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Archive for Health Advice

Eating Disorders

New studies are showing that eating disorders are on the rise both among teens, young adults, and the elderly.  Women are 50% more likely to have an eating disorder than men.  With such statistics, it would be appropriate to discuss this topic.  An eating disorder is an obsession with food and weight that could become harmful to a person’s well being.  The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia

No one knows exactly what causes eating disorders, yet there is much speculation.  Some possible causes include stress or being upset about something in life or the need to be ‘in control.’  There are many society related pressures on people, especially women, to be thin.  People with anorexia are obsessed with being thin.  They don’t want to eat, are afraid of gaining weight, and they constantly worry about how many calories they take in and how much fat is in their food.  They will take diet and water pills to lose weight.  People with anorexia may get so thin that they look like they’re ill  Bulimia is eating a lot of food at once, binging, and then throwing up or using laxatives to remove the food from the body.  After a binge some bulimics fast or over exercise to keep from gaining weight.  Bulimics often try to hide their binging and may hide food.  They are usually close to normal weight, even though it may fluctuate.

Woman's Feet

Drastic fluctuations in weight and using weight control medications can do serious harm to a person’s body causing:

  • Stomach problems
  • Heart / kidney problems
  • Irregular or no periods
  • Fine hair all over the body including the face
  • Dry scaly skin
  • Dental problems
  • Dehydration


Some of the warning signs of eating disorders include:

  • Overly concerned about body weight
  • Obsession with calories and fat grams
  • Use of any medications to keep from gaining weight
  • Refusal to eat or lying about how much was eaten
  • Fainting
  • Over exercising
  •  Absence of periods
  • Increased anxiety about weight
  • Calluses or scars on the knuckle from forced throwing up
  • Denying that there is anything wrong

 If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, please make an appointment at our office today. Call 757-488-3333. There is help available!

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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Choosing a Family Doctor

As the seasons change, folks are making important healthcare decisions of whether to choose a new Family Doctor or to continue with their current care. This being said, I decided to dedicate an article to Choosing a Family Doctor. Family doctors are doctors that care for the whole family. They care for the physical, mental and emotional health of both the patient and their families.

Family doctors know the most current treatments and technologies. They normally train for at least 3 years in a medical practice setting, treating patients in the office, the hospital and possibly at home. They also re-certify more than any other medical specialty. Family doctors continue to educate themselves as part of their re-certification. This allows them to apply the latest medical breakthroughs in their patients’ lives.

Family Health


Family doctors are specially trained in preventative medicine. They believe that preventing a health problem is better than having to overcome one. If you are looking for a family doctor, try talking with your friends and family.

Once you have the names of a few doctors, call their offices to get more information:

  • Do they accept your insurance?
  • What are the office hours?
  • What hospital does the doctor use?
  • How many doctors are in the practice?


Once you find a doctor that meets your needs, schedule an appointment so that you can meet and talk to the doctor.

Family Health - Preventative

During the appointment be sure that:

  • You’re comfortable talking to the doctor.
  • The doctor answers all your questions.
  • The doctor explains things so that you understand them.
  • You had enough time to ask all your questions.


For an effective visit, be sure to tell your doctor about any current and past health care issues.

  • Any symptoms you are having.
  • Your health history.
  • Personal information including whether you are stressed or if your life is changing.
  • Any medicines you are currently taking. Bring them with you or create a list of all you medicines. Include information about what and how often you take the medicine. You should also write down the strength of the medicine.
  • Any side effects you have from your medicine.
  • Vitamin supplements you take
  • X-rays or test results or medical records you have can be brought to the appointment.


Family Health - Relationship

Don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s important for you to let your doctor know if you don’t understand something. Family Practitioners want to educate their patients because they know that education and prevention go hand in hand. If you would like to schedule an appointment, call our office at (757) 488-3333. I would be glad to get to know you and your family!

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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What is PMS?

Premenstrual Syndrome (better known as PMS) is the name of a group of symptoms that start 7- 14 days prior to a woman’s menstruation. The symptoms stop soon after the period begins. Most women feel some discomfort before their periods. With PMS, however, the individual is usually greatly uncomfortable because of the pain, anxiety, and even depression, that makes it difficult to cope at home or at work, according to The Mayo Clinic.

Some of the symptoms of PMS include:
• Acne
• Bloated abdomen
• Constipation
• Crying spells
• Depression
• Fast heartbeat
• Feeling hungry
• Irritability or tension
• Tired
• Anxiety
• Headache
• Joint pain
• Mood swings
• Lack of interest in sex
• Tender and swollen breasts
• Trouble concentrating
• Trouble sleeping
• Swollen hands or feet
• Desiring to be alone
• Weight gain

Woman with a Migraine

PMS seems to be linked in part to changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle. It is not caused by stress or psychological problems. Your doctor may ask you to keep track of your symptoms on a calendar. If your symptoms follow the same patterns it may be PMS. There is no cure for PMS. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and taking medicine may help. Medicines that can be prescribed include diuretics, antidepressants and birth control pills. To read more about PMS, click here.

Diuretics help the body get rid of extra sodium and fluid. They can ease bloating, weight gain, breast and abdominal pain. They are taken just before symptoms normally start. Antidepressants can help with the severe irritability, depression and anxiety that some women have with PMS. Birth control pills help ease the symptoms by ‘evening out’ hormone levels throughout the cycle. Some women’s PMS symptoms get a lot better when taking birth control pills. However, the pill can also cause side effects of its own. Make sure to talk to your doctor about those benefits and risks. Some over the counter pain relievers and diuretics can also help with mild PMS symptoms.


Here are some tips to manage and help control PMS symptoms:

  •  Eat complex carbohydrates (such as whole grain breads, pasta and cereals), fiber and protein. Cut back on sugar and fat.
  • Avoid salt for the last few days before your period to reduce bloating.
  • Cut back on caffeine
  • Cut out alcohol
  • Eat 6 small meals a day instead of 3 large ones
  • Get aerobic exercise. Work up to 30 minutes 4-6 times / week
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Keep a regular meal schedule

Also, taking calcium pills may reduce symptoms of water retention, cramps and back pain. Taking about 1,000 mg of calcium a day is a good start.

If you have questions about your PMS symptoms or how to better manage them, call the office today at 757-488-3333 to schedule an appointment.

~Dr. Abdelshaheed MD

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Cold and Allergy Season Relief: OTC Medications

With the Cold and Allergy season upon us once again, many people will purchase over the counter (OTC) medications to alleviate their cold and allergy symptoms.

There are four most common types of OTC products:

  1. Pain Relievers are OTC medications that relieve your headache, fever or muscle aches. There are two kinds of pain relievers, non-steroidal anti inflammatory (such as aspirin and NSAIDS) or acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Aspirin and NSAIDS relive the pain by stopping producing of prostaglandins, which are natural chemicals in the body that irritate nerve endings. Acetaminophen relieves pain and reduces fever by blocking painful sensations in the brain.
  2. Antihistamines work by blocking the receptors that trigger itching, nasal irritation, sneezing and mucus production. The three types of antihistamines are Benadryl, Dimetapp, and Aller-Chlor and Chlor-Trimeton.
  3. Decongestants work by narrowing blood vessels in the lining of the nose causing the swollen tissue inside the nose to shrink. One powerful decongestant is Pseudo ephedrine, which is in products such as Sudafed.
  4. Cough Medicines are grouped into two types: Antitussives and expectorants. Antitussives block the cough reflex. These are products such as Delsym, Pertussin and Robitussin. Expectorants, on the other hand, thin mucus and make coughing more productive in clearing the mucus from the airway. This is found in products such as Robitussin and Tusibron.

OTC Medications

If you decide to use OTC medicines to treat your cold and allergy symptoms please consult the list below:

  • Fatigue and sore throat: Acetaminophen (Panadol, Tempra, and Tylenol) or non steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Advil or Motrin.
  • Runny Nose: Antihistamine such as Benadryl Allergy or Chlorpheniramine such as Aller Chlor, Chlo-Amine
  • Stuffy Nose:  Decongestant such as Sudafed
  • Dry Cough: Robitussin Pediatric or Drixoral
  • Moist Productive Cough:  Expectorant such as Robitussin and Tusibron

When taking medicines some foods can cause side effects such as upset stomach. Drinking alcohol is generally not a good idea while taking medications. Some medicines cause sun sensitivity, so limit your outdoor activities or protect your skin. Finally, read
the label to see what to avoid when taking over the counter medicines and follow the instructions just as you would a prescription. If you have questions, give me a call at the office, 757-488-3333.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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The Trouble with Asthma

Now that the Spring Season is upon us and with all the allergies in the air it is essential to address the subject of Asthma.

Asthma is a disease of the lungs, according to WebMD.People with asthma are sensitive to allergens and other irritants in the air and environment. Asthma symptoms normally start when allergens and irritants cause the lining of the lung airways to swell and narrow. The muscles around the airways begin to spasm causing the airways to narrow. When the lining of the airways becomes inflamed, it produces more mucus. This mucus clogs the airways and further blocks air flow, which causes an asthma attack.


Asthma Medicine


Treatment of these symptoms involves avoiding things that cause asthma attacks, keeping track of your symptoms and taking your medications. Use air conditioner and change your AC filter as recommended if your asthma is caused by pollen and mold. To manage mold, clean and air out bathrooms, kitchens, and basements often. Keep the humidity level under 50% by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier. Read more about treatment and prevention here on the Mayo Clinic’s website.

For those who are allergic to dust, they are actually allergic to the droppings of dust mites. To reduce dust mites in your home, wash bed sheets weekly in hot water. Cover mattresses and pillows in airtight covers and remove carpets and drapes. If you must have carpet, treat it with chemicals to help reduce dust mites. Avoid stuffed animals, dried flowers, and other things that catch dust. If you have pets, keep the pets out of the bed room. Also, Do not allow smoking in your house or car. Tobacco smoke can worsen asthma.

Things that trigger an asthma attack:

  • Air pollution
  • Dust/ Mold/ Pollen
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pet dander
  • Exercise
  • Temperature Changes
  • Some foods/ food preservatives found in red wine, beer, salad bars and dehydrated foods
  • Aspirin / Ibuprofen
  • Heartburn
  • Sinus infections/ Viruses
  • Perfumes / spray on deodorant
  • Strong Emotions

In order to manage your asthma, you need to know when your asthma is getting worse. You can measure this through a flow meter. This is a device that measures how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. This device can tell you your personal best peak flow. In conjunction with your doctor, you can calculate your personal best based on your age, height, and weight. A drop in your peak flow, having symptoms at night, and using rescue medicines more often are all signs that your asthma is getting worse.

If you are concerned you are suffering from asthma or need to schedule and asthma check-up, call the office today at (757) 488-3333 and schedule an appointment. We can help you live better, even with asthma.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed

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