Posts for category: Health
By St. Mary's Medical Clinic
September 20, 2021
Everyone deals with a headache at some point, but if you find yourself dealing with them a bit more regularly you may be wondering, “what gives?” There are so many things to know about headaches, from what triggers them to ways to treat them. While seeing a doctor may be worth it if you are dealing with severe or recurring headaches, here are some interesting facts to know the next time you deal with a headache.
There are different kinds of headaches
There are several types of headaches that someone can deal with. Most people deal with tension headaches; however, other common headaches include:
- Hormonal headaches (these are headaches that women are more likely to get around their period)
- Cluster headaches
Headaches may be primary or secondary
What does this mean? This simply means that primary headaches originate in the head while secondary headaches occur as a result of an underlying condition or something else that’s going on in the body.
Common primary triggers include:
- Certain foods
- Poor sleep
In most cases, headaches are considered primary; however, secondary headaches may be a sign of:
- An infection
- A medical condition
- Concussion or head injury
- Blood vessel tear or injury
Some people deal with chronic headaches
Dealing with a headache every once in a while isn’t a big deal, but if you are dealing with headaches regularly then they could become chronic. A chronic migraine causes intense pain that lasts more than four hours and can affect either one or both sides of the head. You must have this problem checked out by a qualified medical professional to find out what’s going on.
Your current medication could be to blame
Some people don’t realize that if they take ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain medications a couple of times a week that their headaches could be rebound headaches. This can also happen once a person stops taking pain medication altogether. It’s important to talk with your general doctor if you are concerned about rebound headaches.
If you feel concerned or worried about your headaches, that’s enough of a reason to speak with a qualified doctor. Sometimes headaches are merely caused by lifestyle or certain habits, but sometimes something more serious may be at the root of the problem, and it’s important to find out so you can treat the underlying cause.
By St. Mary's Medical Clinic
August 10, 2021
Tags: Waterborne Illnesses
When summer weather hits, everyone wants to cool off by jumping into the water. Of course, everything from pools to your local water park could be contaminated with a waterborne illness. Want to know how to protect you and your family from these germs so they don’t spoil your fun this summer?
Visiting a Water Park or Pool
Pools and water parks are particularly popular during the summer but can also easily become contaminated. Even though chlorine will kill germs, it doesn’t kill them right away, which means that even well-maintained pools, hot tubs, and water slides can still carry waterborne illnesses. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your family:
- If any member of your family has diarrhea, do not go swimming
- Make sure to shower both before and after swimming to remove germs (also wash bathing suits immediately)
- Do not swallow water
Places that are not properly maintained and disinfected are also more likely to cause waterborne illnesses, so it’s also important that you know what places may put you at risk.
Here’s what you can do,
- Always ask the pool staff how often the chemical levels are checked
- If the water has a strong chlorine smell do not go in the water
- If there is foam around the pool do not go in
- Avoid water that is cloudy (if you can’t see the bottom of the pool don’t go in)
Swimming in Lakes and Beaches
Instead of hitting the local water park or pool, your family may be heading to their beach or lake house for the summer. While many of the rules of the pool and water park apply to swimming in lakes and oceans (aka: not swallowing water; showering before and after swimming), here are some additional rules to follow to keep your family healthy and safe.
- Avoid swimming in any body of water after it’s rained because of the risk of contamination
- If there are blue-green algae in the water don’t go swimming
- If you see discharge pipes you also should avoid swimming in that area
- Don’t put your head underwater (particularly in freshwater)
- Avoid freshwater during hot days, particularly when the water level is low
If you or your child has been swimming and is dealing with symptoms of a waterborne illness, it’s a good idea to turn to your general practitioner for a diagnosis and to properly treat your symptoms. Since waterborne illnesses can increase your risk for dehydration, it’s important that you see your doctor before this happens to protect you and your loved one from further health issues.
By St. Mary's Medical Clinic
July 13, 2021
We know that you’re excited about summer and all of the outdoor fun. From backyard BBQs to weekend getaways to the beach, summer is many people’s favorite season (and we can see why); however, you must spend some time thinking about the health of your skin, especially if you plan to spend any time outdoors. As any dermatologist will tell you, being out in the sun without sunscreen can lead to serious sunburns and sun damage and can increase your risk for skin cancer.
Wear Sunscreen Daily
You really should be wearing sunscreen every day, regardless of whether it’s summer or not. Even if the day isn’t feeling particularly warm, the sun’s rays can still penetrate and damage the skin. Even on cloudy and rainy days, you’ll still need to apply sunscreen because the sun’s rays can penetrate through clouds.
If you want to protect your and your family’s skin all summer long, make sure to apply a generous amount of sunscreen to the face and body 30 minutes before going outside.
Know What Sunscreen to Use
Not all sunscreen is created equal. You must look for a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, which means that it will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. You should also use a sunscreen that has, at the very least, an SPF of 30. If you want to opt for a higher SPF that’s always a good idea, but don’t be lured into a false sense of security. Just because the SPF is higher doesn’t mean that you can spend all day lounging in the sun without needing to reapply. This brings us to our next order of business…
Reapply Sunscreen Regularly
Just because you put sunscreen on once doesn’t mean that it lasts all day long. If you are going to be outside for hours at a time you will need to bring your sunscreen with you and reapply every two hours. If you are sweating or swimming you will also need to reapply immediately after.
No matter your risk for skin cancer, it’s important for everyone to get a yearly skin cancer screening. This simple, non-invasive checkup can help us spot suspicious growths and moles early to prevent cancer from getting worse.
When was the last time you performed a breast self-exam? As an adult, it’s incredibly important for women to know how to perform their own breast self-examinations and do it regularly. Your doctor or your OBGYN has probably shown you how to perform your own breast self-exam, but if they haven’t all you have to do is ask. After all, this simple exam could just save your life.
Here’s how to perform your own breast self-exam,
- Stand in front of the mirror with your hands on your hips. You want to look for any swelling or changes in your breasts' shape, size, or color. Look for any dimpling in the skin, if the nipples are inverted or if there is any redness, tenderness, or swelling. Once this is complete, you will raise your arms and look for the same changes.
- For the next part of your breast self-exam, you will want to lie down. You will use your opposite hand to feel your breast using a firm circular motion with two or three fingers. Perform this motion on all areas of the breast including the sides and armpits all the way to the collarbone.
- You should also perform the same circular motion on your breast while sitting (you can also stand). Raise one arm at a time and use your opposite hand to check the breast. A good time to do this is when you are in the shower.
It’s a good idea for all women to perform these self-exams about once a month. This will allow you to get used to your breast tissue and better be able to pinpoint subtle changes in the shape, size, or color of your breasts that could indicate a problem.
If You Find a Lump
If you find a lump, it’s important not to panic. Breast tissue can be quite dense, depending on the person and it is possible for tissue to feel lumpier than usual due to hormonal changes. Many lumps end up being benign. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore it. If you do find a lump in your breast it’s worth it to see a doctor for your own peace of mind. Your primary care doctor or your gynecologist is a good person to call if you find a lump or changes in your breasts that have you concerned.
While breast self-exams are critical for women of all ages, it’s also important that you speak with your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer may wish to get screened earlier, so talk with your doctor.
By St. Mary's Medical Clinic
May 13, 2021
Tags: High Blood Pressure
When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? It was probably at your last doctor’s appointment…say, when was your last doctor’s appointment? High blood pressure can sneak up on you and untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. This is why routine checkups with your doctor are important for all adults, no matter your risk factors.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
There is a reason that high blood pressure, or hypertension, has been nicknamed the “silent killer." This is because it often doesn’t cause symptoms. This means you could have high blood pressure right now and not even know it. About one in 3 people in the US have high blood pressure and don’t realize it, and as many as 1 in 4 US adults between the ages of 20 to 44 have hypertension.
The good news is that you can get your blood pressure checked by simply turning to your general doctor at least once a year for a comprehensive physical exam. Between doctor’s visits, you can also go to your local pharmacy where they might have a self-testing blood pressure station, or you can simply purchase a blood pressure cuff to use at home.
What causes high blood pressure?
Several factors can lead to high blood pressure over your lifetime. Remember, high blood pressure isn’t a disease that only older adults deal with. The statistics above prove that young adults also deal with this chronic health problem more often than doctors would like to see. Risk factors for high blood pressure include,
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Diet high in sodium
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Family history
- Being overweight or obese
- Thyroid disorders
- Sleep apnea
I have high blood pressure. What can I do?
If your blood pressure is elevated, this is a sign that it’s time to revamp your lifestyle to help lower your blood pressure naturally. Some ways to do this include,
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol
- Losing excess weight if you are overweight or obese
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sodium, sugar, and processed foods
- Having other chronic health conditions properly managed
- Finding effective ways to manage stress
Along with leading a healthier lifestyle, your doctor may also prescribe blood pressure medication such as anti-hypertensives to lower your blood pressure. There are a variety of medications on the market that can be used to lower your blood pressure, and your doctor will discuss these options with you and help you determine the best medication to help control your hypertension.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or you’re concerned about your risk factors, you must have a doctor that you can turn to for regular checkups, treatment, and care. If it’s been more than a year since your last physical, it’s time to call your physician.