Health Information Library

Here we have compiled more than a thousand health information articles so you can have information that is efficient, professionally reviewed, authoritatively sourced, and constantly updated. Search for any topic that interests you, then customize print outs or PDFs.


Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bones. Your bones become fragile and fracture (break) easily, especially the bones in the hip, spine, and wrist. In the United States, millions of people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.

Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is more common in older women. Risk factors include:

  • Getting older
  • Being small and thin
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Being a white or Asian woman
  • Having low bone density

Osteoporosis is a silent disease. You might not know you have it until you break a bone. A bone mineral density test is the best way to check your bone health.

To keep bones strong, eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, exercise, and do not smoke. If needed, medicines can also help. It is also important to try to avoid falling down. Falls are the number one cause of fractures in older adults.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Prediabetes

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes means that your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Too much glucose in your blood can damage your body over time.

If you have prediabetes, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. But if you make some lifestyle changes now, you may be able to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

What causes prediabetes?

Prediabetes usually happens when your body has a problem with insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. A problem with insulin could be:

  • Insulin resistance, a condition in which the body can't use its insulin properly. It makes it hard for your cells to get glucose from your blood. This can cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
  • Your body can't make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy level

Researchers think that being overweight and not getting regular physical activity are major factors in causing prediabetes.

Who is at risk for prediabetes?

About 1 out of every 3 adults has prediabetes. It is more common in people who:

  • Are overweight or have obesity
  • Are age 45 or older
  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander American
  • Are not physically active
  • Have health conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Have had gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy)
  • Have a history of heart disease or stroke
  • Have metabolic syndrome
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

Most people don't know they have prediabetes because usually there are no symptoms.

Some people with prediabetes may have darkened skin in the armpit or on the back and sides of the neck. They may also have many small skin growths in those same areas.

How is prediabetes diagnosed?

There are a few different blood tests that can diagnose prediabetes. The most common ones are:

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, which measures your blood sugar at a single point in time. You need to fast (not eat or drink) for at least 8 hours before the test. The results of the test are given in mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter):
    • A normal level is 99 or below
    • Prediabetes is 100 to 125
    • Type 2 diabetes is 126 and above
  • A1C test, which measures your average blood sugar over the past 3 months. The results of an A1C test are given as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels have been.
    • A normal level is below 5.7%
    • Prediabetes is between 5.7 to 6.4%
    • Type 2 diabetes is above 6.5%
If I have prediabetes, will I get diabetes?

If you have prediabetes, you may be able to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes through lifestyle changes:

  • Losing weight, if you are overweight
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Following a healthy, reduced-calorie eating plan

In some cases, your health care provider may also recommend taking diabetes medicines.

Can prediabetes be prevented?

If you are at risk for prediabetes, those same lifestyle changes (losing weight, regular physical activity, and a healthy eating plan) may prevent you from getting it.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Understanding Medical Research

It seems to happen almost every day - you hear about the results of a new medical research study. Sometimes the results of one study seem to disagree with the results of another study.

It's important to be critical when reading or listening to reports of new medical findings. Some questions that can help you evaluate health information include:

  • Was the study in animals or people?
  • Does the study include people like you?
  • How big was the study?
  • Was it a randomized controlled clinical trial?
  • Where was the research done?
  • If a new treatment was being tested, were there side effects?
  • Who paid for the research?
  • Who is reporting the results?

NIH: National Institutes of Health

Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a type of abuse. It can be the abuse of a spouse or partner, which is also known as intimate partner violence. Or it could be the abuse of a child, older relative, or other family member.

Domestic violence may include different types of abuse, such as:

  • Physical violence that can lead to injuries such as bruises or fractures (broken bones)
  • Sexual violence, including sexual assault
  • Emotional abuse, which includes threats, name-calling, put-downs, and humiliation. It can also involve controlling behavior, such as telling the victim how to act or dress and not letting them see family or friends.
  • Economic abuse, which involves controlling access to money
  • Stalking, which is repeated, unwanted contact that causes fear or concern for the safety of the victim. This can include watching or following the victim. The stalker may send repeated, unwanted phone calls or texts.
Who is affected by domestic violence?

It is hard to know exactly how common domestic violence is, because it's often not reported.

But we do know that anyone can be affected by it. Domestic violence can happen to men or women of all different ages. It affects people with all levels of income and education.

What are the signs that someone is a victim of domestic violence?

If you think that a loved one might be the victim of domestic violence, learn about the different types of abuse and watch for these signs:

Does your friend or loved one:

  • Have unexplained cuts or bruises?
  • Avoid friends, family, and favorite activities?
  • Make excuses for their partner's behavior?
  • Look uncomfortable or fearful around their partner?

Does your friend or loved one's partner:

  • Yell at or make fun of them?
  • Try to control them by making all the decisions?
  • Check up on them at work or school?
  • Force them to do sexual things they don't want to do?
  • Threaten to hurt himself or herself if the partner wants to break up?
What can I do if I am a victim of domestic violence?

Your safety is the most important concern. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

If you are not in immediate danger, you can:

  • Get medical care if you have been injured or sexually assaulted
  • Call a helpline for free, anonymous help. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TTY).
  • Find out where to get help in your community. Contact local organizations that can help you.
  • Make a safety plan to leave. Domestic violence usually does not get better. Think about a safe place for you to go and all of the things that you will need when you leave.
  • Save the evidence. Keep evidence of abuse, such as pictures of your injuries or threatening emails or texts. Make sure that it is in a safe place the abuser cannot access.
  • Talk to someone you trust, such as a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a spiritual leader
  • Consider getting a restraining order to protect yourself
How can I help someone who is a victim of domestic violence?

Let your loved one know that being treated this way isn't healthy and that they are not to blame. You should:

  • Call 911 if there is immediate danger
  • Watch for the signs of abuse. Learn about the signs and keep track of the ones that you see.
  • Find out about local resources. Get the addresses and phone numbers of some local resources in your community. Then you'll be able to share the information if the person is ready for it.
  • Set up a time to talk. Make sure you can have your conversation in a safe, private place. Your loved one's partner may have access to his or her cell phone or computer, so be careful about sharing information over text or email.
  • Be specific about why you are worried. Describe the behaviors that concern you. Be as specific as possible when explaining why you are worried.
  • Plan for safety. If your loved one is ready to leave an abusive partner, help make a plan for getting out of the relationship as safely as possible. A domestic violence counselor can help with making a safety plan.
  • Be patient and do not judge. You should talk about your concerns with your loved one, but you need to understand that they may not be ready to talk about it. Let them know that you're available to talk at any time, and that you will listen without judging them.

Emergency Medical Services

If you get very sick or badly hurt and need help right away, you should use emergency medical services. These services use specially trained people and specially equipped facilities.

You may need care in the hospital emergency room (ER). Doctors and nurses there treat emergencies, such as heart attacks and injuries. For some emergencies, you need help where you are. Emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, do specific rescue jobs. They answer emergency calls and give basic medical care. Some EMTs are paramedics - they have training to do medical procedures on site. They usually take you to the ER for more care.

If you or someone you know needs emergency care, go to your hospital's emergency room. If you think the problem is life-threatening, call 911.

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