Do I have Alzheimer's? 5 questions to ask yourself

Nov 20, 2017 8

It’s no secret that you’re getting older. Now that the years are adding up on you, you might be making jokes about telltale aging signs, like forgetting things or needing more sleep. To an extent, these small signs are just a normal part of the process. However, if you’re noticing a lot of uncharacteristic memory problems or confusion, it might be time to take a step back. You could have Alzheimer’s disease, and here’s how to tell.

The Big Picture

Alzheimer’s is a progressive, severe form of dementia that takes its toll on the sufferer’s everyday life. It usually starts with mild memory problems and hampered judgment, maybe forgetting one or two familiar names or misplacing things more regularly.

After a while, however, family members and loved ones start to notice that the uncharacteristic memory lapses aren’t just forgetfulness. They realize it could be something more serious, and that’s when they start looking into Alzheimer’s.

Depending on how close the loved ones are to the aging person, though, the disease could have already progressed into the later stages. Many times, if people with Alzheimer’s are just honest with themselves about their confusion and abilities, they can recognize the disease at an earlier stage and combat it to stay more independent for longer.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. As of right now, it’s also the 6th leading cause of death in the US.

IS HORMONE THERAPY EFFECTIVE AGAINST COGNITIVE DECLINE?

While no one hopes that this disease will come their way, it’s not an unlikely event as you age. You should know your risk and learn to recognize the signs.

How to Tell if You Have Alzheimer’s

To pinpoint if you’re developing Alzheimer’s, you should understand the stages that patients typically go through.

Stage 1: Normal, asymptomatic behavior

You might be wondering why experts would include this stage, but it’s important. At this point, the brain will have started losing vital neurons, causing deterioration. Because this process has just begun, however, you won’t notice any outward symptoms.

Stage 2: Mild Impairment

In this stage, you or your loved ones may not notice a significant difference. If you do, you might pass it off as normal aging. You might forget a word during conversation or lose something around the house.

Stage 3: Mild dementia

At this point, people are starting to notice the changes. You might have difficulty in conversation, remembering words, losing valuable items or planning and organizing your activities. You may even ask questions repetitively or forget names of new acquaintances easily.

Stage 4: Moderate decline

The signs are now getting more obvious. You might have trouble distinguishing colors, remembering life details or managing your finances. If you’re noticing any of these symptoms, you should not be driving or making financial transactions alone.

Stage 5: Moderate to severe dementia

Here, you may have trouble remembering your address, and simple tasks like ordering food at a restaurant might seem confusing. You may not know how to dress appropriately for the weather, and you’ll need a good amount of help and reassurance.

Stages 6-7: Severe decline

In these stages, you will have considerable confusion about your surroundings. You’ll also need someone to help you when going out as well as with small tasks like bathing and dressing. If you’ve caught the dementia ahead of time, you can prepare for these events by setting up a caretaker and planning out the details.

CAN YOUR TONGUE TELL IF YOU’RE SICK?

These are the basic characteristics of Alzheimer’s, although some experts prefer to broaden them into just 3 stages. While you may have some uncertainty and fear about what these stages mean, you can plan ahead of time and work to slow the disease’s progress.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself

If you’re still wondering whether you could have Alzheimer’s, ask these 5 questions about yourself:

1. How often are you forgetting?

As you’re aging, you will forget a date or misplace an item from time to time. If your forgetfulness is starting to be commonplace and raising eyebrows from your loved ones, there might be a deeper problem.

As a follow-up question, how uncharacteristic is this forgetfulness? If you’re usually organized and sharp but are now struggling, look into it.

2. Are you confused?

Do you feel disoriented or disheveled by your surroundings? What about your concentration at work, while reading, or while holding a deep conversation? If it’s Alzheimer’s, you’ll feel confused in these activities and might also struggle with thoughts about the future.

DOG SWALLOWS 8-INCH KEBAB SKEWER

3. How’s your mood?

While you’re normally a happy, laid-back person, maybe you have struggled more with stress or anger lately. You should question yourself if people are noticing big changes in your personality, such as fear, anxiety, anger or depression.

4. How are you doing socially?

If you’re struggling to hold conversations, remembering names and words, these could be early signs. Because words and conversation are challenging, you might also withdraw and avoid talking at social events altogether.

5. Have you made poor decisions lately?

You might have spent more money than you should have, decided not to bathe or placed items in unusual spots. If these and any of the above symptoms keep occurring, then you should check in with your doctor as a precaution.

Aging can be a happy period of life with fun memories and sweet family time. However, as common as Alzheimer’s is in older people, you should look out for the disease’s early signs.

Then, if you are diagnosed early, you can plan ahead for your loved ones and take the vital steps necessary to slow Alzheimer’s down. Chances are that your concern is just a precaution, and you can enjoy all the happiness that becoming older and wiser has to give.

This article first appeared on AskDrManny.com.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel’s senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny’s work, visit AskDrManny.com.

Top cancer doctors have some advice about alcohol

Nov 20, 2017 9

Name things that increase your risk of cancer. Cigarettes and tanning beds might quickly come to mind. But how about alcohol? A recent survey of 4,016 adults by the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that only 30 percent knew alcohol is a risk factor for cancer, reports the New York Times.

ASCO, which includes many leading cancer doctors, had yet to voice its own thoughts on the topic. That changed this month, with the Nov. 7 publication of a statement in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that begins by calling the link between the two “often underappreciated” and noting that “addressing high-risk alcohol use is one strategy to reduce the burden of cancer.” In the statement they cite outside research they’ve found to be sound, like an estimate that 5.8 percent of global cancer deaths in 2012 were attributable to alcohol, and evidence that drinking can increase the risk of mouth, throat, voice box, liver, breast, esophageal, and colorectal cancers.

So what’s the upshot? It’s not “Don’t drink,” lead statement author Dr. Noelle LoConte told the Times. “It’s different than tobacco where we say, ‘Never smoke. Don’t start.’ This is a little more subtle”—drink less, essentially.

More on this…

(Though the statement does contain the line, “People who do not currently drink alcohol should not start for any reason.”) So what’s Wine Spectator’s response? It tried to poke a hole or two, noting “the statement … dismisses possible health benefits of alcohol, including lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.” (This ad was most effective at getting people to cut their drinking.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Top cancer doctors have some advice about alcohol

These 8 groups of people are more prone to blood clots

Nov 20, 2017 10

Blood clots aren’t always a bad thing. When you cut yourself, your blood cells are supposed to clump together, which stops blood from leaking to places where it doesn’t belong and kicks off the healing process. But sometimes clots form in places they shouldn’t, and if they occur in a location where blood needs to keep flowing, that can spell trouble.

There are several major types of clots that can cause problems. Clots that block blood to your brain cause stroke, and ones that stop up your heart’s blood flow cause a heart attack. A clot that forms in your leg is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVTs can break away from their starting place and travel to your lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism (PE), and can be very serious, even fatal.

Dangerous blood clots are pretty common. In fact, the Surgeon General says 100,000 people die from DVT and PE every year in the U.S.

“That’s more than breast cancer and motor vehicle collisions combined, which is staggering,” said Elliot Richard Haut, MD, PhD, co-director of Johns Hopkins Medicine Venous Thromboembolism Collaborative.

DOG SWALLOWS 8-INCH KEBAB SKEWER

While anyone can get a clot in the wrong place at the wrong time, some people may be especially vulnerable—including those who fall into one or more of the following categories:

1. People who are overweight

Experts agree: If you’re obese, you’re at higher risk of blood clots that form in a vein and travel through your blood (a venous thromboembolism, or VTE). And how far off you are from a healthy weight can make a difference in your clot chances, too.

“For someone who’s a little overweight, there might be a little bit of an added risk, but as you get very severely obese or morbidly obese, the risk becomes even higher,” said Haut.

Plus, the more weight you carry on your frame, the harder it can be to get around, and sitting still for long periods of time puts you in the blood clot danger zone. 

2. Smokers

Lighting up harms your health for a whole host of reasons, and one of those is a raised risk of blood clots.

“People think smoking just affects the lungs, but it actually affects your blood vessels, too,” said Pamela Burgwinkle, RN, NP, certified anticoagulation care provider at UMass Memorial anticoagulation clinic.

Smoking damages the lining of your blood vessels and makes blood more likely to stick together. (Find out how yoga can help you quit smoking.) It’s associated with heart disease and peripheral artery disease, and is one of the biggest drivers behind heart attack and stroke, as well as increased risk of VTEs.

3. Pregnant women

Even if you keep up with exercise, having a baby on board can complicate your clotting process. One reason is the added hormones—especially estrogen—floating around in your bloodstream. Another is the bun getting bigger in your oven.

“As the baby gets larger and larger, it can actually push on the blood vessels in the abdomen and the pelvis and block the blood flow directly” and cause clots, said Burgwinkle.

4. Estrogen takers

Being on a birth control pill can make you three or even four times more likely to get a blood clot.

“Otherwise healthy women sometimes start to have symptoms—a swollen leg, or shortness of breath, or chest pain—and people will often blow it off,” said Haut.

More on this…

But if these women are taking oral contraceptives, or are on hormone replacement therapy, that should be a red flag to check for clots, he says.

5. People with infections or inflammatory diseases

If you’re dealing with serious illness or infection, you should be on alert for the symptoms of abnormal clots. Some types of cancer—like brain, ovary, pancreas, colon, stomach, lung, and kidney cancer—can put people at risk for DVT or PE. And the clots may show up before the cancer, which means they might turn out to be a warning sign. (Make sure you never ignore these important cancer symptoms.)

“Sometimes we see blood clots occur and the diagnosis comes down the road,” said Burgwinkle.

Other conditions make you more likely to get clots, too—diabetes, HIV, or inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or colitis, for example. Similarly, if you get injured, your body may clot in internal spots where it shouldn’t.

6. People who are still for long periods

There are all kinds of reasons you might not move for multiple hours on end. Hospital stays are a biggie, said Haut.

“About half of DVTs and PEs occur in patients who are currently in the hospital or have recently been in the hospital,” he said. Often, it’s because not only are you lying in a hospital bed for days or even weeks, your body has also likely gone through some sort of trauma like surgery or sickness.

“That’s a time in your life when your risk goes up dramatically,” said Haut.

Sitting in a car, bus, or on a plane for four hours or more is another situation that can kick up a clot risk, especially if you’re not drinking enough water. In fact, any activity that keeps you immobile for hours can put you at risk.

“I had a patient who developed a clot after spending long periods of time in tight spaces,” said Burgwinkle.

His profession? Plumber. 

7. Descendants of people with blood clotting problems

If you know others in your family tree have dealt with abnormal blood clots, the first step is to learn more about these experiences. If there wasn’t an injury or illness to blame, the cause could be genetic, said Burgwinkle. Certain inherited disorders make your blood thicker and more likely to clot; you may need testing to find out if you’ve inherited one of them. (Here are 5 blood tests you should have done if you are over 50.)

8. People who’ve had blood clots before

Have a history of clots? You’re likely to get them again. One-third of people who get a DVT/PE will have another one within 10 years. Often, said Burgwinkle, this is because the blood clots forms around the valves of a vein, which can damage it. In some cases, this can lead to multiple clots over time.

“More and more we’re seeing that this can be more of a chronic disease, rather than an acute episode.”

Dog swallows 8-inch kebab skewer

Nov 20, 2017 11

A hungry hound was lucky to escape with his life after sneakily wolfing down a barbecue chicken kebab – complete with an eight-inch wooden kebab skewer. 

Hugo, a three year old Siberian husky, suffered a punctured stomach and abdomen after swallowing the sharp skewer.

His owner Tracy Bowes, was initially left mystified when her pet went off his food and stopped behaving like his usual self.

When she took Hugo the vets for a check-up, an X-ray didn’t reveal anything seriously wrong.

Hugo was put on antibiotics but for the next four weeks the much-loved dog remained subdued with very little appetite.

WHY A MAN’S ARM LOOKS LIKE POPEYE’S

Then, while taking Hugo for a follow-up vet’s appointment, Bowes noticed something “small and sharp” sticking out of his belly.

Bowes, from Leeds, West Yorks., rushed Hugo back to the vets and veterinary surgeon Rod Beardshall operated the same day.

Beardshall found the problems were being caused by a wooden skewer, which Hugo is thought to have sneakily wolfed down while Bowes was preparing a meal of barbecue chicken kebabs.

The skewer had been in his digestive system for several weeks but was still in one piece, with its handle lying in his stomach and its long, sharp section protruding from his abdomen.

TRADER JOE’S RECALLS PACKAGED SALADS OVER GLASS SHARDS, PLASTIC CONCERNS

“It was eight weeks since we had eaten barbecue chicken kebabs and Hugo had obviously stolen one covered in raw chicken before we cooked the rest, swallowing it whole,” Bowes said. “It doesn’t bear thinking about really. We just can’t thank Rod and the team at White Cross Vets enough – they saved Hugo’s life.”

“In almost 30 years as a vet I have never come across a case like this one,” Beardshall said. “As the skewer was made of wood it did not show up on the X-ray, but had introduced infection when it penetrated the stomach wall.”

“He was very lucky not to develop a fatal peritonitis as it was a further four weeks before the cause of the problem was clear and the skewer was removed,” he said. “Hugo is a very brave dog and responded so well to the surgery.”

Risk of breast cancer recurrence lasts for decades

Nov 20, 2017 12

Many women who follow initial breast cancer treatment with five years of hormone therapy to keep tumors at bay may still experience new malignancies up to two decades after their diagnosis, a study suggests.

Researchers examined data from 88 clinical trials involving 62,923 women with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors. After treating ER-positive tumors with chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, women typically get five years of follow-up therapy with daily hormone-based pills – either tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors. The goal of the adjuvant therapy is to destroy any lingering cancer cells not killed by initial treatment.

All of the women were cancer-free when they completed five years of adjuvant hormone-based therapy.

During the next 15 years, however, cancer returned for 41 percent of the highest-risk women in the study who originally had the largest tumors that had spread the most beyond the breast, the study found.

FDA CLEARS NERVE STIMULATOR FOR OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS

Even the lowest-risk women who originally had small tumors that hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body still had 10 percent odds of cancer coming back during the study, researchers report online November 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We know that adjuvant (hormone-based) therapy for 5 years substantially reduces the risk of recurrence and mortality,” said senior study author Dr. Daniel Hayes of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor.

“We now have good evidence that extending adjuvant (hormone-based) therapy beyond five years continues to suppress and reduce recurrence and mortality,” Hayes said by email.

Doctors have long known that five years of tamoxifen reduces recurrence by approximately half during treatment, and by nearly a third over the next five years. Aromatase inhibitors, which work only in post-menopausal women, are even more effective than tamoxifen at reducing recurrence and death from breast cancer.

Some recent research suggests an additional five years of hormone-based therapy is even more effective, but the side effects make some women reluctant to continue. Life-threatening side effects are rare, but women taking these hormones can have menopause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

The data suggest that women with ER-positive breast cancer should at least consider continuing adjuvant therapy beyond five years, the authors conclude.

“Breast cancer cells can travel from the primary tumor to the lymph nodes and can circulate throughout the body undetectable with current screening (methods) and over time, these circulating cancer cells can attach to other organs in the body and this is generally when there is a detectable cancer recurrence,” said Albert Farias, a cancer researcher at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles who wasn’t involved in the study.

“One way that adjuvant breast cancer treatment works is to kill and/or stop the undetectable cancer cells from growing and dividing,” Farias said by email.

DOCTORS CLAIM BABY’S 2015 DEATH WAS CAUSED BY MARIJUANA OVERDOSE

Even though the study suggests some women may have more risk of recurrence based on their original tumor characteristics, it can still be hard to predict and women need to remain vigilant, said Dr. Sharon Giordano of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“Breast cancer can be dormant for many years, so that women can have no apparent disease, but can still recur years later if the tumor becomes active again,” Giordano said by email. “We do not know why some cancers become active again after years of dormancy.”

Women need regular checkups and breast screenings, as well as annual mammograms, said Dr. Alana Biggers, a researcher at the University of Illinois-Chicago who wasn’t involved in the study.

“If a woman is high risk for breast cancer, such as a lady with a gene mutation, she may need both mammograms and breast MRIs,” Biggers added by email. “Additionally, women should maintain a healthy weight, exercise, stop smoking, and limit alcohol consumption to reduce their risk of recurrence.”

Trader Joe's recalls packaged salads over glass shards, plastic concerns

Nov 19, 2017 37

Trader Joe’s says it has recalled several packaged salads after a supplier said there may be shards of glass or hard plastic inside.

The grocery chain said Saturday on its website that packages of white meat chicken salad, curried white chicken deli salad and turkey cranberry apple salad sold in some areas that expire from Nov. 10-21 could be contaminated.

The products are labeled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “inspected” code P-40299.

The warning applies to white meat chicken and curried white chicken deli salads sold in Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma or Texas.

Turkey cranberry salads sold in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon or Washington are at risk.

Trader Joe’s said products with other “inspected” codes were not affected because they were created at separate sites.

The chain apologized and urged customers to discard the products or return them for a refund.

First CTE diagnosis on living NFL player confirmed by autopsy, report shows

Nov 16, 2017 39

Doctors were successfully able to diagnose a living person with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a first for the field of medical research, according to a recently published article.

The findings, released in the medical journal Neurosurgery on Nov. 10, said an autopsy on the brain of a retired NFL player confirmed the results of scans taken more than four years before the subject died. CTE is “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma,” according to the Research CTE Center at Boston University.

It’s been found to especially affect athletes and members of the military.

The family of former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Fred McNeill confirmed to the Chicago Tribune that McNeill was the subject of the study. McNeill was 63 years old when he died in 2015 and had experienced significant loss of motor skills and changes to his personality since his retirement from the NFL, the research paper said.

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The scans showed the existence of tau, a protein which builds off damaged brain cells and is present in CTE, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“Mood, behaviors, motor, and cognitive changes were consistent with chronic traumatic myeloencephalopathy with a 22-yr lifetime risk exposure to American football,” the report said.

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While more evidence is needed to further confirm the findings, doctors and researchers are hopeful that the information could prove to be helpful to earlier recognition of the symptoms of CTE, the Chicago Tribune said.

“If you can trust the scans, you can tell a football player he shouldn’t keep playing, or tell someone in the military he can’t (be exposed to) explosions,” Dr. Julian Bailes, who is involved with the study, told the outlet.

Other doctors are still skeptical, however, arguing that the findings aren’t necessarily conclusive to diagnosing CTE and the evidence could actually show the presence of other diseases, like Alzheimer’s, the Tribune reported.

Doctors claim baby's 2015 death was caused by marijuana overdose

Nov 16, 2017 42

Two poison control doctors who listed an 11-month-old boy’s cause of death as damage to his heart muscle claim that it was brought on by ingesting marijuana. Doctors Thomas Nappe and Christopher Hoyte, who published their report in the journal Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine, said that the only thing they could find in the boy’s system at the time of his 2015 death was marijuana.

His official cause of death was listed as myocarditis, which is a rare occurrence in children. Hoyte and Nappe, both of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, said that they ruled out all other known causes of the condition, which includes bacteria, Coxsackievirus, fungi and parasites, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.

“The only thing that we found was marijuana,” Hoyte told the news outlet. “High concentrations of marijuana in his blood. And that’s the only thing we found. The kid never really got better. And just one thing led to another and the kid ended up with a heart stopped. And the kid stopped breathing and died.”

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The report was published in March and did not identify where the boy’s death occurred, nor reveal his identity. The doctors concluded that the case “was the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis exposure.” However, others in the field question their findings, including a 2016 paper that said marijuana could not be determined as the cause of myocarditis, the news outlet reported.

“That statement is too much,” Dr. Noah Kaufman, an emergency medicine specialist in Northern Colorado, told the Reno Gazette Journal. “Because that is staying confidently that this is the first case. ‘We’ve got one!’ And I still disagree with that.”

But the two contend that they explored every other potential avenue before drawing their conclusion, although they admitted that there are some causes of myocarditis that cannot be tested for.

“The child didn’t leave the house between being normal and being sick,” Hoyte told the Reno Gazette Journal. “The child had THC in the blood and in the urine and there were marijuana products in the house. I feel very comfortable with the workup that we did and how much we ruled out in this particular case.”

FDA CLEARS NERVE STIMULATOR FOR OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS

Kaufman also questions what kind of product the THC was contained in, and how the boy ingested it, suggesting that he may have been allergic to another substance that triggered the myocarditis. He told the news outlet that despite his doubts about marijuana causing the boy’s death, the case is an  important reminder for parents to keep substances away from children.

“Even if I’m not convinced that it could kill your kid, you need to be really careful because it could make them really sick,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal. “It needs to be locked up away in a medicine chest because it can cause seizures. It can cause real big problems in kids that can lead to other problems.” 

5 things you need to know about premature ovarian failure

Nov 16, 2017 40

Ah, menopause, the official goodbye to our dear friend Flo. For the majority of women, the final farewell to our fertility happens at around 51-years-old. But that’s not the case for everyone. In fact, it’s possible for menopause and all its challenging symptoms (think: hot flashes, night sweats, the list goes on) to occur in your thirties, twenties, and even younger. Those who start to experience signs of premature menopause at such young ages may have premature ovarian failure—medically known as premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)—a condition that causes the ovaries stop working before the age of 40. It affects about 1 percent of women.

Although “ovarian failure” is technically what happens to patients, it’s not actually that black and white—you’re ovaries don’t just stop working overnight, said Kristin Bendikson, M.D., a fertility specialist at USC Fertility. Rather, Bendikson explained that POI is a gradual process during which a patient may experience a lot of the symptoms associated with menopause for months to years before she officially stops having her period. When your ovaries do, in fact, stop working, this means that you stop releasing eggs (ovulating) regularly or at all and cease making hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.

Beyond the fact that this will send you into early menopause, POI also puts you at an increased risk of additional health complications such as heart and bone disease. Additionally, young women with POI have a hard time getting pregnant. Because of these implications, Bendikson urges patients who’ve missed their period for three months in a row to seek guidance and medical attention from their gynecologist or primary care provider—first to rule out pregnancy and then to focus on other testing to determine the cause.

WHY A MAN’S ARM LOOKS LIKE POPEYE’S

Here’s exactly what you need to know about POI, especially if you’ve noticed changes in your menstruation and experienced any of the below signs.

The Symptoms are Similar to Menopause

One of the most obvious ones is the loss of periods, but for some patients that doesn’t happen right away. Instead, you can have irregular or occasional periods for months or even years before Flo officially leaves town. In conjunction with a changing and less frequent menstrual cycle, you might also experience—as you probably guessed by now—hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, mood disturbances, vaginal dryness, and discomfort during sex. There is not a specific order to which symptoms occur for all patients. For example, hot flashes tend to happen as soon as the ovaries are failing because it’s related to the drop in estrogen, compared to, say, vaginal dryness, which doesn’t appear right away, Bendikson said.

A word about hot flashes: getting increasingly warm is not a hot flash. Rather, hot flashes are “rushes where you skin gets really, really hot and then you sweat all of a sudden” and for many, are very uncomfortable, explained Sheeva Talebian, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility specialist in New York. If you start experiencing sensations like this, speak to your doctor ASAP. 

You Might Have Trouble Getting Pregnant

Not surprisingly, POI patients are also going to have a very hard time getting pregnant. The ovary has very few eggs left and is no longer releasing any eggs (ovulating) on a regular basis, making it less possible for a woman to conceive, Bendikson explained. While the American Society of Reproductive Medicine reports that approximately 10 percent of women with POI may be able to conceive using their own eggs, fertility rates are difficult to predict and pregnancy may be the result of modern methods like freezing.

If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, a doctor might check your ovarian reserve and hormone levels through a battery of examinations. The main test to detect menopause, according to Bendikson, is a blood test that evaluates your follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH, which when at a very high level reveals significant issues with ovarian function. A doctor might also call for another blood test to examine anti-mullerian hormone or AMH levels, which reflect ovarian reserve or remaining number of eggs.

The Cause is Often Unclear

“Most of the time we don’t understand why a woman has POI,” Bendikson said. “Is it because she was born with less eggs than normal or because she was losing them faster than normal? There is no way to tell the difference.”

More on this…

Nevertheless, it’s known that medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can induce ovarian failure and multiple ovarian surgeries can also diminish the number of remaining eggs. The condition is also associated with autoimmune disorders, such as those affecting the thyroid and adrenal glands, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). There are also a few genetic disorders like Turner’s Syndrome and Fragile X that have been linked with POI.

FDA CLEARS NERVE STIMULATOR FOR OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS

If a woman has a family history of early menopause, she may have a higher chance of undergoing early menopause herself. If you have a sibling, mother, or aunt who transitioned to menopause at a young age and/or has POI, Talebian said this is a “red flag” and urges you to be evaluated by a doctor to ultimately determine if you’re at also at risk through blood tests. That said, there is no singular test to diagnose POI itself.

Your Bone and Heart Health is Jeopardized

In addition to the symptoms above, low estrogen levels caused by POI can make you more likely to develop bone disease like osteoporosis. Because estrogen boosts cells that help our bones continuously grow, as levels decrease your bones will become weaker and prone to fracture and illnesses, Bendikson explained. Women with POI—like those who enter menopause at a later age—are also at risk for heart disease and dementia.

“All of these long-term implications, plus the symptoms put women at a higher risk for both depression and anxiety,” Bendikson said.

Treatment Options are Limited

There are no existing treatments that reverse POI, so most just focus on alleviating symptoms and preventing long-term medical issues. Hormone therapy is typically prescribed for patients in either the form of birth-control pills or hormone-replacement therapy (think: patches) and is taken until the age of natural menopause. While hormone therapy won’t help with fertility, it will aid bone, heart, and brain health, Bendikson said. Additionally, it’s recommended that women with POI take Vitamin D and calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis and consider localized treatments to treat vaginal symptoms, such as long-term moisturizers or lubes for sex. 

As for fertility, women with POI must consider alternative methods such as the use of IVF with donor eggs.

“Once you’re identified as POI, the number of eggs is so low and ovarian function is so bad that you’re not going to be able to freeze a large number of eggs,” Bendikson explained.

Both Bendikson and Talebian emphasize the importance of talking to your mother to find out if she experienced early menopause so you can consider freezing your eggs before it’s too late.

This article first appeared on Women’s Health.

Colorado arms K-9 units with life-saving opioid antidote

Nov 16, 2017 0

Colorado law enforcement agents across the state were outfitted with 4,000 kits of Narcan on Wednesday amid an uptick in the amount of K-9 units exposed to dangerous opioids while on the job. The move follows similar programs implemented by officers in Wisconsin and other states.

“Criminals out there transporting narcotics are getting creative,” Sgt. Keith Sanders, a K-9 handler with the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, told FOX 31 Denver. “They’re coming up with different ways to throw the dogs off, poison the dogs.”

The attorney general’s office was on-hand to dole out the kits to 60 K-9 units Wednesday, with plans to provide more to each department. Members of the Colorado Police Canine Association received training on how to administer the antidote in the event of an accidental overdose, FOX 31 Denver reported.

FDA CLEARS NERVE STIMULATOR FOR OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS

“Our K-9 officers and our K-9s are often the first to come on scene when there’s an overdose and they need to be protected as well,” Leora Joseph, chief of staff for the attorney general’s office, told FOX 31 Denver.

Sanders noted that in the past, many police dogs died because they couldn’t receive treatment in time after an overdose. Their wet nose provides easy access for the dangerous substances to enter directly into the bloodstream.

“It happens a lot more often nowadays,” he told the news outlet. “It takes just a minute, little bit and they can OD on it pretty quick. We put in a lot of time with these dogs. We live with them. They’re part of the family and just the mere chance of losing one to a little bit of narcotics is very scary.”