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HealtheVisits: An Inside Look

healthevisits My phone buzzes. I pick it up and see the message “There is one HealtheVisit in the queue.”

In this case, the visit is for June (name changed), a 45-year-old woman who has had burning with urination for about 24 hours. Before the message appeared on my phone, June had been to the HealtheVisits website and supplied a thorough description of her current illness as well as relevant medical history. Giving this information was easy thanks to the interview questions on the site that took her step-by-step through the process. June is otherwise healthy and has no symptoms requiring a face-to-face visit, so the answers to her questions are packaged and sent to me.

Upon seeing the notification of a waiting HealtheVisit, I log into the website and read through June’s information. Some of the more important bits are highlighted for me in red by the computer. It appears that June has had several urinary tract infections in the past and recognized the symptoms of this one as soon as they appeared. She has had no fever or back pain. She is allergic to amoxicillin. After careful review, I move on to the treatment options page. Here the website gives me several options all based on the best medical evidence. I choose uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) as the diagnosis and check the box to send a prescription for an appropriate antibiotic. Hitting the “send” button notifies June that her HealtheVisit has been completed.

Not all HealtheVisits, however, are quite this straight-forward. Many symptoms, while miserable, will not improve if treated with an antibiotic. When this happens, we do our best to suggest ways to relieve symptoms and provide education as to what warning signs indicate the need to be rechecked.

My phone buzzes again and I look at the message, “The HealtheVisit queue is empty.” This online diagnosis and treatment system has helped another patient, and will bring fast, accurate medical care to many more.

To learn more about HealtheVisits, visit affinityhealth.org/healthevisits.

Myths and Facts about Diabetes

mythsvsfacts

There are many misconceptions about diabetes, including its causes and how to manage it. In recognition of National Diabetes Awareness Month, this article will address some popularly held beliefs about diabetes that may not mesh with reality.

Myth: Eating sugar (or too much sugar) causes diabetes.
Fact: There are many causes of diabetes, but eating sugar is not one of them. Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce the insulin needed to transport glucose to the body’s cells, is caused by genetics and other factors we haven’t discovered yet (some research suggests viruses are the culprit). Type 2 diabetes may be caused by genetics as well, or a host of lifestyle factors. Sugar intake alone is not enough to cause diabetes.

Myth: Going “sugar free” will prevent me from developing diabetes.
Fact: While there is no question that most Americans eat too much sugar, there is no research that supports going “sugar free” results in being diabetes free. Given that the American diet is high in added sugars, most health care providers agree that keeping an eye on the amount of added sugars we consume leads to better general wellness.

Myth: People with diabetes cannot eat pasta, rice or desserts and have to eat special food.
Fact: While individuals with diabetes may be more conscious of foods that raise their blood sugar levels, they can enjoy any kind of food they’d like in moderation. Healthy eating plans for people with diabetes are typically the same as most health professionals would recommend for anyone else:

  • Low in saturated fats
  • Heart-healthy fats and fiber
  • Moderate in salt and sugar
  • Lean sources of protein
  • Fruit and non-starchy vegetables
  • Whole grains such as brown rice and oats

People with diabetes—like everyone else—should enjoy dessert such as chocolate and other sweets in moderation. The key to good blood sugar control is to follow a sensible eating plan: keep an eye on portions, lead an active lifestyle and be compliant with medications.

Myth: Getting diabetes means never leading a healthy life.
Fact: There is a difference between living with diabetes and living with well-controlled diabetes. When individuals with diabetes manage their condition properly, for example avoiding spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, they can prevent or delay other complications of the disease. Having a positive relationship with food and knowing how much of what to eat, being physically active, seeking the support of others, keeping up with doctor visits, managing stress and controlling blood sugar levels are key to leading a healthy life with diabetes. These recommendations are what everyone else could benefit from as well!

What other myths have you hear about diabetes? Send us your comments!

For more information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org

Pumpkins: the fall fruit mascot

pumpkins

Every fall we see pumpkins brightening up our yards and our front porches; a sure sign that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner. Pumpkins, a type of squash, are usually orange but come in all different shapes and sizes. While most people consider pumpkins vegetables, pumpkins are actually considered a fruit.

There are two types of squash: winter squash and summer squash. Summer squash are harvested and eaten when the skin is thin and tender. They tend to have a shorter storage span due to the thin skin and must be eaten promptly. Zucchini and yellow summer squash are just a couple of several varieties of squash you can enjoy during the summer months.

Pumpkins are included within the winter squash category along with butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash. Winter squash are known for their hard, thick skin, which is what makes carving pumpkins so challenging. The thick skin also contributes to a long shelf life, allowing these winter squash to be kept for months when stored in a dark and cool place such as a basement or in a garage. Continue Reading »

The Transition from Cancer Patient to Survivor

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I attended a cancer continuing education course back in ’10-‘11 which covered all manner of topics related to patients that have been diagnosed with cancer. One of the most interesting pieces of advice that our speaker gave and that many different groups are taking up as well is that an individual becomes a cancer survivor the moment they are diagnosed. Maybe it would be difficult for you, but I know that personally it would take me less than 2 minutes to name at least 10 people or more that have been diagnosed with some type of cancer within the last 1-2 years alone. Survivorship is extremely different and personal to each individual and can even be separated into different descriptive terms depending on the stage that person is at within their care:

  • Acute survivorship – refers to right after diagnosis or during treatment
  • Extended survivorship – completion of treatment or several months post
  • Permanent survivorship – after treatment has been completed and measured in years Continue Reading »

How to Manage Stress Related to Cancer

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Imagine having a medical test and getting the phone call that there is something abnormal, and more testing is necessary to determine if it’s cancer. Not knowing is a very difficult emotional state. It’s likely that your body will react to this with adrenal hormones like cortisol and its fight or flight response. This leads to racing hearts and minds, difficulty sleeping, tight muscles, digestive problems, and a sense of dis-ease. If this stress response continues, it can affect every cell and organ in your body and impair your body’s ability to heal.

Fortunately, there are many things a person can do to help manage the stress related to a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Social support is essential; allow others to be involved and accept the care you need. Find ways to do the things that normally bring you peace—like physical activity, time in nature or worship services. For many people, spiritual practices or spiritual counseling are very helpful.

Physical activity is a powerful stress reducer. Our bodies are meant to move every day, so keeping as active as possible is important. On the other hand, it’s important to listen to your body, and not over-do it, especially during cancer treatment. Regular exercise can help give a sense of control and remind people of the strength of their minds and bodies. It is also proven to help prevent cancer recurrences. Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

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