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Why Health Literacy Matters

Why Health Literacy Matters

Why Health Literacy Matters

Health literacy refers to our ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information. Health experts consider this skill so important they dedicated an entire month (October) to bringing awareness to health literacy. But if we have medical experts to tell us what we need why is it important to understand the information behind their recommendations?

Let’s Start with Antibiotics

Have you ever taken antibiotics leftover from another infection to treat a cold? Did it work? We didn’t think so. Doctors never prescribe antibiotics to treat a cold or flu because antibiotics are designed to treat bacterial infections. Colds and the flu are caused by viruses, which don’t respond to antibiotics.

Understanding basic health information like knowing the difference between a viral and a bacterial infection, as well as the proper treatment, isn’t just important to your medical providers. Health literacy can save lives. 

Doctors and nurse practitioners prescribe antibiotics for a specific length of time to treat the full infection. This means you shouldn’t have any leftover. Taking less than the full dose leads your body open to a resurgence of the initial infection.

Another reason to understand antibiotics is that no two antibiotics are exactly the same and most treat different ailments. Only a medical provider or pharmacist can determine which type of antibiotic is best suited for each circumstance.

How you can improve your own health literacy

The best way to improve your health literacy is to visit your provider for regularly-scheduled wellness checkup and ask them questions about your health. When you visit your provider because you’re sick ask questions then, too. Ask them to explain what is causing your illness and why they are prescribing the treatment they’ve chosen. 

Reputable online medical resources such as Mayo Clinic and Healthline are excellent sources of basic health information.  Remember, however, when you review information online to discuss your findings with your provider to confirm that the information’s accuracy. Our own blog, which you are reading now, offers an excellent, viable source of information fact-checked by our own medical team.

Are you looking for a medical provider who wants to help you understand your health and the conditions that are affecting it? Mantachie Rural Health Care strives to educate our patients in hopes that it will inspire them to better help. Become a patient with us now by scheduling an annual wellness exam with one of our providers. 

Depression Myths and the Truths Behind Them

Depression Myths and the Truths Behind Them

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. However, we encounter many misconceptions about depression and what it is and is not. Today we are taking a look at the most common myths surrounding depression and revealing the truth behind them.

Myth #1:  Depression isn’t a real disease.

Depression is a very real, complex illness impacted by psychology, sociology, and biology.  Anyone can get depression regardless of your family history. Contrary to popular belief, depression doesn’t just affect your emotional health but it can also negatively impact your physical health as well.

Myth #2: Antidepressants are a cure-all for depression.

Although antidepressants are a very powerful and effective treatment for depression in most instances, they aren’t always enough.  Psychotherapy or talk therapy often successfully treats depression.

Myth #3: You can snap out of your depression on your own.

Depression is not the same as sadness. Just like any other medical condition, depression requires proper diagnosis and professionally prescribed treatment. People who are depressed cannot talk themselves out of it one day. If you have battled depression for months or even years, it’s time to talk to your provider about treatment.

Myth: 4 Depression is caused by trauma.

Unhappiness or sadness are completely normal emotions following a sad or traumatic event but this is not the same as depression. Depression causes feelings of sadness, emptiness, or loneliness at any time even if things are going relatively well. These feelings typically last for long periods and often have no cause.

Myth #5: If you have a family history of depression, you will get it, too.

Depression is more common in people who have a family history of the condition. However, family history does not guarantee that you will be affected by the illness, too. 

Myth #6: Only women get depressed.

This simply is not true. Men experience depression, too, but they may not be as likely to talk about it as women. In fact, the number of men in the US who die by suicide each year is four times that of women. Another reason we urge men to reach out more about their emotional health. Your provider’s office is a safe place to find help.

Myth #7: Once you’re on antidepressants, you’re on them for life.

Some people will need prescribed medication for depression for the rest of their lives. However, not every depression patient fits that description. Each case of depression is different which is why there isn’t one perfect cure-all for the disease. Many patients are able to successfully wean off of medication with their doctor’s help after a certain period of successful treatment. 

Are you struggling with depression or have depression symptoms? Don’t suffer alone. Mantachie Rural Health Care offers behavioral and medical help for depression. Click here to request your appointment now. 

When Should I Get My First Mammogram?

When Should I Get My First Mammogram?

Breast cancer ranks as the second most common cancer among women. Each October we wear pink to remind women of the importance of getting a mammogram. The question is, what age should women have their first mammogram? Here’s what we know. 

Ten of every 100,000 women between the ages of 20-24 receive a breast cancer diagnosis. That number increases as women age into their late 20’s and early 30’s. We notice significant jumps around the ages of 40-50. Women in their 70’s have the highest rate of breast cancer diagnoses. So if most women are not affected by breast cancer until their 70’s, why do experts recommend screenings for women who are much younger?

Multiple trials demonstrate that screening mammograms decreased the risk of death from breast cancer by 15% to 29%. Lowering your risk of death offers reason enough to have a mammogram at the earliest recommended age.

What is the earliest recommended age for your first mammogram?

All medical experts agree that early screening saves lives. The exact age of that first screening remains a widely debated topic. The American Cancer Society recommends women receive their first mammogram by age 45. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Forces say women can wait until age 50 for their first screening. However, the Mayo Clinic “supports screening beginning at age 40 because screening mammograms can detect breast abnormalities early in women in their 40’s.” 

Though some experts agree that younger is better no mammogram comes without its own risks. Women in their 40’s and 50’s are more likely to receive a false positive which is why further testing with another mammogram, ultrasound imaging, or biopsies is necessary if an abnormality is detected.

Because of the varying recommendations from medical associations and the simple fact that every woman is different, we believe the best thing you can do is talk with your doctor about the best age for you to start screening. Factors that are significant only to you such as your family history of the disease (women with a close family history are advised to get screened sooner than women with no family history) are key to determining when you should get your first mammogram. If you are over the age of 30 with a close family history of breast cancer, we recommend talking with your provider now about when you should start screening. Women with average risks should talk to their providers about a mammogram at least by age 40. 

The best time to talk to your provider about getting a mammogram is during your annual wellness visit. Click here to request your visit.

How to Keep Your Lungs Healthy

How to Keep Your Lungs Healthy

Lung disease ranks as one of the top killers of both men and women in the United States. Luckily you can take several steps throughout your lifetime to reduce or prevent your risk of lung disease.  Keeping your lungs healthy prevents more than illnesses like lung cancer and chronic lung disease such as COPD,  it also gives you a better chance of surviving covid-19. Start doing these seven things today to keep your lungs healthy for life.

Get plenty of exercise.

If you haven’t figured out by now, exercise is one of those things that everyone, young and old, needs regularly. The reason why is simple. Exercises provide natural prevention for just about every physical ailment out there including lung diseases. Even a brisk 20 to 30 minute walk a few times each week can improve your lung health.

Practice deep breathing exercises.

Turns out meditative breathing and yoga aren’t just good for your mind they’re good for the body, too. A study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that its participants had a significant increase in vital lung capacity after performing 2 to 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises. 

Prevent infection.

Those same CDC guidelines in place to protect you from coronavirus also prevent other infections. Fight infections by remembering to:

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds as often as needed, especially after touching public surfaces.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Practice good oral hygiene including brushing twice daily, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups.
  • Get a flu vaccine every year and talk with your provider about if you would also benefit from the pneumonia vaccine. 

Get regular check-ups.

Visit your provider at least once a year for a wellness checkup. Even if you feel healthy, your provider can detect underlying issues through screenings and a physical exam.

Avoid exposure to indoor and outdoor pollutants.

Indoor pollutants such as secondhand smoke, cleaning chemicals, and radon can wreak havoc on your lungs. Outdoor pollutants like smog and factory smoke can also cause significant damage.

Don’t smoke, or if you do, quit.

Following the previous steps are useless if you’re going to puff away on cigarettes. If you’re not a smoker, stay that way. If you do smoke, it’s time to quit. We offer many resources to help you quit smoking successfully. Schedule an appointment with us today to get help kicking the habit. 

Head Lice Prevention: What Works and What Doesn’t

Lice Prevention: What Works and What Doesn't

It’s back to school time! Though that may look a bit different this year thanks to COVID-19, other schooltime concerns like head lice haven’t gone away. We hope social distancing will help prevent the spread of head lice this year, but we also know that kids are going to play. Lice tend to find a way to spread. Be prepared in case a head lice infestation finds its way into your home with our prevention tips. 

Avoid hair to hair contact.

Sharing hugs and leaning in close to whisper a secret are both off-limits this year because of social distancing. That alone may reduce the spread of lice as well as other illnesses. 

Don’t share clothes, hats, or scarves.

Remind your children not to share hats and scarves of their friends at school. If your child arrives home with an infestation, keep your other children from wearing their clothing, or accessories that touch the head. Gather and wash all of your child’s clothing and accessories that have been worn in the days before the infestation.

Don’t share hair tools.

Disinfect hairbrushes, combs, and accessories like hair ties and ponytail holders by soaking them in hot water for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Keep your family from using infested hair tools until they have been properly cleaned.

Avoid lying on furniture, pillows, stuffed toys, and carpet that could be infested.

Be ready to wash pretty much every soft surface your infested child has touched. Don’t allow other family members near those surfaces until they’ve been disinfected. Machine wash sheets, pillows, blankets, clothing, stuffed toys, and other items worn or laid on by the infested person in hot water and machine dry the items on high heat. Vacuum carpets and furniture where the child has laid. 

Keep infested children home until they’ve been treated.

Stop the spread of head lice by keeping your kids home until they’ve been successfully treated and all traces of head lice are gone. Remember, your child can get head lice again if the spread isn’t stopped in their classroom. 

Worried your child may have a head lice infestation? Click here to contact us now to request an appointment.

Suicide Prevention and Opioid Recovery

Suicide Prevention and Opioid Recovery

Statistics paint a bleak picture when it comes to suicide and addiction. A Psychology Today article cites drug and alcohol abuse as the second most common risk factor for suicide. One in three people who take their own life are under the influence of drugs. Poisoning composes the third-leading method of suicide and three-fourths of those deaths by poisoning use drugs. The article points to drug or alcohol abuse as the leading indicator of suicide risk over depression or mental illness. For true suicide prevention, we must support opioid and addiction recovery.

Links between suicide attempts and addiction include depression resulting from an inability to fight an addiction, the loss of relationships due to addiction and the use of drugs and alcohol to mask mental illness. Persons who abuse drugs may also have lowered inhibitions and show a readiness to take more risks. 

Addiction Recovery Key to Suicide Prevention

Treatment for opioid addiction addresses not only the known addiction but also the mental illnesses and mental trauma triggering the addiction or depression caused by the addiction. Opioid and addiction recovery are key to suicide prevention, but it’s important for addicts and family members to expect a holistic approach to drug treatment. Managing both underlying mental illnesses and addiction improves an addicts chances at recovery and reduces the risk for suicide. 

When an addict seeks treatment, family, friends and their medical team should ask the hard questions “have you considered or attempted suicide or are you considering suicide?”. Asking the hard question does not give your loved one ideas about suicide, but rather opens a conversation about an otherwise stigmatized subject. 

Signs to Know

Not every person considering suicide shows signs of depression. Often family and friends piece together signs of a loved one’s suicide plan after the fact. Because of the increased risk of suicide related to drug addiction, it’s imperative for the addict to seek treatment and for friends and family to ask the hard questions. 

Signs a person is considering suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Increasing drug or alcohol use
  • Talking about feeling trapped
  • Displaying increased anger or rage
  • Talking about not wanting to be a burden to others
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping less or more
  • Isolating themselves

If someone you know is talking about suicide, whether they have an addition or not:

  • Ask them if they plan to commit suicide.
  • Listen without judgement.
  • Remove objects that could be used for suicide
  • Stay with the person or leave them in the care of someone else while you get help.
  • Call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Call 9-1-1 if self-harm is imminent.

Parents, spouses, children and friends of addicts worry about overdoses and violence involving their loved one. Suicide adds another line to the worry. Treatment isn’t just about the addiction but about healing behavioral and mental health issues contributing to or caused by the addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid or addiction recovery and suicide prevention, call our behavioral health clinic at 662-282-4359 for an appointment or in case of a medical emergency call 9-1-1.

The Surprising Signs of PCOS

suprising signs of PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine and metabolic disorder affecting 1 in 10 women of child-bearing age. PCOS is a common condition among women and girls who have reached puberty, however, at least 7 in 10 women with the disorder are undiagnosed. 

Because of its name, many assume ovarian cysts and irregular or missed periods characterize PCOS. These are indeed indicators of PCOS but other more unusual signs of the disorder may also be present. 

Before you continue reading about these symptoms, it’s important to know that no two PCOS cases are exactly the same. You may or may not share any of these symptoms with another PCOS patient. For instance, infertility is a symptom of PCOS, however many women are able to naturally conceive with no problems while others are able to conceive with fertility treatments. Some PCOS symptoms are a bit more common and while others aren’t as well known.

Unusual PCOS Signs

  • Weight gain or obesity that is difficult to manage.
  • Unwanted hair growth, known as hirsutism, on areas where men normally grow hair such as the face, arms, back, chest, thumbs, toes, and abdomen. Hirsutism is the result of hormonal changes in androgens.
  • Hair thinning or loss
  • Acne
  • Mood changes such as mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
  • Pelvic pain and heavy bleeding may occur during menstruation. Pain in the pelvic area can also occur when women are not bleeding. 
  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems. PCOS is one of several conditions linked to sleep apnea disorder.

PCOS is currently incurable but treatable, although many women never find complete relief from symptoms. Hormonal birth control is the most common treatment of PCOS. Other, non-FDA approved treatments include anti-androgen drugs and Metformin. Anti-androgen drugs block the effect of androgens which reduces body and facial hair growth, acne, and scalp hair loss. Metformin, a medicine commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, may help restore ovulation and aid in lowering body mass and improving cholesterol levels in women with PCOS. However, these medicines also carry certain risks and still need more studies before they are approved by the FDA. 

If any of the mentioned symptoms sound a little too familiar, you may have PCOS. We can discuss your symptoms and give a diagnosis with a women’s health exam, one of the many services offered at Mantachie Rural Health Care. If you receive a positive PCOS diagnosis, we’ll talk about the best treatment options and walk with you each step of the way to getting control of your symptoms. Click here to request a women’s health appointment now. 

A New Blood Test to Diagnose Alzheimer’s is Being Studied with Promising Results

A New Blood Test to Diagnose Alzheimer's is Being Studied with Promising Results

Experts have long believed that earlier treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is the key to slowing or stopping the disease. Now, a new blood test for Alzheimer’s is being studied. It demonstrates promising results that could lead to early diagnosis and treatment. 

A study presented virtually at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020 and in the JAMA medical journal revealed promising results for those fighting to cure dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The new blood test–which still likely won’t be available for several years–detects different types of tau protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. 

How the New Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Works

The new test works by focusing on the specific subtypes of tau protein. This key protein becomes abnormal as Alzheimer’s disease changes the brain. Initial results found Alzheimer’s patients exhibit more of a particular subtype, a modified tau protein called p-tau217, than healthy patients who participated in the study. 

Studies of the blood test have shown its results to be as accurate as a spinal tap or PET scan. The blood test can also distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from Parkinson’s disease and other types of dementia with 89% to 98% accuracy. What’s more, the test could differentiate between the different types of cognitive dementia and flag early signs of Alzheimer’s. 

Experts say earlier detection of dementia could lead to testing current treatments for these diseases at a much earlier stage. Earlier treatment could result in slowing or completely stopping the progression of dementia. 

Just how early can this new blood test detect Alzheimer’s? Possibly up to 20 years before the first symptoms occur by measuring p-tau217 levels. 

As you can read, exciting moves are being made in the quest to cure Alzheimer’s and dementia. Though we may still be several years away from seeing these new tests become available for patients, we’re confident the treatments for these terrible diseases are going to improve greatly and change the lives of patients and their families. Learn more about the new blood test study here.

Study Finds Childhood Picky Eating Is About More Than Food

Good news, parents! A study recently published by the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics says children who are persistent picky eaters aren’t usually underweight, nor do they have higher BMIs than their peers. And, picky eating is likely a personality trait of your child, not something you caused.

Now that we’ve covered the positive news, let’s look at some unexpected findings. The study divided children into three camps of picky eaters: low, moderate, and high. Children who were moderately or highly selective eaters were more likely to have trouble controlling their emotions. Picky eating may not stand alone but may signal a behavioral health problem you need to discuss with your child’s doctor.

While you may not have caused your child’s pickiness, you can make some changes to help your child expand their palate.

Let go of the demands. Children whose parents restrict certain foods or demand they eat certain foods are more likely to be picky. Around the age of four, where this study began following participants, children are moving into independence. If high anxiety is common among picky eaters, as the study suggests, those children are more likely to avoid new foods and a parent’s insistence won’t help.

Make mealtime fun. Put down the screens. Tell a joke. Talk about your day. Ask your child questions. Make mealtime more about the social interaction of your family than about the food. You’ll relieve the pressure on yourself and your kids.

Set a good example. When your children see you eating new foods or healthy foods, they are more likely to want to try those foods themselves. Start your children on the same diet the rest of your family eats early, before they are two if possible. 

Involve your children in food selection and preparation. You don’t always have time to let your kids help in the kitchen, we get that. Make some time once or twice a week to let your children help select or cook the food you’ll eat. When they have a hand in the preparation, they are more likely to want to try what you’ve cooked.

If you’re concerned about your child’s nutrition or if their picky eating habits might be signs of behavioral health problems like anxiety, ADHD, or depression, we can help. Not only do we have health professionals like nurses and nurse practitioners on our staff, we also employ a registered dietitian and licensed counselors. 

You can read more about the study and its findings through these articles:

‘Picky Eating’ Can Start Early: What Parents Should and Shouldn’t Do About It

Study gives insight — and advice — on picky eating in children

Extreme Picky Eating and Anxiety: A New Study Finds a Surprising Link

For Many Kids, Picky Eating Isn’t Just a Phase, Study Finds

Your Right to Request a Referral to a Specialist

Our doctor and nurse practitioners are family care providers. That means they have experience and are highly educated in a wide range of medical conditions. Most of our patients find that experience and knowledge to be exactly what they need in a time of illness. For some patients with chronic illness or advanced illness, we need to refer them to a specialist. But your health isn’t just in our hands. You can (and should) take an active role in your health. If you think it’s time to see a specialist, ask us for a referral.

When to Ask for a Referral

Some illnesses are easy to diagnose on the first visit. A very sore throat with a fever can be diagnosed and treated as strep throat with a quick test. Other illnesses aren’t that clear. Many diseases and chronic illnesses have similar symptoms. Our providers listen to your symptoms, ask questions, and order tests in an effort to single out the cause of your illness. That means some problems may take more than one visit to get a diagnosis. 

If you’ve visited with your provider more than three times for the same issue and still don’t feel like you’re getting any closer to finding answers, it’s time to talk to your doctor about a specialist referral. Your primary care provider is a partner in your health. We want to see you feel better. Sometimes a doctor with specialised care in a specific area can provide new insight.

What to do Before Requesting a Referral

Before you ask your doctor for a referral, check with your insurance. Most insurance companies have a list of specialists they prefer. You’ll also want to know if seeing that specialist requires a referral. You can check out the potential providers and have an idea of who you’d like to request before your visit.

How to Request a Referral

It can feel awkward asking your doctor to refer you to someone else. Don’t let that stand in the way of better health for you. Your provider wants the best for your health. As a primary care provider they will continue to be involved in your health decisions even if you seek care from a specialist. 

During your visit with your provider, ask if they think it’s time for you to see a specialist or let your doctor know you’re ready to see a specialist. Ask for your doctor’s recommendation of who to see and why that’s their preferred referral. They may have insight into your health history and the specialist’s knowledge that an internet search or your Aunt Clara’s recommendation doesn’t have. If you do not want to see the specialist your doctor recommends, let them know who is covered by your insurance and who you would like to see.

Sometimes a physician to physician referral can result in a faster appointment time. This is not always the case, but it can be a benefit of having your doctor put in the call. Also, if your provider makes the referral, they will know the protocol to ensure your medical records are shared with the specialist. 

Before Your Specialist Appointment

Double-check with your primary care provider’s office to ensure they sent your medical records to the specialist’s office. Also, make sure the new doctor is still covered by your insurance. Make sure you have a list of medications to take with you to the new appointment and check online to fill out any forms ahead of time.

After Your Specialist Appointment

Your primary care provider is still available for all your health needs, even if you’re seeing a specialist for a specific issue. Your doctor should have records of your visits with the specialist so they can make notes in your chart. If you’re seeing a gastroenterologist for a stomach problem, your primary care physician will still be your go-to for acute care illnesses like sinus infections or other chronic diseases like high blood pressure.

Remember, we’re a partner in your health journey, but your true responsibility for your health remains with you. Being open and honest with your provider not only about your health, but about your desire to see a specialist may save time and help you find a diagnosis faster.


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