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Archive for Health Advice

The “Migraine Difference”

We all get headaches. That aching neck pain and throbbing temples, making it nearly impossible to concentrate. But are you having a migraine? How do you know?

Migraine headaches seem to be caused in part by changes in the level of a chemical made in the brain called serotonin, which plays many roles in the body and has an effect on blood vessels. When the serotonin levels are high, blood vessels constrict and when the levels are low, the vessels dilate, which can cause pain. Many things can affect serotonin level in the body including diet and level of blood sugars, as well as changes in estrogen levels for women.

Woman with a Migraine

The pain of a migraine can be intense and can get in the way of daily activities. Migraines affect people differently and some folks may have a feeling of when a migraine is coming on. This may be in the way of intense energy, fatigue, food cravings, or mood changes.

The most widely experienced migraines are 1) classic and 2) common migraines. Classic migraines start with a warning signal called an aura. This often involves changes in vision. Patients may see flashing lights, colors, temporary loss of some vision, such as side vision. Other signals include strange burning sensation or muscle weakness, depression, irritability and restlessness. Common migraines don’t typically start with an aura, they start more slowly, last longer and are more likely to interfere with daily activities.

Symptoms of migraines include:

  • Intense throbbing or dull aching pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Pain worsens with physical activity
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Changes in vision
  • Feeling cold or hot
  • Stiff or tender neck
  • Tender scalp
  • Light headed-ness
  • Stopped up nose

Things that can set off a migraine include:

  • Strong or unusual odors, bright lights or loud noises (This could include smoking or fumes)
  • Changes in weather or altitude
  • Feeling tired or depressed, including changes in sleeping habits
  • Missing meals or fasting
  • Menstrual periods, birth control pills or hormonal changes
  • Intense physical activity
  • Some foods

 

There are two types of medications that help relieve migraine pain. One type focuses on relieving the headache pain, and this type of treatment is typically started on the onset of a migraine. Other types of medications are used to prevent headaches before they occur. Non prescription medication can also be used to help relieve the pain. Talk to your doctor about which medicine is best for you. Non prescription and prescription medicines that are used often or in large doses may cause other problems.

To prevent migraines try to avoid foods or other things that seem to cause migraines. Keep a journal to help identify the triggers. Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, get regular exercise.

If you are experiencing painful headaches, possibly migraines, give us a call – (757) 488-3333. Help is on the way!

~ Dr. Abdelshaheed

 

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Preventing the Flu

Once again we are entering the flu season. The Flu Shot should be or become available in most doctor offices very shortly. The flu season lasts from the end of October through April.  As you may know, Influenza is a viral infection in the nose, throat, and lungs.

10- 20% of Americans get the flu each year. Some get very sick and a few die. The flu may cause fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Some people describe the flu as the worse cold they had ever had. Most people get better within 1- 2 weeks. For some people, the flu leads to serious, and maybe life-threatening diseases, such as pneumonia. The flu shot is recommended for people who are more likely to get really sick for protection from the flu.

Flu Vaccine

People who have a higher risk of complications from the flu and should get the flu vaccine every year:

  • All children 6 months to 3 years old
  • All adults 65 years and older
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season
  • Nursing home and long term care facility residents
  • Health care workers that have direct care with patients
  • Caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months of age
  • Individuals with long term health problems
  • Children 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy

 

The best way to avoid the flu is to get the influenza vaccine each fall, before the flu season. The vaccine is available by shot or nasal spray. IT works by exposing the immune system to the flu virus. The body will build up antibodies to the virus to protect you from the virus. The flu shot contains dead viruses. The nasal spray contains live but weakened viruses. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine. People who have had an allergic reaction to the flu shot in the past or have an allergy to eggs should not get the flu shot.

The flu vaccine is safe. There are very few side effects. With the flu shot the arm may be sore for a few days, a fever, feeling tired or have sore muscles for a short time. With the nasal spray vaccine the side effects are runny nose, headache, cough or sore throat. With pregnancy you should not get the nasal spray vaccine. However, it is recommended that pregnant women get the flu shot.

There are antiviral flu drugs, which are prescription medicines that can be used to help prevent or treat the flu. Taking these drugs with in 2 days of getting sick can lessen your symptoms and decrease the amount of time a person is sick. Your doctor will decide if these medications are right for you.

Call our office to get your flu shot, 757-488-3333.

~ Dr. Abdelshaheed

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The Pain of Fibromyalgia

Chances are you have heard about Fibromyalgia, but probably don’t know much about it.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain in the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons; and is diagnosed by exclusion only. This means that all other conditions need to be excluded before a patient can be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. For this reason, many people are confused and unaware about this condition, and what it entails.

The pain of fibromyalgia occurs in areas called ‘tender points.’ Common tender points are the front of the knees, the elbows, the hip joints and found the neck. Fibromyalgia affects 2-5% of the US population, including children. This disorder might be hereditary, so you may have family members with similar symptoms.

Fibromyalgia Tender Points

 

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia are primarily increased sensitivity to pain and may also include:

  • Pain– The pain of fibromyalgia has no boundaries. People describe the pain as deep muscular aching, throbbing, shooting, and stabbing. Intense burning may also be present. Often the pain and stiffness are worse in the morning.
  • Fatigue– This symptom can be mild in some patients and incapacitating in others.
  • Sleep disorder– Most fibromyalgia patients have an associated sleep disorder called the alpha-EEG anomaly. Researchers have found that fibromyalgia patients could fall asleep with out much trouble, but their deep level sleep was constantly interrupted.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome– Constipation, diarrhea, frequent abdominal pain abdominal gas, and nausea represent symptoms found in 40 – 70% of fibromyalgia patients.
  • Chronic headaches– Recurrent migraine or tension-type headache are seen in 70% of the patients.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ)– This syndrome causes tremendous jaw related face and head pain

You may also have feelings of numbness or tingling in parts of your body, or a feeling of poor blood flow in some areas. Many people are very sensitive to odors, bright lights, loud noises and medicines. In addition, you may have dry eyes or difficulty focusing on nearby objects. Problems with dizziness and balance may also occur. Some people have chest pain, and a rapid or irregular hear beat, or shortness of breath.

Although fibromyalgia causes symptoms that can be very uncomfortable this condition is not life threatening, but it is chronic. There is no cure, but you can do many things to help you feel better. Several medications can help relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia. Many of these medicines are taken before bedtime and improve sleep. Patients will begin to notice the benefits of the medications in about 6 – 8 weeks. One of the best things patients can do is low-impact aerobic exercise. This includes swimming or water exercise, stationary bicycling and exercising on ski type machines. Begin at very low level and continue to increase the length and frequency of exercise until it is at least 30 – 60 minutes at last 4 times / week. It is important to cut stress whenever possible and get as much sleep as needed. Avoid alcohol and caffeine that cause poor sleep.

 

 If you are experiencing these symptoms, call our office today and schedule an appointment, (757) 488-3333.

Treatment is available. Life was not meant to live in pain!

~Dr. Abdelshaheed

 

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How to Avoid a “Medication Messup”

What medications, including OTC and herbal supplements, are you currently taking? Do you know? Does your doctor know? If not, you may want to make a list to bring to your next visit. It could save your life.

 

Medication

 

1.5 Million Americans are sickened, injured or killed each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing and taking medication. The populations most at risk are geriatrics and pediatrics. That is since more than half of pediatric patient visits result in a prescription.

12% of the US population is greater than 65 years of age and consume about 30% of prescription medication. This is why it is critical that patients bring their medications for visits or admissions, so that the doctors are able to document medications as well as dosages. This should include any herbals or vitamins as well as over the counter drugs. I encourage family members to become involved in the care of elderly patients. Provide them with a list of their medications, the dosages, as well as allergies.

One medication may have many drug names, which may create confusion in regards to the drug. Always write down the brand name of the drug that you’re using if utilizing a list and ensure that you spell the generic name properly. It is important for patients who are traveling to take enough medication with them for the duration of their travel. That is since, medications from other countries may differ from those that are FDA approved in the US. In addition, brand names are used for different drugs in different countries.

Ways to Avoid Medication Errors at Home:

  • Make a list of current medication
  • Update med list when medications change
  • List all allergies to food or medications
  • Keep medications in original container
  • Read the label before taking any medication
  • Read the patient information sheet and call the pharmacy if there is a change is shape, size or color of your medication
  • Don’t take anyone else’s medication
  • Discard expired medications
  • Discard all medications one year after they are dispensed.

 

As you read this article consider taking your medications to your next doctor’s visit for review and update. It’s the simple things like this that can save your or a loved one’s life.

~ Dr. Abdelshaheed

 

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Tanning the Healthy Way…

There’s no such thing as a healthy tan, because you can’t get tanned without damaging your skin.  That damage is what makes you more likely to get skin cancer as you grow older.  Between 1970 and 2009 melanoma increased eight fold among women ages 18 to 39 and four fold in men.

The rising cancer rate is being driven by the use of indoor tanning beds.  Ultraviolet radiation is a known carcinogen.  Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous because tanning beds emit 10 to 15 times more UV radiation than the midday sun.  There are regulations that aim at preventing youths from indoor tanning, such as requiring a parents’ consent for teens younger than 18.
The patient can play a primary role in early detection of melanoma.  During your annual exam ask your doctor to look at your back for suspicious marks.  Doctors should inform the patient of their risk factors to skin cancer.

Tanning Bed

 

Some of those factors include:

  • Family history of melanoma
  • Using tanning beds
  • Having fair skin, light hair, and eyes
  • Burning easily

Such conversations are particularly important for families of young children to help them establish health behavior early in life.  People who plan on spending time in the sun should wear a broad spectrum water resistant sun screen with a sun protection factor of 30 or more.  Also, limiting time in the sun especially during midday when UV rays are strongest and most harmful.  Among women cancer is most commonly found on lower extremities.  For men, melanoma is most commonly found on the back and legs.

Summer is approaching, so make sure you and your entire family are wearing sun screen. Prevention is the key!

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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