October Is Mental Health Awareness Month

Millions of Americans are living with a mental health condition. Mental illnesses affect everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends and coworkers. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also widespread.

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. will experience mental illness.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. will experience a serious mental illness that interferes with one or more major life activities.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition are receiving mental health services.
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14.
  • Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–14 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.
  • Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.

Knowing the warning signs can help you determine if you need to speak to a professional. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in a treatment plan.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  •  Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations)
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

After diagnosis, a health care provider can help develop a treatment plan that could include medication, therapy or other lifestyle changes.

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step. Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor or state/country mental health authority for more resources.

If you or someone you know needs help now, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.

Are you aware of your risk?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the perfect time to remind, both women and men, early detection saves lives. When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 100%. Early detection includes monthly breast self-exams and yearly clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Some facts you should know:

  • Mammography continues to be the best first line of defense for early breast cancer screening yet nearly one third of American women do not get regular mammograms.
  • 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer within her lifetime.
  • Men can develop breast cancer, however less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • 8 out of 9 women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.
  • Breast cancer risk increases with age – 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women over 55.

Breast cancer screening is vital for all women, especially those at higher risk. Here are some contributing factors and preventative tips:

Exercise: With as little as three hours of exercise per week, or about 30 minutes a day, a woman can lower her risk of breast cancer.

Stop Smoking: Smoking is a confirmed risk factor for many types of cancer. Smoking also directly contributes to heart and other lung diseases, too.

Alcohol: Consuming just one drink a day has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. Having more than one drink per day has shown to be a more significant risk factor. If you drink alcohol, this is an important topic to discuss with your doctor so that you will know what limits are best for you to observe.

Birth Control: There is an increased risk of breast cancer for women who have been using birth control pills for more than five years. However due to the low amount of hormones in birth control pills today, the risk is relatively small.

Hormone Replacement Therapy: HRT was added to the carcinogenic list by the American Cancer Society in the early 2000s. It is recommended that women with known risks not be placed on HRT to control menopausal symptoms.

Family History: Although women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only 5-10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.

Reproductive History: Women who began their menstrual cycles before age 12, have no biological children, or had their first child at 30 or older, or began menopause after 55 are at a higher risk.

Childhood Obesity – Nothing to Kid About

Obesity in children is a very real and increasing problem. Lack of planned activity and structure, along with increased accessibility to sugared drinks and snack foods contribute. Quite simply, they’re eating too much and doing too little.

Our American society promotes the consumption of unhealthy food and snacks, so it’s hard for children to make healthy choices. They are surrounded by these choices at home, fundraisers and sporting events, and they can buy snacks easily at the grocery store or gas station.

Helping kids follow a few simple guidelines can make huge strides toward prevention and promoting a healthy lifestyle:

  • Try to discourage eating in front of the TV, and limit TV time. It’s too easy to overeat and mindlessly reach for sugary or salty snacks. If that’s not possible, designate TV-friendly snacks in premeasured amounts.
  • Watch portion size. Consider preparing bags of healthy snacks, especially for travel, such as if you’re going to watch or play in a game or your child is going to a park or playdate.
  • Stock the house. Make healthy choices the staples. Fruits and vegetables should be abundance – easily and readily available. Throw in a few options like unsalted pretzels, yogurt, peanut butter, hummus or cheese cubes to keep things interesting.
  • Get moving. Encourage at least 60 minutes of physical exercise every day – aerobic activity is best. Try walking, biking (with a helmet of course), playing outside, running, playing group sports like baseball or soccer and swimming if a pool is accessible. Be smart about heat and sun exposure too. If it’s too hot or humid, have them go early in the morning or at sunset, and always apply sunscreen!
  • Join them. Just like adults, kids tend to be more active in groups, so plan family activities around movement and exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. Set family bikes or hikes, make a contest out of ‘round the block runs, or join an exercise class. You’ll benefit, and so will they!

You want them to eat well and not gain weight. It’s all about helping them be happy and stay well. Back to school is a great time to introduce a new structure and develop better snacking habits.

Irregular heartbeat?

Have you ever had a quivering or irregular heartbeat that you just weren’t sure about? It could be AFib (atrial fibrillation) which can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure or other heart related complications. In addition to heart palpitations, other symptoms might include shortness of breath and fatigue.

Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. With AFib, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) so your blood isn’t moving properly, potentially causing blood clots. This clot risk is why patients with AFib are put on blood thinners.

If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, it will result in a stroke. 15–20 percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia. AFib is a serious condition but can be treated. Left untreated, the risk of heart-related death doubles and the risk of stroke increases significantly. It’s important to see your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms or have a history of irregular heartbeat.

Some people are more likely to experience AFib. If you have one or more of the following conditions, you may be at a greater risk.

  • Longstanding, uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Anyone with heart disease or a history of heart attack
  • Binge drinking
  • Having a family member with AFib
  • Sleep apnea
  • AFib is common in athletes and can be triggered by a rapid heart rate.
  • Others at risk are people with thyroid problems (specifically hyperthyroidism), diabetes, asthma or other chronic medical problems.

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, and have one or more of the conditions mentioned above, it’s important you talk to your doctor and ask to have the appropriate tests done to find out if you have AFib. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you will recover with less damage to your heart.


September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men? The American Cancer Society’s estimates that in 2018, the United States will see:

  • 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer
  • 29,430 deaths from prostate cancer
  • 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

Prostate cancer develops mainly in men 65 and older and in African-American men. It is rare to see a case before the age of 40 and 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older.

Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but fortunately most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. However, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer. It’s important to keep up with your screenings to detect prostate cancer early.

Prostate cancer can often be found before symptoms start with a simple blood test and a rectal exam. If prostate cancer is found at an early stage, it will be at a more treatable stage than if no screening were done.

Many of the risk factors for prostate cancer, such as your age, race, and family history can’t be controlled. But there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of prostate cancer like maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly.

It’s also important to see your doctor regularly, and schedule regular screenings starting at age 50.


*Statistics provided by American Cancer Society.

Yes, adults need immunizations too!

Was the last time you had a vaccine the last time you enrolled in school? If so, it’s time to talk to your health care provider about your vaccination status.

Why do adults need shots?

If your last immunization was decades ago, you are likely overdue for some booster shots. Another consideration is whether you ever had certain immunizations that are routine today but may not have been when you were a child. If you didn’t have a disease like mumps or chicken pox as a child, and have never had the vaccines now available, you’re at risk. And some of these diseases can have serious effects on adults — in fact, the diseases can be more serious for adults than for children.

When was your last tetanus shot?

It’s not unusual for adults to have no idea when their last tetanus shot was. In fact, when did you last receive any vaccine? Especially if you’ve needed to change health insurance and primary providers a number of times in recent years, you may be unable to identify what vaccines you’ve had and when you had them. Talk to your doctor and work on a plan to identify and get all needed immunizations, and to keep a record of this information so you don’t get behind again in the future.

Can tests reveal whether I need a vaccine?

Yes, a blood test can reveal whether you have immunity to certain diseases. Talk to your doctor about whether such a test would be helpful for you. Your doctor may recommend that you simply get the vaccine anyway.

What shots do I need?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a handy chart that shows what shots adults need. The recommendations will depend on whether you are part of a special population (including pregnant women) or part of a high-risk group. Those who travel to certain destinations may need shots that others do not need. It can be confusing, so the best advice is to talk to your doctor about your immunization history.

Need shots? You can get them at any of the Culbertson clinics.

The Magic of Imaging

Ever wondered how the exerts in our Radiology Department can give you such detailed, accurate results from an X-ray, CT scan and other imaging tests? Culbertson Imaging Manager Christy Sims gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the imaging process to help you understand what happens when you come in for a test — and what comes next.

How do I get an imaging exam?

If you’re having an exam, such as an X-ray, CT scan or ultrasound, your doctor will schedule an appointment for you. Your exam will be sent digitally for interpretation by Clinical Radiologists in Springfield, one of the country’s leading radiology groups with more than 70 radiologists covering all subspecialties. “That helps ensure maximum accuracy, and you can be confident your exam is read by specialist who focus on that type of physiology every day, from pediatrics to neuroradiology to mammography,” said Sims. Typically, your exam’s interpretation is complete and your doctor has a report and results within 12 hours.

What if I need an emergency imaging exam?

If you come into the emergency room, your exam also goes to Clinical Radiologists for interpretation, but with a STAT tag. Radiologists will read and return a report within 30 minutes. STAT stroke patients — patients showing symptoms of a stroke — receive even more priority, with results back in less than 15 minutes.

If you’re a patient at Culbertson, your doctor will order the exam. Your results will typically be in your doctor’s hands within two hours, depending on your condition and the type of test your doctor ordered.

How long does it take to get mammography results?

Patients who arrive for a diagnostic (symptomatic) mammogram and/or breast ultrasound can be assured they will be given their results before leaving the Imaging Department that day. The mammography technologist is in direct contact with the radiologist in Springfield during your exam. The radiologists who is viewing and interpreting your breast images has had extensive training in breast imaging. “We feel so fortunate to have this capability for our patients. As you know, it can be very scary and stressful for women experiencing symptoms to come in for breast imaging,” said Sims.

The imaging department also performs screening mammograms, which are often read and reported to your doctor within 24 hours. Patients receive a letter of their results from the Imaging Department. If you would like to schedule a mammogram, please call 217-322-4321, ext. 5279. A physician’s order is required.

When are imaging exams available?

Whatever test you need, Culbertson Memorial Hospital and our partners at Clinical Radiologists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re focused on providing the highest level of care and comfort for you. If you have any questions before your test, our Imaging Department encourages you to ask by calling 217-322-4321, ext. 5279.

Enjoy the outdoors, not the Emergency Room!

You wouldn’t venture out into a blizzard without taking precautions, and you shouldn’t venture out into extremely hot and humid weather without doing so either.

Temperature extremes can be deadly, particularly for babies, children, the elderly, obese people or anyone with a health condition. But even the healthiest among us can fall prey to things like dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In fact, heat-related illnesses are the most frequent cause of injury treated in emergency rooms during summer months, along with lightning injuries, drowning and sunburn.

How to hydrate

Normally, drinking plain water to thirst is sufficient. But if you’re exerting yourself in hot, humid weather, that might not be enough. Whether you’re working outside or playing sports, any prolonged exertion that causes heavy sweating can get you into trouble. Keep up the plain water, but incorporate a sports drink, too, to replace electrolytes you lose by heavy perspiration. Whatever you do, don’t drink alcohol while dehydrated! And keep in mind that soda and other sweet drinks are not as ideal as plain water. Save the caffeinated drinks for a time when you aren’t sweating heavily.

How cool are you?

If you can take breaks by entering an air conditioned area, do so. If you’re in a situation where that isn’t possible, you can do things like periodically wet your hair, or wet a bandana and place that on your head. Plunging your head under running water will make your whole body feel cooler. Take breaks from exertion and go to a shady area. And dress for the weather! Loose, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat can help protect you.

What are the differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Watch for symptoms of heat exhaustion, which can include things like weakness, very heavy perspiration, a weaker pulse, nausea, loss of consciousness and cold, pale, clammy skin. Even more serious is heat stroke, in which the body temperature is elevated above 103 degrees, the heart rate is rapid and the skin is hot and red. Loss of consciousness may occur. If suspected heat exhaustion doesn’t improve after measures like drinking a sports drink and soaking in a cool bath, or if heat stroke is suspected, seek emergency medical attention. A heat stroke can cause organ damage and even death.

The Emergency Room at Culbertson Memorial Hospital is equipped to treat heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Don’t hesitate if you suspect heat stroke!

There’s a Test for That!

Because medical laboratory testing plays such a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease in patients; prompt, accurate lab results can make a marked difference in treatments and outcomes.

Studies show 70% of doctor’s decisions are made based on results from lab tests.

Here are some of the most common tests performed in medical labs and why.

  • Coagulation – Protime testing for monitoring of Coumadin dosages.
  • Chemistry – Routine chemistry test that includes glucose, lipid profile and cardiac testing.
  • Hematology – Routine blood cell count including hematocrit and hemoglobin.
  • Histology – Surgical pathology of tissue specimens.
  • Microbiology – Studying of microorganisms.
  • Nuclear Medicine – Nuclear scans, including bone and cardiac exams.
  • Serology – Testing for various diseases, including allergies.
  • Transfusion Services – Pre-transfusion services of blood products for inpatients and outpatients.
  • Urinalysis – Examination of urine specimens for infections, etc.
  • Urine Drug Testing – Collection of urine specimens, licensed DOT and Non-DOT Collectors.
  • Wellness Screenings

Lab services allow your doctor to provide the results needed to confirm a diagnosis, complete a screening or find the cause of your symptoms.

Are Your Children Ready for School?

For children heading back to school, a proper checkup is important to evaluate any issues your growing child may have. Regular physicals are a chance for healthcare providers to discuss important health issues with children and their parents or guardians. These exams can make sure your child is healthy and physically prepared to participate in school activities or sports.

Back to school physical exams vary based on age, but typically include:

  • Recording your child’s height, weight, blood pressure, pulse and BMI
  • Checking your child’s heart, lungs, lymph nodes, abdomen, skin, eyes, ears, nose and throat
  • Evaluating your child’s vision, joints, muscles and spine
  • Discussing the medical history of your child and your family
  • Administering vaccines and required immunizations

Vaccines for Children

Vaccines are not only beneficial to your child’s health… they must have them before they go off to school. Babies, kids and adolescents will gain protection against 16 diseases, including:

  • Diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (whopping cough)
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Tetanus (lockjaw)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Kids generally receive these vaccines during their well-baby, well-child, yearly or physical exams but school physicals are a good time to keep your child’s records current and up-to-date.