How to Make Healthier Food Choices

How to Make Healthier Food ChoicesWe make dozens of decisions every day. When it comes to deciding what to eat and feed our families, it can be a lot easier than you might think to make smart, healthy choices. It takes just a little planning.

The food we put into our bodies is our fuel. It provides us with nutrients—the vitamins, minerals, and other compounds our bodies need to function and thrive. Research shows that good food choices are especially important for children’s growing bodies and minds. Smart choices have both immediate and long-lasting benefits for you and your family.

“My best advice is for parents to be good role models by eating healthy and being physically active with their children,” says Janet de Jesus, a nutritionist at NIH. “Keep healthy foods around the house for meals and snacks. If you save desserts and treats for special occasions, it will be more special. Involve children in the meal planning and cooking, and they will be more likely to eat the meals.”

“Parents can begin teaching their children about healthy eating from the day they are born,” says Dr. Donna Spruijt–Metz, whose research at the University of Southern California focuses on preventing and treating obesity in minority youth. “Setting a good example is very important.”

Try the GO, SLOW, WHOA approach to food. GO foods are great to eat anytime. They have lots of nutrients and are low in unhealthy fats, sugar, and calories. GO foods include fruits; vegetables; whole-grain cereals, breads, and pastas; fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese; fat-trimmed and lean meats; fish; beans; and water. SLOW foods should be eaten less often. These include non-whole-grain bread, rice, and pasta; peanut butter; granola; pretzels; and fruit juices. WHOA foods are only for once in a while—foods like french fries, doughnuts, whole milk, full-fat cheese, hot dogs, fried fish and chicken, candy, and soda.

“Healthier diets don’t have to cost more, provided that you have the right attitude, make the right food choices, and try to cook at home,” says Dr. Adam Drewnowski, a nutrition expert at the University of Washington in Seattle. With some planning, he says, you can prepare meals that are tasty, affordable, and nutrient rich.

Get the whole family to help slice, dice, and chop. Unfortunately, these days much of our food isn’t eaten at home. It’s eaten on the go. One easy way to eat more nutritiously is to pack healthy lunches—both for yourself and your kids.

“You can work with your child to make a lunch using whole-grain bread, wraps, or pita pockets filled with lean meats or cheese, vegetables, and nut butters or spreads, such as hummus,” de Jesus says. “Pack vegetables such as carrots, snap peas and cucumbers, or any fresh fruit that’s currently in season. Teens can learn to pack their own lunches with a healthy variety of foods.”

If your kids buy lunch, talk to them about making healthy choices when buying food from the school cafeteria and vending machines. “Parents should encourage their children to choose the important food groups for lunch: a lean protein, fruit and vegetable, whole grains,” de Jesus says. “If a salad bar is available, this is a great opportunity for kids to make their own salad with vegetables, lean protein, and even fruit.”

If you have a busy day with your family planned, pack healthy snacks in a small cooler or tote bag before you leave. Consider water, fresh fruit, veggies, and low-fat cheese sticks. Pack small baggies with small portions of healthy nuts, whole-grain crackers, or a low-sugar cereal.

Fast-food restaurants can also be a challenge. Sometimes, fast food is your only option. Try making healthier choices, such as sandwiches without cheese, salads, sliced fruit instead of french fries, and grilled options instead of fried.

When you’re grocery shopping, the Nutrition Facts label is a great resource to help you compare foods. It can help you confirm whether products marked with healthy-sounding terms really are healthy. For example, “low-fat” foods aren’t necessarily healthy; they can be very high in sugar and calories.

Use the Nutrition Facts label to help guide you to limit the nutrients you want to cut back on, such as sodium and unhealthy saturated fat. You can also use it to make sure you’re getting plenty of the nutrients you need, such as calcium and iron.

When reading the label, start at the top. Look at the serving size. Next, look at the calorie count. Then move on to the nutrients, where it lists the amount and daily values experts recommend.

Remember that what you might eat as one portion can be multiple servings. For example, if you eat one bag of chips but the label says there are 3 servings in a bag, you need to multiply all the numbers on the label by 3 to find out how many calories you just ate.

Sometimes it can be hard to find healthy food choices when shopping locally. People in some communities have been working together to make it easier to find healthy foods in their neighborhoods.

For instance, in some neighborhoods, people have joined together to tend community garden plots. “Learning to garden, planting rooftop gardens, box gardens, or small planters can provide some easy growing veggies like tomatoes right at home,” Spruijt–Metz says.

Take time to build healthy eating decisions into every aspect of your family’s life. If you’re a parent or guardian, start talking with kids at an early age about health and nutrition. And practice what you preach. Make healthy food choices yourself so you can set a good example for your kids.

“Food provides our bodies with needed nourishment. Teaching children to read labels while shopping as they get older is a good way to help them learn to shop for healthy foods,” Spruijt–Metz says. “Teaching them to cook simple, tasty, and healthy meals when they’re young is a skill that will stay with them throughout their lives.”

This article was written by NIH News in Health Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Brandon Levy, Harrison Wein, and Emma Wojtowicz

Preparing for a Colonoscopy and More…

Preparing for a Colonoscopy and More...My recent check-up with my family physician led to conversations about pap smears, mammograms and the colonoscopy. Now that I’m over 50, it is time for my recommended screenings and my general practitioner referred me to a local doctor for my first colonoscopy.

Colorectal cancer is one of the more common cancers in both women and men, and it is one of the most preventable… with proper screening. Basically, a doctor examines the inside of the rectum and colon with a long, lighted tube. Growths that are seen, referred to as polyps, can often be removed during the procedure. Some are pre-cancerous and others are benign.

It has been found that removing these polyps could reduce the risk of dying from colorectal cancer because you are removing the polyp before it has the opportunity to turn into cancer.

I need a colonoscopy?
I made an appointment for a consultation after my friends assured me that drinking the substance to clear your bowels was the worst part of the procedure. I met with the doctor and he advised me that I’d be put to sleep during the colonoscopy. The anesthesiologist would put the medication in my IV, “The same medication Michael Jackson used.” The doctor said.

moonwalk2“Michael Jackson died of an overdose.” I quickly stated.

“Oh no, you will be fine. There will be a medical professional there to administer the drug.” He insisted.

I shook his hand and took the photocopied instructions we’d just reviewed. “Thank you,” I smirked nervously, and with my best Michael Jackson impression I sang, “He he he!” and moon-walked out the door.

What is PACE?
PACE is where the hospital pre-admits you for medical procedures. My appointment was three days after my consultation with the doctor, and two days after I learned the prescription he call in for SUPREP (a bowel cleansing medication) was a whopping $93.00! Couldn’t I just eat some bad oysters instead?

The hospital mostly had me sign a bunch of forms, and then I was asked a series of questions about my general health. I’m 51 and I’ve never had any surgeries, so this was all very new to me. I expected them to draw some blood, or something, but it was just paperwork.

SUPREP (I’m sure this is a registered trademark)
Feeling a little frustrated about the pending… well, intrusion of my personal space, I tried to find a positive spin. I began pondering whether this SUPREP “cleanse” could be used to my advantage? I was feeling positive, and thinking, “This could kick start my perpetual dieting!”

I read the accompanying literature. “The most common side effects of SUPPREP Bowel Prep Kit include:
-discomfort
-bloating
-stomach (abdominal) cramping
-nausea
-vomiting”

They are wrong. Let me tell you from experience, the most common side effect was explosive diarrhea!

I looked up advice online and quickly ran downstairs to put a bottle of water to mix with the prescription into the refrigerator. Actually, I put another six bottles of water onto the shelf in the fridge to cover the two doses I was required to take. I was to take one dose at 6:00 pm, and a second dose at 4:00 am, the morning of my procedure. Every comment said to drink the mixture “very cold” and “very fast”. Get it over with, like ripping off a Band-aid or jumping into the swimming pool.

Another GREAT tip I learned was to purchase a package or two or flushable wipes. (Worth every penny!)

I drank the mixture quickly. It was clear, like water; that suprised me. It tasted like a berry flavored drink with a distinctive saline additive. I drank it very cold, and I got the first 16 ounces down in just three gulps. Over the next 45 minutes I ingested a additional 16 ounce bottle of cold water every 15 minutes. As I finished the final bottle I heard a scurrying sound in my abdomen, similar to hearing squirrels in the attic – but those squirrels were now wrecking havoc on my bowels. I tossed the bottle into the recycling bin and headed straight to the throne. I’ll skip the graphic details which consumed the next two and a half hours of my life.

At 4:00 am, I did it all again. By this point I was convinced that you could look down my throat with a flashlight and see out the other end. By 6:00 am I felt confident enough to jump in the shower. I dressed between bathroom runs (literally), and arrived at the hospital at 7:00 am.

colonoscopy-news-in-health

click to enlarge image

The Procedure
A friendly hospital volunteer escorted me back to the outpatient “holding” room and he encouraged me that the worst was over. (How did he know, I wondered?) He suggested where I should sit and told me where the closest bathroom was. (Again, how did he know?) A nurse came into the room and called my name. She assured my husband that I’d be fine and if he didn’t want to wait for me in the waiting room, they would call him when I was finished, so he could pick me up. The procedure requires a responsible person to drive you home because of the sedation.

I stopped at the restroom and the RN led me to a curtained cubby-hole that would become my home. I removed all of my clothing and put on the hospital gown as directed. I also put on a red pair of non-slip, hospital provided socks that absolutely clashed with the green-ish colored gown. She came back into my curtained room and covered me with a nice, warm blanket.

A little nervous, I laid there listening as the beds in the room were filled with others, all of us being round up like cattle to get a colonoscopy. I let out a quiet, “moooo” and chuckled knowing why the volunteer greeter told me the worst was over. He knew!

Having never had so much as my tonsils removed, I was asking questions the entire way, which no one seemed to mind. I asked them all if they had ever had a colonoscopy; most of them said, “Yes”. I felt better.

I was given an IV of fluids and the procedure was explained again. They were going to pump air into my rectum and swell up my colon like a balloon animal, then slide a camera in there and have a look around. I was asked the same questions by a variety of medical professionals over and over again, and I repeated my name and date of birth more times than I care to admit. Everyone I spoke with encouraged me to pass gas when I woke up from the colonoscopy, so I started apologizing with, “Well, then, please excuse me now” for the windfall that was looming to escape post-op.

“You are next.” I was told, so I got up and asked to use the facilities, again. I was given a pole on wheels for the IV, and I tucked the heart monitor cables into the pocket located on the front of my new make-shift dress. I tucked in other wires trying to free a single hand and waddled to the bathroom one last time – just in case.

I climbed back into bed and was wheeled into the procedure room. The nurse had me lay on my left side in a kind of jack-knife position and monitors were attached to the cables I was still wearing. The anesthesiologist described how they were going to put a little something in my IV to make me fall asleep, and the next thing I knew I was back in my “holding cell” with two nurses talking softly at the foot of the bed. Then I felt a bit of air escape… the inevitable flatulence that comes with the colonoscopy had arrived. I just giggled and let ’em rip. Listening to the others around me, “Name that Tune” kept coming to mind. If you could burp the alphabet, I wondered, could you fart the theme to “Close Encounters of the Third kind”?

Once I completed coherent sentences and nibbled on some crackers, peanut butter and juice, they called my husband to come pick me up. The nurse explained that they had found some polyps and gave me a package of discharge papers and said I needed to call the doctor for a follow-up visit within five to seven days.

Returning home I climbed into bed and slept for about three hours. I reviewed my discharge papers and decided I’d finish this article after seeing the doctor and reviewing my pathology reports.

Having a colonoscopy was not as bad as you imagine. Indeed, preparing for the procedure was the worst part and the nurses and other medical professionals respect your privacy… and dignity.

The Results
I made a follow up appointment one week after the colonoscopy and was led into the doctor’s office and offered a chair. He proceeded to pull out a folded up copy of the same discharge paperwork that I had, which included a couple of images. He referred to one of the images, showed me its location on a diagram and said, “Unfortunately, it came back as malignant.” He described what our next steps should be, but he could tell I wasn’t really listening. He stopped talking and asked me very carefully, “You do understand what I am saying to you?”

I stared at him blankly, closed my eyes and drew in a long, deep breath. I released the breath and opened my eyes, “Yes, I do.”

I’m writing this on a Tuesday; I learned that I have cancer this past Thursday. This was the same day as our first Relay For Life Committee Meeting for the upcoming March 5, 2016 event, an event to raise money for the American Cancer Society. March also happens to be the month for colorectal cancer awareness. While I had been a volunteer at our local Relay For Life event for a few years now, 2016 would be the second year I had volunteered to co-chair the event – ironic, huh?

Now, I am faced with making decisions that for now are still overwhelming; I’m certain some will become much less cumbersome once the remaining lab results are in.

So far, the hardest thing about having cancer was telling my family. My children, my husband, my parents, my brother, and myself are all going to face an emotionally hard time until we figure out how best to cope with this, as individuals, and as a family. With time, we will all find our own way.

But, while I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have cancer, I’d like to encourage everyone who reads this to ask their doctor about scheduling a colonoscopy. Cancer screening is important – don’t put it off! Let’s kick cancer in the ass – one butt at a time!

5 Ways for Comparing Indoor Mold And Outdoor Mold

5 Ways for Comparing Indoor Mold And Outdoor MoldMold is a common issue you may have to face from time to time with your property. These molds can quite often be very dangerous from a health perspective. They can get airborne pretty quick and start to affect the eyes causing sores, allergic reactions in some people and even respiratory irritation. These symptoms could range from minor to very severe and if left untreated could cause toxicity and infections.

People with asthma may be more affected since they are highly sensitive to the spores these mold produce. They get an attack if they come into contact with mold either indoors or outdoors.

The ACOEM or the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine states that the mold indoors is more widely recognized, but the mold outdoors is the more harmful type for people with asthma. Here are the differences between the two and what you can do to stop them.

Indoor mold
Mold growth within a building is sometimes more common and is the most easily recognized form of mold. The mold can sometimes even be hidden away, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t affecting your health.

Indoor mold usually gets collected around places where there is moisture and they set out to reproduce by reproducing spores. These spores are the main cause for concern. They are carried around by the air currents within the house and can land on places to spread the mold or go into your nose to cause health issues over the long term.

Outdoor Mold
In most cases the number of spores inside a building or apartment may closely resemble the outdoors. Levels are pretty close and the threat from them both is equally matched. In fact, better ventilated rooms and buildings have a major problem with outdoor mold as it can quickly spread around the insides of a building, making matters even worse.

There are a lot of variations between indoor mold and outdoor mold, but sometimes they could be hard to tell apart. Here are some ways:
1. Clean and repair roof gutters to help stem the seepage of the mold from out to in.
2. Clean the drips from air conditioning regularly. Also do this cleaning routine for the drainage pipes. Remember moisture removal is the key to fighting mold in the house.
3. Keep a close eye on indoor moisture
4. Dry the areas where the humidity is too great. You can usually target the areas in the house that you have identified with a simple cleaning and drying routine. Remove all the sources of condensation to prevent the mold from reoccurring.
5. You have to treat wood to prevent mold from residing there. Try to use an EPA approved fungicidal encapsulation coating to get inside the root of the wood panel or wooden frame. This can be done in the basement, the attic or any other sort of crawl space in the house where you think it is likely mold will occur.

To deal with any sort of mold, you could hire the best mold removal company in Trenton, Air Treatment System.

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Positive Emotions Help Develop a Brighter Outlook

Positive Emotions Help Develop a Brighter OutlookDo you tend to look on the sunny side, or do you see a future filled with dark, stormy skies? A growing body of research suggests that having a positive outlook can benefit your physical health. NIH-funded scientists are working to better understand the links between your attitude and your body. They’re finding some evidence that emotional wellness can be improved by developing certain skills.

Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean you never feel negative emotions, such as sadness or anger, says Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson, a psychologist and expert on emotional wellness at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “All emotions—whether positive or negative—are adaptive in the right circumstances. The key seems to be finding a balance between the two,” she says.

“Positive emotions expand our awareness and open us up to new ideas, so we can grow and add to our toolkit for survival,” Fredrickson explains. “But people need negative emotions to move through difficult situations and respond to them appropriately in the short term. Negative emotions can get us into trouble, though, if they’re based on too much rumination about the past or excessive worry about the future, and they’re not really related to what’s happening in the here and now.”

People who are emotionally well, experts say, have fewer negative emotions and are able to bounce back from difficulties faster. This quality is called resilience. Another sign of emotional wellness is being able to hold onto positive emotions longer and appreciate the good times. Developing a sense of meaning and purpose in life—and focusing on what’s important to you also contributes to emotional wellness.

Research has found a link between an upbeat mental state and improved health, including lower blood pressure, reduced risk for heart disease, healthier weight, better blood sugar levels, and longer life. But many studies can’t determine whether positive emotions lead to better health, if being healthy causes positive emotions, or if other factors are involved.

“While earlier research suggests an association between positive emotions and health, it doesn’t reveal the underlying mechanisms,” says Dr. Richard J. Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “To understand the mechanisms, I think it will be crucial to understand the underlying brain circuits.”

By using brain imaging, Davidson and others have found that positive emotions can trigger “reward” pathways located deep within the brain, including in an area known as the ventral striatum.

“Individuals who are able to savor positive emotions have lasting activation in the ventral striatum,” Davidson says. “The longer the activation lasts, the greater his or her feelings of well-being.” Continued activation of this part of the brain has been linked to healthful changes in the body, including lower levels of a stress hormone.

Negative emotions, in contrast, can activate a brain region known as the amygdala, which plays a role in fear and anxiety. “We’ve shown that there are big differences among people in how rapidly or slowly the amygdala recovers following a threat,” Davidson says. “Those who recover more slowly may be more at risk for a variety of health conditions compared to those who recover more quickly.”

Among those who appear more resilient and better able to hold on to positive emotions are people who’ve practiced various forms of meditation. In fact, growing evidence suggests that several techniques—including meditation, cognitive therapy (a type of psychotherapy), and self-reflection (thinking about the things you find important) can help people develop the skills needed to make positive, healthful changes.

“Research points to the importance of certain kinds of training that can alter brain circuits in a way that will promote positive responses,” Davidson says. “It’s led us to conclude that well-being can be considered as a life skill. If you practice, you can actually get better at it.”

In one study, Davidson and his colleagues found changes in reward-related brain circuits after people had 2 weeks of training in a simple form of meditation that focuses on compassion and kindness. These changes, in turn, were linked to an increase in positive social behaviors, such as increased generosity.

Fredrickson and her colleagues are also studying meditation. They found that after 6 weeks of training in compassion and kindness meditation, people reported increased positive emotions and social connectedness compared to an untrained group. The meditation group also had improved functioning in a nerve that helps to control heart rate. “The results suggest that taking time to learn the skills to self-generate positive emotions can help us become healthier, more social, more resilient versions of ourselves,” Fredrickson says.

Dr. Emily Falk, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, is taking a different approach. Falk is exploring how self-affirmation… that is, thinking about what’s most important to you – can affect your brain and lead to positive, healthful behaviors. Her team found that when people are asked to think about things that they find meaningful, a brain region that recognizes personally relevant information becomes activated. This brain activity can change how people respond to health advice.

“In general, if you tell people that they sit too much and they need to change their behavior, they can become defensive. They’ll come up with reasons why the message doesn’t apply to them,” Falk says. But if people reflect on the things they value before the health message, the brain’s reward pathways are activated.

This type of self-affirmation, Falk’s research shows, can help physically inactive “couch potatoes” get more active. In a recent study, inactive adults received typical health advice about the importance of moving more and sitting less. But before the advice, about half of the participants were asked to think about things that they value most.

The “self-affirmation” group became more physically active during the month-long study period that followed compared to the group that hadn’t engaged in self-affirmation. “The study shows one way that we can open the brain to positive change and help people achieve their goals,” Falk says.

Being open to positive change is a key to emotional wellness. “Sometimes people think that emotions just happen, kind of like the weather,” Fredrickson says. “But research suggests that we can have some control over which emotions we experience.” As mounting research suggests, having a positive mindset might help to improve your physical health as well.

Written by News in Health NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Christen Sandoval, Carol Torgan, Samantha Watters, and Harrison Wein

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ALS is a Devastating Disorder

ALS is a Devastating DisorderIn the summer of 2014, social media was taken by storm with videos of people pouring ice water on themselves for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The worldwide phenomenon raised awareness, and millions of research dollars, for this fatal disease.

ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It’s also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS attacks motor neurons, the nerve cells responsible for regulating “voluntary” muscles that we’re aware of controlling, such as those in our arms, legs, and face. As these motor neurons degenerate or die, they stop sending signals to muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken and waste away.

“At first only a single limb may be affected, such as some weakness in a hand or a leg, or a person may have problems speaking or swallowing,” explains Dr. Amelie Gubitz, who oversees much of NIH’s ALS research.

Other symptoms may include stiff muscles, cramps, or stumbling. It may become hard to turn a key, lift a coffee pot, or button a shirt.

Eventually, all muscles under voluntary control are affected, and people lose the ability to move different parts of their body. When breathing-related muscles fail, ventilation support can help people breathe. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within 3 to 5 years after symptoms first appeared. However, about 10% of people with ALS survive for 10 or more years.

Nationwide, more than 12,000 people have ALS. It affects people of all races and ethnicities. ALS most commonly strikes between the ages of 40 and 60, but younger and older people also can develop the disorder. Men are more likely than women to be affected.

In most ALS cases, the underlying causes are unknown. “The reasons why you get it are not really understood,” Gubitz says. “Even a healthy young person can get this disease out of the blue.”

About 10%, are inherited. In 1993, scientists discovered that mutations, or alterations, in a certain gene were associated with some cases of ALS. Since then, mutations in over a dozen genes have been found to cause familial ALS. These discoveries provide new information about the disease that will help guide future research.

Although ALS has no cure, it can be managed to some extent with medication and therapy. In 1995, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a medication called riluzole (Rilutek) as the first drug treatment for ALS. The drug prolongs life by several months, and it can extend the time before someone needs ventilation support. Riluzole doesn’t reverse the damage already done, and patients must be closely watched for possible side effects.

Other treatments for ALS aim to ease symptoms and improve quality of life. For example, an FDA-approved drug combination of dextromethorphan and quinidine (Nuedexta) helps manage intense emotional changes, such as uncontrollable laughing or crying, that are often seen with ALS.

Because the mind remains relatively intact, people with ALS may be keenly aware of their continued loss of function. They may become anxious and depressed. Health care professionals can tailor plans for therapy and equipment to keep people as mobile and comfortable as possible.

While much is still unknown, scientists are working to gain new insights into ALS. “I believe potentially promising approaches for treatment are in the pipeline,” Gubitz says. “Researchers are trying to attack the disease from many different angles, which brings much hope for progress.”

Article written by the NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Christen Sandoval, Carol Torgan, Samantha Watters, and Harrison Wein

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Join the Fight Against Superbugs

Join the Fight Against SuperbugsCan you imagine a world where antibiotics didn’t work anymore? You shouldn’t have to. But over the past few decades, they’ve been losing their punch. Bacterial strains that are resistant to many types of antibiotics are called superbugs. Sadly, our excessive use of antibiotics is partly to blame. A new video from NIH, Fighting Superbugs, can help you learn more about what you can do to help win this battle.

Superbugs infect over 2 million people across the U.S. each year and kill more than 23,000. Common forms of superbugs include types of tuberculosis, staph infections like MRSA, and gonorrhea.

You can help in the fight against superbugs. First, there’s prevention. Try not to spread infectious bacteria. Wash your hands often. Promote healthy bacteria in your body through exercise and healthy eating.

Your second line of defense is using antibiotics properly. Don’t ask for antibiotics if your doctor doesn’t recommend them—they should only be taken when necessary. Be sure to take them exactly as directed and finish all your medication, even if you feel better.

We can win this fight with prevention, proper antibiotic use, and research. NIH is doing its part by supporting studies of new antibiotics. To learn more about what you can do, watch the video.

Article and video by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Christen Sandoval, Carol Torgan, Samantha Watters, and Harrison Wein

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Electronic Medical Records Beneficial for Healthcare Providers

Electronic Medical Records Beneficial for Healthcare ProvidersIt has been proved beyond doubt that electronic medical records are beneficial in integrating and correlating medical records from various sources and thereafter, transforming data into knowledge. The world of medical care is constantly faced with the challenge of coming up with enhanced patient care, including more effective use of patient clinical records and cost reductions. There is only a single way of overcoming this challenge and that is by creating a superb technology that would allow important patient data and clinical information from diverse sources to be accessed conveniently and shared without any hassle by different organizations, without compromising on information security and patient privacy. Visit http://mesusolutions.com/ for more information.

According to a study conducted in the year 2013, about 89% of critical access hospitals had already initiated maintaining electronic health records. Statistics reveal that about 27% of the hospitals among these had fully electronic records, while 62% of these hospitals had both paper and electronic records. This left a mere 11% of the hospitals that still stored patient data or information solely in paper form.

Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network: A Giant Step Forward
In keeping with the times it is believed that the extremely time-consuming and tedious paperwork shuffle of looking for and then sharing important patient information with healthcare workers would soon be given up fully and it would be taken over by an efficient electronic records’ system in all the hospitals that are within Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network. This has been dubbed Clinical Connect and it is aimed at giving healthcare providers instantaneous access to important patient history practically on everything from test results to allergies to any recent visit to the emergency department.

Clinical Connect Truly Beneficial
Talking to the press reporters Dr. Kirk Hollohan, The Regional Lead for System’s Implementation, Clinical Connect has the perfect capability of transforming healthcare in the entire province. He further reiterated that with the introduction of Clinical Connect, the patient records and data would get a whole new dimension. This will be able to connect and integrate records across hospitals, cancer centers, primary care providers and CCACs also. This move would help in truly positive patient outcomes, fewer errors and enhanced care.

Hollohan believed that the introduction of Clinical Connect would be especially useful in really critical situations. Hollohan had been associated as an emergency department doctor for one and a half decades and he has realized the need and importance of healthcare integration and migration. According to him, information is an extremely powerful tool in electronic records and there have been times when you had no immediate access to patient data.

Once you have the access there will be a massive change in the scenario. It would transform patient outcomes and save many lives. There would be lesser duplication of tests and no delays as well. Once healthcare officials are equipped with the relevant patient information they would be able to determine the perfect care setting, service provider and treatment plan. Clinical Connect has noticeably improved patient flow. In cases of addictions and mental health it is vital to get patients enrolled as early as possible, into psychosis programs. Clinical Connect aids quick and easy enrollments. It has been noted that all those organizations that are using Clinical Connect have been able to reduce on an average from seven days to one day for getting patients enrolled.

Patient Information Security and Privacy Ensured
Security of electronically stored records is of prime importance. Access to important patient data would be restricted to the individual patient’s closed circle of care that would include everyone from surgeons to social workers. Patients have the ultimate say and they have every right to opt out from sharing data electronically. Patients may alternatively lock out some specific clinical information. Authorities are aware of the fact that access is associated with great responsibility. They insist that there would be strict auditing process to ensure that authorized people alone are able to access the records.

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Problem Drinking is on the Rise

Problem Drinking is on the RiseAlcohol use disorder is becoming more common, a new study found, but few people seek treatment. The findings highlight the need to better educate people about problem drinking and its treatment.

Alcohol use disorder, or AUD, is the clinical term for problem drinking that causes mild to severe harm or distress. Excessive drinking can interfere with work, school, and relationships. It also raises the risk of many ailments, including heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, depression, and some cancers.

Doctors diagnose AUD using guidelines that were updated in 2013. The new guidelines combined 2 different disorders, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, into the single disorder of AUD.

A team led by NIH’s Dr. Bridget F. Grant wanted to find out how many Americans would be diagnosed with AUD based on the new guidelines. They conducted face-to-face interviews with over 36,000 U.S. adults.

They found that about 14% of the adults met the criteria for having AUD within the previous year. Almost 1 in 3 people they interviewed had AUD at some time in their lives. Of these, only about 20% sought treatment or help for their AUD.

Problem drinking was more common in men than in women. It was also more common in young adults than in older adults.

“These findings underscore that alcohol problems are deeply entrenched and significantly under-treated in our society,” says NIAAA Director Dr. George F. Koob. “The new data should provide further impetus for scientists, clinicians, and policymakers to bring AUD treatment into the mainstream of medical practice.”

This article was written by the NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Christen Sandoval, Carol Torgan, Samantha Watters, and Harrison Wein

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Feeling Low, Change your lifestyle

Feeling Low, Change your lifestyleThere must have been a time when you, or someone you know, was feeling low or down in the dumps. It could have been because of heartbreak, or maybe because you were unable to achieve your goals, because you could not get that job you had an eye for, or even simply for no apparent reason. You probably felt that you are fighting some kind of a battle, and your days were heavy and pointless. If so, that is perfectly okay. There is no rule that says you have to be happy 24/7 and everyone goes through such zombie days. The important thing, however, is to not remain in that state for long. You have to fight it off and regulate your life rather than shutting off everything and everyone and agonizing over it. Yet that does not mean medication and anti-depressants are the only way out.

Talk it out
Your situation demands that you stop bottling up your feelings and share your problems with someone you trust. A close friend, your sibling or parent, a neighbor maybe? Whomever you are comfortable with. While they may not always have suggestions for you to improve your life, opening up to someone will make you feel better.

Stop pressurizing yourself
We tend to pressurize ourselves, a lot. We are never satisfied with the results we get. Of course, one should be ambitious and aspire greatness, but certainly not to the point of making yourself feel worthless. Sit back, relax, and reflect on your life. Remind yourself of every success you have attained and every good thing you have done. Focus on your achievements, not your failures. Be content with yourself.

Exercise
Exercising as little as 30 minutes, three times per week can bring about tremendous improvement. It has been proved through some studies that exercising helps people who have mild or moderate depression. The reason exercise is a great way to feel better is that the activity releases “feel good” chemicals in the brain that improve your mood. Besides, you feel better physically as well which, again, means better emotional well being.

Eat well
It is common knowledge that the kind of food you eat makes a difference to your physical health, but the effects are on your emotional well being too. Yet, when people feel depressed they tend to turn to junk foods. Fatty meals and highly processed carbohydrates cause you to feel sluggish while a balanced diet, low in processed carbs,helps improve your mood.

Sleep well
While this may seem to be a chore to you in this condition, it is important to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep makes anyone feel upbeat and extreme sleep deprivation causes depression. But that also does not mean that you sleep away your days.

Yoga/Meditation
Performing yoga or meditation helps combat stress. It relaxes you and the results last long after the session.

Meet up with people
Cocooning yourself in your room certainly does not help and that is what people usually do when they feel low. Isolation only worsens it rather than helping with recovery.Get out of your house. Indulge in sociable activities. Meet your family. Plan a casual outing for the coming weekend. While you are at it,ladies, pick out your favorite dress, throw in some make up and accessories and doll up. Looking good will definitely make you feel confident about yourself.

Spend time with animals
While it may seem farfetched to some, animals are therapeutic and really smart. They can sense your depression. Having a pet and spendingtime with them lifts up your spirits. Ever wondered why so many dentists have a fish aquarium at their clinics? It is because simply watching fish lowers blood pressure and muscle tension in those about to undergo oral surgery.

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3rd Annual Senior Expo and Health Fair

3rd Annual Senior Expo and Health FairFriday, August 14, 2015, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, the Nassau County Council on Aging and Baptist Health are pleased to present the 3rd Annual Senior Expo and Health Fair to benefit all of the seniors, and their families, in Nassau County, Florida.

Come for health screenings or to learn the most current information on topics like Social Security benefits, health education, Medicare and more.

Free Hearing Tests

The following organizations will he present:
Social Security Administration
Baptist Health Hill Breast Center
NCCOA Adult Day Healthcare
Medicare Service
Florida Department of Health
ElderSource
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Services
SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders)
Nassau TRANSIT
Quality Health
Diabetes Association
Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group
NCCOA Home Health Services
Nassau County Tax Collector
Baptist HeartWise Prevention Program
Parkinson’s Support Group
Infusion and Respiratory Therapy Center
Feeding Northeast Florida
ADT Health
Seniors vs Crime
Low Vision Support Group
Florida Psychological Associates
Speech and Hearing Clinic of Jacksonville
McArthur Family YMCA
Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulations
Advanced Muscle Therapy
Amelia Home Health
and many more…

FREE Health Screenings by Baptist Health include:
Blood Glucose
Cholesterol
Bone Density
Blood Pressure
Prostate Specific Antigen

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Getting the Best Deals When You Buy Supplements Online

Getting the Best Deals When You Buy Supplements OnlineCenturies ago, chemists tried coming up with an elixir that would solve all health problems. Of course, they never succeeded and while they have done many more studies to get a permanent solution to health weaknesses, none has really provided an answer.

The Modern Day Elixir
Nevertheless, it seems like herbal extracts are gradually proving to be a lasting solution to most illnesses and even averting aging. Across the globe, supplements manufactured from these extracts are proving crucial in dealing with myriad health problems that seem to defy technological solutions.

Herbal extracts are useful in making supplements sold online. Neulife offers the most credible source of these nutrients because it has a wide variety of product range. From Primrose Oil, Korean Ginseng, Green Tea, Silymarin Milk to Grape Seed, there are so many products and each comes with its own range of health benefits.

Getting the Best Deal
Well, with the popularity of these extracts in the contemporary world, you will get thousands of manufacturers, which means you have to be cautious when shopping. More importantly, if you are looking for supplies you need a source that will give you the most affordable deal.

What should you consider? Here are some ideas:

1. Check Reputation
The best online store for herbal extracts has a solid background, which you can confirm by talking to other users or by reading reviews. When you buy from such established and credible stores you have an assurance of multiple bargains and discounts because such a store already has its own network.

2. Availability of Bargains and Deals
Before you make any order, compare as many online stores as possible to ensure you pick the one that comes with deals that are most irresistible. You should sign up for deals and discounts and if they are offering coupons for their supplements make sure you get as many as possible. The fact that these products are most effective when used consistently means you need constant supply. Such deals save you a lot of money.

3. Wide Range of Products
If you are able to get a herbal extract retailer who stocks a wide range of products, then you are in for a good deal. These stores help you to get everything under one roof and the beauty of it is that you get even more discounts when you shop for multiple products. If you have a big order of myriad supplements, you are in luck because the discounts will be amazing.

4. Customer Service
One way of ensuring you clinch a bargain when making your purchase is by getting the right information on products that you need. With an excellent customer service through calls, email and chat, you have a cornucopia of information to relay on. Perhaps you are not sure about some ingredients on some products, these experts will help you by providing every single detail you need to get you a fantastic deal.

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Lomi Massage has Layers, Just Like an Onion

Lomi Massage has Layers, Just Like an OnionLomi is a sacred form of massage from the ancient Hawaiians passed down from generation to generation, and from village to village. Lomi is a beautiful form of massage. Lomi is a powerful form of bodywork. How in the world does this compare to an onion?

Onions have layers. Lomi has layers. The more you peel an onion, the more its true essence comes out. Lomi has the same effect on the body. It allows you the freedom to have your true self come out and healing to take place.

The standard form of Swedish Massage works the skin and the muscles to free you from pain and stress. Most Swedish massages work in a standard rotation around your body. For those who have experienced massage, you can guess what will be worked on next, when it is time to turn over and when it will conclude. Your mind usually is keeping track of this as you are being worked. As you focus on what is being done to you, you can’t focus on what you need to help heal yourself.

Lomi works on a different level. Ocean waves as they break on the shore have no set pattern to them; they freely flow as they wish. Lomi is the same. It is a rhythmic dance around your body. You never know what will be worked on next: your back, your leg, your hands, all are being worked in a random sequence. This sequence is determined by what the practitioner feels your body needs.

This is the start of the peeling process. As you are being worked on in this rhythmic way, you can’t guess what will be worked on next. Your conscious mind is not able to follow the moves of the practitioner. When this happens, you stop thinking about the massage and start to totally relax into it. You are starting to peel.

Lomi can go deep into the muscle tissue. Think of your muscles as a stick of butter. You can’t stick your finger into a hard stick of butter. Warm up that butter first and your finger goes in easily. Lomi warms up the muscles and relaxes them, allowing the practitioner to go as deep within the muscle body as needed. This causes less discomfort during the massage and the following day.

I ask some clients to “THINK OF THEMSELVES ALONE IN THE WOODS; ON A BEACH; ON A MOUNTAIN TOP; FREE TO NURTURE YOUR SOUL; THROUGH LAUGHTER; THROUGH TEARS; THROUGH DISCOVERY. IMAGINE LOMI AS THE SUN; THE WIND; THE PORTAL; CREATING A SACRED SPACE ALLOWING YOU A SAFE JOURNEY BACK TO YOUR BEST SELF”. If they allow this, the onion continues to peel.

Many forget our bodies are a catalog of past memory and experiences. All our senses can remind us of a time past. Have you ever smelled something and it brought up an old memory? It could have been a picnic you went to, your favorite food, or the soup your mother cooked every Sunday when you were growing up. The sense of touch is powerful and can bring up many past memories. Our skin, our muscles, and our body hold these memories, and the slightest touch can bring them up. This is how the onion gets peeled.

My goal during a session is to provide you the space needed to have the best experience possible. To not only to loosen your tight and sore muscles, but to allow you to safely experience the massage on a deep and healing level.

Tony Crawford
L.M.T. Florida Lic # MA 0027867
For video, past articles and testimonials please visit www.lomimassageamelia.com
(904) 557-8350

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HIV and AIDS: Prevention Is Key

HIV and AIDS: Prevention Is KeyIt’s been more than 30 years since a disease now called AIDS was first recognized in the United States. Back then, it was considered a death sentence. No treatments were available, its cause was unknown, and people often died within a few months after being diagnosed. Today, people infected with HIV—the virus that causes AIDS—can live full, healthy lives, in large part because of medicines and other discoveries made with NIH support.

The terms HIV and AIDS can be confusing, because they’re related but different. HIV is a virus that harms your immune system by invading and then destroying your infection-fighting white blood cells. AIDS is the final stage of an untreated HIV infection. People with AIDS can have a range of symptoms, because their weakened immune systems put them at risk for life-threatening infections and cancers.

HIV virus passes from one person to another through certain body fluids, such as blood and semen. About 90% of new HIV infections in the U.S. occur during sex. Shared needles and injection drug use is the second most common route of infection. HIV can also spread from an infected mother to her newborn. HIV isn’t spread through casual contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, sneezing, sharing utensils, or using bathrooms.

Today, by taking a combination of HIV-fighting medicines (called antiretroviral therapy), fewer Americans with HIV are developing AIDS. And some HIV infections can now be prevented by taking daily medications (called PrEP).

Because of these advances, some people may think that there’s little need to be concerned about HIV and AIDS. But nothing could be further from the truth. Nationwide, more than 1 million people are infected with HIV, and each year over 50,000 more become newly infected. About 1 in 7 Americans who have HIV don’t even realize they’re infected, so they may be unknowingly spreading the virus to others. The problem is even more severe in developing nations, especially in parts of Africa.

Even though treatments and prevention strategies can keep HIV in check, there’s still no cure and no vaccine to prevent HIV infections. That’s why NIH-funded scientists continue to search for new, more effective ways to halt HIV infections.

“If you get a diagnosis of HIV infection, and you begin antiretroviral therapy in a timely fashion, before your immune system becomes substantially compromised, your prognosis is excellent,” says Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, NIH’s infectious disease chief, who first began treating AIDS patients in the early 1980s. Studies show that with early treatment, HIV levels may become so low that the virus becomes undetectable in the blood. That lengthens life and reduces the risk of spreading HIV to others. “If those who are infected stay on therapy, they can save their own lives and also help keep HIV from infecting their sexual partners,” Fauci says.

Keeping HIV infections in check requires early diagnosis and taking daily HIV medications for life. Even if it’s undetectable in the blood, once a person’s been infected with HIV, it remains forever hidden in the body. “HIV has the ability to integrate itself into your cells and hide in an inactive form, called a reservoir,” says Fauci. Although medicines can keep virus levels low, they don’t clear out the viral reservoir. So if treatment lapses, HIV comes out of hiding and rushes back into the bloodstream.

For some people, keeping up with this daily health regimen can be a challenge. Nationwide, fewer than 1 in 3 people with HIV takes antiretroviral medicines regularly enough to reduce the virus to undetectable levels. That’s why ongoing NIH-funded studies are creating and evaluating medications that might be taken less often, such as once a month. This approach will be tested in a large clinical trial expected to begin in Africa later this year. Other approaches that don’t depend on daily anti-HIV drugs are also being tested.

Research over the past few decades has identified preventive strategies that work: limit your number of sexual partners, never share needles, and use condoms correctly and regularly. NIH is also exploring new ways to prevent HIV infections, including experimental vaccines.

One preventive approach for people at increased risk for HIV infection involves taking a daily dose of an antiretroviral drug. “In terms of prevention, a game-changer that we’ve got right now is pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP,” says Dr. Carl W. Dieffenbach, who heads NIH’s global research efforts in HIV/AIDS. “This strategy protects you from getting infected with HIV if you take the medication daily.”

A pill form of PrEP (called Truvada) is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people at high risk of getting HIV. Truvada combines 2 antiretroviral drugs already used to treat HIV infections.

When it comes to treatment and prevention, Dieffenbach says, “The most important activity that you can engage in is first getting an HIV test.” Your health care provider, community health clinic, and others may offer quick HIV tests, often at no cost to you. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least a yearly HIV screening for people considered at high risk for infection. Testing is especially important for young people from ages 13 to 24, because more than half in that age group who tested positive for HIV didn’t know they’d been infected.

Some people avoid getting tested because they’re afraid of the possibility of being HIV-positive. Others may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about sexual issues, and so they don’t get tested. But the earlier HIV is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

“The stigma associated with HIV infection makes it difficult for some people who are at risk to come forward and either be counseled about how to avoid infection, or if they are infected, to get into a health care system and stay in the health care system,” Fauci says. But studies show that open communication can help people treat and prevent HIV.

“The stigma problem can only be solved one person or one family at a time, because each person’s situation is unique,” Dieffenbach says. “It’s about continuing a conversation with openness and acceptance in communities. As hard as that is, it does really matter.”

Should You Get an HIV Test?
HIV tests involve a simple cheek swab, finger prick, or urine sample. Experts recommend that you get tested for HIV if you answer yes to any of these questions:
-Have you had sex with someone who is HIV-positive or whose HIV status you didn’t know since your last HIV test?
-Have you injected drugs and shared equipment (such as needles or syringes) with others?
-Have you exchanged sex for food, shelter, drugs, or money?
-Have you been diagnosed with, or sought treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, like syphilis?
-Have you been diagnosed with hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
-Have you had sex with anyone who has any of the risk factors listed above or whose history you don’t know?

(To find HIV testing and care locations, visit https://locator.aids.gov/)

This article was written and used with permission from NIH News in Health. (Adapted from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Samantha Watters, Harrison Wein, and Emma Wojtowicz

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Diabetes and Heart Health

Diabetes and Heart HealthIn Diabetes, Any Protein in Urine May Signal Heart Risk
Diabetes is a condition brought about by the imbalance of blood sugar level due to issues with the insulin production and effectiveness in the body. Diabetes is a manageable condition and many people who have it live long and healthy lives. Diabetes prevention is also possible through good diet, exercise and medication.

However, you have probably heard of individuals with diabetes suffering a variety of complications. One of the common complications of diabetes is heart disease and stroke. It is common in individuals with type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes and heart disease
Individuals with diabetes also experience kidney problems and this is the gateway through which other complications such as heart disease and stroke may arise. According to http://www.onetouchdiabetes.co.in/, when the kidney is not functioning properly, the amount of protein albumin content in the urine may increase. This condition is referred to as albuminuria. Any individual suffering from type 2 diabetes should have their urine protein levels checked during their regular checkups as research shows patients with albuminuria are at considerable risk of heart conditions such as heart attacks and stroke.

Normal Protein levels in the urine
Diabetes itself puts you at risk of heart conditions and stroke as well. However, studies have shown that there is increased risk when protein levels in the urine increase. Ninety percent of individuals with diabetes often have normal urinary protein levels. Studies have shown that as long as the amount of albumin secreted in the urine is measurable and increases, you are at a greater risk of heart trouble.

Medication
Studies have shown that individuals who use blood pressure medication with ACE inhibitors were less likely to experience heart conditions. ACE inhibitors have been found to protect the hearts of individuals with diabetes patients with elevated and normal urinary albumin levels. However, there is still further research going on to determine the level of urinary albumin that requires treatment with heart protective medication.

Other risk factors of heart conditions and stroke in diabetes
Quite a number of other factors contribute to the risk of developing a heart attack and stroke when you are suffering from diabetes. Recent “momdoesreviews” article on diabetes says you may not be able to cure the diabetes but you can take the right preventive measures to protect yourself from heart disease.
• Obesity: it is very important to maintain a healthy diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables and less empty calorie carbohydrates in order to stay healthy. Carrying extra weight particularly around the waist puts you at a great risk of fat deposits on the inside of the blood vessels and eventually heart disease.
• Cholesterol levels: elevated cholesterol levels increases the risk of heart disease. Diabetes patients should avoid high consumptions of high cholesterol sources of food, particularly animal protein sources such as red meat, eggs and cheese.
• Hypertension/ high blood pressure: high blood pressure can damage blood vessels leading to heart attacks, strokes, and kidney and eye problems. If you have high blood pressure, you should manage it through good diet, exercise and medication.

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Make the Most of Your Doctor Appointment

Make the Most of Your Doctor AppointmentPatients and health care providers share a very personal relationship. Doctors need to know a lot about you, your family, and your lifestyle to give you the best medical care. And you need to speak up and share your concerns and questions. Clear and honest communication between you and your physician can help you both make smart choices about your health.

Begin with some preparation. Before your health exam, make a list of any concerns and questions you have. Bring this list to your appointment, so you won’t forget anything.

Do you have a new symptom? Have you noticed side effects from your medicines? Do you want to know the meaning of a certain word? Don’t wait for the doctor to bring up a certain topic, because he or she may not know what’s important to you. Speak up with your concerns.

“There’s no such thing as a dumb question in the doctor’s office,” says Dr. Matthew Memoli, an infectious disease doctor at NIH. “I try very hard to make my patients feel comfortable so that they feel comfortable asking questions, no matter how dumb they think the question is.”

Even if the topic seems sensitive or embarrassing, it’s best to be honest and upfront with your health care provider. You may feel uncomfortable talking about sexual problems, memory loss, or bowel issues, but these are all important to your health. It’s better to be thorough and share a lot of information than to be quiet or shy about what you’re thinking or feeling. Remember, your doctor is used to talking about all kinds of personal matters.

Consider taking along a family member or friend when you visit the doctor. Your companion can help if there are language or cultural differences between you and your doctor. If you feel unsure about a topic, the other person can help you describe your feelings or ask questions on your behalf. It also helps to have someone else’s perspective. Your friend may think of questions or raise concerns that you hadn’t considered.

Many people search online for health information. They use Web-based tools to research symptoms and learn about different illnesses. But you can’t diagnose your own condition or someone else’s based on a Web search.

“As a physician, I personally have no problem with people looking on the Web for information, but they should use that information not as a way to self-diagnose or make decisions, but as a way to plan their visit with the doctor,” says Memoli. Ask your doctor to recommend specific websites or resources, so you know you’re getting your facts from a trusted source. Federal agencies are among the most reliable sources of online health information.

Many health care providers now use electronic health records. Ask your doctor how to access your records, so you can keep track of test results, diagnoses, treatment plans, and medicines. These records can also help you prepare for your next appointment.

After your appointment, if you’re uncertain about any instructions or have other questions, call or email your health care provider. Don’t wait until your next visit to make sure you understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, or anything else that might affect your health.

Your body is complicated and there’s a lot to consider, so make sure you do everything you can to get the most out of your medical visits.

Tips for Your Doctor Visit
-Write down a list of questions and concerns before your exam.
-Consider bringing a close friend or family member with you.
-Speak your mind. Tell your doctor how you feel, including things that may seem unimportant or embarrassing.
-If you don’t understand something, ask questions until you do.
-Take notes about what the doctor says, or ask a friend or family member to take notes for you.
-Ask about the best way to contact the doctor (by phone, email, etc.).
-Remember that other members of your health care team, such as nurses and pharmacists, can be good sources of information.

Written by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Samantha Watters, Harrison Wein, and Emma Wojtowicz

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