Doctor Housecalls Blog

Healthcare related news and updates




How to Prevent a Migraine

A migraine is a reoccurring, severe headache that can have side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and a sensitivity to light and sound. The throbbing headache often occurs on the side of the head and is more common in women than in men. A migraine is caused by abnormal brain activity and what triggers the abnormal brain activity differs vastly from person to person. The best way to prevent migraines from occurring is by identifying the root cause of the change in your brain activity. Study your migraines and find out what triggers them so that you can make the necessary changes to prevent the onset of a migraine. Here are some common lifestyle and medicinal tips that can help prevent a migraine from occurring.

    1. Limit caffeine. Withdrawal from caffeine can trigger a migraine. Prevent yourself from having caffeine withdrawals by limiting your caffeine intake to no more than one cup of coffee a day.
    2. Avoid alcohol. If certain types of alcohol give you a headache after just a few drinks, the alcohol may be triggering a migraine. Avoid these types of alcohol all together.
    3. Avoid triggering foods. Foods like chocolate, cheese, other dairy products, gluten products, red wine, smoked fish, and peanuts are common triggers of migraines. Find out which foods trigger your migraines and eliminate them from your diet.
    4. Do not skip meals. A fluctuation of blood sugar from missing meals is a common cause of migraines. Be sure to keep your glucose levels stable by eating consistently throughout the day.
    5. Get a consistent, healthy amount of sleep. Studies show that sleep deprivation can cause migraines. You can help prevent migraines by making sure you get 8 hours of sleep a night and go to sleep around the same time every night.
    6. Take a low-dose estrogen contraceptive (for women). For many women, migraines occur when they have a drop of estrogen right before they start their menstrual cycle. A contraceptive can help balance your estrogen levels and prevent the migraine from occurring.


Menopausal Hot Flashes in Women May Come Down to One  Thing

A recent study pinpointed that how often menopausal women experience hot flashes may depend on variations in their genes. The study was printed in the journal Menopause, published by the North American Menopause Society.

Researchers examined the entire genomes of more than 17,000 women who participated in the U.S. government’s Women’s Health Initiative.

CNN reported on the findings.



For many years, the message given to pregnant women was that it was ok to have an occasional drink during their pregnancy.  This message has changed with a new report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that cautions pregnant women not to drink alcohol in any amount.  The AAP has concluded from its studies that, because alcohol is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurodevelopmental disabilities, no amount of alcohol is safe.

HealthDay (10/20, Dotinga) ran a detailed report on the study and obtained comment from Dr. Janet Williams, a co-author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center.  Dr. Williams says that future studies will likely continue to show that “alcohol has subtle yet important lasting effects on academic performance, attention, behavior, cognition, memory, language skills, and visual and motor development.”

This study garnered a great deal of attention with a report on ABC World News (10/19, story 8, 1:40, Muir) by David Muir and another on the CBS Evening News (10/19, story 11, 1:05, Pelley) with CBS Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon Lapook.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://www.drhousecallsofpv.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/sjlphoto1sm.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]
Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP has been a Board Certified Emergency Physician in Arizona for the last 37 years, and a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley for the last 37 years. Steve Lipsky on Google Plus[/author_info] [/author]



New HPV Vaccine Results

A study released April 21, 2015 by the American Association for Cancer Research found that the HPV vaccine can protect against infection across multiple site on the body, even in women who have been infected in the past.

4186 women between the ages of 18 and 25 were vaccinated with either the HPV 16/18 vaccine or a control Heptatitis A vaccine.  The randomized controlled trial sought to determine if the HPV vaccine could protect women against oral, anal, and cervical HPV.

According to an April 21st Tmes article by Alexendra Stifferlin, “efficacy for the vaccine in all three sites was 83% among the women with no evidence of prior HPV exposure and infection, 58% among women with prior HPV exposure, and a 25% among women with active cervical HPV16/18 infection (the percentage was considered nonsignificant).”

Overall, the efficacy of the vaccine in all three sites was 65%, and 91% for two sites.  These results support the CDC’s recommendation for women up to age 26, and men up to age 21 to get the vaccine if they did not receive it at a younger age.



A Cheaper Genetic Breast Cancer Test

The New York Times is reporting that a Silicon Valley startup is currently developing a new saliva test to screen women for breast cancer.  Color Genomic’s test can be completed for about one tenth of the cost of other available genetic screenings, coming in at $249.  The test analyzes 19 different genes, including BRCA 1 and BRCA2, the two primary genes were breast cancer mutations can occur.

According to Elad Gil, chief executive of Color Genomics, by developing this low cost test, it allows women to be able to pay out of pocket for the test if it is not covered by their insurance.  Skeptics argue that analysis, interpretation and patient counseling are important factors in the testing that won’t be covered in the $249.



A new research study recently released indicates gender differences in risk factors related to sleep apnea.  The New York Times (10/20, D6, Bakalar) “Well” blog reports on a Circulation-published study by a group of Epidemiologists who examined sleep disorders and heart risk factors. The study looked at gender differences in the likelihood of the development of cardiovascular complications by measuring such things as troponin T, a protein that is released into the bloodstream when there is damage to the heart.

The study followed 752 men and 893 women over the course of 14 years and measured the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) against incidents of coronary artery disease, heart failure, and death from cardiovascular disease.   The study found that OSA was independently associated with increased levels of troponin T, heart failure and incidents of death in women.  This was not the case with men.  Also, sleep apnea was found to be associated with an enlarged heart in women.



Expectant mothers cautioned to avoid tuna

by Dr. Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Now, here’s a list of foods to avoid during your pregnancy. The most recent addition to the list…tuna.

Tuna has become the latest food added to the “what not to eat list during pregnancy.” A recent analysis released by Consumer Reports on mercury levels in tuna has sparked media frenzy across the nation. Why? Because Consumer Reports recommendations vastly disagree with proposed new guidelines by the Food and Drug Administration encouraging women of childbearing age and young children to consume more fish. But without carefully monitoring the species of fish consumed, Americans could end up taking in to much mercury, causing potential brain and nervous system damage.

In August 2014, Consumer Reports  published an article, cautioning expectant mothers and those trying to conceive to avoid tuna, especially canned tuna, because of the high mercury levels in the fish and the damaging affects it can have on the brain of a growing fetus. This warning comes on the heals of a new recommendation by the Federal Food and Drug Administration which says pregnant women should eat up to 12 ounces of fish each week, including some tuna” as reported by The CBS Evening News (8/21, story 10, 0:25, Schieffer).

According to The Washington Post (8/21, Sullivan) “Morning Mix”, the FDA published a list of different types of fish and the average amount of mercury levels found in each type of fish on their website. Most types of tuna contained relatively high levels of mercury. Consumer Reports carefully analyzed the data finding “20 percent of the light canned tuna samples tested since 2005 have almost twice as much mercury as what the FDA said is the average amount.” So is the FDA underestimating the danger of mercury levels in tuna?

The FDA and Consumer Reports can agree on one thing and that is pregnant women should stick to salmon, shrimp and tilapia as reported by The New York Daily News (8/22, Taylor). All three types of fish are rich in nutrients, packed with protein and contain the lowest levels of mercury. Other choices include pollock, catfish and flounder. Expectant mothers should also stay away from all raw fish and should avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico.

The Oregonian (8/21, Terry) published a statement from the FDA stating, “The Consumer Reports analysis is limited in that it focuses exclusively on the mercury levels in fish without considering the known positive nutritional benefits attributed to fish. As a result, the methodology employed by Consumer Reports overestimates the negative effects and overlooks the strong body of scientific evidence published in the last decade.”

The story has also been covered by the Huffington Post (8/21, Almendrala), TIME (8/22, Stampler), the Today Show Online (8/21, Fernstrom) and HealthDay (8/22, Preidt).



While still recommending an annual well-woman visit to one’s OBGYN, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued new guidelines for women 30 and older suggesting that a Pap test and HPV test (for human papillomavirus) be done only once every five years rather than annually, and that for  most women a pap every 3-5 years.

A Baylor University study involving 187 postmenopausal women with hot flashes and night sweats found that they could be reduced 70-80% by receiving a weekly hypnosis session by a trained professional or by practicing self-hypnosis according to researcher Gary Elkins.


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