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The Danger Of Tick-Borne Alpha-Gal Allergy

The Danger Of Tick-Borne Alpha-Gal Allergy

Alpha-Gal Allergy: The Lesser Known Tick Borne Illness

When it comes to tick-borne illnesses, Lyme disease is usually the first to come to mind. But today we’re shedding light on a lesser-known tick-borne illness known as Alpha-gal Allergy. 

What is Alpha-gal Allergy?

Alpha-gal is a sugar molecule found in most mammals. It is not found in fish, reptiles, birds, or humans. Alpha-gal allergy also known as alpha-gal syndrome, or AGS, is commonly called a red meat allergy or a tick bite meat allergy. AGS is a serious, potentially deadly allergic reaction. Contrary to popular belief, infections do not cause AGS. The symptoms present after someone with the allergy consumes red meat or been exposed to other products containing alpha-gal. 

The most common symptoms of AGS include:

  • Hives or itchy rash
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, or eyelids. 

Allergy symptoms vary from person to person and symptoms typically appear within two to six hours after eating red meat. Reactions can range from mild to severe and even life-threatening. However, some people with AGS will not experience a reaction after every exposure to alpha-gal. 

Alpha-gal and Tick Bites

More and more evidence suggests a bite from the lone star tick found in the United States triggers alpha-gal allergy. However, much research is still needed to determine if other US-found ticks could carry the allergy. Other tick species in other countries carry AGS.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have AGS from a Tick Bite?

The first step to take is to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. They will perform a physical exam and a blood test to look for specific antibodies to alpha-gal. If you receive a positive diagnosis, your healthcare provider will work with you to treat and manage your condition. Your provider may refer you to an allergy specialist for further care if your case is severe. 

Your provider will also work with you to learn what foods and products contain alpha-gal so you know what to avoid. Take steps to prevent further tick bites as they can reactivate an allergic reaction to alpha-gal. If you have pets, make sure they are on a flea and tick preventative. Deep clean your carpet and floors and wash your bedding and clothes and dry them in your dryer so the heat will help kill any bugs that may have survived the wash. 

If you need to see your Mantachie Rural Health Care provider about a possible tick bite, click here to request an appointment today.

Surprising Diabetes Effect on Your Brain

diabetes effect on your brain

If you are living with diabetes, you’re probably very aware of the physical effects of this disease on the body. Symptoms like non-healing or slow-healing wounds and conditions like glaucoma and heart disease all commonly affect people with diabetes. But how does diabetes affect brain function? A recent study revealed diabetes’ surprising effect on the brain. 

The Aging Effect of Diabetes on the Brain

Researchers compared data compiled from 20,000 middle and older age adults with past studies to determine what, if any, effect type 2 diabetes had on brain function. Data from the present and past studies consistently revealed a connection between type 2 diabetes and increased aging in the brain. 

Type 2 diabetes patients in the study had poorer results in tests on memory and thinking. MRI scans revealed the same group also experienced brain tissue shrinkage in the parts of the brain responsible for memory and thinking. A professor at Stony Brook School of Medicine in New York said that the brains of patients with type 2 diabetes aged about 10 years faster than others.

One reason type 2 diabetes affects the brain so much is that the brain is a major consumer of glucose. When the body isn’t producing enough insulin, the brain is in trouble. The findings in the new study join a body of other research dedicated to studying the effects of diabetes on the brain. Multiple studies have also indicated a link between diabetes and a faster decline in mental sharpness in older age, as well as a higher risk of dementia. 

What Diabetes Patients Can Do to Fight the Effects

The point of medical research is to find the cause of problems and develop solutions. As medical experts continue to develop new studies and treatments, diabetes patients can do their part by following their provider’s treatment plan. Those plans typically include diet and exercise as well as a medication regimen. Proper treatment helps keep your glucose levels normal more often and slows the effects of diabetes on the overall body. 

Properly following your provider’s treatment plan includes not skipping checkups with your diabetes care provider. At each visit, your provider checks for signs of concern and can make changes to your treatment if needed. They’ll also screen for other conditions that diabetes patients are at a higher risk for. 

Need a checkup with your diabetes care provider at Mantachie Rural Healthcare? Click here to request a visit today!

Six PTSD Myth Busters

Six PTSD Myth Busters

Let’s talk about post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as it’s better known. Like other mental health illnesses, PTSD has gained some myths since it was first discovered. We’re here to bust those myths wide open so you can understand the truth about PTSD. Check out our six PTSD myth busters.

PTSD Myth #1: PTSD only affects veterans.

Formerly referred to as “shell shock”, doctors initially associated PTSD with soldiers returning from war. However, the term changed when “post-traumatic stress disorder” first appeared in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980. This change reflected a new understanding of PTSD. As mental health studies progressed, experts recognized common symptoms of shell shock in civilian patients who had experienced other types of physical and psychological trauma in their lifetime. PTSD better represented the broader circle of patients suffering from the same disorder. 

PTSD Myth #2: PTSD develops immediately after trauma.

The truth is, PTSD can take weeks, months, or even years for symptoms to appear. Researchers have determined this is due to how the mind processes trauma and develops responses to fear. The typical time it takes for PTSD to manifest is three months but it’s not unusual for symptoms to appear years later. 

PTSD Myth #3: PTSD only affects certain types of trauma victims.

People often associate PTSD with war veterans and those who have experienced traumatic events like abuse, serious accidents, or have been witnesses or victims of crime. However, trauma of any kind, including trauma from an illness, can cause PTSD. People who have been traumatized by an illness or injury may have anxiety related to healthcare because they associate doctor’s visits and hospitals with their ailment. 

PTSD Myth #4: PTSD is not related to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Although the two conditions are not the same–Traumatic Brain Injury is an actual physical injury to the brain, commonly known as a concussion–they are, in some cases, related. Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop from TBI and symptoms of these conditions often overlap. When a possible TBI is involved in a PTSD case, diagnosis can prove difficult because evidence of physical trauma isn’t always apparent in diagnostic tests. 

PTSD Myth #5: PTSD affects everyone who experiences trauma.

Actually, PTSD affects a relatively small group of trauma victims. PTSD rates are higher in women and other factors can make certain people more vulnerable to mental disorders. Risk factors include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Low social support
  • Multiple traumatic events 
  • More negative life events than usual

PTSD Myth #5: PTSD is for the weak.

The responses and behaviors of PTSD are of no fault of the person experiencing it, nor is the development of PTSD. PTSD is the brain’s way of trying to protect the person from more trauma. Hence, why responses like flight or fight are common. However, nothing about PTSD indicates the person is somehow “weaker” than others.

PTSD Myth #6: Symptoms of PTSD are the same in everyone.

PTSD can manifest in a number of ways. Some people experience intrusive thoughts about their trauma. Others may actively avoid thoughts, people, and places that remind them of their experiences. Arousal symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping or concentrating and being easily startled, are also common. Negative thoughts and moods are also other symptoms. 

Are you concerned that you or someone you love is experiencing PTSD? Our behavioral health specialists can help. Contact Mantachie Rural Healthcare at 662-282-4226.

How does Testosterone Affect Your Health?

How Testosterone Affect Your Health

Testosterone is a hormone found in both males and females. The production of testosterone speeds up during puberty and slows down around age thirty. Most people understand that men have more testosterone than women, but have little understanding of how testosterone affects their health. We’re going to shed a little light on this important hormone and how testosterone affects your health.

How Testosterone is Produced in Men and Women

Testosterone develops in the testicles in men and in the ovaries in women. However, women produce a much smaller level of testosterone than men. This is why it’s often referred to as the male hormone. Testosterone is typically associated with sex drive and sperm production in men. It can also affect bone and muscle mass and red blood cell production. 

How Testosterone Affects Men’s Health

We just mentioned a few ways testosterone affects men’s health, such as red blood cell production and bone and muscle mass. It also affects the way fat is stored in a man’s body and his mood. Low testosterone levels in men may result in:

  • Weight gain
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Less body hair
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thinner bones
  • Less energy
  • Lower mood and feelings of depression
  • Lower energy levels

Although testosterone levels naturally taper off as men age, other factors can lower it more. Injury to the testicles as well as testicular cancer can result in lower testosterone. Chronic health conditions such as AIDS, liver disease, kidney disease, and alcoholism also decrease testosterone. Stress can also be a factor.

How Testosterone Affects Women’s Health

Like men, women see testosterone levels decrease as they age. Lower testosterone levels in women may result in low libido, reduced bone strength, poor concentration, and depression. Low testosterone in women can be caused by the removal of the ovaries and diseases of the pituitary, hypothalamus, and adrenal glands. Therapy is available, but its effects on sexual and cognitive function is unclear in post-menopausal women. 

Testosterone Facts

Testosterone in men is often a sign of a problem with the pituitary gland. However, in teenage boys, low testosterone is a sign of delayed puberty. On the other hand, boys with high testosterone levels will develop puberty early. Women with high testosterone may develop masculine features. Abnormally high levels of testosterone could be a sign of an adrenal gland problem or cancer of the testes. 

The takeaway: Your testosterone levels are a tell-tale sign of your health. If you are experiencing testosterone-related issues, it’s time for a visit with your primary care provider. Schedule a visit with your Mantachie Rural Healthcare provider at 662-282-4226.

Diabetes Mythbuster: Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Cured?

Diabetes Mythbuster: Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Cured?

Can type 2 diabetes be cured? Type 2 diabetes is a common illness, but it’s also commonly misunderstood. One of the most popular myths about diabetes is that type 2 diabetes can be cured. Is this a myth or fact? Let’s find out.

Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Cured?

The short answer is no, doctors have yet to discover a cure for type 2 diabetes. You can, however, manage type 2 diabetes, and many patients lead a relatively normal life with the right diet, exercise plan, and medicinal treatment. 

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is an impairment in the way the body produces sugar for energy. It is a metabolic disorder that leads to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream. If left uncontrolled, type 2 diabetes can lead to problems in the nervous, circulatory, and immune systems. 

People can have type 2 diabetes for years before a diagnosis, because symptoms such as fatigue, unexplained weight loss, increased urination, and increased thirst and hunger may not be apparent at first. This is why yearly checkups with your healthcare provider are essential. Your provider performs screenings at these important visits that help them detect signs of diabetes. An earlier diagnosis and treatment lead to better outcomes.

How Can I Have a Healthy Life with Diabetes?

In a ray of positive news, most patients who follow their treatment plan and lifestyle guidelines manage type 2 diabetes without many problems. This includes eating a diabetes-friendly diet and getting at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity or exercise a day, as well as taking medication as prescribed and checking sugar levels regularly. 

Some patients falsely believe that they have cured their type 2 diabetes when their treatment plan works, and their sugar levels return to normal for a while. They may even stop their medication and visits with their diabetes care provider. This is dangerous to anyone with type 2 diabetes because, again, there is no cure, even when your treatment plan is working well. Deviating from your treatment plan will lead to higher sugar levels and a return of symptoms. 

Is it time for a yearly visit with your healthcare provider? Schedule a checkup with your Mantachie Rural Healthcare provider today here.

How Men Are Affected by Type 2 Diabetes

How Men Are Affected by Type 2 Diabetes

Alright, men, the focus is on you this month! Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common health conditions among men in the United States. In fact, type 2 diabetes is slightly more prevalent in men than women. The CDC reported in 2020 that 15.5% of men in the US have type 2 diabetes compared to 13.2% of women. Many of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar in men and women, but a few symptoms affect only men. Have a look at how men are affected by type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes in Men

In addition to the common symptoms and complications caused by type 2 diabetes, such as neuropathy and vision problems, type 2 can also cause problems for men’s sexual and urological health. These problems include low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, an overactive bladder, or urinary tract infections. 

These issues are more common in men for a few reasons. Diabetes doubles the risk of low testosterone, which can lead to erectile dysfunction. Diabetes also damages the nerves that control the bladder leading to an overactive bladder and UTIs. Urine retention can also occur in men and lead to kidney problems as well as urological issues. Additionally, men with diabetes are at an increased risk for urologic, prostate, and kidney cancers. 

What Men Can Do to Lower Their Risk of Diabetes Complications

Although there is no cure for diabetes, including type 2 diabetes, it can be well-controlled in most patients. Men can reduce their chances of developing complications from diabetes by:

  • Following the treatment plan prescribed by their diabetes care provider
  • Eating a diabetes-friendly diet
  • Getting daily exercise
  • Quitting or avoiding smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Visiting their provider for regular checkups even when they feel fine

Guys, now is a great time to schedule a yearly health checkup with your Mantachie Rural Healthcare provider. If you have type 2 diabetes, we can also help you manage your treatment. For an appointment or more information, call 662-282-4226

Connections Between Mental Illness and Substance Abuse in Women

When we talk about women’s health, we often think about PAP tests and mammograms. While these provide important preventive health measures for women, women’s health concerns go further. Mental health concerns make up an important but little-discussed aspect of women’s health.

Statistics show that 1 in 5 women has a mental health diagnosis, and women are twice as likely to experience depression as men. In addition, almost 3% of all women in the United States have both a substance use disorder and a mental illness.

Common Mental Illnesses Among Women

Women struggle with specific mental illnesses in greater numbers than men. Although women do experience other mental illnesses below are the ones most commonly diagnosed in women at greater rates than men.

Depression — twice as many women experience depression compared to men

Anxiety — women are twice as likely to experience anxiety compared to men

Trauma — 20% of women will experience a rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime

Eating Disorders — the majority of individuals who struggle with anorexia and bulimia are women

Suicide — women are likely to attempt suicide although men are likely to die by suicide

Mental illnesses don’t happen in a vacuum. They affect a woman’s family, work, and friend groups. 

Most Commonly Abused Substances Among Women

Substance abuse in women is often connected to mental illness and trauma. In addition, women, especially mothers or pregnant women, face the stigma of seeking help for both their addiction and mental health illnesses and barriers related to childcare while they seek treatment. Women tend to lean toward specific substances more than others.

Alcohol — the most commonly used substance among women. In fact, an entire culture has evolved around the “wine mom” who drinks to unwind every night. Research shows alcohol use disorder among women is on the rise.

Prescription drugswomen are more likely to misuse prescription opioids to treat pain and to self-treat other problems like anxiety or tension.

Sedatives and antidepressants — women are more likely than men to die from an overdose of sleep aids or anxiety medications. These drugs also send more women to the ER than men.

Seeking Help

Unaddressed substance abuse and mental health illnesses affect a woman’s physical health. At Mantachie Rural Health Care, we offer both primary care and mental health treatment. Our providers can help you find the right treatment options and work with you to break down barriers to getting that treatment. No judgment here. We’re working hard to remove the stigma of seeking help for both substance abuse disorders and mental health illnesses. That starts with treating the whole patient.

Call our clinic at (662) 282-4226 to request your appointment. Start with one of our nurse practitioners or with our mental health nurse practitioner. Your whole health matters.

Ozempic® can help you get back in your
type 2 diabetes zone

Ozempic is not prescribed for weight loss, it is intended for Type 2 Diabetes.

If you’re not reaching your blood sugar goals, once-weekly, non-insulin Ozempic®may help.

Ozempic® is for adults with type 2 diabetes used along with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar and lower A1C. It also lowers the risk of major cardiovascular (CV) events such as heart attack, stroke, or death in adults also with known heart disease.

Ozempic is not prescribed for weight loss, it is intended for Type 2 Diabetes. When used correctly along with exercise and a healthy diet, it has been proven to lower A1C levels.

If you or a family member are interested in losing weight, Mantachie Rural Health Care, Inc. offers one
on one appointments with our registered dietitian Erica Witcher, RD, CDE. (662-282-4226)

How Stress Affects Diabetes

How Stress Affects Diabetes

No one is immune to stress, and constant stress wreaks havoc on anyone’s body. But chronic conditions like diabetes put some people at a higher risk of experiencing complications caused by stress. Take a look at how stress affects diabetes. 

How the Body’s Natural Response to Stress Affects Diabetes

Anything can bring stress in your life, from financial problems to traumatic events. Even a diagnosis of a chronic illness, like type 2 diabetes, can add stress. Symptoms of stress include nervousness, a rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, upset stomach, and depression. 

When your body experiences stress it goes into a fight-or-flight response. This natural response elevates hormone levels and causes nerve cells to fire. In turn, the body releases adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream causing respiratory rates to increase. Because you have diabetes, your body might not be able to process the glucose released by firing nerve cells. If your body can’t convert glucose into energy, your blood glucose levels will rise. 

Other Ways Stress Affects Diabetes

In addition to your body’s natural response, stress can affect diabetes in other ways. Stress can disrupt your daily routine including healthy habits like exercise and eating a healthy diet. When we are stressed, we often find ourselves prone to eating more junk food and getting less exercise. These changes affect your diabetes almost immediately. High blood glucose levels can cause you to feel down while low glucose levels can leave you feeling nervous.

How You Can Reduce Stress 

Stress is a natural part of life–you can’t always avoid it, but you can take steps to reduce how stress affects you. One of the first steps you can take is to be intentional about keeping up your daily routine. Don’t give in to temptations to eat your feelings with junk food or to lay around all day. Make yourself eat healthy even when you don’t want to and don’t skip the gym. 

The same goes for your medication. Don’t skip a dose, no matter what. Since stress can make us a bit forgetful it’s probably a good idea to set a reminder on your phone to take your medicine and check your glucose levels. Keeping up your health routines will not only help your blood glucose levels stay in check but can also reduce your body’s response to stress. 

Another way to reduce your stress is to talk with someone about how you are feeling. You’ll find talking it out to be surprisingly therapeutic and sharing your burdens often makes them feel less heavy. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or relative, consider scheduling a counseling session with a mental health professional. 

Mantachie Rural Health Care offers medical and mental health care for diabetes patients, as well as dietary treatment. If you are experiencing additional stress in your life that is increasing anxiety, depression, and even your blood glucose levels, you may benefit from a counseling session with one of our mental health professionals. To schedule a visit, click here. (link to contact page)

What’s the Difference Between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian?

A question we’re often asked is, “What’s the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian? Although the professions have similarities, some key differences distinguish them from one another. For example, dietitians are certified to treat clinical conditions whereas nutritionists are not always certified. 

Key Differences Between a Dietitian and Nutritionist

Dietitians, also known as registered dietitian nutritionists, must receive certification from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They can treat certain health conditions by offering food recommendations. Dietitians provide medical nutrition therapy in a hospital setting or private practice. They can also provide nutritional education and expertise to schools, public health offices, and food-related industries. 

Nutritionist training varies and certification is not required in all 50 states. Nutritionists in states that require certification can obtain their certification from the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS).  Nutritionists may have different focus areas from dietitians. Some nutritionists may pursue advanced qualifications in specific health areas such as sports nutrition, digestive disorders, and autoimmune conditions. Nutritionists may also provide general advice on healthful eating, weight loss, and reducing tiredness. 

Training Requirements for Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians must have a bachelor’s degree or higher and have the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) or Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to accredit and approve coursework. They must also complete 1200 hours of supervised practice through ACEND-accredited practice programs. Then, they must pass the national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. After certification, dietitians must complete continuing education requirements to maintain licensure. 

Certified Clinical Nutritionist

A certified clinical nutritionist (CCN) is qualified to assess nutritional needs based on the patient’s lifestyle and health goals. They can provide personalized recommendations for diet, exercise, supplements, and stress management. CCNs must have a bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D, or Doctorate of Science degree to qualify for certification, or they may have an advanced professional degree in another licensed healthcare field. 

Aspiring certified clinical nutritionists can obtain certification from the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. Training requirements to qualify for certification vary by the pre-existing qualifications the candidate possesses. For instance, a nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree must complete at least three hours of coursework in topics such as human physiology, biochemistry, and microbiology before they can apply for certification. However, a nutritionist with a doctorate of science may not be required to complete as much training to become certified. All CCNs must pass the exam and complete ongoing training every two years to maintain certification. 

Certified Nutrition Specialists

A certified nutrition specialist (CNS) can receive this certification in the United States through the BCNS. Aspiring certified nutrition specialists must have a master’s degree or higher to qualify for certification training. They must also complete coursework from a regionally accredited institution and 1,000 hours of documented, supervised practice. After passing the exam, CNSs are required to complete continuing education credits every five years to maintain certification. The minimum number of hours spent learning about life sciences is higher for CNSs than for CCNs. 

The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2020 

In 2020, legislators enacted the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act 2020, which includes medical nutrition therapy in Medicare Part B. The legislation also allows nurses and psychologists to refer people for medical nutrition therapy. Patients with the following conditions qualify to add medical nutrition therapy to their Medicare Part B plan. 

  • Obesity
  • Prediabetes
  • Cancer
  • Celiac disease
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Malnutrition
  • Eating disorders
  • Any condition causing unintentional weight loss

Mantachie Rural Healthcare is proud to have a registered dietitian on staff to help our patients with their health and nutrition needs. To make an appointment with our dietitian, schedule a checkup with your Mantachie provider. Click here to request your appointment!

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