Archive for the ‘Human papilloma virus’ Category

Preventive Healthcare For Women – What You Need To Know

January 21, 2013

Women have had an interaction with the healthcare profession from birth to old age. They have achieved good health as a result of frequent visits to their doctors and practiced good health habits. This blog is written for the purpose of providing women with suggestions for continuing the process of maintaining good health.

Why Screening Tests Are Important
Remember that old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Getting checked early can help you stop diseases like cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis in the very beginning, when they’re easier to treat. Screening tests can spot illnesses even before you have symptoms. Which screening tests you need depends on your age, family history, your own health history, and other risk factors.

Breast Cancer
The earlier you find breast cancer, the better your chance of a cure. Small breast-cancers are less likely to spread to lymph nodes and vital organs like the lungs and brain. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, your health care provider should perform a breast exam as part of your regular check-up every one to three years. You may need more frequent screenings if you have any extra risk factors.

Screening With Mammography
Mammograms are low-dose X-rays that can often find a lump before you ever feel it, though normal results don’t completely rule out cancer. While you’re in your 40s, you should have a mammogram every year. Then between ages 50 and 74, switch to every other year. Of course, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings if you’re at higher risk.
Cervical Cancer
With regular Pap smears, cervical cancer (pictured) is easy to prevent. The cervix is a narrow passageway between the uterus (where a baby grows) and the vagina (the birth canal). Pap smears find abnormal cells on the cervix, which can be removed before they ever turn into cancer. The main cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a type of STD.
Screening for Cervical Cancer
During a Pap smear, your doctor scrapes some cells off your cervix and sends them to a lab for analysis. A common recommendation is that you should get your first Pap smear by age 21, and every two years after that. If you’re 30 or older, you can get HPV tests, too, and wait a little longer between Pap smears. Both screenings are very effective in finding cervical cancer early enough to cure it.
Vaccines for Cervical Cancer
Two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, can protect women under 26 from several strains of HPV. The vaccines don’t protect against all the cancer-causing strains of HPV, however. So routine Pap smears are still important. What’s more, not all cervical cancers start with HPV.
Osteoporosis and Fractured Bones
Osteoporosis is a state when a person’s bones are weak and fragile. After menopause, women start to lose more bone mass, but men get osteoporosis, too. The first symptom is often a painful break after even a minor fall, blow, or sudden twist. In Americans age 50 and over, the disease contributes to about half the breaks in women and 1 in 4 among men. Fortunately, you can prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Screening Tests
A special type of X-ray called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) can measure bone strength and find osteoporosis before breaks happen. It can also help predict the risk of future breaks. This screening is recommended for all women age 65 and above. If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, you may need to start sooner.
Skin Cancer
There are several kinds of skin cancer, and early treatment can be effective for them all. The most dangerous is melanoma (shown here), which affects the cells that produce a person’s skin coloring. Sometimes people have an inherited risk for this type of cancer, which may increase with overexposure to the sun. Basal cell and squamous cell are common non-melanoma skin cancers.
Screening for Skin Cancer
Watch for any changes in your skin markings, including moles and freckles. Pay attention to changes in their shape, color, and size. You should also get your skin checked by a dermatologist or other health professional during your regular physicals.
High Blood Pressure
As you get older, your risk of high blood pressure increases, especially if you are overweight or have certain bad health habits. High blood pressure can cause life-threatening heart attacks or strokes without any warning. So working with your doctor to control it can save your life. Lowering your blood pressure can also prevent long-term dangers like heart disease and kidney failure.
Screening for High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure readings include two numbers. The first (systolic) is the pressure of your blood when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) is the pressure between beats. Normal adult blood pressure is below 120/80. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is 140/90 or above. In between is prehypertension, a sort of early warning stage. Ask your doctor how often to have your blood pressure checked.
Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol can cause plaque to clog your arteries (seen here in orange). Plaque can build up for many years without symptoms, eventually causing a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking can all cause plaque to build up, too. It’s a condition called hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. Lifestyle changes and medications can lower your risk.
Checking Your Cholesterol
To get your cholesterol checked, you’ll need to fast for 12 hours. Then you’ll take a blood test that measures total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat). If you’re 20 or older, you should get this test at least every five years.
Type 2 Diabetes
One-third of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it. Diabetes can cause heart or kidney disease, stroke, blindness from damage to the blood vessels of the retina (shown here), and other serious problems. You can control diabetes with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medication, especially when you find it early. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.
Screening for Diabetes
You’ll probably have to fast for eight hours or so before having your blood tested for diabetes. A blood sugar level of 100-125 may show prediabetes; 126 or higher may mean diabetes. Other tests include the A1C test and the oral glucose tolerance test. If you’re healthy and have a normal diabetes risk, you should be screened every three years starting at age 45. Talk to your doctor about getting tested earlier if you have a higher risk, like a family history of diabetes.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It’s spread through sharing blood or body fluids with an infected person, such as through unprotected sex or dirty needles. Pregnant women with HIV can pass the infection to their babies. There is still no cure or vaccine, but early treatment with anti-HIV medications can help the immune system fight the virus.
HIV Screening Tests
HIV can be symptom-free for many years. The only way to find out if you have the virus is with blood tests. The ELISA or EIA test looks for antibodies to HIV. If you get a positive result, you’ll need a second test to confirm the results. Still, you can test negative even if you’re infected, so you may need to repeat the test. Everyone should get tested at least once between ages 13-64.
Preventing the Spread of HIV
Most newly infected people test positive around two months after being exposed to the virus. But in rare cases it may take up to six months to develop HIV antibodies. Use a condom during sex to avoid getting or passing on HIV or other STDs. If you have HIV and are pregnant, talk with your doctor about reducing the risk to your unborn child.
Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death after lung cancer. Most colon cancers come from polyps (abnormal masses) that grow on the inner lining of the large intestine. The polyps may or may not be cancerous. If they are, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Removing polyps early, before they become cancerous, can prevent it completely.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer
A colonoscopy is a common screening test for colorectal cancer. While you’re mildly sedated, a doctor inserts a small flexible tube equipped with a camera into your colon. If she finds a polyp, she can often remove it right then. Another type of test is a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which looks into the lower part of the colon. If you’re at average risk, screening usually starts at age 50.
Glaucoma
Glaucoma happens when pressure builds up inside your eye. Without treatment, it can damage the optic nerve and cause blindness. Often, it produces no symptoms until your vision has already been damaged.
Glaucoma Screening
How often you should get your eyes checked depends on your age and risk factors. They include being African-American or Hispanic, being over 60, eye injury, steroid use, and a family history of glaucoma. People without risk factors or symptoms of eye disease should get a baseline eye exam, including a test for glaucoma, at age 40.
Bottom Line: It’s good health sense to talk with your doctor about screening tests. Some tests, such as a Pap test or breast exam, should be a routine part of every woman’s health care. Other tests might be necessary based on your risk factors. Proper screening won’t always prevent a disease, but it can often find a disease early enough to give you the best chance of overcoming it.

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Vaccine and Hygiene For Preventing HPV STD

January 8, 2013

Vaccines are available to guard against a variety of different
infections and illnesses and are indicated for a number of different
patient populations. This blog will focus on human papillomavirus
(HPV).

Most HPV infections are asymptomatic and typically resolve in 1-2
years. the HPV infection is not female specific as the infection can
cause genital warts, warts in the throat, oral and anal cancers. The
HPV vaccine can prevent most of these cases if the vaccine is given
before exposure to the virus. If the HPV vaccine is given at an early
enough age, the vaccine can also prevent vaginal cancer in females.

Two vaccines have been developed for the prevention of HPV and both
vaccines are offered as a 3-dose series that is typically completed
over six months.

Gardasil vaccine provides immunity against HPV infections of 6, 11,
16, and 18 genotypes. Genotypes 6 and 11 are associated with the
majority fo cases of condyloma accuminata or genital warts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended
the routine use of Gardasil for boys and young men 9-26 years of age
for the prevention of genital warts and other HPV related disease in
men and bosy. It is recommended that boys and men receiving the
injections complete the entire series for maximum protection.

Bottom Line: HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease, most
infections are asymptomatic, however certain types can casue cancer of
the penis, vagina, and throat. Early vaccination in both boys and
girls helps prevent infection and future complications. For more
information contact your physician or pediatrician.

Take Two And Call Me In The Morning-Sex Not Aspirin

January 30, 2011

In the past, this blog focuses on wellness, exercise, and mental health.  In this issue I will devote to the benefits of having intimacy with your partner.  Who would ever imagine that an activity that is so much fun could be so beneficial to your health.

Sexual intimacy is a form of exercise.  Each time that you engage in the sex act you burn approximately 100 calories.  Of course, if you have sex like Lady Chatterly’s Lover, then it’s a lot more.  Now 100 calories a pop doesn’t sound like much, but if you engage in sex 2-3 times a week, that’s 5000-7500 calories a year.  That’s equivalent to the energy required to jog from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama.

In addition to the aerobic work out of huffing and puffing and increasing your heart rate, sexual activity provides resistance training.  This is the contraction of the muscles of the back, pelvis, and extremities against passive resistance.

Another advantage of regular sex is that it can actually lower your total cholesterol level, and increase the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or the good cholesterol.  So if you indulge yourself in an extra steak with butter, indulge yourself in extra sex and you’ll be calorically even.

Sex also jump-starts your hormones.  Men can have a surge of testosterone during sex.  Testosterone is the hormone produced in the testicles that is responsible for libido or sex drive, muscle mass, and strength of bones.  Regular sex increases the level of estrogen in women which results in increase in the blood supply to the vagina keeping the vaginal tissues young, supple and moist.  There is even evidence that sex prior to or at the time of the menstrual period may relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).  There are other studies that suggests that oxytocin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland during sexual intimacy, contributes to long-term bonding between partners.

Sexual intimacy also results in the release of endorphins which is the ultimate painkiller or analgesic.  Endorphins are many times more potent that morphine, the most powerful man-made analgesic in use for the relief of pain.  So the next time you have a headache, don’t turn down sex but turn on and your relief is just a few minutes in the sack away.  There’s even a scientific explanation for the relief of headache pain with sex.  During sex there is an increase in the blood supply to the muscles and the genital organs.  As a result there is a decrease in the blood supply to the brain thus taking the pressure off of the tension in the brain.

For men, sexual intimacy is protective for the prostate.  Prostate infections and prostate enlargement, which begins after the age of 50 in most men, result in compression of the urethra, the tube in the penis that allows transmission of urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  As a result men complain of difficulty with urination.   For dozens of years,  older men have gone to the doctor to have their prostate gland massaged to express the retained secretions that produce many of the symptoms of prostate disease.  For most men this is uncomfortable and expensive if you don’t have Medicare or insurance to pay for the doctor’s visit.  One inexpensive and fun way to relieve these symptoms produced by an enlarged prostate gland is to engage in sexual intimacy either through intercourse or even masturbation.   Both will produce prostate pleasing results.  So if you want to be good to your prostate gland, be good to your significant other….in bed.

Sex is good for stress.  Never let the sun set on an argument.  Having sex is an effective method of reducing the tensions that exist between partners.  You can’t be arguing when you are having good sex.

So for those of you who are not interested in going to the YMCA or a health club, you can have the benefits of a health club not in your own back yard but in your bedroom.   There are naysayers that say this is fooey. Take Two and Call Me In the Morning-Not Aspirin, But Sex. For those of you who need more motivation, give me a call and I’ll write you a prescription!

The Vaccine For HPV Infections in Women

April 25, 2010

Human papillomavirus (HPV)causes one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD). HPV can infect the genital area of men and women including the skin of the penis, the vagina, cervix, or rectum. Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms.  Some of these viruses may cause abnormal PAP tests and may also lead to cancer of the cervix.  This article will discuss the incidence, diagnosis, and treatment of HPV.

Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired genital HPV infection.

Some HPVs may cause genital warts. Genital warts are single or multiple growths or bumps that appear in the genital area. Genital warts usually appear as soft, moist, pink, or flesh-colored swellings, usually in the genital area. They can be raised or flat, single or multiple, small or large, and sometimes cauliflower shaped. They can appear on the vulva, in or around the vagina or anus, on the cervix, and on the penis, scrotum, groin, or thigh. After sexual contact with an infected person, warts may appear within weeks or months, or not at all.  Genital warts are diagnosed by visual inspection. Visible genital warts can be removed by medications the patient applies, or by removing the warts in the doctor’s office.

Most women are diagnosed with HPV on the basis of abnormal PAP tests. A PAP test is the primary cancer-screening tool for cervical cancer or pre-cancerous changes in the cervix, many of which are related to HPV. Also, a specific test, HPV-DNA, is available to detect the virus in women. The results of HPV-DNA testing can help health care providers decide if further tests or treatment are necessary.

Approximately 1\3 of HPV viruses can lead, in rare cases, to development of cervical cancer.  Although only a small proportion of women have persistent infection, persistent infection with “high-risk” types of HPV is the main risk factor for cervical cancer.  Cervical cancer is the second leading cancer killer of women worldwide.  About 10,520 American women will develop invasive cervical cancer and about 3,900 women will die from this disease. Most women who develop invasive cervical cancer have not had regular cervical cancer screening.  With early detection, cervical cancer is usually treatable.

A PAP test can detect pre-cancerous and cancerous cells on the cervix. Regular PAP testing and careful medical follow-up, with treatment if necessary, can help ensure that pre-cancerous changes in the cervix caused by HPV infection do not develop into life threatening cervical cancer. The PAP test is responsible for greatly reducing deaths from cervical cancer.

Currently, the only HPV vaccine approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration is Gardasil, which protects against some strains of HPV.  It is recommended that the vaccine be given to girls between 11 and 12 years of age, before they become sexually active. The vaccine, which consists of three shots totaling $360, protects against strains of the virus that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.

There are no serious side effects from the vaccine.  The only problems noted were mild soreness around the site of the injection and occasionally, a slight temperature.

Bottom Line: HPV is a common virus that affects millions of American men and women.  The virus is responsible for some cases of cervical cancer.  Tests are available to identify which patients are likely to have the virus and which cases need to be treated.  A vaccine is available which can help prevent HPV infections if given to girls before they become sexually active.  See your physician for more information.