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Black History Month: Black Health & Wellness

February is Internationally celebrated as Black History month and this year the theme is Black Health & Wellness.

Some staggering facts around black health:

  1. In 2019, live births were 548,075
  2. In 2020, 18.7% of adults aged 18 and over in fair or poor health
  3. 38.7% of men above the age of 20 are obese
  4. In 2020, 14.5% of adults aged 18–64 without health insurance coverage
  5. Leading causes of death are: heart disease, Cancer & Covid-19

In the United States, February is Black History Month, a month dedicated to honoring African-American history. It’s also a month dedicated to bringing attention to the highly inequitable treatment of Black people in the United States.

This article highlights five of the numerous Black Americans throughout history who have had and continue to have a significant effect on people’s health and well-being in the United States and throughout the world.

Dr. Patricia E. Bath

Dr. Patricia E. Bath was an ophthalmologist, inventor, and laser scientist best known for her contributions to blindness prevention, treatment, and cure. Among her contributions with the most impact on public health was the invention of a new device and technique for cataract surgery known as the Laserphaco. When she filed for and received a medical patent for the device, she became the first Black American woman to do so.

When asked what led her to her career path, she responded, “My love of humanity and passion for helping others inspired me to become a physician.”

Dr. William G. Coleman Jr.

Dr. William G. Coleman Jr. was the first permanent Black scientific director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Program (IRP). He directed the NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. He took the leadership on transdisciplinary research that focused primarily on the biological and non-biological determinants of health disparities and their influence on the outcomes of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, among other chronic diseases.

Upon his death, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) founded William G. Coleman Jr., Ph.D. Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Innovation Award designed to support high-impact one-year innovative research projects.

Dr. Mae C. Jemison

Dr. Mae C. Jemison is best known as the first Black female astronaut and the first Black American woman in space. Before becoming an astronaut, she earned her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1981. While earning her degree, Dr. Jemison studied abroad in Cuba and Kenya and worked in a refugee camp in Thailand, which were experiences that ignited a passion for global health. In June of 1987, she became the first African American woman to be admitted into the NASA astronaut training program. After leaving NASA in 1993, she accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth.

Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston

Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston is a pediatrician who became the first Black woman to direct a Public Health Service Bureau and whose groundbreaking research on sickle cell disease resulted in nationwide screening programs for children at birth.

Because of her contributions to public health, she received the National Medical Association scroll of merit in 1999. She had a day established in her honor in Cincinnati and Lincoln Heights, Ohio. Additionally, a scholarship program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine established a scholarship program in her name dedicated to giving full scholarships to economically disadvantaged minority students every year.

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett

Dr. Kizzimekia Corbett, PhD, is a scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who is at the forefront of the development and production of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. At the beginning of the pandemic, she was among the few NIH scientists who briefed then-president Donald Trump on the coronavirus.

Corbett was born in Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, and grew up in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Her teachers recognized her talent when she was very young, and they encouraged her mother to place her in advanced classes.

Dr. Corbett’s work and what she represents is vital in a country where Black students are less likely to engage in STEM fields.

As a health and wellness community, it is vital that we continue to honor Black individuals’ and communities’ presence and contributions in the health and wellness space—past, present, and future.

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    Let’s Fight Omicron With Omicron Variant Reaching North Carolina, Doctors are Urging People To Get Their Covid Shots


    Two days ago, North Carolina reported the first case of the Omicron variant in the state. Mecklenburg County health officials first reported the presence of the omicron variant on Friday, noting that the positive test came from a University of North Carolina at Charlotte student and had been discovered through the university’s sequencing program. According to the report, he had traveled outside the state for Thanksgiving. He was immediately isolated. Owing to the fact that he was fully vaccinated, he has now recovered.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the Omicron variation as a variant of concern on November 26, 2021, and the United States categorized it as such on November 30, 2021. Many countries, including the United States, have detected it.

    On Monday, state health officials verified the case of the UNC Charlotte student who tested positive for the omicron variety, but they found no more instances. Most instances do not undergo genetic sequencing, which is the only method to establish what variation someone has, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Only a limited percentage of positive COVID-19 specimens undergo such testing, and more than 95 percent of viral specimens sequenced in North Carolina have the delta version.

    The state firmly believes that all the ‘existing variants of Covid ’ can be successfully treated with the existing Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

    While most adults are focused on obtaining their booster shots, health officials are concerned about poor immunization rates among children. Only 6.5 percent of children aged 5 to 11 are completely immunized, according to the CDC. Doctors are asking parents to safeguard their children as families prepare to meet in the coming weeks.

    Though new daily cases are increasing and hospitalizations are up more than 40% since Thanksgiving, the state’s case positive rate has remained relatively steady at approximately 7% over the past week.

    The officials stated that though there is not much research around long-term covid impacts on kids, however, the existing data sets indicate that children can have a long-term cognitive covid impact even if they have mild symptoms. Further, considering the upcoming holiday season, children can become a hotbed of viruses irrespective of the fact that they are symptomatic or asymptomatic.

    Doctors are urging that vaccination along with masks and other protocols are the only way to curb this menace.

    Dr. David Wohl, the infectious disease specialist at UNC-Chapel Hill, said unvaccinated people are the primary concern as they overwhelmingly make up COVID hospitalizations in North Carolina, stressing hospital systems. And those not vaccinated are vulnerable to any variant. In laboratory studies, a third-dose booster of Pfizer’s vaccine was found to have a considerably greater antibody response against omicron than the two doses alone, according to Pfizer.

    The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services continues to advocate immunization as the best COVID-19 preventative method. In comparison to those who are vaccinated, people who are unvaccinated are more than five times as likely to get COVID-19 and more than 25 times as likely to die from the illness as of Dec. 1, according to the most recently available statistics from DHHS.

    East Cary Family Physicians urge you to get your Covid shot as soon as possible.

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      Happy New Year!

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        The Office will be closed on Thursday, November 25th and Friday, November 26th

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          The Importance of Getting a DOT Physical


          Driving a commercial motor vehicle can be tough. The Department of Transportation requires that employers who are professional truck drivers or bus drivers get a physical to test their vision, blood pressure, and their overall medical history. The test ensures that drivers are able to operate commercial motor vehicles for public safety.

        • Firstly, there’s a vision test which tests your eyesight and ability to identify colors. Since you’ll be driving, recognizing signs and signals is important, you want to make sure that you are able to do so. Next is a hearing test to see how someone can hear with or without hearing aids. “A driver must be able to hear a forced whisper from less than five feet away,” according to DOCS Medical. There’s also a urinalysis, a blood pressure/pulse rate test, and a physical exam. Overall DOT Physicals help everyone on the road stay safe.
        • Although the test does seem easy to pass, you can fail for both reasons in and out of your control. If you have high blood pressure, epilepsy, missing extremities, cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, diabetes, poor eyesight or hearing, or a psychiatric disease, you might be deemed unable to drive commercial motor vehicles. There are some things that can be improved, for example eyesight and hearing. If you do fail, ask your doctor why you failed. Once you are aware of the reason why, ask them if there is anything you can do to pass the next time. If the reason that you failed is out of your control, you might be able to receive an exemption through proving that you can operate a commercial motor vehicle.
        • East Cary Family Physicians offers a DOT physical exam for only $100 (not covered by insurance and will be collected before the appointment.) Schedule an appointment now at eastcaryfamilyphysicians.com or call at (919) – 200 – 6587.

          https://www.driveco.org/blog/i-failed-the-dot-exam-now-what/

          https://docsmedicalgroup.com/docsurgentcare/dot-physicals-everything-you-need-to-know/

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            3 Reasons Why You Should Get the COVID-19 Vaccine


            As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be approved for all age groups, there is a growing hesitancy to get vaccinated. At ECFP we care about our patients and would like to keep them safe through educating and providing the care they need. We are strong believers in the COVID-19 vaccine and here are a few reasons why:

            1. The vaccine can prevent you from getting sick since it works with your immune system to fight off any potential viruses. With all vaccines, the body is left with memory B and T cells to fight off the disease if they encounter it again. The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines which mean that they contain information to create replica spike proteins from COVID-19 which our body learns to fight against. The memory cells remember this and can fight against the spike proteins if they are encountered again.
            1. If not for yourself, do it for others. Getting vaccinated can help others in your community feel safer since they will be less likely to catch the disease. According to the CDC, “early data show the vaccines do help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19.”
            1. Vaccinations can help us return to a sense of normalcy with increased immunity to the nasty virus. Everyone is growing tired of staying at home and we can help end quarantine by getting vaccinated! If you’re ready to get back to normal, get vaccinated now!

            Visit eastcaryfamilyphysicians.com or call (919) – 200 – 6587 to learn more!

            https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid19-vaccine-hesitancy-12-things-you-need-to-know

            https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html

            https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/how-they-work.html

            https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/keythingstoknow.html

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              What can & can’t Celiacs eat?

              It can be a bit tricky for Celiacs to figure out which food to take or not. So, in this article, we would like to provide adequate information on this.

              Why Celiacs cannot eat everything?

              Do you know what are the causes of celiac disease? It is usually triggered due to the intake of a protein called gluten. A protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. Even a small amount of gluten can trigger this problem. There is yet no medication for it. But its symptoms can be prevented by changing the diet. If gluten is removed from the diet, the intestine starts to heal. If this disease is not diagnosed it can cause digestive issues, lymphoma, and some rare type of intestinal cancer. The earlier it is diagnosed the faster the healing process. People with celiac might experience diarrhea, bloating, gas, anemia, and also growth issues. 

              Which food ingredients should Celiacs avoid?

              Here are some foods gluten celiac patients should avoid at all costs: 

              1. Wheat 
              2. Rye 
              3. Barley 
              4. Triticale 
              5. Malt 
              6. Wheat starch 
              7. Brewer’s yeast 

              If you are a celiac, take care that you do not eat any food item which contains these ingredients. It can be difficult at first. But once you’ve figured it out once, you can plan your meals accordingly with dishes that are devoid of these. 

              Which are the celiac disease foods to avoid?

              Besides being careful of the ingredients, just ensure you do not go for any of these as they contain gluten, and you can be allergic to them:

              1. Beer 
              2. Bread, cereals  
              3. Desserts, soups 
              4. Crackers, flour tortillas 
              5. French fries, Pasta 
              6. Sauces, soups 
              7. Candy bars, drink mixers 

              What should Celiacs take? Celiacs might be deficient in some vitamins like B12, calcium, and vitamin D. But the absence of zinc, folic acid, and carnitine can take its place in producing energy. Chances of malfunction are huge, so a proper diet with the absence of such allergic proteins should be acknowledged. Usually, healthy foods are gluten-free like fruits, vegetables, legumes, animal protein, nuts, and seeds. So, you can easily include them in your diet. 

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                Covid Vaccine in RTP, NC

                Currently the following groups are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine:

                • Healthcare workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 
                • Long-term care residents and staff 
                • People 75 years of age and older

                Eventually, everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to receive one. Find out when you will be eligible here.

                Schedule your appointment at UNC if you fall in the above category.

                East Cary Family Physicians will keep its patient base informed on when the clinic will get COVID vaccines and how their patients will receive them. Stay safe and tuned!

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                  Protecting Your Skin This Summer: Sun Exposure, Poison Ivy, and Ticks

                  As the weather becomes warmer and stay-at-home orders are lifted, we are all anxious to get outside, whether that means going to a park, the pool, or on a hike. With increased outdoor exposure comes increased risk for conditions such as excess sun exposure, poison ivy, and tick-borne illnesses. Below is some information on prevention and treatment of each of these conditions.

                  Sun Exposure

                  Excess sun exposure is very common during the summer months due to increased time outdoors. Sun exposure is highest between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm during the summer, but it is important to take precautions at any time of the day because excess sun exposure can put you at risk for skin damage. Skin damage from the sun can occur in as little as 15 minutes, and can lead to cancer. You can reduce the risk of sun exposure by wearing sunscreen SPF 15 or above, spending time in the shade, and wearing long sleeves, long pants, a hat, and sunglasses. Sunscreen wears off over time, so if you plan on being outside for more than 2 hours make sure that you reapply after 2 hours or after swimming or sweating. Some drugs can increase your risk for sensitivity to sunlight and getting a sunburn, so check with your healthcare provider to see if you are at particularly high risk.

                  Poison Ivy

                  If you are hiking or gardening, chances are you may come in contact with poison ivy, whether that is via direct contact with the plant, plant oils, or plant particles in the air. Signs and symptoms of poison ivy include: red rash, bumps, patches, streaking, blisters, swelling, and itching. A poison ivy rash can be quite uncomfortable and usually requires a visit with a healthcare provider for treatment with antihistamines and a prescription-strength steroid cream. An important thing to keep in mind is that the oil from the poison ivy plant is the cause of the rash and irritation, so when you think you have been exposed to poison ivy, it is important to wash everything with soap and water. This includes clothing, shoes, gardening equipment, and most importantly, skin. You can prevent poison ivy rashes by wearing long sleeves and pants when going outdoors and washing everything thoroughly after a day outside.

                  Ticks

                  After hiking or spending time in a wooded area it is important to check your skin for ticks because some ticks may be infected with tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. If you notice a tick, remove the tick using tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Symptoms of tick-borne illnesses include body aches, fever, fatigue, joint pain, and rash. If you have any of these symptoms and/or possible exposure to a tick, it is important that you see your healthcare provider. These diseases must be treated with antibiotics

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                    COVID-19 and Kawasaki Disease: What Parents Need to Know

                    News coverage of COVID-19 and its impact on the world have dominated the headlines. Until recently, children were thought to be not significantly affected. This has changed after there were reports from the United Kingdom of a small number of cases of critically ill children presenting with unusual symptoms.

                    Within a few weeks, clusters of sick kids with, what is being called, “Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome” or PMIS, started to appear in New York City and several other states. Some of these cases resembled a rare inflammatory illness called Kawasaki Disease.

                    What Is Kawasaki Disease?

                    Kawasaki Disease is a rare inflammatory disease that causes blood vessels to become inflamed or swollen throughout the body. We do not know what causes Kawasaki Disease. More than 80% of the children who get it are younger than 5 years of age.

                    The hallmark of Kawasaki Disease is a persistent high fever (over 101°F) for at least 4 days in addition to rash, redness to eyes, lips/tongue, swelling and redness to hands/feet and neck swelling. Kawasaki Disease Shock Syndrome is a rare form of this disease characterized by severe inflammation resulting in a child becoming critically ill.

                    What Is Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS) and Why Do Doctors Think This Is Related to COVID-19?

                    On April 27, 2020 the United Kingdom released a statement describing a number of children who were presenting critically ill. They had some clinical features of Kawasaki Disease and Kawasaki Disease Shock Syndrome.

                    Soon after, multiple reports of cases came from across Europe and in the United States. Some PMIS patients were found to carry the virus causing COVID-19 and some had proteins in their body showing that they previously had the infection. A significant number of patients were exposed to someone with COVID-19 infection.

                    A key finding of PMIS is evidence of severe inflammation, which is similar to Kawasaki Disease and like Kawasaki Disease, children with PMIS also have high fevers and can present with red eyes, and rash. However, PMIS patients tend to be older than typical Kawasaki Disease patients. Some of their blood tests, including markers of inflammation, are more abnormal than patients with Kawasaki disease.

                    Severe abdominal pain and diarrhea is another common complaint with PMIS. So far, we know the similarities between these two diseases, but we do not have sufficient information to fully understand the differences.

                    At this time, we do recommend seeking medical evaluation with your primary care doctor if your child has persistent fevers over 101°F as well as severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, or rash that could not be explained by another cause.

                    Call East Cary Family Physicians to seek an appointment. Also note that ECFP is providing Tele-Health option for health visits.