Heath Education

September is National Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month

National Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month




What is Sickle Cell Disease?


Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited blood disorder. It affects red blood cells which carries Hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Sickle cells only live for 60 days whereas normal red blood cells live for 120. People with sickle cell disease cannot produce red blood cells as fast, so these individuals have fewer red blood cells and have anemia. This disease can be very painful.


Who does Sickle Cell Disease affect?


Sickle cell disease can affect many different races, but most people with this disease are African American. One out of every 500 African American is born with this disease.


How can You stay Health and reduce my Pain?


  1. Get regular check-ups
  2. Get support
  3. Put heat packs on the body parts that hurt
  4. Eat a healthy diet
  5. Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day
  6. Exercise
  7. Prevent infections by washing your hands and getting your vaccinations
  8. Get 7-8 hours of sleep
  9. Stay warm
  10. Take all prescribe medications by your doctor
  11. Take vitamins
  12. Avoid places with low oxygen (mountains)


How do You Treat Sickle Cell Disease?


Sickle cell disease cannot be cured. However, there are several medications and treatments that can reduce your symptoms. These medications and treatments are antibiotics, folic acid, hydroxyurea, pain management, intravenous fluids, and penicillin. Treatment of sickle cell disease aims to relieve pain, control complications, and prevent infections, organ damage, and stroke. Blood and bone marrow stem cell transplants may help some individuals with the disease but researchers continue to look for new treatments.


**It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to treat your sickle cell disease! Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center.**

August is National Cataract Awareness Month

National Cataract Awareness Month




What is a Cataract?


A cataract is a blur of the lens in the eye. This part of the eye focuses on light and creates a clear picture. The lens is inside of a bag and over time cells die in the lens which causes them to be trapped in the bag causing blurriness. This usually happens as most individual’s age. However, this can also happen as a result of eye injuries, disease, and medication.


How do I know if I have a Cataract or just need a Stronger Prescription?


The best way to know what your eyes need is to get routine eye check-ups. Most seniors believe they need a strong prescription when their eye sight gets worse and objects become fuzzy.  However, it more likely to be cataracts which is one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults 55 and older.  More than 50% of individuals 65 and older have cataracts.


What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts?


Symptoms of cataracts can include blurred vision, ghost images, double vision, and the feeling of a layer over the eyes. Other signs of cataracts are dim light or constant prescription changes in contacts or glasses. Some individuals may be able to see the cataract. The cataracts may appear as a light yellow or white spot in the pupil.


How do you get rid of a Cataract?


If diagnosed early specific glasses may lessen symptoms. However, at certain stages surgery may be necessary to correct the problem. This surgery is very safe and is frequently performed as an outpatient procedure. Eye Care America states that more than 90% of patients who have the surgery recover functional vision.


**If you have questions about cataracts and your eyes or want to know more information please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center.**

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

National Immunization Awareness Month




Why are Immunizations Important?


Vaccines are prevention against dangerous and fatal diseases in adults and children. Some of these diseases include measles, rubella, and the flu. Most vaccines are given at certain ages. However the flu vaccine is given every year to anyone over the age of 6 months.


What is in a Vaccine?


Vaccines contain substances such as mercury, formaldehyde and aluminum but they are in such small amount they provide no negative effect on an individuals. We are already exposed to these substances in small amount in milk, seafood, exhaust, and water. A weakened form of the disease is contained in the vaccine. Some vaccines also contain substances that help the individual produce a stronger immune response to a specific disease.


Are Immunizations Safe?


Yes, based on 50 years of experience vaccines have an exceedingly low possibility of showing any unexpected long-term issues. Examinations of vaccines are performed on a regular basis to make sure they are safe. Vaccines are usually given in the form of a shot. Some children may experience side effects such as a sore leg, rash, or mild fever from the shots but they usually go away in a day or two.  A more moderate or severe reactions may develop in a few children but this is rare.


How well do Vaccines Work?


Vaccines have proven to be extremely successful. No medication is perfect but vaccines work 90%-100% of the time.

The chances are very small, but it has happened where individuals depending of the vaccination, may develop immunity. However, a second dose may cause the vaccine to work in an individual.


Will my Child get the Disease because of the Vaccine?


No, with inactive vaccines this will not happen because a dead virus cannot cause disease. With a live vaccine an individual may get mild symptoms of the disease but it is never unsafe and is actually proof the vaccine is working.


Why does the Government Require Children to be Vaccinated before Attending School?


The public health system has a priority to protect the health of the public. They do not only protect the individual but they protect the people around them.  If immunizations were not required many parents may choose to not vaccinate their children which could cause the disease to spread into a mass outbreak.


**It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to make sure you and your child are update to date with your vaccinations! Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center.**

July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month

African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month

July 2013


African Americans are one of the hardest race and ethnicity to find on the national bone marrow registry.

 The National Marrow Donor Program shows the percentage of who is in the registry:

73% – Caucasian                                           10% – Hispanic/Latino

8% – African American/Black                          7% – Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

3% – Multiple Races                                       1% – American Indian/ Alaska Native


 What is Bone Marrow?


Bone marrow is located in the interior of long bones. It is a spongy tissue that makes new blood cells. The two types of bone marrow are red and yellow. Yellow consists of fat cells and red marrow makes red and white blood cells, and platelets.


What is the Function of Bone Marrow?


The main function of bone marrow is to make new blood cells and keep them at a normal level. These blood cells at the proper count and working normally are an important part of the human body. Stem cells are within bone marrow. These cells can turn into any cell that the body needs.   


What is a Bone Marrow Transplant?


Bone marrow transplant is a procedure that replaces damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells. Bone marrow can be destroyed by diseases of the immune system, inherited blood diseases such as sickle cell disease, radiation, chemotherapy, anemia, leukemia, and other diseases. The three sources of transplants are bone marrow, bloodstream, and umbilical cord blood. Bone marrow transplants can cure and reduce symptoms of many diseases. Like most transplants the best source is from a family member. However, family members are not always a suitable match. These patients need to go on a transplant list and wait for someone bone marrow to be a match.


How do I Donate?


Most people find this process scary because they do not understand it. Donating is easy and rewarding. You would only donate the bone marrow once you have been named a match. Donating is free, it does not always involve surgery, it can be uncomfortable but it is not painful, it does not weaken the donor, it is not dangerous, and no pieces of the donor’s bone are removed.

Please visit these websites for more information about donating:




**It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to know if you need a bone marrow transplant. Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center.**


July 28th is World Hepatitis day

World Hepatitis Day

July 28th 2013


What is Hepatitis?


Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E are all an inflammation of the liver usually caused by an infection that can lead to liver cancer. Around 150 million people have hepatitis C and 240 million people have hepatitis B. Together Hepatitis B and C kill, on average, one million people a year.


How Does One Get Infected?


Hepatitis B or C can infect someone through blood transfusions with unscreened blood, interventions used without sterilization, childbirth, sharing drug equipment, sharing toothbrushes or razors, tattooing, and body piercings. Hepatitis B can also be spread through unprotected sex with an infected person.  


How is Hepatitis Prevented?


Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccination, however there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.  You can prevent it by make sure you do not come into contact with an infected person’s blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal fluids. Knowing if you are infected will help prevent others from getting infected.


How is it Diagnosed?


Hepatitis B is diagnosed by looking for HB surface antigen in your blood. This will occur six to twelve weeks after infection. Once diagnosed your doctor will do more tests to see how long you have been infected, if you need to be treated, and how much, if at all, it is hurting your body. Hepatitis C is diagnosed by looking for HCV antibodies in your blood. This will show up seven to nine weeks after infections.


How is Hepatitis Treated?


Treatment is individualized and you should consult your doctor to see what the best treatment for you is. Not everyone will need treatment. Hepatitis C treatment can cure the virus rather than just control it like Hepatitis B treatment. The main prescription medication for treatment of Hepatitis C cures about 50% of the patients that use it.



**It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to prevent against and be screened for Hepatitis. Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center.**

June is National Congenital CMV Awareness Month

National Congenital CMV Awareness Month


What is a Congenital CMV?


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a herpes virus that is very common and usually harmless. Fifty to eighty out of one hundred individuals are infected with this virus by the time they are 40 years old. Most people do not even know they are infected and do not show symptoms. Only 14% of women know what CMV is. CMV becomes a serious condition when babies are infected with it before birth. This is called congenital (present at birth) CMV. Around 1 in 150 babies are born with congenital CMV and 1 in 5 of those infected will develop permanent conditions such as hearing loss or developmental disabilities.


How is CMV Spread and Diagnosed?


CMV is spread by close contact of saliva, urine, or other bodily fluids with someone that is infected. It can also be passed on from mother to fetus during pregnancy.  Most people do not have symptoms when they are infected. Those that do show symptoms may get a fever, sore throat, fatigue, or swollen glands. However since these are all common symptoms to many other illness, the only way to properly diagnose this condition is through a blood test. In babies it is diagnosed within 2-3 weeks after birth through their urine, saliva, or blood.


How is CMV Prevented?


Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after touch kid’s toys, wiping a child’s nose or drool, feeding a child, and changing diapers. Do not share any drinks, food, or eating utensils that have been used by children. Do not share a toothbrush with a young child and avoid saliva contact when kissing a child. Do not put a child’s pacifier in your mouth. Always thoroughly clean surfaces and toys that have a child have put their urine or saliva on.


How is CMV Treated?


Individuals that are not showing symptoms and are not planning on becoming pregnant usually do not have to worry about treating the virus. There is no drug to treat CMV for those that do wish to treat it. There is also no vaccine to prevent against CMV, however developing this vaccine is a top priority to the Institute of Medicine. An infected pregnant women can take certain treatments to reduce the risk of infection to their fetus, however once the fetus in infected the treatment is not effective. When a baby is diagnosed with congenital CMV their hearing and vision should be tested right away. They should also be seen by their doctor in order to know more about the risks and benefits of antiviral treatments.



** It is best to see your primary care physician in order to prevent and treat CMV. Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center. **



June is National Headache Awareness Week

National Headache Awareness Week

 June 6th-June 12th


What is a Headache?


A headache can start off as a small ache and then build up into a constant aching and pulsating pain above the eyes, ears, back of the head, or at the upper neck. A headache is a chemical reaction in the brain that can be treated by over-the-counter or prescribed medication. Headaches can be labeled as primary or secondary headaches. Examples of primary headaches are migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Other diseases cause secondary headaches. Some of these diseases/disorders may be tumors, strokes, and caffeine withdrawals.


What is a Migraine?


Migraines are a pain in the head like a headache but are usually accompanied with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or noise, numbness, or difficulty speaking.  They tend to have pain on one side of the head. Migraines tend to be genetic and can happen to individuals of all ages and genders. A migraine’s usually lasts at least four hours. Like headaches, migraine symptoms and severity vary from person to person.


What is the Difference between a Headache and Migraine?


Migraines have neurological symptoms where a headache usually does not. Migraines tend to last longer than a headache.  Migraines usually have four stages. The first is the prodrome stage, which can have symptoms of difficulty speaking or concentrating, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, food cravings, mood changes, and neck pain. The second stage is the aura phase which is described below. The third stage is the headache phase which is usually accompanied with neurological symptoms that are described above. The final stage is the postdrome stage, which usually makes the individual feel ‘hung-over’. Some of these ‘hung-over’ symptoms are fatigue, have changes in moods, or an inability to concentrate.


What is an Aura?


Some individuals get an aura before a migraine. This may cause you to see wavy or uneven lines, dots, or flashing lights. You might also have tunnel vision or blind spots in one or both eyes. Other symptoms can be visual or hearing hallucinations and a change in smell, taste, or touch. An aura can also be trouble in remembering or speaking a word. An aura can last up to an hour and will go away when the headache starts.


What is a Trigger?


Certain foods, hormonal changes, weather, and stress, can be a “trigger” or reason for a headache. A trigger for one person may not be the same for another. It is important to know your triggers in order to help you prevent headaches. Keeping a headache diary and consulting your doctor are ways to understand what your triggers are.


Does Weather Affect Migraines?


Drastic changes in weather and outside pressure, hot and humid weather, as well as bright sunshine can cause someone to have a migraines.  However, like other triggers, weather does not cause a migraine for everyone.


Are Migraines Hereditary?


Around 29.5 million people in the United States get migraines and 80% of these people have a family member that gets migraines too. However, scientists do not know if this happens because of their genes or family habits/lifestyle. Either way, a child has a 50% chance of getting migraines if one parent gets them and a 75% chance if they both do.


How to Treat a Migraine?


To treat your migraine you should first understand your triggers and stay away from them. There are also two different types of medications one can take to treat a migraine. The first one is taken when you feel the start of a migraine coming on. The second is a preventive medication that one takes regularly. This medication is prescribed usually when an individual gets a migraine more than once a week. Getting a good night sleep in a dark quite room may help as well as drinking water or caffeine.


Common Types of Headaches:


Tension-type headaches arise randomly and usually happen because of stress, anxiety, fatigue, or anger. Pain in your temples, a tightening feeling around your head, pressure in certain areas, and tightening head and neck muscles are all symptoms of tension headaches. The headache can start in your temples, the back of your head/neck, or forehead. Tension headaches can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications, and relaxation training.


Cluster headaches is pain in groups. The pain is normally on one side of the head. A cluster headache is one of the more severe types because symptoms with the headache can be a tearing or bloodshot eye, or a runny nose on the side of the headache. Treatment for this type of headache is prescribed medication and oxygen.


A sinus headache is contained pain that happens because of an inflamed sinus.  Inflamed sinuses are usually the results of an infection, allergic reaction, or tumor. If the headache is due to inflamed sinus or infection, then there is a good chance you will have a fever too. An x-ray can confirm an inflamed sinus or infection.  Treatment for sinus headaches may be antibiotics for the infection, antihistamines, or decongestants.


A rebound headache happens when a person takes too much headache medication (more than two days a week or more than what label states).  With this type of headache the medication stops working and starts to cause the headache. Rebound headaches are treated by reducing the amount of medication that is being taken. This happens either reducing the medication being used slowly or replacing it progressively with a different type of medication or treatment. Speak with your doctor if you take headache medications more than the label states or more than two days a week.




** It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to prevent and treat your headaches. Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center. **


May is Arthritis Awareness Month

May is Arthritis Awareness Month


Arthritis affects 50 million Americans and is still a misunderstood disease.  It is the leading cause of disability in the United States. The three main types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and Juvenile Arthritis (JA). OA is the most common arthritis that breaks down joint cartilage. RA is the inflammation of the membranes that line the joint. Finally, JA can be many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions in children 16 years and younger.


What is arthritis and who does it affect?


Arthritis is numerous musculoskeletal disorders that consist of more than 100 diseases.  Two-thirds of people with arthritis are 65 or younger and 300,000 are children. Arthritis can happen to any race, age, or gender. It affects Caucasians more than African Americans and Hispanics.


What causes and symptoms of arthritis?


The causes differ for each type of arthritis. RA has no known causes but scientists believe it could be a combination of genetics and environmental factors and there are no known causes for JA. Causes for OA are age, obesity, injury or overuse, genetics, and muscle weakness.  Symptoms also vary depending on the type of arthritis. Some patients may have pain, soreness, stiffness, warmth, and swelling.


How can I prevent and treat arthritis?


To prevent against arthritis you should be active and maintain a healthy weight to protect your joints.  With treating arthritis you should know what type you have. After you understand more about the type of arthritis you have there are several ways you can treat it, but keep in mind each type is different. Seeing a physician or occupational therapist on a regular basis and taking prescribed medications will also help in the treatment of arthritis.


** It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to prevent and treat your arthritis. Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center. **


May is High Blood Pressure Education Month

May is High Blood Pressure Education Month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that 1 in 3 adults are living with high blood pressure. However, most people do not even know they have it due to the lack of signs and symptoms. High blood pressure can be prevented if you know your numbers!


Normal Blood Pressure levels:  Systolic 120mmHg or lower;

                                                                          Diastolic 80mmHg or lower

At Risk Blood Pressure levels:   Systolic 120-139mmHg;

                                                                          Diastolic 80-89mmHg

High Blood Pressure levels:         Systolic 140mmHg or greater;

                                                                          Diastolic 90mmHg or greater


What is high blood pressure?


High blood pressure (HBP) is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways. About 74.5 million people in the United States have HBP, which is also called hypertension. Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you’re feeling fine.


What are the risk factors for high blood pressure?


At the age of 45 or younger, more men are at risk for high blood pressure. However at the age of 65 or older more women are at risk of high blood pressure. African Americans are at greater risk than Caucasians, however, high blood pressure is less likely to occur in Mexican-Americans.


What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?


There may be no signs or symptoms that will let a person know they have high blood pressure which is why it is dangerous and called the ‘silent killer’.


How can I prevent high blood pressure?


Your blood pressure must be checked regularly. Maintaining a normal body weight, keeping up physical activity 9moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening activities), and by reducing your sodium/salt intake you can reduce your blood pressure following a healthy eating plan of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are also ways to prevent against high blood pressure. Quit smoking and drink in moderation (≤ 2 drinks per day for men and ≤ 1 drinks per day for women) will reduce your chance of high blood pressure.  If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication(s), take as directed.


What are some tips to help make these life style choices?


Increase your daily activity:

*  Take the stairs instead of the elevator

*  Park far away from your destination in parking lots so you have farther to walk

*  If you take public transportation, get off a stop early

*  Take your dog or children for a walk every day

*  Do simple exercises such as squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, or just standing up and down during TV commercials

*  Walk to the bathroom that is farther away


Nutrition advice to help lower your BP:

*  Eat spicy instead of salty (flavor foods with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar, or salt-free seasoning blends)

*  Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned, smoked, or processed types

*  Drink water or club soda instead of soft drinks high in sugar

*  Start your day with breakfast cereals that are lower in salt and sodium

*  Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt; cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt

*  Buy fresh, plain frozen, or canned with “no-salt-added” vegetables

*  Eat moderate portions, and when snacking, eat fruit, vegetable sticks, unbuttered and unsalted popcorn, nuts, seeds, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains

*  When eating out, move the saltshaker away—limit condiments, such as catsup,      pickles, and sauces with high salt-containing ingredients

*  Cut back on processed and fast foods that are high in salt and sodium


The heart healthy way of eating is lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and rich in nutrients that are associated with lowering blood pressure—mainly potassium, magnesium, and calcium, protein, and fiber.

Make these changes over a couple of days or weeks to give yourself a chance to adjust and make them part of your daily routine.


** It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to prevent and know your blood pressure. Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center. **

May is Stroke Awareness Month

May is Stroke Awareness Month


The National Stroke Association state that 80% of strokes can be prevented if symptoms are identified FAST when the:


F Face:     When the person smiles, does one side of the face droop?

A Arm:      When the person raises both of their arms, does one drift


SSpeech: When the person repeats simple phrases, does the speech sound

                       slurred or strange?

TTime:      If any or all of these are observes call 9-1-1.


What is a stroke?


A stroke is a brain attack that happens when a blood clot blocks an artery or breaks a blood vessel which stops blood flow to a region of the brain. This can cause brain cells to die which could lead to brain damage. During a stroke a patient can lose their speech, movements, or memory. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long term disability. The National Stroke Association explains that 795, 000 strokes will occur this year and will take a life every four minutes.


Who can a stroke happen to?


A stroke can happen to any race, gender, or age. However, it happens to more African Americans and women. Stroke can be prevented. New emergency treatments can reduce the damage from a stroke if the patients get immediate attention. Seeking prompt medical care is extremely important when showing symptoms because only doctors can tell you if you are having a stroke and they can evaluate and treat you properly. Listening and understanding your doctor’s orders and medications can reduce your chance of a stroke.


What are stroke risk factors?


Risk factors that are uncontrollable for a stroke are being over 55 years old, being African American, Pacific/Islander or Hispanic, being male, having diabetes, and having a family history of strokes. If you have any of these risk factors you should contact your primary care physician to learn about the lifestyle and medication changes you should make. Controllable risk factors are smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being over weight, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Other medical risk factors are health disease, carotid artery disease, and atrial fibrillation.


What are stroke symptoms?


Stroke symptoms are SUDDEN:

          *  Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side

             of the body)

          * Confusion and/or difficulty in speaking or understanding

          * Problem’s with vision

          * Trouble in walking, dizziness, or loss of coordination

          * Sever headaches without cause


How to prevent a stroke?


You can prevent a stroke by knowing your blood pressure (120/80 or lower), your cholesterol (200mg/dl or lower), and knowing if you have atrial fibrillation. Stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption will also prevent against stroke. Smoking can speed up arterly clooging, damage blood vessels, and raise blood pressure which are all factors that can lead to a stroke. Controlling your diabetes, being active, and eating healthy are other great ways to prevent having a stroke. You should exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Your daily diet should be low in calories, saturated and trans fats, salt, and cholesterol.  Aim to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.


** It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to prevent and understand your risk factors for a stroke. Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center. **