Internal Medicine

Overview

Barnabas Health Medical Group’s internal medicine specialists, or internists, provide prevention, diagnosis and treatment for a broad spectrum of diseases.

We offer:

  • Preventive health care screening and counseling
  • Routine physical exams
  • Management of chronic adult illnesses, such as Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and more

Our physicians are also equipped to address and offer consultations for a variety of health-related conditions and issues, including:

Arthritis

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting more than 50 million Americans. It’s a term used to describe more than 100 different musculoskeletal disorders. The three most common forms of arthritis are: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

This is a chronic condition where the joint’s cartilage begins to break down. This breakdown causes bones to rub against each other, causing pain, stiffness and even loss of movement in the joint.

Treatment for OA involves a combination of weight control, joint protection, physical and occupational therapy, exercise and medications. In some severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be considered.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

This autoimmune disease causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues, specifically the thin membrane that covers the joints called the synovium. Because of this attack, fluids build up in the joints, causing inflammation and pain that can occur throughout the body.

RA can be treated by two types of medication: those that relieve pain and stiffness and those that aim to put the disease into remission. These medications are often paired with exercise and weight management plans in order to strengthen the muscles and bones.

Juvenile Arthritis (JA)

JA describes many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can affect children ages 16 and younger. Like OA and RA, JA affects the joints but can also affect the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract.

Like RA, JA can also be treated by two types of medication: pain and stiffness relievers and those that aim to put the disease into remission. Medication is also paired with exercise and weight management plans in order to strengthen the muscles and bones.

Diabetes

As the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes affects more than 25 million children and adults and plays a major role in heart disease and stroke. People who think they might be at risk for diabetes should visit a physician for diagnosis. Common symptoms include frequent urination, intense thirst, feeling hungry even though you have eaten, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts or bruises that are slow to heal and tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet. Women with gestational diabetes often have no symptoms.

The different forms of diabetes include:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. It causes the body to stop insulin production, which means that the body cannot convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. Only five percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.

Type 2 Diabetes

Normally, the body breaks down food into glucose - the fuel for cells - and insulin carries that glucose throughout the body. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, causes the body to misuse insulin. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to compensate for the misuse, but over time, the pancreas struggles to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels.

Gestational Diabetes

Women may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Hormones involved in supporting the baby can sometimes cause high blood glucose levels in the mother. Untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can cause the mother’s high blood glucose levels to pass to the baby. The baby’s pancreas then makes extra insulin to get rid of the blood glucose, producing more energy than it needs.

Prevention/Treatment

You can prevent or delay the onset of these types of diabetes through a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy helps lower the risk and staying active helps to manage blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Most diabetes treatments focus on healthy eating and exercise, along with oral medication and/or insulin to help meet target blood glucose levels. Diabetes is a progressive disease, meaning that even if you don’t have to take medication or insulin at first, you may need to over time.

High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Stroke

High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can lead to stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Both conditions are considered “silent killers” because they typically have no warning signs or symptoms. However, by taking the proper steps, blood pressure and high cholesterol can be prevented and reduced.

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the inner walls of arteries. High blood pressure can damage these delicate vessels, causing them to burst or clog more easily - resulting in a stroke or other life-threatening disease.

A physician or other health professional can measure blood pressure quickly and painlessly. If blood pressure is too high, the physician may recommend lifestyle changes and/or medication to bring it down to a safer level.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that your body makes naturally and you also get from foods. While your body needs cholesterol to function properly, too much can build up on the inside walls of arteries and can lead to possible stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

Everyone has two types of cholesterol - LDL and HDL - plus a fat called triglycerides.

LDL is “bad” cholesterol - too much can trigger heart disease.

HDL is “good” cholesterol as it actually reduces the risk for heart disease.

Triglycerides are produced by your body and found in food. High triglyceride levels can raise the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Stroke

Stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain or when a blood clot prevents enough blood from getting to the brain. Each year, more than 800,000 Americans die from strokes and other forms of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease each year. Stroke survivors are often left with serious disabilities such as paralysis and difficulty thinking and speaking.

Nutrition

A healthy lifestyle not only makes you look and feel better but keeps you strong as you age and helps prevent deadly illnesses like heart disease.

Just like mom always said, it’s important to eat a variety of healthy foods every day from each of the four major food groups:

Vegetables can be fresh, frozen, canned or dried. Eat veggies with different colors to get the benefit of different nutrients.

Fruits can also be fresh, frozen, canned or dried. Eat a variety of colors, too.

Grains are whole and refined. As whole grains are more nutritious, make an effort to eat a least half of your grains whole (brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and more). Refined grains include white bread and rice and most noodles.

Vegetables should take up the largest part of your plate, followed by fruits and grains, with protein foods in the smallest area.

Physical Activity & Exercise

Regular physical activity is essential for good health! People who are physically active for one hour each day have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than those who exercise less than 30 minutes a week. The benefits of physical are endless - from controlling weight, cutting risks for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers; strengthening bones, muscles and joints to improving mood and mental health and more.

Everyone needs two types of activity: aerobic (cardio) and muscle-strengthening. Adults need at least 2-1/2 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity OR 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

Seasonal Illnesses: Flu & Allergies

Some illnesses are more common at certain times of year. Flu hits most people in the winter while seasonal allergies strike hardest in the spring and fall. Knowing the symptoms and taking measures to prevent these illnesses will help you stay healthy!

Flu

This contagious disease - which infects the nose, throat and lungs - is caused by the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illness, life-threatening complications and even death. The flu is especially dangerous for children under age 5, adults over 65, pregnant women and people with certain medications like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and weakened immune systems. Prevention tips include: getting a flu vaccine each fall, washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and generally taking care of yourself.

Allergies

Also known as “hay fever,” seasonal allergies are the body’s reaction to plant pollens in the air. Symptoms include: runny or stuff nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough and tiredness. Unlike colds, allergies can also cause itchy eyes, nose and throat and can last much longer, too. In addition to avoiding the outdoors when the pollen count is high, air purifiers and filters can offer some relief. Treatment includes: over-the-counter medications and prescription medications like nasal steroid sprays and shots to help prevent allergic reactions.

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