Have heartburn? You might want to check for Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori)

Helicobacter pylori. You’ve probably never heard of this crazy-sounding word, but it may be closer to you than you think! Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a potentially dangerous bacteria that thrives in the acidic environment of the stomach. It can cause painful symptoms, including stomach pain, nausea and even heartburn. Yes, that’s right. These common symptoms could actually be caused by an H. pylori infection in your stomach! So if you have frequent heartburn, it’s time to put down the antacids and find out what’s really going on!

What Is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning pain in your chest, right behind the breastbone. Typically, the pain is worse when lying down or bending over. Occasional heartburn is incredibly common and can usually be reduced through lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. However, if you are experiencing frequent heartburn, especially if it interferes with your daily routine, this may be a symptom of something more serious. If you have any of these symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor about other possible causes of your heartburn, including the H. pylori bacteria:

  • Your heartburn occurs more than twice a week
  • Your symptoms continue despite use of over-the-counter heartburn medications
  • You have difficulty swallowing
  • You have frequent nausea or vomiting
  • You have lost weight because of poor appetite or difficulty eating

Could You Have A Helicobacter Pylori Infection?
Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that can infect your stomach and is a common cause of peptic ulcers. In fact, while many try to blame their ulcers on stress or spicy food, 80 percent of stomach ulcers and 90 percent of duodenal ulcers (in the upper end of the small intestines) are caused by H. pylori. The H. pylori bacteria may also cause gastritis and even gastric (stomach) cancer.

Most people with an H. pylori infection never have any signs or symptoms, so they don’t realize they have it. However, if you develop signs of a peptic ulcer, you may have the infection. When symptoms do occur they can include:

  • Pain (an ache or burning) in your abdomen, just under the ribs
  • Abdominal pain that becomes worse when your stomach is empty
  • Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Frequent burping, heartburn and indigestion
  • Bloating

Should I Get Tested For H. Pylori?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should consider getting tested for H. pylori. Any Lab Test Now offers several testing options if you suspect you may have an H. pylori infection or are suffering from chronic heartburn and want to know why:

  • The Heartburn Panel consists of three tests, including a Helicobacter Pylori test. This is a comprehensive panel that can determine the possible cause of your heartburn.
  • The H. Pylori Stool Test can be used to detect the presence of the H. pylori antigen in stool specimens.
  • There is also a Urea Breath Test (UBT), which can be used to indirectly detect the presence of H. pylori urease by measuring carbon dioxide in the patient’s breath.

Both the Stool Test and Urea Breath Test are recommended by both the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) as non-invasive tests for diagnosis and confirmation of eradication.

If you are suffering from chronic heartburn, you need to talk to your doctor or gastroenterologist before it’s too late. H. pylori is a highly destructive bacterium that can lead to ulcers, gastritis and even stomach cancer. Talk to the experts at Any Lab Test Now to find out how you can get tested for H. pylori and end your heartburn suffering, once and for all!

*Some locations are unable to offer the H. pylori blood test, so please check with your local Any Lab Test Now to learn about your testing options.

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Are You Pre-Diabetic? You Need To Read This: November Is Diabetes Awareness Month

With nearly 30 million people in the U.S. suffering from diabetes, it’s a problem that affects about 10 percent of the population. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 86 million people are at risk of developing the disease, and 3 million are already suffering from pre-diabetes.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that affects the body’s ability to produce insulin. Without the proper amount of insulin, the body’s blood sugar levels remain abnormally high, and you don’t get the energy you need. Pre-diabetes is the precursor to Type 2 diabetes. At this stage, blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes.

While diabetes often presents with symptoms like excessive thirst and hunger, extreme fatigue, frequent urination, blurry vision, cuts and bruises that heal slowly, and tingling in the feet and hands, pre-diabetes often doesn’t come with any outward symptoms. The only way to truly diagnose pre-diabetes is to get tested. Tests like Hemoglobin A1c detect pre-diabetes and can also diagnose diabetes or monitor diabetes to make sure it’s managed properly.

Any Lab Test Now can help you take charge of your health by determining whether you are in a pre-diabetic state. A Diabetes Maintenance Panel can be done to monitor any existing diabetic conditions over time, as well as keep an eye on possible complications.

Without proper management, pre-diabetes may turn into Type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Diabetes increases your risk for many other health problems, including nerve damage, blindness, stroke, skin infections, kidney disease, high blood pressure and heart disease.

But it’s not all bad news. With the correct treatment and proper management of diabetes, these complications can be prevented or delayed. While diabetes is often a lifelong disease, it can be managed with medication, diet and exercise for a full, healthy life. So if you or a loved one is showing some of the signs of diabetes, these tests can help you and your doctor determine if the disease has developed or if you are at risk of developing full-blown diabetes.

This November, don’t let Diabetes Awareness Month pass without a fight.  Get tested.  Know your numbers.  Take Control of Your Health®.

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Stressed And The Holidays Aren’t Even Here Yet? Check Your Cortisol Level.

Woman having migraine headache. Stress and depression.From a baby’s cry to fast-paced work projects, people are faced with stresses on a regular basis. In response to these daily demands, the body releases a naturally occurring steroid hormone, called cortisol. Cortisol helps regulate muscles, cardiovascular function, digestion and other systems. This gives you the extra energy and mobility you need to fight through a stressful situation. As your cortisol levels increase, you may experience increased appetite, cravings for sugar and weight gain. Then, as the stressful situation comes to an end and you no longer need the extra energy, cortisol levels should return to normal.

Prolonged stress, however, means that cortisol is being produced regularly. When this happens, it can build up in the body without an outlet for release. This keeps your internal systems heightened and on high alert which can cause damage or fatigue. Risks resulting from chronic increased levels of cortisol are serious and include:

  • Lower immune function
  • Lower bone density
  • Learning and memory issues
  • Weight gain, particularly in the abdomen
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Depression

Is your cortisol level high?
Hormone testing, including the Saliva Cortisol Test or the Total Cortisol Test, can determine if your cortisol levels are too high or too low. Because cortisol levels naturally adjust throughout the day, the test may be required both early in the morning and again in the afternoon for the most accurate results.

What should I do about high cortisol levels?
Normal cortisol levels typically range from 6 to 23 micrograms per deciliter. Higher cortisol levels may be an indicator of Cushing disease or long-term, unmanaged stress. Low cortisol levels may be an indicator of Addison’s disease or hypopituitarism. In either case, your doctor will help you understand your test results and recommend any additional treatment options.

Stress management techniques may also prove effective in reducing higher than normal cortisol levels. From healthier eating and increased physical activity to meditation and deep breathing, stress management techniques provide your body with an outlet for releasing built-up cortisol and help bring your levels back into a healthier range.

If you regularly find yourself under stress, even if it is stress that stems from a positive experience, consider a  Saliva Cortisol Test or the Total Cortisol Test to live a healthier life and avoid long-term health issues.

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Red Ribbon Week is October 23 Through 31!

If you are a parent, this is an important week. No, we’re not talking about Halloween and trick-or-treating, we’re talking about Red Ribbon Week! Red Ribbon Week is an alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention awareness campaign that occurs annually in October, and this year it’s happening October 23 through 31!

With school back in session and lots of upcoming holidays, this time of year is full of potentially risky situations for your teen. Peer pressure is rampant among teenagers, especially at parties and other social gatherings, and your teen may be pressured into trying drugs, alcohol or tobacco products. This week as you’re preparing for all the excitement of Halloween, take a moment to celebrate Red Ribbon Week as well! Talk with your teen about the dangers of tobacco, drug and alcohol use, and learn what you can do if you suspect your child is dabbling in or abusing drugs.

Could your teen be abusing drugs? Here are some warning signs to look for:

  • Sudden behavioral changes
  • Noticeable changes in hygiene and appearance
  • Otherwise unexplained health issues
  • Problems at work or school
  • Increased rule breaking, delinquency or other suspicious behavior

If you notice any of the signs listed above, it may be time to get more information about your teen’s activities. Any Lab Test Now offers many options for teen drug testing, including a Trust But Verify random drug testing program for teens.

Our teen drug testing includes options for rapid drug screens, drug tests for different detection periods and lab-based drug screens that test for some of the most commonly used drugs including, but not limited to:

  • Marijuana
  • Prescription medications
  • Cocaine
  • Synthetic designer drugs like K2, spice and bath salts.

Additional tests are available for alcohol use, tobacco use, unknown substances and cough syrup abuse. Talk to our experts at Any Lab Test Now to find the right test for you and your child’s needs. Getting answers is the first step in helping your teenager. Celebrate Red Ribbon Week by getting the answers you need!

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast-cancer-ribbonOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we at Any Lab Test Now urge you to celebrate by taking control of your health and bringing awareness to yourself, first and foremost. Around one in eight women and one in 1,000 men in the U.S. will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, and this risk increases significantly if you have a family history of the disease. In fact, if you have the hereditary gene mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2, your risk of developing breast cancer increases to 65 percent. If you have a family history of breast cancer, it may be time to get tested for these inherited genes.

What are BRCA1 and BRCA2?
BRCA1 and BRCA2 (also known as Breast Cancer genes 1 and 2) are gene mutations passed down from either parent. They are the best-known genes linked to breast cancer risk and can significantly increase the risk of cancers in both men and women — up to 65 percent in some cases. The gene is rare in the general population, but the risk of having the gene varies by ethnicity. Carriers of the BRCA1 gene mutation have a 55 to 65 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 70, while carriers of the BRCA2 gene have a 45 percent chance. (Remember, women in the general population have only an eight percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 70).

Do you need to get tested?
If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may unknowingly be a carrier of BRCA1 or BRCA2. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure that you have the gene. Genetic testing is recommended if you have:

  • A known BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation in the family.
  • A personal history of breast cancer at age 50 or younger.
  • A personal history of breast cancer at age 50 or younger and a family member (parent, sibling, child, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin) diagnosed with breast cancer at any age.
  • A personal history of triple negative breast cancer (breast cancer that is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and HER2 receptor-negative) diagnosed at age 60 or younger.
  • A personal or family history of ovarian cancer.
  • A personal or family history of male breast cancer.
  • Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
  • A family member (parent, sibling, child, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin) diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger.
  • A family member (parent, sibling, child, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin) diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age.

While most people who get breast cancer do not have BRCA1 or 2 gene mutations, it is important to know your risks. If you have any of the risk factors listed above, talk to your doctor about getting tested. Any Lab Test Now offers testing for both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Test results will be given by and discussed with a genetic counselor when the results are completed.  Talk to our experts at Any Lab Test now about how you can get tested today. When it comes to beating breast cancer, early detection is the best way to fight this disease.

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Safety in the Ring! Why do Combative Sports Fighters Have to Be Tested Every Year?

When mixed martial arts fighters discuss what they do to prepare for a match, the focus tends to be on the intense training they undergo to make sure they are totally ready to take a pounding and keep on swinging, ultimately to defeat an equally strong and prepared opponent. With such an exciting and dangerous sport, the last thing a fan would think about is whether each fighter is complying with the *shudder* regulations. But it’s because this sport is so exciting and dangerous that regulations need to be a big part of the conversation.

Most state athletic commissions require testing for combative sports fighters to compete. They require drug testing, as well as additional blood tests for diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C. This is to protect the fighters, as well as to keep competition fair. There have been cases in unregulated fighting environments of horrible injuries and unfair competition due to the lack of rule enforcement. These are potentially life-ruining situations. If a fighter competes while infected with a bloodborne illness, the results can truly be tragic. As cumbersome as they may be, regulations are in place to prevent serious injury and death.

For fighter testing, the bloodborne infection aspect may not make sense at first blush. But with sports like MMA, which tend to get bloody, there is a real risk of passing on an infection. However, it’s not just a hazard to an opponent. The body of someone affected by a disease that attacks the immune system is generally weaker and easier to exhaust than that of a healthy person, so having a disease like HIV is a serious handicap in a fight.

Fighters have to be tested every year in order to comply with most state requirements. This is to monitor fighters’ health and keep them from passing on diseases they might not know they have. But if a fighter’s manager or agent has concerns, officials recommend getting the tests as often as necessary. The Fighter Panel at Any Lab Test Now is an easy tool to get all of your state-mandated testing done, with a fast turnaround. So protect yourself and your opponents, and be sure to get tested!

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Did You Know Some Employers are Now Testing for Nicotine? Here’s Why

Today’s labor market is competitive, and employers are constantly looking for ways to differentiate potential employees who may otherwise be practically identical. These tactics range from test questions to personality quizzes, but some companies are taking things a step further and asking future hires to take a nicotine test. Hospitals, transportation companies and utility services are leading the way in testing employees’ saliva for tobacco and tobacco-product use, and other substances to help make hiring decisions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It costs the nation billions in health care expenses, and smokers are expected to die about 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. There isn’t an organ in the body that smoking doesn’t damage in some way. Despite this, many choose to continue smoking. Public health experts are beginning to feel that if a person’s health isn’t enough to motivate them to quit, maybe they can be incentivized by money. For workers everywhere, the penalties for not quitting, and the rewards for quitting, could soon be hitting you in the wallet.

Many employers, faced with rising health insurance costs for smokers and the higher rates of chronic diseases in employees who smoke, are offering carrot-stick bargains — either quit smoking and receive a small bonus and free smoking cessation tools, or continue smoking and lose a small percentage of your paycheck each month; or in some cases, lose out on the job offer. Being tobacco-free makes a job applicant a more natural choice for an employer trying to save money on insurance costs and promote a healthy office environment.

Testing for illegal drugs has been a pretty widespread practice for years, but with the relative ease of oral fluid testing, employers can now ask a candidate for a swab and know whether the applicant smokes, dips or chews. The payout for the employer can be twofold: they can offer new potential employees smoking cessation tools to help them get healthy, and they can potentially receive a federal insurance subsidy for testing their employees. It’s been demonstrated time and again that the healthier the workforce, the more productive it is, so having a group of employees who are entirely tobacco-free could increase productivity dramatically, while reducing insurance costs.

The oral swab test, or even a urine specimen test, offered by Any Lab Test Now identifies the amount of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine, in the bloodstream. This substance sticks around for an average of three days — longer in heavy smokers — so going cold turkey for the day isn’t going to cut it. By offering a quick, inexpensive way to test for cotinine, Any Lab Test Now is making it easier for employers to make hiring decisions based on important health criteria. Companies now realize that an investment in the health of each employee is an investment in the business itself, and the advantages of nicotine testing far outweigh the costs.

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Latest Drug Trends Parents Need to Know About

Your teen is at a party. They told you the parents would be home and that it’s just a small get-together. But even a small party can be a toxic pool of peer pressure for a growing teenager. Do you actually know what your teen is doing at that party? Will there be drinking or even drugs? While it’s important to have a trusting relationship with your teenager, it is also important to know when it’s time to step in and take charge of their activities. New drug trends can pop up fast, and before you know it, your teen may be in a dangerous situation at a social event. But you can take action just by staying in-the-know about drug trends and being aware of the warning signs that your teen might be abusing drugs. With the right information, you can better monitor your teen’s activities and behaviors. You don’t want to find out too late.

Here are a few of the drug trends for 2015 you should know about:

Molly: Commonly known as Molly or ecstasy, the official name for this drug is MDMA. It has been steadily gaining popularity since the late 2000s, and it is certainly a drug to watch out for among teenagers. Molly is considered a club drug and is typically used in pill form at raves and other kinds of parties. It is a synthetic psychoactive drug that produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth toward others and distortions in sensory and time perceptions. Because it is lab-created, Molly is an unpredictable drug that can vary greatly in strength, composition and dosage — you never know what you’re going to get. It can result in a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, blood vessel constriction and sweating, and the inability for the body to regulate temperature. It has also been known to cause panic attacks, psychosis, seizures and extreme dehydration.

Flakka (or Gravel): Flakka, also sometimes called Gravel, is a new and highly dangerous drug trend that has recently been seen emerging in Florida but is spreading to other areas as well. The drug is a combination of crystal meth and bath salts, giving it a gravel-like appearance. It can be eaten, snorted, injected or vaporized in an e-cigarette or similar device and can cause a condition called “excited delirium” that involves hyperstimulation, paranoia and hallucinations that can lead to violent aggression and self-injury. It has been linked to fatalities from suicide and heart attacks, and it can raise body temperatures to dangerous levels, leading to kidney damage and kidney failure.

K2 (or Spice): K2 is a particularly tricky drug to look out for as a parent because it can be obtained legally and is sold in gas stations, head shops and on the Internet. It is a synthetic cannabinoid of herbal mixtures that is chemically similar to THC, the active ingredient found in marijuana. However, the effects of this drug are much more powerful than marijuana and can include anxiety and agitation, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, shaking and seizures, hallucinations and paranoia, and violent behavior. Recently, there have been increasing instances of hospitalizations due to overdoses of K2.

Adderall: Adderall (and other stimulant medications like Ritalin and Concerta) is the dangerous drug your teen might be getting right out of a friend’s medicine cabinet. Typically prescribed to people with ADHD, Adderall has recently become a heavily abused drug among young people, especially students. People with prescriptions can easily give or sell it to others, usually those seeking the ability to focus better while studying. The problem? When abused or taken without a prescription, these drugs can be highly addictive. This type of drug suppresses the appetite, increases wakefulness, and increases focus and attention. It can also produce feelings of euphoria and is often abused for recreational purposes as a result.

Fentanyl: This drug is an opioid twice as potent as heroin and has been increasing in popularity across the nation since 2013, causing hundreds of overdoses and deaths. An opioid overdose can stop a person’s breathing, and fentanyl can cause this to happen very rapidly. In some cases, people have been unknowingly taking fentanyl in what they believed to be pure heroin, though a growing number of people are intentionally seeking out the stronger drug. Fentanyl produces a state of euphoria and relaxation.

Any Lab Test Now partners with the Partnership for Drug Free Kids and their Medicine Abuse Project to help educate parents about the problem of teen drug abuse, as well as share tools to help them talk to their teens. Be sure to talk to your teenager about the dangers of drug abuse and how to get help if something happens. If you think your teen may be abusing drugs, you may want to consider bringing them in for a drug test through our Trust But Verify teen drug testing program. Talk to our experts at Any Lab Test Now to find the right test for you and your child’s needs.

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Why Becoming A Bone Marrow Donor Is So Important

September is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and this means it’s time to start thinking about what you can do to help the thousands of people every year who suffer from this disease. Every three minutes in the United States, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer — more than 175,000 new cases each year. More than 55,000 people will die from blood cancer in this year alone. A bone marrow transplant is many of these patients’ best hope for survival, but only about 30 percent of patients are able to find a matching donor within their families. The other 70 percent have to rely on donations from strangers, and sometimes there just aren’t enough to go around. Around 3,000 people die each year while waiting for a match. By donating bone marrow this month or becoming a part of the bone marrow registry, you could save someone’s life.

Blood cancer encompases all malignancies of the blood, bone marrow or lymph nodes that affect normal blood cell production or function. As the diseased blood cells multiply, they cause life-threatening damage to the immune and circulatory systems. There are many different types of blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Patients with any of these types of blood cancer require bone marrow transplants for the best chance of beating the disease.

Any Lab Test Now is proud to support Delete Blood Cancer in its mission to provide help to those suffering from blood cancer. We have partnered with Delete Blood Cancer to encourage our local communities to become a part of the bone marrow registry, and we encourage you to do the same. We also collect specimens on behalf of Delete Blood Cancer and hold Swab Parties periodically throughout the year to build awareness of the need for bone marrow donors.Did you know that it only takes a simple swab from the inside cheeks of your mouth to be entered into the registry?  Yes, it is that simple.  And, did you know that about 75% of bone marrow donations are through a process similar to collecting platelets? With just one donation and a few hours of you time, you could give someone suffering from blood cancer an entire lifetime.

Are you concerned about your own health? At Any Lab Test Now, we have several cancer screens that may help you get the answers you need. Talk to your doctor or our experts at Any Lab Test Now to find out which test is right for you.

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Signs of Menopause and Tests to Tell if You’re There

As women get older, they are faced with the inevitable — menopause. The average age for a woman to go through menopause is 50, but it can begin as early as her 30s or as late as her 60s. This can be an alarming time for some women, full of changes and new things to get used to, but it doesn’t have to be scary. There are many ways to help cope with the challenges of menopause, as well things to be excited about as you enter a new phase of your life. If you think you may be approaching menopause, here are some signs to look out for:

Probably the most obvious sign of menopause is beginning to have irregular periods once you reach a certain age. Once a woman hits menopause, her periods will stop altogether; so during the time before menopause (perimenopause), periods will become lighter and less frequent — only occurring once every few months. However, it is still possible for a woman to become pregnant during perimenopause. If you are approaching menopausal age and haven’t had your period in several months, you may want to take a pregnancy test, just to be sure.

Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are the most common symptom of a woman entering menopause. Hot flashes are sudden feelings of warmth, typically centered around the face, neck and chest. They may also cause redness of the skin and profuse sweating, leaving you chilled afterward. In some women, hot flashes can occur only a few times a day, and for others, they can happen several times an hour.

Night Sweats and Trouble Sleeping
Women entering menopause may also experience night sweats, which are essentially hot flashes that occur during sleep, causing excessive perspiration. Additionally, some women experience insomnia around the time of menopause due to changing hormone levels as well as other age-related sleep disturbances, such as an increased likelihood of sleep apnea.

Mood Changes
Many women approaching menopause experience mood changes. This can include feelings of moodiness, depressed moods, anxiety, stress or a decreased sense of well-being. This may be the result of changing hormones, significant feelings of stress due to other perimenopausal symptoms or any number of reasons in an aging woman’s life.

Weight Gain, Thinning Hair and Dry Skin
A few other signs that you are entering the menopausal stage of your life are weight gain due to a slowed metabolism, thinning hair and dry skin. However, these things can sometimes be seen in aging people regardless of gender or menopause. If you are experiencing these signs in addition to any of the ones listed above, you may want to get your hormone levels tested to find out for sure if you are approaching menopause.

At Any Lab Test Now, we have several tests that might help you to determine if you are entering menopause. Our Menopause Screening Panel is your best resource for discovering if you are going through menopause. You may also consider getting a Saliva Hormone Test, which can help determine if you have any hormone imbalances that could be affecting your daily life. Taking steps to manage a hormone imbalance can be a huge relief to a woman during menopause, especially if she is experiencing any severe symptoms. Once you have the answers you need, you can finally have some peace of mind about what is happening to your body and start to enjoy this new phase of your life!

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