Cervical Cancer Awareness: Providing the Facts
What do I need to know?
By the Numbers
Cervical cancer affects nearly 12,000 women each year and causes 4,200 deaths. The good news is that with vaccination and early detection screening, cervical cancer is a preventable disease.
There are several things that increase the risk of developing cervical cancer: smoking, multiple sexual partners throughout one’s lifetime, a previous history of sexually transmitted diseases (STD), illnesses that weaken one’s immune system, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and infection with human papilloma virus (HPV).
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
In most cases, cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is very common in the United States, currently affecting approximately 79 million Americans, and is spread through sexual contact. Most of the time, people do not know they carry the virus. HPV can cause external genital warts, abnormal pap smear tests and cancer. Not all HPV causes cancer and most HPV infections go away; however, some HPV infections linger and can become cancer.
HPV is less likely to resolve in women over age 30; therefore, the rates of cervical cancer rise in women age 30 and above. Cervical cancer can take 10-20 years to develop but can be detected early through abnormal changes on pap smear testing before it becomes cancer.
How can you protect yourself and your loved ones from HPV and, ultimately, cervical cancer?
Vaccination against HPV is available for young women up to age 26 and men up to age 21; it can be given as early as age 9. This vaccine helps protect against a few common strains of HPV that cause genital warts and cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers. Additionally, screening for cervical cancer with a pap smear and/or HPV testing can help detect abnormal cells and HPV before they develop into cancer. Women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21. Additional ways to protect yourself against HPV are to quit smoking, use condoms and limit the number of sexual partners in your lifetime.
Cervical cancer is highly preventable with vaccination, screening & early detection. Most insurances cover vaccination and testing to prevent cervical cancer – often at little or no cost to the patient. If you do not have insurance, many programs are available to assist with cervical cancer screening and vaccination.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Take a small but important step to protect your health, and call your provider or one of our Valley Health offices today to schedule a well-woman exam to make sure your vaccination and cervical cancer screening is up to date!
Reviewed by Andrea Marcum Vallejos, M.D., FACOG, a board certified OB/GYN at Valley Health Systems in Huntington.
Myths and Misconceptions about the Flu Vaccine
As we approach another flu season it is important to consider possible beliefs regarding flu vaccination that our patients may have but won’t state as the reason for their refusal to be vaccinated. The CDC estimated approximately 80,000 deaths were associated with influenza infection during the 2017-2018 flu-season, which is the highest mortality rate in recent history.
“I got the flu shot, and it gave me the flu.”
To address this common misconception patients should be informed about the Inactivated Influenza vaccine not containing live virus. They should also be told that vaccination does not confer full immunity for nearly 2 weeks, and they may have contracted the flu during this time. This highlights the importance of being vaccinated before peak flu activity.
“I got the flu shot, and I still got the flu.”
The CDC reports that the 2017-2018 vaccine effectiveness was estimated to be 40%, which is to say that patients who were vaccinated were 40% less likely to require medical attention for flu illness. Beyond this, evidence suggests that vaccinated patients requiring hospitalization for flu were 37% less likely to require ICU admission. Of all child flu-related deaths during the 2017-2018 season, 80% were in unvaccinated children.
“I’m allergic to eggs, and I can’t get the flu shot.”
If a patient can consume cake that contains eggs and the “allergic reaction” does not involve anaphylactoid symptoms, they are able to receive the standard Inactivated Influenza Vaccine. In patients with anaphylactoid reactions to eggs the Recombinant Influenza Vaccine (Flublok) contains no egg protein.
Products the pharmacy is currently stocking include: Flulaval (+/-preservative) (IIV4) for patients 6 months of age and older and is the same dose for all age groups; Flumist (LAIV4) (nasal) for non-pregnant patients ages 2-49 years; Flublok (egg-free) (RIV4) for patients 18 years and older with egg allergy; and Fluzone high-dose for our patients 65 years and older.
Given all the facts and the wide range of products available to suit our patients, we are prepared to meet your healthcare needs this influenza season.
1. What You Should Know for the 2017-2018 Influenza Season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm. Published 2018. Accessed November 2, 2018.
2. Arriola C, Garg S, Anderson EJ, et al. Influenza Vaccination Modifies Disease Severity Among Community-dwelling Adults Hospitalized With Influenza. Clin Infect Dis. 2017;65(8):1289-1297.
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Pediatric Services at Valley Health with Dr. Bartram
NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome) with Dr. Bartram
Lice in the School-Age Child with Dr. Bartram
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Trick-or-Treating Safety for You and Your Family
Halloween is an enchanted, thrilling time of year for children and even many adults. The particular nature of Halloween traditions, however, can pose safety risks for all involved. To help prepare you and your family for a spooktacular holiday, we’ve compiled Tricks and Tips from the CDC and Nationwide Insurance.
Trick-or-Treating Safety for Children
S – Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
A – Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
F – Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
E – Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
H – Hold a flashlight to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don’t run from house to house.
A – Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation.
L – Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
L – Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
O – Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
W – Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
E – Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
E – Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Don’t stop at dark houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
N – Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
Halloween Safety Tips for Adults
Follow these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for everyone:
- Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For guests, offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
- Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause someone to fall. Check lightbulb the night before trick-or-treating and replace any that require it.
- Keep candle-lit jack o’ lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended. Use battery-powered candles as an alternative to flame lit if possible.
- Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely. Arrange a designated driver if necessary.
- Keep vehicles in a garage where possible to avoid vandalism or accidental bumps and scratches from passersby. If your car must be left outdoors, it is recommended that valuables be removed from the car and brought indoors to discourage theft.
- Pets should be brought inside and contained during trick-or-treat hours and/or while guests are present to avoiding stressing the pet or anyone visiting your home.
Content Adapted from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Halloween Health and Safety Tips and Nationwide’s Now from Nationwide Blog.
Tips for Recognizing and Treating Seasonal Allergies in Children
Seasonal allergies – also known as hay fever and allergic rhinitis – cause sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy, watery eyes, sore throat, sinus headaches and general discomfort in many children. Allergies are provoked by high pollen levels as well as mold and spores that occur more heavily during certain times of the year.
Seasonal allergies arise in early spring and continue through early summer, and then are seen again in the fall. While many associate seasonal allergies with the advent of spring and blooming foliage, some children suffer during both allergy seasons.
In the fall, with symptoms triggered by common fall allergens like ragweed and mold, it’s important for parents to take a pre-emptive approach. This means planning ahead and starting medications one to two weeks prior to the beginning of the allergy season in August and continuing the medicine for the recommended amount of time.
To help control most children’s allergies, parents can purchase over-the-counter antihistamine remedies, such as Zyrtec, Claritin or Allegra. These medicines are not likely to cause drowsiness and can help calm the body’s immune reaction against allergens.
Here are some additional tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org) to help control seasonal allergies:
- Don’t let children out to play early in the morning. Pollen is heavier early in the morning.
- Keep children indoors when grass is mowed and prevent them from playing in fields of tall grass.
- In the fall, children should avoid playing in piles of dead leaves.
- Don’t leave windows open during allergy season; run the air conditioner in both your home and car.
- Keep pets bathed regularly to remove pollen from their fur and keep the pets out of the child’s bedroom.
- Shower or bathe your child at the end of the day to remove allergens from the body and hair.
When home remedies and over the counter medications don’t relieve your child’s symptoms, consult with your child’s pediatric or family medicine provider. It may be necessary for the provider to prescribe antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroids to effectively combat the symptoms your child is experiencing. In particular, a child with a chronic secondary condition, such as asthma, may experience more severe symptoms and may need to be referred by his or her provider to an allergist.
Respiratory Distress in Babies and Children
Allergies can trigger respiratory issues, particularly when a child has a secondary condition. It can be frightening when a baby or toddler starts having breathing problems, and the struggle for parents and caregivers is knowing when to handle it on your own and when to call the pediatrician or go to the ER or a QuickCare center. It is very important to learn the signs of respiratory distress in your child, so you can respond appropriately.
Common signs of respiratory distress that need medical care immediately:
- Increased breathing rate
- Rapid heart rate
- Flaring of the nostrils
- Belly breathing – abdominal muscles visibly expand and contract during breathing
- Retractions – chest sinks in, breaths are deeper
- Color changes – bluish tint seen around the mouth, inside the lips or on the fingernails
- Coughing to the point of vomiting
If you suspect your child is also affected by a virus, watch for these signs of worsening illness:
- Fever showing up in the middle of an illness
- Persistent fever
- Increasing or worsening cough
When a parent or caregiver notices these indications, the child should be seen by a healthcare provider right away to be evaluated or reevaluated.
If your child is experiencing symptoms of seasonal allergies and you need more information, Valley Health has pediatric and family medicine providers in neighborhood health centers throughout the Tri-State to help. Find a location near you at valleyhealth.org.
Meet the Author, Traci Phillips, FNP, and learn about Valley Health – Southside
When asked about the services offered at Valley Health – Southside, Phillips explained, “We have a very well-rounded group of providers with years of experience handling all aspects of children’s health care. The staff includes pediatricians and nurse practitioners as well as two children’s psychologists and a dietitian – to help children with weight management and other issues.”
Phillips continued, “With so much coverage, plus extended hours Monday through Thursday, Valley Health – Southside is able to give parents tremendous access to care for their children. While we encourage appointments, walk-in care is available, too.”
Valley Health – Southside welcomes new patients Monday through Thursday between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and on Fridays between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. To schedule an appointment, please call 304-529-0645.
Citations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
About Our Chronic Care Management Program
Chronic Care Management nurse, Chrissy Theuring, LPN, provides an overview of the services and benefits of Valley Health’s chronic care management program, Care Connect.
Care Connect is available at our Westmoreland, Harts, Huntington, Milton and Wayne health centers and is offered to Medicare patients of all ages who struggle with more than one chronic illness. Click here to learn more.