All posts filed under “Women’s Health

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Recognize the signs of breast cancer

With October coming to a close, we have one last post on the topic of breast cancer awareness. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Knowing the signs and symptoms can help in early detection. Below are some common symptoms related to breast cancer.

  • A new lump in the breast
  • A new lump in the armpit
  • Swelling or thickening in part of the breast
  • Dimpling of the breast skin
  • Irritation of the breast skin
  • Pulling in of the nipple
  • Pain in the nipple area
  • Nipple discharge (other than milk)
  • Change in shape or size of the breast
  • Pain anywhere in the breast

If you are showing any of these symptoms it does not automatically mean you have breast cancer. These signs and symptoms can be caused by other medical conditions. It is important to be looked at by your doctor should you have any concerns.  On the other hand, some women have no symptoms at all. Even if you are not showing any signs of breast cancer it is important to get regular screenings.

Comment below how you plan to stay on top of your health. Also how will you share this information with others?

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Breast self-exam, do you know how?

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month; it is intended to encourage women to take steps towards awareness, prevention, and early detection. Breast self-exams are vital to early detection, and should be done once a month 3-5 days after your period starts. Becoming familiar with your breast health may help you notice if changes occur. Below is information on how to complete a breast self-exam.

  • In the shower: Using your three middle fingers move in a circular motion from the outside of your breast in towards the nipple. Make sure to check the entire breast as well as the armpit, repeat on other breast. Notice any lumps, hardening knots or thickening, as well as any other changes.
  • In front of a mirror:  With your arms at your side visually inspect your breasts. Most women’s breasts are not identical. Look for any dimpling, puckering, indentations, or skin that looks like an orange peel. Also note if your nipples turn inward. Next raise your arms overhead and look for any swelling or other visual changes. Lastly placing your hands on your hips, press firmly to flex your chest muscles, look for any visual changes such as those mentioned above.
  • Lying down: While lying down place a pillow under your left shoulder, and place your left arm beneath your head. Using the pads of your fingers on your right hand, make small circular motions inward along your left breast, start from the armpit and work in towards the nipple. Make sure to cover the entirety of the breast. Notice any lumps, hardening knots or thickening, as well as any other changes. Next gently squeeze the nipple looking for any discharge, irritation, or redness. Repeat on other breast.

Early detection is crucial in fighting breast cancer. Breast self-exams help women notice changes in their breast that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. For women who have gone through menopause make sure to complete your breast self-exam on the same day each month. Most women have some lumps in their breast; the goal of breast self-exams is to notice anything new or different. If you do notice any changes make sure to contact your health care provider. Together, we can bring the numbers down on breast cancer.

Comment below on how you have, or plan to help spread awareness about breast cancer.

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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to encourage women to take steps to early detection. Prevention starts with awareness, here are 10 facts you need to know.
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10 facts you need to know about breast cancer

As you may know it is that time of year when we start to see football players, basketball players and athlete’s alike wearing pink during their games, and for good cause! October is known to many as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is an annual campaign to increase awareness about the disease. Prevention starts with awareness, here are 10 facts you need to know.

  1. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  2. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide.
  3. Even though it is rare, breast cancer can occur in men.
  4. Exercise at least 150 minutes a week to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
  5. Healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and other diseases.
  6. Minimize alcohol intake to control risk, no more than one alcoholic drink per day.
  7. Complete a breast self-exam once a month.
  8. Stop smoking to support overall health.
  9. Make your mammogram appointment a priority.
  10. Early detection and treatment is key in fighting breast cancer.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to encourage women to take steps to early detection. Together, we can bring the numbers down on breast cancer. We’re rallying with the Portland Trail Blazers during Moda Health Months to spread the word.

Join us in keeping breast cancer top of mind. Follow us at #modahealthmonths on Facebook and Twitter.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by williami5

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Accepting the aging process

Ok, you’re aging.  There’s no way around it.   You turn a certain age and people say “You’re how old?  Oh you don’t look your age at all”.  It’s a sideways compliment but what if you’re one of those people who has made peace with aging and you’re not going to fight it? You’re going to embrace every wrinkle, grey hair, and every crows foot line on your face.

Ann Brenoff, a senior writer and columnist with the Huffington Post, is just such a woman.  She asks “What exactly is aging gracefully anyway?  The definition of aging gracefully seems to be someone who doesn’t look or act the age they actually are.”   But she goes on to more clearly define the act of aging gracefully as “the simple act of not aging as rapidly as some people think is typical.”

Hollywood and social media set such a high standard for beautiful aging, look at Jane Fonda, age 77,  Helen Mirran, age 70, or Anthony Hopkins, age 77 they’re all stunning.  But is that the youthful beauty that is affordable to those who are able to pay for personal trainers, chefs, and high end cosmetics?  This may not be you but unless you make your living on the big screen, it doesn’t have to be you.

Remember this….we are not our bodies.  The soul of who are you are is not always a direct reflection of your outer shell.  Give yourself permission to not defy nature and embrace the changes that will happen to your appearance.  You’re not a failure because you don’t look 25 you’re whole life.  There is beauty in aging – embrace your beauty.

 

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7 facts about HPV for parents

Hey parents, did you know that your child is at risk of getting an STD (sexually transmitted disease)? It is estimated that nearly all sexually active individuals will get HPV (Human Papillomavirus) at some point in their lives.

Now we know what you are thinking… “My child isn’t sexually active yet!”

That may be true, but HPV is so common that the best protection is to get your child  vaccinated before they become sexually active. This will allow the vaccine to develop an immune response within the body. Currently there is a FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved series of vaccines (3 shots total) that are available for both preteen girls and boys around the ages 11 and 12.

It is important to note that a person with HPV has no symptoms. Studies also show that individuals with HPV also have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. But keep in mind, prevention is possible!

Here are 7 facts about the HPV vaccine:

  1. There are 3 vaccines approved by the FDA to prevent HPV infection.
  2. The HPV vaccine can help prevent many types of cancer (such as vaginal, cervical, anal and throat).
  3.  The HPV vaccine can be given to females until they are 27 years old.
  4. Males can get the vaccine as well, up to age 22.
  5. Two of the HPV vaccines can protect against genital warts.
  6. No serious side effects have been shown to be caused by the vaccines.
  7. Protection from the HPV vaccine is long lasting.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and FDA continue to carefully study and monitor the HPV vaccine; these studies have continued to show that the HPV vaccines are safe and effective. Parents are encouraged to talk to your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine and what they can do to make sure their child is protected.

Moda Health offers members with a pharmacy benefit HPV immunization services at select network pharmacies. For a complete list of network pharmacies or for questions, call Moda Health Pharmacy Customer Service at 888-361-1610.

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Aging gracefully is easier than you thought

When you think of the aging process you may think of diminished vision and hearing senses, wrinkled skin, and arthritic joints.   Some of these may be a genetic predisposition but there are definitely ways to age gracefully – physically, mentally and socially.

Here is a list of 5 attributes that may help ease the stereotype of aging:

  1. Be a happy camper.  Not all seniors have to be cranky but depression can be a common as you age.  Find something positive in every day. Pay a compliment to a stranger, say a kind word, find joy in unusual places and celebrate.
  2. You’re a survivor.  Just by aging you’ve experienced wisdom, resilience and a mature prospective.  Growing old is an accomplishment in itself and you’re stronger than you think.
  3. Accept changes.  The aging process brings on many changes.  Instead of fighting them, embrace them.  Life isn’t the same as when you were in your youth. The environment, culture, and world has changed.  By accepting changes and adapting to new situations you’re continuing to remain mentally and socially flexible.
  4. Avoid stereotypes.  Aging doesn’t mean that you are required to sit in a rocking chair and knit sweaters; unless that’s what you want to do.   Live by your own standards and don’t feel like you need to join the Red Hat Club just because you’ve reached a certain age.  Live for yourself.
  5. Find meaningful activities. Retirement has always been defined as a time when you move away from your regular day-to-day activities. This is historically when depression may set in.  Instead of seeing retirement as an end, see it as a beginning. Now you have time to learn to play a musical instrument, learn a foreign language, volunteer at the library, or any number of other activities that keep your brain and body socially active.

Click here to watch a great video on aging advice from young and old.

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Do you feel like you have tried every diet out there and failed? Well I am about to change your life, enter intuitive eating.
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Tired of dieting? Try Intuitive Eating

Do you feel like you have tried every diet out there and failed? Well I am about to change your life, enter intuitive eating. In this new approach, you can eat whatever your body craves (even that cheeseburger and fries!). The catch – you must learn to eat only when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Seems to be that with this diet filled world, many of us have forgotten how to just…eat.

Do not be mistaken, this is not a diet. It is considered a non-diet, weight-neutral approach. The focus is on total health and well-being, rather than weight loss. You might even be amazed that your body actually craves healthy foods once it’s not thought of as a punishment.

If any of this resonates with you, check out the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating as summarized below:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality – Throw out your diet books an magazine articles.
  2. Honor Your Hunger – When you are hungry, eat.
  3. Make Peace with Food – Give yourself unconditional permission to eat any food.
  4. Challenge the Food Police – Throw out terms like good food and bad food.
  5. Respect Your Fullness – Listen to your body and stop when you are full.
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor – Food is pleasurable! Enjoy it.
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food – Food won’t fix any of your feelings.
  8. Respect Your Body – Love the body that you have right now.
  9. Exercise-Feel the Difference – Learn how much better your body feels with movement.
  10. Honor Your Health – Balance your tastebuds while making you feel well. You don’t have to eat perfect to be healthy.

As you can see, a major component of this program is acceptance. Making peace with yourself and your body, learning to not use on food for emotional support, etc. This little graphic says so much.

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For more information on intuitive eating check out the book that made it famous, Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by reynermedia

Pacific Northwest Hiking
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No-nonsense tips for safe hiking

There’s still so much of summer left.  Have you ventured out to a hiking trail in the beautiful Pacific Northwest?  Whether you’re a novice or seasoned hiker there are many simple steps to keep yourself safe and enjoy your hike.

Follow the Hiker Responsibility Code.

Be prepared:

1. With knowledge and gear.  Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.

2. To leave your plans.  Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you will return and your emergency plans.

3. To stay together.  When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group.  Pace your hike to the slowest person.

4. To turn back.  Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike.  The mountains will be there another day.

5. For emergencies.  Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening.  Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.

6. To share the hike code with other. 

REI, the leader in outdoor equipment, also has a great list of 10 day hiking essentials to make your day fun and safe.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Loren Kerns

How to avoid your enemy and know if you've been bitten.
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Quick guide to spider bites

Spiders seem to be more plentiful after a mild winter.  Along with spiders comes the increase of spider bites.  Luckily not all spiders are poisonous, but if you’ve ever been bitten by a venomous spider you should know how to treat the bite.

The Pacific Northwest can claim several varieties of spiders that carry a bite to be medically important.  To know the difference between venomous, dangerous, and low-risk non aggressive spiders, refer to the USA spider identification chart.  In the unlikely event you’ve experienced a bite, know when to seek professional medical care vs simple home care of the bite site.

Remember, prevention is the first defense in avoiding a nasty spider bite.

Per the Mayo Clinic, here is how to prevent spider bites :

  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt, hat, gloves and boots when handling stored boxes or firewood, and when cleaning out sheds, garages, basements, attics and crawl spaces.
  • Inspect and shake out gardening gloves, boots and clothing that have been unused for a while.
  • Use insect repellents, such as DEET or Picaridin, on clothing and footwear.
  • Keep insects and spiders out of the house by installing tight-fitting screens on windows and doors, and caulking or sealing cracks or crevices where spiders can come in.
  • Discard old boxes, clothing and other unwanted items from storage areas.
  • Store items you want to keep off of the floor and away from walls.
  • Remove piles of rocks or lumber from the area around your house.
  • Avoid storing firewood against the house.
  • Vacuum spiders and spider webs and dispose of them in a sealed bag outside to prevent re-entry into the house.

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Ray Bouknight

Watch your sun exposure
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Bad sunburn art could increase melanoma risk

Crazy trends are just that…..CRAZY!  And this one ranks right up there as one of the worst.  Instead of the previous summer quest for no tan lines some people are going in the opposite direction and are deliberately using their skin and the sun to create temporary art on their skin.    What?  Since when is melanoma art?  The American Cancer Society website has great information on skin cancer causes and prevention.   The biggest culprit is prolonged exposure to UV (ultra violet) rays.

There are other ways to have temporary art on your skin that aren’t cancer causing or permanent (tattoos).  How about Henna ink?  Seems like a safer choice. 

Let’s hope this trend fades like a tan  before you have to see the Oncologist

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Alan Light