Medical Advice - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Special Reports

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Medical Advice

A collection of columns by Ahwatukee medical experts Agnes Oblas, Astrid Heathcote, Michael Urig and Rashmi "Rush" Bhatnagar.


Do you suffer from arachibutyrophobia?

Unless you are an unfortunate soul who is allergic to peanuts, to paraphrase Sarah Lee, nobody doesn't like peanut butter. In spite of this love affair, peanut butter suffers much the same opprobrium as milk butter. For too many years, peanut butter has been the recipient of bad press: Beware: PB sandwiches are not heart healthy!
  • Medical theories, practices change with time

    Since the dawn of time, man has had to deal with illness, disease, recovery and death; that will never change. However, medical theories and practices do change. I have been privileged to witness many changes in the practice of medicine and nursing. Nurses no longer wear starched white uniforms and caps and doctors no longer are expected to take Wednesdays off to play golf. Nurses are now in the front lines of health care as independent medical providers of care in all aspects of medicine whether it is in primary care or specialties like cardiology, neurology or oncology, etc.
  • Chronic heartburn could lead to more serious problems

    Everyone has experienced the gnawing, burning, nausea of acid heartburn or reflux at least once, even if it was just the result of a monstrous burp. Some of us experience heartburn way too often. Before describing what to do about it, let me describe what heartburn really is.
  • The school sports physical: Annoying annual ritual or valuable experience?

    Approximately 45 million American children between the ages of 6 and 16 are involved in organized after-school sports activities. On average, 12 million of these youngsters will receive treatment for injuries in hospital emergency rooms or medical offices. The reason for these large numbers of injuries is primarily because children are getting involved at much younger ages and with higher levels of physical intensity in their chosen sport.
  • Free radicals are not harmless

    Every cell in the body continually carries out millions of biochemical processes requiring oxygen. By-products of this cellular metabolic process are unstable electrons called oxidants or “free radicals.” Unfortunately, these free radicals are not harmless. Their chief danger comes from the damage they incur upon cellular structures or DNA. Anti-oxidants reduce the effects of dangerous oxidants by binding with them, thereby decreasing their destructive power. Food sources of antioxidants include those with high vitamin A, C, E and beta-carotene contents, such as spinach and liver. Anti-oxidants are thought to have a role in slowing the aging process, preventing heart disease and protecting against the development of cancers.
  • Protect yourself from prostate, testicular cancer and other male diseases

    Many men worry about prostate and testicular cancer, erectile dysfunction and the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Some are embarrassed to talk to either female or male providers about their concerns, but they need to overcome embarrassment. And yes, that means probably having the dreaded digital rectal exam (DRE). The only way to examine the prostate directly is by way of the rectum. Hopefully, this article will facilitate a more open dialogue.
  • Heart disease affects women differently than men

    Editor’s Note: This is the final in a two-part series that began last week. Part one, which ran Feb. 3, discussed the emerging understanding that the cardiovascular system of men and women are different due to the effects of sex hormones (especially estrogen in women).
  • Experts grapple with how heart disease affects women

    Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series having to do with women and heart disease or, to put a positive spin on it, heart health.
  • How strong are your lungs?

    Pretend it is your birthday and there is a beautifully decorated cake in front of you with candles lit and glowing. Friends and family gather around to root as you take the deepest breath you can to blow them all out. This act of blowing out birthday candles actually represents a real maneuver that is used to measure lung function.
  • When in doubt, check it out with your health care provider

    Consider the following very typical scenario: you are one of the growing numbers of individuals who takes an aspirin everyday on the advice of a health care provider because of its cardioprotective properties. Then, one day you sprain your ankle and you consider taking a couple of over-the-counter ibuprofen two or three times a day for a few days for its anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Mental health and exercise

    With the weather being back to three-digit temperatures, it is very easy to dismiss maintaining an exercise schedule, because it’s “just too hot.” However, a routine exercise schedule can have tremendous benefits. If you think exercise is only good to develop and maintain a lean body, strong muscles and heart, you are one of many who need to be educated on the benefits of physical activity on emotional, mental and psychological well-being.
  • April is Autism Awareness Month

    A report from the Centers for Disease Control in December of 2009 found that one in 110 children in America today have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Autism Society of America (ASA) describes autism as a “national health crisis” that frequently is under diagnosed.
  • What do women and men want in a relationship?

    A challenging and interesting question to ponder over is: What do women and men want in a relationship? Given that the dating market has changed significantly over the past few decades, mutual attraction and love, dependable character and emotional stability top the charts for both genders.
  • New Year’s resolutions: How to make them work

    We made it through the holidays and now we’re ready to make some big changes that will make the coming year better and more productive than any previous years. We will lose weight, stop smoking, be more attentive to our loved ones, find a better job, etc., etc., etc.
  • T’was the night before Christmas…

    The holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving and stretching through New Year’s, often involves intense stress and even depression. Some of us parents nostalgically remember the “good old days of Christmas” with pleasant memories that involve family, tradition and peace.
  • Warning: Playing endangered

    Over the years of working with families and children, one common denominator has emerged that warrants all parents’ and educators immediate attention: young children are stressed out from demands at school and home and anxiety disorders are increasing in this population.
  • Know the signs of suicide

    Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 25- to 34-year-olds and the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year olds. About 1.4 percent Americans commit suicide which makes it the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • The benefits of banking cord blood

    Cord blood banking is a relatively new option for pregnant women, and one that has significant health benefits for a child as well as for immediate family members. The blood from the umbilical cord is rich in stem cells, which are considered "master cells" because they serve as the building blocks of organ tissue, blood and the immune system. Like bone marrow, cord blood can be used in future medical treatments that a child or family member might need, providing a guaranteed genetic match. By collecting cord blood and saving it through a cord blood bank, a family can preserve this valuable source of stem cells.
  • Pregnancy advice for summer months

    With summer temperatures steadily rising above 100 degrees, pregnant women should take special care to stay cool, comfortable and safe. Maintaining good hydration while pregnant is extremely important, and even more so during the summer when our bodies can become dehydrated. Expectant mothers should drink at least eight 12-ounce glasses of water daily, and avoid consuming sugary or caffeinated beverages.
  • Preparing a birth plan

    Preparing a birth plan is a frequent topic of articles on websites and in pregnancy magazines. Many pregnant patients wonder about this concept, wanting to understand what it is and whether it is necessary.
  • Predicting fertility – when does a woman ovulate?

    Most women under age 50 have regular periods, but they may not clearly understand their menstrual cycles and the effect on their fertility. The timing of a woman’s period directly influences when she is mostly likely to become pregnant, and being aware of her cycle can help a woman predict her fertility.
  • Prenatal testing for birth defects

    Birth defects, ranging from minor to life-threatening, affect 3 to 4 percent of all pregnancies. Prenatal blood tests, ultrasounds and genetic testing can help identify possible defects. Performing these tests is a decision only an expectant mother can make, taking into account factors such as her health, age, previous pregnancy experience, family history, and moral and ethical beliefs.
  • Foods to avoid during pregnancy

    Proper nutrition during pregnancy is key to promoting healthy development of the fetus as well as managing weight gain. And while most foods are considered safe during pregnancy, consumption of some foods should be reduced or avoided.
  • Multiple births increase with age, treatment

    Multiple births, when a woman is carrying twins or more in a single pregnancy, have risen significantly in the last 30 years. While the average woman has just a 3 percent chance of giving birth to twins, there has been a 60 percent increase in twins since 1980, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
  • Consulting with your doctor prior to getting pregnant

    Patients often ask about whether they should meet with a physician prior to trying to conceive a child with their partner. Pre-conception counseling, where a patient and her doctor discuss various concerns before she attempts to become pregnant, is very important. During such counseling, the patient and her doctor will identify issues that could become aggravated if she successfully conceives, and will develop a plan to help her sustain a healthy pregnancy.
  • The benefits of exercising while you’re pregnant

    Exercising while pregnant is not only safe, but generally recommended for women in good health. A woman should plan to begin an exercise program prior to conceiving, and then continue that program into the pregnancy. Exercise and good nutrition promote a healthy weight gain during pregnancy, and can help a woman better tolerate labor and delivery.
  • Protection from cancer-causing HPV

    The most common sexually-transmitted disease, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), causes genital warts and is responsible for the onset of cervical cancer. The virus has many sub-types; the benign ones cause genital warts and the more aggressive sub-types infect the cervix, creating pre-cancerous and cancerous changes over time. The majority of cervical cancers are caused by HPV sub-types 16 and 18, while sub-types 6 and 11 are the culprits for genital warts.
  • Options for making labor, delivery more comfortable

    Expectant mothers are fortunate to have many options to manage discomfort during labor and delivery. Choosing the right approach is a very personal decision, and the woman’s physician can offer guidance based on the delivery she desires.
  • Utilizing your dental insurance by year’s end

    Only 70 percent of people utilize their dental insurance within a year, according to a study by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). With 2010 coming to a close, it is advantageous to review your benefits that may be expiring by year's end.
  • Recent act may help reduce risk of oral cancer

    The Oral Cancer Foundation predicts 36,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in the U.S. this year alone. Alarming predictions such as this one may diminish with President Obama's Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This recently signed act was enforced to target teenagers by making tobacco use less attractive; thus, reducing tobacco related illnesses and diseases, such as oral cancer.
  • Mouth guards: A back-to-sports essential

    Let the games begin! As many students are training for football, baseball, hockey, soccer and other sports, this is also the time of year for sports-related injuries. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sports-related dental injuries send approximately 600,000 youths to the emergency room each year.
  • Stay hydrated to prevent dental decay

    For those of us who live in Arizona, water is an essential part of our nutrition. The body is made of 60 to 75 percent water. Every cell in our body requires water to function. With the summer heat, hydration with water is essential not only for the body, but for the mouth and teeth as well.¬
  • 2010 health care reform provisions for oral health

    The new health care reform has several provisions affecting the future of oral health for Americans. These various provisions in HR 3590 and HR 4960 will be going into effect from 2010 to 2018. The American Dental Association made a strong presence during the passing of the bill to ensure the House bill contains provisions to improve oral health nationwide. The 2010 oral health care provisions focus on oral health prevention, oral health workforce, health care quality, public health infrastructure, insurance fraud and abuse.
  • Gum disease linked to stillbirth

    A newly published study from researchers at Case Western Reserve University, School of Dental Medicine reported the first documented link between a mother with pregnancy-associated gum disease to the death of her fetus. Other published studies have linked pregnancy-associated gum disease to pre-term birth, low birth weight babies, and gestational diabetes.
  • Is your college student at higher risk for dental decay?

    With the holidays over, students are back in college. Parents may have noticed that their child has lost weight, gained weight, or changed their daily hygiene habits after a semester at college. Parents may have sent their child to the dentist during the holidays, and may have found their child came back with more cavities than before college.
  • Hidden money that can help your family smile

    As the year-end holidays are approaching, many people are struggling to find resources to pay for celebrations and gifts. Dental insurance is one resource that is often overlooked and lost. At this time, many individuals and family members may have unused insurance money available to aid in maintaining or improving their oral health.
  • Ghosts, goblins and sugar bugs?

    The National Confectioners Association (NCA) estimates that Halloween candy sales will top $2.22 billion.
  • How safe are those dental X-rays?

    The mere mention of X-rays causes people to cringe in their dental chairs.  With the increased national incidence of cancer, the fear of radiation is understandable.  Therefore, it is important to know how much radiation is received from a dental X-ray, how harmful the effects are, and why they are necessary. 


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