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Why is My Hematologist also an Oncologist?

In mid-2020, my friend had a minor health crisis. After a routine blood test, her primary care doctor called to let her know that her hemoglobin was dangerously low – and that she needed to get herself to the hospital. Hemoglobin allows oxygen to travel through the blood stream, and when it is low, it can cause fainting spells and hypoxia. Often, a low hemoglobin level indicates some type of internal bleeding. My friend, scared but feeling quite normal, followed the doctor’s orders and went to the emergency room.

After a battery of blood tests, the doctors confirmed that she did have very low hemoglobin levels, but that internal bleeding was not the cause. Instead, the scary numbers were caused by iron deficiency anemia, an extremely common condition for women.

While the doctors agreed she was not in immediate danger, her hemoglobin levels needed to come up – fast. They also needed to figure out what was causing the anemia. To get some answers, they referred her to one of the scariest specialists you can see: an oncologist.

She called me just after this happened, confused and crying, to ask what was happening. I was taken aback when I heard the word “oncologist,” but after thinking for a second, I remembered something from medical school. In most places in the United States, oncologists and hematologists have the same specialization. In other words, there were too few of either of them in the 1990’s, and the fields are very similar. The solution was to combine specializations, producing a new generation of oncologists/hematologists. For those who don’t know, hematologists deal with blood disorders and illnesses, like iron deficiency anemia.

I asked my friend to look at the referral the E.R. doctor provided her. And what would you know, there it was: the doctor’s name, their extension, and the title “HEMATOLOGIST/ONCOLOGIST.”

She had her scheduled appointment and was prescribed five rounds of the intravenous iron treatment Venofer. While still scared at the appointment, she asked the doctor straight out whether she saw cancer patients, or what the likelihood was that she had cancer. The doctor laughed and told my friend that, while she is trained as an oncologist, she only sees hematology patients – in fact, most of them have lifestyle-induced anemia.

How to Find a Specialist Doctor

It takes effort, time, and research to know which doctor is right for your ailment. All systems in our bodies are connected, so if there’s a problem with one, it should be dealt with. You’ll probably leave your general practitioner’s appointment with a specialist referral letter. But how do you know if the practitioner is the right fit for you if? Below, I’ll discuss how to find a medical specialist from the hundreds of medical doctors in the health care industry.

Know the Kind of Doctor You Need

Do you need a bariatrician, a cardiologist, or a gynecologist? It can be quite tricky to decide which type of doctor is best suited for your ailment. This is because there will be several types of specialists who can treat the same ailment. You will need to narrow down to your ailment’s underlying cause to make an informed decision. For instance, specialists such as neurosurgeons, orthopedists, rheumatologists, and even primary care physicians can treat back pain issues. But it all depends on what’s causing the back pain symptoms. To better understand your ailment, the best place to start is with your primary care physician or general practitioner.

Search for the Right Fit

Just like most patients, you probably rely on recommendations from friends and family or specialist referral from a GP to find a specialist doctor. However, getting one doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found the best. You need to take time and do thorough research on the medical specialists you are considering visiting. One way to do this is by visiting the doctor’s directory of your health insurance company. It would be best if you also put your preferences into consideration when selecting specialists.

Do you need a doctor affiliated with a certain hospital or even one who can speak a foreign language? Carry out online research and ask other people who’ve had a similar condition before. Compile a list of specialists who seem to be eligible, then narrow down the list by researching more about the doctors’ backgrounds.

How Medical Alert Systems Can Improve Life as a Senior

Medical alert systems can save your life in an emergency. Anyone prone to falling or needing immediate medical attention can benefit from a medical alert system. These devices are invaluable; they can provide you and your family with important peace of mind while helping seniors feel safe. The guide below answers some common medical alert system questions – from how they work to what they’re limits are.

What Are Medical Alert Systems?

Medical alert systems are typically a wearable device, such as a wristband or pendant, with an emergency button and a wirelessly connected speaker system. Pressing the button connects the person with an operator who sends emergency help to your location. The communication function of the device helps the operator understand what kind of assistance you need. 

The best systems offer 24-hour service and respond whenever you have an emergency. These devices are popular with elderly people who may live alone or who have delicate medical situations. 

How Much Do Medical Alert Systems Cost?

The monthly fees for these systems vary depending on the provider and the type of service. You can expect a monthly subscription fee for the 24-hour monitoring ranging from $20-$40. This price goes up by about $10 per month if you opt for automatic fall detection

Some providers charge an up-front, one-time price for the physical device and a one-time activation fee. The basic button and speaker do not cost the user much. However, some providers are beginning to offer a smartwatch alert system which can be more expensive, given the enhanced technology. We don’t recommend relying on smartwatches or unmonitored medical alert systems. They can be difficult to use and hard to rely on, especially for technology-challenged seniors.

What Are the Limits of Medical Alert Systems?

Range of service can be a limitation of medical alert systems. Some systems are only for in-home use. This means that the coverage does not follow you out to the grocery store or park. Others have on-the-go capabilities, which cost more offer more flexibility. For GPS-enabled systems, the coverage is typically nationwide. However, cell phones must maintain a reliable connection. Loss of cell phone service is a risk to the system properly working. 

Battery life is another limit of some medical alert systems. Some systems require a battery change every week and others have a long-lasting battery that keeps its charge for years. You will need to keep a battery schedule to make sure your device stays working. Luckily, most medical alert system providers give members information about how often to charge or replace the battery.

The price of the system can also be a limit for those on a tight budget. Insurance typically does not cover medical alert systems. So, the user would have to cover the cost of the device and monthly subscription. This can be a strain for many. 

Overall, medical alert systems have their benefits and drawbacks. No system will be perfect, but a medical alert system is a good safety net which may help save someone’s life.

How to Choose a Primary Care Physician

One of the most important factors that can help to influence your future physical health is whether you have access to proper medical care. To ensure you receive the care that you need, choosing a proper primary care physician is very important. There are several tips that can be followed that will help you to choose a primary care physician.

Review Insurance Network

As you are looking for a primary care provider, you first need to evaluate your insurance network. Most health insurance networks will have a variety of primary care providers and physicians in your area. When you pick one that is in your insurance network it will ensure that you get good care at a reasonable price.

Ability to Get in and See Doctor

Another important factor to consider as you are looking for a primary care physician is whether you will be able to see them when you need to. An in-network primary care provider will likely have a lot of demand and a large patient list. As you are looking for one, you should ask whether or not they are actively taking new patients and how long people generally need to wait for an appointment. If there is typically a long waiting period, it could be problematic if you need to see your care provider for an emergency.

References from Friends and Family

As you are looking for a primary care provider, it is important to find someone that has a good reputation. There are many ways that you can do this including reviewing online reviews. Another option is to speak with family and friends that are in the area. You should look for a primary care physician that has a good reputation for providing great patient care, is reliable and that people feel comfortable with.

Choosing a primary care provider is an important decision. When you are looking for one, following these tips would be beneficial and it will help you pick one that is ideal for your situation.

Diabetes, Heart Disease, And Stroke Could Happen to You

Did you know that if you have diabetes you have a greater chance of dying from heart disease or stroke and it doesn’t make any difference if you are a woman or a man? One reason is high blood levels of sugar make the walls of your blood vessels thicker and cause them to lose their elasticity, which in turn makes it harder for blood to pass through. 

Type 1 diabetes is known as juvenile-onset diabetes and usually affects children and young adults and is genetically-linked. The following are some conditions that are typically found in people with type 2 diabetes, which is known as adult-onset diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

Depression: Depression doubles the risk of a person getting diabetes and after being diagnosed with diabetes a person will go through major lifestyle changes which will cause them to be more depressed. Diet changes and taking medicines are among the things that cause them to be more depressed. 

Obesity: Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and strongly associated with insulin resistance. Losing weight has been shown to improve heart health along with diabetes. 

Inactivity: Lack of exercise is another major risk factor. Along with losing weight, exercise has helped to reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Hypertension: High blood pressure has long been recognized as a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. If you have both high blood and diabetes your risk for heart disease doubles. 

A symptom of diabetes is the skin of a diabetic person becomes very dry and flaky due to excessive loss of water, leading to dehydration which could result in a coma. Also, it takes a long time for sores or cuts to heal. Diabetes is usually accompanied by sudden weight loss. There are many things that could be or may not be a symptom of diabetes. If you think you might have diabetes, go to your doctor right away to find out and it never hurts to have your heart checked out at the same time. 

Help for Tinnitus Sufferers

There are a few ways to help with the constant sounds that you are plagued with. Most people only notice these annoying ringing sounds or whooshing sounds when everything is quiet, like at night when you are trying to go to sleep. There are a few ways to combat the ringing to get a peaceful night’s sleep. 

If you notice while you are in the shower or listening to other music your Tinnitus is better. You will find that soft sounds such as from the shower or ocean waves can relieve some of the sounds associated with Tinnitus. You can find some wonderful CD’s with which you can use earphones and listen during episodes of tinnitus. You can even just listen to them without earphones at night while you are going to sleep. These CD’s will help relieve Tinnitus and you will love the peaceful nights rest. 

Other remedies you can try including cutting out alcohol, smoking or caffeine. These items have proven to make tinnitus worse. Salt should also be cut down in your diet as it causes a buildup of fluid in your ears. 

Try to keep the noise level in your daily routine to a minimum or wear ear plugs if you cannot avoid the noise. 

Cut down on taking aspirin. Aspirin may worsen the effects of Tinnitus in some people. 

Stress was found to increase tinnitus. So of course, try to avoid stressful situations and learn to handle the stress that is in your life. Distraction is another great way of receiving some relief. Focus on something other than the noise in your ears. 

Relaxation tapes like the CD’s mentioned about are a great distraction and will also relieve stress. So, you can use them to help yourself relax as well as combat tinnitus. 

Parkinson’s Care: What You Need to Know

Have you ever seen people in public whose hand or hands shake? Have you thought to yourself, they must have Parkinson`s or maybe they had too much to drink? Sometimes you may even make fun of them or try not to be around them. But as a healthcare professional, I must tell you: there is nothing easy about living with Parkinson’s. Below, I’ve included some information about what you need to know about this disease and how hospitals care for people with Parkinson’s.  

Parkinson’s Disease: Its Over-Diagnosis and Under-Diagnosis 
In this era of genuinely marvelous, high-tech, medical devices, it is sometimes surprising that certain diseases are still diagnosed clinically meaning that the clinician makes the call based on just the story of symptoms and the physical exam. This is often the case with Parkinson’s.  

Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s – Could the Cause be Radon? 
In a study conducted at the University of North Dakota, researchers discovered that the presence of radioactive radon daughters in the brains of non-smoking persons with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease was 10 times greater than it was in the brains of those without.  
Parkinson’s Disease and the Glutathione Discovery 
If you have Parkinson’s Disease, you may have heard whispers about the results people with PD are experiencing by raising their glutathione levels. Their symptoms are vastly diminishing and even disappearing altogether.  
Parkinson’s Disease & Tai Chi Therapy 
In a special to CNN, the Mayo Clinic reported that Parkinson’s disease is progressive, meaning the signs and symptoms become worse over time. But although Parkinson’s may eventually be disabling, the disease often progresses gratuitously. A Parkinson’s diagnosis does not always mean an immediate impediment, and motion therapies, like Tai Chi Therapy, can help. 

Testing for Parkinson’s 
Would you know if you had Parkinson’s disease? Maybe not. The gradual and non-specific presentation of Parkinson’s disease can make it difficult to diagnose, especially in the early stages of the disease.  
Who Gets Parkinson’s Disease? 
Parkinson’s Disease affects generally elder adults, among about 90% of the known cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 60. Within that population, there is a small amount of variance, with the danger increasing from age 60 through age 75. 
Is There A Cure for Parkinson’s Disease? 
Research into Parkinson’s disease has been ongoing for many years, and though as yet there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, hopes are high that even though it may yet take several more years a cure will eventually become available. 

Home Care

When you need health care and assistance but don’t need to be in the hospital, some hospitals can offer you a cost-effective alternative: Health care services in the comfort of your own home. 

Members of home care teams are generally skilled and professional health care providers with the goal of returning patients to the highest level of wellness possible. Caring and compassionate teams focus on teaching the patient and caregiver the skills needed to manage an illness. 

Most home care providers will offer offers: 

  • Skilled Nursing Care 
  • Home Health Aide Care 
  • Medical Social Work 
  • Physical Therapy 
  • Occupational Therapy 
  • Speech Therapy 
  • Wound/Ostomy Continence Services 

Services may be covered by Medicare and most insurances when prescribed by your physician and meet home care guidelines. 

Sleep Disorder Centers

Persistent changes in your normal sleep/wake cycle may indicate the presence of a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders have many different causes and many different symptoms. Some people have a hard time sleeping, while others sleep at inappropriate times. Some problems are temporary, but others are chronic. 

Sleep disorder programs offered at hospitals can help diagnose sleep problems. Many sleep disorders can be treated once they are clinically evaluated. 

Common Disorders 

  • Snoring 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Narcolepsy 
  • Restless leg syndrome 
  • Chronic insomnia 
  • Muscle twitching 

Diagnosis and Treatment 

At most sleep disorder centers, your first evaluation will include a medical history and physical examination. Next, you’ll be scheduled for a sleep study. Diagnosis of sleep disorders sometimes requires an overnight sleep study or polysomnogram. This kind of sleep evaluation includes EEG and EKG monitoring, and tests for eye movements, muscle tension, respiratory activity and blood-oxygen saturation. 

Specially trained technologists monitor you throughout the night in comfortable surroundings designed to simulate your sleep environment at home. 

This study may sometimes involve staying overnight in a comfortable, private room, while multiple sensors continuously monitor your brain waves, eye movement, air exchange, heartbeat, breathing effort, muscle activity, and oxygen levels. The information obtained from the sleep study may help lead to an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. 

Basic Facts about Cholesterol

With all of the advertisements in magazines and on television, you’ve probably seen at least one about cholesterol. Chances are you’ve seen several. Talk of LDL, HDL, cholesterol lowering medications, etc. You probably find yourself wondering what all this means. As confusing as it may seem, your cholesterol is something you need to understand.

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found with the fats in your blood and in your body’s cells. And like a lot of things, a certain amount provides benefits while too much can cause damage. For example, cholesterol is important because it helps form cell membranes, hormones and other functions. But if cholesterol levels become too high, it can become a risk factor for coronary heart disease. If your total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL, your heart attack risk is relatively low, unless you have other risk factors.

Since cholesterol and fats cannot be dissolved in the blood, they have to be transported from cell to cell by special carriers called lipoproteins. This is where all of the talk about LDL and HDL comes in. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein and is the major transporter of cholesterol in the body. If too much LDL cholesterol is present (160mg/dL or higher) it can cause a build up of plaque in the arteries, which can then lead to a heart attack or stroke. This is why LDL cholesterol is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol.

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. HDL is responsible for carrying one-third to one-fourth of blood cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is also called the “good” cholesterol. This is because it’s believed that it carries cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver, where the body can then get rid of it. It is also believed to slow down plaque formation.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that your daily cholesterol intake be less than 300mg. If you have heart disease, your intake should be no more than 200mg. One way of helping to limit cholesterol intake is by reducing foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. These are foods that typically come from animals: butter, cream, egg yolks, processed or fatty meats and fried foods. Instead, your diet should be high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat free dairy products, lean meat and fish.

Another way to manage cholesterol is through exercise. Exercise may increase HDL cholesterol in some people. It also may help to control weight, diabetes and high blood pressure. Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing heart disease.

Quitting smoking and monitoring alcohol consumption are two more ways to help manage your cholesterol. According to the AHA, smoking helps to lower HDL cholesterol levels and is one of the major factors for heart disease that you can change.

If following the above recommendations, along with the help of a physician, still doesn’t lower your cholesterol enough, there are medications available that may help. Talk to your physician to see if this might be beneficial to you.

While there is a lot being said about cholesterol through advertisements, what you really need to know is how to keep your HDL levels high and your LDL levels low. Talk to your doctor or contact the AHA for more information on how to do this.

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