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Acute & Chronic Illnesses

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Conducting screenings and managing acute and chronic diseases is just another part of the primary care services our physicians provide. Usually, your primary care physician can handle most conditions and diseases, without the need to visit a specialist.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious problem in the United States, with around 23.6 million people diagnosed with the condition. Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin (a naturally occurring hormone) or can’t use the insulin properly. Since there are two types of diabetes, it’s important to understand the characteristics of each. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a result of the body resisting insulin. This occurs when you have too much glucose circulating within your body and not enough insulin to metabolize it. Around 90-95% of people who are diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.

While there is no current cure for diabetes, you can still live a long and healthy life by adhering to a lifestyle that includes eating healthy, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. If need be, medications and insulin therapy are also used to manage blood sugar levels. The following are ways you can manage diabetes:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Check or monitor blood sugar level (blood glucose level)
  • Take your medicine as prescribed (insulin injections, insulin pens or insulin pumps)
  • Avoid hypoglycemia by eating proper foods regularly

Complications of Diabetes

If blood sugar isn’t controlled, diabetes can become a dangerous and life-threatening disease. Over a period of time, high blood sugar levels can damage eyesight, blood vessels, nerves and kidneys. The following complications from diabetes include:

  • Blindness and vision loss
  • Heart disease
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage (called diabetic neuropathy)
  • In severe cases, parts of the foot or lower leg may have to be amputated (removed)
  • Kidney disease (called diabetic nephropathy)

Good news about Diabetes

It’s important to remember that diabetic complications can most often be prevented by adapting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and controlling your blood sugar. Millions of people with diabetes live healthy, happy and productive lives.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability due to life-altering events like strokes and heart attacks. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, which life unchecked, can often surface as a heart attack. The team of primary care physicians at Longwood Family Health perform tests and treat heart disease and disorders with treatment including maintenance medications, diet and lifestyle programs.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

As the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, it’s important to know what the risks are for heart disease:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Excess weight
  • Inactivity (sedentary lifestyle)
  • Other health problems (such as diabetes)

Ways to Lower the Risk of Heart Disease

If you, your family or someone close to you may be at risk for heart disease, here are some important lifestyle habits to keep in mind:

  • Keep blood sugar level under control
  • Control blood pressure through diet and exercise, or medications
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Increase physical activity
  • Lose weight and keep it off
  • Lower cholesterol level
  • Don’t smoke

Asthma

Asthma is a disease that affects the lungs, specifically, the airways to the lungs. For people who suffer from asthma, the airways to their lungs are extra sensitive to allergens (things they’re allergic to) and to other irritating things in the air (called irritants). Symptoms of asthma start when allergens or irritants cause the lining of the airways to become inflamed (swollen) and narrow. This makes breathing very difficult as the muscles around the airways begin to spasm, causing the airways to narrow even more.  An ‘asthma attack’ occurs when the lining of the airways comes so inflamed it produces a large amount of mucus, clogging the airways and blocking the flow of air. 

Living with asthma isn’t easy, but it can be controlled by following these steps:

  • Keep track of your asthma symptoms
  • Pay attention to warning signs (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath)
  • Avoid allergens and irritants (food, nature, smells, animals, mold, perfume, etc.)
  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Use air conditioning if allergic to mold or pollen
  • Keep windows of car and home closed
  • Change air filters in home and car
  • Dust and clean home and car
  • Remove items that collect excess amounts of dust
  • Use dehumidifier
  • Wash bedding often
  • Keep pets (if allergic) out of room
  • Take controller medications regularly (Inhaled corticosteroids, cromolyn and nedocromil OR newer medicines, called anti-leukotrienes, are also used to prevent asthma attacks. These include montelukast, zafirlukast and zileuton.)
  • Use rescue medications, like an inhaler, to relax muscles (Inhaled bronchodilators are rescue medicines. They can be used on a regular basis or only when they are needed to quickly reduce symptoms.)
  • Use a peak flow meter to measure level

Arthritis

In short, arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints yet can be classified as one of more than 100 different kinds. Arthritis occurs due to cartilage breakdown, which typically protects the joint, allowing smooth movement and absorbing shock during such activities as walking. Without protection, the bones rub against each other, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

There are specific signs of arthritis, indicating if the pain, swelling, redness are indicators of the bones rubbing together. Signs of arthritis are, of course, the pain, but also redness and warmth around the joint and limited movement, especially at certain times of the day. There are many tests and specific medical questions that can be performed to determine if the joint pain or irritation is arthritis, and help pinpoint exactly which type of arthritis is occurring. Blood tests and joint x-rays are often done to check for infection and other causes of arthritis, as it is common for another illness to trigger arthritis symptoms. It is also possible to remove a sample of joint fluid with a needle and send it to a lab for examination.

Most common types of arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Gonococcal arthritis
  • Gout
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (in children)
  • Other bacterial infections (nongonococcal bacterial arthritis)
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis (Reiter syndrome)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (in adults)
  • Scleroderma
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Common causes of joint inflammation, which can be acute or chronic, can be from the following:

  • An autoimmune disease
  • Broken bone
  • General "wear and tear" on joints
  • Infection, usually by bacteria or virus
  • Osteoarthritis (most common type)

The skilled medical team at Longwood Family Health can handle a litany of symptoms related to several types of arthritis. Our most common treatments to control chronic arthritis, manage pain and improve function are the following:

  • Synvisc Knee Injections for Osteoarthritis
  • Steroid Injections

Additionally, many lifestyle changes related to diet, exercise and sleep, physical therapies, medications and surgery are also possible treatments to consider.

To learn more about the services provided at Longwood Family Health, call 407.862.3400, or request an appointment on our website.