Hot Topic!

September 2019

Update on Vaping

If you read our prior article on Vaping you understand it is NOT an alternative to quit smoking in fact the most recent information about Vaping is that it is causing unexplained lung illnesses.

In a recent update from the CDC this month September 2019, there have been 6 deaths linked to vaping within ages 18 to 25 and over 450 people experiencing unexplained lung infections. With more than 25 states reporting possible cases of lung illnesses associated with use of e-cigarette products.

While many of the patients, not all, stated recent use of THC-containing products, some described using both THC and nicotine containing products. A smaller group reported using nicotine only.

There has been no evidence of infectious diseases identified in these patients, as a result lung illnesses have been associated with a chemical exposure from vaping. The common factor in these unexplained illnesses has been vaping.

The CDC and FDA are partnering to get to the bottom of these strange illnesses with the recommendation of stopping this habit now.

If you do vape think twice, you are encouraged to monitor for sudden symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever and promptly seek medical attention. E-cigarette products should not be purchased off the street and not be modified by adding THC containing products. E-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults.

Again, if you are interested in quitting smoking, pick a date, develop a plan and ask a provider at your next visit to Pine Street Family Practice.

Here is a hotline number: call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

Additionally, if you are concerned about your health after vaping or using an e-cigarette product, contact your health care provider, or you can also call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.


Summer 2019


Have you ever heard of Vaping or Juuling? Is Vaping the same as smoking? Is there nicotine in vaping? Is it better to switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping?

All good questions.

You most likely have heard of this if you are a teen or young adult.

E-cigarettes are an electronic device that is used to heat a liquid to produce a mist or vapor of small particles in the air. This liquid has nicotine, chemicals, and other flavorings like cucumber, mango, and fruit medleys, making the product more attractive, especially to adolescents. They come in many different shapes and sizes, having a battery or heating element. The devices can have different shapes and sizes, looking like a pen, a cigarette, a cigar, a pipe or every a USB flash drive. They also have different names like e-cigs, vape pens, e-hookahs, or tank systems, it’s also known by its most popular names of vaping or JUULing. JUUL being a common e-cigarette manufacturer and has been around the longest since 2015. Below are a few pictures of what the devices can look like.

A JUUL device is shaped like a USB drive and has the highest percentage of nicotine, according to the manufacturer 1 JUUL cartridge can contain as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. Adolescents have been reportedly vaping in bathrooms and classrooms. Adolescents and young adults do not understand that vaping is still delivering nicotine causing the addiction. This chemical can alter a young brain which is still developing to age 25. This can cause problems with attention, learning, mood and impulse control. Marijuana can also be used in these devices. Adults and children have been poisoned by ingesting the liquid aerosol and getting the substances in the eyes or on the skin which can be very harmful. There have been many cases where the batteries in the e-cig have been reported to have caught on fire or explode.

Using e-cigarettes is not a good alternative to smoking, there are similar health risks with this product as with smoking tobacco cigarettes.

E-cigarettes and Vaping are not safer then tobacco cigarettes and should not be started.

E-cigarettes cannot help you stop smoking tobacco cigarettes you just switch addiction.

If you are interested in quitting smoking, pick a date, choose a plan and ask a provider at your next visit at Pine Street Family practice.

Here is a hotline number: call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

Set a good example be tobacco and smoke free!

Welcome 2019

New Year Resolutions Gone Bust

So, January is gone, the snow is has come and many of our New year resolutions for health have faded. We come out of the gate like gang busters but soon find that we cannot maintain such a frantic pace. One missed gym day turns to two. One piece of pizza becomes three. We are quickly falling back into our old habits. Sometimes we just take on too much at once, feel overwhelmed and quit.

Here is a list of 10 things that we can easily try to lead a healthier life. The good thing is none are overwhelming to try. Would recommend picking a few to try, not all ten at once. Slowly try working your way through the list.

1. Drink Water: When eating a meal water will take up the same amount of space as any liquid, without the empty calories.

2. Don’t Only Drink a meal: Liquid shakes sound healthy but very quickly leave the stomach. This makes our full sensation go away faster.

3. Plan Meals: It is easier to eat healthy if you plan ahead. Waiting to the last minute makes it easy to impulse eat whatever is fastest.

4. Fresh Foods: Avoid eating prepared foods as much as possible. There are usually all kinds of added sodium, preservatives and fat hidden in them.

5. Fruits/Veggies: Have a fruit or vegetable with every meal. Not only are they healthy choices but high in fiber. Fiber gives us a longer sensation of fullness.

6. Food Log: Write down everything that you eat. It’s amazing that when you write it down it makes you think about before you open your mouth again.

7. Small Plates: We are very visual eaters, we tend to fill the plate that we are using to satisfy our brain. Use a smaller plate and it will trick the brain into thinking we are eating more.

8. Cardio 30: Try to get 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity in 3 times a week. Once you are able to do that then try to slowly increase to daily activity.

9. Sleep: Practice good sleep hygiene and get enough sleep. When we are tired our body gets stressed and makes it more difficult to lose weight. Also when we are tired we often will eat whatever to make us feel better.

10. Go Slow: No one says that you need to do everything at one or do it completely the first day. Slowly build up to the desired goal. Focus on one or two things at a time then move on to your next goal when accomplished.

Here’s to a healthy new year not just January!!           Dr. Steve

Winter 2018

 “The Rich Man’s Disease”

How does your blood level measure up to your blood bank account?

Gout is a medical problem that was known hundreds of years ago and also to this day as the “Rich Man’s Disease or the Disease of Kings”.  This is because gout has the reputation of being caused by the overindulgence of rich, fatty, and creamy foods, as well as, red meats and expensive shell fish while washing them all down with extreme volumes of beer and wine.  So why do some people get gout and some not? The theories continue to abound, but genetics appear to have a key role.

The symptoms start usually with a sudden onset of an extremely painful joint that is red, hot and swollen. Most commonly the big toe, but any joint can be affected. It would not be unusual for this problem to awaken one from sleep and have difficulty walking due to the pain. The joint becomes so sensitive, having the bed sheet or the shoe touching the foot is intolerable.

Gout is the result of the body not being able to process the dietary breakdown of purines turning to uric acid, as well as, the metabolism of alcohol and sugary beverages that increase the production of uric acid. This elevation of uric acid in the blood then circulates and settles in the joints causing this painful joint syndrome.

High uric acid levels in the blood are usually > 6mg/dl in women and > 7mg/dl in men.

What are the dietary triggers of Gout?

Alcohol– in large consumption, alcohol is a known trigger, however even moderate amounts may increase the risk in people prone to gout.  Beer is the highest risk and wine appears to be the lowest.

Sugar– sweetened Beverages- high consumption of dietary sweeteners used in common beverages has been known to increase blood uric acid level.  Juices with high fructose corn syrup and soft drinks are also known triggers.  Natural honey sweetened beverages included in many teas also may increase the uric acid level.

Purine Rich Meats– High intake of purine rich meats may increase a gout attack by 5 times the normal.  Red meats- beef, veal, lamb are the highest.  Wild game – turkey and duck should also be limited in the diet. Organ meats, like liver, heart and kidney also have elevated levels of purine and can trigger a gout attack.

Fish and Shellfish– Haddock, anchovies, tuna, herring , codfish and trout are all high purine non shell fish that should be avoided with increased risk or prior diagnosis of gout.  Mussels and scallops are the highest shell fish to trigger gout, but shrimp, crab and lobster should also be limited.

Tomatoes– This fruit, although a food always mislabeled as a vegetable, has now been labeled a “possible trigger” for gout due to the phenolic acid and glutamate in the tomatoes which then may increase uric acid levels.  So over indulgence in tomatoes may also be an avoidable trigger for that chronic gout suffers.

What is the treatment of gout? 

 I don’t have to be a doctor to give this antidote!

Avoid the TRIGGERS!  Alcohol, sugary beverages, red meats, shell fish and some non shell fish, and tomatoes.

For those patients who are unable to comply with dietary treatment the use of colchicine, NSAIDS, prednisone, and allopurinol are the most common treatment options.  Cherry juice, drinking more water to keep the body hydrated, rest of the joint, and weight loss are all touted to help prevent uric acid build up in the blood stream and prevent gout attacks.

So as we approach this holiday season and may be treating ourselves to the Trigger List Foods and Beverages- Beware of the King’s Disease and watch your dietary bank account!  This is not a “No pain no gain” eating plan.  You will pay for your indulgent choices. Choose wisely!

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Lee Ann


We all love when the calendar turns to summer so we can get outside and have fun. Who doesn’t enjoy the sun and the beach. We just need to be prepared for our summer time fun.

First off when the temperature hits the 80-90’s and the humidity rises we need to prepare before going out. Everyone thinks about being well hydrated when exercising or doing yard work. Pre-hydrating when going to do something physically active is important, not only water but sports drinks as well. By the time you start to feel thirsty you are already behind. Symptoms of fatigue, cramping and dizziness are early signs. Headaches, confusion and nausea/vomiting are late signs. Stopping the activity, cooling off and rehydrating are the mainstay of treatment. Symptoms of fatigue and malaise can last for a couple days post heat exhaustion. Heat stroke includes rapid pulse, excessive sweating and passing out. Heat stroke requires intervention with IV fluids to help turn the tide in a hospital setting.

It is graduation and picnic season we need to be vigil for the very young and old. Children and seniors do not tolerate the heat as well because their reserves are less. So it is not out of the ordinary for these groups to suffer heat symptoms at a backyard party. Seniors should be in the shade and drinks readily available for them. Young children have to monitored when playing a lot because of course they do not want to stop to eat or drink something, unless it is ice cream. Keeping an eye on these groups can prevent problems.

Our second big problem in the summer is the sun exposure to our skin. We all want that radiant golden tan but not all of us can attain this. We can get a sever sun burn though. It is important to apply sun screen prior to going out in the sun. We should also re-apply every time that we go into the water. Sunscreen is resistant, there is no such thing as water proof. Reapplication is also recommended after a few hours as it starts to wear off, sweat off or rub off.

Sunburns are not only a problem now but put us at risk for skin damage leading to skin cancer down the road. We pay in our 50-60’s for our beautiful tans in our 20-30’s.

Have a wonderful Summer!! Stay safe stay hydrated and use sunscreen!

Dr Steve


Melt Away the Winter Fat  Get Ready for Summer

Now Available at Pine Street Family Practice

As we move from our warm and cozy homes and bulky clothing of this cold winter it is time to think about warming up and moving into the spring season. What comes next? It is the fun and sun of summer and removing those layers. Many of us can’t wait for the pool and shore months, but this means we need to start to get ready for bathing suit season. Some of you have made New Year’s resolutions and have started your new eating and exercise routines to shed those extra pounds in anticipation of shedding the layers of clothing. Many of us have continued our year round health mantra and would still like to see those few extra inches melt away to complement our hard work and dedication at the gym and eating right. So whether you are on a new mission or continuing on your trek to looking and feeling better Pine Street Family Practice has a way to compliment your goals.

is a safe and in office non-invasive procedure that will help you melt away those annoying inches that just don’t want to budge with the diet and exercise program you have implemented. Coolsculpting works by delivering a controlled cooling to gently and effectively target fat cells to crystallize and then die off and be reabsorbed by your body, while leaving the surface skin unaffected. As the targeted fat cells die and become reabsorbed that specific area of fat then flattens and those inches become reduced to help you achieve the sculpted inch reduction you desire. This process will take 8-12 weeks to see the full improvement you want and will be reassessed in our office at that time. Areas of the body with best results are the abdomen, triceps, front of chest arm fat near the arm pits, back fat, under the chin, outer and inner thighs and the buttocks (banana roll) areas. I know we all have one of these areas that could use some inch reduction!

Pine Street Family Practice has fully trained staff that will do a free in office consultation to evaluate which body areas you are interested in sculpting and help you identify other areas that will be improved with this procedure. Not all fat is “freezeable” fat and not all areas you may want inch reduction will have good results, so a consultation is necessary for you to understand the process and achieve the desired outcome. We have financing options also available to help you make this process more attainable for you.

Go to our Facebook page and see my pictures of the procedure from February 2018 and the progress I have made. Call our office to schedule a free consultation now and continue the process to a healthier and more sculpted you.

Dr. Lee Ann

FALL 2017


Do you know someone who has had Shingles? Chances are you have heard of it but do you really know much about the virus. We are Pine Street Family Practice think it’s important for you to know a little bit about the virus and how you can help protect yourself.


Shingles is a viral infection that can cause a very painful rash. This blistery rash can appear almost anywhere on the body which shows up on one side. The virus’ name is varicella-zoster which is the same virus that causes chicken-pox. After you have chicken pox this virus can lie dormant in the nervous system, until it rears its ugly painful head, at what age – not known, where on the body – can be anywhere, how long does it last – undetermined.


Some signs and symptoms include fluid filled blisters either in a linear pattern or a group that can be red, itchy, tingly, and painful. This rash can be very sensitive to the touch. Although this virus is not life threatening if the rash develops near the eyes this can be very serious and the pain can be debilitating. Some people have complained of fever, fatigue, headaches, and becoming sensitive to light. This virus can be contagious if you come in contact with an open blister.


The shingles virus does not discriminate, male or female, young or old, healthy individuals or people who have compromised immune systems. Complications associated with this virus are vision problems, post herpetic nerve pain, and possible neurological problems, like inflammation of the brain or hearing problems.


There are 2 vaccines that were developed, Zostavax and Shingrix.

*Zostavax was approved for use in 2006, it’s a one dose vaccine recommended for people over the age of 60 with an 65% effective rate.

*Shingrix was approved for use in 2017 and is the preferred alternative. This is a two dose vaccine for people ages 50 and older, with the second dose given anywhere from two to six months after the first dose has been administered. And if you’ve received the Zostavax vaccine already you can also receive the Shingrix vaccine. The most common side effects of the vaccine is a headache, redness, itching and soreness at the injection site.


-Who can get the Shingrix vaccine? Anyone over the age of 50, it’s a 2 dose series.

-Can I get the Shingrix vaccine if I receive the Zostavax already? Yes you can.

-How can I get the vaccine? Call the office we ask that you call your insurance company and give them code 9750 and see if the vaccine is covered. Then call our office and schedule a convenient time.

-Why should I get the Shingrix vaccine? In people ages 50-69 the vaccine was 95% effective in preventing shingles and over 90% effective in preventing the pain associated with the rash. In ages 70 and over the vaccine was almost 90% effective.

As we get older our risk of getting shingles increases.

So why get ShingRix-it will help prevent the after-shingles pain that can last for six weeks to six months and in some people, it can last a lifetime.

Protect yourself today! Call the office for an appointment.


OVER 70? Four Test to Avoid

If you’re over 70, regular screening tests — especially when it comes to cancer — may be a big waste of time, say a growing number of health experts worried about the over testing of those who are in their 70s, 80s and even older. These experts’ concern is that unnecessary screenings could lead to invasive procedures or treatments that leave patients worse off than before, especially among those with serious health problems such as heart disease.


Having a colonoscopy past age 75 may do little to protect you against cancer, reports a new Harvard study of more than 1.3 million Medicare patients ages 70 to 79. Researchers found the cancer risk dropped from about 3 percent to a little more than 2 percent over a span of eight years. At the same time, other studies have shown, the risk of complications from the test increases with age, especially for those in their 80s. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent advisory board of medical experts, recommends that screening for colorectal cancer in adults 76 to 85 “be an individual decision,” based on overall health and careful consideration of potential benefits and risks. Obviously, if you’ve had a polyp removed or have a family history of colon cancer, your risk is higher and you should probably be screened. If not, you may be able to finally skip all that lovely laxative prep.


The experts pretty much agree that women should get a mammogram every one to two years until age 75. After 75, however, the evidence for continuing the exams is murky. The USPSTF says there is “insufficient evidence” to conclude yay or nay to mammograms past 74. A large European study of women 70 to 75 showed that screening mammograms may have limited benefits and could lead to overtreatment, putting some women at risk from harmful side effects. For women with several chronic conditions that could affect their life expectancy, the benefits of routine mammograms after 75 are questionable. Those women should discuss with their doctors whether continuing the exams is really necessary.

PSA Test

No medical group recommends a PSA screening for prostate cancer past age 75, yet recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 41 percent of men in this age group still have the test, many at the recommendation of their physician. Talk with your doctor, but many men age 76-plus can skip this.

Pap Smear

After age 65, most women with no previous cancer or precancerous lesions are good to go if they’ve had three negative Pap smears to check for cervical cancer in the previous 10 years. Unfortunately, most women have become so accustomed to having an annual Pap smear that they have them even after undergoing a hysterectomy, according to a study. So, ladies, assuming your physician agrees, you can cross this test off your annual to-do list.

Two Test You Should Get

Bone Density Scan

While women should be getting routine bone density scans beginning at 65 (or earlier, depending on their risk factors), men 70 and older also need to get a bone mineral density test to check for osteoporosis. This weakening of the bones is often considered a “silent disease,” because its symptoms can develop unnoticed until a bone fracture occurs. In men, osteoporosis begins later than in women, and progresses more slowly, but the problem is growing among men who are 70-plus, notes the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Indeed, by age 65 or 70, men and women are losing bone mass at about the same rate, making this screening test critical for everyone — men as well as women — over age 70.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

Men 65 to 75 who have been smokers anytime during their lifetimes should have a onetime ultrasound to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The aorta, the main artery supplying blood to the body, extends from the chest to the abdomen. Men who have smoked are at higher risk for the aorta to rupture, which is usually fatal, but if an aneurysm is caught before rupturing, it can be successfully repaired by surgery. The evidence is unclear whether routine screening would benefit women ages 65 to 75 who have been smokers in the past, notes the USPSTF, but the panel recommends against AAA screening for women who have never smoked.

WINTER 2016 (2)

Six Things That Raise Your Blood Pressure

American Heart Association News, 02/26/2016

· Salt. The American Heart Association recommends people aim to eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. That level is associated with lower blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Because the average American’s sodium intake is so excessive, even cutting back to 2,400 mg per day can improve blood pressure and heart health.

· Decongestants. People with high blood pressure should be aware that the use of decongestants may raise blood pressure. Many over–the–counter (OTC) cold and flu preparations contain decongestants. Always read the labels on all OTC medications. Look for warnings for those with high blood pressure and who take blood pressure medications.

· Alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. Your doctor may advise you to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. If cutting back on alcohol is hard for you to do on your own, ask your healthcare provider about getting help. The AHA recommends that if you drink, limit it to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.

· Hot Tubs & Saunas. People with high blood pressure should not move back and forth between cold water and hot tubs or saunas. This could cause an increase in blood pressure.

· Weight gain. Maintaining a healthy weight has many health benefits. People who are slowly gaining weight can either gradually increase their level of physical activity (toward the equivalent of 300 minutes a week of moderate–intensity aerobic activity), reduce caloric intake, or both, until their weight is stable. If you are overweight, losing as little as five to 10 pounds may help lower your blood pressure.

· Sitting. New research shows that just a few minutes of light activity for people who sit most of the day can lower blood pressure in those with type 2 diabetes. Taking three–minute walk breaks during an eight–hour day was linked to a 10–point drop in systolic blood pressure.


Is it the Flu or a Cold?

When you wake up sneezing, coughing, achy and feverish how do you know if it is a cold or the flu? It’s important to know the difference between the two because treatments are different. Also secondary health issues can be more serious with one versus the other. For the most part a cold is a milder respiratory illness then the flu. Length of symptoms also varies greatly from a cold to the flu.

Cold symptoms can begin with a sore throat that lasts a couple days. This is often followed by nasal symptoms that can be either runny or congestion. Nonproductive cough is not uncommon. Fever is rare in adults but can be low grade. Children are more likely to have a fever.

Flu symptoms are usually much more severe and come on very quickly. Symptoms can include sore throat, headache, cough and runny nose. Fever is usually high causing body and joint aches.

SYMPTOMS                                         COLD                                       FLU

Fever                                                   Seldom, mild                           Usual, 101-102

Headaches                                          Occasional                              Common

Body aches                                          Slight                                       Usual, often severe

Fatigue                                                            Sometimes                              Usual, up to 2weeks

Congestion                                          Usual                                       Sometimes

Sore throat                                          Common                                 Sometimes

Cough                                                  Mild                                         Moderate/ severe

Complications                                                 Sinus HA, Ear Infection           Bronchitis/Pneumonia

The best treatment for either is prevention. Good hand washing techniques is the most important prevention, along with avoiding touching your face and staying away from those who are visibly sick. For the flu getting an annual vaccine is important. Cold treatments include decongestants, pain/ fever relievers and cough meds. Flu treatments pain/ fever relievers, decongestants, cough meds and antiviral meds.

Cold symptoms can last for up to a week no matter what you do. The first 2-3 days are the worst and when you are the most contagious. Flu symptoms are much more severe and can last 10-14 days. A not uncommon complication of the flu is pneumonia, which can last for 3-4 weeks after the flu. This is much more common in the young, elderly or people with lung problems.

If you have a cold or the flu and symptoms worsen after a few days, it’s time to call the doctor. Other worrisome symptoms include persistent fever for more than 4 days, chest pain, persistent cough, ongoing sore throat or shortness of breath. Seek the advise of a physician if any of the above symptoms occur.


Mosquito Fever Is Among Us

It is spring, it’s wet and the mosquitoes are on their way. As the weather gets warmer and we plan more outdoor activities, it’s important to remember that we are not the only ones becoming more active. Mosquitoes are vectors for disease. This means they can transmit disease from one human or animal to another. Typically, the diseases are caused by viruses or tiny parasites. The virus and mosquito coexist together without harming each other. The virus reproduces itself within the mosquito, and then is passed along when the mosquito bites another person.

The big story in the news lately has been the Zika virus. The most common symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, aches, rash and red eyes. Most of the time the illness is not severe enough for people to seek medical treatment. For this reason, people may not even realize they are infected. The worry with the Zika virus is mainly for pregnant women. The Zika virus can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly or other fetal brain defects. The most recent increase in outbreaks has been in South America, specifically Brazil. Also reports from Central America and Puerto Rico have occurred. No local mosquitoes have been found to have the Zika virus in the United States. Cases that have been diagnosed in the U.S. were all related to travel exposure. The Zika virus can be detected by a blood test, but the availability is limited. Tests need to be approved by the state CDC. Treatment is all symptomatic; it is aimed at preventing dehydration, controlling fever and aches.

Prevention of transmission is also important. Transmission has been found to occur through sexual contact. Males who have traveled to areas endemic with Zika virus and have a pregnant partner are recommended to use condoms with any sexual activity throughout the entire pregnancy. Men who have traveled to endemic areas should avoid attempting to impregnate their partner for 3 months post exposure. Women who become pregnant after recent travel to endemic areas should consult their physician for testing. So as you can see it’s a good news story but not something most of us in the state of New Jersey will have much exposure to.

What we do need to be more concerned about is West Nile virus, which does occur in the northeast. Again symptoms are flu like in nature, fever, aches, chills, and diarrhea. In less than 1% of the cases people develop encephalitis or meningitis. These patients suffer from severe headache, neck pain, fever and seizures. Treatment usually entails supportive treatment in a hospital setting.

The true goal with any mosquito borne illness is prevention. Avoiding mosquito bites by using repellants that contain DEET is the mainstay. When weather permits, wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors at night is beneficial. Mosquito proof your home by fixing screens and keeping doors closed. Reduce the # of mosquitoes in your yard by removing standing water. Also notify the state of any issues with dead birds in your area, which can be a sign of West Nile virus. Some local municipalities may participate in applying insecticides.

All in all mosquito borne illnesses are not that common in our area. A little prevention will go a long way. If you are planning on traveling to areas endemic with mosquitoes check the CDC website to see what specific precautions should be taken.



The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck.

The thyroid gland can be described as a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working properly.

Prevalence and Impact of Thyroid Disease
Here are a few statistics about thyroid disease from the American Thyroid Association.

  • More than 12% of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.
  • An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
  • Up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
  • Women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
  • One woman in 8 will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
  • Most thyroid cancers respond to treatment, although a small percentage can be very aggressive.
  • The causes of thyroid problems are largely unknown.
  • Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for certain serious conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.
  • Pregnant women with undiagnosed or inadequately treated hypothyroidism have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.
  • Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that can be managed with medical attention.

Facts about the Thyroid Gland and Thyroid Disease
According to the ATA, the thyroid is a hormone-producing gland that regulates the body’s metabolism—the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen—and affects critical body functions, such as energy level and heart rate.

  • The thyroid gland is located in the middle of the lower neck.
  • Although the thyroid gland is relatively small, it produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue and organ in the body.
  • Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
  • Symptoms include extreme fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, and some weight gain.
  • Hyperthyroidism, another form of thyroid disease, is a condition causing the gland to produce too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms include irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, sleep disturbances, vision problems and eye irritation.
  • Graves’ disease is a type of hyperthyroidism; it is an autoimmune disorder that is genetic and estimated to affect 1% of the population.

Research Advancements in Thyroid Disease
Research funded by the ATA over the past 40 years has accomplished the following:

  • Mandatory screening of newborns for congenital hypothyroidism, and early treatment that has prevented mental retardation.
  • Cost-effective methods to detect thyroid cancer by screening the 250,000 thyroid nodules developed in Americans each year.
  • Groundbreaking work in brain development and thyroid hormone function.
  • Promising Graves’ disease genetic research that may lead to improved prognosis and new preventive treatments.
  • An experimental drug that may prove useful for treatment and prevention of eye problems associated with Graves’ disease.

For more information, contact the American Thyroid Association.

FALL 2015

We thought our patients would find this article helpful:

5 Important (But Rarely Explained) Medical Terms, and What They Mean

By Jeanne Faulkner

No one wants to seem ignorant when they see their doctor, but no one should be expected to be bilingual either. If your doctor’s medical jargon is incomprehensible, you’re not getting your money’s worth. In fact, not knowing what your doctor is talking about can be downright dangerous.

Here are five common terms that patients hear frequently—but often don’t understand.

1. Blood Pressure. When your doctor says your blood pressure is something over something, what is she talking about? She’s referring to the pressure of the blood in the arteries, the result of the heart muscle’s contractions. Let’s say your blood pressure is 120 over 80, which is read as 120/80. The two numbers reflect the first and last heartbeats heard with a stethoscope after a blood pressure cuff (a sphygmometer) is pumped up to restrict blood flow, then slowly released.

  • The first number (120) is called systolic pressure and it measures the highest pressure as the heart contracts.
  • The second number (80) is called diastolic pressure and it measures the lowest pressure as the heart relaxes.

What should your blood pressure be? If your systolic number is below 120, and your diastolic number is below 80, you have normal blood pressure. Higher numbers can indicate pre-hypertension, or hypertension (high blood pressure).

2. Cholesterol. What if your doctor says you have high cholesterol? Cholesterol is a natural chemical compound produced by the body, a combination of lipid (fat) and steroid. Cholesterol is a building block for cell membranes and hormones like estrogen and testosterone. The liver produces about 80 percent of the body’s cholesterol; the rest comes from diet. When your doctor gives you your cholesterol lab results, you’ll hear three numbers, which are expressed in terms of milligrams (thousandths of a gram) per deciliter (tenths of a liter) of blood (mg/dL).

  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is known as “bad cholesterol,” because high levels are associated with heart disease. LDL levels lower than 100 md/dL are great; levels from about 130 to 160 mg/dL are borderline, and higher levels boost your risk of heart disease.
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is considered “good cholesterol,” because it prevents the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) by taking cholesterol out of the arteries and depositing it in the liver. An HDL level of 60 mg/dL or more is good. For men, levels below 40 mg/dL and for women, below 50/dL, raise your risk of heart disease.
  • Total Cholesterol is the sum total of all cholesterol components in your blood stream. A good total cholesterol level is under 200 mg/dL.

3. Biopsy. If your doctor says you need a biopsy, she wants to remove and examine a tissue sample. Biopsies often help diagnose or rule out cancers, but are also used to identify other conditions. Biopsies may be performed with a needle or a scalpel; they might be minor procedures or require general anesthesia. After a biopsy, your tissue sample will be sent to a laboratory, examined under a microscope, and subjected to any tests your doctor has ordered.

4. CBC and BMP. Your doctor may order these blood tests to help determine your health status. CBC stands for Complete Blood Count, and it measures the amount of several different types of blood cells, including white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs), hemoglobin (HGB), hematocrit (HCT), and platelets in your body.

  • WBC: The normal range is between 4,500 and 10,000 cells/mcL, or cells per microliter (millionth of a liter). A higher count usually indicates infection.
  • RBC, Hgb and Hct values indicate the presence or absence of anemia (a lack of red blood cells). Normal RBC range for men is 4.7 to 6.1 million cells/mcL; for women, normal range is between 4.2 to 5.4 million cells/mcL. Normal Hgb is between 13.8 to 17.2 gm/dL (grams per deciliter, or tenth of a liter) for men, and between 12.1 and 15.1 gm/dL for women. Normal Hct ranges from 40.7 to 50.3% (in men), and from 36.1 to 44.3% (in women).
  • Platelets indicate your blood’s ability to clot. The normal platelet count range is between150,000 – 400,000 platelets per microliter (millionths of a liter).
  • BMP stands for Basic Metabolic Panel, a test for sodium, potassium, calcium, and glucose levels, and measurements of kidney function. Your doctor may order this if you’ve had vomiting or diarrhea, or to screen for other types of diseases, including heart and kidney disease.

5. Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is a measure of your weight in comparison to your height. It’s calculated by plugging your height and weight into a formula.

  • Normal BMI for adults is between 20 and 25.
  • Overweight is 25 to 30.
  • Obese is 30 to 35.
  • Morbidly obese is 35 to 40 or above.

Don’t hesitate to speak up when your doctor speaks medical-ese. Excellent health care is all about communication and getting the information you need.