How vaccinations save millions of lives

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Research shows that vaccines have been one of the most effective preventive health interventions ever created. For more than two centuries, humans have been benefitting from immunizations.

We wanted to highlight a few of childhood diseases that are preventable through immunizations. It is recommended for children to be vaccinated for these up through the age of six:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal
  • Varicella
  • Rubella
  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Influenza
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Pertussis
  • Tetanus

It is important for children to receive immunizations. This helps their bodies recognize germs as antigens (“foreign invaders”), which signals the body to produce antibodies to fight them. The immune system eventually builds up immunity, meaning if they get infected again, even as an adult, the body remembers the antigen and is able to produce antibodies faster.

Vaccinations can be used to help children build immunity without them getting ill first. Vaccines contain dead or modified viruses that connect cause with the disease but the body recognizes them as the disease. This allows the body to respond quickly and prevent any attacks by that disease.

In addition to children, it is also necessary for all adults to be up-to-date with vaccinations—to ensure that they stay protected from illnesses, such as pneumonia and the flu. It is always safer to prevent illnesses and diseases than to treat it after it occurs. It also helps to protect others who immune memory may have faded from catching the disease.

If you or someone you know needs an appointment for vaccines, or for all back-to-school/sports physicals, please contact Dr. Schumacher by contacting (614) 299-9909.

Six signs of happy feet

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Is foot pain preventing you from enjoying sports and the great outdoors? If you answered yes to that question then your feet are more than likely trying to tell you something. Often times we forget about our feet and we end up missing crucial warning signs that our bodies are trying to communicate with us.

We have complied a list for you to use to check if your feet are happy and healthy:

  • Not experiencing numbness: Do you ever feel like you can’t feel your feet or that your feet have heavy pin and needles sensation? Often times that is your body’s way of giving you information from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. This may be a sign of peripheral neuropathy, which can have many causes, but two main causes are diabetes and alcohol abuse. It’s always best to see a physician to pinpoint the cause.
  • Healthy toenails: What’s the shape of your toenails? If they look sunken in with spoon-shaped indentations, it could be a warning sign for anemia, also known as iron deficiency. A physical exam will be necessary to properly diagnose and treat the symptoms.
  • No extreme foot cramping: If you are experiencing foot cramping quite often, it could mean that your diet isn’t getting enough calcium, magnesium or potassium. Be sure to always pay attention to your diet to ensure that you are getting the proper amount of nutrients.
  • Healthy skin on the feet: Do you have dry, flaky skin on your feet? You don’t have to be an athlete to get Athlete’s Foot, which is a fungal infection that starts with dry and itchy skin. It can be treated with frequent bathing of the feet, drying them thoroughly and using foot powder in shoes and socks. But, best to seek a professional if the symptoms worsen or lasts longer than two weeks.
  • Moderate pain: Of course everyone has those days that are hard on the feet. But if you are constantly experiencing foot pain, it could be a sign of a decrease in optimum bone density or a malnutrition, anorexia or a an issue with absorbing calcium. It’s best to see a doctor if the pain exists longer than two or three days.
  • No heel pain: If you are experiencing heel pain, it may be a sign of plantar fasciiitis, which is an inflammation that is an abnormal strain in the tissue beyond its normal extension. The pain could start in the morning and progress as the day wears on. Seek treatment if the pain persists more than a few weeks.

Taking care of your feet is just as important as taking care of your skin, heart and lungs. You can give your feet a treat by pampering yourself with regular pedicures or by purchasing a new pair of comfortable shoes.

If you are noticing any changes in your feet, know that it is more than likely signaling that there is a greater health issue in your body. If you or someone you know is experiencing these problems, contact Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.

How to know when a mole becomes cancerous

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Skin cancers can appear suddenly, and in many shapes and sizes. Fortunately, it can almost always be cured when found early and properly treated.
Research shows that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It is estimated that more than one million Americans develop skin cancer annually, and more than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma are treated. Also each year, in the United States, there are more new cases of skin cancer than there are combined cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. That’s why May is designated to raise awareness about skin cancer, and to help people take action to prevent and detect it.

There are three types of skin cancer, which includes:
1. Basal Cell Carcinoma: BCC is the most common form of skin cancer. It is rarely fatal, but if left untreated, can become highly disfiguring.

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Source: WebMD

  1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This cancer is the second most common form of skin cancer.
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Source: WebMD

  1. Malignant Melanoma: This cancer is the most serious skin cancer. It is estimated that one person dies every 52 minutes from this condition.Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 6.35.12 PM

Source: WebMD

No one is exempt from skin cancer, and can affect everyone’s skin and eyes. According to the American Cancer Society, some common factors that increase your chances of developing the condition include:

  • Having a family history of skin cancer
  • Had skin cancer in the past
  • Have several moles, irregular moles or large moles
  • Have freckles and burn before tanning
  • Have fair skin, blue or green eyes or blond, red or light brown hair
  • Live or vacation at high altitudes
  • Live or vacation in tropical or subtropical climates
  • Work indoors all week and then get intense sun exposure on weekends
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Have certain autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Have certain inherited conditions that increase your risk of skin cancer, such as xeroderma pigmentosum or nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome.
  • Have a medical condition that weakens your immune system, such as HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
  • Have had an organ transplant
  • Take medications that lower or suppress your immune system
  • Take medicines that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight

Some methods of protecting yourself from harmful UV rays include using an effective sunscreen, seeking shade when possible, wearing clothing that provides protection, wearing hats with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim, wearing sunglasses and avoiding tanning beds and sun lamps.

If you or someone you know suspects skin cancer, please call Dr. Schumacher at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment. If you have a form of skin cancer, finding it early is the best way to ensure it can be effectively treated.

Alcohol abuse: the not-so silent killer

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Research shows that more than 17 million people in the United States are dependent on alcohol.

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorder, is the most severe form of alcohol abuse. It is a chronic disease that affects family and professional responsibilities, as well as the individual’s physical and mental health. People who are dependent on alcohol will more than likely continue to drink, despite facing family, health or legal obstacles because they need it to get through the day. Alcoholics also have a high tolerance and suffer from withdrawal, which includes sweating, insomnia, nausea, depression, headaches and irritability, to name a few.

No age is exempt from alcohol addiction, however, abuse is highest with adults ages 18 to 29 and lowest among adults ages 65 and older. Depending on the user’s tolerance, some common effects of drinking include risk of injuries, increase in violence, liver disease, developing some types of cancer, slower reaction times, problems with hearing and seeing and a lower tolerance of alcohol.

The difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse is very small; however, if someone is abusing alcohol but not yet dependent on it, they may experience some tolerance and some withdrawal but nothing as severe as an alcoholic.

Abuse can be noticed when a person is seen with a pattern of drinking that results in repeated disruption of responsibilities to work, school or home responsibilities. Other warning signs include:

  • Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, such as while operating a vehicle or combining alcohol with prescription medication
  • Having legal issues, such as being arrested for driving under the influence
  • Reaching for alcohol as a stress reliever
  • Continuing drinking despite having relationship problems that are caused or made worse by drunkenness.
  • No longer participating hobbies or activities that they were once involved in.
  • Lost control over drinking and can’t limit the amount they are drinking.

Since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., has designated April as Alcohol Awareness Month. This month focuses on increasing public awareness, reducing stigma and encouraging local communities to address alcoholism and alcohol-related problems.

We can all do our part to prevent abuse. A few ideas you can utilize this month to raise awareness are:

  • If you suspect that someone is already an abuser, don’t ignore the problem. Help them seek treatment. Recovery will be an ongoing process, which will require new coping skills, treatment, time and patience. All problems that led to the abuse in the first place will have to be faced.
  • Share tips with parents to help them talk with their kids about alcohol usage. The earlier they talk to their children, the less likely they are to drink underage. Plus, the longer children wait to start drinking, the less likely they are to develop.
  • Talk with anyone you know who may be suffering from the disease. Challenge them to keep track of their drinking by setting limits.
  • Encourage alternative activities to teens/young adults that they can do in place of drinking.

If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol addiction, please call Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.

 

Still counting sheep after 100?

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With March designated as National Sleep Awareness Month, it’s all about raising awareness concerned with sleep, and making sure you’re getting enough of it.

Most Americans don’t know how much sleep they actually should be getting. Many experts say that between seven and eight hours of sleep each night is ideal; however, six hours of deep refreshing sleep is more beneficial than eight hours of light interrupted sleep.

Unfortunately, there are many factors that can lead to interrupted sleep, such as insomnia, stress, pain and snoring. In many cases, better sleep can be achieved through changes to our lifestyle and the way we think about things. To have a more restful sleep and to fall asleep faster, follow these tips:

  • Don’t drink caffeine
  • Stick to a sleep schedule—even on weekends
  • Don’t exercise at least three hours before bed
  • Take a warm bath
  • Create a bedtime ritual—this will tell your mind that it’s time to wind down for the day
  • Limit daytime naps
  • Include physical activities in your daily routine

It is typical for everyone to have a night of interrupted sleep here and there, but getting inadequate sleep on a regular basis can reduce concentration, cause mood swings, cause irritability, increase stress and weaken the immune system.

Many people don’t take sleep seriously, viewing it as just the body’s way of shutting off until morning. However, sleep is actually a complicated process that helps maintain your health and helps you feel rested for the following day.

Sleep is divided into four stages—with the amount of time spent in each stage of sleep varying by cycle, with a deeper sleep happening earlier in the night and a more dreaming sleep happening during the second half of the night.

  • Stage One: This is the earliest stage of sleep. It is easy for you to be awakened, muscles begin to relax and may twitch and you begin slow eye movements.
  • Stage Two: This stage is our “average” sleep. It isn’t too deep and not too light. It’s actually the stage where you spend about half of the night. During this stage your body temperature drops, breathing and heart rate regulate, you lose sense of your surroundings and your blood pressure slows down.
  • Stage Three: During this stage energy is restored, hormones are released, brain is actively dreaming and we have even slower brain waves. This is our deepest sleep for the night.
  • REM: We spend about 20 percent of the night in the stage. During this stage eyes dart rapidly, muscles are paralyzed and we have irregular breathing and heart rate. This stage is where we see vivid and imaginative dreams.

Just like most things, sleep cycles aren’t an exact science, and may vary from one person to the next. For more information about National Sleep Awareness month, or if you feel that you or someone you know isn’t getting a good night’s sleep, contact Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.

Is your relationship with food healthy?

DR. D art eating disordersBAt least once, maybe you have tried one of those “lose 10 pounds in one week” fad diets, or maybe you can’t stop chowing down at the buffet table at your favorite restaurant. Does that mean you, too, are among the millions of Americans who have an eating disorder?

At least 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from an eating disorder during their lifetime.

Eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are not crash diets, a little phase or a lifestyle choice. They are life-threatening illnesses, and occur when your relationship with food reaches an extreme level.

Individuals who suffer from eating disorders are at the highest risk of premature death of all people who suffer from psychiatric disorders. Anyone who suffers from an eating disorder can experience uncommon emotions, attitudes and behaviors with weight loss/weight gain and food.

When most people think about eating disorders, they mostly think of anorexia or bulimia. But, what most people don’t realize is that today the most common eating disorder in the U.S. is binge eating disorder, which affects at least 2 million.

An individual who suffers from binge eating disorder experiences:

  • Feelings of being out of control during binge eating episodes, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort or eating alone because of shame.
  • Strong emotions of shame or guilt regarding the binge episode
  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food, but without trying to prevent weight gain, such as extreme exercising or self-inflicted vomiting.

Symptoms of an individual who suffers from anorexia nervosa are:

  • Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and behaviors to prevent weight gain.
  • Self-esteem issues related to body image.
  • Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is too low, yet most still believe they are still overweight.

An individual who suffers from bulimia nervosa experiences:

  • Self-esteem related to body image
  • Feeling out of control during the binge-eating episodes
  • Episodes or consuming very large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-inflicted vomiting, the abuse of laxatives or diuretics.

The cause of eating disorders is still unknown; however, research suggests that it may be connected to genetics, depression, anxiety or environmental triggers, such as stress, abuse or seeing thin people in magazines or on television.

Anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder needs to seek professional help, and quickly. Individuals who seek treatment earlier after developing the disorder have a greater likelihood of recovery. Without any treatment, individuals could experience all three disorders—crossing over from one to another. Eating disorders can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy or group therapy.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, call Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.

Low testosterone risks and benefits

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Source:freedigitalphotos.net

It’s natural for testosterone levels to decrease as men get older.

Testosterone is a hormone that is mainly produced in the testicles, although low levels of testosterone can also be found in women. Normal levels of testosterone range from about 300 to 900 nanograms per deciliter.

Though society generally equates testosterone with machismo and sex drive, this hormone is responsible for much more. In addition to helping men maintain their sex drive and sperm production, testosterone also regulates red blood cell production, bone density and muscle mass. Testosterone production is at its prime during the teen years and in early adulthood then gradually decreases as men begin to age.

Though this decrease is normal, the effects that Low T can have both mentally and physically can be confusing, and at times, quite frustrating.

Common symptoms of low testosterone include:

  • Low sex drive
  • Difficulty achieving erection
  • Low semen volume
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increase in body fat
  • Decrease in bone mass
  • Mood changes
  • Outlook and resources
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression

Many of these symptoms, though, can be linked to other medical conditions, such as clinical depression, alcohol use and thyroid disorders.

If you think that you may be suffering from low testosterone, you are not alone. It is estimated that as many as 13 million Americans have Low T. The good news is that if your doctor has informed you that your testosterone is low, there are several hormone therapy treatments available to help you restore your testosterone levels. It should be noted that some of these hormone therapy treatments may have negative side effects, such as sleep apnea, acne breast tenderness, increased urination and weight gain. Side effects do go away if treatment is stopped.

In addition to hormone therapy treatments, there are also natural ways that you can help increase your testosterone, such as making changes in your diet, decreasing stress level and exercising.
If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from low testosterone, please call Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.