Category Archive: Uncategorized

Differences Between Spring Allergies and COVID-19

Woman with Respirator Mask Fighting Spring Allergies or COVID-19Warm weather and growing plants usher in spring allergy season.  Unfortunately, this year allergy season is overlapping with the COVID-19 virus.  Understanding the symptoms of each can help us determine whether we need to call the doctor.

Spring allergies are often triggered by pollen that is released by trees, flowers, and grass that have started growing after being dormant all winter.  The wind blows the grains of pollen around, causing it to settle on cars, walkways, and decks.  We track it into our houses on our shoes and clothing.  It’s even carried in by our pets.  Our bodies produce histamines to attack these various allergens.  Histamines cause the unpleasant symptoms and reactions commonly associated with allergy season.

Allergy Symptoms

Typical allergy symptoms include the following:  runny nose, congestion, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, scratchy throat, postnasal drip, ear congestion, and headache.  Most people with seasonal allergies do not have a fever.  They typically do not have body aches, pains, or extreme exhaustion.  Allergies are not contagious.  They are not spread from person to person like colds, flu, or COVID-19.  Most people suffering from seasonal allergies have had them before.

Allergy Treatments

Many over-the-counter medications are available to treat common allergy symptoms.  Doctors can prescribe stronger medications, if needed.  Those with asthma may need to use a bronchodilator to manage some symptoms.

COVID-19 Symptoms

The main symptoms of the COVID-19 virus are a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing.  Fatigue, loss of appetite, and loss of taste or smell have also been experienced by those with COVID-19.  Additionally, some patients have complained of gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and diarrhea.  Sneezing and runny nose are not typical symptoms of COVID-19.  The COVID-19 virus is spread through coughing and close personal contact with an infected person.

If you believe your symptoms are just related to seasonal allergies that you have experienced in the past, you may not need to call your doctor.  You may be able to alleviate the symptoms with over-the-counter medications that were previously helpful.  If you believe you may be infected with the COVID-19 virus, call your doctor for instructions.

Do not go to the doctor’s office without calling first. 

Isolate at home, preferably away from others in the household, to keep from spreading the virus.

We strongly recommend following the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Top Men’s Health Issues

Men's Health and FitnessAccording to statistics compiled by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), women outlive men by an average of five years.  Men typically do not see a doctor for regular checkups as often as women.  When men do see a doctor, their health problems are usually of a more serious nature.  Awareness, health screenings, and early diagnosis of many diseases can help men live longer.  Here are some of the top health issues affecting men.

Cardiovascular Disease

The American Heart Association says that 1 in 3 men have some form of cardiovascular disease.  It’s the leading cause of death in men and includes heart attack and stroke.  While hereditary factors or family history of the disease are factors beyond our control, other risk factors are impacted by lifestyle choices.  Stress, obesity, and lack of exercise all contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.  High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels should be monitored and controlled.  Sometimes diet and exercise are enough to reduce the risk, but medication may be necessary.

Diabetes 

Type 2, or adult onset diabetes, is on the rise in this country.  Lifestyle changes can reduce the risk.  A diet rich in fiber and heart healthy fats can help to control blood sugar levels.  Regular exercise will help keep weight under control.  Untreated diabetes can lead to kidney disease, nerve damage, stroke, heart attack, vision problems, and sexual impotence.

Lung Cancer 

Lung cancer remains a leading cause of cancer deaths in men.  Those who smoke should quit.  There are no effective screening tests for lung cancer currently available.  Lung cancer can spread to other parts of the body even before it shows up on an x-ray.  Advanced lung cancer is difficult to treat.

Prostate Problems

Men are more likely to develop prostate problems as they age.  An enlarged prostate can lead to frequent urination or a slow or weak urine stream.  Having an enlarged prostate does not increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.  A doctor can perform a prostate screening test during a routine medical exam.  A blood test can screen for prostate specific antigen (PSA).  Some types of prostate cancer are slow growing and unlikely to spread.  Other types are more aggressive.  Treatment depends on the type of prostate cancer.

Tips to Stay Healthy During Holiday Travel

Staying healthy in the airportRecord numbers of Americans will travel to visit family and friends this holiday season.  AAA predicts that more than 54 million of us will travel more than 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Another 100 million people are predicted to travel over the Christmas to New Year’s period.  Travel can be stressful on our bodies, upsetting our normal routines and exposing us to illnesses.  Here are some tips for staying healthy so that you can enjoy the holiday festivities away from home.

Air Travel

Traveling by air exposes us to large crowds and lots of germs.  Use hand sanitizer and carry disinfectant wipes to clean tray tables, arm rests, and seat belt buckles.  Avoid bathrooms on planes, if possible.  Many airport restrooms have less germs because they are cleaned more frequently.  Studies have shown that TSA security bins are loaded with germs, so wash hands thoroughly after clearing security.

Get Enough Rest

Lack of sleep can leave our bodies vulnerable to viruses.  Try to maintain your regular sleep schedule while traveling.  If you do get sick, rest will help in your recovery.

Stay Hydrated

Low humidity levels in planes and heated rooms dry out mucous membranes, making it easier to pick up germs.  Drink plenty of water.  Remember that caffeinated beverages and alcohol actually dehydrate the body and are not good substitutes for water.

Eat Healthy        

Maintain healthy eating habits to keep your immune system strong.  Avoid the temptation to overeat at holiday gatherings.  Choose healthy snacks and eat holiday treats in moderation to avoid putting on extra pounds.  Fast food is often convenient when traveling but opt for a salad rather than a burger and fries.  Limit alcoholic beverages, as they add extra calories.

Stay Active

Try to stay physically active even if you are not able to maintain your regular workout routine.  Take a brisk walk or utilize the hotel fitness center.  Exercise gives us more energy and burns those extra holiday calories we’ve consumed.

Early Detection of Breast Cancer is Key

breast cancer awareness monthBreast cancer is one of the most significant women’s health concerns.  After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women.  The odds of getting breast cancer are 1 in 8.  A small percentage of women have a family history of the disease.  This means a first degree relative- mother, sister, daughter- has had breast cancer, so there is a genetic risk factor.  But many women have no history of breast cancer in their family.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer.  However, women can minimize their risk through certain lifestyle choices.  Being overweight, alcohol consumption, and not being physically active can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.  Using some birth control methods with hormones and post-menopausal hormone therapy with estrogen may also increase a woman’s risk.  Other risk factors are not as easily controlled.  White women have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer as compared to African American women.  No pregnancies or a late pregnancy adds to the risk.  Previous radiation treatments to the chest to treat other cancers and having dense, fibrous breast tissue are additional risk factors.

Early detection and treatment are key in fighting the disease.  Women should recognize any changes in their breasts including a lump that can be felt, nipple discharge, nipple turning inward, dimpling or puckering of breast skin, and redness or scaliness of the skin.  All of these symptoms should be checked by a physician.

Clinical breast exams and breast self-exams are not substitutes for a mammogram, which can detect cancer before it can be felt.  Current mammogram guidelines from the American Cancer Society are that women at average risk for breast cancer should have yearly mammograms by age 45.  Women may choose to begin mammograms as early as age 40.  At age 55, women who have had normal mammograms can change to every other year or continue yearly, if desired.  Women at higher risk should discuss these options with their doctor.

What Causes a Sore Throat?

A sore throat is one of the most common reasons people stay home from work or their children miss school.  There are several causes for a sore throat.  An infection could be present, or a sore throat might be a symptom of seasonal allergies.  A mild sore throat can usually be treated at home without seeing the doctor.  Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or throat lozenges will often help with the pain.  However, if the sore throat is severe and is accompanied by fever, a visit to the doctor is in order.
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February is National Heart Month

The American Heart Association has designated February as National Heart Month.  This draws awareness to the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.  One in four people die from heart disease, and the risk increases as we age.  Blockages made up of plaque in the arteries or a blood clot cut off blood flow to parts of the heart, leading to heart attacks.
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It’s Not Too Late for a Flu Shot

If you did not get a flu shot in the fall, it’s not too late!  There is still time to protect yourself and your family.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, flu cases are on the rise across the U.S.  The flu is widespread in 46 states, including Georgia.  Flu is easily spread through entire families and results in lost time from work and school.
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Don’t Let the Holidays Derail Healthy Eating

Holidays are a fun time of the year for most of us.  We look forward to parties, gatherings with family and friends, and other special events.  Unfortunately, all the extra goodies and alcohol consumed over the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can derail our healthy eating habits.  We end up having to shed unwanted pounds in January.  Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays and stay on track with healthy eating.
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The Salt Shaker- Friend or Foe?

The table salt in our salt shakers is a combination of the minerals sodium and chloride.  Salt is commonly used as a seasoning when foods are prepared and eaten.  Unfortunately, the amount of sodium that typical Americans consume in their diets is becoming a health issue for many.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium be consumed per day.  Certain groups of people, including those with high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease, should limit their intake to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.  Children and adults over the age of 50 also need less sodium.  Diets that are high in sodium put people at risk for developing hypertension, heart disease, kidney stones, and osteoporosis.
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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Most of us know someone who has been affected by the disease.  Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 237,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are available.  This disease strikes women in every racial and ethnic group, and even a small number of men.   The risk increases with age, and 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.
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