Below is a sampling of questions often asked by our patients, along with the kind of response you can anticipate. You’ll want to take time to develop your own list of questions, or concerns, to review with the doctor on your first visit.
We’ve all heard the term “substance abuse”, but what does it really mean? Substance abuse can be defined in many ways, but is most commonly defined as abusing (excessively using) drugs, alcohol and even tobacco. Substance abuse tests are commonly required by employers of potential new hires. Read on to find out more about substance abuse and how it can be tested at Windermere Medical Center.
Substance abuse can be defined as the harmful use of chemical substances that lead to an inability to control the use of the substance. Substance abuse is the consumption of alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs for mood-altering purposes. At Windermere Medical Center, we offer urine drug and alcohol screenings. Urine drug testing is a test that evaluates the urine to determine if the subject has been using the drug or drugs in question. Drug testing is often done for pre-employment, college or professional athletes, and post-accident (on-the-job accidents).
How Does a Urine Drug and Alcohol Screening Work?
Urine tests use a sample of urine to test for the presence of alcohol, certain illegal drugs and prescriptions medications. Urine tests are painless and only requires a urine sample of the person getting tested. The urine drug test usually screens for alcohol, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, cocaine, PCP, and opioids (narcotics).
Urine analysis can test for alcohol use by detecting the presence of Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG), a metabolite found in alcoholic beverages. The test can show ethanol ingestion within the previous 3-4 days.
What To Expect During and After Urine and Alcohol Screening?
For a screening, a patient will be given a cup and escorted to the restroom. The patient will urinate into the cup in private. When finished, they will place the lid on the cup and wash their hands. The cup will either be left in the restroom, or the patient will be directed to bring the cup out of the restroom when they are done. Once the patient has provided the urine sample the test is complete.
The urine is than analyzed and a medical professional at Windermere Medical Center will review the results with the patient and/or employer. Results are usually returned within three to four days.
Your ears, nose, and throat are all part of your upper respiratory system. They share anatomy and have similar mucus membrane linings, which means they are able to get similar infections. Understanding the anatomy of your ears, nose, and throat will help you know how to keep them in good health and free of infections.
Below you’ll find information regarding common ear, throat and sinus infections and how they can be treated at Windermere Medical Center.
Infection can affect the ear canal (otitis externa), the eardrum, or the middle ear (otitis media). Most ear injuries are caused by pressure changes during direct injury (such as a blow to the ear) or sport scuba diving, but, a persistently painful ear may signal an infection that requires treatment.
Symptoms of an Ear Infection
It’s not uncommon for symptoms to follow a respiratory infection such as the common cold. Symptoms of ear infection typically include:
- Ear pain
- Fullness in the ear
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in the ear
- Discharge from the ear
Treatments for an Ear Infection
Symptoms of ear infections usually improve within the first couple of days, and most infections clear up on their own within one to two weeks without any medication or treatment. If your symptoms don’t improve on their own, your physician will advise you on which treatments for pain from an ear infection. These may include the following:
- A warm compress
- Pain medication
A throat infection is often related to a bacterial or viral infection. Common bacteria and viruses that may cause a sore throat may include:
- Common Cold(Rhinovirus, Coronavirus)
- Laryngitis (Parainfluenza)
- Influenza (Types A and B)
- Herpes simplex type 1
- Mono (Epstein-Barr virus)
Symptoms of a Throat Infection
Symptoms of a throat infection may vary depending on the cause. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Swollen tonsils (tonsillitis)
- Enlarged and tender glands in your neck
- Discomfort when swallowing
- Dry throat
- White patches or pus on your tonsils
- Hoarse or muffled voice
Treatment for a Throat Infection
You can treat many throats infections at home, but if your condition doesn’t improve in 1-2 weeks, you should contact a physician. The common cause of throat infections, viral infections, usually only last five to seven days and don’t require medical treatment. A course of antibiotics is usually prescribed by a physician if your throat infection is caused by a viral infection. Home treatment options include:
- Gargling with warm salt water
- Drinking plenty of warm fluids (teas, soup, and water)
- Avoiding allergens and irritants
- Taking throat lozenges
- Reducing inflammation with ibuprofen or acetaminophen
Conditions that can cause sinus infections include different types of sinusitis (acute, subacute, chronic, recurrent). Sinusitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses. This happens when sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid or germs can grow and cause an infection. Additional causes include:
- Common cold
- Deviated septum
Symptoms of a Throat Infection
A sinus infection may be diagnosed when a you have two or more symptoms and/or the presence of nasal discharge. Other symptoms include:
- Facial pain/pressure
- Nasal stuffiness
- Nasal discharge
- Loss of smell
Treatment for a Sinus Infection
If you have a simple sinus infection, your physician may recommend treatment with decongestants like Sudafed and steam inhalations. Use of nonprescription decongestant nasal drops or sprays may also be effective in controlling symptoms.
Bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma all affect the respiratory system. The respiratory system (made up of the lungs, airways, and muscles) is responsible for moving oxygen to our body’s cells. The nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles make up the airway which carries air between the lungs and the body’s exterior. When an infection, inflammation, or fluids block the airways, it can become difficult to breathe.
Below we identify the difference between bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma and how they can be treated.
Bronchitis occurs when tubes in the lungs known as bronchial tubes become inflamed, block air, and results in a persistent cough. Generally, bronchitis can be self-diagnosed and can be treated at home.
Bronchitis can either be classified as acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis happens fast and is gone within two to three weeks, however, it is the result of a variety of bacteria and viruses and therefore is extremely contagious. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus from a cold or the flu. Chronic bronchitis includes a cough with mucus that can last from three months to a year. It is not contagious and is usually the result of irritants such as smoke, dust, or chemicals.
The most effective treatment for bronchitis is rest and fluids. Aspirin or another over-the-counter agent can be used to reduce a fever.
However, if symptoms continue to worsen and do not clear within two to three weeks, it may be time to visit the doctor. Bronchitis coupled with a fever exceeding 101 could indicate signs of pneumonia or the flu, both of which require medical attention.
Pneumonia occurs when an infection causes air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed and filled with fluid. Symptoms of pneumonia include a cough with phlegm, fever, chills, difficulty breathing, as well as chest pain.
Pneumonia requires immediate medical attention to be diagnosed and treated. If not treated, the infection can be life threatening to infants, children, and adults over the age of 65. If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse and you experience difficulty breathing, call 911 and do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.
Some warning signs that the infection is getting worse include:
- A fever over 104
- Heart rate of 125 beats per minute or above, while at rest
- Heavy breathing
- Gray or blue color in nails and lips
- Confusion or dizziness
An antibiotic is used to treat most forms of pneumonia while other forms can be prevented with a vaccine. Once treated, the infection generally clears in one to three days.
Asthma sufferers experience difficulty breathing when airways become inflamed, narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus. Asthma is a chronic disease that may last for years or even a lifetime.
This disease is treatable by a medical professional and requires a medical diagnosis. Patients may choose rescue inhalers to treat symptoms or controller inhalers to prevent symptoms.
This is a very common condition that affects about three million people nationwide.
It is important to visit your doctor if you notice symptoms of asthma. Your doctor will work with you to develop a specialized plan that can help manage your asthma symptoms.
Other respiratory conditions include:
- One of the most common illnesses.
- Caused by a virus that inflames the membranes in the lining of the nose and throat.
- Highly contagious viral infection.
- Symptoms include fever, muscle ache, sore throat, and dry cough.
- An infection of the sinuses near the nose.
- Usually occurs after a cold or allergic reaction.
- Most common in infants and young children.
- Caused by a bacterium that results in swelling of the airways and mucus production.
Diabetes is a lifelong, metabolic disease defined by an excessively high level of blood glucose (blood sugar), that over the long haul, can cause severe damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and the nervous system.
Type 2 diabetes, the disease’s most prevalent form, typically presents in adults. The disease manifests when the pancreas can’t produce enough of the hormone known as insulin, which controls blood sugar, or when the body becomes unable to efficiently use the insulin it manufactures. Type 1 diabetes, by contrast, is most often diagnosed in children and young adults, when the pancreas becomes incapable of producing insulin. Patients are required to monitor their own blood sugar levels via daily self-administered insulin injections.
Since 1980, the number of adults living with diabetes globally has nearly quadrupled. In the United States, 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the population have diabetes, with 11.8 million seniors (aged 65 and older), representing more than a quarter of the entire senior population, suffering from the disease.
How Can You Effectively Manage Diabetes?
Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed by optimizing lifestyle through diet, exercise, stress reduction and medication (if prescribed by your physician), giving you the ability to lead a long and healthy life.
Maintaining your blood glucose level at a healthy level can pose many challenges, because a wide array of factors can cause your blood sugar level to fluctuate, sometimes quite suddenly. It’s crucial to work with your doctor, as well as your support team, to keep yourself in optimal shape.
Educating yourself about diabetes and knowing what affects the daily variation of your blood sugar is an important part of avoiding serious complications and effectively managing diabetes. Your role in managing diabetes is the most crucial, and includes:
- Choosing what, how much and when to eat
- Engaging in daily exercise
- Taking medication (if needed)
- Reducing Stress
- Learning all you can about diabetes through reading, courses, seminars and talking to others
The Role of Diet and Nutrition in Managing Diabetes
Eating healthy is the most important piece of the puzzle in controlling diabetes. Patients need to know, not only how different foods affect their blood sugar, but also learn how to keep track of the quantity and combinations they eat them in.
Developing a stable and reliable meal plan is critical in keeping diabetes at bay, as is coordinating your meals with any diabetes medication you may be taking.
They keys to healthy eating include:
- Eating a variety of foods, including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy products, and lean meat
- Avoiding overeating or consuming too much of any one particular food
- Spacing your meals throughout the day and avoid missing meals
- Cutting down on soft drinks, or other drinks sweetened with sugar
- Decreasing consumption of snack foods or other high calorie, sugar-sweetened desserts
Losing weight can also better regulate your blood sugar level and help keep diabetes under control. Obesity and being overweight magnify the possibility of diabetes related problems such as heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Shedding a few pounds can make a big difference in maintaining your blood sugar levels and enhancing your quality of life.
Exercise and Stress Reduction and Your Diabetes
Physical activity is also an essential component of proper diabetes care. Consistent exercise will enable your muscles to convert the sugar in your blood into energy, and allow your body to process insulin more efficiently. Overall, you’ll feel better, and have more energy as well.
More vigorous workouts tend to provide longer lasting effects, but your blood sugar level will also benefit from lighter activities such as cleaning the house, walking or gardening. You should consult your healthcare provider about which type of exercise would be appropriate for you.
Undue stress can pose a great challenge to one’s health and to effectively managing blood sugar levels. Engaging in activities that reduce stress such as yoga, tai chi, meditation and other relaxation techniques, can go a long way toward helping you cope mindfully with your diabetes.
Medication to Manage Diabetes
When diet and physical activity prove inadequate in lowering your blood sugar levels, then your physician may prescribe insulin or other diabetes medications. The timing and dosage of diabetes medicines are critical to their success. Medications taken for other illnesses can also impact your blood sugar levels, so it’s important to stay informed and learn about all medication options.
Monitoring Your Blood Glucose Levels with Diabetes
Keeping a regular eye on your blood sugar levels can assist you in making important decisions about your diabetes medication, diet and exercise. Checking your blood glucose levels at home is relatively simple, and your physician can explain how and when to use a blood glucose meter, which involves a tiny prick on your finger to test a drop of blood, and determine any change in your blood glucose level.
These self-administered tests are typically done before and after eating, and before bed.
The results of your blood sugar analysis will assist you and your health support team in creating a solid plan for controlling your blood glucose.
Your diabetes care team may include:
- Your physician
- Your friends and family
The Good News About Managing Diabetes: You Are in Control
Living with diabetes is a challenge; one needs to balance a healthy body weight with the necessity of keeping one’s blood sugar level within an ideal range. It’s important for patients to consult their physicians to see what is best for them.
There’s a lot you can do to live a full life and prevent the health problems associated with diabetes. You are the one who takes care of your diabetes every day. Positive lifestyle changes and reducing stress can help you achieve and attain an optimal weight and boost your overall health and well-being.
Did you get a reminder that it’s time to schedule your annual physical, again? We know you are busy and may be tempted to just throw it out and worry about it later, but this would be doing your health a big disservice. Annual physicals allow for early detection and treatment if there is something wrong, and peace of mind if everything’s A-OK.
What Happens at An Annual Physical?
The physical will begin with your physician or PA having a conversation to discuss your lifestyle including your diet, exercise, alcohol and tobacco use and sexual health. You will have the opportunity to update your family history and ensure your vaccines are up to date.
The physician will then check your vital signs. These include:
- Blood pressure
- Blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats over the pressure in the arteries in between heartbeats.
- Heart rate
- The heart rate is the number of time the heart beats per minute.
- Respiration rate
- The respiration rate is the number of breaths taken per minute.
- A part of the brain called the hypothalamus controls temperature and it fluctuates throughout a regular day.
The physician will be looking for blood pressure that is less than 120 over 80. A normal heart rate is considered to be between 60 and 100 and 12 to 16 breaths per minute is considered a normal respiration rate. While the average temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, healthy people can have a temperature slightly higher or lower.
During the physical exam, the physician will watch you and make note of whether you have a healthy skin tone, have trouble standing or sitting, or difficulty breathing.
Head and Neck
Say “Ah!” You physician will also do a head and neck exam in which he or she will examine the health of your tonsils, tongue, and teeth. They may also check the ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid, and carotid arteries.
To check your internal organs, your physician may tap your abdomen to detect liver size and presence of abdominal fluid, listen for bowel sounds with a stethoscope, or feel for tenderness.
Gender Specific Exams
During the physical exam, your physician may also perform a few tests depending on your gender. In addition to looking for signs of sexually transmitted diseases, a physician will also check a male’s testicles for growths or lumps that could be a sign of cancer. For females, your physician may perform a breast exam in which they feel for abnormal lumps, which could be cancerous or benign.
Tips For An Effective Annual Physical
To make the process as seamless as possible for you and your physician, it’s important to come prepared. Consider these tips before your appointment:
- Arrive on time (or early)
- Have the names and doses of medications you take
- Know your family’s history
- Bring your most current vaccine record (if it’s not already on file)
- Know the dates of your most recent cancer screenings
- Always be honest. Your doctor is better prepared to help you when he or she has more information about your lifestyle. Let them know if you drink or smoke, even if only on occasion.
When to Get Screened for Other Issues
Aside from the annual physical, you should also get regular check ups including cancer screenings depending on your age and family history.
- Starting at age 50, everyone should have a screening for colorectal cancer by getting a colonoscopy every 10 years.
- When a woman turns 40, she should have a regular mammogram every year.
- Women should have an osteoporosis tests or bone density test starting at age 65.
- Women who are sexually active or over the age of 21 should have a Pap Smear every one to three years.
- Starting at age 50 men should begin getting an annual prostate exam. African American men should start being tested at age 40.
More than half of Americans will have some form of sexually transmitted disease (STD) in their lifetime, according to the American Social Health Association. In light of STD Awareness Month this April, we wanted to share some of the lesser known STDs.
While STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes are widely known, they certainly aren’t the only STDs that exist.
Here is a list of four lesser known STDs:
- Trichomoniasis: This STD is a parasite that is transmitted during sex and is most common in sexually active women, but it can also be contracted by men. More than 7.4 million new cases are reported each year, according the CDC. In women, it infects the vagina and in men it infects the urethra.
What are the symptoms? Most infected people don’t have any symptoms. Men may feel itching or irritation inside the penis and women may notice burning itching or redness in the genitals
Can it be treated? Yes, through antibiotics
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: This is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs often caused by untreated STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. It can cause scar tissue outside and inside the fallopian tubes, infertility and more.
What are the symptoms? Fever, bleeding between periods, pain in your lower abdomen and more
Can it be treated? It can be treated with antibiotics if detected early, but any damage it has already done can’t be reverted.
- Chancroid: This bacterial sexually transmitted infection is spread through sexual contact and causes painful ulcers or sores in the genital region.
What are the symptoms? Women often have no symptoms and men have painful, ulcers around the penis.
Can it be treated? Yes, with antibiotics, but some ulcers may need to be drained
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection; nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their life, according to the CDC. It is transmitted through sex and can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer when it doesn’t go away.
What are the symptoms? Most people who have HPV do not know they are infected and never have symptoms or health problems
Can it be treated? The virus itself cannot be, but genital warts and cervical pre-cancer can be
The only certain way to prevent STDs is to abstain from sexual activity.
If you are sexually active, here are several ways to lower your risk of getting an STD:
- Be in a monogamous relationship
- Use condoms
- Know that some methods of birth control don’t protect you against STDs
- Get tested regularly
- Honestly tell your doctor about your sexual partner and sexual history
If you think that you have an STD, refrain from sexual activity and speak with your doctor immediately.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent type of dementia, causing a gradual deterioration of memory function, reasoning and other cognitive abilities that can hinder the normal activities of daily life.
If you or a loved one is experiencing one or more of the following Alzheimer’s symptoms, please consult your physician to find out what the next steps for diagnosis and treatment are.
1. Loss of Memory
Forgetting important dates and events, as well as information that was recently learned, is one of the most typical Alzheimer’s symptoms. The need to have information repeated again and again, as well as an increased need to use memory aids (sticky notes or labels), can also indicate the presence of the disease.
2. Problem-Solving Difficulties
Another signpost of Alzheimer’s disease is when you or someone close to you has trouble cultivating and sticking to a plan, following well-known recipes, or demonstrates increased challenges when working with numbers or keeping up on monthly bills. Concentrating may prove increasingly difficult, and getting things done may take significantly more time than in the past.
3. Trouble Completing Common Tasks
Common daily activities may become progressively more difficult, such as driving to a well-known place. Alzheimer’s sufferers typically will have trouble recalling the simple rules of a loved game or dressing themselves.
4. Difficulty Establishing Time and Place
Patients with Alzheimer’s can become increasingly confused about where they are located, and determining how they got there. They can easily forget dates, seasons and the normal passing of time.
Any past occurrence or event not happening in the immediate present will become more and more challenging to remember, as will planning for events in the future.
5. Visual and Spatial Problems
Some individuals may experience problems with reading, perceiving distance and recognizing color contrasts; this often leads to difficulty when driving.
6. Difficulty Expressing Oneself
As Alzheimer’s symptoms progress, individuals may lose the ability to find the right words, either in conversation or in writing. It may prove difficult to join an ongoing conversation, or to complete a thought once spoken aloud.
The Alzheimer’s Association commonly explains this phenomenon to friends and family of Alzheimer’s patients as: “I know what I want to say, I just can’t find the words.”
7. Frequently Misplacing Things
Alzheimer’s sufferers will often lose things and have trouble remembering where they placed them. When found, the items may turn up in odd places. Sometimes a certain paranoia may creep in that other people are stealing.
8. Problems with Decision Making
Alzheimer’s symptoms can involve increased poor judgment regarding financial affairs and personal hygiene. Mismanaging money, or making large donations to questionable organizations can be a tell-tale sign. Paying less and less attention to bathing, changing clothes and grooming is also typical as the disease advances.
9. Avoiding Friends and Co-workers
As Alzheimer’s symptoms worsen, individuals may start to withdraw from social engagements, work outings or well-loved sporting activities. They may have trouble engaging in hobbies and activities that are an important part of their lifestyle.
10. Mood Swings
Patients with Alzheimer’s can experience fluctuations in their mood, typically in situations where they are outside of their comfort zone, either at home or at the office. As a result, they may get:
If you or someone close to you is experiencing symptoms that could be the result of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, you should make an appointment with your physician.
Alzheimer’s disease has become one of the leading causes of death in the United States. One of the requests we hear every so often from patients is how to tell if you have alzheimer’s disease.
Roughly 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and in fact, the disease is documented as the sixth-leading cause of death in the country – an astonishing one out of every nine people 65 years and older have Alzheimer’s.
So, what can you do if you suspect that you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s? The most important thing to know is that there is no single definitive test that can confirm it; in fact, it’s impossible to confirm the presence of the disease with complete certainty, until after death. However, by working with your physician team, and undergoing a series of physical exams and diagnostic tests, you’ll be able to pinpoint if you have the disease or not.
Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Although diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease can be tricky, in roughly ninety percent of cases, healthcare providers can accurately diagnose the illness.
Alzheimer’s sufferers display many behavioral symptoms in common with other conditions, such as depression, deficient nutrition, and combining medications that don’t work effectively together.
Alzheimer’s typically begins with a failure to recall recent events, learn and absorb fresh information and show energy or inspiration for prior passions. In the early stages of the disease, memory difficulties can hinder daily living and get worse over time. Other early warning signs may include the inability to:
- Find the correct words when speaking
- Think abstractly
- Follow instructions
- Manage money
- Make decisions
Screening and Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease
Your doctor will be able to determine if your symptoms are the result of Alzheimer’s, or due to another treatable ailment, through the following process:
Your physician will take your complete medical history, including information on recent or past conditions, physical and mental symptoms, and any medication you’re currently taking or took in the past. They’ll also want to know if your family has a history of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia related illnesses.
Medical Exam and Tests
Your doctor will conduct a full physical exam, including blood and urine analyses, in order to determine the potential presence of Alzheimer’s, and to rule out other possible causes of dementia. A blood test may be done to help ascertain how well your thyroid is functioning, as insufficient thyroid hormone production can lead to dementia in older people. Your blood work will show if you have a lack of vitamin B12, which can also be responsible for dementia.
Undergoing a brain scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can help your physician determine if you have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia; scans can also confirm the existence of other conditions such as the amassing of blood on the surface of the brain, stroke and/or brain tumors.
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with precise structural alterations in the brain that a scan can reveal; you may undergo an electroencephalogram (EEG) to determine the flow of electrical movement in your brain.
Only the results from a physician’s physical medical exam and laboratory testing can accurately establish whether you have Alzheimer’s, or other ailments that can lead to memory loss, scattered thinking, or problems concentrating, such as:
- Thyroid problems
- Kidney or liver disease
- Vitamin deficiency
- Complications with the heart, blood vessels and lungs
Early Detection Can Buy Time
Properly diagnosing Alzheimer’s early on can provide you or a family member with additional time to prepare for the future. Certain medications are available that can help alleviate some of the symptoms experienced in the early stages of the disease.
The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) is a fast and easy test, created to uncover early problems of thinking, cognition, or recall. It will assess your cognitive aptitudes and help your doctor understand how efficiently your brain is operating.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing symptoms that could be the result of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, you should make an appointment with your physician.