Skip to content
Pentucket Medical has switched to a new electronic medical record called Partners eCare. What does this mean for you?
Menu
express care logo
Riverwalk:
mins
Andover:
mins

Cold and Flu Season is Here

Fall is here and along with all the Halloween decorations and pumpkin flavored coffees comes the cold and flu season. 

cold-flu-season-here-merrimack-valley

We all have to tough through a cold from time to time but how do we know when it’s more than just  a cold. The common cold usually presents with a mild fever (if any) as well as scratchy throat, nasal congestion and dry cough.  These symptoms are mild, develop slowly over a couple of days and resolve within a week or so.  The flu’s symptoms come on much more abruptly and are much more severe.  If you find yourself experiencing a rapid onset of fevers, chills, body aches, and fatigue along with more than mild cold symptoms you may have the flu.  Continue reading “Cold and Flu Season is Here”

Parenting in an age of personal devices

For decades parents have worried about the amount of time their children spend in front of electronic media. 

Many of today’s parents grew up in the 1980’s and 90’s, when their parents worried about a per-child average of 3 hours a day spent watching network and cable TV. 

Many of those kids have become parents to children growing up in a world of wireless media and limitless bandwidth. New channels of connectivity are literally reshaping our children, socially and developmentally and physically. The average total screen time for children today is an astonishing 7 hours per day, and of course there are many more types of screens. 

From a health standpoint, there are significant concerns about children’s use of handhelds, whether these are smartphones or tablets. 

Clinical concerns include: 

Posture

A human head weighs about 12 pounds, and when standing up straight, it puts that amount of stress on the spine. But as we look down, the strain increases, to as much as 60 pounds as the chin nears the chest, which is the most common posture of texting and iPad use.

Repetitive Stress Injury

Holding a phone and tapping out words puts unnatural stress on the tendons and muscles of the thumb and forearm.  Our powerful thumbs evolved for gripping – to put it simply, they are like the bottom half of a pair of pliers. They were never intended for hunting and pecking at tiny letters. Hours of daily texting can lead to tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other debilitating problems. 

Accidents

Another real physical risk involving mobile media is accidents. More than 3,000 teens die each year in crashes caused by texting while driving. (By comparison, roughly approximately 2,700 teens are killed in drunk driving accidents.) More than 50 percent of teens admit to texting while driving.

Pedestrian injuries related to cell phones ranged from falling off walkways or bridges to walking in front of moving traffic. The study found that in 2010, 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for cell-phone related incidents, as opposed to a mere 559 in 2004.

The attractions of mobile devices are an undeniable challenge to parents who want to limit their children’s screen time, yet there are strategies that can be employed to counter their attraction. 

Enabling and Encouraging Immersive Experiences

You can make a positive impact in your child’s relationship with devices by encouraging them to join in on activities that are engaging and exciting.

  • Team sports
  • Martial arts 
  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Phone-free walks and bicycling
  • Artistic pursuits
  • Music lessons
  • Painting
  • Theater
  • Community based resources
  • Boys & Girls clubs
  • Social service opportunities

Additionally, most mobile devices have options for that will set time limits on session length. These controls are usually found in the “settings” area of the device. 

Finally, engaging children in face-to-face conversation or games is a means of both building child-parent bonds and creating device-free time. Keep in mind that as adults we are far from immune from the distractions of our phones and iPads. 

Leading by example is one of the best ways to ensure that our kids will develop media habits that are reasonable and balanced.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to these issues, speak with your doctor or pediatrician

LYME DISEASE — What, How, When and Prevention.

lyme disease prevention

As Spring approaches and we think about enjoying the beautiful outdoors please keep in mind a few ways to keep you and your family safe from ticks and possible tick borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease. Knowledge is power, and the following is offered as a basic but thorough overview of what you should do to prevent this common and rather serious disease.

The WHAT

Lyme disease is an illness from a tick bite that has 3 stages:

Early localized disease: 3-30 days after a tick bite.

  • A large red ring (larger than 2inches across) or bull’s eye (called erythema migrans) that starts at the site of the tick bite and can last 2 weeks to 2 months. It is not itchy or painful and is seen in 80% of infected people.
  • A flu like illness with fever, headache, chills, fatigue, joint and muscle pain lasting a few days. Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cold symptoms or cough are not typically seen with Lyme disease.

Early disseminated disease: 2-12 weeks after the tick bite in about 20% of people who did not receive treatment will develop these problems.

  • Rashes can be similar but smaller than the primary rash of erythema migrans (chronic migrating redness) with a flu-like illness of fever, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain.
  • Eye problems, meningitis, and palsies of the facial nerves can be seen with or without a flu-like illness.
  • Carditis (heart problems) such as heart block can develop.

Late disease: 6 weeks to 2 yr after the tick bite.

  • Arthritis, most commonly the knee but can be other large joints.
  • Rarely neurological problems develop (weakness, numbing/tingling, memory issues.)

Lyme disease is often diagnosed based on history and exams, as lab testing is not helpful in the first 4 weeks of infection and can be difficult to interpret. It is treated with a 2-4 week course of antibiotics. If you have been treated appropriately in the early stage of Lyme disease you almost never develop the later stages.

lyme-ex

The HOW

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria which is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (in New England, the deer tick). These ticks are very tiny—often the size of a pinhead and do not fly or jump. Tick bites do not hurt or itch. A tick bite can only lead to Lyme disease if the tick is infected with the bacteria and if the tick has been attached longer than 48hrs.

The WHEN

Lyme disease is more common April through October with more than 50% cases occurring during June and July.

PREVENTION

Use repellent

  • Products that contain permethrin or picaridin (Duranon, Congo Tick Spray, Permanone) can be used on clothing and shoes, but not on skin.
  • DEET containing products (20-30%) for children 2mo and older applied on skin (except face and hands) and clothing.

Tick checks

  • Remove all clothing and, if possible shower/bath within 2 hr coming in from area where tick exposure is a concern.
  • Do tick checks especially checking scalp, neck, armpits, and groin.
  • Remove any tick (using tweezers grasp as close to skin as possible and pull gently and steadily straight upwards avoiding twisting and jerking.)
  • Check pets and any outdoor gear.
  • Place clothes in a dryer on high heat for 1 hr to kill any ticks.

A great website with more information is www.cdc.gov/lyme/

Also check with your child’s doctor’s office as they may have more information and handouts.

What You Should Know About Depression.

depression information

Everyone occasionally feels sad. But most of those feelings are related to a trigger and pass within a couple of days but when u have depression it interfers with your daily life, it affects your life and affects the lives of other around you. 

What is depression and what are the symptoms?

Severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life, lasting longer than 2 weeks, is something you need to be concerned about.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness. 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, including sex. 
  • Difficulty concentrating and complaints of poor memory. 
  • Insomnia or oversleeping. 
  • Appetite changes, which may include weight gain or loss. 
  • Fatigue, lack of energy. 
  • Thoughts of suicide or death. 
  • Slow speech; slow movements.
  • Sleep disturbances.

Why does it happen? Is it my fault I am depressed?

Most likely not. Lot of factors like Genes, Stress, and neurohormones are most likely the cause of depression.

Factors causing and affecting depression include:

  • Genetic factors- many studies have shown its familial. Family, twin, and adoption studies provide very solid and consistent evidence that MDD is a familial disorder and that this familiality is mostly or entirely due to genetic factors.
  • Stress – ongoing or recent stress due to interpersonal adversities, including childhood sexual abuse, other lifetime trauma, low social support, marital problems, and divorce.
  • Cortisol – some subjects with MDD do show abnormalities of that axis of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
  • Serotonin and GABA – the neurohormones implicated are serotonin and GABA. Reduced central serotonin and GABA both have been associated with mood congruent memory bias, altered reward-related behaviors, and disruption of inhibitory affective processing.

 

If you have any questions anytime about depression, depression care, need help or advise, please feel free to call me.

Tapasya Srivastava, MD, MPH

Phone: 978-794-2112

Pentucket Medical – North Andover

Other resources available for you are:

Counseling Associates of Dracut and Methuen

Phone: 978-683-0133

 Arbour Haverhill

Phone: 978-373-7010

Emily Bergeron, MA, LMHC – Therapist

Located in Pentucket Medical, Haverhill

Phone: 978-794-5401

Pentucket Medical Celebrates Walking Day!

walkingchallenge

We are proud to celebrate National Walking Day by kicking off the 4th annual Walking Challenge amongst the staff here at Pentucket Medical!

The Walking Challenge is a practice-wide event to get employees moving.  There are approximately 10-20 teams each year that participate.  Each team, comprised of 5 employees, is asked to select a team captain and a snappy name (these names are always very creative.)    Each team member wears a pedometer and tracks the steps they take each week.  The steps are then sent to HR and converted to miles.  The miles are then plotted out on a map of the United States.  There are certain checkpoints throughout the journey.  At each check point a few fun facts are disclosed.  A status report is then sent out weekly to highlight where teams are and to further motivate team progress. 

The walking challenge was initially created to provide increased employee engagement and to promote a healthy lifestyle.   People tend to get up and move more to increase their steps.  There is friendly competition between the teams and even within each team.  

In earlier years the winners was determined by the most miles walked as a team.  Due to the varying levels of participation, (we want everyone to participate and feel they have a chance to win even if they don’t walk 10 miles a day) the winner is now determined by a drawing.  Teams that consistently report their steps will  be put into a drawing at the end of the challenge.  The top 3 teams will win a prize. The prize is usually comprised of healthy snacks, water and other things. With all the health benefits to walking – everyone walks away a winner. 

Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:

  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes
     

There really are so many benefits for such a simple activity!

NATIONAL POISON PREVENTION WEEK

national poison prevention weekDid you know that poisonings are the #1 cause of injury related death in the US—most due to drug misuse or abuse?

  • In 2013 there were 2.2 million calls to Poison Control Centers concerning human related exposures to poisons with just under ½ of these calls concerning children under 6 yr old.
  • In 2013 more than 90% poisonings occurred at home.
  • In 2013 more than 70% of the calls to Poison Centers were treated at home thus saving billions of dollars in healthcare expenditure at emergency rooms.

Did you know there are 55 Poison Control Centers across the United States and they are available 24/7 every day of the year?

Poison Control Centers receive only a fraction of their funding through the federal government and have had significant funding cuts. Much of their funding is through state governments, hospital, and other agencies.

Did you know there is no such thing as a POISON PROOF home or environment? Children are often very capable of getting into what we, as adults, think are “child-proof”. ANY medication (prescription or over-the-counter) and almost any household product is potentially poisonous and capable of causing harm in some way.

KEEP 1-800-222-1222 programmed into your mobile phone and this number readily accessible by your home phone in case of any possible poisoning. AND CALL! They will give you advice on how best to handle the situation. It could not only be life saving it could be cost saving!

Measles at Disneyland…what’s the big deal??

measles outbreak

Measles, or Rubeola, is a BIG deal! Although “endemic measles” was declared eliminated in the US in 2000, we continue to see “mini-outbreaks” here in the US. And, measles is still one of the leading causes of death among young children (145,700 deaths globally in 2013) in underdeveloped nations. Here in the US, between 1953-63, an average of 549,000 measles cases and 400 measles related deaths were reported each year. However, it was estimate that 3-4 million cases of measles occurred each year! The measles vaccine was licensed in 1963 (and the MMR in 1971) and since then we have seen a dramatic decrease in the illness-and its complications, including death! The last death related to measles illness in the US was in 2003.

THE ILLNESS

  • Measles is highly contagious—even 4 days before you are sick you can spread the disease!
  • Measles causes a high fever, fatigue, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes and a rash. The rash typically comes 3-5 days into the illness and spreads from the head on down. Measles infection is more serious in children under 5yr old and adults over 20 yr old.
  • Complications such as ear infections leading to deafness, pneumonia, severe diarrhea and possible dehydration, or a brain swelling illness called encephalitis can occur in 2-3 out of 1,000 with measles and 1-3 out of 1000 infected with measles may die. A rare complication from measles leading to a fatal disease of the central nervous system developing 7-10 yr AFTER the infection can also occur, especially in children under 2 yr of age who get measles.

PREVENTION

  • The measles vaccine (only available as the MMR—measles, mumps, and rubella) is a safe and highly effective vaccine. Given at 12mo and a booster at 4-6yr of age (although can be given earlier as long as 4 weeks apart) provides close to 99% protection! One dose is felt to be 95% effective but a second dose is given as up to 5% will “lose” protection. And some people cannot get the vaccine—children under 12mo (doesn’t work as well), immunocompromised children (cancers, transplant patients, immune deficiencies), and pregnant women.
  • HERD IMMUNITY – This is an important aspect of public health—for ALL of us! The more of us who have the vaccine means the less likely the disease will occur and thus protect those who may not be able to GET the vaccine (not chose not to get it!) or didn’t develop immunity to the disease. It also means the more of us who opt NOT TO GET the vaccine the less effective the vaccine may become in our community.

VACCINE SAFETY

  • There is NO LINK between the MMR and autism. The vaccine is safe and adverse effects are mild and include the following, typically 6-14 days after the shot and less likely after the second shot: -fever (1 in 6) -mild rash (1 in 20) -swelling of the glands in the neck or cheek (1 in 75) -seizure caused by a high fever (1 in 3,000)

Rare adverse effects include temporary decrease in platelet count which can lead to a problem with bleeding (1 out of 30,000 doses) or an allergic reaction (1 in 1 million doses).
Vaccines are one of the most important aspects of being healthy and one of the most important things we can do for our children. So before you say NO think about it…you may not only be helping your own child, but all our children, grow up to be healthy!
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt07-measles.html
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/measles/default.htm#safety
http://vec.chop.edu/service/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-safety/
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/MMR/MMR.html

Cervical Health Awareness

cervical health awareness month

Here are just a few facts about cervical health that you might not be aware of:

  • Every year, more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States.
  • 91 percent of women who catch cervical cancer in its early stages survive.
  • Cervical cancer is most common in women 35-44 years of age.
  • Six out of ten women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer have never had a pap smear.

Can I Reduce my Risk of Cervical Cancer?

The answer is yes. There are many things women can do to reduce the risk of getting cervical cancer, including:

  • Get pap smears regularly – Pap smears detect cervical changes prior to cancer forming. Check with your physician about how often you should get a pap smear.
  • Follow up after having an abnormal pap smear – Follow up tests or colposcopies are necessary if you have an abnormal pap smear.
  • Practice safe sex – Women with fewer sexual partners and women who practice safe sex decrease their risk of developing HPV, which is one of the causes of cervical cancer.
  • Get vaccinated – The HPV vaccine prevents the formation of high-risk strains of HPV. The vaccine is most effect for young women who are not sexually active. If you are older than 27, you might not be eligible for the vaccine.

 

Contact a physician to get more information on cervical cancer.

Diabetes Awareness

information on diabetes

by Kelly Sinclair, MS, RD, CDE

Type 2 diabetes is a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people.

Here are just a few of the recent statistics on diabetes:

  • Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, about 9% of the population.
  • Of the 30 million with diabetes, 8 million people do not yet know they have the disease.
  • Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

People with prediabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The American Diabetes Association has developed a 5 minute test you can take to check your own risk for Type 2 diabetes. Follow the link below:

http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test/

There are things you can do to significantly lower your risk of developing diabetes:

  • Lose 5-10% of your weight. For a 200 pound person that would be 10 to 20 pounds. Weight loss is the number one way to prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Move your body almost every day. Choose activities that you enjoy and get your heart rate up like brisk walking, jogging, dancing, and swimming.  If you haven’t exercises in a while start with 5 or 10 minutes every other day.  The goal is 30 minutes 5 days per week.  Exercise burns up calories and will help you reach your weight loss goal.
  • Eat 3 non starchy vegetables and 2 fruit servings each day. A serving is about ½ cup. Eating lower calorie vegetables and fruits can help you to lower your weight. Non starchy vegetables (everything except corn, peas, and potatoes) are so low in calories you can eat multiple servings! Add them to every meal to help you feel full.
  • Meet with a certified diabetes educator to help you get started. We are here to help you reach your goals and answer your questions.

Preventing and Controlling Diabetic Foot Problems

Preventing and Controlling Diabetic Foot Problems

by Joan Hultgren, RD, LDN, CDE

What types of foot problems are more likely seen with diabetes?

  1. Neuropathy (Nerve damage)

Neuropathy is one of the most common foot problems associated with diabetes.

Symptoms can include tingling, pain, burning, stinging and foot weakness.   Over time, the nerve damage can lower the ability to feel temperature changes and pain.  Without knowing it, burns, cuts or broken skin can occur. Items on the ground can get lodged in the foot and lead to complications.

Additionally the nerve damage can change the shape of the foot.  Special shoes designed with wider and higher toe boxes can allow deformed feet from being further damaged.

  1. Callouses

Foot callouses can occur more often and build up faster with diabetes.  Callouses, if not trimmed, thicken and turn into open sores (foot ulcers).   To avoid burns and infections from doing home foot “surgery” and using over the counter remedies, it is best to have callouses safely removed by a podiatrist.

  1. Skin changes:

    Dry, peeling and cracked skin may occur because the nerves that control the oil and moisture in the foot are no longer working.  Healthy skin is one of the ways the body is able to fight infection.  Keep feet clean and use lotion.

  2. Poor Circulation:

    Diabetes causes the blood vessels of the feet and legs to narrow and harden making it difficult to fight infection and heal adequately.  Feeling may be compromised, leading to difficulty in determining hot and cold sensations.

  3. Foot ulcers: 

    Ulcers can form from poorly fitting shoes.  They most often occur on the ball of the foot or on the bottom of the big toe. They may or may not hurt.  It is extremely important that the ulcer is examined by a health care provider. X-rays may be needed to determine if the infection has reached the bone.  Keeping pressure off the foot is key to healing.  The foot needs to be cared for long after the ulcer heals.

  4. Amputation:

    Rates are higher with diabetes due to nerve damage and peripheral artery disease, both of which reduce blood flow.  Complications requiring amputation can be greatly reduced by controlling blood glucose and blood pressure, and by not smoking.

What can be done to prevent any problems?

  • Work with your doctors and certified diabetes educators to keep blood glucose levels and blood pressure under control.
    • Additional medications, weight loss and exercise will all help.
  • Check feet daily for blisters, redness and cracked skin.  Call your healthcare provider immediately if the area looks red, is swollen or worse than the day before.
  • Moisturize the feet with lotion, but limit the amount of lotion in between toes to avoid infection.
  • Wash feet daily, but avoid soaking as this can further dry the feet.
  • Avoid walking barefoot!
  • Walk to improve circulation.
  • Find ways to stop smoking! This will greatly improve circulation.
  • Make an appointment with a podiatrist for foot inspections, nail care, foot appliances and shoes to help limit complications.

 

Written by : Joan Hultgren RD LDN CDE   (Certified Diabetes Educator)                                                       

Program Coordinator Pentucket Medical Associates
November 2014