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Rural, Uninsured Women at Higher Risk for Cervical Cancer

Rural, Uninsured Women at Higher Risk for Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer isn’t the cancer of old women, just ask celebrities like Erin Andrews, Liz Lange, or Judy Blume. It’s most commonly diagnosed in women under age 50, which increases the importance of screening in these women.

Most patients don’t experience any symptoms during the earliest stages of cervical cancer when treatment is most effective. Screenings, however, can detect cancer and pre-cancerous cells early. 

Screenings

Pap tests look for changes in cells that could turn into cancer later. In the past, doctors encouraged women to have a pap smear every year. In the last decade, however, recommendations have changed to every three years for women ages 21 to 65. 

Women over age 30 may elect to have an HPV screening which tests for human papillomavirus, the virus which can cause cervical cancer. If you test positive for this virus, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings.

Vaccinations

In 2006, the HPV vaccine was released in an effort to significantly reduce the occurrence of the virus which can lead to cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Since introducing the vaccine, rates of HPV infection have dramatically decreased. Doctors encourage both females and males ages 9-26 to receive the vaccine. 

Challenges

Reducing the number of women with the HPV virus and catching cervical cancer early sounds easy enough, right? Unfortunately, the cost of testing and vaccines often means women in rural areas without insurance may slip between the cracks. These women receive the most cervical cancer diagnoses. 

Mantachie Rural Health Care offers $15 pap tests and provides the HPV vaccines for low or no cost for uninsured or underinsured patients. Staying on top of your health shouldn’t be hard or expensive. Schedule your pap test and yearly check-up today. Your health is worth the time.

Sweet or Unsweet: Common Diabetes Medications

common diabetes medications

Lifestyle changes will most likely be the first suggestion your doctor makes after your type 2 diabetes diagnosis. The thought of changing your eating habits, adding exercise into an already full schedule, and monitoring your blood sugar can be overwhelming. Depending on how high your A1C is, your doctor may prescribe one of these common diabetes medications. 

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics take different types of medication because the types respond differently to insulin. Most Type 2 diabetes patients control their diabetes through oral medication.

Not all diabetes medication is right for every patient. Your doctor prescribes the type of medication based on your symptoms and how well your diabetes is controlled. Every addition of medication to your routine comes with questions you should ask your provider if they don’t supply the answer to these questions when they suggest the medication. Your pharmacy provided printouts contain most of this information, but talking to your doctor about these questions should still be the first step.

  • When and how often should you take the medication?
  • What should you do if you miss a dose?
  • What are the common side effects of this medication?
  • Why did your provider prescribe this particular medication?
  • Will Medicare, Medicaid, or your private insurance cover this medication?
  • Will this medication react with any other medications I’m taking?

Below are several of the most common Type 2 diabetes medications. We included a little information about each one. You can find more about these medications rxlist.com.

Metformin

Many providers prescribe metformin as the first medication for treating Type 2 diabetes. These medications help your body become more sensitive to insulin. They also decrease the amount of sugar your intestines absorb. It comes with side effects such as weight gain and possibly low blood sugar. Metformin is in a family of drugs called biguanides and may be combined with other medications also used to treat Type 2 diabetes.

Sulfonylureas

These medications stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin. Like Metformin, the side effects may include weight gain and low blood sugar.

Meglitinides

Like Sulfonylureas, these medications stimulate your pancreas to make more insulin, but they are faster acting and the effect lasts for a shorter length of time. These medications may lower your blood sugar too much.

Thiazolidinediones

These medications work a lot like Metformin in that they make your body more sensitive to glucose. Unfortunately, they come with more serious side-effects such as an increased risk of heart failure, heart disease, and anemia. Your provider will monitor your heart function closely if you take one of these medications. The increased risk of serious side effects means it probably won’t the first medication your provider prescribes.

DPP-4 inhibitors

These medications have less of a tendency to cause low blood sugar while helping the body make more insulin. They may cause joint pain and increase your risk of pancreatitis.

GLP-1 receptor agonists

This family of drugs slows digestion and helps lower blood sugar levels. They are injectable medications versus oral medications most often used. Patients with certain heart disease or chronic kidney disease are more likely to receive these medications as they may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. The medications often cause weight loss and may also have side effects like nausea and an increased risk of pancreatitis.

SGLT2 inhibitors

Unlike other diabetes medications, these drugs prevent the kidney from holding on to the glucose. Instead, your body excretes the sugar through your urine. These medications may also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Possible side effects include vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, low blood pressure, and a higher risk of diabetic ketoacidosis. 

Insulin

Insulin was once the last resort for treating type 2 diabetes, but today it’s prescribed earlier due to its benefits. This medication must be injected. Your provider has a variety of types of insulin available, and they may prescribe a mixture of insulin types for use at different times of the day or night. 

Cost of Medications

The cost of insulin and other diabetes medication continues to rise, and Medicare, Medicaid or your insurance may not cover all these medications. Patients at Mantachie Rural Health Care may request a 340B card at the time of their appointment for discounts on prescriptions. Discounts vary, but Fulton Walmart, Mantachie Pharmacy, and Saltillo Pharmacy and Solutions accept the cards.

Study Shows Long Term Health Risks from Measles

girl in tree, measles, vaccines

As the vaccine debate rages among parents, more studies show the effects of measles may last long after a patient recovers. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children often cite the measles symptoms as one reason vaccinations may not be worth the perceived risks. A new study from the Netherlands suggests patient’s risks continue long after they recover from the initial illness.

Measles begins with a high fever 10-12 days after exposure to the virus. A cough, runny nose, red watery eyes, and white spots in the mouth may accompany the fever. A few days later a rash appears on the face and neck. The rash spreads over the entire body in the next 3 days. The rash lasts 5-6 days.

The new study shows a decreased immunity to other viruses and infections after the measles rash fades. The virus appears to wipe out the immune system’s memory. Illnesses the person had previously built immunity to were no longer recognized. The measles effect made patients even more susceptible to those illnesses and their dangerous complications. While the immune system still works, it must relearn all the viruses it one recognized.

Infants who are not yet old enough for the vaccine, children under age 5, and adults over age 30 are most susceptible to other complications of measles such as ear infections, diarrhea, and dehydration.

Yet another reason to protect our children with the MMR vaccine. If you have questions or concerns about vaccines and your child, schedule a wellness visit with one of our providers to discuss how best to protect your family’s health.

20 Ways to Keep Your 2020 Fitness Resolutions

walking, tennis shoes, fitness resolutions

Something about the clean slate of a new year lures us into believing we might just be able to do things differently this time. In a few short weeks, we’ll not only have the promises of a bright, shiny new year, but a whole new decade to fill with our hopes, dreams, and goals. If you’re planning new fitness resolutions this year, keep reading.

The trouble is, we’re still the same person on January 1 that we were on December 31. If that person didn’t eat well or exercise regularly then jumping into a new fitness routine on January 1 is likely to lead to frustration. We want you to succeed in your fitness goals in 2020 not just on January 1 but on February 15 and May 23 and all the days beyond. 

The key to successful navigation of your News Year’s fitness goals is preparing now. Why wait until January 1 to start taking more walks or joining a gym? Get started now with these simple steps.

  1. Start with a wellness check-up. Getting clearance from your medical provider before starting an exercise routine is particularly important if you have a chronic illness such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or asthma. Let your provider know you’d like to start exercising more and ask for his or her suggestions.
  2. Purchase a pair of good athletic shoes. Exercise doesn’t have to involve pricy gyms or expensive equipment. You will need the appropriate footwear. Your flipflops or slippers won’t cut it here. Choose shoes with good support that are made for the activity you’ve chosen. Running shoes will be lighter while cross-trainers will offer more support. Now’s the perfect time to put these on your Christmas wish list!
  3. Set a baseline. Every great goal starts by acknowledging where you are now. Take your resting heart rate. Record how long it takes you to walk 1 mile. Sit in the floor with your legs straight in front of you and see how far toward your feet you can reach without bending your knees. Count how many standard or modified push-ups you can do at one time.
  4. Choose activities you like and that offer easy access for you. Saying you’re going to ride your bike for thirty-minutes a day when you don’t own a bike won’t help you set your goals. If you plan to join a gym, choose one near your home or office so you have one less excuse for not going. 
  5. Set specific goals. Planning to exercise more is a great resolution, but what exactly does more mean? A goal to walk 1 mile three times a week is both specific and reasonable, especially if you haven’t exercised much in the last year. If you already exercise but want to increase what you’re doing, build on where you are. 
  6. Set realistic goals. In addition to specific goals make them realistic. Will you really get up at 3 a.m. to walk a mile every morning? Can you actually go to the gym after work if you have to pick up the kids? Know yourself and what you’re willing to do. Making fitness easy and accessible increases the chances you’ll stick with it.
  7. Set new goals every three months. Instead of setting a goal to stick with this fitness routine for a year aim for one month or three months. Re-evaluate after three months to decide if you like your current routine if you’re sticking with it, and what you may need to change.
  8. Be flexible. You thought you’d like swimming every day during your lunch hour, but cleaning up afterward puts you late getting back to work. Or maybe you still don’t feel comfortable at your gym after a month of going. You have more options. Choose another activity, another time, or another gym. Don’t quit one without a plan for how to fill your fitness time, but do allow yourself to change your mind.
  9. Reward yourself. We’re not talking about eating a cupcake after your fitness session. Choose other rewards like taking yourself to the movies, having a massage or purchasing that book you’ve been dying to read after you complete a certain number of exercise sessions in a row. Your reward don’t have to involve money. You might spend 30 minutes in a hot bath listening to music or allow yourself to watch an episode of your favorite television show.
  10. Put it on your calendar like any other appointment. You wouldn’t skip your doctor’s appointment or hair appointment. Put your exercise time on your calendar like any other appointment. If it’s written it’s more likely to get done.
  11. Tell your family and friends. If taking 30 minutes to walk after work will affect the schedule of other people in your family talk to them about what you’re doing a why. Better yet, invite them to join you! Find supportive family and friends who will ask you if you’ve exercised or will text you encouragement when they know you’re working out.
  12. Join a fitness class. Lack the motivation to workout alone? Most gyms offer group fitness classes led by trained instructors. Many allow you to try a class free before you join. The end of December is a great time to try new classes before you join in January. Use your time wisely!
  13. Exercise with friends. This one gets a little tricky. Some friends will push you to work harder, others will spend the entire time gabbing and you won’t actually work out. Find friends who also have fitness goals to reach and work together to get healthy.
  14. Use a fitness app to track your progress. Many free fitness apps for smartphones will track your exercise and estimate the number of calories you’ve burned. If you’re wearing a fitness tracker like FitBit or Apple Watch these devices will pair with your apps for even more information. You can also set fitness trackers to remind you to move periodically throughout the day.
  15. Drink more water. If you’re increasing your exercise, you need to increase your water even in the cold months. Choosing water over sports drinks, sodas, or sweet tea also reduces your calorie intake. And if you’re drinking more water you’ll have to walk to the bathroom more often which increases your step count. Win-win-win.
  16. Add variety to your workouts. Walking is a great, low-cost fitness option, but make sure to add some resistance training as well. Multiple repetitions with small hand weights or resistance bands build muscle without requiring a lot of fancy equipment. YouTube and Facebook offer plenty of videos from fitness experts. This type of exercise gives you a break on cold or rainy days when you can’t walk outside.
  17. Listen to your body. “No pain no gain” isn’t the right exercise message. Reaching your fitness goals shouldn’t hurt. As your abilities increase you may push yourself to work harder but start off easy. If your body is out of breath or tired take a break. Allow yourself a day to rest if you had a restless night or you are sick. Don’t use 1 or 2 days off as an excuse not to return to your exercise routine. 
  18. Put on exercise clothes when you get home. Just putting on your exercise clothes and shoes is sometimes all the reminder you need to keep your commitment. If you’re exercising in the evening set your gym bag by the door to take with you to work or lay out your workout clothes so you see them when you get home. Remove as many excuses as possible.
  19. Monitor your progress. Remember that baseline you recorded? Go back every six weeks and record your progress. It might be small at first, but every extra push-up counts.
  20. Remember the best exercise you can choose is the one you’ll actually do.

We’re cheering for you and your 2020 fitness goals. Our providers are ready to talk to you about staying healthy this year and for years to come.

Celebrating Sobriety Every Day

cupcakes, celebrating sobriety, national sobriety day

Choosing to step out and seek treatment for addiction is one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever make. We’re working hard to remove the stigma of addiction and to encourage more people to choose recovery. For some recovering addicts, celebrating sobriety milestones is an important step in the recovery process. December 11 is National Sobriety Day, but we encourage you to celebrate your sobriety every day.

Celebrating sobriety looks a little different than celebrating life’s other milestones such as weddings and graduations because sobriety is celebrated sober. If you’ve never planned a sobriety celebration, now’s the time to start.

Start Small

Cook a fancy meal at home or try a new restaurant with your spouse, best friend, or immediate family. Small celebrations are especially meaningful if you’re still in the first phase of sobriety. Your family or closest friends will want to celebrate your determination with you and show their support. Make sure they know you’re celebrating sobriety and you expect them to abstain from alcohol during the meal as well. If you’re eating out, ask your server to remove the wine or drink list from the table and not to suggest drinks with your meal.

Get Active

Alcohol and drugs steal our time and our energy. As you progress in your sobriety, you’ll find you have more of both of these resources. Try a new outdoor activity such as hiking, running, biking, fishing, or swimming. Invite supportive friends and family members to join you. Let them know the day’s activity is a celebration of your sobriety and alcohol and drugs are not permitted on the trip. Setting boundaries and surrounding yourself with supportive people are key parts of maintaining your sobriety.

Create New Traditions

As we move into the holidays, a lot of family traditions center around drinking. From grandma’s eggnog at Christmas to champagne on New Year’s Eve and beers during a ballgame, you may find yourself challenged at every turn. Combined with the stress of family gatherings, those temptations may prove to be a powderkeg for you. Choose now to set some new holiday traditions. Bake and decorate cookies together. Serve lunch at a local shelter. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Host a soup cook-off. Every family tradition starts somewhere. Yours starts here with you.

Go Big

The early milestones of recovery may require quieter celebration to keep you on track, but long-term milestones like a year or five-years call for bigger celebrations. By now you’re past the first few hard days of sobriety, but you understand the importance of maintaining your commitment to your new lifestyle. And your friends and family are adjusting to the new you without drugs or alcohol. You may still choose to include a small group of supportive friends and family, but consider an out-of-town trip or a big vacation celebrate. Find a vacation travel planner that specializes in sober travel deals to celebrate on a cruise or trip that skips the alcohol. 

However you choose to celebrate sobriety, we encourage you to celebrate it every day. Each moment lived without the control of drugs and alcohol is a beautiful day. 

If you haven’t chosen a sober lifestyle yet, but you’re ready to kick your addictions, our counselors are ready to speak with you. And if you’ve walked the path of sobriety, but somehow lost your way, we’re here for that too. Call us at 662-282-4359 to speak with someone today.

Pancreatic Cancer Not Answer Game Show Host Alex Trebek Expected

alex trebek pancreatic cancer
“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek at the 2016 USO Gala, Washington, D.C., Oct. 20, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill)

Earlier this year, Alex Trebek, the long-standing host of “Jeopardy!,” announced he’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 79. Like his game show participants, this answer to what he assumed to be benign symptoms leaves us with a lot of questions.

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

In an interview, Trebek mentioned he’d experienced persistent stomach pain prior to his diagnosis. Similar pain is one of the most reported symptoms among pancreatic cancer patients. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • New diagnosis of diabetes (the vast majority of people with a new diabetes diagnosis do not have pancreatic cancer)

If these symptoms sound similar to the symptoms of many other illnesses, you’re right. Which is one of the reasons pancreatic cancer is rarely diagnosed during the early stages. The other obstacle to early diagnosis is that by the time these symptoms do appear, the cancer has usually grown beyond the pancreas.

Who’s at risk of pancreatic cancer?

Like many other cancers, lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer. The risks increase for people who:

  • Smoke
  • Are Obese
  • Have long-standing, uncontrolled diabetes
  • Have a poor diet

You can’t control all the risk factors though. Some like chronic inflammation of the pancreas, a family history of pancreatic cancer, family history of genetic syndrome such as BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome, and age can’t be changed.

How do you treat pancreatic cancer?

Alex Trebek reported success with early chemotherapy treatment of his cancer. After a short remission, however, he experienced regrowth of the tumors and has begun chemotherapy treatment again. 

While chemo is often a part of a treatment plan, other treatments may include surgery, radiation or clinical trials. Your cancer’s stage when it’s discovered determines exactly how your doctor treats your disease. 

We talk a lot about diabetes diagnosis and management here on our website and on our social media. Although the vast majority of our diabetes patients will never receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, we know this disease elevates their risk. It’s one more reason we’re determined to help all our patients live healthier, longer lives.

If you need help controlling your diabetes or discovering what’s causing you to feel bad more days than not make an appointment with one of our providers by calling (662) 282-4226.

Grief Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss

Grief Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss

The holidays prove to be difficult for anyone who has lost a loved one. For those whose loved one ended their own life, the grief and holidays can be even more difficult. Finding support for survivors of suicide loss is an important part of the healing process. This year’s International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is November 23, just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The shock and grief following a loved one’s death by suicide can feel overwhelming. Grief, in general, can feel all-consuming, but following a suicide, it may also include confusion, anger, rejection, and shame. Some survivors may be at an increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts themselves. 

If someone you loved has taken their own life, remember you are not alone. It’s estimated that the 800,000 suicides that took place from 1986 to 2010 each touched at least six lives. That means more than 5-million people have been affected. Grief looks different for everyone, and it crops up in unexpected places sometimes years after the loss.

Don’t ignore your grief or allow anyone to minimize it. Find people in your life who are good listeners, and limit your time with people who try to push their own expectations on you. Many survivors of suicide loss find support groups and one-on-one counseling to be a great help. These sessions may help you work through your grief, questions, and even feelings of guilt.

For the friends and family of those affected by suicide stay close to your grieving friend. Be open to share a memory of the person they lost and say his or her name. On the flip side, be willing to sit quietly with a friend when that’s what they need. Ask for ways you help during the difficult days. Go grocery shopping. Watch their children. Drive them to appointments. Bring dinner. Wash the laundry. All the simple tasks they may be too overwhelmed to manage.

Our counselors are trained to help as you sort through the confusing maze of grief after any loss, but specifically the different type of grief that accompanies suicide. Call our office at 662-282-4359 to make an appointment.

If you’re looking for resources on how to support a friend or family member who has experienced suicide loss, we’ve listed a few valuable resources below.

Helping a Student Who Has Lost a Friend or Family Member to Suicide (Although specifically geared towards students, this resource is valuable to anyone of any age.)

Understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss

Suicide survivors face grief, questions, challenges

Men’s Health: A Hairy Situation

man with beard; men's health awareness; movember

Men’s Health Awareness advocates have renamed November to Movember. They encourage men to retire the razor a month and grow out their mustaches and beards in hopes of motivating conversations about men’s health. Across the world, women live longer than men, and in the United States, it averages an extra five years of life. Take a dive with us through the testosterone waters to find out why.

Who are you?

Men are twenty-percent less likely to have seen a medical provider in the last year than women. Is it because they’re healthier? Nope.

On average, men have their first heart attack around age 65, while a woman’s first heart attack happens later around age 72. (Although women are still more likely to die from a heart attack than men.)

Men are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes at a younger age and lower BMI than women.

Men are more likely to develop, and die from, cancer than women. 

Men are three times more likely to die from suicide, although more women are diagnosed with depression than men.

All of these diseases are most easily prevented and treated in their early stages. Preventative treatment and screenings can identify risks before the illness strikes — but only if the patient seeks out that treatment. Additionally, men are less likely to follow a treatment plan than women.

Enter Movember

Raising awareness increases conversations between men about their physical and mental health. The more men talk about health screenings and their mental health, the more they realize they aren’t alone. 

Celebrate Men’s Health Awareness Month by scheduling a yearly wellness check-up with your medical provider. If you have health insurance, this wellness visit is usually covered 100%. This exam includes checking your blood pressure, a key measurement for determining heart disease.

Keep the celebration going by scheduling your necessary health screenings: 

  • Prostate cancer screening after age 40 with a family history; after age 45 for African American men; after age 50 for all men.
  • Colonoscopy at age 50.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening between ages 65-75 if you’ve ever used tobacco.

Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your mental health, including a counselor or therapist if needed. More and more men are talking about their mental health including celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds, Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Love, Micheal Phelps, Chris Evans, and many more. If they’re not afraid to open up about depression and anxiety, you shouldn’t be either.

Finally, follow your wife/sister/daughter/friend’s example and do some self-care work. Exercise. Drink plenty of water. Find a hobby you enjoy. Try to eat a little healthier. Stop smoking. 

Your life is valuable and we need you around for many years to come.

Celebrating Mantachie’s Nurse Practitioners

nurse practitioners; Amanda Martin, FNP; Donna Cannon, FNP; and Crystal Nichols, FNP

Amanda Martin, FNP; Donna Cannon, FNP; and Crystal Nichols, FNP

The second week in November we celebrate our clinic’s Nurse Practitioners. And we’re pretty lucky to have some of the best.

These mid-level providers have become our go-to providers over the last twenty years, but the profession started in 1965. It began in response to a dearth in primary care providers. In 1989 Congress provided limited reimbursement for these nurses and the profession experienced tremendous growth in the 1990s. By 2000 Nurse Practitioners were able to practice in all 50 states.

Our NPs provide excellent primary care services for our patients, and we are fortunate to have highly trained providers in our facility.

Ethnicity Overrules Weight in Diabetes Risks

black man; Ethnicity Overrules Weight in Diabetes Risks

We’ve long associated Type 2 diabetes with being overweight. In fact, excess weight is one of the prime risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. This risk factor may not play as key a role in diabetes in some races. 

A new study published in Diabetes Care, a journal of the Americal Diabetes Association, found Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans have a higher rate of Type 2 diabetes at a lower weight.

Medical providers usually reserve diabetes screening for those overweight patients. The results of this study, however, suggests providers should look at more than a patient’s weight and BMI. Minority patients should receive diabetes testing earlier, even when they are not overweight.

Providers calculate whether or not a patient is overweight based on their BMI. A BMI of 25 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 is considered obese.

As a patient, you know your body best. Know and recognize the symptoms of diabetes. 

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry—even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss—even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

Regardless of your weight, if you have these symptoms, it’s time to see your medical provider. If you are of a minority race talk to your medical provider about diabetes testing regardless of your weight and age. 

The best way to treat diabetes is to find it early.


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