A colonoscopy is an exam used to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (your colon) and rectum. During a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube (colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows the doctor to view the inside of the entire colon. If necessary, polyps or other types of abnormal tissue can be removed through the scope during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken during a colonoscopy as well. Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to:
- Investigate intestinal signs and symptoms. A colonoscopy can help your doctor explore possible causes of abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea and other intestinal problems.
- Screen for colon cancer. If you're age 50 or older and at average risk of colon cancer — you have no colon cancer risk factors other than age — your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy every 10 years or sometimes sooner to screen for colon cancer. Colonoscopy is one option for colon cancer screening. Talk with your doctor about your options.
- Look for more polyps. If you have had polyps before, your doctor may recommend a follow-up colonoscopy to look for and remove any additional polyps. This is done to reduce your risk of colon cancer.
What is Colorectal cancer? And why should we care about it? Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older. The good news? If everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to encourage people to get screened. March is Colorectal cancer awareness month. The more people know about it, the better! If you have questions about colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about getting screened. And if you are 50 and older schedule your screening today!
Anxiety disorders are extremely common. An anxiety disorder is a medical condition that interferes with your life. It can make it difficult for you to handle your job or school responsibilities, do daily tasks, concentrate, and establish and maintain personal relationships. It might even make it difficult for you to leave your home or get out of bed. Untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to even more severe, even life-threatening conditions, including: Depression Anxiety disorder and depression often occur together. They have similar symptoms and can be difficult to tell apart. Both can cause agitation, insomnia, the inability to concentrate, and feelings of anxiety. Substance abuse If you have anxiety disorder, you are at increased risk for addiction to many substances. These include alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs. If you have depression along with anxiety disorder, your risk increases. Often, people with anxiety use alcohol and other substances to relieve their symptoms. There is no evidence that alcohol actually relieves anxiety, but the belief that it does can bring some relief. Some people report temporary relief from anxiety while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. However, long-term alcohol use can cause biological changes that may actually produce anxiety. People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social phobia are especially at risk for alcohol and drug abuse. Smoking and substance abuse are also common in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Adolescents with PTSD also have an increased risk of eating disorders. Physical illness Anxiety disorder increases your risk of developing certain illnesses. Chronic stress, which may be associated with anxiety, can compromise your immune system. This makes you more susceptible to infections, such as colds, the flu, and other viral and bacterial diseases. Stress management will probably be an ongoing concern, and symptoms may get worse during periods of acute stress. But with a combination of medication and psychotherapy, most people with anxiety disorder can control their symptoms and live a fairly normal and comfortable life. Suicide According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with mental illness. This can include anxiety. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 4 percent of adults per year in the United States have serious thoughts about suicide. These numbers are higher in people who also have depression. If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or social phobia, you are also at an increased risk for suicide. If you have one of these anxiety disorders along with depression, your risk is even greater.
If something went wrong with your heart, would you know it? Consider watching out for the following problems. Chest Discomfort It’s the most common sign of heart danger. If you have a blocked artery or are having a heart attack, you may feel pain, tightness, or pressure in your chest. Everyone is different and experiences different sensations, but chest discomfort is always a sign that something is wrong. The feeling usually lasts longer than a few minutes. It may happen when you're at rest or when you're doing something physical. Nausea, Indigestion, Heartburn, or Stomach Pain Some people have these symptoms during a heart attack. They may occasionally vomit. Women are more likely to report this type of symptom than men are. Of course, you can have an upset stomach for many reasons that have nothing to do with your heart. It could just be something you ate, after all. But you need to be aware that it can also happen during a heart attack. If you feel this way and you’re at risk for heart problems, let a doctor find out what’s going on, especially if you also have any of the other symptoms on this list. Pain that Spreads to the Arm Another classic heart attack symptom is pain that radiates down the left side of the body. It sometimes starts at the chest and moves outward. You Feel Dizzy or Lightheaded A lot of things can make you lose your balance or feel faint for a moment. Maybe you didn’t have enough to eat or drink, or you stood up too fast. But if you suddenly feel unsteady and you also have chest discomfort or shortness of breath, call a doctor right away. Throat or Jaw Pain By itself, throat or jaw pain probably isn't heart related. More likely, it's caused by a muscular issue, a cold, or a sinus problem. But if you have pain or pressure in the center of your chest that spreads up into your throat or jaw, it could be a sign of a heart attack. Call 911 and seek medical attention to make sure everything is alright. You Get Exhausted Easily If you suddenly feel fatigued or winded after doing something you had no problem doing in the past (like climbing the stairs or carrying groceries from the car) make an appointment with your doctor right away. Extreme exhaustion or unexplained weakness, sometimes for days at a time, can be a symptom of a heart attack, especially for women. Snoring It’s normal to snore a little while you snooze. But unusually loud snoring that sounds like a gasping or choking can be a sign of sleep apnea. That’s when you stop breathing for brief moments several times at night while you are still sleeping. This puts extra stress on your heart. Your doctor can check whether you need a sleep study to see if you have this condition. If you do, you may need a CPAP machine to smooth out your breathing while you sleep. Sweating Breaking out in a cold sweat for no obvious reason could signal a heart attack. If this happens along with any of these other symptoms, call 911 to get to a hospital right away. Don’t try to drive yourself. Irregular Heartbeat It's normal for your heart to race when you are nervous or excited or to skip or add a beat once in awhile. But, if you feel like your heart is beating out of time for more than just a few seconds, or if it happens often, tell your doctor. Most cases it’s nothing but occasionally, it could signal a condition called atrial fibrillation that needs treatment. So ask your doctor to check it out. Questions about these symptoms or your heart health? Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re not at risk.
We saw this video and not only did it warm our hearts, but it got us thinking about how you can get active, lose weight and save a pet all at once. It takes commitment, but pets can help you get on your way to a better life, in all sorts of ways. And here’s why:
- Rather than tempting your beloved with sweets, consider a gift that has more permanence. Search for a poem that describes your feelings and write it on beautiful paper for a handmade Valentine. Or visit www.ShopHeart.org for gift ideas that benefit the American Heart Association.
- Quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts. Bundle up and plan an active outing such as sledding, ice skating, gathering wood for a fire, or if you’re feeling adventurous, visit an indoor rock wall.
- If your kids are having a Valentine’s Day party at their school or day care, instead of sending candies, consider raisins, grapes, whole-grain pretzels, colored pencils or stickers as tokens of their friendly affection.
- Cooking at home is an excellent way to control what and how much you eat. Take a date to a local cooking class to practice your skills or learn a new technique.
- Prepare a romantic candlelit dinner at home using one of our heart-healthy recipes.
- Give to one another by giving back. Ask a date to volunteer with you at a local organization. Giving back is a healthy habit that can boost your mood and help beat stress.
- Use this day as an opportunity to tell your loved one how important they are to you, and share ways that you can support each other’s health and wellness. Get started by taking the My Life Check Assessment.
- Craving something sweet? Gift a beautiful fresh fruit basket to your loved one instead of giving sweets with added sugars.
- Sharing is caring – if you go out for a romantic dinner date, order one entrée to share. Many restaurant servings are enough for two – splitting will keep you from overdoing it.
- Don’t forget to love Fido, too! Give your pet a Valentine and remember to walk or exercise them daily – getting active with your pet will benefit your health and your bond with your pets.
- Take it slow – if you receive a luxurious box of chocolates from your sweetie, stick it in the freezer and enjoy in moderation over the next several weeks.
- Take a long, romantic walk with your beloved – and try to make it a regular habit. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week to help keep your heart healthy. You can reach this goal by walking briskly for at least 30 minutes five days each week.
- Check out our tips for healthier preparation methods for cooking.
- Rekindle an old flame – try preparing one of your sweetie’s favorite recipes in a healthier way. These healthy substitutions can help you cut down on saturated fats, trans fats, salt (sodium), and added sugars, while noticing little, if any, difference in taste.
Looking for healthy game day recipes to celebrate the Super Bowl this Sunday? Take a look at a few of the resources we put together for you to help you keep track of your diet while watching the game. The Food Network: The Food Network has put together a great “Made-Over Game-Day Classics" selection to keep you healthy. Food & Wine: The Food & Wine website has listed several “healthy game day snacks” and recipes associated with each. Health.com: Health.com offers healthy alternatives to your favorite Super Bowl options. Love and Lemons: This great little blog put together a few recipes to keep you thinking about healthier options during game day. Hope you have a wonderful and healthy game day celebration!
Did you know that January 30th is World Leprosy Day? Leprosy is Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms and legs. The disease has been around since ancient times, often surrounded by terrifying, negative stigmas and tales of leprosy patients being shunned as outcasts. Outbreaks of leprosy have affected, and panicked, people on every continent. The oldest civilizations of China, Egypt, and India feared leprosy was an incurable, mutilating, and contagious disease. However, leprosy is actually not that contagious. You can catch it only if you come into close and repeated contact with nose and mouth droplets from someone with untreated leprosy. Children are more likely to get leprosy than adults. World Leprosy Day was initiated in 1954 by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau, as a way to raise global awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and cured. For more information on Leprosy and the history of Leprosy, read more at Leprosy.org.
Studies have shown that a diet high in folate-rich foods (such as broccoli, mushrooms, avocado, just to name a few) can help prevent cancer, heart disease, birth defects, anemia and cognitive decline. Are you getting enough folate from your diet? Mean dietary intakes of folate (including food folate and folic acid from fortified foods and supplements) range from 454 to 652 micrograms per day in U.S. adults and from 385 to 674 micrograms in children. Keep in mind that adults need about 400 micrograms daily, and children need roughly 300 micrograms. The following is a list of a few common signs that you may be suffering from a folate deficiency:
- Poor immune function; frequently getting sick
- Chronic low energy (including chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Poor digestion; issues like constipation, bloating and IBS
- Developmental problems during pregnancy and infancy, including stunted growth
- Canker sores in the mouth and a tender, swollen tongue
- Changes in mood, including irritability
- Pale skin
- Premature hair graying
- Pregnant women or women looking to become pregnant
- Breast-feeding mothers
- Anyone with liver disease
- Anyone on kidney dialysis
- Anyone taking medications for diabetes
- Those frequently using diuretics or laxatives
- Anyone taking methotrexate
Your thyroid is a small gland at the base of your neck that makes thyroid hormone (found just below your Adam's apple). Thyroid hormone controls many activities in your body, including how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. Diseases of the thyroid cause it to make either too much or too little of the hormone. Depending on how much or how little hormone your thyroid makes, you may often feel restless or tired, or you may lose or gain weight. Generally, women are more likely than men to have thyroid diseases, especially right after pregnancy and after menopause. You may want to talk to your doctor about getting your thyroid tested if you:
- Had a thyroid problem in the past
- Had surgery or radiotherapy affecting the thyroid gland
- Have a condition such as goiter, anemia, or type 1 diabetes