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The Historical Impact of Nurses

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Nurses are some of the most fundamental healthcare professionals, yet they can often be overlooked. LifeBrite Early wants to take a moment to appreciate our fantastic nurses by revisiting the profession’s long and detailed history.

Early History

The nursing field has roots dating back to at least 300 AD — as far as currently-available documentation tells us. Even then, nurses provided essential patient care, and helped innovate the field. Nursing made a particularly notable impact on Europe during the Middle Ages, when there was a significant demand for medical attendants from the Catholic Church, as caring for patients fell largely to monks and nuns.

From the 500s to early 600s, the first Spanish hospital was built in Merida, where the nurses in service were instructed to tend to all patients, regardless of their national or religious affiliation. This empathetic model continued to expand across Germany, France, and other countries through the tenth and eleventh centuries, opening the door for the all-encompassing care nurses give today.

Modern Nursing

Much of modern nursing is attributed to Florence Nightingale, who tended to injured soldiers during the Crimean War of the 1850s (more below). Her efforts toward better hygienic practices significantly reduced death rates and influenced a huge increase in nursing popularity.

Demand for fully trained, educated nurses increased during World Wars I and II in the 20th century. Modern nursing largely stems from the technological advancements made in the medical field during this time. Since the turn of the 20th century, nursing has branched out to specific medical fields like oncology, critical care, and pediatrics.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “With more than three times as many RNs in the United States as physicians, nursing delivers an extended array of healthcare services, including primary and preventive care by nurse practitioners with specialized education in such areas as pediatrics, family health, women’s health, and gerontological care.” Education and expansion has also advanced significantly, with many nurses performing primary care tasks independently (i.e. prescribing medications), and directing the complexities of entire nursing care systems.

Prominent Figures in Nursing History

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Arguably the most famous nurse in history, Florence Nightingale is credited for initiating the concept of modern nursing. Nightingale witnessed a shocking lack of hygienic practices on the battlefield during the Crimean War, and her careful attention concluded that more soldiers perished from unsanitary healthcare practices than from their wounds.

She proceeded to advocate for immense healthcare reform, much of which has been continued and expanded upon today. Although Nightingale is modernly criticized for biases that contributed to harmful practices against indigenous people, our modern sanitary practices are often credited to her original research.

Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845–1926)

Mary Eliza Mahoney was not the first Black woman to perform nursing duties, but she was the first to earn a professional nursing license in the U.S.. She grew up with free parents who were formerly enslaved, gaining nursing experience throughout her entire life.

Mahoney enrolled in the nursing program at the New England Hospital for Women and Children at the age of 33, and graduated 16 months later. A passionate advocate for increased access to nursing education and anti-discriminatory policies, she supported the founding of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908.

Hazel Johnson-Brown (1927-2011)

Seven years after former president Harry S. Truman integrated the United States Armed Forces, Hazel Johnson-Brown enlisted in the military in 1955. She had been previously denied access to her local nursing school in West Chester, Pennsylvania due to racial discrimination. Instead, she enrolled in a nursing school in New York while enlisted in the Army.

Johnson-Brown became the director of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing. She was twice named Army nurse of the year, and nominated as the 16th chief of the Army Nurse Corps in 1979. She was later promoted to brigadier general: the first Black woman to earn the honor. Following retirement, Johnson-Brown served as a nursing professor at George Mason University and Georgetown University.

Our team at LifeBrite Early celebrates all our nurses and their incredible accomplishments! To learn more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.

Learn More About LifeBrite:

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.

teenage girl reading from phone

Avoid the Doomscroll: How to Do Medical Research

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Doomscrolling” is a “tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing,” Health magazine describes. And it’s an easy thing to do when researching a medical condition.

Though the Internet provides us with many benefits, the vast wealth of resources can possibly become damaging to your health. “For some individuals, repeated searches for medical information on the Internet exacerbate health anxiety,” according to a 2014 study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. Clinical psychologist Dr. Amelia Aldao explained to NPR part of why this may be so: “Our minds are wired to look out for threats,” she says. “The more time we spend scrolling, the more we find those dangers, the more we get sucked into them, the more anxious we get.”

We primarily encourage you to discuss any health concerns with your doctor first, but there are some ways to conduct medical research online that may help you find quality help.

Consider the Source

Being able to identify quality sources online can impact the kind of advice you receive about your health. “As a rule, health websites sponsored by Federal Government agencies are good sources of information,” the National Institute on Aging advises. They also recommend that “Large professional organizations and well-known medical schools may also be good sources of health information.”

When in doubt, ask your doctor which sites they turn to for information. Some of these may include the CDC, the American Medical Association, or the World Health Organization, as Save a Life by National Health Care Provider Solutions suggests.

Paying attention to the date and author of the article may also help guide you. Is the information current? Or reviewed by a medical professional? Also be wary of relying too heavily on patient testimonials, as PsychCentral warns: “Compelling personal testimonials often dissuade people from accepting scientific evidence. The vividness of personal testimony often trumps evidence of higher reliability.”

Set a Clear Purpose and Time Limit

NPR advises setting informational goals by “Going into it . . . reminding yourself why you’re there, what are you looking for, what information are you trying to find. And then periodically checking in with yourself — have I found what I needed?”

Setting a timer, using apps that monitor screen time, and carving out specific chunks of time for research are other approaches HuffPost recommends. Limiting screen time in general may not only prevent your doomscrolling, but improve your overall mental health, as a 2017 study in Preventive Medicine Reports “showed that moderate or severe depression level was associated with higher time spent on TV watching and use of computer.”

Compare Notes with a Trusted Friend

Talking with a friend or loved one over what you learn online may help you sort out the information more clearly. They can ask caring questions, make recommendations based on their long-time knowledge of you and your life, and also share their own experiences. As LiveScience points out, “friendship isn’t just about fun, fellowship and emotional health. Having friends can improve physical health, too.”

Keep in mind that your doctor, nurse, or other health specialist can also be included in this category! At LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, we are not only award-winning medical experts, but caring neighbors in your community, as well.

If you would like more help in conducting online medical research — or getting advice on any medical condition — our team is eager to help. Start your own research through our website or call 229-723-4241 for a personal appointment.

Learn More About LifeBrite

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.

Doctor holding a plastic kidney and pointing to it

National Kidney Month: How This Pair of Organs Supports Your Body

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You might know a lot about heart health, lung health, or even brain health, but kidneys aren’t usually considered the same kind of hot health topic. But well-functioning kidneys are vital for human life.

As part of National Kidney Month, we’re taking the opportunity to emphasize how kidneys do an awesome job at keeping us alive, and how we can all build a path to better kidney care.

What do the kidneys do?

Most people are born with two kidneys: one on each side of the waist. Often described as “bean-shaped” organs, your kidneys help your body turn waste into urine, while also filtering toxins from your blood.

The key function of kidneys is to maintain your body’s fluid balance. They are the reason you urinate the correct amount, and have enough purified blood in your veins. Experts in knowing what is supposed to be in your body and what isn’t, your kidneys also work to remove any waste material from food, drugs or other toxic substances.

Kidneys also regulate the proper combination of water, and minerals like sodium and potassium, that are present in your blood. By purifying and balancing your blood, kidneys also help you maintain a healthy blood pressure.

What are the dangers and symptoms of kidney disease?

If one of your kidneys is damaged by injury or an autoimmune disease, doesn’t receive adequate blood circulation, or suffers a urine block (often due to kidney stones or an enlarged prostate), kidney disease may develop. This disease becomes chronic if and when your kidneys are unable to function for a period longer than three months.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 76% of kidney failure is due to either diabetes or high blood pressure. Cardiovascular or immune diseases (such as lupus) may also be the culprit. Obesity, a family history of kidney disease, an abnormal kidney structure, or frequent usage of kidney-damaging medications can also put you at a higher risk.

Without at least one properly functioning kidney, toxic waste can build up in the body. This can contribute to heart disease, stroke, anemia, diminished bone strength, and nerve damage. Left untreated, kidney failure can be life-threatening.

In many cases, you may not experience any negative symptoms until kidney disease has progressed. It’s important to pay attention to your body and visit a doctor if you are experiencing:

  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Tasting iron in your mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of strength
  • Trouble thinking
  • Trouble sleeping

Though currently without a cure, kidney disease can often be treated with prescription medicine paired with lifestyle changes, like reducing sodium intake, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, and increasing physical activity. In the case of kidney failure, dialysis or a kidney transplant may also be considered.

How can I take care of my kidneys?

Preventative care is crucial for kidney health. To actively thank your kidneys for keeping your body balanced, try to maintain a blood pressure below 140/90. Also be sure to stay within the bounds of your recommended amount of cholesterol, limit the amount of salt you consume, eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and exercise at least 150 minutes a week.

Regular testing may also be in your favor. When monitored with a urine or blood test at your annual physical exam, kidney disease can be diagnosed early, and therefore treated more effectively.

If you’re concerned about kidney disease, or would like help in taking care of your kidney (and whole body) health, you can reach out to our team at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early through our website or by calling 229-723-4241.

Learn More About LifeBrite

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.

group of mature adults in outdoor yoga class

Love Yourself and Others Through Your Health: Ways to Get Started

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When you think of self-care, a day off of work or a relaxing spa night may come to mind. While these are actually helpful for your overall health, there are also other, more disciplined ways to take care of yourself (like eating well and exercising).

The pandemic has brought on more stress, making it difficult to prioritize our own health. But the month of February is all about love — and that includes self-love.

We have a few ideas to help you be your own Valentine, and treat yourself to some self-care. Remember to start small and have compassion for yourself. Even small changes can establish a habit over time — one that increases your longevity and ability to share a healthy life with those you love.

Add a Few More Vegetables to Your Diet

We’ve heard the benefits of eating vegetables since we were children, yet we still can manage to avoid the broccoli on our plates. But more vegetables in our diet help reduce blood pressure, risk of heart disease, and digestive problems. They are also a great source of vitamin K and fiber, which keeps our digestive systems running smoothly.

A healthy, balanced diet can be difficult to maintain for long periods of time. Start small this month by taking that extra forkful of leafy greens. It is recommended to eat three cups of veggies a day, but starting one bite of broccoli at a time can help you keep your diet in healthy moderation.

Sit Less and Move More

According to the American Heart Association, the reduction in blood pressure associated with regular physical activity can decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by 4% to 5%, and stroke by around 7%.

This doesn’t mean you have to go run a marathon. (But if you can — more power to you!) Take small steps by scheduling a two-minute break every hour or so, just to walk around your house.  We’ve previously written about several other ways to build an exercise routine that is realistic and works for you.

Get Better Sleep

Getting better sleep is easier said than done, but it is important to your overall health. During your sleep cycle, your body heals your heart and blood vessels. Sleep also affects your emotional health and hunger levels. To get more sleep at night, stay off of phone and computer screens a half an hour before bed.

We know it can be hard to break the habit of scrolling before bed. A small step you can take to aid your sleep is to at least use the blue light filter on your phone or computer. As Harvard Health explains, blue light exposure from your screens, especially at night, can interfere with your sleep, and therefore your health.

Drink More Water

Staying hydrated helps your body regulate its temperature, keeps your organs working properly, and even helps prevent infections. Mayo Clinic has reported that men should drink 15.5 cups of fluids a day, and women should drink 11.5 cups. Build the habit of staying hydrated by keeping a bottle of water at your desk while you work.

LifeBrite is here to help you stay healthy and form healthy habits this month and beyond. Visit us online to schedule an appointment or call us at 229-723-4241 for assistance in kickstarting your new healthy habits.

Learn More About LifeBrite

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and LifeBrite Laboratories.

Tools to fight corona virus including rapid antigen test

Why COVID Testing is Important in Rural Areas

By Uncategorized

As of January 3rd, 2022, the United States beat its own COVID-19 record, reporting 1.03 million daily cases. After almost two years of the pandemic, Americans have quarantined, masked up, and been vaccinated to prevent contracting the virus, but COVID-19 and its variants are still heavily present. This is particularly true in rural areas, where individuals are dying of COVID at twice the rate of those in metropolitan areas. Beyond this staggering number of deaths, rural communities are also suffering in terms of mental health and the economy. But by participating in regular testing, residents can help their communities thrive once again.

Rural Communities Need Support

At the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 largely impacted metropolitan cities. But rural areas have seen a dramatic increase in cases during the winter of 2021-2022. Despite many people feeling COVID Fatigue, there are still ways for rural residents to support each other.

Encouraging vaccinations is one clear way to do so. Since COVID-19 vaccinations have been widely available, they have been shown to be extremely effective in slowing the virus’ spread and reducing the risk of hospitalization and death. But in a May 2021 study, only 39% of rural adults reported receiving the vaccine.

The higher number of rural COVID-19 cases raises the pressure on community hospitals and doctors. The ongoing stress of the pandemic has led more healthcare workers towards resignation. This means more hospitals are short-staffed, resulting in rapid burnout of employees and therefore fewer resources to help those in need of treatment.

Testing Saves Lives

The key component to preventing COVID cases is containing the virus. While COVID-19 often involves symptoms including shortness of breath, fever, and cough, many carriers may be asymptomatic and not even know they are sick. Over half of COVID-19 cases are spread due to these asymptomatic cases. But testing allows for early detection of the virus, no matter your symptoms.

Because of this, routine COVID testing is linked to a reduced number of COVID-19 infections. Early diagnosis also improves the chances of early treatment, decreasing the risk of hospitalization and death. Once a person is aware that they have COVID-19, they can isolate until they are no longer contagious, reducing the chance of spreading COVID to others.

Testing Improves Mental Health

A February 2021 study found that 40% of participants reported symptoms of depression and anxiety during the pandemic, including difficulty sleeping or eating, increased chronic conditions, and substance abuse. These mental health issues are often linked to the isolation of quarantining, job loss, and COVID Fatigue.

But if more people test, quarantine, and slow the spread of COVID-19, residents can experience fewer negative mental health symptoms because they can freely participate once again in a healthy and safe community.

Testing Improves the Economy

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States at one point reached an unemployment rate of 14.7%: the highest since the Great Depression. It has since dropped back down to 3.9%, but in general, this spate of unemployment has left rural communities particularly hard-hit. By diminishing the spread of COVID-19 with vaccinations and regular testing, more people can continue to re-enter the workforce, and improve the rural economy.

At LifeBrite Early, we know the heart and character of each town in our surrounding area, and we are dedicated to bringing our rural community back to normal. We know the struggles the pandemic has brought to all of you, and our team is doing everything possible to improve our patients’ quality of life. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.

cough syrup, thermometer, and tissues

Things You Didn’t Know About the Common Cold

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If you have contracted the common cold, you may be familiar with the lethargy that can leave you on the couch for days, with cough syrup and tissues as your best friend! There are millions of common cold cases in the United States every year, but there are still some not-so-commonly known facts about the illness.

Common Cold Basics

The common cold is a viral infection spread through the air by coughs, sneezes, and physical contact. There are more than 200 viruses that cause the common cold, all bringing similar symptoms:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Sore, scratchy throat
  • Congested sinuses
  • Runny and/or stuffy nose
  • Fever of up to 101.3 degrees
  • Fatigue

Each of these symptoms can leave you feeling unwell and lethargic for 7-10 days, but rest assured the common cold does not have long-term effects. Symptom management and self-care during your illness are what will help you recover most quickly.

Fast Fact: Sneezes Travel Fast

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many conversations about staying six feet away from others. That is because sneezes can travel 15 feet per second – about 10 miles an hour. Which means distance makes a difference! Whenever you feel a sneeze coming on, take a step back and keep away from others.

Sneezes also travel faster in cold air. When the humidity decreases, the droplets from sneezes stay in the air longer, making it easier for people to come in contact with them. Because drier air makes it easy for germs to spread, it may also be one reason why cold and flu season takes place in the dry, cold winter months.

Vitamin C Won’t Prevent It

Many people increase their orange juice intake, or pop vitamin C supplements, hoping to prevent a cold. Though vitamin C has many health benefits — including helping the body produce collagen for skin and bone health, and serving as an antioxidant — unfortunately it is seen as a placebo when it comes to reducing cold symptoms. A nice, cold glass of orange juice may soothe your sore throat, but research shows only 8% of adults experienced shortened cold symptoms with the help of the vitamin.

Reduce Stress and Alcohol Intake

Having too much stress in your day suppresses your immune system and hinders your ability to fight off infections — whether you have a cold or not. During cold and flu season, it’s even more important to take care of your mental health, practice stress relief exercises, and respect your mind and body’s limits.

When overstressed, you may turn to alcohol as a way to relax. But too much alcohol can actually weaken your immune system. Though a hot toddy with a shot of whiskey may feel like an old-timey comfort when you’re sick, it’s actually better to limit your alcohol intake and keep your immune system intact!

If you would like some tips on managing common cold symptoms, LifeBrite can help. We take care of our community like it is our own family – because it is! To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, visit us online or call 229-723-4241

Learn more about LifeBrite

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories.

Elderly man with his sons smiling

More than a Mustache: How to Talk to the Men in Your Life About Their Health

By Uncategorized

Talking about health issues with anyone can present uncomfortable challenges, but there may be specific areas of sensitivity when it comes to discussing health with men. At LifeBrite Early, we care about all our patients, regardless of their gender. But here are some specific tips for talking with the men in your life about their health. 

Recognize Resistance

A 2019 study by the Cleveland Clinic revealed that many men show resistance when it comes to discussing health with anyone. Of those surveyed in the study, 77% of married men said they would choose shopping with their partner over going to the doctor. And according to AARP’s Healthy Living report, 50% of Baby Boomer men feel their health issues aren’t anyone else’s business but their own. In the same study, nearly half of Millennials (and 56% of Gen Xers) indicated they have no one with whom they can comfortably discuss their health. 

So how is a concerned loved one or friend to help? 

Identify Screening Guidelines

The air of uncertainty around screening guidelines may make it harder to know when to request a test or consultation. Here are some basics that can equip you: 

  • Lipid panel testing to monitor cholesterol levels should begin for adults as young as 20, continuing every four to six years. 
  • Blood pressure monitoring is recommended every two years for men ages 18 to 39, switching to yearly if numbers reach a dangerous threshold.
  • Adults between the ages of 40 and 70 years old are advised to undergo diabetes screenings at a minimum of every three years. 
  • Men between the ages of 50 and 75 (without a family history of colon cancer or polyps) are advised to receive colorectal cancer screenings every five to ten years. Those with family history should consult with their doctors about a more frequent screening cadence. 
  • Regular prostate cancer screening is one of the best methods for early diagnosis and treatment, and is recommended for men ages 40 to 54.
  • Testicular cancer is significantly curable with early detection and proper treatment. Regular self-exams are how most cases are detected early.  

In short, early screening matters. According to the Journal of Health Economics, it’s more cost-effective to prevent a disease than to treat it, and may be more life-saving, as well. 

Talk it Through

“A truly strong, healthy person embraces routine health care, health consultation and daily healthy habits to truly protect his body,” University of Florida expert on masculinity Glenn Good told Huffpost in 2016. Uncomfortable as men may be when it comes to discussing the matter, you can help ease the conversation by:

Overall, keeping your conversations positive, caring, and judgment-free will help — no matter why the man in your life may resist seeing the doctor.

Whatever check-ups, tests, or answers to questions are needed, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early provides high-quality care and a wide range of services for both men and women. Reach out to us for consultation at 229-723-4241 or explore our website.

Learn more about LifeBrite 

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. To learn more about our services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.

stethoscope-on-table

Welcome to Dr. Barker!

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Dr. Vincent Barker M.D. is a physician at LifeBrite Hospital of Early in Blakely, Georgia. A graduate of the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, he is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and holds a medical license in several states– Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi.

He was assistant chief resident at the Reading Hospital in Reading, Pennsylvania in 2004, followed by his role as chief resident the following year. Interested in sports medicine, he worked with local high schools and worked at the Pioneer Family Practice clinic. In 2011, he was the assistant ER director at Pioneer Hospital.

Dr. Barker was an avid sports player in high school. When he had knee surgery during his senior year, an interest in the medical field and sports rehab was born.

He graduated with honors from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing & Management and a minor in biology.

Dr. Barker then went on to pursue medical school at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Sint Maarten for his doctorate in medicine. 

He chose family medicine because physicians are trained to diagnose a broad spectrum of health conditions across all ages, focusing on the health and well-being of the patient.

“I enjoy taking care of families in small, rural communities,” Dr. Barker said. “I enjoy taking care of them in the ER Hospital and Clinic. It’s rewarding to watch a family grow in a community.”

Outside of work, Dr. Barker enjoys traveling, sports, reading, and going down south to spend time in Destin, Florida. He lives with his wife, Colette, who he’s been married to for 21 years. They met in Waterford, Ireland, where she’s from, during his clinicals. They have two daughters, Sorcha and Keela.

Silhouette of a father in son walking together in front of a beautiful sunset

Blood Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment

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According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, every three minutes an American learns that they have blood cancer — the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

But the earlier you are diagnosed, the more treatable blood cancer can be. At LifeBrite Early, we take cancer awareness seriously, which is why we are dedicated to sharing compassionate, quality information during National Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September.

What is Blood Cancer?

A Yale fact sheet reveals how blood cancers originate — usually as an abnormal reproduction in white blood cells. Blood cancer is more common in men than women, though a full picture of causes beyond a few possible genetic or environmental factors has not been fully developed.

Because the causes of blood cancers are not fully understood, defining effective prevention is also challenging. In general, avoiding tobacco and exposure to radiation or toxic industrial chemicals are advised. Following general guidelines for cancer prevention (including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and ample sleep) may also reduce your risk.

There are three main types of blood cancer, each with complex subtypes. As a result, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis from a skilled laboratory, in order to quickly and effectively determine the best method of treatment.

Leukemia (cancer of white blood cells)

Leukemia tends to be more commonly seen in children than adults, and usually presents itself with such symptoms as:

  • Fever
  • Unexplained or sudden weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Frequent infections
  • Easy bleeding and bruising

Lymphoma (cancer that affects the lymph system)

Lymphoma symptoms are similar to leukemia, but more specific symptoms may include:

  • Unexplained itch
  • Trouble breathing
  • Tiredness
  • Night sweats

Myeloma (cancer of plasma cells)

The symptoms of myeloma may be very subtle or difficult to detect. When signs do begin to emerge, they may include:

  • Bone pain
  • Nausea
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Excessive thirst

As with many illnesses, having a symptom does not necessarily mean you have the disease itself. That is why it is so important to consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms that are unusual for you.

How is Blood Cancer Detected?

If you do express symptoms of blood cancer, accurate testing will be of utmost importance. Two common methods for detection include:

  • Total Protein Test: This test gives your doctor a snapshot of the proteins that work hard to keep your immune system healthy while transporting important vitamins, enzymes, and hormones. If anything is amiss in your blood, certain protein levels may climb.
  • Complete Blood Count: Your blood cells can tell your doctor a great deal about your overall health. A Complete Blood Count (or CBC) test can determine how many blood cells are present in a sample of your blood. Depending on the cancer for which you’re being tested, either an overabundance or deficiency of cells may be an indicator.

What to do After Diagnosis?

Being diagnosed with cancer of any kind is an emotionally and physically trying experience for anyone. Even imagining you could have cancer might be paralyzing. Here at LifeBrite Early, we understand those fears, but remind you that early detection can lead to early and effective treatment.

Depending on your blood cancer diagnosis, age, overall health, family history, and other potential factors, your treatment team may recommend different methods of treatment, including:

  • Watch and wait
  • Chemotherapy or other drug therapies
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Blood transfusion
  • Palliative care
  • Clinical trials
  • A combination of any of the above

Communicating closely with your doctor and medical team is important through each stage. If you are concerned you may show symptoms of blood cancer and have questions around diagnostic testing, reach out to us online or call us at 229-723-4241.

Learn More About LifeBrite

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website.

Silhouette of a man sitting on the grass during a sunset.

How Grief Affects Your Body

By Uncategorized

The emotional toll grief takes is obvious. Often after losing someone close to us or facing another heartbreaking trial, we experience a multitude of emotions that can range from deep sadness to anger and resentment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Grief can also have physical effects—so much so that it can even cause a form of heart disease bearing the same symptoms as a heart attack.

While it’s normal to feel like you have little control over how the effects of grief manifest mentally and physically, knowing what to watch for is the first step of caring for yourself during this difficult time.  

How Grief Affects You Physically

One of grief’s most notorious effects is its ability to suppress the immune system. One study found that people who had recently experienced loss had reduced function of their neutrophils — white blood cells known for fighting off infections. 

Researchers suspect this is because the stress hormone cortisol is amplified during times of grief, weakening the immune system. Typically, a hormone called DHEA helps to offset this effect by bolstering neutrophils for those under 30. After that age, however, DHEA levels can drop, meaning mature adults are more susceptible to illness caused by grief.

Aside from immune system issues, grief has been found to affect nearly every system in the body, including the nervous, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. As these systems all work together, they’re also all vulnerable to the damage stress can cause. For instance, grieving individuals are often in poorer overall health, have aggravated physical pain, and experience higher blood pressure. 

The heart is among the organs most heavily affected: the risk of heart attack is 21 times higher immediately after the death of a loved one, and six times higher in the week afterwards. 

Staying Healthy While Grieving

Taking care of yourself may be the last thing on your mind during the early stages of grief. It’s common to feel as if you’re simply in survival mode. If you’re experiencing immense or prolonged grief, however, therapy or support groups may help you work through the emotions you’re experiencing. 

If you’re able to, reclaiming your health could help you feel better both physically and emotionally. According to Harvard Medical School, a multi-faceted program that encompasses the following practices may be most effective:

  •       A diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and lean protein, and limited in heavily processed foods
  •       Routine bedtimes and avoidance of caffeine in the afternoon and evening
  •       Physical movement, such as a simple walk
  •       Mind-body activities such as yoga or tai chi, which can help reduce inflammation and ease the effects of stress at a molecular level
  •       Socialization, including gatherings with family and friends

For persistent grief, which lasts longer than 12 months after losing a loved one, a therapist or counselor can recommend coping strategies beyond these for you.

At LifeBrite Early, our caring team of practitioners is here to help you through the physical changes that come with the ups and downs of life. To schedule an appointment with our family medical practice, call (229) 723-4313. 

Learn More About LifeBrite

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website.