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Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Tuesday, 25 September 2018 18:15

Why You Should Get a Flu Shot This Year

During last year's flu season vaccines prevented an estimated 85,000 flu-related hospitalizations. Even if you had a flu shot last year, it's important that those 6 months and older get the shot every season. While influenza viruses function more or less the same, every year there are different types, or strains, of the flu.

It takes around two weeks after receiving a flu shot for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the influenza virus, so it's best to get your shot before the flu season arrives by late October.

If you live or work with young children, the elderly, or people with certain medical conditions who are more likely to suffer complications from the flu, it's important to get a flu shot, even if you're not in a higher risk category. By doing so you can prevent the spread of the flu to higher risk individuals in the community.

How Does a Flu Shot Work?

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

Are There Side Effects From Flu Shots?

The side effects from a flu shot are minor, and include soreness at the site of the injection, headache, body aches and in some cases fever.

Have questions about flu shots? Give Parkway Family Physicians a call at 651-690-1311.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:48

Recognizing Skin Cancer

Skin cancer rates have been rising in the US and it has become the most common cancer in young people. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk, including using sunscreen, wearing UV protective clothing and avoiding indoor tanning.

Early detection of skin cancer is also important. Examine your skin on on your entire body for suspicious spots or changes to moles at least once a month. Be especially suspicious of new moles. Taking photos of moles can help you monitor them for changes over time.

Dermatologists look for particular features in skin referred to as the ABCs of skin cancer. The ABCDEs are important characteristics to be aware of when examining your skin for moles and other growth, here's what to look for:

A is for Asymmetry
Normal moles are symmetrical, with both sides looking the same. If they do not look the same on both sides, have it checked by a dermatologist.

B is for Borders
If a mole does not look circular, or is irregular with bumps, ragged or blurred edges, have it checked by a dermatologist. Melanoma lesions often have uneven borders.

C is for Color
Normal moles are usually a single shade of color. Look for areas of uneven or multiple colors. Moles with shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red should be checked by a doctor.

D is for Diameter
A mole should be checked by a doctor if it is larger than 6mm – about the size of the eraser of a pencil.

E for is Evolution
If a mole is shrinking, growing larger, changing color, causing irritation or bleeding – it should be checked. Melanoma lesions often grow in size or change in height rapidly.

If you find a mole or spot that has any ABCDE's see a doctor. Your doctor may want remove a tissue sample from the mole to perform a biopsy.


Published in Blog
Tuesday, 10 April 2018 00:43

Preventing Tick-borne Illnesses

With the arrival of warm summer weather in Minnesota comes the increased risk for diseases spread by mosquitos, ticks and fleas. Minnesota is a particularly high risk state for tick-borne diseases, with the second highest number of disease cases. Between 2004 and 2016, there were 26,886 tick-borne disease cases in Minnesota, according to CDC data. While Lyme Disease is the most common disease spread by ticks, spotted fever rickettsioses, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis have all seen cases rise in the last decade.

Ticks

Here are some tips for reducing your risk of contracting tick-borne illnesses.

  • Avoid walking through heavily wooded areas by staying on cleared paths.
  • Light colored clothing will allow you to better spot and remove wood ticks.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up the inside of your pant legs.
  • Apply repellents containing DEET to prevent ticks from attaching.
  • Check for ticks on your body and clothing after returning from wooded, brushy, or tall, grassy areas and remove any ticks you find on you, your child or your pet.
  • Because young ticks are very small, around the size of a poppyseed, have someone chek hard to reach areas, particularly on areas of the body where hair is present, making it difficult to see ticks.
  • Shower after being in an area with ticks, and promptly put clothes in a dryer on high heat to kill ticks.
  • Use tick prevention products for your pet dogs and cats.

If you get a rash or a fever, let the doctor know if you may have been exposed to ticks, even if you don't remember having a tick bite.

Published in Blog
Thursday, 16 November 2017 17:45

Preventing Colds and Flu During the Holidays

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.

Published in Blog
Thursday, 18 May 2017 13:57

Preventing Lead Poisoning in the Home

Protecting children from lead exposure is critical to ensuring healthy start. The most common source of lead exposure in U.S. homes built prior to 1978 is from lead-based paints and dust from paint. Children under the age of 6 years old are at higher risk because they are growing rapidly and tend to put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths.

If your home, a relative's home or daycare was built before 1978, assume that the paint contains lead unless it tests negative. If you're concerned about the possibility of lead contamination, most local health departments can assist with testing paint and dust in your home for lead. Pregnant women and young children who are at high risk of lead exposure should be tested for lead. Because the effects of lead exposure are irreversible and can cause lifelong learning and attention problems, its important to limit the risks of exposure during pregnancy and early in life.

Preventing Lead Exposure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these tips to prevent lead exposure in children.

  • Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
  • Children and pregnant women should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.
  • Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources. Until environmental clean-up is completed, you should clean and isolate all sources of lead. Close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children’s access to other sources of lead.
  • Regularly wash children’s hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources.
  • Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, you should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Windowsills and wells can contain high levels of leaded dust. They should be kept clean. If feasible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces or opened from the top sash. Take off shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing lead-contaminated soil in from outside.
  • Prevent children from playing in bare soil; if possible, provide them with sandboxes. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips, if possible. Until the bare soil is covered, move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house. If you have a sandbox, cover the box when not in use to prevent cats from using it as a litter box. That will help protect children from exposure to animal waste.
  • avoid using traditional folk medicine and cosmetics that may contain lead;
  • avoid eating candies imported from Mexico;
  • avoid using containers, cookware, or tableware to store or cook foods or liquids that are not shown to be lead free;
  • remove recalled toys and toy jewelry immediately from children.
  • use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula (Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead. Most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house, not from the local water supply.);
  • shower and change clothes after finishing a task that involves working with lead-based products such as stained glass, making bullets, or using a firing range.

 

Published in Blog
Sunday, 17 July 2016 22:46

Tips For Heading Off Migraines

Migraines often cause intense throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It's usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. An attack can last for hours or even days, causing debilitating pain. Early warning symptoms known as aura may occur before or during a headache. You may experience flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or in your arm or leg.

The Mayo Clinic offers these steps to head off migraine pain.

Find a Calm Environment

  1. Turn off the lights. Migraines often increase sensitivity to light and sound. Relax in a dark, quiet room. Sleep if you can.
  2. Try temperature therapy. Apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. Warm showers or baths may have a similar effect.
  3. Drink a caffeinated beverage. In small amounts, caffeine alone can relieve migraine pain in the early stages or enhance the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and aspirin.

Sleep

Migraines are often triggered by a poor night's sleep. Here are some tips to encourage sound sleep.

  1. Establish regular sleep hours. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day — even on weekends. If you nap during the day, keep it short. Naps longer than 20 to 30 minutes may interfere with nighttime sleep.
  2. Unwind at the end of the day. Anything that helps you relax can promote better sleep: listen to soothing music, soak in a warm bath or read a favorite book.
  3. Watch what you eat and drink before bedtime. Intense exercise, heavy meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can interfere with sleep.
  4. Minimize distractions. Save your bedroom for sleep and intimacy. Don't watch television or take work materials to bed. Close your bedroom door. Use a fan to muffle distracting noises.
  5. Don't try to sleep. The harder you try to sleep, the more awake you'll feel. If you can't fall asleep, read or do another quiet activity until you become drowsy.
  6. Check your medications. Medications that contain caffeine or other stimulants — including some medications to treat migraines — may interfere with sleep.

Eat Wisely

Your eating habits can influence your migraines. Consider the basics:

  1. Be consistent. Eat at about the same time every day.
  2. Don't skip meals. Fasting increases the risk of migraines.
  3. Keep a food journal. Keeping track of the foods you eat and when you experience migraines can help identify potential food triggers.
  4. Avoid foods that trigger migraines. If you suspect that a certain food — such as aged cheese, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol — is triggering your migraines, eliminate it from your diet to see what happens.

Medications can help prevent some migraines and make them less painful. Talk to your doctor about different migraine treatment options if you can't find relief. The right medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, may help.
Published in Blog

In Minnesota we sometimes joke that the mosquito is the state bird. While the number of mosquitoes actually capable of causing infection in humans is fairly small, it is important to take preventive steps to protect you and your family from potentially serious diseases. While the Zika virus is getting a lot of attention today, it is not a threat in the northern part of the U.S. The two most serious mosquito-born diseases found in Minnesota are West Nile virus and La Crosse Encephalitis

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is found in all lower 48 states and was first discovered in Minnesota in 2002. It remains a public health threat because the virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in some people. Thankfully, most bites by infected mosquitoes result in no symptoms or only mild illness.

The typical incubation period for West Nile is 2-6 days, although it can be as long as 15 days. West Nile fever symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of high fever (usually greater than 102°F)
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Backache
  • Joint pain
  • Prominent muscle aches and weakness
  • Prolonged fatigue
  • Rash (more commonly associated with West Nile fever than encephalitis)
  • Swollen lymph nodes

La Crosse Encephalitis

Like West Nile, La Crosse Encephalitis (LAC) is a virus. Most people infected with this virus will have either no symptoms or a mild flu-like illness. A small percentage of people (especially children) may develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Most of the severe cases start with headache, fever, nausea, and lethargy. The illness may rapidly progress into disorientation, seizures, and coma. There is no treatment for the illness other than supportive care until the illness is over.


The Minnesota Department of Health Offers These Prevention Tips

  1. Because mosquitos can breed in only a small amount of water, check your yard to ensure there are no containers like old buckets, tires, kid's pools or other containers that can collect water. Remove the containers or turn them upside down.
  2. The riskiest time of year for mosquitos in Minnesota is mid-summer through early fall as disease-carrying mosquitoes are more common at this time of year and the viruses that cause disease have had time to become widespread in these mosquitoes.
  3. Wear mosquito repellent containing DEET (up to 30%).
  4. Concentrations up to 30 percent DEET are also safe for children (according to reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics). Do not use insect repellent on infants under two months of age.
  5. Apply repellents containing permethrin to your clothing or gear. Do not use permethrin on your skin.
  6. Other alternatives are available, including picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  7. Only use products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  8. Wear loose fitting, light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants. Head nets can also be used in areas with high mosquito populations.


For more information on mosquito-transmitted diseases, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.

Published in Blog
31 percent of U.S. adults have high blood pressure (hypertension), or roughly 1 out of every 3 adults. Of those with high blood pressure fewer than half have their condition under control.

High blood pressure is a serious condition that can increase the risk of several dangerous health conditions, including:
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Chronic Heart Failure
While many of the risk factors for high blood pressure are beyond our control – such as increased age, ethnicity and a family history – there are steps you can take to limit your risk and keep your blood pressure under control and prevent it's complications.
  1. Get Screened. 1 in 5 adults does not know they have high blood pressure. 
  2. Keep Your Weight Under Control - being overweight increases the risk of high blood pressure. 
  3. Get Regular Aerobic Exercise - At least 30 to 60 minutes a day. 
  4. Eat a Healthy Diet - This includes a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. 
  5. Reduce Sodium Consumption - Limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams a day or less. 
  6. Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption - Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure and reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications. 
Published in Blog
For young children and teens participation in sports improves coordination and fitness while also encouraging teamwork and self-discipline.

Because children are still growing, participation in sports brings greater risk for injury. An injury incurred while playing sports in the early years of life can have consequences for long term heath consequences far into adulthood.

The key to avoiding injury in young athletes is proper training, physical conditioning and using appropriate equipment for the child's age. Each age group will have differences in strength, coordination and stamina that must be taken into account to avoid injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones.

Coaches and parents are the first line of defense in the prevent of injuries. It is their responsibility to create a healthy environment by putting the learning skills and promoting overall health and fitness ahead of competition and winning.

Tips for Preventing Injury in Young Athletes

  • See your doctor for a sports physical to screen for potential problems
  • Warm up properly before playing
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment
  • Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated
  • Don't play when overly fatigued or in pain


Published in Blog

Every year thousands of Americans are sickened by carbon monoxide (CO gas). Between 1999–2010 5,149 deaths occurred from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Because CO gas is colorless and odorless, it's important to take steps to prevent it from accumulating in the home.

Tips To Prevent CO Gas Poisoning in the Home

  • Never use gas or charcoal heaters or cooking appliance designed for outdoor use indoors
  • Ensure that your home's heating system is working safely by having an annual cleaning and safety inspection.
  • Check gas water heater and dryer vents for visible soot stains, blockage and corrosion. An improperly vented appliance can cause exhaust fumes to enter the home.
  • Never use a gas oven or range to heat your home

Install and Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It's important that every level of your home with bedrooms have a working CO detector installed. When a CO detector detects and elevated level of dangerous gas, an alarm will go off alerting you of potentially dangerous levels of CO gas.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms

  • Dull headache 
  • Weakness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Confusion 
  • Blurred vision

If you experience these symptoms you should get everyone (including pets) out of the home. Seek emergency medical treatment immediately and try to remain still to conserve oxygen in the blood.

Published in Blog
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