September 20, 2016

What’s the State of Your Prostate?

The prostate is a gland in men the size of a walnut that increases in size after age 40. It is located between the bladder and rectum and surrounds the urethra and functions to help produce semen. Most men after age 40 will develop enlargement of the gland, which is why it’s important to get it checked regularly to catch problems early.

Prostate Problems

The most common issues with the prostate involve an array of symptoms, but some men do not have any external symptoms, which is why an annual exam after age 50 is recommended. Enlargement of the gland has three main causes:

  • Prostatitis is the most common of the medical issues associated with the gland, characterized by prostate inflammation. It is recognized that half of all men will develop prostatitis and need treatment in his lifetime.
  • Enlarged prostate, BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), is the most prevalent health concern among men. After age 50, most men will encounter BPH, but this does not mean cancer is the underlining reason. An embarrassing and annoying symptom is difficulty starting and completing urination.
  • Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate grow uncontrollably. This condition is the most worrisome because it is second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths in men.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer. One in every seven men will be diagnosed with this particular cancer. While age is the biggest risk factor for prostate cancer, ethnicity, family history and gene mutations also play a role. With early detection, prostate cancer can be successfully treated.

Prostate Exams

Clint Cheng, MD, primary care physician at CHI St. Joseph Health Primary Care Barron Road, shares that prostate medical conditions are extremely common in older men. “Prostate cancer screening is a complex topic that is best discussed with your doctor to determine your risks and to determine if and when you should have prostate cancer screening.”  While the most concerning medical diagnosis is prostate cancer, men who have an enlarged prostate often have significant symptoms that can be addressed with treatment to improve their quality of life.  These prostate issues can be evaluated by discussing symptoms, doing a digital rectal examination, and checking bloodwork that includes a PSA (prostate screening antigen).

Are you overdue for a prostate exam? Schedule an appointment with a CHI St. Joseph Health primary care physician to take care of your important screenings by calling 979.774.2121 or requesting an appointment online.prostate


CDC –  Prostate Cancer

American Cancer Society

September 12, 2016

Sports & Concussion Prevention

Football season is right around the corner, and while sports are a great way to get active, they do pose a physical danger. Specifically, participating in a sport can increase the likelihood of sustaining a concussion. The CDC estimates that 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions happen each year, many of which happen quickly and can easily be overlooked. Are you able to identify the symptoms of a concussion? Learn how to spot head trauma and how you can prevent concussions.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that happens when someone’s head gets hit, bumped, or shaken violently, causing the brain to move around within the skull. The potential bounce or twist of the brain can stretch and damage the brain cells, creating chemical changes in the brain. The effects of a concussion can be serious.screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-4-28-39-pm

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of a concussion may be noticeable shortly after a hit or fall; however, the severity of a concussion may not be apparent for hours or days. The symptoms of a concussion include confusion, loss of concentration, sensitivity to light or sound, dizziness, blurry or double vision, nausea and vomiting, among others. The more severe symptoms of a concussion include drowsiness or difficulty waking, one pupil appearing larger than the other, slurred speech, convulsions or seizures, unusual behavior, and loss of consciousness– which should always be taken seriously, even if it is only for a brief amount of time. On rare occasions, a concussion can be accompanied by a hematoma– a dangerous collection of blood– in the brain, which needs to be treated by a medical professional shortly after a concussion. In many sports organizations, it only takes one of the previous signs or symptoms to have a possibly concussion and to be removed from play (such as UIL and TAPPS school athletics).

How can concussions be prevented?

There are so many causes for concussions that prevention should be an ever-present part of life. As a parent, be sure that your child’s car seat is the correct version for both the child’s size and age. With an infant or toddler, putting a gate at the top and bottom of the stairs in a home is recommended; a fall down the stairs or a bump of the head on a step can be very harmful to a small child. Joseph Iero, MD, orthopedic surgeon at CHI St. Joseph Health Orthopaedic Associates, advises, “When doing any potentially dangerous activities, such as contact sports, be sure to wear a properly fitted helmet and gear that is appropriate for the activity you or your child is involved in.”

If you or your child loses consciousness or experiences nausea or vomiting after head trauma, visit your nearest emergency center. CHI St. Joseph Health’s Emergency & Trauma Center is the highest accredited trauma center in the Brazos Valley and is able to treat a wide range of conditions, including head trauma. If you experience or witness head trauma without the aforementioned symptoms but are concerned it might be a concussion, make an appointment with a CHI St. Joseph Health primary care physician near you.


August 26, 2016

5 Vaccination Myths Debunked

While receiving vaccinations is commonplace for many people, rumors about their negative side effects are equally common. However, most of these rumors are merely myths. Let’s set the record straight and debunk five common vaccination myths.

Myth: Getting a flu shot can give you the flu.

Fact: This is simply untrue. While there are two types of needle-administered flu vaccine, neither can give you the flu. The first type of flu shot does contain the flu virus, but it has been inactivated, making it non-contagious. The second does not contain the flu virus at all. If you receive the needle-administered flu shot, you won’t get the flu from it. Cristina Soriano, MD, pediatrician at CHI St. Joseph Health Pediatrics in Bryan says, “If you do get the flu after receiving the vaccine, it’s because you contracted it before your body made the antibodies in response to the shot or because you caught a rare strain of the flu that this year’s vaccine didn’t cover.”Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 1.36.39 PM

Myth: When you get a flu shot once, you don’t need to get it the next year.

Fact: The flu virus evolves and changes, and the annual vaccine protects you against the most prevalent strains of the season. Even if the virus hasn’t changed, your body’s immune system has. Your immunity decreases over the year since you had your last flu shot, making a yearly shot necessary to protect yourself from the flu. Do your body a favor and help it fight the flu by receiving your annual flu shot.

Myth: Vaccines cause autism.

Fact: Multiple studies have found no link between vaccines and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A 2011 study by the Institute of Medicine and a 2013 CDC study both concluded that vaccines do not cause ASD. Some people speculated that the vaccine ingredient thimerosal, a preservative derived from mercury, caused autism. While thimerosal has been long removed from almost all vaccines as a precaution against mercury exposure, over nine studies have since shown that thimerosal in vaccines is harmless.

Myth: Vaccines cause SIDS.

Fact: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the tragic, unexplained death of an infant, continues to defy understanding. Being sure a baby sleeps on his or her back reduces the risk of SIDS. However, no one is sure yet of the cause of SIDS. What the medical community does recognize is that vaccines do not cause SIDS. A definitive 2003 Institute of Medicine study found no link between SIDS and the vaccines babies receive when two to four months old, the most common age at which SIDS takes place. In fact, studies have shown that vaccines actually reduce a baby’s risk for SIDS.

Myth: The extra additives in vaccines are dangerous.

Fact: Medical professionals add adjuvants, additives that aid the immune system’s response, to vaccines. Only two adjuvants are used in American vaccines, aluminum and monophosphoryl lipid A. Tiny amounts of aluminum present in vaccines enable the body to build an even stronger immunity to the germ in the vaccine. Aluminum in vaccines has been in use since the 1930s, under close monitoring by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is not dangerous at all. Monophosphoryl lipid A, an immune booster, is only used in one vaccine, Cervarix. It has been studied and tested in tens of thousands of people and has consistently been found beneficial, never harmful. However, you should talk to your physician before receiving vaccines if you are severely allergic to eggs.

Schedule an appointment with a CHI St. Joseph Health Primary Care physician to make sure your vaccines are up to date.



CDC Vaccine Concerns

CDC Vaccine Misconceptions



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