Tag Archives: awareness

10 Tips to Lower Your Risk Of Oral Cancer (Part 1)

There are nearly 50,000 cases of oral cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, and approximately 9,750 deaths caused by it. Some types of cancer are more preventable than others. Luckily, many of the risk factors for oral cancer are modifiable, so by changing certain lifestyle habits you can drastically lower your risk for this particular cancer. Let’s take a look at some of the preventative measures you can take:

  1. Practice good oral hygiene – It may seem like an obvious tip, but keeping your teeth clean by practicing a vigilant dental hygiene routine of brushing and flossing will help your mouth remain free of infections and lessen your chances of developing disease.
  2. Limit drinking – While the light or social drinkers need not worry, heavy alcohol drinking is considered a major risk factor for oral and oropharyngeal cancer and has been linked with a large number of cases.
  3. Kick tobacco to the curb – Smoking or chewing tobacco is one of the top causes of oral cancer. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), approximately 80% of people diagnosed with oral cancer have used tobacco in some form. Chewing tobacco makes you even more likely to develop cancer than smoking cigarettes.
  4. Curb your diet – Unhealthy diets that don’t contain enough fruit and veggies have been linked to the development of oral cancer. It is important to ensure you’re getting plenty of leafy greens, other veggies and fruit and limiting saturated fats and processed meats.
  5. Keep an eye on your dentures – Sometimes people who wear dentures take their mouths for granted, because they don’t have to go to the dentist to get their teeth checked regularly or floss, so it can be easy to get a little complacent when it comes to mouth care. Unfortunately, ill-fitting dentures can irritate the gums and raise your risk of developing damage that may make your mouth more vulnerable to cancer. If you don’t keep your mouth clean enough or wash your dentures regularly it can lead to infection and other complications as well.

That concludes part 1 of our look at oral cancer prevention tips, stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow! Thanks for visiting DocChat.

What is Sarcoidosis?

April is Sarcoidosis Awareness Month, so we wanted to take a closer look at this widely unknown condition. Sarcoidosis is a multisystem condition whereby tiny granulomas (abnormal inflammatory tissues) grow in different parts of the body, most often affecting the lungs, eyes, skin and lymph nodes. Let’s check out some more facts:

  • The root of the condition is not yet fully understood, but medical research seems to suggest it stems from a problem with an over-reactive immune system.
  • Common symptoms include: fatigue, chronic cough, breathing problems, rashes or red bumps, joint problems (such as swelling or pain), enlarged lymph nodes, kidney stones, arrhythmias or other heart problems, psychiatric problems, seizures, vision problems or hearing problems.
  • Sarcoidosis can cause a serious skin condition called lupus pernio (also known as cutaneous sarcoidosis) that causes deep red or purple nodules and marks on the skin.
  • Approximately 1 in every 2500 Americans have some degree of sarcoidosis.
  • Sarcoidosis usually affects young adults and is more prevalent among African-American people than Caucasians. African-American women are most likely to develop the disease than any other demographic.
  • As with many conditions, if you have sarcoidosis, maintaining good health will help your chances of getting rid of the condition. This includes undergoing regular exercise, eating healthy, getting enough water and sleep, and avoiding smoking or excess drinking.
  • Unfortunately, up to 30% of people with sarcoidosis go on to develop some lung damage, so it is very important to follow up regularly with your specialist or doctor if you have the condition, so they can reassess which treatment avenues may be best for you to prevent further damage.
  • Treatment for sarcoidosis sometimes includes medications commonly prescribed for other painful autoimmune conditions including: prednisone, Plaquenil, methotrexate, or other DMARDs (disease modifying antirheumatic drugs).
  • Sarcoidosis is not easily diagnosed, as many of its symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, but if your doctor suspects you may have the condition he or she will examine you and your medical records and order certain tests to confirm such as x-rays or HRTC scans.
  • Causes of sarcoidosis are not fully understood, but the condition seems to stem sometimes from abnormal reaction to certain bacteria or viral strains, chemicals, or in some cases perhaps a hereditary predilection.
  • This condition can involve, or cause complications with the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain or eyes.
  • There is no cure for sarcoidosis but treatment helps most people, and nearly half of all cases resolve themselves or go into long remission stages without treatment. Some severe cases can become chronic and cause damage to organs.

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What is Public Health and Why Should You Be Paying Closer Attention?

The first week in April is National Public Health Awareness week, so we wanted to take a closer look at just how important public health is to us all as individuals, and our country (and planet) as a whole.

What is Public Health, Exactly?

Public health is essentially the science of promoting public wellbeing and safety. It involves informing the public of potential health hazards such as infectious diseases, promoting safety and awareness and helping prevent illness for the general public. The leading public health resource and authority in the United States is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What Does the CDC Do?

CDC professionals work tirelessly to:

  • Provide credible, thoroughly researched health information.
  • Work with local, state and federal partners to keep watch on and help prevent infectious disease outbreaks.
  • Conduct health research.
  • Warn public of potential infectious hazards, and gives information on what to watch out for and how to avoid particular illnesses.
  • Lead public, front-line health efforts to help control infectious diseases.
  • Help develop and reform health policies.
  • Help disseminate important health-related government information by making it more accessible to general public.
  • Provide a detailed, current database of information about countless diseases and conditions.
  • Ensure the latest health information is always up-to-date.
  • Provide funding for state and national health programs and facilities.
  • Promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors.

All these efforts by the CDC and similar organizations help keep us all safer and healthier.

Public Awareness is Power

By warning the public of various serious or life-threatening contagious diseases, public health organizations like the CDC or the WHO (World Health Organization) can help us learn what symptoms to be on the look out for, precautionary measures to take and other ways to prevent contracting these illnesses. The more we know, the more we can do for our own health.

Which Issues Fall Under the Public Health Umbrella?

Public health usually focuses on issues like smoking, cancer, infectious diseases, healthy living, diabetes and other chronic diseases, recent nutrition and diet information, HIV/AIDS, prenatal issues, climate change, pollution, obesity, vaccines and much more.

What Can You Do to Contribute to Better Public Health?

If you felt inclined to contribute to public health awareness, you can help make a difference by joining the public health movement, ‘Generation Public Health’, or helping raise awareness for certain diseases, causes, or organizations like the CDC on social media, or you can physically volunteer in your local public health sector.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Stay healthy and happy!

Know The Signs of Encephalitis

Encephalitis is a medical term meaning inflammation of the brain. While some cases are mild and quickly resolved, it can be a very serious condition, especially in children. There are many causes of encephalitis, but the most common causes are viral infections. Let’s take a look at some of the other causes, symptoms to look out for, complications and treatment:

Symptoms of Encephalitis

Some cases of encephalitis are asymptomatic, but others may exhibit a variety of symptoms such as cold-like ones. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion or mental fogginess
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Aches and pains
  • Hallucinations
  • Vision, speech or auditory interruptions
  • Fainting
  • False smells (smelling foul or rotten scents that aren’t really there)

Small children or babies may exhibit these symptoms:

  • Bulging of the soft part of the skull in infants
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Inconsolable fussiness
  • Stiffness
  • Irritability
  • Problems feeding

Babies or children exhibiting any of these symptoms should receive urgent medical attention.

Causes of Encephalitis

  1. Childhood infections such as rubella or the mumps.
  2. Herpes simplex virus (genital herpes is actually the most common cause of encephalitis).
  3. Animal-spread viruses such as rabies.
  4. Arboviruses – these are viruses that are carried and spread by insects, most commonly, mosquitos or ticks.
  5. Having a growth – a cancerous or noncancerous tumor.
  6. Being immunocomprimosed – If you have a weakened immune system due to disease or medications you are at greater risk of picking up an infection.

Complications of Encephalitis

There may be temporary or long-term complications such as fatigue, memory, auditory, speech or thought problems or paralysis. It may also cause brain damage, a coma or even death in instances of severe brain inflammation. Untreated or severe encephalitis has even surprisingly been linked to dementia in children.

Encephalitis Prevention and Treatment

Treatment for encephalitis varies and depends on the severity and root cause. It often includes a combination of anti-inflammatories, antiviral and antibiotic medications. There is no way to prevent encephalitis completely, but the best precautionary measure you can take is to be safe about mosquitoes and bugs, and practice good hygiene and try to avoid sick people or contaminated areas.

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Multiple Sclerosis Fast Facts

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, progressive disease of the nervous system that can cause severe, and sometimes debilitating, symptoms. Let’s take a look at some of the key facts to help gain a better understanding of this mysterious and devastating disease:

  • MS causes damage to the protective myelin sheaths surrounding the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. This causes interruptions in the nerve signals.
  • MS is classified as an autoimmune disease, because it is understood that the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin.
  • MS is relatively rare, afflicting an estimated 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million people worldwide.
  • People with other autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to develop MS.
  • Like many autoimmune diseases, MS is much more prevalent in women than men.
  • It is suspected that MS is caused or triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors such as certain viral infections or vitamin deficiencies.
  • MS usually follows a course that includes multiple flares followed by periods of better health (known as remissions).
  • There are different types of MS, but the most common type is relapsing-remitting, where symptoms sometimes recede with the help of certain medication.
  • Contrary to decades ago, there are many viable treatment options available today for MS including corticosteroid treatment and DMARD (disease modifying antirheumatic drug) options that can really help alter the trajectory of the disease.
  • MS can have widely varying symptoms ranging from mild to disabling. Some of the main symptoms include: fatigue, confusion or fogginess, depression, speech difficulty, dizziness, vision problems, numbness of the extremities, bowel or bladder dysfunction, inflammation, facial numbness and tingling, muscle spasms and pain.
  • When diagnoses is made and treatment starts early in the disease, there will more likely be a better outcome.
  • Even though some MS sufferers are wheelchair-bound, the majority of MS sufferers will not be significantly disabled.
  • MS appears to be most prevalent in more polar areas of the world (further north or south of the equator).
  • The diagnostic process of MS can be long and convoluted. It may involve years of testing and multiple different specialists. Some people get a quick, straightforward diagnosis but for many it can be a long, hard road.
  • MS is usually diagnosed in middle-adulthood but can occur or be discovered at any age.
  • MS is not a terminal condition, but it can cause many complications. People with MS live an average of 6-7 years less than the general population.
  • MS does not usually interfere with pregnancy, and pregnancy doesn’t usually impact the course of the disease either way.
  • There is currently no cure for MS, but medical researchers are still at work to find one.
  • As with many autoimmune diseases, a person can be suffering with a difficult case of MS but it may not be apparent to the average onlooker. So, always be kind, you never know what someone is going through!

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Are The Mumps Making a Comeback?

Do you remember seeing the pockets of hockey players becoming infected with the long-unheard-of mumps in the news recently? It’s true – according to the CDC, the mumps is making a vehement comeback, reaching a 10-year high. It is highly contagious and can spread through saliva or respiratory droplets. But if you were vaccinated against the mumps as a child, you have nothing to worry about, right? Not necessarily. Did you know the vaccine wears off after about 15 years? Therefor, it is important to go back and get that second one to ensure you keep this highly contagious illness at bay.

What Are the Symptoms to Look Out For?

Symptoms of the mumps include:

  • Aches and pains
  • A fever
  • A persistent headache
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of the testicles or ovaries
  • The signature ‘chipmunk cheeks’ caused by swelling of the salivary glands.

The mumps often resolves itself after a period of significant discomfort, but sometimes there are unfortunate lasting effects such as infertility or deafness. It can also lead to an infection around the brain (meningitis), which can be deadly.

Who Is Primarily Affected by the Recent Outbreak, and Why?

The mumps can strike anyone (who isn’t already immune to the disease), but recent outbreaks appear to strike young adults more often. The reason? One of two. One: the infected young people weren’t vaccinated to begin with or, two: they happened to be born between the early 1970’s and 1994, before a second vaccination in adolescents became common practice. This age group comprised a small gap in the herd immunity that wouldn’t have received their second mumps vaccination. So, what’s the best way around this? To check out your medical record and see if you fell in the category of people who didn’t receive their second immunity shot, and if you did, go get yours today!

How Can the Mumps be Prevented?

Unlike some diseases, outbreaks can be rather silent and unpredictable because they are most contagious and spread quickly during their incubation period before symptoms even show up. So, how to protect yourself against an unpredictable disease? While the measles mumps vaccine isn’t 100% proof against the diseases, it does have a very high effectivity when both doses are taken appropriately. Therefor, getting yourself and your family vaccinated is simply the best protective measure you can take against diseases like the mumps or measles.

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The Many Facets of Anemia

Anemia is a medical condition that occurs when your red blood cell (RBC) count drops too low, causing an insufficient amount of hemoglobin to be delivered to your tissues. Anemia has a variety of causes and can cause various symptoms and complications. Let’s take a closer look at some of the facts:

  • According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), anemia is the most common blood disorder, afflicting over 3 million Americans.
  • Symptoms of anemia include: weakness, dizziness, persistent headache, irregular heartbeat (such as tachycardia), chest pain, jaundice, shortness of breath, mood changes, discolored skin, cold extremities and extreme fatigue. It should be noted that many other conditions can cause similar symptoms as well.
  • There are different types of anemia such as sickle-cell anemia, malarial anemia and hemolytic, to name a few.
  • Anemia may develop if your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells (aplastic anemia), or because you bleed too much or too easily (haemophiliac), or perhaps your body is attacking its own red blood cells due to an underlying autoimmune condition such as Crohn’s.
  • An iron deficiency is a common cause of anemia as your body needs iron to produce hemoglobin (which is responsible for oxygen). Pregnancy, cancer, long-term aspirin use and heavy menstruation are all potential causes of iron-deficient anemia.
  • Vitamin deficiencies can also lead to anemia, most commonly, vitamin B12. If someone isn’t able to naturally metabolize B12 it can lead to a specific type of anemia labeled pernicious anemia. These people would likely require regular vitamin B12 shots.
  • Risk factors include: deficient diet (if your diet lacks certain important vitamins and minerals), autoimmune intestinal disorders or other types of chronic disorders, haemophilia or a similar blood disease, heavy menstruation, or family history.
  • Some kinds of anemia (primarily inherited types) can be fatal if the person loses too much blood and their red blood cell count drops dangerously low.
  • If a person’s blood test results show a hemoglobin level of less than 13.5gm/dl for a male or less than 12gm/dl for a woman a diagnosis of anemia will likely be made and steps will be taken to understand any underlying problems and help correct them.
  • Some types of anemia can be prevented through a healthy diet rich in meat and dairy (B12), citrus and veggies (sources of folate) and iron-rich foods like nuts. Several types of anemia (such as those inherited) cannot be prevented, but can be effectively treated.
  • In some cases, vitamin or iron supplements will be recommended. However, it is important to practice caution when it comes to dietary supplements. it is not advisable to just start taking a new supplement without first cross checking your medical conditions or medications with a doctor and asking his or her advice on your particular situation.
  • Treatment for anemia is dependent on the type you have. It often involves a combination of blood transfusions and case-specific medications.

We hope this article has helped you learn a little more about this common blood condition, thanks for visiting DocChat!

Toxic Shock Syndrome – Not Always Caused by Tampons

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a serious, and in rare cases fatal, bacterial infection. It occurs when the staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus pyogenes bacteria enter the body and infect the blood. The condition is very rare, some years afflicting only tens of Americans, but it can largely be prevented. For that reason, it is important to be aware of the condition and to be able to sort through myths.

Is TSS Only Caused By Tampons?

No. Even though TSS is primarily associated with tampons in the media, the condition can actually affect females or males of any age for a variety of reasons (many of which are not tampon-related). Just under half of all TSS cases are a result of a woman having left a tampon in for too long. TSS is definitely a concern for women who use tampons regularly, as it is more likely to happen to them. However, as long as women employ proper tampon health practices, they should have no problems using them. Women who use contraceptive sponges, menstrual cups or diaphragms should also practice safe application and removal techniques as those devices can potentially lead to TSS as well.

What Other Things Can Cause TSS?

TSS can also be caused by post-surgical wounds or other types or minor or major wounds or abrasions to the skin in which TSS-related bacteria can enter and infect the body. Those with compromised immune systems are also at higher risk of all kinds of infections.

What Are the Symptoms of TSS?

Symptoms may differ from person to person, but common signs and symptoms include:

  • Hypotension
  • Deep muscle aches or headache
  • Disorientation
  • Severe fever or chills
  • Generalized sunburn-like rash
  • Very red eyes or mouth
  • Stomach upset (potentially including vomiting or diarrhea)
  • Seizures

What Are the Potential Complications?

TSS can lead to vital organ failure (specifically liver) or shock, and ultimately death if it is left untreated. In some cases, survivors of TSS experience chronic lung, heart, liver or kidney problems as a result of damage caused by the infection. Therefor, if you are experiencing symptoms of a blood or body infection, get it checked out immediately to ensure you do not have TSS or a similarly dangerous infection.

How is TSS Diagnosed and Treated?

A doctor will likely perform one or several tests if he or she suspects TSS is making you sick. They may order a urine and feces test to look for the presence of staphylococcus A. A doctor may also take a vaginal swab in women or a throat swab to check for the presence of the bacteria. If the doctor determines it is TSS, he will likely have you hospitalized temporarily and administer an IV of antibiotics. Other treatments may focus on controlling symptoms such as stabilizing blood pressure.

How Can TSS Be Prevented?

Be sure to clean any wounds thoroughly and have wounds checked by a doctor if signs of external infection begin to develop. Women who wear tampons should be careful wash their hands before and after applying a tampon and never leave one in for longer than 7-8 hours. TSS has also been most associated with super-absorbent tampons than other kinds, so it would be best to try to avoid the super-absorbent kind if you are concerned with TSS. Tampons are perfectly safe when used correctly.

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Fast Facts About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are prevalent in America. They are very serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. It is so important to be able to recognize the signs of eating disorders so you can help someone who may be struggling with one, or recognize early signs in yourself to help prevent full onset. Let’s take a look at some of the facts:

  • Eating disorders are often a result of a severely impaired self image (body dysmorphia), as well as other influencing factors.
  • Those with anorexia have an intense fear of gaining weight and fear they are much larger than they actually are.
  • People suffering from either bulimia or anorexia struggle with distorted body images and very low self esteem.
  • The three main eating disorders are: Bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. There are other subtypes such as anorexia athletica as well.
  • Eating disorders are not simply a matter of choice. They are medical conditions that can be deadly.
  • Nearly 24 million Americans struggle with an eating disorder, many of whom deal with comorbid depression or anxiety as well.
  • Eating disorders are treatable but unfortunately, only 10% of those with eating disorders will get treatment for their condition.
  • Anorexia is 12 times more likely to kill young women (aged 15-24) than any other cause of death.
  • Eating disorder sufferers often will go to great lengths to hide their disorder from others, which can make it difficult to spot or treat.
  • Women suffering from anorexia nervosa often experience dysmenorrhea (absence of periods) from malnutrition.
  • Anorexia can cause serious problems to nearly every system in the body, eventually leading to organ damage or failure if left untreated.
  • People suffering from anorexia nervosa typically have body weights of under 85% of the range considered healthy for their height.
  • Bulimia sufferers may ingest large amounts of food (often in private), followed by purging via laxatives or vomiting. Often this cycle involves a surplus of guilt about eating and weight.
  • There are two types of anorexia nervosa: restricting subtype (where the individual drastically restricts caloric intake), and the purging subtype (the person uses laxatives, exercise or vomiting to purge calories that have been consumed).
  • Individuals with binge eating disorders (BED) engage in episodes of high-caloric binge eating, but do not follow these episodes with purging like a bulimic person would.
  • Binge eating disorders are sometimes called compulsive overeating or food addiction.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric disorder.
  • Causes of eating disorders may include a combination of genetics, chemical imbalances, low self esteem or body dysmorphic issues, traumatic lifestyle or family dysfunction.
  • Symptoms of anorexia include: the person thinking they are fat when they are in fact thin, drastically under-eating or counting calories, missing menstrual periods, hair loss, fuzzy “peach fuzz” hair over face, arms or back, fatigue, syncope (fainting), skin discoloration, frailty, weight loss, stomach issues (such as frequent trips to the washroom or constipation).
  • Symptoms of bulimia include: self esteem and body image issues, binge eating episodes, frequent washroom trips (especially directly after eating), poor control over binge eating, hidden wrappers and disappearing food, excessive use of laxatives, puffy cheeks, tooth problems, frequent weight fluctuations.
  • Eating disorders are highly treatable, but it is so important for people to seek medical help if they are suffering from or know someone suffering from an eating disorder.
  • Treatment includes a variety of steps including helping the person return to a normal weight, treating the underlying psychological issues such as self esteem, as well as to help the person overcome any obsessions, actions or thoughts that contributed to the eating disorder.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, talk to a doctor today or call The Academy for Eating Disorders (847-498-4274) or the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (847-831-3438). Thanks for visiting DocChat!

What is Pica?

Pica is an eating disorder characterized by the tenacious need or desire to ingest non-food, non-nutritious items that lasts longer than a few weeks. Pica can be serious and even life threatening (depending on the substance that is ingested).

How Common is Pica?

It is difficult to tell how prevalent the disorder is among the general population, as it has been studied and researched mostly among institutionalized populations. Pica cravings are sometimes seen in pregnant women and appear to be fairly common among very young children, but they often grow out of pica tendencies. Pica has also been linked with other conditions such as epilepsy, autism as well as cognitive impairment.

What Types of Things Do People With Pica Crave?

Those with pica may crave and consume nearly anything, including:

  • Ice
  • Dirt
  • Clay
  • Chalk
  • Wax
  • Dish detergent or cleaning solution
  • Burnt matches
  • Cardboard
  • Paint chips or liquid paint
  • Hair
  • Excrement
  • Blood
  • Glass
  • Ashes
  • Wood

What Are The Potential Complications of Pica?

Ingesting certain toxic or harmful substances can have serious or even deadly consequences such as: tooth problems, constipation or diarrhea, bowel obstructions or perforations, intestinal hemorrhages, poisoning (most commonly lead poisoning), infections or parasite infestations.

Pregnancy Pica

We all know pregnancy can sometimes bring about some strange cravings such as pickles or mustard on everything, but sometimes pregnancy may cause pica tendencies, often for earthy-type substances like soil. It isn’t known exactly why pregnancy may bring about cravings for non-nutritional items, in some cases a deficiency may be to blame. Pregnant women often crave ice, which is called pagophagia which has been linked to underlying anemia in rare cases.

Pica in Children

It is common for babies to put objects in their mouth while they are trying to figure the world out, but when a child becomes old enough to know the difference but still eats dirt or non-food items, pica may be the cause. Pica in children appears to be most common among toddlers but can occur at any age. Children often outgrow the tendency, but it may resurface late in like.

Potential Reasons Behind Pica

The exact causes of pica aren’t fully understood or identified but different cases may be influenced by different factors such as:

  • Underlying mental health disorders such as OCD, schizophrenia or generalized anxiety disorder
  • Underlying physical health conditions such as epilepsy, anemia or
  • Cultural, religious or learned behavior – In some cultures eating clay or earth-type substances (geophagia) is accepted and learned.
  • Some pica sufferers use it as a means to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Some people with pica insist they simply enjoy the taste of their chosen non-food item

Because pica can be life threatening in some cases, if you yourself have the disorder or you suspect your child may have pica, it is important to seek evaluation from a doctor who will start the diagnostic process and get you or your child the suitable help to overcome the disorder. Thanks for visiting DocChat!