How Does Acupuncture Work?

Can you use pain to stop pain? Take a closer look at the history and benefits of acupuncture.

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Whooping Cough Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a whooping cough test?

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection that causes severe fits of coughing and trouble breathing. People with whooping cough sometimes make a “whooping” sound as they try to take a breath. Whooping cough is very contagious. It is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing.

You can get whooping cough at any age, but it mostly affects children. It’s especially serious, and sometimes deadly, for babies less than a year old. A whooping cough test can help diagnose the disease. If your child gets a whooping cough diagnosis, he or she may be able to get treatment to prevent severe complications.

The best way to protect against whooping cough is with vaccination.

Other names: pertussis test, bordetella pertussis culture, PCR, antibodies (IgA, IgG, IgM)

What is the test used for?

A whooping cough test is used to find out whether you or your child has whooping cough. Getting diagnosed and treated in the early stages of infection may make your symptoms less severe and help prevent the spread of the disease.

Why do I need a whooping cough test?

Your health care provider may order a whooping cough test if you or your child has symptoms of whooping cough. You or your child may also need a test if you’ve been exposed to someone who has whooping cough.

Symptoms of whooping cough usually occur in three stages. In the first stage, symptoms are like those of a common cold and may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild fever
  • Mild cough

It’s better to get tested in the first stage, when the infection is most treatable.

In the second stage, the symptoms are more serious and may include:

  • Severe coughing that’s hard to control
  • Trouble catching your breath when coughing, which may cause a “whooping” sound
  • Coughing so hard it causes vomiting

In the second stage, infants may not cough at all. But they may struggle to breathe or may even stop breathing at times.

In the third stage, you will start to feel better. You may still be coughing, but it will probably be less often and less severe.

What happens during a whooping cough test?

There are different ways to test for whooping cough. Your health care provider may choose one of the following ways to make a whooping cough diagnosis.

  • Nasal aspirate. Your health care provider will inject a saline solution into your nose, then remove the sample with gentle suction.
  • Swab test. Your health care provider will use a special swab to take a sample from your nose or throat.
  • A blood test. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes. Blood tests are used more often in later stages of whooping cough.

In addition, your health care provider may order an x-ray to check for inflammation or fluid in the lungs.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for a whooping cough test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a whooping cough test.

Are there any risks to the tests?

There is very little risk to whooping cough tests.

  • The nasal aspirate may feel uncomfortable. These effects are temporary.
  • For a swab test, you may feel a gagging sensation or even a tickle when your throat or nose is swabbed.
  • For a blood test, you may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

A positive result probably means you or your child has whooping cough. A negative result doesn’t completely rule out whooping cough. If your results are negative, your health care provider will probably order more tests to confirm or rule out a whooping cough diagnosis.

Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics can make your infection less serious if you start treatment before your cough gets really bad. Treatment may also help prevent you from spreading the disease to others.

If you have questions about your test results or treatment, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about whooping cough tests?

The best way to protect against whooping cough is with vaccination. Before whooping cough vaccines became available in the 1940s, thousands of children in the United States died from the disease every year. Today, deaths from whooping cough are rare, but as many as 40,000 Americans get sick with it every year. Most cases of whooping cough affect babies too young to be vaccinated or teens and adults who are not vaccinated or up to date on their vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for all babies and children, teens, pregnant women, and adults who have not been vaccinated or are not up to date on their vaccines. Check with your health care provider to see if you or child needs to be vaccinated.

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A Career in Social Work

The scope of social work practice at Mayo Clinic is wide, and the opportunities are many. The social worker brings a unique perspective to the multi-disciplinary team which helps the team to better understand all of the needs, strengths, and concerns of the patient. Consider being a medical social worker!

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Cancer Strikes a Small Town

A family in Waycross, Georgia, talks about living with childhood cancer. To learn more, see our special report: Cancer Strikes a Small Town: http://wb.md/2eATVqQ

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Vitamin E (Tocopherol) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a vitamin E (tocopherol) test?

A vitamin E test measures the amount of vitamin E in your blood. Vitamin E (also known as tocopherol or alpha-tocopherol) is a nutrient that is important for many body processes. It helps your nerves and muscles work well, prevents blood clots, and boosts the immune system. Vitamin E is a type of antioxidant, a substance that protects cells from damage.

Most people get the right amount of vitamin E from their diet. Vitamin E is found naturally in many foods, including green, leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. If you have too little or too much vitamin E in your body, it can cause serious health problems.

Other names: tocopherol test, alpha-tocopherol test, vitamin E, serum

What is it used for?

A vitamin E test may be used to:

  • Find out if you are getting enough vitamin E in your diet
  • Find out if you are absorbing enough vitamin E. Certain disorders cause problems with the way the body digests and uses nutrients, such as vitamin E.
  • Check the vitamin E status of premature babies. Premature babies are at a higher risk of vitamin E deficiency, which can cause serious complications.
  • Find out if you are getting too much vitamin E

Why do I need a vitamin E test?

You may need a vitamin E test if you have symptoms of vitamin E deficiency (not getting or absorbing enough vitamin E) or of vitamin E excess (getting too much vitamin E).

Symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency include:

Vitamin E deficiency is very rare in healthy people. Most of the time, vitamin E deficiency is caused by a condition where nutrients are not properly digested or absorbed. These include Crohn’s disease, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, and some rare genetic disorders. Vtamin E deficiency may also be caused by a very low-fat diet.

Symptoms of vitamin E excess include:

Vitamin E excess is also rare. It’s usually caused by taking too many vitamins. If not treated, excess vitamin E can lead to serious health problems, including an increased risk of stroke.

What happens during a vitamin E test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You will probably need to fast (not eat or drink) for 12–14 hours before the test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

A low amount of vitamin E means you are not getting or absorbing enough vitamin E. Your health care provider will probably order more tests to find out the cause. Vitamin E deficiency can be treated with vitamin supplements.

High vitamin E levels means you are getting too much vitamin E. If you are using vitamin E supplements, you will need to stop taking them. Your health care provider may also prescribe other medicines to treat you.

Is there anything else I need to know about a vitamin E test?

Many people believe vitamin E supplements can help prevent certain disorders. But there is no solid evidence that vitamin E has any effect on heart disease, cancer, eye disease, or mental function. To learn more about vitamin supplements or any dietary supplements, talk to your health care provider.

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Dietitian’s Tips on Following a Low Fiber Diet – Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic’s Melissa Stewart, RD (Registered Dietitian) talks about a low fiber diet for lower gastrointestinal disorders.

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Toxic Shock Syndrome – The Basics

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but potentially deadly disease. Do you know what causes it, what the symptoms are, and how to treat it?

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Lipase Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a lipase test?

Lipase is a type of protein made by your pancreas, an organ located near your stomach. Lipase helps your body digest fats. It’s normal to have a small amount of lipase in your blood. But, a high level of lipase can mean you have pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, or another type of pancreas disease. Blood tests are the most common way of measuring lipase.

Other names: serum lipase, lipase, LPS

What is it used for?

A lipase test may be used to:

  • Diagnose pancreatitis or another disease of the pancreas
  • Find out if there is a blockage in your pancreas
  • Check for chronic diseases that affect the pancreas, including cystic fibrosis

Why do I need a lipase test?

You may need a lipase test if you have symptoms of a pancreas disease. These include:

You may also need a lipase test if you certain risk factors for pancreatitis. These include:

You may also be at a higher risk if you are a smoker or heavy alcohol user.

What happens during a lipase test?

A lipase test is usually in the form of a blood test. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Lipase can also be measured in urine. Usually, a lipase urine test can be taken at any time of day, with no special preparation needed.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for 8–12 hours before a lipase blood test. If your health care provider has ordered a lipase urine test, be sure to ask if you need to follow any special instructions.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

There are no known risks to a urine test.

What do the results mean?

A high level of lipase may indicate:

A low level of lipase may mean there is damage to cells in the pancreas that make lipase. This happens in certain chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

If your lipase levels are not normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Certain medicines, including codeine and birth control pills, can affect your lipase results. If you have questions about your lipase test results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a lipase test?

A lipase test is commonly used to diagnose pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis is a short-term condition that usually goes away after a few days of treatment. Chronic pancreatitis is a long-lasting condition that gets worse over time. But it can be managed with medicine and lifestyle changes, such as quitting drinking. Your health care provider may also recommend surgery to repair the problem in your pancreas.

References

  1. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth’s Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Lipase, Serum; 358 p.
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine; Health Library: Chronic Pancreatitis [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/digestive_disorders/chronic_pancreatitis_22,chronicpancreatitis
  3. Junglee D, Penketh A, Katrak A, Hodson ME, Batten JC, Dandona P. Serum pancreatic lipase activity in cystic fibrosis. Br Med J [Internet]. 1983 May 28 [cited 2017 Dec 16]; 286(6379):1693–4. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1548188/pdf/bmjcred00555-0017.pdf
  4. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.; American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Lipase [updated 2018 Jan 15; cited 2018 Feb 20]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/lipase
  5. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.; American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Glossary: Random Urine Sample [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/glossary#r
  6. Mayo Clinic: Mayo Medical Laboratories [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1995–2017. Test ID: FLIPR: Lipase, Random Urine: Specimen [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Specimen/90347
  7. National Cancer Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms: pancreas [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms?cdrid=46254
  8. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2018 Feb 20]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  9. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Definitions & Facts for Pancreatitis; 2017 Nov [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/pancreatitis/definition-facts
  10. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Treatment for Pancreatitis; 2017 Nov [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/pancreatitis/treatment
  11. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Lipase [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=lipase
  12. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Microscopic Urinalysis [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=urinanalysis_microscopic_exam
  13. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lipase: Test Overview [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lipase/hw7976.html
  14. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lipase: Why It Is Done [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lipase/hw7976.html#hw7984

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A Pain-Free Thumbs Up – Mayo Clinic

Whether it’s getting in the way of your mad skills on a video game — or it’s interfering with your job — Thumb Arthritis is a common complaint. In fact about one-in-ten will have to see a doctor for a painfully stubborn thumb. And women are 6-times more likely than men to have a problem. Here’s Dennis Douda for the Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test?

A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the level of PSA in your blood. The prostate is a small gland that is part of a man’s reproductive system. It is located below the bladder and makes a fluid that is part of semen. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. Men normally have low PSA levels in their blood. A high PSA level may be a sign of prostate cancer, the most common non-skin cancer affecting American men. But high PSA levels can also mean noncancerous prostate conditions, such as infection or benign prostatic hyperplasia, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate.

Other names: total PSA free PSA

What is it used for?

A PSA test is used to screen for prostate cancer. Screening is a test that looks for a disease, such as cancer, in its early stages, when it’s most treatable. Leading health organizations, such as the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), disagree on recommendations for using the PSA test for cancer screening. Reasons for disagreement include:

  • Most types of prostate cancer grow very slowly. It can take decades before any symptoms show up.
  • Treatment of slow-growing prostate cancer is often unnecessary. Many men with the disease live long, healthy lives without ever knowing they had cancer.
  • Treatment can cause major side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
  • Fast-growing prostate cancer is less common, but more serious and often life-threatening. Age, family history, and other factors can put you at higher risk. But the PSA test alone can’t tell the difference between slow- and fast-growing prostate cancer.

To find out if PSA testing is right for you, talk to your health care provider.

Why do I need a PSA test?

You may get a PSA test if you have certain risk factors for prostate cancer. These include:

  • A father or brother with prostate cancer
  • Being African-American. Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men. The reason for this is unknown.
  • Your age. Prostate cancer is more common in men over the age of 50.

You may also get a PSA test if:

  • You have symptoms such as painful or frequent urination, and pelvic and/or back pain.
  • You’ve already been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The PSA test can help monitor the effects of your treatment.

What happens during a PSA test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You will need to avoid having sex or masturbating for 24 hours before your PSA test, as releasing semen can raise your PSA levels.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

High PSA levels can mean cancer or a noncancerous condition such as a prostate infection, which can be treated with antibiotics. If your PSA levels are higher than normal, your health care provider will probably order more tests, including:

  • A rectal exam. For this test, your health care provider will insert a gloved finger into your rectum to feel your prostate.
  • A biopsy. This is a minor surgical procedure, where a provider will take a small sample of prostate cells for testing.

If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a PSA test?

Researchers are looking into ways to improve the PSA test. The goal is to have a test that does a better job of telling the difference between non-serious, slow-growing prostate cancers and cancers that are fast growing and potentially life-threatening.

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