Cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic condition that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the respiratory and digestive systems. Over time, this can limit the affected person’s ability to breathe. While there’s no cure for cystic fibrosis, a lung transplant can considerably increase a patient’s life expectancy.
Additionally, there are several ways for people living with cystic fibrosis to prevent lung infections and relieve symptoms such as persistent coughing, wheezing and digestive issues. These include:
• Techniques to clear mucus from the airways such as vest therapy or postural drainage and percussion (PD&P)
• Taking antibiotics to prevent and treat lung infections
• Taking oral pancreatic enzymes, vitamins, and other prescribed medications
To further minimize their symptoms, people with cystic fibrosis should also do their best to:
• Engage in physical activity on a regular basis
• Avoid smoking and being in smoky environments
• Receive recommended vaccines, particularly for respiratory conditions
• Adopt a balanced diet based on their condition and nutritional needs
For more personalized treatment options, people with cystic fibrosis should consult their doctor. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry, more than 30,000 people in the United States are living with cystic fibrosis. The condition occurs when a child inherits two abnormal CFTR genes, one from each parent.
Orthorexia during the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many people. For some, the circumstances have prompted or aggravated eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and the lesser-known but increasingly common condition called orthorexia. If you’ve been increasingly preoccupied with healthy eating, here’s what you should know.
What is orthorexia?
With so much information about nutrition readily available, people who want to adopt a healthier diet may feel guilty about eating food with too much salt and sugar or not enough nutrients. However, for people with orthorexia, healthy eating is an obsession. Among other things, it can cause them to develop behaviors like:
• Banning specific foods or ingredients, such as gluten, without medical justification
• Planning meals in great detail
• Thinking about food for several hours a day
• Feeling guilty about eating unhealthy food, even on occasion
• Eating purely for the sake of nutritional intake rather than enjoyment
• Spending a lot of time analyzing and comparing product labels at the grocery store
For many people with orthorexia, the pandemic worsened their obsession with healthy eating, either by preventing them from going to the gym, giving them more free time to research the topic or simply making concerns about their health a higher priority.
In a society that highly values healthy eating, this disorder can be particularly insidious. People often take pride in being able to control what they eat, and they’re frequently praised for their discipline.
If you think you may be struggling with an eating disorder, or you want to improve your relationship with food, take advantage of the free resources available online and consult a psychologist or doctor.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and Wound Healing
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms and legs become completely or partially blocked. This blockage is caused by fatty plaque deposits that harden arteries, called atherosclerosis, and greatly reduces blood flow.
PAD affects nearly 10 million people in the United States, especially those over 65 years of age. PAD increases the risks of hard-to-heal wounds and associated lower-limb amputations by negatively impacting circulation and reducing blood flow to and from the legs.
The Fauquier Health Wound Healing Center, located right in the town of Warrenton, identifies these risk factors for developing PAD:
- Age above 65 years
- Excessive weight
- Family history of artery disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
The Fauquier Health Wound Healing Center can also perform non-invasive tests to diagnose and accurately treat PAD. An ankle-brachial index (ABI) test is painless and easy, and compares the blood pressure reading in the ankles with the blood pressure reading in the arms. An ABI can help diagnose PAD, but it cannot identify which arteries are narrowed or blocked. A Doppler ultrasound test may be done to see which artery or arteries are blocked. Up to twenty-five percent of those with advanced PAD will experience an amputation within one year due to a non-healing wound. Although the long-term effects of PAD are serious, an astonishing 40 percent of people with PAD do not experience any symptoms.
If you are at risk for PAD, do not dismiss leg pain as part of growing old and seek care if you have these symptoms:
- Pain or cramps in the back of your leg while walking or exercising. These pains or cramps go away when the walking or exercising stops.
- Pain in the feet or legs while resting or that wakes you from sleep.
- Decreased or no hair growth on the feet or legs.
- Lower legs and feet that are cool to touch or that have shiny skin.
- Legs and feet that appear pale when raised and bluish/purplish when hanging down.
- Weak or absent pulses in the feet
- Numbness or tingling in the feet and legs.
- A sore or wound on your toes, legs or feet that does not heal.
People who are at risk for PAD should call The Fauquier Health Wound Healing Center if they develop a wound. Specialized care provided by the center that can help to reduce healing times, increase healing rates and significantly lower amputation risks.
For more information on identifying PAD and treating chronic or infected wounds, contact Wound Care Center located at 493 Blackwell Rd., Suite 101A, Warrenton, VA 20186 or call 540.316.HEAL (4325).
September 2021 monthly health article – Prostate Cancer Awareness
How Much Do You Know About Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a condition often heard about, but perhaps seldom fully understood. In recognition of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we asked Dr. Brian DeCastro, Urologist at Fauquier Health, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions concerning this common form of cancer.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a gland that is only found in men. It is located just below the bladder and just behind the pubic bone of the pelvis. It is an important reproductive tool because it produces some of the fluid during ejaculation which helps transport the sperm. It surrounds the urethra – the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. It’s about the size of a walnut but tends to increase in size as men age.
What is prostate cancer?
With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, one out of every nine men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Prostate cancer is a very treatable cancer if caught early but it is still the second leading cause of cancer death among U.S. men (only behind lung cancer). That is why screening is so important.
Am I at risk for prostate cancer?
If you are a man and you have a prostate you are at risk for prostate cancer. It more commonly occurs the older you get. Those who are most at risk are patients with a family history of prostate cancer and African American men. It is important that screening start at a younger age in these high-risk groups.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Unfortunately there are not a lot of symptoms of prostate cancer. The majority of symptoms that get attributed to prostate cancer are typically secondary to an enlarged prostate (BPH). Part of the evaluation for any of the following symptoms would prompt prostate cancer screening:
- Difficulty with urination, including trouble starting or holding back urination, a weak or interrupted uninterrupted urine flow, pain or burning during urination, difficulty emptying your bladder fully, and frequent urination, especially at night
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain in the back, hips or pelvis that does not go away
It’s important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to prostate cancer and are often secondary to benign (non-cancerous) conditions.
Should I be screened for prostate cancer?
Screening for prostate cancer is a simple blood test. All men over 50 should be screened for prostate cancer. Those with a family history of prostate cancer and African American men should consider PSA testing at age 40. A discussion with your primary provider or urologist about the risks and benefits of testing is important.
Can I help prevent prostate cancer?
In general a healthy lifestyle is good for minimizing the risk of most cancers:
- A healthy diet
- Regular physical activity
- Eating more fish
- Avoiding trans fatty acids in foods
- Avoiding smoking
- Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation
- Reducing stress
If you have any concerns regarding prostate cancer and its risks, symptoms and screening, have a discussion with your primary care provider or make an appointment with a urologist.
If you would like to be connected with a primary care provider, call 540.316.DOCS or visit the Find a Doctor tab at FauquierHealth.org. For more information about prostate cancer, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/ and www.pcf.org.
Nicotine withdrawal: what to expect
The decision to quit smoking is a courageous one, as it requires you to change your habits and temporarily live with the symptoms of withdrawal. Here’s what you can expect if you give up this vice.
If you’re addicted to nicotine, you’ll experience a variety of physical and mental effects when your body is deprived of it. This is one reason why cravings are so strong, and those first few puffs offer such relief. For the first couple of weeks after you stop using nicotine, you may experience:
• Difficulty concentrating
• Increased appetite
As you go through the stages of nicotine withdrawal, it’s important to remember your symptoms are temporary and the benefits of not smoking far outweigh the discomforts of quitting. To help you stay motivated, keep in mind that by giving up smoking, you’ll:
• Save money
• Lower your risk of heart disease
• Be less likely to get cancer
• Have more energy and stamina
• Sound less hoarse when you speak
• Be able to smell and taste better
• Have healthier-looking skin
• Be less vulnerable to infections and viruses
• Spend less on insurance premiums
There are numerous tools and resources available to help you through the process of quitting your smoking habit. To maximize your chances of success, don’t hesitate to use them.
The benefits of a pedicure
Think pedicures are only for people wearing strappy little shoes and taking social media photos of their feet on a tropical beach? Think again.
When done properly, pedicures promote good foot health. If you have diabetes, however, talk to your doctor about a safe alternative.
During the pedicure, you’ll start with a foot soak in a tub of warm water. Your toenails will be clipped — make sure they’re clipped straight across rather than on a curve, to prevent ingrown toenails. The technician will exfoliate dead skin off of areas like your heel, bottoms, and sides of your feet and elsewhere. You may receive a foot and calf massage, and you’ll likely have some gel or lotion rubbed onto your feet and ankles.
There’s a lot here that’s good for the health of your feet, including:
* Properly trimmed nails and the removal of dead skin, particularly in places that can harbor fungi, like the area between the toes.
* Improved circulation. The warm water and the massage stimulate circulation, which not only feels great but is good for your joints also.
* Removal of calluses.
* A close-up of your feet, which is an opportunity to catch any problems early.
A few last notes on safety: Make sure the salon is properly licensed, that it sterilizes its instruments, and that it drains and sanitizes foot baths between customers. You want to also be sure they don’t use non-metal tools (which are porous and can carry bacteria), or that if they do, they are only used for one customer and then tossed. And as much as you might be tempted, experts say not to shave before a pedicure, as bacteria is more likely to get in via small nicks and cuts.
Start with the ideal sleep environment
If you’re having difficulty falling and staying asleep, don’t reach for the sleep aids or call the doctor just yet — a few tweaks to your sleeping environment might provide the boost you need to get a restful night’s sleep.
* Consider your caffeine intake. According to Harvard Medical School, you should avoid caffeine for at least four to six hours before bedtime.
* Think about your routine. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you can improve your sleep health by establishing a routine and sticking with it.
* Check your sleep environment. Your bedroom should be cool, dark and quiet. Use blackout curtains or an eye. A cool room — even a bit chilly — is also helpful, so keep the temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
* Eliminate distractions. Keep screens out of your room
* Go pet-free in your bedroom.
* Move your body. Work out at least three hours before bedtime.
* Eat lighter in the evenings. According to the CDC, heavier meals might make it harder for you to get comfortable and fall asleep. Instead of tacos at 10 in the evening, if you need a snack, try some cheese and crackers.