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Thu, Jun 11 3:37pm · Mayo Clinic Minute: Reversing a vasectomy

People change their minds. Some men who had a vasectomy to become infertile might decide for whatever reason that they want to have more children. In those cases, vasectomy reversal can be an option.

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About a half-million vasectomies are performed every year in the U.S. for men who no longer want to have children. And of those, 6% will elect to have it reversed at some point in their lives.

“It’s definitely more involved. So vasectomy is a 15- to 30-minute procedure, but a reversal is a 2½-hour to four-hour procedure,” says Dr. Sevann Helo, a Mayo Clinic urologist.

The vas deferens tubes carry sperm from the testicles to the semen.

“We’re essentially putting those two tubes back together that were initially cut for the vasectomy,” says Dr. Helo.

Almost all vasectomies can be reversed, but it doesn’t guarantee success in conceiving a child. Pregnancy rates after a reversal range from 30% to 90%, depending on the procedure. And after a vasectomy reversal, there is some recovery time.

“I generally tell patients to take it easy for at least four weeks. That means heavy lifting; straining; strenuous exercise, including sexual activity. So after four weeks, a couple can start trying to conceive,” says Dr. Helo.

Fri, May 22 7:57am · Mayo Clinic Minute: Avoid E. coli with proper burger cooking

The return of the summer cookout brings with it the risk for sickness from a bacteria that can end up spoiling more than one meal. Cook hamburgers incorrectly, and you could end up with a case of E. coli.

“E. coli stands for Escherichia coli, which is a type of bacteria,” says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist. “Most commonly, we hear about it in raw or undercooked hamburger meat.”

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Dr. Rajapakse says E. coli bacteria can create some stomach-turning symptoms, such as abdominal pain and nausea. But it can get worse.

“There’s a specific type of E. coli.,” says Dr. Rajapakse. “It’s called O157:H7, which can cause bloody diarrhea and has been associated with a condition that can cause kidney damage, especially in young children.”

The elderly are also at higher risk
for problems with E. coli, as are pregnant women, people with underlying
digestive problems and those with weakened immune systems.

“If somebody were to be
exposed to E. coli in something they ate or drank, they may have symptom onset
within a couple of days to a few weeks after infection or exposure,”
explains Dr. Rajapakse.

She says the best way to avoid a bout with the bacteria is to wash your hands and thoroughly cook your hamburgers.

Wed, May 20 9:02am · Mayo Clinic Minute: What women should know about stroke

Stroke is a medical emergency. The faster you get treatment, the better your chances are of recovering.

Mayo Clinic experts say women who have stroke symptoms should not delay seeking treatment. They say some women don’t realize the symptoms could be life-threatening, and don’t get the care they need in time.

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, reporter Vivien Williams discusses what women need to know about stroke with Dr. Maisha Robinson, a Mayo Clinic neurologist.

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Women ─ even young women ─ listen up, and learn about your risk of stroke.

“Risk factors for women are essentially the same as they are for men,” says Dr. Robinson.

But there are differences, particularly for pregnant women and women on the pill because they have an increased risk of stroke.

“Sometimes, particularly in younger women, the stroke symptoms are not recognized as quickly as we would hope that they would be,” says Dr. Robinson.

She says prompt treatment of symptoms improves your chances of recovery. Symptoms include difficulty talking, walking or thinking; sudden vision changes; sudden, severe headache; or numbness or paralysis. If symptoms happen, call 911 — no matter how old you are.

And to prevent stroke, you should manage health issues that increase your risk, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, excess weight and inactivity. And if you smoke, stop.

Fri, May 15 8:57am · Mayo Clinic Minute: Health benefits of gardening

Practicing social distancing means more time spent at home. And many people use this time to start a garden in their backyard. There’s a saying that you reap what you sow. And in the case of a vegetable garden, a rich harvest may bring more than dinner. Anya Guy, a Mayo Clinic dietitian, says gardening is good for your body and mind.

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Go ahead, dig in. You may go from an empty plot to a bounty. Guy says tending a garden offers an abundance of health benefits.

“You will increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, ultimately because you have them right in your backyard,” says Guy.

Gardening also can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, and offer light
physical activity. Wondering what to grow? Guys says to consider a rainbow variety

“Different vegetables have a variety of different health benefits unique to each of them,” says Guy.

Chili peppers and banana peppers, for example, contain capsaicin, which has been shown to have a number of health benefits. And then there’s eggplant.  

“Eggplant actually grows surprisingly well in a home garden. It’s easy to grow and it can feed a lot of people in the family.”

A homegrown tomato is often a gardener’s pride. Rich in antioxidants, tomatoes contain potassium, vitamin C and are a source of fiber.

“If you don’t have the option to garden at home, keep in mind that community gardens are another option,” says Guy.

By embracing your green thumb, you may be able to unpack your vegetable basket instead of a grocery bag.

Enjoy these recipes:

Wed, May 13 9:04am · Mayo Clinic Minute: Avoid ticks

If you’re practicing social distancing this summer by spending some solo time outdoors, you still might not be alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says tick bites should be top of mind.

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Ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly wooded and grassy areas — some of the same places where you may be enjoying summer.

“They get themselves in a position, and they will climb up the nearest object,” says Dr. Bobbi Pritt, a Mayo Clinic parasitic diseases expert.

It’s called questing.

“It sticks out its legs, and that allows the tick to grab on to hosts as they walk by,” Dr. Pritt adds.

You can lessen the chances you’ll become a host.

“Using insect repellents is a good idea,” Dr. Pritt explains, suggesting permethrin for your clothing and gear. “You can really saturate your gear. Leave it out to dry. And, then, the next day, wear them.”

Use permethrin on materials and DEET on skin.

“Spray the DEET repellent on exposed skin, including your legs and hands,” Dr. Pritt says while demonstrating the product. “Avoid your face, but be sure to protect your neck.”

Then, tuck you pants into your socks. And, on your hike, remember to avoid areas where those questing ticks may be perched.

“That’s why you want to stay away from the tall grasses,” Dr. Pritt adds. “Stay in the middle.”

A tick bite can result in mild symptoms that are treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization.

Wed, Mar 18 4:25pm · COVID-19: Older adults have higher risk of serious illness

Adults over 65 are more at risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“So there are two major factors that cause the aged immune system to be much more vulnerable to new threats, such as COVID-19,” says Dr. Jessica Lancaster, a Mayo Clinic immunology researcher. “First, as we age, we start to produce less new immune cells that are able to respond to new sorts of infectious disease.”

“Secondly, as we age, the immune system has a delay in its ability to coordinate itself. There is a delay in the communication among all the different types of immune cells, and, so, the aged immune system is much more slow at clearing an infectious disease.”

Watch: Dr. Lancaster explains why older adults are at higher risk of serious illness because of COVID-19.

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What actions can be taken to protect the older population from exposure to the virus? The CDC recommends that older people should:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid cruises and nonessential air travel.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • Keep away from others who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often.

“Also, we should sneeze into our elbow or cough into your elbow to avoid spreading germs on our hands,” says Dr. Lancaster. “And also encouraging our elderly to have healthy lifestyle choices, such as getting enough sleep; being hydrated and nourished; and also maintaining social interactions with them, so that we can tell if there is a difference in their health status.”

The CDC advises to watch for potential COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. And call your health care provider if those symptoms develop.

Check the CDC website for additional updates on COVID-19.
For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

Thu, Mar 12 2:00am · Mayo Clinic Minute: What is chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease is the gradual loss of kidney function. Some people, including African Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans, are at higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease. March is National Kidney Month, and Dr. LaTonya Hickson, a Mayo Clinic nephrologist, says chronic kidney disease shows no early symptoms, so it’s important to know your risks.

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Your kidneys are vital organs with important jobs. They clean your blood, separate waste and remove extra fluid. But problems can arise.

“Now, when the kidneys are not functioning appropriately, you get a buildup of those waste products and extra fluid, and there are other changes that can happen, like high blood pressure,” says Dr. Hickson.

High blood pressure, diabetes and family history are risk factors for chronic kidney disease.

“Chronic kidney disease is defined by a reduction in the kidney function numbers and/or an increase in the amount of protein that’s lost as waste into the urine,” says Dr. Hickson.

She says kidney disease can come on slowly, often showing no symptoms early on. But it can lead to kidney failure and other health problems.

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in individuals with kidney disease,” says Dr. Hickson.

Lifestyle changes can help manage kidney disease. So start walking, eat a healthy diet with less salt and don’t smoke.

Wed, Mar 11 2:00am · Mayo Clinic Minute: How colonoscopies save lives

Men are slightly more likely than women to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and African-Americans have a higher risk than people of other races. However, everyone is at risk for developing the disease, especially after 50. Health care providers say that makes screening a vital part of every person’s health plan.

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Michael Wallace, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, explains why a colonoscopy is such an effective tool in the battle against colorectal cancers.

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While you might get hung up on the prep for a colonoscopy …

“The hardest part for most people is clearing out their intestines,” says Dr. Wallace.

… he also says that the focus should be on the protection this procedure offers.

“About 1 in 20 individuals in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their life,” says Dr. Wallace. “We have the technology right now to prevent colorectal cancer. And we just need to make sure that everybody is coming in to get screened for it.”

Dr. Wallace says everyone should be screened starting at age 50, and earlier if there is a family history of the disease.

“A colonoscopy is literally an examination of the colon,” he says.

While you’re sedated, a doctor uses a colonoscope to check for polyps.

“And when we find a polyp, which is a precursor to cancer, we can go in and remove that polyp before it ever becomes malignant,” says Dr. Wallace.

And that makes a colonoscopy more than an early detection tool.

“It’s actually prevention,” he says.