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The videofluoroscopic swallowing study – what is it and who needs it?

vfss

We’ve all had experiences like taking a sip of water and it having it go down the ‘wrong pipe’ or struggling to get our pills down, but what if it happens regularly or is happening more often? Your doctor may suggest that you partake in a videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS) to determine what’s happening while you swallow. A swallowing study can determine if medication, speech therapy, certain positioning or a change in the foods you eat will help you improve your ability to eat and drink more safely. Your doctor may recommend a VFSS if you experience:

  • Complaints of food sticking in your throat
  • Frequent coughing or choking on food or liquid
  • Frequent heartburn and/or burning in your throat
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Painful swallowing, or taking extra effort to swallow
  • Weight loss due to not being able to eat
  • Gagging or vomiting while eating

In addition, patients with certain medical diagnoses may need repeated swallowing studies to document changes in their ability to swallow food and liquid. These conditions include:

  • Stroke
  • Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, ALS or advanced Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancers of the head, neck and chest

Continue Reading »

What are cataracts?

cataracts

I often tell my patients, “If you live long enough, you’ll get cataracts.” Cataracts are one of the most common eye problems I identify in my office. Fortunately, they are treatable and the treatment even has some hidden benefits.

How do cataracts form? There is a small lens inside of your eye, just behind your iris. This tiny but powerful lens has the job of focusing the image of what you are looking at onto the retina at the back of the eye. A cataract develops when this all-important lens becomes cloudy. An optometrist has a microscope that can look at this little lens and see the developing cloudiness.

For most people, cataracts occur due to the aging process, but cataracts can develop at any age. People taking steroid medications and diabetic patients tend to develop them earlier than most.

The symptoms of a cataract are:
● Blurry vision
● Glare (when a light source affects the ability to see clearly) at night from headlights
● Glare during the day from sunlight Continue Reading »

Where to find affordable wigs, turbans and headscarves for chemo patients

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You may have just been told the news that no one wants to hear—you have cancer. You may feel frightened and wonder what lies ahead for you. You will need the support of your family, friends and community as you make decisions about your care and treatment process. If it is recommended that you will need chemotherapy, chances are that you are going to experience hair loss. If you are going to lose your hair during treatment, there are plenty of resources available to you for head coverings.

Some health insurance companies cover the cost of a wig or other headwear for cancer treatment patients, but if yours does not there are other options. Calumet Medical Center provides free wigs, turbans and headscarves for our chemotherapy patients; you can stop by Calumet Medical Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to try them on. St. Elizabeth Hospital and Mercy Medical Center also have cancer navigators that are available to help in the search of wigs or anything else that you may need throughout your journey. These resources are just a phone call away, and the staff is both friendly and knowledgeable about the process.

There are several websites that offer help finding affordable head covers, such as The American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org, or Tender Loving Care at www.tlcdirect.org. If you choose a wig, many of the salons in the area will cut and style your wig at no cost.

If you enjoy the outdoors, wigs, hats, turbans or scarves are important for protecting your head from sun exposure, especially in these hot summer months. How you look is certainly not as important as how you feel, but everyone deserves to feel confident and dignified, no matter what their health status is.

Cancer is the toughest fight many of us will ever face, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Calumet Medical Center has a cancer support group called C.A.R.E.S—Cancer Awareness, Resources, Education and Support Group. We meet the fourth Tuesday of each month. Call (800) 450-4042 ext. 2406 for more information.

How to treat a sprained ankle

sprained ankle Ouch! A sudden jolt of pain just shot through your lower leg and now it feels like your ankle is being squeezed in a vise-grip. You might have been running down the court, taking a hike on rough terrain, stepped in a divot in your yard or maybe you tripped while walking. No matter how you did it, all ankle sprains will have some (if not all) of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Difficulty moving the ankle
  • Difficulty walking
  • Bruising
  • Warm to the touch
  • Increased pain to the touch Continue Reading »

National Depression Screening Day

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Oct. 10 is National Depression Screening Day, a day to help call attention to screening opportunities for people with depression and anxiety disorders. Affinity Health System is dedicated to helping raise awareness about depression and other mood disorders and has joined forces with community partners in the Fox Valley to speak out.

According to the World Health Organization, depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide. People with depression may not feel comfortable talking with family, friends or colleagues about how they feel and often hide it from those around them. They may believe they just need to “toughen up” and that depression will go away by itself, but what they really need is to get help or seek treatment. Continue Reading »

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The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.