Tag Archives: disease

A Guide to Coping With a Newly Diagnosed Chronic Illness (Part 3)

It can be very tough to receive a new diagnosis, especially if it is something that may last a lifetime like lupus or diabetes, but there are things you can do to make your journey ahead easier. Let’s take a look at a few more tips for readying yourself to deal with a new chronic diagnosis:

Strive to Stay Positive

It is important when dealing with a chronic illness that you don’t sink into a comorbid depression. This can cloud your judgement when it comes to taking medications routinely or staying on a healthy, motivated path and will add a whole new layer to your suffering. Recent studies also suggest that looking to a higher power, developing a kinship with nature or engaging in any kind of spiritual activity or belief may help ease the burden of a chronic illness by promoting positivity. However, any healthy thing you think of that will both keep you smiling and ward off stress will do just fine!

Prepare for Flares

While we’ve established that positivity is a must in dealing with chronic illness, but it is also important not to set unrealistic expectations for your health. It is a good idea to be ‘cautiously optimistic’ during periods of disease remission (no symptoms): both happy you’re doing well, but also prepared in case things start to get rocky again. If you always ensure you’re prepared for turbulence along the way, you won’t be blindsided or discouraged if your illness has a flare-up. So basically, keep your smile but also keep a protective umbrella over your head so you’re ready if things take a tough turn.

Kick Chronic Stress to the Curb

Too much stress is not only terrible for everyone, but also happens to be a major trigger of many (if not all) chronic illnesses. When you are stressed, your adrenal hormones spike, causing your heart to pound in your chest, your neck and shoulder muscles to tense up, your blood pressure to rise and your breath to become irregularly fast. This is your body in its ‘fight or flight’ mode. If these levels are constantly thrown out-of-whack can incite symptoms of a dormant disease to resurface, especially in the case of autoimmune diseases. Stress also seems to be a front-running factor in heart disease. For the sake of your mental and physical wellbeing, get your stress under control today. Try some of our Stress Busters if you need some tips on how to lessen it.

Don’t Let Your Illness Overshadow Your Identity

Sometimes coming to terms with an illness that is out of control or overwhelming by nature can take over a person’s life. Between doctors, specialists, new medications, symptoms, flare-ups, and the emotional roller coaster you may be dealing with, it is hard to think of much else. However, even though the focus may have to be on your illness while you get to know it and try to get adjusted both mentally and physically (or if you are going through a bad flare-up), when things calm down it is a good idea to try to redirect your focus to the other things that are important to you.

We hope our guide to coping with a new chronic illness can help ease your difficult journey a little! If you haven’t already caught Part 1 and Part 2 of our guide, check them out today! Thanks for visiting DocChat.


10 Types of Cardiovascular Disease

According to the CDC, heart (cardiovascular) disease is the leading cause of death in American for both men and women, causing over 600,000 deaths annually. There are many types of heart disease, 10 of the most common are:

  1. Ischemic heart disease often results in a partial blockage caused by a lack of oxygenated blood to the heart (ischemia). This causes such symptoms as angina (chest pain), shortness of breath (SOB). If ischemia leads to a complete blockage, a heart attack will ensue.
  2. Cardiac arrest also known as a myocardial infraction, happens when there is not enough oxygen flowing to the heart because of a blockage. Most heart attacks are a result of coronary heart disease (CHD).
  3. Coronary heart disease develops when plaque builds up in the arteries (atherosclerosis), causing them to become hardened and clogged. Eventually these clogged arteries can lead to a heart attack because blockages don’t let enough oxygenated blood reach the heart.
  4. Cerebrovascular diseases are conditions that adversely affect blood supply to the brain, one of the main types of cerebrovascular disease is stroke.
  5. Heart failure happens when a person’s heart doesn’t pump strongly enough to circulate blood properly around the entire body, often not reaching the extremities which results in swelling in the legs and ankles, exercise intolerance and SOB. Heart failure can be caused by many things including a heart condition called cardiomyopathy or excess alcohol consumption.
  6. Congenital heart disease is a structural abnormality of the heart resulting from a birth defect. These can be minor, or cause severe disability or even death if not properly surgically corrected.
  7. Arrhythmia – An arrhythmia disrupts the heart’s normal electrical impulses causing irregular heartbeats. They range from mild to life-threatening. Some of the main symptoms include: dizziness, syncope (fainting or near-fainting), weakness, sensations of irregular beats.
  8. Aneurysm is a condition whereby an artery wall weakens and abnormally expands. They can occur in different places in the body, but an aortic aneurysm happens in the heart’s major artery. If they burst they can cause pain, clamminess, shock, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure or vomiting.
  9. Hypertensive heart disease occurs when a person experiences chronically elevated blood pressure which can eventually overburden the heart, leading to other types of heart disease or a cardiac episode.
  10. Inflammatory heart disease happens when there is inflammation in and around the heart which can lead to deadly complications if left untreated.

There many are other types of heart disease such as rheumatic and vascular heart disease as well. It is important to seek emergency treatment if you are experiencing these symptoms, or any others that could be related to a cardiac emergency. Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Breast Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Breast Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Breast cancer develops as a result of mutated breast cells. In approximately 10% of these cases, the mutations are acquired through genetic predispositions, while most cases of breast cancer are influenced by a combination of environmental, lifestyle or hormonal risk factors. In many of these cases the exact cause of the cell mutation will never fully be known.

Risk Factors Versus Causes

The direct causes of breast cancer are not well understood as it is a very complex disease, however we do know that common risk factors often play important roles in the development of different types of cancer. Having one or more risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop breast cancer, nor does being a carrier of certain genes, however risk factors do put you at greater risk of eventually developing the disease.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Some of the known risk factors that may contribute to the development of breast cancer include:

  • Inheriting certain genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Having a close relative with breast cancer
  • Aging. While some women develop breast cancer at a young age, generally your risk increases as you get older.
  • Being female
  • Ethnicity. Research illustrates that African-American women are at a slightly higher risk of getting breast cancer than Caucasian women.
  • Being exposed to radiation
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Drinking alcohol regularly
  • Undergoing hormone therapy
  • Having already had breast cancer
  • Early menstruation or late menopause – It is thought that estrogen exposure has something to do with breast cancer development.
  • Never becoming pregnant or having children late in life
  • Smoking increases the risk of most types of cancer, including breast cancer as there are over 70 known carcinogens in cigarette smoke.

The Bottom Line

These are not the only risk factors, for example, research suggests that women with chronic nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxins or who suffer chronic inflammation may be at greater risk for developing breast cancer as well. While certain risk factors such as age, ethnicity and genetics are unchangeable, others such as weight or lifestyle choices like drinking and smoking are modifiable. Therefor, it is important to make all the healthy lifestyle choices you can if you wish to put yourself in a lower risk category for breast cancer development.

That concludes our look at the risk factors that can help contribute to breast cancer, keep an eye out for future posts on the topic. Thanks for visiting DocChat!








Cystic Fibrosis Fast Facts

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that affects 30,000 Americans. Let’s take a look at some of the key facts and figures about this serious condition:

  • Cystic fibrosis is a relatively common life-threatening genetic disease that impairs the secretory glands.
  • It affects many different parts of the body including the lungs, pancreas, sweat glands and reproductive tract.
  • CF causes too much salt to build up in cells, therefor creating a thick mucus that lines the lung walls making breathing difficult.
  • People with CF have salty skin.
  • The average life expectancy for people with CF is approximately 37 years of age
  • People with CF are highly prone to lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia and are more vulnerable to the effects than healthy people, so they often die of complications caused by infections.
  • Although exercise is difficult for people with CF, light exercise can help increase lung capacity.
  • Automatic screening for newborns is carried out in nearly all the hospitals in the United States.
  • The disease is present from birth and caused by a mutated gene carried by both parents.
  • If both parents carry the CF gene, there is a 25% chance their child will develop cystic fibrosis.
  • Approximately 10 million Americans are carriers of the CF gene.
  • There are over 900 mutation variants of the gene, so testing is difficult.
  • Life expectancy for people with CF varies on the severity of their condition and how well they respond to medication.
  • Some people thing cystic fibrosis is contagious, but it is not.
  • Symptoms of CF vary, but include: persistent and chronic coughing due to the constant buildup of mucus, exercise intolerance, poor appetite, slowed growth or weight loss, fatigue, wheezing and breathing difficulty, bowel problems such as constipation or diarrhea and weakness or dizziness.
  • There is no cure for CF but there are many treatment options available today that can extend the life of many CF sufferers such as nebulizer medications, inhaled medications, physiotherapy and oxygen supplementation.
  • Ultimately a lung transplant has the best chance of greatly extending the life of a person with severe CF, although lung transplants are risky as the body can reject the donor organs which would greatly increase the risk of death.

That concludes our look into cystic fibrosis. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions about cystic fibrosis or any other medical issue, our excellent board certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365!

Unbelievable Medical Conditions (Part 1)

We often touch on common conditions such as diabetes or allergies, but in this post we wanted to delve into some of the lesser known and more mysterious medical conditions that exist. Awareness is necessary when it comes to all diseases, especially rare or misunderstood ones, as it promotes understanding and acceptance over ignorance. The first 4 conditions on our list are:

  1. Elephantiasis 

    This parasitic disease is caused by the filarial worm, which is most often transmitted to humans by carrier mosquitoes. It causes the lymphatic system to become blocked, leading to immense swelling of the limbs and sometimes other parts of the body such as the genitals. The disease is sometimes accompanied by feelings of general malaise. Elephantiasis affects approximately 120 million people worldwide, but luckily there is a medication that can kill the worms which usually helps resolve the condition.

  2. Musicogenic Epilepsy 

    A few unlucky people across the United States are afflicted by an unique epileptic condition whereby focal seizures are primarily triggered by playing or listening to music. Research suggests the music may induce a reaction from the mesial temporal and orbitofrontal areas of the brain, triggering seizures.

  3. Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva 

    This debilitating genetic condition gradually deforms and disables the body by growing excess bone through the muscles, ligaments, tendons and other tissues, virtually encasing the body in a second skeleton. There is no known cure or treatment for this mystifying condition. Surgical attempts to fix the growths have made cases worse, as it was discovered that the trauma of surgery causes more bone growth in response. Luckily, it is a very rare condition with only 265 confirmed cases in the United States.

  4. Brain-Eating Amoeba 

    Medically known as Naegleria fowleri, these microscopic amoebas are responsible for a handful of deaths each summer, most of which take place in the southern states. N. fowleri are found in untreated sources of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, untreated pools, puddles, ponds, hot springs, aquariums or untreated tap water. They enter through the nose and travel to the brain, causing a disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Cases of PAM are rare but almost always fatal, with only 3 survivors out of more than 130 cases since the 1960’s.

That concludes our look at the first few rare and astounding medical conditions, keep an eye out for 4 more coming up next. Thanks for visiting DocChat, stay happy and healthy!


6 Scary Reasons for Men To Stop Avoiding the Doc (Part 2)

Men simply don’t visit the doctor enough and the proof is in the disease statistics. In Part 1 we looked at the prevalence of heart disease, stroke and cancer among men, so now for a look at depression, diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases:

  1. Depression

Over 6 million American men will struggle with depression annually but unfortunately, statistics show that men are far less likely to seek help for their depression than women. Moreover, depression often doesn’t present the same way between the sexes. The American Psychological Association explains that while women are more likely to battle feelings of guilt, sadness, worthlessness and shame, for men, depression manifests itself as anger (sometimes even episodes of verbal or physical abuse), irritation, lack of motivation, life or job dissatisfaction, and loss of interest in usual activities. Men are also more likely to dangerously self medicate with recreational drugs or alcohol, which compounds the depression, as alcohol is a depressant. It is extremely important for men who are noticing some of these symptoms to go to the doctor and speak up about it to get help. Untreated depression in men can lead to other complications such as sexual dysfunction, job loss, alcohol dependence or even suicidal thoughts (or actions). So see your doctor ASAP if you are experiencing depression symptoms.

  1. Diabetes

More and more men these days are developing diabetes and other kidney problems like chronic kidney disease. Of the 29 million Americans with diabetes, a shocking 25% of those don’t even know they have it. Excess alcohol consumption (which is more prevalent with men as well) and poor diet are both contributing factors to diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Too much alcohol can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can impair its ability to secrete insulin and ultimately lead to diabetes.” Excess alcohol consumption can also contribute to virtually all of the other diseases on our list as well, so it is important to keep alcohol intake under about 2 drinks daily for men.


  1. Sexually Transmitted Disease

Sexually transmitted infections are rampant in America for both men and women, but as many men don’t get screened as regularly, they may not even realize they are silently carrying STIs that can cause harm to both themselves and their partners. Some of the main culprits for men include:

  • HPV – The vast majority of sexually active people will contract a form of the human papilloma virus. While most types are harmless and won’t cause problems, other types can lead to terrible warts or even cancer. Men are often carriers of HPV and pass it to women who man go on to develop precancerous cells or other reproductive issues.
  • Herpes – Nearly 20% of men will contract some type of herpes, most of whom will be under 25 years of age. Herpes is quite an unpleasant disease that can lead to terrible blisters, fever and swollen lymph nodes.
  • HIV – Perhaps the most frightening of all STDs is HIV, which often leads to life-threatening AIDS. HIV can lay dormant for years before developing into AIDS or causing other health problems.
  • Hepatitis B and C – are conditions that cause inflammation of the liver and can be passed from person to person via sexual contact. If left untreated, hepatitis can lead to permanent liver damage or even liver cancer.

There are many other STDs that commonly affect men, including chlamydia and syphilis, so it is important to get regular checkups and screenings to catch and treat any STDs early to avoid future complications or the risk of passing the disease to a partner.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Hopefully some of these scary statistics really hammered home how important it is to attend regular checkups, whether or not you feel sick. If you have any questions or concerns about the health problems listed above (or any other ones), our board certified DocChat doctors are standing by 24/7/365.




Potential Risks of Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious parasitic disease caused by an extremely common parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. The CDC estimates an astonishing 60 million human cases of toxoplasmosis in America. It is often transferred to humans through contact with cat feces or contaminated meat, water or surfaces. Most people won’t display many symptoms, but the infection could be dangerous to certain population demographics, especially unborn children.

Potential Symptoms

Toxoplasmosis is generally asymptomatic in most healthy people, but some will develop flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Severe toxoplasmosis can affect the organs or damage the eyes

Toxoplasmosis and The Immunocompromised

The immunocompromised portion of the population (those with HIV/AIDs or cancer for example) may be hit harder by a toxoplasmosis infection, displaying some of the above symptoms and requiring treatment. The Mayo Clinic advises people who fall under the immunocompromised category to watch out for reactivation of a previous toxoplasmosis infection as well. In this case, they may experience such symptoms as: confusion, seizures, poor coordination or lung problems. Seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms while undergoing chemotherapy, or after having had an organ transplant or if you have another immunocompromising condition.

The Risks of Toxoplasmosis and Pregnancy

Pregnant women who contract this disease may not show many signs themselves aside from mysterious fatigue, but transference of toxoplasmosis from a pregnant woman to her fetus is perhaps the most dangerous facet of the disease. Research suggests about 1 in 200 pregnant women will contract toxoplasmosis. Women who contract toxoplasmosis directly before or during the first few weeks of pregnancy could potentially face a miscarriage or stillbirth, however, these complications are rare. Toxoplasmosis more often affects the baby when it is contracted in the later stages of pregnancy, but the effects will likely less dire. The main complication being that you may pass on congenital toxoplasmosis to your baby which may result in such symptoms as:

  • Eye inflammation or damage
  • Feeding problems
  • Enlarged organs
  • Skin rash
  • Low birth weight
  • Hearing loss

How Can Pregnant Women Avoid Toxoplasmosis Complications?

Prevention is the best way to ensure your pregnancy or baby will not be affected by toxoplasmosis. Such measures include:

  • Not coming in close contact with cats (they are the main culprits for spreading the disease), or at the very least avoid changing cat litter and only play with clean cats
  • Cook meat to the correct temperatures and avoid drinking untreated tap water
  • Clean cooking surfaces vigorously to avoid cross contamination with uncooked meat

It is important to get tested for this parasite if you wish to become pregnant or have just learned you are pregnant. If you do contract toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, however, don’t panic. There is treatment available especially if it is caught early. Talk to your doctor today if you are concerned about this risk.

Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Get Fishy For Your Health!

Fish is one of the healthiest foods you can consume and the benefits don’t stop with omega-3 fatty acids. Many people are aware of the heart health benefits of eating fatty fish, but research is mounting that suggests chowing down on fish regularly may help lessen or prevent other conditions as well.

What Types of Fish Are Most Healthful?

Not all fish are equally as beneficial for your health. Some of the more healthful fish to focus on include:

  • Salmon contains many helpful B vitamins, your whole suggested daily intake of both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as many other goodies. It also has a very low risk for mercury contamination compared to some other types of fish.
  • Tuna is pretty amazing. It is not only one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but it also contains cancer-fighting selenium, niacin, magnesium, protein and vitamin A, while also being low in calories and fat. What a fishy-powerhouse! There is a suggested limit on tuna, however, because of its mercury contaminant risk, but it is a pretty liberal limit (12 oz weekly), so tuna shouldn’t cause any problems unless you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Pacific halibut is rich in vitamin D, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Rainbow trout is a great choice because it contains plenty of vitamin B12 in addition to vitamin D and good fats like other types of fish.
  • Anchovies are high in iron, calcium and magnesium as well as a host of other beneficial components.

How Should Fish be Prepared?

In order to reap the many health pros of fatty fish without adding unhealthy grease (which can counteract the cardiovascular benefits), you should avoid deep frying. Baking or boiling fish are the healthiest cooking methods.

Research-Backed Benefits of Eating Fish

Some of the health benefits that have been linked to consuming fish on a weekly basis include:

  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease – most of the research conducted on the benefits of fish center around its contribution to heart health. Studies upon studies show parallels between consuming fatty fish weekly and having lower risk of dying of heart disease.
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer’s – fish oil has shown promise in improving cognitive functioning and helping lessen or prevent types of cognitive decline.
  • Hair and skin benefits – the hair and skin need healthy fats to really thrive, so routine consumption of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish provide that strengthening boost for shiny hair and healthy skin.
  • May aid in male fertilitypreliminary studies show a link between routine ingestion of fatty fish and stronger, healthier sperm in males.
  • Benefits for arthritis sufferers – because arthritic diseases mainly center around inflammation of the joints, the good fats in fish can help tackle systemic inflammation, potentially lessening the symptoms of the disease over time.
  • Immune system benefits – routine fish consumption has also been linked to helping reduce symptoms of autoimmune diseases because they are also rooted in inflammation. The plethora of vitamins and nutrients in fish also work to help strengthen the immune system.
  • Easing symptoms of depression – fish oil helps improve brain function and may help lesson mild depression in some cases, more research is currently underway.


Does Eating Fish Come With Dangers?

There has been concern among medical professionals and researchers that eating too much of certain types of fish can lead to excess mercury in the body. Fish tend to ingest mercury-containing substances and the potentially harmful element stays in their bodies, so when we consume fish, we are ingesting low levels of mercury as well. However, this is primarily a concern for pregnant or breastfeeding women or small children who are most at risk for experiencing adverse reactions to mercury. Most healthy adults will not be adversely effected by levels of mercury in fish unless they consume a disproportionate amount.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope we’ve convinced you to ‘get fishy for your health’!




Advanced Gum Disease – A Shockingly Common Problem

Astonishingly, nearly half of all Americans over 30 years of age have some form of advanced gum disease (periodontitis), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So what causes this progressive inflammatory gum disease? Who is at risk of getting it? How can it be prevented or treated?

Periodontitis Fast Facts

  • Periodontitis is a gum disease which is caused by a build up of bacteria (plaque) in and around the gums that causes the gums to pull away from the teeth (recession) which eventually exposes the roots of the teeth.
  • The infection, in its advanced stage, often affects the surrounding ligaments in the gums causing breakdown of tissues that support the gums as well as loss of tooth bone.
  • Because of this bone and gum loss, teeth become brittle and eventually start breaking off or falling out or need to be extracted surgically.
  • It can cause mouth infections that spread up through the face as well causing immense pain and suffering, often leading to all teeth having to be surgically removed.
  • Most people often don’t realize they have gum disease until it reaches advanced stages when symptoms become much more obvious. Unfortunately, by then damage is already underway.
  • Some symptoms or “warning signs” of gum disease include: red, tender or swollen gums, mouth or jaw pain, gum bleeding while eating, brushing or flossing, receding gums, loose teeth or bad breath.
  • Excess plaque that builds up around and under the gums is the leading cause of gum disease.
  • In women, periodontitis may be more likely to occur during times when hormones such as progesterone cause increase blood circulation such as during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy or menopause.
  • According to the CDC, 70% of senior Americans over aged 65 have periodontitis.
  • Smokers are at significantly higher risk of developing gum disease than non-smokers as tobacco has been cited as a trigger of gum disease.
  • A genetic component has been established for gum disease. Some people may still be at increased risk of developing gum disease despite excellent oral care routines.
  • Stress may contribute to periodontitis because the body cannot easily fight off infection when it is under constant duress.
  • Other risk factors may include: obesity, pre-existing illnesses such as autoimmune problems, or long-term use of certain medications such as anti-depressants or birth control pills.
  • Gingivitis is the all-too-common precursor to periodontitis. It is the first stage of gum disease, if left untreated or oral hygiene is not stepped up, gingivitis will eventually lead to periodontitis, which can lead to tooth or teeth loss.
  • Advanced gum disease has been linked to other chronic inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of arthritis.
  • Many people believe daily flossing to be overkill and unnecessary, but they are wrong. Daily flossing is one of the best preventative measures as it helps get rid of bacteria build up (plaque) on the teeth that may eventually lead to gum disease.
  • Regular cleanings and checkups are also of utmost importance in preventing or catching gum disease in its early stages so it can hopefully be reversed.
  • You should brush your teeth with a soft or extra soft toothbrush in a circular motion so as not to further aggravate the gums. Aggressive brushing often contributes to gum recession over time.
  • Treatment for gum disease depends on the stage of the disease. You cannot undo gum recession that has already happened, but there are surgical procedures to re-cushion the gums as well as other options.
  • Sometimes dentists can do tooth implants for teeth that have been lost to gum disease, in early stages, they may use special tools to deep clean the gums, and in advanced cases teeth may have to be removed, and dentures can be fitted that look very realistic.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Stay tuned for our next post on natural remedies and preventative measures to take against gum recession and disease.