PRCC holds 11th Annual Women’s Health Symposium

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gina River, FNP at Highland Community Hospital, spoke at the annual Pearl River Community College Women's Health Symposium about the prevalence of diabetes in women. Photo by Julia Arenstam

Gina Rivero, FNP at Highland Community Hospital, spoke at the annual Pearl River Community College Women’s Health Symposium about the prevalence of diabetes in women.
Photo by Julia Arenstam

After hearing a warm up presentation by guest speaker Linda Larsen, participants of the annual Women’s Health Symposium listened to a panel of six healthcare professionals discuss a range of issues that have a particular affect on women.
The 11th annual event was hosted by Pearl River Community College on Saturday and invited hundreds of local women to participate in free health screenings, informational sessions and share the experience of being a woman.
Larsen, CEO of Linda Larsen Communications, Inc., brought the cafeteria full of women to their feet early Saturday morning as they celebrated and appreciated one another.
A panel of healthcare professionals then spoke about heart disease, joint problems, diabetes, dental health, depression and hormone replacement therapy.
Contrary to popular belief, heart disease is more common in women and can present itself in different way than in men, Dr. Arthur C. Martin from the Hattiesburg Clinic said.
There is a minority of women who don’t experience typical chest pains during a heart attack, and as such learn to recognize other signs that indicate something is wrong, Martin said.
He went on to discuss common causes of chronic inflammation.
“Sugar was never demonized until now,” Martin said, adding that it is one of the leading causes of chronic inflammation in addition to refined carbohydrates.
Martin spoke about how his personal decision to eliminate gluten and other foods from his diet left him feeling healthier.
“I’m a firm believer in this,” Martin said, elaborating on the benefits of eating good fats, beef from grass fed cows and choosing wild caught fish over farm raised.
Another common problem in women is joint problems, Dr. Rob Robertson, of Southern Bone and Joint Specialists, P.A., said.
Because women more often wear shoes with a slight heel or narrow toe, the added pressure on the front of their feet can cause pain and bunions, he said.
“A one to one and half inch heel adds twice as much pressure,” Robertson said.
Another factor to check regularly, Robertson said, is a person’s vitamin D level.
In a three-month span, 80 percent of patients who were admitted to the emergency room were vitamin D deficient, he said, while 60 to 70 percent of healthy patients also had vitamin D deficiencies.
“Preventative maintenance is a beautiful thing,” Gina Rivero, a nurse practitioner at Highland Community Hospital, said, switching to a discussion about diabetes.
Diabetes kills more people than breast cancer and AIDS combined, she said. Healthy choices, like limiting serving sizes and exercising regularly, decrease the likelihood of developing diabetes, Rivero said.
“Make healthy choices every single day; do your best, and the next day, do better,” she said.
Next, Dr. Janice Touchstone, of Terrace Hill Dental Center, spoke about how fear affects potential dentist patients.
Putting off treatment due to fear from a prior experience compounds the problem, Touchstone said.
“More people are more scared to go the dentist than get on an airplane, she said.
Touchstone emphasized the importance of teaching children good oral hygiene habits when they’re young, so those routines will carry on into their adult lives.
Another problem women face is an increased propensity for depression, said to Dr. Jennifer Trihoulis, of Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home and Pearl River Family Clinic.
Fifteen million people in the U.S. suffer from depression, she said, and two-thirds never get help, but it is a treatable disease.
Irrational guilt, a lack of caring about the things that matter to them, sleep problems and eating problems can be some of the signs of depression, Trihoulis said.
“Some people say they feel like they’re in a time warp,” she said.
Women can be disproportionally affected during pregnancy she said, depending on their situation.
Another three to five percent of women suffer from premenstrual dysphonic disorder, a debilitating effect on a woman’s life.
Lastly, Dr. Omolara Y. Otaigbe, of Southern Medical Care, spoke about hormone replacement therapy and the importance of maintaining hormone balances after menopause.
What some people call “aging gracefully” is actually a sign of hormonal imbalances, Otaigbe said.
Today’s hormonal therapies vary widely depending on the patient, she said, but it’s possible to cater hormone therapy to a person’s unique needs.

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About Julia Arenstam

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