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Wednesday, 20 May 2015 15:14

Tips For Managing High Cholesterol

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Everyone over age 20 should have a cholesterol screening every 5 years. Those at high risk for heart disease should have more frequent screenings. If your total cholesterol level exceeds a level of 200, safely lowering cholesterol levels may be possible with exercise and dietary changes. While your doctor can help you set a target cholesterol number, there are changes you can make that can help lower cholesterol levels significantly in about 6 weeks.

Exercise

Even moderate exercise such as 45 minute daily walk can have a positive effect on increasing HDL (the "good" cholesterol) while lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol. The key is to have a regular exercise schedule that includes physical activity at least 5 days a week.

Dietary Changes

One of the keys to lowering cholesterol levels is to reduce levels of unhealthy saturated and trans fats and increase the sources of healthy fats in the diet. Canola oil and olive oil are good alternatives to vegetable oils, butter and stick margarine. Foods with healthy oils include salmon, tuna, trout and other fish that have cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts such as walnuts are also a healthy choice.

Increasing soluble dietary fiber is also beneficial in not only lowering cholesterol but contain heart-healthy antioxidants. Good sources of fiber include beans, oats and products containing psyllium.

The summer season is a peak time for Minnesotans to travel abroad. With a little planning and preparation you can ensure that you and your family stay healthy and have an enjoyable experience. Parkway Family Physicians offers travel medication and immunization counseling that can address any health conditions that may need treatment abroad as well as providing immunizations against diseases that may be prevalent in certain countries.

By checking your medical history for any known conditions and researching your travel itinerary, we can provide you with the necessary vaccinations, prescriptions and advice to keep you healthy while traveling abroad.

Depending on the countries you're planning to visit, here are some of the vaccinations commonly obtained prior to travel:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus) – Cervarix or HPV (Human Papillomavirus) – Gardasil
  • Influenza
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR)
  • Meningococcal (for Meningococcal Meningitis)
  • Pneumococcal Polysaccharide – PPSV23 (for Pneumonia)
  • Polio
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria (Td)
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis (Tdap)
  • Typhoid
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)
  • Yellow Fever
For more information, visit the the CDC's travel page.

Please schedule your appointment a minimum of six to eight weeks prior to your departure.



According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies affect an estimated 4 to 6 percent of U.S. children and rates increased approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.

A food allergy is an immune reaction to a particular food and will happen every time an individual is exposed to that food. Reactions can include itchy mouth, hives, swelling of the lips and throat, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases death.

A food intolerance, often confused with a food allergy, is a non-allergic, often delayed reaction to a food, drink, or food additive that produces symptoms in one or more body organs and systems. Symptoms may include gas, abdominal pain or diarrhea, and are not life-threatening. Unlike a food allergy, food intolerance issues can often be improved by eating less of the problem food without needing to eliminate it entirely.

If you suspect that you or your child has a food allergy, seek medical attention as soon as possible. A serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can be fatal. If you're not dealing with a true food allergy, but suspect a food intolerance, discuss options with your health care provider. 



Wednesday, 21 January 2015 22:44

Tips For Getting a Good Night's Sleep

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Just as we need food, water and air to survive, sleep is essential to our overall health and well being. Sleep is important for everything from memory to immune system function to the body's ability to heal tissues, along with countless other health benefits. Yet most people don't get the amount of sleep that they need. The result of insufficient sleep is increased risk of accidents, cognitive decline, memory loss, weight gain and depression.

Ideally, we should try to get between 8-10 hours of sleep every night. It's a common misconception that you can "catch up on your sleep" by sleeping more on the weekend. In reality, it's better to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. 

Here are some tips to help get a better night's sleep.
  • Create a relaxing sleep space that is cool, dark and quiet.
  • Daily exercise, such as a 20 minute afternoon walk, can help your body relax at bedtime.
  • Avoid electronic screens, caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
  • Spend time winding down prior to bedtime by listening to relaxing music or reading.
  • Try deep breathing or listening to a guided relaxation or meditation before bed.
If you think you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, discuss your symptoms and concerns with your physician to find out if a referral to a sleep specialist for a thorough sleep evaluation is necessary.
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 22:16

Surviving the Allergy Season

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According to Weather.com, this allergy season is expected to be one of the worst in recent memory. The allergy season in Minnesota is expected to be more severe this year because colder temperatures have delayed the pollinating of trees. Since not all trees pollinate at the same time (maple, cedar and elm trees, pollinate earlier than other trees) the delay will result in a large number of trees pollinating at once.

If you suffer every spring from a runny nose, itchy eyes and headaches there are over-the-counter allergy medications like Zyrtec and Claritin, but if your allergies are severe, it may be time to talk with your physician.

Here are some tips to reduce allergy symptoms.

1. Use nasal sprays. Sprays containing Corticosteroid drugs target inflammation and are the most effective treatment for nasal allergy symptoms.

2. Close the windows and turn on the air conditioner. The furnace air filter will reduce the amount of pollen entering the home.

3. Use a saline nasal rinse. A saline rinse helps removes pollen, mucus, and other irritants from the nose.

4. Keep your home clean. Regularly Vacuum carpet and upholstery to remove allergens that have been brought indoors.

5. Avoid peak allergy times. Pollen counts are typically lowest early in the morning right before dawn and in the early evening.

 

Monday, 15 September 2014 13:58

Tips For Staying Fit During Pregnancy

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For many women exercising during pregnancy can bring many positive benefits. The key is to engage in moderate aerobic activity, such as walking or swimming, while including strength and flexibility conditioning such as like yoga. This includes 30 minutes of walking or swimming three to four times a week.

A main benefit of regular exercise during pregnancy is the strengthening of muscles supporting the uterus, which can reduce common complications such as back pain, ankle swelling and fatigue. There are also emotional benefits to exercise, including reduced stress and enhanced body image.

The key to safe exercise during pregnancy is to avoid overexertion, which can blood flow to the fetus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends mild-to-moderate exercise and stopping when fatigued. Instead of targeting a specific time or heart rate, pay attention to your level of fatigue and stop before you feel overly tired.

Most importantly, always talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program to avoid potential injury.

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. 
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


Monday, 15 December 2014 14:10

The Top Health Stories of 2014

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In particular order, here are 5 of the most important health related news stories of 2014.

Ebola Outbreak
Health officials first reported an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa back in March. As healthcare workers and others travelled to other countries the outbreak became a dramatic example of how infectious diseases do no respect geographic or cultural boundaries, and can travel globally in just a matter of hours.

Influenza Reaches Epidemic Levels
It became clear early in the year that this year's vaccine would not be a good match for this season's influenza strain. This dominant flu strain is H3N2, a type of the virus that tends to be more serious.

The Affordable Care Act
The ACA is reshaping the American healthcare landscape. Many people who have never had health care insurance are getting covered and persons with pre-existing conditions are no longer denied coverage.

The Return of Measles
With more than 600 cases reported in at least 24 states measles was more prevalent in 2014 than in any year in the past two decades according to the CDC. One reasons for the return is the decline in measles vaccinations in recent years which has allowed the disease to regain a foothold in the U.S.

Self-Monitoring Applications
Mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices are changing how people monitor their well being. There are over 40,000+ healthcare apps available for download from Apple's iTunes app store alone. Most of these apps track overall wellness with diet and exercise making up the largest category. While many of these apps have simple functionality, in the future we expect them to provide an important link to your healthcare provider.

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.

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Patient Testimonials

"We have been patients of Parkway for over 25 years. We drive over 45 minutes to the clinic because the folks at Parkway are the best. We have been blessed by the quality of care and level of attention that our friends and we have received over the years. Our friends and family who we have referred still tell us thank you. Dr. Hamilton and the other doctors are outstanding. When was the last time your doctor called to see how treatment was going? I highly recommend Dr. Hamilton and the Parkway Family Physicians Clinic.”
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