Preventing Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

Spring has sprung and so have your sneezes

Allergies can wreak havoc on your system, causing symptoms from watery or itchy eyes to coughing, congestion and possibly even a rash. While they’ve become synonymous with spring, allergies can actually be seasonal or year-round, depending on your trigger. The first step to controlling your bothersome symptoms is figuring out what you’re allergic to.

You can narrow it down by taking note of your symptoms and their patterns. Then you can work to avoid the allergen. Below are tips to reduce both seasonal and year-round environmental allergens, including dust mites, mold, animal dander and pollens.

In the bedroom

  • Remove heavy drapes, upholstered furniture and stuffed animals that are likely to collect dust.
  • Use a zippered, plastic air-tight cover on all pillows and mattresses.
  • At least every 14 days, wash all bedding and stuffed animals in hot water and dry on hot setting.

Throughout the rest of the house

  • Avoid damp basements or water-damaged areas of your home and fix water leaks to prevent mold exposure.
  • Clean moldy surfaces with a diluted solution of bleach. If a larger-scale mold exposure is suspected, you should seek professional assistance with mold removal.
  • If possible, remove all carpets. 
  • Vacuum as frequently as possible using a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter vacuum.
  • Avoid the use of ceiling fans Prior to use, make sure to clean any collected dust from the surface of the fan blades.
  • During the height of allergy season, keep windows closed, avoid exposure to pollens and limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are highest.
    • Early morning for spring time tree pollens.
    • Afternoon and early evening for summer grasses.
    • In the middle of the day for ragweed in the fall.
  • Consider using a HEPA filter to control airborne allergens (these only work if what you are allergic to is airborne, which doesn’t include dust mites and mold).   Change the filters frequently per the manufacturer’s guide. You can also purchase HEPA home-air filters for use in your air conditioner. 
  • Since dust mites and mold increase in high humidity, keep indoor humidity low.
  • Provide a smoke-free environment for yourself and any children.
  • Cockroaches and rodents are also causes of allergies; if you suspect an infestation, make sure to clean your home frequently and thoroughly, store away food in secure containers, keep garbage outside and repair holes in the walls, floors, doors, etc.  Also, seek the help of a professional exterminator.

For those who are allergic to animal dander

  • Keep indoor pets out of the affected person’s bedroom and wash your pet each week to remove surface allergens
  • Consider a HEPA filter for the room in which the pet is primarily kept. 

If you’re unable to keep your allergies at bay with these measures, I recommend you try an over-the-counter option, such as daily salt water irrigation (Neti-Pot) combined with a steroidal nose spray (Flonase), or allergy medications, such as second generation antihistamines (Claritin and Zyrtec).

First generation antihistamines (Benadryl)  should be reserved for severe cases and should not be used as a long-term solution. If you’ve exhausted these measures and allergies are still impacting your daily life, or if you’re experiencing severe coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath, seek the help your physician. Specialized medication and testing may be for you.

Four Surprising Facts About Home Health Care

Most people end up only learning the details about home health during a critical time. It’s a service you may never need, but it may be beneficial in more ways than you expect.

Here a few surprising facts about home health care:

1. Home health is different than in-home care.

Home health is a service provided by licensed medical professionals for patients who are recovering from an injury, illness or surgery. It’s meant to help patients recuperating from an inpatient hospital stay to receive appropriate therapy in the comfort of their own home and is equivalent to the quality of care you would find in the hospital. In-home care usually refers to hourly, personal care that offers companionship to seniors and others who may be unable to be left alone long-term, and it may or may not be medical nature.

2. It isn’t just for seniors.

We offer care and rehabilitation to any adult recuperating from their hospital stay. No matter your age, injury or surgical treatment, if your physician releases you from inpatient care, we can help to continue your personalized recovery plan at home.

3. If it can be done by a nurse, it can be done at home.

Home health allows for skilled nurses, occupational and physical therapists, dietitians, home health aides, mental health and social workers to come to your home to provide the custom-made, follow-up care you need to get back to your life.

4. It is comfortable and cost-effective.

Home health care is considered to be less expensive, more convenient than and just as effective as care given in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Recovering in your own home can be a more relaxing experience. In addition, most insurance plans cover home health care. 

Home is where the heart is. Shouldn’t it be where you go to get well?

3 Reasons You May Need Professional Wound Care

When to seek professional wound care

The skin and tissues typically work together behind-the-scenes to mend cuts and scrapes without your knowledge. But for some people with complex wounds or additional medical complications, the process may need some assistance.

There are an estimated six million Americans who suffer from chronic wounds that won’t heal. If you have a difficult-to-heal wound, you should consider consulting a certified wound care clinic if you experience any of the following. 

1. You have an old wound

If a wound has not started to heal within two weeks, or has not totally healed in six weeks, medical attention may be necessary to reduce the risk of complications.

We often see patients with the following conditions:
  • Diabetic wounds
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Venous stasis ulcers
  • Arterial ulcers
  • Vasculitic ulcers
  • Non-healing surgical wounds
  • Complex soft tissue wounds
  • Traumatic wounds
  • Infected wounds

2. You have underlying factors

It seems effortless, but natural wound healing actually involves three phases. These stages can be impaired in patients with other factors, such as diabetes, arthritis, vascular disease, trauma or infection. If you are suffering from a slow-healing wound and have other risk factors, it may be time to seek treatment from a wound care specialist.

3. The same old isn’t working

You’ve seen your primary care physician, you’ve taken your medications and you have followed all your home care recommendations, but your wound still isn’t healing. The clinicians at a certified wound care center can offer advanced care options. For example, our center offers hyperbaric oxygen chambers for applicable wounds.. These pressurized tubes offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy to expose wounds to 100 percent oxygen, which has been proven to promote wound healing.

What to expect at your first wound care appointment

At your first appointment you will undergo an evaluation and exam. The evaluation may include diagnostic testing, which can identify the origin of the wound and better pinpoint treatment options. An individualized wound-healing plan is then developed, with the goal of healing your wound within 14 weeks. A wound care technician with the assistance of trained nursing staff then cleans, treats and dresses your wound. They will also provide you with instructions about caring for your wound at home until your next appointment.  

Professional wound care is more than a Band-Aid

Wound care isn’t just about wound dressing. We offer our patients solutions for their discomfort and state-of-the-art treatment options. We also work with our patients to prevent future wounds.

There is no reason to continue with the frustration and uncertainty of a non-healing wound. Ask your primary care physician about your advanced wound care options today.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Almost Half of the U.S. Population is Vitamin D Deficient

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, almost half of the U.S. Population (41.6%) is vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is found in a few foods, but people get most of their vitamin D from the sun, which can be difficult in the winter months when most are huddled up indoors. Even if you do spend time outdoors, it is very unlikely that your skin will convert the sun’s rays to vitamin D from December through February.

So what does vitamin D do?

Vitamin D’s main job is to help your body absorb calcium to keep your bones and teeth healthy. It also helps keep your immune system strong and your muscles and nerves working well. 

Who is most at risk for deficiency?

Certain conditions put some people at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency including:

  • Having darker skin (up to 82% of black people and 69% of Hispanic people are deficient)
  • Being elderly
  • Having kidney disease
  • Being vegetarian or vegan
  • Being obese (having a BMI >30), especially if you have had a gastric bypass
  • Having a GI disorder such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease or Ulcerative Colitis

What can I do if I am at risk?

If you’re at risk, eat foods with vitamin D such as

  • Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines and flounder
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Sun dried mushrooms
  • Fortified orange juice, soy milk, yogurt and milk

You can also ask your health care provider or registered dietitian nutritionist about taking a vitamin D supplement.

Get some sunshine (between Spring and Fall)

A map of vitamin D synthesis in January

Getting five to 30 minutes of sunshine on unprotected skin each day between March and November usually provides enough vitamin D to prevent deficiency. Wearing sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) is very important for preventing skin cancer, but it also limits your skin’s ability to make vitamin D.  It takes sunscreen about 15 to 30 minutes to fully work, so if you apply it shortly before going outside, your skin will have a few minutes where it can make vitamin D, and afterwards it will be protected from the sun for the next few hours. For some people, no level of unprotected sun exposure is safe so talk to your health care provider about what the best plan is for you.

Jump Start Your Summer Routine with These Steps

Summer workouts can be anything but routine

With the right planning, summer workouts can be anything but routine. Start a new regimen with the following tips from Erika Smith, a Fitness Coordinator at the Lifestyle Health & Fitness Center.


I’ve always been a fan of fitness magazines. You can find new exercises to do, along with modifications for each exercise based on your activity level. If you have no idea where to start, meet with a personal trainer for a few sessions. They can help you get on the right track. You may also want to visit a physician before starting any new routine.


Many people start exercising with unrealistic expectations and end up either hurting themselves or getting frustrated and quitting their program. I always recommend starting out with a goal of 10-15 minutes of activity three times per week. Each week, try to increase your activity by five minutes per session.


Any exercise involves risks, especially when you are outdoors in the blazing heat. My best advice is to be smart by staying hydrated and performing both warm-up and cool-down exercises. Start out slow and easy and work your way up to more intense exercises.


Who says you have to stick to a boring gym routine? Get outside! Swimming, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding and surfing are great outdoor exercise options. The more varied your activity choices, the more likely you’ll be to participate.


Mornings and evenings are the best times for summer exercise. I would avoid exercising between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., which can be some of the hottest and sunniest hours of the day. If this time frame doesn’t work for you, consider joining an indoor gym!


Wear lightweight, light-colored, breathable clothing when exercising in the summer heat.  You don’t want to wear heavy fabrics, which can retain heat and increase your core body temperature.


Stay hydrated by consistently drinking water, even if you may not feel thirsty. Your body can only absorb eight ounces of water every 20 minutes, so it can be difficult to tell if you are fully hydrated. If you must consume sports drinks, dilute them so your body will absorb them more easily.


Sunscreen is more important than you think. If you are exercising outside for 30 minutes, your body is constantly exposed to the sun’s harsh rays, which can result in a sunburn or worse. Be sure to use broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above and apply it to all exposed skin, including the nose, ears and scalp.

Preparing to Breastfeed: What a Lactation Counselor Wants You to Know

Breastfeeding is much like a “dance” between mom and baby

Both have to do their part—and each has to practice to triumph. The first few days of new motherhood are a whirlwind, but keep in mind that patience and repetition can help. If breastfeeding is your goal, the following are very important first steps to take just after delivery.

Kangaroo care

Right after delivery, cuddling a naked baby directly to his or her mother’s skin (preferably near the breasts) is very important. Newborns have a heightened sense of smell and use this to seek mom’s nipple. It is also proven to have other medical benefits.

An early latch

Even if baby is sleepy, try to get him or her to latch as early as possible—optimally within the first two hours.

Room in

Use the time in the hospital to get to know your baby’s feeding and diapering needs, as well as hunger cues. If baby stays in the nursery rather than in your room, nursing opportunities are often missed.


New motherhood isn’t exactly restful, but after delivery baby is often very sleepy. Use this time to rest and prepare for regular feedings.

Avoid extras

Avoid giving baby anything (pacifier, formula) other than the breast unless medically indicated. Babies are born to breastfeed and do not need anything else.

Work together

Partners can do everything except breastfeed the baby. We recommend they take care of mom, so she can focus on baby.

Lactation help

Most hospitals offer on-site lactation counseling and lactation stores, where you can get postnatal counseling, nursing bra fittings and more. If you are early in your pregnancy and your hospital does not offer these services, I would consider delivering elsewhere.

6 Heart Attack Warning Signs that are Unique to Women

It isn’t just a guy thing. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both women and men in the United States. 

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of women believe this is the greatest health problem facing them today. And that’s concerning, because while the overall death rate from heart disease has decreased in men, it continues to increase in women.

Coronary artery disease, or the build-up of cholesterol-containing deposits in the arteries, is one of the most common forms of heart disease. Women and men are both at risk for the disease, but women typically do not show signs until 5 to 10 years after men do.

Because nobody is exempt from heart disease, it is important speak with your physician about your risk factors for the disease (and a resulting heart attack).

Knowing the heart attack warning signs is important because early treatment can mean preventing severe long-term health problems or even potentially the difference between life and death. Just as the statistics between women and men vary greatly, so too do heart symptoms. The movies depict the traditional warning signs (which you should be aware of), such as arm pain and chest pressure or pain.

Many people, especially women, may exhibit different heart attack symptoms.

  1. Nausea
  2. Stomach, neck, shoulder or upper back pain
  3. Sweating
  4. Breathlessness
  5. Dizziness
  6. Jaw pain

Movies also falsely stereotype heart attack sufferers as older people, but heart disease can occur in people of all ages. Male or female, young or old, if you exhibit any unusual symptoms like those listed above, you should go to the Emergency Room immediately.

The 5 Most Popular Colon Cancer Screenings

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common and deadliest forms of cancer in the United States, but it has one uncommon characteristic—its ability to be detected early.

Colonoscopy screening can reduce cancer risk and detect it early, when it is most treatable. It is one of the most effective tools available to prevent cancer deaths. In fact, if caught early, colon cancer has a survival rate of nearly 90 percent. And other, effective colon cancer screenings are also available.

The Most Effective Option

1. Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is by far the most effective and most popular screening. This is the only colon cancer screening test that can detect and remove precancerous polyps at the same time, potentially eliminating abnormal cells before they become cancerous. During a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist can see inside the colon and large intestine by using a flexible camera called a colonoscope. It may sound a bit scary, but in the last several years the preparation has gotten easier and most patients report that the test is quick and relatively painless.

Other screenings, which can be minimally-invasive, are options for patients who may be nervous about getting a colonoscopy or for those who have other risk factors. It is important to note that the following screenings can require invasive follow-up with a positive result.

Other Great Screening Options

2. Fecal blood tests

There are two versions of this non-invasive assessment, which essentially tests for blood in the stool. Patients take home a kit to provide the sample to the testing lab or physician.

3. Stool DNA tests, including Cologuard®

Cologuard is an at-home test which examines whether there is cancerous DNA in the stool. A similar stool-based DNA test can also be ordered via your physician.

4. CT colonoscopy (virtual colonoscopy)

This is a type of X-ray that provides physicians with 3- and 4-D pictures of your colon and surrounding areas. These in-depth photos allow polyps and other abnormalities to be detected.

5. Flexible sigmoidoscopy

During a sigmoidoscopy your physician can look at the rectum and part of the colon to spot any abnormality. This type of test does not allow the provider to view the full colon, so it is less widely used than colonoscopy.

Death Rates are Declining

It is important to note that despite the availability of effective screening, death rate for colorectal cancer in adults ages 20 to 54 increased by one percent each year from 2004 to 2014. Before that time period, from the mid-1970s through the 1990s, as colonoscopy screening adoption increased rapidly, the death rate had been decreasing by almost two percent yearly. The colon cancer death rates for those over age 54 have declined, due to increased screenings in that population.

As physicians, We consider the colonoscopy to be the gold standard test. I recommend this to my family and friends. However, any screening is better than no screening at all. And that’s the truth. Talk to your physician about the screening test that is best for you. Make this brief time commitment to your health for a long-term benefit.

Are You at Risk for Developing Type 2 Diabetes?

The latest diabetes statistics show that one in three U.S. adults is at a high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Another 86 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, which means that their blood glucose (blood sugar) is higher than normal, but not at the level to yet be classified as diabetes. One out of 11 U.S adults has diabetes, but nearly one quarter of these adults do not even realize they have the disease. Based on recent estimates, by 2050 as many as 30 percent of U.S. adults may develop diabetes.

But Adults Are Not the Only Ones at Risk

Type 2 diabetes has also increasingly been reported in children and adolescents. Based on research by the Centers for Disease Control, as of 2015, 132,000 children and teens under 18 years old in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes. The large majority, 95 percent of those diagnosed, have Type 2 diabetes.  The rise of childhood obesity and physical inactivity is widely believed to play a crucial role.

We can all work to stop this epidemic.

Diabetes Complications Can Be Very Serious

Over time, diabetes may increase the risk of serious complications including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, amputation of toes, feet or legs and premature death. If you have already been diagnosed, or have prediabetes, keeping your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels within a healthy range can lower the risk of diabetes-related complications.

Prevention is Key

The good news is that diabetes is preventable. Healthy eating and positive lifestyle changes, like obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active, are a strong defense against the development of this disease process.

10 Resolutions for Weight Loss

According to a University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, while 45 percent of us tend to make New Year’s resolutions, only eight percent of us actually achieve our goals. The number one resolution last year was weight loss. Quitting smoking and getting or staying fit and healthy also topped the list. Thinking big is important, but working in bite-sized chunks can make the large goals attainable.

Keep Your Goals in Sight By Breaking Them Up Into Specific, Smaller Steps

  1. Give up soda or fried food
  2. Walk or exercise five days per week, no matter the weather
  3. Drink water four times a day
  4. Park as far away from your destination as possible
  5. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  6. Go to sleep earlier or get on a regular sleep routine
  7. Remove your television from your bedroom
  8. Don’t eat anywhere in your house outside the kitchen
  9. Give up drive-through restaurants or eating in your car
  10. Make an appointment with a registered dietitian or personal trainer

These miniature goals can serve as stepping stones toward weight loss or fitness. Once you have successfully incorporated one, and your confidence builds, plan to add another.

Changing your life isn’t easy. You may need additional, professional assistance if you have some difficulty taking these steps on your own. By working in conjunction with a health care provider, a registered dietitian or certified personal trainer can help you to stay accountable and safe.

If you have been told by your provider that you are obese, or you have a serious weight-related health concern, like diabetes or high-blood pressure, you should consider attending a health care provider-led weight loss program seminar. There are medical interventions, surgical and non-surgical, available for those who qualify.

1 2