Why We’re Raising Awareness About Cervical Cancer This January

Cervical Health Awareness Month

You’ve probably heard about cervical cancer from your doctor, the news or just someone you know. But how much do you know about this form of cancer?

Take some time this January to learn more about cervical cancer, its causes, its treatment options and preventative measures you can take to reduce your chances for developing it.

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a cancer that starts in a woman’s cervix, which is located on the lower end of the uterus.

What are the Contributing Causes of Cervical Cancer?

Your doctor will be able to help you determine your risk level for developing cervical cancer, but there are a few things to know that will help you better understand your individual risk.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the leading causes of cervical cancers. Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Having HIV or another autoimmune disorder
  • Having given birth to three or more children
  • Having several sexual partners
  • Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years)

HPV is one of the most common STDs in the U.S. It’s so prevalent, in fact, that the CDC notes that most people will contract it at some point in their lives. Fortunately, HPV often goes away on its own over time, and vaccines do exist for it.

Is it Preventable?

Cervical cancer was, at one time, among the most common causes of cancer deaths for American. Today, cervical cancer is actually one of the most highly preventable cancer types in the U.S. as a result of the screening tests and HPV vaccines, according to the CDC.

Although early symptoms and warning signs for cervical cancer are rare, screenings can help doctors detect presence of pre-cancers before they become invasive cancers. A pap test or “pap smear,” as it’s often called, has been proven effective in detecting the disease before it becomes life threatening.

Additionally, HPV tests and vaccines are available to help detect and/or prevent infection of HPV-16 and HPV-18, which are the two strains that are responsible for the vast majority of all cervical cancers.

The American Cancer Society recommends that routine HPV vaccination for girls and boys should begin at age 11 or 12, but your doctor may recommend it get started as early as age 9. While this may seem like a young age to receive a vaccine of this type, the American Cancer Society notes that HPV vaccines produce the strongest immune responses in preteens.

What are the Treatment Options?

Currently, there are no treatments available for HPV, but many genital HPV infections go away with the help of a person’s immune system within two years.

Should you be diagnosed with cervical cancer, however, a variety of treatment options exist. Which treatment(s) you ultimately utilize will vary depending on the stage of the cancer has reached and based on recommendations from your health care provider. The most common treatments for cervical cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

Want to learn more about cervical cancer this month? Be sure to check out our Online Health Library and visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition website for more information and to find out how you can get involved in spreading awareness all month long. And if you’d like to schedule a preventive screening, checkup or appointment with a women’s health expert, contact UM Community Medical Group – Women’s Health in Charles County today.

The Best Way to Give Back to Your Community in a Big Way This Month

Blood Donor Month

January is National Blood Donor Month, and there’s no better way to start off the new year than by doing your part to help your community.

Blood donations are an essential part of ensuring hospitals, including UM Charles Regional Medical Center, are able to treat a nearly endless amount of ailments. And we encourage you can do your part by volunteering to give blood this month and all year long. Here’s what you need to know about giving blood and why it’s so important to take part if you’re able.

Am I Eligible to Donate Blood?

There are a few stipulations surrounding whether or not you’re eligible to give blood. Be sure to read the American Red Cross’ eligibility requirements and guidelines before you sign up to donate!

What Blood Types Are Needed Most?

Don’t think your blood type is in demand? Think again. Every blood type is needed by the Red Cross and the health practices it serves. If you have type O blood, however, your blood type is the most requested by hospitals. This is even more prevalent if you have an O-negative blood type, which is considered the blood type of “universal donors” because it can be given to people of every blood type. Unfortunately, just seven percent of the U.S. population has this blood type, so if you’re in that group, it’s even more important that you get out and donate.

Why Should I Give Blood?

Ultimately, whether or not you give blood is a choice you — and only you — can make. There are countless worthy causes, charities and non-profits you can support throughout the year, but here are some of the reasons why we think you should consider donating blood this month:

  • 1 pint of donated blood can save up to 3 lives
  • About 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion requires ~3 pints
  • The blood used in emergencies is already available before the emergency occurs

These are just a few of the reasons why giving blood is so important — be sure to check out the American Red Cross’ website to learn more about why blood donations are vital in your community.

Where Can I Donate Blood?

UM Charles Regional Medical Center proudly sponsors several blood drives in Southern Maryland throughout the year. You can find a comprehensive list of all of the Red Cross’ upcoming blood drives on their website — Simply enter your zip code and click or tap “Find A Drive” to see upcoming blood drives nearby.

If you’re in or near La Plata, be sure to consider joining us at the La Plata United Methodist Church for our next blood drive on February 26 from 1:30-7pm!

Setting New Year’s Resolutions? Read This First.

Tips for Setting Successful Resolutions

Regardless of what you’re looking to improve in the new year, now is a great time to set goals.

Ready to get to work on some physical, emotional, mental or financial wellness resolutions in 2018? Here are four tips to help you get closer to achieving them:

Set Reasonable Resolutions

Reasonable resolutions are those that you will be able to keep striving for over the next 12 months.

If the idea of exercising 5 times a week, every week seems like it’ll be nearly impossible to stick with, it probably will be. Try setting goals that are within reach and attainable, regardless of what they are. Only you can decide how hard you’re going to work or how committed you’ll be throughout the year, so plan accordingly.

And don’t forget, if you think you’re in an all-around good place in regards to health and wellness, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting a goal to maintain that all year long!

Savor Short-Term Wins, Focus on Long-Term Goals

One of the best ways to realize a larger, long-term vision is to break it up with smaller, short-term milestones throughout the year.

Rather than just saying you want to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year, commit yourself to losing a couple pounds every month. Or instead of promising that you’ll have a strategy to get your diabetes under control right away, start with just making an appointment for our Center for Diabetes Education within the first couple weeks of 2018.

You’ll be surprised with how much easier it is to take on a long-term goal when you break things up into several short-term milestones. And when you accomplish those smaller goals, enjoy it — you deserve it! Just make sure you keep your eye on your ultimate goal every step of the way.

Don’t Get Discouraged by Setbacks

Just like everything in life, the route to achieving your goals won’t be without its own ups and downs.

Stay true to your resolutions as you reach major milestones but, more importantly, don’t get too down on yourself if there are any setbacks. You’re only human, and getting too down on yourself for any mistakes or missed goals along the way is only going to make it harder to accomplish what you set out to achieve.

Take the Journey with a Friend

Resolutions are always better with company! Share your goals with family and friends who will hold you accountable, and partner with someone who can help you stay focused throughout the year. And with the partnership of a trusted primary care physician, you can rest assured that all the goals you’re setting are in line with your overall health and wellness.

5 Proven Ways to Reduce Your Chances of Getting Sick This Holiday Season

Avoiding Sickness During the Holidays

Is there anything worse than getting sick during before you travel or take time off for the holidays?

While the seasonal flu is most prevalent in December and it seems like everyone around you is getting sick, it might only seem like a matter of time before you get sick as well. And although there’s no way to guarantee you won’t get sick at any point in the year, these are five of the most effective ways to avoid sickness throughout the holiday season:

Getting Enough Sleep

Your overall health and wellness are directly correlated to how much sleep you get every night. Give your body the energy it needs to make it through the day and fight off sickness by dedicating yourself to getting at least seven hours of sleep every night.

Washing Your Hands Regularly

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s even more important this time of year. Before you prepare or eat food, after using the bathroom, or after you blow your nose, take time to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. You’ll help protect yourself and others around you at the same time!

Receiving the Flu Shot

Although it can take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to be fully effective, there’s no better time than now to get vaccinated. You’ll protect yourself and everyone else around you, especially those who are most vulnerable, from this debilitating sickness.

Touching Your Face or Eyes Less

Make a conscious effort to avoid rubbing your eyes or face during this time of year. As the seasonal flu reaches its peak level of activity and the common cold spreads, touching your face makes it easy for bacteria and virus to get inside your body and get you sick.

Checking in with Your Primary Care Doctor

Now’s the time to meet with your doctor to get a checkup and discuss any health concerns you have heading into the holidays. What’s more is that your doctor can give you additional tips and advice not covered in this blog!

If you’re having trouble finding an appointment time with your current doctor, consider Dr. Lorenzo Childress. His office is located right here in La Plata and regularly offers next-day appointments. You can learn more about this UM Community Medical Group practice here.

5 Keys to Reducing Stress During the Holidays

Reduce Stress During the Holidays

Money, time and energy. These things always seem to have a major impact on a person’s stress levels, and there never seems to be enough of any of it during the holiday season.

Although holiday stress seems to have become the norm in modern society, excessive stress can be one of the most harmful things to your overall health and wellness. But these are the five things you can do to manage and reduce stress throughout this busy time of year.

Managing Expectations with Your Family

Only you know what you can truly afford. Before anyone gets carried away with lavish gift suggestions or expensive ideas, have an open, honest conversation about what you really value about the holidays. And because not everyone in your family is going to have the same budget restrictions, don’t be afraid to temper expectations about gifts, meals or outings ahead of time.

Getting Organized

Having a to-do list for the holidays is a great way to keep everything in perspective and manage stress. It’s as simple as filling out the calendar you carry with you on your phone or just writing it down on a sticky note at home.

Keeping Up Your Exercise Routines

Don’t let the holidays be an excuse for skipping workouts in your routine. Make a point of continuing your exercise regimen (or get started with one) as usual. You’ll be surprised with how good it feels knowing you’re doing what you need to do to stay healthy.

Knowing When to Say “No”

One of the hardest things about this time of year is finding the time to fit everything in.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of party invites you’ve received, don’t be afraid to politely turn down the ones you’re okay skipping. And if you’re stressed by the idea of having to spend more money to attend expensive events, try suggesting more affordable alternatives or pass altogether.

Taking “Me” Time

The holidays are all about getting to spend time with friends and family, some of whom you haven’t seen for a long time. But that shouldn’t come at the expense of your own well-being.

Finding some time throughout the next few weeks to focus on doing what you want to do — exercising, relaxing, taking a walk, reading a book, etc. — for just a few minutes can go a long way. Your to-do list will be there when you get back, and you’ll feel even more ready to handle it when you do.

6 Simple Tips for Eating Healthy During the Holiday Season

Eating Healthy During The Holidays

Let’s face it, it’s hard to eat healthy during the holidays. But you don’t have to be resigned to the fact that you’re going to need to set some weight-loss resolutions once the new year rolls around.

Here are six strategies you can follow to help you stay on track with your dietary goals throughout the holiday season.

Track What You Eat

Keeping a journal or using one of the countless fitness apps available to record what you eat throughout the day can help you keep yourself accountable and committed to whatever goals you have set for yourself.

Pack Healthy Snacks for the Workday

How many times have you gone into work only to find that a coworker has brought in their favorite cookies or dessert to share with everyone?

Resisting the urge, especially while others around you are giving into temptation, is one of the hardest things to do. Bring healthier snacks, like nuts, fruits and veggies, to stash at your desk for moments like these.

Don’t Be Afraid to Enjoy Some Sweets

This might be the most important tip of all: Be realistic.

Throughout the holidays, you’re likely to find yourself surrounded by sweets and rich foods. Don’t be afraid to enjoy the flavors of the season — just do so in moderation!

Don’t Skip Meals

We all know how busy this time of year can get, and skipping breakfast or lunch might seem like the only way to get all the work, shopping and activities in before the holidays. But if you’re concerned about eating well, skipping meals opens you up to more snacking and potentially overeating later.

Make sure you get a good breakfast to start your day, and if you’re going to be heading off to a party at any point, try nibbling on some fruits and veggies to taper your appetite before you arrive.

Try Healthier Alternatives to Holiday Favorites

Making your favorite holiday treats just a little bit lighter can go a long way. From guilt-free eggnog to heart-healthy gingerbread cookies, there are countless recipes available on our website and across the internet that drop the calories without sacrificing any of the taste.

Partner Up

Having someone there to keep you accountable throughout the ups and down is one of the best ways to keep up with healthy eating goals. Whether you partner up with a friend or family member or work with your primary care doctor, you’ll find that it’s easier to stay on target when someone else knows your goals and your challenges.

This is even more important and valuable if you’re someone with diabetes. Fortunately, if you live in Charles County, the expert teams at the Center for Diabetes Education or with UM Community Medical Group – Diabetes and Endocrinology are ready to help.


“What is COPD?” (And 4 Other Important Questions Answered)

COPD Awareness Month

You’ve probably heard about COPD before, but do you know what COPD is, what causes it and what you can do to prevent it?

Because November is COPD Awareness Month, now is the best time to get informed about this debilitating group of diseases. Here are five frequently asked questions:

What is COPD?

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and refers to a group of diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, that cause breathing-related issues.

What causes COPD?

Tobacco smoke is a key element in the development of COPD. In addition, respiratory infections, air quality, heredity and age also play a role.

COPD is usually a progressive condition that begins with shortness of breath or coughing and later develops into a chronic cough or more serious symptoms.

How many people have COPD?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates upward of 15.6 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD. However, the CDC also estimates that more than half of those with COPD don’t yet know they have it. In Maryland, COPD affects nearly 6% of the population.

What can happen to someone if they have COPD?

For many, COPD results in a chronic cough, shortness of breath and wheezing. For others, the complications from COPD can lead to a handful of serious issues that impact quality of life — from making physical activity nearly impossible to being forced to use a portable oxygen tank.

How can COPD be prevented or managed?

If you’re a smoker, quitting is vital to preventing or managing COPD. Avoiding places with a notably high level of air pollutants is also important.

Although there is no cure for COPD, there are several things you can do to manage symptoms and maintain a high quality of life. The American Lung Association has numerous resources for people dealing with COPD that are worth checking out.

As with any chronic disease, having support is a good way to stay positive and on track with your health and wellness goals. Better Breathers Clubs, like the one we have at our hospital, provides patient-focused, community-based support for people with COPD and other lung diseases. Learn more about the Better Breathers Club at UM Charles Regional Medical Center on the American Lung Association’s website.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month: Be Informed About the Deadliest Form of Cancer in America

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Of all the cancers discussed in the public forum, breast cancer is likely the most commonly talked about. And although breast cancer is a prevalent disease that affects thousands of people in our country, no other cancer claims more lives than lung cancer.

That’s why it’s so important to partake in Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November by learning about its causes and risk factors.

For men, the chances of developing lung cancer at some point in his lifetime is about 1 in 14. For women, it’s 1 in 17. And while 87% of all cases can be linked to tobacco use, you don’t have to be a smoker to develop lung cancer. Exposure to radon, asbestos and other air pollutants have been linked to lung cancer, as have certain lung diseases such as tuberculosis.

Take some time this month to learn about the different types of lung cancer, the sobering statistics, detection and treatment options available.

And if you’re still a smoker, take this month as an opportunity to quit for good. If you need some help, here are some great resources from the American Cancer Society:

Planning on quitting but know you’ll need some help? The Charles County Department of Health’s quit-smoking program is 100% free and will show you how to make a quit plan, manage stress and offers weekly support throughout your quitting journey. For more information about this fantastic program or to register for upcoming classes, call (301) 609-6932 today.

Give the Gift of Good Health in Your Community by Supporting the Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Of all the gifts you give during the holidays this year, the gift of good health may be the most important.

You can support our mission of making our community a healthier place to live by helping our Tree of Life shine brightly all season long.

On Wednesday, December 6, from 5:30-7pm, on the grounds of the hospital, we’ll host our illumination ceremony and celebrate all the people who mean so much to us.

How You Can Participate

Through December 6, you’re invited to purchase the lights that will illuminate our Tree of Life in honor of someone, living or deceased, who’s touched your life in a positive way.

For just $15, you can have a light placed on our Tree of Life, or make a one-time gift of $100 for an angel perpetual light to ensure a light shines for whomever you’re honoring every year. You can also help light the Healing Garden with a $50 luminary.

Donations for our Tree of Life can be made easily and securely through the UM CRMC Foundation’s website or by calling (301) 609-4132 today.

All gifts must be received no later than November 22nd to be included in the commemorative program.

What You’ll Be Supporting

Proceeds from the generous donations received will directly support UM Charles Regional Julie and Bill Dotson Center for Breast Health. This center, planned for 2018,  will help meet the goal of providing hope, support and care for our family, friends and community members as they cope with breast health issues.

We hope you’ll consider honoring your loved ones this holiday season and supporting this important cause. For additional details or to give your gift today, visit the official Tree of Life event page. Please stay tuned for announcements of the 2017 special guest illuminators in upcoming Facebook posts.

5 Things You Need to Know About Diabetes

American Diabetes Month Photo

It’s something you’ve probably heard about from your doctor, in the news or even from someone you know. Diabetes is an all-too-prevalent disease that affects a large percentage of the American population.

Join us this month, which is American Diabetes Month, in learning more about diabetes and working to inform your family, friends and community about the causes, risk factors and treatment options available.

To get you started, here are the five things you need to know about diabetes right now.

How Many People Are Affected by Diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and that one out of every three people in the U.S. will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Unfortunately, it’s also estimated that 1 out of 4 people don’t know that they have it.

The Differences Between Types of Diabetes

There are three distinct types of diabetes. Each comes with its own causes, symptoms and management practices.

Type 1 – This type of diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease because it occurs when your body can’t produce the insulin needed to control blood-sugar levels in the bloodstream.

Type 2 – It’s estimated that 90-95% of all Americans who have diabetes are affected by type 2 diabetes. This type occurs when your body is able to produce insulin but is unable to produce enough to properly control sugar levels.

Gestational – Though less common than types 1 and 2, gestational diabetes is brought on by pregnancy. While it usually disappears once the baby is born, this condition requires careful monitoring and can put a woman at higher risk of developing diabetes within 10 years.

Risk Factors for Developing Diabetes

Whereas type 1 diabetes generally appears before the age of 18 and isn’t currently preventable, there are a handful of risk factors that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, including:

  • Being overweight
  • A family history of diabetes
  • Age (over 45 years old)
  • Lack of physical activity (exercising fewer than 3 times a week)
  • Previously had gestational diabetes

If you’re concerned about developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, consider taking our diabetes risk assessment and discussing the results with your doctor.

How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Because type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity, prevention of the disease largely revolves around embracing healthy eating habits and a more active lifestyle. In addition to being physically active for 30-60 minutes every day, choosing nutrient-rich foods instead of sugary or high-calorie foods and snacks goes a long way in the fight against diabetes.

Be sure to check out the CDC’s website as well. It has some great tips and guides about what you can do to help prevent type 2 diabetes in yourself and your family.

How to Live Well with Diabetes

Just because someone has type 1 or type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean they can’t live fulfilling lives. Thanks to groundbreaking treatments, new management strategies and improved community awareness, people with diabetes are living longer and better than ever before.

Southern Maryland is no exception. Residents of this region have access to proven diabetes experts and always have somewhere to turn when they need support or have questions about diabetes.

If you or someone you know is struggling with diabetes or a recent diabetes diagnosis, be sure to check out our Center for Diabetes Education. In addition, the new UM Community Medical Group – Diabetes and Endocrinology practice in Waldorf, MD, provides long-term care to those dealing with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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