Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Don’t Do Your Doctor’s Job: Why Self Diagnosis Can Be Downright Dangerous

You have probably had a strange ache or pain that persists, a rash that will not respond to any lotions or creams, or a sudden fever that seems to come from out of nowhere.  You probably are not looking for reasons to run to the doctor’s office every chance you get.  However, when you need answers, there is only one real option: see your doctor.  Many people are now assuming the role of physician by doing their own research on the Internet, attempting to self diagnose, and potentially causing themselves harm.

The Internet can be a great tool for health education and research.  Staying healthy is one of the leading reasons people flock to the web, for answers on diet, exercise, supplements, and medications.  However, when you are facing a troubling or unusual symptom, even a symptom that is out of the ordinary but does not seem to bother you too much, trying to identify a potential cause by matching that symptom to a medical condition can be confusing and potentially terrifying.

Reading medical websites with their A-Z symptom lists can be scary.  To give an example, persistent redness on your cheeks could be a symptom of rosacea, a mild inflammatory skin condition, or lupus, a very serious autoimmune disorder that requires immediate medical intervention.  The anxiety and stress that can come from imagining what is going on inside your body, versus actually knowing, can aggravate your problem and will do nothing to help you get better.

Many diseases share common symptoms and are hard to diagnose even for physicians.  That is why ordering the proper tests to identify specific factors is imperative.  The time to make a doctor’s appointment is not after months of trying one home remedy after another until you are desperate for answers.  Such a strategy is not only stressful but could be life threatening.   If you are experiencing a strange symptom, call your doctor.  Only a qualified physician can tell you if what you are going through is just a “bug” that is going around, a reaction to something (such as an allergy), or a more serious condition requiring further tests.  By calling your doctor right away, you are giving yourself the best chance of a speedier recovery, proper diagnosis and treatment plan, and peace of mind.

It is also important to trust your doctor.  While you may not be a physician, you are ultimately the one in control of your body and health.  Be sure to have a doctor who listens to you and with whom you feel comfortable.  If not, seek a physician with the qualities you desire through referrals from friends and family.

In the end, we all want to live long, vibrant lives full of promise, love, and gratitude.  Love yourself enough to know when something is bothering you, to seek professional help.  Your body will thank you for it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Means Security, Privacy, and Less Hassle for Your Next Appointment

One of the most common complaints I have heard from patients in my years of medical practice is the cumbersome clipboard method of filling out private medical information.  To have enough time to fill it all out, patients would need to arrive at least 20 minutes before their appointment, hope the information didn’t get misplaced, and try to focus on answering family medical history questions, all while being stressed out.  

When I made my dream of my own practice a reality, I wanted to avoid the needless hassles of an outdated and clumsy paper patient file system.  I knew that the proper solution wouldn’t be cheap, but I also knew my patients are worth it.  I evaluated several different products before deciding on Digichart, the system we use now.  It was a big investment (over $30,000), but I knew it was essential to providing the very latest technological advances within reach of my patients.

What is so special about Digichart?  Here are just a few highlights:

  •         A user friendly interface that anyone can easily understand
  •         Fill out private medical information in the comfort of your own home
  •         Advanced encryption makes certain your medical records are secure
  •         No one sees your medical information except me or my medical assistant
  •         Lab portal allows test results to be viewed right from your computer at home
  •          All medical and surgical records are in one place
  •          Insurance billing and claims process is simplified
  •          No papers to get lost or viewed by unauthorized persons
  •          A “green”, environmentally responsible solution
  •          No need to arrive 20 minutes early to fumble with dog-eared clipboard questionnaires
As you can see from the list of benefits above, Digichart really is revolutionary in terms of medical information management from a security, convenience, and organizational perspective.  You can go into your records and review them any time you wish, to formulate questions for a follow up visit, or to remind yourself of when your last appointment was.

When I opened my practice, I didn’t cut corners anywhere, especially when it came to my patients’ medical record management.  When you make an appointment, I want you to be relaxed, not worried about remembering whether or not Great Aunt Martha had breast cancer.  The Digichart medical questions do take about 20-30 minutes to complete, but because you fill them out online, you can do so at your leisure, with a steaming hot cup of coffee, in your PJ’s, listening to your iPod.  It certainly beats scrambling to make it to my office early, being flustered, and not being focused in preparation for your appointment.  It’s vital that your Digichart records are filled out completely before your visit, to ensure we have a thorough history, including diseases that may run in your family, and how to best prevent certain conditions from taking hold before they happen.

My parents always taught me that if you’re going to do something, do it right, or don’t do it at all.  I hope with Digichart my commitment to this principle is clear, that nothing is too good for my cherished patients.

To Your Health,
Dr. Brenner

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why Wait? Get Goals Going with New Year’s in November!

It happens like clockwork.  Immediately after Halloween, everywhere you look, the signs of the impending holidays are everywhere:  Christmas music wafting through the air of the local mall, holiday lights strung around street lamps, and of course, the food.  Cookies, cakes, turkey, stuffing, chocolate, candy, and booze – it’s enough to give you a sugar high that lasts until spring.

We all know that overindulgence has a high price tag – extra pounds, bloat, moodiness, tight-fitting clothes, and fatigue.  This year, why not jump-start your resolution to be fit and fabulous?  Is there a secret rule that says you must wait until midnight, December 31?

No one will argue that deprivation on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or any other wintertime holiday you celebrate is unrealistic.  However, there is a big difference between a sensibly sized portion of turkey and all the trimmings, a small piece of pie, and maybe a glass of wine than second and third helpings of everything, too much alcohol, and a glut of sweets.  With a little planning, you can have your cake (or pie) and eat it too.

Here are some suggestions for avoiding Holiday Hangovers (of too much of anything!):

  • Plan ahead of time what you are going to eat
  • Enjoy your turkey – it’s good for you!  Take off the skin as it’s just fatty calories.
  • Go ahead and have mashed potatoes or a roll – but limit yourself to one small scoop and one roll. 
  • If you are going to bring a dish, opt for a healthier version of an unhealthy classic – marinated green beans vs. green bean casserole, whole-wheat rolls vs. white, or homemade whole grain bread.
  • Eat a green salad before your meal so you get full faster.  Toss with balsamic vinaigrette rather than a creamy full fat dressing.
  • Choose larger servings of veggies than starchy carbs.
  • If you must graze, eat fresh cut raw veggies.  Hummus or plain yogurt is a healthy alternative to ranch or onion dip.
  • Savor your meal!  Enjoy every bite, just as you enjoy the time you are spending with your loved ones.
  • Don’t over-do the alcohol.  Limit yourself to one drink, and sip it over the course of dinner.  If you are driving, skip the alcohol altogether and have water with lemon (naturally detoxifying) or coffee or tea.
  • Think about a 21-day jump-start of the HCG diet!  Because the first 2 days are calorie-loading days, you could actually start your diet on Thanksgiving and the day after, and finish your first round before Christmas!
  • Herbal 10 day detox:  to get clean from the inside out, ask us about our exclusive detox plans that can get you feeling great and looking beautiful just in time for those holiday parties and family get togethers.
It’s a wonderful time of year to take control of your health.  The holidays are a time to reflect on our blessings and practice gratitude.  Why not give yourself an early gift of rejuvenation?

Come January 1, your friends and relatives will still be recovering from their holiday stupor, and you’ll be glowing with health and boundless energy.

To fight the post-holiday blues, join us for our first event of 2012:  

Girls Night Out!
Thursday, January 5, 4-8 p.m.
Topics on Bio-Identical Hormones, Weight Loss, and Decreased Libido (Low Sex Drive)
Giveaways, Facials, Chair Massages, and More!  Join us!
RSVP by calling our office at 513-777-0787

To Your Holiday Health,
Dr. Brenner and Staff

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Finding Time: The Balancing Act of Healthy Boundaries

As women, we take on the world.  We have so many roles we love and enjoy:  mother, daughter, wife, aunt, professional roles, and the list goes on.  Our schedules are filled to the brim, and then some.  We love our lives, yet having too much to do can take a serious toll on our bodies if we do not occasionally say “no”.  Saying “no” or “not now” can also be a liberating experience, especially if you suffer from “people pleaser disease”.  We need to honor and love ourselves enough to draw healthy boundaries, create balance, and know that the world will go on if there is one or two events we don’t volunteer for, a meeting we can’t make, or the dishes wait a few more hours to be put away.

Part of creating healthy boundaries is in taking charge of your health.  Regular gynecological exams are crucial for any woman’s wellbeing, yet I see it time and time again how these appointments are canceled, put off, or in some cases, ignored altogether.  There are so many reasons for not making and keeping your doctor’s appointment, but no real excuse for not taking good care of your health.  How can we as women take care of so many others if we are not taking proper care of ourselves?

Many times, people who rely on us as caregivers or as support may not realize the burden they place on us, because we never complain.  If we never draw healthy boundaries, we will forever be asked to do more, give more, and work more, even to the breaking point.  It’s not that we don’t want to give, but there is always a limit to creating and sustaining a healthy life.

I think it’s important to remember that a gynecological exam is an hour or so either once a year, or if you are a patient with higher risk factors, perhaps every 4-6 months.  It’s not much to ask that people respect your need to have regular medical care.  If you have children, you make sure they always see their pediatrician on time.  Why should it be any less important for you?

On the day of your appointment, don’t try to cram a whole bunch of to do’s either before or after your appointment.  Give yourself the needed time to get to our office at a leisurely pace, and do not rush.  While we try to respect everyone’s time and get our patients in and out as quickly as possible, we will not skimp on any patient’s care to make things run faster.  

I want my focus as a gynecological physician to be on my patients’ care more than their schedules.  I am also a busy mom, wife, employer, and member of the community.  Yet when I am here in the office, I am a physician first.  As much as I dislike charging cancellation fees for missed appointments, I have to somehow minimize the effect of them on my practice as a whole.

So, please take the time to honor yourself by honoring your body.  Take the time to take care of it.  The emails, phone calls, texts, soccer games and meetings will all be there when you are done with your appointment, back in the game and ready to participate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Boo! Taking the “Scary!” Out of Outpatient Office Procedures

Halloween is just around the corner, with many people enjoying the reminders of the season – little ones picking out their costumes, putting up decorations, and carving pumpkins.  It’s all in fun, and most of us enjoy a light-hearted scare at this time of year.  However, some women are truly frightened of in office gynecological procedures that could vastly improve their quality of life.  In reality, I believe it’s more fear of the unknown than the actual procedure.

Medicine has progressed leaps and bounds in the last 10 years, even from the time I was in medical school.  This is why I am so passionate about continuing education, and through a love of teaching, imparting my knowledge on advanced gynecological medicine to other physicians all over the country.  New technologies, treatments, and discoveries happen every day, and I want to make sure I know about the ones that can help all my patients live longer, healthier, more vibrant lives.

Because of the progress in gynecological treatments in the last decade, procedures that used to require a hospital stay are now done in a medical office setting.  As a busy mother and wife, I understand that my patients have lives to lead, soccer practice to get to, business meetings to attend, and dance recitals to watch their kids perform.  Sometimes, our own health as women gets pushed to the back burner as we see to everyone else’s needs but our own.  Still, there may be more than just the pull of family and work obligations preventing women from seeking and scheduling a procedure that could improve the quality of their lives.  The fear of pain, recovery time, and complications lead some to just “live with” symptoms that disrupt and inconvenience their lives, like dealing with the hassle of a monthly birth control pill when a family is complete, and constant, heavy bleeding.

Here I hope to demystify a couple of common procedures and take away needless fear regarding them:

Essure Permanent Birth Control

Essure is a permanent sterilization procedure that offers no incisions, no scarring, or hormonal therapy.  There is no need for any anesthetic or actual surgery, and any discomfort (some women report none at all) is very minimal. With Essure, small micro-inserts are placed inside the fallopian tubes by way of the vagina and cervix pathways.  After the procedure, the body’s natural healing process takes over, allowing tissue in the fallopian tubes to heal over the micro-inserts, forming a barrier between sperm and egg.  After 3 months, a special x-ray test will confirm that the procedure was successful and the tubes are blocked.

For more questions and information on Essure, please visit our website:

Thermachoice Endometrial Ablation

One of the most common complaints I hear from my patients is episodes of heavy bleeding.  This potentially embarrassing condition inconveniences every aspect of a woman’s life and inhibits social interaction, an active lifestyle, and even intimacy with a partner.  With Thermachoice, there is no surgery, no downtime, and no scarring.  This very quick procedure is done in the office (average time in only 8 minutes) and no anesthetic or incisions is involved.  First, a mild sedative is given to relax the patient, and a numbing agent is applied to the uterus.  A slender, hand-held catheter is inserted into the uterus through the cervix, and applies controlled heat to destroy the lining of the uterus.  This ends the hassle of monthly periods and any need for feminine protection products.  Child bearing must be complete to consider this procedure.

For more information on Thermachoice, please click on the link below:

I hope everyone enjoys Halloween, taking their little ghouls and goblins trick-or-treating.  When it comes to your health, the only thing to be scared of is not seeking the available help you need to enhance your health and give you a happier, more balanced life.

Happy Halloween!

~Dr. Brenner & Staff

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Embracing My Passion for Teaching Patients, Not Just Doctors

One of my areas of expertise as a physician is teaching.  I travel quite a bit to teach other OBGYN doctors the latest innovations in minimally invasive outpatient surgeries.  I enjoy contributing to the well being of women everywhere by sharing my knowledge with their physicians, ensuring they are well equipped to provide their patients the very best care.

In the spirit of that philosophy, I invested in our Patient Education System, available to all my patients to get more information about their concerns in the privacy of the exam room.  

What is a Patient Education System (PES) and how does it work?

Our PES consists of a large screen TV located within our exam rooms, with a corresponding remote.  As you get ready for your appointment, you can access this easy to use system to look up any kind of information regarding women’s health, symptoms, treatments, and prevention right there at your fingertips.  While I always encourage my patients to formulate questions prior to an appointment, the PES may spark additional questions or topics of conversation, to make the most of the time we have together during your exam.

As your physician, I want you to be informed as a patient, as we partner together to reach your goals of vibrant health and balance. 

Here are some pictures of the PES at work:

As with all my patients who have used it, I know you are going to love it!

Our PES is just one way we strive to demonstrate our commitment to the latest technology and tools to make the lives of you, our patients, easier and healthier through education and empowerment.

To your health and well-being,

-Dr. Brenner & Staff