• What causes schizophrenia and how is it diagnosed?

    Schizophrenia is a serious, chronic mental health condition that can cause delusions and psychoses. It usually appears during early adulthood and is more common in men, but it can happen at any age to anyone. There is no cure for schizophrenia, but with medications and behavioral health services , it can be managed. Getting an early diagnosis can help people with schizophrenia prevent serious complications.

    What exactly is schizophrenia?
    As the video explains, schizophrenia is a biological disorder of the brain. This means that it response to medication. Therapy is sometimes helpful for treatment management, but therapy alone is not effective for treating the disease.

    People with schizophrenia often start by displaying symptoms of depression, and then later go on to develop disordered thinking, hallucinations, and inappropriate behaviors. They may become paranoid, develop unusual beliefs, or become irrationally angry.

    What causes schizophrenia?
    The exact cause of the disease is not known. However, physicians do have some ideas about factors that can play a role. These include:

    • Genetics —Having a family member with schizophrenia increases the risk of developing it.
    • Environment—Physicians believe that being exposed to viruses before birth during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy can add to the risk of schizophrenia later in life.
    • Brain chemistry—Dopamine, glutamate, and neuron networks may all play a role in schizophrenia.
    • Substance abuse—Marijuana use, particularly at a young age, may increase the risk of schizophrenia and may cause the disease to occur earlier in life.

    How is it diagnosed?
    The process of diagnosing schizophrenia is challenging. Many people with schizophrenia symptoms do not recognize them, which can make it difficult for doctors to know that someone is experiencing signs of the disease.

    Schizophrenia is diagnosed when other causes of symptoms, such as brain tumors, drug-induced psychosis, and other mental illnesses, are ruled out. Patients who are diagnosed with schizophrenia have at least two of these symptoms happening on an ongoing basis for an extended period of time:

    • Delusions
    • Hallucinations
    • Disorganized speech
    • Disorganized/catatonic behavior
    • Negative symptoms (symptoms that diminish abilities, such as dull or flat emotions)

    Good Samaritan Hospital provides inpatient and outpatient behavioral health treatments for diagnosis and management of a wide range of mental illnesses. To request a referral to one of our behavioral health specialists in San Jose, call (888) 724-2362.

  • What women with arthritis should know about pregnancy

    Although arthritis can have an impact on pregnancy, most women are able to have a pregnancy that is safe and healthy for both mom and baby. The key is to work closely with your healthcare team, including both your OBGYN and arthritis-care provider, to monitor both your pregnancy and your arthritis throughout. Here is what you need to know about pregnancy and arthritis.

    The impacts of arthritis on pregnancy vary.
    Your type of arthritis will influence the impact you experience during pregnancy. For example, rheumatoid arthritis often goes into remission during pregnancy then flares up soon after birth. Lupus may flare up during pregnancy, and osteoarthritis pain can be exacerbated by pregnancy weight gain.

    Talk to your physician about the impacts you should expect during your pregnancy, so that you can vigilant about your symptoms. You may wish to see a high-risk OBGYN who is accustomed to treating expectant mothers who have chronic health conditions.

    You may need to adjust your medications.
    Many medications for arthritis are not safe to take during pregnancy, but some, including some immunosuppressants taken for inflammatory arthritis, may be acceptable for you and your baby.

    Don’t stop taking any of your medications without talking to your physician. He or she will weigh the risk of stopping medicines with the risks to your pregnancy and help you find a treatment plan that is safe and that controls your arthritis symptoms.

    You will need a plan for post-delivery.
    As you make plans for managing your arthritis during your pregnancy, don’t forget to plan for the period after you give birth. As your body adjusts to not being pregnant, your arthritis may be prone to flare-ups. Arthritis symptoms can also make it difficult to care for your baby.

    Plan to have as much help as you can in the period after giving birth, so you can get the rest you need. Talk to your physician about when you can restart your usual medical plan, particularly if you are breastfeeding.

    The birthing center and women’s health teams at Good Samaritan Hospital help mothers have the healthiest pregnancy, labor, and delivery possible, with full support at every stage. Find out why so many families in San Jose choose our hospital to give birth and get a referral to a doctor by calling (888) 724-2362.

  • When does osteoporosis typically start?

    Osteoporosis is a condition that leads to porous, fragile bones that are prone to fractures. It is often thought of as a woman’s disease but can affect men as well. Although the disease is not life threatening, it can lead to serious fractures and loss of mobility, especially in seniors. Discuss your risk of osteoporosis with your physician to find out if you need to be screened or if there are steps you can take to reduce the chances that you will develop it.

    Osteoporosis onset
    Osteoporosis can occur at any age but is most common after age 50. At this age, the rate of bone loss increases dramatically, especially in women. For men, the onset is often later. Women begin to lose bone density rapidly at this age because of declining amounts of estrogen due to menopause.

    In addition to menopause, there are other things that can cause osteoporosis to happen earlier in life. These risks include:

    • Lack of exercise
    • Malnutrition
    • Anorexia
    • Certain medications
    • Smoking

    Screening tests
    Physicians can screen for osteoporosis with a bone mineral density scan test, or DEXA scan. This painless test uses x-ray technology to determine if you have low bone density, so that you can begin treatment to prevent further bone loss if necessary.

    This test can also be used to confirm an osteoporosis diagnosis and track the effectiveness of treatments if you have already been diagnosed.

    Treatment options
    Medications, including hormone therapy, may be recommended for osteoporosis. Your physician may also recommend that you make dietary changes and get more exercise to improve your muscle strength and balance.

    Fall prevention is also an important part of osteoporosis treatment. Because bones are very vulnerable to fractures during falls when you have osteoporosis, prevention is critical. Your provider can give you information about changes you can make at home to prevent falls.

    Could you be at risk of osteoporosis? Request a referral to a physician in San Jose at Good Samaritan hospital to find out. We offer comprehensive diagnostic imaging services as well as emergency care for fractures when needed. To call our hospital, dial (888) 724-2362.

  • What are the most prevalent cancer risks for women?

    Cancer can affect anyone, but cancer does not affect everyone in the same way. Women have a higher risk of certain kinds of cancer than men, and knowing their risks can help them make smart decisions about lifestyle choices and screenings. Early diagnosis is critical for the best possible cancer care outcomes, so women should consider talking to their providers about the cancer tests that are right for them. Let’s take a closer look at the types of cancer that are most prevalent amongst women.

    Breast cancer
    Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. It can happen at any age, but the risk increases with age. Having a family history of the disease is another significant risk factor.

    Mammograms are screening tests that are performed to diagnose breast cancer, and they can be life saving because they allow for early detection of the disease. Your provider can tell you when you should start having mammograms and how often you should have them, based on your personal health history.

    Colon cancer
    Colon cancer is most common in women over the age of 50. Fortunately, it is usually slow moving and can be cured when caught in its earliest stages. Screening tests let physicians find polyps in the colon before they become malignant, which will prevent cancer from developing.

    Most women should start colon cancer screenings at age 50 and repeat every five to 10 years, but women with increased risks, such as a personal or family history of colon cancer, should be screened more often.

    Endometrial cancer
    Endometrial cancer is cancer that grows in the lining of the uterus. It occurs most often in women over the age of 55, though any woman can get it. Women who have taken estrogen, got their first period at an early age, or had menopause later in life are especially at risk.

    Screening for endometrial cancer is usually done by biopsy. Your physician can tell you if you need a screening biopsy.

    The women’s services and cancer care teams at Good Samaritan Hospital are committed to helping women get the diagnoses and treatments they need when cancer occurs. Contact our hospital in San Jose for a referral by calling (888) 724-2362.