Pap Tests: How Often?
The American Cancer Society says that most women over 30 who have had several “clear” tests probably need to be screened after 30 every two to three years. Some other things to keep in mind:
- If you have the HIV virus or other condition that weakens the immune system, you should be tested more often
- Women who are 70 and have had normal tests for the last 10 years may decide, with their doctors, to stop the screening
How often you should have a Pap smear is a decision you should make with your doctor. It should be based on your specific risk factors.
It’s important not to decide on your own to have Pap tests less frequently.
Sources: American Cancer Society, December 2002
Litter Box, Pregnancy
You may have heard that if you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t clean the litter box, or maybe even that you should stay away from the cat completely. The concern is that you’ll get toxoplasmosis, an infection that can cause miscarriages and birth defects. Here are a few more details about that:
- It’s possible to get toxoplasmosis from touching the litter box, but it’s more likely you’ll get it from contaminated meat.
- Indoor cats are highly unlikely to transmit the disease.
- Younger outdoor cats are more likely to be contaminated than older ones.
To be on the safe side, always use gloves when you change the litter, and change the litter often.
You can ask your doctor to test your blood for toxoplasmosis antibodies. If they are present, you’re immune to the condition and you don’t have to worry about.
Source: The Archives of Internal Medicine, 23 September 2002
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases with the following characteristics: high pressure, optic nerve damage and vision loss. Left untreated, glaucoma causes blindness. Risk factors include
- Being over age 60
- Being of African-American heritage and over age 40
- Family history
- Extreme nearsightedness
You should be checked for glaucoma
- At ages 35 and 40
- After 40, every 2 to 3 years
- After 60, every 1 to 2 years
Source: The Glaucoma Foundation
Contact Lens Improvements
If you tried contact lenses a while ago and decided they weren’t for you, it’s time to revisit the situation.
There are new lenses available that you can wear for up to 30 days straight—day and night. They’re made from a silicone hydrogel material that supplies six times the amount of oxygen to your eye than other extended wear soft lenses. Users find these lenses more comfortable and less likely to cause a problem with dryness.
There are also lenses that people with an astigmatism can now wear.
If you want to get rid of your glasses but don’t want to have laser surgery to improve your vision, be sure to talk with your optometrist or ophthalmologist about the newest developments in contact lenses.
Source: Food and Drug Administration
Donate Blood, Save 3 Lives
According to the American Red Cross, each time one person gives blood, you can save up to three lives.
Most people are able to give blood safely. Here are some of the criteria:
- You need to be at least 17 years old, but there is no upper age limit.
- You must weigh 110 pounds or more.
- You should be healthy and feel well on the day you give blood.
There’s a wide range of conditions that you can have and still be considered “healthy” according to Red Cross donation criteria. For example, if you have diabetes that’s under control and you’re feeling good, you’re eligible to donate. The same is true for high blood pressure, asthma, high cholesterol and many other conditions.
There are a few medications that rule out your ability to give blood, but most medications are acceptable. In general, the Red Cross does ask you to wait two days after taking antibiotics before you donate.
For more information about who’s eligible to donate, who’s not and what to expect when donating, visit the Web site of the
American Red Cross
Source: The American Red Cross, December 2002