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Archive for Health Advice

The Dreaded Mononucleosis: AKA “Mono”

Mononucleosis (often called “Mono”) is an infection caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus, a virus in the herpes family of viruses. 

Signs of mono include:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • headaches
  • white patches on the back of the throat
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • feeling tired
  • loss of appetite

Mono is most common among people 15 – 35 years old. Once someone gets mono, the virus stays in the person’s body for life.  This doesn’t mean that they are always contagious. Over time, the virus becomes less contagious.  Mono is not spread as easily as the common cold.  It is found in saliva and mucus and usually passed through kissing, even though it could be passed in other ways, such as coughing, sharing toothbrushes, drinking straws, or eating utensils with someone who has the virus.  Signs of mono develop 4 – 6 weeks after being exposed to the virus.

Mono is confirmed through a simple blood test.  The main concern with mono is that the spleen will enlarge and rupture.  The spleen is a large gland located in the upper part of the abdomen on the left side; and in short, it helps filter blood to the body. Mono needs to run its course naturally, and usually last about 4 weeks.  Some people will feel tired for several weeks longer. However, Mono will go away on its own.

The main point of treatment is to relieve the symptoms:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Gargle with salt water or suck on throat lozenges or hard candy for sore throats
  • Take either an acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve the symptoms
  • Avoid sports activities until the doctor tells you its safe

We are not exactly sure how long someone with mono stays contagious after symptoms are gone.  But it’s generally believed that a person can spread the infection for many months after the symptoms are completely gone.  Some studies show as long as 18 months. So, take the needed precautions to decrease the spread of germs, such as hand-washing, not sharing food or drinks, etc.

If you are having these symptoms, please call the office today at 757-488-3333 to schedule an appointment.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD


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Preventing MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus  (MRSA) infection is caused by Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria – often called ‘staph’.  Decades ago a strain of staph emerged in hospitals that was resistant to the broad spectrum of antibiotics commonly used to treat is.  MRSA was one of the first germs to outwit all but the most powerful drugs.  MRSA infection can be fatal.

A specific strain of the common bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus, MRSA, causes a type of ‘staph’ infection that has been cropping up among otherwise healthy people as skin infections, such as abscesses.  Staph bacteria live on most people’s skin or in their noses with out causing any problems.  But a staph infection can happen when the germ enters the body through broken skin such as a cut, scrape, or rash.  Staph is the usual suspect in many skin infections.  Staph infections, including those caused by MRSA usually begin as red bumps resembling boils or pimples.  The bumps often become swollen, painful, and filled with pus. Most skin infections are often minor and can be remedied by regularly washing and bandaging the area and or using oral antibiotics or antibiotic ointment.  Sometimes the abscesses from staph need to be drained by a doctor.

But MRSA can’t be treated with routinely given antibiotics.  We now have to turn to other medications to try to treat MRSA. If the infection spreads to other parts of the body, MRSA may lead to serious complications like pneumonia and blood and joint infections.

MRSA is not a new infection.  The difference is that now, MRSA is affecting more people outside hospitals and nursing homes.  This is called Community- associated MRSA.  This infection has been most recently found in a few high schools and professional sports teams.  The bug can be passed through gyms and locker rooms, as well as shared equipment and skin contact.

To help keep the super bug at bay in your home:

  • Make sure you wash hands well and often
  • Use alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • Don’t share razors
  • Shared sports equipment should be cleaned and sanitized

Call you doctor if:

  • An area of skin that’s red, painful, swollen or filled with pus.
  • Skin is inflamed and feverish or you feel sick.
  • Skin infections seem to be passed from one family member to another, or if two or more family members have skin infections at the same time.

Call our office today, at 757-488-3333, if you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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The Pain of Shingles

Shingles is an infection that results from the reactivation of the same virus that causes the chicken pox.  It is characterized by painful and blistering rash.  The pain could start a few days before the rash appears.  It may appear with a fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea and difficulty urinating.  The rash begins with reddish bumps.  In a few days, these bumps turn into fluid-filled blisters.  It may be a stinging or burning pain sensation.  The rash occurs most often on the trunk of the body in a band of blisters around the back or chest.  The blisters usually crust over and fall off in 7 to 10 days.  There may be changes in the skin color when the scabs fall off and in severe cases these color changes are permanent.


Image Courtesy of the Mayo Clinic


After getting the chicken pox as a child, the virus that causes it stays in the body in certain nerve cells.  Most of the time, the immune system keeps the virus in these cells.  As we get older or if the immune system gets weak, the varicella virus escapes from the nerve cells and cause shingles.  If you have had the chickenpox vaccine, you are less likely to get chickenpox and therefore less likely to later develop shingles.

Even though the rash gets better or goes away in a few weeks, the pain lasts longer.  In most people the pain goes away in 1 to 3 months.  Shingles is often treated with antiviral medication to reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms. Your doctor will decide which medication might work best for you.  The medications work better when taken in the first 3 days of developing the rash. Your doctor might also have you take steroid medicines to reduce the pain and swelling.  To help with the pain, over the counter medications are most effective, and a medicated lotion such as Caladryl or Benadryl on the blisters might reduce the pain and itching.  You may also discuss the shingles vaccine with your doctor to decide what is best for your condition.

No one can catch shingles, but they can catch the chickenpox if they haven’t had the virus or the vaccine.  If you have shingles, you should stay away from babies younger than 12 months and pregnant women.

Call our office today at 757-488-3333 if you are experiencing any of these symptoms or to schedule an appointment to be vaccinated.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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A Healthy Prostate

Benign prostatic hyperplasia also called BPH is a condition that affects the prostate gland in men.  The prostate is a gland that is found between the bladder, where the urine is stored, and the urethra, where the urine passed through.  As men age, the prostate gland slowly enlarges.  This growth may press on the urethra and cause the flow of urine to be slower.  This enlargement typically isn’t caused by cancer or infection.

Most symptoms of BPH start gradually.  One symptom is the need to get up more often at night to urinate, and to empty the bladder often during the day.  Other symptoms include difficulty in starting the urine flow and dribbling after urination ends.  The size and the strength of the urine may also decrease.

Such symptoms can be caused by other things besides BPH.  They may be signs of more serious diseases, such as bladder infection or cancer.  Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms so they can evaluate your condition.

In order to know if you have BPH your doctor will perform a rectal exam, which will allow the doctor to feel the size of your prostate.  To ensure that the problem is benign the doctor may need to look a sample of the urine for signs of infection.  A blood test may also be in order.  An ultrasound or a biopsy of the prostate may help the doctor make the diagnosis.

Once the doctor is sure that the symptoms are caused by benign growth of the prostate gland, treatment can be recommended.  Surgery is considered the most effective treatment and is used in men with strong symptoms that persist after other treatments are tried.  Drug treatments are also available, which block a natural hormone that makes the prostate enlarge.  This medicine has side affects that have to do with sexual function.

Another medicine called alpha blockers, can also help the symptoms of BPH.  Alpha blockers have been used for a long time to treat high blood pressure, but they can also be used to help the symptoms of BPH, even in men with normal blood pressure.  These medicines may not work with all men.  The side affects include dizziness, fatigue, and lightheadedness.  The side affects go away once the medication is stopped.

If you are dealing with any of these symptoms, make an appointment today. Call 757-488-3333. Treatment is available.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed

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Now Offering – Home Sleep Study!

Family Medicine Healthcare is now offering our patients a home sleep study for those patients who qualify.  This is a low cost and extremely convenient option for people who find themselves extremely tired and suffering from fatigue. Those who qualify for a sleep study can enjoy the convenience of having the study done while they are at home, sleeping in their own bed.

So, how tired are you? Here is a Sleepiness Scale Self-Test (click here). Answer the questions to see how likely you are to doze off in normal, day to day, situations. These answers may show if you are possibly suffering from a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea.

You can also answer this simple questionnaire from ResMed, a leader in diagnosing and developing technology to help Sleep Apnea and Sleep Disorders.

ResMed Sleep Apnea Questionaire


If you have any of these symptoms, call our office today at 757-488-3333 to schedule an appointment with me. I would like to discuss this option with you, and see if you qualify for a Home Sleep Study.

Sleep is essential to your overall health. We want to ensure you are getting the sleep you need.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD


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