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Your Right to Request a Referral to a Specialist

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.

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.

Is Thyroid Disease Preventing Weight Loss?

thyroid disease weight gain

Women thyroid gland control. 

In every poll we’ve read, eating better, exercising and losing weight topped last year’s list of New Year’s Resolutions. For most Americans, New Years Resolutions stick around for less time than it takes to sweep up the confetti from the New Year’s Eve party. But what if you met your goals to eat healthier and exercise more and yet your weight remained the same, or worse, increased? Thyroid disease may be preventing weight loss.

What’s Your Thyroid?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck. This gland produces hormones which control how your body uses energy or your metabolism. If your thyroid gland produces too few hormones (hypothyroidism) your metabolism slows down and your body burns fewer calories. On the flip side, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) speeds up your metabolism and may cause weight loss.

How Do I Know If My Problem Is My Thyroid?

Hypothyroidism can prevent weight loss. In addition to an inability to lose weight, patients with hypothyroidism may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Altered sense of smell and taste
  • Brain fog or forgetfulness
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Constipation
  • Change in menstrual cycle
  • Slower heart rate
  • Feeling cold or having chills
  • Hair loss
  • Numbness or tingling in hands

How Do I Approach My Provider?

An inability to lose weight or unexplained weight gain doesn’t usually trigger a provider to test for thyroid problems right off the bat. If you’re experiencing any of these other symptoms, however, your provider should request a simple blood test to check your thyroid function. Make a note of which of these symptoms you’ve experienced and how often in the past month you’ve experienced them. Use this information to talk to your doctor. If you do not have any other symptoms but you are not losing weight even after increased exercise and dieting, it’s still time to discuss the problem with your provider. While your thyroid may not be the culprit, you may have another health problem that is.

What now?

If thyroid disease is preventing weight loss, your doctor may prescribe medications that will make you feel better and may make losing the weight easier. Some research shows patients with hypothyroidism have to exercise more in order to burn the calories needed to lose weight. In addition to taking medication, your provider may suggest working with a nutritionist or health coach to help you determine the right combination of food and exercise to help you lose weight.

Before starting any new diet or exercise routine, schedule a physical with your provider. If you want to lose weight in 2019, let our providers help you reach those goals and improve your health.

How to Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer

skin cancer

Cancer is scary. No matter what kind, we all cringe at the C-word. The good news is there are ways to protect ourselves from certain cancers, like skin cancer. Here are a few ways to protect your and your family’s skin during the hot summer months.

Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher

Since 1979, we’ve heard about the importance of wearing SPF 15 or higher before going out in the sun. That tip still holds true. If you are going to be in the sun for extended periods of time, it’s better to use a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. It’s also a good idea to reapply sunscreen every 30 minute to an hour during extended stays in the sun.

Seek shade during peak sunshine hours

While summer is the time to soak up the sun, we have to take certain precautions to protect our skin. During peak sunshine hours from 10 AM until 4 PM, try to seek out shade as much as possible.

Cover up

We know that wearing layers in the southern sun isn’t ideal. But protecting your skin from the sun’s harsh rays can be as simple as wearing a light long sleeve T-shirt or a wide-brimmed hat. Combining this method with shady areas, and protecting your skin is easy.

Avoid tanning beds

We understand the desire for a healthy glow during the summer months, but tanning beds are even more dangerous than spending time in the natural sun. Indoor tanning exposes your skin to UV or ultraviolet rays, which can lead to melanoma (the deadliest of skin cancer). Indoor tanning can also lead to eye problems, like cataracts and ocular melanoma (cancer of the eye).

Be mindful of medications

Certain prescriptions can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays. Discuss your medications with your physician or pharmacist to ensure you aren’t at a heightened risk of skin damage due to your prescriptions.

Take your vitamins

New studies have shown that taking vitamins, especially B3 vitamins like nicotinamide, can help your skin repair itself after sun damage. While this can help decrease risks of extensive sun damage, it works best when combined with the other tips on this list.

Examine your skin every month

As part of your monthly routine, be sure to check your skin for unusual spots or discolored moles. If you find any, make an appointment with your  provider to have those spots examined by a professional.

See a professional each year

Although you are checking your skin each month for irregularities, it’s ideal to get a professional’s opinion at least once a year. They are trained to spot the things we can’t recognize right away. Plus, regularly seeking professional help can increase your chances of catching any cancerous spots in the earliest stages.

Ready to schedule an appointment? Call our office at 662-282-4226 today.

 

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/indoor_tanning.htm

https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/prevention-guidelines

https://www.prevention.com/health/a20478644/7-different-ways-to-prevent-skin-cancer/

 

HGTV Host And MS Native Advocates Men’s Health

mens healthBen Napier and his wife Erin, both Mississippi natives and graduate of Ole Miss, host the HGTV show Home Town where they restore southern homes in Laurel, Mississippi.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center and The Manning Family Fund asked Napier to help promote their mission to find new ways to treat and prevent disease. The Manning Family fund focuses on four areas:

  • Children’s weight and wellness
  • High fidelity operating simulation
  • Men’s health
  • Alzheimer’s and other dementias

“Of all the health missions the MFF focuses on men’s health, mine in particular is something that I wake up thinking about and go to sleep worrying about.” Napier states in a blog on the Laurel Mercantile Website. Napier states the Manning Family Fund seeks to “Help the men in our communities — and those in our lives — live longer, healthier, happier lives.”

What is Men’s Health about?

Men’s health isn’t just about prostate cancer screenings. It emcopasses a wide array of issues includiing heart disease, cancer, injuries, diabetes, stroke, suicide, HIV/AIDs, undiagnosed depression, workplace fatalities, and homicide. According to Dr. David Gremillion from Men’s Health Network, “There is a silent health crisis in America . . . it’s the fact that, on average, American men live sicker and die younger than American women.”

Anyone with a father, brother, grandfather, son, nephew, uncle, or male cousin they care about should be concerned about these numbers. In the 1920’s the life expectancy gender gap was only 1 year. Men typically lived until age 53, and women lived until age 54. By 2014, men were dying almost 5 years sooner than women. The average life expectancy of American women is 81 while the average life expectancy of an american man is about only 76.

Why Men are at High Risk ?

Several reasons contribute to men’s higher risk. A higher percentage of men have no healthcare coverage.  Men make half as many physician visits for prevention as women do. Men are employed in the most dangerous occupations, such as mining, fire fighting, construction, and fishing.  Society discourages healthy behaviors in men and boys. Research on male-specific diseases is under funded. Men also may have less healthy lifestyles including risk-taking at younger ages.

Minority Men are at Very High Risk

Minority men are particularly at risk. According to the Manning Family Fund, “Minority men have the poorest health outcomes and lowest life expectancies in the United States. Of that group, African American men in the South face the most significant health challenges. African American men suffer disproportionately from high blood pressure, a known risk factor for stroke and heart disease. In fact, according to the CDC, nearly 44 percent of African American men have some form of cardiovascular disease. They are also more likely to develop prostate cancer, asthma, and diabetes than other groups. Yet, many African American men don’t seek care until their conditions are severe.”

Often there are barriers in the way that prevent men from seeking the help they need.

Napier explains, “The Manning Family Fund is working to break down the cultural, economic, psychological, political, and social barriers that keep men from eating better, exercising more, reducing stress, and getting regular checkups.”

What Can You Do?

 Find A Primary Care Provider.

You need someone with whom you can openly discuss all aspects of your health. When searching for a primary care provider, find someone you feel comfortable enough to open up about your sexual and mental health if necessary.

 See that Primary Care Provider.

Make and keep regular health screenings. Women are 100% more likely to make and keep regular health screenings than men, and it’s suspected that’s part of the reason they live five years longer than the average man.

 Move Every Day.

Aim to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day. If you have to break that into four 15 minute chunks, it still counts as 60 minutes. Also, try to vary your exercises to be an age appropriate mix of aerobics, muscle training, and stretching.

 Focus on Proper Nutrition.

Aim for 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Also, cut back on fatty and processed foods.

 Prioritize Sleep.

Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

 Keep Your Head in Check.

Mental health is really important. Pay attention to signs of depression and bipolar disorder. If you have a family history of mental illness, suicide, and/or substance abuse, you need someone to help you review the signs and symptoms.  Feeling suicidal is not a character defect, and it doesn’t mean that you are crazy, weak, or flawed. It only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. If you are feeling suicidal reach out to someone! You’re not alone. If nothing else, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

Men’s health often gets put on the back burner or pushed aside as not as important, but remember when you’re sick and when you’re suffering, everyone close to you suffers too. Do them a favor and take care of your body, stay healthy, and have regular cancer screenings. If you’re ready to take that first step and talk to a medical care professional, please contact Mantachie Rural Health Care at (662) 282-4226.


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