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Corvallis Clinic Health Information Blog

The lowdown on meningitis

Jul 26, 04:52 PM

Clinical Research Center

Almost everyone knows that meningitis is not a good thing – we can all agree it’s a disease with a scary name and should be avoided.  But, just how bad is it? Who is at risk? And more importantly, how can it be avoided?  This article will provide answers to these questions and links to additional information.

Meningitis is the result of an inflammation of the membranes around the spinal cord and brain.  Meningitis is particularly insidious as it can result from a bacterial, viral or fungal infection.  In the U.S., most cases of meningitis are viral and fortunately symptoms are usually mild and resolve on their own.  Fungal meningitis is rare and is not contagious.  On the other hand, bacterial meningitis (which can be caused by several strains of bacteria) is very contagious, can be life-threatening, and must be treated right away with antibiotics to avoid serious health consequences, such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, kidney failure, shock and even death.

Bacterial meningitis is most common in people under 20 years old.  One of the main risk factors for meningococcus bacterium infection in this age group is related to living in group settings such as college dormitories, military bases, and sleepover camps.  To protect this vulnerable age group, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the first dose of meningococcal vaccine be given at 11-12 years old, with a booster at age 16.

You won’t need to learn anything new to remember how to avoid meningitis because it’s the same as avoiding seasonal flu: get vaccinated, don’t share personal items, avoid close proximity with infected people, wash your hands thoroughly, boost your immune system with healthy eating, and get prompt treatment if you have been exposed.

The Clinical Research Center is currently seeking volunteer patients in studies for meningococcal vaccine, Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, and those with very high triglyceride levels. 

If you are interested in learning more about clinical trials, contact the Clinical Research Center at 541-766-2163, or send an email to research@corvallisclinic.com or fill out our Research Study Information Request form. And, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/corvallisclinicresearch.

- Julie Carrico is Associate Coordinator of The Corvallis Clinical Research Center. 


Before declining trial participation, patients should consider some facts

Jul 26, 07:00 AM

Clinical Research Center

On occasion, a patient who is approached about participating in a clinical trial will immediately decline without taking the time to find out what it’s all about. The following is what I wish I could tell them before they have made up their mind.

  • Clinical trial volunteers are respected and taken care of. Laws and guidelines are in place to protect them. Volunteers must participate in a thorough Informed Consent process to make sure they understand the study.  
  • Our staff must complete rigorous testing to be qualified to even work on the study. 
  • If the clinical trial is for a serious or life-threatening disease, there will not be a placebo treatment group.  Every patient will receive the minimum standard of care because withholding treatment to those who need it is not ethical.  Patients are informed if the study will have a placebo group.  
  • Volunteers may withdraw from a study at any time, for any reason.
  • Participants continue to see their regular doctor(s) during the study.
  • There is no cost to participate in a clinical trial.  In fact, in a previous blog we describe that there is usually a stipend. Insurance will never be billed for a clinical-trial expense.   

Every trial is not for everybody.  Before automatically declining to participate, take a few moments to think about the study information and perhaps ask a question or two.  You might end up being glad you did, as was this former volunteer:

"Initially I was a little hesitant to take part in a research program, but I believe that was simply because I was in unfamiliar territory. From the start I was put at ease by a wonderful staff and each part of the process was explained in a way that was easily understood. I can say that I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate." – Valerie Coomes Clinical Research participant 

The Clinical Research Center is currently seeking volunteer patients in studies for meningococcal vaccine, Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, and those with very high triglyceride levels.  

If you are interested in learning more about clinical trials, contact the Clinical Research Center at 541-766-2163, or send an email to research@corvallisclinic.com or fill out our Research Study Information Request form. And, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/corvallisclinicresearch.

- Julie Carrico is Associate Coordinator of The Corvallis Clinical Research Center 

 


Informed Consent - My favorite thing!

Jun 27, 10:30 AM

Clinical Research Center

By Julie Carrico, MBA, CCRC

I’ve been  thinking about that amusing anecdote on social media about a typical day in a dog’s life, where for every event the dog proclaims,  “My favorite thing!” For example: 

  • 8:00 a.m. - Dog food! My favorite thing!
  • 9:30 a.m. - A car ride! My favorite thing! And so on, until the day’s final entry:
  • 11 p.m. - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

This blog is about Informed Consent, which is – you guessed it – my favorite thing! 

One of the first things potential clinical study participants encounter is a document called the Informed Consent.  The following is the official definition of Informed Consent, according to the guideline from the International Conference on Harmonisation, a worldwide advising body for drug research:

A process by which a subject voluntarily confirms his or her willingness to participate in a particular trial, after having been informed of all aspects of the trial that are relevant to the subject's decision to participate. Informed consent is documented by means of a written, signed, and dated informed consent form.

The importance of careful patient review of the Informed Consent document cannot be overstated.  These documents are written in patient-friendly terms so the language is simple and relatively free of medical jargon.  The documents spell out exactly what will happen in the clinical study so there should never be any surprises.  Our site does not allow patients to sign the initial Informed Consent without having a sit-down meeting to discuss it.  If patients are so inclined, we encourage them to share the Informed Consent document with family or trusted friends prior to our sit-down discussion.

And now for my favorite thing!  I love it when patients bring their copy of the Informed Consent to our sit-down meeting and it is a bit battered, has notes scribbled in the margins and maybe a post-it note or two sticking out.  Why is this my favorite thing?  Because it tells me the patient has thoroughly read the Informed Consent, and I know we will have a meaningful discussion about the study, its risks and benefits, and patient responsibilities.  In other words, the patient will make an informed decision about whether or not to participate.  My favorite thing!

The Clinical Research Center is currently seeking volunteer patients in studies for Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, and those with very high triglyceride levels.  Who knows? Being involved in a research study might turn out to be your favorite thing!

If you are interested in learning more about clinical trials, contact the Clinical Research Center at 541-766-2163, or send an email to research@corvallisclinic.com or fill out our Research Study Information Requestform. And, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/corvallisclinicresearch.

 - Julie Carrico is Associate Coordinator of The Corvallis Clinical Research Center 

 

Don't wait to check out memory concerns

Jun 10, 08:35 AM

Clinical Research Center

By Julie Carrico, MBA, CCRC

I recently had a conversation with a friend “Jane” who told me she is worried about her mother’s memory issues.  Jane shared these concerns with me because she knows of my work at the Clinical Research Center with Alzheimer’s disease projects and she isn’t sure where to turn.  In fact, Jane said she wasn’t sure she would even want to know if her mother had Alzheimer’s disease.  In this blog we’ll discuss why symptoms of cognitive impairment, such as memory loss, mustn’t be ignored, and why it should be evaluated by medical professionals.

First of all, there are lots of reasons for cognitive impairment, so no one should assume Alzheimer’s disease is the cause. For example, over or under treatment of underlying medical conditions can cause cognitive impairment and that’s why it’s important to start with an evaluation by the patient’s primary care physician.  

In this case, I was concerned because Jane’s mother has Type 2 diabetes and the research is pretty clear on the link between poor blood sugar control and cognitive impairment.  In addition, I knew that Jane’s mother had recently suffered a broken leg from which her recovery was complicated and protracted.  Research has shown a link between stress hormones and blood sugar control, furthering my thoughts that Jane’s mother needed a full evaluation by her physician – one that would undoubtedly include an assessment of the patient’s blood sugar control.  

I encouraged Jane to speak with her mother about the memory issues and perhaps offer to attend the next doctor appointment with her mother so they can discuss it together.  If appropriate, the physician will refer Jane’s mother to a neurologist who can conduct a thorough assessment.

I can sympathize with the position of many people who profess they would rather not be informed of an unfavorable diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s disease.  Now let me tell you why I believe it is better to know.  There are interventions available now that may change the course of the disease.  For example, numerous studies show that a healthy diet, exercise, proper sleep and mental stimulation can be helpful.  And, while there are some medications currently available to boost memory, other treatments that aim to slow and/or halt disease progression are now being tested in large scale clinical trials.

In this case, ignorance is not bliss!  If you or a loved one are experiencing concerning changes in memory, etc., talk with your doctor – you might be able to make adjustments and/or lifestyle changes that will protect your brain health.

The Clinical Research Center is currently seeking volunteer patients in studies for Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, those with very high triglyceride levels, and COPD.  

If you are interested in learning more about clinical trials, contact the Clinical Research Center at 541-766-2163, or send an email to research@corvallisclinic.com or fill out our Research Study Information Request form. And, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/corvallisclinicresearch.

 

- Julie Carrico is Associate Coordinator of The Corvallis Clinical Research Center 


The breakdown on adult acne breakouts

Jun 08, 10:53 AM

Kyle M. Van De Graaff, M.D.
Kyle M. Van De Graaff, M.D.

To find out about Dr. Van De Graaff, go to his web page.

By Kyle Van De Graaff, M.D.

You would think that being an adult comes with a clear complexion. However, teenagers aren’t the only ones to experience acne breakouts. Adults get acne, too. Nearly all adults get an occasional blackhead or pimple.  Read further for my breakdown on breakouts.

Why do we get acne?

Despite what your mother may have told you, eating the wrong foods does not trigger acne. In general, acne worsens in response to high stress levels. But there are other triggers.

Blackheads and whiteheads often form when the residue of hair care products finds its way onto the face. Friction on the face can cause acne, such as wearing a chinstrap or a mask.

Hormonal acne is very common, occurring in about 25 percent of adult women. It shows up as tender bumps beneath the skin that take a long time to resolve and hardly ever rise to the skin surface. These lesions usually occur on the lower face or upper neck near the jaw line. They don’t often scar, provided you don’t pick at them. However, they do leave a dark discoloration that can take months to fade.

Hormonal acne can have a sudden onset after discontinuing birth control pills, which normally suppress hormonal acne.

How can breakouts be prevented?

Prevention is the name of the game with acne. Despite what television commercials would have you believe, there is no helping a pimple once it has appeared. All acne treatments are preventive measures.

Over-the-counter acne products are based on salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. They come as washes that are rinsed off and as creams that are left in contact with the skin. In general, creams are more effective than washes because they have longer contact time with the skin. This comes at the expense of increased dryness. Salicylic acid tends to be the best non-prescription choice for preventing plugs, while benzoyl peroxide is best for preventing the inflamed pimples. 

What causes acne on the body?

Oily parts of the body including the face, neck, scalp, chest, back, and shoulders are all prone to acne. Acne begins when excess oil mixes with dead skin cells to form a plug at the entrance of the oil gland.

For women, body acne is not common. So if you are a woman and get acne on the body, consider the possibility that it might be something else entirely.

When should adults see their doctor or specialist for acne and what medical treatment is available?

If over-the-counter products haven’t produced the desired effect after 3–4 months, it’s time to see a doctor. Treating acne is a slow process, usually 6–8 weeks before progress is visible.

For women, hormonal acne responds best to estrogen-containing contraceptives, such as birth control pills, and to a drug called spironolactone.

There are very good prescription medications for acne, and most cases of acne can be controlled with today’s treatments.

Dr. Van De Graaff is a dermatologist at The Corvallis Clinic. To schedule an appointment, call 541-754-1252 or contact Find-a-Physician.