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Saturday, April 21, 2018
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The Causes and Cures For Migraines

A migraine is headache that can include throbbing pain, nausea and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. They affect as many as 12 percent of the population and can be debilitating, leaving sufferers unable to function normally.

Migraines can be triggered by a number of factors, including:

  • In women, fluctuations in the hormone estrogen can trigger migraines
  • Going without eating for long periods of time
  • Certain processed foods containing a lot of salt
  • Food additive such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners
  • An increase in stress
  • Alcohol and high levels of caffeine
  • Irregular sleep patterns or jet lag
  • Sensory stimulation from bright light, loud noises, and strong smells.
  • Excessive physical exertion
  • Oral contraceptives and certain medications

Preventing Migraines

  • While many of the triggers for migraines are difficult to avoid, there are certain things you can do to reduce the number and severity of attacks, including:
  • Exercise. Regular aerobic exercise helps to reduce stress and tension
  • Control stress by finding ways to reduce stress triggers
  • Get enough rest and try to stay on a consistant sleep schedule
  • For women, reduce medications that contain estrogen if you suspect that they are triggering migraines or making them worse
  • Ask you doctor about Transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation (t-SNS), which was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a preventive therapy for migraines
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 19:22

Can Kidney Stones Be Prevented?

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Can Kidney Stones Be Prevented?

Kidney stones are a common condition that will affect 1 out of 10 people at some point in their lives, most likely past the age 40. While the hard deposits of minerals and acid salts that stick together in concentrated urine and pass through the urinary tract can be very painful, they usually don't cause permanent damage.

The most common symptoms are severe abdominal pain and nausea, but may also include:

  • Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs.
  • Cloudy and strong smelling urine
  • Pink or red urine
  • Pain during urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Frequent urination in small amounts

You should see your doctor is you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain
  • Pain that results in nausea and vomiting
  • Pain that includes fever and chills
  • Blood in your urine
  • Difficulty passing urine

Taking pain relievers and drinking a lot water can help alleviate the pain and pass the stone. If the stones cannot be passed, medical procedures may be needed to break up larger stones.

Treatment includes pain relievers and drinking lots of water to help pass the stone. Medical procedures may be needed to remove or break up larger stones.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

There are many factors that can contribute to kidney stones, and there is no single, definitive cause. A family history of kidney stones can increase your risk. Certain metabolic disorders can make an individual more prone to the buildup of substances that cause the crystals to stick together, causing stones to form.

Dietary factors, including high levels of vitamin D and Oxalate, which is a naturally occurring substance found in food and produced by the liver. A diet that is high in protein, high levels of sodium and sugar may increase the risk for certain types of kidney stones.

Preventing Kidney Stones

According to the Mayo Clinic, kidney stones can be successfully treated by analyzing urine samples in the lab and pinpointing the cause. With dietary changes and in some cases medication, the risk of new stones developing can be reduced by 90%.

Several dietary changes are known to help reduce kidney stones, including:

  • Drinking more water
  • Eating foods rich in calcium
  • Reducing sodium (salt)
  • Eating less animal protein
  • Avoiding vitamin C supplements
  • Eater fewer foods that have high oxalate content (found in certain fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate)



Staying Safe During Dangerously Cold Weather

Cold weather safety tipsIn Minnesota we pride ourselves on being able to survive our long, cold winters. We know how to dress warm and plan for emergencies when we are away from home. Even with the forecast of sub-zero temperatures, emergency rooms always see a steady flow of visitors suffering from everything from frost bite to broken bones from falls on icy sidewalks. Here are some safety steps you can take to ensure that you stay safe during the frigid winter months.

1. Icy Sidewalks and Driveways

By far the most common injury during the winter months is from slipping and falling on ice. Even if a surface looks ice-free, black ice and ice hidden under snow can cause a sudden loss of traction. When walking in icy conditions keep your center of gravity over your front leg, take short, deliberate steps, and keep your hands out of your pockets to maintain balance. If you do lose your balance, although it seems counterintuitive, try to relax and distribute your body weight to avoid taking the force of the fall on your arms or wrists.

If you're running or exercising outdoors during the winter, consider wearing traction devices, like cables, on your shoes for extra traction on icy surfaces.

2. Look For Signs of Hypothermia

Shivering is your body's signal that your body temperature is dropping. You’re not at risk yet, but you need to take steps to avoid hypothermia and a dangerously low body temperature. Look out for these warning signs:

  • you’re becoming clumsy or confused
  • you feeling drowsy
  • your experiencing excessive shivering, or have stopped shivering altogether

In that case, get out of the cold immediately and seek a warm place. Get out of wet clothes. Bundle up in warm blankets.

Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Mittens that keep the fingers together are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat that covers your mouth to protect your lungs.

3. Be Alert For Frostbite

Pay attention to your body's warning signals that indicate your extremities are getting too cold. If you feel tingling and pain, immediately take steps to warm up. By the time the tingling turns to numbness, you're experiencing frostbite, and a medical emergency.

Most people think of frostbite as only being a risk to fingers and toes, but the ears and nose are also vulnerable, so be sure to insulate and protect your face.

 

 

Monday, 11 December 2017 21:26

Staying Active During the Winter

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Staying Active During the Winter

Winter in Minnesota means less daylight, snow, ice and frigid temperatures. It's understandable that many of us want to stay indoors and hibernate. Thankfully, there are options for staying physically active during the winter. The key is to just keep moving and have a consistent schedule of activity.

Get Outside

Many communities in the Twin Cities offer outdoor recreation opportunities that are prefect for staying in shape. Try cross-country or downhill skiing, snowboarding, or just take a hike through the woods with snowshoes.

If you exercise outside in the winter, whether running, walking or biking, be sure to wear reflective clothing and a headlamp. Stay in well-lit areas and avoid areas where you don't feel safe. Wear a waterproof outer layer and other layers made of wool or polypropylene — wool socks, waterproof shoes, a warm hat, and mittens. Know your limits and ensure that you have good traction on slick surfaces.

Indoor Exercise

There are many forms of exercise you can do at home, even if you don't have a stationary bike or treadmill. Try 15 to 30 minutes of squats, jumping jacks, push-ups and sit-ups. In most cases that's all you will need to stay healthy at fit.

If you prefer to work out in a social setting, the gym or health club can offer a feeling of camaraderie along with an almost unlimited number of activities from yoga and martial arts to tennis and indoor soccer.

At work, try a walking meeting, climb the stairs and take a walk during lunch to get your heart rate up.

Preventing Colds and Flu During the Holidays

Preventing Colds and Flu Gathering around with with family during the holidays can bring real joy. However, during cold and flu season, it can also mean spreading germs. Germs can spread quickly and before you know it, the whole house is sick. Here are some tips to limit your risk of catching the cold or flu.

Stay Rested

To help keep your immune system healthy, it's important to get enough sleep each night. For adults this is around 7-9 hours. If you're feeling stressed or rundown, take timeout to rest. Exercise can also help keep your body and mind feel less worn down during the holidays.

Wash Your Hands

Because germs are often spread by touch, regular hand washing is the best defense against illness. Scrub your hands thoroughly for at least 30 seconds with warm soapy water. Wash your hands before and after preparing food and eating and after contact with bathrooms.

When hand washing isn't an option, hand sanitizers containing alcohol can be helpful in killing most germs on your hands.

Don't Spread Your Germs

If you do catch a cold or flu, stay home from work and avoid contact with other people as much as possible. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, or use tissues. Wash your hands regularly.

Get a Flu Shot

The best way to prevent getting the flu is to get a flu shot every year. Because each year's flu strain is different, a flu shot is designed to protect you from the strains that are most expected.

If you do become sick during the holidays, Parkway Family physicians is here to help.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 22:36

How Your Thyroid Affects Your Health

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How Your Thyroid Affects Your Health

The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in your body. Located inside the neck right below the larynx, the thyroid plays an important role in producing the hormones that control nearly every function in the body. It plays a key role in a child's growth and controls your metabolism and weight level by regulating the fat-burning process.

When the thyroid stops functioning normally, hormone secretion can be thrown out of balance, leading to serious health consequences. Because hormones produced by the thyroid interact with other hormones, including insulin, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, thyroid problems are associated with many symptoms and diseases. Serious health conditions like fibromyalgia, acne, eczema, infertility, and autoimmune diseases can occur when the thyroid gland is not functioning normally.

Hypothyroidism

When your thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, it's called hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency is one cause of hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irregular or lack of menstrual periods in women
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Weight loss
  • Rapid, forceful, or irregular heartbeat
  • Protruding eyes

Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to heart problems like atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, angina, and heart failure. Hyperthyroid women can potentially have difficulty giving birth.

There are several causes of hyperthyroidism. Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism and is caused when the immune system produces an antibody that stimulates the entire thyroid gland; this leads to overactivity and higher levels of thyroid hormones.

How To Treat a Cut at Home - and When You Should Seek Medical Attention

Cuts are one of the most common injuries that occur in the home. Knife accidents in the home were responsible for almost 330,000 hospital visits in 2011 alone. Whether it happens from cutting a tomato in the kitchen or using garden tools in the yard, cuts can range from a minor annoyance to a serious medical emergency. So how do you know if a cut can be safely treated at home or if professional medical attention is needed?

When You Can Treat a Cut At Home

  • You have normal movement of the affected area
  • There is no numbness
  • There are no visible bones or tendons

How To Treat a Cut At Home

  • Apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding
  • Clean the cut with soap and water, and apply an antibiotic ointment
  • Cover the cut with a band-aid
  • Clean the cut daily with soap and water,  reapply an antibiotic ointment and apply a new band-aid

When You Should Seek Medical Attention

  • The cut is large and gaping
  • Movement is restricted to the affected area
  • There is numbness in the affected area
  • If you have any of the symptoms above, apply direct pressure to the cut using a gauze pad or a clean towel, and go to the ER for professional treatment

The doctor will clean out the wound to ensure there is no debris inside, and then close the wound to reduce the risk of infection and scarring.

In the U.S. heart disease remains the leading cause of death. Fortunately, many of the risk factors are well known and can be reduced by making healthy lifestyle choices and making sure that your blood pressure, cholesterol a weight stay at healthy levels.

Here are the top 7 ways to lead heart healthy lifestyle.

1. Quit Smoking

Even occasional smoking increases the risk of heart disease. Quitting smoking is the best way to lower your risk of cardiac arrest.

2. Reduce Alcohol Intake

While some recent studies have shown limited health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, excessive alcohol consumption can put a strain on your heart. It is recommended that women drink no more than one drink a day and men no more than two drinks a day.

3. Keep Your Blood Pressure Under Control

Have your blood pressure checked regularly and talk to your doctor about your options for lowering high blood pressure.

4. Have Your Cholesterol and Triglyceride levels Tested

Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol is important for reducing your risk of heart disease. A Mediterranean diet that includes healthy oils and grains can reduce cholesterol levels and keep your heart healthy. Instead of butter, cook with olive oil and replace red meat with alternative protein source such as fish and nuts.

5. Exercise and Stay Active

Regular physical activity is important for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. In addition to helping maintain a healthy weight, exercise can lower blood pressure, strengthen heart muscles and reduce stress.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Our bodies need sleep to give our heart a chance to rest. Sleep lowers blood pressure and your heart rate. For most adults, seven to eight hours of sleep a night is ideal.

7. See Your Doctor

Regular screening for heart disease can catch risks early and prevent future problems.
The American Heart Association recommends that everyone start monitoring their heart health by age 20. Your doctor will check your blood pressure, your weight and your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Depending on your family history and personal risk factors, your doctor may recommend a more comprehensive check up.
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 18:47

Understanding Shin Splints

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If you have ever experienced lower leg pain after exercise or physical exertion, you're not alone. The cause is often a condition called shin splints.

Shin splints affect over 3 million Americans every year and are most commonly caused by overusing leg muscles to the point that they become irritated and swollen from micro tears in muscle tissue. Other causes include stress fractures, or tiny breaks in the lower leg bones. Overpronation or "flat feet" where the foot's arch collapses when stepping, and weakness in the stabilizing muscles of the hips or core.

Treating Shin Splints

In most cases the symptoms of shin splints will subside in few days to a week and lab tests and imaging are only necessary if the pain is severe or last more than a couple of weeks.

To relieve the pain of shin splints, the best treatment is rest, ice, and over the counter pain relievers. When the pain first appears, ice your shin for 20-30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours to reduce pain and swelling. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or aspirin, can help with pain and swelling.

Rare cases shin splints are caused by a more severe stress fracture that may require surgery and physical therapy. If you're concerned about your leg pain, don't hesitate to give us a call.


Summer is here and for many families the calendar is filled with lots of outdoor activities. Because summer in Minnesota can mean an increased risk for certain injuries and illnesses, we've put together a list of health tips so you and your family can spend more time relaxing at the lake and less time at the doctor this summer.

Sun and Heat

After a long cold winter Minnesotans relish the nice hot days outside. However, the sun and heat can pose a real danger, particularly to young children and the elderly. Of course, the best protection from the sun is to avoid direct exposure, but the next best option is to wear light colored, UV protective clothing and a wide brim hat. Even when the sky is partly cloudy UV rays can be harmful, so use a suntan lotion with an SPF of 15 or higher, and remember to reapply it every two hours or after swimming. If you do get sunburn, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with the pain, while lotions containing aloe vera can cool and sooth red skin.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are another danger that can come with outdoor activities. You can minimize your risk by taking frequent breaks from the sun and heat and staying hydrated with non-alcoholic beverages. Never leave young children or pets in a car unattended, even if you're just running a quick errand.

Barbecue Grills

Because barbecue pose a real danger to children, they should never be left unattended. Teach children to stay away from grills. Many small, portable grills can be knocked over easily, so keep pets and kids away while cooking. It's also a good idea to keep a garden hose or bucket of water nearby. When cleaning a grill, avoid metal bristle brushes that can break off and be accidentally ingested with the cooked food.

Swimming Pools and Lakes

While swimming in a cool lake or swimming pool is a prefect complement to a hot summer day, it's important that everyone know who is responsible for watching young children around water. Even if they know how to swim well, never allow a child to swim unattended. Don't assume that others are watching out for them. Children who cannot swim should have approved life jackets (not inflatable devices). If a child is missing near the pool, always look for them underwater first.

Fireworks

Children should never be allowed to play with firecrackers, rockets or other fireworks. While sparklers may seem harmless, but they can cause serious burns. Teach children to never pick up "duds" or fireworks that have failed to go off.


 

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