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What Are the Common Symptoms of IBS?

Digestive problems? See if your symptoms match up with the most common signs of IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be an unpredictable and frustrating condition to endure. There is no known cause or cure, but the symptoms are well known enough to reach a confident diagnosis when experienced on a regular basis. These warning signs should alert you that a problem may be brewing in your digestive system.

  • Abdominal pains – The foremost symptom of IBS is cramping, which can occur at any time, but especially after eating or before using the bathroom.
  • Diarrhea – Loose stools can occur when your digestive system is behaving abnormally.
  • Constipation – Along with diarrhea, the opposite can also be a symptom. Patients often experience one for a few days, and then the other.
  • Bloating – A big meal or a certain food may cause temporary bloating, but chronic bloating shouldn't be a normal part of your day.
  • Changes in your stool – You may notice blood or mucus when you use the bathroom.
  • A frequent "need" to go – The feeling of an upcoming bowel movement might be present around the clock, even if there is no real need.
  • Discomfort after meals – You may feel extremely full, or even nauseated, after just a few bites.
  • Inability to eat reasonable portions – Take note if you can only eat small amounts at a time, or if you've lost your appetite altogether.

If you found yourself nodding as you read through this list of symptoms, it's time to make a doctor's appointment! You can learn more about our digestive care department at our website, or receive a free physician referral at our website www.LKMC.com and hit the link "Find a Doctor."

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The Dangers of Driving Distracted

When you're behind the wheel, keep your focus on the road.

You're never more dangerous than when you're driving a car. Small mistakes can have big consequences, so the road deserves your full attention. Are you prepared to face and reject the most common distractions? Here's what you can do to stay safe.

Put your cell phone away.

Texting and talking on the phone are not safe activities for a driver. If you are tempted to check your phone or answer a call while you're on the road, turn your ringer off and put your phone somewhere out of your reach.

Get directions safely.

If you have a passenger with you, ask him to be your navigator. You don't want to be reading a map, skimming a list of directions, or typing an address into your GPS while cruising down the street. If you are driving somewhere unfamiliar alone, plan in advance so you can remain free of distraction.

Set boundaries with your kids.

Parents often become distracted when their kids start fighting, making a mess, or taking off their seat belts. It helps to enforce consistent rules for safe behavior in the car. If the rules are broken, don't hesitate to pull over and stop the car until the situation resolves.

Keep both hands on the wheel.

Whether you're digging through your purse, applying make-up in the review mirror, or just trying to change the music, if your hands aren't on the wheel or your eyes aren't on the road, you're too distracted to be driving.

Whatever your healthcare needs are, we'll find the right match for you. For ER time wait or a free referral to a doctor, please visit www.LKMC.com and hit the "Find a Doctor" link.

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What is Cuddlebugs?

Are you expecting a little bundle of joy this year? Let's take a look at our Cuddlebugs Baby program!

Pregnancy is such an exciting time in a woman's life, but it can also be filled with anxieties, uncertainties, and confusion. When you have a trustworthy professional guiding you through these months, you'll find that your stress decreases and you can focus on the excitement and joy of your impending motherhood. That's where Cuddlebugs comes in. Here's what you can expect from this program:

Classes

We offer classes that range from labor and delivery preparations to newborn care tips. If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the things you don't know about this next phase of life, these classes are the perfect opportunity to learn and ask questions with a trusted teacher.

Maternity Care

The right OB/GYN can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your prenatal care and birth experience. Cuddlebugs can make sure you've found the perfect match for your family.

Timely Newsletters

You'll get important and interesting information sent right to your inbox, detailing the developments of your body and baby, both before and after his birth.

Events

Cuddlebugs regularly schedules events for the expecting families in our program. These often include free screenings and Q&As with experts in the field.

For more information about the Cuddlebugs program at Lower Keys Medical Center, visit the Cuddlebugs website. You'll learn more about the services we offer and the education you can receive as you prepare for birth and parenting.

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How to Choose the Right Doctor for Your Needs

When it comes to your long-term care, the right doctor is essential.

Whether you're searching for a family doctor or a specialist, selecting a doctor to provide continual care is a big choice. Need help with your hunt and final decision? These guidelines will make you feel comfortable that you've made the right call.

Know what you want.

Take some time to think about your past experiences with doctors. What moments stand out to you in a positive or negative way? Make a list of characteristics that you hope to find in a physician. These can include personality traits, a commitment to preventative health, or the ability to put you at ease in tense situations. Keep this list in mind during your first appointment with someone new.

Ask friends and co-workers about their doctors.

A physicians's credentials won't give you a full picture. A personal recommendation from a current patient can give you important details while you narrow down a list of potential doctors.

Take your insurance into account,

In most cases, it is not going to be worth going outside your coverage. Always check to see who is covered by your plan before making an appointment.

Ask about his track record.

Depending on what kind of doctor you are searching for, you may want to look into his past results. Is there a pattern you like? This may apply to you if you are choosing a surgeon, a fertility specialist, or an OB/GYN.

Lower Keys Medical Center is your best resource for finding the right doctor for you. Please go to our our website and hit the Find a Doctor link at www.LKMC.com

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If You’re Over 50, You Need a Colonoscopy

It's time to put those excuses behind you and make an appointment.

Like many other diseases, colorectal cancer is often a silent condition in its earliest stages. This means you are unlikely to notice any hint of its existence until it has developed far past the point of an easy recovery. If you want to win the war, you'll need to get proactive. Screenings are your number one weapon against many cancers, including colon cancer. But many patients tend to overlook – or flat out avoid – undergoing a colonoscopy. If you're over 50, the time has come. Consider these facts if you are still feeling hesitant.

This isn't your parents' procedure.

You've heard the horror stories about colonoscopies, but don't let fear or discomfort hold you back. Today's technology provides several options for colorectal screenings, and not all of them are as invasive as you think. If you are healthy and at a low-risk, your doctor may recommend something a little more comfortable for you.

You won't feel a thing.

While the idea of a colonoscopy may make you feel uncomfortable, in reality you won't even be aware of the process. Patients are put under for the entire procedure. Complications are extremely rare, and the exam will be performed by a doctor – not a nurse or technician. Preparing for the screening will be your biggest worry.

Screenings could save your life.

If you have your first colonoscopy at age 50, and continue to follow your doctor's recommendations for future testing, you will most likely discover any polyps long before they develop into cancer. If cancer is found, it will be in its earliest, most treatable stage. Abnormal results may be scary – but discovering a problem when it's too late is a nightmare that can usually be avoided.

Don't put it off any longer. Get your first colonoscopy ASAP. Visit  http://www.lkmc.com/find-doctor and find a doctor now and make sure your colonoscopy is performed at Lower Keys Medical Center.

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5 Heart Disease Risk Factors for Women

Ladies; let's make our hearts a priority this February.

Hearts are a popular topic this month. Not only did we just celebrate Valentine's Day, February is also American Heart Month. Women have it hard when it comes to heart disease. While men may have slightly higher diagnosis rates, heart disease is still the number one cause of death among women, and women are more likely to be misdiagnosed when they have heart issues because their symptoms are typically more subtle. Prevention is an important topic in women's health. So what risk factors for heart disease affect women? Let's explore the top five.

  1. Inactivity – Women who are naturally thin may not see a need for exercise in their life. An active lifestyle shouldn't just be for the sake of an idealized body image. Your heart needs cardio to stay strong and healthy.
  2. Smoking – Those cigarettes aren't just bad for your lungs; they are also putting a strain on your heart. For women, the the most dangerous combination is smoking while using hormonal birth control after age 35.
  3. Poor nutrition – There are a lot of myths floating around about what constitutes a "healthy diet." Women are especially prone to avoiding any foods that may be too fatty. Remember, some fats are actually good for your heart health. Keep nuts, avocados, and olive oil on your shopping list.
  4. Hormone replacement therapy – If you are struggling with the side effects of menopause, explore alternative relief methods before turning to HRT.
  5. Mental health – Women are more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety, or chronic stress at some point in their lives. Allowing these unhealthy thoughts to reign will not only lead to sleepless nights or a foul mood, they can also damage your heart.

Is your heart healthy and strong? If you suspect something may be wrong, find answers with Lower Keys Medical's Heart Care Center. You can learn more about our team and our services at our website. For a physician referral,

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A Look At: Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Imaging at LKMC

Learn more about the latest technology in our cardiovascular department.

Across the United States, heart disease is a top health concern. Both nationally and here in Florida, it’s the number one cause of death, with stroke also near the top of the list.

February is American Heart Month, so it’s a good time to think about your heart health. Heart disease prevention is a major priority for health care providers, and you can make many simple lifestyle choices that will lower your risk of developing heart disease.

But when there is a concern about cardiac health, patients want to know they have access to the best diagnostic and imaging technology available. That’s what the Heart Care Center at Lower Keys Medical Center provides. Our cardiovascular diagnosis and imaging services feature a wide range of state-of-the-art procedures and tests.

Electrophysiology Studies

These studies measure the electrical impulses in the heart to determine the source of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) or identify muscle damage. The technologies we use at Lower Keys are:

  • Electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG)
  • Transesophogeal echocardiograms (TEE)
  • Holter monitor or event recorder, to measure a patient’s heart activity over an extended period of time

Nuclear Medicine Scans

Nuclear medicine scans involve giving patients small amounts of radioactive material to aid doctors in detecting abnormalities. These procedures help give better images of the heart structure and flow of blood within it.

Non-Invasive Imaging

These technologies are used both to make diagnoses and offer prognoses on existing conditions:

  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA)
  • X-ray

Cardiac Catheterization

Also called a coronary angiogram, this procedure provides real-time X-ray images (fluoroscopy). It’s used to:

  • Measure the heart’s pumping ability
  • Show the health of the valves and arteries
  • Determine blood pressure
  • Collect biopsies and blood samples

The cardiologists at Lower Keys Medical Center can always choose the precise tool they need to diagnose a problem with your heart. If you have a question about our Heart Care Center or other services, call (305) 294-5531.
 

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Lower Keys Medical Center Reaccredited in Digital Mammography­

Lower Keys Medical Center Reaccredited in Digital Mammography­

Lower Keys Medical Center (LKMC) has been performing mammograms for over 25 years and has been accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) in mammography and stereotactic breast biopsy since the inception of their accreditation. LKMC Mammography Technicians are highly-qualified and certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and have a combined experience of more than 40 years. You will also have the confidence to know we have a radiologist onsite.

Mammography patients at LKMC have the added peace of mind by having their prior films digitized and saved when they arrive for their mammogram. Our radiologists can view them immediately in our Picture Archiving and Comparison System (PACS) for comparison and retention. They also use our Computer Aided Detection (CAD) technology to double check the films.

By digitizing films, patients can leave with their original films, which most patients find very comforting. Digital mammography is your strongest new ally in the fight against breast cancer. LKMC is proud to be the first in the Lower Keys to have digital mammography technology and stereotactic biopsy technology since January of 2010.

In addition to offering superior mammography technology, LKMC offers a softer, warmer mammogram by using the MammoPad breast cushion for every patient. MammoPad has been clinically demonstrated to reduce discomfort, associated with mammograms, for most women. This breast cushion is “invisible” to X-rays and does not interfere with the image quality of the mammogram.

Lumps or abnormalities in the breast are often detected by physical examination, mammography, or other imaging studies. However, it is not always possible to tell from these imaging tests whether a growth is benign or cancerous. In stereotactic breast biopsy, a special mammography machine uses ionizing radiation to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth.

Stereotactic mammography pinpoints the exact location of a breast mass by using a computer and x-rays taken from two different angles. Using these computer coordinates, the radiologist inserts the needle through the skin, advances it into the lesion and removes tissue samples.  The samples are sent to the Pathologist for analysis.  The patient can usually leave as early as 30 minutes after the procedure.

Every day we learn more about breast cancer and how to win the battle. One fact is very clear-the distinct advantage of early detection. Fortunately, breast cancer is highly detectable through digital mammography screening.

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Cervical Cancer: Risk Factors and Prevention

Women can take steps to prevent cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is not one of the most common forms of cancer, but any woman who is or has been sexually active is at risk of getting it. Cervical cancer is most often caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection.

Risk Factors

Unprotected sexual activity is a major risk factor for becoming infected with HPV. Other risk factors for cervical cancer are:

  • Becoming sexually active at a young age
  • Having many sexual partners
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke

Possible risk factors for cervical cancer include:

  • Having seven or more full-term pregnancies
  • Using oral birth control for five or more years

Preventing Cervical Cancer

Women who are sexually active can reduce the risk of being infected with HPV by using condoms during all sexual activity. They can use spermicidal gels as well. Getting a Pap test and/or an HPV vaccination is also important.

Pap Tests

This test of the cervix can detect abnormal cells before they become cancerous. A Pap test can also indicate the early presence of cancer, allowing for prompt treatment. The recommended guidelines for Pap tests vary; here are some from the American Cancer Society:

  • All women should begin screening at age 21.
  • Women between 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every three years.
  • Women between 30 and 65 should have a Pap test every three or five years.
  • Women over 65 who have had previous negative results can stop screening.

Tests are also available to detect HPV. They are usually given after a woman turns 30 and in conjunction with a Pap test.

HPV Vaccine

Girls should begin receiving the first of three recommended doses before they become sexually active. This can begin at 9 years old, though 11-12 is preferred. Women between 19 and 26 can also get the vaccine, though it is most effective if they have not been sexually active. Women who are vaccinated should still get regular Pap tests.

At Lower Keys Medical Center, our Women’s Health Services can meet all of a woman’s screening needs as well as handle other gynecological concerns. To reach the hospital and learn more about our services, call (305) 294-5531.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Become a Blood Donor

Giving blood is an easy way to help others.

If you or a loved one were in accident and needed blood, you would want to know it’s readily available. But blood can’t be manufactured—it only comes from people who choose to donate some of their own to help others. That includes many diabetics, who in most cases can freely donate. Here are five reasons why you should consider becoming a blood donor.

The Demand for Blood is High

In the United States, every two seconds, someone needs blood. The people who require it include:

  • Patients with sickle cell anemia
  • People undergoing heart and other forms of surgery
  • Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy

All together, the country needs more than 41,000 blood donations each day to meet the need for transfusions. The blood from one donor could save the lives of up to three people.

Donating Blood is Simple and Safe

Donors go through a four-step process that takes a little over an hour, and the actual blood donation takes only about 12 minutes. The four steps are:

  • Registration
  • Medical history and mini physical, which includes checking:

    • Temperature
    • Blood pressure
    • Pulse
    • hemoglobin
  • The actual donation (done using a sterile, single-use needle)
  • Refreshments

You May Be a Universal Donor

If you’re among the 7 percent of Americans with type O-negative blood, your donation can be given to someone with any blood type.

You Can Donate for a Loved One

OneBlood, a non-profit blood collection organization in South Florida, has a directed donation program, so you can specify who receives your blood. Read more about it here.

You Get Cookies and Juice!

The refreshments served after you donate blood typically include free cookies or some other snack, and juice. They help boost your blood sugar levels, and while you’re eating them the staff has time to make sure you’re feeling all right.

When you donate, your blood could go to a patient at Lower Keys Medical Center. And if you have a medical condition that requires a blood transfusion, you can count on us to be ready. If you need a physical referral or have any medical questions, give us a call at (305) 292-3627.

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