Health Information

Below are some free health information and tips


Also called: Diabetes mellitus, DM
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Pregnant women can also get diabetes, called gestational diabetes.

A blood test can show if you have diabetes. Exercise, weight control and sticking to your meal plan can help control your diabetes. You should also monitor your glucose level and take medicine if prescribed.
What should I do each day to stay healthy with diabetes?

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Also called: Clinical depression, Dysthymic disorder, Major depressive disorder, Unipolar depression Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It's more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps”? or “blue”? for a few days. If you are one of the more than 20 million people in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include:
  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Change in weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Energy loss
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is a disorder of the brain. There are a variety of causes, including genetic, environmental, psychological, and biochemical factors. Depression usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30, and is much more common in women. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Depression is one part of bipolar disorder.

There are effective treatments for depression, including antidepressants and talk therapy. Most people do best by using both.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Back Pain

Also called: Backache, Lumbago
If you've ever groaned, “Oh, my aching back!”?, you are not alone. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Back pain is called chronic if it lasts for more than three months.

Most back pain goes away on its own, though it may take awhile. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and resting can help. However, staying in bed for more than 1 or 2 days can make it worse.

If your back pain is severe or doesn't improve after three days, you should call your health care provider. You should also get medical attention if you have back pain following an injury.

Treatment for back pain depends on what kind of pain you have, and what is causing it. It may include hot or cold packs, exercise, medicines, injections, complementary and alternative treatments, and sometimes surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases


A colonoscopy is an exam of the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract, which is called the colon or large intestine (bowel). Colonoscopy is a safe procedure that provides information other tests may not be able to give. Patients who require colonoscopy often have questions and concerns about the procedure.

Reasons for Colonoscopy
The most common reasons for colonoscopy are:
  • To screen for colon polyps (growths of tissue in the colon) or colon cancer
  • Rectal bleeding
  • A change in bowel habits, like persistent diarrhea
  • Iron deficiency anemia (a decrease in blood count due to loss of iron)
  • A family history of colon cancer
  • A personal history of colon polyps or colon cancer
  • Chronic, unexplained abdominal or rectal pain
  • An abnormal x-ray exam, like a barium enema or CT scan
Colonoscopy Preparation
Before colonoscopy, your colon must be completely cleaned out so that the doctor can see any abnormal areas. This is vitally important to increase the chances that your doctor will identify abnormalities in your colon. If your colon is not completely cleaned out, the chances your doctor will miss abnormalities increases. Your doctor's office will provide specific instructions about how you should prepare for your colonoscopy. Be sure to read these instructions as soon as you get them so you will know how to take the preparation and whether you need to make any changes to your medications or diet. If you have questions, call the doctor's office in advance.

You will need to avoid solid food for at least one day before the test. You should also drink plenty of fluids on the day before the test. You can drink clear liquids (a liquid you can hold up to the light and see through) up to several hours before your procedure, including:

  • Water
  • Clear broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
  • Coffee or tea (without milk)
  • Ices
  • Gelatin such as Jell-o (avoid red gelatin)
Avoid drinking red liquids. Your doctor may also ask you to avoid high fiber foods including seeds and nuts for the week before the procedure.

To clean the colon, you will take a strong laxative and empty your bowels. You may be asked to take the entire preparation the night before the test, or you may be asked to take it in two doses, with the second dose taken four to six hours prior to the colonoscopy. Taking the preparation in two "split" doses may help get the colon even cleaner. This may require you to wake up early in the morning to complete the preparation. The instructions you are given will tell you how you should take the preparation.

A commonly used preparation is a 4-liter (1 gallon) solution that is purchased at the pharmacy with a prescription. There are several low-volume (2- to 3-liter) preparations on the market as well. Some doctors prefer citrate of magnesia (also called magnesium citrate), a 300 mL (10 ounce) bottle that requires no mixing and is over-the-counter. Packets of powdered laxative are available that are mixed with a smaller volume of water. Sodium phosphate-based preparations are now usually avoided due to concerns over safety.

Refrigerating the solution can make it easier to drink, but do not put ice in the solution since it will melt and you will have to drink even more fluid. Drinking the solution through a straw, adding sugar-free powdered flavor packets (eg, Crystal Light), and taking half the preparation the night before and the other half later (four to six hours before your colonoscopy) may also make it easier to drink. Drinking this solution may be the most unpleasant part of the exam. Watery diarrhea is the desired result. This may occur shortly after drinking the solution or may be delayed for several hours. The end result should be diarrhea that looks like urine. If you become nauseated or vomit while drinking the solution, call your doctor or nurse for instructions. Tips that can help with nausea and vomiting include temporarily stopping drinking the solution, walking around, and resuming drinking at a slower pace.

Medicines — You can take most prescription and nonprescription medicines right up to the day of the colonoscopy. Your doctor should tell you what medicines to stop. You should also tell the doctor if you are allergic to any medicines.

Some medicines increase the risk of heavy bleeding if you have a polyp removed during the colonoscopy. Ask your doctor how and when to stop these medicines, including warfarin/Coumadin, clopidogrel/Plavix, or any other anticoagulant (blood thinning) medicine. Do not stop these medications without first talking with your doctor.

When it comes to detecting and preventing colon cancer, no screening option is more effective than a colonoscopy. Follow these steps to lessen the anxiety and make your colonoscopy more comfortable.
1. Get scheduled.
Sometimes, the worst part of a colonoscopy is making the decision to get one then picking up the phone to make the appointment. When scheduling, keep in mind that you will need to take two days off from work, one for the prep day and one for the test.

On test day, your sedation choice may make it unsafe for you to drive or perform work duties. Be sure to have a friend or family member available for transportation to and from your colonoscopy.

Bonus Tip: Schedule the colonoscopy for Monday morning, then you may only miss one day of work and can do the prep on Sunday.
2. Get prepped.
A clean colon makes it easier to find and remove polyps. GI doctors and clinics may have different protocols, be sure tofollow the instructions from your physician and clarify any confusion with your health care provider in advance.
In most cases, cleansing the digestive tract means eating white foods for several days prior and a clear liquid diet on the day before. Stock your kitchen with items like:
  • white rice, pasta, and bread
  • mashed potatoes (no skins)
  • canned fruits and veggies
  • clear fruit juices (apple is best)
  • Jell-o (but avoid red, blue, or purple coloring)
  • clear soft drinks (like Sierra Mist or 7-up, many clinics even allow root beer!)
  • coffee and tea (no milk or creamer)
  • broth

Bonus Tip: Limit your meat consumption for a few days before to ensure the prep your doctor prescribes is effective and works quickly.

Your physician will prescribe a liquid laxative. Unfortunately many people find the solution disagreeable. To help the drink go down:
  • Keep the fluid cold
  • Drink through a straw placed at the back of the mouth
  • Suck on tart hard candies or lemon to mute the taste

Bonus Tip: If the instructions are to mix with another drink (like Gatorade) don’t mix the drink with your favorite flavor – it will no longer be your favorite!

Being close to a bathroom on prep day is essential. Many people find using flushable moistened wipes instead of toilet paper makes the process more comfortable.

Bonus Tip: Apply hemorrhoid cream (or even diaper rash ointment) before starting the prep to protect your skin and ease some discomfort. Then reapply as often as needed.

3. Get zen.
Being relaxed on test day is important. Increased anxiety or fear can make the scoping process less comfortable. Good communication is key. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about sedation, the test process, or managing discomfort.
After your colonoscopy, be sure to ask questions about the results. Your physician will let you know if there were any polyps or signs of cancer. And finally, find out you should have your next colonoscopy or if there are any further steps you need to take.

Bonus Tip: Bring a friend or loved one with you to the test, they will help you stay relaxed and then join you for a bite to eat after the colonoscopy. You will be hungry!

Information on these pages is provided for informational purposes only. Consult your own physician before making any medical decisions.
After Colonoscopy
Although many people worry about being uncomfortable during a colonoscopy, most people tolerate it very well and feel fine afterward. It is normal to feel tired afterward. Plan to take it easy and relax the rest of the day.

Click to download Colonoscopy Patient Information

Heart Diseases

Also called: Cardiac diseases If you're like most people, you think that heart disease is a problem for others. But heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. It is also a major cause of disability. There are many different forms of heart disease. The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called coronary artery disease and happens slowly over time. It's the major reason people have heart attacks.

Other kinds of heart problems may happen to the valves in the heart, or the heart may not pump well and cause heart failure. Some people are born with heart disease.

You can help reduce your risk of heart disease by taking steps to control factors that put you at greater risk:

Control your blood pressure Lower your cholesterol Don't smoke Get enough exercise

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

High Blood Pressure

Also called: Benign essential hypertension, Essential hypertension, HBP, HTN, Hypertension Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure.

Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually the systolic number comes before or above the diastolic number. A reading of

119/79 or lower is normal blood pressure
• 140/90 or higher is high blood pressure
• Between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is called prehypertension. Prehypertension means you may end up with high blood pressure, unless you take steps to prevent it.

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.

You can control high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle habits and taking medicines, if needed.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Exercise and Physical Fitness

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help
  • Control your weight
  • Lower your risk of heart disease
  • Lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Lower your risk of some cancers
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mental health and mood
  • Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you're an older adult
  • Increase your chances of living longer
Fitting regular exercise into your daily schedule may seem difficult at first. But even ten minutes at a time is fine. The key is to find the right exercise for you. It should be fun and should match your abilities.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COPD

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) makes it hard for you to breathe. The two main types are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The main cause of COPD is long-term exposure to substances that irritate and damage the lungs. This is usually cigarette smoke. Air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust can also cause it.

At first, COPD may cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms. As the disease gets worse, symptoms usually become more severe. They include

A cough that produces a lot of mucus Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity Wheezing Chest tightness

Doctors use lung function tests, imaging tests, and blood tests to diagnose COPD. There is no cure. Treatments may relieve symptoms. They include medicines, oxygen therapy, surgery, or a lung transplant. Quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to treat COPD.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


So you're going to have a baby! Whether you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant, you will want to give your baby a healthy start.

You need to have regular visits with your healthcare provider. These prenatal carevisits are very important for your baby and yourself. Some things you might do when you are pregnant could hurt your baby, such as smoking or drinking. Somemedicines can also be a problem, even ones that a doctor prescribed. You will need to drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet. You may also be tired and need more rest.

Your body will change as your baby grows during the nine months of your pregnancy. Don't hesitate to call your health care provider if you think you have a problem or something is bothering or worrying you.

Skin Conditions

Also called: Cutaneous disorders, Dermatologic disorders

Your skin is your body's largest organ. It covers and protects your body. Your skin

  • Holds body fluids in, preventing dehydration
  • Keeps harmful microbes out, preventing infections
  • Helps you feel things like heat, cold, and pain
  • Keeps your body temperature even
  • Makes vitamin D when the sun shines on it
Anything that irritates, clogs, or inflames your skin can cause symptoms such as redness, swelling, burning, and itching. Allergies, irritants, your genetic makeup, and certain diseases and immune system problems can cause rashes, hives, and other skin conditions. Many skin problems, such as acne, also affect your appearance.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

How To Prevent Skin Cancer

People with fair ( light colored) skin are more likely to develop skin cancer after sun exposure. Start protection from the sun now, so that you'll be less likely to develop skin cancer later.

Prevention Tips:

UVB rays are strong between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. . Try to avoid outdoor activities and or minimize summer sun exposure during these hours.

For maximum protection, apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Seek the shade to reduce your risk of skin damage.

For sensitive skin, look for products with the active ingredient titanium dioxide.

Do self-skin exams every month, and see your physician or dermatologist if your sun damage is severe for a professional skin exam.

Sunburn First Aid:

Sunburn can happen fast and often painful resulting in first degree burns. Take a cool shower with Aveeno soothing bath powder, pat dry do not rub skin up and down and apply Aloe vera gel or solarcaine (OTC) to the affected area when the skin is still wet.

Consult your Doctor if you have blisters. Add these antioxidants to your diet. Add these antioxidants to your diet and Prevent skin cancer with these cancer fighting foods and nutrients...
American Cancer Society, American Academy of Dermatology, US Pharmacist July 2016. Remember , if you have questions , Consult Your Pharmacist .

Weight Control

Keeping a healthy weight is crucial. If you are underweight, overweight, or obese, you may have a higher risk of certain health problems.

About two thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Achieving a healthy weight can help you control your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. It might also help you prevent weight-related diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.

Eating too much or not being physically active enough will make you overweight. To maintain your weight, the calories you eat must equal the energy you burn. To lose weight, you must use more calories than you eat. A weight-control strategy might include
  • Choosing low-fat, low-calorie foods
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Drinking water instead of sugary drinks
  • Being physically active
Eating extra calories within a well-balanced diet can help to add weight.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Reflux or GERD?

When Heartburn Spells Trouble

Most of us get heartburn from time to time. It may come as a burning sensation in the chest, or a bitter taste in the back of the throat. Heartburn is one word people use to describe reflux. It happens when stomach contents come back upwards. Reflux is sometimes painless: You may have trouble swallowing or get a dry cough, perhaps some wheezing.

Occasional reflux episodes are normal. Like millions of Americans, you can manage reflux by avoiding foods that don't agree with you””things that are fatty, spicy or acidic””or by eating smaller meals. If reflux occurs less than once a week, you can usually cope by making lifestyle changes or using over-the-counter medications.

“We all have a little reflux when we burp or belch,”? says Dr. John Pandolfino of Northwestern University. But of the 20 million or more Americans with reflux, about 5% have significant episodes 2 or 3 times per day. When severe events occur this often, it's not ordinary reflux. It may be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). You may need prescription medications to control it

GERD should be taken seriously. Stomach (gastric) contents contain acid needed to digest food. In reflux, these contents wash upward into the esophagus, a slender tube connecting the mouth and the stomach. Because the lining of the esophagus isn't meant to touch gastric acid, the acid can irritate the lining of the esophagus and lead to bleeding and scarring. In adults, GERD can raise the risk of cancer of the esophagus. And if you have asthma, GERD can make it worse.

As for babies, reflux is common in healthy infants. Most babies outgrow reflux by 13 months, but if they don't, they too may have GERD.

GERD can harm a child's ability to feed and grow. It can also increase the risk for inhaling stomach contents into the lungs. This can be life-threatening.

People of any age can have GERD. Available medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription, can make the acid in the esophagus less intense. But medications don't prevent GERD. Surgery can be an option if symptoms are severe and medicine and lifestyle changes don't seem to help.

Dr. Michael Raymond Ruggieri, Sr., of Temple University is researching the root causes of GERD. The problem isn't that the stomach makes too much acid. In GERD, the special set of muscles between the esophagus and the stomach is weakened.

“The stomach muscle fibers are not doing their job, and we're trying to understand why they're not,”? says Dr. Ruggieri. His team is among the first to look at how nerves receive and send messages to these muscle fibers. Their goal is to develop drugs that prevent GERD altogether.

If you have reflux twice or more per week, talk to your health care provider. It's best to start treatment early to prevent GERD from leading to more serious health problems.
How To Steer Clear of Reflux:
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Avoid triggering foods, including alcohol.
  • Don't lie down for 3 hours after a meal.
  • Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by putting wood blocks under the bedposts.
  • For an infant, try burping frequently during feeding. Keep the infant upright for 30 minutes after feeding.
  • If you have reflux twice or more per week, see your health care provider
Please avoid these dietary irritants:

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Steps Toward a Healthier Life
People with diabetes have a problem with blood sugar. Their blood sugar, or blood glucose, can climb too high. Having high levels of sugar in your blood can cause a lot of trouble. Diabetes raises your risk for heart disease, blindness, amputations, and other serious issues. But the most common type of diabetes, called type 2 diabetes, can be prevented or delayed if you know what steps to take.

About 29 million Americans, or nearly 1 in 10 people, have diabetes. Many more have a condition called prediabetes. People with prediabetes usually have no symptoms, yet they're at risk for eventually developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Research shows that you can greatly reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes by eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of physical activity, and losing excess weight.

Type 2 diabetes arises because of problems related to a hormone called insulin. When our bodies digest the foods we eat, they're broken down and converted to glucose and other molecules, which then travel through the bloodstream. Insulin signals cells to let glucose in for use as an energy source. When a person has type 2 diabetes, either the body's cells have trouble using insulin, or the body isn't producing enough insulin. As a result, glucose can build up to harmful levels in the blood.
Type 2 diabetes occurs most often in people who are middle-aged or older, but younger people can get it too. “Before the mid- to late-1990s, we almost never saw type 2 diabetes in youth,”? says Dr. Barbara Linder, an NIH expert on childhood diabetes. But now, type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in young people, alongside increasing rates of childhood obesity.
Some factors that raise people's risk for type 2 diabetes are beyond their control. Having an immediate family member with diabetes increases your risk. Type 2 diabetes is also more common in some races or ethnicities, including African-Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanic/Latinos.

People who are overweight, obese, or inactive are also much likelier to develop type 2 diabetes. But these are risk factors that you can change, and doing so will greatly reduce your risk for diabetes.

To understand how weight loss might affect diabetes risk, NIH launched a study in the early 1990s called the Diabetes Prevention Program. Doctors already knew that being overweight or obese was a risk factor for diabetes, but they didn't know if losing weight would reduce that risk.
The study enrolled more than 3,000 people who were overweight and had prediabetes. They were randomly assigned to different groups.

One group met regularly with study staff to focus on healthy behaviors, such as eating fewer calories and exercising more; they aimed to lose at least 7% of their body weight and to do at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Another group received metformin, a drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, along with standard advice on diet and exercise. A control group received standard advice and an inactive placebo pill, which had no drug effects.

After an average of around 3 years, the researchers found that diabetes risk dropped by 58% in the group encouraged to make healthy lifestyle changes. About 38% in that group had achieved and maintained their weight loss goals and 58% their physical activity goals. The group taking metformin was also less likely to develop diabetes; their risk dropped by 31% compared to the control group.
In a follow-up study, both lifestyle changes and metformin continued to reduce the risk of developing diabetes, although their effects declined. After 10 years, people who continued with lifestyle changes delayed diabetes by about 4 years compared to people in the control group. People who continued to take metformin delayed diabetes by about 2 years.

Metformin has long been used and approved for treating type 2 diabetes. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved the drug for preventing type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that the drug's preventive effects may work best in younger and heavier people. For older people, lifestyle changes were especially helpful; they lowered diabetes risk by 71%.
“Weight loss is key, and physical activity is very important, but lifestyle changes are never easy,”? says NIH's Joanne Gallivan, director of the National Diabetes Education Program ( The program offers resources to help with weight loss, healthy eating, and physical activity. Specific tips are provided for certain groups of people, such as children and older adults. Most materials are offered in Spanish, and some are available in other languages.
As the Diabetes Prevention Program showed, diet and exercise can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You're most likely to succeed at weight loss, Linder says, “if you can find some physical activity that you enjoy and can do every day.”?

To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Participants in the Diabetes Prevention Program followed a low-fat, low-calorie diet. Experts now recognize that different people may need different diets. “If you're eating a lot of fat, that's what you need to cut out. If you're eating a lot of candy, then that's what you need to cut,”? Linder says. “You have to individualize it.”?

Experts recommend that people at risk for type 2 diabetes should exercise weekly at moderate intensity for 150 minutes. That's 30 minutes, 5 times a week.

“Get your heart rate up a bit. Work up a mild sweat,”? says Harvard's Dr. David Nathan, who leads the Diabetes Prevention Program studies. The training program used in the study is now widely available; for instance, the YMCA now offers a program based on the study.

If you think you might have prediabetes or diabetes, your doctor can help you decide what to do. A blood test called the A1C test can check your average blood glucose level to see if you have prediabetes.

Nathan says that people over 45 should be screened for diabetes, as should other people at increased risk. Risk factors and warning signs for type 2 diabetes include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a history of gestational diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

In 2012, 1.7 million Americans ages 20 and older were newly diagnosed with diabetes. “That's not good, but it's actually less than the 1.9 million new cases we had in 2010,”? Nathan says. “It may just be that we are turning the corner a little bit.”?
Take Steps To Prevent Diabetes
  • Move more. Walk, dance, or ride a bike with your friends or family.
  • It doesn't matter what activity you do, as long as you enjoy it.
  • Choose healthy foods. Eat fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. With healthy eating and more physical activity, you can drop pounds and keep them off.
  • Set reasonable goals. Start with small changes, like being active for 15 minutes a day this week.
  • Add 5 minutes per day, each week until you're up to at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
  • Record your progress. Keep a diary of what you eat and drink and the number of minutes you exercise.
  • It's a great way to stay focused and reach your goals.
  • Keep at it. Making even small changes is hard in the beginning.
  • If you get off track, start again.