Well-Woman

Schedule a well-woman visit with your healthcare provider every year. The well-woman visit is an important way to help you stay healthy.

Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. These visits focus on preventive care for women, which may include:

  • Services, like shots, that improve your health by preventing diseases and other health problems
  • Screenings, which are medical tests to check for diseases early when they may be easier to treat
  • Education and counseling to help you make informed health decisions

What happens during a well-woman visit?

Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness. There are 3 main goals for the visit:

  1. Documenting your health habits and history
  2. Getting a physical exam
  3. Setting health goals
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Prostate Cancer Awareness Month!

September is prostate cancer awareness month.

Prostate cancer is the most common among men in the United States.  According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 3 million men living with prostate cancer in the United States and an estimated 11% of men that will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. Therefore, it is vital to start talking with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of screening and when to start screening.

Because prostate cancer is often a very slow growing cancer, it can remain asymptomatic for several years.  Although every patient is different, it is important to know potential symptoms to watch out for and alert your provider of right away.  Symptoms may include: weak or interrupted flow of urine, sudden urge to urinate, frequent urination, pain or burning while urinating, trouble starting the flow of urine, and trouble emptying the bladder completely. Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis, as well as blood in the urine or semen, can also be indicators.

Risk factors can be another key factor.  Although prostate cancer is more common in older men, it can occur in those younger, especially if some of these risk factors are present: race, genetic factors, smoking history, and family history. Men who have a relative with prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease as those with no family history.

A simple blood test known as the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) is used to screen for prostate cancer.  An elevation in this could indicate potential disease, although elevations may be caused by numerous other factors.  Only a biopsy of the prostate can diagnose prostate cancer.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force considers the decision to undergo periodic PSA screening to be an individual choice for men over 55, stating that they should have the opportunity to discuss its potential benefits and drawbacks with their provider. The reason for this is because the PSA screening offers a potential benefit of reducing the chance of death from the disease in some men, but also carries potential risks, such as false-positive results, over-diagnosis, and overtreatment.

Men’s health and prostate cancer screening really comes down to having an open conversation with your provider.  If you have any concerns regarding prostate cancer and its risks, symptoms and screening, have a discussion with your provider.  Call today to schedule your annual physical and discuss necessary screenings.

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Your Pregnancy: Protecting Your Baby Starts Now

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder everyone needs vaccines throughout their lives.

From the moment you found out you were pregnant, you started protecting your baby. You might have changed the way you eat, started taking a prenatal vitamin or researched the kind of car seat to buy. But did you know that one of the best ways to start protecting your baby against serious diseases is by getting flu and Tdap vaccines while you are pregnant?

The vaccines you get during your pregnancy will provide your baby with some disease protection (immunity) that can last during the first months of life after birth. By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, you can pass antibodies to your baby that may help protect against diseases. This early protection is critical for diseases like flu and whooping cough because babies are at their greatest risk of severe illness from these diseases in their first months of life, but they are also too young to get the vaccines against these illnesses. Passing maternal antibodies during pregnancy is the only way to help directly protect them from flu and whooping cough (pertussis).

In cases when doctors can determine who spread whooping cough to an infant, the mother was sometimes the source. Once you have protection from the Tdap shot, you are less likely to spread whooping cough to your newborn baby.

When it comes to flu, even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to have a severe case of the flu if you catch it. If you catch the flu when you are pregnant, you also have a higher chance of being hospitalized. Getting a flu shot will help protect you and your baby.

You can rest assured these vaccines are very safe for you and your baby. Millions of pregnant women have safely received flu shots for many years and CDC continues to monitor safety data on flu vaccine in pregnant women.

The whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) is also safe for you and your baby. Doctors and midwives who specialize in caring for pregnant women agree that the whooping cough vaccine is important to get during the third trimester of each pregnancy. Getting the vaccine during pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complications.

You should get your whooping cough vaccine between your 27th and 36th week of pregnancy, preferably during the earlier part of that period. You can get a flu shot during any trimester. You may receive whooping cough and flu vaccines at the same time or at different prenatal care visits. If you are pregnant during flu season, you should get a flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine is available, by October if possible.

If you want to learn more about pregnancy and vaccines, talk to your ob-gyn or midwife, and visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pregnancy/pregnant-women/index.html.

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Vaccines are Not Just for Kids

You want to pass on certain things like family traditions, a grandmother’s quilt or dad’s love of books—but no one wants to pass on a serious illness. Take charge of your health and help protect those around you by asking about vaccines at your next doctor’s visit.

Vaccinating our children is commonplace in the United States. But many adults don’t know which vaccines they need, and even fewer are fully vaccinated. Every year, thousands of adults in the U.S. become needlessly ill from infectious diseases. Many adults are hospitalized and some even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.

Not only can vaccine-preventable diseases make you very sick, but if you get sick, you may risk spreading certain diseases to others. That’s a risk most of us do not want to take. Babies, older adults and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have severe illness and complications if they do get sick. You can help protect your health and the health of your loved ones by getting your recommended vaccines.

The most common, recommended vaccines for adults include:

  • All adults should get an influenza (flu) vaccine each year to protect against seasonal flu. Some people are at high risk of serious flu complications and it is especially important these people get vaccinated. This includes older adults (65 and older), children younger than 5, pregnant women and people with certain long-term medical conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Every adult should get one dose of Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) if they did not get Tdap as a teen, and then receive a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccine every 10 years.
  • Adults 50 years and older are recommended to receive the shingles vaccine.
  • Adults 65 and older are recommended to receive both pneumococcal vaccines. Some adults younger than 65 years with certain conditions are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.
  • Adults may need other vaccines (such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV) depending on their age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received or other considerations.

All adults should talk to their health care professionals to make sure they are up to date on vaccines recommended for them. The specific vaccines adults need is determined by factors such as age, lifestyle, risk conditions, locations of travel and previous vaccines. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines—a call to your insurance provider can give you the details.

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Do you have a Preteen or Teen? Protect their Future with Vaccines

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder we need vaccines throughout our lives.

Taking them to their sports physical, making sure they eat healthy and get plenty of sleep…you know these are crucial to your child’s health. But did you also know your preteens and teens need vaccines to stay healthy and protected against serious diseases?

As they get older, preteens and teens are at increased risk for some infections. Plus, the protection provided by some of the childhood vaccines begins to wear off, so preteens need an additional dose (booster) to extend protection. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still around and causing serious illnesses. The vaccines for preteens and teens can help protect your kids, as well as their friends, community and other family members.

There are four vaccines recommended for all preteens at ages 11 to 12:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra ®), which protects against four types of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but serious disease that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and blood (septicemia). Since protection decreases over time, a booster dose is recommended at age 16 so teens continue to have protection during the ages when they are at highest risk for getting meningococcal disease.
    • Teens and young adults (16- through 23-year olds) may also receive a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (Trumemba ®), preferably at 16 through 18 years old.
  • HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that most commonly cause cancer. HPV can cause future cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina in women and cancers of the penis in men. In both women and men, HPV also causes cancers in the back of the throat (including base of the tongue and tonsils), anal cancer and genital warts.
  • Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. Tetanus and diphtheria are uncommon now because vaccines have worked so well, but they can be very serious. Whooping cough is common and on the rise in the U.S. It can keep kids out of school and activities for weeks, but it is most dangerous — and sometimes even deadly — for babies who can catch it from family members, including older siblings.
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine, because even healthy kids can get flu and it can be serious, all kids, including your preteens and teens, should get a flu vaccine every year.

You can use any health care visit, including sports or camp physicals, checkups or some sick visits, to get the shots your kids need. Talk with your child’s health care professional to find out which vaccines your preteens and teens need. Vaccines are a crucial step in keeping your kids healthy.

Want to learn more about the vaccines for preteens and teens? Check out https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/diseases/index.html

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A Healthy Start Begins with On-Time Vaccinations

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder children need vaccines right from the start.

Vaccines give parents the power to protect their children from serious diseases. One of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health is getting their child vaccinated according to the recommended immunization schedule.

To celebrate the importance of immunizations for a healthy start and throughout our lives – and to make sure children are protected with all the vaccines they need – North Hills Family Medicine is joining with partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month. The first week of the month will focus on babies and young children and emphasize a healthy start for little ones begins with on-time vaccinations.

Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including polio, measles, whooping cough and chickenpox. There are many important reasons to make sure your child is vaccinated:

  • Immunizations can protect your child from 14 serious diseases before they turn 2 years old.
  • Vaccination is very safe and effective.
  • Immunizations can protect others you care about.
  • Immunization can save your family time and money.
  • Immunization protects future generations by reducing the prevalence of serious diseases.

Child care facilities, preschool programs and schools are prone to disease outbreaks. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, not covering their coughs and sneezes, and other factors related to interacting in crowded environments.

Unvaccinated children are not only at increased risk for disease, but they can also spread disease to others in their play groups, child care centers, classroom, and communities – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people who might not be able to receive certain vaccines due to cancer or other health conditions.

Parents can find out more about the recommended immunization schedule at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents

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August is National Immunization Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). Immunizations represent one of the greatest public health accomplishments of the 20th century. The purpose of NIAM is to celebrate the benefits of vaccination and highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.

To help keep our community safe, North Hills Family Medicine is proudly participating in National Immunization Awareness Month.

Vaccines are the safest and most effective way to prevent several diseases. They not only protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. It’s important to know which shots you need and when to get them.

Schedule an appointment today to get your immunizations updated!

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Ready for School? Make Sure those Vaccine Records are Up to Date!

Send Your Children Back to School Protected from Serious Diseases.

Back-to-school season is here. It’s time for parents to gather school supplies and backpacks. It’s also the perfect time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines.

One of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health is getting their child vaccinated according to the recommended immunization schedule. Whether parents have a baby starting at a new child care facility, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should check their child’s vaccination records.

Child care facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are prone to disease outbreaks. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, not covering their coughs and sneezes and other factors related to interacting in crowded environments.

Serious health consequences can arise if children are not vaccinated. Without vaccines, children are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their play groups, child care centers, classrooms and communities. This includes spreading diseases to babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions.

Additionally, states may require children who are entering child care or school to be vaccinated against certain diseases. Colleges and universities may have their own requirements, especially for students living in residence halls. 

If you haven’t already, check your child’s immunization record and schedule a visit to their physician or clinic. Doing so now will avoid a potential last-minute rush and will help ensure there are no surprises on the first day of school.

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