What is Celiac Disease? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Gluten-free foods and food products have been popping up on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves for the past several years. While some may mistake gluten-free choices as the latest weight-loss trend, for individuals living with celiac disease, consuming gluten can trigger painful and dangerous symptoms. Experts estimate that about one in 100 people has celiac disease, and that 2.5 million Americans are suffering undiagnosed, putting themselves at risk of severe complications if the condition continues to go untreated. If you believe that you may be at risk of celiac disease, or are experiencing its symptoms, talk to your doctor.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease, also referred to as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is a serious, genetic autoimmune disease triggered by consuming gluten. Gluten is a protein found in barley, wheat, rye, and other grains. When an individual with celiac disease consumes gluten, it damages the villi of the small intestine—small, finger-like projections that increase the surface area of the small intestinal walls, creating more areas for absorption. When the villi are damaged, it is more difficult for the body to properly absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, resulting in malnourishment and other dangerous complications, such as anemia, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, infertility, some cancers, and other autoimmune diseases.

What are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?

Individuals suffering from celiac disease report such symptoms and health complications as:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating, gas
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin rash marked with itchy blisters)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Headaches
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet

It is important to note that celiac disease symptoms can vary significantly, especially between adults and children.

Complications from Celiac Disease

Over time, the consistent malnutrition that celiac disease causes can result in such dangerous complications as:

  • A loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or bone softening (osteomalacia)
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Some neurological diseases
  • Nervous system injuries, including balance problems and cognitive impairment
  • Certain cancers
  • Hyposplenism (reduced spleen functioning)

Who is at Risk of Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is hereditary. People with a first-degree relative with the condition, such as a parent, have a 10 percent chance of being diagnosed. It can develop at any age after one begins consuming foods or medicines containing gluten.

Unfortunately, due to the full range of symptoms associated with the disease, doctors believe that most patients never know that they have the condition, and as a result, suffer from slow damage to their small intestines over several years before symptoms or complications exacerbate.

Treatment for Celiac Disease

While there is currently no cure, medical or surgical treatments for celiac disease, many patients who eliminate gluten from their diet can eliminate its uncomfortable symptoms and minimize their risk of health complications. Those who remove gluten from their diet for at least a year with no improvement are often diagnosed with a form of celiac disease called refractory or nonresponsive celiac disease. Researchers are working diligently to identify alternative therapies and a cure to this dangerous autoimmune disease.

When to Get Help

If you are experiencing the symptoms of celiac disease, and notice a flare-up of complications after eating foods that contain gluten, particularly if you have diarrhea or digestive discomfort that lasts for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor. They can provide a thorough examination, assess your genetic history, and if they diagnose you with celiac disease, help you make the necessary dietary changes to suppress symptoms and avoid complications.

Nova Health Acquires Basin Immediate Care, Expands Urgent Care Locations

Eugene, Ore. – July 1, 2020 Nova Health, a comprehensive provider of quality urgent care, primary care, physical therapy, and musculoskeletal services in Lane and Douglas Counties, has announced that it has acquired Basin Immediate Care, an urgent care center located in Klamath Falls, Oregon. All former Basin Immediate Care providers will continue to provide services as part of Nova Health.

According to Nova Health Chief Executive Officer Bill Clendenen, the addition of Basin Immediate Care to the expanding network of Nova Health care facilities is yet another crucial step in Nova Health’s commitment to offering easily accessible, quality care to families across the Pacific Northwest. The acquisition of Basin Immediate Care expands Nova Health’s network of clinics to 18, including 15 clinics in Lane and Douglas counties along with two in Montana.

“Our acquisition of Basin Immediate Care represents the unification of two like-minded entities,” said Clendenen. “We are both committed to offering the highest quality patient care and serving Oregon’s underserved communities. Together, we will be even stronger thanks to our combined resources and our shared vision for providing compassionate, same-day care.”

Clendenen wants both existing Nova Health and former Basin Immediate Care patients to be assured that the providers they have come to know and trust will continue to support their health and wellness plans.

“Our expansion efforts have been purposeful and strategic so that we can ensure a consistent and high-quality patient experience,” said Clendenen. “What is unique about Nova Health, and the reason we remain the place that people choose for health care, and the place that compassionate people want to work, is that we keep our patients and their wellness at the center of everything we do. By adding Basin Immediate Care to our network, we continue to achieve our goal of providing exceptional medical care across the Pacific Northwest.”

 

About Nova Health

Nova Health provides urgent care, primary care, physical therapy services, and musculoskeletal clinic services. Our focus is on providing the best patient care to patients in our communities. Established in 2008 with one clinic and nine employees, we have grown to 18 clinics in Oregon and Montana.

Nova Health Willamette St. Clinic to Resume Urgent Care Services

Nova Health Willamette Street clinic in Eugene to resume Urgent Care Services. COVID-19 safety measures in place to keep patients and staff safe.

EUGENE, Ore. – June 25, 2020 – The Nova Health clinic located at 2710 Willamette Street in Eugene, will resume offering urgent care services effective Monday, June 29. The clinic will be open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. For immunocompromised patients or those who prefer to seek virtual care, Nova Health offers telemedicine. Appointments are available daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In mid-March, Nova Health adjusted its clinic service offering strategy as part of its COVID-19 safety response plan. Since the adjustments, the Willamette clinic has provided primary care and routine wellness services only to minimize exposure to those individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and preserve personal protective equipment (PPE). With adequate PPE supplies and a low disease prevalence in the Eugene area, the Willamette clinic will resume treating patients in need of either primary care or urgent care treatments.

To ensure the continued safety of its patients and staff, as part of its ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the clinic is following rigorous patient and staff safety and sanitation guidelines. These procedures include:

  • Enforcement of social distancing practices in clinic waiting areas
  • Face mask use requirement for all patients
  • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all clinic staff
  • Frequent sanitization of common surfaces and equipment
  • Elevated training for all clinic staff
  • Dedicated patient screening protocols to identify at-risk patients based on present symptoms and exposure
  • Options for patients to wait in their vehicles to reduce exposure

“Our clinic staff—across all our locations—has worked tirelessly and selflessly over the past three months to help treat the community during this unprecedented time,” said Dr. Marc Schnapper, Urgent Care Medical Director. “I could not be prouder of their efforts and am pleased that we can now confidently resume both urgent and primary care services at our Willamette Street clinic.”

For those patients who believe they have contracted COVID-19, Nova Health is maintaining dedicated treatment in its Thurston (Springfield), Harrisburg, Coburg Road (Eugene) and West 11th Street (Eugene) locations.

“We recognize that while disease prevalence is low, we need to remain vigilant and cautious against exacerbating the virus spread,” said Schnapper. 

About Nova Health

Nova Health provides urgent care, primary care, physical therapy services, and musculoskeletal clinic services. Our focus is on providing the best patient care to patients in our communities. Established in 2008 with one clinic and nine employees, we have grown to 18 clinics in Oregon and Montana.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome & When to Get Help for Wrist Pain?

A large portion of Americans spends a significant amount of time during their workday typing on a computer. Those in the telecommunications and technology industries spend over 82 percent of their days typing on a keyboard. Workers in the financial and insurance industries spend nearly 79 percent of their days typing, and even those in the hospitality, food service, and hotel industries spend close to 43 percent typing.

What this data means is that the average American office worker is putting significant strain on their hands, wrists, and fingers, and this data does not even include individuals in manual labor positions who spend their days building, wrenching, lifting, moving, driving, creating, or operating fine instruments. It should be no surprise that carpal tunnel syndrome is one of, if not the, most common nerve disorder, affecting four to ten million Americans. Fortunately, it is treatable, which means for the millions of people living with pain and discomfort, there are hope and help.

 

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder that causes hand weakness, numbness, and tingling. Also known as median nerve compression, the condition occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve that runs the length of the arm and passes into the wrist via the carpal tunnel, ending in the hand. The median nerve controls the movement and sensation in all fingers except the pinky.

 

What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome vary. Patients often report side effects beginning gradually before intensifying over time. Symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling of the hand and fingers except for the pinky that feels like an electric shock
  • Pain or numbness that travels from the wrist up into the arm, particularly while holding something in the hands
  • Hand weakness, particularly in the muscles that allow the thumb to make a pinching movement that can cause the dropping of held objects

 

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is most often linked to another underlying health condition, most specifically:

  • High blood pressure
  • Autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid Dysfunction
  • Fluid retention caused by pregnancy or menopause
  • A past trauma to the wrist, such as a fracture

When one repeatedly overextends their wrist, an underlying case of carpal tunnel syndrome can become exacerbated, as the repetitive movement contributes to swelling of the median nerve. Behaviors that can worsen carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Excessive keyboard use
  • Prolonged exposure to power tools or hand tools that vibrate
  • Playing the piano or other hobbies that require repeated hand and wrist movements

 

Who Is At Risk of Developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome primarily impacts adults. Individuals with chronic health conditions that are known to be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, such as diabetes, are most at risk. Women are also three times more likely than men to develop the condition during their lifetimes. Individuals whose jobs or hobbies might require repetitive wrist movements are more at risk. Such work includes assembly line operations, including manufacturing, sewing, cleaning, and meatpacking, as well as excessive computer keyboard use.

 

What Treatment is Available for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Both surgical and non-surgical therapy options are available to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, depending on the severity of symptoms. Those who seek a diagnosis and treatment from a doctor early have the best odds of recovering fully. For early carpal tunnel syndrome cases, your doctor may encourage you to rest your hands frequently when performing repetitive tasks, wearing a wrist splint, and applying cold packs to help reduce swelling.

Your doctor might also recommend the use of an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, to help relieve discomfort and pain. Other treatments include the injection of corticosteroids to decrease swelling and inflammation. In the most severe cases, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure known as a carpal tunnel release procedure, which aims to relieve pressure by cutting the ligament pressing on the median nerve.

If you are experiencing chronic pain, tingling, or numbness in your wrist, hand, or arm, and you believe carpal tunnel syndrome may be the cause, talk to your doctor. He or she can provide a diagnosis and provide a recommendation on an appropriate treatment plan.

Return to Work Safety Tips for Employees Post COVID-19

As a nation and a globe, we are not entirely safeguarded from the COVID-19 virus. However, thanks to the relentless efforts of healthcare workers, hospitals, sanitation crews, researchers, and other COVID-19 heroes, many states are allowing for the reopening of many types of businesses with some safety restrictions and precautions. Whether you work in a restaurant, office, school, retail space, or another venue, if you will soon be returning to work onsite, follow all the safety measures outlined by your employer and consider the additional guidance below as general return-to-work best practices.

 

1. Do Not Go to Work if You have a Fever or Cough

Every person must remain hypervigilant of their health and do their part to stop the possible spread of this dangerous and deadly virus. If you have a fever, cough, or believe you may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, particularly if you have been exposed to a patient diagnosed with the virus, call out of work and stay home.

 

2. Take Advantage of Services Available from Your Employer

Many employers are partnering with healthcare entities to offer COVID-19 antibody or antigen testing and disease management counseling. Find out what options are available to you and consider leveraging them to assess your risk so that you can protect yourself, your family, and your co-workers accordingly.

 

3. Continue to Maintain Social Distance

Your employer will likely invite you back to your workspace with requirements for staff members to maintain a safe distance from one another while working. Take every precaution possible to maintain a safe social distance while working, on breaks, when passing through hallways, while traversing designated parking areas, and while in meetings.

 

4. Wear a Face Covering

Follow your employer’s requirements regarding the use of face coverings while on the premise. This safety measure is particularly crucial if you work in the service, retail, or restaurant industries and will be interacting with a variety of customers throughout your shift.

 

5. Continue to Telework, if Possible

Many businesses have found during the safer-at-home mandate, that they can productively conduct business with the majority—or entirety—of their workforce working remotely. If you are an employee who can telework, and your employer is continuing to allow staff to telework on an individual basis, do so at least for the short-term. Until there is a cure or vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, maintaining social distance is still the best way to mitigate possible contagion. If you can work from home, plan to do so.

 

6. Open a Window

To help minimize the risk of the airborne virus circulating your office or retail space, open windows or doors and use fans to help circulate air.

 

7. Minimize Exposure to Common Areas

The virus may be more likely to spread in common areas frequented by employees, such as breakrooms, cafeterias, conference rooms, locker rooms, waiting rooms, fitness areas, and lobbies. As much as you can, minimize the amount of time you spend in common areas.

 

8. Sanitize and Wash Hands Frequently

Continue to follow the CDC’s best practices for personal sanitation habits. Disinfect common areas in your workspace and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds frequently throughout the day. Disinfect and sanitize door handles electronic devices and equipment, per your employer’s safety and sanitation guidelines.

 

Many Americans are elated by the prospect of returning to work and the activities they enjoyed before COVID-19. Still, keep in mind that the COVID-19 virus has not been eradicated. It remains present in our society and is putting peoples’ lives at risk. Do your part to reenter the workforce safely. There is no returning entirely to life before COVID-19, but there are ways to adapt to the new normal, while still keeping yourself, your family, friends, peers, and co-workers safe.

What Factors Increase Your Risk of Brain Cancer?

More than 700,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor today, and nearly 80,000 more will be diagnosed with a primary brain tumor this year. These staggering statistics remind us that this dangerous and deadly disease can strike anyone at any time and that too many of us have lost friends, colleagues, family members, and loved ones to this devastating disease. Fortunately, there are health and lifestyle choices you can make now to help reduce your risk of developing brain cancer in your lifetime. Understand what factors might put you at risk, and then get help from your care provider to make positive changes so you can live a long, healthy life.

Brain Cancer Defined

Brain cancer is an overgrowth of cells in the brain that forms a mass or tumor. When malignant, or cancerous, brain tumors tend to grow rapidly, which can cause dangerous side effects, and ultimately be deadly.

What are the Symptoms of Brain Cancer?

Symptoms associated with brain cancer vary wildly and can include:

  • Headaches, which can be severe, especially in the morning, or during activity.
  • Seizures, including motor seizures, which are sudden involuntary muscle movements.
  • Personality or memory changes.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Fatigue, sluggishness, or drowsiness.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Memory problems or changes in judgment.
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks or activities.
  • A loss of motor skills or balance (if the tumor is in the cerebellum).
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis (if the tumor is in the frontal lobe of the cerebrum).
  • Partial or total vision loss (if the tumor is in the occipital lobe or temporal lobe of the cerebrum).
  • Changes in speech, hearing, or memory.
  • Difficulty remembering words (if the tumor is in the frontal and temporal lobe of the cerebrum).

Who is at Risk of Brain Cancer?

The following factors may increase your risk of developing brain cancer during your lifetime:

  • Age. Children and older adults are more likely to develop a brain tumor.
  • Gender. Men, in general, are more likely than women to develop a brain tumor.
  • Ethnicity. Those from northern Europe are more than twice as likely to develop a brain tumor as people from Japan.
  • Genetic factors. Researchers have linked five percent of brain tumors to hereditary genetic factors, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome, neurofibromatosis, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Turcot syndrome, and von Hippel-Lindau disease.
  • Exposure. Brain cancer risk may increase for those exposed to solvents, pesticides, oil products, rubber, or vinyl chloride.
  • Infection. Exposure to such infections, viruses, and allergens as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes mononucleosis, and cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • Ionizing radiation. Previous treatment with ionizing radiation, such as x-rays, may increase risk.
  • Head injury or seizures. Some studies have identified a link between head trauma and meningioma, a usually noncancerous tumor that arises from the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Brain Cancer

While you cannot prevent a brain tumor, by limiting your exposure to the risk factors listed above, and avoiding environmental hazards such as smoking, you can minimize your risk.

When to Get Help

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms previously listed, and believe that you may have any brain cancer risk factors, talk to your doctor. He or she can determine the cause of your symptoms and establish a care plan. Remember that early diagnosis of any form of cancer will give you the highest odds of a full recovery and long life.

Six Reasons to Choose Telemedicine for Your Next Healthcare Appointment

Across the country and here in the Pacific Northwest, communities are slowly reopening businesses and commerce as part of phased COVID-19 recovery plans. While these lifted restrictions mean that individuals can resume some work and personal interactions, government leaders are urging all Americans still to practice safe social distancing practices and sanitation habits when in public. Better yet, Americans are encouraged to continue working and staying at home when possible.

Telemedicine is emerging during the COVID-19 crisis and recovery period not just as a temporary response to stay-at-home mandates, but as a short-term safety measure and a long-term convenience. For immunocompromised or at-risk individuals, traveling to a physician’s office even during the COVID-19 recovery phase may seem like it could produce unnecessary health risk exposure. For all others, telemedicine has proved to be a safe and convenient way to seek medical guidance for many non-life threatening health concerns.

If you are new to the idea of seeking virtual medical care, consider these five benefits of choosing telemedicine when appropriate.

 

1. It Saves You Time.

Busy parents, schedule-packed executives, cramming college students, and over-committed entrepreneurs all agree that there is never enough time in the day. All medical appointments require advanced scheduling within limited windows of availability that includes commuting time, a forced break from work, family, and other responsibilities to get to the appointment, time in the waiting room and with the provider, and then time to commute home or back to the office. Essentially, mid-day appointments are productivity disruptors. Telemedicine appointments break the cycle of interruptions by requiring only the time it takes to speak with your physician: no commuting, no waiting room, no lost productivity.

 

2. Telemedicine Appointments Save You Money.

Telemedicine offers several forms of cost savings. These include fewer lost wages due to less time away from the office (especially if you schedule your appointment before or after work or during your lunch break), fewer gas miles, and no parking lot or garage fees. Save your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) dollars for appointments and prescription drug copays instead of traveling expenses. For those with eldercare responsibilities, at-home doctor visits mean you also don’t need to spend on childcare or eldercare services so you can travel to your appointment.

 

3. It Makes Care Accessible.

Not everyone has the convenience of being able to walk or take a short drive to their doctor’s office. For individuals who live in rural areas, particularly in Nova Health’s service areas of Northwestern Oregon and Montana, a round trip to the doctor’s office may require spending an hour or more in the car. Without having to leave the house, telemedicine makes accessing high-quality health care much more accessible for patients living in rural or remote settings. Telemedicine also alleviates the burden of seeking out transportation to appointments for those who do not own a vehicle or live close to affordable public transit.

 

4. Faster Follow-Ups.

Depending on the reason for your appointment, your physician may request to see you again for a follow-up visit. Such requests mean yet more of the inconveniences listed above—lost time, money, and transportation hassles—for in-person visits, but not for telemedicine visits.

 

5. It Minimizes Your Exposure to Germs.

Every physician’s office is highly sanitized, but it’s simply not possible to eliminate germs from an office space that sick patients visit to seek care. If you have ever felt that you caught a cold or the flu after going to your doctor’s office for a routine exam, you’re not alone. Telemedicine eliminates your exposure to fellow patients who might be carriers of airborne illnesses. In the era of COVID-19, this risk mitigation is crucial to our nation’s efforts to beat the virus.

 

6. Your Fellow Patients Are Trying it and Loving It.

If you’re still unsure if you might be comfortable trying this new form of healthcare, know that many patients who have participated in a telemedicine visit—both before and during the COVID-19 crisis—would express all the benefits listed above as well as others. According to a 2019 patient satisfaction survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, satisfaction with the telemedicine experience among its users ranks among the highest of any consumer category studied by J.D. Power. Among those surveyed, 84 percent were able to resolve their medical concern completely during their visit, 73 percent did not experience any issues with the service, and 87 percent felt the enrollment process was easy.

 

To learn more about telemedicine and how it can save you time and money, minimize your health risk, and enable a private and informative healthcare visit with a care provider you know and trust, watch the video below or click here to schedule an appointment with Nova Health.

Five Things You Need to Do to Prepare for Your Telemedicine Appointment

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to learn how to do a wide variety of tasks we have been comfortable completing in-person, virtually. From socializing with friends and book club chats to online banking and grocery orders, many familiar responsibilities are becoming digitized. A critical component of your healthy lifestyle that you can safely conduct from your home, believe it or not, is your annual doctor’s appointment, and even some urgent care appointments. Just like with an in-person exam, there are a few steps you should complete in advance of your appointment to ensure you feel prepared. Read on to learn what our team of caregivers recommends to best prepare for a telemedicine appointment.

 

1. Contact Your Insurance Provider

You will not want to be surprised by an unexpected health care bill. Before you make an appointment, contact your insurance provider to determine if your plan covers telemedicine. Some insurance plans may not cover telemedicine services; however, insurance coverage is evolving rapidly in response to Federal and State emergency proclamations addressing COVID-19. As a result, many insurers are adding coverage for telemedicine services.

 

2. Write Down Your List of Questions

This step is essential even when you are meeting your physician in-person to ensure you do not forget to ask any questions that have been building up in the back of your mind since your last exam. Especially during your first time experiencing a telemedicine exam, in which you may be distracted by the technology interface, ensure you maximize your time with your caregiver by asking any critical questions about such health areas as:

    • Your risk of chronic conditions or diseases that have impacted members of your family
    • Concerns about side effects of your routine prescriptions
    • Diet or weight loss goals
    • Skin, digestive, mood, or sleep abnormalities

 

3. Take a Photo

If you have questions or concerns about an illness or injury that has resulted in physically visible symptoms, take a photo that you can share with your physician during your appointment or as a follow-up. Telemedicine appointments are safe alternatives to in-person exams for such concerns as moles, rashes, or hives that you may previously have sought treatment for in an urgent care setting.

 

4. Consider Your Setting

Your doctor will speak with you from a quiet, private location. You will want to do the same. Make arrangements to hold your telemedicine call from a quiet, private setting in your home. Ensure you have a reliable internet connection that is capable of video conferencing. If possible, use headphones with a built-in microphone for the best audio quality for you as the listener and to ensure your physician can hear you in return. Most importantly, you will want to feel as if you have the privacy you would expect in your doctor’s office to discuss health concerns candidly.

 

5. Know When to Make an In-Person Appointment

There are some scenarios in which a physician should assess your symptoms in-person. These include anything that requires a hands-on exam, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, or chest pain. If you believe that COVID-19 may be causing your symptoms, call any of our clinics. Please inform our care team if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms. Our compassionate care team is trained to identify, diagnose, and address novel coronavirus symptoms and can help to triage your care appropriately.

 

If you believe you are experiencing a true medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

 

Telemedicine will enable you to speak with and receive care from a compassionate provider you know and trust without having to leave your home. If you would like to make a telemedicine appointment with any of our compassionate care providers, click here.

What Should You Do if Your Medication is Recalled?

Millions of Americans rely on the use of regular prescription medications to treat chronic conditions. Says the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), approximately 46 percent of the U.S. population used one or more prescription medications in the past month. If you are among those reliant on medication to help you manage such common conditions as high blood pressure or cholesterol, chronic pain, diabetes, or asthma, know the recommended steps to take if you are notified that your medication has been recalled. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls medications annually as a patient safety measure. Be prepared with a plan so that your care treatment is not detrimentally interrupted if a recall happens to you.

 

What is a Drug Recall?

A prescription recall is a voluntary action taken by the manufacturer or the FDA at any time to remove a defective drug product from the market.

 

Why are Drugs Recalled?

While it may inadvertently be an inconvenience for patients, drug recalls are the most effective way to ensure safety and minimize the risk of a complication, dangerous side effects—or in the worst case, death—from the use of a specific medication. Drug manufacturers and the FDA work diligently to ensure that before medications are released to the public that they are tested for possible issues. Post-release, the entities continue to monitor the drugs for complications. If anything unforeseen arises that may put patients at risk, the FDA or the manufacturer may decide to issue a recall. Monitored issues range from drug efficacy and dangers to inadequate or misleading packaging, to hazards identified during the manufacturing process that may have contaminated products.

 

What Should You Do if Your Prescription is Recalled?

Most recalls are issued out of an abundance of caution due to minor issues. If a prescription medication that you have been taking is recalled, do not panic. Stop taking the medication immediately, and call your doctor or contact a pharmacist and ask for a recommended replacement.

Read the available materials from the FDA or the manufacturer to understand the reason for the recall. If there was an issue with the efficacy of the product, and you have been experiencing possible related side effects, share that information with your doctor.

Safely discard the recalled medication or return it to your pharmacy. Most drugs should not be flushed down the toilet. Instead, mix it with coffee grounds or kitty litter in a bag and then place it in the trash—carefully out of reach of any children or pets.

Moving forward, if you ever notice anything suspicious with a medication—such as a tampered seal, broken packaging, strange smell or odd appearance, contact your pharmacist before taking the drug, even if you have not been informed of a recall.

 

Recalls of Over-the-Counter Medications

Keep in mind that it is not only prescription medications that may be recalled. Over-the-counter medicines are also closely monitored by the FDA and are subject to recalls. If you own any over-the-counter drugs that are recalled, stop taking them immediately. Return the medication to the store at which you purchased it and ask for a refund. The pharmacist or your doctor can recommend a safe alternative.

If you have any concerns about recalled medications, talk to your doctor, or visit the FDA’s drug recall list.

What is a COVID-19 Serological Antibody Test?

Nova Health, a comprehensive provider of quality urgent care, primary care, physical therapy, and musculoskeletal services in Oregon and Montana, offers COVID-19 serological antibody tests at all clinic locations.

Serological tests for SARS-CoV-2 are intended for those individuals who either have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and had a negative molecular test, or those that were not tested when ill and now have recovered.  This test determines the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 testing, the COVID-19 serological test in particular, the meaning of positive and negative results, and more.

 

Q. How can healthcare professionals confirm COVID-19 infection?

A. Confirmation of infection with SARS-CoV-2 must be made through a combination of clinical evaluation and other applicable tests.

 
Q. What does a COVID-19 positive serologic test result mean?

A. A positive serologic result indicates that an individual has likely produced an immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

 
Q. What does a COVID-19 negative serologic test result mean?

A. A negative serologic result suggests that an individual has not developed detectable antibodies at the time of testing. While contingent on a variety of factors, a negative result could be due to testing too early in the course of infection, the absence of exposure to the virus, or the lack of an adequate immune response, which may be due to conditions or treatments that suppress immune function.

 
Q. What should a patient do who tests positive for COVID-19?

A. Decisions about ongoing monitoring, treatment, or return to normal activities for patients being treated for suspected infection with SARS-CoV-2 should be made following guidance from a healthcare provider or public health authorities. Social distancing and disease prevention precautions such as wearing face masks and frequent handwashing still applies.

 
Q. Is COVID-19 serologic testing FDA approved?

A. Serum assays have not been FDA cleared or approved. The FDA released guidance on the diagnostic use of serum assays titled, “Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease 2019 during the Public Health Emergency – Immediately in Effect Guidance for Clinical Laboratories, Commercial Manufacturers and Food and Drug Administrative Staff.” The serum assay is an Abbott certified test performed at LabCorp high complexity lab.

The guidance states that the FDA authorizes the use of the serum assay test device:

  • Under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for use by authorized laboratories
  • For the detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (e.g., total, IgG, IgA, and IgM), and not for any other viruses or pathogens
  • For the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for the detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1).