Tampa Bay area health officials say they are seeing more cases of flu the this year, and patients with flu are sicker than usual. And that's especially bad news for seniors, many of whom have other health problems that can mean the flu is even more serious.
"We are seeing a significant increase in seniors with the flu, both vaccinated and unvaccinated," said Dr. David Weiland, chief medical officer for Largo Medical Center, speaking for all five HCA facilities in Pinellas County. "Many patients have serious complications associated with influenza, such as pneumonia, many more this year over this time last year. They are sicker than last year, there are more of them, and more are dying as a result of complications of the flu."...
Losing weight and getting fit may top many lists of New Year's resolutions, but good overall health is key to achieving those objectives — and many more. We spoke with Dr. Richard Roetzheim, chairman of the department of family medicine at USF Health, to get his five top tips to follow for better general health.
1. If you're a smoker, quit.
Tobacco use affects so many organs and functions in the body that dumping cigarettes will provide a multitude of benefits. If quitting a decades-old habit seems too daunting, "at least make an attempt to quit," he said. And since studies show that people who accept help are more successful quitters, reach out to support groups, websites, phone help lines or your family doctor. Free resources from the state Department of Health are available at tobaccofreeflorida.com. ...
TAMPA — In 2009, John Bush was struggling with severe Type 2 diabetes — and obesity.
Hard as he tried to diet, at 5-foot-10, the power plant supervisor weighed 300 pounds.
"I had three chins. I was a big guy," says Bush, now 57.
Increasingly, physicians are offering gastric bypass surgery to diabetic patients, because the procedure leads not only to weight loss but also to better blood sugar control, while addressing a host of related symptoms such as sleep apnea....
There was a time in my life — a long time — when I would have given about anything for a good night's sleep.
Starting in my mid 30s and continuing for a couple of decades, I had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. My eyes would pop wide open at 3:15 a.m. I was fully awake for at least an hour, usually two, fretting about how bad the workday ahead would be if I didn't get some sleep and fast....
TAMPA — On Saturday, 30,000 people will be walking the streets around Raymond James Stadium for the fourth largest Heart Walk in the nation.
If you've ever taken a CPR course, benefited from a clot-busting drug or enjoyed a smoke-free restaurant, you can appreciate projects funded by events like this walk, which benefits the American Heart Association-American Stroke Association's research and education efforts. Since 1990, the Tampa events have raised $19.2-million; this year the goal is $3-million. ...
TAMPA — The next time you are admitted to a local hospital or check in at an outpatient medical center, don't be surprised if you are asked for more than your name and insurance card.
No cases of Ebola have been reported in Florida, but health care workers are asking patients about recent international travel and any flulike symptoms that could trigger closer scrutiny.
"The stakes are obviously very high," said Dr. Mark Vaaler, vice president of physician services and chairman of the infectious diseases steering committee at BayCare Health System. "We want to cover all the bases."...
It's 10:30 on Wednesday morning and Carl Paulk is waiting patiently in a large lounge chair in the Clinical Research Unit at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. He makes the one-hour drive to Tampa every three weeks to have his blood drawn, see his doctor and wait for the okay to receive another dose of hope — a new drug called Keytruda.
Keytruda was granted special Food and Drug Administration clearance last month to be given to certain melanoma patients whose cancer worsens after standard treatment. The drug performed so well early in clinical trials that approval was granted before testing is officially completed....
10/23/14 Human Interest
In 2012, Steffanie Harris of Tampa became one of the more than 230,000 American women diagnosed with breast cancer. Harris, a commercial property manager, was shocked when she got the news one Sunday after her gynecologist asked to meet with her at the office.
"I knew it couldn't be good news," Harris, now 39, remembers.
The experience eventually brought her to a cancer survivors celebration last spring at St. Joseph's Hospital, where she met a group of women called the Pink Dragon Ladies, who would put a cap on her recovery and become a support network for the future....
Pink-clad people will be parading on both sides of Tampa Bay on Saturday as the American Cancer Society's first round of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks hits the streets.
Making Strides is an awareness and fundraising event, but the walks also offer a great opportunity to join breast cancer survivors and supporters for exercise, something most experts say is an essential part of treatment and recovery. And it also appears to play an important role in cancer prevention....
It's difficult to estimate how many people have eating disorders, simply because sufferers are so good at hiding them.
Eating disorders generally take one of three forms: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Those with anorexia are usually malnourished and emaciated, but stop eating or severely restrict food because they think they are fat. Bulimics, who purge or exercise excessively after eating, can be the most successful at hiding their problem because they often are at a normal weight or even a little overweight. Binge-eaters, the most recently recognized form of eating disorder, eat compulsively without compensating behavior, and might be overweight or obese....
TAMPA — Tracy Christner tries to convince healthy people of all ages to plan for the end of their lives. At the least, she hopes to get them thinking and talking about how they want to leave this world, while they still are able.
Christner, executive director of Project GRACE, an affiliate of Suncoast Hospice, finds middle-aged adults the most receptive. The toughest group to convince? "Eighteen- to 25-year-olds," she said. "They don't see death as possible yet."...
If there was one simple thing you could do to improve your family's health, boost your kids' grades and fend off teen substance abuse, pregnancy and eating disorders, would you do it?
According to a 2013 Gallup poll about half of American families with children under age 18 already do this simple but not always easy thing.
But more children could benefit if all families came together for a meal on most days of the week, experts say....
Ovarian cancer is often called silent because there are usually only vague symptoms early on. Others insist there are clear signs if you know what to watch for, such as abdominal bloating, pelvic pain and extreme fatigue.
Most experts say there is no reliable screening test for ovarian cancer. But some advocacy groups tell women to demand CA125 testing if they suspect ovarian cancer. This is a blood test used to monitor women for the cancer's return during and after treatment. It is not approved for primary screening....
Dr. Sandra Gompf wants to change the way you think of summer.
Gompf is an infectious disease specialist at the University of South Florida's Morsani College of Medicine and the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa.
She is also a mother who lost her 10-year-old son five years ago this month to an aggressive brain infection caused by an organism lurking in the lake where he played with his cousins. ...
If you want to get women to your next gathering, there may be nothing that will draw a crowd quite like the promise of wine or fruity cocktails served in frosty stemmed glasses. From grocery stores and salons to trendy boutiques, chic fundraisers, even Botox parties, alcohol lures the "girls' night out'' crowd. • For women who know when to say when, social sipping is fine, but drinking among women, measured in government surveys, DUI statistics and hospital admissions, is on the rise. Fifteen percent of women who imbibe are binge drinkers — meaning they consume four or more alcoholic drinks within two hours, at least once a week. While a quarter of binge-drinking women are of college age, 10 percent of women between 45 and 64 admit that they binge, a recent CDC survey shows. • Thanks to biology, women get intoxicated sooner and on less alcohol than men — meaning more health risks, drink for drink. But women also have some advantages that can protect them from addiction. • We spoke with Dr. Carlos Santana, an associate professor of psychiatry at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine who specializes in addiction treatment and research, about these differences....