Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths for both men and women alike.  It most commonly affects those between the ages of 45 and 70.  The unfortunate thing is…lung cancer generally has a poor prognosis because often it is diagnosed in an advanced stage, long after it has also spread.  If you or your loved one is suffering from a form of lung cancer, let the professionals at Total Home Health help to increase the quality of your life.

There are factors that place you at an increased risk for developing lung cancer including:

·      Cigarette smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke
·      Exposure to radiation
·      Long-term exposure to inhaled environmental irritants such as pollution
·      Impaired lung function, for example due to normal lung changes with age

If you smoke, now would be a great time to work on quitting…and if you’re around someone who smokes, keep your distance from them when they do smoke in order to avoid their secondhand smoke.  In addition, if you spend a great deal of time in an environment with irritants you should wear a mask for your own protection to decrease your risk of triggering lung cancer.  Although lung cancer and its clinical signs usually aren’t discovered until its later stages, there are signs and symptoms that you should be aware of that should not be ignored, including:

·      Difficulty breathing when lying flat
·      Having a chronic cough or shortness of breath
·      Chest discomfort
·      Becoming tired easily, losing weight and/or losing your appetite
·      Hoarseness
·      Abnormal breath sounds such as wheezing or diminished sounds
·      Muffled heart sounds
·      Increased work of breathing such as using your stomach muscles to breathe

If any of the above symptoms sound familiar to you or your loved one, it may be a good idea to bring them to the attention of your doctor.  To diagnose you, your provider may perform a lung biopsy, x-rays, and/or CT scans to visualize what is going on in your lungs and test your tissue for abnormalities that could point to cancer.  Your provider will discuss the procedures in greater detail with you according to which one will be recommended for you. 

If indeed you are diagnosed with lung cancer, chemotherapy is most often the treatment of choice.  Also, chemotherapy may be used in combination with radiation and/or surgery depending upon the extent to which you are affected.  There are other medications that may also be prescribed to you with the goals of decreasing any inflammation and to help dry up your secretions to promote breathing.

Total Home Health has a program for you.  Our nursing staff will assume care for you in the comforts of your own home and will be attentive to even the slightest changes in your condition.  We will work closely with all the members of your healthcare team so that every aspect of your care is consistent and the best it can possibly be to maintain your level of functioning and promote your independence.  A few things our nursing staff will do may include:

·      If you’re a smoker, we will determine how much you smoke and work on ways to help you and encourage you to gradually kick the habit.
·      Inquire about how much you are exposed to secondhand smoke and any other irritants.
·      Monitor your nutritional status, take note of any weight loss and/or changes in appetite.
·      Promote adequate nutrition to provide you with the increased amount of calories you may need if your work of breathing is increased due to shortness of breath.
·      Prevent infections by promotion of hand-washing, avoiding crowds, etc.
·      Encourage fluids to promote adequate hydration and help to loosen any mucus.
·      Maintain an open airway and a position that allows you to breathe at your best.
·      Encourage you to take rest periods as needed and schedule your daily routine activities when your energy level is at its highest.

Ultimately, diagnosis of lung cancer can be very devastating news for all involved just because of the simple fact that the prognosis generally is not the best.  Join the Total Home Health team today and we’ll help you promote your health, manage your symptoms, and prevent any complications.  You’re not in this alone, because with us there will always be someone who cares and puts your care at the top of their list.  What are you waiting for?  Enroll today!

Cancer: In a Nutshell

Yes, that dreaded “C” word…cancer, the word that no one ever wants to hear come out of their doctor’s mouth.  Total Home Health would like to take the next few minutes out of your busy life and provide you with a general understanding of cancer, and possibly a new outlook related to what you or a loved one may be going through, along with ways to help.  As a home health company we strive to meet your health care needs within the comforts of your own home and become sort of like a second family to you during your most vulnerable moments.  As always, we want you to be as well informed as possible regarding what is affecting your health and what you can do to promote your wellness both with our help and on your own.

Cancer is a disease process that involves abnormal growth of cells and how they are differentiated, or what job they are given to do within your body.  The exact cause of cancer is unknown and there is no specific cure at this point in time.  However, viruses, physical and chemical substances, hormones, genetics, and diet choices are thought to be contributing factors that may trigger your cells to begin to grow abnormally and compromise how they are differentiated.  Here are some important facts to know about cancer:

·      Cancer cells can invade surrounding tissues and/or spread to other areas of the body via your lymph and blood vessels; if this happens it’s referred to as metastasis.
·      Metastasis is usually diagnosed when there are new clinical signs and symptoms such as bone pain, changes in your bowel patterns, etc.
·      Cancers may arise from any tissue in the body and is classified accordingly: skin tissue (carcinoma), blood-forming cells (leukemia), lymph tissue (lymphoma), or plasma cells (myelomas).
·      Having routine medical exams and being diagnosed early are obviously key points of health education and care when it comes to any condition, especially cancer.

As part of how Total Home Health always works to promote your health and prevent any further diseases or worsening, here are some tips to remember to help reduce your risk of cancer:

·      Consume a healthy diet, one that is low in fat with an increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
·      Limit your intake of sugar and salt.
·      Maintain a weight that is healthy for your body type.
·      Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol.
·      Avoid risky lifestyle choices such as use of recreational drugs, sharing needles, and engaging in unprotected sexual activity.
·      Avoid exposure to hazards in the environment (chemicals) and always wear the proper protection if you know you are going to be exposed.
·      Encourage the younger generations in your family to breast feed their infants exclusively for the first 6 months of their child’s life.
·      Be physically active on a routine basis.

Everyone is at risk of developing cancer at any point in their life.  However, there are some individuals that may already fall into a higher risk category.  Risk factors for cancer include:

·      Age, with the highest incidence occurring in older adults.
·      Caucasian women over the age of 40 are at an increased risk for breast cancer.
·      Caucasian men are at an increased risk for testicular cancer.
·      African-American men are at an increased risk for prostate cancer.
·      Genetic predisposition.
·      Exposure to certain viruses and bacteria.
v Liver cancer – may develop after many years of infection with hepatitis B or C
v Epstein-Barr virus is linked to an increase risk of lymphoma
v Human papillomavirus infection is the main cause of cervical cancer
v HIV will increase the risk of lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma
v H.pylori (bacteria) may increase the risk of stomach cancer/lymphoma of the stomach lining
·      A diet high in fat and red meat, and low in fiber.
·      Exposure the sun and/or ultraviolet light.
·      Sexual lifestyles that include multiple partners and/or sexually transmitted infections.
·      Poverty, obesity, and chronic GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
·      Chronic disease.

The earlier your diagnosis of cancer is made, generally the better your outcome will be.  However, there are many types of cancers that spread or metastasize before the individual experiences any symptoms.  Your treatment course will depend on what type of cancer you have, how it has progressed, and where it is located.  The main goal will be to manage any symptoms you may have and keeping your body functioning as close to normal as possible so that your condition is not given the opportunities it’s looking for to worsen and cause more problems.

Total Home Health understands the severity of cancer and we want to be there for both you and your family during the good times and the bad times to make sure you know we care, 100%.  Keeping you in good spirits, maintaining your safety and managing any symptoms that get you down will be some of our first priorities.  Recognizing any new changes will always be on our radar too, so you will never miss any adjustments to your care that could mean you getting to spend more time here with the ones you love.  Enroll with Total Home Health today and see just how much we care about you and your family, you will not be disappointed.

Cushing’s Disease/Syndrome

Cushing’s disease/syndrome is a rather rare condition that occurs from being exposed to high levels of cortisol for a long period of time.  Most commonly it is caused by use of corticosteroid medications, such as Prednisone…or if your body just makes too much cortisol.  Although this condition is rare, you or your loved one may experience it at some point in your life.  Good news is…it’s treatable with medical care. 

The signs and symptoms experienced from one person to the next and from women to men may vary, however common symptoms include noticing progressive obesity and skin changes, including:

·      Experiencing weight gain and collection of fatty tissue, particularly around your midsection and upper back, in your face (moon face), and between the shoulders (buffalo hump).
·      Stretch marks appearing on the abdomen, thighs, breasts and arms.
·      Thinning skin that becomes more and more fragile and bruises easily.
·      Slow healing of cuts and/or infections.
·      Development of acne.
·      Women may experience thicker or more visible body/facial hair (hirsutism).
·      Men may experience decreased libido and/or erectile dysfunction.

Other signs and symptoms of this condition include:

·      Fatigue, muscle weakness
·      Depression, anxiety and/or irritability
·      Loss of emotional control
·      Difficulty processing thoughts
·      New onset or worsening of high blood pressure
·      Intolerance to blood sugar that may lead to diabetes
·      Headache
·      Bone loss that may lead to fractures occurring easier over time

As mentioned above, Cushing’s syndrome is a result of excess levels of the hormone cortisol in your body.  Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by your adrenal glands, which sit atop both kidneys.  Cortisol plays a number of roles in your body including:

·      Regulation of blood pressure and keeps your cardiovascular system functioning as it should.
·      Helping your body respond to stress and regulating the way you metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in your diet to energy that you can actually use.

If you or your loved one has been prescribed a corticosteroid medication, such as prednisone, to treat a condition (asthma, arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease) generally the doses required to treat those conditions will often be higher than the natural amount of cortisol your body normally needs each day, so the effects of excess cortisol will begin to occur.  Therefore, if you’re taking a corticosteroid, or even if you are not taking a corticosteroid medication and you begin to experience any of the symptoms listed above, it may indicate that you are suffering from Cushing’s disease/syndrome and you should not hesitate to see your provider for an exam.  If left untreated, this condition could lead to more severe health problems, including:

·      Bone loss that results in unusual bone fractures (rib fractures and fractures of the bones in the feet).
·      High blood pressure.
·      Diabetes.
·      Frequent or unusual infections that are hard to get rid of.
·      Loss of muscle mass and strength

Diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome can be difficult because other conditions may share the same signs and symptoms.  Your medical provider will complete a thorough physical exam and also note whether or not you have been taking a corticosteroid medication.  Urine, blood and imaging exams may be performed in order to better pinpoint what is exactly going on in your body to make a definitive diagnosis to rule out any other condition.  Once diagnosed your best treatment option will be designed with the goal of lowering the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream and will depend on what is causing you to have the excess cortisol floating around.  Treatment measures may include anything from oral medications to surgical procedures, or both.

Remember though that Total Home Health has a program that is right for you and all your needs related to your diagnosis of Cushing’s disease.  Our professionals will work day in and day out all in the comforts of your own home to maintain your safety and promote your health with your wishes directing the care we provide.  We understand the virtues of dignity and independence and we want to keep those in your life as long as we possibly can.  Enroll today and join our team of professionals who strive to always bring you the best care throughout your journey.


With age we notice changes in our skin from dry skin, to wrinkles, to more fragile skin that bruises easier than it did when we were younger.  Psoriasis is a very common skin disorder that you or your loved one may be familiar with.  It is characterized by scaly, itchy skin patches that are caused from an overproduction of keratin (a structural protein of your skin).  The overproduction of keratin can occur at a rate up to seven times the rate of normal skin cells, and it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder (when the body attacks its own healthy cells) due to its periods of flare-ups and remissions. 

Some individuals who are diagnosed with psoriasis may also notice changes in their joints that result in arthritis pain that may even limit their range of motion.  Risk factors for psoriasis include:

·      Infections (severe strep throat infections, upper respiratory infections, and more)
·      Trauma to the skin and/or recent surgery
·      Genetics (it may skip generations within families)
·      Stress, which will cause an overstimulation of the immune system
·      Changing of seasons (warm weather generally improves symptoms)
·      Fluctuations of hormones
·      Certain medications (lithium, beta-blockers, and more)

Psoriasis may take on different forms, and each form of course has its own clinical symptoms, including:

·      Psoriasis Vulgaris
o   Scaly skin with silvery white colored patches

·      Exfoliative Psoriasis
o   Appears as redness and scaling due to a severe inflammatory reaction.
o   The reaction can also cause dehydration and hypo/hyperthermia.

·      Palmoplantar Pustulosis
o   It’s not as complicated as it sounds, thank goodness.
o   Appears as red areas that have accumulated skin cells present from an inflammatory disorder.
o   Plaques form and the areas will turn brown, peel and form a crust on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling here and there to major eruptions that cover large areas of the body.  Most types of psoriasis will go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, and then subsiding for an unknown period of time…it may even go into complete remission, hopefully!  Other general signs and symptoms of psoriasis to be aware of include:

·      Scaly patches of skin
·      Bleeding upon removal of scaly skin
·      Skin lesions that are primarily on the scalp, elbows, knees, buttocks, and lateral areas of the extremities
·      Pitting nails that break easily
·      Itching, burning and/or soreness
·      Swollen and stiff joints

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have psoriasis, do not hesitate to contact your doctor for an examination of your signs and symptoms.  You should especially seek medical attention if your psoriasis:

ü  Progresses beyond the stage of being a nuisance, causing you pain and discomfort
ü  Interferes with your daily tasks and routines
ü  Causes you concern about your skin appearance
ü  Leads to joint problems (pain and/or swelling)

Those who suffer from psoriasis understand that their condition is uncomfortable and could possibly even be disfiguring, while being difficult and a nuisance to treat.  Psoriasis will come and go throughout the lifespan, and while there are medications and lifestyle measures to help manage your symptoms and clear up your skin…there is currently no cure. 

Total Home Health has a program for you in which we will provide your care within the comforts of your own home.  Our primary goal of your treatment will be to stop skin cells from growing so rapidly and manage your symptoms when your psoriasis is at its worst.  Our professionals will be attuned to any adjustments that need made in your treatment plan so that you get the most relief from your symptoms, and that you are able to continue a happy, healthy life…without a constant bother from psoriasis.  Enroll with Total Home Health today to find out more!