From deciphering food labels and medical abbreviations to understanding the opposite sex, The Doctors cut through the confusion with secrets and tips to stay informed about your health.
Making Sense of Medical Abbreviations
Does your MD ever make you want to shout, “OMG!”? Wading through the alphabet soup of medical jargon can be confusing and misleading, as some medical abbreviations can stand for different conditions or procedures.
The Doctors and Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest, help translate common medical abbreviations so you can stay in the know at your next doctor's appointment.
“There are over 30,000 abbreviations for diseases and diagnoses and drugs,” Liz explains. “It’s utterly confusing and dangerous sometimes.”
Different specialties will often use their own abbreviations, which adds further confusion in certain cases. "Some people will think P.E. [means] prep an enema instead of [perform a] physical exam,” OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says.
“It’s so much quicker to say, ‘get a CT scan’ [than to say], ‘get a computed tomography scan,’" E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "I think that's the number one reason we use so many acronyms.
“If you ever are at the doctor and you don't know what your physician is talking about and they're addressing you, you just need to stop them and say, 'please explain that,' because sometimes we forget," Dr. Travis adds.
• Check out the May issue of Reader’s Digest for a guide to decoding more medical acronyms and abbreviations.
“Your tongue can actually help you decode your body problems,” Dr. Travis says. Learn what an acutely-swollen tongue can indicate, what your tongue can reveal about vitamin deficiencies, when to worry about canker sores and more.
“Behind” Natural Raspberry Flavoring
Have you ever looked at an ingredient list and wondered what “natural flavorings” were composed of? Dr. Travis reveals the shocking source of a common ingredient found in certain raspberry-flavored candies, pastries and sodas.
“Castoreum [has] been used for 80 years to sweeten your food and even your perfume,” Dr. Travis says. “It comes from beaver anal glands. It’s a discharge from the castor sac, [which] is actually found between the genitals and the anal glands of both male and female beavers,” he explains.
“Technically, beaver is all-natural,” plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon adds.
A Picture of Personality
Whether you’re optimistic, pessimistic, depressed or happy-go-lucky, your heartbeat may reveal clues about your character. The Doctors discuss a study conducted by the Free University of Berlin that monitored electrocardiogram (EKG) readings, or electrical activity of the heart, to find a correlation with certain personas. Researchers found that the unique amplitude signatures of heart waves can influence breathing patterns, which can direct nerve connections and the release of certain hormones that influence personality types.
“[Higher amplitude signatures] -- those people were found to be more positive, more optimistic [and] more social, whereas those with lower amplitude, in general, were more likely to [have] neurotic, anxious, depressed and negative personality types,” Dr. Travis explains. “[There are] obviously limitations to this technique, but what it does show is how our mind and body are connected,” he adds.
Clarifying Your Skin Type
Kelly, 25, recently moved from the Midwest to California and the change in climate is drying out her skin. Unsure of what skin type she has and how to combat the dryness, Kelly asks The Doctors to help clear up her skin confusion.
• Spring clean your skin!
• Skin care for seasonal changes.
“Nearly a quarter million women will hear the words, ‘your mammogram is abnormal,’ and endure weeks of worrying and additional tests before hearing the even more terrifying words, “it’s cancer,’” Dr. Lisa says.
A new form of breast cancer detection called Contrast Enhanced Spectral Mammography (CESM) uses a similar technology to MRI scans, but is less expensive, less claustrophobic and provides much faster results.
“[It creates] a contrast that follows blood flow patterns in the breast tissue,” surgical breast specialist Dr. Kristi Funk explains. The contrast allows mammography technicians to quickly distinguish normal breast tissue from cancerous tissue.
The Pink Lotus Breast Center, a comprehensive and integrative facility dedicated to prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, is currently the only breast care center offering the CESM procedure.