Items tagged with 'health'
Ellie asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany do you know of any cheap indoor tracks for running? Free would better, or no contact if paid membership needed.
It can be hard to stay active during the winter. And while running on a treadmill can be OK, it's not the same as actually running and getting somewhere -- even if you're just running in circles.
So, got a suggestion for Ellie? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Owning Winter: Running in the cold
James asks via a comment:
Where is a good place to get eye glasses & eye tests & the whole shabang? New to the Clifton Park area & need to find a reasonable priced option.
On one hand, glasses can be very expensive. On the other, you're probably going to get a lot of use out of them and they become a core feature of your appearance. However you look at it (ha, walked right into that one), it's worth seeking out a place that has frames that you can afford and like.
So even though James is in Clifton Park, it could be worth it for him to go wherever in the immediate Capital Region -- even if that means getting his eyes checked one place, and taking the prescription for glasses somewhere else.
So... got a suggestion for James? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: A good eye doctor?
I'm writing in search of prenatal classes - yoga, dance, workout, etc - held in the evening or on the weekend. I'm in downtown Albany, but could travel to other nearby locales. Do your readers have any good ones to recommend?
It sounds Reader's looking for prenatal movement/exercise classes. But we'll expand Reader's question just a bit to also include prenatal classes on topics such as newborn care or breastfeeding.
Got a suggestion? Please share! Non-redeemable bonus points for a sentence or two about why you liked the class you're suggestion.
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: A good obstetrician?
It's Work Week on AOA. We'll be talking with people about their jobs and working. Part of that includes anonymous conversations with people about what it's like to do their jobs.
Next Up: The EMT.
This Capital Region EMT talks about gray areas, problem drivers, and being woken up in the middle of the night...
A asks via Twitter:
I have real, severe, serious fear of the dentist. But I have to go. Recommendations [for] who will treat me accordingly?
It's been a few years since we've had a question about dentists. And A is looking for someone who can help ease her anxiety about being in the dental chair. (Sometimes the right person and a little bedside manner can make all the difference.)
So... know of good dentist for A? Please share. Non-redeemable bonus points will be awarded for answers that include a bit of explanation about what makes that dentist/dental office good.
It was one of the most bizarre -- and scary -- local stories of the past week: UAlbany police say a man attempted to abduct two women at a bus stop near the university's downtown campus. And in one of the incidents, they allege the man had a knife -- thankfully another student intervened and no one was hurt. [YNN] [News10]
One of the things about crime stories is that so often the people involved -- both perpetrators and victims -- end up being portrayed as one-dimensional characters. And while there are understandable reasons why that happens -- time, space, limited resources, limited attention -- it also sometimes makes it hard to remember these events are happening to real people. And maybe it also makes it harder for us to understand how and why these things happen.
The man accused in the alleged abduction attempts is 54-year-old Anthony Collins. As it happens, Collins is the subject of a documentary project by UAlbany student Shannon Straney. In the short doc, Collins talks about being diagnosed with mental illness, and Straney's project is aimed at better understanding how the condition has affected his life. Part 1 of the project is embedded above.
We got in touch with Straney this week to ask her a few questions about the documentary project, and how it's prompted her to look at the alleged incident from the past week. Here's a quick Q&A...
Erin asks via Twitter:
Can any of you recommend a good ENT specialist in the area? ... I need to see someone soon ish
As you probably know, ENT = ear, nose, and throat.
Know of a good doctor for Erin? Please share! Bonus points for being specific about why you like that doctor.
This is sobering: The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported that the national number of Lyme disease cases had been about 30,000 per year over the last few years. But this week it reported that preliminary estimates based on new research indicate the number is around 300,000.
So... that's a lot more.
From the CDC press release:
This early estimate is based on findings from three ongoing CDC studies that use different methods, but all aim to define the approximate number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. The first project analyzes medical claims information for approximately 22 million insured people annually for six years, the second project is based on a survey of clinical laboratories and the third project analyzes self-reported Lyme disease cases from a survey of the general public.
Each year, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to CDC, making it the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States. The new estimate suggests that the total number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is roughly 10 times higher than the yearly reported number. This new estimate supports studies published in the 1990s indicating that the true number of cases is between 3- and 12-fold higher than the number of reported cases.
CDC says the three studies are still ongoing and it continues to analyze the data to "refine the estimates and better understand the overall burden of Lyme disease in the United States."
In 2011, the latest year for which the numbers are online, New York State had 3118 confirmed cases of Lyme (and 1372 more "probable" cases), according to the CDC. That amounted to 16 confirmed cases per 100,000 people -- the 12th highest rate in the nation. If the actual number of cases is something like 10x that reported count, New York is looking at a rate of 160 cases per 100,000 people.*
Laura asks via Facebook:
My husband was just diagnosed with Lyme disease after the ER doctor who saw him last week (when his temp reached nearly 105!!) spotted a tick bite that neither of us or his primary care physician noticed. We weren't such great fans of his PCP to begin with, but now we really want to find a better one. Not looking for infectious disease specialists, but a really good primary care or internal medicine physician who is especially Lyme literate would be a dream. ...
Anyone with Lyme have a doctor they really love?
This is an important question -- not only for Laura and her husband, but also because this region is part of zone along the East Coast where Lyme is particularly prevalent. And Lyme can be tricky to treat. (Chris Gibson is part of a group of elected officials pushing for increased federal funding for research and better testing for Lyme disease.)
Have a suggestion for Laura and her husband? Please share.
Earlier on AOA: The spread of Lyme disease
photo: CDC/Anna Perez
Making barely enough to pay the rent, and having no health insurance, I don't have any money to go to see a doctor about some health issues. Are there any cheap or low cost doctors or clinics for us working poor living in the Capital District? I would appreciate it if maybe somebody had some suggestion.
This is an important question. For Floyd, of course -- but there are roughly 60,000 people in the Albany metro area who don't have health insurance, according to Census Bureau estimates. And the large majority of those people are adults (often younger adults) in the workforce who don't get health coverage through their job and/or can't afford it.
Provisions of the Affordable Care Act (AKA, Obamacare) aim to address this issue by extending the eligibility of Medicaid and using a sliding scale based on income that caps insurance premiums. Those provisions don't kick in until 2014.
That doesn't help Floyd now. So we've gathered together a few resources after the jump. We're hoping that you'll also have some suggestions and ideas, because this topic is complicated -- too complicated -- and it's important.
So, have some insight? Please share.
The Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area ranked #58 nationally in the annual Gallup-Healthways "Well-Being Index" for 2012 (out of 189 metros). That's a big jump from 2011, when it ranked 101. And it was the top score in the state (take that, Rochester).
The report surveys people across the country, asking them questions in six categories: life evaluation (current and the in the future), emotional health (happiness, sadness, worry), physical health, healthy behavior, work environment, and basic access to things like healthcare and healthy food.
The Albany metro's rise in the rankings appears to be attributable to big jumps in two categories: life evaluation (67 from 117) and work environment (74 from 128).
This metro's lowest ranked category was emotional health (#138), as it was in 2011 (#151). The emotional health category is based on questions about topics that include: smiling or laughter, being treated with respect, enjoyment, happiness, worry, sadness, anger, stress, learning or doing something interesting, depression.
The index also ranks states -- New York was #30. And two of its metros were near the very bottom of the rankings: Binghamton (176) and Utica-Rome (179).
The top ranked state in 2012 was Hawaii -- for the fourth straight year. West Virginia was last.
The top ranked metros, by size category: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV (large), Lincoln, NE (mid-size), Burlington-South Burlington, VT (small).
The report for New York State is post jump.
The Albany County Department of Health reported today that a woman in Cohoes was bitten by a potentially rabid grey fox this morning (area map). The fox got away, and officials are urging people to keep an eye out for wild or stray animals that are acting strangely -- and call 911 if one is sighted.
Rabid foxes turn up now and then in this area. Three foxes tested positive for rabies between January and October of 2012 -- one each in Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga counties -- according to the most recent data posted by the state DEC. There were also three positives in 2011 -- two in Saratoga County, and one in Schenectady County. Statewide that year there were 26 positive tests for rabies in foxes, 21 of those in grey foxes.
Back in 2010 a man was bitten by a rabid fox in Greenwich, in a scene that sounds like something from a B movie. From the Daily Gazette:
Richard Leddy, 40, said he was lying on the town beach reading when he heard someone in the water say, "Oh look, there's a fox."
"I thought they meant on the other bank, but then I heard a snarl and looked over to see the fox in mid-leap," Leddy said. "Next think I knew he'd sunk his teeth into my arm."
The animals that most often turn up with positive rabies tests in the state, at least over the last few years, are raccoons and bats. In 2011, there were 162 raccoons that tested positive, and 64 bats. (That's just a raw count of positive tests by the state lab, not a measure of prevalence within the population of those animals compared to other animals.)
In fact, the last two people to die of rabies in New York State -- in 1995 and 1993 -- got it from a bat, according to the state's Wadsworth Center.
There are indications the tide has turned for the flu season. The number of positive lab tests and emergency room visits are both down sharply in the state Department of Health flu surveillance report posted today (for the week ending January 26). And Google Flu Trends is also showing a recent decline in activity for both the state and the Albany area.
That's not to say the flu wave has completely passed us by. DOH reports the flu is still "widespread" in the state, with lab-confirmed reports in 53 counties. And Google Flu is still reporting "high" activity. It's just that things appear to be calming down in what's been the most severe flu season since 2009-2010.
And, of course, there's other stuff in circulation beyond the flu. There's that cold that so many people seem to have right now. And there's also the norovirus, the current media favorite for scaring the crap out of people.
In other news: wash your hands.
graph: Google Flu Trends
Hospitals around the region announced temporary visitation guidelines Friday because of widespread flu activity. From the joint press release:
Patient units of Albany Medical Center; Ellis Medicine acute care hospitals including Bellevue Woman's Center and Ellis Hospital; Glens Falls Hospital; St. Peter's Health Partners acute care hospitals including Albany Memorial Hospital, Samaritan Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital (Troy), St. Peter's Hospital, and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital; and Saratoga Hospital will request that visits be restricted by:
+ children 12 and under (who are more likely to have and transmit respiratory infections);
+ any visitor with respiratory symptoms (fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath) a rash or diarrhea; and,
+ only two visitors will be permitted in a patient's room at one time.
The hospitals are also urging all visitors to use hand-washing stations before entering and upon leaving a patient's room. Hand sanitizers are available at many hospital entrances and at many other locations throughout these hospitals, including the doorways of many patient rooms.
Full release post jump.
As if the flu wasn't bad enough this year, the dreaded norovirus also seems to be in circulation. Headline no one wants to read: "Is it the flu or norovirus? How to tell the difference". Followed closely by: "Want to avoid spewmageddon? Here's a simple guide" [Boston Globe] [Guardian]
We'll say it again: If you're sick, please stay home if possible. Please cough into your elbow. And please wash your hands.
Earlier: Someone finally sticks it to Andrew Cuomo. (It being a flu shot -- and you should think about getting one, too.)
And it turns out that person was Dr. Nirav Shah, the state's health commissioner. He jabbed the governor with a flu shot Thursday.
The best line probably came from Jimmy Vielkind on Twitter: "I think this entire thing was an excuse for Andrew Cuomo to have a picture of his biceps in the newspapers."
As mentioned, this is turning out to be a rather active year for the flu. The recent wave prompted Boston to declare a public health emergency this week -- the city was robocalling people urging them to get flu shots. [AOA] [Google Flu Trends] [AP/ABC] [Boston Globe]
While it would have been better to get the jab a few weeks back (or earlier), it's still not a bad idea to roll up your sleeve for one. They're super easy to find this season -- you can walk into pretty much any Walgreen's/CVS/Rite Aid and get one at the pharmacy. It costs about $30 for the regular flu shot (it might be covered by your health plan). Sure, it takes a week or two for your body to build up immunity from the shot, but the flu could continue to be active for months.
And while you might think, "Eh, I'm relatively young and healthy, I'll be fine" -- that may be true, but if you pick up the virus you could end up spreading it to people who are not so young and/or healthy. There have been multiple studies indicating that vaccinating young people -- kids, especially -- ends up being a good way of protecting seniors from the flu.
Also: getting the flu -- the real flu, not just a cold -- sucks.
Here's a bunch of info about flu shots from the CDC (there are a few options, including a version that doesn't involve getting stuck with a needle). The health agency recently reported that this season's shot (it changes each year) is a pretty good match for what's been circulating.
In other news: We'll say it again, cover your mouth when you cough. Wash your hands.
photo: Cuomo admin Flickr
The graphs above from Google Flu Trends (explained). The latest surveillance report from the NYS Department of Health is showing similar activity -- including positive tests in the last week from all but one county in the state.
Yep, the flu season is in full force.
It could still be worth it to get a flu shot. The season lasts into the early spring. And the CDC says this season's vaccine has been a good match for the variants of the flu virus that appear to be in circulation. It takes a week or two post-jab for your body's immune response to get with the program. Unlike in some years past, flu shots are plentiful and easy to get. They're available at many pharmacies now.
We'll say it again: Please cough into your elbow. And wash your hands.
graphs: Google Flu Trends
Over the last few years I've been getting recurring migraines. My primary care doctor gave me some basic advice (stay away from red wine, for example), but that hasn't really helped. Can anyone recommend a good neurologist, or other type of doctor, in the Albany area for migraines or headaches?
Got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share.
Jen asks via email:
I'm a fairly new transplant to the Albany area and am looking for a primary care doctor. Can your readers recommend a smart, compassionate, preferably female doctor in the Albany or Troy area?
We've had a similar question before, but it came up more than 2.5 years ago. Things change. And Jen's preference narrows the field a bit. (Also: we heard from Jen that she called a few of the doctors from that old post and they weren't taking new patients.)
So, have a suggestion for Jen? Please share! And, as always, bonus points for explaining why you like that doctor.
The flu is now "widespread" in New York State, the state Department of Health reports. What's that mean? There have been lab-confirmed reports in more than half the counties in the state (48, to be exact). For the latest report, that includes Albany, Saratoga, and Rensselaer counties.
The DOH bases its reports on samples sent to the Wadsworth Lab here in Albany for testing, as well as surveillance reports from healthcare providers about the number of people coming in with influenza-like illnesses.
But many people who get the flu don't end up going to a healthcare provider. So to get a sense of the picture that includes those people, we can look to Google Flu Trends, which uses search data to monitor flu activity (and there's research it actually works pretty well). Google Flu is reporting a recent upswing in flu activity into the "high" level in New York State.
Somewhat oddly, Google Flu reports the Albany area still has relatively low levels of flu activity. But nearby cities -- including Syracuse (corroborated by the DOH report) and New York City -- are at high levels. That could mean the wave has yet to arrive -- or maybe we'll get lucky. (The flu can be hard to predict -- it's kind of like the weather.)
Bottom line: It's still worth it to get a flu shot. The season lasts into the early spring. And it takes a few days post-jab for your body's immune response to get with the program. Unlike in some years past, flu shots are plentiful and easy to get. They're available at many pharmacies now.
In other news: Wash your hands.
graphs: Google Flu Trends
Can any of your readers recommend a good podiatrist?
So, can anyone lend Naomi a hand (or, uh, foot) on this one? Please share!
And if you have a recommendation, please include why you're recommending that doctor.
For a long time there was this popular notion that someday there would be "The Cure For Cancer." As with most things, the problem is a lot more complicated (there are many types of cancer) and difficult than most people probably realize. But research keeps moving ahead, and bit by bit answers are shaking loose.
Now here's a way you can help. The American Cancer Society is currently looking to sign up people in the Albany area for a huge study called, appropriately, Cancer Prevention Study 3 (CPS-3). It's the latest version of a series of large studies that first started in the 1950s and have helped established knowledge such as the link between smoking and cancer, and the effect of being overweight on the risk of developing cancer.
ACS is looking to sign up hundreds of thousands of people nationwide. And here in the Capital Region it's partnering with Albany Med to hold a series of sign up events (after the jump). It's looking for "men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 years who have no personal history of cancer to join this historic research study. The ultimate goal is to enroll at least 300,000 adults from various racial/ethnic backgrounds from across the U.S." About the signup process:
At your appointment, you will be asked to sign an informed consent form, complete a brief survey, as well as provide a waist circumference measurement and a small blood sample (similar to a doctor's visit). The blood sample will be taken by a certified, trained phlebotomist. Your appointment should last approximately 20 - 30 minutes.
These sorts of large, longterm studies can be tremendously helpful for understanding disease. A famous example is the Framingham Heart Study, which has followed three generations of people in Massachusetts -- and has been instrumental in helping researchers understand the factors involved in heart disease.
Anonymous Soon-to-Be Father emails:
My wife and I just found out that she was pregnant. So recent, in fact, that it's too soon to tell our friends + family (shh!). We were hoping some of your readers could help us find a reputable doctor to catch our first baby. We're not daring enough for a home-birth and we like the idea of avoiding c-sections as much as possible.
Doula recommendations are also welcome! We're probably [not looking for] midwives, under the assumption that their services are more geared towards home-births. However, I've heard of midwives that will operate (no pun intended) out of hospitals sometimes...
In any event, we're looking to have the baby in a hospital (including or between Albany + Schenectady), have someone more knowledgeable than I in the room with us, and continue down the road toward natural child-birth (avoiding c-section) as long as possible.
Congrats! And important question! Maybe everyone can help Soon-to-Be Father and his wife sort out some of the local options.
Got a suggestion, or just a tip on how to go about finding the right provider? Please share! And please explain why you like that person, or why you chose that option.
New York State ranks 42nd in the nation for the prevalence of adult obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (It's tied with Connecticut and Nevada for that spot.)
The CDC figures that 24.5 percent of adults in New York were obese last year.* Nationwide about 35.7 percent of adults are obese. State-by-state rankings are post jump.
The CDC defines obese as a person having a body mass index of 30 or higher. A healthy weight is considered to be in the 18.5 to 24.9 BMI range.
While New York is in relatively good shape -- it shouldn't exactly be patting itself on the back (unless that counts as exercise). Only 10-14 percent of adults in the state were obese 20 years ago.**
* Data are from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) which relies on self-reported data from phone surveys.
** The CDC changed some of the ways it collects the BRFSS data, so the 2011 figures are necessarily comparable to the 2010-and-before numbers.
St. Peter's Hospital is one of the top-ranked hospitals in a new NYPIRG report on hospital visiting policies around the state.
The report surveyed the policies at 99 acute care hospitals in the state with 200 or more "staffed beds." NYPIRG says it found "significant, unexplained variations in":
+ Visiting hours and restrictions on visitation;
+ Consistency with the patient's legal right to choose priority visitors whether or not they are members of the patient's "immediate family"; and
+ Transparency and clarity of website communications.
St. Peter's scored a 10 (on a 1-10 scale) for "visiting hours flexibility" and an 8 for "website visiting info availability." Three other hospitals also received a 10 in that first category -- St. Peter's had the highest combined score of any hospital.
The report includes scores for five Capital Region hospitals -- the scores are post jump.
The whole NYPIRG report includes recommendations and a lot of detail. For patients, it can probably be boiled down to: Contrary to how it may sometimes appear, hospital patients often have a fair amount of discretion in who can visit them (even people who are not technically "family") and when. If in doubt, be sure to ask.
Mappage: We came across this CDC map of reported Lyme disease cases over the last decade (ending in 2010). The CDC site allows you to switch from year-to-year -- we piled all those years into the animation above.
The thing that struck us about the map is the way it illustrates how Lyme has spread from the coast and the very central part of the Hudson Valley to the entire Northeast (as well as Wisconsin and Minnesota).
As it happens, the number of reported cases in New York was down noticeably in 2010, the last year for which the data's posted by the CDC. The state's incidence rate that year -- confirmed cases per 100,000 people -- was 12.3 that year (12th highest in the country). It was 21.2 in 2009, and 29.5 in 2008.
Delaware led the nation in 2010 with a rate of 73.1. Vermont's rate was 43.3 that year, and Massachusetts' 36.3.
Earlier this spring a research org in the Hudson Valley -- the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies -- reported the "northeastern U.S. should prepare for a surge in Lyme disease this spring." And the reason wasn't the mild winter. Rather, researchers based their projections on mice and acorns:
Graham asks via Twitter:
I'm looking to find a good place in the capital district to get a sports massage... maybe a slight preference to the east side of the Hudson (Troy, Greenbushes)
We were curious what separates sports massage from non-sports massage -- it appears it just means there's a specific emphasis on improving athletic performance and injury rehab.
Got a suggestion for Graham? Please share!
photo: Flickr user alaina.buzas
Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson launched a new campaign this week to raise awareness about STD testing. The TV spot is funny -- the longer, "uncensored" web version is embedded above (it's still pretty tame) -- but the message is simple and straightforward: get tested.
"Some people are embarrassed about the topic... this is a way to break down barries," says Linda Scharf, the director of communications for Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, about the humor in the spots. She says they're intended to get people to talk about the topic, and move more people to get tested. The spots were produced by local marketing company Zone 5.
Also as part of the campaign Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson has posted a "rejection letter" (it looks like an email) it says it got from a transit org in the region that refused to run its original campaign because of "the image it projects in our community."
Scharf wouldn't say which transit org balked at the campaign. "The topic of sex is sensitive to some folks, so that's what you see there."
We've heard from a different source related to the campaign that the transit org was not CDTA.
Updated Thursday morning
New York State has one of the lower teen birth rates in the nation, according to numbers out this week from the National Center for Health Statistics.
The Empire State's rate was 22.6 births per 1000 women ages 15-19 in 2010. Only eight states had lower rates (check out the map above). The national average was 34.3. The lowest state was New Hampshire (15.7), the highest Mississippi (55.0).
Teen birth rates have been dropping across the country since the early 1990s. Some perspective: New York State's rate was 45.5 in 1991 -- it's dropped almost every year since (source).
Nationally, he NCHS says "fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since 1946." And the national rate is the lowest it's been in the seven decades that reliable numbers are available.
So, why's this happening? From the report:
The impact of strong pregnancy prevention messages directed to teenagers has been credited with the birth rate declines (9-11). Recently released data from the National Survey of Family Growth, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), have shown increased use of contraception at first initiation of sex and use of dual methods of contraception (that is, condoms and hormonal methods) among sexually active female and male teenagers. These trends may have contributed to the recent birth rate declines (12).
Curious about the Capital Region, we looked up the rates for the local core counties...
Now that spring is here, we're nearing the end of the traditional flu season.* And much like this past winter, this flu season has been something less than formidable (thankfully).
The graph above is Google Flu Trends track of flu-related search data for the Albany area this season, compared to previous seasons. (Google says the city specific tracking is still experimental -- here's the graph for New York State.) The state Department of Health's reports also point to a mild season around the state -- visits to sentinel providers are down a lot compared to last season, the number of hospitalized patients for flu is way down, and the percent of emergency room visits for flu has been more or less flat for the season.
But... Interestingly, there's been a recent uptick in the number of positive flu tests -- the week of March 24 had the highest number of positive reports all season. And the number of hospitalized patients is on the upswing. Let's hope that doesn't continue to develop.
On tracking bugs: More than flu this season, we noticed (anecdotally, online and off, whatever that's worth (not a whole lot)) many more people complaining of The Cold That Just Won't Quit (early winter) and the Stomach Bug from Hell (over the last month). It'd be great if someone could develop a way to glean this kind of stuff from Twitter and Facebook, and then provide reports. "Hello, we've noticed a recent increase in the number of your friends reporting being sick..."
* If you talk with flu researchers, they'll tell you the "flu season" is often neither typical nor traditional. For example, in 2008-2009, some of the highest activity months in New York State were May and June. The flu is the like weather -- you can make reasonable guesses based on patterns, but you never really know until it happens.
graph: Google Flu Trends
Alex emails with question that a lot people seem to have around the first of the year:
Could you do one of those things where you post a question, and then people comment on what gyms they've been to? [I'm looking for a new gym to join.]
So, which gym do you go to? And what do you like/dislike about it?
photo: Flickr user eccampbell
We've been noticing what seems like a lot of coughing and sickness going around recently, so we had a look at Google Flu Trends to get a sense of how this year's flu season is shaping up.
And the answer so far: it's been slow (here's New York State's graph, which based on a model that's been tested against previous years). The state Department of Health's official reports, which lag about a week, also are reporting a slow start.
The takeaway here: there's still time to get a flu shot. And the sooner the better, since it takes your body some time to build resistance based on the vaccine. Compared to some of the seasons in the past decade that were marked by shortages and crushes at doctors offices, flu shots have become almost ridiculously easy to get. Most of the major pharmacies are now offering them.
Flu experts will tell you there's no such thing as a "typical" flu season -- the pattern of these things is just something we don't really have a good handle on. So just because things have started out slowly doesn't really mean much. Things could change quickly. Or not.
That other sickness
While the flu doesn't appear to really be kicking yet this year, something else does seem to be going around (anecdotally). We've noticed a handful of people who've come down with a cough that just won't quit. Mrs. Greg finally broke down and went to the doctor recently after about three weeks of it, a few better days, and then a relapse. The doctor told her he's been seeing a bunch of people with the same pattern: cold and cough for weeks, better for a few days, then a relapse before getting better again.
Just a reminder that the microbes own this world -- we're just living here.
graph: Google Flu Trends
I have two boys, ages 2.5 & 6. We all currently visit a very popular family practice in Slingerlands, and while we like a couple of the practitioners there, it's a hike for us to get there, we wait forever once we are there, they don't answer the phones between 11:30AM-12:30PM, etc.
We'd like to hear about some good practices or specific doctors, whether they are pediatricians, internists, and/or general practitioners. We live in Wynantskill, and our preference is within 15-20 minutes drive. Pleasant office staff, realistic scheduling, thorough doctors (NP's or PA's are also fine)...
Thank you! I really appreciate the input of AOA readers.
Showing up at the doctor's office on time and having to wait seemingly forever is frustrating. Having to do it with a sick kid? Eek.
Got a suggestion for Sara? Please share!
photo: Flickr user a.drian
Right to the point, Nina emails:
I'm thinking of trying acupuncture. Any recommendations for practitioners?
While we can't vouch for quality, there's a place in Troy that has a most appropriate url: stuckintroy.com.
Clever domain names aside, anyone have suggestions for Nina? Please share!
photo: Flickr user marniejoyce
We were flipping through the channels the other night when we hit one of the new anti-smoking ads from the state Department of Health. The spot shows a guy gasping for breath as he suffers from smoking-induced emphysema. And... yow.
The commercial is embedded above. There's something so visceral and squirm-inducing about hearing the guy wheeze and gasp -- which is the point.
Doctors and researchers say these kinds of ads do spur people to call smoking quitlines. As Dr. Michael Cummings, who heads up a cancer prevention research division at Roswell Park in Buffalo, said last year while introducing a different set of anti-smoking spots: "People call the quitline when they get motivated, and you gotta get in their heads and get them moving, shake them up a little bit." [YouTube]
The state DOH has three spots currently running -- the one above, plus two others featuring a man talking through an electrolarynx about how throat cancer has kept him from swimming and his dream of being a major league umpire. (It appears that no children were made to cry this time.) The spots are scheduled to run until almost the end of September. [MSNBC] [Buffalo News]
A little more than 15 percent of adults in New York State were currently smokers in 2010, according to the data from the CDC. That's down from more than 21 percent in 2000. In that time, the state reports there has been a large decline in smoking among high school students -- 12.6 percent reported being current smokers in 2010 versus 27.1 percent in 2000. [CDC] [NYSDOH]
New York's smoking quitline is 866-NY-QUITS (866-697-8487).
Earlier on AOA: New York State has the highest cigarette taxes in the nation
Looking to help a friend, Steph emails:
I have a friend who is headed back to school in the fall for the first time in a while. The problem is, the school requires a physical for enrollment, and said friend doesn't have health insurance. Are there any Capital District clinics that provide lower-cost physicals, or any similar resources?
Got a suggestion for Steph's friend? Please share!
photo: Flickr user a.drian
@sozepiggytails asks via the Twitter:
Say, can I get a recommendation for best yoga? Live in Albany, work in Schdy, has to be after 5pm. Gracias!
A similar question came up about a year ago, but things change.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Hot yoga: Feeling the burn, and loving it
photo: Flickr user enfad
Daniel B. emails:
Mrs. Fussy needs to be fitted for contact lenses and could probably use a new pair of glasses too. She's looking for an eye doctor, and was hoping to get some recommendations. Given the bespectacled nature of the AOA staff and readership, I thought you all would be good people to ask.
It's a well established fact that the most beautiful women wear glasses, so Mrs. Fussy is in good company.
Know of a good eye doctor? Please share!
photo: Flickr user schrierc
The merged health care group being formed by St. Peter's, Northeast Health, and Seton Health announced today that it's adopting a new name: St. Peter's Health Partners.
You'll start seeing that name all over. Once the merger is official, St. Peter's Health Partners will join Albany Medical Center as the two big hospital players in this area.
The group says the official roll-out of the new branding won't be until 2012. The major hospitals in the group -- St. Peter's, Albany Memorial, Samaritan, and St. Mary's -- will keep their names (example, "St. Peter's Health Partners: Albany Memorial Hospital").
The new logo for SPHP is above. It kind of has a NEJM thing going for it. The group released documents explaining how it arrived at the name. (Were there consultants? You know it. Short story: St. Peter's had the most name recognition in surveys.) If you're a branding or design nerd, you might find them interesting. They're embedded after the jump.
Looking to help her mom, Sara emails:
One of my favorite AOA tags is "good to know". I need to tap into the collective brains of AOA readers to find a new primary care doctor for my mom. She's in her 50's, lives east of Saratoga, and for various reasons, requires the care of medical professionals more than the average patient. It seems too obvious to say that the doc (must be an MD or DO, not a PA or NP) should not be patronizing, or in the habit of scolding their patients, but that is the problem that leads to this question in the first place!
It's hard enough navigating the medical system without having a doctor who's not a good communicator or condescending or just a wrong fit personality-wise.
Know a good doctor who might be right for Sara's mom? Please share! And if you do, please include a comment or two about why you like that doctor.
Earlier on AOA: Know of a good doctor near Albany?
photo: Flickr user a.drian
Last fall Shannon asked about finding a good oral surgeon -- and people had a lot of suggestions. (Who knew people were so passionate about oral surgery?)
Well, Shannon -- now minus four teeth -- emailed us today with an update:
Way back in October, I wrote to All Over Albany to ask readers for recommendations on area oral surgeons. To my surprise, I received a lot of great suggestions and not any "Whatever you do, don't go to _______ !". Well, I finally took the plunge and I am now minus four wisdom teeth. Overall, the experience was much less painful than I expected. I just wanted to express my thanks to All Over Albany and its many readers who provided suggestions. This is one of several cases where AOA has helped guide me to trustworthy local establishments or service providers.
FYI - Many readers suggested the doctors at Capital District Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, and that is what I went with. Dr. Beck and the nurses were all very nice and they explained things well. It's only been 4 days, but I seem to be healing well and haven't had any unusual problems, so I'd strongly recommend Dr. Beck to others as well!
Stories like this make us happy. Thanks, Shannon!
photo (not of Shannon): Flickr user Betsssssy
A few years ago Christine Carpenter had a bit of an epiphany -- that as an adult, play could, and should, be a part of her everyday life. That epiphany came while practicing something called CircusYoga.
No, it's not doing a downward dog on the tight rope, or the sun salutation while holding onto a trapeze, or balancing on elephants. CircusYoga is about incorporating the fun and play of the circus -- think hula hoops and juggling -- with the consciousness of traditional yoga.
And Carpenter is now teaching it around the Capital Region.
"Every single part of your body is strong."
The yoga instructor intoned it in a soothing voice. What a lovely thought. But by the fifteenth downward facing dog it sure didn't feel true. Everyone looking backwards between their own legs could see me on my haunches, sitting this one out.
Still, there's something nice about a good sweat. I could feel it beading and rolling down the side of my face. It felt clean, somehow.
Okay, water bottle down. Back into pose.
I'm not much of an exerciser. And working in a room upwards of 90 degrees made this workout especially rigorous. (A few days later, I would still be feeling it.) It was my first experience with hot yoga. And you know what? It was great.
A few months back I asked everyone if they had tips on how to keep my hands from getting all dry and cracked this winter. And you did! There were a bunch of suggestions (you might even call it a handful).
Well, it's mid-February now and I'm happy report that my hands are in good shape -- the best they've been in many winters. And I have you to thank. So give yourself a hand!
In the spirit of lending a hand (last one, probably), here's what's worked for me...
At Albany Crossfit there is a mural of the Kool-Aid man on the wall.
It's not there because it's the gym's recovery drink of choice; it's a reference to the drinking the Kool-Aid, cult-like following that often surrounds the gym.
In its simplest form, Crossfit is a strength and conditioning program with varied, intense workouts. Its athletes are encouraged to follow the WODs (or, Workouts Of the Day) and eat a strict Paleolithic diet . They see results -- and that, according to Albany Crossfit founder Jason Ackerman, is why its members are so passionate.
Nationally, Crossfit has been around since the late 90s. Albany Crossfit was created almost four years ago - before many other cities caught on.
AOA sat in on a workout recently and talked with Jason. We covered topics ranging from throwing up during a workout, to eating like a caveman, to Marley -- their three-legged mascot.
New York is one the states currently listed as having "widespread" flu activity, according to the CDC's latest report (which is a little old at this point). And Google Flu trends -- which often is a bit ahead of the official reports -- also has NYS pegged as a "high" activity state for the flu.
But get this: most of the flu activity seems to be in New York City. It appears that upstate is just beginning to see the wave (if it ever arrives -- the flu is weird and hard to predict). In fact, Google Flu's experimental city report has the major upstate cities -- including Albany -- listed as "low" (NYC is "high").
There's still time to get a flu shot. The CDC has a helpful flu jab finder.
Of course, these reports don't cover whatever the cough/cold it is that seems be circulating in the Capital Region right now (anecdotally).
So, uh, wash your hands. And cough into your arm.
graph: Google Flu Trends
If you don't already feel enough pressure to get fit this New Year, here's some more:
The Capital Region has a whole load of gyms to choose from and many of them are having deals for the New Year. If you work these sales right, it's likely you can fill the month of January with free classes and gym time galore.
Not bad if saving money is also a resolution.
I'm one of many people in this area who don't have dental insurance and i just paid $221 for my 6 month cleaning and bitewing xrays. My previous dentist, who recently retired, was significantly less expensive, so I'm wondering if any of your readers know of a dentist in this area who isn't quite so expensive and isn't retiring soon?
Or do I need to just start saving now for my next cleaning in 6 months?
Julie's in the Saratoga area, so she's interested in dentists there. We'll also open this up to (good/affordable/combo of both) dentists around the Capital Region (we've had a few people ask this question).
So, know of good dentist? Please share?
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: A good oral surgeon?
photo: Flickr user Betsssssy
The feverish state one of the editors was in yesterday had us thinking about the flu. So we checked out Google Flu Trends to see how this season is shaping up so far.
Flu experts will tell you there's no such thing as a "normal" flu season, but we don't appear to be off to anything you might consider a weird start. As you can see from Google's graph above, last year's flu season included a big early season spike.
Google's formula is based on search activity, not actual reported lab or doctors' office data. It appears to do a good job, though. (Both the New York State Department of Health and the federal Centers of Disease Control track the official data.) It would be interesting to see Twitter and Facebook updates folded in somehow.
All this is to say, if you haven't gotten a flu shot, there's still time to do so. Here's a flu shot finder.
Earlier on AOA: RPI's "beer pong" flu: a highly transmissible story
graph: Google Flu Trends
I need to look into having my wisdom teeth removed but know nothing about area oral surgeons. My dentist gave me a list of recommended surgeons, but a list of names doesn't mean much to me. I've visited some websites searching for feedback with little luck.
I'm hoping readers may be able to suggest some surgeons for wisdom teeth removal (or let me know which ones to avoid!). This is not really a minor thing so I'd like to not go into this blindly.
Totally understand the desire to go into this eyes open (well, and mouth, too).
Got a suggestion for Shannon? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Betsssssy
I'm not new to the area but I'm newly interested in yoga! I've heard about a bunch of great studios but I'm specifically looking for a studio that hosts a Friday or Sunday beginners class. I just can't seem to find a beginners class that works with my schedule and I don't want to be stuck doing those lame follow along dvds!
Courtney is in East Greenbush, but we'll expand this to good yoga classes/teachers all over the Capital Region.
Know of a good one? Please share!
photo: Flickr user enfad
The Capital Region's four core counties have some of the lowest adult smoking rates in the state, according to data distributed by the state health department today.
The full rankings are after the jump. Among Capital Region counties, Albany County had the lowest smoking rate at 16.5 percent.
We were also curious about how smoking rates might associate with income -- so we whipped the two sets together. The result is also in there.
Eww: The DOH released this data as part of push to get people to stop smoking. Part of the campaign: two new TV spots of which a DOH officials says: "Some viewers may complain the ads are too graphic or emotional..." The one embedded above is pretty gross. Here's the other.
Laura asks via Facebook:
I'm still somewhat new to the Albany area and having a difficult time finding a really good doctor. I'm looking for a general practitioner or even better, an internist. ...
Anyone have any thoughts? Any doctors they love and would recommend? Thank you!
This has always seemed like a hard question to us. Obviously, you want a doctor who's skilled -- but it also helps to find a physician with whom you feel comfortable.
So, anyone have suggestions for Laura? Please share! And if you could include a little bit about what makes the doctor good, that would be helpful (example: "good listener").
Also: here's New York State's doctor profile database, which includes info about all licensed doctors who are registered to practice in the state. And the state's Office of Professional Medical Conduct also has an online database of all physicians, physician assistants and specialist assistants who have been disciplined since 1990.
photo: Flickr user a.drian
Hidden on Central Ave. in Albany, between a pizza shop and Ichiban, there lurks a gym.
This is not any old gym. Albany Strength is home to world class power lifters, bodybuilders, and dozens of other athletes who don't work out. They train.
In short, it's a goldmine for anyone who's serious about getting big, strong, and conditioned.
A paper published today in the Archives of Dermatology reports that of 229 UAlbany students surveyed who were tanners, almost 40 percent could be considered to have an "addiction" to tanning.
The study was conducted by Sharon Danoff-Burg, an assistant professor at UAlbany, and Catherine E. Mosher, a research fellow at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. In 2006, they surveyed a pool of more than 400 students at UAlbany. [HealthDay] The students were evaluated for indoor tanning addiction using two measures -- a modified questionnaire that's usually used for screening for alcoholism and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for substance-related disorders.
Danoff-Burg and Mosher report that of the 229 student who reported going to tanning salons, 39.3 percent met the DSM criteria and 30.6 the questionnaire criteria for addiction to indoor tanning (about 22 percent met the criteria for both screens). [Reuters] Of those scored as being tanning-addicted, 78 percent said they tried to cut down but couldn't. [LAT]
The authors write: "Further research should evaluate the usefulness of incorporating a brief anxiety and depression screening for individuals who tan indoors. Patients with anxiety or depression could be referred to mental health professionals for diagnosis and treatment."
A small study in 2004 reported that tanning appears to have mood-altering effects. And a 2006 study reported that it appeared that the younger a tanner started, the harder it was to quit.
Earlier on AOA: Dan Nester reported in the Daily Beast that there are more than 800 tanning salons in the greater Capital Region.
HealthDay reports it was UAlbany -- the study's abstract simply says it was "a large university (approximately 18 000 students) in the northeastern United States" (that's UAlbany's enrollment). We're checking to confirm. Yep, it was UAlbany. We confirmed it with the university.
photo: Flickr user Evil Erin
Here are how the Capital Region counties stack up in the New York rankings, as compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin:
There are 62 counties in New York.
In this case, health outcomes refers to mortality (specifically premature death) and morbidity (people in poor physical health). Each county has its own page, which lists the the stats that contribute to the rankings.
Here are a few things that caught our eye when looking through the details for the Capital Region...