Tag Archives: health

DIAGNOSIS: RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Sandra was forty years old when she first noticed that the joints in her hands and toes were tender, warm, and swollen. In the mornings, the joints were stiff, and her body ached. She said she felt like she had been run over by a Mack Truck. She knew something was wrong so she made an appointment with her doctor.

The following week she met with her doctor. Sandra described her current symptoms (pain, stiffness, tenderness, warm and swollen joints). The doctor examined each joint, looking for tenderness, swelling, warmth, and painful or limited motion. He noted that the joints on both sides of her body were affected. (Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect joints on both sides of the body.)

Next, the doctor ordered blood tests to measure inflammation levels. The blood tests also look for biomarkers such as antibodies (blood proteins) linked with rheumatoid arthritis.

Finally, he ordered a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) to look for joint damage, such as loss of bone within the joint and narrowing of joint space. Note that the lack of joint damage does not rule out rheumatoid arthritis. It may mean that the disease is in an early stage and hasn’t yet damaged the joints.

While she waited for the results of the tests, Sandra researched osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis on her computer. She discovered that osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. According to https://www.everday health.com/rheumatoid-arthritis, it affects over 30 million adults in the United States. It is also known as degenerative arthritis, and it is also called wear-and-tear arthritis. Osteoarthritis typically occurs in older adults.

By contrast, rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune, inflammatory, systemic disease. The immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. This results in inflammation, pain, and swelling in affected body parts. Rheumatoid arthritis typically attacks several joints symmetrically. It may also affect organs such as the heart, lungs, and eyes.

The test results showed that Sandra did indeed have rheumatoid arthritis. What caused this? Doctors don’t know what causes rheumatoid arthritis. However, according to https://www.mayoclinic.org, the following risk factors have been identified:

  • Being female.
  • Your age. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly begins between the ages of 40 to 60.
  • Family history. If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of getting the disease.
  • Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Environmental exposure. Exposure to asbestos or silica may increase your risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Obesity. People who are overweight or obese appear to be at somewhat higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis, especially women diagnosed with the disease when they were 55 or younger.

If you have a family member who has a serious illness and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

A FORMIDABLE FOE: LEWY BODY DEMENTIA

Born at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago on July 21, 1951, Robin Williams was the son of Robert Fitzgerald Williams, a senior executive in Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln-Mercury Division. His mother, Laurie McLaurin, was a former model from Jackson, Mississippi. During a television interview on Inside the Actors Studio in 2001, Williams credited his mother as an important early influence on his humor. He said he tried to make her laugh to gain attention.

Williams attended public elementary school at Gorton Elementary School in Lake Forest and middle school at Deer Path Junior High School. When he was twelve, his father was transferred to Detroit. When he was sixteen, his father took early retirement and the family moved to California.

He began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1970’s. He also starred in numerous films including Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and the box office hit Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).

On August 11, 2014, the world learned that Williams had committed suicide by hanging himself in his California home. He was sixty-three years old. The autopsy report showed no alcohol or illegal drugs were involved. Prescription drugs in his system were at “therapeutic” levels. The final autopsy report noted that Williams had been suffering “a recent increase in paranoia.” An examination of his brain tissue suggested Williams suffered from “diffuse Lewy body dementia.”

According to a Mayo Clinic article “Lewy body dementia” at https://www.mayoclinic.org., “Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions involved in thinking, memory and movement (motor control).

“Lewy body dementia causes a progressive decline in mental abilities. People with Lewy body dementia may experience visual hallucinations, and change in alertness and attention. Other effects include Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms such as rigid muscles, slow movement and tremors.”

If you have a family member who suffers from Lewy body dementia and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

HEADS-UP ON TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

 

When you hear the words “traumatic brain injury,” what do you think of first? Serious head injuries on the battlefield? Head injuries in motor vehicle crashes? Concussions occurring in contact sports such as football? You might even think of Muhammad Ali, a famous boxer who endured repeated blows to his head and developed Parkinson’s disease at the age of forty-two.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls were the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in 2013. In fact, falls accounted for 47% of all traumatic brain injury related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States. According to the CDC report at https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury, “Falls disproportionally affected the youngest and oldest age groups. More than half (54%) of the TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths among children 0 to 14 years were caused by falls. Nearly 4 in 5 (79%) TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in adults aged 65 and older were caused by falls.”

What is a traumatic brain injury? According to the article called “TBI: Get the Facts” at https://www.cdc.gov//traumaticbraininjury, “A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury). Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions.”

You need to be especially careful to prevent your family members from falling. Make some small changes to make the home a safer place. Below are some tips from a Mayo Clinic article called “Fall Prevention: Simple Tips to Prevent Falls” at https://www.mayoclinic.org:

  • Remove loose rugs (throw rugs) from the home.
  • Immediately clean up spilled liquids, grease, or food.
  • Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
  • Place nightlights in the bedroom, bathroom, and hallways.
  • Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

If you have a family member who has suffered a traumatic brain injury and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY

Looking down the long hall from her office to the conference room, Elaine must have thought about the number of steps required to get there. Fifty? A hundred? Five hundred? A thousand? Even using the cane only helped a little. At least there were no stairs to climb.

And then there were the problems at home. How much longer would she be able to take her dog, Patrick, for a walk past the school playground where the children were playing hopscotch? Who would pull the weeds out of the flower garden in the front yard? How much longer could she make the beds or wash the dishes? So much of life depends on the ability to stand and walk.

Elaine’s primary care doctor referred her to an orthopedic surgeon. He recommended knee replacement surgery. He explained that nearly one million Americans undergo hip or knee replacement surgeries each year. He said the majority of these procedures were performed on patients over the age of 65. According to https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/knee, “Osteoarthritis is the main reason why people go for knee replacement surgery. The age-related condition is very common and occurs when cartilage—the cushion between the knee and bone joints—breaks down.” Elaine fit into those demographics.

The doctor explained that patients having knee replacements are normally discharged from the hospital three days after surgery. Elaine would need to be able to use a walker before she could be discharged. Then someone would need to be with her at home 24/7 during her recovery.

The doctor told Elaine that the initial short-term recovery stage lasts four to six weeks for most patients. Nurses would need to be with her to tend to her medical needs. Therapists would come to her home to provide physical therapy. The final phase, long-term recovery, could take as long as six months.

Patients need the encouragement of family and friends throughout the whole process of knee replacement surgery. It would be easy to feel alone and to get discouraged. If someone you know is having knee replacement surgery, send a card. Call your friend or family member. Make a gift basket and deliver it. Do something to let them know you care.

If you have a friend or family member who is having knee replacement surgery and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (RNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to our Web site, www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

LIVING WITH CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE

A hundred years ago, heart disease was America’s number one killer. People with heart disease were thought to require complete bed rest or they would face imminent death. “We were living in a time of almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease,” said Paul Dudley White, one of six cardiologists who met on June 10, 1924 and founded the American Heart Association.

So much has happened since then. In 1957, the first pacemaker was implanted. In 1960, the first successful artificial heart valve replacement was performed. In 1961, American Heart Association funded research showed how CPR can save lives after cardiac arrest. In 2008, research funded by the American Heart Association showed that uninterrupted, high-quality chest compressions–without mouth-to-mouth respiration–can be used for adults needing CPR.

Still, so many challenges remain. One is congestive heart failure. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, tiredness, swelling of legs and ankles, weight gain, and a need to urinate more often. There is no cure, but medications can help lower blood pressure, relax blood vessels, and make the heart beat stronger. Lifestyle changes—like not smoking—can help, too.

What causes congestive heart failure? The following list appears at https://www.webmd.com:

- Diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart valve disease
- Congenital heart defects
- Coronary heart disease
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation
- Thyroid disease
- HIV and AIDS
- Alcohol or drug abuse

The American Heart Association has funded more than $3.5 billion in heart disease and stroke research during the past sixty-five years. Current fundraising events include Heart Walks, Wear Red Days, and Heart Balls.

If you have a family member who needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

REMEMBERING THE MDA TELETHONS

For over forty years, from 1966 to 2010, one of the most successful performers in show business hosted a Labor Day weekend telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The celebrity, Jerry Lewis, was a comedian, actor, singer, director, producer, filmmaker, and humanitarian. It had all started in the 1950’s when the Jerry Lewis Thanksgiving Party for MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) raised funds for their New York City area operations.

Jerry Lewis was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1926. According to Wikipedia/Jerry Lewis at https://en.wikipedia,org,, “he was known widely for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio and was nicknamed the “King of Comedy.” In 1946, he met and teamed up with Dean Martin. For the next ten years, they were the top-rated nightclub, television, movie and radio act until their breakup in 1956.” After the break-up, Jerry Lewis appeared on television and wrote, produced, and starred in motion pictures. He headlined in nightclubs, and he sang in albums and recordings.

From 1966 until 2010, Jerry Lewis appeared on television every Labor Day as the host of the round-the-clock telethon to raise money to fight neuromuscular diseases. During his sixty-one years with the fundraisers, the Muscular Dystrophy Association raised $2.6 billion.

What is muscular dystrophy? According to the Kennedy Krieger Institute “Factsheet: Muscular Dystrophy,” the term describes a group of genetic disorders that cause muscle degeneration and weakness. The two most common types are Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD).

According to the factsheet, DMD is usually diagnosed around 3-6 years of age. It primarily affects boys because the gene mutation is located on the X chromosome. BMD is less severe and generally presents in late teens to early 20’s.

Children with DMD will experience a delay in walking, frequent falling, and difficulty getting up from a lying down or sitting position. The factsheet describes what is known as the Gower’s maneuver: “When children with DMD have a hard time standing from a sitting or lying down position, they compensate by pulling to their hands and knees, raising their bottom in the air, then “walking” their hands up their legs until they can brace themselves.”

According to the factsheet, there is no cure for muscular dystrophy or delay of the progressive degeneration of muscles. By the age of 12, most children will need a wheelchair for mobility.

If you have a family member who needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski