10 things moms need to know about lice

lice need to know graphic sized 500Yikes. It’s lice season again, mamas. And yes, we know your skin is already crawling because ours is, too. We don’t want to even think about it but most of us have either been through it or know a fellow mama who has had to do battle with these nasty little buggers.

When it comes to lice, knowledge is power. So here’s a list of 10 facts you may not know about lice. We gathered the info from a recent New York Times article that discusses the most effective ways to combat the problem.

1. There is no guaranteed way to prevent a case of lice (although some school teachers we know swear by regular use of tea tree oil used tea tree oil photo sized smallin your shampoo or conditioner.)

2. Daily bathing/showering doesn’t prevent lice because they can survive submerged in water for 20 minutes.

3. The length of a child’s hair or how often it is washed or brushed has little effect on the risk of getting lice.

4. Itching from lice may not begin until four to six weeks AFTER the initial infestation begins, which is why experts recommend that parents do weekly head checks.

5. Lice can ONLY crawl, not jump or hop. Pets do NOT play a role in the spread of lice.

6. Adult lice die within one day of being off of a human’s head. This suggests that, after you treat a case of lice and wash all bedding, you could leave home for a day or two if you want to be extra sure that all lice are dead. They can’t survive more than a day without contact with the human head.

7. The American Academy of Pediatrics said you should NOT treat lice unless there is a clear diagnosis of living lice. (That means you shouldn’t douse your kid’s hair with a pesticide just because you heard that a kid in her class has lice.)

8. Over-the-counter treatment options include products like Nix. There are now prescription lice medications which you can ask your doctor about. Those prescription options include Sklice and Natroba.

9. Some mothers prefer a non-chemical way of treating lice by having all the nits and eggs thoroughly combed out of the hair with a fine-toothed comb. This has become a new business offering for cities like New York, and we also have a service available in Northwest Arkansas called “Nits End NWA.” It’s a service run by a Northwest Arkansas mom Sarah Graham who learned the combing technique and began doing the service for friends’ children who were affected. She is located in Bella Vista.

10. The time and money spent on finding and getting rid of lice costs consumers and schools about $1 billion a year.

For the full New York Times article, click HERE. To read the American Academy of Pediatrics most recent recommendations, click HERE.

Healthy Mama: Get to know your girls better during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a great time time to START self exams if you’re not already doing them every month and to get anything worrisome checked out.

Shawnna Grigsby, the Breast Health Navigator at Mercy Breast Center in Bentonville, works with women every day who are facing the breast cancer fight. She works closely with them, even going to appointments if that’s something they request. We’ve asked her to tell us a little more about how she helps local women who have just been given bad news and the information she shares with the community that might keep that from happening.

Shawnna, tell us a little about you and your family: My family and I just moved to NWA in April of this year.  We lived in Webb City, Missouri for the previous 14 years. My husband Steve retired after 13 1/3 years, from the Oklahoma Air National Guard, he was active duty 7 years prior and currently works at Mercy. We have three sons, Aaron 14, Patrick 19 and Richard 21, and one grandson Landyn, who is 4 months.

I attended Missouri Southern State University where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May 2000. Prior to that I attended the University of South Carolina where I earned an Associate in Arts with Honors. During my nursing career I have worked in the maternal child department, general surgery office where I worked with a physician who specialized in breast surgery, case management and currently as a Breast Health Navigator.

What led you to start working with women diagnosed with breast cancer? I grew up around women’s health and women’s health issues. My grandmother a retired RN, worked labor, delivery and postpartum the last 20 plus years of her career, and prior to that she worked in general surgery. My mother is a mammography tech. I was always hearing about women’s health issues as I grew up.

I followed in my family’s footsteps, so to speak. I worked at St. John’s Breast Center while I was in nursing school. Six months out of school I was blessed to be offered a position with a general surgery group and worked closely with breast patients. As time evolved, one physician limited his practice to primarily breast surgeries. I was given the opportunity to assist with his high risk breast patients, help initiate BRCA testing within his clinic and work closely with women who are facing a very difficult diagnosis. I worked in case management for about 1 ½ years and then came back to my passion of women’s health. I have found that all my previous positions have made a great blend of experience for my Breast Health Navigator position.

Will you tell us a little about your job as breast health navigator at Mercy? As a breast health navigator, I assist women who have abnormal mammograms set up surgical consult appointments and assist with biopsies. I provide emotional support and education during and through-out diagnosis and treatment. I am a central point of contact for the patient regardless of where they are at in their treatment plan. I attend appointments with patients at their request. I help navigate the patient through biopsy, diagnosis, treatment and into survivorship.

What is the most rewarding part of your position? The best part of being a breast health navigator is the connection you make with patients and families. You are blessed to be a very small part of helping them through a very scary, difficult time. You really get to see them grow and complete challenges that at times seemed impossible to them, and watch them grow into survivors.

How important is it for me to do a breast self exame (BSE) every month? BSE is very important; it can literally save your life! Women should start doing a monthly BSE at age 20. It is best to perform your exam after your monthly cycle. A woman should become familiar with how her breasts look and feel. It may be helpful to have a notebook and draw what you feel in each breast so you will remember from month to month.  This is especially helpful when you start doing BSE. If she notices a change she needs to report it to her doctor immediately.

Just to put the importance of BSE in perspective, a women who regularly performs BSE and finds a lump, it on average is about the size of a dime. Women who occasionally perform BSE and find a lump, on average it is about the size of a quarter. A lump found by accident, averages about the size of a fifty cent piece. 

As women we tend to take care of our husbands, children, friends and family first, then ourselves. I encourage all women to take 15 minutes a month for yourself and your BSE. It could save your life.

What should I look for/what are some of the signs of cancer? You should look for a lump, hard knot or thickening. This can be in the breast or axilla (underarm area). Pain, nipple discharge, nipple inversion (pulling in of the nipple), dimpling or puckering (pulling in on other parts of the breast) need to be looked for. A rash on the nipple or itchy scaly sores on the nipple, areola or breast needs to be reported to your doctor. A change in the size, shape or movement of the breast needs to be reported.

For instance, if you bend over if one breast moves/hangs differently than the other breast; report this to your doctor.  Swelling, warmth redness or darkening of the breast needs to be reported immediately. If you notice any changes please report if promptly to your physician. While most lump and changes turn out to be from a benign process (non cancerous), that can only be determined by your doctor and testing that is ordered.

It is much better to err on the side of caution, than to look back and wish you would have.    

When should I start getting a mammogram if I have a history of breast cancer in my family? The American Cancer Society recommends women with a strong family history or a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genetic mutation should start having mammograms at age 30.  Be sure to discuss your family and personal history with your health care provider so the best plan of care can be made for your individual situation.

What if I don’t have a family history? Women who are not high risk should start having annual mammograms at age 40.

How can I lower my risk? Research has shown there are factors that women can control to help lower their risk of breast cancer.  1) Maintain a healthy weight and exercise on a routine basis  2) limit alcohol consumption   3)  breastfeed if possible  4)  limit post menopausal hormones  5) avoid environmental pollutants  6) avoid tobacco.

Is there any new research about breast cancer you can share? There is new research being conducted as we speak. The Sister Study is one long term study that is looking at 50,000 women who have a sister diagnosed with breast cancer. The study is looking at environmental and genetic factors and the affect they may have on developing breast cancer. They also have an off shoot from the original study called Two Sister Study. It is looking at the genetic and environmental effects on breast cancer development, but it is looking specifically at the sister of women diagnosed prior to age 50. It is also including genetic data from parents.

Genetics  are always evolving. I always compare genetics to a computer, what is new and state of the art is updated within 6 months. Currently there are two known genes BRCA1 and BRCA 2 that are linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. Research is continually working to link other genes.

The National Children’s study, which some of you may be participating in, even talks about the possibility of the study, long term, shedding some light on environmental factors that may be linked to the development of breast cancer.

There are literally hundreds of studies and clinical trials being conducted that deal with breast cancer treatment, prevention, diagnosis, genetics and causative elements.

How can I manage my fears that I might get breast cancer? I often worry about it: First of all knowledge is power. We have all heard the statistic that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. That can be a frightening statistic when you think of all the women you know. There are things that we cannot change, for instance our family history or our genetic make-up, but with the knowledge that you may fit into a higher risk category you can be vigilant about things you can control and be proactive in your care.

Talk to your doctor about your history and follow their recommendations. Make sure you take time for yourself and do a monthly breast self exam and make and keep your appointment for your annual clinical breast exam and your mammogram.

All women need to focus and what they can do to help prevent breast cancer, these things include: 1) maintain a healthy weight 2) regular exercise 3) limit alcohol intake 4) breastfeed if you are able 5) stop smoking 6) avoid known environmental pollutants and 7) healthy well balanced diet.

All women also need to focus on your routine screenings.  Make sure you do the monthly breast self exam.  Make and keep appointments for your annual clinical breast self exam and annual mammogram.

By learning  your specific risk , and using that knowledge to make good choices and be proactive in your health care, you are putting yourself in the best situation possible. Not only to help decrease the risk of breast cancer, by managing the things you can control, but also putting yourself in a position to have early detection if something does change or show up.

Note from the mamas: This post was previously published on nwaMotherlode, but we brought it back this month for the good information from Shawnna.



Mercy adds 32 new health care providers

collageOne of the signs of growth in Northwest Arkansas is the number of new doctors and practitioners who show up at the “Mercy Mingle,” an event to welcome the newest health care providers to the Mercy family.

MERCY2We met many of the 32 new providers last week when we attended the Mercy Mingle event at the Pinnacle Country Club on the last official day of summer. (The people wearing blue ribbons pictured above are among the new providers recently added by Mercy.)

Of course, there were plenty of familiar Mercy doctors at the event as well, including several we’ve interviewed here on nwaMotherlode.com like Dr. Larry Weathers, Dr. Lance Weathers, Dr. Adam Maas, Dr. Hugh Donnell, Dr. Chris Johnson and Dr. Susan Demeril. (Click each name to see more info from each of these physicians.)

With the addition of the new members, Mercy now has more than 190 health care providers serving the community throughout Northwest Arkansas.

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Healthy Mama: Must-know facts about diabetes

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Almost every single one of us knows at least one person who has diabetes or has someone in their family who has it. This condition is prevalent and can be life-threatening if not treated properly. So we went looking for more info and insight about diabetes from a Northwest Arkansas diabetes expert, Melanie melanie_suttonSutton, DNP. She’s an advanced practitioner who specializes in diabetes treatment (and speaking from personal experience after watching her treat a patient in my own family, Melanie is AMAZING at her job.)

Read the Q&A interview below to find out what the differences are in the two types of diabetes, how the disease can impact heart health and what the latest advancements are for treatment.

What causes diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes is a disease in which the body no longer makes insulin because the body’s own immune system has attacked and destroyed the cells in the pancreas where insulin is made. The cause isn’t entirely clear but it can include both genetic risk factors and environmental factors. People that have Type 1 Diabetes require life-long insulin replacement.

What are the major differences in Type 1 and Type 2?

Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. The cause of type 2 diabetes is largely unknown, but genetics and lifestyle clearly play roles. Type 2 diabetes has been linked to obesity, genetic risk factors, and inactivity. The risk of having type 2 diabetes increases as a person gets older. There are racial and ethnic groups that are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. These groups include American Indians, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

red flag smallWhat are the first red flags/symptoms seen in children who develop diabetes?

The signs and symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in children usually develop quickly and over a period of weeks. Commons signs and symptoms include extreme thirst, extreme hunger, frequent urination, weight loss, fatigue, irritability or unusual behavior, and sometimes blurry vision.

Are the symptoms for women different than symptoms seen in men? How?

It’s important to keep in mind that many people with diabetes have no symptoms prior to diagnosis. For most however, the symptoms for men and women are largely the same and include: fatigue, unexplainable weight loss or weight gain, frequent thirst, increased appetite, nausea, frequent urination, irritability or mood changes, slow healing wounds, skin changes, and blurred vision. Symptoms that are unique to women include increase in urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections or thrush and sexual dysfunction.

What are the most common myths about the disease? What do you wish more people knew about diabetes?

One of the myths about diabetes is that it is caused by “eating too much sugar”, and while a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates can lead to unhealthy weight gain and increased risk for diabetes, it is not the cause.

What we wish that more people knew and understood about diabetes is that it is a chronic and progressive disease. With early diagnosis and aggressive lifestyle changes and treatment it can be controlled and complications can be minimized or prevented altogether.

One of the most important facts to know about diabetes is the increased risk for heart disease in those with diabetes. The risk for heart disease in men with diabetes is 2-3x higher than in men without diabetes. Alarmingly, the risk for heart disease in women with diabetes is 6 times higher than in women without diabetes. The other risk factors associated with diabetes include high cholesterol, nerve damage, kidney disease and damage to the retinas in the eyes.

What is the most challenging part of your job? What part do you enjoy the most?

The most challenging part of treating patients with diabetes is addressing the need to make permanent life-style changes and the importance of maintaining tight glucose control. This isn’t a disease that you get to put away for the weekend and forget. It requires constant attention and planning and for most patients that can be exhausting. The other greatest challenge is helping patients manage the cost and resources required to treat diabetes. Cost of medication and testing supplies can be overwhelming, and trying to balance cost while maintaining tight control can be difficult.

What I personally enjoy most about treating patients with diabetes is watching them get better. This disease requires a tremendous amount of education and effort from patients and to see the lifestyle changes and medications work together to restore good health is very rewarding.

What are the latest advancements in the treatment of the disease?

The latest advancements in the treatment of diabetes are numerous. There are a number of new oral medications being used and others currently being studied to address the different mechanisms of this disease and make treatment easier for patients on a day to day basis. For those that require insulin there are newer delivery options and more choices for insulin than have ever been available.

Many of the newest generation of insulin pumps are now equipped with glucose sensors and provide minute-to-minute feedback about glucose trends. Glucose monitoring has always been a challenge and we now have meters that can detect patterns in the glucose levels and provide suggestions for insulin dosing as well as continuous glucose monitors that can be worn for days at a time and provide the patient with more than 250 glucose readings per day!

Our thanks to Melanie Sutton, DNP for answering our questions about diabetes. To schedule an appointment with Melanie or for more information about diabetes treatment, call Mercy’s Endocrinology Clinic at 479-338-4600. The Mercy Endocrinology Clinic is located at 3333 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, Suite 300B,  in Rogers. Click here for more info.


The truth about managing pain — Part 2

Note from the Mamas: This is a continuation of last week’s interview of Dr. Solomon Pearce of the Mercy Pain Center about managing chronic pain. (Click here to read the first post.)

The stress of parenthood coupled with untreated daily pain can be an overwhelming situation for anyone. That’s why we asked an expert at the Mercy Pain Center to give us some insight about the field of Pain Management as well as the latest advancements in the field and what every patient needs to know before she lets someone treat her pain. We learned a lot from his answers below.

What are the most common mistakes patients make when trying to manage chronic pain? What do you wish more people understood about this field of medicine?

Having the wrong attitude when it comes to any chronic condition is a pivotal mistake. In particular, a number of chronic pain patients fall into the trap of taking a completely passive role in their own condition. They constantly look for others to do something, give them something, make them feel better, but some patients are unwilling to do anything for themselves.

It’s often hard to realize that your pain is your own. Despite the best intentions of others, ultimately it is your responsibility to get better. What this means is sad depressiontaking an active role in your health.  If you have weak muscles, do your physical therapy. If you’re overweight, lose weight. If you have diabetes, keep tight control of your condition. If you use tobacco products, stop. If you have a stressful life, meditate or do yoga or a hundred other things that you can do to get better.

Some of the most difficult things to do are some of the most beneficial. I strongly encourage all my patients to take a hard look at why they might be suffering so much, when someone else with the same physical problem is functioning fine. Often times these patients realize that they have never dealt with past traumas like physical or sexual abuse. Some realize that they hate their job or are really unhappy in their relationship. Once these issues are dealt with, their pain often gets dramatically better.

I wish people understood that healthcare has become a business and that you have to be careful where you shop. There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there selling hope in the form of medication, supplements, surgeries, or the newest device or procedure. All these can have unwanted effects, and all of them drain your bank account.

If a provider’s treatment doesn’t pass a “common sense test,” and especially if they don’t physically examine you or don’t have the time to explain things in terms you understand, look elsewhere for your care.

What are some of the most recent advancements in the treatment of pain?

The three most promising areas in Pain Management are the advances being made in neuromodulation (spinal cord stimulators), genetically targeted medications, and advances in peripheral nerve radiofrequency ablation.

Neuromodulation uses electrical impulses to change the nerve signals from areas generating pain before they reach the brain. These are implanted devices that are similar to pacemakers, but instead of changing the heart rhythm they change the pain signals. These do really well for patients with chronic pain in their arms or legs.

pills2We have learned a lot about how our bodies process medication, and companies are now making genetically targeted medications that are specifically targeted to how individuals metabolize different drugs. In the future you will not have as much trial and error with medications. You will take a blood test, which will show which designer medication will work the best for you.

Radiofrequency ablation is an old technique where we use electrical energy to create heat, most often to drastically reduce pain along the spine itself. This technique is great in that, unlike most medications that reduce pain for a few hours, this works for six months or more. I have been using this successfully for years to help patients with low back and neck pain, but recent advances in the technology are allowing this to be used in other areas of the body as well. Knee and shoulder pain patients who have wanted to put off a replacement or were told by their orthopedic surgeon that they were not a good candidate can now achieve substantial long-lasting relief with radiofrequency ablation.

What kind of specialized training do pain management physicians have that my general or primary care physician might not have?

Pain Medicine is a subspecialty. It requires four years of medical school, four years of residency, and then a year of fellowship in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education approved program (this is all after grade school, high school and college, and thus requires 25 years of school/training at a minimum). During this training, pain management physicians learn how to safely and accurately perform a number of pain relieving procedures, extensive instruction in the use of medications, and exposure to a plethora of adjuvant modalities.

Any real Pain Management physician according to the American Board of Medical Specialties should have Board Certification first in one of four specialties (Anesthesiology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Psychiatry or Neurology), plus an additional Board Certification in Pain Medicine.

Unfortunately, Pain Management has one of the highest rates of non-trained imposters of any field in medicine. For some reason, physicians in multiple specialties often claim they do Pain Management, but they do not have the real training or they stopped short from going all the way through a Pain Medicine fellowship.

I don’t perform C-sections, even though I did 30 or so during my medical school/internship training because I know I don’t have the full training to do it safely. If you need a C-section, go to an OB-GYN. For some reason, that same, simple logic doesn’t seem to sink in with some physicians or some patients when it comes to pain management. Some seem to think, “Since the DEA says I can write for opioids, then I must be trained well enough to do chronic pain management.” This is not true. There are even online companies popping up selling “board certifications” from fake boards to help fraudulent providers trick patients. (These are like the internet ordinations for fake ministers.)

This is a definite “buyer beware” situation because some people are pedaling medications that are addictive and can be deadly if prescribed or used improperly. Same thing goes with doing injections. Just because you played an interventional pain doctor on TV, or stayed at a Holiday Inn last night, doesn’t mean you can safely place a needle inside the spinal canal without injuring the spinal cord.  I hope patients spend a little time to make sure they are going to a reputable physician with all the proper training.

Our thanks to Dr. Solomon Pearce at the Mercy Pain Center for taking the time to answer our questions. Dr. Pearce is Double Board Certified in Pain Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Before coming to Arkansas, Dr. Pearce was a Naval Flight Surgeon who served in multiple overseas deployments. For more information or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Pearce or his colleague Dr. Green at the Mercy Pain Center, call (479) 986-6199 or click HERE for more clinic info.

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