January is National Blood Donor Month. Blood supply in America has reached an alarmingly low rate. Nearly 40 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, but only 5 percent actually do.
"Donating blood is so easy," plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says. "I've done it, and it only takes 10 minutes. A pint can save a life."
The adult body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood. When a person donates their blood, health workers typically draw one pint of blood, which the body replenishes within 24 hours.
There are four different blood types: A, B, AB and O. Type O- blood is considered the universal donor type, but less than 7 percent of the population has it. Ask your doctor to test your blood, or perform the test at home!
The Rh factor is a type of protein that occurs on the surface of red blood cells in all the blood types. Rh positive or negative (i.e. O- or O+) refers to whether or not the proteins are present.
"Every pregnant woman needs to know her blood type, because the baby's blood type could be different from the mother's," OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. "The mommy's blood can react to [the baby's blood] and attack the baby and cause miscarriage and demise."
Administering corrective Rh immunoglobulin can protect the baby, which Dr. Lisa says can be done at 28 weeks of gestation. Women should consult their OB/GYN to determine blood type and the appropriate course of action.
Learn how you can donate blood today.
February is Heart Health Awareness Month. One in three Americans will suffer from cardiovascular disease, which is the leading killer of both men and women. Factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol damage the heart, causing it to enlarge, strain and eventually fail.
"Women actually can present, or have very different symptoms [of a heart attack] than men," Dr. Lisa says. "Women: You have to listen to your bodies, know your bodies, don't ignore any signs and talk to your doctors."
Heart Attack Symptoms:
• Chest pain
• Jaw or arm pain
• Shortness of breath
Steps for Healthy Heart:
• Regular exercise
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Maintain a healthy blood pressure
• Limit salt and alcohol
• Control diabetes
• Manage thyroid conditions
E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork describes how to take care of your heart -- every beat counts!
Learn more about heart health and take the heart health quiz!
March is National Colorectal Cancer Month. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in men and women over the age of 50. Regular screenings for polyps in the colon are essential for early detection and treatment. If left untreated, polyps can develop into cancer.
Dr. Lisa says that women should be sure to get a stool smear performed when they go for their annual pap smears. "It checks for blood in your stool," Dr. Lisa explains. "It's not as good as a colonoscopy, but it's an important thing to do as well."
Colon Cancer Warning Signs:
• Abdominal pain
• Changes in stool
• Blood in stool
• Unexplained weight loss
See vital information about preventing colorectal cancer.
Take a tour of the colon!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Community member Hud-Hud04 wrote ProduceTheDoctors.com to ask The Doctors to tackle irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month, and more than 55 million people suffer from this often debilitating disease. IBS is a disorder of the large intestine and can cause bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and mucous in stool.
Dr. Travis demonstrates how the bowel is affected by IBS.
In many cases, IBS can be managed by diet, exercise and lifestyle. Staying hydrated and adding fiber-rich foods such as beans, raspberries, artichokes and yogurt with probiotics can aid digestive function. Peppermint oil is an antispasmodic remedy that can relieve a distressed or spasmodic bowel.
Common IBS Triggers:
• Spicy foods
• Chewing gum
• Artificial sweeteners
August is National Immunization month. Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears outlines which vaccines and boosters children should get and when. Most schools require certain immunizations be received before a child begins a new school year, so check with your school district and your physician to set up a vaccination schedule.
• Polio booster
• Measles, mumps and rubella
• Chicken pox
• Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) booster
Junior High Requirements (ages 11 and 12):
• Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis booster
• HPV cervical cancer
Leukemia and Lymphoma
An overwhelming number of community members on ProduceTheDoctors.com requested a show about childhood cancers. September is Childhood Cancer and Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month. Leukemia is a general term that describes four different forms of the disease, all of which originate in bone marrow. The bone marrow produces blood cells, but leukemic cells eventually crowd out healthy blood cells, creating a blood cancer. Leukemia causes more childhood deaths than any other cancer.
"People don't realize how common leukemia is," Dr. Travis says. "There are warning signs that you need to pay attention to."
Leukemia Warning Signs:
• Bone or joint pain
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Frequent infections
• Chronic fatigue
• Unexplained weight loss
• Night sweats
"But [leukemia] doesn't have to be a death sentence," Dr. Travis continues. "There are always new breakthroughs."
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. "One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer," Dr. Lisa says. "It's really important to get the screening."
The Halo test, which is essentially a breast pap smear, can help with early detection. "If we detect breast cancer earlier," Dr. Lisa continues, "we have a better chance at survival for women."
October is Down Syndrome Awareness month as well. Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that occurs when children are born with 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. Symptoms of the disorder can range from mild to severe, and mental and physical development is retarded. Approximately 350,000 people in America have Down syndrome.
Dr. Jim's youngest brother, Stephen, has Down syndrome, and Dr. Jim participates in the Buddy Walk to bring awareness to the disease. "Stephen has been an amazing source of joy to our family," Dr. Jim says.
"When a baby is born [with Down syndrome], these parents are lost," he continues. "They have no idea where to go or where to turn to. The number one thing they need to do is get help, get plugged into an association like Down Syndrome Association."
November is American Diabetes month. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not properly produce or process the hormone insulin. Although there is no cure for diabetes, if properly managed, serious consequences can be avoided. Dr. Travis describes type 1 and 2 diabetes and introduces the Insulin Kwik Pen, a new insulin delivery method.
"The CDC tells us that 95 percent of diabetes cases are type 2," Dr. Ordon says. "This is the type of diabetes that you can prevent. Eat right, watch your diet, exercise, control your blood pressure. You can prevent diabetes from starting."
Learn more about diabetes.