Three doctors explain three common health concerns.
Q: I have arthritis. What can I do to avoid flare-ups during the busy holidays?
Dr. Jacqueline Hochman, Rheumatologist at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says:
"Here are seven strategies for easing arthritis pain during the holidays:
1. Pace yourself, and take a break.
2. Minimize the repetitive activities you do with your hands. Instead of chopping vegetables with a knife, for instance, use a food processor.
3. Do as many seated tasks as possible, like gift wrapping or making decorations, to reduce joint pain and conserve energy.
4. Pay attention to positioning. When you're carrying bags, hold them at waist height to protect your joints.
5. Use a cart or luggage on wheels when shopping or travelling.
6. Wear a brace or splint when doing repetitive activities.
7. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising."
Q: Is thyroid disease more prevalent in women? How can I find out if I have it?
Dr. Catherine Kelly, Professor of Medicine at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says:
"Thyroid disease is more prevalent in women, and risk increases with age. Thyroid disease often runs in the family. It can be temporary—lasting a few weeks—or more permanent.
The more common diagnosis of hypothyroidism—an underactive thyroid—is defined by constipation, sluggishness, irregular or heavier periods, a lower body temperature and weight gain. Symptoms for less-prevalent hyperthyroidism—an overactive thyroid—may include anxiety, insomnia, sweating, fine tremors, heart palpitations, lighter periods, an increase in bowel movements, weight loss and shortness of breath.
If your health practitioner suspects that you have thyroid disease, he or she will measure your thyroid hormone levels with a blood test and check your family history and what medications and supplements you're using, which can affect or interfere with your thyroid's measurement."
Q: I'm entering menopause. What do I need to know about hormone therapy?
Dr. Michelle Jacobson, Gynecologist and Menopause Specialist at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says:
"Menopausal hormone therapy is the use of prescribed medication to treat women experiencing menopausal symptoms. It's also used to prevent cardiac, bone and brain disease in women who have undergone premature menopause. The goal of hormone therapy is to treat patients with an appropriate dose of estrogen and progesterone to improve their symptoms.
During a visit to your health practitioner, expect the following:
1. List your symptoms, for example, hot flashes, night sweats and sleep disturbances.
2. Evaluate your quality of life: Are these symptoms impacting your day-to-day activities?
3. If your life is suffering due to these symptoms, the doctor can develop an individualized treatment plan that takes a variety of factors, such as age and medical history, into account."
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