Month: April 2015

Understanding and Managing Stress: Your Health Depends on it!

Understanding and Managing Stress: Your Health Depends on it!April is Stress Awareness Month, and even though it’s almost May, it’s never too late to learn about stress and how harmful it can be to your body. Stress is difficult to define because it is so different for each of us.

Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened. When you sense danger—whether real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in an automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight-or-freeze” reaction, or the stress response. This response is the body’s way of protecting you. It helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself or pushing you to jump out of the way of an on-coming car.

Stress happens when people feel like they can’t manage the demands in their lives. It can be short-term or long-term. Being late for work or arguing with your partner can cause short-term stress. Financial problems or job trouble can cause long-term stress. Even happy events, like having a baby or buying a house can cause stress.

Problems arise from feeling stressed for a long time. It can seriously damage your mental and physical health. The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones; these hormones make blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels go up. Long-term stress can help cause a variety of health problems, including:

  • Mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart beats
  • Menstrual problems
  • Skin problems

Everyone reacts to stress differently, but here are some common signs:

  • Not eating or over eating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of focus
  • Trouble getting things done
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Short temper
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • Back pain
  • General aches and pains

Try these tips to keep stress in check:

  • Get organized
  • Set limits
  • Take deep breaths
  • Stretch
  • Take time for yourself
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat right
  • Get moving
  • Connect with others
  • Get help from a professional if you need it

Even though it may seem hard to find ways to cope with stress with your busy life, it’s important to find those ways. Your health depends on it. Read more online at:

Diverticulitis: Symptoms and Treatments

Diverticulitis: Symptoms and TreatmentsWhen pouches form in the wall of the colon and become inflamed or infected, it is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is a very painful condition that in serious cases can require surgery.

Doctors aren’t sure what causes diverticula in the colon (diverticulosis). Diverticulitis happens when feces get trapped in the pouches (diverticula), allowing bacteria to grow and can lead to inflammation or infection.

Signs and symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • Pain, which may be constant and persist for several days. Pain is usually felt in the lower left side of the abdomen, but may occur on the right, especially in people of Asian descent.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Constipation or, less commonly, diarrhea

Several factors may increase the risk of developing diverticulitis:

  • Aging – The incidence of diverticulitis increases with age.
  • Obesity – Being seriously overweight increases the odds of developing diverticulitis. Morbid obesity may increase your risk of needing more-invasive treatments for diverticulitis.
  • Smoking – People who smoke cigarettes are more likely than nonsmokers to experience diverticulitis.
  • Lack of exercise – Vigorous exercise appears to lower the risk of diverticulitis. * High-fat, low-fiber diet – Although the role of low fiber alone isn’t clear.
  • Certain medications – Several drugs are associated with an increased risk of diverticulitis, including steroids, opiates, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

Diverticulitis is usually diagnosed during an acute attack. Treatment depends on the severity of signs and symptoms.

If symptoms are mild, your doctor is likely to recommend:

  • Antibiotics
  • A liquid diet for a few days while you heal
  • An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen

If you have a severe attack or have other health problems, treatment generally involves:

  • Intravenous antibiotics
  • Insertion of a tube to drain an abscess, if one has formed

You may need surgery to treat diverticulitis if:

  • You have a complication, such as perforation, abscess, fistula, or bowel obstruction
  • You have had multiple episodes of uncomplicated diverticulitis
  • You are immune compromised

If you are experiencing symptoms of diverticulitis or have already been diagnosed with it, contact Dr. Johnson for an appointment. He can advise you of treatment options for your case. Read more online at:

Bilirubin: What it is and What it does

Bilirubin: What it is and What it doesBilirubin is a yellowish pigment found in bile, a fluid made by the liver. A small amount of older red blood cells are replaced by new blood cells every day. Bilirubin is left after these older blood cells are removed. The liver helps break down bilirubin so that it can be removed from the body in the stool. Bilirubin can be found in two forms in the body – direct bilirubin, which is soluble and indirect bilirubin, which is insoluble. All people have bilirubin in the body, but if the levels of this substance go very high from things like liver failure, Gilbert syndrome, gallbladder infections, and certain medications, it could lead to several health problems, some of which could include jaundice and brain injury.

Since jaundice is very common in children and newborn babies, most doctors monitor their levels of bilirubin. In case of suspected jaundice in adults, doctors may conduct tests and refer to the normal range of this substance in the adult bilirubin chart.

If an adult shows the symptoms of high bilirubin levels such as yellowing of the whites of the eyes or yellowish tinged skin, a doctor may recommend a bilirubin test. Once the results are available, the reading is compared to the bilirubin chart for adults showing whether levels are normal or not. In order to analyze the bilirubin levels in adults, a doctor looks at the values of three things – direct bilirubin, indirect bilirubin, and total bilirubin.

In cases of high bilirubin it is important to begin treatment immediately.

Treatment can include:

  • Medications
  • Liver transplant

If you have been diagnosed with high bilirubin levels or are noticing the symptoms, schedule a consultation with Dr. Johnson to find the best treatment options for you.

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Critical Questions to Ask your Surgeon

Critical Questions to Ask your SurgeonMillions of Americans have surgery each year, and well-informed patients tend to be more satisfied with the outcome of procedures. It is important to ask questions prior to any medical procedure. Ask your doctor to explain the answers clearly and ask for further clarification if you are having trouble understanding an explanation. Consider asking the following:

  • Why is the procedure needed? Ask your doctor to explain why this procedure is being recommended.
  • What are my alternatives? Are medications or nonsurgical treatments options for me?
  • What are the benefits of the surgery, and how long will they last? It is important to know the specific benefits for you. Also ask how long the benefits typically last.
  • What are the risks and possible complications? Surgery always carries some risks, so it is important to weigh the benefits against the risks.
  • What happens if you do not have the operation? If you decide not to have the operation, what will happen?
  • What is the doctor’s experience in doing this procedure? Choose a doctor who is thoroughly trained and experienced in doing the procedure. Ask about his or her experience with the procedure, including the number of times they’ve done it, and their record of successes, as well as complications.
  • Should I get a second opinion? Getting a second opinion can be an important step in ensuring that this option is right for you. (Of course, in the case of emergency surgeries, treatment should happen as quickly as possible. The necessity of getting a second opinion should always be weighed against the severity and urgency of the medical condition.)
  • What can I expect during recovery? You need to know how long you will be hospitalized and what limitations will be placed on you. Knowing ahead of time what to expect will help you to cope and recover more quickly following the surgery.

If you need an experienced General Surgeon, contact Dr. Johnson for a consultation.

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