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May 26, 2020

Menopause is a normal change in a woman’s life when her period stops. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row. During menopause a woman’s body slowly makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This often happens between the ages of 45 and 55 years old. Some women may experience menopause at younger ages because of medical treatments such as surgery to remove the ovaries (sometimes done at the same time as a hysterectomy), family history (genes), or cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvic area.

As women near menopause, they may have symptoms from the changes their body is making. Some women may not have any other symptoms at all. Symptoms that some women experience near menopause include hot flashes (getting warm in the face, neck, or chest), night sweats or sleeping problems that lead to feeling tired, stressed or tense, vaginal changes (the vagina may become dry and thin and sex may be painful) and thinning of bones, which may lead to loss of height and bone breaks. If a woman would like to treat her symptoms, she should talk to her health care provider at Belize Medical Associates to discuss treatment options.

May 26, 2020

Lung cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the lung.

The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped breathing organs inside the chest. The lungs bring oxygen into the body when breathing in and send carbon dioxide out of the body when breathing out. Each lung has sections called lobes. The left lung has two lobes. The right lung, which is slightly larger, has three. A thin membrane called the pleura surrounds the lungs. Two tubes called bronchi lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the right and left lungs. The bronchi are sometimes involved in lung cancer. Small tubes called bronchioles and tiny air sacs called alveoli make up the inside of the lungs.

There are two types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

Risk factors for lung cancer include the following:
* Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes now or in the past.
* Being exposed to second-hand smoke.
* Being exposed to asbestos or radon.

One test that is commonly used to screen for lung cancer is:

Chest x-ray

A chest x-ray is an x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.

Other tests are being studied in clinical trials such as the:

Sputum cytology

Sputum cytology is a procedure in which a sample of sputum (mucus that is brought up from the lungs by coughing) is viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

Spiral CT scan

Spiral CT scan is a procedure that makes a series of very detailed pictures of areas inside the body using an x-ray machine that scans the body in a spiral path. The pictures are made by a computer linked to the x-ray machine. This procedure is also called a helical CT scan.

These tests can all be done at Belize Medical Associates, 5791 St. Thomas Street, Belize City, Belize C.A. Tel#: 223-0302/03/04


May 26, 2020

Types of Knee Injuries

Sprains and Strains
If you’ve sprained your knee, then you’ve stretched or torn one of its ligaments. The most serious sprains involve complete tears of one or more of the knee ligaments.
Strains, on the other hand, occur when you’ve partially or completely torn a muscle or tendon. With knee strains, you may feel symptoms similar to a sprain and may see bruises around the injured area.
With tendinitis, or inflammation (irritation) of the tendon, a teen may have pain or tenderness when walking, trying to lift a leg, or when bending or extending a leg. That’s because the tendon (especially the tendon that connects the kneecap to the thighbone) has stretched or become inflamed from overuse during sports.
Meniscal Tears
Meniscal injuries are fairly common, especially in sports such as football and basketball where sudden changes in speed or side-to-side movements can cause the meniscus to tear. If you have a meniscal injury, you might have felt your knee pop when you injured it and you may now feel quite a bit of pain.
Fractures and Dislocations
A fracture is a cracked, broken, or shattered bone. If you broke your tibia, femur, or patella, you might have heard or felt a bone snap. You may have trouble moving that bone and it’s likely there’s a lot of pain.
Patellar dislocation
Patellar dislocation is when the patella – the kneecap – is knocked off to the side of the knee joint. Sometimes it will go back to its normal position by itself, but usually it will need to be put back into place by a doctor. If your kneecap has been dislocated, you will probably have swelling and feel a lot of pain at the front of your knee.
Cartilage Injuries
Osteochondritis dessicans (OCD) occurs when a small piece of bone or cartilage softens or breaks off from the end of a bone, causing long-term knee pain. Symptoms of OCD include pain, swelling, an inability to extend the leg, and stiffness, catching, or popping sensations with knee movement.
If you’re a runner or cyclist, you may be at risk for chondromalacia. This condition occurs when the articular cartilage in the knee joint softens because of injury, muscle weakness, or overuse, and the patella and the thighbone may rub together. This causes pain and aching, especially when a person walks up stairs or hills. Treatment may involve surgery.
Degenerative Osteoarthritis
Degenerative Osteoarthritis (DOA) of the knee.  This is a degenerative condition of the knee joint that requires special treatment.  When not treated the patient experiences chronic pain to the knee.  Occasionally, knee replacement surgery has to be indicated.

If you suffer from any of these types of knee injuries, then come to Belize Medical Associates and see an orthopedic surgeon, a doctor who is specially trained in the care of bone and joint diseases. Orthopedists take care of many kinds of knee injuries, especially those involving sports and different types of accidents.

May 26, 2020

What is Jaundice?
Jaundice is not a disease but rather a sign that can occur in many different diseases. Jaundice is the yellowish staining of the skin and sclerae (the whites of the eyes) that is caused by high levels in blood of the chemical bilirubin. The color of the skin and sclerae vary depending on the level of bilirubin. When the bilirubin level is mildly elevated, they are yellowish. When the bilirubin level is high, they tend to be brown.

What causes Jaundice?
Bilirubin comes from red blood cells. When red blood cells get old, they are destroyed. Hemoglobin, the iron-containing chemical in red blood cells that carries oxygen, is released from the destroyed red blood cells after the iron it contains is removed. The chemical that remains in the blood after the iron is removed becomes bilirubin.

What is Neonatal Jaundice (jaundice in newborn infants)?
Neonatal jaundice is jaundice that begins within the first few days after birth. (Jaundice that is present at the time of birth suggests a more serious cause of the jaundice.) In fact, bilirubin levels in the blood become elevated in almost all infants during the first few days following birth, and jaundice occurs in more than half. For all but a few infants, the elevation and jaundice represents a normal physiological phenomenon and does not cause problems.

May 26, 2020

Nearly 40% of deaths in America can be attributed to smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet, or alcohol misuse-behaviors practiced by many people every day for much of their lives. Adopting healthy behaviors such as eating nutritious foods, being physically active, and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or control the devastating effects of many of the nation’s leading causes of death regardless of one’s age.

Regular physical activity greatly reduces a person’s risk from dying of heart disease, and decreases the risk for colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Physical activity also helps to control weight; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; helps to relieve the pain of arthritis; reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression; and can decrease the need for hospitalizations, physician visits, and medications.

Finally, physical activity does not need to be strenuous to be beneficial; people of all ages benefit from moderate physical activity. However, people tend to be less active as they age. By age 75, about one in three men and one in two women do not engage in any physical activity.1 Organizations and agencies who are looking for assistance in planning strategies to help older adults increase their physical activity can use The National Blueprint: Increasing Physical Activity

Among Adults Age 50 and Older
Good nutrition, including a diet that is low in saturated fats and contains five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day (see the 5 A Day for Better Health Program), is vital in maintaining good health. Improving the diet of older adults could extend the productive life span of Americans and reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Less than one-third of adults 65 years and older meet the 5-a-day recommendation.
Tobacco Use
Tobacco Use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that cigarette smoking is responsible for one of every five deaths in the United States, or more than 440,000 deaths each year. Tobacco use increases the risk for diseases of the heart and cancer. Smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages, regardless of whether they have a smoking-related disease.
Chronic Diseases
Chronic Diseases are generally not prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear. To a large degree, the major chronic disease killers – heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes – are an extension of what people do, or not do, as they go about their daily lives. Eighty-eight percent of those over 65 years of age have at least one chronic health condition.
Health damaging behaviors
Health damaging behaviors – particularly tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor eating habits – are major contributors to the nation’s leading chronic diseases. Clearly, promoting healthy behavior choices, through education and through community policies and practices, is essential to reducing the burden of chronic diseases.
Arthritis and related conditions are the leading cause of disability in the United States affecting nearly 43 million Americans. Although cost-effective interventions are available to reduce the burden of arthritis, they are currently underused. Regular, moderate exercise offers a whole host of benefits to people with arthritis by reducing joint pain and stiffness, building strong muscle around the joints, and increasing flexibility and endurance.
Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular Health is a growing concern for all Americans. Heart disease is the nation’s leading cause of death. Three health-related behaviors – tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition – contribute markedly to heart disease. Modifying these behaviors is critical for both preventing and controlling heart disease. Modest changes in one or more of these risk factors among the population could have a profound public health impact.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States. Cancer is largely controllable through prevention, early detection, and treatment. Reducing the nation’s cancer burden requires reducing the prevalence of the behavioral and environmental factors that increase cancer risk. It also requires ensuring that cancer screening services and high-quality treatment are available and accessible, particularly to medically underserved populations.
Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, accounting for 10% of all cancer deaths. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. Lack of physical activity, low fruit and vegetable intake, a low-fiber diet, obesity, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use may contribute to the risk for colorectal cancer.

Three screening tools flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) are widely accepted and used to detect colorectal cancer in its earliest stages, when treatment is most effective. In 1999, 66% of Americans aged 50 years or older reported not having had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy within the last five years, and 79% reported not having had a fecal occult blood test within the last year.

Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer is best detected in its earliest, most treatable stage by mammography. Seventy-six percent of all diagnosed cases of breast cancer (are among women aged 50 years or older.
Diabetes is a serious, costly, and increasingly common chronic disease. Early detection, improved delivery of care, and better self-management are the key strategies for preventing much of the burden of diabetes. Seven million persons aged 65 years or older (20.1% of all people in this age group) have diabetes.
Epilepsy and seizures affect about 2.3 million Americans, and result in an estimated $12.5 billion in medical costs and lost or reduced earnings and production annually. People of all ages are affected, but particularly the very young and the elderly. About 10% of Americans will experience a seizure, and about 3% will have or will have had a diagnosis of epilepsy by age 80.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions among Americans in all age groups. Obesity among adults has doubled since 1980. People who are obese or overweight are at increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis-related disabilities, and some cancers.

Oral health is an important and often overlooked component of an older adult’s general health and well-being. Oral health problems can cause pain and suffering as well as difficulty in speaking, chewing, swallowing, and maintaining a nutritious diet. During the past 50 years, the oral health and use of dental services among older adults have improved. Although this trend is expected to continue, additional improvement will depend on access to appropriate dental care.

Infectious Diseases

West Nile virus is a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. It was first detected on the east coast of the United States in 1999. Since then the virus has rapidly spread westward and West Nile virus has been detected in nearly every state in the country. The main route of human infection with West Nile virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito. The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms from West Nile virus infection and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites. You can Fight the Bite! by 1) applying insect repellent containing DEET (Look for: N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide); 2) when possible, wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors to reduce the amount of bare skin exposed to mosquitoes and; 3) reduce the amount of time you are outdoors during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. There are other things you can do to reduce your risk of exposure to West Nile virus in your home and community. Visit the CDC Fight the Bite! Website for more information.

Although infectious diseases are no longer the most common causes of death, pneumonia and influenza remain among the top ten causes of death for older adults. In 2000, pneumonia and influenza were responsible for 3.3% or 58,557 deaths among people 65 years of age and older.6 Influenza vaccination can reduce both direct health-care costs (physician visits and antibiotic use) as well as indirect costs from work absenteeism associated with influenza illness. Among person aged 65 years and older, influenza vaccination levels have increased from 33% in 1989 to 66% in 1999, surpassing the Healthy People 2000 goal of 60%.

Pneumonia is one of the most serious infections in older adults, especially among women and the oldest old. In a study of nursing home acquired pneumonia patients, pneumonia resulted in death among 40% of individuals who required hospitalization.

In the United States, one of every three persons aged 65 years and older falls each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injuries, hospital admissions for trauma, and deaths due to injury. In 1999, about 10,097 seniors died of fall-related injuries.9 Fractures are the most serious health consequence of falls. Approximately 250,000 hip fractures, the most serious fracture, occur each year among people over age 65. Many of these falls and resulting injuries can be prevented. Strategies to prevent falls among older adults include exercises to improve strength, balance, and flexibility; reviews of medications that may affect balance; and home modifications that reduce fall hazards such as installing grab bars, improving lighting, and removing items that may cause tripping.

While rates of motor vehicle related death and nonfatal motor vehicle related injuries among older adults vary by state, there are some consistencies. In most states, the fatality rates for men are twice those for women. In all states, motor vehicle-related fatalities are higher among adults 75 years and older, as compared with adults between 65 and 74 years of age. Among older adult drivers, the number of motor vehicle-related fatalities increased 30% and the number of nonfatal injuries increased 21% between 1990 and 1997. However, the number of fatalities and nonfatal injuries among older adult pedestrians declined during these same years (23% and 24%, respectively).

Risk factors for suicide among the elderly differ from those among the young. Older persons have a higher prevalence of depression, a greater use of highly lethal methods and greater social isolation. From 1980?1998, the largest relative increases in suicide rates occurred among those 80?84 years of age. The rate of suicide is higher for elderly white men than for any other age group, including adolescents.6

People aged 65 and older are twice as likely to die in a home fire as the population at large. The National Fire Protection Association, with assistance from CDC, has developed a fire and fall injury prevention program directed at older adults called Remembering When.

May 26, 2020
What is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Any sexually active person can be infected with gonorrhea.
How do people get Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea to be transmitted or acquired. Gonorrhea can also be spread from mother to baby during delivery.


People who have had gonorrhea and received treatment may get infected again if they have sexual contact with a person infected with gonorrhea.


Although many men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all, some men have some signs or symptoms that appear two to five days after infection. Symptoms and signs include a burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. Sometimes men with gonorrhea get painful or swollen testicles.


In women, the symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild, but most women who are infected have no symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they can be so non-specific as to be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. The initial symptoms and signs in women include a painful or burning sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, regardless of the presence or severity of symptoms.


Several laboratory tests are available to diagnose gonorrhea. A doctor or nurse can obtain a sample for testing from the parts of the body likely to be infected and send the sample to a laboratory for analysis. A quick laboratory test for gonorrhea that can be done right at Belize Medical Associates Laboratory is a Gram stain. A Gram stain of a sample from a urethra or a cervix allows the technician to see the gonorrhea bacterium under a microscope. This test works better for men than for women.

How is Gonorrhea cured?

Several antibiotics can successfully cure gonorrhea in adolescents and adults.  Persons with gonorrhea should be tested for other STDs.


It is important to take all of the medication prescribed to cure gonorrhea. People who have had gonorrhea and have been treated can get the disease again if they have sexual contact with persons infected with gonorrhea. If a person’s symptoms continue even after receiving treatment, he or she should return to a doctor to be re-evaluated.

How do people avoid getting Gonorrhea?

The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual intercourse, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.


Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea.

May 26, 2020
  • Wash hands thoroughly – before preparing food, after going to the toilet or after handling pets.
  • Keep your kitchen clean – wash worktops and utensils between handling food that is to be cooked and food that is not.
  • Keep pets away from food – and dishes and worktops.
  • Cook food well – follow instructions on the pack. If you reheat make sure it is piping hot.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold – don’t just leave them standing around.
  • Check best-before dates – use food within the recommended period.
  • Do not eat food containing uncooked eggs – keep eggs in the fridge.
  • Keep the coldest part of your fridge at 0-5°C – get a fridge thermometer.
  • Prepare and store raw and cooked food separately – keep raw meat and fish at the bottom of your fridge.
  • Take chilled and frozen food home quickly – then put it in your fridge or freezer at once.
May 26, 2020

What is it?

Folic acid is a B vitamin. It is used in our bodies to make new cells. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before she is pregnant, it can help prevent major birth defects of her baby’s brain and spine. These birth defects are called neural tube defects or NTDs. Women need to take folic acid every day starting before they are pregnant to help prevent NTDs.

How much is enough? Look for 100%

One easy way a woman can be sure she is getting enough folic acid is to take a vitamin that has folic acid in it every day. Folic acid pills and most multivitamins sold have 100% of the daily value (DV) of folic acid; check the label to be sure. Another way to get enough is to eat a serving of breakfast cereal every day that has been enriched with 100% of the daily value of folic acid. Not every cereal has this amount. Check the label on the side of the box, and look for one that has “100%” next to folic acid.

When to start?

Today!  Every day!

These birth defects happen in the first few weeks, often before a woman finds out that she is pregnant. All women should practice this habit of taking folic acid daily even when they are not planning to get pregnant. For folic acid to help, it needs to be taken every day starting before a woman becomes pregnant.

May 26, 2020

Tips for Preventing the Flu

  1. The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. You can get your flu vaccine today at Belize Medical Associates Pharmacy providing you have a prescription from your doctor or have your doctor contact Belize Medical Associates Pharmacy
  2. Practice Good Health Habits such as:
  • Avoid close contact.
    Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
    If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose.
    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Clean your hands.
    Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
    Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
May 26, 2020

Safety Tips in the event of an Emergency

Emergencies happen when we least expect them, and they require fast thinking and action. But different emergencies call for different approaches. Here are some things to know so you’ll be prepared.

  • Keep a first-aid kit in the house and know how to use it.
  • Make sure there’s a list of emergency numbers near each telephone in the house. Have numbers for the police department, the fire department, and Belize Medical Associates handy. If you have a cell phone, it’s a good idea to program important numbers into your phone.
  • Keep on hand numbers for adults you should call. If you’re babysitting, make sure you have the number and location where the child’s parents will be and, if possible, a cell phone or pager number. If it’s a true emergency – a child you’re caring for has stopped breathing, for example – always call 911 first and then call the parent.
  • If you’re looking after someone with a health condition, know when the person needs to take any medications – particularly medicines for breathing or heart problems.
  • Make sure your family or the family you’re caring for has a fire escape plan and that children know what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Take a first-aid class to learn CPR so you’ll be prepared to help someone in an emergency.