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Health Q&A

Posted August 08, 2012 in Advice Column, Greene County

Q:When should a woman see a gynecologist?

A: There has been no change in the recommendation that women see a gynecologist yearly. A yearly visit serves many purposes. While an annual Pap smear, which can help detect potential pre-cancerous or cancerous cells, has long been the reason many see a gynecologist, a yearly exam is more than a Pap smear. Recommendations for Pap smears have changed with the first Pap due at age 21 and then spaced to every one to three years depending on risk factors. Since so much more is involved in a physical examination, it is important to include it in one’s yearly health regimen.

A yearly physical examination includes examining the thyroid, breasts, lungs, heart and abdomen. It includes a pelvic exam. Urine and blood evaluations are done to check one’s cholesterol, thyroid, blood sugar and blood count. Assessing family history for heritable diseases including breast, colon and ovarian cancer is done. Other items covered are sexually transmitted disease screening, and blood pressure and weight assessment. Preventive screenings for mammography, colonoscopy and osteoporosis are monitored and maintained. Vaccinations and education components such as breast self awareness can also be a part of an exam.

Specific health concerns are also addressed like menstrual irregularities, contraception, menopause, PMS, incontinence, infertility, sexual function and pelvic pain. Seeing an OB/GYN before you get pregnant to begin prenatal care and vitamins is also recommended.

Information provided by Advanced Women’s Care, a clinic of Greene County Medical Center, 1000 West Lincolnway, Jefferson, 515-386-2240.
 
 

Q: What’s the difference in traditional and chiropractic treatments for headaches?

A: The best way to explain these differences is to explain some common misconceptions.
1. Over-the-counter medications treat the cause of your headache. Drugs only numb the pain. If these drugs treated the real cause, headaches would go away permanently. A lack of drugs is not the cause.

2. Headache medication can’t harm you. On the contrary, drugs can cause side effects that can be far worse than the headache pain you’re trying to relieve.

3. Stress causes headaches. Although stress is a part of life, it is not the cause of headaches. It is how your body adapts to stress. Chiropractic care provides ways to increase your body’s ability to adapt to stress.

 4. Headaches will go away on their own. Without treating the cause, or root of the problem, they won’t.

5. All doctors know how to treat headaches. If this were true, no one would suffer from headaches. Chiropractors offer natural alternatives that do not involve drugs or invasive treatments.

6. Your problem is always where your pain is. Not all headaches originate in the head. A person who has suffered a neck injury, from a car accident, playing sports, or a fall as a child, could suffer headaches later on. These are called cervicogenic headaches because they result from tension of the neck (cervical) muscles.

Chiropractors are expertly trained to diagnose and treat the cause of most common headaches.

Information provided by Jefferson Family Chiropractic, 216 N. Wilson Ave., 515-386-3747.
 
 

Q: What are the symptoms of dementia, and how does a family prepare for the future?

A: Dementia is the progressive deterioration in cognitive function — the ability to process thought. It affects areas of the brain, such as memory, language, problem solving and attention. Symptoms include:
 • Memory loss. She may forget her way to your house. She may also forget your names and appointments she has.
 • Moodiness. She may become more moody as parts of the brain that control emotion become damaged. She may also have fear and anxiety. She may worry about things a lot more.
   • Communicative difficulties. She may have trouble talking, reading and writing

Preparing for the future is definitely a good idea. It will be a tough change for you and your family. I would suggest visiting with your mom’s doctor and maybe even a dementia support group. Since dementia is not curable, you do need to have a plan in place for when she is unable to care for herself. I would suggest contacting a local home care agency or a nursing and rehab center that has a dementia unit. These nurses have a lot of knowledge and training with people with dementia. Not every person with dementia progresses at the same rate, so doing your homework ahead of time will make it a little easier on everyone.

Information provided by Regency Park Nursing and Rehab Center, 100 Ram Drive, Jefferson, 515-386-4107.
 
 

Q:Where is the thyroid gland?

A: We are frequently asked about the thyroid gland by our patients. As you will see, this is a very important part of your body doing miraculous tasks.

The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, below the larynx (voice box). The small, two-inch gland consists of two lobes, one on each side of the windpipe, connected by tissue called the isthmus.

The thyroid tissue is made up of two types of cells: follicular cells and parafollicular cells. Most of the thyroid tissue consists of the follicular cells, which secrete iodine-containing hormones called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The parafollicular cells (also called C cells) secrete the hormone calcitonin. The thyroid requires iodine to produce the hormones.

Q: What are the functions of the thyroid gland?
A: The thyroid plays an important role in regulating the body’s metabolism and calcium balance. The T4 and T3 hormones stimulate every tissue in the body to produce proteins and increase the amount of oxygen used by cells. The harder the cells work, the harder the organs work. The calcitonin hormone works together with the parathyroid hormone to regulate calcium levels in the body.

Levels of hormones secreted by the thyroid are controlled by the pituitary gland’s thyroid-stimulating hormone, which in turn is controlled by the hypothalamus.

Be sure to ask your physician if you have more questions or concerns about your thyroid gland.

Information provided by Medicap Pharmacy, 400 N. Elm St., Jefferson, 515-386-2164.





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