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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Parkway Family Physicians

Sunday, 25 October 2015 02:24

Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder

As we approach the fall season many people begin to experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. SAD is a very common mood disorder that is characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year.

The symptoms of SAD include feeling tired, depressed, hopelessness, and withdrawing socially.

Causes

The exact causes of SAD are unknown, but there are several factors that seem to increase the likelihood of experiencing the condition, these include:

  • Reduced levels of light in the fall and winter can disrupt your body's biological clock (circadian rhythm).
  • A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood. Low levels of sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin, trigger depression.
  • Changing seasons can disrupt the body's level of melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep patterns and mood.

When to See Your Doctor

Having an occasional day when you feel down is normal, but don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal depression that you have to deal with on your own.

Feeling depressed to days at a time that leads to a lack of motivation and activity can signal a major depression. It's especially important to see your doctor if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, have suicidal thoughts, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), talk therapy and medications. Your doctor can also give you tips to keep your mood and motivation on an even keel throughout the year.

Thursday, 10 September 2015 15:40

The Facts About Aspirin, Heart Disease & Stroke

With more a third of Americans now taking low-dose aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attack it's important to understand when aspirin should be taken and what the health risks are.

Should you be taking a daily aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke?

No one should begin taking aspirin at any dose without first consulting with a physician to determine their risk of cardiovascular disease. Simply having a family history of heart disease and stroke is not enough to make an informed decision and may put you at risk from complications. The potential complication from taking even a baby aspirin include cerebral hemorrhage and gastrointestinal bleeding.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that more than 1 in 10 patients in the U.S. were inappropriately prescribed aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Inappropriate use of aspiring was defined by primary cardio vascular disease prevention guidelines as use of aspirin therapy in patients with a 10-year cardiovascular disease risk of less than 6 percent.

The best way to predict whether you are at risk is to have a noninvasive CT scan of your heart to look for coronary calcium. This is considered by most experts to be the most reliable predictor of a future heart attack. The result of this scan is called a calcium score, and it reflects the amount of atherosclerotic plaque that you’ve built up in your coronary arteries over a lifetime. The higher your calcium score, the more plaque in your arteries and the greater your risk of a future heart attack or stroke.

The bottom line is that aspirin is not a magic bullet, and carries significant risk, but under certain circumstances, including preventing a second stroke or heart attack, the benefits can outweigh the risks.

Monday, 24 August 2015 19:01

Parkway's Back to School Health Checklist

With the start of school approaching it's important to be prepared to reduce stress and make sure your child stays healthy and safe during the school year. Here are some things to check prior to the start of the school year.

1. Health History Records

Have your child's medical history and emergency contact information organized and available for your family and your child's school or day care provider. Have printed instructions for the caretaker to take with them to the emergency department if needed. Communicate with the school nurse about any medical conditions that may require medications or other supervision.

2. Schedule back to school physicals and vaccinations

Your doctor will ensure that your child is up-to-date on all their vaccinations. In addition, flu shots may be available depending on when you schedule your appointment. Be sure to inform your doctor if your child will be playing any sports.

3. Schedule Dental, Vision and Hearing Screenings

Vision and hearing screenings are especially important for kids starting their first year of school. 

4. Rehearse the Route to School

If your child will be walking to school take time to show them how to safely cross intersections only at designated crosswalks.

If your child rides the bus, pick a safe pick up/drop off spot that can be clearly seen by other adults and preferably in a group with other children.

If your child will be riding a bike (or skateboard or scooter) make sure they wear a helmet and have appropriate safety gear.

5. Have an Emergency Plan

Make sure your child knows who to contact in an emergency. For older children having a phone for emergency use can also be a good idea.

 

Many Americans take heartburn medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to help relieve the discomfort of acid indigestion. A recent study found that the drugs are linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, as well as other health problems. The PPIs researchers studied included both prescription and over-the-counter drugs meant to reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces, thereby reducing discomfort in the chest. They included: Nexium (esomeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole), Prilosec and Zegerid (omeprazole), among others. 

The study looked at adults who had no history of heart disease and found that there was a link between PPIs and an increased risk of heart attacks. However, the study does not prove that taking PPIs raises the heart attack risk.

Should You Take PPIs for Heartburn?

For many, the risks of taking PPIs outweigh the benefits, particularly when there are other effective methods of eliminating heart burn without side effects. Because PPIs only treat the symptoms of heart burn, not the underlying cause, treating the cause is the best strategy.

If you have been taking PPIs regularly to treat heartburn and would like to find an alternative strategy for treating symptoms, it's is important to talk with your doctor before quitting PPIs abruptly. This can have result other harmful side effects.
Thursday, 25 June 2015 01:14

Are Allergy Shots Right For You?

Allergy shots are not a magic bullet that will cure your allergies, however they can reduce the symptoms and make life easier. If you have severe allergies that last 3 months of the year or more, or you can't take allergy medications because of the side effects or adverse interactions with other medications you may be taking, allergy shots may be a good option.

Allergy shots can be given to children older than 2 years or older and adults without heart problems or severe asthma. To determine if allergy shots are right for you your doctor will review your medical history and do a medical exam. To identify your specific allergen(s), a series of allergy tests will be performed to decide what, if any allergy shots could be beneficial. It's important to perform the testing in small amounts to ensure there are no adverse reactions to the allergens.

If you don't like needles and the idea of taking a series of shots, you'll be happy to know that the needles used for for immunotherapy are smaller than needles used for most immunizations and medications.

To work properly and safely, allergy shots must be given in a series over time, so patience will be needed for the minimum of 6 months the series of shots will need to be administered. After the initial series, maintenance therapy will be usually be continued for 3-5 years.

If you suffer from allergies for more than 3 months out of the year, talk with your doctor to see if allergy medications or shots are a good option for you.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 15:14

Tips For Managing High Cholesterol

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. 



Tuesday, 18 June 2019 22:44

Tips For Getting a Good Night's Sleep

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

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.