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Category: Other Medical Articles

May 26, 2020
Drug - Help/Advice for Parents

It’s a fact of life that many young people experiment – with clothes, music, relationships and drugs. There are many different reasons why, e.g. becoming part of a new group, unhappiness, natural curiosity etc. Many parents are worried about the possibility of their children experimenting with drugs.

We can’t stop young people from experimenting. What we can do is try to make sure that they are aware of all the facts and risks so they can make up their own mind.

Responsibilities of Parents

We encourage parents to discuss drugs and their effects with their children. It’s important that parents realize they have a responsibility to educate their children about drugs.

Think about your own behaviour, your attitudes, views and beliefs about drugs. It may be useful to reflect on where these come from and how they may impact on the approach you take towards drugs and drug use.

Advice to Parents
  • Be prepared to talk to your children, not at them. More important, be prepared to listen.
  • Ask questions. Don’t make assumptions about your child’s behaviour.
  • Make sure you know the facts and the law relating to drugs.
  • Know where your child is, and with whom.
  • Make sure your child can get home safely at night.
  • Lead by example. Be aware of the fact that children learn from those around them.
  • Remember that even if your child experiments with drugs, it does not follow that they will become dependent on drugs in adulthood.
Other Help and Advice

If you’re worried about your child and drugs, you shouldn’t feel that it’s something you have to deal with alone.  Your family doctor at Belize Medical Associates is a very good source of advice and information on what services are available locally. Remember the doctor won’t think it’s strange or that you’re overreacting if you ask for help or advice.

Remember too that Belize Medical Associates also does drug testing for cocaine and marijuana.



May 26, 2020

Individual Factors for Perpetrating Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

Recent research reviews of male perpetrators link several risk factors to IPV:

  • Young age
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low income
  • Low academic achievement
  • Involvement in aggressive or delinquent behavior as a youth
  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use
  • Witnessing or experiencing violence as a child
  • Lack of social networks and social isolation
  • Unemployment

Relationship Factors for Perpetrating IPV

Recent research reviews link several relational risk factors to IPV perpetration:

  • Marital conflict
  • Marital instability
  • Male dominance in the family
  • Poor family functioning
  • Emotional dependence and insecurity
  • Belief in strict gender roles
  • Desire for power and control in relationships
  • Exhibiting anger and hostility toward a partner

Community Factors for Perpetrating IPV:

Recent research reviews link several community risk factors to perpetrating IPV:

  • Poverty
  • Low social capital
  • Factors associated with poverty such as overcrowding, hopelessness, stress, frustration
  • Weak sanctions against domestic violence

Health Issues

More than 1 million women seek medical assistance for injuries caused by battering each year. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1991)

Only 8% of women discussed being abused with their physicians, while another 38% discussed the incidents with someone other than their physician, leaving more than 50% of the women who have been physically abused discussing it with no one. (“The Health of American Women” conducted by the Commonwealth Fund Fieldwork: February – March, 1993)

Abused women are more likely to seek help from their physicians than from lawyers or police officers. (Mehta and Dandrea, 1988)

Battering is the major cause of injury to women, resulting in more injuries to women than auto accidents, muggings and rapes combined. (“Violence Among Intimates, An Epidemiological Review,” E.Stark and A.Flitcraft, Handbook of Family Violence, Ed. V.D. Van Hasselt,, 1988)

Children in violent homes

79% of violent children have witnessed violence between their parents. (Family Prevention Fund, 1991 “The Invisible Victim: Children of the War At Home.” Source quoted as Lewis, et al. 1983)

Violent juvenile delinquents are four times more likely than are nonviolent juveniles to come from homes in which their fathers beat their mothers. (Miller, J. (1989). “Violence By and Against America’s Children.” Bureau of Juvenile Justice Digest. XVII (12), p.6.)

May 26, 2020

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration is a condition that occurs when a person loses more fluids (such as urine or sweat) than he or she takes in. Dehydration isn’t as serious a problem for teens as it can be for babies or young children, but if you ignore your thirst, dehydration can slow you down.

How Do People Get Dehydrated?

One common cause of dehydration in teens is gastrointestinal illness. When you’re flattened by a stomach bug, you may lose fluid through vomiting and diarrhea. You can also become dehydrated from lots of physical activity if you don’t replace fluid as you go, although it’s rare to reach a level of even moderate dehydration during sports or other normal outdoor activity.

How do People avoid dehydration?

The easiest way to avoid dehydration is to drink lots of fluids, especially on hot, dry, windy days. This might mean as many as 6 to 8 cups (1.4 to 1.9 liters) a day for some people, depending on factors like how much water they’re getting from foods and other liquids and how much they’re sweating from physical exertion. Remember that drinking water adds no calories to your diet and can be great for your health.

When to See a Doctor for Dehydration

Dehydration can usually be treated by drinking fluids. But if you faint or you feel faint every time you stand up (even after a couple of hours) or if you have very little urine output, you should tell an adult and visit your doctor at Belize Medical Associates. The doctor will probably just have you drink more fluids, but if you’re more dehydrated than you realized, you may need to receive fluids through an IV to speed up the rehydration process. An IV is an intravenous tube that goes directly into a vein.

Occasionally, dehydration might be a sign of something more serious, such as diabetes, so your doctor may run tests to rule out any other potential problems.

In general, dehydration is preventable. So just keep guzzling that H2O for healthy hydration.

May 26, 2020

What is cholesterol? 

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance. It is an essential part of every cell in our bodies and is also important for making a number of hormones. Some cholesterol comes from the diet, but the majority is made in the liver and is carried in the blood by two proteins – low-density lipoprotein(LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Raised levels of LDL-cholesterol is considered to be undesirable because high levels are associated with a greater risk of heart disease. HDL-cholesterol is desirable as it helps to remove the build up of fatty substances in the arteries and so it appears to have a protective effect.

Your blood cholesterol level is not so much influenced by the amount of cholesterol in your diet, rather by the amount and type of fat in your diet. Fats and oils in our food are made up of smaller units called fatty acids. These can be either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. It is important to realize that all fats and oils found in food contain a mixture of these three different types. Replacing saturated with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet can lower LDL blood cholesterol (the undesirable type).

Sources of saturates include:

  • Fats and oils e.g. butter, hard margarine, some blended cooking oil
  • Some meat and its products e.g. pies, sausages. Lard and suet
  • Full cream milk and full fat dairy products
  • Coconut and palm oil and baked goods made with them
  • Monounsaturates are found in virtually all fats and oils, but olives, olive oil and rapeseed oil are the richest sources

Good sources of polyunsaturates are:

  • Oil-rich fish e.g. herring, mackerel, pilchards, sardines
  • Pure vegetable oils e.g. sunflower, soya
  • Nuts and seeds

Remember, Belize Medical Associates does do cholesterol testing, so come on over.

May 26, 2020
  1. Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the cervix.

The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). The cervix leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).

Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time. Before cancer appears in the cervix, the cells of the cervix go through changes known as dysplasia, in which cells that are not normal begin to appear in the cervical tissue. Later, cancer cells start to grow and spread more deeply into the cervix and to surrounding areas.


  1. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major risk factor for development of cervical cancer.

Infection of the cervix with human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common cause of cervical cancer. Not all women with HPV infection, however, will develop cervical cancer. Women who do not regularly have a Pap smear to detect HPV or abnormal cells in the cervix are at increased risk of cervical cancer.

Other possible risk factors include the following:

  • Giving birth to many children.
  • Having many sexual partners.
  • Having first sexual intercourse at a young age.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Weakened immune system.


  1. There are usually no noticeable signs of early cervical cancer but it can be detected early with yearly check-ups at Belize Medical Associates.

Early cervical cancer may not cause noticeable signs or symptoms. Women should have yearly check-ups, including a Pap smear to check for abnormal cells in the cervix. The prognosis (chance of recovery) is better when the cancer is found early.

These and other symptoms may be caused by cervical cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Unusual vaginal discharge.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.


  1. The following procedures may be used to detect (find) and diagnose cervical cancer:
  • Pap smear: A procedure to collect cells from the surface of the cervix and vagina. A piece of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from the cervix and vagina. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal. This procedure is also called a Pap test.
  • Colposcopy: A procedure to look inside the vagina and cervix for abnormal areas. A colposcope is a microscope used to visualize the cervix. Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.


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

Belize Medical Associates’ Cancer Awareness Month June Special!!

1.    What is cancer screening?

Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. The chance of achieving a cure is greater when treatment is instituted. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread.

Scientists are trying to better understand which people are more likely to get certain types of cancer. They also study the things we do and the things around us to see if they cause cancer. This information helps doctors recommend who should be screened for cancer, which screening tests should be used, and how often the tests should be done.

It is important to remember that your doctor does not necessarily think you have cancer if he or she suggests a screening test. Screening tests are given when you have no cancer symptoms.
If a screening test result is abnormal, you may need to have more tests done to find out if you have cancer. These are called diagnostic tests.

2.    Tests are used to screen for different types of cancer.

Some screening tests are used because they have been shown to be helpful both in finding cancers early and decreasing the chance of dying from these cancers. Other tests are used because they have been shown to find cancer in some people; however, it has not been proven in clinical trials that use of these tests will decrease the risk of dying from cancer.

Scientists study screening tests to find those with the fewest risks and most benefits. Cancer screening trials also are meant to show whether early detection (finding cancer before it causes symptoms) decreases a person’s chance of dying from the disease. For some types of cancer, finding and treating the disease at an early stage may result in a better chance of recovery.

Cancer Screening tests are available at Belize Medical Associates, 5791 St. Thomas Street, Belize City, Belize C.A. Tel#: 223-0302/03/04.

May 26, 2020
  1. Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.

The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can produce milk. The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts.

Each breast also has blood vessels and lymph vessels. The lymph vessels carry an almost colorless fluid called lymph. Lymph vessels lead to organs called lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body. They filter substances in lymph and help fight infection and disease. Clusters of lymph nodes are found near the breast in the axilla (under the arm), above the collarbone, and in the chest.

The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular carcinoma and is more often found in both breasts than are other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon type of breast cancer in which the breast is warm, red, and swollen.


  1. Age and health history can affect the risk of developing breast cancer.

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for breast cancer include the following:

  • Older age.
  • Menstruating at an early age.
  • Older age at first birth or never having given birth.
  • A personal history of breast cancer.
  • A mother or sister with breast cancer.
  • Treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest.
  • Breast tissue that is dense on a mammogram.
  • Hormone use (such as estrogen and progesterone).
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Obesity.


  1. Breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene mutations (changes).

The genes in cells carry the hereditary information that is received from a person’s parents. Hereditary breast cancer makes up approximately 5% to 10% of all breast cancer. Some altered genes related to breast cancer are more common in certain ethnic groups.

Women who have an altered gene related to breast cancer and who have had breast cancer in one breast have an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast. These women also have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, and may have an increased risk of developing other cancers. Men who have an altered gene related to breast cancer also have an increased risk of developing this disease.

Tests have been developed that can detect altered genes. These genetic tests are sometimes done for members of families with a high risk of cancer.


  1. Tests that examine the breasts are also used to detect (find) and diagnose breast cancer.


  • A Mammography, which is an X-ray of the breast, is the best way to detect   breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage – an average of 1-3 years before a woman can feel the lump. Mammography also locates cancers too small to be felt during a clinical breast examination.Note: A negative mammogram does not mean that cancer is not present.
  • A Biopsy, which is the removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue. When only a sample of tissue is removed, the procedure is called an incisional biopsy. When an entire lump or suspicious area is removed, the procedure is called an excisional biopsy. When a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle, the procedure is called a needle biopsy, core biopsy, or fine-needle aspiration.


Your doctor at Belize Medical Associates should be seen if changes in the breast are noticed.


May 26, 2020
Asthma Facts
  • Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways.
  • Asthma is not contagious.
  • Asthma can be controlled with proper management. Symptoms can be reduced from severe to moderate, and from moderate to mild.
  • Identifying and avoiding triggers, such as cockroaches, house dust, furry animals, and smoke can help control asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks.
  • Some asthma medications are taken to relieve symptoms when they occur (quick relief medicines).
  • Some asthma medications need to be taken regularly to control asthma (long-term control medications). These medications reduce inflammation of the airway and are taken every day even when you have no symptoms.
Is Your Asthma Under Control?
  • If you answer YES to any of the following questions, your asthma may not be under control. Talk to your health care professional at Belize Medical Associates about your asthma control plan.
  • Do your asthma symptoms, such as coughing or wheezing, wake you up during the night?
  • Do you wake up in the morning with wheezing, coughing, tightness in your chest, or shortness of breath?
  • Do you have trouble participating fully in any activities of your choice?
  • Does your asthma cause you to miss work or school?
  • Have you been to the emergency room or hospital because of your asthma in the last year?
  • Do you use your quick relief inhaler more than once a day?
  • Does your quick relief inhaler last for less than three months?
  • Do your asthma medications cause any bad or undesirable side effects?
Regular communication and visits to your health care provider at Belize Medical Associates are important ways of making sure that your asthma treatment plan meets your needs, even when your asthma is under control.
May 26, 2020

The word arthritis actually means joint inflammation. The term arthritis is used to describe more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues which surround the joint and other connective tissue. The pattern, severity and location of symptoms can vary depending on the specific form of the disease. Typically, rheumatic conditions are characterized by pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Certain rheumatic conditions can also involve the immune system and various internal organs of the body.


There are different types of arthritis such as:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Gout
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Fibromyalgia

Risk Factors

Certain factors have been shown to be associated with a greater risk of arthritis. Some of these risk factors are modifiable while others are not. Non-modifiable risk factors

  • Age: The risk of developing most types of arthritis increases with age.
  • Gender: Most types of arthritis are more common in women, accounting for 60% of all cases. Gout is more common in men.
  • Genetic: Genes have been identified that are associated with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematous (SLE).
  • Modifiable risk factors
  • Overweight and Obesity: Excess weight can contribute to both the onset and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
  • Joint Injuries: Damage to a joint can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis of that joint.
  • Infection: Many microbial agents can infect joints and potentially cause the development of various forms of arthritis.
  • Occupation: Certain occupations involving repetitive knee bending are associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.

The focus of the treatment for arthritis is to control pain, minimize joint damage, and to improve or maintain function and quality of life. The treatment of arthritis might involve the following:

  • Medication.
  • Nonpharmacologic therapies.
  • Physical or occupational therapy.
  • Splints or joint assistive aids.
  • Patient education and support.
  • Weight loss.
  • Surgery.

Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis
Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis, including self-management activities, can help people with arthritis decrease pain, improve function, stay productive, and lower health care costs. Key self-management activities include the following:

  • See Your Doctor at Belize Medical Associates – Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management is important, especially for inflammatory types of arthritis. For example, early use of disease-modifying drugs can affect the course of rheumatoid arthritis. If you have symptoms of arthritis, see your doctor at Belize Medical Associates and begin appropriate management of your condition.
  • Learn What You Can Do – Ask your doctor at Belize Medical Associates for Self-management education.  It has been shown to reduce pain even 4 years after participating in the class.
  • Be Active – Research has shown that physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 3 days a week. You can get activity in 10-minute intervals.
  • Watch Your Weight – The prevalence of arthritis increases with increasing weight. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. A loss of just 11 pounds can decrease the occurrence (incidence) of knee osteoarthritis.
  • Protect Your Joints – Joint injury can lead to osteoarthritis. People who experience sports or occupational injuries or have jobs with repetitive motions like repeated knee bending have more osteoarthritis. Avoid joint injury to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis.

May 26, 2020
When To Suspect An Allergy

Some allergies are easy to identify by the pattern of symptoms that invariably follows exposure to a particular substance. But others are more subtle, and may masquerade as other conditions. Here are some common clues that could lead you to suspect your child may have an allergy.

Repeated or chronic cold-like symptoms – that last more than a week or two, or develop at about the same time every year. These could include a runny nose, nasal stuffiness, sneezing and throat clearing.

  • Nose rubbing, sniffling, snorting, sneezing and itchy, runny eyes.
  • Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth and throat. Itchiness is not usually a complaint with a cold, but it is the hallmark of an allergy problem.
  • Coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory symptoms.
  • Patches of bumps or itchy, red skin that “weeps” or oozes clear fluid, and forms a crust.
  • Development of hives, intensely itchy skin eruptions that usually last for a few hours and move from one part of the body to another.
How To Manage Hay Fever
  • Many children are allergic to pollens and molds, both of which are found everywhere outdoors and cannot be completely avoided.
  • It’s helpful to use air conditioners, where possible, to reduce exposure to pollen in both your home and your car.
  • Dust mites congregate where food for them is plentiful. They are especially numerous in upholstered furniture, bedding and rugs. Padded furnishings such as mattresses, box springs, pillows and cushions should be encased in zip-up covers. Wash linens weekly, and other bedding such as blankets, every 2 to 3 weeks in hot water, then put them through the hottest cycle of a clothes dryer. Pillows should be replaced every 2 to 3 years.
Common Allergens On The Home Front
  • Dust (contains dust mites and finely ground particles from other allergens such as pollen, mold and animal dander).
  • Pollen (trees, grasses, weeds)
  • Fungi (including molds too small to be seen with the naked eye)
  • Furry animals (cats, dogs, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, and other pets)
  • Latex (household articles such as rubber gloves and toy balloons)
  • Foods such as cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat and fish
Medications To Supress Symptoms

Your child’s allergy treatment should start with your pediatrician at Belize Medical Associates.

  • Antihistamines – Help with itchy watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, as well as itchy skin and hives.
  • Decongestants – Help with stuffy nose.
  • Corticosteroids – Highly effective for allergy treatment and are widely used to stop symptoms.
  • Allergy Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be recommended to reduce your child’s sensitivity to airborne allergens. Not every allergy problem can or needs to be treated with allergy shots, but treatment of respiratory allergies to pollen, dust mites, and outdoor molds is often successful.
Common Triggers Of Asthma:
    • Molds
    • Pollen
    • Dust Mites
    • Cockroaches
    • Animals (especially cats and dogs)
    • Viral respiratory infections, including colds
    • Sinus Infections
    • Aerosol sprays
    • Cooking Fumes
    • Odors
    • Smoke (wood fires, wood-burning stoves)
Managing Eczema:
  • Food allergies also play a role in about 25 percent of cases of eczema in young children.
  • Antihistamine medication may be prescribed to relieve the itching, and help break the itch-scratch cycle.
  • Long-sleeved sleepwear may also help prevent nighttime scratching.
  • As long as steroid creams are used sparingly, at the lowest strength that does the job, steroid creams are very safe and effective.
  • Soaps containing perfumes and deodorants may be too harsh for children’s sensitive skin.
  • Use laundry products that are free of dyes and perfumes and double-rinse clothes, towels and bedding.
  • Warm (never hot) showers may be preferable to baths. Gently pat your child dry after the shower or bath to avoid irritating the skin with rubbing.
  • Launder new clothes thoroughly before your child wears them.