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Viewing posts from: May 2018

Teens and Mental Health

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Teens and Mental Health: The New American Academy of Pediatrics Report teens and mental health Did you know, as many as one in every five teens experience depression at some point during adolescence? Unfortunately, these teens often go undiagnosed and untreated, sometimes because of a lack of access to mental health specialists.   Pediatricians and other primary care providers (doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, etc.) are often in the best position to identify and help struggling teens.   Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published updated medical guidelines on adolescent depression. This is a two part guideline was published last month. This is the first update to the guidelines in 10 years, serving as a tool for physicians and offering recommendations for the patient and family members’ participation. This important document can be found at the following links:

  The guidelines are targeted for youth ages 10 to 21, and distinguish the differences between mild, moderate and severe forms of Major Depressive Disorder. The guidelines for the first time also endorse a universal adolescent depression screening for children age 12 and over, which already is recommended by the AAP.   According to the AAP and this guidelines document, recommendations include:
  • Providing a treatment team that includes the patient, family and access to mental health expertise
  • Offering education and screening tools to identify, assess and diagnose patients
  • Counseling on depression and options for management of the disorder
  • Developing a treatment plan with specific goals in functioning in the home, peer and school settings.
  • Developing a safety plan, as needed, which includes restricting lethal means, such as firearms in the home, and providing emergency communication methods.
  Why this information is important to you. If you have an adolescent or teen, it’s extremely important that you have a mental health and depression screening. Mental health is extremely important and one screening could save a life. Talk to your doctor about how to make sure your child has their screening.

What is Neurofibromatosis?

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What is Neurofibromatosis? Neurofibromatosis   What is Neurofibromatosis? Neurofibromatosis is an incurable genetic disorder of the nervous system. It mainly affects the development of nerve cell tissues. Tumors known as neurofibromas develop on the nerves, and these can lead to other problems.   A complex, often devastating set of genetic disorders with possible complications throughout the body that may also hold the genetic mystery to a host of other human ailments. Affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 people or 2 million people worldwide, it appears equally in all races, ethnic groups and both sexes.   According to the Mayo Clinic, The tumors are generally non-cancerous or benign, but sometimes can turn into cancerous or malignant tumors. Symptoms are often mild. However, complications of neurofibromatosis can include hearing loss, learning impairment, heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) problems, loss of vision, and severe pain.   How do you know you have Neurofibromatosis? A common complication for a person with Neurofibromatosis is the growth of tumors on the nerves anywhere in and on the body. There are currently several separate, distinct disorders classified as neurofibromatosis. This includes neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), and schwannomatosis. Others are also being identified.   What are the symptoms? According to the national genome research institute, symptoms for neurofibromatosis include: Type 1 Symptoms:

  • Presence of light brown sports on the skin
  • Appearance of two or more neurofibromas (pea-sized bumps/tumors) that can grow either on the nerve tissue, under the skin or on many nerve tissues
  • Manifestation of freckles under the armpits or in the groin areas
  • Appearance of tiny tan clumps of pigment in the iris of the eyes (Lisch nodules)
  • Tumors along the optic nerve of the eye (optic glioma)
  • Severe curvature of the spine (scoliosis)
  • Enlargement or malformation of other bones in the skeletal system.
Symptoms for NF1 vary for each individual. Those that are skin-related are often present at birth, during infancy and by a child's tenth birthday. From ages 10 to 15, neurofibromas may become apparent. Symptoms for neurofibromatosis type 2 include:
  • Tumors along the eighth cranial nerve (schwannomas).
  • Meningiomas and other brain tumors.
  • Ringing noises inside the ear (tinnitus), hearing loss and/or deafness.
  • Cataracts at a young age.
  • Spinal tumors.
  • Balance problems.
  • Wasting of muscles (atrophy).
Individuals with NF2 develop tumors that grow on the eighth cranial nerves and on the vestibular nerves. These tumors often cause pressure on the acoustic nerves, which result in hearing loss. Hearing loss may begin as early as an individual's teenage years.   What treatments are available for Neurofibromatosis? Neurofibromatosis treatment maximize healthy growth and development. They also help to manage complications as soon as they arise.   Surgery is a treatment for large tumors. When the tumors press on a nerve, surgery can help ease symptoms. Some people may benefit from other therapies, such as stereotactic radiosurgery or medications to control pain.   Interested in learning more? It’s Neurofibromatosis awareness month. Visit the website to learn more.  

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

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  Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month - With the sheer amount of sun exposure we get here in Colorado, it’s very important to make sure you are always wearing your sunscreen! And here is why.   skin cancer awareness   Facts & Figures: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • More than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer were treated in over 3.3 million people in the U.S. in 2012, the most recent year new statistics were available.
  • More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70
  • Actinic keratosis is the most common pre cancer, affecting more than 58 million Americans.
  • The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion: about $4.8 billion for nonmelanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma.
  Tips and Tricks to avoid getting too much sun: There are so many easy ways you can prevent skin cancer. Whether it’s applying sunscreen regularly, covering your skin and wearing UV protective clothing, or just choosing a shady spot to have your outdoor picnic, it’s easy to limit the amount of sun you get. The following are a few ideas on how you can avoid skin cancer:
  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Avoid getting a sunburn at all costs.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
  For more information about skin cancer and your sun exposure, talk to your doctor.

Huntington’s Disease

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huntingtons-disease Huntington's Disease. Those who suffer from Huntington’s Disease have a genetic mutation that triggers the gradual breakdown and death of nerve cells in the brain. The disease is a fatal genetic disorder that deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities and currently has no cure. It is known as the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene. Today, there are approximately 30,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease. Eventually, after roughly 20 to 30 years after the disease appears or is diagnosed, that cell breakdown results in the patient's death, sometimes due to sepsis, pneumonia, or some other complication related to the disease.   What are the physical symptoms of Huntington’s Disease? According to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, often symptoms are described as similar symptoms to ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, sometimes simultaneously. Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 30 to 50, and worsen over a 10 to 25 year period. Everyone has the Huntington’s Disease gene,  but only those that inherit the expansion of the gene will develop the disease and perhaps pass it on to each of their children. Every person who inherits the expanded gene will eventually develop the disease. Over time, Huntington’s Disease affects the individual’s ability to reason, walk and speak. Symptoms Include:

  • Personality changes, mood swings & depression
  • Forgetfulness & impaired judgment
  • Unsteady gait & involuntary movements (chorea)
  • Slurred speech, difficulty in swallowing & significant weight loss
  Still have questions? Makes sure to talk to your doctor if you think you’re having Huntington’s Disease symptoms and/or think you may be at risk.  

What does it mean to have high blood pressure? And what can I do about it?

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high blood pressure   High Blood Pressure is often called a “silent killer”, due to generally having no symptoms. But what does it mean to have high blood pressure?   Blood pressure is when the following two items happen:

  • When the heart pumps blood into the arteries and throughout the circulatory system
  • The force of the arteries as they resist blood flow
  High blood pressure is harmful to the body because it causes the heart to work harder and faster than normal.  When the heart is over-worked for extended periods of time, the heart tends to enlarge and weaken. Arteries also suffer becoming scarred, hardened and less elastic over time. Both leaving the heart and arteries more prone to injury, including an increased the risk of heart attack, stroke, damage to the eyes, kidney failure, atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure.   High blood pressure combined with other risks, such as obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol or diabetes greatly increases the risk for heart attack or stroke.   What does it mean when I have my blood pressure taken at the doctors office?
  • The higher number (also known as systolic pressure) represents the pressure exerted when the heart is beating.  
  • The lower number, or diastolic pressure, represents the pressure exerted when the heart is at rest between beats.
  The systolic pressure is always stated first and blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg.  For example, a blood pressure reading of 120 over 80 means that your systolic pressure is 122 mm Hg and your diastolic pressure is 80 mm Hg.   What are the causes of high blood pressure? According to the CDC, the cause of high blood pressure is largely unknown, although there are certain risk factors that increase an individual’s chance for developing high blood pressure:
  • Heredity
  • Race
    • African Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure)
  • Gender
    • Men have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure than women until age 55.  However, at over the age of 75, women are more likely to develop high blood pressure than men
  • Sodium sensitivity (salt)
  • Obesity and overweight
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetics or individuals with gout or kidney disease
  • Heredity
    • individuals whose parents had/have high blood pressure are more at risk
  • Age
    • the older people get, the more prone to high blood pressure
  • Some medications
    • always tell your doctor about every medication you are taking – some medications increase blood pressure, others may interfere with the effectiveness of antihypertensive drugs
If you have concerns about high blood pressure, make sure to make an appointment with your doctor to have you blood pressure checked, and to discuss treatment options if you do have high blood pressure.