attacks small joints, especially the big toe. Fortunately, gout almost always can be completely controlled with medication and changes in diet.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine. As a result of inflammation, the bones of the spine grow together.
  • Juvenile arthritis, a general term for all types of arthritis that occur in children. Children may develop juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or childhood forms of lupus, ankylosing spondylitis or other types of arthritis.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), a serious disorder that can inflame and damage joints and other connective tissues throughout the body.
  • Scleroderma, a disease of the body's connective tissue that causes a thickening and hardening of the skin.
  • Fibromyalgia, in which widespread pain affects the muscles and attachments to the bone. It affects mostly women.

Sources, and Links for more information:

May is National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month

The allergy season is upon us! In Western North Carolina we are blessed with a wide variety of elevations and plant diversity. This also blesses us with a wide variety of pollens and allergens. Many people don't know much about allergies or asthma unless they themselves have them so let's get a brief overview of these two medical problems.

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system. People who have allergies have a hyper-alert immune system that overreacts to a substance in the environment called an allergen. Exposure to what is normally a harmless substance, such as pollen, causes the immune system to react as if the substance is harmful. Allergies are a very common problem, affecting at least 2 out of every 10 Americans.

Allergy symptoms can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe (anaphylactic). Mild reactions include those symptoms that affect a specific area of the body such as a rash, itchy, watery eyes, and some congestion. Mild reactions do not spread to other parts of the body. Moderate reactions include symptoms that spread to other parts of the body. These may include itchiness or difficulty breathing. A severe reaction, called anaphylaxis, is a rare, life-threatening emergency in which the response to the allergen is intense and affects the whole body.

Not everyone has allergies. Most allergies are inherited, which means they are passed on to children by their parents. People inherit a tendency to be allergic, although not to any specific allergen. When one parent is allergic, their child has a 50% chance of having allergies. That risk jumps to 75% if both parents have allergies.

There are a number of different allergy-causing substances. The most common include pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, insect stings, latex and certain food and medication.

If you have an allergy your symptoms can range from mild eye irritation and congestion to a more severe reaction causing generalized swelling and difficulty breathing. And, if you have asthma, a reaction to any offending allergy-causing substance can worsen your asthma symptoms.

Asthma affects 12-15 million Americans, including approximately 10%-12% of children under age 18. Asthma may occur at any age, although it's more common in younger individuals (under age 40). People who have a family history of asthma have an increased risk of developing the disease. Asthma is also more common in people who have allergies or who are exposed to tobacco smoke. However, anyone can develop asthma at any time. People with asthma have very sensitive airways that react to many different things in the environment called "triggers." Contact with these triggers cause asthma symptoms to start or worsen.

The following are common triggers for asthma:

  • Infections (colds, viruses, flu, sinus infection)
  • Allergens such as pollens, mold spores, pet dander and dust mites
  • Irritants such as strong odors from perfumes or cleaning solutions, air pollution,
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Exercise or exertion
  • Weather -- changes in temperature and/or humidity, cold air
  • Strong emotions such as anxiety, laughter or crying, stress

Common Asthma symptoms include:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound when breathing out)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

Not every person with asthma experiences the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, being mild during one attack and severe during another. If you suspect that you may have asthma, see your doctor. He or she can run tests to determine if you have it. If a diagnosis is made, there are many treatments available to make you feel better and improve the underlying problems that caused the asthma.

Links for more information:

Web MD - www.webmd.com

Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America - www.aafa.org

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology - www.acaai.org

(Info from: www.WebMD.com)

Running and Fitness

May 14-20 is National Running and Fitness week. If you have ever wanted to start a fitness program, now is the time. The weather in Asheville is perfect; The daylight is longer; The flowers are in bloom; And you are not getting any fitter just sitting there. So why not start your new routine now?

2006 Beginning Runners Program

The Asheville Track Club in conjunction with Asheville Parks and Recreation will be conducting a beginning runners program starting May 9.This will be the tenth year of the class. Over 400 runners have been added to the community over the last nine years. The age of the participants has ranged from preteens to 70 years old. The goal of the program is to train new runners to be able to complete the Bele Chere 5K on July 29.

People are aware of the need to increase their physical activity to control their weight and improve their cardiovascular fitness. Some people try to run a mile. They feel like it is the worst thing they have ever done, and they never try again. The Asheville Track Club program is the safe, sane way to start on the road to physical fitness. Each class is a combination of running and walking. As we progress through the program, the amount of running increases and the walking decreases until we are able to run nonstop. The class does a trial run on the Bele Chere course the week before the race.

There will be guest speakers on training, stretching, nutrition, hydration, injury prevention, running shoes, and apparel. This is an excellent class for first time runners, injured runners who want to come back gradually without reinjuring, and runners who have taken time off and want to resume running. There is no charge for the course. If one stays with the program, they are asked to join the Track Club. Each class member contributes 50 cents every class until enough money is collected to buy special shirts for the class graduates. A contest is held among the class members to design the shirts.

On July 13, the class will continue the tradition of the red dress run. On that day all runners including the men are requested to run in red dresses. The red dress run originated as a tribute to women suffering from heart disease.

The class meets at the Carrier River Park by the old speedway on Amboy Road. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. and at 8 a.m. on Saturday. The program is 12 weeks long. Registration for the class will be at the park on the days of the class. If you have any questions, Call Barbara at 299-7851 or Wayne at 253-8781.


Health Links

For more health information, check out these links:

About our Newsletter

Dr. Curran and the staff at Pisgah Family Health are proud to publish the Pisgah Family Health News to our patients.  Our goal is to provide regularly updated information about the office and current medical topics.  We plan to publish a new issue each quarter with breaking news.  The newsletters will also be archived on our website, http://www.pisgahfamilyhealth.com/

Privacy:  We promise to use your Email address only for the purpose of sending this newsletter.  We will not give your Email address to any other organization.  We do not use Email to discuss personal medical issues.  If you want to be removed from our Email list, reply to this newsletter with the subject “unsubscribe me”.

Junk Email? Some Email servers will mark this newsletter as Junk Mail, due to the large number of recipients. You can tell your server not to mark this as Junk by following these steps.

  1. If you are not in the Junk E-mail folder, switch to that folder. (If you use Norton, switch to the Norton Antispam folder)
  2. Right click the header for the PFH newsletter.
  3. On the shortcut menu, click Junk E-mail (or Norton Antispam)
  4. On the sub-menu, click "Mark as not Junk" (or "This is not spam")
  5. You will be prompted to add this sender to your Safe Senders list. (or Allowed List)