December 12, 2005
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Pisgah Family Health
Happy Holidays from Pisgah Family Health!
Welcome Holli Angel to PFH
You may have noticed a new face in our office. Holli Angel joined our staff in June of this year. She is working part time as a receptionist as well as an assistant with patient care. She helps Julie and Tami with their many duties as well as taking good care of our patients and keeping the office running smoothly. Say hello to Holli the next time you are in. You can read more about her and the rest of our staff on our website.
Unfortunately, our supplier of Flu Shots for 2005 (PSS and Chiron) caused a delay and a reduction in our flu vaccine supply. We were able to hold our Flu Shot clinic as planned, but have had to limit flu shots to those patients at highest risk of the illness. At this time, we have about 30 shots left, and expect that these will be used up by January. If you want to get a flu vaccine, now is the time to do it. Patients with the following risk factors should be sure to get the flu vaccine every year.
If you have symptoms of the flu (fever, muscle aches, fatigue) it is too late for the flu vaccine. Make an appointment to be evaluated. Antibiotics do not cure the flu, but an antiviral such as Tamiflu® can shorten the course of illness.
Please show your insurance card to the receptionist at your next appointment. This ensures we have current information and file your insurance. Pisgah Family Health will file your insurance claim, however remember that your office visit is your financial responsibility.
The Breast Center at Hope
The Breast Center at Hope is the a new diagnostic facility opened by Hope - A Womens Cancer Center. The Breast Center is conviently located in Ridgefield, across the street from Pisgah Family Health. We are excited about the oppurtunity to begin scheduling our female patients for the variety of radiological exams that they offer. The Breast Center at Hope is equipped to do mammograms, ultrasounds, stereotactic biopsy's, bone density testing, and general x-rays.
Drunk Driving Prevention Month
Each December we turn our attention to the problem of drunk driving by observing National Drunk Driving Prevention Month. Though the holidays bring joy in celebrations with family and friends, they also bring a tragic increase in the incidence of impaired driving. This season, avoid driving while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and stop others from driving in an impaired condition.
Winter Health Tips
The mention of winter evokes images of sparkling snowflakes and skaters gracefully gliding across the ice. But winter can also be a time of illness and injury if people fail to take adequate health and safety precautions.
More than 100 viruses can cause colds, and the virus mutates rapidly, so few people escape being affected by the common cold. In the United States, the average person catches three colds per year.
Once it enters the body through the nose or throat, the cold virus begins to multiply, causing many symptoms: sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, aches and pains, mild fever, nasal congestion and coughing. A cold usually lasts a week or two.
The best way to treat a cold is to take a mild pain reliever, avoid unnecessary activity and drink plenty of fluids, especially fruit juices. Over-the-counter cough and cold remedies may relieve some of the symptoms, but they will not prevent, cure or even shorten the course of the illness.
There are ways to lessen your chances of coming down with the common cold. Keep up your natural resistance through good nutrition and getting enough sleep and exercise. Turn your thermostat down and keep the humidity up in your home. Dry air dries out the mucous membranes in your nose and throat and causes them to crack, creating a place where cold viruses can enter your body. Avoid direct contact with those who have colds and wash your hands frequently.
A contagious respiratory infection, influenza is not a serious health threat for most people. However, for the elderly or those who have a chronic health problem, influenza can result in serious complications, such as pneumonia or even death.
Symptoms of the flu usually develop suddenly, about three days after being exposed to the virus. They include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and soreness and aching in the back, arms and legs. Although these are similar to those caused by cold viruses, flu symptoms tend to be more severe and to last longer. Abdominal cramps, vomiting or diarrhea symptoms of what is commonly called stomach or intestinal flu do not accompany influenza.
The flu is highly contagious and, if it occurs in your family or community, there is no perfect way to avoid exposure to the virus. Bed rest, a mild pain reliever and lots of fluids are the best treatment. (Caution: a child with a flu-like illness should not take aspirin.) Antibiotics are not effective against flu viruses. Antiviral medications can shorten the illness if started within 72 hours of the onset. And despite much attention from the media, there is no Bird Flu in the United States at this time.
Flu vaccines are about 70% effective in preventing the illness, and do reduce the severity of the symptoms and protect against complications that could develop. The shots are strongly recommended for persons 65 years of age and older and those who suffer from such chronic health problems as heart disease, respiratory problems, renal disease, diabetes, anemia or any disease that weakens the body's immune system. Infants, children and young people up to 18 years of age who are receiving long-term treatment with aspirin should also get a flu shot. Persons allergic to eggs or who have a high fever, however, should avoid or postpone getting a flu shot.
Because influenza vaccine is only effective for one year and viruses vary from year to year, it is necessary to get a flu shot every year. The flu season usually begins in November and lasts until around the middle of April. However, even a shot in January may protect against a late winter outbreak.
Hypothermia, a drop in body temperature to 95 degrees or less, can be fatal if not detected promptly and treated properly. In the United States, about 700 deaths occur each year from hypothermia.
Alcohol consumption is a common contributor to hypothermia. In addition to impairing judgment, alcohol causes dilation of the blood vessels in the skin. This causes the skin to feel warm, while heat is rapidly lost to the environment.
While hypothermia can happen to anyone, the elderly run the highest risk because their bodies often do not adjust to changes in temperature quickly. If you have elderly relatives or friends who live alone, encourage them to set their thermostats above 65 degrees to avoid hypothermia.
When the body temperature drops, the blood vessels in the skin constrict to reduce heat loss. Muscles begin to tighten to make heat. If the body temperature continues to drop, the person will shiver. The shivering continues until the temperature drops to about 90 degrees. Temperatures below 90 degrees create a life-threatening situation.
Signs of hypothermia include forgetfulness, drowsiness, slurred speech, a change in appearance (e.g., puffy face), weak pulse, slow heartbeat, and very slow and shallow breathing. If the body temperature drops to or below 86 degrees, a person may slip into a coma or have a death-like appearance.
If you or someone you are with begins to shiver, get indoors as quickly as possible. To prevent further heat loss, wrap the patient in a warm blanket. A hot water bottle or electric heating pad (set on low) can by applied to the person's stomach. If the victim is alert, give small quantities of warm food or drink.
There are several things you should not do to a hypothermia victim. Do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not give a hot shower or bath, since it could cause shock. If the victim has a temperature below 95 or has altered mental status, do not try to treat hypothermia at home. The condition should be treated in a hospital.
The parts of the body most affected by frostbite are exposed areas of the face (cheeks, nose, chin, forehead), the ears, wrists, hands and feet. Frostbitten skin is whitish and stiff and feels numb rather than painful. When spending time outdoors during cold weather, be alert for signs of frostbite and, if you notice any, take immediate action.
To treat frostbite, warm the affected part of the body gradually. Wrap the area in blankets, sweaters, coats, etc. Place frostbitten hands under the armpits or use your body to cover the affected area. Seek medical attention immediately.
Holiday Safety Tips
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D is now in effect, much to the consternation of medicare recipients. The wide array of drug benefits is very confusing. The financial benifit to an individual can only be determined based on the specific medications he or she is purchasing. Unfortunately, our office does not have the information or resources to help our patients find the right drug plan. However, there are many good resources available on-line to help in this process.
http://www.medicare.gov/default.asp The government's site has several pages of information on the new plan, including a guide to local plans.
http://www.webmd.com/ WebMD is a commercial site with excellent resources on the new benefit.
http://www.coabc.org/default.htm The Council on Aging has a website, as well as local classes on the benefit. They offer a live person who will sit with you and evaluate your options. This is the most user-friendly local resource.
http://www.aarpmedicarerx.com/ The AARP supported this benefit, let them explain it to you.
http://www.cvs.com/CVSApp/cvs/gateway/promotion?pid=5803 CVS's website has basic information. Their stores offer commercial brochures from the various plans' vendors.
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/.
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